The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. And, talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were walking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him…When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight. Luke 24: 13-16, 30-31

Everyone has “best” hymns, some for the music, for the beat and rhythm, for the words. Christmas carols have musical charm, simple tunes and easy words. For beat and rhythm, “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “Stand Up For Jesus.” For the words, probably all of Fanny Crosby’s hymns fall into this group, like “Blessed Assurance,” or “I Am Thine Oh Lord.”

Now, my favorite hymns – verses 13-16, on the road to Emmaus. This was a few days after the crucifixion, and the disciples were a lost and discouraged bunch. We’re not sure if the “two of them” were disciples of the twelve, or followers who lived in Emmaus. Many people, when asked the question: “If you could go back to the time of Jesus, and spend only a few minutes near Him, what and where would your choice be? The choices are endless—At the Sermon on the Mount or one of His miracles, healing the blind man, the loaves and fishes, the Last Supper. Where, where?   My choice (and a very personal one) would be to walk with Him on the road to Emmaus.  And to finally name one of my favorite hymns, “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.” Verse 31:  “And their eyes were opened.”  And my second favorite hymn is “Open My Eyes That I May See.”

Prayer: Our heavenly Father, as we continue on our Christian journey, our prayer today is that our eyes be opened that we might see the salvation that awaits us when we walk with your son, Jesus, Our Savior and Redeemer.  Amen

Ned Eastlack (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotion Book, 2008)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Word from Thessalonians

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:6

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Plan A, B, and C

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17

"Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

I travel sometimes for work, and often alone. I don’t mind this, but sometimes the trip to a location seems lonely, and I’m a bit anxious. On these trips I always like to know a plan B when something may not go as planned. I may have two credit cards available for filling up my gas tank. I may have extra equipment for taking photos than is necessary. I may have someone’s contact info "in my back pocket" just in case of unforeseen circumstances. I feel better when I plan better.

While it’s a good idea to plan well, sometimes life may throw us a curveball. In those instances, God is plan A, B, and C! He is with us through it all, helping us see the way even when circumstances become difficult.

Prayer: Dear Lord, You are with me always. Calm my heart when I am worried, and help me to turn to you in prayer when times are difficult and the road ahead seems frightening. Thank you for your comfort and guidance. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

God is Faithful

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

There is a project I have been working on for two and one-half years. It is something to spread knowledge of God’s word. This summer as I culminated the work and sent it to the printer the Lord was by my side each day. 

Just when I needed an artist, the Lord had an artist move in with my grandson who is studying at the University of Nebraska. He was able to design a cover which greatly enhanced the project. I knew he had talent because his grandmother lived a couple of blocks from me when I was raising my children who played with this student’s father. His grandmother is a great artist and even had her own art studio.

Just when I needed someone to jazz up the inside, my granddaughter came to a journalism camp at UNL and learned more about Adobe printing. This was definitely a God thing because she planned to attend the Kansas camp but couldn’t work out the timing. She is a dancer and even had time to spend part of three days with me. She immediately knew how to help me.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, may we all see when you put “just what we need” in front of us. It is a joy to know that your grace abounds and a joy to watch how you help us serve you with good work. Thank you for giving me stamina to carry out your will. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Monday, September 16, 2019

Loving Others

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6: 32-35

This is one of the hardest verses for me to serve in life. I feel like I could count the people that I dislike or consider to be enemies on one hand. Maybe 5 people that I dislike is a lot, or maybe it isn’t very many. It is hard to live the life mentioned in this verse loving our enemies and doing good to them when we are angry with them, or distrusting of them, or simply disgusted by their personalities.

As part of the human condition, it is easy to want to be rewarded for the good things that we do. We study hard and are rewarded with good grades. We perform well at work and receive promotions, and raises. We volunteer at church and in our community and someone tells us thank you. All of these are times that we give and it is rewarded. A positive reinforcement for our positive actions.

There are also times when we receive negative reinforcement for a positive action, which can certainly create confusion. We have all had that individual in our lives, we give and give but they only focus on what they didn’t get. It can be hard to keep giving and easy for us to throw in the towel.

What about people we have already made a decision about not liking? They may have angered us, intentionally or unintentionally. We may have missed an opportunity to have a conversation because we were SO angry in the moment that we simply abandoned the person or situation and now we have regret. We don’t know how to bring up a hurt that is so old, and has festered for so long, that it might not even be relevant anymore. But we have held on for so long to this person as an enemy, we have blocked any other kind of relationship. 

I wonder a lot about these enemy scenarios. How I can love someone I don’t like?  How I can be falsely nice to them and if that is better or worse than treating them as an enemy? In some of these situations I have tried the kitschy approach – Let Go and Let God. But I see the person again, and they ruffle my feathers again, and I don’t want to let go. I want to be annoyed by them, and justify my attitude towards them, and paint them as a villain. Even though I know it isn’t the Christian thing to do. So I go back the drawing board and again they treat me poorly, or I perceive that they treat me poorly because I admittedly expect the worst of them and we are right back in the cycle. I know I can’t be alone. I know it doesn’t make God love me any less and I know that he forgives me for harboring these feelings. But they feel pretty bad, and they really don’t feel like the person I want to be. 

It’s verses like this from Luke that remind me that God has seen much worse and has better expectations of me. He knows that when my feelings are hurt I might start with anger, but he expects me to get to a better place, of forgiveness. Now I just have to do the work! 

Prayer: God who knows and sees all things, help me to get to a place of resolution with my enemies. In moments where I want to see the bad help me to remember the good. In moments that I am angry, please temper my emotions.  Please help me to share my gifts with all of your children, not just the ones I like!     

Christi Moock

Friday, September 13, 2019

Words from Jeremiah 29

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29: 4-14

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Press Forward

Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil: 3:13-14

This scripture was my mother’s motto in life—to press toward…”the high calling of God. My father was a minister and, no matter where we lived, Mother consistently reached out to those in need. In my early childhood we lived in a rural community. Times were hard.

Mother had some training as a nurse and often went to homes to care for people. Even though we lived in the country, transients found their way to our door and Mother always fed them good, nourishing meals.

During the war, we lived in a small town. Mother befriended two young women who were new to the community and shunned by the townspeople who considered the newcomers to be prostitutes. Both were married to servicemen and the husband of one of them was killed in the war. Mother went to see them, offered them friendship and acceptance, and invited them to come to church.   Although they didn’t come, their children began to attend Sunday School  regularly.

Mother always loved children. She read to them, told wonderful stories, and invented little games. In her eighties she cared for the beautiful little daughter who lived across the street while her mother, Liz, an immature, flirtatious, narcissistic young woman was at work. Mother didn’t preach to her, but as their relationship developed, Liz began to get new insight into her role and responsibilities as a wife and mother.

Wherever she lived, whether in the country, a small town, or a city, Mother worked to develop a sense of community among her neighbors. She visited them and was interested in their lives; she helped them in time of need; and she invited groups of neighbors into her home for coffee and fellowship. It was all a part of her pressing toward what she felt was the “high calling of God.”

Mother wasn’t a saint. She had faults and foibles as all of us do. But she never stopped trying to live her convictions. I received a letter from her shortly before she died. She wrote, “I’m tired,” and I knew that meant she was ready to move on. Thus the scripture from Paul’s letter was the theme for the celebration of her life—“I press forward.”

Prayer: Dear God, Help us, every day, to forgive ourselves for past sins and to press onward in our quest to do your will. Amen.

Marie Fischer (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional, 2008)