Monday

Don't Go House Hunting in the Dark

Pat had scoured the multiple listing service for affordable homes in her area. She plugged in the search guidelines: three or more bedrooms, at least two bathrooms, in their price range. One home stood out among the many that popped up on her screen. Scrolling through the pictures of the house, her heart began to beat faster with excitement . Maybe this is our new home, she thought. 

Returning from a meeting later that evening, her thoughts returned to the house. She imagined how nice it would be to have more room for the kids, an extra bedroom for guests, and a safer neighborhood. Unable to wait until morning to check out the house, she turned in the direction of the home. It wouldn’t hurt just to drive by it, she thought. 

As she turned onto the street, she spotted the house immediately. Partially lit by the streetlight, the angled roof and large windows were easily recognizable from the pictures she’d seen on the web. The kids would love the big yard. And the garage would be nice on cold, rainy days. 

But a home is only as good as its neighborhood, she remembered, hearing her father’s wise words echoing in her mind. Better drive around and check it out. As she looked at the neighboring cute bungalows and spreading ranch houses, a feeling of confidence caused her to smile in the darkness. 

But she wasn’t smiling the next morning. 

Returning to the neighborhood with her husband, Pat saw what she hadn’t seen in the darkness of the night before—peeling paint, overgrown lots, and ill-kept yards. Rusting cars and broken lawn furniture cluttered the neighborhood that had once been attractive, but now had fallen into disrepair.

And her dream home? Torn screens, an outdated kitchen, and a cracked foundation that she hadn’t see in the darkness. 

Pat now had another wise adage to add to her father’s collection: Don’t go house hunting in the dark. 

You’re probably shaking your head at Pat’s foolishness, thinking that common sense should have told her it was silly to go house hunting after dark, but we are often guilty of doing something very similar—we make decisions that disregard the light of God’s Word. 

Here are some examples: 

We move to a new location without considering whether there is a good church in the area. 

We enter a partnership with an unsaved person without considering 2 Corinthians 6:14. 

We date or marry an unbeliever, ignoring the Bible's warnings about being unequally yoked. 

We seek counsel from secular psychologists and therapists who have no biblical wisdom from which to draw. 

Each of these examples is like shopping for a house in the dark. If we fail to shine the light of God’s Word into our decisions, then we are blind to God’s best for us. 

If you’re facing an important decision, I encourage you to allow the “light that shines in the darkness” to illuminate your path and guide you into God’s best plan. Here are three ways we can do this 

1. Seek God’s light through Bible reading and prayer. 
 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). 

2. Seek God’s light through the counsel of godly friends and leaders. 
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Pro. 12:15). 

3. Seek God’s light through the support of a Bible-believing church. 
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. . .” (Heb. 10:25). 

If you’re wrestling with a big decision today, I encourage you to seek God. I’m comforted and empowered by James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” 

What about you? Have you ever gone “house hunting” in the dark only to discover later that you’d made a big mistake? Or maybe the reverse—how did seeking the light of God’s counsel save you from making a really big mistake with long-lasting consequences? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

 

If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
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Thursday

God Hears You When You Cry

The cries that awaken a mother in the middle of the night are many and variable.

There’s the cry that says, I’m feeling a little lonely; it would be nice to see your face. 

There’s the cry that says, Something disturbed me. I don’t like it, and I think you ought to know about it. 

There’s the cry that says, I have a need. My diaper’s wet or my tummy’s hungry.

And then there’s the cry that could raise the dead. You know, the one that has you upright and on your feet before your eyes are even open.


I enjoyed a recent visit with the newest love of my life, my granddaughter, Lauren. I was staying for the weekend and offered to babysit so my daughter and her husband could have an evening out. I had the pleasure of bathing Lauren, reading her a bedtime story, and tucking her into bed.

An hour or so later, I heard her whimper. Tiptoeing to her room, I peeked in to check on her. Apparently she had lost her paci and was rustling around in search of it. I watched her find it in the semi-darkness, slide it into her mouth, and drift off to sleep again.

Later that night, after I had gone to bed, I again heard a cry from her room. I tiptoed to the door to check on her. Although her cries were louder than before, she settled down in a few minutes with no intervention from me.

At 5 a.m., however, it was a different story. Shrill screams pierced the air, causing me to sit straight up in my bed. My daughter, now home and asleep, responded instantly, but it took several minutes before she was able to comfort Lauren enough for her cries to subside.

Wise parents learn to distinguish between the cries that warrant immediate attention, the ones that need monitoring, and those that are best ignored. But regardless of their purpose, mothers hear every cry. Their ears are attuned to the sound of their babies’ voices, and their hearts are knit together with their children.

God the Father is the same way.

David describes God’s responsiveness in Second Samuel 22:7: “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.” And God is very responsive to our cries for help.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name,” Psalm 91:14 says.

Sometimes, however, in his infinite wisdom, God chooses not to respond to our requests immediately. Perhaps he knows there are lessons we need to learn or skills we need to develop. Maybe he knows our faith muscles need strengthening or that waiting for his response will help develop our character. He knows that persevering in faith even when we can’t see how God is working makes us stronger.

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If you’re crying out today, be comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that God hears every cry and always responds in the timing and the way that is best—because he loves us. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

What about you? Has there been a time when God seemed deaf to your cries but later you saw how he was working things out on your behalf? I’d love for you to share your story by leaving a comment below.







If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
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Monday

If You Want a Good Life--Why Skeptics, Seekers, and Atheists Should Read the Bible

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The loan officer was getting more and more frustrated with my husband and me.

“You have no debt except your car loan, and it’s almost paid off,” he said, waving his hand over our paperwork. “You can afford a house payment of $_____,” and then he named a figure that was significantly higher than what we thought wise. 

“We give to our church every month,” we pointed out. “You didn’t include that in your calculations."

“That’s because that’s discretionary,” he said. “That amount can vary depending on your bills.” 

“No,” we responded, “that’s the one figure that doesn’t vary. The Bible tells us to give regularly and proportionately to God's work, so the money we give to our church is non-negotiable.” 

By the end of our meeting, we had the opportunity to share several other biblical truths that had brought peace and prosperity to our lives. We left him muttering over our figures and scratching his head. 

In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I read the story of Moses and the exodus. You may remember God had told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved for 430 years before they would be released to conquer the land of Israel. 

God’s prophecy, as always, came true. 

The Israelites were groaning under the hard labor of the Egyptians when God sent Moses to free them. To accomplish his deliverance and show the Egyptians how powerful he was, God unleashed ten plagues on the unbelieving Egyptians. Each plague increased in strength and severity. 

Because God is long-suffering and “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” (2 Pet. 3:9) he warned the Egyptians to protect themselves from the damaging hail and fierce lightening.

Some Egyptians listened to his warning. Good thing, because “. . . there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation” (v. 24). Those who disregarded God’s words suffered. So did their families, servants, and livestock. 

This story is a classic example of how skeptics, seekers, and atheists can benefit from the wisdom found in God’s Word. Believers and unbelievers alike can search the Bible, which is the main way God speaks to mankind today, to find principles for financial, relational, and physical well being. And while God’s promises are reserved for believers only, God’s principles apply to everyone. 

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For example, the book of Proverbs contains powerful nuggets of wisdom about everything from how to manage your money*, how to avoid sexual temptation**, and how to choose good friends***. The book of Second Samuel contains a powerful narrative about the slippery slope of extra-marital affairs****, and the book of Ecclesiastes gives excellent advice about how to ensure you reach the end of your life with no regrets. 

I once heard a well-respected and successful business man say, “The Bible is the best handbook I’ve ever read. Everyone, believer and unbeliever, who reads it with an open mind will find wisdom, guidance, and good solid advice.” 

When my husband and I sat in that loan officer’s office and shared the whys behind our financially stable, he was intrigued. When we shared other tidbits of wisdom we'd learned from the Bible, he was even more interested. You may be similarly curious. 

If you want to learn how to manage your money, have successful relationships, and experience joy, I encourage you to read and apply the Word of God. 

You’ll be amazed at the results. 

*Proverbs 3:9-10
**Proverbs 5:8
***Proverbs 13:20
****2 Samuel 11

 

If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
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Thursday

Heaven Does NOT Need another Angel -- Debunking the Myths About Angels, Part V


“I’m so sorry for your loss. Heaven must have needed another angel . . .” 

This is probably the lamest condolence I’ve ever heard. People say it when babies and young children die, but they also use it to explain the deaths of godly adults. 

I know those who say it have good motives. They’re trying to say, “Your loved one was too special (pure, innocent, wonderful) for this world; God needed her in heaven instead.” 

If you follow this line of thinking, this implies that whenever a job opening in heaven comes up, God prowls the earth looking for sweet, innocent children or godly adults to harvest for his heavenly work force. Not only is this wrong, it’s a direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches about angels. 

Myth: People (especially children) become angels when they die. 

Truth: Angels are uniquely created beings, NOT former humans who have been promoted to heaven. 

To debunk this myth, let’s look at a few facts about angels from Scripture. 

1. God created angels. 
They did not evolve from humans. “Praise him all, all his angels . . . Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:2, 5). 

2. There is a fixed number of angels. 
Bible scholars imply this based on several truths found in Scripture: 
* We never read in Scripture of God creating any more angels after the original creation in Genesis 1. 
* Jesus said angels do not reproduce themselves (Mat. 22:30). 
* Angels cannot die, therefore do not need to be replaced (Luke 20:36). 
Because of this, the number of angels is fixed and there is no need to add to this number by translating humans into heavenly service. 

3. God doesn’t need more angels. 
At the dawn of time, God, who knows the past, present, and future, created a set number of angels for his purposes. At no time did he wake up and say, “Ooops, I forgot about the heavenly choir. I think I need a few more sopranos. Better organize an American Angel tryout to see if anyone qualifies. The winner gets an all-expense paid trip to heaven.” God knew the plans and purposes he had for angelic beings, and created just the right number to accomplish his purposes. 

There is, however, some truth buried in this common platitude. Christians will spend eternity in heaven with the angels, other believers who have died, and God. There, we will serve alongside angels and spend eternity glorifying Jesus Christ. 

 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11). 

As we conclude this series on angels by examining the common myth that people become angels when they die, it reinforces why we must study our Bibles. If we know Scripture, we can “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” By comparing commonly held beliefs with the truth of Scripture, we’ll never be led astray by false doctrine, no matter how sweetly it’s presented. 

This concludes my five-part series on angels. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and perhaps learned something you didn’t know before. I’d love to hear from you. What characteristic of angels do you find most comforting? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

And before you go, I'd like to introduce you to my new friend Carol Heilman, a fellow South Carolinian who's recently released a fun book, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar

Listen to Carol's explanation of how this hilarious book was conceived:  

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar began as a short story assignment for a creative writing class at the University of South Carolina over ten years ago. Our instructor told us to place ourselves, along with some of our friends, in a foreign environment and to step back and see what developed. 

 I chose the porch of a retirement home because a standing joke, among a group of my friends and myself, was that one-day we would end up living in such a place together. Before I had written two pages the characters, with their own, unique names took on their own personalities. 

I was fairly new to such writing adventures and was taken aback. They began to assert themselves and I decided I needed to pay attention, to listen and watch—for my scenes often unfold like a movie in my mind’s eye. 

The short story ended when Agnes slipped out the back door of Sunset Manor, the name of the retirement home at that time. Then I began to ask questions. What if she . . .  

Agnes Hopper’s story continues to evolve and surprise me. I am delighted to have a part in the telling of it. 

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar is available through Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback. 

Monday

Do Angels Have Super Powers? Debunking the Myths about Angels, Part IV

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . . an angel? 

When I was a kid, I assumed most angels looked like the ethereal, art museum depictions I’d seen on Christmas cards. Their faces were serene and fair-skinned, always feminine, and usually accompanied by long, flowing hair. They moved silently with nary a swish of their feathered wings, and everything they did was gentle and peaceful. 

Then I read the Bible. 

And found out what angels are really like. 

Myth: Angels are peaceful, serene beings that float around on clouds and strum harps all day.

Truth: Angels are armed to the teeth and aching for a fight.

And yes, they are strong. Very strong. Second Peter 2:11 describes them as “stronger and more powerful” than men. 

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They are smarter than men, too, and this is especially important to remember when we engage in spiritual warfare. Satan’s angels can outwit us if we don’t avail ourselves of God’s wisdom. Thankfully, when we do, God sends help. When Daniel prayed, God sent Gabriel, who said, "Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding” (Dan. 9:22). 


Angels are also faster than men, in large part because they can fly. Daniel’s heavenly messenger flew, and we often see angels fly in John’s descriptions of apocalyptic events ((Rev. 14:6). Flying’s not the only way angels get around, however. 

Because they are spirit beings, they usually move from place to place invisibly. When they do manifest themselves on earth, like George Bailey’s angel, Clarence, they walk. Abraham’s angelic visitors sauntered up to his tent one day and then trotted on over to drop in on his nephew Lot and pronounce judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18, 19). 

Because angels are created beings, they are inferior in all ways to God. They can only be in one place at one time (Dan. 10:12), are not all-powerful (Daniel’s angel experienced satanic pressure which hindered him for three weeks), nor are they all-knowing (Mat. 24:36). 

Finally, angels are asexual and incapable of reproducing (Mat. 22:30). They are spirit beings, remember? When they appear in human form, however, they always appear masculine. Sorry Della Reese, but there’s no biblical basis for a female angel boss. 

I’ve used this picture in this series before, but I chose to post it here again, because I think it’s an accurate representation of what an angel might look like in full battle regalia. I don’t know about you, but knowing there are “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11) on my side and at the Father’s disposal makes me feel very safe. Psalm Ps 34:7 makes me brave when I’m tempted to fear: 

“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” 

Next time we'll conclude our study of angels by answer the question, Do people become angels when they die?

If you haven't yet subscribed to Hungry for God, now is a great time to do it. You don't want to miss the final post in this series.
 


If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

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Hungry for God is on Facebook! Will you take a moment and LIKE my page? CLICK HERE to help HFG share 5-minute devotions.