Who Am I? Enough

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Who Am I? Enough

By Tammy DeRuyter on May 19, 2022

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-25

He . . . was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. (v. 20)

In 2003, the worship band Casting Crowns released a song entitled “Who Am I” in which the writer humbly compares himself to a “flower quickly fading” and a “wave tossed in the ocean.” He laments that in our temporal human condition, compared to the Bright and Morning Star, we are like a “vapor in the wind.”

On that beautiful afternoon, May 19, 2020, I tensely waited at home (because of the pandemic shutdown) along with tens of thousands of others for the dams to break or breach and the fervent waters to flow. When they stopped, my own house was a mere two miles from the water’s edge. We were safe and dry, yet just a few streets away, basements had filled, and homes would later be condemned. In nearby rural communities there was massive destruction, loss of property, and untold trauma. How could I not respond? Mucking floors, shoveling filth, tearing down drywall, serving meals, delivering new furniture, working the resource center, etc. In the end, my own contribution was miniscule given the sheer scope of the tragedy, but it was enough. Whatever we do in his name, it simply has to be “enough” given our finite and fragile condition.

Who am I? “I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1). How eternally grateful I am for that perspective check! —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, consider the greatness of God to whom we belong. You are loved, known, and enough.

When the Dams Burst

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

When the Dams Burst

By Tammy DeRuyter on May 18, 2022

Read: Psalm 57

In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. (v. 1)

When David wrote these heartfelt words, he was in distress and despair. He was hiding in a cave, fearing for his life. Not long before, he had played music for the king of Israel, ate royal meals from the king’s table and dressed in the finest of clothes. But Saul’s temper had exploded and David lost everything. He fled for his life.

On a beautiful spring day in Mid-Michigan, so too did approximately 11,000 people. Recent heavy rains had swollen nearby creeks and rivers. In the middle of the night, a clanging text alert warned of possible dam failure. By midday, however, the skies were clear, birds were singing, and nothing dramatic had happened. Then suddenly, it did.

The Edenville Dam breached and then burst. As water surged downstream, the already swollen Sanford Lake was poorly equipped to absorb this extreme new volume and its dam, too, began to crack and overflow. Homeowners, vacationers, and boaters were all urged to immediately flee. Not unlike David’s story.

Good and evil will freely roam over our world. Destruction, even death, will visit. But when the storms of life descend, when the dams burst, may we all, like David, find protection in the parental shadow of his loving wings. —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, praise God for your safety, wherever that might be. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically, God is our refuge through the storms.

House and Home

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

House and Home

By Tammy DeRuyter on May 17, 2022

Read: Psalm 23

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (vv. 2-3)

How would you describe the difference between a “house” and a “home”? One is physical and temporary, made with boards, nails, and concrete. The other is emotive and elusive, harder to describe. Unlike our English language, the Dutch have a single word to sum up this concept: “gellezig,” meaning cozy, warm . . . a place of the heart.

Both “house” and “home” matter to God. In the Hebrew Bible, where we lay down at night is meant to be a place of physical safety and emotional comfort. “You will lie down, and none will make you afraid.” (Job 11:19)

On the afternoon of May 19, 2020, a series of dam failures flooded hundreds of neighborhoods, destroying thousands of structures in the Mid-Michigan region around Midland and Sanford. Two years later, many families are still living in hotels, campers, unfinished concrete basements, or guest rooms. Their homes, through no fault of their own, are still undergoing renovations and repairs.

Over the next two weeks, we will focus on stories that swirl around this man-made disaster and look for glimpses of God. He’s always there. As you read about their plight, pray for these individuals and families to reclaim those physical structures, but even more so their sense of peace and safety. Don’t forget to thank him for your own. —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, thank God for providing your home and a place to safely rest your head!

Going Home

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Going Home

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 16, 2022

Read: Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 20)

I was recently visiting with a patient who had endured a long battle with debility, also known as “failure to thrive.” She was living in her daughter’s house and receiving excellent care from her family. Yet losing her independence was difficult for her. “I want to go home,” she told me. I tried to help her understand the limiting factors keeping her at her daughter’s house. “No, I want to go home.” As she weakly pointed her finger up, I realized that she was speaking of heaven, not her earthly home.

My initial reaction to her statement shows how easily we settle into this world and put down our roots. In reality we are merely sojourners passing through this world. We await our true homecoming, where we claim the rights of our real citizenship—which is in heaven. As death approaches, we become keenly aware of the weaknesses of our bodies, and the yearning for that which is eternal increases. Nothing else can fill that void in our hearts. In this process God reminds and reassures us that he has our needs covered.

Faith in Christ gives us security in expectation of a glorious homecoming that stands in stark contrast to the deterioration of our bodies. Without Christ, the end of life can leave one feeling completely uprooted as all that is familiar fades away. Trust God, who is building an eternal home for you! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, thank God for providing an eternal home for you.

Weakness and Loss of Control

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Weakness and Loss of Control

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 15, 2022

Read: 2 Corinthians 13:5-10

For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. (v. 9)

I am amazed at the courage of so many people that I serve. Not too long ago I did an initial assessment with a woman who had just been diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer. Her healthy-looking exterior belied the disease that was ravaging inside, making me wonder if I had knocked on the right door. Her son was resisting the diagnosis, urging his mom to opt for chemotherapy and aggressive treatment. This woman used humor and faith to state her position: “First of all, Steve Jobs with all his money couldn’t beat this. What makes you think I’m going to? Second, I don’t have to be strong because God is strong enough for all of us. He’s in control, and I’m putting my trust in him.” Her faith inspired me.

Control is often the last thing we let go of as life slips away. As our bodies break down, we often seek to hold on with white knuckles to whatever we can. However, Paul reminds us that when we are weak, God is strong. And in reality, when we consider the miracle that is behind every breath we take and every movement we make, we deceive ourselves when we think we have any strength of our own to begin with. God has demonstrated the power of life over death. In our own dying process, that’s the power we need. —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, thank God for being strong in your weakness. Give your trust to him.

A Real-Time God

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

A Real-Time God

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 14, 2022

Read: Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (v. 1)

The goal of hospice is to provide physical and spiritual comfort to people who are dealing with the end of life. Sometimes a combination of family dynamics and physical factors leads to pain that is difficult to alleviate. While caregivers try to help people find comfort, we also have a “real-time God” who is intervening on our behalf. This sometimes gets lost in the daily struggles that come with end-of-life care.

I saw this firsthand with a caregiver who was struggling with her own lack of sleep and burnout, and her father’s increased agitation in the end stages of his dementia. I shared Psalm 46 with her, to show her that when the storms of life rage, we can find refuge in the loving arms of God. I encouraged her to include God in the daily care routine, no matter what was happening with her dad. The daughter later shared that as she did that, people seemed to come at just the right time to give her relief and support. She attributed that entirely to God’s “real-time” support and help.

While God certainly covers our eternal needs, he is also very much a part of the here and now of our lives, able to help us in all circumstances. This doesn’t always make life easier, but it encourages us to know that the creator of the universe is aware and ready to intervene on our behalf today. —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, ask God to remind you of his presence in every moment.

Worrying About Those Left Behind

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Worrying About Those Left Behind

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 13, 2022

Read: Philippians 4:4-9

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (vv. 5-6)

It was a very emotional scene. A terminally ill father was listening to his daughter give him permission to let go. She reassured her dad that she was going to be okay after he died. He was clinging to life for fear of what would happen to his family when he was gone. For years he had handled most of the problems and responsibilities in the house. Now he had no choice but to let go.

Worry solves nothing. It actually causes more problems and robs us of our peace and joy. It disables our ability to enjoy each moment and pushes us to dread things that are usually out of our control. Thankfully, God doesn’t just tell us what not to do (worry), he also tells us what to do (pray), and gives us a promise of what we will receive as a result (the peace of God). Note that no matter what the scale of the problem we face, there are no “worry waivers.” Paul exhorts us not to be anxious about anything.

When that father let go of the worry and was able to trust God with his family’s future, he experienced a peaceful death. Even more, he knew the promise of God’s presence for him and his family. Remember that as much as we love our families, God loves them more! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, turn to God with the worries in your heart.

Honest Anger

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Honest Anger

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 12, 2022

Read: Matthew 27:45-50

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 46)

Dementia is one of the cruelest diseases. When someone experiences dementia’s progression, loved ones helplessly watch memory, function, and personality slip away. On my first visit with a devout Christian woman who had cared for her husband for years, I listened as she shared all the “right words” Christians often repeat. “Where God guides, God provides.” “God knows what he’s doing.” “His plans are best.” I responded with a simple question: “Are you angry at God?” Her expression and too-quick denial betrayed her true feelings.

When Jesus gave up his life to save us, he never lost sight of his mission or wavered in his faithfulness. But he did experience the raw emotion that dying produces, including the experience of abandonment. The honest exclamation of Jesus on the cross helps us understand that he didn’t escape death’s deepest pain. It also encourages us to feel that we don’t have to be polished when we’re in excruciating circumstances.

Giving honest voice to raw feelings doesn’t alienate God. In fact, such honesty usually draws us closer to God and leads to breakthroughs in our relationships with him. When I gave this woman permission to express her anger the floodgates opened and, ultimately, healing came. God longs for us to be honest with him no matter what we are feeling. —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, openly share your feelings, worries, and anger with God.

Regret

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Regret

By Rev. Joel Plantinga on May 11, 2022

Read: Philippians 3:12-16

. . . forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. (v. 13)

Throughout the course of our lives, we tend to accumulate a considerable list of regrets. The end of life often brings them up again, even when we thought we had dealt with them. One man I served as a hospice chaplain had been drafted into the German army during World War II. Through tears, he shared stories of how he was forced to do things that, even seventy years later, haunted him and brought him to believe that he could never find peace. These memories were a great burden to him.

Paul had his own list of regrets. He even called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15 KJV). Yet he was able to say with confidence that the things of the past would stay behind him as he strained forward to reach the goal. How could Paul say that? How can I tell someone struggling with the weight of guilt that he can leave his regrets behind, find forgiveness, and receive a heavenly reward? Paul knew the key: “God has made me his own.”

Nothing you may have done puts you beyond the grasp of redemption. When you face the regrets in your life, you can be confident that God’s grace covers them all. Live into Christ’s future, not your sorry past. Thankfully, my friend learned of God’s grace and found the ability to let go of some of his regrets and find peace. In Christ, so can you! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, give your regrets to God and lean on his grace for you.

Grace Unearned

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Grace Unearned

Luke 15:11-32

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (v. 20)

Have you ever done something that made you feel ashamed in front of your parents? Maybe something from childhood, like getting into a fight, shoplifting, or cheating. Maybe it was something bigger, something that still haunts you today.

We have all played the role of the prodigal son at some point, breaking the rules and doing whatever we please, with whoever we please, whenever we please. Of course, this behavior can’t last. At some point, we crash into the consequences.

In Jesus’ parable, the son “came to himself” (v. 17). Hitting rock bottom and acknowledging his mistakes, he decides to return home, not as a son but as a slave. He feels utterly ashamed and unworthy of his father’s love. As he humbly walks up the long driveway, reciting his apology speech, his father runs to him with open arms. It’s a totally unexpected and undeserved welcome.

As children of God, we don’t get what we deserve. We get what God desires. He desires to love and embrace us as sons and daughters. Like the father in the parable, he sees our sin and is filled with compassion for us. When we acknowledge our errors and return to him, he runs to meet us. No sin, big or small, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). —Elise Johnson

As you pray, humbly confess and happily thank God for his ever-loving grace.

The Friendly Church