February 22 – Devotional: Citizenship In Heaven

Have you ever left the United States?  If you have, then you know you must have a passport.  A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies the identity and nationality of its holder for the purpose of international travel. You cannot legally enter or leave the country without one.  The application process currently takes about four to six weeks.

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Here’s the problem. We are planning a rookie mission trip for those within our congregation who have never been on an international trip. But we kind of waited a little too late.  In order to get the best airfare rates, we need to book the flights in the next two weeks.  If you have never been outside of the United States then you probably have never applied for a passport. If you wait too late, like we did, you will probably not get it in time.  So it does not make much sense to have a trip for those who cant go.

That is kind of the story of my life and that is having a great idea, only after it is too late.  So let me urge all of you who are watching if you don’t have a passport, get one!  It is not that expensive and it is pretty easy to do. The passport is good for ten years and that way when you get a chance to go on a mission trip, you will actually be able to go.

Do you have a passport for heaven?  Will you be accepted by God?  No, it wont take a passport to die, but it will take one to get into heaven.  Not a physical one granted by these great United States, but rather a passport given by Jesus himself.  He claimed to have all authority in heaven and on earth and said that He is the way to enter heaven.  If you don’t know him you can.  If you already do know Him then remember, your passport thus your citizenship is from heaven above.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

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 © 2014

 

February 21 – Devotional: Real Or Fake?

For roughly a century, the painting “Sunset at Montmajour” was considered a fake. It was stored in an attic and then held in a private collection, unknown to the public and dismissed by art historians. But this past Monday, the Van Gogh Museum declared the work a genuine product of the master, calling it a “major discovery”. (New York Times)

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Originally owned by a brother of Van Gogh, it was sold by an art dealer to a Norwegian collector in 1908. Shortly after that, “it was declared a fake, or not an original,” and the Norwegian collector banished it to his attic, where it stayed until he died in 1970. (New York Times)

Others purchased it and took it to the Van Gogh Museum in 1991; but at the time, experts did not think it was authentic. Two years ago, the owners took it back to the museum and researchers from the museum have been examining it ever since.

After utilizing a host of new techniques the experts have declared it authentic. While officials would not speculate on the value of “Sunset at Montmajour”, Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” painted the same year, sold at a 1987 Christie’s London auction for nearly $40 million.

The difference in value between real and fake is enormous when it comes to art, but far beyond value is the authentication of one’s spiritual walk with God. Jesus declared in Matthew 7, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out many demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, away from me, you evildoers.’ ”

Declare today your walk with Jesus by demonstrating a changed life, by both your words and your actions.

Matthew 7:22-24

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them  plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ”

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 © 2014

Grand Rapids, MI 49530

Siegal, Nina. “A Van Gogh’s Trip From the Attic to the Museum.” Nytimes.com. The New York Times Company, 09 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

 

 

February 20 – Devotional: Small Things Add Up

How in the world can a person steal 104,000 quarters? Well, apparently, one at a time.  That is the number of quarters that officials at the Oregon prison system estimate were stolen over the last nine years. The total amount? $26,000. All in quarters. (Fox News)

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The quarters were the proceeds of coin-operated lockers where those visiting inmates were to drop in their quarters. Those funds along with other coins from other vending machines were to be deposited in a fund to help released prisoners purchase bus tickets and other supplies to make the transition into the free world.

But, with no one given the responsibility of getting the money from point A to point B, and it being just a few dollars here and there, nobody followed up and nobody missed it.  But over time, nine years worth of time, those quarters add up.

Small things add up over time. Which is why what you are doing today is so important.  Those little daily actions create patterns and those patterns create a way of life. What way of life are you creating?

In Luke 9:23 Jesus said to those wanting to be His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  I think we miss that part . . . “daily”.  We want to be a super disciple and expect it to happen over night. But, really, the super disciples are those who have daily learned to walk with Him, over the long haul.

Quarters really start to add up over time, so does a daily walk with Jesus.

Luke 9:23

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

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 © 2014

 

“Oregon Prison Theft Not a Nickel-and-dime Deal. Instead, It Was 104,000 Quarters.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 03 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

 

February 19 – Devotional: Be Happy

Well, at least we made the top 25.  No, I am not talking about the latest college football ranking or the preseason basketball poll. No, I am talking about the latest Happiness rankings. According to the Second Annual World Happiness Report, the United States was ranked as the 17th happiest nation . . .not bad, I suppose, out of the 156 countries consulted.  (Business Insider)

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I mean, hey, we beat Great Britain (22), France (25) and Japan (43). But, we were beaten by Canada (6), Costa Rica (12) and Mexico (16). The self reported happiest countries were Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden, all in northern Europe. I am not sure how people who live in such cold climates could be that happy.

Apparently, happiness involves much more than just climate. It was actually a rating of their overall satisfaction with life, not just on how they feel at any moment. It shows that while economic conditions matter, factors such as life expectancy, freedom and social support are what make a person feel happy.

 

The Bible also takes that criteria in consideration of what makes a person happy and it is more than just a momentary feeling. The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”

So, if today is a day of adversity, it is okay; God made this day, and for some reason has allowed it to come your way. So be content with it, accept it, maybe even enjoy it because He also has made days of prosperity and you can enjoy those as well.  Maybe that is why those northern Europeans enjoy life so much in the cold, it helps them appreciate the warm days.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”

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 © 2014

 

Willett, Megan. “The Happiest Countries In The World.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 09 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

February 18 – Devotional: Life Is Not Fair

You are familiar with Netflix, the DVD mail service that has since added streaming. They were growing by leaps and bounds when they decided in 2011 to unbundle the two delivery methods. Instead of charging $10 like they had been doing, knowing that most people actually only used one or the other services, they would charge $8 for DVD rental and $8 for streaming. Only the few people who used both would have to pay more, everybody else would actually save money.

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But, that is not the way people perceived it. They felt it was a move to raise revenue. The people felt like they were being cheated; that it was not fair, which resulted in the people punishing the company. Ten million subscribers quit in a month. The company relented and changed plans. (CNET News)

The moral of the story: people want to be treated fairly and when they haven’t – they respond quickly and decisively. This fairness is a part of the national conscience that makes it really hard to explain that God is not fair . . . and that is a good thing.

If God were fair, we would all be separated and suffer punishment for our sin. But, God the Father chose to punish God the Son in our place. Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So, we don’t suffer the consequences of our sin. And forgiveness is available to anyone who repents and believes – from the worst person imaginable to the most moral.  It is just not fair. But, wouldn’t you rather have grace than justice? The only one for whom it is not fair, is Jesus. I can assure you, He is okay with it. Aren’t you glad He is?

Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

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 © 2014

Sandoval, Greg. “Netflix’s Lost Year: The inside Story of the Price-hike Train Wreck.” CNET News. CBS Interactive, 11 July 2012. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

February 17 – Devotional: Depend On God

The farmer was having a difficult time keeping the wild pigs out of his fields. He tried everything you could think of but nothing seemed to work. So, he approached the local pastor in the community and shared the problem with him. The pastor said, “I can solve your problem. It will just take me a few weeks. Will you let me give it a try?” The farmer said, “I have no other options for sure. Go ahead and try.”

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So, the very next day the pastor met the farmer at his field. The pastor brought a bag of feed and poured the feed out at the edge the field. And then he just walked away. The farmer was a bit skeptical; but not wanting to go back on his word with the pastor, allowed him to continue. Day after day the pastor went out and fed the pigs. About a week into the process, the pastor drove one fence post into the ground. The pigs just looked at the post, sniffed at it and then continued eating the food.

The next day, when the Pastor put up another fencepost, the same thing happened. And then, he added another fencepost and another fence post . . . and then he added a railing connecting the posts until finally the pastor had built a corral. Eventually, the only way to get to the feed was to go through a narrow opening in this new fence. The pigs continued to get their food not thinking anything of the fence . . . until the day the pastor closed the gate. The farmer was shocked that the pigs had been captured. The pastor said to him, “It is very simple. Those that depend upon me for food, I can and do control.”

John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  May you depend upon God for your need.

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

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 © 2014

 

 

 

 

February 16 – Devotional: Time To Downsize

I am always late to the party. I just recently found out about David Bruno and his “100 Things Challenge” . . . only to discover that it is over. What was the challenge? Well, it was his attempt to overcome excessive consumerism by reducing the stuff around him and to live with only 100 things for a year. (TIME Magazine)

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He applied the SHED method, an acronym that called for him to Separate the treasures, Heave the trash, Embrace your identity from within and Drive yourself forward. His website is still up and you can research his list of 100 things, or you can buy his book, but he has already moved on to other things.

But, I find him inspirational. I, too, have had a desire to downsize and get rid of my possessions that seem to take possession of me. But, it is so hard. Which is why Jesus warned us in Luke 12 about the danger of possessions, “He said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ ”

Why is it that we find value in stuff? I guess it is a way to cover up our weaknesses and our fears. If we have stuff, maybe someone will value us. Now, there is nothing wrong with having stuff, but as you have probably heard . . . the problem is when stuff has you.

I am not sure you have to limit yourself to 100 items in order to be spiritual, but is it time to get rid a few of things? Maybe you could start with getting rid of 100 things.  It might be a surprise how little you actually will miss those things and discover that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

Luke 12:15

“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ ”

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 © 2014

McLaughlin, Lisa. “How to Live with Just 100 Things.” TIME.com. TIME Magazine, 05 June 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.