February 1 – Devotional: More Than Conquerors

Deborah Ford is a pretty amazing woman. During her 44 years of working for the United States Postal System she never took a day off. Not a single one. She said that if she ever felt sick she would “just shake it off,” and go back to work. (ABC News)

feb1

On those days that she did have to go to the doctor, she would use a vacation day.  Imagine always using a vacation day instead of a sick day. Talk about a winning mindset.  I am not sure if Ms. Ford is a believer or not, but she sure can teach us what it takes to overcome adversity. And adversity in the life of the one who follows Christ is never far away.

Paul reminds us that our motivation is always the love of Christ, and though many adversities will come we can be assured of this love.  He writes in Romans 8:37-39:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That should keep us moving and motivated to help us “shake off” what ever afflicts us.

The result of living with this over comer’s attitude? Well, for Ms. Ford, the 4,508 sick hours she cashed in raised her pension by 5%. But, for the believer who is more than a conqueror the benefits are out of this world.

Romans 8:37-39

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Kim, Susanna. “Postal Worker Retires After 44 Years Without Sick Day.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 July 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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

 

 

 

 

January 31 – Devotional: God’s Awesome Power

It was a dark and stormy night. That’s not so unusual as we tend to have a few of those from time to time here in the Midwest, but how I got to experience it was a little different. Normally, I semi-sleep through most storms, occasionally awakened by a few flashes of lightening, but with only three small windows carefully covered with shades, and on the ground floor next to several trees – the view is limited.

jan31

But, recently I was staying at a lakefront condominium. The master bedroom is on the second floor with this giant window the size of the entire wall (with no shade) overlooking the lake. The five hour long symphony of both light and sound kept me engaged the whole nightlong. Imagine a giant strobe light and crazed drummer trying to outdo one another, and you get a taste of the evening. At least I was not out in a tent or out in the elements, like the people were at Mount Sinai.

Do you remember that scene from the Ten Commandments, when Charlton Heston is brought out to meet God?  I can promise you nothing from Hollywood could recreate the scene of God coming down on the mountain and the fear it struck in the hearts of the people.

Exodus 20:18 reads, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’ ”

I know that Jesus is a friend of mine, but we should never disregard God’s awesome power and His holiness. I think I caught a glimpse of it the other night, next time I will make sure I can pull the blinds.

Exodus 20:18

“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood afar off.”

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

 

 

January 30 – Devotional: Glory Of God

“Pareidolia” – No, you may not recognize the meaning of that word, but you are sure familiar with the concept. It is the term used to describe how the brain takes random shapes and begins to see patterns or pictures even. It is like looking in the clouds to see a bunny rabbit, or seeing Jesus’ face in a taco. The term actually comes from a couple of Greek words, para (which means to throw alongside) and a form of the word eidon (which means shape). It is the idea of throwing shapes alongside each other and coming up with a pattern.

jan30

This phenomenon is quite common and a new example makes its way into the news often. The latest is a picture that NASA recently released from their Mars explorer where people claim to see a squirrel in the background. It is just a rock, mind you, but if you really squint hard enough it kind of looks like a squirrel-like rock.

When those patterns seem to indicate the image of Jesus or the virgin Mary or some other religious pattern, thousands of people flock to those sites and claim a religious experience and the proof of a higher being.

Why is it that we have the desire to see patterns or images where there aren’t any?

Yet this God they seek is right in front of them, but not on a grilled cheese sandwich.  Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

The Psalmist writes that the heavens declare the glory of God.  Instead of seeking signs, seek the Lord who is over all creation.

Psalm 19:1

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

 

 

January 29 – Devotional: Only Believe!

I don’t like having to reschedule events. I like to put a meeting on the calendar and then meet at that time. But, during winters in Branson, everything is always subject to change. We have had to reschedule basketball games, outreach events, important meetings and it is never any fun. It is hard to find a time to meet in the first place, much less trying to find a second time.

jan29

These weather interruptions just ruin my plans. But, Jesus never saw interruptions in that manner; he always saw them as opportunities. In Mark 5 Jesus got out of the boat and was immediately confronted by a man with a sick daughter. Jesus agreed to go see her, but was interrupted by a woman who touched him. Of course, the disciples thought it odd for Jesus to worry about being touched in a crowd, but He felt the power leave his body.

A woman confessed and Jesus encouraged her, but that delay, that interruption slowed Him down enough that the little girl died. Can you imagine how you would have felt if you were that father? Jesus you are worried about personal space and my daughter dies?

Jesus whispered to that father, in Mark 5:36, “Do not fear, only believe.” Of course, you know what happened . . . instead of healing a sick girl He raised the dead. Every delay is opportunity. Instead of frustration, ask the Lord what will you do that will be better than what you would have done without the delay. You might just see your faith grow, instead of your frustration, when you believe.

Mark 5:36

“ . . . Do not fear, only believe.”

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

January 28 – Devotional: Wonderful Are Your Works

For Christmas I got a pretty cool gift from my mother in law. That doesn’t always happen, but this time she did well. She ordered a puzzle for me. Now, I am not a big puzzle fan, life is challenging enough. And I have no desire to put together a picture of a polar bear in a snowstorm, which is what so many puzzles seem to be like.

jan28

But, this one was different. It was a personalized puzzle. You send in your home address and the company prints a map of your community with your house being the center of the map. Your exact location is a puzzle piece in the shape of a home; all the other pieces of the 18×24 puzzle are your normal puzzle piece shapes.

I spent an hour tonight putting together that puzzle, or at least putting together all the edge pieces, and will have to admit I had quite a bit of fun. It helps if you know your street names and general lay out of your community. I look forward to finishing it, gluing it together, and displaying it.

I like the idea of a personalized puzzle that is unique but the same as every other puzzle.  It is kind of like our lives, I suppose. For while we are humans, having most all of the same parts and most of the same emotions, we are all unique. The Psalmist writes, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

The next time I am frustrated, I am going to remember that everybody is going through the same thing, it’s just that my puzzle is a little bit different, which reminds me of how great He is.

Psalm 139:14

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

 

January 27 – Devotional: Bondage

Can you imagine the shock of seeing the monster unloosed and calm, sitting in his right mind at the feet of Jesus? Okay, so he wasn’t a monster, but he had a monster inside him. So much so that the people of Gerasenes chained up this guy. But, he was so strong that he would break free from his chains and terrorize the people in the area. The only refuge he could find was to live alone among the tombs.

jan27

One day Jesus came to his region and the man knew the true identity of the Christ, even if nobody else did. He begged not to have his torment started and Jesus obliged, costing the price of pork bellies to go up in the region. The man’s inner demons were instantly gone and he was different.

A lot of us have an inner monster within us. It is probably not called Legion, like in this story from Luke 8, but we all have something that fights the way of God in our lives. Sometimes it rears its ugly head in a moment of anger, rage, or maybe even tears. Many attempts might be made to placate the monster with drugs, alcohol, work or some other substitute.

Many of these seem beyond help. But, through the power of a relationship with Jesus, even the one called the Gaderene demonic finds peace. If you know someone in bondage, keep praying for the person, God can change him or her.  And if you have one of your own, seek out a trusted person or turn to your local church and ask for help.

Those monsters can be dealt with, if they come out of the darkness and come into the light of Jesus.

Luke 8:36

“And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.”

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014

 

 

January 26 – Devotional: Knocking On The Door

On May 23, 2012, Forbes magazine came out with a list of 100 inspirational quotes.  They quoted lots of people from Aristotle to Zig Ziglar. After reading just a dozen or so, I was ready to run through a brick wall.

jan26

I will have to admit, I was surprised to find that Jesus had made the cut. Coming in at number 35, they used a Jesus quote when He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” –Jesus (Forbes)

That is pretty inspirational I will admit, but I am not sure it means what they thought it did. There is a context to His words. It was not written as some blank check for you to climb every mountain and every stream to ask whatever you want and God will give it to you. No, it is for a very particular and limited context. You have to read the full passage to understand. In Luke 11:9-13 the full context is as follows . . .

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Ask, seek, knock and God will give you His Holy Spirit.

 

Luke 11:9

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Kruse, Kevin. “Top 100 Inspirational Quotes.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 May 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.

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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2014