Author Archives: Debbie Gabbara

His Towel • Devotion #5: Wash My Feet Lord

As a child, I remember running around outside all summer with no shoes. There were days that my feet were so dirty that they were black on the bottom. We were never allowed to go to bed without having a bath first or at the very least washing our feet.

In John chapter 13, we read that the disciples also had dirty feet. Their feet got dirty from walking on dusty roads in their sandals. John 13:1 (NLT) says, “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” Verses 4-5 continue, “So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” The disciples must have been stunned at the humility of Jesus when He began to do the work of a lowly servant and wash their feet.  

The church where I grew up taught that washing the feet of the saints was a command to be observed by believers. I was a teenager the first time I participated in this practice. It sounds kind of weird to think about washing someone’s feet at church, but I remember it being a very special time. The chairs were lined up in rows and we sat facing each other. It was very humbling to have one of the older ladies kneel down on the floor to wash my feet and then wipe them dry, and then for me to wash her feet in return. It helped me to see the humility that Jesus wanted His disciples to understand. When we have a servant’s heart, the Lord promised, we will be greatly blessed (John 13:17).

We have to read both Luke and John to see more of the actions of the disciples on the night of the Last Supper when Jesus washed their feet. In Luke chapter 22, the disciples were discussing which of them is the greatest. Then we jump over to John chapter 13 to find the account of Jesus, God’s own Son, their Teacher and Lord, washing the feet of His disciples. They did not understand why Jesus would be doing the job of a servant. Peter first said that Jesus would never wash his feet. He quickly agreed when Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8 NIV), and then he asked the Lord to wash not just his feet, but his hands and head as well. 

Biblical commentator, Matthew Henry said, “Those who truly desire to be sanctified, desire to be sanctified throughout, to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, made pure. The true believer is thus washed when he receives Christ for his salvation. See then what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is, to wash their feet; to cleanse themselves from daily guilt, and to watch against everything defiling. This should make us more cautious. From yesterday’s pardon, we should be strengthened against this day’s temptation.”

Jesus showed us here how important it is to humble ourselves and serve one another. When He washed the disciples’ feet, He reminds us that living in this world also makes our spiritual feet dirty.

Through prayer, we ask the Lord to cleanse us of our daily sins. In Luke 11:2-4 (NLT), we read, “Jesus said, ‘This is how you should pray: ‘Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.’’”

Grow • Devotional #3: “Be Different”

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

It takes work to be intentional in our thoughts and actions. Sometimes we have time to consider decisions we are about to make and other times we just react.

Oh, I wish I could change the thousands of times that I reacted to a situation or someone’s words and it did not sound good when I was responding or feel so good afterward. Thankfully, there have also been times for which I am so grateful that my brain took a pause before my mouth started moving. 

We cannot expect the world not to act worldly. However, God expects believers to live a life that pleases Him. As followers of Christ, we are called to live lives that look different, because, in Christ Jesus, we are different. When the sorrow of our brokenness leads us to repentance and we have asked for forgiveness of our sins, Jesus promises that He will forgive us and cleanse us from our sin. Then we have to work at changing the way we think, act, and react. We should not be living like the world, but striving to live a holy life that pleases God. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NLT) Paul writes, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor – not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.”

The Lord does not leave us on our own to try to guess what He means by these verses. The Thessalonians received very clear direction from Paul as to what this would look like for their lives, and those instructions are still relevant for the world we live in today. They were to abstain from the immorality around them; stay away from the temptation. The Psalms begin very plainly telling us to stay away from places we should not be. Psalm 1:1 tells us that walking by can lead to standing around which can lead to sitting down in the middle of the sin and getting comfortable. Paul is reminding the people of Thessalonica that they have to make conscious decisions to stay away from the sin that is all around them. 

Growing in our Christian walk is a process, but it is a process that we should always be working on. Like the Thessalonians, we should be encouraged to give ourselves to the Lord because of all that He has done for us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we continue to grow stronger and become better able to resist the pull of the world. This is truly the way to worship the Lord.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

Romans 8:6 (NLT)

Reviled • Devotion #4: Great Is Your Reward

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Here in Matthew, the word blessed is the Greek word “Makarios,” meaning “happy” or “fortunate, and often indicates someone who is favored by God.” How would being persecuted make a person fortunate or happy?

For many years, I worked in a place where it was tough to be a Christian. I did not go around proclaiming to be a Christian, but as we worked together my co-workers saw that my life was centered around serving the Lord and trying to live a Christ-like life. However, if I said or reacted to something in a negative way, there was one person in particular who was quick to remind me that I was “supposed” to be a Christian. He often gave me a hard time and called me names that were meant to be hurtful. Sometimes it felt pretty lonely to work there. For a while, my password at work was courage, because that was what I needed every day to go and do my job.

Those days were nothing when we look at the kind of persecution that the first Christians experienced. History tells us that almost all of Jesus’ twelve disciples were martyred. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos for preaching the Word of God. We read of Paul, who was beaten, stoned, and imprisoned multiple times for his faith. All through history, we find accounts of Christians who risked their lives and were persecuted for believing and telling others the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Though some days were challenging at that job, the Lord blessed my life and I grew in so many ways during those years. It was then when my husband got saved and we got connected in the church. I became involved and began to teach in women’s ministry, and at work, I developed wonderful friendships with my coworkers and industry peers. Prayer got me through, and the Lord was always with me. Even on the hard days, I was fortunate and happy to work in a position that gave me the chance to encourage and help others when they were often facing uncertainty in their lives.

There is an old hymn titled, “When We All Get To Heaven.” The chorus reminds me that one day all those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior will have their great reward and will be in Heaven with The Lord for all eternity. So, stand strong, fight the good fight; people all around us need to see Jesus.

When we all get to heaven,

what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,

we’ll sing and shout the victory!

“Rejoice in that day,

and leap for joy,

for behold,

your reward is great in heaven.”

Luke 6:23

Meek • Devotion #6: Become a Fool to Become Wise?

In His teachings, Jesus made many statements that would have sounded very extreme. His teaching upset the Pharisees who were the teachers of the law, confused the people and even His disciples. Some thought Jesus was a prophet, others were angered by the things He said, and many decided He was crazy.

In 1 Corinthians 3:18, we read, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” Paul said that we have to become a fool to become wise. That does not make any sense, or does it?

The world has a lot to tell us about wisdom. Just Google “how to become wiser” and you will be astonished! I got 28,800,000 results to my search in just .052 seconds. There were pages and pages of articles; “10 Ways to be Wise.” If you are not quite there, you can read, “11 Ways to be Wise.” If you do not have that much time, skip down to the article that gets it all done in just “3 Ways to Wisdom.” One article even offered a step by step guide with life tips and videos and said that it was written by experts. Experts in what, I wondered? Of course, there was a DIY guide – Do It Yourself! You can do it, just read an article, buy a book, and get a guide. How do you know whose guide is best? Which article is the right one? If I am trying to become wiser than I am, I do not think I am confident enough to take the DIY approach, I am not sure that I would be my best guide.

Therefore, I went to a source we can always depend on and trust, even though I had to go to page three of the Google search to even see a reference for it – The Bible. It is best to see what God has to say about wisdom.

God says that wisdom comes from Him. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

In 1 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” If we think we are wise, we have to become a fool. What does that even mean? It sure sounds backward according to the standards of the world.

Proverbs 1:17 (NIV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

When we find the Lord, we begin to find true knowledge. Proverbs 28:26 (NIV) adds, “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.”

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Max Lucado has pointed out, “It is impossible to know the meaning of life if we do not know the Maker of life. And the Maker of life is willing to be our teacher. Jesus came as our guide. He reveals wisdom and truth. We can know, not just facts about God, but his heart, his joy, his passion, his plan and his sorrows. We are not left alone with our wanderings and wonderings. We have a teacher. His name is Jesus.”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

Back to Reach • Devotion #4: The Letter

“What a week it has been! My mind and my heart have gone through so many emotions and seen so much this week. Lord, thank you for allowing me to come here.”

Those are words that I wrote in a letter to myself more than two years ago. Just seeing the envelope causes my heart to begin to remember. The letter was written at the end of one of the hardest, most rewarding weeks of my life. It was a week that was spent in Guatemala, sharing the Gospel with families that live in the second-largest garbage dump in the world. We were sharing the hope of Jesus in a place where hope is hard to find. On our last day there, our assignment was to write a letter to ourselves of things that we never wanted to forget. 

Reading the letter floods my mind with memories of the wonderful people we met in the dump. There were the beautiful children singing out the memory verse we helped them to learn. With sadness, I recall that an extra sack lunch was the coveted prize for reciting the verse without any mistakes. Food is scarce in the dump. I remember the family that we helped by building bunk beds for their children. The sweet man who made gifts for our students and the precious baby that we all took turns holding will forever be in my mind. Together we scraped and painted a medical building, renovated a house, and taught Vacation Bible Schools. We worked side by side with the incredible people in Guatemala City who live surrounded by mountains of garbage. God allowed us to step into their lives for just a brief moment, and this letter reminds me of the boldness that I prayed for on that trip. It was a boldness to tell them of a Savior that loves them. 

I spent many years studying and growing in God’s Word. Now it was my turn to “go.” In Mark chapter 15, Jesus tells us to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel.” I went to Guatemala with a desire for others to know that Jesus came to save us from our sins. He lived a perfect life and died on a cross. On the third day, He conquered death and rose from the grave and went to Heaven to prepare a place for us. Jesus came for the people living in that dump in Guatemala, and He came for you and for me.   

“Lord, don’t let me forget this feeling of serving you while serving others. Thank you for giving me the desire to ‘go.’ Please do not let me become complacent when I get home. There are people all around me who need you. There are people living in the garbage of this world. Give me the boldness that You gave me here in Guatemala to not just tell them, but to show them with my life what we taught those precious kids today:

You are the God who created us,

You are the God who sees us, 

You are the God who saves us, 

You are the God who provides for us, 

You are love!”

Mark 16:15 says, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”

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