June 30 – Devotional: God Is Strong

According to Nate Scott, a USA Today writer, there recently was a Saturday night light-middleweight boxing match between Daquan Arnett and Miguel Zuniga that took place in Sunrise, Florida. Quoting from Scott’s For the Win USA article,

“In the fifth round of the fight, after the two exchanged a flurry of punches, Zuniga told Arnett to come on and bring it. He waved his arms, encouraging Arnett to fight.

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Seconds after the taunt, Arnett did and brought a left hook that caught a surprised Miguel right on the chin and knocked Zuniga to the ground. Zuniga was able to get up after the knockdown, says ESPN, but he was clearly dazed and the referee stopped the fight shortly thereafter.” (USA Today)

It reminded me a little of the exchange between Moses and the Pharaoh in chapter 5 of Exodus. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “God says let my people go.” To which the Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Pharaoh would continue to defy the Lord, sign after miraculous sign until finally at the loss of his own son, he relented only to change his mind and have his army and nation decimated in the Red Sea.

Let this be a little warning to you who are living a life in opposition to God’s power, thinking that you can handle whatever God can bring your way. Pharaoh learned and so did Miguel Zuniga, don’t ask a superior to bring it- you might be just looking up after being knocked down.

Scott, Nate. “Boxer Taunts Opponent, Promptly Gets Knocked Out.” Ftw.usatoday.com. USA Today, 4 June 2013. Web. 21 June 2013.

Exodus 5:2

“But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.’ ”

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

 

June 29 – Devotional: Travel Guide

He was doing a special on PBS, you know the public broadcasting system, and I just couldn’t turn it off.  Rick Steves, the unofficial tour guide for all things European, was sharing his “Hidden Europe.” These were places that most of us would miss if we ever travelled to Europe. And I simply could not stop watching.

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You see Rick has become somewhat of a trusted friend for travel advice. He started back in 1979 and taught travel classes at a local university. He then ventured into writing his first guidebook which he self-published, then started leading tours and in 1991 produced his first travel video that he gave to the local PBS station.

Now some 30 years later he is a multimillionaire and trusted tour guide to millions of viewers. In fact, while I don’t care for all of his political views, I would be very comfortable if he were leading my trip to Europe and I would be happy to follow.

I guess that is how the disciples felt when Jesus issued his call to “follow me”. It was going to be an adventure. They would be taken to places they would have never seen any other way, places they weren’t even planning on seeing all led by a competent guide.

Jesus makes that same offer to you and me today. He is willing to lead us into places He wants to show us, not to harm us or to scare us, but to help us grow in knowledge, understanding and in relationship with God. Are you ready for that daily adventure with Jesus?  If you trust Rick Steves to lead you to Europe, you can trust Jesus where ever He leads.

Mark 2:14

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

June 28 – Devotional: A Life Turned Around

Mistakes aren’t always bad. At least that is what they tell me in St. Louis. Two of their favorite snacks were mistakes. Toasted Ravioli, which is a breaded version of the meat filled pasta pocket, apparently began life when a chef dropped a traditional ravioli into the fryer instead of boiling water. It became an instant hit with numerous other Italian restaurants adding it to their menus up on the hill.

June 28 – Devotional- A Life Turned Around

The ooey gooey butter cake had a similar birth. Apparently there are two different butter “smears”, one for the traditional pound type cake and the other designed to hold ingredients together like nuts. Back during the great depression a new baker added the wrong butter smear to the pound cake and he didn’t know it until it came out of the oven.  The result was an ooey, gooey mess. Instead of throwing the batch out (it was during the great depression you know) they sold it and it too ended up being a regional favorite.

Both were mistakes, but those mistakes created a whole new category of snack foods enjoyed by millions every year. God loves taking mistakes and turning them into good. Consider the life of Jacob. He was a cheat, a thief and wrestler with God. Yet at the end of his life, the book of Hebrews says this, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.

At the end, he turned it all around and was able to bless the sons of Joseph and worshipped. Maybe you have made some pretty significant mistakes- the kind that have hurt yourself and others. Remember, it is not too late for God to turn those mistakes into something good. Turn from your mistakes and turn to Him who knows what He might do.

Hebrews 11:21

“By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.”

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

 

 

June 27 – Devotional: Unity Takes Focus!

Okay, so I can’t get this bicycle built for seven out of my mind. I had never seen one of those before and after thinking about the coordination it takes for two people to ride the same bike, I cannot imagine seven people doing the same thing.

June 27 – Devotional- Unity Takes Focus!

Yes, I have seen some rowing competitions with eight people rowing and one person called a coxswain who is steering and directing the boat; I guess someone would have to take on that role. The benefit, of course, is instead of the power being generated by a single rower, the coordinated power of eight rowers would be significantly more.

I wonder if that was somewhere in Jesus’ mind when he prayed to His father for us to be “one”.  Imagine the power the church could posses if it could be one under Christ like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are together? How much more power would we have in this world?

But alas, we are like eight rowers rowing or seven cyclists cycling all wanting to do our own thing. Often times almost competing with each other and deciding that if you don’t believe exactly like I do, then you are a part of the problem; you are the enemy.

What kinds of relationships do you have with other flavors of believers? Yes, the fundamentals or the essentials of the faith must be upheld, but on other matters of less importance. We might do better laying some of that aside in favor of cooperation. We are going to need each other more than ever in the days that are coming.

And who knows? We might just realize we will get further down the road as we learn to pedal together.

John 17:21

“That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

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

 

 

 

 

June 26 – Devotional: Blood That Saves Lives

Harold Mendenhall is a hero by any definition. This South Florida man has reached a rare milestone. He has donated 100 gallons of blood. He began giving blood on July 7, 1977 and the 84 year old hasn’t stopped yet. (Palm Beach Post)

June 26 – Devotional- Blood That Saves Lives

It seems he started donating blood when his wife, Frankie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she died seven years later, Mendenhall says he was lost. He stopped by the blood bank on his way home from work and soon he was donating six gallons a year.

Now, he gives platelets rather than whole blood, which means he can give two pints per donation instead of one and can give every two weeks instead of eight weeks. (Those who give whole blood cry “foul”, that he has not really given that much, but I think it is still noteworthy.)

What is even more noteworthy, however, is that while he has probably helped dozens of people live longer, healthier lives – his blood does not save anyone for an eternity. But, there is one who has given his blood for us that we can live forever. At the last meal He would eat with his disciples, the Bible records in Matthew 26: 26-28 that “Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ ”

Three cheers for Harold Mendenhall for giving 100 gallons of blood, and a lifetime of praise to Jesus for His.

Matthew 26:28

“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Marshall, Barbara. “This Blood Donor From Riviera Beach Has Given 100 Gallons in 35 Years.” Mypalmbeachpost.com. Cox Media Group, 29 May 2013. Web. 21 June 2013.

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

 

ESV Text Edition: 2007

 

 

June 25 – Devotional: Follow The Leader

I have never attempted to ride a tandem bike. You know, the kind of bicycle built for two.  I am pretty sure my marriage would not survive the attempt, but recently I saw this tandem bike built for seven. I can’t imagine the coordination needed for such a bike, but I did run across some advice on how to successfully ride a two-person bike.

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The “captain” is the rider in front. He mounts first and steadies the bike; the “stoker” (rear rider) then mounts the bike. While the captain maintains the balance the stoker puts his/her foot on the pedal BEING VERY CAREFUL NOT TO SPIN THE PEDALS BACKWARD (which would be right into the shins of the captain!). Then, with the stoker’s feet on the pedals-the captain pushes the bike, mounts, and puts his feet on the pedals.

The stoker only follows the pedal strokes of the captain. It is pretty important not to get out of control with rapid accelerations. Steady pace is demanded; losing contact with the pedals can lead to bruises in one rider or the other’s calves or ankles.

Of greatest importance is that the stoker is NOT to lean, the captain leans into all turns. The stoker needs to stay relatively motionless except for pedaling. The captain leans, brakes, and sets the pace for pedaling.

Sounds a bit like the relationship we are to have with Jesus. In John 15:5 he declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I am not sure I will be riding a tandem bike anytime soon, but I know who I want to be my captain.

John 17:21

“That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 24 – Devotional: Are You Ready?

My house was all a buzz . . . It was time to get ready for Kamp. We have the privilege of living close to one of the finest Christian camps on the planet. For the last three years my boys have attended the Kanakuk Kamps led by Joe White.

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These nine camps host over 10,000 students each year and provide one of the premier summer experiences in sports and activities all with a focus on building Christ-like character through a relationship with Jesus.

They do a great job of letting you know what you will need to bring to camp. From special theme night apparel to the number of pairs of underwear you are going to need, it is all well organized and planned out so you know exactly what to pack.

As the boys were getting ready I started thinking about the excitement building and knew it would continue to build as we countdown to the opening of camp. But, how excited would they be if they did not know when the camp started? What if they just knew it was coming soon, how long would they stay excited?

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a parable about ten women who were waiting for the groom to come. In those days the groom would come at night to surprise the bride once their home was complete. In the story, five were ready and they had plenty of oil; the other five did not. They ran out. By the time they got some, it was too late.

You and I are supposed to be ready at any time for the return of Christ because we don’t know when He is coming. Are you ready? I know without a set date it can be hard to stay ready, but we have our packing list in the Bible and time to get prepared. May we live in the anticipation of His return.

Matthew 25:13

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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