Monday, September 26, 2016

Heartworm


“Heartworm”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23,  (NIV)

Devotion:
Heartworm kills! This sign prominently displayed in the veterinarian’s office warns dog owners of a potentially deadly parasite. The infiltration of the heartworm parasite begins when an infected mosquito bites the animal. The larvae grow to full-size worms that clog the heart and arteries. The dog becomes lethargic, weak, and listless. Untreated heartworm has the potential to kill the beloved pet. The vet hopes by posting the sign that the pet owner’s will take the precautionary measures to prevent the dog from being infected. Or if, by chance, the dog is already infected, the vet will prescribe a much-needed medical treatment, to insure the pet’s survival.

Scripture warns that we can have a heartworm, too. The worm that infects our hearts is not a living parasite, but a worm of bitterness. It takes root and slowly eats away at the joy in our lives. Hebrews 12:15 says, Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time (The Message). 

Personally, what I find most frightening is by allowing bitterness to harbor in our hearts, we can grieve the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul writes plainly, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31 NIV). When bitterness fills our hearts, it squeezes out the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. We become spiritually weak and lethargic. Our lives lose the luster of Christ’s love. 

In addition, we often fool ourselves about the condition of hearts. We pretend to forgive and love others, yet the worm of bitterness grows. Again, the Bible alerts us to this problem when it states, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV) 

But don’t be discouraged. God holds the prescription and cure for the heartworm of bitterness. 1 John 3:19-20 tell us, This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (NIV) We just need to take a strong dose of confession and repentance. We must acknowledge, to God and to ourselves, any parasite of bitterness that attempts to take hold of our hearts.

Today let’s ask God to remove any type of spiritual heartworm we might carry. Let’s begin with the prayer of David the Psalmist, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

Have a healthy heart day!

Prayer:
 Oh God, search my heart for any root of bitterness. Reveal to me any type of spiritual heartworm in my life that might grieve your precious Spirit. Help me to acknowledge and repent of any sin that keeps me from the abundant life I can have in you.

Application steps: Take a few moments to read your spiritual pulse. Think back over your life from early childhood until today. As you think of events or certain people, do you feel a sense of anger, hurt, or bitterness? If yes, visualize placing the hurtful incident in your hand and offer it up to God. Release it to Him and ask him to heal your heart.
 

Refection points:     
How often do I examine my spiritual heart?

Do I allow God access to the most private places in my heart?

Is there someone I need to forgive, so I can live a vibrant, healthy Christian life?

Am I willing to forgive others who have hurt me deeply?

Power verses: 
Psalm 51:10, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (NIV) 

1 John 3:19-20, This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (NIV) 

Psalm 119:30, I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. (NIV)

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


© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.













Friday, September 16, 2016

 “Factors of Fear” 


By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV) 

Devotion:
Have you ever eaten an African Cave Dwelling Spider? Probably not, neither have I.  Nor do I have any plans to devour a spider of any type. Recently, on a reality TV show a darling blonde young woman munched away on these African spiders in an attempt to win a car. She trembled. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She forcefully swallowed four of the strange morsels. One nasty little critter even nipped her lip with its tweezer like claw. I watched in fascinated horror.

Fear can captivate our lives. Sometimes it’s silly fear, like shuddering as we watch someone else do something we could never do. We actually use this fear as a source of entertainment.

But, what about the fear that creeps into our lives in the wee hours of the night? The kind of terror that engulfs us in anxiety. Maybe we wait anxiously for the doctor’s report on our health. Or after we lose a job, we worry about making the next month’s bills. These types of concerns certainly may cause apprehension in our lives.

However, many times when the waves of fear wash over us, we cannot even define what we fear. We lie awake with anxiety rolling in our stomachs over unnamed or unreasonable fears. We cannot quiet our churning minds. 

God never intended for his children to be fearful.  At least sixteen times in the New Testament the phrase “do not be afraid” encourages us to trust Jesus. Do you remember the incident in Mark 4, when Jesus speaks to the raging storm, “Be still!”?  Suddenly tranquil weather permeated the atmosphere. Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 

Many times, Jesus asks me those very questions. Usually, I have no concrete answer. I know he is faithful to me. Not once in my history with Christ has he ever let me be swept away and destroyed by life’s circumstances. He always comes to offer and provide the “peace that passes understanding.” But it is up to me to accept his offer of peace and let go of my fear.
Are you fearful today? Can you hear him whispering to your heart? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ longs for us to hand-over our factors of fear, so he may calm our aching anxiety with “Peace! Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) 
Will you turn over your fears to him, so he can replace them with his Peace? 

Prayer:
 Lord Jesus, I surrender my fears and anxiety to you. Although, I may have to do this time and time again, I ask you to replace my fears with your peace. Lord speak to my heart, “Peace, be still.” I thank you that you are my Prince of Peace.

Application steps: List on a card the factors of fear that trouble your heart today. After listing the fears, take a red pencil and cross them out. Now write on top of each fear the promise of God, “PEACE.”  

Refection points:     
What do I fear most in life?

Are my fears realistic or just an over anxious mind at work?

Do I believe God is sovereign in my life?

If I believe he is sovereign, will I trust his hand in my life?

Power verses:
Mark 4:40, He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (NIV) 

2 Timothy 1:7, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (NIV) 

Philippians 4:7, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.


















Tuesday, September 13, 2016

“Factors of Fear” 

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV) 

Devotion:
Have you ever eaten an African Cave Dwelling Spider? Probably not, neither have I.  Nor do I have any plans to devour a spider of any type. Recently, on a reality TV show a darling blonde young woman munched away on these African spiders in an attempt to win a car. She trembled. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She forcefully swallowed four of the strange morsels. One nasty little critter even nipped her lip with its tweezer like claw. I watched in fascinated horror.

Fear can captivate our lives. Sometimes it’s silly fear, like shuddering as we watch someone else do something we could never do. We actually use this fear as a source of entertainment.

But, what about the fear that creeps into our lives in the wee hours of the night? The kind of terror that engulfs us in anxiety. Maybe we wait anxiously for the doctor’s report on our health. Or after we lose a job, we worry about making the next month’s bills. These types of concerns certainly may cause apprehension in our lives.

However, many times when the waves of fear wash over us, we cannot even define what we fear. We lie awake with anxiety rolling in our stomachs over unnamed or unreasonable fears. We cannot quiet our churning minds. 

God never intended for his children to be fearful.  At least sixteen times in the New Testament the phrase “do not be afraid” encourages us to trust Jesus. Do you remember the incident in Mark 4, when Jesus speaks to the raging storm, “Be still!”?  Suddenly tranquil weather permeated the atmosphere. Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 

Many times, Jesus asks me those very questions. Usually, I have no concrete answer. I know he is faithful to me. Not once in my history with Christ has he ever let me be swept away and destroyed by life’s circumstances. He always comes to offer and provide the “peace that passes understanding.” But it is up to me to accept his offer of peace and let go of my fear.
Are you fearful today? Can you hear him whispering to your heart? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ longs for us to hand-over our factors of fear, so he may calm our aching anxiety with “Peace! Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) 
Will you turn over your fears to him, so he can replace them with his Peace?



Prayer:
 Lord Jesus, I surrender my fears and anxiety to you. Although, I may have to do this time and time again, I ask you to replace my fears with your peace. Lord speak to my heart, “Peace, be still.” I thank you that you are my Prince of Peace.

Application steps: List on a card the factors of fear that trouble your heart today. After listing the fears, take a red pencil and cross them out. Now write on top of each fear the promise of God, “PEACE.”  

Refection points:     
What do I fear most in life?

Are my fears realistic or just an over anxious mind at work?

Do I believe God is sovereign in my life?

If I believe he is sovereign, will I trust his hand in my life?

Power verses:
Mark 4:40, He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (NIV) 

2 Timothy 1:7, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (NIV) 

Philippians 4:7, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.











Sunday, September 11, 2016

 “A Different Daddy” 

By Susanne Scheppmann        

Key verse:
Because you are God's children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into us to call out, "Abba! Father!" Galatians 4:6 (God’s Word)

Devotion:
The antiseptic smell of the intensive care unit assaulted my nose as I sat next to my father’s bed. Machines whirred and beeped with each labored breath he took. One collapsed lung and the other full of pneumonia predicted the outcome for him.

“So this is how it ends”, I pondered. For years, a love-hate relationship with this man influenced many of my decisions. Some good, some bad. I always sought his approval, but rarely did he grant it.

Until two years ago, when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. At the age of 79, my earthly father discovered the Father God’s unconditional love. I struggled to believe my father could transform from a mean bitter man to one full of love for others. I traveled five hundred miles just to look into those crinkled hazel eyes to see a new dad peering out at me. Our relationship changed drastically. Finally, my father became the dad I desired.

Now he lay dying. Two years was not long enough! Yet, strangely, I felt a deep peace. I knew he was going home to his Father in heaven. I leaned over to kiss his damp forehead and using a name I had not called him forty-five years, I whispered, “I love you, Daddy. I’ll see you soon.

We use many terms to refer to our fathers. Father, poppa, pop, dad and daddy all recall certain images in our minds. Our hearts were designed for a father type of relationship. Perhaps your experience with your father was like mine, not the best. Or maybe you had a wonderful daddy, if so count your blessings. Whatever the relationships between you and your father, remember he is human. No one is perfect. We all have faults.

Many of us remember the old television show of “Father Knows Best.” We smile fondly as we recall the perfect family with the father sowing his wisdom in all sorts of different scenarios. What a family! Dad wore suits, mom wore dresses, and the children behaved with admirable manners.

However, in today’s culture we watch bumbling television families. The Simpsons or the Osbournes appear nightly across the television screens of our homes. With such examples of fathers traipsing before us, how do we perceive our Heavenly Father?

The God of the universe is our Heavenly Father. He loves us as his daughters and longs for us to love and trust him as our “Daddy.”  Scripture tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 NIV).”  God is the ultimate father who bestows good and perfect gifts to his children. He does not change; he is worthy of our trust.

For me, eventually learning to trust my earthly father allowed me to call him, “Daddy.”  In the same way, when we trust our Heavenly Father, he becomes a perfect daddy to us. In our key verse today, “Abba” translates as daddy. God desires to be our Father God, the perfect Father, our Daddy, and our Abba.

Will you trust him today as your “Abba Father?”     

Prayer:
Dear Father God, help me to know in my heart that you love me with a perfect fatherly love. Begin to teach me how to relate to you as my “Abba, Daddy.” 


Application steps: Write Galatians 4:6 on an index card and tape it on your mirror. Ponder this verse each time you peek in the mirror. Read John 17:2-25 and then reflect on Christ’s prayer to the Father for you and meditate on John 17:20-25.

 


Refection points:     
How does my relationship with my earthly father influence my relationship with God?

Do I blame God for past circumstances in my life?

Am I comfortable addressing God as “My Father?”

In what ways has God provided for me in the past? (Food, clothing, etc.)

Do I trust God with my future?
   
Power verses:
Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (NIV) 

Zephaniah 3:17, The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (NIV) 

John 10:32, But Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 8:6, Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (NIV)
© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.