Momentary change

May 22, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Posted in God's race, God's Schedule | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

“What did he say?  We have to get off where? At 55th?”  We all looked at each other puzzled.

“So, there is a track repair, will this be happening tomorrow?”  I asked the conductor.

“Yes.” He answered.

“No, tomorrow is the big race with a lot more people on the train and shuttle!”  We all said aloud or thought as we got off the Rapid Transit and boarded the shuttle to downtown Cleveland.

Four of us were in transit to participate in the Rite Aid 8K race on Saturday.  The next day, Sunday, we were participating in the Rite Aid Half Marathon.  Because of high traffic issues and early road closures we were taking the Rapid Transit train to the race to avoid all that.  On Saturday, the track repair issues, didn’t hinder us from arriving at the start line on time.  There were less runners/walkers, less road closures and a closer start line location to the train/shuttle stop for the Saturday race.

What are we going to do about tomorrow?  We discussed.  If the train is down like today and we have to take the shuttle, we will be late for the big race.  Sunday’s race was a further walk from the train, the streets where the shuttle was going would be closed, there would be thousands of runners/walkers.  We checked with several train transit employees and race volunteers.  No one had an answer that told us transportation would be available to get us to the race on time.  We decided to drive.  I hated the idea of driving down.  In my first marathon, I had to jump out of my husband’s car while we were stuck in traffic to get to the finish line.  He finally made it there, but I would have needed time to go to the bathroom before starting the race.  From that race on, I took the train for this particular race.  For smaller downtown races, driving in is easier.  Ughhhh!  Now we were going to have to drive and park, which meant getting up even earlier to do all this.  We would have to leave at 4:00 a.m. to get downtown to beat traffic, park and walk to the start line.

Then another member of our group who was participating in the 10K on Sunday told us on her way back on the train, the problem had been fixed and the train would be running as usual on Sunday.  We were all still unsure.  Should we or should we not go with the new plan or return to the original plan?  The situation sounded like it happened in the moment because no alerts were made online just on paper flyers and signs made for the day.  Plus, they made it sound like it would take two days to do.  I want to think because of the race, it was done quicker because of the problems that would happened for runners/walkers.  We decided to go with the original plan and ride the train, which enabled us to sleep an hour longer.  I had to believe that God would not allow me to miss my last potential race with the Rite Aid.  Completion of this weekend’s races meant God had enabled me to earn all the race medals for all the distances that the Rite Aid offered for adults – full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 8K, 5K and the Challenge Series.

Thanks only to God, Sunday was a smooth train ride in; we got to the race on time.  It was an emotional time knowing I might not be doing this race again.  Rarely do I walk in races more than twice.  Walking more than twice meant I walked because someone else wanted me to walk with them.  Rite Aid is the only race that exceeded my twice only rule.  This was the race I had done my first full marathon on; therefore, I had an emotional attachment to this race.  Only God knows for sure if these were my last two races with the Rite Aid.  I only know that God, made sure that by relying on Him, we got to where we needed to be on time.

“So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”  Gal. 3:9.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

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Overlooked

May 15, 2018 at 8:31 am | Posted in Change, Spiritual Battle | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

“This doesn’t look right.  What I am I forgetting?”  My daily Weight Watchers food journal showed -1 balance in my points used for the day.  It seems I ate more than that.  I should have a larger minus for the day.  I had to put the journal down and walk away.  It hit me later when I was laying in bed.  I forgot to include the ton of bread I ate at the restaurant.  Duh!  I jumped up, wrote it in and breathed a sigh of relief; a -30 that’s more like it! Thank goodness I had more than enough activity points to cover the deficit. It always amazes me how I can always remember the low point/low-calorie foods I ate during the day, but always forget the high point/high-calorie foods even when I am eating it.  What’s up with that?

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say; ‘We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.’”  Lamentations 3:40-42.

There are always unpleasant consequences of sins.  While indulgencing, it is a tasty morsel in our mouth; we can never get enough and stuff ourselves until our bellies ache and we fall down weary from fullness. We think, “I over did it.  I should have stopped with the first few bites.  Now I must suffer in this pain until it passes.”

Sin is easy to justify.  “Everyone does it.”  “It is only a little white lie.”  “It is no big deal.”  “It is not hurting anybody.”  “I deserve it.”  “God will forgive.”  There are sins we pay little attention to, the ones we don’t notice because it is a part of what we do and never thought of it as a sin. Kindness, gentleness, encouragement, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23b) are not easy to do; so, we don’t and thus sin. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  James 4:17.

Sin is about getting what we want when we want it.  It is not about pleasing the Creator who placed us on this planet for His divine purpose.  Let us examine daily our walking journals with God then repent and confess to someone the ungodliness of our day.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  Lamentations 3:19-24.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

Doing Without

May 7, 2018 at 11:06 pm | Posted in Change, Goals/Dreams, Health, Spiritual Battle | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” Matthew 4:1-2.

Fasting is necessary for physical and spiritual health.  Jesus fasted; so should anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord.

There are two types of fasting a group/corporate fast which is conducted by the leader of group/church etc. where everyone in the group is encouraged to fast because of some specific need/situation/enrichment whatever – something that will be observable as achieved.  The other type of fast is done by an individual.  Both type are done for specific outcomes.  Prayer is a vehicle to converse with God about his attributes, thanks to him, requests for others and self.  Through fasting we are enabled to prepare ourselves for God’s answer to our prayer.  We ask in prayer, then we prepare for the answer through fasting.  The answer through prayer often means a change that we must be ready to live by and we find peace through fasting as we wait.

The Bible tells of many personal and corporate fasts for various situations – life and death, repentance, healing and more.  It was a regular part of having a relationship with God; when needed it was done.

How often are we connected with God through fasting?  Through fasting revelations about behavior, answers to questions, miracles, conversions, healings, provision, protection, peace and more come.  Fasting is not a tool to convince God to do what we ask; it is a way to tell God, “I am getting ready for your answer spiritually and physically.”

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-18.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

Breathless

April 30, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Health | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

I have asthma.  For years it has been under control through inhalers and physical activity.

A month ago, I spent time playing in a white sand desert and walking 26.2 miles in sand, dust and rock.  After the race my friend who lives there, noticed I had a cough. She told me it will probably take me a couple of weeks to cough out the sand and dust.  I thought that interesting but wasn’t alarmed.  I knew being in a dry climate and high elevation was not good on my sinus and respiration.

That cough which started in the desert continued for a month and in the last week got deeper along with a wheeze. Having asthma, I always wait to determine if it is asthma related, a cold, bronchitis or something else.  When I heard the wheezing, as I lay down to sleep, I knew sometime this week I was going to have to see my personal physician or urgent care.  I asked God, to tell me which one; sometimes it’s hard to get into see the doctor in a timely manner while urgent care, I can be seen on my schedule immediately.  Since it didn’t appear to be urgent, a call to the doctor would be warranted.

A short 3.37-mile walk in the park changed that thought.  Within a few steps into this walk my breathing was not normal.  My walking partner and I were walking downhill. Why is my breathing feeling a certain way, downhill?  If this keeps up, I was going to have fun when I had to make that ascent back up.  During the entire walk I felt like I was walking at a higher elevation; we were only at 633 feet.  So why was my mouth open the whole-time panting?  Breathing through my mouth was not normal unless my sinuses were blocked, which they weren’t.  This was not normal; I have never had this problem before, except at over 5,000 feet elevation.  I got my answer, “go to urgent care, right after the walk.”  I did.

For the first time in my life I was given a breathing treatment.  Since I had asthma they thought I knew what was going to happen.  I told them, no, so they had to explain the process.  That was an interesting eight minutes.  Once my passages were open I was given an X-Ray.  Thank goodness the lungs were clear.  However, because of what had happened, I was referred to a lung specialist.  So, we shall see later what becomes of that.  In the meantime, steroids for five days and a rescue inhaler were prescribed.  Any rescue inhalers I have had before were never used.  They expire before I could use them; so, I had stopped buying them.  Use of a maintenance inhaler was all that has occurred.

Thanks to God, this is coming up now and not in the middle of a half marathon which is coming up.  God always has the best in mind for us, even when we don’t know we have a need.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”  Proverbs 3:5-8.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

 

Shielded

April 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Posted in God is Enough, God's race, Spiritual Battle | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

Being injury free is one of the goals of every athlete.  To train for weeks on end to result in an injury that prevents the athlete from the competition is discouraging and painful, emotionally and physically.

Therefore, depending on the sport, the athlete trains for the sport but also trains to prevent injuries by doing other activities/exercises that work other muscles, strengthens, stretches, nourishes, whatever is warranted to prevent possible injuries during training or the event trained for.  Simply training to do the competition is not enough.  Cross training is a popular term for some of these activities.  Training of any kind is a regular part of being ready for the sport in question.  Without training, failure is inevitable. Training must happen often and intentionally.

As the sun arises, every morning, Satan and his cronies are waiting for unsuspecting eyes to open to play games with people.  They wait for all humans who have breath to join their band in expanding the evil that darkens this world.  They wait on the strong, the weak, the healthy, the sick, the young, the old, the male, the female, the happy, the sad, the rich, the poor, the educated, the illiterate, the religious and the atheist.  They are equal opportunists; they don’t discriminate. The battle is real and unrelenting.

Without God, this is a losing battle; with God the battle is won.  The struggle will exist until our eyes close on this physical world, but daily time with God, daily prayer, daily eyes focused on Him and not the distractions that are dangled in front our eyes will enable us to endure the wages of war.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18.

Without daily training with God, failure is inevitable.  Training must happen often and intentionally to fight off Satan’s schemes.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

Last lunch date

April 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

The three of us had no idea it would be our last Wednesday lunch date together.

Dad and I have had a Wednesday lunch date for over seven years.  It began with him and me every Wednesday.  Rarely has the date been cancelled for weather.  Neither snow or rain has prevented these dates.  Family members, periodically, join our dates for a time here and there.  In 2014 a third generation joined our date as a regular, my grandson, my dad’s great grandson.  Three days a week I spend time with him while his parents earn a living; so, he had to join us.  In his infant carrier, he slept through the entire date until he got older and became an active diner.

Occasionally, we post pictures of our lunches on Facebook.  Last week we took a picture of us eating in a car, for the first time, at a drive-in restaurant for the fun of it; generally, we are sitting inside a restaurant or at home for carry out.  That was fun.  None of us had any idea it would be our last regular lunch date together.

Within days, my grandson, now four years old, received a golden opportunity to start preschool earlier than planned.  He will not be joining us for lunch any more while he attends school.  We knew this was coming, preschool, then, regular school, but not as soon as it came. We knew one day, we would be back to the two of us when he grew up and went on to school.  It makes me wonder if I knew then, what I know now would we have done something special on that date.  Now grandson is included in the family who joins us for a time here and there.

Living life on this planet is the same.  We are granted a time here and there with family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers and others.  At any time, they can be removed from our circle of life by arguments, misunderstandings, jobs, moves, illness or death.  How we interact with these people have an eternal impact.

How important is it for us to be Godly with whoever we are with even when they frustrate us, irritate us, anger us, hate us, hurt us, disagree with us or any other negative behavior?  As Christians, how important is it for us to imitate Jesus’ behavior with our relationships?  He knew the date and time of his death, when he would be taken from comrades he had met during his 33 years of existence.  Yet his responses were always Godly, even when people frustrated him, irritated him, angered him, hated him, hurt him, disagreed with him and other negative behaviors.  He loved everyone he met, and they knew it.

How do we love everyone we meet, and they know it?  Every situation and encounter have a beginning and an end – nothing lasts forever.  How much do we value the time we have with loved ones, as if it were the last time we would be together?  How are we encouraging the ones who frustrate us the most?  Or are we filled with regret when they are taken from us and there is no way to mend the wounds between us?

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”  Romans 14:19.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Romans 15:7.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

Death March

April 9, 2018 at 11:32 pm | Posted in God's race | 1 Comment

 

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

It was a small dream conjured up five years earlier.  It was discarded as too risky to do alone.  With feet in gortex hiking boots and gaiters, head and neck shielded by special head-gear, wicking long sleeves and pants protected arms and legs, CamelBak full of water, food and gear and hiking sticks strapped to CamelBak, one foot in front of the other traversed the 26.2 miles of the Bataan Death March with three friends on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

This marathon was different from the five done before.  We were reminded frequently, “it’s more than a marathon – it’s a memorial.”  In April 1942, it is estimated that about 75,000 American and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula were marched by the Japanese 65 miles to prison camps. Thousands died from heat, beatings, starvation, disease, and bayonets. This short 26.2-mile march was a memorial for that event.  Three survivors attended the opening ceremony of the race.

Upon arriving for this endeavor in the desert, it was learned that there was no participant’s medal.  Medals were for first and second place finishers in each category.  Dog tags were our medals.  What?  Race registration, air fare, equipment, time spent in training were expended for a marathon with no medal?  It took a few minutes of prayer for me to wrap my head around what I had walked into.  God helped me to see, if I had been in the original Bataan would I have wanted a medal for surviving when others had not?  Praises to God for surviving was more than enough!  Same for this memorial march – praises to God for surviving was more than enough!

Three days were spent in acclimation to the altitude and dry heat. The first and second days were in the high 80’s, and third day in high 70’s.  I loved every bit of that hot dry heat.  A short 2.49-mile hike in the mountains with an elevation gain of 364.1 to 5,927 feet above sea level was higher than the highest point on the Bataan.  During the climb my lungs fought for breath harder than usual.  I wondered, is it going to be like this on the march?  Hiking back down was refreshing.

The march started at 7 a.m.  However, our category was released a little after 8 a.m.  The march started in 57-degree temperatures.  It ended somewhere in the mid/upper 70’s.  With gaiters in my CamelBak, I hoped I didn’t need them.  I felt like I was overdressed as it was with all that I had trained in.  However, after seeing others in what they had on, I wondered if maybe I should have my gaiters on at the start.  I knew the first few miles were on asphalt so, gaiters could wait if I really needed them.  It didn’t take long to decide to put them on.  Walking off the pavement into the sand, dirt and rock meant particles flew everywhere and down into shoes or boots.  Soon after three miles, my boots were emptied of brown matter and gaiters covered tops of boots.  No more ground stuff was getting in.

Over 8,300 signed up for this march.  None of us were ever alone.  No matter where we were in the pack, there were marchers everywhere, walking, resting, drinking, eating, laughing, talking, singing, dancing/marching to music, moaning, gasping, sweating, changing socks, repairing damaged feet and being carted off in dune buggies.  Only a small few ran the entire race.  It was a march, not a run.

God gave me three to march with.  The fastest one walked away into the river of humanity and wasn’t seen until the end.  The other two, I walked 18 miles with.  On inclines a distance would always grow between us, because I love climbing hills.  Despite the distance, we were always in eye sight.  I would wait at the top of the long ascents and take advantage of the potty and water breaks.  Through those 18 miles I waited for it to get harder.  It was slower and a rougher terrain than I normally do on a marathon, but the distance was the same.  The forecasted wind never came.  A sand storm would not have been fun.  The miles drug on, but the beauty of the mountains, blue sky, poppies, land, scrubs and nature made the march not seem so long.

This was the most supported marathon for me.  Besides the water stations and latrines, many of the later water stations also had bananas and oranges.  At mile 14 we could buy hamburgers or hot dogs and other assorted salty snacks.  In addition to my peanuts, two peanut butter sandwiches, water and Nuun water, these were added nourishment that kept me moving.  A minister once told me the second half of my races were faster than my first half.  Normally that is the case, not sure if that would happen this time.

At mile 18, I lost my two companions.  I waited at the top of a particularly long up and down roller coaster incline.  I waited.  I waited.  Did they pass me while I was in the latrine?  How would I know?  I waited.  I had to move on alone with God.  I had no idea where they were.  I knew one had been treated once for blisters and they were getting worse with each mile.  Had either or both been picked up and taken to the finish line?  I prayed to God, “alone with you, let’s finish this race”.  All these miles my walking sticks remained strapped on my pack.  I started to wonder if they would get used at all.  There didn’t seem to be a need to use them.  I felt great!  So different, then I had planned – a dangerous hot walk in the desert, it was not.  I wondered, if when, I would struggle.  It was taking longer but enjoyable.  Now alone, I had no one to talk to through the miles, except God and the occasional other marchers for a minute or two.

At Mile 22, I posted on Facebook that God and I walked alone.  At that point, I felt a certain kind of way that I can’t explain.  I wasn’t quite right, but in an unusual way.  I went into the latrine.  Every bodily waste in my body that wanted to come out, came out.  Wow!  What the heck?  Bent over I rested.  Then something said – “time for the sticks”.  It was difficult to release them from the pack, but they came off.  I was beat!  My CamelBak of water was empty.  One of my Nuun bottles was empty and the other was half full.  Four miles, I needed more liquids in my pack to finish. I had passed the water station to get to the latrine which was maybe 500 feet in the wrong direction.  I had to walk back to the water station before moving on.  Both bottles were refilled and Nuun added.

As I looked towards those last four miles with sticks in hand, something crazy happened. A burst of energy filled my entire body.  Oh my gosh!  Somebody must be out there praying – exhaustion was gone!  Sticks, legs and arms went into motion.  Passing people and getting this done was what this was now all about.  I prayed for my three partners out there to be ok.  I knew from texts that my fastest partner was a constant two miles ahead of me.  My other two partners I hadn’t heard from.  I prayed for their safety.  On and on my sticks, legs and arms sped.  This was crazy!  I didn’t stop, only grabbed water and bathroom break, as I sped past the last water station.  I didn’t even drink the Nuun water in my pack.  The adrenaline was so high, that stopping was not an option.  I was planning to change socks a second time, but I had long past that stop.  Getting to that finish line was all that matter now!  I felt like a roadrunner.  During these last four miles, others were in slow motion struggling to get done.  Where was that finish line? It seemed to take forever!  Then I saw pavement in the distance.  Pavement marked the start of the end! When my boot hit that pavement, I grabbed both sticks and slapped them into my right hand and marched the rest of the way without them.  Someone cried out a cheer for me.  I smiled, and that same person cheered something positive about me smiling in those last minutes.  With eyes fixed on the finish line and tears trying to come, I thought, “oh my gosh, I am about to finish another marathon!  Thank you, Jesus!”

All that indoor training and pain had proven to be so worth it!  I suffered much in the training, boredom, blisters, had to buy new hiking boots because of the blisters the other boots did to my feet, bought new hiking socks, bought gaiters, special protective head-gear, trained using sticks that were so awkward to use, trained alone, trained with friends; I was never so glad to be done with training as I was for this race.  With God, it all worked out for the best in the race, no blisters, no injuries, no heat exhaustion, no sun burns, just the normal soreness after a race because of torn muscles.  With only two days of soreness, my body was back to normal like I had never walked 26.2.  If it weren’t for pictures I might think I dreamed that march.  No medal, just dog tags among my other marathon medals.

I finished in 9 hours and 17 minutes.  My fastest partner finished in 8 hours and 29 minutes.  My other two partners finished in 9 hours and 50 minutes.  God revealed to me and my two walking partners that God needed us to be alone with him.  I had to be apart from them while they both memorialized a dad/grandfather who had died less than a year before the race and a step grandfather who had died in the Bataan. That special moment in the desert without me there was meant for them to endure through together as mother and daughter.

A walk in the desert with God, a time for praises and thanks for the journey not normally taken.  A time to appreciate what He put me through to get me here.  A time to reflect on what it truly means to walk with Him every day as I step one step closer to my place by his side in heaven.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  I Corinthians 9:24-27.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

He is risen!

April 1, 2018 at 8:01 am | Posted in God is Enough, Thanks | Leave a comment

The Empty Tomb

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

What is our response to Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Copied entirely from Biblegateway.com – John 20.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

 

The Fix

March 29, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

My birthday ended with a bang!

My girlfriend from church and I rode home from an evening church service in icy conditions.  Flashing lights with disabled cars were littered at various spots on the highway as we passed by.  On the street exit we took there was a disabled car and flashing lights there also.  We were only a mile or two from her home when we noticed a few cars stopped in the distance at 9 p.m. at night.

“What’s going on up there?”

“It looks like traffic, at this hour?”

“Oh, my goodness, it looks like they are stopped.”

“Let me slow it down some more before we get there.”  Foot on brake did not slow the car down.

“Are we really going to hit this car?”

“No, way it will stop anytime.  Are you kidding me?”  Ice, white as an ice skating rink, glided the car towards a stopped car.  I saw I had enough time to make a maneuver left between the two parked cars in the right and left lanes.  Not enough room!  My car sideswiped the car in the right lane and then hit the back of the car in the left lane.  Then we stopped.  We were in a six to eight car pile up and other cars were creeping through or hitting other cars.  I looked back and prayed no one else would hit us in this.  Visions of highway pile ups filled my head.

Thanks to God, soon, flashing lights blocked off the bridge we rested on, stopping any further traffic from crossing the car-filled bridge.

Neither of us were hurt, nor did it seem that any others in the other cars were hurt, except one woman we saw who was walked down to the end of the bridge to get into an ambulance.

We praised God, that we were both unhurt and made calls to family to tell them we would be delayed.  It would be a matter of time before we would be able to get off that bridge and home to our warm beds.  For some reason I cut my car off.  It never ran again.  The engine failure light came on and all power drained out of the electrical system.  What?  The car had to be towed to a collision repair dealer that I was familiar with from a prior accident.  Here we go again – a $100 deductible coming and a few days in a rental car.  However, that didn’t happen.

My father told me they would probably total the car.  Like the good unbelieving daughter, I shucked off his statement.  Yeah, right!  Then my aunt said the same thing – they probably will total the car.  Seriously?  Only the entire side from front to back was damaged, some front-end damage, and the hood was popped open a bit – an easy repair.  At the same time, I started to wonder if God was trying to tell me something – two random people making claims about something they didn’t see.

Several days past and I heard nothing from the dealer.  I called several times with no return call.  I figured they were busy.  There were a lot of wrecks that day.  I finally got the person I talked to when the car was taken in, “We have an estimate and are waiting for the insurance company to decide if they want to repair it.”  What does that mean?  Why wouldn’t they repair it?

Then I got the call from the insurance company. “We are totaling your car!”  The damage was almost $10,000; it was cheaper for them to pay me the value of the car.

What?  I can’t afford that!  I don’t have a cent to offer as a down payment on a new car.  What if the car value is less than the debt on my car, then what?  I could already tell that was going to happen my debt was higher than the damages.  God told me to go to my credit union for a loan instead of using the car dealer.  Thank goodness I did.

My debt/equity ratio is not very good.  However, the credit union was able to do some creative financing that enabled me to cover the gap between what I got and my debt, the new car and a few other debts. The first thing I purchased on the new car was GAP insurance through the credit union which was considerably less expensive than the dealer offered.  Hopefully I won’t have to use it, but at least there is assurance if I do, I won’t have to go through what I did with this car.  It took three weeks from the crash until I was driving a new car as I waited for the insurance company to do their thing and pay the credit union; then the credit union to do their thing and pay the dealer.

I had prayed for some resolution to my debt situation.  Who would have thought that a crash and a Christian Credit Counselor will be the source of enabling me to pay off a huge chunk of debt off in five years.  Ummm, now all I need is for some way for my student loans to be paid off.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

Our Story

March 6, 2018 at 10:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

By Juel A. Fitzgerald

Three chapters in and part of a fourth chapter written.  Writing my story is going smoother than writing the fiction I have tried to write for over seven years.  Telling truth is easier than telling lies.

Everyone has a story.  A chapter is written every day we breathe and walk on this planet.  Our stories grow and grow.  Our stories affect people positively or negatively.  Our stories encourage or discourage.  Our stories inspire or depress.  Our stories are open books or deep dark secrets.  Our stories are holy or demonic.  Our stories are meaningful or meaningless.  Our stories are true or false.  Our stories show God’s glory or Satan’s schemes.

Whatever our story is, it exists, and we have control of our attitude as it plays out.  We might not have total control of the outside forces that affect our story, but we can control how we respond to those situations that become our story.

What is our story?  How is it benefiting others and self?

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:9-21.

(NIV translation)

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©2018 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire devotional to whoever you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any devotionals at http://www.heartemissions.wordpress.com, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.

 

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