Friday, January 19, 2018

Hidden Treasures

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:3 (NLT)
Devotion:
Secrets. Riches. Mysteries. Treasures. These words bring spine-tingling excitement. Around the world, Pirates of the Caribbean became an unexpected blockbuster movie. The Indiana Jones DVD series still, after over twenty years, sells consistently as a top gift item. Adventure novels prevail in the bestselling book lists. The hope of finding treasure enthralls us. 

This applies to followers of Christ as well. We read in Matthew 13:44, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. (NLT) When I read this verse, it makes me ponder the last time I felt excitement over the kingdom of God. To be truthful, my excitement is usually based on the “performance” of God in answering my prayers. 
However, the Lord doesn’t promise to answer every one of our prayers as we expect. But He does promise to reveal treasures hidden in darkness. Sometimes our seemingly unanswered prayers are the secret riches that God wants to reveal to us. It reminds me of lines from the old Garth Brooks’ song, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayer.” “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers  . . . Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Instead of acknowledging this truth about prayer, I find myself waiting and watching for the expected results of my prayers. What I should be doing is seeking God for who He is. God told the patriarch Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1 NIV emphasis added.) So God, Himself, is the great treasure that I need to unearth. He has promised we will find Him when we search for him with an intentional attitude. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).
Today I desire to change my shallow-hearted expectations of God. I want to seek Him and His Kingdom as if I am an explorer on a treasure hunt. Right now, I choose to know God, seek Him, and treasure Him.
Prayer:
Dear Lord, teach me to search for the hidden riches of Your Kingdom. Help me to seek You with an excited heart .Remind me that the answers to my prayers are only the beginning of a relationship with You--You are the treasure!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Application steps: 
Today when you pray, intentionally ask God to reveal Himself to you in a new way. Ask Him to reveal to you “treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.” Begin a journal of God’s revelations of Himself to you.

Power verses:
Colossians, 2:2-3, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (NIV)
Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV)
Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Colors of Emotion

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
“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.” (1 John 3:19-20 NIV)
Devotion:
My feelings scoot across the emotion spectrum. Some days are happy days. Other mornings I don’t want to crawl out of bed—I just want to wallow in misery and depression. I sigh and say to my husband, “I have the blues today.” I guess you could say I am a “colorful” person. Maybe you are too.

 Have you ever found yourself saying something like?

·      I am feeling blue today.
·      I am so angry that I see red.
·      I am green with envy.
·      I am in black despair.

Usually, our emotions are not based on reality, but on a temporary perception of reality. One day something might make me burst with happiness—the next I may think it is stupid. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). We cannot always understand why we “feel” the way we do. It could be weariness, hormones, or a pleasant surprise. Let’s admit it—we women are fickle. 

Fortunately, although our hearts are deceitful and trick us into colorful emotions, God is bigger and stronger than our hearts. Our key verse states, "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 (1 John 3:19-20 NIV). (Emphasis added) This makes me shout aloud, “Hallelujah!”
However, we still hold some responsibility for our hearts, thoughts and emotions. Proverbs 4:23 instructs, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (NIV).” We should take care about the books, movies and television that we allow to influence our thoughts. Listening to gossip, rumors and discontent from friends will certainly stir up negative feelings. 
Instead of infusing ourselves with emotional junk food, we need to nourish our minds with godly influences. For example, read the Bible, chat with godly friends, or listen to praise music. The more joyful and contentment-filled influences we filter throughout each day will result in a positive colorful emotional state—we’ll be tickled pink.
Prayer;                                                                                                                                                             
Dear Lord, Grant me the ability to recognize my emotions are not always truth. I thank you that You are bigger and stronger than my deceitful heart. Teach me how to be most effective in guarding my heart from fickle emotions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Memorize the following passages to help you gain control over colorful emotions:

Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (NIV).

1 John 3:20, For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (NIV).
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV).”
Reflections: 
Do I rely on my emotions to determine the outcome of my day?

What circumstances influence my emotions?

Power verses:
Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)
Philippians 4:8, “Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (MSG)
Galatians 5:22-24, “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)
© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Whatever

By Susanne Scheppmann


Key Verse:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)
Devotion:
Do you know the most annoying word in the English language? By popular vote, the word whatever won the dubious award of most annoying word by a poll conducted by Marist College in October of 2009. And, admittedly, most people use the phrase, Whatever!—I do myself. Even my 3-year-old granddaughter looked at me the other day and said, “Whatever, Grandma.” 

Can’t you hear it ring in your head as an exasperated person says, “Whatever!” Or a teen rolling her eyes and whooshing out, “WHAT-ehv-errr.” Yes, it can be an annoying word. It can be a hurtful word filled with dismissal of a person or a person’s actions.

However, I believe the Apostle Paul would not agree that it is a word nominated for most annoying. He determined whatever was a word that encompassed all the good things we experience in this life. He preferred to use the term as a directive for us to consider all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Then he finished in admonishment to us with, “And the God of peace will be with you.” 

So what do we do with the word whatever? Such a contradiction found in one English word provides us with a spiritual opportunity. We can use whatever to provide a verbal cue to others that we found them or their actions to be ignored. Or whatever can be a prompt for us to search for the positive side of people and circumstances. The decision is up to us to determine what type of whatever we allow to inhabit our lives. Do we consistently complain? Or do we choose to engage in encouragement?  

Will you take the "whatever" challenge with me today? Let’s choose to believe and ponder on all that is a positive influence in our world—everything that proves itself to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy. And the best whatever is that the God of peace will be with us as we strive to experience the positive.

Prayer:                                                                                                                                                             
Dear Lord, teach me to concentrate on whatever is beneficial to my thought life. Grant me the ability to push aside whatever I find annoying in my life and let me learn to focus on the lovely and praiseworthy things You have placed around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Take a moment to make a list of things that are excellent and praiseworthy gifts from God, such as books, music, friends, church, etc. Today purposefully reflect on how these items enrich your life. Ask God to help you replace the annoyances of life with the thoughts of whatever is lovely.

Reflections: 
What do I find exasperating in my life--the“WHAT-ehv-errrs”?

Am I thankful for my whatevers that are admirable and excellent?

Do I complain more than I praise?

Would my family, friends and co-workers describe me as a positive person?

Power verses:
Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)
Psalms 33:21, “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” (NIV)
Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (NIV)
© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.