Daily Devotions

The Most Important Word You Need to Follow in Your Life

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This is the title of a cartoon by one of my favorite cartoonists, John P. Weiss. This important word of his calls those who have found their lives at a standstill. Weiss showed pictures of a divorced man at a cocktail party feeling uncomfortable and lonely; a homeless man sitting on a curb, surrounded by empty bottles, a person standing in a dead-end job, among others. The word each of these characters desperately needs to hear is START!

What if Abram and Sarai refused to listen to God’s call to start their new life? Imagine the Prophet Samuel deciding not to seek out and encourage a young David? King Solomon just couldn’t quite get the confidence to make his commitment to building the Temple a reality? Think of what would happen to us if Jesus remained an apprentice carpenter, rather than leaving home and gathering Apostles?

All these situations had one thing in common; the person had to actually START! It is easy to come up with a million reasons for staying put, for not stepping out into the great unknown. I have a friend who decided to go back to school and have a career, rather than a series of jobs. Her life is incredibly busy, with too many demands already, but she envisions a life for herself that requires further schooling. She considered her options, prayed for God’s leading, and, like so many faithful, courageous people before her, she stepped out in faith. She is tired and overworked, but doing great and proving each day that she is capable and worthy of a better life.

Today, think about some area in your life where you need to just START! It might be going back to the gym. It could be ordering that language program because you always wanted to learn Spanish. It could be more serious. Sometimes one must STOP before one STARTS. If you struggle with drugs or alcohol, commit to STARTING to live free, which first requires you STOP. Whatever you decide, make a plan, and commit to it. Make a commitment to START again each new day. Finally, don’t forget to seek the Spirit’s support. It may seem overused, but it remains true: “All things are possible through God who loves us.”

Don't buy a Scarlet Robe!

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Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, whose life changed in 1765. Diderot spent a great deal of money on a Scarlet robe. But now, against his new robe, all his other worldly possessions looked mundane, or even inappropriate. So, Diderot went out and spent large sums of money on a Damascus rug, sculptures, and other items he couldn’t afford. The situation became an actual psychological term, describing how individuals can spiral into a negative life of consumption.

I can no longer remember who said the following line, but I am eternally grateful: “Rich is the one who needs the least in order to be happy.” Sadly, there are any number of moments when I need to remind myself of this truism. All of us have special worldly items we long to possess, but often that item requires even more.

I had a friend who always wanted a fancy two-seater sports car. One day he drove home with one and announced to his wife, “We need to buy a new house, because we need a third garage. A sports car cannot sit outside.” One new car had a number of unintended consequences. The car was my friend’s Scarlet Robe.

There is nothing wrong with a special gift for yourself. It is important to remember that no worldly possession can be the key to happiness. Also, purchases can have unintended consequences. Today, pray for God’s Spirit to guide your spending habits. Stay away from the impulsive, and think through each purchase before making it. Finally, do as I say, and not as I do. I’ve made more than my share of purchases I wish I could take back. Let’s work on it together.

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