May 25 – Devotional: Peace In This World

I don’t like bad news. I am not sure who really does, but it seems like I have been getting a lot of bad news lately. No, not personally, things are going very well right now; I am talking about all of the bad news within our culture. It seems like we are making a lot of decisions as a nation and a people that are not pleasing to God.

May 25 – Devotional- Peace In This World

Whether it is this particular court declaring that what God said was wrong, is now right; or a person who commits a seemingly random act of violence, it just seems that this world is going to heck in a hand basket. It can be discouraging and frustrating, wondering if what we believe or how we act will even make a difference.

While the bad news may come as a shock to us, it has never surprised Jesus. He said in John 16, telling his disciples of the devastating events that were soon to take place, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Anytime we try to get our peace from the world, we are going to be sadly disappointed.  This world will never be able to deliver peace, and we should never expect it to. It is fallen and filled with fallen people just like you and me. If we want peace, we are going to have to find it in something or rather someone, not of this world.

Jesus said, “In me, you may have peace.” The good news is that peace is available; the bad news is that it is conditional. It’s conditional on your searching for it, in Him. So, the next time the headlines are bad news causing anxiety, worry or fear -just remind yourself, my peace is not from or in this world.

John 16:33

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

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

May 24 – Devotional: Crying Out to God

I have a friend who did something wrong. He was arrested and charges were filed. As a result he lost his job, his house and almost everything else. He was finally released but put on probation and told to return to court for his hearing and the setting of a trial date.

May 24 - Devotional- Crying Out to God

That was two years ago and finally a week ago he was set to appear before the court, only to have his case rescheduled in another month. Every time he has to pay court fees and it gets pretty frustrating. Without having his day in court, he can’t clear his name or even do his time.

It makes you wonder why God does not do something. My friend is not the first to ask God that question. A man by the name of Habakkuk asked the same question many years before us. Now, we don’t really know that much about him, but we can sure relate to his cry when he says, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?”

Maybe that is the way you are feeling today, that God has somehow forgotten you. That you have been waiting forever for God to vindicate you, or punish you. Let me remind you of what the Lord said to Habakkuk in chapter 1, verse 5, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

So take courage. God is working, even when you can’t see it. Trust Him, believe and keep the faith, and prepare to be amazed.

Habakkuk 1:2

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?”

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

 

May 23 – Devotional: Following The Right God

Okay, so let’s admit it. We all have had some pretty strange teachers along the way.  Whether in high school or college, we have sat under the teaching and leadership of a person we weren’t real sure about.

May 23 - Devotional- Following The Right God

In college I remember an Asian professor who was a great guy, but math was his second language after Chinese, not English. I would feel so sorry for him when after a test he would call out the names of the students to come get their paper, and nobody would be able to recognize his pronunciation of their name. He would call a name, and then when nobody came forward, would just guess that the student was not present that today.

Then, at the end of calling all of the names he would have a stack of papers left and would say, “If you did not hear your name called, come get your paper.” All 30 of us in the class would rush to the desk and look through the stack to get our paper. I always felt sorry for him, but whether or not he could pronounce my name, I knew that he knew his algebra.

I wonder if the followers of Gideon ever wondered if Gideon knew what he was doing.  He was called of God to defeat the army of the Midianites who were 135,000 strong.  Gideon was able to enlist 32,000 men, but God told him that was too many. So, he sent 22,000 back home. Then, God said it was still too many, so he sent another 9,700 home.  Can you imagine being one of those 300 and saying to yourself what is Gideon thinking?

Worse yet, he would attack the enemy with only swords and torches, yet God produces a stunning victory. So, the next time you have to study under a teacher who may be a little different, or you have to follow a leader you aren’t quite convinced of-just choose to follow them and God. You may be surprised at the victory you experience.

Judges 7:9

“That same night the Lord said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.’ ”

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

 

May 22 – Devotional: God Has Prepared Your Future

I am so blessed to be surrounded by an incredible staff at church. These men and women, from a variety of ages and backgrounds, are a constant encouragement to me and a reminder that I must keep growing if I have any chance of being able to lead them.

may22 binocs

The other day I went to visit our family pastor. He spends a lot of time providing counsel and encouragement to our church and I will often go to see him when I need a boost. I was heading into what I knew was going to be an emotional weekend, returning to a place where I had served and where things had not gone as well as I had hoped. I had been asked to say a few words and was struggling with what to say.

Confessing the emotion I was facing to him, he said just what I needed to hear. He told me that bitterness looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks to the future.  Let me say that again: bitterness looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks to the future.

Now, he admitted that he had not coined the phrase he was just passing it on. But, it was exactly what I needed to hear and come to find out it is actually biblical.

In Isaiah 43 we read, “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.”

So today, instead of dwelling on your past, which only leads to bitterness, or looking around and becoming anxious, why not consider the glorious future that God is preparing for all who believe in Him. You will be as refreshed as if you had discovered a river in your desert.

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

May 21- Devotional: Anything Compare to God?

We have a partnership in Oaxaca City, Mexico. It is a beautiful area of the country about 5 hours south of Mexico City. It is real Mexico, not a border town where everyone speaks English. No, you better be able to order my number at the McDonalds.

May 21- Devotional- Anything Compare to God?

One of the highlights of the trip (besides all of that mission-trip-telling-people-about-Jesus and supporting indigenous church planters kind of stuff) was the food. The region is known for two cuisine items: a rich mole sauce, that I did not really care for and Chapulines, which I cared for even less. Why? Well, because a Chapuline is a fried grasshopper.

Now, after my trip I can tell you what a grasshopper tastes like . . . it’s a little spicy and a bit unnerving when their little legs get caught between your teeth, but I can also tell you what it feels like to be a grasshopper.

You see every time I compare myself to someone bigger or (I think to be) better, I consider myself like a grasshopper. It is the same thing that the spies who were sent into the Promised Land thought when they saw the giants. They went back and gave a bad report to the people, who rejected God’s plan.

Numbers 13:33 says, “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” And so the spies and then the people acted out of fear instead of faith. The results were disastrous.

But, two of the spies said, “Yes, they are big, but our God is bigger.” So, instead of looking at your enemy and comparing yourself to him, why not compare him with God? And leave the grasshoppers for eating.

Numbers 13:33

“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

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

 

May 20 – Devotional: Investing In God’s Plan

I was checking on my retirement package the other day. I started investing several years ago and I just wanted to see where I was. I was able to go online and use a handy dandy calculator that estimated what I would have when I retired and even showed how much income it would generate per month.

may 19 retire

It was a little scary. First, to think that I couldn’t retire until age 67 and second, what I would be able to withdraw. It would only provide a meager living today much less with 25 years of inflation behind it. But, I believe if we are faithful to God, He will be faithful to us- at least, that is what an Old Testament king named Jehoiachin discovered.

He only ruled over God’s people for about 3 months and 10 days before King Nebuchadnezzar overran Jerusalem capturing him and about 13,000 other Israelites.  He spent the next 37 years (he was about 18 when he was captured) imprisoned before the “Evil” King Merodach provided for him.

In fact, verse 29 of 2 Kings says, “And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

Now, don’t you think that if an evil king took care of a captured Jehoiachin, that a good God who loves us will take care of us? (Of me?)  Now, I am still going to keep investing and live modestly, but I will be encouraged that God will take care of my daily needs.  Just like he will take care of yours. So, don’t be afraid of 25 years from now because God will be there to give us a regular allowance.

2 Kings 25:30

“And for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

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

 

May 19 – Devotional: Do You Love Others?

I am about to drive my kids crazy, which of course, is part of my job as a parent. But, I have recently fallen in love with soccer. And my boys hate it. They like soccer okay, but they find it boring to watch on TV. But, for some reason I have been overdosing on soccer. Whether it is Premier, Europa, Champions or even MLS, I have been watching it.

may 19 soccer

 

If any of what I just said to you made any sense, then you too have a problem. But, every time my kids see me watching TV they say, “Let me guess- you are watching soccer.” Then, they say something like, “humph” and walk out of the room. But, I love soccer.  I still don’t understand everything; though, I think I can finally spot an offside.

This is a new love for me. I have always followed football and basketball, but for some reason those have gotten old to me. But, learning soccer has kind of made me feel young again. I guess because it is new. Sometimes new things do that for you.

Jesus understood that when he said to his disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Is it really a new commandment? Well, not really, not anymore than soccer is a new game.  But the reason, the motivation is new.

As believers we should be known for our love, but far too often we are known for what or whom we are against. Not to mention all the times Christians end up fighting with other Christians.

So, while I go on loving my new sport, let us all love one another, because by this will everyone know that we are his disciples.

John 13:34

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

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