July 23 – Devotional: Resist The Darkness

“Dad, is it raining?”  My son asked on a moonlit summer evening as our car was traveling down and around a hilly highway.

“No, son.” I replied.

“Well, then, what is all that noise that sounds like rain?” he asked.

“Oh, those are just bugs hitting our windshield,” I told him.

“Oh. It sounds like rain,” he said.

I told him, “Yes, I know. I may have to stop and wash all of those bugs off the windshield.”

Now I did not, since I was determined to press on, but by the time I made it home, I could hardly see.

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You have had one of those nights, right? I do not know exactly why bugs are attracted to the light. Some have reckoned it had to do with flying by moonlight allowing the bugs to fly straight paths, but with brighter artificial lights it confuses them and leads them to their death. Whatever the attraction, my wife’s Toyota RAV had plenty of it.

If only they could learn to resist the light, they would live. The opposite is true for us. If we could just turn to the light and resist the darkness . . . But, just like the creepy crawly bugs who head under the counters as soon as the light is switched on, we turn and run away, instead of running to the light like our bug friends.

Isaiah 50:10 says, “Let Him who walks in darkness and has no light, trust the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” Maybe you have been running away from God lately, not spending time with Him, maybe out of guilt or maybe out of fear.  The longer you stay away from a daily time with Him, the more you retreat from the light and into the very darkness you were saved from.

The next time you find yourself washing what remains of a bunch of bugs on your windshield, make a commitment to be like those bugs and fly or run into the light of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 50:10

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

 

 

July 22 – Devotional: Making Choices

Suppose you are on a game show and you are given a choice of three doors appropriately labeled door 1, 2 and 3. Behind one door is a brand new car, behind the other two doors is a goat. You choose a door, but are not allowed to see whether it is a goat or the desired car. Your host opens one of the two doors you did not choose to reveal one of the two goats. He then asks, “Would you like to keep what is behind the door you chose, or would you like to switch doors and take the other door you have not seen?” What are you supposed to do?

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If you said you would stay with your original choice, you are wrong, at least the odds are not in your favor. According to mathematicians you have a 1/3 chance of being right.  But, if you switched doors, you would actually win the car 2 out of 3 times, for a 2/3 chance. Every time.

This mathematical exercise is sometimes called the Monty Hall paradox. Named for the game show host of “Let’s Make A Deal”, it is a scenario that would often occur on the TV show, which caused Steve Selvin to write the “Ask Marilyn” column. Marilyn gave the advice to always switch. (Scientific American)

I can’t fully wrap my mind around it, but I watched a YouTube video and I am a believer. There are a lot of things I don’t understand because I am just limited, but God is not. The Psalmist too was limited, speaking of us as living in a kind of darkness he writes to God and says in Psalm 119:130,  “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”

I don’t fully understand the Monty Hall Paradox, and I am too simple to understand the ways of God, but by reading His word I begin to understand and so will you.

Psalm 119:30

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”

Shermer, Michael. “The 3-Door Monty Hall Problem.” Scientific American. © 2013 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc., 13 Feb. 2009. Web.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

July 21 – Devotional: Only God Is Fair

This world is not fair. And it seems to be getting more unfair or less fair (whichever is more grammatically correct) every day. What is worse is that people are getting away with it. Instead of punishing the bad guy, it seems that the good guy gets punished. As someone once said, no good deed goes unpunished. Or at least so it seems.

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But the world we live in is not the only world; in fact, it is not even the real world. You see, here is what you and I must know and believe and live. God knows what is happening, He knows how and when you have been wronged and one day He will take care of it.

Instead of lashing out at the one who has harmed us, let God do it. I know it is very hard not to seek justice and strike out against the one who has harmed us. But, we must be careful that we do not commit the same or worse sin by our words, deeds or our actions.

Consider Romans 12:19-21 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The next time you are wronged, I mean really wronged, remember God’s vengeance is better than yours. So, don’t give in to evil, but overcome evil with God’s good working through you.

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

July 20 – Devotional: Focus On Wise Decisions

I am the only one in my family who does not, at least not yet, need glasses. My oldest son needs glasses, and he has glasses, but he does not wear his glasses (which is a totally different devo.) But recently, my wife and boys all went and got new glasses.

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I was able to avoid going with the boys to pick out their glasses, but when it came time for my wife to pick out hers, I got to go along. We did not go to the local little eyeglass store, but to the mega mart of glasses. For nearly an hour I was asked by my beautiful wife, “Do you like these? How do I look in these? Oooh, I like these, what do you think?”

We left without having decided. (And I am hoping not to return.) I don’t blame her- all of the choices were overwhelming . . . wall after wall of eyeglasses . . . seemingly endless variety of shape, color, and style.

Life is a lot like that. You and I have a seemingly endless variety of choices we can make. Some of them are clearly a moral choice with no real option for the Christian. But, many of them are simply a preference choice. How do we make good decisions? I think we turn to the Scriptures for guidance.

In the letter to the church at Philippi Paul writes these words, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

There may not be a true, honorable, just, or pure choice in eyeglasses, so just choice whichever one you want, but in the big decisions in life let Philippians 4:18 inform your choices.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

 

 

July 17 – Devotional: God Loves Order

Recently the website BibleGateway.com revealed the 100 most popular Bible verses.  The results were based upon the tracking of searches on their website. As you might expect verses like John 3:16 (For God so loved the world . . .), Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you . . .) and Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ . . .) are all at the top.

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But, I was more interested in the least popular verses. According to the same source the verse from I Chronicles chapter 23-37 are the least read verses. Now, chapter 23 starts off pretty interestingly, “When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel . . .” But by verse 6, we read David separated the Levites into divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Next, the chapters give us the details of how each of the divisions was organized. Name after name, assignment after assignment it reads like a telephone book listing or an instructional manual. It is not seemingly a very interesting read. Yet, it is just as inspired as those verses I mentioned previously, but why are they in there?

There are a couple of reasons why they’re included. First, the Jewish people rightly believed they were in an unbroken chain to Jesus; it was critical that they had an accurate genealogy. Second, I think this demonstrates that we have not a God of chaos but a God of order. It is clear to see in creation. There are predictable patterns that repeat, in fact all of our scientific methods are based upon the principle of order.

Every time we drop a ball we know that it will fall to the earth, we know exactly when and where the sun will rise on the horizon. We do not live in a world of chaos but in a world of order, because we have a God of order.

The next time you come across these least read verses, be reminded they demonstrate the history of Jesus and remind us that God is a God of order.

I Chronicles 23:6

“And David organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”

“The 100 Most-Read Bible Verses at BibleGateway.com.” Biblegateway.com. N.p., 15 May 2009. Web.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

July 19 – Devotional: You’re Never Alone

Have you ever been lonely? I recently had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Jeff Lorg share concerning the epidemic of loneliness. Dr. Lorg has been in ministry for 30 years in a variety of environments and currently serves as a seminary president. He shared that among pastors loneliness is an occupational hazard.

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But, pastors are not alone in their loneliness; statisticians tell us that 31 million Americans live alone. That is about 1 out of every seven people. You know as well as I do that you can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. According to a recent survey more than 25% of people “feel alone.”

What is the solution to such loneliness? First, I think you have to know that you are not alone, in your loneliness; that many people are in the same boat. And second, I think you need to see an opportunity. The Apostle Paul did both when he was writing to his friend Timothy. Talking about a lonely time for him he said, “at my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

He took his loneliness to God, and while everyone else left him, he found his God provided for his need, which led him to praise his Lord. In your lonely times turn to God and find solitude with your creator, and let Him turn your heart toward praise.

2 Timothy 4:16

“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

 

 

July 18 – Devotional: Can You Hear Me Now?

My wife and I differ on what we like to watch on TV. Take for instance the talk shows we watch. In the summer time I come home for lunch a little more often. Not only is it cheaper but with school out, the whole family is there. Nine times out of ten, I will come home and she is watching Fox News.

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There is nothing wrong with Fox news, I will often times share a majority of the opinion, but the noon show pits conservatives and liberals against each other in some type of modern gladiator type combat.

Me, I would rather watch ESPN and hear the two sides argue about who is greater, Jordan or James, Brady or Manning. My wife is insistent that I can only watch grown men argue about something that does not really matter. But, emotionally I can’t watch Fox News and watch people argue about things that really do.

Either way Proverbs 18:2 has something to say to us concerning watching such shows built around opposing commentators.  It says “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

I think a lot of our entertainment options end up being two people expressing opinions without attempting to understand each other. This may provide a lot of heat, as they say, but little light.

I wonder if we do the same when we talk to unbelievers sometimes. Are we merely trying to get our point across or are we truly trying to understand the sinner, their need and determine the best way to start a conversation about Jesus?

Whether it is Fox News or ESPN may we not just “express our opinion” but truly understand each other in order to love people to the Father.

Proverbs 18:2

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2007