Monthly Archives: February 2012

Get Back in the Game

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My son is a college basketball coach. He’s coached many incredible student athletes while at Oklahoma Wesleyan University okwu.edu.  One outstanding male athlete stands out in my mind; his name is Sadiel Rojas. Sadiel is better known as “Lito” to his friends and fans. He helped lead the team to a national championship three years ago. He is a fast, agile, intuitive, high jumping, offensive/defensive powerhouse who even shoots the three-point shot with accuracy. After  college, he started playing professional ball, working his way up through the leagues with the NBA as his goal. But I received an email this week that said he had been badly injured while playing ball and the email requested prayer. Attached to the prayer request was this link:

http://www.nba.com/dleague/video/2012/02/22/highlightsFWNIWA022112f4v-2011682/index.html

When I watched it, I was shocked to see Lito take a hard fall, landing flat on his back. He was doing well in the game, then he jumped  toward the rim, was knocked off-balance and came down landing directly on his spine . He was diagnosed with three breaks. He should make a full recovery and return to play but it was a shock to see him go down when he was playing so well.  As I watched the video several times it seemed like it was an ordinary fast paced game.  He was into it , the pacing, the running, the rebounding, offense, defense, team work, individual scoring and team camaraderie. But…all it took was one second to change everything for Sadiel and now temporarily he’s out of the game.

That’s a lot like life. We’re playing the game. You know, we are getting up, going to work, daily back and forth. We show up, compete, enjoy the pace, win some, lose some, and if , we are not looking, something knocks our feet out from under us and everything changes.

So how does one recover from these hard falls? What do we do when the game suddenly changes and we find ourselves down and out for a season?

If we look closely at 2 Timothy, this verse gives us a clue.  2 Timothy 2:5 says, “If anyone competes as an athlete he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

When we get knocked down for a season, we have to get up and get back on our feet. To win the prize we must compete and in order to compete, WE MUST GET BACK  IN THE GAME! 

What situation has taken you out for a season? What steps will you take to get back on your feet? When will you get back in the game?

Heavenly Father, You are Lord over each detail of our lives. Pick us up from where we have been knocked down and please put us back in the game. For our greatest desire is to win the game for You! In Jesus Name, Amen

Almond Joy and the Joy of my Heart

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When we lived in North Carolina, I met my friend Sandra. Our sons were playmates in preschool and not only did the boys hit it off, Sandra and I did, too. We’ve been friends for over 30 years. Sandra was a great wife to her husband and a wonderful mother to her children. The first time we met, I knew there was something different about her and in time, I found out what made her unique.

One time I was babysitting her children. As she walked out the door, she told me there was a little gift for me in the kitchen. I was so excited. We both lived on tight budgets and we didn’t get too many surprises or treats. I knew that if she bought me anything, it came with great sacrifice on her part.

After she left, I went into the kitchen and found a brown paper bag.  I opened the bag to find an Almond Joy candy bar and a neatly wrapped gift. I carefully opened the package and inside was a beautiful green and gold Living Bible. I was so excited to have the candy bar but I couldn’t wait to check out my new Bible. The only Bible I owned was one from my childhood and the dog had chewed up all  the book of Jonah and most of the book of John.

Sandra didn’t know at the time but her gifts changed my life and my destiny. Several months later while I was reading the Living Bible, I came to know the Lord from the Truth found in the book of Romans.  That Almond Joy candy bar was a sweet treat but pure joy came from the sweet words of God! Psalm 119:111, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart.”

Over time, I learned  what made my friend different, it was her relationship with Jesus Christ. She had a countenance of peace, great wisdom, and a heart full of love and joy. She shared with me the greatest gift we can give to another, the sweet life-giving, life-changing Word of God. To this day, God’s Word is my passion! I crave it like a sugar addict craves an Almond Joy!

Who in your life will you influence for Christ?  What eternal opportunities are right under your nose?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for putting people in our lives who make an eternal difference. Open our eyes to new opportunities at home, at school, with our friends, at work and even in our churches. In Jesus Name, Amen

archived devotionals at circleofsavings.com

The Great Escape

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Last summer we were watching our son’s labrador retriever puppy while he and his wife went out-of-town for a couple of days. Sadie was a typical lab puppy. She was a curious, clumsy, chewing ball of fluff . She enjoyed the large fenced yard and being outside with their other two dogs.

Because Sadie was a puppy, we checked on her several times a day to make sure she had plenty to eat and drink. Each time, she was thrilled to see human beings and she craved our hugs, rubs, dog treats, and kind words. But, one time, things weren’t right with her. She didn’t come running to see my husband, Mark. But, he could hear her crying and barking.

When Mark found her, the other two dogs were standing over her and she was on the ground struggling, totally bound by a long  tv cable. In her attempts to pull the cable to chew it, she became so ensnared and entangled  that she was trapped and struggling  to breathe. It took Mark a long time to untangle the cable  and to  free Sadie. When she finally escaped, she ran far away from the danger. Sadie was grateful to Mark. She seems to have great affection for her rescuer and even though Mark won’t admit it, he loves her, too! We still wonder how that little puppy got into such a dangerous trap in such a short amount of time?

As Christ-followers we can get into trouble pretty fast ourselves. We go through life and something distracts and gets our attention. Then we are drawn to the distraction. We move from looking to exploring and if we are not careful, we become trapped in a dangerous situation. We become a tangled mess and we can’t free ourselves. There is no way out and we need a helper.

Scripture tells us we have a way to escape the snares in life. We have a helper to free us from dangerous traps. Psalm 124:7-8, “Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper. The snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Our helper is the Lord. He broke the snare of sin and death and we have escaped the danger of eternal judgment.

In what dangerous situation(s) do you find yourself? To whom will you go for help? How will you thank the Lord for freeing you?

Heavenly Father, You are our Helper, who  is also the Maker of heaven and earth. Thank you for not leaving us in the trap of sin and death.  Teach us through your Word how to live in total freedom and warn us of the dangers of sin. In Your Son Jesus’ Name, Amen

Pour It Out

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When I sat down at the computer to write this post, I thought, “Oh no, my thoughts have dried up!”  It’s been one of those weeks. I have this nasty sinus thing and it gives me brain fog. There have been so many interruptions and unexpected stressors this week. I haven’t slept well and winter returned to Oklahoma. Those cold, cloudy, dreary, damp days of February are here.

I stared at the computer screen and no words came. Then, I heard a still small voice whisper, “You still have something to give, pour it out.” I immediately thought I can’t I’m drained. Again, the Spirit prompted me, “Pour it out!” That time it was more than a gentle suggestion, it was a “do it now” command. I knew I needed to slow down and listen as the Lord guided me about what to write. So I took a break.

I was unloading the dishwasher and as usual, the glasses still had a little bit of water left in the top. I would lift a glass from the upper rack and pour out the excess. One after another, I poured out leftover water. Before long, I knew what the Lord was teaching.  No matter how drained I am, no matter how I think my thoughts and words have dried up, I still have a little more to give. Because I belong to Christ I have more than enough to pour out.

Scripture is full of verses that speak to this spiritual overflow. In John 4:14, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman the water He gives will become a well of water springing up to eternal life. In the book of Acts the Holy Spirit was poured out from God and filled believers. Psalm 23 says “My cup overflows.”

Okay, I’m convinced I have more than enough to pour out. How about you?

Maybe you are a young stay at home mom?  The budget is tight, the kids are sick, the house is messy…Pour it out…Maybe you’re facing a layoff or job loss and you wonder how to provide for your family?…Pour it out…Maybe you’re dealing with a prodigal son/daughter and you’re at your wit’s end? Pour it out…Maybe you are facing an illness and long-term treatment?…Pour it out…

Because of Jesus there is more than a little left in you, why not pour it out?

Heavenly Father, Because of you, we have an abundance of what we need. Will You spring forth, fill us to overflowing with your power to live victoriously. In the name of  Jesus, the One Who is the Living Water, Amen

Don’t Hang Up Your Harp

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My pastor, Dr. Rod MacIlvaine has been teaching in the Psalms for the past few weeks. This week he will speak about, Praise- a Powerful but Neglected Discipline. (available online next week at gccbartlesville.org) He explained during this series, that the book of Psalms begins with an invitation to love God and it ends with a command to praise God.

God’s people are known for their praise. In the Old Testament the Israelites sang, danced, played tambourines and harps to worship the Lord. In the New Testament there are numerous examples of praise. But did you know there was a season when the music of God’s people ceased?

Psalm 137 tells us when the Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians, the people missed Jerusalem so much, they hung their harps in the willow trees and wept. Psalm 137:1-3, “By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”  They mourned the loss of their land, their freedom, their old life, and the way things were. Verse 4 says, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

Look around, do you feel like you live in a foreign land? America has changed a lot in the past few years. Our country is not the nation it used to be. A few short years ago, we were a Christian nation of integrity. The economy was in check and there was prosperity. We were not under the threat of terrorist and there was security. But now, if you look around, it looks like we are living in a foreign land.  

What’s robbing you of your song? Do you ever feel like sitting down and weeping because you miss America? Do feel tormented by others who mock your Lord? Do you feel like hanging up your harp?

Well don’t hang up your harp yet!  We are commanded to praise the Lord. Psalm 150 is a six verse praise of God, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”

So get your harp out that tree, find your tambourine and cymbals, and  put on your dancing shoes. It is time to praise the Lord!

Heavenly Father, take our eyes off our situation and put them on you. Fill our minds, hearts, and mouths with praise. When we are tempted to be silent, nudge us toward obedience. In Jesus Name, Amen

archived devotionals available also at circleofsavings.com