July 17 – Devotional: God Loves Order

Recently the website BibleGateway.com revealed the 100 most popular Bible verses.  The results were based upon the tracking of searches on their website. As you might expect verses like John 3:16 (For God so loved the world . . .), Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you . . .) and Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ . . .) are all at the top.

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But, I was more interested in the least popular verses. According to the same source the verse from I Chronicles chapter 23-37 are the least read verses. Now, chapter 23 starts off pretty interestingly, “When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel . . .” But by verse 6, we read David separated the Levites into divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Next, the chapters give us the details of how each of the divisions was organized. Name after name, assignment after assignment it reads like a telephone book listing or an instructional manual. It is not seemingly a very interesting read. Yet, it is just as inspired as those verses I mentioned previously, but why are they in there?

There are a couple of reasons why they’re included. First, the Jewish people rightly believed they were in an unbroken chain to Jesus; it was critical that they had an accurate genealogy. Second, I think this demonstrates that we have not a God of chaos but a God of order. It is clear to see in creation. There are predictable patterns that repeat, in fact all of our scientific methods are based upon the principle of order.

Every time we drop a ball we know that it will fall to the earth, we know exactly when and where the sun will rise on the horizon. We do not live in a world of chaos but in a world of order, because we have a God of order.

The next time you come across these least read verses, be reminded they demonstrate the history of Jesus and remind us that God is a God of order.

I Chronicles 23:6

“And David organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”

“The 100 Most-Read Bible Verses at BibleGateway.com.” Biblegateway.com. N.p., 15 May 2009. Web.

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

 

July 16 – Devotional: Important Choices

The headline read… “Tonight is Forever.” I did not know what to make of that headline.  It grabbed my attention, which is exactly what headlines are designed to do. After a few seconds of pondering the meaning I realized it was showing a picture of Lebron James and I got it.

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You see, game seven of the 2013 NBA Finals were being played that night. If you are not familiar with the NBA playoff format, the two finalists play a series of games. The first team to win four games is declared the winner. Sometimes it only takes four games, other times five or six. Every once in awhile each team wins three games and it is all decided in a definitive game seven, with obviously the winner of that game becoming the champion.

But, the headline meant a little more than that. As a result of the game tonight, the winning team will be written down in history as the champion, and the loser of the game just that -a loser. History quickly forgets the details (seven games or four games) and only seems to remember the winner and the loser. Tonight’s result, the headline was declaring, would be remembered forever.  Or, at least as long as the participants and observers were still alive.

There are some moments like that for us, where the results of our decisions last at least a long time if not forever. Joshua had that moment when at a crucial point in his journey he said to those around him, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The result of 2013 NBA Finals will last a long time for sure, but the result of Joshua’s decision to follow Christ, and your decision to do the same, will last forever.

Joshua 24:15

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve 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

 

 

July 15 – Devotional: Look In The Sky!

I recently had a chance to return to the city of Houston, Texas; this massive city, the 4th largest city in the United States, was founded in 1836 and named for the first president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston. From that moment until now it continues to grow not just outward, but upward as well.

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According to Wikipedia, there are 45 skyscrapers that rise higher than 400 feet in the city, including 10 which rank among the tallest in the United States. The tallest building in Houston is the 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower, which rises 1,002 feet (305 m) in downtown Houston and seven of the ten tallest buildings in Texas are located in Houston.

As a guest staying in downtown Houston it was hard for me not to look up and stare. Every time I did, I stood out like . . . well, a tourist. Why? Because for the people around me, this is all old hat. They live here or work here, they see it all of the time; they have places to go, people to see, and they don’t even bother to look up. But, for the one who is new, all I could do was look up and marvel at what was around me.

As believers we do that too sometimes. We fail to look up. We are so busy and get so frustrated when things don’t go as planned. But, we need to remember solutions won’t come from our hard work, they will come from His hand. And one day, after certain things are allowed to happen, we are told to look in the gospel of Luke to look up and lift up your heads because “your redemption draws near.”

It is okay to be a tourist in the city, because this world is not our home.

Luke 21:28

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

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

 

 

 

 

July 14 – Devotional: Go The Extra Mile!

Have you ever heard of hypermiling? Hypermiling is a methodology designed to maximize fuel mileage in your car. Those who practice it believe that you can increase your fuel mileage by 40% to 70%. This is accomplished by using unusual techniques while driving. Things such as turning off the engine at a red light or accelerating more slowly than normal to conserve fuel and never, ever . . . going more than 45 miles an hour. The MythBusters (from the Discovery Channel) proved the validity of these words. They also proved that driving like this would tick off everyone else around you.

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I find it ironic that people would go to great lengths to save a few dollars per tank of gas and miss out on more important things, such as living life according to design. For instance, so many people waste so much time chasing after things that don’t last, that are only temporary.

You are probably familiar with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There is nothing wrong with getting the most miles you can out of your next fill up, but there is everything right about getting the most out of your life by maximizing your time and your relationships for the gospel. Why not consider beginning a spiritual conversation with someone you already know? Ask them if they hyper mile, and then ask if they hyper live and if they know how Jesus makes all the difference in this world and the next.

Matthew 6:21

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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

 

 

July 13 – Devotional: Ever Been Misjudged?

“Do you have a smart phone?” I bet I asked that question a hundred times over the course of three days. We were at a convention promoting the 2-Minute Pastor, (which I hope you will do if you find it valuable; just either like it or forward it to a friend, there is a place you can do that where the thumbnail is found.)

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But, that question revealed something about me. You see, I would ask a young person expecting a “Well, yea, of course,” and then I would ask an old person if they had a smart phone and expect to hear, “No. I have a dumb phone, I don’t want a phone smarter than me.”  Most of the time I was right, but I would say about 25% of the time, that younger person did not have a smart phone and the older person did. That just goes to show how limited I am.

People also misread Jesus. In John chapter 7, Jesus got up and taught in the temple and all the smart people were shocked, they asked where he got his learning. Jesus replied by saying, my daddy taught me, it is not my teaching but His. The scholars were a little offended by that. They called Him a demon.

Then Jesus taught them about Moses, the real meaning of the Sabbath and rebuked them for judging based upon appearances. They were expecting the Messiah to come from a different place, with a different background, speaking a different way, and teaching a different way.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you been misjudged? All of us have, even Jesus. I am so glad that God judges us with a right judgment, not based on appearances.

I learned my lesson, some older people have smart phones and some younger people don’t, but God loves them all and so should we.

John 7:24

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

July 12 – Devotional: Train Up A Child

You are here today because of the work of a lot of different people. Obviously, your parents are a big part of your being here and had a tremendous influence on how you became who you are.

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But there are other people, who through their influence shaped who you are. Certain teachers, certain friends, your spouse, your boss and the list goes on and on. But I think some of the most influential people in our lives are the ones who were there when we were young.

One of those guys in my life was not a teacher (I am pretty sure he never went to college) but growing up in the youth group at Third Baptist Church, JD White was on a good number of those youth trips.

After he and his wife’s (Faye) children had grown up and left the roost, they became the official youth sponsors. Some of my best memories were going to Norman, Arkansas and floating on the river.

JD had some canoes and he would load up, take us a few miles up the river and we would float down back to the campsite owned by some gracious church members who every year would let us take over. JD also had an old bus that had been converted into a camper with a full kitchen. I remember Faye cooking and JD washing and cleaning up.

I learned so much from the both of them. As a result of their influence I am who I am today. While he would never consider what he was doing as training, the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 that if we “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

A couple of weeks ago, they laid JD’s body to rest. But I will see him again one day.  Thanks JD for all you did.

Why don’t you take the time today to thank someone who helped make you who you are?

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

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

 

 

 

July 11 – Devotional: I Found It!

Recently some friends of ours went on a special date. He took her to a fancy steak and seafood restaurant. They had a wonderful time; what a great and expensive splurge it was for this couple. But, all of the fun came to a screeching halt the next morning when he realized he didn’t have his wallet.

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He hoped he had left his wallet in the restaurant, but since it didn’t open until 11 a.m., he spent the morning fretting over where his wallet could be, if not in the restaurant. In his wallet he had no cash . . . a few credit cards . . . his debit card . . . but most importantly was his driver’s license. Which normally wouldn’t be such a big deal—except, all of us had traveled together—by air. And as you know, no photo ID, no plane ride.

At 10:45 a.m. he headed over to the restaurant, hoping to recover the lost wallet. About twenty minutes later I received a text from him—PRAISE THE LORD!  I assumed that meant he had found his wallet. Sure enough he did, and we all celebrated. He, of course, more than I did.

It reminded me of a similar response by a man who had lost not a wallet, but a sheep. Both were excited and relieved upon their recovery, but those celebrations pale in comparison to the one Jesus mentioned that happens in heaven.  “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

I can’t imagine that kind of celebration. My friend was ecstatic over the recovery of a few pieces of plastic. Oh yes, they represent so much more, but not nearly as valuable as a human soul.

If we could just see that heavenly celebration, I tend to think that we would be more deliberate in our sharing of the love of Jesus. The next time you lose your wallet, or something else of value and you find it, remember finding people separated from God causes a heavenly celebration.

Luke 15:7

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

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