Devotions

Author Archives: Donna Fox

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)!

Lesson Thirteen • Devotion #3: Name on Hearts

The basic premise of benevolence is that if I have a need, you help me out; and if you have a need, I help you out. However, this goes against the worldly belief that is entirely selfish. The world will tell you to get all you can and hold on tight!

Back in the days of Paul, the Corinthian Church was doing well. God was blessing them with wealth and they had no needs. Yet over in Jerusalem, they were having tough times. They needed help. So Paul is writing to the Corinthians to provide for the others in need.

We see in 2 Corinthians 8:15, “As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’” This is a direct quote from Exodus 16:18. In Exodus, Moses was writing about the manna that God had miraculously provided for the Israelites to eat each day. The Israelites were told to go out and gather the manna needed for the day. Not everyone could go to gather, maybe they were sick or invalid. Those that gathered a little extra would share with those that could not gather. No one went hungry!

Wealth, like manna, is a gift from God. Those that have extra share with those who are in need. We see this played out today through soup kitchens, The River Church Community Center, benevolence funds, and neighbor helping a neighbor with a meal or help to pay a bill. Some can have more because of a skill, health, or diligence to work hard; while others are less successful because of illness, age, or lack of skills. Paul is telling the Corinthians “you have a lot, give to those in Jerusalem who have little.”

As the Israelites learned, if they gathered extra manna and tried to store it up, it “bred worms and stank” (Exodus 16:20). Similarly, if we gather great wealth and hoard it to ourselves, it will become useless to us, because when we die, “We can’t take it with us.” It means nothing in eternity. However, feeding the needy and helping others will mean something in eternity. Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”

Keep your eyes open to see who God will put in your path who may have a need you can fulfill. You may think you are only blessing them, but likely you will be the one blessed.

“A good character is the best tombstone.

Those who loved you and were helped by you 

will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. 

Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”

Charles Spurgeon

Lesson Nine • Devotion #3: The Dash

At a funeral, I once heard a poem entitled “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. If you look at a tombstone, you see the date of birth, and the date of death, with a dash in between. The idea behind the poem is, “What are you doing with your ‘dash?’”

In the grand scheme of things, we only have a short time here on Earth. It seems so long because we do not have anything else to compare it to. However, when you think about eternity, this is but a small blip on the line of time. So how are you spending your ‘dash?’ Are you busy running kids to school sports? Are you busy working because you want that promotion? Does the TV and Facebook get a bigger chunk of your time than reading the Bible? How about your neighbor, when is the last time you checked in on him since his wife passed, his child got sick, or he lost his job?

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, we read about our earthly bodies and how this is all temporary compared to eternity. We pick up in verse 9, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

That should cause each and every one of us to evaluate how we spend our time here on Earth. We will “receive what is due.” How scary is that?

We should not be living for ourselves and our worldly desires, but as Christ said in Matthew chapter 28 (The Great Commission), spreading the Gospel and glorifying God in all we say and do. That is not to say we should not have kids in sports, try to better ourselves at work, or use Social Media. However, in all that we do, we need to strive to find opportunities to share our testimony and show our love for Jesus. Is what you are doing and saying glorifying God?

Colossians 1:10 adds to this thought, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” How do we please God and glorify Him? Be in the Word, seek to have a deeper relationship with Him each day, look for opportunities He presents each day. For instance, when you are at your child’s sporting event, or with a co-worker, strike up a conversation. If the opportunity presents itself to talk about church or a “Jesus moment,” seize the opportunity and share the Gospel and your relationship with Him. It is that easy! God will put the people in your path, you just need to be Christ-minded and open your eyes to see the opportunity.

“How can we glorify Him? 

God is most glorified 

when we are most satisfied in Him.”

John Piper

Present-day actions have eternal consequences. What are you doing with your “dash?”



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