May 22 – Devotional: God Has Prepared Your Future

I am so blessed to be surrounded by an incredible staff at church. These men and women, from a variety of ages and backgrounds, are a constant encouragement to me and a reminder that I must keep growing if I have any chance of being able to lead them.

may22 binocs

The other day I went to visit our family pastor. He spends a lot of time providing counsel and encouragement to our church and I will often go to see him when I need a boost. I was heading into what I knew was going to be an emotional weekend, returning to a place where I had served and where things had not gone as well as I had hoped. I had been asked to say a few words and was struggling with what to say.

Confessing the emotion I was facing to him, he said just what I needed to hear. He told me that bitterness looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks to the future.  Let me say that again: bitterness looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks to the future.

Now, he admitted that he had not coined the phrase he was just passing it on. But, it was exactly what I needed to hear and come to find out it is actually biblical.

In Isaiah 43 we read, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”

So today, instead of dwelling on your past, which only leads to bitterness, or looking around and becoming anxious, why not consider the glorious future that God is preparing for all who believe in Him. You will be as refreshed as if you had discovered a river in your desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

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

May 21- Devotional: Anything Compare to God?

We have a partnership in Oaxaca City, Mexico. It is a beautiful area of the country about 5 hours south of Mexico City. It is real Mexico, not a border town where everyone speaks English. No, you better be able to order my number at the McDonalds.

May 21- Devotional- Anything Compare to God?

One of the highlights of the trip (besides all of that mission-trip-telling-people-about-Jesus and supporting indigenous church planters kind of stuff) was the food. The region is known for two cuisine items: a rich mole sauce, that I did not really care for and Chapulines, which I cared for even less. Why? Well, because a Chapuline is a fried grasshopper.

Now, after my trip I can tell you what a grasshopper tastes like . . . it’s a little spicy and a bit unnerving when their little legs get caught between your teeth, but I can also tell you what it feels like to be a grasshopper.

You see every time I compare myself to someone bigger or (I think to be) better, I consider myself like a grasshopper. It is the same thing that the spies who were sent into the Promised Land thought when they saw the giants. They went back and gave a bad report to the people, who rejected God’s plan.

Numbers 13:33 says, “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” And so the spies and then the people acted out of fear instead of faith. The results were disastrous.

But, two of the spies said, “Yes, they are big, but our God is bigger.” So, instead of looking at your enemy and comparing yourself to him, why not compare him with God? And leave the grasshoppers for eating.

Numbers 13:33

“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to 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

 

May 20 – Devotional: Investing In God’s Plan

I was checking on my retirement package the other day. I started investing several years ago and I just wanted to see where I was. I was able to go online and use a handy dandy calculator that estimated what I would have when I retired and even showed how much income it would generate per month.

may 19 retire

It was a little scary. First, to think that I couldn’t retire until age 67 and second, what I would be able to withdraw. It would only provide a meager living today much less with 25 years of inflation behind it. But, I believe if we are faithful to God, He will be faithful to us- at least, that is what an Old Testament king named Jehoiachin discovered.

He only ruled over God’s people for about 3 months and 10 days before King Nebuchadnezzar overran Jerusalem capturing him and about 13,000 other Israelites.  He spent the next 37 years (he was about 18 when he was captured) imprisoned before the “Evil” King Merodach provided for him.

In fact, verse 29 of 2 Kings says, “And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

Now, don’t you think that if an evil king took care of a captured Jehoiachin, that a good God who loves us will take care of us? (Of me?)  Now, I am still going to keep investing and live modestly, but I will be encouraged that God will take care of my daily needs.  Just like he will take care of yours. So, don’t be afraid of 25 years from now because God will be there to give us a regular allowance.

2 Kings 25:30

“And for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

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

 

May 19 – Devotional: Do You Love Others?

I am about to drive my kids crazy, which of course, is part of my job as a parent. But, I have recently fallen in love with soccer. And my boys hate it. They like soccer okay, but they find it boring to watch on TV. But, for some reason I have been overdosing on soccer. Whether it is Premier, Europa, Champions or even MLS, I have been watching it.

may 19 soccer

 

If any of what I just said to you made any sense, then you too have a problem. But, every time my kids see me watching TV they say, “Let me guess- you are watching soccer.” Then, they say something like, “humph” and walk out of the room. But, I love soccer.  I still don’t understand everything; though, I think I can finally spot an offside.

This is a new love for me. I have always followed football and basketball, but for some reason those have gotten old to me. But, learning soccer has kind of made me feel young again. I guess because it is new. Sometimes new things do that for you.

Jesus understood that when he said to his disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Is it really a new commandment? Well, not really, not anymore than soccer is a new game.  But the reason, the motivation is new.

As believers we should be known for our love, but far too often we are known for what or whom we are against. Not to mention all the times Christians end up fighting with other Christians.

So, while I go on loving my new sport, let us all love one another, because by this will everyone know that we are his disciples.

John 13:34

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

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

 

May 18 – Devotional: Learning From Others

I was recently in the town of Hannibal, Missouri:  it’s a medium-sized town, right on the river about 100 miles or so north of St. Louis.  But, it is best known as the home of Mark Twain or rather Samuel Clemens.  He grew up in the town of Hannibal and it was the setting for the books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

April30cat

The town, of course, promotes this connection and draws many visitors every year to connect with the writings and the man.  He still has the ability to relate to people even over 100 years after his death.  I was reading a few of his better-known quotes and one made me laugh out loud, which I rarely do. He said,  “If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

While that is true, there is another way to learn, a better way (at least for the cat) and it is to learn from others’ experience.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells his listeners that we can learn a lot from the Bible especially concerning the consequences of sin. After giving a few examples, he says, Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

In other words, instead of finding your own cat, why not learn from the man who held the tail?  Mark Twain’s advice was very good, but I would have to admit, that Paul’s was a little better.  May we learn from the sin of others, while experiencing the grace of God for ourselves.

1 Corinthians 10:11 – English Standard Version (ESV)

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

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

 

May 17 – Devotional: Who Do You Spend Time With?

According to a newly published study from Notre Dame University, college students who live together can pass on their depression, through a mental process known as “cognitive vulnerability.”

May 18 – Devotional- Who Do You Spend Time With?

Cognitive vulnerability is a term used to describe a particular worldview where people assume stressful life events are out of their control and occur because of their own deficiency.

The results of the study reveal that those who had a roommate with high levels of cognitive vulnerability were likely to “catch” their roommate’s cognitive style and also develop higher levels of cognitive vulnerability.  The higher the level of this vulnerability the higher the probability of a person becoming depressed.

Now that kind of result should not come as any surprise to us.  We know that those around us influence us.  Ever pick up a few catch phrases used by a friend?  Maybe you start liking what they like whether it is a song or TV show.   Our friends and those we spend lots of time with make a huge impact on us.  Choosing who you spend time with wisely is very important.

Which is why the Bible warns us very bluntly to be careful with whom we spend time.  In I Corinthians 15 we read, “Do not me deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.”

So let me ask you with whom are you spending the most time?  Are they people who are following after God or those who could lead you away from Him?  Now I am not saying you shouldn’t spend time with people far from God.  But unless we spend our time with God first those around us will influence us much more than we think.

I challenge you to be careful in choosing your friends, but be even more careful to spend your daily time with God.

 

Proverbs 17:22 – English Standard Version (ESV)

22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

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

 

 

 

 

May 16 – Devotional: Give Us Eyes To See

Do you wear glasses?  I don’t wear them but everyone on my family does. According to a quick Internet check, 75% of the people in America benefit from some kind of corrective lenses, either glasses or contacts.  Since I don’t wear them I never really thought about the problem such a need causes.

May 16 – Devotional- Give Us Eyes To See

At a recent staff meeting one of our ministry assistants shared a devotional related to wearing glasses.  She said that without glasses or contacts that she could not see very well, especially far away.  She continued that if she didn’t put her glasses on, the only things she could see are the things closest to her.

She then connected the similarity that we are spiritually nearsighted focusing all of our attention upon us rather than God.  An older staff member reminded us that over time that both physical and spiritual blindness can gets worse.  He recounted recently having cataract surgery, where the lens of our eyes gets cloudy and darkened, but with that surgery it was almost instant result.

How true that is that with glasses or contact lenses we have an instant fix.  Spiritually speaking having Jesus in our lives can have an immediate fix at least in the life to come and in our ability to make sense of this life.  Jesus promised to do just that in John 9:39 where he says, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

If where glasses or you see someone grab theirs, remember they may help eyesight temporarily, but only Jesus will help you really see.

John 9:39 – English Standard Version (ESV)

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

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