Excerpt for The Forever Notebook: Daily Quiet Time Devotions for Christians, Book 2, April - June by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

BOOKS BY RICHARD WEIRICH

INSPIRATIONAL FICTION NOVELS

Mary’s Little Sister

Hope of Cherry Blossom Lane

Miracle at Gabriel’s Rock

Alexandra’s Song

Farewell PFC Polk: The End of a Nightmare

In the Valley of Hope: Faith Conquers Fear

Fifth Sunday: The Loving Hands Murder

INSPIRATIONAL NONFICTION

The Forever Notebook Devotionals

Book 1, January - March

Book 2, April - June

Book 3, July - September

Book 4, October - December

The Forever Notebook 365 Daily Prayer Journal



For a complete listing of books by Richard Weirich, visit the author’s website at www.richardweirich.com. Available in print and eBook editions. 

The Forever Notebook

Daily QUIET TIME Inspirational Devotions

Book 2: April - June

RICHARD WEIRICH

Copyright © 2017 Richard Weirich

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

All scripture references are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

For information contact richard@richardweirich.com

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1544813805

First Edition: March 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1544813806

DEDICATION

To my good friend and longtime radio partner, Kurt Kilpatrick. We worked together for more than forty years, shared many victories and a few disappointments along the way.

God gave Kurt a rare talent for making people laugh, but nobody benefitted from that special gift more than me.

Together we made many memories, but nothing means more than the knowledge that Kurt’s faith and service for Christ is active and strong. Thank God for bringing us together.

PRELUDE

Welcome to The Forever Notebook, Book 2. The devotions in this volume cover the months of April - June.

Each devotion begins with an anchor test and the message follows. Studies have been written to open your mind to the richness of God’s word, and to challenge you to grow in the Lord.

Some days the messages will encourage you to hang in, stay the course, and never give up. Other days you'll be exhorted to change some aspect of your behavior or challenged to strengthen your relationship with others.

In a sense, The Forever Notebook is like boot camp for the soul. It's an exercise regimen for those who desire a closer walk with God.

Think of the Forever Notebook as four 90-day challenges for spiritual growth. And although created chronologically, you can start whenever you want.

I sincerely hope your spiritual life will be enriched by my books. May God bless you and supply your every need in abundance through our great Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.



The Forever Notebook

Daily QUIET TIME Inspirational Devotions

Book 2: April - June

RICHARD WEIRICH

TABLE OF CONTENTS

April 1 - The Most Foolish Thing You Can Do

April 2 - Because He Lives

April 3 - Precious Memories

April 4 - Favorite Easter Memory

April 5 - Dealing with Your Spiritual Inadequacies

April 6 - The Principle of Divine Math

April 7 - How to Overcome a Spirit of Timidity

April 8 - Show Yourself to be a Child of God

April 9 - A Distress Signal to God

April 10 - When Distance Separates You from Those You Love

April 11 - The Rock of Ages

April 12 - How to Pray Continually

April 13 - Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

April 14 - Prize Fighters for Christ

April 15 - Blessed Assurance

April 16 - Be Careful. Your Fruit is Showing

April 17 - Faith that Moves Mountains

April 18 - Be an Instrument of God’s Peace

April 19 - How to Manage Anxiety

April 20 - Resist the Temptation to Retaliate

April 21 - Peacemakers Needed

April 22 - Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

April 23 - What Jesus Can Do for You

April 24 - Are You Wasting Your Life?

April 25 - It’s Not Too Late

April 26 - How to Love Bad Company

April 27 - Friends Helping Friends

April 28 - A Teachable Spirit

April 29 - Welcome to the Good Old Days

April 30 - The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Friends

May 1 - Strength for Life’s Challenges

May 2 - How to Manage Sorrow

May 3 - God is Always There When You Need Him

May 4 - Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid

May 5 - How God Works for Your Good

May 6 - How We Misuse Christian Rights

May 7 - God Will Meet All Your Needs

May 8 - Have a Blessed Day

May 9 - How God Protects His Children

May 10 - When You’re in Trouble

May 11 - Fire and Rain

May 12 - This is Your Time

May 13 - The Way to Heaven

May 14 - Big Specific Prayers

May 15 - He will Never Change

May 16 - God’s Benefit Plan

May 17 - How to Pray According to God’s Will

May 18 - Grace and Mercy for Your Time of Need

May 19 - There is More to Life than Stuff

May 20 - Falling Out of Love with Money

May 21 - Six Warning Signs of Greed

May 22 - Wanderers from the Faith

May 23 - When You’re Hot You’re Hot

May 24 - The Way Out of Temptation

May 25 - How to Fight Back God’s Way

May 26 - It’s Hard to Be Humble

May 27 - Joy Like a Proud Parent

May 28 - When You’re Treated Unfairly by Bad People

May 29 - 5 Reasons We Should Abide by the Law of the Land

May 30 - Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger

May 31 - Warning to Our Upside Down World

June 1 - You are a Saint, but are You Saintly?

June 2 - Nobody to Blame but Yourself

June 3 - When Hurtful Words have Harmed You

June 4 - The Simple Heartfelt Prayer that Says It All

June 5 - What is Required of Those Who Follow Christ

June 6 - Don’t Overlook this Important Aspect of God’s Will for Your Life

June 7 - How to Insure God’s Guidance in Your Life

June 8 - The Sin God Won’t Forgive

June 9 - The Right Attitude for Giving

June 10 - 10 Signs You have been Born Again - Part 1

June 11 - 10 Signs You have been Born Again - Part 2

June 12 - Become a People Builder and Change Your World

June 13 - How to Turn Hardships into Blessings

June 14 - The Crippling Disease Called Hate

June 15 - Ineffective and Unproductive Faith

June 16 - How to Live a Glorious Life

June 17 - How to Survive a Crushed Spirit

June 18 - Where Have All the Father’s Gone?

June 19 - Are You a Grumpy Christian?

June 20 - You Can’t Out-give God

June 21 - How to Recognize Heavenly Wisdom

June 22 - Right and Wrong Still Matter

June 23 - God’s Plan for Anger Management

June 24 - When God Looks at Your Heart

June 25 - When Christ Returns

June 26 - Christians Live in Glass Houses

June 27 - Godly Revenge

June 28 - Set Your Goal for Less

June 29 - When the Light Goes Out

June 30 - How to Walk By the Spirit

April 1

The Most Foolish Thing You Can Do

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

Psalm 14:1

This is the 4th in a series of Easter season messages and today’s focus is on “fools.” You may be wondering what Easter has to do with “fools.” For that matter, what does Psalm 14:1 have to do with Easter? Actually, it has everything to do with the Easter story. (And since it’s April Fool’s Day)

A fool is a person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person. Do you know anybody who fits that definition? How about that obnoxious co-worker who shows up late, leaves early, plays all day on her cellphone, and then complains about being overworked? Or that customer service representative who just wasn’t willing to help? Did I hear someone say do-nothing politicians? Don’t get me started.

Let’s stop for a moment. You may be thinking, I thought we weren’t supposed to call someone a fool. Jesus said, “anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Mt. 5:22)

In context, (Mt. 5:21-26) Jesus is referencing severe anger directed at another, hostility that must be reconciled. He instructs us to work out our differences quickly. Unresolved aggressive behavior toward another is symptomatic of a spiritual deficiency. In verse 25, Jesus tells us to “settle matters quickly with your adversary.”

“Fools” are first identified in our focus text (Psalm 14:1) as those who say “There is no God.” Then in the verses that follow David amplifies the meaning by describing the behavior of fools. Just in case you think he must be talking about somebody other than you or me, David writes, “there is no one who does good.” In verse 3 he repeats the phrase and adds the words “not one.” All of us at some time in our lives were viewed by God as fools.

David describes what God sees when he looks at man in verse 2: “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” Sadly, what God sees is not a pretty picture. “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (v3)

We are born with a sin nature which means based on the previous description, we come into the world as fools which is precisely where the Easter story comes into play. God looked at the foolish state of man and provided a remedy. Out of His love, He sent Jesus to die for our sinful foolish ways. Maybe Mr. T (The A-Team) had a little more depth of meaning than I ever gave him credit for when he shouted, “Pity the fool!” The LORD looked down from heaven with compassion and saw we were incapable of fellowship with Him.

You may think it is overly bold to say the person who is without God is a fool. But those aren’t my words. They are God’s words. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” God does not want anyone to remain as a fool. (2 Pet 3:9) But to reject His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ is to remain a fool. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) That is to say that, “You are a fool to reject Christ.”

To be clear, Christians can still act like fools. We act foolishly when we disobey God or fail to follow His direction. But the difference between us and the person who denies God is that God no longer sees us as fools. When God looks at the Christian, He sees the righteousness of Christ.

This message will be received by some as “foolishness” and those of us who express such thoughts will be perceived as “fools for Christ.” (1 Co 4:10) But better a fool in the eyes of man than in the eyes of Almighty God.

What then is the most foolish thing man can do? The most foolish thing that anyone can do is to reject the Easter message. Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead that you might have eternal life. Repent of your foolish ways (sin) and put your faith, trust, and hope in Jesus.

April 2

Because He Lives

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 20: 17-19

When Jesus made this claim, his disciples didn’t grasp the meaning. Such an incredible prophecy of one’s fate was far beyond the realm of human understanding. Sure, Jesus’ ministry had been met with opposition but He had extraordinary powers, amazing knowledge, and wisdom. Wherever He went, He drew large crowds of people who adored Him. They saw Jesus as the blessed hope of Israel, the one who would be their great liberator and king. The future looked so promising. With Jesus as their leader, they were headed for a better tomorrow. Then, suddenly, Jesus hit them with words that stopped them in their tracks. Betrayed. Condemned. Mocked. Flogged. Crucified!

This One who would lead them was now prophesying His impending death. There are few things in life that hit so hard as the news that someone you love dearly is about to die. Possibly, they were too consumed by words of Jesus’ death to consider the words that followed. “On the third day he will be raised to life!” Even if they tried to process these words such an event was beyond comprehension. People just don’t die and then come back to life a few days later. They had seen Jesus perform amazing miracles including raising Lazarus from the dead but this assertion was beyond comprehension.

Possibly, they were only hearing what they wanted to hear, much like the way we sometimes read scripture. It’s like watching television, tuning out the commercials, and channel surfing until we settle on something acceptable.

I once worked with a radio station receptionist who read the bible at her desk every day. I noticed she was highlighting scripture — but not with a yellow highlight pen. She was using a black marker. It looked like she was marking out parts of scripture she didn’t like.

We also cannot ignore the fact that the Holy Spirit often veiled the meaning of Jesus’ instruction only to give them understanding at a later time. The same thing happens to us. Have you ever read a passage of scripture numerous times and then one day you have a light bulb experience? “So that’s what that means.”

It was not until after Jesus’ resurrection they could understand His prophecy. It took a relatable life experience and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit to comprehend Jesus’ words.

Jesus’ prophecy concerning Himself revealed that on the other side of suffering everything will be all right. There will be incredible victory. That terrible ordeal of the cross would not be the end but the beginning of something better. To get to the better future they had envisioned He must first suffer and then there would be victory, not as they had imagined, but something far better with eternal value. God’s plan is always better than man’s plan.

Jesus’ victory was not just for Him but also for all who put their faith in Him for eternal salvation. Whenever we face painful trials, we can always be certain that on the other side of suffering there is victory. Jesus conquered death and suffering with His resurrection. All afflictions on this earth for the Christian are temporary and end in eternal victory.

At your disposal is power unfathomable. It is the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. It is mind-blowing, supernatural power that exceeds human comprehension. Nothing you face in life is impossible for God. Surely, we must be grounded in the reality of human experience and knowledge. But we should never forget that we are not solely limited by that which we can see and understand. There is a power that is in us that supersedes the limitations of the natural world. Now and forever, on the other side of suffering there is hope… because He lives. Suffering and death is not the end. Thanks be to God for His incredible gift.

April 3

Precious Memories

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

When you go through difficult times your mind is consumed by the ordeal. To give yourself relief you may think back to simpler times when life was less problematic and when your future seemed brighter. You give your mind rest by thinking upon precious memories.

You have probably never heard of John Braselton Fillmore Wright but more than likely you have heard a song he wrote in 1923 called Precious Memories. It has been recorded by numerous gospel and country music artists including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alabama, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Bob Dylan, and Aretha Franklin. (It may be easier to list the artists who have not recorded the song.) Precious Memories was one of many sentimental songs written by Wright who was a farmer by trade.

Wright’s life had been filled with setbacks due to the loss of dear family members and it was through song he relieved the pain of a broken heart. A year and a half before writing Precious Memories his youngest son died of diphtheria at the age of five. It is no wonder that so many people have identified with the sentiments expressed in the lyrics. Here is the familiar chorus:

Precious memories, how they linger

How they ever flood my soul

In the stillness of the midnight

Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Today’s focus scripture is written in the context of difficult times and suffering. In the preceding verse we are told, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Then in verse 3 we read, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Verses 1 and 3 help us to understand the instruction in verse 2:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

There is certainly nothing wrong with taking your mind to a place and time from the past to relieve the agony of the moment but here the emphasis is on the relief that can be found by focusing on “the joy” that lies ahead. Before you lies something far greater than anything than you have ever experienced. It will be a time of total victory in a place where there will be no more pain or sorrow. Just as Jesus “endured the cross” by looking to “the joy set before him” we gain the courage, boldness, and faith we need for standing in the midst of hardship by following His example. We look to Christ not only as the “author of our faith” but also as the “perfecter of our faith.”

Jesus faced the cross not only by enduring but also by “scorning its shame.” He refused to allow the cross to defeat Him. When we stand up to our hardships in faith and confidence in God, we are “scorning” its hold on our lives. We know that we can be hurt but not destroyed. We will reign victorious in Christ.

Just as Jesus looked to the time he would sit down “at the right hand of the throne of God” we can be emboldened by thinking on that time when we will be with our Lord in His heaven.

The Easter message gives us Precious Memories for the future and relief is found, not from what was, but what is and shall be as we “fix our eyes on Jesus.”

Now, let’s revisit the chorus to Precious Memories but rather than looking back let’s look forward to our blessed hope. Pay particular attention to the precious sacred scenes in your future.

Precious memories, how they linger

How they ever flood my soul

In the stillness of the midnight

Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Ironically, as “Precious Memories of the future flood my soul” during this Easter season, I am reminded of the Christmas story in Luke 2:19, where we read, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary looked back on what God had done in her life. She treasured and pondered her precious memories.

Wherever we encounter Jesus, in the past, present, or future, there will be plentiful Precious Memories for strengthening our faith. When we “fix our eyes on Jesus” there is always hope.

April 4

Favorite Easter Memory

“He is not here; he has risen!”

Luke 24:6

What are your fondest Easter memories? The first Easter that I can remember was when I was five years old. My Uncle Buddy had joined the Marine Corps shortly before Christmas and didn’t return home from basic training until near Easter. Consequently, my mother left up the Christmas tree so we could have a combination Christmas/Easter celebration. By Easter that tree looked like Charlie Brown’s needleless Christmas tree.

A year later I had a severe case of the measles at Easter. During that time, I was confined to the couch in the living room. On the day before Easter, I was greeted by surprise guests. Mom and dad had purchased two live baby bunnies that were not supposed to be seen until Easter morning. But the bunnies had a different idea and escaped from their box in the kitchen.

I also recall my annual Easter basket of colored eggs, marshmallow peeps, and chocolate bunnies that traditionally followed with a big family dinner at my grandmother’s house featuring her homemade coconut Easter Bunny cake. Additionally, my childhood Easter celebration always included going to church. Easter Sunday services were always packed to overflowing with decked out parishioners sporting brightly colored new outfits.

Just like you, I have many fond Easter memories and have shared only a few to get you thinking about what you remember most about Easter. However, those things we recall about Easter pale compared to what Jesus’ disciples experienced on that first Easter Sunday morning. Can you imagine what it was like when they went to the empty tomb?

There are certain events in your life that are so significant that they remain etched in your memory as if they happened just yesterday. Your wedding day, the birth of your first child, the death of a loved one, the day you graduated from high school, etc. These experiences vividly stay with you in great detail. So it must have been for those disciples who looked into the empty tomb.

I have often thought about the courageous women who followed close behind Jesus on the road to the cross. How it must have grieved them to see the pain already inflicted upon Him through the cruel beating, flogging, and crown of thorns and then to see the nails driven through His hands and feet and to watch for six horrific hours as Jesus suffered the cruelty of the cross. They witnessed the punishment, the ridicule, and the murder of the One they loved dearly and even after His death they waited for Jesus’ body to be removed from the cross. When His body was carried off for burial, they followed to see where He was entombed. They finally left out of obedience to observe the Sabbath. Even then they planned to return to the grave for the proper preparation of Jesus’ body with spices and perfumes. How that miserable ordeal must have played over and over again in their minds.

When we are shaken by traumatic situations, the agonizing thoughts stay continually with us. As they awoke on that first Easter Sunday morning they were surely greeted by thoughts of overwhelming grief. In fact, the weight of emotional stress may have been so great that sleep eluded them. They approached the tomb, not in joy, but in great sorrow.

With an unpleasant task before them, they returned to the tomb to give Jesus a proper burial. Upon arriving they were hit with yet another setback. The tomb was empty. And then…

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:4-8)

The resurrection of Jesus changed everything for them. Sorrow turned to joy, defeat turned to victory, discouragement turned to hope, and death turned to life. Three simple yet powerful words changed their lives forever. He has risen.

My Easter memories have no real value other than just the recall of happy times from days gone by. Oh, but the Easter memories of those women who faithfully followed Jesus. I’ll take their memories over mine any day.

I can only imagine how things will be in heaven. Maybe someday I’ll be so fortunate as to sit by some of these women as they recall their experiences on that first Easter. And if someone should ask me to share my favorite Easter memory I’ll simply say, “My most favorite Easter memory is the same as yours. He has risen!”



April 5

Dealing with Your Spiritual Inadequacies

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

“Those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him.” More than anything else in my life the one thing I have wanted for as long as I can remember is to live for Jesus. That said, I have failed miserably. I have never lived up to that expectation.

No telling how many times I have recommitted my life to Christ or asked for forgiveness of my sins. As a child I would lay upon my bed unable to sleep because I was worried that my life wasn’t right before God. Somebody told me way back then that “the age of accountability” was 11 and by my 10th birthday I was so overcome with worry that there were nights when I could not sleep at all. I recall thinking I only had one year to get my life right. Then when I reached the age of 11, I failed my Lutheran catechism class, the only one in my group to do so. My pastor tried to console me by telling me that “you can’t grade faith.” But that familiar feeling that I had failed God remained.

These feelings of falling short of the mark have followed me all the days of my life. I remember tearful confessions through high school and my Navy years. Such feelings of spiritual inadequacy continued into my professional radio career eventually leading me to conclude that God wanted me in the ministry. So I studied theology, became a Southern Baptist pastor, and served churches for about 15 years. The result was even more feelings of not measuring up.

I saw a movie recently about the life of Martin Luther and I was fascinated by his spiritual pilgrimage. He described a period of his life as one of spiritual despair in which he devoted himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, and frequent confession. But all of those spiritual exercises didn't satisfy his desire for pleasing God. In Luther’s years of spiritual struggling, I could see myself and readily identified with his constant striving yet, no matter how hard he tried, continually failing to live up to God’s expectations.

Even when I awoke this morning, my spiritual shortcomings were on my mind. And then I read the focus scripture, “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him.” In reality the bar is set higher than any of us can reach. Denying self and living for Jesus is beyond our mortal capability. Although a worthy goal no matter how hard we try, we will always need — God’s grace.

When Jesus announced to Peter that he was about to deny him Peter said, “no way.” He was willing to fight to the death for his Lord. But we all know what happened. Peter did exactly what Jesus said he would do and then wept bitterly. Later, while walking with the risen Lord, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter responded, “You know that I love you.” Indeed Jesus knew Peter loved Him. Regardless of the depth of our love for the Lord there will be times when we fall short of the mark.

In those moments when I am confronted with my spiritual inadequacies, I have learned that His grace is sufficient for all my needs. He died for my failings and there is no limit to the number of times He will grant forgiveness for my sins.

I’ll never be as good as I want to be for Him and neither will you. But when we are going through those feelings of spiritual inadequacy, we should accept His forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and move on.

April 6

The Principle of Divine Math

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Eph. 1:3

Have you ever stopped to think about what it means to have been blessed with every spiritual blessing? The descriptive word “every” indicates that, when it comes to spiritual blessings, God holds nothing back.

When we count our blessings we focus most of our attention on the blessings that surround us on this earth. To be sure we should be very grateful for God’s provision and protection on this earth. Even in the darkest times we don’t have to look very far to find something for which to give thanks. To recall those blessings, we need only to look to our past, our surroundings, and loved ones. But the greatest blessings are to be found by looking up to those blessings kept “in the heavenly realms.”

In heaven God has stored up eternal blessings for us. When appropriating His blessings God has held nothing back. In verse 8 of Ephesians 1, Paul says of these blessings that they have been “lavished on us.” We did not get just our fair share of God’s blessings but each one of us got all of it. God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

God’s math is not like ours. When we divide, we come up with less. Even in equal portions that extra-large pizza must be distributed to the crowd in pieces.

God’s division results in more for everybody. Let’s hear it for —NO LEFTOVERS.

Jesus provided us with a great example of the principle of divine math when He fed the 5,000 (plus women and children). “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” (Mt. 14:20) What happens when you divide “five loaves of bread and two fish” (Mt. 14:7) among 5,000 men and their families? You’re either going to have to send the crowd away or make a run for the grocery store. I suppose you could get them all McDonald's Happy Meals. That would cost you about $75,000 assuming the total crowd was about 15,000 people. In other words, for most of us feeding such an enormous crowd would be impossible. Divine math accomplishes the impossible.

Over the years, my wife and I have experienced some lean times when there just didn’t seem to be enough to supply our needs. Yet, looking back we have never lacked for anything. God has always provided. Even when there appeared to be little food in the pantry there has always been enough.

God’s heavenly math is not restricted by a lack of funds or supplies. His math can turn nothing into something and a little into a lot. Remember the story from 2 Kings 4 in which the widow appealed to Elisha for help? Her deceased husband’s creditors were threatening to take her sons as slaves as payment for his debts. All she had in the house was a little oil which God supernaturally increased to provide the funding needed to pay the debt.

Because you are a child of God, He has a storehouse of heavenly blessings for you. They are not just reserved for the future but are also available for today. When you surrendered your life to Christ as your personal Savior, a heavenly account was opened in your name. His divine accounting principles supersede the limitations of the human experience. Withdrawals from your heavenly account never deplete your riches in Christ. God’s eternal inheritance can never be emptied, eroded, or lost.

God’s grace is sufficient for all your needs (2 Cor. 12:9). In Him, there is and will always be enough. Earthly riches come and go but those stored up for us in heaven are eternally accessible. When you get hit with hard times in this life and there is not enough to get by… don’t forget about the principles of divine math. God can take the little you have and turn it into more than enough. He has held nothing back from you. God has already given you “every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

April 7

How to Overcome a Spirit of Timidity

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

What is “a spirit of timidity?” Is it possible you have such a spirit? Moreover, what are the warning signs? If you have this “spirit of timidity” why is it bad to have it and what can be done to get rid of it? The answers to all these questions can be found in 2 Timothy 1:5-8.

Paul was impressed with Timothy’s faith. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (v5) Therefore we can conclude that “timidity” is not the result of a lack of faith. In fact, Paul’s point is that people of faith are the ones who should not have this “spirit of timidity.” Our walk with God should be marked by “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Paul’s fear was that Timothy would join with other Christians who had grown tired of standing up for Christ under the stress of suffering and persecution. They had opted for the road of the least resistance and opposition. They were still believers, still in the faith, but had resigned themselves to a Christian existence that safe and comfortable.

One reason many Christians suffer from a “spirit of timidity” is battle fatigue. You may be one of many who once served on the front lines in the church or on the mission field. Your service for the Lord was so intense that you grew weary from the constant struggles of ministry and took yourself out of the game. Life is safer and more comfortable for you on the sidelines.

Another reason for this “spirit of timidity” is fear of rejection. These Christians prefer to keep their faith to themselves and follow the path of least resistance. On the few occasions in which they have attempted to share their faith they have been greeted by hostility or the rejection they fear. Their negative experiences were sufficient to keep them from putting their hand on the fire again. They long for acceptance, seek always to avoid conflict, and are easily embarrassed by appearing to be “too Christian.”

All of us bring differing personality traits into the faith. I am painfully shy. Years on the radio and in public ministry have helped me overcome much of my shyness…but I am still more comfortable keeping to myself. Witnessing and ministry for me have been like struggling to swim upstream. I don’t like to impose on others, yet I know I have a greater responsibility than my personal weaknesses. Many times I have sung the words of an old hymn, “I am weak but Thou art strong” and I have often been comforted by today’s focus scripture, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…”

When our kids reach their teen years, it is not uncommon for them to be embarrassed by the presence and behavior of mom and dad. One of my sons was so embarrassed by me, he would ask me to drop him off a block from his middle school so he wouldn’t be seen with me. I couldn’t be too hard on him for his thinking. I didn’t have to look back very far to see me doing the same thing when my grandfather drove me to high school in his old station wagon he used for hauling hay and small farm animals. Maturity eventually enabled both of us to overcome that weakness in our personalities. The same is true for the Christian. As you grow in Christ, you will overcome those personality traits that hold you back from the Lord’s work.

Paul’s instruction to Timothy is God’s objective for us: “do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.” (v8) Don’t allow battle fatigue, fear of rejection, or even personality weaknesses to keep you from telling others about Jesus. Paul further admonishes Timothy not to be “ashamed of me his prisoner.” (v8) For you and me that means we should not be ashamed to stand up for and stand alongside people of faith who are making a difference for Christ.

Then Paul calls upon Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel.” (v8) You must allow nothing to keep you from your higher calling in Christ, even if it means getting out of your comfort zone and suffering for Christ and His gospel.

That brings us to “how.” How can you overcome a “spirit of timidity?” You must appropriate that which God gave you when you surrendered your life to Christ: “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Power for ministry and witnessing is not of ourselves but it is “by the power of God.” Our motivation is “love” for Christ and others. We overcome our weaknesses and effectively serve Him through “self-discipline.” Just like a diet plan or exercise program you have to faithfully and consistently work at sharing your faith and working for the Lord.

How do you tap into the “power of God” that will energize and enable you to overcome your “spirit of timidity?” Paul’s reminder to Timothy is God’s word for us: “fan into flame the gift of God…” (v6) A pilot light already burns inside you. Through faith and action turn up the flame into a roaring fire that burns brightly for Christ. If you have never done it before then do it now. If you have taken yourself out of the game, it’s time to get back onto the playing field.

God’s not expecting you to be Billy Graham or the Apostle Paul. Through your personality, using your gifts and talents, find a way to share Christ with others.

I am reminded of the amazing story of Evangelist, David Ring, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and orphaned at age 14. His service for Christ is a shining example of what the “power of God” can accomplish in the life of a believer and how we can conquer adversity and personal challenges. When you hear his moving testimony and see how God is using him you cannot help but be moved when he says, “What’s your excuse?” Let us stop making excuses and make use of “the power” that God has for us.

April 8

Show Yourself to be a Child of God

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:43-45

“Like father. Like son.”

We inherit personality traits and physical characteristics from our parents. It is not uncommon for us to point out those similarities with expressions like:

“You’re acting just like your mother.”

“You looked like your dad when you did that.”

“I can see your father in you.”

Some claim inherited behavior is genetic. Others point to learned behavior. I suppose that would be the “monkey see — monkey do” theory. I’m persuaded that both rationales are true.

Both of my sons like to cook. That is a behavior they learned from me. It’s something they saw me do many times. It was a skill and a thing of joy I learned from my grandmother.

My oldest son has his mother’s tender heart and compassion. My youngest son is generous and loves to help people. These traits are definitely from his mother but, hopefully, some of that behavior was learned from me. Both of them have a stubborn streak. Surely they got that from their mom.

Just as we take on characteristics of our earthly fathers and mothers, we also reflect the nature of our Heavenly Father. In today’s focus scripture, Jesus teaches that we are to reflect the love of our “Father in heaven.” To belong to God is to inherit and acquire His character traits. Since our “God is love” (1 John 4:8) then we are to be people who love. The love we are to demonstrate is extraordinary love that transcends the norm of human love. This love is not just for family and friends but also includes our enemies, and those who persecute us.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” That is a tall order. God has raised the bar on love to include those who hate us. Not only are we to love our neighbors… but our enemies as well.

Jesus uses this description of how God loves His enemies: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” As I look out my window this morning, I see a beautiful sunrise. I can thank God for it and even praise Him for creating it. But this blessing isn’t just for me. It is for all around, both Christian and non-Christian.

As your day progresses and you encounter people, it then becomes your responsibility to spread sunshine into their lives. Your sunshine is not to be given to a select few. It is to be given to everyone. By so doing, you are showing yourself to be a child of God.

Sunshine is expressed in a smile, a kind word, gentleness, forgiveness, or a word of encouragement. It is given freely to all without regard to how you have been treated. As a child of God, your love for others is to act on a higher level. It is to emulate the love of your Heavenly Father.

Who is your enemy? Love them. Pray for them. Who is persecuting you? Love them. Pray for them. Let your sun shine on them.

Some years ago there was a man who was mean and hateful toward me. It seemed as if it was his goal in life to make my life miserable. Occasionally, I visited him and brought gifts as a demonstration of my willingness to love him despite the way I had been treated. On one meeting he growled, “Why are you doing this for me?” I wanted to tell him I was “loving my enemy,” but I opted for simply saying it was “something I wanted to do.”

I wish I could tell you that my efforts at loving as God loves changed his disposition toward me. In reality, it is unlikely your enemies will return your sunshine. They may well go on persecuting and despising you. So it is with so many of those who are recipients of God’s universal blessings. Their disposition may never change toward God. But that doesn’t stop God from acting true to His nature.

Jesus’ emphasis here is not on what you get back for giving sunshine to those who don’t deserve it. His focus is on your relationship to your Heavenly Father. Because God your Father loves… you love… and in so doing you prove that you belong to Him.

The Lord’s assignment today is a real challenge but worthy of the effort. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.

April 9

A Distress Signal to God

He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Jonah 2:2

One of the most famous Bible stories for children is Jonah and the Whale. To refresh your memory, God had called upon Jonah to preach to the sinners in the wicked city of Nineveh. But Jonah was opposed and fled by boat to Tarshish. His journey was interrupted by a great storm. The sailors onboard blamed Jonah for their peril, threw him overboard, and he was swallowed by a great fish.

Over the years, I’ve encountered people who doubt the voracity of this story. They say there’s no way a man could survive such an ordeal. But to dismiss the story as fantasy is to miss an important spiritual lesson.

Jonah ran away from his God-given responsibility. He disobeyed God’s command, which is how and why he ended up in a life threatening predicament. He brought it on himself.

When we allow our relationship to God to become distant and embrace sinful behavior, like Jonah, we are running from God. Since God loves us, He may allow circumstances into our lives to get our attention, a divine reminder of our responsibilities as born again believers.

If you’re a parent of a teen or adult, how do you feel when they engage in harmful or destructive behavior? Despite your efforts at teaching and warning them about negative consequences for making bad choices, they reject your concern and angrily accuse you of meddling in their business. It grieves your heart, right?

When Christians sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. “… do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

Besides grieving the Spirit, we quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Put another way, engaging in prolonged ungodly behavior thwarts God’s work in us. No flame. No fire. Our prayers fall on deaf ears. We lose access to divine guidance and help.

Today, it’s an increasingly common occurrence for family and friends to stage an intervention to help a loved one seek help for an addiction. Likewise, God intervenes, as he did with Jonah, to set his children back on the path of righteousness. His chastening is an act of love. “… the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrew 12:6)

When God disciplines those he loves, He stands ready to receive and restore us from our rebellious ways.

Jonah did exactly what God wanted. He called out in “distress” to the Lord. Put another way, Jonah prayed fervently. We get the gist of his plea in chapter 2 at verse 7, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you…”

Here we get a perfect picture of what it means to repent. Jonah confessed his sin and changed directions. He stopped running away from God, changed course, and turned back toward God.

And the most beautiful words anyone could ever hear came in response. “He answered me.”

Pardon the unintentional pun, but Jonah had hit bottom. “From deep in the realm of the dead, I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

So, what happened when Jonah got his act together and obeyed God? Well, he carried God’s message of judgement to Nineveh, that city of 120,000 people would be destroyed in forty days. Here’s the good part. The people repented and God relented.

Then Jonah pouted because he was angry with God for sparing their lives. Talk about a prophet with a bad attitude. God had an answer for that too. But that’s a story for another time.

Where are you in your walk with God? Are you living for Him, seeking to learn his expectations and endeavoring to follow His master plan? If not, why put it off? Why risk grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit? I think you’ll agree, we need all the help we can get to live in this cruel world. Is it time to send up your Distress Signal to God?

April 10

When Distance Separates You from Those You Love

But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

Psalm 22:19

What a blessing to have my children and grandchildren living nearby. My loved ones are only thirty minutes away.

I have friends whose families are scattered across the country and beyond, and they seldom get to see one another. Modern conveniences like Skype and FaceTime help, but there’s nothing like seeing our loved ones in person.

For those in military service, distance separation can be a long and stressful reality. When I was in the Navy, I was stationed about 5,000 miles from home. That was before cellphones and internet. Remember payphones?

The mere presence of our loved ones gives us strength. In times of crisis, we want them close.

Several years ago, my wife battled cancer and, as a result, endured surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. But nothing the medical community had to offer lifted her spirits more than the presence of our granddaughter. When three-year-old Katie entered the room, fear and pain were replaced by comfort and joy.

During that same period, at the age of 59, I was fired from my radio job. Every morning, as I looked for a company willing to hire an older worker, Katie was by my side. Her effect on me and Janet can be likened to the old song, You are My Sunshine. Having her near not only lifted our burdens, but it gave us joy in the midst of sorrow.

Hopefully, God has blessed you with friends and family who have a similar effect on you. Such joy when they are near, but, oh, how we miss them when we’re apart.

As Christians, and as members of God’s forever family, we have a special relationship to the godhead. The source of all joy and the One with the capacity to help as no other is with us.

The Psalmist called upon this special relationship in our focus text. “But you, LORD, do not be far from me… Come quickly…”

Interestingly, Psalm 22 begins with the words Jesus spoke from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (see Matthew 27:46) I commend Psalm 22 to you for closer examination. It is a prophetic Psalm that foretells the suffering and death of Jesus in our stead. It depicts a man undergoing the ultimate crisis, the greatest tragedy, pleading for God to help him.

“Do not be far from me.” Which begs the question, where is God? Heaven? Sure. But even better, he is with you — and your loved ones in Christ — at this very moment.

When you gave your life to Christ, the godhead took up residence in you. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with you and in you at all times and in all places. God is with you wherever you are and ALWAYS accessible. He is near. He is here. And he has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He’s the one member of your family who will never be isolated or separated by distance.

There’s a night scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan, in New York, and Tom Hanks, in Seattle, are both staring at the moon. Separated by space but united by a common object. Imagine then your unique link to your loved ones through Christ. Sure you miss them, but you know that the God who cares for you — cares for them. He is with you — and them, bridging the gap of separation.

Paul closed his letter to the church at Ephesus with these words, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)

When you pray for your loved ones, remember that God can do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine.

Take your concerns for family and friends to Him now. Look to God to do what you can’t to bridge the distance gap and provide the help you want to give them.

April 11

The Rock of Ages

There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

1 Samuel 2:2

When you think of the word “rock,” what comes to mind? Rock music, maybe?

In 1986, Bob Seger had a hit song called Like a Rock. Then from 1990 until 2004, the song was used in Chevy truck commercials. Sorry. Now that song will bounce around in your head all day.

The word “rock” has been used symbolically since ancient times to represent strength, faithfulness, firmness, security, dependability, safety, and stability. In fact, it appears in the Bible 142 times and most commonly represents God.

In today’s focus from 1 Samuel, the speaker’s name is Hannah who declares “There is no Rock like our God.”

This woman’s remarkable story can serve as an inspiration to all of us. As a wife, she was barren, which in her day was considered a disgrace. To make matters worse, her husband’s (Elkanah) other wife (Peninnah) had given birth and then mercilessly ridiculed Hannah for her misfortune.

Hannah took her burden to the Lord and was so emotionally overwrought and deeply engaged in fervent prayer, she caught the attention of the priest, Eli. Initially, he thought she was drunk. She assured him she was praying — pouring her soul out to God. Eli was touched by her response and added his blessing, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:17)

God answered Hannah’s prayer, and she gave birth to a son named Samuel which means, God hears.

Now she faced another problem.

In her desperate prayer to God, Hannah had promised to surrender her offspring for God’s service. True to her word, after she had weaned the boy which in those days would have been at two or three-years-old, she presented Samuel to Eli to be left at the temple and trained as a priest.

That brings us back to today’s scripture. On the day Hannah presented Samuel to Eli, she said, “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

Hannah’s words were more than just a memorized church prayer. Her head knowledge of God had become heart knowledge. There is no one like God! Nothing can compare!

In Psalm 34:8, we read, “Taste and see that the LORD is good…” God is more than words in a book or a Sunday morning recitation. “Taste” means that God is to be experienced, which we do by faith. “Put your money where your mouth is.” Pray. Get specific with your faith. Then hang on for the ride of your life and learn for yourself “that the Lord is good” and “there is no Rock like our God.”

Hannah doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would have “rubbed it in” to Peninnah, her tormenter. But I’ll bet she couldn’t help but smile widely when she passed her by.

Many Christians treat Christianity like a bottle of New Car Smell Air Freshener. One whiff and, “look at me, I’m a believer.” Nope. Get behind the wheel, start the engine, and get out on the highway. Faith requires action.

Oh, by the way. God wasn’t finished with Hannah. He honored her faithfulness, gave her three more sons and two daughters, and Samuel grew to become the last of Israel’s judges, its first prophet, and counselor to kings Saul and David.

“There is no Rock like our God.” He’s still involved in the lives of His people who seek Him. He is the Rock of Ages.

April 12

How to Pray Continually

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 16:11

Today’s scripture challenges us to continually and consistently spend time with God. “… seek His face always.”

Time with God comes with benefits. You will always gain something positive and useful.


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