August 19 – Devotional: I Will Be With You

You would be hard pressed not to recognize the name “Rick Warren”. Pastor of the mega Saddleback Community Church, and author of the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, he has been an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people, but probably never more so than a few weeks ago.

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You see, after 17 Sundays of not preaching, he returned to the pulpit hand in hand with his wife. Just a few days after Easter Sunday, he discovered the lifeless body of his 27-year-old son. His son had taken his own life. After years of love, prayer, treatments, therapies, and medication – his mental illness claimed him.

As Rick and Kay Warren stepped into the pulpit they were greeted by a standing ovation as thousands flocked to encourage the family. And yet, I believe those that gathered to minister were actually ministered to as the Rev. Warren pointed them to Isaiah 43:2 which reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

I can think of no greater pain than felt by the Warren family. Your family may have experienced that same pain . . . one that numbs the soul and brings wave after wave of depression. There are no simple solutions, no easy answers. Just at the moment it all seems so overwhelming and that you are just about to drown, if you hold onto hope, the Lord will meet you, and provide for you.

Rick Warren has pledged a series of sermons to help; you will be able to find them online. And a friend, Frank Page, has written a book called Melissa: Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide, which I believe to be very helpful. No matter what, if you hold on to Jesus as He holds on to you, the raging waters will not sweep over you.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

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 © 2013

 

 

August 18 – Devotional: No Condemnation In Christ

Every so often you hear one of those stories where a man was wrongly condemned for a crime he did not commit. Then, new evidence comes to light (maybe DNA evidence or someone comes forward and confesses to the crime) and after 14 years, or 24 years he is released.

aug18 prison orange

The latest one I heard was the story of David Ranta. He was imprisoned in 1990 for the murder of a Rabbi in Brooklyn. But after being wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years, new evidence came to light and David was released. You would think it would be the happiest day of his life, and it was. But the next day, he went from prison only to suffer a heart attack the next night. Barely 48 hours after being released from prison, Ranta suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. (The Huffington Post)

He recovered and is now suing the government claiming that his time in prison contributed to his heart attack.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be falsely accused and imprisoned, I am sure I would have had something worse than a heart attack.  But, there is one place where I will never be falsely accused, and that is when it comes to sin. I am guilty as charged, and stand condemned before a holy God.

“But, God”. My two favorite words together, but God sent his son to die in my place, pay for my sin and grant me a full and complete pardon.  Romans 8 reminds all of us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:1

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, Inae. “David Ranta, Man Freed After 22 Years For Wrongful Conviction In Rabbi’s Murder, To Sue NYC.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 05 May 2013. Web. 03 Aug. 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

 

 

August 17 – Devotional: Lookout For Danger

It read like a bad headline from an old The Far Side cartoon. Six cats pounced on the unnamed dog owner as she walked her poodle in the city of Belfort, France.  Six cats pounce on a poodle pusher? Apparently it’s true.  The story goes on to say that she was bitten repeatedly on the arms and legs and left with a torn artery, which could have proved fatal, while the dog was also badly hurt.

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They are investigating what caused the cats to attack the 31-year-old victim, but it was thought that particularly high summer temperatures might have made the cats far more aggressive than usual.

A local police spokesman meanwhile suggested that the attack was “very unusual” and therefore “a cause of great concern”. He added: “Tourists from countries like Britain should certainly be wary – they should certainly not approach these cats, or try to feed them.” (The Drudge Report)

I’m not sure what the British have to do with feral cats in France, must have had something to do with a war in the 1700s. Why do I point this out? We don’t always recognize danger. I mean, before this video if someone had warned you about being attacked by kitty cats, you probably would have just laughed.

Often the greatest dangers are ones we don’t recognize.  In the book of Proverbs the writer says, “My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent. For their feet rush into sin and they are swift to shed blood.”

I bet the son scoffed and said, “Dad, I can handle it. These are my friends, it will be okay.”  And I am sure the woman said, “Here kitty, kitty.”  Be on the lookout for danger, it lurks everywhere, even where you least expect it.

Proverbs 1:10,16

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent . . . For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

“Cats Attack Tourist in France | Drudge Report.” Drudge Report. N.p., 02 Aug. 2013. Web. 03 Aug. 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 © 2013

 

 

August 16 – Devotional: Eternal Rest

Recently on a long car trip, my wife agreed to drive so I could catch a quick snooze.  Not having a pillow at my disposal, and not being able to get comfortable by leaning back, I had to get a little creative.  I detached the headrest from the seat, put it between my head and the window, and created my own pillow.

aug15 headrest

Now bear in mind, with two large metal stakes sticking out of the headrest, if we had been involved in an accident, I am not sure the accident scene investigators would have ever been able to figure out exactly how it all happened. But, that’s the way it is with life.  Sometimes we have to get creative with our circumstances.

You see, a headrest is always designed to help you rest your head. It really wasn’t that much of a stretch to use it in this unconventional manner. I’m pretty sure the engineers didn’t have this use in mind, but the Lord has created us to be creative. He is an imaginative God. One who glories in the diversity of creation and the variety of experiences on this earth. Above all He has given you and me the ability to think and reason and be creative for many of the solutions to the problems we have. But no matter how creative we are, we will never be able to solve our sin problem.

Which is why God sent his Son to pay for our sins on the cross. If we repent, and have his righteousness credited to our account, we can solve the problem of sin and guilt and find forgiveness. In Romans 10:9 we are told, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

In other words, be creative when you need to rest your head, but trust Jesus to cover your sin.

Romans 10:9

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

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

 

August 15 – Devotional: In Awe At Your Signs

About 900 miles that direction in the picture is Mexico. That is a long way to swim, not that I was planning to swim. It was just the view from my vacation spot . . . a pretty amazing view. Over the week I got to enjoy it and experience a variety of sights.

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On a couple of nights we had some moderately severe thunderstorms from the gulf come our way and the night sky lit up with lightening strikes coupled with rolls of thunder.  The ocean waves were pretty impressive and the sounds of the crashing waves, very powerful.

We also saw some beautiful sunsets. Orange, red, purple, yellow . . . almost all of the colors of the rainbow and speaking of rainbows, I got to see a few of those as well.  It was pretty amazing, the variety. There was nothing static about the view. But, all of that together is only a glimpse of the glory and variety of our God.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 65. “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

When is the last time you just took the opportunity to catch the going out of the morning and evening? If you can’t remember – it has been far too long. So, go take it in and join God’s shout for joy.

Psalm 65:5-8

“The one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of the waves, the tumult of the people, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

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

 

 

August 14 – Devotional: God Is Always On Time

Okay, so I had something happen that I am not sure had ever happened before. I was booked on a flight that was going to be delayed. Now, that has happened before, a lot of times, actually. But, this delay was going to affect my next connection. I had been aggressive in my booking and only had a 30-minute layover. But, knowing the airport was very small I was sure I could make it.

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I was not going to be able to make it. We took off over 40 minutes late and there was no way we would be able to make the next flight. I would have to work on changing flights, rearranging travel, etc. and I was actually beginning to worry until the stewardess announced what gate we were arriving at. She said we would arrive at gate 4.

I looked at my ticket and guess what gate my next flight was scheduled to depart from? Yes, gate 4. The plane I was on was servicing my next connection. All I had to do was get off the plane, and get back in line to board the same plane. What I thought was a delay was actually okay, in fact, better than what I planned.

God does that to us. We think the time is now. I deserve it today. But, God is not always on the same time schedule as we are and it can be frustrating.

Moses must have been frustrated. One day when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

God would use Moses to relieve the burdens on his people, but this was not the right time and surely not the right way. Remember the delays you face, may actually be a blessing in disguise.

Exodus 2:11-12

“He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”

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

 

 

August 13 – Devotional: Time To Go Or Stay?

It has been an interesting week around the church office. I bet you can relate. We have an amazing church staff that I am privileged to work with every day. And because of that, it is not unusual for someone to become interested in having one of them leave our church and serve the Lord in some other church.

aug13 questions

Recently, I have had several of the staff share with me potential ministry opportunities.  And I do what I always do, I encourage them, try to help them think through the potential pros and cons of taking that job, and pray that the Lord will lead them in the right direction.

I remember having a similar conversation with my senior pastor when the call came to consider Branson. (In fact, I recently got to pray over that senior pastor on his tenth anniversary along with three other guys who came from that particular church who went on and became senior pastors themselves.)

All of us will have chances to be “promoted”, and while it will always involve a tough decision- I think we should always bear in mind the difference between leaving and going. “Leaving” means you are trying to get away from where you are. “Going” means you are looking at simply doing what you are being called to do.

I love how Jesus, when breaking the news to his disciples in John 14, says, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Now, we may not always be able to bring people with us, that is part of the pain of leaving; but, if the purpose is to go, to be faithful to God and His calling, then it makes all of the difference in the world.  Is there something you are trying to leave?  You might just be better off, waiting until God calls you to go.

John 14:3

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

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