Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Just one day at a time

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (New Testament Bible), NIV.  Those were the words of Jesus as he spoke them aloud to his disciples and the throngs of people up on the mountain top who came to hear him speak when he began his ministry. If we are honest with ourselves and God we all can relate to this.

When I first drafted this post it was way back in March of this year before I went on a trip to Hawaii, and weeks before my life took a drastic turnaround from the more normal days I was experiencing. Little did I know that a few months later into the summer I would go through a personal crisis that set me back. See the post and story here. Before that time I would just go about my days with the same routine, enjoying time and seclusion at my computer, writing, looking for some new inspiration, working on writing projects. Then something happened to disrupt it all. When I came back to this post to read or revise it, it seemed almost prophetic, to what I felt and what happened later.

There are times when we need to take stock of what we’re doing, hit the ‘reset’ button, rethink our priorities. Sometimes it means being ready for the immediate and the unexpected that ultimately determines what is most important, putting aside everything else, indefinitely.

I have learned it is best to live one day at a time, to make it the best I can, maybe even better than the day before. Then I am not disappointed in myself, but instead encouraged by what I’ve done that day and ready for the next day. I’m not against making plans and setting goals, but I do so with reserve that something could happen that might change it, or set it back. I don’t set my sights on tomorrow if I am not yet finished with today.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Posted October 27, 2017 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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Elevator Shaft

His hand gripped tightly. With grunting, gasping breaths he climbed up, and saw nothing but the tunnel of hard, cold steel that went on, endlessly in the claustrophobic tomb.

“Help!” He cried out.

Save your breath. It will only tax what energy you have left and be your downfall.

A hoarse cough broke from his parched throat.

My ‘downfall.’ Yeah! Done that! 
Don’t look down. The bottom is endless, too. Grab hold! Anything!

His feet felt like iron weights.

Climb! I can do this.

Please! Someone!”

The elevator shaft opened.

Light! Voices! 

Oh, thank God!

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Psalm 31: 2, Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of rescue, a strong fortress to save me.  NIV, Old Testament

The above short story is fiction, but I used it as an illustration of the times when we need to be rescued from some trap or downfall, either by our own doing, or one of a literal sense. To acknowledge God, and His power to save, rescue and heal us, however it happens is when we need him most. The Psalms are full of the many stories and pleas of David, King of Israel who often found himself trapped by his enemies, or caught in literal or personal traps he’d set for himself. I’m thankful for the way God always provides us with a way of escape from that which the enemy sets up for us, either to catch us by surprise, or one placed there, warning us of what might come if we do not acknowledge Him, or seek His help .      

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016


When I gaze upon heaven’s blue sky

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I turn once more my eyes toward you

when I gaze upon heavens’ blue sky

your promise of faithfulness I keep

though I don’t always know just what to do

when confusion swirls about in my mind buried deep

 my muse grows mellow through time when I’m weak

and though I seek, but not always find

every answer that comes to all that I see

I know without fail you’re there in my need

and I hope the image one sees in me

is a reflection of the greater one seen in thee.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

The scarlet cord

“Go! Check out the land, especially the city of Jericho. Then report back to me.” Joshua said.

The two men entered town under the cloak of darkness. A thick wall rose above them encompassing the entire city.

They went directly to the home of Rahab, a prostitute whose house was built into the high wall. She agreed to hide them under stalks of flax on her roof.

But, the king learned of their mission and where they were. He sent his men after them. “By order of the king, you are to release the spies to us.”

“They were here, yes, but they have left. I didn’t know who they were, or where they’d come from. But if you go now, and hurry you might catch them before the city gates close.” Rahab said.

When the king’s men were gone she went to warn the spies they would be pursued.

“Everyone knows of your strength and reputation. All the people fear you. They’ve heard of your victories, how you have conquered all where you have gone. Promise me you will spare my family and household when you return, since I have been good to you.”

“You have our word. Hang this scarlet cord from your window the day we return and you and all your family and household will be saved.”

Rahab agreed. “It will be as you say.”

They lowered themselves down by the scarlet cord from her roof, and ran into the hills where they hid for three days until it was safe to return to their camp.

On the day that Joshua and the Israelites took possession of  the city of Jericho Rahab and all her household were saved because she hung the scarlet cord from her window above the city wall.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015

Footnotes: You can find the story of Rahab and the spies in Joshua, chapters 2 – 7 of the Old Testament bible. Rahab put herself at risk hiding the Israeli spies, and lying about their whereabouts. But she chose to take an active part in their plan to capture the city of Jericho because she knew they were God’s chosen people. Because of her courage she and all her family were saved.    

The ways in which God performs His miracles will astound us because in the natural we cannot comprehend it. Our walls may look impenetrable, doors and gates firmly shut beyond our control. But, when Israel’s army marched in and surrounded the city their loud call and shout brought down the wall, collapsing all at their feet, and the entire city was open to them so they could take possession, because they believed. “Everything is possible for him/her who believes.” Mark 9:23

If Jesus had a blog

What  do you think He would post? How many ‘likes’ and ‘follows’? How many views? Do you think He would post to Facebook, WordPress and Twitter, put pictures, awards or success stories up to promote himself, or be found in the search engines of Google and Bing? Jesus never needed to promote himself. He humbled himself and people were naturally drawn to Him by the thousands.

At times I wonder what it would have been like to have been born back then when He socialized with tax collectors, rebuked the critical Jewish pharisees and ministered to the crowds of people in the villages of Israel, or on the streets of Jerusalem with his disciples. Would we just watch and accuse Him like all the rest while He carried his cross to Golgotha’s Hill to Calvary to be crucified?

If Jesus had a blog today, He might use it to tell his parables or stories about what His kingdom is like. He might post the Beatitudes, or His sermons preached to the thousands on a hillside. He might share the memories He had of His life before, photos and stories of His friends and disciples he came to love. Maybe he would share with all how He would leave for a while, be put to death, then be resurrected on the third day and rejoin His disciples and friends again before ascending up to heaven to His father. And in leaving He would promise that the Holy Spirit would always be near to help and comfort us all.

Even though we have all this contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible today with easy access to all, and in many different languages and versions I think Jesus would have multiple stories to share that there would be no room or time to tell it all. I think He would post stories about people who have been healed of disease and disabilities of all kinds, and stories about restored relationships and marriages that would give us hope to get through difficult or troubling times, how to raise our children and gain wisdom along the way. But, most importantly I think He would tell people how much He loves them.

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Footnotes: Jesus’s history, his life, stories and miracles performed can be found in the gospels of the New Testament Bible in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Posted April 1, 2015 by Joyce in Devotional, Easter, Faith, Inspirational stories

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Life found where we least expect it

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Nature won’t give up

on what it breathes life into;

but comes back, stronger

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One and a half years after the disastrous flood of September 2013 in our town in northern Colorado we have amazing sights that surprise us like this old cracked tree stump that was surrounded by destroyed trees and washed out trails, roads and demolished buildings. But, last summer while on the walking trail we spotted this old tree stump cut down where others had been trimmed or uprooted from the flood, many that literally floated down the raging river during the flood. Thinking the tender green shoots were growing up from the ground near it, I decided to get a closer look at it and found that they were actually growing from out of the cracks or crevices in the stump. I was glad I had my camera along.

I was immediately reminded of a favorite scripture in Job 14: 7 of the Old Testament that says, “At least there is hope for a tree; if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” (NIV) And I thought about how often I had given up on dreams or things in my life because I felt as if they were ‘dead in the water’, like the trees that washed away in the flood, or having been cut down of ever producing any life or fruit again. But, God’s word is true. It is the same promise for today as it was in the days of Job, and there is the faith and hope that new life, new growth can begin again and we will bear new fruit.

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Like a lost lamb who wandered away

Photo of a rescued lamb recently found in a dumpster in England.

The story in the 23rd Psalm of the Old Testament Bible of The Good Shepherd was always my favorite, growing up, as was the accompanied photo of the Good Shepherd, used to depict the famed bible story. A shepherd leads his flock of sheep through valleys of green pastures and gentle slopes overlooking meadows and brooks flowing with clean, cool water to quench their thirst. It is a beautiful image. But, the story goes on to describe a darker, difficult journey on their way to the meadow’s brook before they can rest and take nourishment from all that the Good Shepherd has led them to.

Sometimes we walk through valleys in our life, into a path of uncertainty and we need the reassurance that our Savior, our Shepherd walks with us, leading us through it. My family had an experience like that once, over thirty-five years ago.

We were on vacation visiting my husband’s parents in Miami Beach, Florida when our daughter, age ten at that time, went walking one Friday night with my husband and his step-father.

The three followed the sidewalk along the edge of a baseball field during a game. Skipping along at a faster clip, she took a wrong turn, losing sight of them and lost her way. Realizing after some time that she was not around anywhere they looked they came back to my mother-in-law’s house with the news and to inquire from neighbors and enlist their help to look for her. There was no Amber Alert back then, but the neighborhood watch group wasted no time, got in their cars and drove around looking for her as did my husband and his step-father, in separate cars.

I immediately called the Dade County police dept., and reported her missing. They sent out two patrol cars to help, and hours later with no success an APB went out on their car radios to alert other officers.

As the agonizing hours passed during that time while waiting at the house with my mother-in-law and our youngest child I prayed fervently that God would watch over her and get her safely back home to us.

It was nearing midnight, and still no sign of her. I imagined filled bars and nightspots on a Friday night in Dade County with its heavy traffic. We refused to dwell on the possibility that she might have been abducted.

As my husband drove through a section in a well-lit commercial district miles from the site of her disappearance he spotted her bright orange tee-shirt on a crowded street. He honked till the horn went hoarse, sped to a stop and ran to her across the street.

When she was back home safely she told us how she’d gotten lost, couldn’t find her way back and just walked on, desperately seeking her father. The darkness, the fear and dread of that night was gone. We knew it was God who watched over her the whole time. Finding our lost child brought indescribable joy and celebration to our reunion that night.

When our ordeal was over, a police officer said to us, “You people are lucky. It does not often end so well.”

When difficult times come it is then when we need to know our Shepherd, our Savior has not left us, that we are not out of His realm of protection and grace.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

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