July 30 – Devotional: Building vs. Grieving

In 1916, John Lloyd Wright invented Lincoln Logs. Almost 100 years later children of all ages enjoy building with these miniature log-cabin-type logs. John, whose father was the famous architect Frank Lloyd, believed that these would spark the creativity of young ones and inspire them to do great things. (Incredible Art Department)

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They sure inspired me the other day when I was teaching on Ephesians chapter 4, verse 30. That passage says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” I started thinking about what grieves the Holy Spirit?

Well, I guess it depends on what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do in the life of the believer? Since the beginning, the Spirit takes that which is void and formless and brings form and fullness. (At least, that is what we read He is doing at the beginning of Creation.) And the form He is shaping us into? Well, it’s the image of Christ.

When we sin and do not exhibit the actions and attitudes of Christ, we work against the Spirit and cause Him to grieve. But, when we cooperate and live according to the Spirit, then He rejoices.

I tried to show that using Lincoln Logs. I said it is kind of like the Spirit has all of this chaos of logs to work with in our life and He is slowly putting them together, but as we sin, it is like we are tearing down the work.

I am pretty sure John never envisioned Lincoln Logs as being an example of the work of the Holy Spirit, but the next time you see some Lincoln Logs – remember not to grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells within us as He works to bring form, fullness and shape us into the image of Christ.

Rohrer, Ken. “John Lloyd Wright.” Incredible Art Department website. 1 Dec. 2012.

Incredible Art Department. 4 July 2013.

Ephesians 4:30

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

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

 

 

 

 

July 29 – Devotional: Enthusiastic Evangelists

“When customers are truly thrilled about their experience with your product or service, they can become outspoken ‘evangelists’ for your company. This group of satisfied believers can be converted into a potent marketing force to grow your universe of customers.”

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Or so read the opening paragraph on the website called creatingcustomerevangelists.com.  Which also is a book title and a whole series of products from Authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba as they seek to explain how to convert already loyal customers into influential and enthusiastic evangelists.

Their idea is to teach you how to turn your customers into basically a volunteer sales force for your company’s goods and/or services. It is kind of like a satisfied customer telling another customer, only on steroids. There’s nothing particularly new here under the sun, except for maybe the terminology.

Of course, the term evangelists is not really new either, it is one from the Christian realm.  It is a Greek transliteration. Meaning, the word in its Greek form, gets almost a letter for letter translation and carries the original meaning with it. According to Vine’s expository Dictionary of New Testament words, it is literally a combination of two Greek words, which mean “a messenger of good.”

It can have a very specific meaning like it does in Ephesians 4, where it begins to list some special roles within the church, such as the verse, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

In a very real sense all of us are called to be bringers of “good news” to those who have not heard, or have not yet believed. So, let me ask – are you truly thrilled about the experience you have had with Jesus?  If you are a satisfied believer, you are a potent force to bring new people to believe in Him as well.

Ephesians 4:11

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers”

“Vines Topical Bible.” Vines Topical Bible. N.p., n.d. 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

 

 

July 28 – Devotional: Eyewitness of Truth

Recently a television show was doing an uncover look at vacation spots.  They found a seven-night, for a family of four, all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean for the low price of $1200. It included all kinds of outdoor and ocean activities like kayaking, surfing, parasailing and dining in one of six different restaurants.

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It almost sounded too good to be true, so the show, with hidden camera, went and checked it out.  And of course you can guess what they discovered.  It was definitely not as it was advertised.  Sure they had a room, but it was small and unkempt.  The ocean was close to the resort but the activities were not included and there was only one restaurant open. Kids activities were basically using a few crayons and a coloring sheet.

There is something about us that always wants to exaggerate a little bit.  Wanting to have our picture taken from our “good” side, writing the article in a way that makes us sound a little bit better than we actually are.

Which is why in 2 Peter 1:16-21 Peter tells us that they are just making it up, they are telling the truth about Jesus.  He writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

I am always more confident when a friend recommends a restaurant, or a vacation spot compared to when I see an advertisement in some magazine or on the internet.  An eyewitness is the best testimony. That is why it is so important for you to share your faith.  You are an eyewitness to the glory and power of God.  Tell a friend your story of Jesus, today.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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

July 27 – Devotional: God’s Goodness

Now, I love the 2 Minute Pastor App, but I will have to admit I found a better one. Yes, I know, shocking. It is an experimental app that allows you to call and schedule the ice cream truck to come to your location. That is pretty cool. Actually, it is from a company called Uber, which specializes in high-class taxi services. Unfortunately, the ice cream part of it is only a promotion available in only a few cities for a few days a year. But, don’t worry; I am sure someone is working on that.

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Why? Because we live in that kind of world, where we just click a button, or swipe the screen and our wish is someone else’s command. But, don’t try working with God on those terms. He is not a genie in a bottle at our command; He is the high and holy God of the universe.

And yet, He is willing to reach down out of heaven and help us. That is more amazing than any Ice Cream Truck App. Even better, is that once He has begun a relationship with us, He will not leave us until the work is complete of taking us from broken to whole.

Listen again to Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, even if your ice cream truck never arrives, God will be faithful to complete you.

Maybe the 2 Minute Pastor is my favorite app after all, because we remind you of God’s goodness and grace.

Philippians 1:6

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

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

 

 

July 26 – Devotional: On The Move

Recently, I lost an argument with my assistant.  It was not really an argument but rather just a friendly disagreement.  In other words, I was wrong.  You see I was taking our staff on a one day planning retreat and she emailed me and asked if she should wear comfortable shoes.   Comfortable shoes, I thought?  Are there other kinds than comfortable?

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So I went and asked other ladies on our staff, and sure enough women buy shoes that are uncomfortable knowing they are uncomfortable.  I don’t believe men ever do this, at least not unless a woman tells him too.  Men buy shoes that are comfortable, or at least we try to.

You know comfortable shoes are a must if you are on the move.  This is exactly what my assistant was saying, but I just didn’t understand it.  Here is one thing I do understand and that is if you are going to be a believer, a true believer, you are going to be on the move.  Constantly on the move!

In Luke chapter 9 Jesus said to them all “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  In other words we are going to be on the move if we are following Jesus because, he is on the move.

Too many times we have reduced Christianity to a sedentary experience.  We see it as simply going to church on Sundays, and wearing uncomfortable shoes because they look nice.  The truth is our adventure will require discipline, and sacrifice, and provide a thrilling experience. Where did it all go wrong?  I don’t know, but I do know that if you plan on following Jesus you will.

Luke 9:23

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow 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

July 25 – Devotional: Living Too Comfortable?

If you can’t tell, I am a very pale complexion fellow. For some reason, I am pasty white.  Put me on a sandy white beach and I disappear. At least the first hour, because in the second I will show up bright red, and the longer I stay out, the redder I become. It’s very embarrassing.

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Especially when on the beach in Florida where against the back drop of darkly roasted people, I stick out like a sore thumb. So, this year we borrowed a beach umbrella. Not a very large one, some people could pack 20 people under theirs, ours was built for two.  Now I was a little skeptical, but as that Florida sun beat down, that little shade made a world of difference on my Elmer’s-glue hued body.

I imagine that is the way Jonah felt on that hot day. You may recall in Jonah 4 after God spared the Ninevites that Jonah was mad. He couldn’t believe that they repented and so he went out to watch God destroy them anyway. Except it was hot, so God allowed a plant to grow up around him and give him some shade. Which Jonah enjoyed, but God also allowed a worm to come and kill the plant, which infuriated Jonah to such an extent, that he asked God to just let him die.

It was there that God taught Jonah a lesson. He said – you pity the plant, should I not pity that great city of Nineveh, so large that just the number of kids equals 120,000?

I really enjoyed my shade, and you probably do too, but what about those who are in the sun? Are you more concerned about your comfort than the needs of those around you?

Don’t be trapped by your own comfort; take note of those who need the shade of Jesus and go make that sacrifice.

Jonah 4:11

“And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

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

 

 

July 24 – Devotional: Committed To The Cause

I suppose context is everything. If he had been wearing boxing gloves, it probably would not have looked as odd. Or if he were in a gym of some type working out, but he was on the beach in front of the world, for all to see.

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I was eating breakfast overlooking the beach while on vacation one morning watching all of the people walking up and down the beach. Some were strolling along enjoying the crashing waves on the shore, others were looking for shells, and still others were getting in their morning run.

But this guy, wearing a bright red shirt and white shorts caught my attention as he began an impromptu combination of kung fu fighting and a poor imitation of Rocky Balboa.  I watched for several minutes, until with the show finally over, he took a bow and continued his leisurely stroll down the beach.

It reminded me of a verse I had read a few days earlier. Paul talks about his calling to share the gospel. Once he met Jesus, his life was changed. He was dedicated to this calling – of ensuring that his world and our world knew that God loved them and sent a Messiah to pay for our sins.

Toward the end of chapter 9 he compares his dedication to that of athletes, he says in verse 26, “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control.”

How committed are we to the cause of Christ? How much of our lives are we doing on purpose so that others get to hear and come to believe? Are we doing enough to cause people to stop and stare, as my boxer friend was, or are we just boxing the air?

I Corinthians 9:26-27

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control.”

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