June 24 – Devotional: Are You Ready?

My house was all a buzz . . . It was time to get ready for Kamp. We have the privilege of living close to one of the finest Christian camps on the planet. For the last three years my boys have attended the Kanakuk Kamps led by Joe White.

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These nine camps host over 10,000 students each year and provide one of the premier summer experiences in sports and activities all with a focus on building Christ-like character through a relationship with Jesus.

They do a great job of letting you know what you will need to bring to camp. From special theme night apparel to the number of pairs of underwear you are going to need, it is all well organized and planned out so you know exactly what to pack.

As the boys were getting ready I started thinking about the excitement building and knew it would continue to build as we countdown to the opening of camp. But, how excited would they be if they did not know when the camp started? What if they just knew it was coming soon, how long would they stay excited?

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a parable about ten women who were waiting for the groom to come. In those days the groom would come at night to surprise the bride once their home was complete. In the story, five were ready and they had plenty of oil; the other five did not. They ran out. By the time they got some, it was too late.

You and I are supposed to be ready at any time for the return of Christ because we don’t know when He is coming. Are you ready? I know without a set date it can be hard to stay ready, but we have our packing list in the Bible and time to get prepared. May we live in the anticipation of His return.

Matthew 25:13

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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

 

June 23 – Devotional: A Jesus Makeover

It first aired on December 3, 2003. At first it was simply remodeling a house in a single week. Later, they began demolishing the old house and building a brand new one in its place. Extreme Makeover Home Edition lasted nine seasons and 200 homes. But compared to the new show, Ty and the gang look more like sloths.

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Let me introduce Renovation Raiders on HGTV. The concept is simple. While a couple is out to dinner a team of workers come in and completely transforms one of their rooms.  Dinner has to last five hours, but the results are pretty amazing. What should normally take weeks of dust and inconvenience is completed in a single evening.

That speaks to the way we live today, doesn’t it? We want it all done in a flash. Homes built in a week, rooms remolded in an evening . . . no wonder we get so frustrated with a God who does not wave a magic wand to fix all of our problems instantly.

Just because He doesn’t work in that manner, does not mean that He isn’t working and that He doesn’t care. The New Living Translation of the Bible explains it in Psalm 37 by saying:

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”

If the remodel He is working in your life is taking a little longer than you want or He is not zapping the bad guys like He should, don’t watch Renovation Raiders and be frustrated -instead read your Bible and be reminded of His promises.

The Holy Bible, The New Living Translation

Copyright @ 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,
Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.

 

 

 

 

June 22 – Devotional: Can Dry Bones Live Again?

On the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Sidney Street sits an old church building. On the side of the building, there is a cornerstone in concrete. The original congregation name has been removed, but the words “Organized 1863 Erected 1931” still display for all to see the heritage and beginning of a once vibrant ministry in the middle of their neighborhood.

June 22 – Devotional- Can Dry Bones Live Again?

The sight isn’t really all that unusual. Across our cities are church buildings abandoned by their original builders as the community in which they served changed. Either they moved to the suburbs, or because of some internal dissension, they just ceased to exist.

But there is something unusual about this one. A few years ago now, the building long abandoned, a new church planter and his ministry team came to that corner and began leasing the building. They started by fixing the roof, installing heat and air and began to minister to the multi-ethnic population of that area. And do you know what? People started coming.

Not the people for whom the building was originally built, but the people who lived in the neighborhood now. It reminds me of the conversations God had with Ezekiel. He asked in Ezekiel 37: 3-6: “Do you think these bones can live again? . . . Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ ”

Praise God to those who built a building in 1931 that serves a community today.

Ezekiel 37: 3-6

“Do you think these bones can live again? . . . Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ ”

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

 

June 21 – Devotional: Losers to Winners!

I don’t think the Biblical prophet Micah had in mind the Hartsville Baseball team, but I think he would admit they would be a pretty good example. You see, three years ago when the current seniors were freshman, they lost every baseball game they played that season. Every one of them.

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At one time they had lost 34 games in a row. But this year, after going 18 and 4, they found themselves in state Class 2 A finals where they defeated West Platte 4 to 3 with a walk off, single drive in the go ahead run.

Talk about the last becoming first! But, I am not sure that is exactly what Micah had in mind when he spoke these words of prophecy in Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

That little town, the place of our Savior’s birth was a simple little community that has been transformed into the center of the world around Christmas time. God has a passion and a way of doing that. He is always concerned about the outcast, the little guy, the orphan, the widow, and the loser.

Maybe you are feeling that way. Maybe you don’t think you are smart enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough, or whatever it is. Maybe you don’t think you will ever win and that you are always rejected. Take heart today, or rather Hartville today and remember that God takes losers and turns them into winners at the foot of the cross.

Micah 5:3

“Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.”

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

June 20 – Devotional: Taste of Heaven

They only offer one flavor of custard, vanilla, but since 1930, Ted Drewes has become a St. Louis favorite. In the summers, lines form dozens of people deep, all waiting their turn to order a concrete. A base of vanilla custard mixed with just about any ingredient you can think of, including certified kosher ones, create the concrete. It is so thick you can turn your cup upside down without risk of a free-fall-custardness.

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I was recently in St. Louis and experienced it all first hand. I had indulged in Ted’s before, but not while standing in line. It was about 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night right after Memorial Day. I had the s’mores concrete, in case you are wondering, but what I glimpsed was more satisfying.

You see, around the Grand Avenue location it is very diverse. It is made up of all sorts of people of various nationalities, incomes, backgrounds and I am pretty sure political persuasions, and yet we were all putting that aside for a few minutes to eat Ted Drewes custard.

As I tried not to stare at anyone in particular, I think I caught a glimpse of heaven.  John wrote in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ ”

The next time you are in St. Louis, check out Ted Drewes custard and order a concrete, and maybe, just maybe you will get a taste of heaven.

Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hand, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ ”

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

 

 

 

 

June 19 – Devotional: Are Good Deeds Enough?

We are cat people in my house. Go ahead and hate me if you want, but cats are easier than dogs to leave when you go away for a weekend. We currently have an indoor cat, but growing up we had outdoor cats. Every once in a while we would find a dead mouse or dead bird on the doorstep from the cat. Has that ever happened to you?

June 19 – Devotional- Are Good Deeds Enough?

I am not really sure what was going through the little kitty’s mind, but our cats were not the only cats to do so. It seems there is something instinctive in these efficient hunters as they leave their prey. Whether they are making a sacrificial offer or some type of payment for all the cat food they have been eating or just showing off their hunting prowess, we don’t know.

It has happened so often that the phrase “look what the cat dragged in” has become an idiom in our vernacular, although, it usually is not a very nice one. Which reminds me of how God must feel when we bring our best to Him. We think we have done really well sometimes, helped a homeless person or put a few extra bucks in the plate, but all of our good deeds are like filthy rags, as Isaiah called them.

We have all become unclean because of our sin. And our doing good is much like bringing a dead mouse to the doorstep. Thanks, but that is not what I wanted, and it’s really not that great of a gift. So, what is a good gift for God? Well, it is not sacrifice or good deeds, but a broken and contrite heart that will worship Him.

May the cats you encounter remind you of our weakness in pleasing God and His desire for your whole heart.

Isaiah 64:6

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

June 18 – Devotional: Can’t Hide From God

In the last verse of the book Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  Scott Simon learned that the hard way.

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After an argument broke out between he and Nicolas Walker, he murdered him. But before he did that, he made a phone call. Not on purpose, it was an accident. You know one of those that can sometimes happen especially on those older phones? It was one of those unintended dials.

Apparently, the phone dialed 911 (of all places) and the operator was able to record the whole conversation as Scott was telling his friend that he was following Nicolas and was going to kill him. Which, unfortunately, is exactly what he did.

Soctt Simon was arrested and is awaiting a trial for the murder. Whether or not he would have gotten away with it, we don’t know, but what we do know is this: You might be able to outwit the police from time to time, and you can even fool your teacher, or your parents or even your boss.  But, God sees it all, and he too is recording it.

There is nothing he does not see, and one day we will have to stand in front of Him and pay for our actions. If you remembered that God was watching, would you act differently? As a believer who has trusted Christ, we are no longer under the wrath of His judgment. Jesus took that. Praise God, we have nothing to fear, but we still should obey Him because that is what pleases Him.

If you don’t know Him and you think you are getting away with something, let the word of God be a warning to you. You are not.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

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