Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Gabbara

Contentment #1 – Tea Cups and Treasures

Contentment #1 – Tea Cups and Treasures
Debbie Gabbara | Community Center Director

When I was a little girl, I loved the rare occasions to go into my great aunt’s house. She did not have any children, and busy little girls were not often invited in.  Her house was filled with beautiful delicate treasures that she had collected in her travels around the United States. She had shelves filled with pretty cups and saucers, and all sorts of fun salt-and-pepper shakers. There were puppies, peacocks, bunnies, and even a toaster that had a white piece of toast for the salt and a black piece of toast for the pepper. On the walls were plates from all the different states that she and my great grandparents had visited. I was fascinated by everything! 

My aunt was a tall, stern German woman. She had no patience for curious little girls. However, my little sister and I loved the opportunity to get to have a glimpse at all her treasures, so we followed the rule to look but never touch.  Unfortunately, the most important thing that I never got the opportunity to see or touch was my aunt’s heart. Money and things were very important to her.  Sadly, having a relationship with a curious little girl was not.  As an adult, I made a few attempts to invite her into my life, but she never let me into her’s. 

1 Timothy 6:6-7 NIV
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  

About ten years ago, my aunt passed away. Her funeral was held at a small church near her home. I was surprised as the pastor told stories of a kind woman who was well liked and involved in her church.  I was sad I never knew that lady.  I would have loved to sit and talk with her to hear about what God was doing in her life and share with her the joy I had found since fully committing my life to Christ.  Just as the verse says, her casket was empty. None of the things that she cared so much about went with her into eternity.  My prayer that day was that she had opened her heart to Jesus and found contentment in the greatest gain – Salvation. 

Since she had no children, my aunts invited my cousins and me to come when they cleaned out her house.  I felt terrible to think about taking something for myself, but all her beautiful things were going to be sold at an estate sale, so I chose a couple of the things that had been so precious to her.

Now on a shelf in my dining room, I have a salt-and-pepper shaker, a camel with two monkeys riding on his back. It makes me smile whenever I see it because it is so silly.  I also have a couple of those beautiful, delicate cups and saucers to remind me of my great aunt and great grandmother.  At the end of her life, her pastor spoke of a faithful woman that I never knew.  I pray that one day we will be together in heaven and I will get to hear the story about what was really important.  The story of how she came to know Jesus as Lord and accepted Him as her Savior. 

Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!

Christ #4 – Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!
Debbie Gabbara | Community Center Director

I have always LOVED Easter!  When I was a little girl, my family all went to church together, and Easter was a very special day!  Yep, Easter was the day I got to wear my new dress, hat, and shoes to church.  What girl doesn’t love new clothes!  I loved church, and I loved Jesus, yet as a little girl, I did not really understand all that God had done for me.

Luke 24:46 (NKJV)
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.”

For several years my husband, Larry, and I helped with the Passion Play at Faith Church (now known as the River Church, Waterford location).  Together we took care of all of the props for the play.  He worked the back of the stage, and I worked the front of the stage.  Sitting for weeks in the audience watching every move of the cast it was incredible to see the love of Jesus come to life. 

As they worked through the scenes, I watched everything making sure the audience would see and not see things the way they were supposed to.  At the end of each night, the props had to be placed where they would need to be for the next performance. As I walked around the stage placing everything, my mind would walk through the play.  I often thought about the significance of the cross that had been carried to the back as I gathered up the whip they would beat Jesus with, and the hammer and nails, spikes really, that they would use to show how my Jesus was put on that cross. 

What no one ever saw were the tears I cried in the dark during all those rehearsals and performances as I watched them portray the beating Jesus suffered and listened to the hammer striking the cross.  No, the whip and the blood were not real for our play, but my heart would become so filled with gratitude to think of all that Jesus, the Son of God, my Lord, went through for me. The Bible says that He willingly lay down His life for each one of us.  Nails were put into His hands and feet.  Jesus suffered and died on the cross.  However, death on a cross was not the end for Jesus, and I always knew that my favorite scene was coming…

The darkness would be taken over by the bright light in the tomb, the stone was rolled back, and the Angel would sing, and then, there He is, CHRIST IS RISEN! 

1 Corinthians 15:20a (NKJV)
“But now Christ is risen from the dead…”    

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”  

Clear the Stage

Lust #4 – Clear the Stage
Debbie Gabarra | Community Center Director

All through the Bible, God uses examples of lust and adultery to teach us about how He feels when we put other things before Him.

Lust: a passion or overmastering desire or craving, desire; inclination; wish

Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:28 that if you look with your eyes lustfully, you have sinned in your heart.

2 Samuel 11 sounds so casual as it begins the story of King David’s lust and adultery with Bathsheba. “It happened, late one afternoon… that he saw from the roof a woman…”   That look from the roof would begin a journey of incredible sin and sadness.  David tried but could not cover his sin.  He stole another man’s wife, committed murder, and lost a child to death.  Remember, God called David a man after His own heart.  However, when we seek things that are against the ways of God, it can lead to hurt and destruction that we never imagined.

I recently came across a song, “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham, that begs us to put aside everything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.  It challenges us to do whatever it takes to clear from our lives the things that our flesh craves, seek the Lord, and wait for what He has in store us.

The lyrics from “Clear the Stage,” suggest some ways to examine our lives.

“Take a break from all the plans that you have made

and sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper.”

“Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak,

and pray for real upon your knees until they blister.”

“Shine the light on every corner of your life

until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.”

“Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard,

until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.”

“Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store,

and know that great is your reward so just be hopeful.”

 

What do you need to clear from your life to make God first?

Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped.”             Psalm 28:7a

What is Your Purpose?

God’s Purpose • Devotion #2: What is Your Purpose?
Debbie Gabbara | Community Center Director

Do you ever wonder if God has something specifically for you to do?  Before you answer, look at this verse.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV).

 Not only does God have things for each of us to do, but God also says He will work in us and will use us to fulfill this good purpose.  God has a plan for every one of us!  Maybe you are a dentist, maybe a teacher, or stay at home mom.  Your place in God’s plan may be bagging groceries or doing surgery, working in a fast food restaurant, or clearing snow.  Wherever it is, you are in a place where God can use you!  Right now, right where you are, God has work planned for us each to do, and He gives us the desire to complete it.

My husband and I recently watched a movie about a man who discovered that finding his purpose was more than just succeeding in life.  He was taken on a journey that taught him that finding purpose required:

Seeing – Giving attention to people and things that were going around him.

Feeling – Taking time to evaluate actions, emotions, and circumstances that were affecting his life.

Trusting – Trusting in a God who knows our beginning and our end.  A God, who always loves us, and has plans for our lives that are good,

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to find you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

All through the Bible God has used people to complete His work.  Some of those people sought Him and walked in His ways, and some had no idea that they were a part of God’s plan.

Sometimes God’s plans are crystal clear to us, more often they are not.  When you are uncertain about God’s direction for your life, call on Him.  Do not give up, seek Him with your whole heart, and pray earnestly.  When you do, in His timing, God will answer your prayers and make His plans known to you.  The Lord will lead you and give you a heart to know His ways and His plans.  You will seek Him and find Him, and you will be eternally grateful that you did.

Plan and Purpose

God’s Purpose • Devotion #1: Plan and Purpose
Debbie Gabbara | Community Center Director

 

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV).

God has always had a plan, and you were always on His mind.  His purpose was always to have a relationship with you.

What a wonderful time of year this is!  All around us, people are getting ready for Christmas.  Whether or not they talk about it, the fact is, this holiday is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The birth of the one who, from the beginning of time, knew His purpose was to be born in a manger and to die on a cross to save all mankind.

Many circumstances would prove unable to stop the plans of God. Mary, a young unwed girl, learns that she is going to have a baby.  Who would ever believe that she had been visited by an angel and told that she would be the mother of God’s Son?   She could have been stoned, but she was not.

A fearful king ordered to have all the boys in the area under two years old killed because he was afraid of one baby he had heard talk of, one who was called King of the Jews.  Jesus should have been among those children, but God had told Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt.  About thirty years later, it looked like God’s plan had failed when Jesus died on a cross.  However, this too was part of the Father’s plan.  Without a perfect sacrifice to cover our sins, we could never have the relationship God has always wanted to have with us.  Jesus always knew His purpose; He came to die so that we might have eternal life.

God’s purpose may not always look like it makes sense from the point of view from where we stand.  However, the Bible says God’s ways are not our ways.  Things are not always as they seem.  Three days after His death, Jesus would arise to life.  Remember, God said, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

We serve a risen Savior!  Tell everyone you know this Christmas.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus.  His plan was always that you and I might learn of Him, believe in Him, choose Him, tell of our love for Him, and help others to understand that God’s plan is for them!

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).



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