Devotions From My Church Newsletter

 

IN THE BEGINNING

By Myra F. Smith

“Then God brought Abram outside beneath the nighttime sky and told him, ‘Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can.  Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!’ And Abram believed God; then God considered him righteous on account of his faith.”  (Genesis 15: 5-6, Life Application Bible)

After the creation account in the Bible, we are privy to the store of Adam and Eve, their fall from grace, their oldest son Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, and their expulsion from paradise.  We are only four chapters into Genesis at this point, and already, we’re frustrated and discouraged.  But, wait.  You don’t have to go far to become hopeful, because a few chapters later, we are introduced to Abraham.  At age seventy-five, God called this wealthy landowner to leave his home in Haran, and journey to Canaan.  To do this, Abraham had to give up his home, possessions, and ties to his people.  It would have been much simpler to stay put, remain wealthy, and live a life without challenges, but Abraham trusted God to give him a new and wondrous beginning.

And what did God give to Abraham, as a result of his trust and faith?  God made -him the father of Israel; his descendants were like the stars in the sky; at the ripe old age of 99, he and his 90 year old wife, Sarah, celebrated the- arrival of their first child, Isaac, and Abraham accomplished all that God asked him to do.

We, like Abraham, are called.  God has a purpose for each of us. And when we obey that call, He equips us with everything we need, and sends us on a journey of new and wondrous beginnings.

 

 

 

 

July Newsletter

The Christian Connection:  Walk The Walk

By Myra F. Smith

Scripture Reading:  “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”  (1 John 3:18, NIV Study Bible)

I am a planner.  I have more notepads in my house than the New York Times.  Every day, I make lists of “things to do”.   Recently, I have started another list.  This is my personal card ministry list, and I send cards to people every week.  This has been a tremendous blessing in my life.

I am also attempting, as of late, to “walk the walk” instead of merely “talking the talk”. With many saints in our church as my role models, I am trying to visit the sick; take flowers or food to people I love; do more phoning, and write more words of encouragement.  I want to be a doer, and not a hearer, only.

Jesus was the only Son of God.  He could have written out His heavenly plans on golden note pads, and let His angels do the walking.  But, He didn’t.  Jesus was a doer.  He preached, taught, healed, encouraged, visited, and walked among the people every day.  His healing hands restored sight to the blind, made the lame jump with joy, and gave hope to everyone.  When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He instructed them to GO from town to city, preaching, teaching, and healing in His name. And, at The Last Supper, He gave them the Holy sacraments, and instructed them to, “…DO this in remembrance of Me.”  (Luke 22:19, NIV) Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to make a list of “things to do”.  He told them, TO DO good works.

Strap on your sandals, and begin your personal walk.  The road ahead is hot and dusty, but Jesus has blazed the trail before us, and His footprints are right there in the sand, next to yours and mine.

 

 

August Newsletter:  The Christian Connection

What a Wonderful World

By Myra F. Smith

Scripture:  “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.”   (Romans 12:2)

We write songs about it; create plays to demonstrate its workings; make up stories to illustrate all of the many variations of it, and talk incessantly about it.  And what is this popular subject?   It is the world in which we live, and we, understandably, love and cherish it our earthly home.  However, there is a dirty little suffix that adds another meaning to the word “world” and that is the “ly”. When we pay too much attention to our position, responsibilities, activities, passions, pleasures and priorities in this world, we become “worldly”, and this love of the world can remove us from the throne of God.

Paul, the writer of the gospel of Romans, knew all about the world’s agenda.  He was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, rebuked, and hungry, to name a few of the worldly injustices he endured.  But, Paul’s response to this worldly suffering was shocking.  He said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  (2 Cor. 12:9)  Paul was once a persecutor of Christians, but through God’ intervention in Paul’s life, the once worldly Saul became Paul, a leading spokesperson for God’s heavenly agenda.

When the daily stresses and issues of this world confound us, we can go to God in prayer, read His word, and be transformed by His will for us.  And what is God’s perfect will for us?  It can be found in the first commandment:  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.”  (Exodus 20:2-3)  It’s that hard and that simple.  If God is our only object of worship, the things of the world will lose their importance, and we will find His perfect will for our lives.

 

The Christian Connection

September Newsletter

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  (John 15:12)

Each one of us has sung, many times, the sweet children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”.  The first verse goes like this:  “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The words are nearly a perfect statement.  What more can be said of our faith and trust in Jesus than this…that He loves us, and we know He loves us because the Bible tells us exactly that!

But, today, I want to present you with another, equally compelling and beautiful thought.  The first time I saw the reversal of the words from “Jesus loves me, this I know” into “Jesus knows me, this I love” was within the pages of a country magazine.  They had a cute little plaque with these words on it, and I was hooked.   Wow! I thought.  I love that!  And for some inexplicable reason, this statement gives more joy to my heart than the original, and I’ll tell you why.

It is easy for Jesus to love us.  He’s our heavenly father, and our God.  But, to say that even after Jesus really gets to “know” us, that He still loves us?  That’s a miracle of gigantic proportion.  Think about it.  God gave His only, perfect, blameless, sinless Son, to save us from ourselves.  God knew us…He knew that we would lie, cheat, steal, covet, boast, be puffed up with false pride, gossip, even kill and destroy.  And yet, even though He knew us, inside out and upside down, He loved us enough to give us a way to be forgiven, washed clean, and sent into the world with a traveling bag full of second chances.

So, next time you’re weary, faint of heart, confused, upset, misguided, hurting, angry, or sad, remember this:

Jesus Knows you, and He loves you…the real, unique and wonderfully individual, YOU!  Now, doesn’t that thought put a smile on your heart?

 

OCTOBER NEWSLETTER ARTICLE:

“THE HELP”

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Reading:  Psalms 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”

I was delighted to see the movie, “The Help”.  Set in the 1960’s in Mississippi, the story is about a young white journalist, whose love for the black woman who raised her, gave her the courage to ask “the help” in her town to write a book about their experiences.  This book exposed the town’s prejudice, and changed many lives.

When I see these words, “the help”, I think of King David.  Born the runt of the family, he was chosen to be king of Israel; slay a giant; father the wisest man in earthly history, and be a talented poet and musician.  But David needed a lot of help from God.  His life was tinged with the blood of his enemies; he committed adultery; he was an indifferent father, and he sinned and sinned again.

And yet, the Bible tells us that David was one of God’s favorites.  Why?  David asked for God’s help.  He prayed, begged, pleaded, and cried out in anguish for God’s mercy.  Without God’s help, David was a loser.  With God’s help, he was a man after God’s own heart.

We can battle alone, or we can ask for God’s help.  Seek His will.  Pray for guidance.  Beg for His mercy.  He’s never far from you… only a stone’s throw away.

 

 

 

 

November Newsletter Article:

Same Kind of Different As Me

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse:  1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

I spent the first thirty years of my life trying to be like everyone else.  When I was a teen, I wouldn’t dare be different!  And yet, each of us travels a unique path, and our life’s journey endows us with different strengths and weaknesses. God made each of us different for a reason…we are different because we form the body of Christ.  Just as our physical bodies have various parts for different functions, the body of Christ needs people with varying talents and personalities to carry on the work of the Kingdom.

Abraham was loyal and true; the person God needed to establish a nation. Moses was patient and long suffering; a perfect choice to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.  David was a talented, temperamental warrior, and a perfect king. Paul was a fearless, fiery teacher and great writer.  He was God’s voice to saint and sinner alike.

To the world, you are only one person.  But, to one person, you may be the world.

And yes, you are the same kind of different as me, and together, our differences can make a big difference for God.

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

CONTAGION

By Myra F. Smith

 

Bible Verse:  “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 15: 14-16)

There is a movie out now whose premise is that a highly contagious illness can be spread from one person to another, and destroy many lives. One of Webster’s definitions of the word “contagion” is:  “corrupting influence or contact.”  In the movie, the corrupting influence is a deadly virus, spread by human contact, resulting in massive mayhem and death.

The world today is full of deadly contagions.  Fear, hopelessness, loneliness, poverty, prejudice, hate, false pride, injustice, covetousness, idolatry, selfishness, and other negative thoughts and actions pass from one to another. We are infected, and consumed by its evil.  What is preventing us from infecting the world with hope, not despair; love, not hate; generosity, not greed, and promoting good, not evil?

How contagious is your faith?  If you’re infected with the love of God, you will pass it on, and your light will shine on someone’s dark days, and they will pass it on to another.  And, before long, the Power of God will be turned back on in the world.

 

 

 

MARCH NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

By Myra F. Smith

What’s The Password?”

Bible Verse:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  (John 14:6)

I was reading the Houston Chronicle one morning, and came upon this cartoon:  A man stands before the Pearly Gates.  St Peter is addressing him, and says, “Sorry–your user name and password don’t match.”  I laughed out loud.  I will be working on my laptop, trying to get into a site, and the first thing they ask for is your user name and password.  This sounds simple enough, right?  Wrong!  A password can be a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, letters and numbers, or letters only; six characters, more than six, and so on.  And, when you have to remember all of those passwords?  Forget it!

We are “Christians”, and our password is “Christ”.  We believe that Jesus is our intercessor to God; that the way to the Father is through the Son.  God sent His only Son to die for our sins on the cross of Calvary so that we might gain access to heaven.

But, what if our “user name” and password don’t match? Do you know your “user name?”  It may be “mother”, “father”, “friend”, “son”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “nurse”, “lawyer”, “doctor”, ‘homemaker” or any other title by which you are known.  In this world, we are known by our worldly titles and occupations.  We are, “what we do”.

But, to God, we are, “His children”, and that is the only user name we need.

And so, when we’re standing at the gate, we won’t need a password because Christ will stand there, waiting for us, and He knows each of us and calls us by name.  He never forgets His own.

 

APRIL NEWSLETTER

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

APPS FOR LIFE

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse:  “And God spake all these words, saying, ‘I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’”  Exodus 20:1

There was another funny cartoon in the January 6th edition of the Houston Chronicle.  Moses is standing in front of the burning bush, holding the Ten Commandments.  Moses says, “Neither of these tablets comes with apps?”

Truly, we live in a technological world.  I am writing on my new Mac 11.6 inch notebook computer that I did without for 61 years, but now seems indispensable to me.  I have become a slave to communication, and the faster, the better.

Communication in Moses’ day came in the form of two, ridiculously heavy tablets.  These tablets contained God’s instructions for the people of Israel, and later, the Christian world.

This cartoon struck me as both funny and false.  The funny part is obvious.  Moses is superimposed into the modern age, disappointed that the “tablets” unlike our modern ones, don’t come with apps.  Now, here’s the false part.  In only ten laws, God gave to Moses, the Israelites, and us…MANY applications for our daily lives.

Think about this:

  1. What if no one put anything or anyone above God?
  2. What if the people of the world never made any person, place, or thing their god?
  3. What if no one ever took God’s name in vain?
  4. What if all people attended church every Sunday and never missed a single service?
  5. What if everyone honored their parents with their time, their presence, and their gifts of love and compassion?
  6. What kind of world would we live in today if no one had ever killed another person…neither in war or peace?
  7. How amazing if every marital partner remained faithful?
  8. How cool would it be if there had never been one incident of theft.
  9. And, there’s the issue of lying.  What if no one ever lied about anything?

10. Finally, what if no one was jealous of anyone’s wife, husband, house, car, children, or other possession?  What if we were perfectly content with our lives, no matter our circumstances?

Ten little rules could have changed the world if only we had applied them to our lives.

Do these tablets come with apps?

You bet your life they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May Devotional

The Christian Connection

THE FIRST SELF-RIGHTEOUS CHURCH

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse:  “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”  Isaiah 5:21

Many years ago, Ray Stevens wrote a song that captured our attention, perhaps for all the wrong reasons.  The name of the song was, “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” and it was about a squirrel getting loose in a small church in Mississippi.

Now, this young boy puts a squirrel in a shoebox and brings it to his grandmother’s church.  Well, that squirrel gets loose, starts running up and down the church pews, and scares the daylights out of everyone.  When it runs up Harv Newman’s coveralls, he stands up and shouts, “Hallelujah!”  People didn’t know whether Satan or the Lord had a hold on him.  Then, that squirrel darted up “Sister Bertha Better Than You’s” dress, and that woman confessed to sins that made the choir members blush!   By the time that service ended, they had collected $25,000 and witnessed 500 dedications at the altar.

It’s a wonderful thing to watch the spirit of God move in a church revival.  We hug more, sing louder, put more money in the collection plate, ask for forgiveness, and come closer to God because we feel His presence.

But, what about the times when we don’t feel God’s presence?  What about the long, depressing days; the sick and lonely times; the Sundays when we’re not moved by the sermon or anything else, and the moments when even a simple prayer is far from our lips?

Well, maybe that’s when we should stop attending the First Self Righteous Church and start going to God’s church.  No one has a special pew; the songs literally float on air; the sermon is divinely inspired, and no one leaves early, even though the service lasts forever.

Now, don’t think you have to die to attend God’s church.  His church exists wherever believers gather in His name to do His will.  I’d say that this is about as close to heaven as it gets here on earth.  And, you know what?  You’d have to be berserk to not know that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

JUNE DEVOTIONAL

ARE YOU GRIMM OR SNOW WHITE?

BY MYRA F. SMITH

BIBLE VERSE:  “…and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  Revelation 21:27

I am amused at the number of fairy tale television series and movies available today.  On television, there is “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time.”  Two new movies out now are “Mirror, Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman”.  It makes me wonder what is real and what is merely a fairy tale?  And then, another question looms.  Are we grim or are we snow white?

What Is Grim Today?

  1. Hatred of your brother or sister:  Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”  (John 15:12)  Who is your brother?  Every person in God’s creation.  Not the answer we wanted, is it?
  2. Dissention:  If your agenda in any way promotes conflict, stress, jealousy, mean spiritedness, and hatred, then your work is not of God. “But I say unto you, love our enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  (Matthew 5:44)
  3. Sins of the World:  Lying, stealing, adultery, killing, coveting, idolatry, and others.  Remember that there is a reason the Ten Laws of God are called “commandments” and not “options”.
  4. A Lukewarm Faith:  Nothing seemed worse to God.  In Revelation, it says, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

 

What is Snow White Today?

  1. Following God.   When we follow God, our lives go from grim to snow white, and that’s not make-believe; that’s a miracle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

JULY DEVOTIONAL

BEAT THE ODDS

BY MYRA F. SMITH

BIBLE VERSE:  “For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit

                           his life?”  (Mark 8:36)

Everyone loves to win.  But, how would you feel about winning if it meant losing?    What if you had to choose between God and your family and friends?

This was the choice given to the disciples.  They were called to abandon their earthly lives; walk away from their family, friends, home and possessions.  Remember, these were normal men with families, friends, jobs, homes, and “stuff”.  How did they know that Jesus was the real deal?

And, Jesus didn’t sugar coat the offer.  Here is some of what he told these men: “…behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves, carry no purse, no wallet, no shoes, and salute no man on the way.  (Luke 10:3-4)  Does this sound like an offer you couldn’t refuse?  Are you kidding me?  I would run in the opposite direction!

Following God is as difficult today as it was for the disciples. Divided time and emotions make for a weak ministry; skewed priorities causes spiritual weakness; love of “stuff” crowds out our love for others; more personal time means time away from God.

Could you walk away from a winning life and follow God?  Twelve men did, and the world will never be the same because they were willing to lose their lives to follow Jesus.

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Devotions From My Church Newsletter

  1. Thank you, Jason! I am following you on Twitter now…at least I think I am! I’m new to Twitter! I hope to read more of your great devotions, too.

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