Author Archives: Donna Fox

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?”

The Lord is My Banner

Raised Arms | Devotion 5: The Lord is My Banner
Donna Fox

When I became a grandmother for the first time, a dear friend at work gave me a “Grandmother Gift.” I had never heard of such a thing, but it was the sweetest thought. Enclosed in the gift bag was a book for Grandma to write all the memories she has with her grandchild. It suggested items like a favorite book read together or the first trip to the park or zoo, were to be written in the book as a forever memory (We need to admit as we get older, our memory is not as sharp as it once was).

Sometimes we take a picture or write it in a journal, but it is always important to remember special events or life occurrences and pass them along to the next generation.

There are different ways of preserving a memory. Another example is when my father passed away, friends at work got together and gave me a lawn decoration that would always remind me of my father each time I saw it. Memories are important – to remember our failures and to learn from them, but more importantly, to show future generations our successes and how God was in control.

Such was the case with Moses in Exodus chapter 17. God had commanded Moses to go to the top of the hill, raise his staff high, and He (God) would help Joshua and his army defeat the Amalek army. Moses’ arms grew tired.  As the staff dropped, the Amalekites prevailed. When the staff was raised again, Joshua and the Israelite’s prevailed. So Aaron and Hur each held up one of Moses’ arms until sunset, the Israelite’s prevailed, and the army was victorious. Moses was told by God to write this memory down on a scroll (Exodus 17:14) and as a way of remembrance. Moses obeyed, built an altar, and named it Jehovah Nissi, or “The Lord is My Banner” (Exodus 17:15). The name proclaims God’s leadership and protection of His people.

Joshua’s army had defeated the Amalek army, with the help of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, but more importantly, with God’s intervention. God told them what to do, and they would win. They obeyed, and they won. They wanted to leave a permanent marker of this event. The altar named, “The Lord is My Banner” would be for all to see, not to forget this event, and to remember God’s involvement. It was the first time God showed the Israelite nation that He fought for them, He led them into battle, and He protected them. He was their banner.

It is fun for me to look at that book with my grandson and share special memories together. However, it is more important that I share other memories – the times God protected me, guided me, and loved me through the many trials in my life. I want him, and all three of my grandchildren, to see God’s providence in my life and to see, “The Lord is My Banner.”

Don’t Look Back

Sequel | Devotion #5: Don’t Look Back
Donna Fox

“Flee for your lives!  Don’t look back… But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:17, 26 (NIV)

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become evil. Terrible, unspeakable things were happening there, and God was going to destroy them and all the people there. An angel appeared to tell Lot to take his family and flee immediately. Lot, his wife, and daughters hesitated, so the angel had to grab their hands and force them to flee. Once out, Lot’s wife turned and looked back. She looked back at what she left behind. She fondly looked back at where her heart was. She disobeyed.  She died because of it.

Worldly things ensnare us. They tempt us day and night. If we give in to temptation, we sin. Sodom and Gomorrah had become very sinful cities. God had sent two angels to warn of destroying the cities and the evil people. But He chose to save Lot and his family. The angels said, “Go now, don’t look back.”

Lot’s wife disobeyed. She showed where her heart truly was, in the sinful city. She did not want to leave that behind. First, she had to be forced to leave, taken by the hand and forcefully removed. Then she turned around to look back in direct disobedience. She lost her life that day because of her disobedience.

I remember another story in Genesis 2:16-17, the story that started it all – sin, disobedience, and death. Adam and Eve were in the Garden. Everything was perfect. God had said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Enter Satan in the form of a serpent, to tempt them. Eve, and Adam, disobeyed. The consequence was death. Their demise was not immediate as was Lot’s wife, but nonetheless, it led to death which had not existed before.

God desires our obedience and will not tolerate any less. There are consequences for our behavior, for our disobedience.  Sin cannot be hidden and will lead to repercussions, if not in this lifetime then we will have to answer for them on the Judgment Day.

If you do not guard your heart now, each day, and flee from worldly, evil things, your heart becomes harder and harder, and obedience becomes harder and harder.

How can you guard your heart? Have a relationship with Jesus that is every minute of every day, not just Sunday morning for an hour. Be in the Word. Fellowship with other believers. Grow in the Word in a Growth Community. Pray. Immerse yourself in the love of Jesus, and He will help you flee from temptation and sin. Of course, you will still sin, no one is perfect but Jesus. But when you do sin, repent, ask Him for forgiveness, and the sin will be forgiven.  It is when your heart stays in Sodom that you will run into trouble!

Not Alone

Son, Mother | Devotion #4: Not Alone
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

Imagine if you will, Mary, the mother of Jesus, kneeling at the foot of the cross as Jesus is dying. She must have been heartbroken. She had friends nearby, but as she watched her son being crucified, and His painful, agonizing death, she must have wondered, “What will happen to me after He is gone?”

Joseph, Mary’s husband, is presumed to be dead. We do not know for sure, but he is never mentioned throughout Jesus’ three years of ministry, so likely he died before that time. Mary’s other sons did not believe in Jesus (John 7:5) and were not there. So as Jesus hangs on the cross, He sees His mother. Nearby He sees John, “One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Where were the other apostles? Scripture tells us they all “left him and fled” (Matthew 26:56 and Mark 14:50).

As Jesus hung there, some of His last words are recorded in John 19:26-27, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” In the first statement, “Woman, behold your son,” He is speaking to His mother, Mary. He is telling Mary, this man (John) is now your son and will be responsible for you after my death. In the second, “Behold, your mother,” Jesus is speaking to John, telling him that now this woman is your mother, treat her accordingly.

There was a large crowd there that day, most in favor of the crucifixion of Jesus. The crowd was cheering Jesus’ death. Only a handful were followers of Jesus and were in disbelief of what was happening. Obviously, Mary and John were close enough to Jesus to hear Him speak, close enough for Jesus to look down and see them amongst the crowd. In Jesus’ last moments, His mind was on His mother and her care after His death.  It was such an unselfish act! 

These words would comfort Mary by letting her know she would not be alone. John would take her in as his own mother, and he would honor and respect her until her death.

These words would be a blessing to John. For Jesus to hand over the care of His mother to John would have been a great honor. John gladly obliged and cared for her as we see in Acts 1:14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus.”

I could not even imagine what it must have been like for Mary to watch her son be crucified, but to know that John would be there for her and treat her as his mother must have eased the pain somewhat on that day. Jesus was gone, but she knew she would see Him again when she died! She was always by His side and believed in Him. A mother’s love is never-ending!

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