GRACE DEVOTIONALS

"Preaching the Word and Loving the People"

Devotionals For the Weak - Archive

Devotional of the Month - September 2010

Hiding Place - by Gnygr McGee

    Psalms 32:7 - You are a hiding place for me; you, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!   - Amplified Bible.
                 "Lake Superior has drawn me into the majesty of God from the very first moment I saw her when crossing the Mackinac Bridge into the UP! As I caught my breath that day, I heard myself say, "It's like I've come home!"  Into His Country! And now, exploring the shores of the lake, running to the frequent sunsets that warm her clear, cool waters, and listening to her sometimes quiet-sometimes roaring-voice has become necessity. For there's always that breathless moment... as her majesty moves me into the presence of His Majesty! (Ps. 42:7, Jer. 33:3) 
                Last week my daughter called one evening, agitated by day-to-day trials. As I was walking outside to look up into the sky, she told me she needed to get away from her pesky troubles "Oh, I wish you were beside me," I said. "I swear it's closer here. The heavens. What's that bright light hanging so low in the sky? You would know because you've always been captivated by the stars and astronomy stuff..." Then she began to tell me what I was looking at-Venus, probably. And the dippers? Maybe Orion's belt. Together we got drawn away from this world. And gazing into the glorious lighted-night, everyday struggles were outshined by Our Peace! (Eph. 2:13-17)
                  Do you have a place of falling into His Majesty? Where you find yourself captivated by Himself? Where you get go into hiding in Him? Charles Spurgeon said music charmed him:
                 "There is a potency in harmony; there is a magic power in melody, which either melts the soul to pity, or lifts it up to joy unspeakable. I do not know how it may be with some minds; they possibly may resist the influence of singing; but I cannot. When the saints of God, in full chorus, "chaunt the solemn lay," and when I hear sweet syllables fall from their lips, keeping measure and time, then I feel elevated; and, forgetting for a time everything terrestrial, I soar aloft towards heaven. If such be the sweetness of the music of the saints below, where there is much of discord and sin to mar the harmony, how sweet must it be to sing above, with cherubim and seraphim. Oh, what songs must those be which the Eternal ever hears upon his throne! What seraphic sonnets must those be which are thrilled from the lips of pure immortals, untainted by a sin, unmingled with a groan: where they warble ever hymns of joy and gladness, never intermingled with one sigh, or groan, or worldly care. Happy songsters!"    
                     SELAH [pause, an calmly think of that].
                    Lord, You are immense! When I remember I am in You and You are in me, I am filled-up with Yourself beyond imaginings! May I so worship and enjoy You, forever!   Amen.

Devotional of the Month - August 2010

Praise God From All Whom Blessings Flow - by Gyngr McGee
Revelation 22:1 - "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb."
                  The pump in my grandpa's yard wouldn't bring the water up from the earth unless it was first 'primed.' You had to pour half a bucket of water down the shaft and push the handle up and down vigorously until a gush of water came forth. Then it would flow with very little effort on my part. I was never too intrigued by this science of coaxing the water to the surface. No. I was happy just to prime and pump and get my thirst satisfied without questioning the ritual. It's kind of how I feel about praise and thanksgiving. 
                    
                      As a child I was taught to say with the assembly of believers, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above the heavenly host, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost." As a choir member I invited others to join me to "Give thanks with a grateful heart..." And I think these simple acts--done without question--primed the soil of my heart, causing a fountain to well up from inside until I could proclaim, "I'm bubbling. I'm bubbling, bubbling, bubbling...day and night!" Yes. Not questioning the ritual has worked for me and my thirst has been quenched by the water of the Word that streams from the throne of God.

Devotional of the Month - July 2010 

 Are You Talking To Me? - by Pastor Merle
 Isaiah 6:8 - "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here I am; send me"
 
                   Did you ever overhear a conversation where some one needed some help? You knew that you could assist in some way; yet you just didn't want to get involved. There was that sense of fear of not being up to the task or not wanting to leave your comfort zone. Luckily not everyone thinks like this --- especially Isaiah. Here was a man that was very broken over the plight of Israel and its impending captivity by the Babylonians. God needed a messenger to speak to the people on HIS behalf. When Isaiah overheard God's call, he couldn't help but sense the urgency of the need for someone to speak for God. Yes, God was going to give the nation of Israel another chance to turn to HIM as HE had done throughout the Old Testament and Isaiah volunteered to be HIS messenger.
                    I've often asked people in ministry about God's call. How does HE call us to service?? Does HE speak in an audible voice?? How do we know it's HIS voice and not our imagination?? Will HE provide for my family and me? Strangely enough, the answer is always the same. They say; "You will know instantly and without a doubt that you have been Called. The pull is so great you can't help but know that you have been commissioned by God for a higher purpose"
                     Some how I think the answer is larger than God's direct call or the sound of HIS voice. You see, Isaiah wasn't directly called but overheard God's conversation. It seemed that Isaiah was already prepared to answer the Call and only by eavesdropping did he hear God's immediate need. It seems so simple that the reason Isaiah said, "send me" was that he had the same heart as God. He not only overheard God's brokenness over Israel's future but also felt the brokenness himself.
                     I guess this is a good lesson for us. There is little doubt that God has a plan for us and that each of us has a calling. But this calling is only manifested when we have a heart after God and HIS people. HE wants us to be as broken about lost lives as HE is. When we begin to actually cry about the demise of our culture and the evil that pervades people's lives; when we are broken when the enemy takes our friends and family toward destructive lives; when we know the dramatic change that a life with Christ can bring to mankind - Then we are truly ready for the Call.
                        So take the time to grieve over the plight of our nation, watch how the enemy can easily bring destruction, BUT understand what Christ can do in a man's (or woman's) life, and maybe just maybe through all the tears you will say "Send Me". It will be a compelling experience like none other or so they say.
 

Devotional of the Month - June 2010 

  Stormy Weather - by Pastor Merle
 Isaiah 25:4 - "For the Lord has been.........A refuge from the storm; A shade from the heat."
 
                  Storms are crazy freaks of nature - sometimes their rage, spoken in tremendous thunder and blinding lightning, produces a certain excitement and adventure in us. The overwhelming fear and mesmerizing thrill of all that power in one place can seem to take our breaths away. Storms are truly an enigma. They can bring such fear and trepidation yet can quickly water a dry parched land.
             The storms of life are not much different than that of nature. Situational storms can be thrown on us and can bring great fear as well as an inner excitement and adventure. The good news about storms (both types) is reflected in the above verse. They really can't capture us if we take refuge in our true and living God. This refuge is like a mother's arms awaiting us as we run from fear, hurt or loneliness.
             Often we want spared from the storms because we are fearful that they will take us down for the count. Yet with God as our refuge, there remains a certain element of adventure and excitement in them. We sit back and kinda wonder how is HE going to get us through the next bad one and into the sun??? Many believe that the storms in our lives make us. But I say differently according to my favorite biblical scholar Warren Wiersbe. Warren in his book "Be Comforted" adds another view. He says; "The storm does not make the person; it shows what the person is made of and where his or her faith lies. If we make the Lord our refuge, we have nothing to fear."
 
            So when the storms come our way, there is no need to have them control our lives since we can rest in HIM. We can confidently overcome these stormy situations by jumping in their mud puddles and accepting the cooling affect of their winds and pouring rains. Let the storms turn your umbrella inside out and take great pleasure in the noise and flashes. For we have a greater power, one which created nature itself.
 
             Let the Storms water your life, not control it!!! You know walking on water could be fun.

Devotional of the Month - May 2010 
  And What Is The Truth? - by Pastor Merle
               1Timothy 6:20-21 "Oh Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge" - which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith".
             Sometimes it all sounds so true - that is, the discussions from academia that use logic, rationalization, and philosophical points and counterpoints. The aroma of knowledge can take us over as we are imparted with certain information that only a few have or are entrusted. It's nice to be special, as those with this knowledge are gracious enough to share it with us who have not been enlightened. Timothy was battling this within his church. The Gnostics were sharing and preaching a special spark of knowledge that only they knew or could comprehend. These were special smart guys. They were the big men on campus, important religious ones who the people felt offered more than others in their quest for the truth.
 
              But ya know, knowledge and truth are not necessarily the same thing. We can know a lot about the ideas of great philosophers, religious leaders, writers, and political leaders; yet never see Truth. Somehow what people know is important to us, regardless of the truthfulness of their knowledge.
 
               Here in 1Timothy, Paul entreats Timothy to guard the real truth, the truth entrusted to him by Godly teaching and the Holy Spirit. Not only was Timothy told to avoid worldly stuff and chatter but also opposing arguments from those smart guys. Evidently, a few of his followers had already fallen into the intellectual trap and had left Tim and the church. 
 
                Gosh, I remember my college days and the quest for knowledge (and parties too) --- the readings of Kafka, Salinger and Vonnegut as well as the rest of the great nonconformists and existentialists of my time. I was enlightened and had changed from being a Christian to an agnostic. (Webster notes that Agnosticism is the theory that man can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God nor know with certainty the nature of ultimate truth) I regret those years because I was one who had gone astray from the faith.
 
                 Knowledge can be intoxicating as people indulge in conversation of what life is all about with the premise that each opinion is as true as the other. Yet, God's Truth is freeing, clear and concise. There is no question as to our purpose on this earth and who we really are.
 
                 God has entrusted all of us with the Truth through His Word and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We should guard this with all our hearts and souls. It's great to know who we are and where we're going!!! It don't get any better than this.
Devotional of the Month - April 2010  
Have You Considered My Servant? - Please Not Me!!  - by Pastor Merle
  Job 2:3 "Then the lord said to Satan, " Have you considered my servant Job?"
 
       Goodness, some days can be so taxing. For some men, there are broken water pipes, leaking toilets, mice, leaves, weeds, things to hang, stuff to take down, driveways to seal and siding to paint. Then at work, there are deadlines to meet, client problems to solve and budgets to make. This all can stress you out and certainly make a man feel somewhat overwhelmed. Yet none of this scares us as much as God's words, " Have you consider my servant Job?" 
 
        In the Book of Job, we see a man so righteous that God was willing to stake His reputation on his faithfulness. Because of the challenge, Satan was allowed to take Job's children, his land, his animals, his crops and to add injury to insult give him a nasty case of boils. Things were great when he was at the top, that is until those six little words. Then all stuff broke loose. Job's life took a tremendous tumble. He had lost everything including the understanding of his wife. Even his friends believed that regardless of Job's proclaimed innocence, some deep evil or sin must have been committed to bring all the trials and tribulations upon his head. Job was at the end of his rope and cursed the day he was born. But in this all He did not curse God and was faithful even though all hope was gone. He surrendered to God's will. In the end, we all know that Job was restored and he was rewarded with a double portion and lived happily ever after (140 years).
 
          When we look at the stresses in life, they probably pale to the trials of Job. So how can we not admire the guy!! But the big question that arises from this story is how faithful are we to God?   Can God offer Satan to consider us? Would we pass the test? The truth of the matter is that the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike, and the bigger test is whether we will react as a righteous man or unrighteous man. Will we curse God or give ourselves over to His mercy? And how does a righteous man react? Probably just like Job, surrendering all we are and all we have to the sovereign God. Our faithfulness should not be as a result of all the good things we have, but because God is worthy.
 
          I hate the Book of Job and always have. At first it was because God allowed those nasty tests that Job was given when turned over to Satan. But now it's because I'm afraid I would not pass the tests and fail God. It sure would be nice if God could ever say, "Have you considered my servant Merle?" Yet boils and I don't get along. Food for thought.

 Devotional of the Month - March 2010

Looking for Opportunity in the Middle if Crisis - by Pastor Merle
               Philippians 1:12-13 - Now I want you to know, brethren that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.
                           Don't you get tired of motivational teachers trying to tell you that the glass is half full? I myself know that it is usually half empty!! Those who can think outside the box may reason pretty wisely that  " we just need a smaller glass!"  Of course our friend Saint Paul was wonderfully unique and truly felt that regardless of whether the glass was half full or empty, God had a wonderful plan for the glass.
                  The Chinese translation for the word "crisis" is also the word for opportunity. I strongly believe that this was the mindset of Paul. In the above verses, he talks about his circumstances in prison. Instead of the imprisonment hindering his ministry, he took great delight to announce that the gospel was being furthered in the area.
                 You see, his guards were the praetorian guards who were not just any regular prison guards but a group of Roman imperial guards. If you evangelize these dudes, you can get the Gospel of Christ into the elite of Rome. The great part of the story is that Paul was usually chained to one of them. And guess what?? Paul was not going to let them escape. Can't you just picture Paul quietly asking, "If you died today, do you know where you are going? I'm sure that anytime a new guard handcuffed himself to Paul, a huge grin probably appeared on his face. (Poor guards never had a chance!)
                  I'm confident Paul saw great possibilities in all his circumstances. He was a man that saw his imprisonment as a wonderful opportunity to witness for Christ. As such, he did not moan and groan about his situation, pain, hunger and isolation. He just smiled and could not wait for the next unsaved man to be chained to him.
                  I wish I could be like Paul sometimes, always looking for an opportunity to change the world regardless of my circumstances.  It's a tremendous challenge to all of us.
                 Just remember the enemy is before us, behind us and beside us. And you know what??-- He ain't going to get away this time.
Devotional of The Month - February 2010

The Stones Will Cry Out - By Gyngr McGee

Isaiah 46:4   - "I will be your guide through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age.  I made you and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and be your Savior."   LB 

 

"Mom, I never saw that stone under the oak tree before. It was practically buried in the dirt so I dug it out."
 
  
"What stone?" I asked.
 
  
"I saw a word engraved on it and I," my son stopped. Then taking in a breath, he went on, "Wait! You didn't put it there? I figured Dad got it for you."
 
"Nooo." my husband and I chorused.
  
            We followed quickly after our son to the edge of our patio and peered down at the mystery stone, which I've now come to believe waited for an appointed moment to be uncovered. To be heard!  For truly it spoke to me in an audible voice "Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be," I read out loud as I envisioned a man in white robes with a long, graying beard standing nearby. 
Awed. I started to sob, again.  As I'd been doing for six weeks, tossing in a sea of tears and tumult with God about His plan for my empty-nested years. 
Everyone who says 'life begins at fifty' has to be kidding, I protested!   I've loved the family years and being 'excited about getting the kids out-of-the-house' is unthinkable! Plus, I've got white hairs... wrinkles. Flab.   
 
  
"Honestly, God" I majorly objected, "Who in their right mind could enjoy getting discounts for being old?"  
 
 
            Argument and tears were what God, and family, got from me that late summer. I was filled-up with refusal to go along gently into the next walk of life. I had no thought that anything good could come with growing old. Sinking into a pit of gloom, I surely needed rescued.
 
  
 "Help me Jesus!" I often whispered through my hurting! "I can't see where I'm going."
 
  
            But along came the day when my son, Noah, escorted me to The Stone who answered my cries. When I came to believe I would be walking through old age with the white-haired Ancient of Days, Himself. When I was told the best was yet to be. So that my tears changed from mourning into weeping-for-joy! 
And I could take another step...with Him...into His thoughts and plans to give me a hope and a future.
                     
 

Devotional of The Month - January 2010
           
Get In The Car - by Pastor Merle
 
                     Ephesians 6:1:3 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise). That it may be well with you, and that you may live long on earth.

             Yes-Yes!! What a great verse!!! I know what you are saying right now.  Here comes the sermon. You're afraid I'm going to tell you -- Look what God has to say,  "Obey Mom and Dad because it's the right thing to do". Also you'll live longer!!! I don't know how much longer but who's to dispute the scriptures???

            Well you're almost right, but I think these verses may go deeper than that. I remember having a day planned out for Noah my son who was about 11 at the time. After he returned from school, I thought I'd surprise him by arranging a fabulous evening with just him and me. There was going to be pizza at Chucky Cheese (his favorite place) and then a Pirate baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium. I was really excited because I wanted this day to be remembered -- a day with dad complete with pizza and a ballgame. This was going to be a special gift for a special son. Unfortunately, the day didn't quite turn out that way. When Noah came home from school he was in a terrible mood. He was rude and not very nice to his mother and me. I asked him to go for a ride with me, but instead of receiving a yes from him, he threw a tantrum and said he wanted to be with his friends that evening. Imagine my disappointment; I had made plans to give him two of his very favorite things yet he was unwilling to go with the flow and receive the surprise. To this day I have never shared these plans with anyone especially Noah who you know is now 31 years old.

            So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things??? Well, I believe that we have a heavenly father that wants to surprise us all the time. HE arranges special days and attempts to be with us and nobody else. He wants to spoil us with our favorite things. But like the example, we have our own agenda and are hesitant to just go for a ride with HIM. Do you ever wonder how many surprises we may have missed because we threw a tantrum and did not get in the car??? You see, we have a Lord that loves us so much that he wants to be with us all the time. He enjoys sharing the things we like to do and being part of our lives.

            But wait the lesson doesn't stop there. The verse goes on to say that it will be well with us and we may live long on earth. No doubt accepting the gifts and walking with Him will greatly increase our spiritual health and make us happier people. As for long life, that's up to God but a walk with HIM surely will bring abundant life.

            So if our heavenly father asks us to go with Him for a ride - Let's Try it once, it could be fun!!! He just may spoil the stuffings out of us. We need to Just Get In the CAR!!!!!

        


Devotional of The Month - December  2009

 
Banana...Fo...Fanna...  - By Gyngr McGee

Isaiah. 49:16a - " Behold, I have indelibly imprinted  (tattooed) a picture of you on the palm of each of My hands. " - Amplified Version

                     My youngsters played a game we called "Backwards Day." All day, they'd do things backwards, like climbing the stairs backwards or wearing their clothes backwards. The supreme game rule, however, was everyone had to call everyone else by their name -- as it would be pronounced if spelled-out backwards. That made me Eus, my husband, Llib, and my son, Sirk. But my daughter? She was just "Anna."  Forward, and backwards. And while we humored her by telling her to enjoy being a "palindrome," she said her name was "mostly no fun at all!"

                For two weeks when Anna was about eight, she refused to answer to any name other than Stephanie -- a character from a favorite movie.  Her older brother quickly grew annoyed with his sister's new Name Game and begged her to make Stephanie go away. She obliged him, but soon she became Ariel (from The Little Mermaid), and later, Christine from The Phantom of the Opera. By late grade school, she was asking friends and family to call her by her middle name, Corinne, because it could "at least be interesting on Backwards Day."

                Then Anna found a Baby Names book in my library, and asked if she could have it to help her name the characters in the stories and plays she was always writing. I agreed and told her to be sure to look up the definitions for her own name.

                 "Your Dad and I named you after your grandmothers," I explained. "Yet I believe God had His own idea of how you should see yourself, despite our predictable choices."

                "My first name means Grace," she told me later, laughing. "My second name means Maiden."

                 "Yes. Grace Maiden." I smiled.

                 "I like it," Mom, "How He pictures me, I mean." And she hasn't changed her name since then, as far as I know.

Abba,
 
You have known me and named me. I am fearfully and wonderfully
made. May Your Image be reflected in me.    
Amen.   
 
 
 Devotional of The Month - November  2009

WHERE'S JESUS? - By Pastor Merle

Matthew 28:20 - " ....... And lo I am always with you, even to the end of the age."

          Playing the game of " Where's Waldo" has always been great fun. You know - the game where you must find a detailed picture of the character Waldo secretly hidden within the scenery. You're absolutely sure he's in the picture, he always is. It's a fact he's there because it's part of the game and the designers of the picture make so much money that he has to appear to gain people's interest. Some days Waldo is amazingly easy to find while other times you would swear that he isn't in the picture at all. But sure enough someone always finds Waldo and we kick ourselves for missing the obvious.

            The above verse was spoken by Jesus (I know this because I have a red letter Bible). Within this verse is a promise that HE will always be with us even to the end of the age we live in as well as the age of eternity. He's kinda like Waldo (so as not to be hit by lightning it's just an analogy!!!). HE's always in the pictures of our lives. Sometimes it's really easy to see HIM and other times we can't for the life of us find Him. Just the same HE is always there. But, this is not a game like Where's Waldo. There are no promoters or Companies trying to make money from this reality. Jesus' only motive to be in our lives is first HE loves us and secondly HE delights in us. I'm happy about the word "always" in this verse because it means forever. Not only is he in the picture yesterday, today and tomorrow, HE will be there forever.

            So let's play a new game each day and ask "Where's Jesus". Some days HE"LL be easy to find and other times we will need our friends to point HIM out to us. But you know what?? HE will always be there because that's a promise - even to the end of this year, next year and until we are with HIM in heaven. Gosh, I can't wait to hunt for HIM tomorrow - How about You????

(P. S. Some theologians believed that Jesus was a midget because he said " Lo(w), I will be with you always"   - Just kidding - OH NO!!! --Here comes the Lightning -- &%&$^#@!%^&% *(^()(&^#^%##^%#^% -- OUCH!!!)


 Devotional of The Month - October  2009

THE BIOSPERE - Playing God - By Michele Godmere

        "He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion." - Jeremiah 10:12

         How many of us, how many times, have tried to "play God"? Maybe you think God isn't involved in your life anymore. Or maybe you believe He never was. So, you try to relocate to a place where worldly strife is minimal. You bring with you a set of morals, your temperament, your bag of lessons learned, and surround yourself with people who you think are compatible with you and will sustain you. Doesn't work? Well, you can recreate yourself with self-help books and fad diets. You can pick new friends. Pretty soon, you involve yourself with causes that show off your "right" perspective and pat yourself on the back. Why, you can even judge the naive saps when calamities strike them.

          Have you "played God"? I have. I have proof that I'm no good at it.

           In 1985, Tandy computers released a game for their Color Computers called Biosphere. In the game, you are a Master Ecologist. You land your starship on a dying planet. You have 200 rescued species of plants and animals in your cargo holds that just so happen to be compatible with the few remaining native animals and climate. Your ship's computer can monitor and update you on all environmental changes. You can save this planet by transplanting your flora and fauna. Simple, right?

           But, the mission's success in pinned by a very delicate balancing act: --Currently, there is no vegetation, no water, and the atmosphere is diminishing. --Each of your lifeforms can survive only if the environment provides for its set of conditions.

  •  Gases. The gas it intakes must be in place. Remember, too, each life form expels another gas. How do you keep that level from becoming toxic?
  •   Temperature. What planetary temperature range is necessary?
  •   Humidity levels.
  •    Dietary requirements.

          Now, if you don't have a species that can endure the present conditions, you have a genetic engineering lab. You can create a plant or animal that can.

            Okay, once you think you have every sustainable element in place, you can test your ecosystem. Simply hit the button on your time-accelerator, and watch the days, weeks, seasons, go by.

            How long does your planet live?  I played this game for 3 years. I couldn't get past a day-and-a-half. Mind you, I was a science honor student!

            Playing God is futile. But the real God is alive, is working (Acts 17:24-28). He can and will prosper you (Job 22:23). You can dwell in His love safely (John 3:16). You can rest in His shalom (John 14:27). You can thrive under His reign (Rom. 8:28).