April 19 – Devotional: Do You Reject Warnings?

I was sitting in the conference room on a Friday when I heard a familiar beep-beep- beep sound.  It’s the melodic sound of vehicle backing up. The invention was by Yamaguchi Electric Company they have been around since 1963.  In America they sound at up 112 decibels at a frequency of 1000 hertz.  They are designed to warn the unaware that a vehicle is backing up and they should get out of the way.

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The beeping that I heard was from one of our busses as our students leaving for a weekend conference.  The noise sure got my attention and reminded me of the power of warnings. Jesus included a lot of warnings throughout his teaching.  One example in Luke 12 was in the midst of a larger crowd that gathered.  His disciples got closer to him and Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, they just pretend to be godly.  Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops.”

That is a pretty sobering warning.  We can pretend we are ok, because we are religious doing rituals.  Since were not doing certain “bad” sins we feel good about our religious effort.  Often times our true character or our true nature is not found in those kind of actions.  We help someone fix a tire and feel good about it. The truth is our true character comes our more in our reactions to people and everyday life.  And one day, we wont be able to hide behind our “religious activity” because our true nature will be discovered.

If you hear that beep, beep, beep, I suggest to not be startled.  Use it as a reminder that your only hope is not in this world.  And it’s not in your religious actions, but in the Christ who changes hearts.

Luke 12:2 New International Version (NIV)

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

April 18 – Devotional: Trust Yourself Or God?

Ok, so I am driving down the road and I see a McDonald’s advertisement sign.  It has giant picture of a strawberry shake and a chocolate ice cream drink.  The caption says, “Yield to Indulgence.”  I didn’t yield, at least this time, as I was on my way to visit a person in the hospital suffering from heart disease.  But I have fallen to the temptations in the past and will probably indulge in a sweet drink again in the future.

April 18 trust yourself

That sign is indicative of a message that’s sent to all of us, almost everyday.  The idea of indulging yourself is everywhere!  It’s constantly reinforced in all advertising with messages like, “Have it your way” or “You deserve a break today!”

The Bible tells us a completely different message.  It tells us to live a different way than the world. This is a way that the world totally rejects.  In fact it is a way that over time will lead to death.  The writer of Proverbs in the 16th chapter, in the middle of some other great warnings and wisdom, writes in verse 25, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

The writer is not speaking of ice cream shakes, but rather the natural man doing what seems right in his own mind.  When God has clearly spoken with a different message.  So let me ask you, “Are you living according to Biblical wisdom, or are you trusting your gut and your instinct?”  I don’t believer your instinct is always wrong, but when it is, it can be really costly.

So the next time you are tempted to indulge, whether it’s an ice cream shake, or something a little more dangerous, you might want to ask yourself, “What is the Biblical response to this temptation.”

Proverbs 16:25 New International Version (NIV)

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

 

April 17 – Devotional: Vote For The Underdog

Every year in March our country comes down with the madness.  March Madness is where 68 of the best Division I college basketball teams compete in a one-and-done tournament to crown the national champion.  Lot of people fill out a bracket sheet and they attempt to correctly project winner of each championship.  Lots of upsets happen where the underdog college defeats a favorite team.  Kind of a David versus Goliath opportunity you might say.

April 17 – Devotional- Vote For The Underdog

And folks love it, as long as their favorite isn’t our favorite.  Something within us, at least in America, loves the underdog.   I think it is something deeper than that though.   In Matthew 21 Jesus quotes Psalm 118 verse 22 and applies the passage to himself.  The verse reads, “Have you never read in the scriptures, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Here he is saying that the religious leaders have rejected the very one upon whom God’s salvation is built upon which is Jesus himself.  The one they crucified becomes the entry point to a right relationship with God.  It just goes to show, how the so-called experts, or at least the ones who are supposed to know, don’t!

As you know, the ones who organize the March Madness basketball tournament can’t accurately predict the winner of each game!  They have no idea if an underdog will come along and win.  The next time someone tells you that you aren’t good enough or are not pretty enough or skinny enough or smart enough, just remember that some people would even reject God himself.

The next time you find yourself in the position of an underdog, just remember it is not mans evaluation that matters, but God’s!

Matthew 21:42 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”

 

April 16 – Devotional: Waiting To Go Numb

Have you ever enjoyed those minutes in the dentist where the shots are over and know he is just waiting for your mouth to go numb?  It is an awkward kind of feeling.  You know it is going to happen, but just the anticipation of knowing that in a few minutes he will start drilling.  Somehow loaded with the ingredients in the shot he is able to perform work in your mouth that would otherwise cause you excruciating pain. Meanwhile, you’re hoping he put enough medicine in so you don’t feel pain.

April 16 – Devotional- Waiting To Go Numb

I started thinking about that as I read about Judas; the one who betrayed Jesus.  How long did Satan have to wait for Judas’ heart to go numb?  It had to be numb enough to betray the innocent and perfect Son of God.  Judas saw the miracles and he heard the teachings of Jesus.  He could probably teach many of the lessons himself, and yet his heart goes numb enough to betray Jesus.  He even betrays for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

He comes to regret that decision afterwards, but by then it is too late.  The devastation in his heart had already begun.  You know sinful thoughts have a way of doing that to us.  They numb our soul.  First a passing thought, then a reoccurring thought, then leads to an action that you will come to regret.

That is part of the reason we have these daily devotionals.  They are little reminders to get your mind off of sin and back on the truth of loving and serving God.  We even conveniently timed and formatted them so that you have access to them anywhere and anytime.  So why not make a commitment today to not let your heart grow numb?  Why not pass on this video to someone you know who needs that same message? I encourage you to do it now, before they go numb as well.

Matthew 26:14-16 New International Version (NIV)

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

 

April 15 – Devotional: Is Your Heart Hardened?

And according to some insurance agents a washing machine hose is one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in your home. Ok, not dangerous in that someone is going to get killed from an attack of this hose, but rather the most costly.  More insurance claims come from a leaking or broken washing machine hose than any other claim.

April 15 – Devotional- Is Your Heart Hardened?

It seems it fits the category of out of sight, out of mind.  We forget the constant pressure those hoses are under with constand hot water, cold water, day after day, year after year.  Usually when you are on vacation, and how they know you are on vacation, I don’t know, but the hose looses its integrity, and you come home to find your entire house filled with water.

What causes this loss of integrity or in simple terms; the weakness?  Well it could be the same thing that causes a person to loss theirs.  Over time, from the stress and the strain of life,  things becomes hard and under pressure we crack.  Everything that was on the inside, comes rushing out, damaging everyone and everything around us.

In the book of Hebrews we are warned to not allow our hearts to be hardened. The best way to keep your heart soft is to stay daily connected to God’s word.  A daily time of devotion and prayer must be protected at all costs.  Acts of service to your neighbor in need, or calling to check on a friend are all ways to help keep our heart soft.

So the next time you wash a load of clothes, you might want to check on your washing machine hose and even more important you also might want to check on your heart to make sure you are not becoming hard to the things of God.

Hebrews 8:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

 

April 14 – Devotional: Whose Fault Was It?

I have a tendency to think that most of my trouble is somebody else’s fault.  And I am not alone in this thinking.  Recently my assistant was driving home on a very snowy night. As she was buckling her seat belt to get started she remembered she’d had trouble driving in these conditions before and it was always the fault of someone else. Every single time she’d been stuck in bad weather was because of some stupid thing another person did.

april 14 fault car snow

One time in particular, she remembered driving up a steep road in the Branson area. As she approached she noticed 3 guys pushing a car that was stuck in the ditch and they were directly in her path! She knew in a split second that if she stopped her car was not going to make it up the hill. But the other choice was to hit the car the guys were pushing out of the ditch.  So, she stopped on the hill.

The guys got the car out of the ditch; the driver hopped in and drove away. She, on the other hand, was stuck. Not only her, but also about twenty cars behind me were stuck as well.  About 30 minutes later help arrived and she was back on her way. She had been put in a bad situation due to someone else.

You can be minding your own business, doing the right thing, when another’s action causes you a great deal of hassle and stress.  I wonder if Jesus ever thought about that predicament. In the book of Philippians we are given this admonition, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

So the next time some other person causes you a problem, remember what your sin cost Jesus and maybe try having the same mind that he did.

Philippians 2:5-11 New International Version (NIV)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 

April 13 – Devotional: Jesus Chose To Be Silent

I help coach my son’s soccer team. The other night we are playing indoor soccer and a kid from the opposing team jumps in front of one of our players to stop his progress. What he did not know, was that our kid was in progress of kicking the ball as hard as he could.  The ball traveled at full velocity before it struck the opposing player, in a place somewhere between his stomach and his knees, for which he was not prepared.

April 13 soccer

His agony of crying like a girl reverberated around the building as both teams stopped playing and took a knee. Everyone stopping only intensified the sound of the young man’s sobbing.  I later told my team if that happened to one of them, we were just going to keep playing in order to lessen the embarrassment.  But the injured kid could take solace that at least his mom did not come out onto the field to add insult to injury.

Moms have a tendency to want to not only defend their children but will often go on the offensive attack against the one who attacked. Their action reminds me of a momma bear defending her cubs.  It is natural for us to protect and defend our own, especially when they get attacked.  Jesus had a different strategy.  While hanging on the cross one of the two criminals he was being executed with mocked him and said “If you are the Christ, why don’t you save yourself and us?”

Instead of hurling insults at this man, Jesus chose to be silent.  Don’t you wish you could be silent instead of running your mouth sometime?  I have regretted a lot of things I have said in the past during moments of stress. Jesus does not respond to the mockery.  I wonder if you are under attack right now.  Are people saying bad things about you that aren’t true?  Instead of attacking back why not do what Jesus did, and chose to remain silent? You might be surprised at the benefit.

Luke 23:39 New International Version (NIV)

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”