God Can Make Something Out of You

5:22 am Unknown 0 Comments

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. Genesis 1:1-2 (MSG)

Genesis 1:1-2
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Do you know anyone who has ever created something out of nothing?

I mean: nothing.

Not someone who can with a few brush strokes bring forth art. 

Not someone who can put a few stitches here and a few stitches there and come out with a dress.

I’m talking about someone who really creates out of nothing. Nada. Diddlysquat.

I don’t know anyone who has ever done that. Except for God.

Genesis tells us God created the earth out of nothing. 

Nothing Is Beyond Fixing

5:56 am Unknown 4 Comments

You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death…But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. Romans 5: 12-14 (MSG)

Nothing in your life is beyond fixing
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Do not touch.

That is all the note on my colleagues desk said. 

Normally I can walk past her desk without pausing, but when I saw that all I wanted to do was pick up that note, and see what was underneath.

I wanted to ruffle the papers in the pile and see what was so important it needed a sign.

It made me think of Adam and Eve and how they must have felt when God told them, “Do not touch that tree.” 

For a moment I understood how all they must have wanted to do was shake the branches and taste the fruit. All because they had been told not to.

I identified with Adam and Eve as I contemplated reaching out and touching the sign. 

I realized that if Eve hadn’t been the first to sin it probably would have been me.

I think that is why I love Romans 5:12 – 14. It tells us that even though Adam got us into this mess - by not being able to resist the chance to touch something he shouldn’t have - God already had a plan to work all things for good.

Small Acts Of Kindness This Christmas

2:31 am Unknown 2 Comments

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! Ephesians 2:7-8 (MSG)

God's kindness is so prevalent
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It’s the small acts of kindness that so greatly touch our lives. 

I remember reading that on a pink square of paper I got as a child. 

There were two teddy bears on it and one was patching the leg of the other one. 

I’m not sure why it stayed with me but it did and often it comes back to me. 

It came back to me recently when I gave all my colleagues a small Christmas gift, and one replied saying, “Thanks for the present. I really appreciate it. In all the time I’ve worked I’ve never received a gift.”

That broke my heart. 

Tore it into pieces. 

There was nothing great about my action. 
It was small. 
It hadn’t cost much. 

And yet it touched someone’s life.

I often find myself thinking about small kindnesses in relation to God: the kindness of a sunny day or the smile of a stranger or waking up next to my husband. 

God’s kindness is so prevalent that we often miss it. (<-- Click here to tweet that)

Ever Wondered Why Birds Fly?

5:08 am Unknown 0 Comments

{A Guest Devotional by Simon van Heerden}

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:25-26 (ESV)

Wings of faith
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It seems that the birds are having all of this scripture as they soar, and sing, and majestically carry on through life.

I wish I could be like a bird with no worries or cares, but I’m not, and that’s life.

I don’t know about you but sometimes just stopping and thinking becomes too stressful because when you stop and think about “A” - the alphabet thinks it’s a royal gathering - and soon you are thinking about “B” and “C” and “D” and “F” and “G”.

I cannot help but sit and wonder what it would be like to not worry, to sit and float along knowing that today is today, and everything that matters is right here. A life of no worry or bills: Man, if only!

It happens for 2 seconds then the boss walks in, or the phone rings, and I just get sucked straight back into life, and the dream seems like an imaginary friend from childhood.

There must be something more than all of this rush and busyness.

When Your Soul Sings

5:35 am Unknown 10 Comments

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)

I whispered to my soul
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Have you ever tried to praise God when you don’t feel like it?

I have. 

I’ve tried with all my might. Sometimes the words I’ve said have been an attempt to try and lead my heart and soul to the place where they believe. 

Other times I know that I’ve just been speaking syllables, uttering sounds that mean nothing. I’ve just been going through the motions because I don’t know what else to do.

One day I couldn’t mime my praises any longer. 

I wanted with all my being to praise God but I couldn’t bear the sound of my hollow words bouncing around again, clanging off the sounds of my depression and desperation and confusion.

So instead I whispered to my soul, so quietly I barely heard myself, “You must sing, you must be the one to praise God, you must do this even when I can’t.”

And now my soul sings. 

My soul sings how beautiful and powerful and wonderful God is even when I can’t find those words within myself. 

I can’t explain how it works. It is one of the mysteries of God that my soul can praise even when my heart and mind have nothing to offer. 

I have found that when my soul leads in praise, instead of my own words, my heart and mind respond and go running after God.

I think that is what David was doing in the Psalms sometimes. He was commanding his soul to praise when he couldn’t. Begging his soul to lead his heart and mind into worship.

We don’t always feel like praising. And that’s okay. (tweet this)

But next time why not try uttering Psalm 103:1-2 as a prayer and see where your soul leads you.

Have you prayed Psalm 103:1-2? What happened? (I’d love you to share your experiences of letting your soul pray in the comments). 

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Slow Down & Live Wonderstruck

5:43 am Unknown 3 Comments

Are you listening? Have you noticed all this? Stop in your tracks! Take in God’s miracle wonders! Job 37:14 (MSG)

Live Wonderstruck
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In February my husband was diagnosed with cancer.

And all of a sudden our lives slowed down.

In the space of one doctor’s appointment we narrowed our focus to one thing: getting better.

Everything else we’d thought was important till then – his studies, language lessons, work and so on – suddenly became secondary to our primary focus of making sure he not only made it through chemotherapy but became healthy afterwards.

At the time it was hard to phone and cancel. 

It was awkward to turn down invitations to this event or that function but we’d identified what was important and that was slowing down.

In slowing down, I’ve realized that we haven’t really missed anything. 

Instead we’ve gained time with each other, with friends and with God. We’ve learnt how to enlarge our capacity for the beauty of life. 

We’ve slowed down enough to become wonderstruck. 

Margaret Feinberg describes being wonderstruck, as the state of becoming aware of the privilege of watching God’s creation unfold its glorious mysteries, and not wanting to miss a millisecond. (Wonderstruck, pg 3)

That Awkward Silence Where God Speaks

5:45 am Unknown 3 Comments

{A Guest Devotional by James Prescott} 

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5 (ESV)

For God alone my soul waits
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Yesterday I watched the news and one of the presenters said something wrong - a genuine mistake - but after this there was a moment of silence. Both presenters looked at the camera. One of them said something like:

“Oh, the awkwardness of silence” 

It struck me then how little our culture values silence. 

How silence is seen as something to be avoided at all costs. 

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘awkward silence’. But in our culture, it seems every period of silence is awkward. 

When was the last time you had an amazing silence? (<-- tweet that here)

Don't Be Afraid To Rest

6:00 am Unknown 4 Comments

On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:2-3 (NLT)

Genesis 2:2-3
Photo & Design: Wendy van Eyck
I spent the day by a stream last Saturday.

I sat there doing nothing just listening to the birds sing worship in the trees and the wind whistle it’s praise through the branches.

I sat there and I thought, “I should do this more often”. 

I should put down my phone, leave my laptop at home and my to-do list on my desk and just give my soul time and space to rest, to just be with God.

I shouldn’t be so afraid to declare those quiet, restful moments as holy. 

I realized as I sat beside the rushing water that this moment of silence and solitude was as holy as any I’ve spent with a bible in hand or lending a hand to the poor.

I was throwing my hands up, saying I couldn’t do it all, and resting in the knowledge that God is in control.

I was declaring in that quiet moment that I trust God to handle my worries and fears and concerns.

In that moment of rest God was being worshipped. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

When was the last time you took time out to just let your soul rest with God? Stop and ask God to show you a moment in your schedule where you can just rest.

If you enjoyed this please subscribe to receive these devotionals via email or tweet this or share it on facebook.

A version of this devotional originally appeared in my column on Gateway News.

Where Is God In Unknowns & Questions?

5:32 am Unknown 4 Comments

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)

1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)
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My husband may or may not have cancer.

The Doctors cannot confirm whether it has reoccurred. They cannot say that he is cancer free either.

All we can do is wait and see what happens.

See if the next biopsy shows more cancerous cells.

Or if the next scan shows the lymph node returning to its normal size.

We’re living in limbo. 

Sometimes in conversation we find ourselves allowing our dreams for next year to mingle with hope and then one of us says, “If chemotherapy doesn’t happen.”

That reality tugs at us, reminding us how nothing is normal now, and that we don’t really know anything about what the future holds.

We’re living between the now and the not yet. 

We’re trying to see the future but unknowns cloud our view.

In the midst of all the unknowns we’ve found God hanging on to us, not letting us slip or fall, and we’re returning his grip, trusting that he really is in control.