Friday, April 11, 2014
A Taste of Friday First Chapters with Kimberley Payne and Where Life Meets Faith
Where Life Meets Faith
Weekly devotionals for the year
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of the International Bible Society.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher and author.
All devotions were first published as “Today’s Faith” column in the Millbrook Times and Cornwall Seaway News between 2003-2007.
All inquiries should be addressed to:
RR#3 Millbrook, ON, Canada L0A 1G0
Above all, I would like to thank and give all the glory and praise to God.
Loving thanks to my husband, Bob, and my children, Kristen and Daniel for their support and patience during my writing.
Special thanks to Jan Cox for editorial assistance, and Pastor Jamie Nelder and Roger Keyzers for biblical advice. Thanks to the members of my writing group, The Writer’s Crucible, for their advice and critique suggestions. Thanks to all my friends and family for their loving support. Any omission of credits and sources is unintentional.
Table of Contents
Who Am I?
Be With God
Good And Bad Times
When In Doubt
Neither The Present
At All Costs
No Greater Love
Lemonade On A Hot Afternoon
The Clock Is Ticking
Those Closest to Us
Believe, Know and Serve
Grow Where You are Planted
Life Is A Puzzle
Thorn In My Side
What’s In It For Me?
Tithes And Offering
Dwell In His Presence
The Fellowship of Believers
It’s a New Year
Love your Enemies
Does it matter?
Path to Prayer
Taming the Tongue
Alone But Not Lonely
In Spirit and Truth
I remember one night at the cottage; slumber was elusive because I was worrying about a problem. I was playing with the puzzle in my mind, spinning solutions, and repeating scenarios in my head. At the same time, a little fly had made its way into my bedroom and was buzzing around my head, distracting and annoying me. I realized that many problems are like this common housefly. The housefly is an irritant at best, buzzing around your head day or night, landing here and there, creating a tickle and disturbing your work or slumber.
That evening, I found myself tossing and turning to avoid the noise of the fly and hiding under the covers. If this kept up, I knew I would wake in the morning feeling exhausted and achy. However, if I made the effort to get up and turn on the light, I could find the pesky bug and get rid of it.
I came to the same conclusion about my problem – I needed to illuminate it. I needed to turn on the light to get rid of this ticklish issue. God is this Light. He says, “Do not worry and let Me take care of it.” The problem I was facing was just like a pesky fly. There will always be flies in my world. No matter what I do, whether I close the windows tight or wear bug spray to bed, they will be there. I need to turn on the Light before I go to bed to search them out before I am vulnerable. I need to let the Light help me. If I let all my thoughts and strength go into worrying about my problems, when will I think about God? If I am consumed with the housefly, when will I listen to the voice of God and do His work? I need to let trust be the flyswatter of my problems. God created me to enjoy life. He reminds me to look to Him for the answers instead of worrying.
That night at the cottage, I got out of bed, turned on the light, and rid myself of the pesky fly. Then I got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me with my problem. After that, I crawled back into bed, put my trust in God and did not give a second thought to my problem. It was the best sleep I had in a very long time.
May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word (Psalm 119:41-42 NIV).
Her jaw dropped in utter disbelief, “You did not do that!”
I could only reply with a weak whimper, “I did.”
“No! I mean, how could you? Well, I understand how you could, but I mean you’re a Christian!” my friend stammered.
With a red face I admitted I had made a mistake. “Christians aren’t perfect.”
Christians are not perfect. We have the same anxieties, illnesses and political struggles as non-Christians. Our children face the same temptations that other children do. We all struggle with conflicts and health concerns. Christians, too, make mistakes.
Somehow, some time ago, I assumed Christians were perfect. And to be a Christian, I assumed that you first had to be this perfect person, and then you submit to God. I have since learned that it is the other way around. You first submit, and then you aim for perfection. And perhaps perfection is even too strong a word. It should be process.
Our lives are a journey that start in infancy where we learn to hold our heads up, then to crawl, then to walk with the help of furniture. Finally, we can walk on our own. But it doesn’t stop there. We then must learn to run, to jump, and to skip. Then we add in new challenges such as riding a bike or learning to alpine ski, skate or water ski. It seems that we are continuously learning new, more exciting ways to move our bodies.
The journey of a Christian is a similar process. We all start out as infants. I, myself, am just learning to hold my head high and I am both excited and scared about what the future holds for me. I do know, however, that just as a parent will run beside a child mastering the art of riding a two-wheel bicycle, so too, will God be with us on our journey. When we fall and scrape our knees, He will be there to make it all better. He will forgive us and hold our hand as we try again and again to master the bike.When we feel that we can ride without training wheels, and we have put many miles on our bike, we can still grow in our Christian character with new challenges. It is a process. It is a journey.
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24 NIV).
Have you ever thought, “Who am I?” Have you ever wondered, “Why am I here?”
I have. It was a question that had haunted me especially after my car accident back in the 1980s. My car was crushed in a near head-on collision, which ended in my vehicle rolling over and collapsing on the roof. By all accounts I should have died. Instead, I suffered an injury that required six operations over the course of the next two years. The memory of my injury is a constant reminder of my brush with death and a daily question mark on why I was allowed to live.
My life continued with this question starting and ending my days, as I relentlessly pursued the answer. I thought a university degree would be the solution. Then I thought a career would provide the answer I was seeking. Both of these attempts to find my identity and a reason for my existence failed miserably. Being a rational thinker, I thought I would try it on my own, so I started a small business. This business grew and was building to be a great success, but it still did not answer my question.
Each project I had tackled, I excelled at. Each goal I had set, I achieved. But at the end of the day, as I admired the awards, the certificates, and the degrees on the wall, I still felt empty. “Who am I?” loomed heavier the harder I tried to find the answer.
Fifteen years of searching and I had come up with nothing. I was exhausted. I had nowhere else to go and no one else to ask. It was here, in this resigned and defeated state that I realized I did not have all the answers. In an act of desperation, I looked up and asked God Himself, “Why am I here?”
He had been waiting for me to ask. In His loving patience, God had allowed me to look for the answer on my own and pursue every reason I felt that might have led me to the reason for my being. But in the end, only God, in His ultimate wisdom, had the true answer.
The reply God fed me might be different than what He gives you. But don’t spend your limited time chasing empty reasons like I did. Don’t spend your energy looking for answers in your own strength. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. What you need to do is spend time pursuing God and He will provide you with your identity.
Where can you start? It’s easy. Commit time to listening to God. Prayer and reading the Bible are the ways in which God communicates with us. It’s taken me many years to finally stop being who I thought I wanted to be and start being who God wants me to be.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
I have a friend who planned to seek God only after he got his affairs in order. He would rather spend energy on himself and his family first. He wanted to first figure out how he was going to handle his current financial situation and get his business off the ground. These things were priority for him.
I wondered if this was right thinking. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have God on his side before he tackled these things? Wouldn’t it be better to petition the One who knows the future?
Wouldn’t it be better for him to ask God for help?
I’ve learned to seek God first instead of saying, “After this or after that, then I will.” Because there will always be a “this” and a “that”. There will always be trials – that is life. But trials without God on your side can feel stressful and exhausting. With God, the load is lighter. Having faith in Him relieves the stress.
Once I wrote on the importance of routine and especially on keeping the habit of time with God first and foremost in my day. But then I changed my routine that very same day! That afternoon, I drove up north to present a workshop. I drove instead of walked; I visited instead of exercised. On the very day I had resolved to stick to a routine, my routine was shaken up.
However, I realized that my resolution wasn’t really to stay on track. It was to devote time to God. My resolution was to pledge my life anew to Jesus. Although my routine changed, and life threw a curve, I resolved to spend quality time with God first and foremost every single day. This I did.
On the long drive, I listened to a Christian radio station. I listened to the words and even sang along. I felt in the company of God for the whole trip. Once there, I went about my business as I had to, but for an hour in the early evening I stole away to a quiet room to read my Bible. It was refreshing.
My day was not routine. I was in a different city, eating different foods, with different people. But I felt great. I spent time with God and this alone made the difference in what could have been an anxious time. I could have stressed about the drive by myself in very wintry conditions. I could have focused on my anxiety about the important presentation the next day. Instead, I chose to focus on God.
When I look to Him, I find peace and comfort. When my day starts with God all else falls into place. I have learned not to worry about the time spent with God – it is the best-spent time of my day. I must make a conscious decision to start every day with God.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).