Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exodus 39-40; Mark 4:21-41

The Parable of the Growing Seed
“He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come’" (Mark 4: 26-29).
Sometimes I get caught up in my human nature and wonder how God could ever love someone like me, I see the imperfections and failures, God sees the end result. I have been a Christian for two decades, but I still feel so young in the faith. I feel like a tiny sprout slowly growing into a stalk, like in the parable above. I feel like I’m still starting out. I still have so much to learn, so far to grow.
What’s wonderful is that God sees the outcome of that little seed, even when I can’t. He sees the promise in me, when I’m filled with doubt. He sees a beautiful plant, ripe for the harvest, when I’m still just a little sprout.

Where do you see yourself in this parable today? What is God saying to you as you read these words?

Lord, thank you for the reminder that you do have a wonderful future in store for me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exodus 36-38; Mark 4:1-20

Sometimes plowing is painful
Sometimes uprooting is tough
Sometimes I dislike the struggle
Sometimes I fight letting go
Just the same, my prayer is always this:
May my ears be ready and willing to listen to your word
May my tongue proclaim your mercies, which are new everyday
May my eyes truly mirror your love and faithfulness
May my feet walk wherever you want me to go
May my heart be changed and renewed
May my life bear lasting fruit that can only come from you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exodus 34-35; Mark 3:20-35

“Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother’" (Mark 3:34-35).

I’ve often wondered why most of my conflict occurs with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are the ones I struggle at getting along with the most. They are the ones that I get extremely jealous of. They are the ones that are sometimes the hardest to love.
I think Satan would be perfectly happy if we lived our entire lives totally consumed with fighting fellow believers. For when we’re caught up in each other, we really can’t reach out and minister to others. We’ve become caught in a trap. We bite and tear our brothers and sisters down, instead of joining together, putting aside our differences, and learning to love with the love of Christ.
This verse above, from Mark 3:34-35 spoke to my heart as I read it today. In these verses, Jesus makes a distinction between his earthly family and his heavenly family. His earthly family had just determined that he was “out of his mind” (vs.21). They thought he was crazy for such stories and healing all the people. Perhaps they even thought he was possessed. Whatever the case, they clearly were not following God on this matter. They didn’t yet seem to believe that he was the Son of God. On the other hand, Jesus’ heavenly family included all of the people who did believe that He was the Messiah. It even includes you and me! We, also, are considered Jesus’ brothers and sisters. What an honor! And how undeserving we all are.
As hard as it is, I have made an effort to love my fellow brothers and sisters. This hasn’t always been easy. There have been times in which I’ve had to pray for years for a certain person, asking God to help me love them. The beauty of surrendering my feelings to God, though, is that he answers back tenfold. He has blessed me with some wonderful friendships, friendships that started out rocky at first, but through love, turned into something wonderfully deep.
My encouragement to all of you today is to not let Satan get a foothold in your relationships. Don’t let personalities, or jealously, or harsh words come between you and your sisters and brothers in Christ. Instead, give the relationships over to God. You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Exodus 31-33; Mark 3:1-19

Exodus 32:1 “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.’"

As I read the story of the Golden Calf today, I was once again amazed at how quickly the Israelites seemed to turned their back on God and revert back to their Egyptian idols. When God’s presence left them, they immediately turned back to something they could understand, something tangible. How foolish of them.
But how often do I react similarly?
There have been times in my life when the presence of God wasn’t always that evident, when I felt alone and abandoned, and instead of reaching out to God, I reached out to other people, or to food, or to entertainment, to fill in the missing gap. There have been times when my faith has wavered, just like that of the Israelites. I could point fingers at the Israelites and show you every foolish thing they did, but I have to be honest here and admit that I often fall up short as well. My faith is often not as strong as I want it to be. When times are good, it’s easy for me to point out how God provides. But when times are bad, it’s often difficult for me to hold onto those truths.
This is why I’m so thankful for the godly people in my life. These people point me in the right direction and remind me to cling to God when times get rough. For, I don’t want any “Golden Calf” incidences in my life. Sometimes I need all of the encouragement I can get to remind me to grasp on to God and never let go.
Encouragement from fellow believers is a wonderful thing. If you’re facing a rough time, or even if you’re not at the moment, I encourage you to find a good support system, it makes all the difference when times get tough. In addition, immerse yourself in scripture. God’s word is a powerful tool to help us through rough times. Treasure his words upon your heart; you’ll never regret it.
When I’m tested in the end, I want to come out as pure as gold, refined and tested by my creator in good times and bad: “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned a side. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food” (Job 23: 10-12).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exodus 29-30; Mark 2

“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you” (Exodus 30:34-36 NIV).

What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see my imperfections and faults?
Do you see the ways I failed today?
The ways I took life into my hands once again?
Or do you see me broken at your feet,
crying out to start over once again.
Do you see my words rising up to you,
calling out for forgiveness and renewal?
Do you see my life as an incense
mixed uniquely just to serve and honor you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exodus 23-28 Matthew 28; Mark 1:1-45

I used to find the lists of rules in Exodus extremely boring, I’m sure I’m not the only one. Then, last year, I went through a Bible study on the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. For the first time, those lists of rules came to life for me. God had every single part of this Tabernacle planned, from the inside out. Every single part of this heaven on earth had a purpose. If you ever have time, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place by Beth Moore was a fascinating study. I learned so much while going through it. There are so many fascinating connections between the Old and New Testament. Things I’d be happy to tell you about, if anyone is interested.
All of this came back to me as I read through the tabernacle description today. I found myself wishing I could see this spectacular work of art for myself. But guess what? The same, intentional hand that created the tabernacle created you and me as well. Isn’t that amazing? As I look in the mirror today, I am, in fact looking at God’s dwelling place. He lives inside of me. I am an amazing work of art that was planned down to smallest detail. As are you.
What does being “God’s dwelling place” mean to you?
As God’s holy dwelling place, how are you living your life today and everyday?
I know for me, being God’s holy dwelling place, means that I have to stop being quite as critical of myself, and instead love myself the way God created me to be. As 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Exodus 21-22; Matthew 27:51-66

As Jesus died on the cross, a few women stood nearby, caring for their Lord to the very end. Watching him die must have been excruciating for them. They must have been so hurt, grieved and confused… or did they have hope that he really would rise again? Did they understand that he was dying for each of them? Did they understand that he was saving the world from their sins?
Today, I have some things I need to lay before the cross. I have some things I need his blood to wash over and make whole again.
The world’s temptations can be so strong and so consuming. I’ve grown up in a society that puts such an emphasis on appearances and perfectionism. To the world I live in, there is a perfect body type, a perfect weight, and a perfect way to look. I don’t fit into any of these. Because I don’t, I’ve been taught that my whole life needs to revolve around obtaining this physical perfection. To the world, it doesn’t matter what I’m like on the inside, it’s only how I look on the outside. If I’m overweight I need to diet, if my skin is pimply I need to fix that, if I don’t have those clothes, I need to buy them. Even as a Christian girl, I seem to take what the world says as truth. Magazines, movies, television shows, even the Internet show me this image as something to obtain, at any cost.
To God, there is no such thing as gaining beauty or perfection. To him, I already am beautiful. As one of my favorite passages of scriptures states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:13-15).
He created every single part of me. I am no mistake. And so, once again, I need to lay the worldly image of what I should look like at the foot of the cross, and pick up a totally different image. This image is that of an imperfect girl, saved by faith. It’s the image of a work of art, made exactly as her creator wanted her to be. It’s the image of a girl who likes to be healthy, exercise, and wear pretty clothes, not to meet some “earthly perfection,” but because her body is home to something wonderful, the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
What do you need to lay at the foot of the cross today?

Exodus 19-20; Matthew 27:27-50

I’ve heard the crucifixion story so many times over the years. The images have been ingrained into my brain. Just the same, I cried when I read these verses in Matthew today. Once again, I was brought to the feet of the cross, as I watched my beloved Jesus die for my sins. Once again, I felt afresh the agony Christ must have faced, despised and rejected by his own people. Once again, I cried as I heard the voices of ridicule against my savior.
And once again I rejoiced in knowing what comes next in the gospel story. I rejoiced in knowing that Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day, paying the complete price for my sins, and for your sins as well.
And I wondered. I wondered if I had become callous to his word. I wondered if the story of his crucifixion and resurrection had become to commonplace in my life. I realized that I don’t often get as excited about Christ’s death and resurrection as I should. Often, in church, I sing songs of worship, but I’m just singing words. I’m not truly thinking about the cost of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’m not truly as thankful as I should be. And I’m not excitedly sharing that message with the world around me. Instead, I feel foolish at times, irrelevant, and silly for bringing up the cross. Which is wrong.
For he is just as relevant today as he’s always been. He’s still the Savior of the world, ready and waiting to redeem us each and every day.
What about you? Are you excited about Christ’s message today?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Exodus 16-18; Matthew 27:1-26

Manna: The Bread of Heaven

Sometimes I forget to trust. I start fretting and start grumbling about the little things. Like the Israelites in today’s reading, I forget about all of the wonderful times God has provided for me in the past. I forget about all of the times when God gave me some “manna” from heaven. At times, this manna was a meal on the table, at other times, this manna came in the form of a comforting friend, a sense of direction, or an overwhelming sense of peace.

Today, that manna is peace. Peace about the past, peace about the future, peace knowing God will provide. When I try to do things on my own, I worry. When I give those things to God, I have a peace that passes all understanding. God gives me just enough to get through each day. And then the next morning, we start all over again. Once again I have to turn to him, and reach out to him for strength. And once again he provides. He always does. He’s just waiting to be asked.

What kind of manna do you need today? Is it literal food on your table? Or is it something else?

Lord, thank you for providing manna today and every day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Exodus 14-15

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13b-14).
As I read these verses, I started to think about all the things I worry about on a daily basis… the list was a long one. It includes everyday things, like the dirtiness of my house, balancing the budget, finishing an article, and bigger things, like military deployment. I worry about the future, if I’ll be a good mother, how we’ll provide for a family, if my future children will know their grandparents. I stew about things that have yet to come to pass, forgetting about God’s unending provision up until now.
And then I’m reminded of the words of Moses in Exodus 14. In this passage of scripture the Israelites have just escaped from the hands of the Egyptians. They have seen God’s miraculous miracles, yet they are still fearful of what lies ahead. Instead of trusting God, they panic and want to return to slavery in Egypt. Moses tells them to do one thing: be still. He doesn’t tell them to fight, he doesn’t tell them to stay busy and do as much work as possible, he just tells them to be still and watch for the deliverance of the Lord.
Today I need deliverance from my own worries and fears. With the possibility of my own husband fighting a war overseas, I can be fearful and distraught, or I can trust that the Lord will deliver my husband from harms way. I can worry about my future role as a parent, or I can trust that God will be my deliverer even then. I can fret and complain, or I can be still and let God work. The choice is always there. Sometimes I hold onto my fears, other times I let go.
Today, I’m ready to let God fight my battles, both big and small. What about you? What battles, physical, mental, or spiritual, are you facing today? Where do you need to be still and let God take control?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exodus 1-13, Matthew 24-26

Hello everyone. After a wonderful vacation with my husband, I’m back home, suffering from a bit of jet-lag, and a little disgruntled with the pile of laundry sitting on the other side of the room. But I’ll put off that laundry a little longer so that I can write to you. While on vacation, I didn’t write an devotionals, but I did continue to read in Exodus and Matthew. Today’s devo will serve to get us all back on track. I know I’ll be glazing over a lot of the text, but bear with me, and tomorrow we’ll have a much smaller chunk of scripture to cover.

Over vacation my reading included Exodus 1-13 and Matthew 24-26. In the first part of Exodus God delivers his people from the hands of the Egyptians through a series of miraculous signs. He takes the Israelites out of Egypt, and begins to lead them to the promise land. My favorite verses form this section are found in Exodus 4:10-12. In this chapter, Moses admits that he is very under qualified for the task God has given him:

“Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

God’s response to Moses here is what I love so much:

“The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:11-12).

So often I doubt the very abilities and gifts God has given me. I compare myself to others and see how I don’t even begin to measure up. Here, God reminded me that He makes no mistakes. He has created me (and you) just the way he wanted to. He gave me these talents and gifts for a reason. And he will be there to teach me and help me to grow as a Christian. God’s ways are no my ways, so who would I be to neglect or doubt the talents God has given me?
What about you? Do you have certain gifts that you are afraid to use? What are they and why are you afraid? Is it rejection? Insecurity? Fear of the future? Give your fears to God and let him work through you. Remember, God used Moses to free the whole nation of Israel, he can use you as well.

In the book of Exodus, God saved his people from the bondage of slavery, in Matthew, God redeems all people from the bondage of sin. In Matthew 24-26, Jesus is getting closer and closer to that ultimate moment of sacrifice. My favorite image from this section of scripture is that of the woman who anoints Jesus’ head with oil. Found in Matthew 26:6-13, the woman’s act of worship is a beautiful one. This woman doesn’t care what others think, but instead worships her Lord unabashedly.

Reading this made me think of times I had held back from worshiping God. Other people may have been watching, or I just didn’t feel like it. The list of excuses could go on, but the point is there, just the same. I didn’t worship my Lord completely. I didn’t give him every thing I am. In the future I don’t want to make that mistake again.

I want to give everything I am to God, worship him with all of my heart, and let him work through me.

What about you?

Lord, help me to worship you completely today and every day. Use my gifts for your kingdom and draw me closer to you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coming Attractions

Hello all. I know Latte Lover doesn't normally do book reviews, but I felt inspired to write one today. My hubby and I are currently on vacation, but check back in two weeks for the normal daily devotions.

Have you ever read a book and felt God speaking to you through the pages? This is how I felt the first time I read The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. At the time, I was a young girl, struggling with a desire to be popular in school but to also stay true to my convictions.

Because of my love of Christy Miller, I quickly picked up the Katie Weldon books. I wasn't disappointed. Like Christy Miller, Katie Weldon is an extremely real and down-to-earth character. I truly identified with her as a friend. Gunn is definitely not afraid to portray a character with faults.The final book in a trilogy, Coming Attractions follows Katie’s final experiences in college. Having recently graduated from college, I identified with Katie’s confusion about the future. I won’t spell out the conclusion to the story, but I will say that I was extremely surprised yet delighted in the end. In essence, Katie comes to a realization that God writes a more beautiful love story than any of us can understand.
Coming Attractions was a well written, fast read. I would recommended it anyone, young or old, who wants a nice book to read on a Saturday afternoon while sipping on a cup of tea. You won't be disappointed.

Robin Jones Gunn has over 70 books published to date. Her books have sold over 4 million copies worldwide. She has been married for 32 years and has 3 grown children, and one cuddly golden retriever named Hula. She "loves God and loves telling stories."

For more books about Christy Miller and Katie Weldon, visit Robin Jones Gunn’s website. You can also find a link to Coming Attractions on
If you’d like to read more blog responses to Coming Attractions click here.