Friday, January 20, 2017

TEST

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Goodness of God

“The Goodness of God”

By Susanne Scheppmann 

Key Verse:
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5,  (NIV)

 Devotion:
 “Be good!” we tell our children. What exactly does that mean to us? (Usually it infers not embarrassing us.) The problem with the term “good” results from the fact each of us has our own definition and expectations of what makes something good. For example, I love asparagus, but my children considered it a tortuous punishment if I make them taste it. For someone who loves to exercise, a personal trainer would top the list in blessings; I would rather have the flu.

Do you see what I mean about goodness, my friend? The term “goodness” is subjective to us. However, it is imperative that we believe in the goodness of God in our lives in order for us to begin to trust him in all the details of our seemingly scrambled lives.

The Bible illustrates to us the goodness and greatness of the God we serve. Psalm 136 begins with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” The primary reason we know God is good, is that his love for us is never ending. There is nothing we can do that will make him stop loving us.  The Message Bible says, “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (Romans 8:37-39).” The ultimate proof of God’s goodness rests on the foundation of his never-ending love for us.

Psalm 136 continues to list examples of God’s goodness. He does great wonders! He created the beauty of our skies and splendor of the earth. He strung the sun, the moon, and the stars in the heavens. He remembers us in our lowly position. He provide for all his creatures, including you and me. 

As children of God, we ought to appreciate his goodness and provision in our lives. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me! Never send them away! For the Kingdom of God belongs to men who have hearts as trusting as these little children's (Luke 18:16 Living). Today as you ponder God’s goodness and his greatness humbly recall the first lines in the familiar mealtime blessing of childhood:
“God is good.
God is great. “
Will you become a thankful child of God trusting in his goodness and greatness?



Prayer:
Father God, even when my life circumstances seem out of control, help me to realize that you are good and that your love for me endures forever. Help me to realize and be thankful for your goodness to me each day.
    
Application steps:
Take a few minutes today and list in a notebook areas in your life where God has revealed his goodness and greatness. Example: family, home, career, pets, washing machine, refrigerator. In the coming week, each day add five more items of God’ provision in your life where you can say, “God is good, God is great!” Then take a moment to thank him for his goodness in your life.

 


Refection points:       
In what areas of my life do I doubt God’s goodness?

Do I truly believe that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus?

What areas of my life do I take God’s goodness and greatness for granted?

Do I claim responsibility for the good things in my life and blame God when life becomes hard?

How can I promote the truth of God’s faithfulness in my life to others?


Power verses: 
Psalm 31:19, 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. (NIV)

Psalm 116:7, Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. (NIV) 

Psalm 116:12, How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? (NIV) 
Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.








Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“The Great Giveaway” 

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21, (NIV) 

Devotion:
 “I feel like I am shopping at my own garage sale!” I murmured to myself. Sifting through closets, I discovered long buried treasures. (Rather, treasures long forgotten.) “Were they treasures if I didn’t even remember them?” I pondered. 

Moving day hovered over my head. In two weeks, I needed these “treasures” boxed and ready to move into a smaller home. The question begged to be answered, “What in the world am I going to do with all this stuff?”

As I mulled over the problem in my head, I thought of the rich young ruler in Gospel of Mark. I remembered the Scripture, “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘ One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10:17-22) “ Hmmm, how do I compare to that young man? What would Christ have me do with “my stuff?” I wondered.

In answer to my questions, I discovered three scriptural principles for giving to others.

Give In! Give in to God’s thoughts on material possessions. Although, our culture tells us accumulating things makes us a more valuable person, Scripture tells us to, “Sell your possessions, and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33) Author A.W. Tozer writes, “Never own anything. I do not mean that you cannot have things. I mean that you ought to get delivered from the sense of possessing them. This sense of possessing is what hinders us…understand that it is His…If it is God’s you no longer need to worry about it.”   
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Christ wants us to “seek our treasure in heaven.” We need to give in to Jesus and seek him. Allow him to become the treasure in our life. 

Give Up! Jesus bids us to give up the credit when we help others. Listen to what he said, “Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven . . . But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4 NLT)

Give up the credit for a good deed whenever possible. Attempt to give help anonymously without anyone knowing. Remember, your Father knows!

Give Cheerfully! The final principle is to give and do it cheerfully. God asks us to give out of cheerful hearts. The Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 9:7 advises, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsions, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 

We live with material abundance. We need to give because we are blessed. Besides the Bible tells us, “When we give to the hungry, the thirsty, those in need of clothing, to anyone in need; we are really giving to Jesus.” (Paraphrased Matthew 25:35-40) Do we need any more prodding than that?

As I finished boxing my treasures to “give in, give up, and give cheerfully” I recalled the Proverbs 31 woman. I believe she knew the three giveaway principles. “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy Proverbs 31:20.”

What is Jesus asking you to give in “The Great Giveaway” of life?

Prayer:
 Lord, help me to remember that you love a cheerful giver. Help me to loose the strings of sentimental attachment to things that are not important. Give me a discerning heart on what I should give away and to whom.

Application steps: Set a goal to once a month clean out a closet, a drawer, your     garage, etc. Make a list of charities and churches that could benefit from your cheerful giving. Then give it away!
 


Refection points:     
Do I worry about my material possessions?

Do I have more “stuff” than storage?

Who would be blessed by my giving? 

Am I a cheerful giver?

Power verses: 
1 Tim. 6:19, In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (NIV) 

Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (NIV) 

Isaiah 33:6, He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.












Saturday, December 10, 2016

“Wired Tired”

By Susanne Scheppmann


Key Verse:
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 (NIV) 

Devotion:
Sometimes I wear my exhaustion as a badge of honor. I feel a tinge of pride, when a friend states, “You look tired.” For women in the American culture, exhaustion is a valued quality. Even in the Christian community, we wrongly perceive our tiredness as a “mark of spirituality.”

I have never been a high-energy gal. My energy and stamina ebb on the low side. It seems when God created me, he wired me tired.  Scriptures tells me, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13 NIV) God created each of us with our own energy levels. Mine happens to be low wattage.

However, sometimes envy floats to the surface as I compare myself to women who bounce around full of exuberant energy completing every task set before them. Their endless supply of enthusiasm saps my vitality. I covet their high-energy personalities.

Recently the Lord has revealed a new truth to me. He showed me even my high-energy friends, work to the point of exhaustion. For most of us, regardless of our inherent energy levels, we push beyond healthy boundaries. We immerse ourselves in a flurry of endless activities. The list can include: soccer, dance, bunko, ministry, lunches, coffees, etc. Unfortunately, by example we teach our children the same draining lifestyle.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Christ called his disciples to come away and rest with him. The remarkable part of this passage is the disciples were busy doing wonderful things for God. Yet, he called them away from good activities to a better activity for a time; rest.

One of my favorite passages of Scriptures tells of Jesus taking a nap. “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion (Mark 4:38 NIV).” Can you imagine the Holy Head of our Creator, snoozing on a boat pillow? I believe that if Christ needed a nap, it indicates that we might need a nap, too.  

Napping as Jesus did enables me to be more like him in other areas of my life, too. I find when I am well rested I am able to be more loving and patient with others. I like to think of my naps as a “spiritual discipline.” They rank right up there with Bible Study and prayer.

So how about you? Were you wired tired? Or perhaps you are high-energy, but overcommitted? Do you hear Christ calling to you to come away to rest?

Prayer:
Jesus, help me to accept that tiredness is not a badge of honor. Help me not to be compelled to perform at our culture’s standard of activity. Nudge me to rest, to nap, and to restore myself from busyness. Call me away to rest with you.

Application steps: Review your “to do” lists. Ask God to show you his priorities for your life and then adjust your “to do” list accordingly. Allocate a specific time to rest from activity each day. Allow yourself the luxury of an afternoon nap.



Refection points:     
How often do my friends comment on how tired I look?

Do I take pride in my exhaustion?

Does my tiredness please God?

Does my tiredness keep me from spending time with God?”

Do I feel guilty when I rest or nap?
   
Power verses: 
Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God.” (NIV) 

Psalm 62:5, Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (NIV) 

Matthew 11:28,  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.










Friday, December 9, 2016

“Three Lace Hankies”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16  (NIV) 

Devotion:
As I watch the Christmas tree twinkle a myriad of colors, I recollect past Christmas seasons. For most years, the holidays reflect a life of comfort and hope. Yet, each year I remember the Christmas of the—Three Lace Hankies. I flashback thirty-five years in time.

I feel how the bitter cold outdoors, matched the bitterness in my young heart. At fifteen, I was all alone. I recall the hot tears that streamed down my face, as I yearned for a Christmas with my family. Memories of early childhood Christmases paraded into my teenage thoughts.

In the past, my parents had fashioned magical Christmas moments for me, their only child. Spoiled with toys, treats and love, the Christmas season became my favorite time of the year. I longed for another Christmas to add to those memories.
           
However, this holiday flaunted a bleakness that defied my memories. My adolescent heart screamed questions…

“Why did God let my mother die?”

“Does anyone care?”

“Why is my dad a drunk?”

The scene of trying to admit my dad to the hospital replayed before me. He drank himself into oblivion, and then collapsed on the floor. Calling a friend for help, she came over and loaded him into the car, and then we drove straight to the detoxification ward of the hospital. He would spend Christmas there; I would spend it by myself.

The phone rang shrilly. “Hello, Susanne? We were wondering if you would like to spend Christmas with us?” asked the pastor’s wife of the little church I had visited occasionally. 
“Well, I guess so.” I replied. Thinking to myself, “It would be better than spending it alone and eating cold cereal.”

“Wonderful! We’ll be over in about three hours to pick you up.”
           
Resting the phone against my tear stained cheek, I wept new tears. “A pathetic orphan, they just feel sorry for me. It’s the ‘Christian thing’ to do. Just like a Christmas movie,” I thought. Blowing my nose into another tissue, I prepared to spend Christmas in an unfamiliar home.

Even though I appreciated the gesture, I felt out of place. All of their traditions seemed strange. This was not my kind of Christmas. As they opened gifts, I felt tears well up again. 
           
Handing me a small package, they smiled with God’s love in their eyes. As I opened the gift, I peaked inside. Folded neatly, I spied three white lacy hankies. 
           
This warm-hearted family knew my New Year would not be easy. They could not give me the gift of a happy family. Knowing that more tears would certainly flow, they pointed me to God who could ease my pain. Lying on top of the hankies was a small card written in calligraphy, which quoted Isaiah 25:8.
“…The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces; … The Lord has spoken.”
Reaching for a white hanky, I began to cry.

Returning to the present, I feel tears of gratitude for the Christ-like behavior of that family. Their thoughtfulness didn’t make my life better, but it demonstrated the love of Jesus to a heartbroken teenager. Their concern provided a springboard for my accepting Christ as my personal Savior.

Each year at Christmas, I look for hurting people; maybe a woman who yearns for friendship; perhaps a teenager who longs for a turkey dinner; or a child who dreams of opening a wrapped present. There is always someone who needs Christ’s love extended.
           
Do you know someone who needs a Christmas filled with three white hankies?

Prayer:
Father, help me to look beyond the hectic schedule of my own holiday season. Give me the heart and courage to reach out in love to someone who desperately needs love, comfort, and companionship this Christmas season.

Application steps: Take a moment and thoughtfully look through your address book as you address Christmas cards. Jot down the names of a few people who could use, an invitation to dinner; a note of encouragement, or just of phone call of compassionate conversation. Then make an effort to contact each individual before the New Year.  
 


Refection points:     
Am I self-absorbed with my own hectic holiday planning?

Do I practice busyness, godliness, or both?

Do I display the love of Jesus Christ to others at this blessed Christmas season?

Who has reached out to me during difficult times? Have I thanked them?

Power verses: 
James 1:27, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV) 

Luke 14:12-13,Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. (NIV)  

Luke 3:11, John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." (NIV) 

Acts 26:16, But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I've handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what's happened today, and to what I am going to show you.
(The Message)

 Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.