Devotion by Ryan Feed

Did you feel that?!

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Everything is shakable, except one—the Kingdom of God, the one and only unshakeable Kingdom. — E. Stanley Jones

Our family had recently moved from our comfortable home in Idaho to an unfamiliar and populous city in South Korea. It was the beginning of a grand adventure for us, as well as a season of stretching, growth and learning to trust the Lord more. On a lazy evening during our first month in that new place, things got exciting. I was gazing out the window taking pictures of the urban skyline, Dina was reading a book, and my daughters were putting together a puzzle in the tiny living room of our 1000 square foot 14th floor apartment, when suddenly, the building began to shake. 

Wide-eyed, Dina and I both looked at each other and said, “Did you feel that?!”

The shaking didn’t last long, but it was enough to rattle us. Our minds and emotions raced. “What do we do?!” “Where do we go?!” “What are we doing here?!” 

Thankfully, within minutes we got a call from some friends informing us that according to the local news station there had been a small earthquake many miles off the Eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula. They assured us, “There is no reason to worry, all is fine.”

Whew! 

But I still remember the feelings: the panic, the questions, the sense of helplessness, the fear and . . . the shaking. 

Things are shaking today. Globally, nationally, politically, economically, socially, morally and personally—nothing in and of this world is stable, nothing is unmoved. Capitalism is shakable, the economy is shakable, democracy is shakable, governments are shakable, our jobs are shakable, our pensions (if we have one) are shakable, even our health is shakable. It’s all trembling, shuddering, shaking and quaking just like it has for the past two thousand years. But there is one thing that stands solid—the Kingdom of God. 

To all who follow Christ in this shaken and shaking world, the author of Hebrews writes, 

“We are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28, NLT)

The Kingdom of God is the only “unshakable” thing in existence. Its constitution is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and its King is Jesus who died upon the cross for our sins, rose again defeating death and the grave, and who resides at the right hand of the Father as our advocate. His Spirit abides in our hearts, ever saving us, helping us and securing us on “solid ground” as we walk with Him. 

And yet, the shaking continues and so do we. All it takes is a news report on the TV, a notification on our phone, a call from the doctor, an email from our bank, or a knock on the door and we are a mess. Our minds race, our hearts stir and we are all shook up. 

When this happens, don’t fret. Instead, call out to Jesus. Ask Him, “Did you feel that?!” 

And hear Him say:

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)

“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NLT)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3, NLT)

Or, as our friends told us, “There is no reason to worry, all is fine.” 

“We are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28, NLT)

Whew!


The Place of Help - 2 Years Later

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 6.53.45 AMCall on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Psalm 50:15, NIV)

Two years ago today I had pancreatic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Through the hand of God, and the hands of the medical team, I was delivered from a rare tumor that was taking my life. 

I am so grateful. 

I called upon the Lord in my need, and when I couldn’t, others stood with me in prayer. I was at the end of my rope and Jesus delivered me from my troubles. 

I give Him all the honor, glory and praise. 

But as I rejoice (and thank you for rejoicing with me), I also want to be sensitive to those who mourn and to those who are in the midst of trouble in these trying times. 

I am so sorry for the sadness, pain and fear that you are experiencing. I stand with you in prayer. Jesus says to each of us, in every moment of our lives, “Call on me in the day of trouble,” because only in Him is the place of help. 

I did call upon the Lord and I was surprised and delighted to find that he was with me. I was “delivered” well before I lay under the bright lights of the operating table. His presence and peace were with me in the midst of the struggle and it was enough. The physical healing was an added bonus. 

I will be in trouble again—we all will. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

He is the place of help and hope. Look to Jesus. 

Here is a video of me sharing my story. I hope it is a help and blessing to you. 

 


The Haunted Knocker

IMG_1582The Haunted Knocker
by Ryan M. Roberts

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5, NIV)

Yesterday I finished reading A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. This is the fifth December in a row that I have read this great book. And every time I read it, I discover a new gem in the story and I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me through its pages.

In the book’s preface Dickens writes,

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.”

My annual reading of “this Ghostly little book” left me with yet another hauntingly pleasant reflection. So, from my house to yours, I humbly and prayerfully share it with you.

At the end of A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge awakes from his long night of ghostly visitations and realizes the gift of a second chance. He is filled with the joy, hope and love that permeates the message of Christmas, and as he walks out of his house into his “new life,” the knocker on his front door catches his eye. This “haunted” knocker is where his entire nightmare started, beginning with the apparition of his old partner, Marley (“dead these seven years”) bearing chains of woe and warning, and then followed by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas yet to come.

Scrooge’s night spent with these “spirits” was a gauntlet of fear, shock, struggle, insight, remorse, regret, and ultimately . . . rebirth. He emerged from the dark night of his heart, the tomb of his home and the prison of his self-centeredness a new man. He stepped out into the light and life of Christmas morning changed for good.

As Scrooge walks out of his house Dickens writes,

“. . . the knocker caught his eye. “I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand.”

I read these lines and tears sprang to my eyes, for I knew what Scrooge was feeling.

God is greater than evil. He can and does work through the struggle, pain, failure, grief and remorse in our lives, and He brings from it good. The “rest of the story” of Christmas is the truth that nothing can stop God, not even death. The baby Jesus, born in a manger is also the resurrection and the life!

Two years ago I was seriously ill. I was struggling in my heart and mind, sick in body and fighting for my life. The doctors were stumped, I was drowning in disappointment and losing the battle. But, by God’s grace and mercy I was miraculously helped and healed.

As I look back on that “haunted door-knocker” experience in my life—that season of fear, pain, struggle, doubt and darkness—I can see God’s hand of help, faithfulness and love in and through it all. God used it for good and drew my heart closer to Him. In retrospect, I see the light of Jesus piercing the darkness of that difficult time, and I, along with Ebenezer Scrooge proclaim, “I shall love it, as long as I live!”

Life is hard and full of troubles. I don’t understand it all, but I do know that God is ever working in and through all things for good. He is the source of help, hope, life and love—and at the center of it all is Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, thanks to Charles Dickens and the Holy Spirit, I am “haunted” by the goodness of God. May you be “haunted” by the goodness of God too.

P.S. Speaking of door knockers, consider this from Jesus, the true Spirit of Christmas: He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20, NIV)

Merry Christmas!


More Important

DSCF2175This morning God used three seemingly unrelated things—a passage of Scripture, the Google home page, and a poem to communicate this message to me:

“Your physical health is important, but your spiritual health is more important.”

First, I read 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul says,

“God ... made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (vs. 6-7, NIV)

And I heard:

This body of ours, that consumes so much of our time, money, attention and concern is but a clay jar—made from dust and returning to dust, no matter what we do. We are so consumed with our jar and how it compares to the jars of those around us. We find identity in our jars. We think our jar is who we are. But Paul says there’s more to us than our jar—we are our heart.

Next, I opened the Google homepage to find the day’s Google doodle featuring a picture of Christopher Reeve—honoring him on his birthday. In my mind, when I think of Christopher Reeve I think of Superman. As an actor he played the Screen Shot 2021-09-25 at 10.35.25 AM
character(s) of Clark Kent and Superman and he looked the part—handsome, stately, healthy, muscular and strong. But sadly, in 1995 Reeve’s clay pot broke. He fell off a horse, crushed his spinal cord and was paralyzed for the rest of his life. After his accident he lived on for a few years serving as a great humanitarian and an inspiration to many.

And I heard:

This vessel (body) of ours is fragile—like pottery. We may appear great (like Superman or a supermodel) and we may think we are great, but in reality, we are fragile, frail and easily destroyed. A fall off a horse, a drop of contaminated water or a virus-laden micro-particle can be our end. But, we are more than our bodies.

Then I read Robert Frost’s poem, “Leaves Compared with Flowers” and this stanza jumped out at me:

A tree’s leaves may be ever so good,

So may its bark, so may its wood;

But unless you put the right thing to its root

It never will show much flower or fruit.

And I heard:

We are so much more than our bark or our leaves. It doesn’t matter how good our vessel if it is bereft of flowers and fruit. They resonate from the root and when the leaves have fallen and trunk lies rotting, the fruit lives on. We must pay attention to our root (hearts).

And God said:

My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:20-23, NIV)

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes ... on Jesus.  

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, & Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

“Your physical health is important, but your spiritual health is more important.”


Happy Birthday Dad 76 years!

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Happy Birthday Dad!

Humility is not a sign of weakness. It never has been. It never will be. It ever has been and always will be a sign of strength and deep-rooted courage. All through history the strong men—strong from the standpoint of morality and righteousness—have been humble men. And in human relationships humility is a powerful thing; for it not only rebukes an enemy; it also reclaims, wins, the enemy. —David Dawson

I thank God for you. Your life is a blessing. Thank you for your ceaseless prayers and your unwavering support of me. Thanks for your “strong” life of humility as you live for Jesus Christ. It is my privilege to be your son. I celebrate you and your 76 years of life today.

With love, Ryan

 


you are the keeper of the house

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In Matthew 21:13 Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” But what if, due to Covid19 concerns or other things, we haven’t been in church for awhile?

Can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God? . . .  Absolutely!

In the gospels we read that Jesus [God] became flesh and blood, walked and lived among us, died upon the cross for our sins, defeated death, gave us new life and now lives in us via His Holy Spirit. Jesus inhabits our heart.

The Apostle Paul said it this way,

“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

In other words, God’s new (and desired) residence is in our hearts. We are His house.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

God no longer inhabits tents or buildings—He lives in people.

We are His temple, and God’s “house of prayer” is our heart. And you are the keeper of the temple . . . the house . . . your heart. Through Jesus, you are the priest and it is your privilege, opportunity and duty to make it a house of prayer. But how? Check out Psalm 141:1-2:

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
   hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
   may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Call out to God! You and I don’t need a priest, a church service, or a building to pray, connect with and draw near to the Lord. Through the cross of Christ we have access to God, right here, right now. Jesus is ever knocking at the door of your heart. Let Him in. Call upon the Name of the Lord!

As the keeper of the house (which is the heart) you and I need to live a life that is continuously fragrant with the incense of prayer, rising unto the Lord day and night. We must look to and revere the Lord continuously, praising Him with worship that is bold and abandoned, costly and consecrated. 

And we must follow Jesus, keeping our eyes and hearts focused on Him. We must live holy and humble; eager in the spirit of sacrificeno matter the cost, and unwavering in service to others and Christ the King.

In these stifling times, can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God?

Absolutely!

Let Psalm 141 be your guide as you look to the Lord.

Your heart is Christ’s home. Make it a house of prayer!


ten times doubly so . . . words

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There are so many words flying around these days! The 24-hour news cycle, social media, YouTube, radio, podcasts, TV . . . words, words, words. My life is full of words too—from my mouth and pen—to my family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers, acquaintances and enemies.

This morning God’s Word reminded me that I am to bear fruit for the glory of God and words are fruit. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45, NIV). My words are a reflection of my heart and they are powerful. Check out these lines from the poem, “The First Settler’s Story” by Will Carleton,

Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds;
You can't do that way when you're flying words.
"Careful with fire," is good advice, we know:
" Careful with words," is ten times doubly so.
Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;
But God himself can't kill them when they're said!

Wow, I believe that nothing is impossible with God, but point taken Mr. Carleton—words are powerful. Now, more than ever, we are realizing that we can’t control much in our lives, but we can control our words. At least we can try, and we must, because words are fruit and fire.

Consider James 3:2-12, NIV:

2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

I won’t belabor this diatribe on words with more words except to say that I am going to go from here heeding the words of Tim Keller and calling upon the Lord (with my words) for help.

Our words should be honest, few, wise, apt and kind. —Tim Keller

Psalm 141:1-3, NIV
I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.


fear ≠ the last word

IMG_6943Are you in the midst of trouble, struggle, desperation, disappointment, hopelessness, the Covid 19 pandemic, . . . FEAR?

Please read Psalm 34. Read it again and again. Let God’s Word fill, strengthen, nourish, soothe, keep, protect, assure, comfort, help and lead you in these difficult days.

The writer of the Psalm (King David) is just like you and me. He was experiencing fear, trouble and great need, but he didn’t face it alone. He trusted in God—where need is not the ultimate reality, trouble is never the final answer, and fear is never the last word.

Consider these verses from Psalm 34 (NIV):

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

    and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all

God sees, knows and cares about you and me. Stay close to Him. Keep your heart pure and your mind fixed upon Jesus. Cry out to Him in prayer! God is not put off by your sadness (crushed spirit), discouragement and disappointment (brokenhearted). He wants our hearts, our trust and our faith to be in Him alone. He will deliver us and we will praise His Name!

It is when you have been scared to death and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a right place and cry out to Jesus, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing his praises. The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.

—Dennis Kinlaw, This Day With the Master, (Aug. 12)

 


From my journal . . . I will trust

IMG_7865From my journal this morning . . .

This morning I awoke to worry—about our world, my children, my friends and the future. I know I shouldn’t start the day this way, so Lord I look to You. Thank you God for Psalm 22—a prayer from the lips of one facing trouble (who probably woke up to worry too).  I looked to Your Word and Psalm 22:4 NIV caught my eye.

In you [God] our fathers put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

O God, in Psalm 22 things are bleak, the oppression is real and the situation looks hopeless. But the psalmist made a choice and looked to you. That is what I must do. And then, in my online prayer time with Daniel Henderson, I heard this:

In troubled times we have to make a choice how to respond—will it be based on what we feel, on what we see around us, or on what we know to be true?

This made me think of Hebrews 11:1 that says,

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see.

There is no feeling or seeing included in this verse—it is all about trust and confidence (faith) in what we know to be true. And what is true is Jesus, the Word of God, God’s love for us, and the power, presence and help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Jesus is my rock, shelter, fortress, helper, provider, savior and Lord. God I need you!

A cry brings God. A cry is mightier than the polished phrase. —Samuel Chadwick

I will not worry. I will pray.

Lord, I trust in You today, I look to You today, I call upon You today.

I cry out to You today, in Jesus’ Name!


alarmed?

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How’s your faith today? Faith is hard, even on the best days. I just read my daily dose of the news and I don’t know about you, but I need a faith boost. Faith doesn’t come through gritted teeth or positive thinking, it comes through God’s Word. It is alive and life-giving, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We must look to God’s Word.

“. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV)

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat gets some concerning news and his faith is lagging (like mine). It says in verse 3 that he was “alarmed.” So what did he do? He prayed (see vs. 6-12).

I am hanging onto vs. 12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

That is prayer. Prayer happens when we call upon the Name of the Lord.

God help me to put my eyes upon You today.

“. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

Are you alarmed today? Pray! Look to Jesus! Call upon His Name!


peering into the fog

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I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.

     ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

These are difficult days. Life as we have known it has changed. Plans, dreams, financial portfolios, and aspirations have all been replaced by disappointment and concern. Stores, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, churches and schools are empty, the roadways deserted, hope abandoned.

It seems like time has stopped. But it hasn’t.

The clock still ticks, the calendar pages still turn, and life happens. These are not the moments we planned on. This isn’t what we hoped for.  There is no clear picture of when or how this will end. We see through a glass darkly.

What are we to do?

Today, I'm looking to Jesus and taking my cues from a couple of my spiritual heroes, Elisabeth Elliot and Billy Graham.

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now. Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart