Author Archives: Judy Baumgartner

October 2020 Devotion

TOOLS FOR GROWTH AS WARRIORS FOR CHRIST

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on. however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen you feeble arms and weak knees (Hebrews 12:11-12)

One of the greatest struggles in life occurs when we mature through our teenage years. We are both children and adults at the same time. At other times we are neither juvenile nor mature. We are in a state of transition. Our maturity in faith also has the difficult teenage years.

When we first start following Jesus everything is wonderful. We are innocent, excited, and positively in love with our Savior. Each time God asks us to do something, we are more than willing to please Him. We can’t wait to worship Him each day.

Unfortunately, there is a long developmental stage between new believer and mature disciple. During this season, we are smart enough to be very dangerous with the things of faith. We easily discover the mistakes of others. Often, we are quick to spot when our leaders fall short in ministry. In this transition, there are seasons of being judgmental proud, fearless, fearful, opinionated, and downright ornery! God is more than patient as we grow through this stage.

God takes the teenage warrior into His crucibles of discipleship where all of these imperfections are addressed. During these days, sometimes we wonder what happened to the sweet Lord that we first fell in love with. In order to complete the discipleship process, we must endure through some very uncomfortable situations. Some of us wonder – and honestly so – if there will be anything in our lives that is not destroyed in God’s kiln. The process is called sanctification, which means being made holy. Just as no one likes to drink from a filthy cup, we are not ready for the Master’s perfect plans until we have been purified.

So, never walk away from a crucible. We cannot walk back into it when we think that we are ready. In all cases, the Master has a plan for our perfect release. If we leave before the work is completed, we must go through the entire process again.

Next, remember that God loves us and knows what He is doing. Trust in His perfect mercy, grace, and timing through each difficulty. God is just like a skilled dentist who is removing decay from our teeth. We need that which may be harmful to our lives removed for us to be healthy spiritually.

Finally, press on. Many fall apart just a few feet from the finish line. When God is finished, there is a harvest of peace and righteousness. I know that often it hurts, but with faith, we are never without hope. Just a there are no shortcuts to athletic conditioning; God’s discipleship program may be exhausting yet prepares us for what is ahead.

Father, I recognize that You have always loved me. I know that You want what is best for my life. Therefore, I willingly place my life into Your capable hands. Lead me where You want me to go, help me overcome my weaknesses, and let Your Spirit mentor my development. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen!

September 2020

SILLY RAVENS

“He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (Psalms 147:9 NIV)

Ravens are amazing birds. They are undaunted by weather, harsh environments, and food supplies. They seem equally pleased with “roadkill” or restaurant dumpsters.

Ravens work diligently to provide for their offspring. They create impressive nests, sit dutifully, and feed the young like most other birds. One day, the parents move on leaving the babies to learn to fly and provide for themselves.

They are more fun to watch than a circus. The young will remain together for several weeks scolding each other. They call to any other bird as if to say, “Where is my dinner?” the other birds evacuate the area with haste.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. (Genesis 8:6-9 NIV)

The raven must have provided Noah and the crew entertainment as it unpredictably flew around. In contrast with the dove, it was ill-mannered. The Creator has a wonderful sense of humor.

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

(Luke 12:22-26 NIV)

Our Lord is the best teacher. People struggle with worry. This parable provides hope. We, too, are reliant upon God. Crazy animals and birds help remind us to trust Him.

The ravens live one day at a time. What a sharp contrast with a squirrel which obsessively forages. Imagine this insane rodent with an online trading account!

Father, help us trust You for all material needs. Thanks for Your “Daily Bread.” We celebrate Your glory and humor. We find hope and correction in Jesus’ creative teaching. Further, we confess our anxiety over material needs. Please reassure us today of Your loving forgiveness. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

August 2020 Devotion

REFLECTION ON PSALM 99

Psalm 99 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns,
    let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
    let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
    he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice—
    you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
    what is just and right.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his footstool;
    he is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
    and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
    they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

Lord our God,
    you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
    though you punished their misdeeds.[a]
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his holy mountain,
    for the Lord our God is holy.

Perhaps no nation trembled before the Lord like Egypt. By the time the plagues were finished, they wanted Israel to take whatever they wanted and leave. No more frogs or flies – just go away! (Sounds like how we feel about the Corona virus).

By the time Israel reached Mount Sinai, the news of Egypt’s demise was well known. The surrounding kingdoms wondered if their gods were powerful enough to fight with a God of slaves who was stronger than any who protected Egypt. No nation, demon, or power can withstand our Holy LORD Almighty!

Moses and Aaron administered God’s perfect Holy Law before His beloved people. Although He loves justice and hates what sin has done, His loving forgiveness is always evident. The King’s wrath is only displayed when people reject, ignore, or fail to appreciate His authority.

Samuel represents the prophets in Psalm 99. They provide information whenever God’s people are in special need. Encouragement, correction, warning, and direction are all part of their assignments.

The beginning and ending of this song poetically connect in thought. We are reminded to worship the Almighty in humility and respect. His authority is unsurpassed. The images of a footstool, cherubim, and holy mountain provide insight into His heavenly throne room. In eternity, ALL injustice, including racial,  will be vanquished!

July 2020 Devotion

LIFEGUARD

It is much safer to swim in an area where lifeguards are on watch. Although many may attempt to become lifeguards, special training is required. Imagine the foolish of an untrained person attempting to save someone. In lakes, ponds, oceans, pools, and other “swimming holes,’ Qualified personnel are recommended.

“Can a blind man lead a blind man?” Luke 6:39 (NIV)

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

Daily Bible study is needed for our spiritual training. In this manner, we become qualified. For example, what if we were asked how to get to heaven? Life the lifeguard and Timothy, we must be ready. This information is on our new “Need Jesus Page.”

Jesus is our redeeming lifeguard. We can trust Him to always rescue. He is always prepared.

Daily Bible reading is paramount. This is the best textbook. This is why it is called God’s Word.

June 2020 Devotion

FORSAKEN

Luke 24:25-27 New International Version (NIV)

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Psalm 22:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]

Matthew 27:45-46 New International Version (NIV)

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

Have You ever felt rejected by God or experienced feeling numb from all the suffering? Does it ever seem like the heavens are made of brass? During this season of the pandemic, everyone has probably felt this.

Lamentations 3:17-20 New International Version (NIV)

17 I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.

Allow me to share this wonderful hope that we have. Because our Lord is Love, I believe that every drop of suffering is not wasted.  We are being molded into the image of Jesus. Although all suffer, no pain served a greater purpose. Through His awful/wonderful sacrifice, by faith, we can be emancipated from sin, fear, and hopelessness. It is my prayer that He will show His Reasoning. But even if He does not at this time, I pray we will continue to persevere and cling to Jesus!!

Philippians 1:19-26 New International Version (NIV)

19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Lamentations 3:21-26 New International Version (NIV)

21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Jeremiah 17:7 New International Version (NIV)

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.

May 2020 Devotion

REFLECTION ON PSALM 24

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

(Psalm24:1-18 NIV)

Most of David’s psalms are highly emotional. This particular one is instructional. It seems more like a poetic proverb. Many modern worship songs use these verses as lyrics.

First and foremost, this poem brings glory to God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The structure of the poem has the ending recapping the beginning. The names of God are like facets of a cut gem. Each one reveals another part of His wonderful character. This psalm is the only place in the New International Version were the name “King of Glory” is used.

Next, the poem lists the qualifications for being in God’s holy place. Holy means special or set apart. Clean hands are metaphoric for purity. We need to have or hearts clean to be in or Lord’s presence. Idol worship pollutes. Anything we trust in more than the LORD is spiritual poison.

Further, blessings are conditional. Our faith and trust will determine the results. Our interaction is required.

Some of our Savior’s promises are unconditional. Foe example, Jesus is alive forever. Nothing I do can disrupt this action. He is eternal.

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18 NIV)

Finally, David portrays the Lord as a Mighty Warrior who can open gates that no one can close. The images of Jerusalem or opening our hearts denote an all-encompassing worship celebration.

Lord, thanks for cleansing or hearts and minds through the blood of Jesus. We, like David, join in this powerful worship celebration. We long expectantly for the unimaginable worship with you in heaven. Continually open the gates of hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN!

April 2020 Devotion

OUR KINGDOM INHERITANCE

1 Peter 1:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

An inheritance typically becomes effective upon the death of a loved one. The legal terms are specified in a will. Assets are divided according to the wishes of the deceased. Laws governing taxes also apply.

The death of Jesus provides us with a special heavenly inheritance that cannot be destroyed. This was purchased by His blood upon the cross. We are receiving an endowment of grace. Our faith in God provides hope as we wait for the reading of the will.

Peter focuses on the resurrection rather than the sacrificial death of Jesus. Our hope is in the One that is more powerful than death. Nothing can interfere with our inheritance. It is secure in a heavenly vault. That only Jesus can open.

Revelation 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

The Scroll and the Lamb

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

January/February 2020 Devotion

SOLOMON’S WISDOM

2 Chronicles 1:7-12 New International Version (NIV)

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

Solomon’s request is unique. As a prayer leader, I often hear requests for salvation of loved ones, healing, relationships, and finances.  I do not often hear requests for wisdom. Perhaps we are missing a special blessing.

Our LORD was well pleased with the new monarch’s request. Solomon was the wisest king. His proverbs and poetry still reveal incredible wisdom today.

November 2019 Devotion

DOG TRAINING Part 1

Have you every trained a dog to wait? This becomes a special bond between the canine and master. Through this, the dog learns obedience.

Like the dog, we must learn to wait upon God. This is all part of our discipleship. It creates a special bond with our Master. It is not easy, but always worth it in the end.

The prophet Isaiah offers incredible insight into this process. His timeless words still apply today. The power of the Holy Spirit is evident through his message.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Psalms 37:7 NIV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalms 27:14 NIV)

Waiting for the Lord is not complicated. It helps us in every area of our life as we learn to surrender to His will. The Spirit’s help is available for everything. The list includes family relationships, marriages, unsaved loved ones, sex, money, power, wisdom, and much more.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

October 2019 Devotion

THE COUNSELOR

“All this I (Jesus) have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27 NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

There are times when people can feel like god is an enemy rather than a friend. Peacefulness seems to evaporate like a desert mirage. What seemed like a hope vanishes quickly. Trust disappears.

How can we make peace with the Lord again? Has is love been exhausted? S t too late? Are the blessings gone forever?

The Lord gives His disciples a powerful ally – the Holy Spirit. Through the Counselor’s empowerment Christians can quickly reconnect with Peace and joy. This is not a vanishing optical illusion.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Words of Jesus, Lue 11:10-13 NIV)

The Father wants to do something incredible in our lives. The Holy Spirit empowers us for daily living. We should never be afraid to ask. Trust Him.

If you love lasagna ask for seconds. Or Gourmet Chef is more than happy to provide. Divine empowerment is a key to peace. Reconciliation is only a heartbeat away in God’s kitchen. Heaven’s pantry is full.

This gift is conditional. We won’t get it if we don’t ask. God will not force His love upon people. We can ask for empowerment with every prayer. There is no limit to the Father’s generosity.