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

Photo by Ethan Sees on Pexels.com

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

Angelic Messengers at Christmas

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…

The Names of the LORD – Part Nine of Nine

Jehovah-tsidkenu– The LORD Our Righteousness Come quickly, Lord Jesus! O, for the time when You, Jehovah-tsidkenu, will reign on earth! We will praise You and declare Your righteousness, for You alone forgive us of our sins (Psalm 35:28;50:6; 51:14). The LORD is our righteousness, for we are not righteous in ourselves. It is God who…

The Names of the LORD – Part Eight of Nine

Jehovah-Shalom: The-LORD-is-Peace So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Jehovah-shalom). Judges 6:24 NKJV Peace. It can be hard to grasp when the world seems to spin out of control. Reading the news is more distressing than it is hopeful. Stress, troubles, and difficulties with other people cause an emotional…

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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.  

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

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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Top Photo of wreath by Bastian Riccardi on Pexels.com

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?

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com
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.

Devotional

The Names of the LORD – Part Eight of Nine

Jehovah-Shalom: The-LORD-is-Peace

So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Jehovah-shalom). Judges 6:24 NKJV

Peace. It can be hard to grasp when the world seems to spin out of control. Reading the news is more distressing than it is hopeful. Stress, troubles, and difficulties with other people cause an emotional and sometimes physical upheaval. Fear and turmoil often become the norm. When my focus is on problems I feel anything but peace.

Gideon certainly did not have peace when he is first introduced in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapter six. He threshed wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites who oppressed Israel. Gideon was fearful and discouraged.

I love how the LORD does not leave Gideon in his fears, but comes to him. In the time they are talking, Gideon questioned why bad things were happening and stated, “The LORD has abandoned us.” Then he gave excuses of why he couldn’t be the one the LORD was sending to deliver Israel. The LORD assured Gideon of His presence. “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon’s response grows from fear to bringing an offering. When the Angel of the LORD touched the offering with His staff and fire from the rock consumed the offering, Gideon feared for his life. “Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.” The LORD said to him, “Peace be to you: do not fear, you shall not die.”

So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Jehovah-shalom).

Gideon’s circumstances did not change, yet he found that The-LORD-is-Peace. The Midianites still were the oppressors of his people, but now Gideon had peace because he was listening to the LORD. In his obedience to do what the LORD instructed him, he tore down his father’s idol, he called 32,000 people to arms against their oppressors, and after dismissing all but 300 of them, he led the remaining small army to victory. Gideon became the sixth judge of Israel, and Israel had forty years rest from their enemies. (Judges 6-8)

Picture of Gideon from Kidfrugal Free Bible images

We also can find rest from our enemies and from our own distress if we rely on the LORD. Our circumstances may remain unchanged, but if we turn to the LORD, He will be our peace in the midst of the storm.

Jesus told His disciples, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace by which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1, 2 NIV (emphasis mine here and in Philippians).

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV.  Paul wrote to the Philippians while he was Nero’s prisoner in Rome, and yet the apostle is triumphant, writing of joy and peace. 

Let’s look to God as our source of peace. Let’s share that peace with others. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19 NIV

Jehovah-shalom, thank you for being the LORD of peace. Help me to not be anxious, but to rest in the peace You provide.

Top photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels.com

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I 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.