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.”

 

March 24 – Devotional: Are You Living Safe?

I was looking to download a new book for my Kindle. Everybody needs a hobby, and when I get in the mood to read I look up the top-100 list of free books.  It can be an odd assortment of titles, many are epapers, self-help titles, cookbooks, and quite a few titles I shouldn’t share in this venue.  But once I do a thorough search I normally find a couple of worthwhile books.

march24 devotional

This time, a book by John Walvoord explaining all of the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, and a book related to the value of Christian spiritual pilgrimages. The author argues that we discover something about God and ourselves when we leave our comfort and journey to an unknown place

I have not read the book, but I noticed a quote that really struck a chord with me.  Attibuted to a John Shedd, though the internet could not identify Mr. Shedd and many gave credit to another the quote is, “A ship is safe in harbor, but it was not made for the harbor.”

One of the most exciting changes I see in the believers who are younger is a renewed sense of calling to reach the nations.  Recently we have three couples leave our church, one went to inner city ministry in Atlanta, another to Austin Texas to recruit couples for the uttermost parts of the world, and a third leaving for Southeast Asia.  I am so proud and excited for these younger believers who are “leaving the harbor”.

Now I admit I am a little disappointed in that each of the couples were serving the church, whether through Awanas, or through our technical arts ministry or teaching Sunday school. We will miss them as a church, but as I have reflected on that, it would be like telling them to stay in the harbor.

So let me ask you, have you been duped into believing that following Jesus is about keeping the ship safe or staying close to home?  I think too many believers have been comfortable with staying in a safe place! So if the Lord is calling you to a great adventure, don’t be afraid to leave your safe lifestyle and pursue what you and I have been made for.  Will it be safe?  Maybe not, but who wants to play it safe?  Jesus never did.

1st Peter 2:21 New International Version NIV

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

March 23 – Devotional: Don’t You Care?

Have you ever been accused of not caring?  Or better yet, have you ever accused someone of not caring?   Maybe it was a friend who was not there for you, who did not sense the urgency or the depth of anguish you were going through. —– Have you ever accused God of not caring?

March 22 Don't you care

If you ever have you are not alone.  I think most of us from time to time wonder if God cares about the pain we are suffering or the injustices that have come our way.  So much so that don’t you wish you could walk right up to Jesus and air your complaints?

Well in the 10th  chapter of the book of Luke, Martha, a friend of Jesus, walks right up to him and says, “Lord, Don’t you care…?”  Now to give you a little background, Martha has a sister named Mary.  And while Martha is hosting Jesus she is taking care of the food, the hospitality, and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to all that he is teaching.

Martha, frustrated with the lack of Mary’s help goes to Jesus and asks, “Do you not care?” Can you imagine being Jesus for just a minute?  I wonder if he is thinking, Let’s see do I care?  Well, I left heaven and all of my glory, came to live as a first century man long before the internet and modern conveniences, and I am headed after leaving your house to the cross so that I can pay for your sins and the sins of all humanity, let me think.  Yes, I would say that I care.

Ok, he did not say all of that, but he did say, “Martha, Martha, you are so distracted, you are anxious and troubled, and you cant see what is really going on. Mary has chosen the better thing.”  The same is true of you and me.  We can become so bothered with seemingly urgent things, which while they are ok, are not the best things.

So let me ask you before you start serving the Lord today, have you spent time with Him?  Have you been distracted from what is most important, by all of these lesser things?  Why not begin each morning by sitting at Jesus feet, before you get on yours.

Luke 10:38-42 New International Version (NIV)

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one, Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 22 – Devotional: Faith in Faith or Faith in God.

I grew up in the South, the rural south, where a town of 10,000 will have 3 southern Baptist churches and dozens of other variety of Baptists.  I did not get to go the city much and even when I did Little Rock didn’t really qualify as a major city.  It wasn’t until my married life that I ventured a little further out.  Now I love going to major cities, which is why God has me in living in a smaller town, go figure!

march 22 faith in faith

I went with my wife to New York City for the first time as a sponsor of her high school choir.  We took the tour bus, had the tour guide and saw all of the sights.  Right before the choir was to get off the bus to compete, our tour guide who had grown fond of us wanted to say something encouraging. I still remember what she said, “All of my positive thoughts go with you.”

What, I thought, positive thoughts, what does that mean?  Of course, in the South we would say, “We’ll be praying for you!” But many people saying it have no connection to God. So all she could pledge to us were her positive thoughts.

Just goes to show you, all of us have faith preprogrammed into us.  She did not use the same terminology, but something about belief played a part.  While it seems pretty similar, they are light years apart.  So many people are guilty of having faith in faith.  They think as long as you believe, or have faith or send positive energy out that things will go better, that it matters some how.

But faith in faith is nothing.  Faith in God, though, is something altogether different.  I can have faith that I can walk on water all I want but it won’t keep me dry.  But having faith in the one walking on water, it sure kept Peter dry until he saw the wind.

Jesus was trying to explain that the object of your faith is more important than faith.  After cursing a fig tree in Mark 11, Peter is amazed that it has shriveled up.  Jesus essentially says, “If you place your faith in God, there is nothing He can’t do.” Shriveling up a not producing fig tree is nothing … He can raise the dead to life.

So today, why don’t you put your faith, not in your faith, but faith in God.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Mark 11: 12-14 & 20-23 New International Version NIV

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

March 21 – Devotional: Do You Take God Seriously?

Do you love to laugh?  Can you sing the song, “I love to laugh”, the scene with Dick Van Dyke from the movie Mary Poppins.  In the scene, their laughing causes them float up into the air, and they have a tea party near the ceiling while still floating.  The special effects don’t quite live up to today’s standards, but it still is fun to watch.

march 21 kids with balls

The Bible tells us all kinds of stories of a God, who actually is pretty funny sometimes.  There is that time that a donkey talks, and another time where he gives Job a speech that would have fit nicely on the Cosby show. Cosby would say to his kids, “Where were you when I created, the heavens and the earth?”

But God was so funny one time that a man actually fell down and laughed.  It is found in Genesis 17.  God has called our Abraham to be the father of a nation.  But there is only a slight little problem and that is he doesn’t have any children.  So God says to him, I am going to change her name, we are going to call her Sarah because she will be the mother of nations, and kings and many people will come from her.

Abraham heard those words and he fell down and laughed! He asked the question, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years olds, and can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?  That’s funny God, why don’t you just bless Ishmael, the other son I already have?”  Then Sarah overhearing the whole thing thought it was kind of funny and she laughs!  But God says, “I am not being funny. Is anything to hard for the LORD.”

My assistant has this bad habit of saying, “Do you want to hear something funny?”  And because she said it, it doesn’t matter how funny it is, I am not going to laugh.  The Lord said, “Do you want to hear something serious?”  Then Abraham and Sarah respond by laughing.

We do know and serve a God who can be funny, always doing the unexpected, making the impossible seem possible.  But let me remind you, He is also very serious about His work of redeeming the world.  I wonder what you would think is so preposterous that if God said it … you would laugh?

Today, try to believe and take him seriously at His promises, just don’t take your self too seriously, you might find that you love to laugh too.

Genesis 17:15-18  New International Version (NIV)

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

17 Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

 

 

March 20 – Devotional: Well Done Good & Faithful Servant

I do quite a few funerals each year.  While I can’t say that I have ever really enjoyed a funeral, I will have to admit my success rate is higher with a funeral than with weddings.  I have yet to have the person eulogized complain, but only about half of my weddings seem to last.

march 20 life well lived 2

Of course I know this is only temporary, for when that trumpet sounds the dead in Christ will rise first, but I do feel a sense of satisfaction at least in doing a funeral.  I feel I have a deep responsibility in saying the last public words over a person’s life and I take that very seriously.

Recently I did the funeral of a very precious saint.  One who had served the Lord all of her life.  Running a food pantry for the hungry and clothes closet for the needy, she also took in three orphan boys and raised them as if they were her own.

It was an easier funeral in that the elderly the lady had battled cancer for seven years and her body was wracked with pain and discomfort.  Her ever faithful and dutiful husband was beside her all the way to the end  and he took solace in the relief of her transition to be with her Lord.

After the funeral a person came by, half in jest, half serious, saying, “You did a great job, so I sure hope you are still my pastor when I die so you can do my funeral.”  I smiled, knowing the person really well, I replied, well you better start living better, I don’t have a lot of good material to use.  We both laughed.

But there is some real truth to that.  A teacher doesn’t give grades, they just keep score.  In a similar way I felt all I was doing was being honest about the person’s life.  You see what is said at your funeral is not based upon the skill of the pastor; it is based on the quality of how you live your life today.

You see today matters a whole lot.  It is the only preparation we have for tomorrow.  So why not make it easier on the preacher who will stand at your graveside and give some good material to work with?  So that he, and the Lord will be able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, on that day of your arrival.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 New International Version (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.