Author Archives: Judy Baumgartner

December Devotion

COME HOME

I love spending time with God. Everything in my world seems much better when He is near. Equipped with His peace; we can endure any hardship with unexplainable joy. The closer we get to Him, the sweeter life becomes.

Here is the most perplexing part – we seem to be controllers of this part of the relationship. When we want to distance ourselves from God in rebellion, He allows us to leave. Although He may still discipline us during these strained seasons, He waits for us to open our hearts to Him.

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son illustrates this principle perfectly. The father in this story waited longingly for his wayward son. How much more does our Heavenly Father wait for us to come home? The more we open our heart, the deeper our relationship with God becomes. Coming home needs to be a daily priority.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

We also need to consider what is hindering our efforts to open our hearts to the Lord. We hate when we sin; however, the blood of Christ provides continual cleansing from this horrible condition. Being unwilling to forgive others, pride, selfishness, and the busyness of life all seem to impede our relationship with God. Fortunately, our Lord has designed a much better plan.

He willingly takes care of all our troubles if we are walking in step with Him. He can provide finances, healing, time and joy by His infinite power. The only requirement is that we live His way, which is far superior to anything we can possible imagine. This is what following the Lord means.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Lude 15:17)

Why do we wait until we reach a critical point? This is folly of the sinful mind. Do we need to run out of gas before we look for a station? Instead, let us make our relationship with God our highest priority. Come and experience the magnificent wonder that time with our Savior brings.

 

November 2017

IT’S NOT THAT DIFFICULT

There are times when we want to do exactly what God desires, but everything seems too complicated. We want to be in the perfect will of the Almighty, but He is not making the path very clear. Is following God a “trial and error” process?

In a world where I have to remember my third grade teacher’s name (for security reasons) just to complete an online purchase, simplicity is becoming a distant memory. Since God is far more complex than any computer, we begin to wonder if it is possible to get His answer to our problem without pressing “one for English.” I have my Bible, but what page covers my question about a problem with overdraft protection?

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

The Thunderbirds are an impressive demonstration flying team.  My favorite stunt is their tight formation. The F16 Falcon cockpit contains a plethora of indicators, switches, dials, and buttons During their incredible maneuvers, the lead pilot is attentive to his or her avionics, while the rest of the group focuses on the wing of the plan next to them.

This principle applies to our relationship with God. No matter how complex our problems may seem, if we are right on His wing, we will arrive safely. God chooses to withhold nonessential information so that we can focus on one task at a time. In a world with enormous amounts of information, this simplicity is rather comforting.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:1-4)

Although it is challenging to remember, following God is not that difficult. We simply need to walk where He is leading. Another name for the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. He will direct us to the page of our Bible that covers our problem with overdraft protection in His own unique way.

 

October 2017

CLOSER

Improving our relationship with the Almighty needs to be our highest priority. Although the distractions of life are many, this can be obtained by the power of the Holy Spirit. Giving Him our all is spiritual dynamite. No matter the setting, life is much better when God is near.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm73:28)

Our feelings about the proximity of God can be flawed. When we are in a battle and situations seem to be progressing from bad to worse, it is natural to wonder what happened to God. Beloved, He is closer than our next heartbeat. Similarly, when we have slipped into sin, we can think that we have exhausted His incredible grace and mercy. Rather than trying to untangle twisted emotions, it is better to confess, repent, and commit.

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way, say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer; and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wildernessa nd steams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:3-6)

 

September 2017 Devotion

THE INSIGHT OF ELISHA

There are plenty of times in life when we feel overwhelmed.  Even as a Christian our difficulties can cause us to wonder about the strength of the protection we have in God.  It is not that we doubt God’s omnipotent power;  instead, we wonder why He allowed life to become bleak.  These are the moments of testing that are challenging to our character.

When the servant of the man of God (Elisha) got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

                “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” (2Kings 6:15-16)

The king of Aram was so angry with Elisha that he sent an army to capture him. Although the prophet appeared unimpressed, his servant was deeply concerned. In the natural world, this situation seemed hopeless. Conversely, something incredible happened I the spiritual domain that the servant could not see.

And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2Kings 6:17)

If we consider that the death of the Egyptians during the Passover was from the hand of one angel, this event was a great mismatch in Elisha’s favor. Still, God had something greater in mind.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD. “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha asked.

                Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

                After they entered the city, Eliosha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. (2Kings 6:18-20)

Once inside the capital city, the Israelites fed and released them. The bands from Aram decided to cease raiding the area. Who, in their right mind would want to fight with God? He is the greatest power.

Since God’s character does not change, why are we so frightened by our circumstances? Perhaps we need to have our spiritual eyes opened to see the incredible force that protects us. It is during the anguish that our faith is developed. May we be so filled with God’s Spirit that we, too, can have the insight of Elisha.

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

August 2017 Devotion

HAS GOD FORGOTTEN?

There are times when we wonder if God has forgotten us. These feelings usually accompany extended periods of waiting or tribulation. Isaiah addresses this issue with the people of Zion. God’s answer applies to our lives as well.

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget her baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16)

God’s passion for us is far greater than we can imagine. The poetic imagery of a mother is incredible. Beloved, The Almighty never forgets His offspring. G9od hates to see His children suffer.

Nothing moves me like watching first graders during the initial week of a new school year. The year is critical and difficult. They must learn to read, write, spell, add, and subtract. Forever gone are the carefree days of preschool. No one wipes their faces or helps them in the restroom. Maturity comes suddenly. Without this important transition, the child’s growth will be stunted.

As adults, we understand the importance of maturity. Therefore, we allow our children to suffer through the difficulties of first grade. We feel compassion towards them, but are wise enough not to interfere. Their sweet exhausted faces remind us that seasons in life are difficult.

Similarly, God allows us to endure difficulties for our benefit. We may feel like chaos has become the norm, but our Lord is watching carefully. He will never stop loving His kids. May the Lord’s comfort today remind you of His faithfulness.

July 2017 Devotion

FINDING PEACE

Did you know that peace is a choice? When the world seems chaotic, it is a tremendous benefit to have the solace that the Lord provides. Somehow, He quells our anxieties.  Trusting God provides the key.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever; for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

There are numerous promises in the Bible that God is going to keep with, or without, our cooperation. For example Jesus is returning to Earth. No action on our part will influence this event. God is going to do this. Other promises in the Bible are conditional. In other words, our cooperation is necessary to see a specific result. This is the case with the promise in Isaiah. Our action is required if we want to experience God’s perfect peace. We must rust God to receive this incredible blessing.

There is an old hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” The verses capture the essence of this passage. Will we be wise enough to enjoy this feature of our faith? Can we really trust the Almiighty with our problems? May you experience God’s perfect peace today,.

June Devotion

The Holy Spirit Still Descends Today

 

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Acts 2:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

Pentecost (this year celebrated on June 4) is an experience for today.  Every believer can and should be baptized in the Holy Spirit and should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not the goal, but instead is a gateway to living a powerful and effective life for the glory of the Kingdom.

 

Being empowered by the Holy Spirit enables the believer to operate “above and beyond” what can be done in human strength. (Zechariah 4:6 – So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.It is the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who makes what we do to be blessed or anointed.

Wherever there is an awareness and acceptance of the Spirit’s ministry, people are being saved, people are being filled, people are being delivered, and the need of people are being met. Can there be any doubt that with the condition the world is in now that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is needed?

Believers, call upon Him today.  He is ready, willing, and more than able to descend upon you and empower you to live the Christian life you were made to live.

 

 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may we be open and sensitive to all that you have for us. We ask this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen

May 2017

HAVE WE FORGOTTEN?

 

1 Peter 1:17-23 New International Version (NIV)

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

 

Have we forgotten what it is like to be “not saved?”  In other words, have we, as Christians – those who claim Jesus as Savior – bought with a price – with all our sins under the blood of the Lamb – forgotten what is like to live without Jesus? It is easy to do.

When we first “get saved” and turn our lives over to Christ, we have that insatiable desire to remove ourselves from all the sins and baggage of our past and to be totally immersed in becoming more Christ-like – and well we should.  We should focus on allowing God to have His way with us. To totally surrender all of ourselves and lives unto Him to do with as He sees fit for our own good and for the glory of His Kingdom.

However, after awhile, we find that we have become “cocooned” or “fortressed” in a world where everyone is as we are: Christians. In this “world” we can easily become unaccustomed to dealing with those who do not “walk the Christian walk or talk the Christian talk.” Or if we do interact with the unsaved, it is with the intent to evangelize or “win them to Christ.” But do we ever really just sit down and get to know them without any ulterior motives. Do we ever really have a heart and/or a deep love for them simply as a fellow human being created by God? Do we mingle with them as Christ did?

First, let’s remember what it was like to live without the saving grace knowledge of Christ. Second, let’s be Christ-like in our endeavors to love others as He first loved us. Third, may we expect nothing in return, i.e. a conversion story or notches in our “led them to Christ” belt. Fourth, if we are blessed to lead them to Christ, may we remember to give God all the glory. Ultimately, may we allow them to grow at their own pace in accordance with the Lord’s perfect plan for their lives. Our job is to love them; it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to bring them into the Kingdom.

 

April 2017 Devotion

WE ARE IN A WAR: ARE YOU PREPARED?

 

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. (2Timothy 2:3-4)

 

We are at war. I am not speaking of any of the current physical warfare occurring around the world, but war of a spiritual nature.  As followers & soldiers of Jesus Christ, we should be prepared in a far more superior nature than that of any soldier fighting physical warfare.

 

The Bible shares many strategies for preparing for the tactics of our enemy – Satan.  We are instructed in Ephesians 6:10-18 to put on the WHOLE/FULL armor of God.

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

Christians experienced in spiritual warfare usually remember to follow Ephesians 6:10-18.  However, one major area is virtually overlooked – the mental/emotional preparation mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:3-4.  We forget to detach from everything that may draw our focus away from our Commander In Chief – Jesus Christ. We must stay in one accord with His plan. Do not deviate from His battle plan. No one knows the enemy better than Jesus. He triumphed over him many times – the ultimate win being the one Jesus achieved with His death on the cross and His resurrection.

 

It is said that if a soldier does not know himself or his enemy, his chance of survival in war is zilch. If a soldier knows himself, but does not know his enemy, his chance of survival is minimal. If a soldier knows himself and knows his enemy, his chance of survival in war is very good. Follow Ephesians 6:10-18 AND 2 Timothy 2:3-4, put your trust in the Lord and follow Him. Yes, we are in a constant spiritual war with our enemy, but with the Lord on our side, victory is ours!

 

Father, help us as we struggle daily with the enemy. May we remain focused on You and Your plan as we continue our life-long process (war) of separating from sin and becoming more Christ-like until You return to take us home. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 2017 Devotion

 

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

2 Corinthians 1:3-11(NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[
a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we

 have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 

God understands what we are going through.  He does not “leave us hanging.” He goes with us every step of the way.

 

Nothing takes God by surprise. He has a plan for each area of our lives. With our focus on Him, we can succeed even through the darkest of times/situations.

 

Once the difficult time has passed, the result is that we can minister to and help equip others who will be/are experiencing what we have gone through.  God does not waste one ounce of suffering. Praise His Name!