Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Kerr

Recognize | What?

Recognize | Devotion #2: What?
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

I remember as a young girl often looking at a painting that hung on the wall in our house.  It was a picture of Jesus walking on a brightly lit road with two men.  As a young girl, I did not fully understand that this picture was a rendering of the amazing story in Luke chapter 24.  I am not sure why I never asked my parents what the painting was about, all I knew in my young understanding was that Jesus walks alongside us on the road of life.  However, the story behind this particular walk carried a much greater significance.

This significant walk that is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke is an event that took place right after Jesus’ death.  As you can imagine, there was great heaviness and despair among Jesus’ followers.  Their hopes and dreams had been shattered when Jesus died on the cross.  This account in Luke chapter 24 tells the story of two men walking along a road that led seven miles out of Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus.  As they journeyed, they talked about what had just happened and the effect it would have on their lives.  As they continued on their journey, a man unrecognizable to them, joined them.  This “unknown” man asked them what they were talking about, “And they stood still, looking sad.  Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him’” (Luke 24:17-21). Little did they know they were walking with the risen Christ.

We read in the Gospels that Jesus told His followers about His death and resurrection, even the women who saw the empty tomb proclaimed to them that He indeed had risen.  But they were still doubting and blinded to the truth. There is a big difference in knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus personally. They were unable to see Jesus and believe because their faith was weak, and had lost all hope.  As they lamented, this “stranger” stayed close.  One of the lessons here is that Jesus seeks us out and meets us where we are.  The reason they did not recognize Him was all part of the plan.  Jesus did not reveal who He was because He was testing their faith. We often make the same mistake and base our belief system on our circumstances.  Jesus did not leave them by the wayside because of their unbelief, He lovingly saw their hearts and opened their eyes to who He was.

Has Jesus ever tried to get your attention, but you looked everywhere else for the answer?  When we begin to recognize Jesus for all that He is, we start to rest in the assurance of His great love for us.  God’s Word is true and faithful 100% of the time.  He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do every time! Do you completely trust Him or are you like these men, focused on your disappointing circumstances? Pray today to have the eyes of faith and begin to walk in the fullness of His promises.  Faith is the lens that enables us to see the miracle in the mess!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.  – Helen Lemmel

Barabbas

Delivery Plan • Barabbas
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

In 2004, Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie, The Passion of the Christ, opened in theaters all over the world. If you happened to be one of the few that did not see the film, go right now and watch it on Netflix or rent the DVD. It was an amazing, extremely graphic adaptation of the life of Jesus leading up to and including His crucifixion. The film grossed over $300 million dollars! Practically the whole world watched and cried through this heart-wrenching Gospel account. I cried throughout the movie like the rest of the sold out crowd in that theater, but the most powerful scene to me was the one where Jesus was sentenced to death. When Pontius Pilate asked who he should set free, the crowd went crazy yelling for the release of Barabbas.  I watched Barabbas, the rebellious rioter and murderer sentenced to death, set free from his shackles and impending brutal death. He then ran out of Pilate’s Hall yelling, “I’m free, I’m free!” Jesus took on Barabbas’ shackles and was whipped, beaten, and dragged through the ridiculing crowd being led to His death. I was so overcome with intense emotion. The thought that I am Barabbas and had also been sentenced to death and set free, hit me fresh in the face and my heart. I had heard this account my entire life.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of eleven and never strayed away from my faith. But at that moment, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I was more grateful than I had ever been. I was again reminded that this amazing transfer was indeed the most beautiful exchange.

Barabbas’ story is a very important account in Scripture; this account is in all four Gospels. The name Barabbas can be broken down as “Bar” (son of) and “Abbas” (father) meaning “daddy” or “son of father.”  Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son making Him the “Son of the Father.” Barabbas was a notorious criminal, on death row.  He was guilty of insurrection (rioting and rebelling) and murder because he had rebelled against the Roman Domination of that day. The time of Jesus’ arrest came during the feast of the Passover.  It was customary to release one prisoner during this holy feast.  God in His infinite wisdom used real life examples to reveal His plan and how that plan included all mankind. You see, Barabbas represents all of us.  Even if we never incited a rebellion or killed anyone, we are still born a complete sinner in need of a Savior. We read in Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Barabbas represented all of us! He was set free, and Jesus took his and our penalty.  One of the interesting points here is that God set the vilest sinner in that day free so that we could also be set free. God can and will use whoever He wants to fulfill His plan.  Barabbas’ release or pardon, indicted Jesus, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God and sentenced Him to a cruel, horrific, death on the cross.

Scripture does not reveal what happened to Barabbas after he was set free, his supporting role in the story was finished. He fulfilled the purpose God had planned for him. He won the lottery that day, but did he win it for all eternity? Scripture does not reveal whether Barabbas put his faith in the One who took his place. Chances are he did not, or it most likely would have been included in the Gospel story.

How about you? Have you put your faith in the One who took your place?

Trading Your life, For my offenses
For my redemption, You carried all the blame
Breaking the curse, Of our condition
Perfection took our place
When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange
(Lyrics from The Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong)

Boaz

Delivery Man • Boaz
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Have you ever found yourself in a painful season of life, one that found you crying out for deliverance? I am in such a season right now. The steps God has asked me to walk, basically alone in the physical sense, is caring for my dear mother in her final stage of Alzheimer’s. While I feel God’s presence and direction moment by moment, and consider it an extreme honor, at the same time I find myself tempted to ask why? “Why do you not take her to Heaven and end her suffering?” “Why do I have to watch her slowly slip away?” “Why have you eliminated all other family from the situation and left me alone to deal with the daily decisions and burden?” The answer is always gently revealed to me. God is using this to make me stronger in my dependence on Him. Simultaneously, my dear mom is silently teaching me what it looks like to finish well and rejoice in all circumstances. God is not only working through me but in me as well. When I feel empty or scared, I am reminded that He daily adds to our account the grace and strength needed to both my mom and me. He is our rescuer and deliverer, redeeming what has been stolen in the natural. The blessings I have received during this season are the dearest to me.

The book of Ruth is a beautiful portrait of God’s grace and provision. It is a short book of only four chapters, but it is jam packed with theology and truth that we can learn from today. The main narrative in Ruth centers around the lives of a mother-in-law, Naomi, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. After the deaths of their husbands, they remained together to help each other. These two women were struggling to make it on their own, and they were in desperate need of a rescuer. Things had gone from bad to worse. They had to flee a famine in the land and draw on all their resources to survive. I am sure they cried out to God more than once to be rescued from their present situation. They needed a kinsman redeemer. In Leviticus chapter 25 we learn that a kinsman redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the responsibility to act on behalf of a family member who was in danger, in need, or in trouble. It is one who delivers and rescues the person in need or redeems their property. Through a series of events, Ruth met a man named Boaz. Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. Ruth and Naomi plot to gain the attention of Boaz and through God’s providence and provision “their” plan worked. Ruth and Boaz end up getting married thus, redeeming his bride. The account of Boaz as a kinsman redeemer foreshadows Jesus Christ, who will redeem the church for Himself. We are His bride.

Like Ruth and Naomi, you and I are in desperate need of a kinsman redeemer. We are born into the world already bankrupt and in trouble spiritually. We cannot do enough good works or redeem our souls. Jesus became the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer when He died on the cross and shed His blood as payment for our sins. He paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.

Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Thanks Mom

Nurturing • Thanks Mom
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 KJV)

When I think of the word nurture regarding parenting my mind immediately thinks of mothers. Nurturing comes naturally to women and traditionally, mothers spend the most time with the children. My mom still nurtures me even in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. I am not sure she is even aware of it, but it is her nature as my mother. Growing up, my mom was the disciplinarian, and my dad was the fun parent. He would never allow my mom to “hold off” disciplining or say “wait until your father gets home!” He did not want his daughters to dread his homecoming. My mother was perfectly suited to be the disciplinarian and did it like a boss, but my dad knew how to nurture and admonish as well. He would step in when needed, but she pretty much got the job done! Regardless of who did the disciplining, they always made sure we knew we were intensely loved before we were dismissed. None of us rebelled because their discipline was wrapped in a huge soft blanket of unconditional love, with the addition of a godly teachable moment. Otherwise, it is known as nurture and admonition in perfect harmony.

By definition “to nurture” means many things. The Webster’s Dictionary’s list includes: To train, nourish, care for, educate, encourage, support, nurse, comfort and cultivate, just to name a few. God gives us eighteen plus years to accomplish this as parents. It is nurture that takes a baby completely dependent on us into independent adulthood.

So, what does nurturing in the Lord look like? In Deuteronomy 6:7-9 God described to Moses, the Patriarch, what it looks like to raise a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He told Moses, “You shall teach them (the law and statutes of the Lord) diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between our eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” God wanted Moses and the Israelites to know that living a life of God’s principles is a 24/7 thing. It is not just reserved for an hour on Sunday morning; it must be consistent and a part of everything we say and do. What children learn and see modeled in the home will often outweigh all other influences. You cannot depend on the church solely to raise your children, but they will be a huge support and add to your efforts.

A great verse of encouragement given to parents is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” There is no such thing as a perfect parent, we fail and make mistakes. However, when we follow God’s blueprint for parenting, we will have a higher spiritual success rate. Parenting is one of the highest callings a person can receive. It is long, amazing, exhausting, exuberant, exhausting, blissful, exhausting; you get my point! Parents and grandparents, we have an amazing opportunity to help nurture and shape the next generation to the glory of God. It is a priceless investment that yields an eternal return!

Greatly Troubled

Mary • Devotion #1: Greatly Troubled
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Can you think of a time you received a phone call or an email that instantly incited anxiety, confusion, fear, and doubt?  I remember the night four years ago when I was home alone in the early evening, and my phone rang.  A ringing phone is not usually a fearful event unless you are expecting unsettling news, which I was not.  I was unprepared for the news I was about to hear.  My sister’s trembling voice was on the other end of the phone, and I heard the dreaded words, “Debbie, Dad is gone!” Immediately, I was in a state of denial and thought, “there must be a mistake, I just talked to him the other day, and he sounded fine.”  The next voice I heard was a man I did not know.  My sister had handed the phone to a police officer who confirmed and offered his condolences in six of the most painful words I have ever heard, “I’m sorry for your loss, Ma’am.”  My state of denial quickly became my reality.  Instantly, I was flooded with all kinds of emotions, first and foremost being grief and sorrow, followed by immense fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.  I guess I would sum up those five emotions into one word, TROUBLED!  The news instantly sent my mind whirling in many directions.  The main concern was who is going to care for my sweet mother who could not be left alone for more than a few minutes due to Alzheimer’s disease.  God quickly calmed my fears and proved Himself faithful by going before us and having things and people in place.  God was very near to us during that time just as He promised in His word, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in Spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

I cannot even begin to imagine what a young virgin girl must have felt when the Angel of the Lord visited her one day with some of the most incredible yet terrifying and definitely unexpected news imaginable.  In Luke 1:28-29 we read, “‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” My first thought is, greatly troubled….Ummm, NO KIDDING! If an Angel of the Lord visited me with an important sacred message, I might be slightly worse off than troubled.  Mary, a young teenage virgin girl, was just told that she was going to bear a son, not just any son but the Son of the Most High! Ok, right there I would have freaked out!  I would have gone on Facebook, and my status would have been labeled, Feeling Freaked Out along with the big eyes emoticon.  What in the world?!?!?  How can this be? What will I tell my parents, what will I tell Joseph, my betrothed? How will I ever show my face in public because who is going to believe I have not done something terrible! These are all the things I would have been thinking. 

Mary feeling troubled is completely understandable and appropriate. I am sure the initial shock and days proceeding were unsettling for sure, but God was with her just like He was with me when I faced trouble. Throughout Scripture we see God going before His people and preparing the way.  God never fails to deliver on His promise to provide all that we need when we cast our cares on Him. He freely gives us a peace that passes all understanding.  How awesome for Mary to be “Highly favored of God!” What an honor and privilege to be the one chosen to carry our Savior in her young womb. He turned her trouble into triumph!

Jesus said in John 14:1, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God believe also in me.” God wants all of His children to trust Him at all times but especially in times of trouble and great distress.  Remember, His ways are perfect. He has a purpose and a plan and will provide everything that we need. He will work all things together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).



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