Devotional

New Beginnings: Part 3 of 5

Focus on Planning

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

Welcome to my devotional blog. In this series we are looking at some new or renewed beginnings that can be part of our walk with the Lord. We’ve considered a clearer focus on God by looking at who He really is in Scripture without the distortions or the distractions that might skew our focus on Him (Part One).

We’ve focused on prayer being part of our daily lives, for when we talk with God and read and hear from Him through His word we have a closer relationship with our heavenly Father (Part Two).

Let’s focus on planning.

What does planning have to do with our walk with God?

When we plan what we want to study in Scripture, it can keep us focused and on track. Let’s ask God what He wants us to study in Scripture and be open to His guidance. Consider a book of the Bible, a topic, an attribute of God, a Bible study, or a devotional. We can write down what we plan to study next and even later on. There may be Bible studies or devotionals on our computer or shelves still waiting to be read or reread.

I often have more than one topic or book of the Bible on my plan because of the sermons and lessons in Sunday School that I hear, my devotional writing, and Biblical application in lessons I’m teaching to my students. Having a written plan helps me know what I am to focus on when I open my Bible.

Committing to a certain time to spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading also helps us to stay consistent. 

Planning doesn’t stop with our Bible reading. Let’s ask God where and what He wants to work on in our lives. We can plan, but we want the Lord God to direct our steps. He has the best plans for us! When we seek Him with all of our hearts, He reveals Himself to us. We can know Him better than we ever have before!

“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 upon 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.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Let’s commit to spending time in the Scriptures and in prayer to God. A written plan may help guide us. As we focus on the Lord, and on our relationship with Him through Bible reading and prayer, He will make Himself known to us.

Let’s ask the Lord to direct our steps and to work in our lives. Let’s give the Lord our planners and our lives and ask Him to show us what He desires for us. Let’s lay our hopes, dreams, and plans before the Lord.

Are we ready to follow His plan?

Dear Lord God, Thank you for Your Sovereign plans for me. Thank you for making Yourself known to me as I seek You and submit to Your will for me. Help me to focus on You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Planner photo (top) by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

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I hope you are enjoying this devotional series, New Beginnings. Devotionals post every other Thursday, and are archived by month for your convenience.

I would love to hear from you. Is there a devotional topic you are looking for or that has impacted you?

God bless you.

Kathryn

Devotional

New Beginnings: Part 2 of 5

Focus on Prayer

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 NKJV

In Part One of this five-part series of New Beginnings, we started the New Year with Focus on God. In keeping our eyes on God, we want a clear view of who God is and not to see Him with a distorted point of view. We sought to remove the distractions that keep us away from God.

Today, I’ve been distracted all morning with my computer crashing; problems that may require my IT to reinstall my computer. I’ve been backing up photos, writing, and other important documents. Frustration grabs my attention.

As I sit to write Part Two of this devotional series, I hang my head. The topic is “Focus on Prayer.” The Lord gently reminds me that as I’ve been working on other things and getting irritated, I have not prayed this morning. It’s time I pray and get my focus back on God.

I spent time with God and I’m feeling better. I can even chuckle a little because I’ve gotten to another item of my to-do list by backing up files, even if it was not my idea to do it today.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Prayer. Why do we often use prayer as a last resort instead of the first? We are called to be steadfast in prayer. God is near when we pray, and He gives us peace. Prayer is the way to avoid anxiety.

Rejoice in the Lord always…The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

Prayer also helps us to rejoice and be thankful to God. Even if we don’t feel thankful, when we practice being thankful when we pray, God changes our heart. In the Old Testament, Job faced adversity yet he still worshipped and praised the LORD (Job 1:20-22).

Prayer involves confession, declaring what God says is true is true, including our sin. Let’s seek forgiveness for our sin so God can cleanse us. (Psalm 51:1, 2).

We can go to God about everything. Nothing is too hard or insignificant for Him, because He is all powerful and He loves us so much that even the little things that matter to us matter to Him. Let’s present our requests to Him. We can ask for wisdom (James 1:5-6), seek His will for us (Matthew 6:10; James 4:13-17), and we can pray for ourselves and for others (Ephesians 1:15-16; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). He gives us peace and guidance. The Lord wants us to come to Him. God even commands that we pray.

My former pastor would say, “Let’s talk with God.” That’s what prayer is, and we can approach Him in confidence.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Let’s talk with God.

Helpful tip: Let’s keep a prayer journal with our requests and the Lord’s answers to our prayers. I like to date my requests and God’s answers. As we look back at how God acted in the past on our behalf, it will build our faith. Seeing His past faithfulness helps us to know that He will remain faithful in the future.

Lord, thank you for the privilege of coming to You, God Almighty. May I be quick to approach Your throne for grace, mercy, and help in time of need. Amen.

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Welcome to my website. I’m glad you stooped by. Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. It is my hope that the devotionals bring you closer to the Lord and that they touch your heart. Back issues are on the website, with new devotionals posting every other Thursday.

You may have noticed the name change to my site. I’m using my pen name, Kathryn Breckenridge, because of competition from other authors in the use of my own name, Kathryn Hughes. I hope it clears up confusion rather than adding to it.

Have a blessed week!

Kathryn

Devotional

New Beginnings

Focus on God

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 22, 23 NKJV

There is something about a new calendar that calls to me. The pages are still fresh and pristine. It is not cluttered with appointments and errands to do, or the reminder that I still haven’t accomplished a project on my goal list. The New Year holds the offer of new beginnings.

The Lord also gives us new beginnings. His mercies are new every morning, not just at the beginning of a new year. What a great gift that is!

Over the next few devotional blogs, let’s look at some new or renewed beginnings that can be part of our walk with the Lord. First, let’s consider a sharper focus on God.

We can start with a clearer focus on God by “cleaning our lens.” If we are taking a photo smudged in fingerprints, it messes up the crispness of the picture. If we are looking at God with smudges from sin and misconceptions about Him, that also obscures our focus. If we ask Him to reveal to us areas that need His mercy and compassion and a fresh start, He will show them to us.  That awareness prompts us to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins.

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD; Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:40, 41 NKJV

Let’s ask God to help us to see Him for whom He is and not a distorted view of Him. As we read Scripture, the Lord reveals Himself in it. Here is a short list of God’s attributes:  He is righteous (Lamentation 3:18). He is compassionate and faithful (Lamentations 3:22, 23). He does not change (Malachi 3:6). God loves us (John 3:16; John 15). He created us and all things. He is our salvation and our Redeemer.

You drew near on the day I called to You, and said, “Do not fear!” O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life. Lamentations 3:57, 58 NKJV

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As we press forward to a new beginning with God, let us remove distractions that may come between us and our Savior. One of my distractions is being “too busy” with commitments. It’s easy for me to get too involved and find myself exhausted at the end of the day without spending time with God. It helps me to set a specified time to read God’s love letter, the Bible. If I set time aside for God like an appointment instead of just another task to accomplish on my list, I am more likely to be consistent in reading my Bible and talking with God in prayer. I also take notes, for it helps me remember what I’ve read better than if I just read or listen, even if I don’t spend much time with my notes later.

Your distractions may differ from mine. What helps you to set aside time to focus on the Lord?

Lord God, Please help me to keep my focus on You. Show me who You are in fresh ways this year, Lord. I want to begin everything with You. Amen.

Sunrise photo on top by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

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I would love to hear from you! Is there a topic you would like to see covered? Has something I’ve written been helpful to you? Happy New Year!

Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday and are archived for your convenience. Click on the month in the sidebar to see what was published in a given month. Thank you. Kathryn

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Devotional

Jesus Chose to Come to Us

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV

As I was sharing the Advent wreath with my elementary students, I asked them to consider what Jesus left to come to earth, what He would face here, and why He made that choice. Let’s reflect on that together.

In heaven, Jesus had everything. He was with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. He shared in the glory of God before the world began (John 17:5) Jesus was adored and worshipped by the angels and by God’s people who were already in heaven. All of the riches off heaven were His. He had majesty. He had unlimited power and all knowledge. Jesus was not limited by time or location. Everything in heaven was and is done according to God’s will. Heaven is a perfect place.

Faced with a world of lost souls who needed a Savior, Jesus Christ chose to come to earth in accordance to the Father’s plan. He left everything behind for us.

Jesus was now separated physically from His Father and from the Holy Spirit. He exchanged His heavenly home for a feeding trough in a stable, probably in a cave. He left heaven’s riches for earthly poverty.  

Jesus became a refugee, fleeing with Mary and Joseph to Egypt to escape King Herod’s plot to kill Him. When Herod failed to learn his whereabouts, he had all males less than two years of age killed in the Bethlehem area. (Matthew 2:13-18)

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Jesus chose to come, knowing that His birth would be scorned because His mother, Mary, was pregnant before marriage. He was accused of being born of fornication. (John 8:41) His half-siblings through Mary and Joseph did not believe He was the Son of God during His life on earth. It was after His resurrection that they believed.

Our Savior chose to come to earth knowing that the religious leaders who should have been looking for Him and celebrating His coming were the same people who would mock His teachings and the truth of Scripture. These leaders would arrest Him, and He would be spat upon, whipped, and falsely tried. Ultimately Jesus would be crucified on a Roman cross, the most shameful and painful way to die.  

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Jesus knew all of this before He left heaven to come that first Christmas.

He came, willingly laying down His life for us. He knew He would live again!

As the Father knows Me. Even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. John 10:15, 17, 18 NKJV

Why did Jesus make this choice to leave everything for us?   He loves us and takes joy in us. He makes it possible for us to have faith in Him.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:9, 13 NIV

…Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV

Let’s respond to Jesus and thank Him for the choice He made for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author…of our faith who will bring us to perfection and completion.

Jesus, thank you for choosing to leave heaven to come to earth. Thank you for choosing to come for us, for me. Help me to fix my eyes on You above everything and everyone else.

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Devotional

Angelic Messengers at Christmas

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest of care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow… Even angels long to look into these things. I Peter 1:10, 11, 12b NIV

God put His plan for mankind’s salvation into action. Our Savior was leaving heaven to live among mankind! God’s messengers were involved during the preparation for the arrival of Jesus, and into His early childhood. The apostle Peter wrote that angels long to look into these things. Imagine what the angels thought of everything that was happening around the time of the Messiah’s birth.

Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, appeared to Zacharias.

“Do not be afraid , Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Gabriel goes on to tell that John’s roll would be “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:11-20 NKJV

Gabriel also appeared to Mary. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:30-32, 35 NIV

After Joseph considered putting Mary away secretly because she was pregnant with a child who was not his own, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived from the Holy Spirit and to take her as his wife. Matthew 1:18-25. God knew Joseph needed the assurance that this was His plan.

Can anyone who has seen a Christmas pageant forget the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds?

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An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:9-14 NIV 

The Wise Men went to King Herod seeking “He who has been born King of the Jews.” Learning the prophecy said the King would be born in Bethlehem, they left Jerusalem and again saw the star which led them to the Child Jesus. They worshipped Him and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The Magi were divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod and returned to their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12

Joseph had additional visits from angels in his dreams. He was warned to flee to Egypt with Jesus and Mary because Herod sought to destroy the Child (Matthew 2:13-14). He was later told to return to Israel after Herod died, and then warned not to settle in Judea where Herod’s son Archelaus reigned, so Joseph settled in Galilee in Nazareth, fulfilling the prophecy that Christ “will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19, 21-23)

The angels might not have understood how God could love us so much to send Jesus to be our Savior, but the messengers from God were obedient to the Lord’s specific instructions.

Let’s reflect on Jesus coming to earth. Let’s be quick to obey what God tells us to do.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus! Help me to not be afraid, but to trust and obey You as Mary and Joseph did when you sent your messengers to them.