Author Topic: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional  (Read 50093 times)

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1350 on: November 06, 2014, 09:50:10 am »
The Top of the Waterfall
by Katherine Britton

"My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you."
– Isaiah 26:9

As I looked up the path – and up, and up – I couldn’t even see the head of the waterfall. The last cataract foamed in front of me, but the first was far up on mountain, where the sunlight hit the summit. I wanted to see more.

The trail was relatively easy, but I was huffing and puffing before long thanks to the incline. The trail snaked back and forth across the mountain, taking us up a fifty feet with each turn. The second, third, and fourth cataracts appeared, and we clambered onward after each one, still intent on seeing that first drop. In the words of C. S. Lewis, the lure of “further in and further up” kept us going, as beauty upon beauty made us eager to see even more.

The view didn’t disappoint us. The autumn panorama spread over the surrounding hills, contrasted in highlight and shadows from the afternoon sun. Everyone at the summit was smiling and taking pictures. Nobody sat with their back against the view. To our right, the head of the waterfall rushed on, flowing over the first drop. Nothing in the suburbs compares with what we saw. 

What is it about a waterfall – or anything natural wonder – that makes us stop and stare? What is it about a rainbow that keeps us looking for the next one? Why is Niagara Falls so famous? Why does the human soul dream of places so far from what we normally experience? Why do we keep following the path until we see the greatest beauty of all?

I think such scenes are part of God’s mercy to the whole world, because they teach us what it means to hunger for more. They give us a glimpse of the time when we can drink so deeply that our thirst will be quenched. Like in the Narnia books, they shadow the real thing, when we will be in God’s eternal presence. Do we hunger for that?

Scripture is full of references to this kind of longing. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes of “seeing dimly, as in a mirror,” as he waits to see the true nature of love revealed. Roman 8:18-27 empathizes with all of creation’s “groaning” as it waits to see the full glory of God revealed. After all, “who hopes for what he already has?”

As I remember that panorama – and how I want to go back – I consider those verses of longing after God. The more I know and see of God’s character, the more I should be amazed and want to see even more. Someday, every Christian will experience the joy of seeing the fullness of the Lord displayed, but until then, we see one beauty at a time as we keep going. Are you satisfied with the small glimpses, or does the summit beckon you?

Intersecting Faith & Life: While each cataract on the way up the falls had a beauty all its own, I didn’t want to stop until I had seen it all. This week, I want to ask myself daily: am I content with my faith journey, stopping before I should? Or does each new sight give me a thrill that spurs me on to see even greater heights? Let’s encourage each other to keep going, and to seek to know our God more each day.

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1351 on: November 07, 2014, 08:14:21 am »
Flying Lessons
by Meghan Kleppinger

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11, NAS

While traveling to Chattanooga, TN a few years ago, I read the autobiography, Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved, by Dorie Van Stone. The book retraces the past of a deeply wounded child transformed into a woman with heart on fire for the God who loves her.

As a child, Dorie was rejected and abandoned by her mother, and abused by orphanage workers, foster parents, and relatives. In the midst of a horrendous childhood filled with daily mistreatment, Dorie was introduced to the One who did love her and would never abandon her. Her life is now one that reflects not her past, but her Savior.

As I finished reading the final chapter on the plane, I shared with the Lord that I wanted to meet Dorie, give her a huge hug, and thank her for writing the book.

During my layover in Atlanta, I saw a woman resembling Dorie in one of the airport stores. I pulled the book out of my bag to compare the woman in the store with the photo on the back cover. I shook off the possibility and thought the same thing you are thinking now, “There is no way!” I proceeded to my gate promising myself if I saw her again I would I ask if she was, in fact, “Dorie.”

I’m not proud to admit that when she appeared at my departure gate, I was a complete wimp and did not approach her. She sat two seats behind me on the plane, and still I said nothing. In Chattanooga’s airport she kept popping up, but I continued to come up with excuses for not asking a simple question. Finally, while waiting for my baggage, I heard someone say, "Mrs. Van Stone."

I turned to her and finally asked, "Are you Dorie Van Stone?" She answered “yes” (of course). "Oh my!" was my intelligent response. I continued with, "I just finished your book on the plane."

"What did you think?" She asked, smiling.

“It was wonderful!” I managed to gurgle out. “I promised myself that if I ever met you I would give you a big hug!”

Without hesitation, she dropped her bags and gave me the biggest bear hug imaginable. I thanked her for writing the book and we quickly embraced again before going our separate ways.

I was amazed by the marvelous gift God gave me in meeting Dorie Van Stone. My adrenaline high was cut short with the reality that I could have spent a lot more time talking with her, but was too afraid. God was prompting me, but I ignored Him. Instead of listening, I waited until it was safe to ask. To this day, I regret the lost time I could have spent with Dorie.

I committed to never again allow fear to guide my decisions.

Every day, in little ways, God asks us to step out and trust Him. Sometimes He is asking us to share the gospel or help someone in need … and sometimes He is answering a prayer or simply asking us to receive a gift. Isn’t it easy to make excuses or justify saying “no?” We cheat ourselves when we respond this way. He offers us His goodness, shows us His glory, invites to be part of His work, and all we have to do is sensitive to His prompting and say “yes.”

Intersecting Faith & Life: Remember what I learned that day: when God asks you to do something that is a little challenging or out of your comfort zone, He’s not asking you to blindly jump off a bridge to your death, He’s offering you a chance to fly!  So, prepare for flight, find comfort in the shadow of His wings (Psalms 36:7), and experience His goodness and love.

Further Reading

2 Timothy: 1:7
Your Ordinary Life Can be Extraordinary

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1352 on: November 10, 2014, 10:44:35 am »
Sweet Frog
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

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

One Presidents Day weekend, my father and sister drove from Illinois to visit me in Virginia. It was a great weekend, one of the best I'd had in a while. We toured Richmond city, ate at some of the best local restaurants, saw two movies, and spent our time as a family. 

On their last day in Richmond, the three of us traveled to a small part of the city known as Cary Town where we stopped for frozen yogurt in a neon-colored shop named "Sweet Frog." That's when it happened. I should have known, should have seen it coming. The brightly colored walls, quaint setup, even the concept -- frozen yogurt -- how could I have missed it? But no, I was totally blindsided when my dad leaned over to me and said,   

"You know, Ryan, this would be the perfect place to take a girl on a date."

To be fair, I love my Dad and giving good advice is what Dads do, but I am more than aware of how painfully single I am.

Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, once wrote an article about what happens when young, twenty-something guys are asked if they're dating.   

"If you answer ‘yes', I imagine fireworks go off, confetti cannons fire and you get a ribbon that says "1st place" but when you answer ‘no,' three things happen:

My friend's mom brings up my last High School girlfriend, a prom date, or "that one girl your mom was telling me about at school" and proceeds to ask, "what happened with ‘that'?" Then I awkwardly explain why those relationships didn't wind up with me being on one knee, pledging my life to that female. A generic cliché like, "Life was just taking us in different directions" usually gets the job done.

My friend's dad hears I am single, which causes him to give me an abundance of "Dad's trying to be cool" fist pounds and references to me being a single man and "free." Once the high fives stop, he gives me a ten-step action plan on how to meet women based on what he did to meet his wife.

But the worst, no question, is the little old ladies at church. Being 22 and single is something they absolutely cannot fathom. They often explain how they had been married for 5 years at this point in their life and had two kids and one on the way. Nothing you say to justify your state in life appeases their grief that you are not married."- (Stuff Christians Like # 955)

Funny as this is, in all honesty, I was worried. Since college, three of my best friends had gotten engaged. Two others were in serious relationships. I was just, well, single. I am not good at dating; I never have been. What if I never meet someone? What if I never start my own family? What if God's plan for my life is to stay single?

As I sat there, stewing in my own anger and self pity, my sister pointed toward the wall. "Hey, look at the acronym they made." I turned my head. The store had decorated the walls with shirts bearing their name and logo. On one shirt, beneath the Frog in "Sweet Frog" someone had printed the words, "Fully. Rely. On. God." It's strange to think that God would speak to someone in a neon-pink frozen yogurt store, but honestly, I think he did.


God does have a plan for our lives. We can spend our time worrying about what the future holds, or we can trust him, and take each day as the gift it was made to be. It doesn't mean life is going to be easy, far from it, but we can be reassured with the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows what he is doing.

Intersecting Faith and Life:
Are you single and worried about your future? Get involved with openings at your church, and give some of your time to God.

Further Reading

Proverbs 3:5 

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1353 on: November 11, 2014, 01:17:49 pm »
Those Who Serve
by Laura MacCorkle

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, NIV

Today, on Veterans Day, we honor all of those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

This morning, at the Arlington National Cemetery, a Veterans Day National Ceremony will take place where a wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns by a color guard made up of members from each of the military services.

While those who have passed away are certainly remembered on this day, Veterans Day is primarily intended to thank those Veterans who are still living for their time in service to America. In fact, it is said that today there are over 24 million Veterans who have served and reintegrated back into society. And I hope for both of us, if we know one of these men or women, that we will thank them today.

Veterans are probably some of the first people we think of when considering those who serve others or have jobs that cause them to sacrifice in some way in their lives. I also think many of us would agree that you could count firefighters, teachers and missionaries in that category as well.

But perhaps we should also consider others who serve today—the ones behind the scenes and the unsung heroes of our lives, if you will.

I’m sure you know of someone in your life who has greatly impacted you with his or her selfless acts of kindness and service. Perhaps it’s a parent or a friend, a neighbor or someone at your workplace. Whoever they are, they stand out to you because they don’t call attention to themselves. Their actions are what speak loudest, because they are living for something—and for Someone—greater than themselves.

Two women in Scripture who exemplify these kind of “undercover” people who serve are Lois and Eunice, who were Timothy’s grandmother and mother respectively. Paul acknowledges them for their significant work in Timothy’s life in his letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5:

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.

And then later on in chapter 3, verses 14 and 15 he also says to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

We don’t often call out Lois and Eunice as great heroes of the faith when we talk about examples from Scripture, do we? But these few verses point to the very important sacrifices they made in their lives to make sure that Timothy was taught the Word. They were faithful in service to God, as they gave what had been entrusted to them—the gift of God’s Word—to Timothy, so he would, in turn, be equipped to share the Truth in service to God and others.

On the surface, this sounds like an easy way to serve. But when was the last time you sat down with someone, day after day, month after month, year after year and worked with them in their spiritual growth and development? It’s a sobering thought. Because it requires the sacrifice of our time, our desires and our very lives.

Veterans or not, those who serve are all around us today. So let’s give thanks for them all and for the difference God has made in our lives through those who he has led to serve. 

Intersecting Faith & Life: As you give thanks for those who have served America today, take inventory of how you are serving others. What sacrifices is God asking you to make so that you can demonstrate his love and make an eternal difference in the life of someone else?

Further Reading:

John 21:15-17, NIV

Romans 12:10-13, NIV

1 John 4:19, NIV

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1354 on: November 12, 2014, 10:05:37 am »
Rotten Fruit
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

During my time in college, I met another student who considered himself a very devout Christian. In terms of practice, this student couldn’t be criticized for his dedication. He read the Bible each morning, attended chapel like clockwork, and never broke a rule during his time at the university. In terms of spirit though, he represented the worst Christianity had to offer. He was proud and judgmental, always calling out others on what he considered to be “sins”.

When guys got together to play a game of Halo, he accused them of putting videogames before God. Once, when a guy kissed his girlfriend goodbye on the cheek, he railed for an hour about sexual immorality. When one girl stood up to him and told him to mind his own business, he called her “deaf to the Holy Spirit.” Things finally hit a major low one night at a Bible Study where, after being ignored by some of the other members, he declared that a prophet like himself was wasting his time with these reprobates. He left the university shortly after, and no one was sad to see him go.

Now, the reason I’m writing this isn’t to shame him, God knows I’ve done plenty of stupid things in my time too. What bothered me though was the fact that, despite much evidence to the contrary, this student was certain he was doing the right thing. In fact, there are many so-called Christians who do and say terrible things, all in the name of God. In cases like these, it’s vital to remember what Matthew wrote about bearing fruit.

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” – Matthew 7:15-23

At some point, every Christian needs to look at their life and examine the fruit they’ve been harvesting. Are there bushels full of harsh words, proud actions, and vindictive thoughts, or does their bounty include selfless gestures and a gracious heart? Remember, God will judge us by what we sow in the hearts of others, be careful you’re fruit isn’t rotten.

Intersecting Faith and Life: Take a moment to examine how you have been treating others. Are you truly approaching them as Christ would?

Further Reading

Luke 6:31

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1355 on: November 14, 2014, 09:50:07 am »
Scripture to Comfort
by Meghan Kleppinger

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4, NAS

If you have ever suffered a broken relationship and/or heart, the loss of a loved one, or any number of other devastations, than you know about "that" pain.

It's that pain that originates in the bottom of your stomach and initially feels like a big numb ball. Later it develops into a raw gnawing that can only be equated to burning stabs of fire. It makes it way up through the intestines and finally settles in the throat, choking out all attempted spoken words and creating such an excruciating sensation that tears are sure to follow.

Like any other person who has spent more than a few days on this planet, I know "that" pain well. It comes quickly and when it does, it's difficult to believe that it will ever go away. It brings about sorrow, grief, and as it eventually begins to fade away, it brings guilt.

This has been a tough year for my family. We've lost friends and recently, just a few short weeks ago, my grandfather. I know I'm not an anomaly and that people all over the world are suffering a similar pain, so as I began to pray about what I should write about for this week, I started thinking about what has really been helpful for me during these times.

Friends and family have been great, but most of all, scripture has been comforting me. My hope is that the scripture I share with you will be beneficial to you as you grieve or that you can use it to minister to others who are suffering.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)

"And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5)

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed n spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

"The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17)

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)

"And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."  (Revelation 21:4)

And finally…

"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Intersecting Faith & Life: Go to the Word of God for comfort. In the words of Matthew Henry, ""The Word of God gives us great help in attaining the peace we need. It is living, very lively and active in seizing the conscience of the sinner, in cutting him to the heart, and in comforting him and binding up the wounds of the soul. It is powerful. It convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully.""

Further Reading

Revelation 21:3-5
Why Does God Comfort Those Who Mourn?
Learning True Comfort

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Offline Judy Harder

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Re: Crosswalk.com--The Devotional
« Reply #1356 on: November 17, 2014, 10:28:19 am »
A Thankful Tomorrow
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” – Psalms 31:19

I’ve always really enjoyed Thanksgiving. Sure, the family can be pretty crazy at times, and I usually end up on dish duty after the meal, but Thanksgiving has always been a time for me to stop and realize how blessed I am. Friends, family, a warm meal, there are many simple things in this life that are easy to take for granted, so it’s good to have a day that reminds us to be thankful for all God has given us. The problem is that’s usually how long it lasts, a day. After the food has been eaten and prayers have been said, many people wake up the next morning and jump head first into the madness of Black Friday.   

I can only remember shopping twice on Black Friday, and I regretted it both times. It’s complete chaos, with people running, screaming, and sometimes even fighting each other over things they want to buy. I’ve never had any crazy experiences myself, but my brother-in-law remembers a particularly strange incident that happened while he was in college. One year, while he and my sister were still dating, he drove up to visit her on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He had left his house at 3am with hopes of avoiding the holiday rush and was making good time on the freeway when suddenly, out of nowhere, a long line of traffic appeared in the distance.

At first he thought there had been an accident, but as he got closer he realized that the stalled traffic was due to cars making complete stops on the freeway so their passengers could get out, jump the guard rails, and climb a small hill to a nearby outlet mall. It’s ironic, and a little sad, that a day which celebrates American greed happens after the holiday about being thankful. At times like these, it’s important that as Christians realize we cannot live Christ-centered lives when we leapfrog between God and possessions.   

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)   

So don’t throw out your thankfulness with the evening leftovers, but hold onto it as the Advent season begins. Remember the blessings Christ has given us and use them to prepare yourself for Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ, the greatest gift of all.     

Intersecting Faith and Life: Don’t let the crazy shopping season distract you from what’s really important.

Further Reading

1 Timothy 4:4

 :angel:
Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!