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Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;

therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for him!


-Isaiah 30:18

Instructions -   

I don’t always follow instructions. My latest example of this failing of mine resulted in making my blender explode. I was blending up a strawberry fruit smoothie, and I put a spoon in to help break up some frozen berries. The spoon caught a blade, which whacked the spoon against the side of the blender container, which cracked the container (with an awesome BANG!), which threw strawberry smoothie all over me and the kitchen… which was really a bummer, because I’d had one taste of the smoothie on the spoon before I stuck it in to break up the berries, and it was the best-tasting smoothie I think I’ve ever made. So anyway, I didn’t follow instructions because you’re NEVER supposed to put a spoon in while the blender is blending. And now I know why: it will make your blender explode. Moral of the story: read the instructions and follow them.

How often do you read the Christian book of instructions, otherwise known as the Bible? And if you do read it, do you sometimes not follow the instructions? I know I’m guilty on both counts here – I don’t make it a priority to read (and reread) the Bible every single day, and when I do, I often think I can ignore some of the instructions…sort of like ignoring the not-putting-the-spoon-in-the-blender instruction. Thankfully, my life hasn’t exploded, but I know I haven’t made my best-ever life, yet, either. Moral of the story: read the Bible and follow the instructions. It’s the only way to really live. “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20. I don’t know about you, but I’m done exploding blenders…

Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.

More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/

CORPORATE GUILT -  

In Lessons on Living

Daniel 9:4-5

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments."

American culture places a great deal of emphasis on the individual. Our heritage admires the hardy pioneer who single-handedly carved his farmstead from the wilderness. We have a sense of awe toward the lone gunman of the Wild West who tamed a lawless town. We take as our role model the rugged individualist who made it on his own in the business world. Therefore, we seldom stop to think that God holds us accountable not only for those things we do as individuals, but for the actions of others as well.

Daniel, however, understood very well this concept of corporate guilt. When he went before the Lord in prayer, it was not just a personal and individual matter; it was a group confession. He prayed, "We have done wickedly," "We have rebelled," "We have departed from Your precepts and Your judgments." Daniel personally had been very scrupulous to uphold God's standards. But he accepted his part in the corporate guilt of his people. He confessed national sin as if it were his own.

We may feel that it's unfair of God to hold us responsible for the sins of others. We aren't the ones having abortions, spreading pornography or dealing in drugs. Yet we are part of a group of people that is doing all these things?and much more. As a member of a society, we are responsible for the actions of our society and, in a sense, participate in its sin as well as share in its guilt.

As you pray today, confess your personal sins to God, but do more. See yourself as one who is responsible to confess the sins of your family, your church and your nation. Recognize that you are not only an individual but part of a corporate body.

Sin is everybody's responsibility.


- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/corporate-guilt#sthash.iyJoY9f8.dpuf

Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf

More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

Just Passing Through?   

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. —Psalm 33:11

 

Did you know that this year worldwide, it’s estimated that over 57 million people will die? We hear, read, or see a lot about deaths due to violence, war, disease and accidents. Yet, it amazes me to consider just how many people die annually of all causes combined. There’s just no escaping the fact that everyone dies sooner or later from one cause or another. It’s a good reminder of just how fleeting our lives are.

 

For me, time seems to be moving faster and faster the older I get and it is strange to think that I have fewer ticks of the clock left than those that have already gone by. I’m also reminded, however, that our time on earth is not the entire story. God’s story—His plan for the world—is continually unfolding. And, everyone has a role to play.

 

Make no mistake about it: you are part of God’s story! God has chosen that people be given temporary charge of the planet. Further, Christ-followers are given temporary charge as God’s ambassadors—His personal representatives to be His messengers to enlarge His place in the hearts and minds of people. With these “charges” also come responsibility and accountability. According to the Scriptures, there will be a judgment day where we will have to give an account for our stewardship.

 

In a world of over 7 billion people, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in God’s story, every person matters. You may feel sometimes like just another lemming in the crowd on the way to the end of the cliff! But, I believe that what God said to Jeremiah applies to each person, “Before you were born, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).

 

In God’s story, you matter! We may not be able to see beyond the current chapter of how our lives play out in His story. But as Christ-followers, I do know this: our most important tasks involve doing the necessary things that lead to growth in our relationship with Jesus so that we may in ever-increasing fashion reflect Jesus in all we do. In this way, we pass on this unfolding story of what God has done and what He is doing in the world to following generations. Then, at the end of our days, we can rest assured that we have kept God’s story moving along. 

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Think of someone whose faith has been beneficial to your own faith. Sometime in the next couple of days, thank him or her for being part of God’s work in your life.

 

2. What “chapter” will you write today as part of God’s story?

 

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 90:2; Corinthians 3:18, 5:9-10,20; Hebrews 9:27;1 Corinthians 4:2

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Nurse Trees -  

My backyard, I’ve discovered, is filled with nurses. Not the human kind, but the tree type of nurse: sturdy, fast-growing trees that shelter a host of baby trees growing up beneath their protective branches. In our case, the nurse trees are the brushy ashe junipers that cover our property. Their tangled lower limbs form a strong barrier to any creature – primarily deer – that would gladly eat the tender shoots of oaks, elms and maples, while providing the shade and shelter from the wind that those sprouting seeds need to survive.

This protection of the nurse trees is so good, in fact, that we didn’t even know we had dozens of baby trees scattered under our mess of junipers until my husband began to clear out dead branches. The first time he discovered an oak sapling nestled next to a mature juniper, we were thrilled since we had been planning to plant oaks in our effort to restore some of the native habitat; by the time we’d identified almost a hundred more seedlings, we were stunned by what the nurse trees had facilitated.

Here’s the thing about finding those healthy seedlings, sprouts, and saplings, though: now that we’ve found them by clearing out the nurse tree’s protective arms, we have to take responsibility for the next stage of their growth. So guess who’s spending time these days constructing little wire cages to keep the deer from chomping on our future mixed-woods forest until those saplings can hold their own against predators?

Got wire crimpers?

In some ways, it’s like raising children, I’ve realized. (Except that the trees won’t be asking to get driving permits in another 15 years, thank goodness.) While they’re infants, we wrap our children in security so they can thrive. As they grow, we gradually withdraw our protection to expose them to the elements of life so they can be toughened up to prepare to stand on their own resources. Hopefully, by the time they are mature adults, they’ll be able to live well in the world.

God does the same thing with us. He is our mighty nurse tree, hiding us beneath his branches as we root deeply into the soil of faith. At some point, He will begin to clear out the protective coverings, leaving us to face adversity and challenge as we grow stronger and more capable. Finally, we find ourselves in the full sun of life, ready to do the will of our Lord. Just as trees differ in their growing stages, some of us, however, take longer to stand in faith than others. That doesn’t make any Christian less than another; it simply makes us all individuals – and individuality is what makes God’s Kingdom especially strong and beautiful. As I’ve learned from our yard, mixed-wood forests are the result of cooperation, and every tree has its role as it contributes to the health of the whole biome.

So who are you these days in your faith development? Are you a nurse tree? A sprout? A sapling? An oak? No matter where you are in your faith development now, take heart and continue to grow, for even the strongest tree in the forest begins as a seed.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.

More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/

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