February 2019 Devotionals

February 11, 2019


Happy or Sad? I Can Still Do What I Ought to Do
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


I was stunned by a familiar Scripture I read this week in a modern language version. I'd read it many times before, but I'd never noticed the bold statement as it is in this translation:


The time that remains is very short. . . .
Happiness or sadness or wealth should not
keep anyone from doing God's work. . . .
For this world and all it contains will pass away
. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31 nlt)


Why was I startled? Because sometimes I am sad-it's part of the human condition, isn't it? And when I am sad, I don't feel at all productive. When I'm happy, of course I enjoy working. But this verse seems to say my happiness or my sadness is not what matters most. What matters most is doing what God wants me to do, whatever my circumstances.


Thinking about it, I remembered a time when my husband Walt illustrated this so beautifully to our church congregation.


We'd started a church in a new subdivision in the Chicago area, and people were responding well. We met in a school building while we worked on building a beautiful new sanctuary. People had volunteered all kinds of help, and the building was within weeks of being ready for services. Expectations and emotions were high. That week the wood trusses were to be sheathed ready for shingles.


We were eating lunch when the project supervisor, a member of our new church, called. "Walt, are you sitting down?"


"Should I?"


"Yes. The carpenters removed the bracing on the first truss without tying it first into the next truss. Just now, that truss

 fell, and like dominoes, it knocked down all the other trusses, and the side walls of the building have all been destroyed.


I'm so, so sorry."


Shattering news. Walt drove to the site, surveyed the damage, came home and got out his familiar yellow pad. He wrote down the steps that would have to be taken to rebuild. And Saturday morning, he was at the site with equipment to start clearing off the mangled trusses. He was heart-broken, of course. But he helped our grieving church members to take courage and start the mind-numbing task of rebuilding.

Last year I was in the Chicago area, and saw that building we built 55 years ago. It's still there, still offering the blessed Gospel week by week. Yes, it was re-constructed in sadness, but it was also built with fortitude and endurance. And God has used it through the years to accomplish the work He wanted done. And when "this world and all it contains" passes away, God's work in the hearts of human beings will still endure.

Happiness or sadness or wealth
should not keep anyone
from doing God's work!

Might it be that God blessed that building more because we built it through our tears?




February 4, 2019

A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


I remember only once being so thirsty I wondered if I would survive. It was a torrid day. The thermometer hovered at 100. We had no air conditioning. I was struggling desperately to get multiple housekeeping chores done before I had to drive the family down to Atlanta. I suddenly realized I was seriously dehydrated. No matter how much cold, fresh water I gulped down, nothing seemed to satisfy my terrible thirst.


One morning last week I had occasion to remember that consuming thirst. I was working at my computer when Schatzi, our sweet dachshund, began to bark furiously at something in the back yard. I couldn't see what disturbed her, but for the next hour she continued to bark constantly. I checked again. It wasn't until the third time I saw that a buck deer lay in a bed of fallen leaves, perfect camouflage for his tawny coloring.


Extensive clearing of the woods near our home for commercial enterprises has driven deer down into our little valley. I couldn't imagine how this stag could have gotten into our fenced yard. I panicked. O well, somebody in the county would know whom I should call.


When I went to check the deer again, I saw him stagger to his feet, hobble a couple of steps, and then fall again. I saw his rear left leg was mangled and bloody, and one rack of his antlers had been torn off. Perhaps he'd been hit by a car, and he'd leaped our five-foot fence in panic. He was stretched out flat in the bed of leaves, his beautiful tawny head and throat extended as far as he could reach. He was dying. And I didn't know how to help him. Could I ease his thirst? Wouldn't he be comforted in his pain with a draft of sweet cold water? Better not-it might not be safe. But oh, how I wished I could somehow satisfy his obvious consuming thirst.

Finally I reached the right number for animal control. I was glad to see, when they finally arrived, they would not need the shotgun they carried. My poor, thirsty, stricken deer was already dead and out of his pain.


There is a thirst human beings experience even more terrible than physical thirst. We come into the world instinctively knowing how much we need God, thirsting to know Him intimately. It's a spiritual thirst that cannot be satisfied with anything physical. King David expressed it this way:


As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-5


The Lord Jesus talked one day with a woman who'd gone to the well at noon to draw water. He said to her,

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
but whoever drinks of the water
that I shall give him will never thirst.
But the water that I shall give him will become in him
a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life"
(John 4:13,14).


That dear Samaritan woman believed Him, drank of that everlasting water and her thirst was quenched forever.
We, too, can claim that promise. When the Lord Jesus gives us everlasting life, we'll never be thirsty again. He meets every need, every desire, every longing of the human heart-He is the sweet, cold, life-giving water of everlasting life!