Weekly Devotions May 25-29

Friday Devotion with Kim Wu

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” This was the second verse from Philippians we examined in our Max Lucado study, “Anxious for Nothing.”

After telling the believers in Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and make a daily decision for themselves to remember and trust in the steady hand of a good God, Paul urges them to be people who remind others that God is near and in control, and will get them through any challenge they face in this life. The word gentleness in this verse means level-headed or reasonable, and Max Lucado uses the phrase “contagiously calm” to describe such a person.

We have a choice in how we perceive and respond to stressful times such as those we are living in right now. Since the early days of this pandemic in March, Max Lucado has been recording and releasing short video messages, which he calls “Coronavirus Check-ins”. In one of these videos, Max says he believes God is using the pandemic as a way of testing the church, meaning He is strengthening us and calling upon us to be the people he wants us to be in the world. God wants us to be people who call out to Him and ask Him for help. People who live out and experience the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We know that testing can strengthen our faith. It produces perseverance, making us mature and complete (James 1:3-4); produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those trained by it (Hebrew 12:11); and opens us to the power of Christ (2 Cor 12:9). The key to allowing stressful times to build up and reinforce our faith is remembering that God is always with us. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)

When we are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, Max Lucado calls us to start with what Jesus has, rather than focusing on what we have. Lean on His strength to get you through this. If you need help remembering that He is near and ready to help you, remind yourself of all the ways He has cared for you in the past, and keep your Bible wide open, filling your mind with all the stories of deliverance it offers.

Thursday Devotion with Pastor Ellen

"Piglet?" said Pooh.

"Yes Pooh?" said Piglet.

"Do you ever have days when everything feels... Not Very Okay At All? And sometimes you don't even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All, you just know that you do."

Piglet nodded his head sagely. "Oh yes," said Piglet. "I definitely have those days."

"Really?" said Pooh in surprise. "I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out."

"Ah," said Piglet. "Well here's the thing. There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out... they probably haven't. Actually, everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.

"And the second thing you need to know... is that it's okay to feel Not Very Okay At All.”

Hearing this conversation between cartoon characters may seem to trivialize the topic, but that’s far from the intent. We all have those days. They are very real and sometimes it’s more than just a day, it’s a season of life where everything is not okay. You’re done or just over it. Things happen that hurt and disappoint. Someone lets you down or something breaks your heart. None of us are immune to sorrow. And we don’t have to pretend that we are.

Consider the book of Jonah. Not the part with the fish. The part with the worm. Admittedly, Jonah has had a rough go of it. He heard God, ignored God, obeyed God, got on a boat that was promptly caught in a storm, he was swallowed by a fish, and then vomited up. By the time we get to the end of the story, Jonah is mad about the outcome of this entire ordeal. God saw Jonah’s anger and God met him in that place. Jonah didn’t have to get his act together before he could go back to God. God was with him in his anger. God even sent a bush to shade Jonah for the night. But here’s the thing, God didn’t let Jonah stay there forever. The worm took the bush away and Jonah had to move forward.

We all have these days or seasons of life. And the good news is that God can meet you in your anger and find you in the midst of sorrow. But God also calls us forward from those places and from the days when we are Not Very Okay At All. Not in a cheap way that says, “just get over it.” But in a profound depth of love that beckons towards redemption, restoration, and life abundant.


Tuesday Devotion with Pastor Will

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