Devotions

Author Archives: Donna Fox

Praying at Gethsemane • Devotion #2: No

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

What does your prayer time look like? Is it a once-in-a-great-while thing when something bad happens and you think to yourself, “God I really need your help right now?” Or is it more like a wish list? “God, I want this, and I want that.” Or is it somewhere in between?

Are you mad at God when you do not get what you asked for?

Jesus prayed to His Father, and He did not get the desire of His heart. The answer was, “No.” Yet He was not angry or upset. He knew the Father’s plans were best.

The scene is the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had just had the “Last Supper” with the disciples and revealed He was about to be betrayed. He went off to the garden with Peter, James, and John for a quiet place to pray. He knew His time was near.

Jesus told the three disciples to stay awake and be alert, yet when Jesus left to pray, they fell asleep. Three times Jesus returned from prayer to find the three asleep.

What did Jesus pray, you ask? Matthew 26:39 says, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The “cup” Jesus is referring to is His destiny, the plan, His death on the cross. This was the Father’s plan all along, yet we find Jesus asking for it to be changed “if possible.” He was, after all, 100% human. He was voicing His human desire not to suffer. However, Jesus was also 100% God. He and the Father (and the Holy Spirit) are One. He voiced His wishes and yet obeyed His Father’s plan. 

Jesus obeyed the will of the Father, even if the answer to His prayer was, “No.” Jesus showed His human emotion, and He showed His obedience and faithfulness to His Father.

When you pray and ask for something, are you ok with the answer, “No?” Are you willing to submit to and obey God, knowing that His ways are the best? He has a better plan for you!

Next time you pray for something and the answer is “no” or “not now,” remember Jesus had that same experience. He did obey His Father and in the end, the Father’s plan was best!

Grow More and More • Devotional #3: “Hands that Work”

We had the pleasure of recently celebrating my mother’s 95th birthday! At 95, her mind is sharp, but her body continues to deteriorate, especially her hands. She has painful arthritis in her hands, yet she daily works at puzzles, crafts, and other projects to keep them nimble. She could easily stop using her hands and be idle, but her hands would only further deteriorate and become unusable. Her doctors have told her to keep working with her hands to keep them moving. It is an age-old concept that even Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “To aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

Paul is speaking to the church in Thessalonica. He had instructed them in the past on how to live a God-honoring life, but they had slipped away from that knowledge. They were fixated on the second coming of Christ, which they thought was imminent, so some were idle, not working, and sitting waiting for that second coming. The wealthier Christians were having to take care of these slothful Christians and Paul was pointing out that you need to “work with your hands.”

I was raised on a farm. There is never a shortage of chores on a farm! My mother rose early to make breakfast before the day began. There were eggs to gather, gardens to weed, vegetables to can, and pigs to birth. She was always at work doing something on the farm. She set a good example for me and my brothers to avoid being idle, lest the work not get done! She was a true example of a “Proverbs 31 woman,” not eating the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).

Paul also set a good example for Christ’s followers in Thessalonica. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3). He worked day and night so he would not be a burden to others (1 Thessalonians 2:9-10). He had told them before, and he was telling them again, set a good example to outsiders (verse 12).

We should always be looking for, and prepared for, the second coming of Christ. Yet, we should not sit back, be lazy, and just watch and wait. We need to be working with our hands, earning a living, supporting our family, and most importantly, telling others about Jesus in hopes of bringing them to Jesus for salvation. Others are looking to us as an example. Be that example!

“No man understands fully the blessings

which God has bestowed on him,

if he has hands to work and will not work.”

Barnes Commentary

Peacemakers • Devotion #4: Create Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

As I write this devotion in December 2020, we have just had a very contentious presidential election. We are still smack dab in the middle of Covid. There are protests and riots every day for one reason or another. In the midst of all this, social media use is skyrocketing. Anyone can post anything about any subject and start a barrage of differing opinions in the comments. You can argue with people you do not know and will never see, and say anything you want without retribution. This stirs up conflict and is the opposite of peace!

I would say I am a peacemaker. I do not like to cause conflict or get into the middle of strife. I try to be even-keeled and keep everyone happy. My daughter says I do this to a fault (I make everyone else happy even if it makes me unhappy). Yet, I do not ignore conflict. I usually go to the other person and talk to them about what is bothering me, or what I see they are doing to another to cause conflict and disrupt peace.

One definition of a peacemaker might be to “create peace.” A peacemaker steps into the conflict and brings calm and reason to hopefully result in peace. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 14:19 adds, “So let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

There are many examples of peacemakers in the Bible, of course, most notably Jesus. Jesus paid the ultimate price to restore peace between God and man.

However, many others come to mind as well. One I thought of was Abigail. She stopped David from heading into a fight with her husband Nabal. She stepped into the middle of the conflict and helped bring the situation to a peaceful resolution (1 Samuel 25). Another example is Joseph. His brothers were angry with him and jealous, yet he sought peace with them (Genesis 37-47).

If you do not consider yourself a peaceful person, you can be, with God’s help. Pray and ask God to soften your heart to be more peaceful. Look at Paul. He was converted and changed into a peacemaker. Follow his example and turn your life around!

Set an example for others. As I am a peacemaker, my children and grandchildren will learn the behavior from me.

We read in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” Those who strive to promote peace are like Him and are worthy to be called his children. Luke 6:35 adds, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Christ was the ultimate peacemaker. We are to be Christ-like. Therefore, we are called to be peacemakers.

Hunger • Devotion #4: World Changers

I am right-handed. My husband and daughter are right-handed. My son however is left-handed. Statistics show that seventy to ninety percent of the population are right-handed. Some are considered ambidextrous – using either hand. Only a small percentage of the population is left-handed.

If I took my predominate right hand and slapped someone on their right cheek, it would be a backhanded slap, which represents an insult in the Bible.

If someone slapped me, my natural (worldly) instinct would be to slap them back, leading to more violence. But Jesus teaches just the opposite. In Matthew 5:39, He says, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

As we have been learning in this series, Jesus taught many things that are backward to worldly teachings. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, give away our worldly possessions, and to be humble, just to name a few.

Go back to verse 38 where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” It is important to read the verses before and after when studying Scripture. Who is Jesus speaking to? What was the culture at the time? People were taking revenge on those that had done them wrong, often punishing harder than the offense. Instead of leaving the punishment up to the authorities, they were taking matters into their own hands. They were used to seeking their own revenge. Go all the way back to the beginning. Cain took matters into his own hands and took revenge by killing Abel just four chapters into the first book of the Bible. Jesus taught to not only not take revenge, but “turn to him the other also.” Overdo it on the side of kindness and then let God handle it. Romans 12:19 reminds us, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

“But I say to you” is Jesus telling us “this is what the world tells you, but my ways are different than the world’s ways.”

“We are called to be world changers,

not world chasers.”

Jarrid Wilson

Jesus Himself was accused of things he did not do, beaten, tortured (Matthew 26:27 and many others), yet He did not fight back. In 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV), it says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate.”

If you are in a right relationship with God, you understand that you will endure trials, people will “slap you,” insult you, and you will want to “slap” back. However, if we trust that there is a purpose for the trial, that God is in control, and He will handle it in His timing, we should humble ourselves and let Him handle it. By doing so, we are showing others (the world) the love that we need to exhibit to show them Jesus.

Let us follow Jesus’ example and not “slap back.”

Lesson Sixteen • Devotion #4: Betrothal, Purity, False Teachers

I had the privilege of witnessing a purity ring ceremony at our church many years ago. It was a sweet time for the families wherein the teenage girls vowed to remain pure for marriage. The father gave the daughter a purity ring to wear on her left ring finger until the day of her wedding. I later witnessed one of these girls on her wedding day, when she came down the aisle, as her father gave her over to her groom, she removed the ring and returned it to her father. Of course, at the wedding ceremony, that ring was replaced with a ring from her groom.

The idea behind such a ceremony is for the ring to be a reminder of a promise, or covenant, that has been made to remain pure and undefiled, in anticipation of the groom she would someday marry.

This is what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4. “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” The church is the bride, Jesus is the bridegroom. We, as the church, are to remain pure and undefiled until the bridegroom (Jesus) returns for us. 

In Jewish culture, the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be are betrothed in marriage. We would say they became engaged. However, unlike our engagements which are sometimes called off, the Jewish betrothal was a binding covenant. The betrothal was a time for the bride to dedicate herself to her groom. She spends a year preparing to be taken home with her groom. During this time, the groom is preparing their home. The father of the groom decides when the time is right for the groom to return and get his bride, and the marriage ceremony occurs.

Paul is comparing remaining pure during the betrothal to remaining pure while we await Christ’s return. To remain pure, we must stay true to the Gospel, not listening to false teachers. These false teachers will teach of “another Jesus,” “a different spirit,” and “a different gospel.” We must always be alert to ensure that what we read and hear lines up with Scripture. Being in the Word is the only way to know the truth. Compare for yourself and be aware when something does not line up to Scripture.

The world is full of false teachers. The evil one wants nothing more than to lead you astray with what sounds like the truth but is sprinkled with a bit of untruth. As Paul referenced in 2 Corinthians 11:3, in Genesis chapter 3 the serpent used his cunning to deceive Eve and make it sound like truth, with a slight twist!

Once you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are betrothed to Him.  You are to remain pure to Him and Him alone. Do not stray off to false teachers.  Stay alert and in the Word, in preparation for the day that the Father will send His Son to return to take His bride. On that day, you will hypothetically remove the “purity ring” and replace it with the “marriage ring” of the groom. What a glorious day that will be for those that have been betrothed (saved)!



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