Friday, September 27, 2019

An Appointment With Caesar

An Appointment With Caesar
a devotional by Peggy Blann Phifer* 

“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar;” Acts 27:24a [NKJV]

It was fall, 1949. I was ten. It was Friday and school had just let out.

As usual, my little sister, brother and I, along with most of the kids from the small one-room schoolhouse, crossed the street to the little country store on the opposite corner.

Mr. Stoeker, the store owner, always welcomed us and, as always, had a little bin or straw basket filled with an assortment of penny candy free for us kids. Peppermints, licorice, jaw breakers, bubble gum …

But this day I decided I wanted something better than mere penny candy. I slowly inched my way down the aisle to the real candy and slipped a Baby Ruth candy bar into my sweater pocket 

We had a quarter mile walk ahead so I dawdled behind my younger siblings and the other kids we walked with and tried to eat that stolen candy bar as fast as I could before we got home, and without anyone noticing.

Mothers are omniscient; they know everything. So it wasn’t long before Mom somehow knew about that Baby Ruth candy bar. (No doubt somebody had snitched, and I figured I knew who. You can probably guess, too.)

 Mom promptly marched me out to the car and drove me back to the corner store where I confessed my theft and paid for it with a nickel out of my own precious piggy bank…all the while a little sick with fear. Not only about what Mr. Stoeker would do, but what would happen when Daddy found out.

In the chapter from which the above verse is taken, the Apostle Paul was a prisoner on a storm-tossed ship bound for Rome. They feared sinking and jettisoned everything from the ship to lighten it, but it wasn’t enough. The ship was still at the mercy of the sea and wind. A shipwreck was imminent.

But just when it looked like all was lost, the angel of the Lord assured Paul they weren’t going to die. Yes, they did wreck but were rescued because Paul had an appointment with Caesar that God was going to make sure Paul kept. [See Acts 27]

Maybe I’m stretching a parallel here, but bear with me a moment, if you will.

The intrepid Paul had done nothing wrong, but he’d angered Rome by his preaching and teaching about Jesus, the risen Messiah, and Rome still feared a Jewish uprising.

Me? I’d stolen a nickel candy bar and had to face two “Caesars”–the store owner–and my father. Mr. Stoeker showed a kindness and mercy I didn’t deserve. He said he’d seen me take that candy and instead of making a scene he let me go. He thanked me for coming back to pay for it.

 God showed me even greater mercy because, for some reason, Mom never told Daddy about it . . . and I never asked her why
Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for loving us even when we do wrong. Because of Your unconditional love, I know I don’t need to fear confessing my sins to You because You always stand ready to forgive. This child of Yours is grateful that with You, sins confessed are remembered no more. In the name of Your precious Son, Amen.

*Adapted from a devotion that first appeared in a book of 33 devotions titled "Fear Not," compiled by Anne Baxter Campbell and released by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc, in 2014. Used with permission. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Our Forever Friend ~ Faithful Friday ~ Alexis A. Goring

Our Forever Friend
A devotional by Alexis A. Goring

Recently, I re-read a mini-devotional thought that is located within a sidebar on the pages of my True Identity Bible, published by Zondervan.

The title of the mini-devotional thought is “At Issue: Loneliness.”

Here is what I read:

“In the beloved book Anne of Green Gables, Anne longs for a “bosom friend.” Can you relate? Unfortunately, most of us have known the pain at times of not having a close friend. Yet loneliness is not entirely bad. Painful as it is, loneliness is good when it pushes us to grow closer to the best friend we’ll ever have—God. No other friendship can compare to his. He knows and accepts us completely. He is right there with us, always. In the good times we take our friend for granted. In the bad times we realize we need him – and he’s right there.”

Though I’ve read the devotional countless times before, this time that I re-read it really struck a chord with me. Finally, it dawned on me that I already have the best kind of friend anyone can have, his name is Jesus Christ and He loves humankind with His life! Read John 3:16-17 in a Bible.

Yes, I know the pain of feeling left out. Not having a best friend here on Earth (as in a fellow human who is your forever friend). Not having the “Maid of Honor” experience in my best friend’s wedding (if I had a best friend). Not being a bridesmaid several times over in all of my close friends’ weddings. Not having as Anne of Green Gables called it, a “bosom friend.”

But, I do also know the unexplainable JOY that comes when Jesus Christ is your best friend for life! Literally. His friendship will never fade. He will be your best friend here on Earth and in Heaven, forever (literally again)!

And that truth brings me hope. It also gives me a fresh perspective. Because it can be so easy for us – especially females – because of the culture that we live in, to feel left out if our social lives don’t look like what we see on TV, at the movies and on social media.

But just because you see those worldly standards for friendships all around you, you don’t have to believe that those representations of life are how your life should look. You don’t have to subscribe to worldly standards of living.

Yes, it’s great to be included. Yes, it’s great to have a best friend or a circle of close friends. Yes, it’s wonderful if God blessed you with one special bosom friend like Anne of Green Gables had in Diana.

But if you do not have that yet then don’t worry about it; pray about it!

Trust God to bring the people into your life who need to be there. And if He blesses you with a “bosom friend” or a close-knit, healthy circle of friends then praise Him! But don’t forget to cultivate your relationship with the one friend who will NEVER leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)…Yes, that friend is Jesus Christ!

I hope that this devotional has encouraged your heart! In closing, I’d like for you to listen to this song, “Forever Yours,” by Wintley Phipps.

God bless you!


Alexis A. Goring


Author Bio (short): Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Little Messy Around Here

Please excuse the mess around here. I'm remodeling this blog and I've got a few things skewed. To see the whole page you'll have to maximize the screen. I hope to have everything straightened out by the weekend.

But tomorrow's "Faithful Friday" devotional with Alexis A. Goring will be here, I promise.

In the meantime, bear with me as I indulge my woman's urge to do some rearranging.

Can anyone relate?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Respect and the God Who Deserves It

Respect and the God Who Deserves It

A devotional by Alexis A. Goring

There’s much to learn when starting a new job, no matter what your career.

As a novice reporter, one day I had an assignment that involved interviewing a person over the phone. This interview subject served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

I still remember her name: Corporal Kelly.

I still recall my mistake: Not addressing her by her military title.

I still remember her response: She demanded respect and would not proceed with the interview until I addressed her by her military title.

I still remember my response: I was embarrassed and a bit scared so I quickly corrected myself and instead of saying “Good day, Kelly,” I said, “Good day, Corporal Kelly.”

Years later, I reflected on that experience and drew a spiritual parallel: God deserves our utmost respect too. But how often do we disrespect Him by our words and actions?

Despite the disrespect that God endures from His children – those who do know Him and those who do not yet know Him – He is patient with us because He desires that all of us be saved in His Kingdom.

The God of the Universe who created all that exists deserves more respect than we are required to give to Kings and Queens and those in positions of authority in every career on this planet Earth.

God deserves more than our respect. He deserves our praise!

The Bible says that the angels cry “Holy” and worship God day and night, never ceasing to praise Him! Let’s read about it in Revelation 4:8-11:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Now if the King of the Universe, the God who created everything that exists, the Holy One who is Lord over all…receives this kind of respect and reverence from His holy creatures in Heaven who never sinned or turned against him like we as sinful humans who He created have done, how much more should we overflow with gratitude, adoration and praise for the God who saved our souls?

The Bible says in John 3:16-17: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

God loves you with all of His Heart! He’s done everything within His power to save us because He wants us to be reconciled to Him. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. Now more than ever, I realize that the least we mere mortals can do is to give Him the respect and honor that He deserves!

God is not a strict authority figure who will not respond to you until you address Him by His Holy Name. No! He loves you unconditionally and is longsuffering with your shortcomings. He won’t force you into submission. But His love for you should be enough for you to want to submit to Him. Read James 4:7.

God’s love for you is eternal. Read Psalm 136. His love for you spans the ceaseless ages of eternity. He’s a good, kind and forgiving Heavenly Father who wants what’s best for you. So won’t you approach Him with reverence and give Him the respect He deserves?

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.