(click on the individual Devotion name to expand)


Julia Colebank

The Tree

Dear friends and family,

There is so much to learn in this life isn’t there? Springtime is starting to peek out here in Memphis. I look at the trees and see some with bright white flowers, or delicate green buds, or deep red leaves starting to unfurl … and then there are the stark branches of some other trees. The trees that haven’t woken up yet. It’s not their time. But I’ve never looked at a barren tree and thought to myself … “Oh, what’s wrong with THAT tree? Look at all the other trees, how come that one is still bare?” And I don’t think the tree is thinking that about itself either. When it’s time to wake up it will. It just happens and no one thinks anything of it. We don’t worry about it, we don’t lose sleep over it, we don’t devise a plan on how to wake that tree up. There is something for us to learn here – well, at least there is for me. Our God is amazing – when it’s time for each tree to awaken, it does. Each one is wonderfully unique. I need to see myself like a tree … I need to see everyone like a tree!

Whatever challenges you are facing, remember the trees in springtime. God is faithful. And just because something looks lifeless, doesn’t mean it is. We can put our hope in our God whose breath alone brings life. Imagine what else He can do.

Job 33
4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Isaiah 42
5 This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Ecclesiastes 3
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

1 Corinthians 12
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good … 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Anticipating Future Joy in Current Trials

Anyone experiencing pain? In my mind, pain comes in various forms. In my life currently, pain is taking the form of frustration. When I consider the source/s of my frustration it often reveals deeper heart issues. So will I choose to deal with my heart? Will I choose to allow my frustration to be a catalyst toward change? Or will I choose to live in a state of frustration?

Today I choose to deal with my heart – and let God speak to me. In reading the passage below – I come to the conclusion that pain gives birth to joy. The pain is real … joy does follow childbirth, but this does not lessen it’s pain!! Think about a woman in labor – no one in their right mind will try to tell her that the pain is really not all that bad. Yet when her child is born, no one is happier than that new mother. The joy she finds in her new baby almost can’t be described. I remember crying when Christopher was placed in my arms. And I really can’t explain that – but it’s powerful.

John 16:21-22 When a woman is in labor she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy.

This passage about childbirth is not in the bible simply to prepare mothers for having children. It is to prepare you and I for the pain life will bring – and to anticipate the joy that will come from it. Perhaps when I am experiencing pain it is because God is working through me to bring new life. Natural birth comes after painful labor – which is then eliminated and replaced by an inexpressible joy. I think spiritual birth works the same way. This fills me with hope and gives me a reason to press on. I think that is what Jesus did. I imagine that the joy he foresaw not only motivated him to endure the cross – but also carried him through each day of his life.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So I am encouraged by the Word of God this morning! He promises that joy will come … a joy that no one can rob from me!! So I will press on in spite of the painful trials of life.

You know … I just can’t explain sometimes how letters on a page can change my perspective so much – but that is one of the mysteries of scripture isn’t it? God’s Word brings change … amen!!