Daily Devotional for August 29, 2016

John 18:19-23
The high priest questioned Jesus about his followers and his teaching. But Jesus told him, “I have spoken freely in front of everyone. And I have always taught in our meeting places and in the temple, where all of our people come together. I have not said anything in secret. Why are you questioning me? Why don’t you ask the people who heard me? They know what I have said.”

As soon as Jesus said this, one of the temple police hit him and said, “That’s no way to talk to the high priest!”

Jesus answered, “If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?”

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991,1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Our daily news is filled with reports of people saying or doing shocking - and sometimes abhorrent things. We read and hear accounts of everything from name calling and degradation of others…to heinous acts of cruelty…to public protests of this issue or that one, and much more. Sometimes, we are shocked by these words and actions…but quite often, these behaviors come as no surprise, given the reputation of the people involved.

I am not condoning these exploits and comments.  But we have come to expect a certain level of behavior – or misbehavior – from quite a few folks.  By the same token…we know people of integrity who consistently offer truth, grace, mercy, kindness, and wisdom in their daily living.  As the old saying goes…”It takes all kinds.”

Even a person of utmost character and uprightness will have his/her detractors.  Jesus certainly said or did nothing to deserve to be slapped around, spit upon, beaten to a pulp and crucified.  He didn’t say or do anything different to merit such cruelty from the high priests after His arrest. His message was consistent…His actions were unwavering.  Yet Jesus was persecuted. And on our best day as Christian disciples, you and I will be subject to criticism and unfair assessment, as well.

OUR JOB is to remain steady in our faith and witness…to develop a reputation for upright character and fairness – and to do everything we can to never falter.  There will be those who want to trip us up…or judge us without merit.  There will even be people who say unkind things about us – and maybe spread malicious (and untrue) rumors about us to disparage our character.  They will look for the least little thing to jump on and “slap us around.”  So we must bring our “A-game” at all times!

What sort of reputation do you have with others?  Are you “one of those” from whom ugly, disrespectful comments and actions or outbursts are expected?  Do you give others reason to question your discipleship and loyalty to Christ?  Or are you known as someone who is consistent in his/her faithfulness and witness?  Are you able to rise above criticism and disparagement from those who might try to denigrate your efforts to share the Good News of Jesus…and continue to serve Him with dignity and honor?  And are you careful not to criticize or judge others?

What is your level of commitment to serving Jesus – and to serving others in His name?  When someone “slaps you around,” how do you react? Let Christ’s example be your model.  Honor your commitment to Him by always going the extra mile…even when the devil puts obstacles and distractions in your path. This will probably happen at some point…will you be ready to handle it?

©2016 Debbie Robus

Daily Devotional for August 28, 2016

John 15:9-14    
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.

Scripture quotations from The Message. © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene Peterson.  Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.

Anyone who knows us very well knows that we are huge “homebodies.”  As founders and publishers of Workamper News*, a magazine and website that tell people how to find work while traveling…people readily assumed that Greg and I were criss-crossing the country in an RV. In truth, for the 18 years we owned this business – and in the years since – we’ve rarely gone anywhere.  Our business was home-based for most of the first 16 years…quite literally in an adjoining room of our house for about a decade. For another six years or so, our office was located a short golf-cart ride away - but still on the same property.  We could – and did – work in our pajamas, if we wanted!

Thankfully Greg and I get along quite well, because we have been virtually inseparable since 1987! We are blessed with a special relationship that allows us to live and work together amicably…and to give each other “space” for special interests/hobbies. We revel in our individual joys, as well as common purposes. Like many couples who have been together for a long time, we share experiences…joys and triumphs – and heartaches and concerns.  There is nothing that we would not do for each other…no burden OR delight that we would not take on together.

As idyllic as this all sounds, I have to tell you that I firmly believe the only reason such a relationship is possible is because we are “at home” in the love of Christ. We are just as comfortable in our relationship with Jesus as we are with each other. We have made ourselves at home in His love.  Jesus shares our joys, triumphs and accomplishments…and our disappointments, burdens and sorrows.  He undergirds everything about our lives and creates a safe haven in which to rest and reside.

As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, I have less and less desire or temptation to “travel” to areas that don’t include Him. The “lure” of sin has lost its appeal. I find that I stop in my tracks more often if/when I am tempted to speak or act in a manner that might disrespect or degrade our relationship in any way.  I am quite cozy, comfortable, and “at home” in the arms of Jesus.

This does not mean that I am complacent. With any “home,” maintenance and upkeep are required…and it is no different in my relationship with Jesus. We must cultivate and nurture conversation, shared activities and goals…and Christ’s mission. We must make the time and effort to encourage others to settle in with Him, as well…and we must demonstrate His love by loving them just as He does.

Take some time today to think about your home. Is it a place you pass through on your way to something or somewhere else?  Are you comfortable there…secure and content?  Would you say that this describes your “home” in the love of Christ?  Is your relationship with Jesus like a place where you store your clothes and other belongings…but spend little to no time there?  Or do you delight in dwelling in His presence and serving as His disciple?

Are you in some ways running from Jesus…and does it show in your daily living?  Are you ready to fully embrace your relationship with Christ – and then share the blessings of His love with others?  Will this be the day that your joy fully matures and you settle in to “make your home” with Him?  Don’t you want it to be?

©2016 Debbie Robus


Daily Devotional for August 26, 2016

John 14:15-17    
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Scripture quotations from The Message. © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene Peterson.  Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.

Recently, I discovered a website called Power of Positivity (PoP)*, which describes as part of its focus…“the good in the world, how you can expand that good within you, and how that expansion from within can generate more good for others.”  While I don’t necessarily endorse everything shared on this website, the article that caught my attention was titled “9 Things You Should Say to Your Kids Every Day.”  These are:

  • I love you
  • I like it when you...
  • You make me happy.
  • I'm proud of you.
  • You are special.
  • I trust you.
  • I believe in you.
  • I know you can do this.
  • I am grateful for you.
It seems odd to me that we would have to be reminded to tell our children some of these – especially “I love you!” As I read this list, I thought about not only how I speak to the children in my own circle…but also my relationship with our Heavenly Father – and how He speaks these things into me every day through His Holy Spirit.

These simple phrases can be incorporated into our daily “mission” to show others what Jesus has told us.  We can let someone know that we love them and care about them.  We can recognize the qualities and accomplishments of others. We have opportunities to convey to other people that we trust them…believe in them…are confident in their abilities…and that we are grateful for their lives.  By merely stopping to say “Hello” to an acquaintance at school, church, or in the aisle at Walmart, we can acknowledge the joy and pride our association with that person brings – and boost their confidence in the process.

We have grown so comfortable with criticism and ugliness.  We are ready, willing and eager to share a negative post or a condescending remark.  We can’t wait to laugh with others about someone’s mistakes and shortcomings.  We often mumble and grumble our way through the day. Quite frankly, if the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, very few people would ever know it by the way we talk and act!

God calls us to change this…to look for positives and recognize the good things.  He wants us to cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit and radiate such hope and faith to others that those who know this Friend for themselves will readily recognize Him in us…and the rest will want to know Him.

It doesn’t take all that much effort to flip the switch from negative to positive.  Start with something as simple as whispering these three words…”Come, Holy Spirit.”  Shift your focus today and start operating in the message and mission of Jesus.  Concentrate on sharing His goodness with others - and offering them at least a glimpse of His glory through your spirit of faith and hope.

If you feel you are not hearing these positive affirmations frequently enough, there may be something that you need to change.  Do others see Jesus in your daily living?  Isn’t it time they did?

©2016 Debbie Robus

* https://www.powerofpositivity.com/

Daily Devotional for August 26, 2016

John 14:1-4
“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

Scripture quotations from The Message. © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene Peterson.  Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.

There have been a lot of posts recently from parents who helped their college-aged students move into a new space…cute room d├ęcor…bittersweet “good-byes”…excited kids greeting old friends and making new ones.  It is a daunting experience to send your child away to college and trust that he/she will be healthy and happy…make good choices…study hard and have a good time – all without the “guidance and nurture” of  his/her parental figures and the comforts of home!

When my then-98-year-old grandmother made the difficult decision to move to an Assisted Living Facility, she trusted Greg and me to handle the details.  And we did our best to ensure that she would be happy and given the best care. We furnished her apartment with HER things - down to the last plant and knick-knack.  We made it look as much like “home” as we possibly could.

I will never forget how hard it was to pull out of her driveway and deliver her to this new apartment…knowing that she would never live with total independence again.  But I also realized that we had done everything we knew to do – and then some – to get her room ready.  And while she rarely told us that all was well, I heard from many others that she often said, “This was the best decision I ever made.”

My grandmother was no dummy. She knew that this apartment would be her final earthly residence.  But she also knew that Jesus was preparing a far nicer place for her in heaven…the likes of which she had never seen before.  She had to endure her share of challenges on this earth. I guess you could say she “lived in a dump or two.”  But she never let this squelch her hope and faith that better days were ahead…that her room in THE Mansion was in the works! A friend joked that Jesus took His time repainting my grandmother’s space to get the color just right – she lived for 100 years 123 days. But I know that the end result is perfect – and so worth the wait!

A lot of us spend a good deal of time and energy on worry about things that really don’t matter.  We spin our wheels as we stay stuck in the ruts of worry, frustration, anger, disappointment, and fear.  We SAY we trust Jesus…but we don’t live in a way that demonstrates this. We sometimes live in a few “dumps” as “life” happens to us. We let the devil steal our joy…and what we present to others is an example of someone who SAYS they trust Jesus and want to serve Him, then lives like there isn’t an ounce of hope and faith in Christ’s teachings and promises.

John 14:1-4 should frame every single aspect of our daily living.  The hope and promise that is offered in these brief sentences should be the fuel that drives us each minute of the day. Our room is being prepared…and it will be the best room we could ever imagine, in the mansion of the KING of KINGS!  Jesus is busy getting the paint colors and everything else exactly right!  And in the meantime, the One who is creating this Masterful abode for us gives equal time and attention to the details of our everyday existence.

So what have we to fear?  How can we worry?  Why would we waste a minute being angry or disappointed?  The best is yet to come…we know what lies ahead, and it will be glorious!  The time has come to live with the excitement and enthusiasm of a college freshman off to inhabit his/her first dorm room…or the graduate decorating a new apartment. We know that what Jesus has in store for us is superior to any of these earthly dwellings…so why aren’t we living with anticipation and gratitude?

Are you ready to demonstrate to the world how much you trust Jesus?  Do you honor the work and preparation that He is doing for you by living every minute of this earthly existence to the fullest – and with glory and gratitude for the Designer of it all?  Do you live with hope and joy in your salvation through Jesus Christ…and does it show?  Isn’t it time you did?

©2016 Debbie Robus

Daily Devotional for August 25, 2016

John 13:34-35    
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Scripture quotations from The Message. © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene Peterson.  Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.

I met a friend in the grocery store today whose husband has just come home from an extended hospital stay.  She said that yesterday, he took his first “real” shower in roughly 38 days.  She said he told her that “spit baths” were just not the same – that “we Baptists need more water!” I had to agree.  Several years ago, I broke my ankle.  While I was in a cast, I could not shower.  I told my friend that I still remember the first day I was free of my plaster cast. Greg put a step-stool in the shower, and I sat on it while he turned on the water and let it pour over me.  A shower never felt so good before or since!

My friend and I agreed that far too often, we take something as basic as a shower for granted.  Yes, you can take a “bath” with a washcloth and a basin of water…but there is nothing like the cleansing power of a shower to make you feel truly clean.  As we talked, we laughed that this was a great analogy for another, more profound “cleansing power”…the blood of Jesus and His love for us.

A lot of the time, Christians tend to operate in “spit bath” mode.  We pick and choose who to love – and how to love them. I recently read a response that Amy Dickinson, whose syndicated column is called “Ask Amy,” gave to a “church-going” woman who wanted to know how to nicely exclude a family member from her social , because this person didn’t quite fit in.  Amy let the woman have it with both barrels for her unkindness and her unloving attitude.  She finished with the admonition that maybe this woman should think about these things while sitting in her church pew, because for all of her time spent in church, she didn’t seem to have learned a whole lot!

Many of us have not gotten much out of our “church attendance,”, either!  We certainly have not learned how to love ALL others as Jesus loves us…and to demonstrate this in our daily living.  We haven’t learned how to think of someone besides ourselves first…to hold our tongue…to readily forgive wrongs and move forward…to encourage others and build them up in hope and faith.  We haven’t accepted that God created ALL of us…not just white people…or Methodists, Baptist and Catholics…or heterosexuals...or Americans!  We fail to believe that God could love drug addicts, alcoholics, sexual predators and other criminals, terrorists, people on welfare, the elderly, and those who do not agree with our politics…much less expect US to love them!  And it shows in our demeanor - and our daily “discipleship.”

We’ve taken “Christian spit baths” long enough.  It’s time for us to sit under the “shower” of the love of Christ and let His blood truly cleanse us from head to toe.  We need to “wash” in His sacrifice until every speck of our sin is removed…and then we need to towel off and move ahead with the full force of His redeeming power.  We need to love others as Christ loves them...and as He loves us!

We need to demonstrate at every turn that we are new creatures because of Christ Jesus…that there is nothing halfway about our walk with Him.  Others need to see that we never cut corners…or make exceptions. And if we do…maybe WE need to spend a little time on a pew…or in a quiet corner where we can listen for the voice of God.  Maybe we need to ask the Holy Spirit to wash over us like the refreshing waters of a hot shower…and give us new eyes for Christ’s mission.

How “clean” are you today?  What – and WHO – do other see in your words and actions?  Is your love for Jesus – and others – readily recognizable?  Don’t you think it’s time it was?

©2016 Debbie Robus

Daily Devotional for August 24, 2016

John 1:8
God sent John the Baptist as a witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is the true Light. John himself was not the Light; he was only a witness to identify it.

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

I saw a meme online that said, “I am not a control freak…but can I show you the right way to do that?”  This pretty much sums up some of us and our Christian discipleship.  We are not Jesus…but we pretend that we are anyway!  Let us tell you how things should be…let us decide what is right and wrong in every situation – and declare it loudly.

Let us tell you how you ought to act and what you should believe.  And while we are at it…allow us to ride in on our white horse and save your day! While you are at it, be sure to remind us how wonderful we are…how wise and “spiritual” we are…how we must have a direct line to God, because we are just.that.good!

Here’s the thing…John the Baptist was “all that and a bag of chips” in the world of Christian discipleship.  And yet, he was humble…honorable…and respectful of his position.  John the Baptist was not Jesus…and he not only knew this – he made it abundantly clear to others.  John even tried to refuse to baptize Jesus, because he knew that He was unworthy of such an experience.

John the Baptist knew his place as a Christian disciple.  He knew the blessings and glory of serving Jesus…and he also knew that the spotlight was never to be on him.  I am afraid in too many areas of our own lives, we have put ourselves on pedestals.  We have declared that WE can fix things…that OUR opinions are the ones that matter…that we are so far superior to the other guy in every way that matters – and a few that don’t.  And we have pretty well obliterated our Christian witness in the process.

Make this the day that you humbly return to center…that you shift your focus away from yourself - and onto Jesus.  Do whatever it takes to get back into perfect alignment with God and find your rightful place as Christ’s disciple.  Identify His light…and allow it to shine brightly for the world to see.

Recognize that of all the things that you may control, the Light of Christ is not one of them. Step aside and truly serve.  Let others see Christ's glory…not yours…so that they might receive His precious gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit for themselves.  Never ever say or do anything that might be a hindrance to God’s Kingdom. The time to begin is now.  Are you ready to relinquish control?

©2016 Debbie Robus

Daily Devotional for August 23, 2016

Psalm 94:18-19
When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991,1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Today, our friends’ newborn baby is having open heart surgery.  Doctors have told them since mid-pregnancy that such a procedure would be necessary.  Still, the thought of such an intricate operation on a 7-day-old baby makes anyone stop and take a deep breath.  The surgery is expected to take eight hours…and a 2-to-3-month hospitalization will be required afterward. Most of us are inadequately grateful for the health of our children.  When I hear of the challenges that face families like this one, I stop and thank God that all of our little ones are so incredibly well.

When Timothy was two, he awoke one morning wheezing so loudly that we could hear him all over the house. Greg and I rushed him to our ER, where the staff went to work to determine the problem.  When a nurse put a blood pressure cuff on Timothy, he went ballistic…and by the time the Respiratory Therapist put a mask on his face to administer a breathing treatment, our little guy was in all-out hysteria.  An x-ray was ordered, and Timothy would not stop screaming or clinging to me long enough for the image to be made.

In total frustration, the x-ray technician ordered Greg and me to leave the room.  I refused, but a kind nurse friend appeared and assured me that she would stay with Timothy…that he would be fine, and the x-ray wouldn’t take long. As Greg and I stood in the hallway outside listening to our little one scream, I cried in helplessness.  Greg assured me that Timothy would be fine (and I’m sure he silently prayed that this was the truth!)…and he was right.  Antihistamines and an inhaler were ordered for what was apparently an allergic reaction to grass and leaves…and we were back at home later that morning.

This was one of the most helpless moments of my life…knowing that I HAD to leave this child…and yet not knowing how in the world I could possibly do such a thing.  I have also felt this way as I watched a loved one slip from this world… and in times when circumstances such as a natural disaster or a “world event” like 9-11 caused pain and destruction that I could not fathom – nor control.

Every time I have “felt my feet slipping,” God has steadied me.  More times than I can count, He has shielded me from more grief and heartache than I could otherwise bear…calmed my fears…and given me an uncanny sense of peace in the midst of the “storm.”  I have also seen Him do this time after time for others.  And I know that He will do the same for you, as well.

I am praying for my friends today who had to endure the heartwrenching “see-you-later” as their precious baby was wheeled away on a “giraffe gurney” for heart surgery.  I am praying for those who have had to say “Good-bye” to a loved one…and those who have had to leave their precious “babies” at college in recent days.  I am praying for the people of Louisiana who have lost everything in the floods and wonder how they will make it through another day…and those in war-torn countries who wonder whether they will (literally) survive the next few hours.

I am praying for all who are suffering, sick, frightened, in despair, and broken-hearted.  I believe that God can come to them with love, and steady them…that He can surround them with a “force field” of peace - and protection from unbearable pain and heartache.  I KNOW that He can make a way out of their darkness and set them back on their feet, no matter what their present circumstances.  And I know that He will do this for you, as well.

My prayer today is that you know this peace…that God is at work in your heart and mind.  I pray that He is giving you everything you need for this day, and filling you with hope for tomorrow.  If your feet are slipping, God can steady you and give you confidence and calm.  I thank God for His incredible power, grace, mercy and compassion.  I pray that He shields you this day…and that you always feel His presence.

©2016 Debbie Robus