September 2020 Devotionals

September 28, 2020

 

We Have Lost Such a Dear Friend
A Word of Comfort from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

How can words express our loss in the passing of Ray Schroeder?

 

My husband Walt and I met him many years ago but came to know him and Charyl more intimately when they hired us in 1996 as chaplains for Interim's employees and patients. So I mourn him, not just as an employer, but as a treasured friend.

 

Ray Schroeder, first of all, loved God with all his heart and served Him passionately. He was a man of integrity. He kept his promises. He made decisions only on what was right, not on what was feasible.

 

You couldn't be around Ray long without knowing how much he treasured his family. He loved them whole-heartedly, and he gave us joy in watching him love them!
Ray was an astute, extremely successful business man who constantly looked for ways to help others succeed. He had compassion for those in need, and generously met every need it was in his power to meet.

 

Ray never made a decision simply on its political correctness. When he and Charyl chose the mission statement for Interim, they wrote, "Interim is dedicated to honoring God through the enrichment of human life."

 

He had a child-like enthusiasm for so many human endeavors: races, football games, scientific discoveries, but especially Bible classes and humanitarian projects.
How he always encouraged us! Once I went to him and said, "Ray, I've been a total failure this week. Nothing I've done for Interim has worked out."

 

"Were you doing what I asked you to do?"

 

"Yes, sir."


"Then your week was not a failure."

 

I remember with what joy he discovered Matthew 25:34-40:


"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

"And the King will answer and say to them,
‘Assuredly, I say to you, 
Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least
of these My brothers and sisters,
You did it to Me."

 

Ray had a heart of compassion for "the least of these, my brothers and sisters." Now he rests in the presence of the Savior whom he loved so much and served so well.

 

 

September 21, 2020

 

Make Your Home a Sanctuary During Covid
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

 

A friend of mine, laughing but rueful, said, "If covid doesn't end soon, my marriage will. My husband watched all four hours of Gone with the Wind last night."

 

There is a hidden danger in Covid19 that we may not have recognized. The enforced confinement, the family crowded together in small

 spaces with unfamiliar routines, can make us irritated with each other. Sure, we love each other, but the constant proximity and overlapping of our private "space" tends to make us


impatient and withdraw from one another.

 

This week a friend told me she and her friends had counted up among their acquaintances forty divorces in the last six months. That frightens me. Our homes are in grave danger in this time of pandemic.


Why couldn't we, instead, make our homes a sanctuary, a place of refuge and safety? Many years ago, when I was planning to marry the man I love, I read this in S. D. Gordon"s book, Quiet Talks on Home Ideals. I longed to make his home this kind of haven:

 

 

"Home is the holy of holies of a man's life. There he withdraws from all the world, and, shutting the door, is alone with those who are his own. It is the reservoir of his strength, the restorer of his energies, the resting place from his toil, the brooding place for his spirit, the inspiration for all his activities and battles. . . .

 

"In his home, he warms himself at love's fires. He renews his strength in love's atmosphere. He rests both spirit and body in love's faith and confidence. It is his starting-point on his errands in the world, and his returning and retiring place for the nourishing of his life afresh."

 

Reading this, you might wonder if S. D. Gordon felt the home exists primarily for the man of the home. In the following chapters, he emphasizes that women and children need the same kind of refuge. God means for the home to be a sanctuary of peace and safety for all who live there, the man, the woman, the children, the single individual as well as the married.

 

 

But there's a price to be paid to achieve that kind of warm, loving, secure home. Every member of the family must be unselfish, thoughtful, caring. It often means giving up your own comfort for the sake of those you love.

 

 

But, oh! what a wonderful reward: to have a special, holy home that is the "reservoir of strength, the restorer of energy, the resting place from toil, the brooding place for the spirit, the inspiration for all activities and battles"! How to achieve it? Ephesians 4:31,32 is a good place to start:


Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking
be put away from you, with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

We may not be able to change others, but by God's grace, you and I can make our homes the sanctuary every human being needs. And God promises us His help.


Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep
. Psalm 127:1,2

 

 


 
September 12, 2020

 

You have a voice Use it

A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

 

King George VI stammered all his life. When he unexpectedly became king, his stammer only worsened. His friend and mentor, Logue, worked with him for months to help him overcome it. But at a practice in the Abbey for his coronation, the king began to stammer and grope frantically for words. Finally in frustration the king spewed out the words, "I have a voice! I have a right to be heard!"


And his speech coach, Logue, having acchieved what he'd been working toward for months, answered him quietly, "Yes, you do. Now use it."

 

 

How many people in this desperate time of conflict and misunderstanding feel the same kind of frustration because they cannot make their voices heard over the bedlam of noise! Have you felt no one listens, even when you try to speak?

 

 

You do have a voice. And you have a right to be heard. This broken world desperately needs to hear strong, sane, healing words offered by thoughtful people to mend the jagged edges of our disagreements. But that can't be done simply by angry marches and screaming hateful epithets across a police tape.


When you see how great the need is, you may feel helpless to do anything worthwhile. The prophet Jeremiah, in Bible times, tells the charming story of his own feelings of inadequacy when God gave him a message to a country in grave crisis.

 

 

"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I [Jeremiah] said,
"I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
But the LORD said to me,
"Do not say, I am only a child.
You must go to everyone I send you to
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,"
declares the LORD.
Then the LORD reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me,
"Now, I have put my words in your mouth."
Jerimiah 1:6-9

 

 

I believe God gave you a voice so you could speak up for what is right. He needs your thoughtful, compassionate, healing voice to offset the shrill cries of hateful people. Proverbs 31:8 tells us to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

 


You can't speak with good effect unless you've listened well. And you cannot be effective without spending time and thought on what you ought to say. Can you find common ground with those who need your message? Is your argument built only on emotion, or is it also fair and reasonable? Does your position take into the account the rights and needs of others? Is what you advocate "doable"? Or does it depend on making other people do what they can't or won't do? Does it focus on the truly eternally important issues of life?


You have a voice. Your voice is needed more than ever in this difficult time in our country. You have a right to be heard. Find out how God wants you to say it, then speak up!

 

 

 

 

September 7, 2020

 

God Offers a Thousandth Second Chance
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

If you've ever felt like God had given you a second chance, but you blew it, I wish you could have come with me last week to a home out in the country. I was there to attend the graduation of a young man who is very dear to me. He had wasted so many opportunities people had offered him. He had come to this quiet haven to see if he could rebuild a life he'd wasted for ten long years.

 

He grew up in a godly Christian home, with a father and mother who loved him dearly and who had earnestly taught him good character. But by the time he was in his mid-teens, in spite of the fences his parents had built to protect him from temptation, he had broken nearly every rule in the book. Wrong friends. Wrong places. Wrong entertainment. Wrong focus.

 

Good people tried to help him, to stop his downward slide. They offered him a second chance, then a third, maybe even a fourth. They'd find him a good job, finance a new start, offer to send him to school.

 

But one night, alone and cold, his car broken down in the middle of the road, hungry, broken-hearted, and friendless, he finally surrendered to the God who had loved him all the time, who was patiently waiting for him to come back home. A pastor friend took him to a compassionate rehab place in the countryside, where they offered him food, a place to sleep, good hard work, and strong and wise Bible teaching.

 

So he's been in that quiet, vibrant, caring environment for a year. Hard physical work. Good food. Heartening talks with men who also struggled to regain their manhood. He'd call me from time to time. "I'm so ashamed I've wasted ten years of my life. From now on I am going to serve the Lord with all my heart."


So he graduated from the program last week. God has given him another chance to serve Him. Why? Because God doesn't offer us just one more chance, and then give up on us if we fall. Jesus tells a poignant parable about this truth in Matthew chapter 20. It's about an estate owner who went to the market place early in the morning to hire people to work in his vineyard. He went back again at ten o'clock. Here's the end of the story Jesus told:


So the owner hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. At noon and again around three o'clock he did the same thing.
At five o'clock that evening he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, "Why haven't you been working today?"
They replied, "Because no one hired us." The owner of the estate told them, "Then go on out and join the others in my vineyard."
That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received a full day's wage!
Matthew 20:4-9


And that's what God is like, Jesus said. He's the God of the second chance, the hundreth chance. He yearns to redeem the fallen, the broken, the rebel. The only requirement? That you yield to Him, take His forgiveness, and begin today to follow Him. And then-imagine!- He pays the late-comer a full-days wage!
Will my young friend stumble? Yes, certainly. But he can pick himself up and keep going, resting in the forgiveness and grace of God. Why? Because-

 

Where sin abounded,
grace abounded much more
. Romans 5:20