Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Kerr

Silence not Absence

Forsaken | Devotion #5: Silence not Absence
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Have you ever felt like God was distant or even silent? If you answered yes, you are not alone. There are certain seasons when I feel God is so near in my spirit and also in tangible ways through His children. There have also been times when I have felt forsaken or alone, but God seemed far away. My faith has been tested at those times, but I rely 100% on the promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The word forsaken means to renounce, entirely turn away, deserted, or abandoned.  Some of the last words Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross for our sins are included in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” So we ask the question, did God forsake Jesus on the cross?

The Bible teaches that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, while He was on the Earth. His cry to God was a human response to this kind of torture. He was not asking the question to know the answer or because He did not understand. He willingly went to the cross. John 10:17-18 says, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 

Did God answer Jesus’ question? It was rhetorical; He knew the answer! Through the account in Scripture, He appeared to be silent. God is always near and always listening even when we do not seem to get an answer. In those difficult times, it is important to rely on His Word, believing He will provide everything we need. Silence does not mean absence! 

Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

We need to trust God’s plan whether we understand it or not. Everything we go through has a purpose, for our good and His glory. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  

Paul adds in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Jesus can relate to our pain and sufferings. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 

Hebrews 12:2 adds, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

You have a God who understands and is concerned about you. You are not going through this life alone. Trust His plan and know His heart. 

The Present of Presence

The Gift of Family | Devotion #5: The Present of Presence
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man, who fills his quiver with them!” Psalm 127:3-5

I grew up in the “Leave it to Beaver” era. It was the latter part of the fabulous 50’s, the rockin’ 60’s, the drug infested, peace and love 70’s. That is a lot of cultural change in 18 short years.  When I was very young, mothers working outside the home were rare. There were, of course, teachers, nurses, waitresses, and secretaries, but for the most part, at least for my friends and I, our mothers were there when we got home from school. There were often warm cookies and warm hugs waiting for us. Sadly, that is no longer the norm in the culture we live in today. 

Regardless of the cultural changes, we can still succeed! God’s Word is timeless and full of wisdom and guidance for raising the most precious gifts we as parents have been given. We may have to press a little harder than our parents or grandparents to endure the ever-changing trends and technology. This is happening all while the world systems and ideals are striving at an alarming rate to influence and mold the minds of children and adults alike. Here is the good news, we are not alone, and all hope is not lost!

The book of Proverbs is a great resource, rich with wisdom when it comes to our children. While it can be challenging and often times an uphill battle, we must rely on God’s strength and help. Proverbs 127:3 tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord. The word heritage in Scripture denotes an inheritance. Money and success will fade, but the love of family will last forever. I want to preserve and protect my heritage from the Lord. My children are now married and raising children of their own. While my role has changed, it is now my job to pray and continue to be an example to them. Believe me when I tell you young parents, you will blink and your house will be quiet and empty! Remember, while the days are long, the years are short! When I see my children tirelessly raising their children, I am reminded of the task set before them. I am so thankful that God provides the strength and grace to endure through the hard years. Today, all four of our children live out of state. We have to be intentional at planning family time. Between schedules, money, and distance we have to work much harder to be together. Last Christmas, I received the best gift imaginable when our kids, I repeat, our kids made a plan for all of us to meet at the home of our Georgia family. For the first time in years, we celebrated our Savior’s birth together. There is not a store bought gift in the world that could ever compare to the priceless gift of family! I tangibly felt the sweet reward of the years invested.

Living Water

Forget It | Devotion #4: Living Water
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

John chapter 4 tells of the encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at a well. Each day she would come to the well after everyone else had left. She walked around in great shame and condemnation, considered an outcast not only by the Jews but by her own people. She was known around town as the woman who had many husbands and was currently living with a man unmarried. On this particular day, Jesus was sitting at the well when she arrived. He purposely struck up a conversation with this Samaritan woman, which is something a Jew would never do. He began to speak life to her as He revealed everything she had ever done. 

Every day she went to the “well” of the world trying to find something or someone to quench her emotional and physical thirst. As she lowered her bucket down into the well, He explained to her that the water she was drawing would not satisfy and how she needs to taste the Living Water only He can give. Meaning, Jesus is the Living Water, and only He can completely meet her needs so that she will never have to go back to her old “well.” She instantly recognized that He must be the Christ, the One for whom they were waiting. She excitedly, ran off to tell the others of her encounter with Jesus. An interesting observation, as she ran off in her new found freedom and forgiveness, she left her bucket of cares and sins at the well with Jesus. That is exactly what He wants us to do with our past. 

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13 (NKJV), “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” The Apostle Paul is another excellent example of the importance of forgetting a terrible past. We cannot arrive where God wants to take us when we continue to look behind us with an often distorted and condemning view of the past. Even the side view mirror on our vehicles remind us that things behind us are deceiving and distorted. What we choose to focus on determines the trajectory of our lives. Jesus does not want us to look behind us because we are not going that way! It will only slow us down and keep us from being an effective member of the body of Christ. That is why we are instructed to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). 

Like the Samaritan woman and the Apostle Paul, once we are forgiven of our sins, we are no longer identified by our past. The next time the enemy tries to remind you of your past, remind him of who you are in Christ. You are chosen, loved, adopted, forgiven, and joint heirs with Jesus. The former things have passed away, and all things are becoming new!

Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” 

Motives Matter

Vision | Devotion #2: Motives Matter
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Growing up as a young girl, I remember being in church a lot! It is a good thing that I loved it because it was a huge part of our lives. If the doors were open for anything, whether it was Monday night visitation, Wednesday night mid-week service, choir practice, bus ministry, or youth activities, we were there, and my dad was not even the Pastor! I am very thankful I was raised to love and serve Jesus. I have been serving the Lord since I was a teenager, but I have to admit, my motives have not always been the purist. I am afraid there were times I have served out of selfishness and pride, with a desire to receive recognition and praise. As I continue to grow in my walk with the Lord, He graciously and gently reveals the areas that are not pleasing and acceptable to Him. When we serve with wrong motives, our service is in vain. In other words, it is wood, hay, and stubble which will be burned up when it is tried by fire. That is a sobering thought!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (AKJV), “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

The Bible has a lot to say about serving, James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead. I love how Jesus did not just tell us how to live for Him; He always demonstrated it by example. In Matthew 20:28 we read, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”   

Motives Matter!

1.  Serve in Love.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 4:8-11

2.   Serve with A Grateful Heart!
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful putting me into ministry.” 1 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)

3.  Serve Understanding the Eternal Significance.
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NKJV)

4.   Serve Humbly.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3 (NKJV)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Romans 12:1 (NKJV)

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #6: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The first Bible verse I learned as a child is, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Born again believers in Jesus Christ, who have been forgiven of all their sins, should always have a forgiving spirit, right? If only it was that easy. If you have a pulse and are not living on a deserted island, I am pretty sure you deal with the issue of forgiveness. While it is possible and necessary, it requires a transformation from the inside out. That is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:17. If we are now in Christ, we are a completely new creation; the old man has died, and the new man is in control. As believers, we are to take on the image and characteristics of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it hypocritical that we have taken His gift of forgiveness and yet we often feel justified to withhold it from others?

The story of Joseph in Genesis is a great picture of true forgiveness. In fact, Joseph is known as a type of Christ. His story foretells what we will come to know as the grace Jesus has given to all who believe and receive His free gift of salvation.  Joseph was severely mistreated by his jealous brothers, thrown into a well, sold into slavery, nearly killed and yet he never retaliated. His response to his brothers came as quite a surprise to them because they knew what they deserved, but instead of yielding his power and authority over them, he said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 20:50a).  He was able to see the bigger picture and put his own hurt and betrayal aside for the greater good, which was to obey and honor God. We never look more like Christ than when we forgive. 

A few reasons why forgiveness is difficult is when the offense is repeated, or there is no apology offered. Deep wounds begin to form, and our hearts begin to harden. The natural tendency is to protect ourselves. This will result in a breakdown in the relationship. We begin to avoid, ignore, and slander.  This progression leads to bitterness, resentment, anger, mistrust, and a whole list of toxic emotions and actions.

Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness. He was rejected, beaten, mocked, falsely accused, and killed. Yet, as He hung on a criminal’s cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The goal of forgiveness, I believe, first and foremost is reconciliation. I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and read Romans 12:14-21. Ask God to reveal any sign of an unforgiving spirit. If our inability to forgive goes unattended and we let bitterness take root, we will soon go from the offended to the offender. It is true that hurting people, hurt people.

2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”



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