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

 

June 23 – Devotional: A Jesus Makeover

It first aired on December 3, 2003. At first it was simply remodeling a house in a single week. Later, they began demolishing the old house and building a brand new one in its place. Extreme Makeover Home Edition lasted nine seasons and 200 homes. But compared to the new show, Ty and the gang look more like sloths.

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Let me introduce Renovation Raiders on HGTV. The concept is simple. While a couple is out to dinner a team of workers come in and completely transforms one of their rooms.  Dinner has to last five hours, but the results are pretty amazing. What should normally take weeks of dust and inconvenience is completed in a single evening.

That speaks to the way we live today, doesn’t it? We want it all done in a flash. Homes built in a week, rooms remolded in an evening . . . no wonder we get so frustrated with a God who does not wave a magic wand to fix all of our problems instantly.

Just because He doesn’t work in that manner, does not mean that He isn’t working and that He doesn’t care. The New Living Translation of the Bible explains it in Psalm 37 by saying:

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”

If the remodel He is working in your life is taking a little longer than you want or He is not zapping the bad guys like He should, don’t watch Renovation Raiders and be frustrated -instead read your Bible and be reminded of His promises.

The Holy Bible, The New Living Translation

Copyright @ 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,
Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.

 

 

 

 

June 22 – Devotional: Can Dry Bones Live Again?

On the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Sidney Street sits an old church building. On the side of the building, there is a cornerstone in concrete. The original congregation name has been removed, but the words “Organized 1863 Erected 1931” still display for all to see the heritage and beginning of a once vibrant ministry in the middle of their neighborhood.

June 22 – Devotional- Can Dry Bones Live Again?

The sight isn’t really all that unusual. Across our cities are church buildings abandoned by their original builders as the community in which they served changed. Either they moved to the suburbs, or because of some internal dissension, they just ceased to exist.

But there is something unusual about this one. A few years ago now, the building long abandoned, a new church planter and his ministry team came to that corner and began leasing the building. They started by fixing the roof, installing heat and air and began to minister to the multi-ethnic population of that area. And do you know what? People started coming.

Not the people for whom the building was originally built, but the people who lived in the neighborhood now. It reminds me of the conversations God had with Ezekiel. He asked in Ezekiel 37: 3-6: “Do you think these bones can live again? . . . Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ ”

Praise God to those who built a building in 1931 that serves a community today.

Ezekiel 37: 3-6

“Do you think these bones can live again? . . . Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ ”

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 21 – Devotional: Losers to Winners!

I don’t think the Biblical prophet Micah had in mind the Hartsville Baseball team, but I think he would admit they would be a pretty good example. You see, three years ago when the current seniors were freshman, they lost every baseball game they played that season. Every one of them.

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At one time they had lost 34 games in a row. But this year, after going 18 and 4, they found themselves in state Class 2 A finals where they defeated West Platte 4 to 3 with a walk off, single drive in the go ahead run.

Talk about the last becoming first! But, I am not sure that is exactly what Micah had in mind when he spoke these words of prophecy in Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

That little town, the place of our Savior’s birth was a simple little community that has been transformed into the center of the world around Christmas time. God has a passion and a way of doing that. He is always concerned about the outcast, the little guy, the orphan, the widow, and the loser.

Maybe you are feeling that way. Maybe you don’t think you are smart enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough, or whatever it is. Maybe you don’t think you will ever win and that you are always rejected. Take heart today, or rather Hartville today and remember that God takes losers and turns them into winners at the foot of the cross.

Micah 5:3

“Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.”

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