Saturday, February 25, 2017

“Today I’m an Ostrich”


“Today I’m an Ostrich”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Luke 4:42, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” (NIV)  

Devotion:
Today, I’m an Ostrich. I want to stick my head in the sand and ignore everyone else.  I feel like being alone.  I don’t want to talk on the phone or read my email.  This morning I went for my daily gingerbread latte. A chatty woman stood beside me as we were waiting for our frothy cups of coffee to surface from behind the counter.   She talked non-stop. She reminded me of a chirping canary.  I grabbed my steamy drink and ducked out of the door. 

Today I am an ostrich, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be a canary. 

Some days I need my ostrich type solitude.  Other times, my own canary self tweets for companionship and camaraderie.   My introverted self needs time alone; the extroverted part of my personality needs fellowship.  God created us with both needs.

Scripture proves this to us by using Jesus as an example. Various verses describe how the multitudes followed and desired to be with him. A passage speaks of the seventy people Jesus sent to work for the Kingdom. The Bible portrays how the twelve disciples were his closet friends.  Many verses illustrate that James, John, and Peter became his inner circle of confidants.  Jesus loved people and living in community with them. 

Yet other Scriptures tells us, “At day break Jesus went out to a solitary place.”  Another verse that confirms His need for aloneness, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV)  Jesus needed people and he required solitude.

At this hectic time of year, we fill our days with shopping, parties, and family feasts.  We often feel emotionally frazzled and physically exhausted.  We overspend, overeat, and just plain overdo everything.

Time alone by myself refreshes and renews me.  It gives me a better perspective on life.  Most importantly, it allows me the strength and determination to be the wife, mother, and friend I long to be.  Isaiah 40:31 applies to my ostrich days, ““But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. “ (KJV)  These type of quiet days enable me to be an extroverted canary type on the busy demanding days of life. 

Maybe during the month of December we should set aside a couple of days to behave like an ostrich.  (Although, they don’t actually stick their heads in the sand.)  We could let the phone ring, the emails wait, and the activities pass us by.   Maybe we could imitate Jesus and slip away for a few moments of prayer and solitude.

So today, I am an ostrich. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be the one chirping at the Starbucks raring to interact with the people God places in my pathway.  

Which type of day do you need today?

Prayer: 
Father, give me the sense to realize that I can’t do everything I want to do.  Grant me wisdom to know when I need solitude.  Please call me away to prayer with You when I begin to overdo in my activities.  I ask You to aid me in finding a balance in my life with people, activities and with You.  In Jesus’ Sweet Name, Amen. 

Application steps:  
Take a few minutes to review your calendar of events.  Determine if there are events, parties or chores that can be put aside until next week or month.  Then plan at least one morning or afternoon where you can seek God in quiet solitude. 

Refection points:       
Why do I feel compelled to keep busy?

Do I let other people dictate my calendar?

What can I eliminate so that I am not physically, emotionally or spiritually exhausted?

Power verses:
Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (NIV)  

Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (NIV) 

Luke 6:12, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (NIV)  

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (NIV)  

Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. “ (KJV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 20, 2017

“Quick! Send Me a Rainbow!”


“Quick!  Send Me a Rainbow!”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven Psalm 107:29-30 (NIV).   

Devotion:
Sheets of rain pelt the front bay window, again.  The news reports of flooding throughout the nation.  Homes wash away.  Mudslides tear through communities.  Storms rage outside my home, while inside mundane strife threatens a downpour of gloomy moods.  It’s a dismal day.

My friend, Tiffany Berg, says, “Every girl should own two things—an umbrella and a feather boa.  You never know what kind of day it’s going to be!”  Today happens to be an umbrella day.  I need a large umbrella, but my heart desires a bright rainbow to hover over me.  And I want it now! 

Remember the story of Noah?  He built the boat, the animals came, it rained for days on end, and then God sent the rainbow.  God spoke to Noah, Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth Genesis 9:16 (NIV).
     
That promise gives me hope during the sundry storms of my life.  The dishwasher floods the floors, the roof leaks, the kids catch the flu, or my husband is laid-off.  God’s promise holds true in these storms as well as nature’s downpours.  Jesus promises, In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world  John 16:33 (NIV).  He promises us peace through all the rough weather of life. His promise holds true because he has the power to fulfill the promise. 

 Let’s look at a storm Christ’s disciples went through in Matthew 8:  

“Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him.  The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm.  Waves were crashing into the boat - and he was sound asleep! They roused him, pleading, "Master, save us! We're going down!" 

 Jesus reprimanded them.  "Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?"  Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: "Silence!"  The sea became smooth as glass. The men rubbed their eyes, astonished.  "What's going on here?  Wind and sea come to heel at his command!"  (The Message)

This is what I love about Jesus.  Not only did he calm a stormy sea, but also within the next few verses, he went on to heal two demon-possessed men and a paralytic.  He is the Living Son of God who has the power to keep me safe and secure through any circumstantial tornado that rips through my life.  He will guide me to a safe haven. 

So as the clouds continue to gather, I am going to find my umbrella.  I am going outside to catch a glimpse of a multi-hued prism, the rainbow.  Then I’ll come inside and search for that feather boa.  Because when the sunshine comes peeking through, I want to be ready for a new day. 

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me to remember that regardless of life’s storms you are my safe haven.   Remind me that you have the power to calm the rough waters that occasionally flood my life.  Lord, help me to see the multi-colored rainbows that you set in my life for encouragement.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 Application steps:
Take a moment to read Matthew 8:1-9.  Jot down all the miracles Jesus performed.  Then list the needs in your life.  Ask Christ to come and provide a rainbow in each circumstance.


© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2017

“A Knee-print Valentine”


“A Knee-print Valentine”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Mark 12:30, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' ” (NIV)  

Devotion:
Lacy white paper glued to bright red paper constructed to enchant others.  Cutout hearts invite—Be Mine Valentine! Pastel candies with cute phrases provide a sweet conversation between two people.  February is the month noted for Love.

However, after searching for just the right valentine card this year, it dawned on me that I can spend more time looking for an endearing phrase for my husband, than I do telling God how much I love Him.  Personally, I have never seen a “valentine” card to God.  Have you?

This February I will certainly bestow my love on the special people God has placed in my life, but I am also determined to love God “with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  Why?  Because the Apostle John writes this truth, “We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)  The only reason, I can even begin to love a Holy Almighty God, is because he loved us by sending His son to die on a tortuous wooden cross for me.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NIV)

He loved me first.  He loved you first. Do you have a love relationship with Jesus Christ?   Perhaps, you feel unloved during the month of Love, but you don’t need to.  There are four simple steps to beginning an eternal love relationship with Him.

·      Believe He is the Son of the Living God
·      Believe He died for your sins and was resurrected to eternal life.
·      Ask for forgiveness of yours sins.
·      Accept Him as Lord of you life.

Now whether you have just begun a love relationship with Jesus or if you have journeyed with him for years, how about presenting Him with an outward display of your love? 
My valentine message to Christ will be a special time on my knees. I pray that my creaking knees will be a sound of praise to His ears.  The carpet indented with knee-print kisses and elbow-mark hugs on the sofa will be the loving signature of my devotion to Him. (And I will not make my usual list of needy requests.)  This knee-print valentine will be just whispers of love, to a God who deserves to be worshipped in complete loving devotion.  


Prayer: 
Lord Jesus, I thank you for loving me enough to die on the Cross.  Lord, I want you to know that I love you.  I want to learn to love you more each day.  Teach me how to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

Application steps:  
Do you remember making valentines in school?  Well, today take fifteen minutes and make a Valentine’s Day card for God.  It doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it should be heartfelt.  Dig out your glue gun, a red crayon, a few pieces of paper, and make a love note to God. Then hang it on your refrigerator as a reminder this week to tell God that you love Him. 

Refection points:       
Do you know that God wants to be the love of your life?

How can you show God you love Him?

With whom can you share the story of God’s love? 

Power verses:  
Psalm 42:8, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.” (NIV) 

Psalm 66:19-20, “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3, “ 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' ” (NIV)  

Zechariah 13:9, “…They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.’ ” (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Closet Clues

“Closet Clues”

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.  Matthew 6:25 (MSG)

Devotion:
I discovered a lot about myself during a recent cleaning expedition of my clothes closet.  Blue stood out as my favorite color.  How could I own so many blue tops?  I found that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I hold the fantasy I am going to fit into those size 10 jeans again.  I believe my favorite outfits might someday come back in style.  With a glance at the floor, I recall my husband suggesting, “You might be a shoe-oholic.”  

Spring-cleaning my closet became a safari of sorts. I separated.  I bagged and hauled out many worn, useless, too small, and hardly worn items. I sat down exhausted after finishing my cleaning mission. 

Then I asked myself, Why do I own so many clothing items that a full walk-in closet bursts at the seams?  Two answers settled in my mind—God’s blessings and my own self-indulgence.  

Starting today, I will attempt to put less value on my clothing and more significance on what I wear on the inside.  The Apostle Paul said, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14 (NIV) 

In addition, I will purchase my clothes with more thought.  Do I need it?  Will I wear it?
If yes, I will remove one old item when I hang it in my closet.  Also enduring styles, not fads, will populate my wardrobe.  

Now I do love shoes, but I want to be a good steward of my money.  Most shoes I own don’t wear-out before they go out-of-fashion.   Again, Paul advises us on our footwear, For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News. Ephesians 6:15 (NLT).  Now he doesn’t infer I shouldn’t wear stylish shoes, only that I take into consideration what the true importance is in life.  So, I will determine a shoe budget and stick to it. Regardless of those strappy summer sandals on sale at the mall.  I will not listen to the urge to buy, even if they are cheap and adorable.  

Prayer:
Dear Lord, remind me of what is truly important in the big scheme of eternity.  Help me to be a wise steward of my money when I shop for clothes.  Lord, each morning remind me to clothe myself with humility and love, so that others see You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Application Steps   
Glance through your closet and then take notes on what your closet reveals about your personality and resources.  Mark a date on your calendar to give your clothes closet a thorough cleaning.  Then when the day arrives, sort into piles the items to keep, the items to donate and the items that need to be thrown away.  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Route 66


“Route 66”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)  

Devotion:
I rebelled against God. My fist shook in anger as I turned to walk away in my own selfish pride.

But God, in his merciful love, wooed me back. I’ll will never forget that moment.

The jazz music of Knott’s Berry Farm echoed across the hot pavement. The smell of fried chicken and sweet funnel cakes taunted my stomach. After a long play-filled day, my family and I browsed through the shops. My head peeked through a door and detected the musty smell of books. A bookstore!    

I ambled in to peruse the shelves. Immediately, I realized it was a Christian bookstore. I hadn’t been in one of those in years. I almost headed out, but I hesitated.  

“Can I help you?” asked a sweet voice?

To my own surprise, I answered, “Huh, yes. Could you show me that Bible, please?”

She handed me a rose-colored leather Bible. I felt my heart melt inside of me. Suddenly, it seemed like I had come home after a long tiring journey. After I purchased it, I raced for the car. The rest of my family still shopped, but I sat in a little blue Volkswagen Jetta reconnecting to the Father. A prodigal returned to her Father’s waiting arms.

I remember hearing His quiet voice in my spirit. 

“Let’s start over. Use my Word to learn true freedom.”

Over the next couple of years, I studied the sixty-six books found in the Bible. I learned how to make wise decisions. Forgiveness flowed to those who had hurt me. I parented my two boys with more patience. My husband gained a more loving and devoted wife. I discovered true freedom in following God’s direction in my life. 

Those sixty-six books became “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” As I soaked my heart in the Word of God, my path in life became clearer. God’s Word developed into a daily roadmap of direction, which I call my Route 66.

Now every morning I reach for my Route 66. I can’t imagine a day without it.  

Prayer:
Father God, wake me each morning with a desire for your Word. Open my eyes to see the truth of Your Word in my daily life. Help me to apply your timeless concepts and principles to the decisions I need to make. 

Application steps:  
Pray the words of Psalm 119:18 and then read all of Psalm 119. Underline all the verses that touch your heart. Memorize Psalm 119:105 and ask God to light your path with His Word each day.

Refection points:       
How often do I read the Bible?

Do I look for areas in my life where I can apply the truth of scripture?

When I need direction, do I seek answers from God’s Word?

Power verses:  
Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:89, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:96, “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (NIV)  


© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Reflections of Renewal



“Reflections of Renewal”

By Susanne Scheppmann


Key Verse:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)  

Devotion:
Today my car registration came up for renewal. I received notification that my magazine subscription will expire if not renewed immediately. Almost everything has a renewal of some sort, including my life.

I struggle out of bed each morning to stumble bleary-eyed to the earthy aroma of coffee. After just a couple of sips, I feel renewed. Caffeine works wonders in my drowsy morning state.

With the ceramic mug entrenched in my hand I mosey to my next renewal. A few moments spent with Jesus Christ. The brief morning interlude prepares me for the day ahead. So many times, I wake up crabby for any number of reasons, a spat with my spouse, raging hormones or lack of sleep. 

But as I settle into a quiet time with God, I sense His peace. I experience the Holy Spirit renewing my spirit with calmness and serenity. He “renews a steadfast spirit within me.” I accept gratefully his reassurance in the day looming ahead.  

With my head down, I ask him to create a purer heart in me. I need Him to wipe the slate clean of my anger with my husband. He calms the raging hormones by bestowing self-control upon me. I can manage the monthly moods, instead of them managing me. He gives me renewed energy even though I lack my necessary eight hours of slumber. The words of Isaiah 40:31 spring to life in me, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

Suddenly, I feel energized. I start the day’s chores with an upbeat attitude. OK, first I’ll call my husband and apologize. I’ll renew the magazine subscription and then I will head to DMV to renew my car registration. 

Finally, I’ll come back tomorrow for another replenishing for myself, for without a continuous renewal of my spiritual life, I would surely expire. 

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me to make my quiet time with You a priority every morning.  Renew my spirit as a reflect upon You and Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved

Monday, February 6, 2017

“The Attitude Flu”


“The Attitude Flu”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. (NIV)  

Devotion:
Somehow standing in long lines to return Christmas presents, isn’t as fun as when I was waiting patiently for my perfect gifts to be rung-up.  During the holly jolly Christmas season, familiar carols floated in the air.  I could smell the potpourri of cinnamon and apples.  Waiting was almost enjoyable.

However, now I stand stewing about the slowness of the clerk.  If she went any slower she would be in reverse, I think to myself.  

As I study the faces around me, I realize it appears we have all lost our holiday zest.   As a matter-of-fact, I am just plain crabby.  I think I have caught the attitude flu. And do you know what is the worst part of having this type of flu?  It can be contagious. 

Why?  Because others react to my attitudes.  For example, if I am scowling at the clerk when my turn finally arrives, she probably won’t be very patient with me, either.  If I growl at my husband when he walks through the door this evening, most likely I will put him on the defensive.  If I complain in the car with my children listening to each word, I’ll have whining children for the rest of the evening.  Yup, the “attitude flu” is very contagious.

However, there is good news for us who battle occasional bouts of bad sentiments the Bible can give us a good vaccination against it, if we will take to heart what it recommends.  For instance, Philippians 2:5 advises us, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  

Great advice, but what was the attitude of Jesus?   When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was always ready to listen to others.  His kindness spurred others to kindness.  His patience exhibited itself repeatedly with his disciples who asked endless questions and made stupendous errors.  Yet, he loved the little children who clamored to sit on his lap. 

Christ’s perfect attitude can be summed up in Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

It is a New Year, a new beginning. Starting today, I have decided that I will vaccinate myself each day with a good healthy dose of Scripture. I will meditate on it and ask God to help me develop the same healthy attitude of Christ Jesus. I know I will feel better and so will everyone else that I encounter.

Will you join me in the fight against the “attitude flu?”    

Prayer: 
Father God, help me to recognize when a negative attitude creeps into my day.  Each day as I read your Word, embed it into my life. Help me to develop daily the same attitude that was in Jesus.

Application steps:  
In a Bible concordance look up the words: joy, kindness, and patience.  Write one or two verses on an index card.  Tape them on your mirror or fridge as a reminder to keep the attitude of Christ Jesus throughout the day. 

Refection points:       
What situations can usually cause me to develop the “attitude flu?”

What would my family say about my attitude each day?

How can I develop the attitude of Christ Jesus?

Power verses:  
Ephesians 4:23-24, To be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)  

 Ephesians 4:26-27, "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV)  

Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)  

Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)  


© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.