Weekly Devotions June 15-19

Friday Devotion with Kim Wu

Hope for Prisoner of War Brigadier General Robinson Risner came in the form of a single blade of grass. He was able to get a glimpse of it through a tiny crack in the cement wall of his seven-by-seven foot cell. Risner spent seven years as a prisoner in Hanoi, four of them in isolation, and ten months in total darkness. It was in those long months that he discovered the crack inside a vent underneath his bunk, and by pressing his face tightly up against it, he could see just one green blade of grass in the dim light. A bit of color in a dark and colorless world that he called “a blood transfusion for the soul”. Risner stared at that solitary glimmer of hope every day. “It represented life, growth, and freedom,” he said later, “and I knew God had not forgotten me!”

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Brigadier General Risner fixed his gaze on that blade of grass with eyes of faith, filling his mind with thoughts of light and life and hope. And he was reminded in the darkness of what he knew was true in the light. God was with him there in that cell, and He would not abandon him.

Author Jean Kerr defined hope as “that feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” Christian hope is more than that. It is believing there is a better future awaiting us than what we are experiencing right now. Taking hold of that hope asks us to wait well, as we continually look to God – trusting and loving Him. To be diligent in shepherding our thoughts, because what we think about has tremendous power over our state of mind and how we respond to everything and everyone around us.

Science supports this assertion that our minds are capable of shaping us in profound ways. Dr. Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor in psychiatry, explains that “where attention goes, neural firing flows and neural connection grows.” In other words, what we focus our minds upon has a physical impact on how our brain works, creating new patterns of thought and reducing stress and anxiety.

The key to capturing our thoughts and living in hopeful anticipation is found in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” He is more powerful than all the circumstances we face and He will work out all things in His own time and His own way. Rather than focusing on the troubles around you, find your blade of grass and be filled with hope.

Thursday Devotion with Pastor Will

Tuesday Devotion with Pastor Will

Monday Devotion with Kim Wu

‘Single and Stuck’ wrote to advice columnist Carolyn Hax asking if there was a way to make herself fully happy with her (single) life. She was wishing that during this pandemic, she was confined to her home with a possibly grumpy partner, rather than her definitely grumpy roommates.

Carolyn’s response to her was to point out that learning usually comes from painful moments, rather than in times of contentment, and during the pandemic we are all learning how little control we really have over our lives. Therefore, she says, if we want to be fully happy, then we have to recognize that having a partner, as well as things like dining at restaurants, dancing, exercise classes, and friend time, are all good things, but they are external and impermanent. They can’t be counted upon. Carolyn encourages “Single and Stuck” to learn to focus not on the next thing, but on herself, saying “you’re what you’ve got, and everything else – everything – is not only unpredictable, but also optional.”

I think Carolyn gave some great advice on not counting on things outside of our control (the externals) to make us happy, but she got it wrong when she said we are all we’ve got. We know that’s not true. We’ve got Christ, our protector and provider, the sustainer of all things who is always with us and has granted us eternal life. As Max Lucado pointed out in our Anxious for Nothing study, what we have in Christ is always greater than what we don’t have in life.

When we are facing one of life’s storms, or life isn’t turning out like we had hoped it would, we sometimes ask where God is in the midst of it all. In Matthew’s gospel, we read about the disciples facing a furious storm while out on the Sea of Galilee. Their boat was being swamped by the waves, and Jesus was with them in the boat, but asleep. Fearing for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus, who rebuked the wind and the waves, and instantly the sea became calm. Jesus, the one who can command the wind and the waves, was in the boat with the disciples, and he is in the boat with us. As Max Lucado says, you are never going to go where God is not.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Remember that God is sovereign and He cares for you, be contagiously calm, pray about everything, have a grateful heart, and God will give you peace. No matter the size of your storm or the grumpiness of your roommates.

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