September 20 – Devotional: Sin Is A Game-Changer

I am looking forward to my first full season watching my new sport . . . English Premier League Soccer. I started watching late last season, but my love of the game, and my desire just to be different, have me eager to follow the full season. The most unique aspect of EPL soccer has to be the idea of relegation.

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At the end of every season the three last place teams are moved to a lower division, while the top three teams of the lower division move up to the Premier League. (Imagine the impact on Major League Baseball if the three last place teams moved to the minor leagues. Bad news for the Pittsburg Pirates, huh?)

Most of those teams that get moved up one year – end up getting relegated the next year.  So, I am going to choose one new team and cheer for them to avoid relegation. There’s something I like about having to prove yourself in order to stay at the top level, rather than just relying on the past.

Which is kind of the way God is. No, you don’t lose your salvation if you sin, that is the whole point of needing a Savior. But, you sure can lose your position. Just ask King Saul.  He was the Lord’s anointed, but he just could not follow the Lord. He was so talented and so strong and so likeable that he kept disobeying God until the point when Samuel came and said in I Samuel 15:23, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” Verse 28 goes on to say, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.”  In other words, you have been relegated.

God takes sin very seriously; you should as well. So, I will be cheering for those three new teams, and I will be praying that God does not relegate you because of your sin.

I Samuel 15:23

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

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

 

 

September 19 – Devotional: Called You By Name

I was standing at the door of our preschool the other day. We were looking at the possibility of doing some remodeling and I had a couple of guys with me checking it out.  About that time a class of preschoolers was coming back in escorted by its teacher.  Now, a lot of the kids do not attend our church and even the ones that do- the preschoolers do not make it into the “big room” for worship; so, I was not surprised that they did not recognize me.  But, I was surprised by the reaction they gave my two friends.

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You see, my friends were from the fire department and were wearing their uniforms.  There’s something about a man in a uniform I suppose, because every child was oooing and awing at these important men. (And me? . . . well, chopped liver once again.) All of us are attracted to a uniform; something just draws us there. I am excited that my oldest is required to wear a uniform at his new school. There is one drawback – they all look the same. Unless you somehow mark the uniform as yours, it can be easy for yours to get lost, since they all look the same.

With all of the people in the world, I think we can feel a little lost like that. We are just one more face in a sea of faces; I think this is even worse when you live in a large city surrounded by so many more faces. So, if you are feeling a little bit like that today, let me read Isaiah 43:1 to you, it says, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ ”

You are special and loved by God, uniform or not.

Isaiah 43:1

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ ”

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

 

 

 

September 18 – Devotional: Friends Forever

It was a Michael W. Smith moment. You don’t know what I mean? Well, the other night one of our worship teams got together to have a meal together. It was a special occasion.  You see, one of the worship team members was leaving. Cody Sifford, who is one amazing guitar player and an all around super star of a musician, had accepted a call from a church in Orlando, Florida to come and lead their worship ministry.

sept18friends

Now, Cody and his wife, Jolynn (and new baby Emma) had spent the last several years with us, even leading our worship as an interim. We gathered around them, laid hands on them and prayed. It did not dawn on me until I got home and started thinking about it that I realized we had missed our Michael W. Smith moment.

If this gathering had happened in the 1980s or 1990s we would have had to sing a song to finish that time, the song, “Friends are Friends Forever”.  It was Michael W. Smith’s first hit, and it became the anthem at the end of every church camp, or graduation time for the next 20 years. I hate that we did not sing it for Cody, I am not even sure he was alive when it came out in ‘83, but the truth of that song is still powerful.

Friends are important to our well-being. God brings people both into and out of our lives along the way. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”  Even if we know we will have to say goodbye, we still love. But for those of us who have God as our Father, we will get to enjoy an eternity with each other as we worship the Lord together, and we will get to be friends forever.

So Cody and Jolynn, a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

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

 

Smith, Deborah. A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends. Miscellaneous. Album. 1983. Friends lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

 

 

September 17 – Devotional: Be On Your Guard

Entrapment: The act of government agents or officials that induces a person to commit a crime he or she is not previously disposed to commit.

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Every once and a while you will hear this as a criminal defense. That he was induced to commit a crime he wasn’t planning on, simply because it was convenient or placed right in front of him. Now, all of us are capable of crimes of convenience, the entrapment only comes into play when the government is the one enticing you. Which is why the entrapment defense is not going to work for Jheline Demesa.

While dining at a restaurant, the waitress returned a credit card to Ms. Demesa that was not hers. Instead of telling the waitress, she went to the mall and started shopping. When the real owner of the credit card discovered it was missing, and that the card was actively being used at a nearby mall, she got a picture from the restaurant surveillance camera of Ms. Demesa, got the mall security cop, found her and had her arrested. (CBS San Francisco)

Don’t get between a woman and her stolen credit card, huh?  But, without the Holy Spirit living in us, we are all too eager to sin, especially when convenient – which is why we must be on guard against our own nature. The writer of Proverbs warns us “My son, do not walk in the way with them; (those who are sinners) hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

Make sure you get your credit card back, and pray that you will resist the pull of sin, especially when it looks easy.

“East Bay Woman Accused Of Credit Card Fraud After Restaurant Mix Up.” CBS San Francisco. CBS Local, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

Proverbs 1:15-16

“My son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

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

 

 

 

September 16 – Devotional: Moving Forward

Failure. I hate to fail. Whether a test in school or a moral test, I take failure pretty hard. I will dwell on it, evaluate it, process it, and do everything I can possibly think to do in order not to fail. Unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to prevent failure is to quit trying, which is the epitome of failure.

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Maybe you have failed recently and are smarting from it, instead of quitting or beating yourself up over it, why don’t you follow some Scriptural advice? In Isaiah 43:18-19 we find these words. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

God’s punishment on the sin of the people was pretty strong. But rather than giving up, God promised a way out. And the way out was moving forward, not going back, and surely not stopping where you are. There was a country song a few years back by Rodney Atkins that said, “If you’re goin’ through heck keep on going.

Don’t slow down, if you’re scared, don’t show it.

Keep on movin’, Face that fire, walk right through it.

You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.” (lyricsfreak)

I am not sure about the devil not knowing part, but what I do know is that God always calls us forward, not backwards. So, if you are replaying your sin or failure over and over again and it has got you down, remember that comes from some place other than God, because He calls you to a new thing, a new life in Christ.

Isaiah 43:18-19

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

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

Atkins, Rodney . “If You’re Going Through Hell”.  If You’re Going Through Hell. CD. Curb. August 2006. Lyricsfreak. 09.15.13.

 

 

September 15 – Devotional: Mistakes Can Be Forgiven

I bet somebody is in trouble. With all the bad news coming out of the city of Detroit, filing for bankruptcy, corruptions, etc, etc, the city got some more bad publicity. It seems in an effort to get out the vote at the next election, the city purchased some billboards promoting the upcoming election including the date. The only problem was that the billboards, about 14 of them, had the wrong date. (Washington Times)

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It seems that the billboards were updated from a previous election, but the date did not get up, well, dated. Of course, that gave the city another black eye and the punch line of another series of jokes, but it was a mistake. Mistakes can be forgiven. Aren’t you glad about that?

I know that I have made my share of mistakes and will keep on making them. (Most much worse than simply getting a date wrong, like I did with my wife’s birthday that one time.) The greatest news in the world is that I can be forgiven, all of my mistakes.

Listen to God speaking in Isaiah 43 when he says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Now, I am sure whoever made the billboard mistake will constantly be reminded by his friends of the mistake he made. He will never get to forget it. But, God has already forgotten all of your sins, if you confess them and ask Him.

Chumley, Cheryl K. “Detroit Billboards Advertise Wrong Date to Vote.” The Washingtion Times. The Washington Times LLC, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

Isaiah 43:25

“I, I am he who blots our your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

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

 

 

September 14 – Devotional: Freedom In Christ

First, it was Sudafed, now it is nail polish remover. It seems that a pharmacy has started carding people who buy nail polish remover as it has been linked to the production of meth. Now, I am all for the curtailing of meth production, but at what point must we give up our freedom in order to prevent someone else’s potential misdeed?

sept14freedom

Freedom, though, is always a tricky thing especially in the hand of sinners which is why Paul admonished the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  The lines between freedom and slavery can get a little blurred.  I love the illustration given by John Piper concerning the choice in leading his children. He says he could lead out of rules and obligations, or he could lead them toward freedom. The setting of such profound theology?  Picking up blocks after playtime.

When a son asks if his dad could help him pick up blocks, Piper writes, “I have two possibilities. I can say, ‘No, you pick them up, and get it done in two minutes or there will be trouble!’ Or I can say, ‘Sure I will. Let’s see how fast we can do it together.’ ” My child’s experience is very different in those two cases. In the first case, he is not free. He goes about his work as though a yoke of slavery were on his back and a big heavy frog were on his bottom lip. He is not acting in freedom because the task is an oppressive weight that irritates and discourages. But, in the second case he is free. He does better work with no irritation. He has the freedom of joy and feels no oppressive burden on his back. (Desiring God)

Rules are necessary to protect others and even ourselves; but discovering the freedom in serving Christ, that is a high no drug can ever provide.

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Piper, John. “For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free.” Web log post. Desiring God. Desiring God Foundation, 29 May 1983. Web. 31 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