March 31 – Devotional: Dealing with Rejection

I am not sure I know of anyone who enjoys rejection.  I sure don’t, I hate it every time it occurs and I try to avoid it all costs.  But one thing we all know is that everyone one of us is going to be rejected, at one time or another.   In relationships we may hear something like, “No thank you, why don’t we just be friends!” (Which never happens) In business or a job interview we may hear, “I will get back with you and then you hear nothing from them.”

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What are you supposed to do?  You must understand that rejection can feel like an attack on our identity.  Is our value in who we are or even what we can produce? Our value should be based on who we are in Christ?  If you are feeling rejected let me just read Psalm 27, and let the power of Gods word encourage you.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall. 3 Though a host encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arises against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock.

And then verse 10

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up.

Be encouraged that if you have received Jesus, that God will never leave you nor forsake you, no matter what!

Psalm 27 New International Version NIV

 

March 30 – Devotional: Are You Following Your Calling?

The cactus is a pretty unique plant as a member of the plant family Cactaceae, within the order Caryophyllales.  These cacti come in all shapes and sizes and as you know are able to conserve water very efficiently, so they are found in locations where drought is likely to occur.  They thrive in environments, which are desert like.

kingdom is near_wide_cb

On the opposite end of the spectrum we find the possum wood tree or Hura crepitans.  Native to the rainforests of South America where they grow up to 200 feet tall, the possum wood trees need lots and lots of water. They prefer wet soil and produce a toxic sap that is used on the tips of arrows.

Both plants water and both need sun, but they are so very different.  If you take the cactus and put it in the rain forest or the possum wood tree in the desert, neither will survive.  But keep each in their own environment; you will see growth and health.

I was challenged at a meeting recently where pastors were gathered around a table discussing how to reach more people with the gospel message.  The discussion revolved around the difference between the “online church” and “church online”.  People were pretty passionate on both sides.

But an astute pastor, not me, wondered if the real issue was one of strategy or calling.  By that he meant if you were “called” of God to journey into that area of ministry then you would probably do well. But if you were adopting a strategy you were not familiar with, it may not go as well.  Finally another equally astute pastor, again not me, said, “You are always more healthy when you follow your calling.”

I think the same is true for us.  I believe that God has called everyone one of us to Himself.  That calling should be expressed to Him and the direction we go based upon how He has designed us.  But sometimes we get sidetracked and never fully embark on the journey to find that calling or the best way to express it to the world.  We become like cactus in the rain forest. We don’t thrive or grow.

So today do a little dreaming and ask the Lord what He has put in your heart?  How has He designed you to express your calling?  And then why not take some baby-steps toward learning how to pursue it right where you are?

Ephesians 4:1 New International Version (NIV)

4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

 

March 29 – Devotional: Does the American Model Work?

I was standing in a hotel in San Francisco.  It was a Sunday morning and I was helping direct people to the church service where a church plant was meeting.  Both of these concepts were a little different for me having grown up in a small town filled with dozens of church buildings.  I was reading an article on my smartphone to help me contextualize all that I had been experiencing that week.

march 29 worship

One statement in the article jumped out at me.  The author, which I cant even remember who it was, said, “I am less worried about a post-Christian America as I am excited about a post-American Christianity.  Let me say that again. I am less worried about a post-Christian America as I am excited about a post-American Christianity.  That struck me, because most of my upbringing revolved around a God and country mentality.  What if at least some of our American Christianity was actually getting in the way of the gospel?

Even the way we understand time could be suspect.  Have you ever noticed that the book of Genesis says, “There was evening and morning, the first day”? We think of time the start of the day is morning.  But for the Jewish mind, the day begins at sunset.

What if we adopted that timeframe?  Instead of coming home at the end of the day and pouring out our days frustration on those we love the most, we would leave the work day in the car and came home to the beginning of a new day.  That way we spend the evening in fellowship, rest and worship.  What if that philosophy propelled us into the next day rather than being the end of it?

If I recall, Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, which we celebrate on Sunday.  For a lot of us, Sunday is no longer the beginning of the week, but the end of the weekend.  What if we restored our way of thinking to a Biblical-model instead of the American-model?  Why not try it today, start your day tonight when you get home and begin it with family, fellowship and worship.  A post-American Christianity might just be ok after all, it was for Jesus.

Hebrews 12:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

 

March 28 – Devotional: What Has God Done For You?

Years ago, if you grew up in church, then more than likely you sang songs that were referred to as hymns.  Sometimes according to what type of church you went to, you sang certain kinds of hymns.  Now some hymns were better than others, both their tune and their theology.  My church every once in a while, instead of the paid or volunteer song leader picking out the songs, the congregation would get the chance to chose what we would sing during an evening service.

march 26devo

Now most of the time this happened in the beginning of the service where the song leader would let you raise your hand pick out a hymn and we would all sing it. There were lots of favorites such as, Because He Lives, Victory in Jesus, or a fun chorus like, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder, were sure to be chosen.  One of my favorites was the song, Count Your Many Blessings.  Do you know the hymn?

It starts out, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost count your many blessings, name them one by one 
and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”  And then the chorus was the fun part because the men sang one part the women another part and it was kind of a back and forth kind of thing.  The words were powerful. “Count your blessings, name them one by one count your blessings, see what God has done count your blessings, name them one by one count your many blessings, see what God has done.”

Oh those were fun days, and while not every hymn had the best of theology, this one still shares an essential truth.  Rather than looking around and seeing how God has blessed the other person, why not take a moment and remember how the Lord has blessed you.  I know our first thought is to become jealous when God does something for someone else that we wanted Him to do for us.  But if we just take a few moments and look at all of the wonderful things God has done, you might just be surprised at how God has blessed you!

Deuteronomy 28:2 New International Version NIV

“All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God.”

March 27 – Devotional: God’s Universe Is Big

Have you ever looked up into the sky at night and tried to fathom how big the universe really is?  According to a website hosted by NOVA, the PBS production, the universe is too big to see all of it.

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They explain that light travels at 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles per second). That’s top speed in this universe—nothing can go faster—but it’s relatively slow compared to the distances to be traveled. The nearest big galaxy to our Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, is two million light-years away. The most distant galaxies we can now see are 10 or 12 billion light-years away. We could never see a galaxy that is farther away in light travel time than the universe is old—an estimated 14 billion or so years. Thus, we are surrounded by a “horizon” that we cannot look beyond—a horizon set by the distance that light can travel over the age of the universe.

Now I may or not accept 14 billion years old age for the universe, but according to the best guesses of scientists, the universe is 28 billion light years long and still expanding.  In fact scientist speculate it is much larger than that, which creates kind of a dilemma to them, how can it be bigger than we have had time for it to be.  That is their problem to figure out, not mine.  But is it any wonder that the psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

But why did God make all of that space? Is it for us to explore, did He create other peoples and planets, is it just to confuse scientists and give them something to do?  Well certainly there is much we don’t know, but I love what John Piper said about the size of the universe. “It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself.”

Yes, you and I maybe small, but He is big and He is looking out for you, take courage today.

Psalm 19 New International Version (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

March 26 – Devotional: Nothing Is Too Hard For God!

I suppose that people can be divided into only two categories. Their are cat people and dog people.  I like both, but I probably lean toward being a cat person.  With traveling as much as we do it is just easier to leave a cat for a couple of days than leaving a dog.  The cat, I think actually enjoys the break.

March 26 Too hard for God

But I also kind of like the cat’s personality.  Now we have a great cat. Her name is Blossom. That’s not really a strong name for a cat.  But she is not the typical cat. She actually likes being around people and always the center of the action.  You’ve probably heard the old joke relating the difference between a cat and a dog.  The dog sees you feed him, and takes care of him and thinks that you like a god.  The cat noticing that you feed her and takes care of her thinks that she is a god.

Pretty true I think, but cats are not the only ones who think that sometimes.  I believe that you and I often approach God on those terms.  We seem to think that we are the center of the universe and when things don’t go our way, we get angry with God, as if he has fallen down on His job of keeping us healthy, wealthy and wise.

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of this when he wrote, ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

There are lots of things too hard for me.  But for Him, there is nothing too hard.  Yes, He loves you and yes He provides for us, but He does not do so because we are God, but because He is.  Take courage and serve the Lord today.

Jeremiah 32:17 New International Version (NIV)

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

 

March 25 – Devotional: Is it time to Refuel?

Ok, so I was driving my kids home from church and the little one said, “Dad what are all of those gauges mean on the dashboard?”  I started trying to explain what they meant. He even asked about the rpm symbol. I am not sure how accurate my explanation of rpm was, but it sounded good to me.

march25 devo

But as I looked at the fuel gage to explain what a fuel gauge was I noticed something strange.  The needle was actually above the F.  Which is extremely strange, because in my car, it is never over the F.  And what made that stranger is that I know I put gas in the car last night, but that was over 30 miles ago and there is no way that the gauge should still register F.  I know sometimes fuel gauges will read more than full, but my car had never done that.

So I began to panic.  What if the gauge is stuck on F? How will I ever know when to buy gas?  Will I have to stop everyday and top off the tank just to be safe?  Or should I just do that every couple of days, and put a sticky note with the date of my last fill up?

That fuel gauge has more importance than I ever thought, especially as I was considering selling the car to a friend.  Those gauges are really important.  I started to calm down and then began to think of the spiritual application.  Wouldn’t it be nice if our spiritual life had a gauge that told us before we ran out of fuel?

So many of us run at such a fast pace in our lives that we push ourselves to the very limit, and then crash.  Wouldn’t it be better if we could see long before we burned out that we needed a break, or that we needed to refuel?

The good news, after a bit more driving the fuel gauge finally went below F and I relearned a good lesson about the need to watch my own gauge.

Hebrews 4:14-16 New International Version NIV

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”