11/10/17 Dark Room Development

•November 10, 2017 • 1 Comment

My friend Diana is enduring every mother’s worst nightmare: both of her sons, her only children, were killed in a horrific car crash just a few days ago. As my heart and prayers go out to her, I remembered the following devotion I had written about six years ago. In the light of her tragedy and so many others we hear of on the news every day, and as we question God and the purpose of all this pain, it seemed appropriate to repost these devotional thoughts today.

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In my senior year of high school, I worked on yearbook staff and was editor of one of the sections of the volume. Our student photographers on staff not only took the pictures, but developed them right there at the school in our darkroom. Using only the illumination of a special red light, the film would be transferred somehow to the paper and then the paper would be dipped in several different trays holding chemical solutions. As the photos were moved from tray to tray, the image began to emerge. The process took a considerable amount of time and care and seemed almost magical.

Understandably, our teacher and those photographers would get quite upset if someone opened the dark room door while they worked. Too much light would flood in and mess up every piece of film on which they had been painstakingly laboring. More than those pictures would be ruined. All the money for the film and the time those photographers had logged on their assignments had been a waste. Deadlines for getting the yearbook pages designed were pushed back without those photos. And supposed those pictures had been of the miraculous catch that won the homecoming game, the photo-finish at the swim meet, or the principal’s surprise 50th birthday party thrown by the whole school? The photographic memories of those events could never again be recaptured. The darkness of that dark room made the proper development of those pictures possible so that everything else necessary to produce a memorable yearbook could happen.

We live in a fallen world where it rains on everyone. God re-purposes dark rooms and allows them to develop us. When we are experiencing the darknesses of financial reversals, failures, job losses, strenuous challenges, sicknesses, disappointments, loneliness, separations, and deaths; look at things through the illuminating red light of the blood of Jesus. Fall into the arms of Jesus and let Him hold you in the dark. Watch as God takes time and care to develop the picture that has been taken. Don’t rush through any of the stages. Let Him gently carry you through every “chemical.” Only when the process is complete will you be fully developed. You’ll only be ready for use on just the right “pages” of life when His image emerges through you. And it will.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (NKJ)

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©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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9/19/17: Don’t Chance It

•September 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

A section of II Kings talks about the divided kingdom era. Israel and Judah split after the reign of Solomon and each section had a king. The kings of Israel were generally evil, while the kings of Judah generally tried to lead the people to stick with God. Neither section ever seemed to be able to totally turn the people’s eyes exclusively back to pure worship of God, so it was a downhill slide for both until the end of the Old Testament when God finally said He’d had enough. Then, after 400 years of silence between the testaments, God ushered in the Church age through Jesus Christ and, in terms of Biblical history, that’s where we are today.

What I noticed while reading this part of the Bible was God’s long-suffering. As evil as the kings were, He let them reign for years. Sometimes the kings would come up against an enemy who was oppressing them, and the king would cry out to God for help with a promise to change his ways. God would help him – deliver him and the people from the oppressor – and then the king and the people would go right back to their evil by ignoring God and worshipping Baal. Then God would let that king die and another would reign, only to play out the same scenario.

God’s patience is not a license to sin; yet, how many times do we – like the evil kings of Israel and Judah – take advantage of it? Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us what our problem is: “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong” (NIV). You see, when we think we have gotten away with something, we don’t stop, count ourselves lucky, and repent promising never to do that again. To the contrary, when we are not punished immediately, we are emboldened to go a little farther next time.

Please note, Romans 6:23a has not changed, “For the wages of sin is death…” (NIV), and neither has Numbers 32:23b, “…be sure your sin will find you out” (KJV). Those evil kings got their come-uppins and we will too. God’s patience gives us a chance to repent and change. Do you really want God to deal with you in your sin? Don’t chance it. Let’s trust instead in what God can do with an obedient heart.

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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9/18/17: Snapshot of God

•September 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“A picture is worth a thousand words” so the saying goes. We all understand this, especially now as we live in an age of constant surveillance. We’re caught on camera everywhere we go—in banks, stores, airports, gas stations, even on the highways. If necessary, clear photos of us can be printed and sent all over the world so that anyone who sees us can identify us.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a snapshot of God? A clear photo would help us identify Him, know His attributes, and recognize His features. We could get a wallet size and carry it around to look at every now and then and even show others.

Fortunately for us, we have such a photo. It’s found in Romans 1:19-20. “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (NKJ).

Just look out of a window; there’s our snapshot of God. All of His “invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” For example, His omnipresence is clearly seen and understood by looking at the sky He made. Only a God who is everywhere can create an unending expanse such as the firmament. His omnipotence is clearly seen and understood as we watch the power of a lightening strike or the harnessed power of rushing water through a hydroelectric plant. Both the lightening and water are the works of God’s hands.

We could go on and on but the point is as clear as God’s photograph. Take time to look through His photo album today. Make note of all you can know about God just by observing the things that are clear for us to see—all the things He has made.

 

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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8/25/17 – God’s Eyes

•August 25, 2017 • 1 Comment

Anthropomorphisms are descriptions of God using human characteristics. We know that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” John4:24(NKJ). We also know that we were made in His image. In Genesis 1:26, we hear God saying, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (NKJ). As Spirit, God does not literally have eyes and hands and feet. However, the only way God could relate to us and break through to our understanding is through the use of terminology familiar to our humanity. So, He had the Scripture writers use these recognizable terms when describing Himself to us. Take a look at some verses about God’s eyes:

  • For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. Job 34:21 (NKJ)
  • For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJ)
  • The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. Psalm 34:15 (NKJ)
  • For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths. Proverbs5:21(NKJ)
  • The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 (NKJ)
  • For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. Jeremiah16:17(NKJ)
  • You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 32:19 (NKJ)
  • “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the LORD. Amos 9:8 (NKJ)
  • And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews4:13(NKJ)

God’s eyes see our steps, watch so He can show Himself strong, and keep track of when we, His righteous ones, are hurting. Nothing we do is hidden from His all-seeing eyes, and don’t get it twisted, He doesn’t miss what the evil are doing either.

What will God see when He looks at you today? Will He applaud you as He watches who you hang around, what you participate in, and how you treat others? Or will He see you disregarding His Word and comfortably resting in your pride, unforgiveness, selfishness, and spite? May God’s eyes—the fact that He sees all, all the time—be both a deterrent and a comfort to you today.

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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8/24/17: God’s Positioning System

•August 24, 2017 • 1 Comment

When using my GPS (Global Positioning System), once I’ve input the address of the location I want to reach, the voice comes through saying, “Proceed to the highlighted route and the route guidance will begin.” The lady in the satellite (that’s what I call her) knows where I am, knows where I want to go, and knows a variety of routes I can take to get there. If a make a wrong turn or have to take a detour, she says, “Recalculating route,” and gets me back on the right road toward my destination.

God is our ultimate GPS. Job says of Him, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” Job23:10(NKJ). The Hebrew word for “way” used here is “derek” (deh’-rek) which literally means “road (as trodden),” but figuratively also means “a course of life or mode of action.” So God not only  knows where we are physically, He also knows where we our in our lives; that is, He is aware of our dreams, our hopes, and our desires, as well as our current situation, circumstances, foibles, problems, and failures. He knows the detours we’re facing and how frustrated we are when yet another roadblock slows our progress.

God is always engaged with his route guidance, and His voice can get very specific. Rather than waiting to say, “Recalculating route” after we make a wrong turn, His Word acts just like the warning feature built into the GPS. Looking down from her electronic eye in space, the satellite lady can guide us around accidents and away from traffic jams. Well, ain’t that just like God? He definitely knows the troubles in the paths that I can’t see and the traffic jams I can’t imagine. If I listen closely to Him, the warning feature pops up from His Word, and if I’m obedient, I’ll be able to avoid that which would have blocked my path.

God’s Positioning System is the Bible. It’s purpose? To help us know God so we can hear Him guide us through life and to Himself. What does His Word say today about your current situation? Proceed to the highlighted route found in the Scriptures—read His word daily—because route guidance has begun.

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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8/1/17: For Such a Time as This

•August 1, 2017 • 1 Comment

          Esther found herself in the thick of an issue. All she had done was obey her uncle and enter a beauty contest. To her surprise, she won and received the grand prize, King Ahasuerus as her husband. This was no small award. This guy “reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia” (Esther 1:1, NKJ). Esther was the new queen of all that; however, not long after the happy nuptials, a situation arose that could potentially jeopardize her position. The king promoted this guy named Haman to a position where he had the ear of the king. Haman hated the Jews and manipulated the king to write a decree giving the populace in all the king’s provinces the right to destroy the Jews and plunder their property. What the king didn’t know was that Esther was a Jew.

            When her uncle Mordecai found out about the king’s heinous decree, he sent word to Esther asking her to get the king to help them. This put her in a tough spot because one didn’t just walk up to the king without being summoned. When Esther sent her concerned response to Mordecai, he reminded her of her heritage and told her that as a Jew, she herself was one of the targets of her husband’s Haman-inspired decree. He also said, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b)

We too sometimes find ourselves in the think of an issue. What seemed to be a tremendous blessing places us squarely in the crosshairs of trouble. We exult over the promotion only to discover the multiple downsides of the job. We enjoy our beautifully romantic wedding and honeymoon only to start realizing in the marriage the odd personal quirks of our spouse. We rejoice over the birth of our children only to discover their penchant for lying or cheating or you-name-it. We’re ecstatic as our young adults take flight only to be punched in the gut by the negative choices they make once they’re independent. We finally celebrate retirement only to find that our money is attacked by a myriad of onslaughts from inflation, to children’s and grandchildren’s needs, to taxes, to

state laws, to the downturn of the economy, and on and on.

Here’s the thing: Mordecai’s question to Esther fits for us too. For whatever we’ve bumped up against, who knows whether we have come to this place for such a time as this? We are where we are not by chance, but by God’s choice, in order for Him to make a difference through us in the situation. God placed us in this place so He could be in this place. I never would have applied for the major issue I am currently facing, but I have come to understand that others are helped as I step up, reveal and stand upon my heritage of faith, and speak out God’s truth about what I’m learning from Him while in this space.

It all worked out for Esther (read the short, ten-chapter book of Esther for the details) and as we are faithful to God’s leading, it will all work out for us too. Instead of crying and complaining, let’s seek the Lord as to how to live as a witness and use the very thing that’s hurting as a testimony. Indeed, as we live by faith, when we’re in the thick of it, remember that we have come to where we are on purpose – by God’s actual appointment – for such a time as this.

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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7/24/17: Handling Hurts

•July 24, 2017 • 1 Comment

Life is full of joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, uplift and disappointment. Besides the biggies like devastating disease, the end of a relationship, or death of a loved one, what hurts you? What situation can happen that turns the tide of a perfectly wonderful day into a destructive tsunami? For me, it’s misjudgment. When someone takes my words or actions out of context, completely misjudging my intentions and my motives, and spins them into something that I wasn’t even thinking.

I receive such misjudgments as attacks upon my personal character. And when I try to explain what I was thinking, to have my explanations rebuffed as well just further twists the knife. I know what I’m thinking. I know what I meant. I know what my intentions were. I know I am not what I’m being accused of, yet there is nothing I can do or say to change the other person’s opinion. And hurts of this kind only matter when the other person is someone who matters to me.

So what do I do? First, I shut down. That’s my way of managing the pain, of shielding myself from further onslaught. Then I start to strategize. My thought is, Fine, I will never give you another opening to attack me on that line again. Mind you, the strategy is not put in place because I think the person is right. The strategy is put in place so that I will be out of the line of fire of his/her misjudgment. That may mean that conversation about that subject won’t happen again, that activity won’t be shared, or I will just stop dealing with that person altogether. Since my motives were pure and right, and my explanation was disregarded, there’s nothing more to say about the subject. I’ll have to just be hurt because the other person cares not about my feelings and refuses to regard my explanations as plausible.

Oh, I want to yell back. Frankly, I want to spice my retorts with choice words that Christians ought not use. I want to defend myself and I want that person to see me the way I intended. Then I remember that Romans 12:17-18 says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (NKJ).

I have to get quiet. I have to hold back. I have to not pay back evil. I have to think of the good in the other person. I have to live peaceably with that person. I have to pray. I have to rely on God to work it out.

______________________

©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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  • Pick up copies of Sharon’s books for yourself and as gifts for your family members and friends!

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