The Truth Seekers
Penned From the Heart
Examples of devotions from Penned From the Heart:
The Lifeguard by Daisy Townsend
(From Vol. vii, June 14)
Read: Matthew 18:10-14
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6a, NIV).
Recently as we sat on the beach during our summer vacation, I became aware of the lifeguard blowing his whistle again and again at people who had ventured too far from shore.
Most of the time, the piercing blasts were completely ignored, whether purposely or because the swimmers were too far away to hear, it was impossible to tell.
As our own peace was disturbed by the lifeguard's repeated efforts to get the attention of those who had strayed, I found myself wondering how often we are like those unheeding swimmers as the Lord repeatedly warns us of the dangerous waters into which we've strayed, and how frustrating it must be for Him when His warnings are ignored.
Then, to my amazement, the lifeguard himself finished my analogy as he illustrated further the behavior of our faithful heavenly "Lifeguard." Letting the whistle fall from his lips, he climbed down from his "high place" and went into the water himself to bring back those who had wandered away.
Thank You, Jesus, that just like that persistent lifeguard, You came down from Your high place to seek and to save us when we were lost. Amen.
©2000 by Daisy Townsend
True Joy by Frances Gregory Pasch
(From Vol. vii, May 30)
©2000 by Frances Pasch
True joy comes from loving Jesus,
Not from things that we amass;
He alone brings true contentment,
Peace and love that really last.
He Lives by Andrew Stallsmith
(From Vol. iv, Dec. 27)
He lives again!
Go tell the news
Go shout it from the highest hills
Go tell the sin-sick, guilty world
That He who died for you and me
Who took our place upon the tree
Who paid the price to set us free
That Christ, our Savior
©1997 by Andrew Stallsmith
So That by Marjorie Hines
(From Vol. vii, April 30)
"God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Thy way be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations" (Psalm 67:1-2, NAS).
What an awesome thought
that You bless us
Your salvation might be known
over all the earth.
How many times we ask for,
insist upon Your blessings
Give us health, Lord,
give us talents,
expand our talents, our wisdom,
give us knowledge --
we can feel better
so we can feel important,
or maybe just for our own
the world might know You.
Teach us that truth, Lord.
©2000 by Marjorie Hines
A Prayer by Gloria Clover
(From Vol. iii, Jan. 15)
Praise be to God the Father,
For His power and might, His mercy and grace, His wisdom.
For His love to create us, sustain us, bless us.
For His desire to share Himself with us.
Thank You, Father, for the avenue of prayer.
Praise be to God the Son,
For His obedience and sacrifice, His patience, His strength.
For His love to create us, sustain us, redeem us.
For His desire to bridge the gap, remove the sin.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your saving blood.
Praise be to God the Spirit,
For His comfort and guidance, His encouragement, discernment.
For His love to create us, sustain us, remold us.
For His desire to protect us in this fallen world.
Thank You, Spirit, for dwelling in this mortal body.
Praise be to God, the Three in One.
©1996 by Gloria Clover
Open Your Mind by Evelyn Minshull©200 by Evelyn Minshull
(From Vol. vii, April 9)
Rule: Open your mind to God's whispers.
Quotation: "The opportunity that God sends does not wake up him who sleeps." --Senegalese proverb
Tip: Be alert to the "still, small voice," the obscure opportunity to serve. If we wait for the cataclysm, the thunderous invitation, we waste God's time ... and timing.
Zacchaeus by Audrey Stallsmith
(From Vol. v, July 18)
Read Luke 19:1-10.
"For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." [Luke 19:10, KJV]
Zacchaeus was head of all the tax collectors in Jericho, which made him very rich. He was also very short.
Short people are often careful not to put themselves in situations that will emphasize their smallness, but Zacchaeus was so determined to see Jesus that he climbed a tree. He knew his moral smallness too and wanted a change. So, instead of feeling humilated when Jesus drew attention to his perch, Zacchaeus was delighted.
The crowd wasn't. Tax collectors were the ultimate evildoers to them, but Jesus had always been strangely open to evildoers. He had gone to a party thrown by His new disciple Matthew where most of the guests were notorious sinners. Another time He had allowed a prostitute to weep all over Him.
Jesus was, in other words, none too careful of His dignity -- or of His health. He was forever touching the sick, including lepers whom nobody else would even approach. Filth, physical or spiritual, did not put Him off.
Recognizing that Jesus loved rather than despised him, Zacchaeus was willing to change.
If we, in our day, are not winning similar converts, perhaps it's time to check our attitudes. As long as we're too much "on our dignity," we won't be down where people really live.
©1998 by Audrey Stallsmith
Dramatic Bible Stories:
What I Deserved by Helen Kammerdiener
(From Vol. vi, August 14-15)
From Luke 23:39-43
You know, it seems all my life I never got what I deserved. Other kids had things I couldn't get. Sometimes I didn't even have enough food.
Then I discovered how easy it was to just pop a fig or a date into my mouth when a customer was paying the fruit seller. They would both be too intent on their bargaining to notice me.
After awhile, it was routine. If I didn't have something I wanted, I'd just take it.
Oh sure, I knew the commandments. "Thou shalt not steal," but I wasn't really stealing. They were supposed to be hospitable and share with the poor. I was just making sure they did their good deed for the day.
I guess I got carried away with the ease of it. Surely I deserved some decent clothes and a little money so I took them. I got rougher and more demanding. I even started beating anyone who tried to stop me, anyone who looked at me the wrong way. I really only wanted what I deserved. As a human being, surely I deserved food, clothing, and a little respect.
Well, the Roman law finally caught up to me. I was one of three they crucified that day. They said I finally was going to get what I deserved. I knew I faced a hopeless death. God couldn't possibly care about someone who fractured all His rules.
What I couldn't understand was that other guy, the One who was being crucified next to me. At first I made fun of Him. The lunatic thought He was King -- that's the charge they'd written and stuck up on His cross.
Then, as I saw how He loved even those who had nailed Him there, I began to realize that He really was King. I finally admitted that I was getting what I deserved, but He was totally innocent. It was my sin, and yours, that put Him there.
You know, it's funny. That's when He told me that I'd go to paradise with Him. He was paying for my sin. He was forgiving me for all the wrong things I ever did!
All I can say is, I still didn't get what I deserved, but boy am I thankful! I deserved death, eternal separation from God, for my sin, but Jesus forgave me and took my punishment. He conquered death and set me free!
I always thought I had the right to take what I deserved, but here I was being given more grace, more mercy, more love than any human being ever deserved. For the first time in my life, I was happy to know I'd never get what I deserved!
What about you? Do you want more love than you can ever deserve? Jesus died on the cross for you, too.
©1999 by Helen Kammerdiener
St. John Vianney: "My child, we must not be afraid of doing good, even if it costs us something."
(From Vol. v, April 15)
Lane Lohman: "The most powerful persuader in the world is the Word of God."
(From Vol. v, Nov. 18)
Joseph's Son by Donn Townsend
(From Vol v, Sept. 30)
"He talks like a man of knowledge, He says He's the Chosen One.
But how can this be? He's from Galilee...
'Cause isn't He Joseph's boy?"
"Yes, isn't He Joseph's boy?"
"I've heard Him speak in the temple, He taught us to love not destroy.
But I don't understand, He's just a man...
And isn't He Joseph's boy?"
"Yes, isn't He Joseph's boy?"
"I've seen Him do great miracles -- when He healed the blind, I was glad.
But don't ask me to say there's no other way
'Cause isn't He Joseph's lad?"
"Yes, He's only Joseph's lad."
"How can a boy with a hammer and a fist full of nails in His hand ©1998 by Donn Townsend
Grow up to be the Savior, the One called the Son of Man?"
"The One called the Son of Man?"
"The One called the Son of Man."
Some of the editor's favorites:
Prayer of the Toad by Evelyn Minshull
(From Vol. iii, May 24)
They find me repulsive--
©1996 by Evelyn Minshull
children who cuddle masked tree-frogs,
who hunch to observe darting lizards--
(salmon and dotted,
I capture gnats, too,
tongues flicking at gnats.)
and flies in great gulps--
but they find me repulsive--
children who giggle as wet, spotted frogs
sleekly divide the rumble of rapids
or plumb placid pools.
as I drowse in the comfort
of shadow-cooled rocks,
I know that my texture
(smooth abrasion of sand)
my desert-drought tones,
were fashioned by You.
In Your creating eyes
Now I Get Me Up To Do by Ethel Emig
(From Vol. iv, May 24)
(Before she was old enough to attend school, Ethel's father taught her her first prayer,
"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep." Years later, she composed the following morning prayer
to complement the night-time one she'd learned so long ago.)
Now I get me up to do
Some things that I've been meaning to.
If I should tire before I'm through
I pray the Lord my strength renew.
As I each new day begin©1997 by Ethel Emig
Guard me, keep me, free from sin.
Lead me in Thy glorious way
And let me not forget to pray.
All or Nothing by Audrey Stallsmith
(From Vol. v, May 24)
It's the adventurers God uses,
Those who hazard everything
On Someone they can't see:
The silly old man who built
An enormous boat inland,
The aristocrat who abandoned plush living
For a bloody frontier,
The deceiver with the temerity
To wrestle with Deity,
The prostitute who had nothing
But her soul left to sell,
The pagan girl who followed
To a strange land and a stranger marriage,
The country bumpkin with a slingshot
Who challenged a mailed warrior,
The prince who pursued a crazy faith
On hands and knees into the enemy's stronghold,
The queen who bet her life
On her hedonist husband's mood,
The coward who preached hell and damnation
To a city of sadists.
Play it like fools, we're told.©1998 by Audrey Stallsmith
The things you hoard
You can never keep.
A Foolish Challenge by Kathleen Y'Barbo
(From Vol. vii, May 24)
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight" (1 Corinthians 3:19, NIV).
A group of respected scientists got together and decided to scientifically prove they no longer needed God to make a man. After much research
and experimentation, they announced the discovery
of a formula for making a man from one of the fundamental elements of the universe, common garden dirt.
They perfected their process and challenged the Lord to a man-making competion.
On the appointed day, the group stood before God and watched as He
scooped a handful of dirt and fashioned a man before their eyes. The
head of the scientific team then stepped forward. "We will now make a man."
He reached for a handful of dirt, but the Lord stopped him.
"Get your own dirt," He said.
How many times in our busy lives do we assume the role of God?
We go about taking charge and trying to do His job when we
should be letting go. We go about boasting of our prowess and intelligence, forgetting that what little we know is a gift on loan from God.
Father, today I will let go and let You handle things.
©2000 by Kathleen Y'Barbo