April 27 – Devotional: Time To Clean Up

Recently I was watching television when one of those cheap commercials came on the channel.  The kind that does not fill the screen, and the lighting is not well done. Even the graphics and dialogue were cheesy.  The pitch began an offering of a website to clean your personal computer.  Considering we now live in a mobile world to it may speak to its irrelevance.  Does anybody really have a personal computer anymore? The product promises to clean up your dirty old computer’s system and make it fast again.  I admit that from time to time, I have suffered from a slow computer and it seemed like the service was legit.

April 27 snow

I began to wonder how a much better offer would be to provide a way to clean the heart and soul of people.  It seems like every now and then we can use a good cleaning of our lives.  Actually we don’t need to go to a website because God promises that He has the best way to clean us up.  If we are willing to repent, and believe in His son Jesus, confessing our sins knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive our sins then we can be as clean as we can get.

Listen to what Isaiah writes in chapter 1 verse 18 and following, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: 
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; 
though they are red like crimson, 
they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, 
you shall be eaten by the sword; 
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

To repeat that phrase it says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”  God provided a way to become clean and it’s not through a website, but through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  You must believe in Jesus and receive Him into your life to experience it.

John upon seeing Jesus said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away this sin of the world.”  Do you know this Jesus?  Do you have a personal relationship with Him? If not, you can by crying out to Him in your time of need and be changed!   If you do know Him then you should confess your sins and He will make you as clean as the freshly fallen snow as well.

Isaiah 1:18 – New International Version (NIV)

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

 

April 26 – Devotional: Called To Be Different

In the book of Leviticus we find the Lord speaking to Moses, and saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God.”

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If you have ever been around teenagers you know comparison is a way of life.  You hear them say, “Mom, I have to get those jeans, because everyone is wearing them.” You may hear, “Dad, I need an iPhone because everyone has an iPhone.”  It seems like we have this innate desire to be just like everyone else.  As parents, we try to be prepared for that conversation with this stunner of a reply saying, “Well Johnny, (whatever their name is) if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump off the bridge too?” Which the kid replies, “We are not talking about bridges here, we are talking fashion and getting those jeans.”

Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to fit in and we want to be just like everybody else in order to do that. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to be different.  It does not necessarily mean we have to dress differently and if you want to that is fine.  We do have to live differently and not be caught up in being liked by everyone.  It is true that many of yesterday’s moral standards are either eroding or gone and they are probably not coming back.  Rather than letting our lives sink down to worldly standards we should strive to live for God’s standards.  It’s not about the choice jeans or a particular phone but it is about living to please God and not worrying about pleasing people.  We should make that choice even if that makes us the only one in our school, business or even church to do so.

So, remember to live according to God’s word, because you believe He is the Lord our God, who is the great I am.

Leviticus 18:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

18 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.

 

April 25 – Devotional: The Calm Before the Storm

Having spent four years living in Oklahoma, I came to realize they really only have two seasons.  There is football season and tornado season.  Each season receives about equal news coverage on local television.  And you know you can’t have a good tornado without a few good thunderstorms.  I admit that I kind of like the experience of a good thunderstorm.  We had our first one of the season a few days ago. It came in just about the time the sun was setting.  You could see the dark clouds through the fading sunlight and they looked more menacing than they really were.  After that came the first flash of lightening and then the boom of thunder.  Finally you could hear the sound of the wind and the rain hitting our rooftop.  I was glad to be inside during the storm.  I much prefer inside to outside when it comes to a thunderstorm.

april 25 storm

Have you ever been caught out in a thunderstorm?  It can be pretty scary, but the worse place I could imagine being caught in a thunderstorm would be on a lake.  We have plenty of beautiful lakes around here and from time-to-time people get caught in their boat during a storm.

Talking about storms makes Mark’s account of Jesus calming a thunderstorm on the lake with his disciples even more compelling.  Obviously Jesus knew the storm was coming, it wasn’t that he failed to check the weather channel that morning.  He was taking them out in a storm with a purpose and for a reason.  You see the disciples were new to following Jesus, and they weren’t completely sure who He was at this time.  After the storm came and he literally stopped it with his voice, things were different.  They even said to each other, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

It might be why God has allowed a storm in your life recently. Like the disciples who cried to Him for help, God wants you to cry out to him so He can demonstrate his power in your life.

Mark 4: 35-41 New International Version (NIV)

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

April 24 – Devotional: Do You Have A Close-Friend?

My son wanted a friend to come over and spend the night at our home.  It was late Friday afternoon, and I was thinking that everybody would already have plans so we agreed.  We sent a text to the dad and he replied back within just a couple of minutes.  His phrase read, “On our way over.”   There is nothing like having a friend ready in a minute’s notice.After he came over, within an hour, every light in the house was on. There were nerf-darts everywhere, chocolate shake cups were in the floor and it was way past normal bedtime. “To be young again”, the cliché goes.

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Friends are so important at that age, and they really should be for the rest of our lives.  The Bible speaks to the importance of friendships in lots of places. Jesus gathered 12 friends around him and they lived together for 3 years.  Jesus called for them to be close by to him in the garden on the night of his betrayal.  Sometimes a friend is not close by. They live somewhere else and you lose contact.  While a few minutes on Skype or well-timed text message can do wonders for the soul, you really want someone to be there in person.

When we invite Jesus into our life we get that opportunity.  We get a sticky-friend that doesn’t just come and go. On top of that they are not limited by location.  We get someone who is always there for us no matter what we go through.  In the book of Proverbs we are reminded by this verse, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, 
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Companionship is one thing, but a true and deep friendship will get you through the tough times.  Casual friends or companions will come and go, but Jesus “sticks” close by.  As the verse says, “Even closer than a brother.”

When my son asks me at the last minute for a sleepover, I may go against my natural instinct but I will be happy that he has a friend to build memories with.  And even more important, I am happy that he has invited Jesus to be his sticky-friend.  My question for you is, “Do you know that sticky-friend?”

Proverbs 18:24 New International Version (NIV)

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

April 23 – Devotional: Can You Fix Your Life?

I am not much of a fix-it man.  I can’t fix anything at all.  My wife knows that if something needs fixing, she had better call someone.   Fix-It Felix I am not.  The best I may be able to do is temporarily delay impending doom.  Take, for instance, our refrigerator, as an example.  It came with the house when we bought it and it is a pretty nice refrigerator.  The bottom piece under where the door swings is broken.

april 23 truck light

That cover piece is right where your feet hit when the door is opened up.  Seems like someone is always kicking that part of the fridge and that piece coming flying off.  My wife will let it lay on the floor for a few days, hoping I will be able to recognize the problem and take some initiative an actually put it back on.  Eventually she will give in and point at it and say, “Are you ever going to fix that?” To which I say, “Sure” and I put it back on the clips that hold in place.  Then, on the next day, someone has kicked the piece with their foot and it is back in the floor.

My fixes are only temporary, and quite honestly, most of the fixes we come up with in life are temporary.  Doctors heal sickness only to have a patient get sick and eventually die.  Our car breaks down; we get it fixed only to need to fix it again next year.  But there is something that is a permanent fix and honestly it is the only true permanent fix that exists!

In the book of the Psalms 119:89 we read, Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.  With so many things that constantly need fixing in our lives, aren’t you glad God gave us His word, so that we can attach our lives to it and He can fix us forever?

Psalm 119:89 New International Version (NIV)

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

 

 

 

 

April 22 – Devotional: What Is Better Empty Than Full?

Do you remember the television talk show host Johnny Carson?  He was the Tonight Show host on every night and a TV star I grew up with.  He and his partner Ed McMahan teamed to be the most successful late show of it’s era.  He and Ed would often create skits with homemade characters. Of all the memorable characters he created my favorite was “The Great Carnac”.  Do you remember the skit?  Johnny dress up like a psychic and he would be given an envelope from Ed. He then would call out three random things pretending to “know” the contents of the envelope.  He then would rip the top of the envelope, blow it open and give the punch line linking all three things together. Of course, everyone would laugh and he would get the next envelope.

april 21 nest

Well today I want to try that the same idea. I actually have the three items here with me.  First I have a hornet’s nest. Second, the children’s book titled, “I’m Coming to Get You.”  Last I have a real bladder.  Yes, a bladder.  So I want you to think about what the connection is with these three items?  Any ideas?

The answer is that these are things better empty than full.  The hornet’s nest is better empty. The book, “I’m Coming to Get You” is better as an empty promise and just a book. And finally an empty bladder is always better than a full one especially on a road trip.  Let me share with you the greatest thing in the history of the world that was better empty than full.  Three days after Jesus was put to death, the tomb he was put in was empty. It was and still is an empty tomb.

On that beautiful morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus body had been laid and she found the stone rolled away.  Not long after she tells Peter and John it is empty.  They go to investigate the tomb only to discover his burial clothes, but no body. Jesus came back to life and he left the tomb.  Jesus was alive.

That empty tomb meant so much more, it meant the Father had accepted the son’s sacrifice and that our sins had been paid for by Christ blood.  The righteousness of Jesus could be transferred to our account.  He was alive and we could be free.

So the next time you run into something that is empty, like an empty gas tank or even an empty bank account; remember there are some things that are better empty than full.

John 20:1 New International Version (NIV)

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

 

April 21 – Devotional: Is It Your Birthday?

Birthdays are much like belly buttons — everybody has one! Jesus had one, John the baptizer had one, you have one, and we all have one! Some of them are a little harder to take though, birthdays, I mean.  It seems like the ones that end in zero can take an emotional toll on us.  But all of us will, if we live long enough this year, celebrate another birthday.

071 birthday

Some of us actually have two birthdays.  Are you confused? So was a man named Nicodemus.  He was a ruler among the Jews, who secretly came at night to talk with Jesus.  He recognized that there was something different about Jesus.  While the rest of the rulers were threatened by Jesus, even skeptical of him, Nicodemus believed in him. He knew that because of the miracles and signs, Jesus was a teacher from God.

Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Notice Jesus did not give Nicodemus the list we typically give.  We often ask if you go to church, if you are a good person or if you tithe.  Jesus was very clear and said, “You must be born again.”

Telling Nicodemus that statement ,of course, made him confused.  He asked Jesus, “How can I enter my mothers womb and be born again?”  That is a logical question to ask. Jesus stated back, “No, no, no, what is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of the (capital S) Spirit is Spirit.”  In others words for someone to be alive you have to have a physical birth and likewise to have a new birth in Christ you need to have a spiritual birth.

My spiritual second birth came at a very early age.  I was about six years old when I received Christ and was born again.  Maybe for you it was as a teenager or while in college when you too can point to a time you were spiritually born again.  The most important question Nicodemus did not know was what if you haven’t? What if you have not been born again? A time that you were born again into God’s family.

You can be born again. Just like Nicodemus, if you will repent (acknowledge your selfish life and be willing to change) and believe that Jesus is the only way to a personal relationship with God you can be born again!  If you feel the Lord leading to that decision you can contact us here at 2minutepastor.com, or better yet, why don’t you contact a local Bible teaching church and let them know your desire to become born again. You can say, “How can I be born again and have a second birthday?” – Our church website has a good description of the way to a personal relationship with Christ. (http://fbcbranson.com/relationship-with-god)

John 3:3 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”