November 2020 Devotionals

November 30, 2020


"Everything's All Right in My Father's House"
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


I'm six years old, on a Sunday morning in a Sunday School class, and I'm learning a new song:

Everything's all right, in my Father's House Where there is joy, joy, joy!
Come and go with me, to my Father's House
Where there is joy, joy, joy!"


You might wonder what trivial cares a six-year-old might feel, but I assure you I felt them keenly. I would tell God I was going to be a really good child that day, and then, before the day was done, I'd find myself in a quarrel with a sister, or "talking back" to my mother. But I had the promise of that song: because God was my Father, someday everything will be all right.

I cannot express the elation my heart felt that morning. Things down here on earth can seem pretty bad, but someday, from that song I learned, everything's going to be all right. My Heavenly Father is in control! (That song was written in 1924 by B. B. McKinney, a friend of my father's when they were both at Southwestern Seminary.)


The year 2020 may be remembered as America's most bleak year in history since the civil war. Finances for most families are perilous. Too many grieve over deaths in the family from the pandemic. Relationships between families and nations and races are strained. Isolation and broken schedules leave us unsure of ways to rebuild them. People are more lonely than they have ever been. And there seems to be no letting up of all these pressures.

But "everything is all right in my Father's house"! Those words are beautifully backed up by Scripture. Here's the promise from Revelation 21:3-6:


I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying,

"Look, the home of God is now among His people! 
He will live with them, and they will be His people. 
God Himself will be with them.
He will remove all of their sorrows, 
And there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain,
For the old world and its evils are gone forever."
And the One [God Himself!] sitting on the throne said, 
"Look, I am making all things new!" And then He said to me, 
"Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true."

And He also said,
"It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega--the Beginning and the End.
To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge!"


Thank God that the promise I heard God make to me 80-some years ago is still gloriously true:
Everything is all right, in my Father's House
Where there is joy, joy, joy!



November 23, 2020


"With Prayer and Thanksgiving"
A Word of Comfort from Elizabeth Rice Handford

I have a friend who's just moved into a lovely new home. Of course, as with any move, she's discovered some inadequacies in it, things that over time she and her

 husband can fix. But she's been impatient, wondering why God doesn't hurry up and send the money and help to get everything all fixed up just like she wants it-right now!


A friend admonished her, "If you'd thank God for what He's already given you, then He'd hear you when you ask for more."


She tried that. Her prayer sounded something like, "Thank you, God, for this, and now could you please hurry up and give me this, and this, and this?"


If you saw her home, and knew her circumstances, you'd feel God has been very gracious to her. Her husband earns a good salary. He's a loving and kind husband. Their children are successful, happy and earnest Christians, and their grandchildren are beautiful and loving. She benefits from all the blessings of living in this country: to worship as she chooses, to participate in government, to live in peace, like few women on earth enjoy. But it just isn't enough. She wants more.

In Philippians 4:6, God tells us to-

Be anxious for nothing, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication, 
with thanksgiving, 
let your requests be made known to God.


Anxious for nothing? Even with COVID? Instead, do what? Give thanks? Yes, that is what God tells us to do. So let us sincerely thank God with all our hearts for what He has done for us, and yes, tell Him our burdens. But what is interesting about this passage is the verse that follows it:

And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all understanding, (yes, even in COVID!)
Will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
 (Philippians 4:7)


God doesn't promise, in this verse, that when you pray, He will automatically and immediately answer your prayer. What He does promise is that He will take away the anxiety. He will guard your heart against worry and turmoil, and give you peace. Then, in His good timing, He will answer your request, changing it in His wisdom and love, giving you what you really need.


How important that promise is as we face a Thanksgiving without being able to be with the people we love, isolated from each other. It won't be a "normal" celebration in any way, and that tempts us to lose our joy. Several of my extended family are suffering from COVID, and others are quarantined. I will not see any of them this holiday season.


But I can thank God, for He is still God. He is still in control. He is still the loving, compassionate Father who loves His children so much He will let nothing touch us except in His divine wisdom.


So, this Thanksgiving, may God help us to-

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good:
For His mercy endures forever!
Psalm 107:1



November 16, 2020


Let's Think with Our Brains and Our Hearts
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


The one algebraic equation I remember from high school days went like this: If a = b and a = c, then b = c. Could this be the key to the perplexing problems we're facing in our country today? God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus to die in our place. If I use that algebraic equation and apply it to the terrible conflict of races, cultures, and life styles in our country today, it comes out like this: If Jesus (a) loves me and you (b) and Jesus (a) loves them (c), then it's obvious that you and I (b) ought to love them (c), too!


"So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
There is no longer
Jew or Gentile, [or any racial discrimination]
slave or free, [or any economic discrimination]
male or female. [or any sexual discrimination]
For you are all Christians-you are one in Christ." Galatians 3:26,28


That's not what often we find, even among good Christians. There are all kinds of walls built up between us, things that have driven us apart: racial differences, certainly, but many other circumstances as well: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, different life styles, certainly different political parties.


The Bible tells us that Jesus came to break down those hostile, destructive walls:

For Christ Himself has made peace 
between us Jews and you Gentiles [everybody who isn't a Jew]
By making us all one people. 
He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us.
Together as one body, 
Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death, 
and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
Ephesians 2:14,16


Just think! Those horrible walls we've erected between us torn down by Christ's love!


Jesus loves you and me. Jesus loves them. Therefore we ought to love each other and "them," whoever they are. We ought to find delight in our differentness. We ought to enjoy the different cultures that make up our blessed America. I can't tell you how you ought to put this wonderful truth into effect in your life- 
- I am only asking God to help me love every single person I have contact with. They were made in the image of God. They bear His likeness. He has "broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us." That's a good beginning!

Candace Owens, a respected journalist, wrote, "I stopped thinking with my skin tone and started thinking with my brain." That's a good idea. Can we forget the tone of our skin, and start thinking with our brains? And can't we, oh, especially, can't we start thinking with our hearts?



November 9, 2020


Time to Remember Things That Matter Most
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


Walt and I bought our first home a year after we were married. Actually, we didn't buy a house; we bought a climbing rose bush curling around the front door. So we got the rose bush, and a

 home that sheltered our family for many wonderful years.


Now, 70 yeas later, of course the rose bush is gone. A cement slab covers where it was once rooted.


And that old house itself, no matter how well maintained, will eventually crumble to dust, or burn, or be demolished to make way for progress, because anything you can see or touch will someday vanish.


This year has been such a difficult year, in so many ways. Many of us (most of us?) have been overwhelmed by its fears and conflicts. But we need to remind ourselves, this will not always last. If we can see it, touch it, sense it, our Heavenly Father says, someday it will disappear.

First John 2:15-17 says it this way: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

In this time of Covid-19, danger, and civil unrest, we can remember, there are still things that matter most, eternal things that can't be destroyed by disease or riot or human failure. Love. Honor. Integrity. Eternal security. God's loving care.


So all of the things that trouble us now will someday end. The rancor of politics, the threats of COVID19, the disabilities that come with age, the financial uncertainties, these lose their power to hurt when God is in control. The things that are truly important are still safe, secure, untouched by time and human failure. That's what God has promised everyone who will trust Him for forgiveness and take His gift of salvation.

Here's how the Apostle Paul expressed it:

Therefore we do not lose heart. 
Even though our outward man is perishing, 
Yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. 
Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!
So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; 

Rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. 
For the troubles we see will soon be over, 
But the joys to come will last forever.
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down-
when we die and leave these bodies-
We will have a home in heaven, an eternal body 
made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 (nlt)

What a comfort it is to remember that God is in charge, even now, and someday He will make everything right.



November 2, 2020


If the Foundations of Law and Order Are Destroyed-?
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford






That these are perilous times for our country we would all agree. There was a time in King David's kingdom that he too felt things were completely out of control. He asked,


If the foundations of law and order are destroyed. What can the righteous do?
Psalm 11:3 (nlt)


You and I love this dear land, and we thank God for His generosity in giving in giving it to us when we don't deserve it. What can we do to ensure our children, and theirs, will enjoy the blessings we've been given?


King David answered his own question in the next verses (11:4,5):


But the Lord is in His holy Temple.
The Lord still rules from Heaven.
He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.


When people and events seem out of control, we must remember God is still sovereign, still all-knowing, still all-powerful. He is still in charge.


What can the righteous do in difficult times? We can trust God.

David answered his question in the first verse of this Psalm. "I trust in the Lord for protection."


What can a Christian do in times like these? We can pray.

Prayer isn't an exercise just to make us feel good. God promises that when we pray, He hears us and acts in our behalf.


What can a Christian do in times like these? We can vote.


You have a God-given privilege to vote, a right to vote, something that most people in this world will never enjoy. But you have a duty to vote as well. If we neglect it, we will lose it, and that wouldn't be fair to future generations of Americans.

What can the righteous do in perilous times like this? We can rest in God's goodness. He is good and He does only good. We can rest in His goodness and His love.