September 24 – Devotional: Respond To The Call

I got a call the other day from a person I had never met. He was a leader in Montana and invited me to come and speak at a conference they were having in a few months. Now, I don’t know anybody in Montana. I had never been and had no real plans to go, but my schedule was open and I had made a commitment that as my schedule allows I would go and speak wherever I was asked. So I said yes.

sept23montana

That is kind of the way the gospel reached Philippi. The apostle Paul got a call from a man and he responded. Acts 16 tells us the story, in verses 9-10: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.’ ”

I don’t compare myself to Paul, and neither should you, but I wonder if you have ever heard from God to go and do something?  Maybe not as dramatic as Montana, or Macedonia, but maybe somebody at church is asking you to serve in some way, or you have been asked to go on a mission trip . . . While I am not saying you should say yes to every invitation, I think if the request has to do with sharing the gospel it is something you should seriously consider.

I wish Montana was the only invitation I received recently, but I had another one which is much more intense and scary which I am praying over and probably going to say yes.  So, just be ready, you never know when or where the Lord may call you to go but just be ready with a yes.

Acts 16:10

“And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel 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

2-Minute Pastor Copyright © 2013

 

 

September 23 – Devotional: The Beginning Point

I stumbled on it by accident. It was like finding the Holy Grail without even looking at it.  I was riding around with a friend near the Atlanta airport looking for a place to eat dinner.  Even though I never have any luck with Siri on my iPhone, I decided to ask about restaurants near me.

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When I asked the question, up popped Dwarf House. My heart skipped a beat. Really?! . . . It can’t possibly be true. I plugged in the address and after a couple of wrong turns through some less than desirable neighborhoods, there it was . . . The Dwarf House, the birthplace of Chick-fil-A. We went in, sat down and ordered at the counter. I chose the Chick-fil-a platter with macaroni and cheese and sweet potato soufflé. My friend was about to order a cheeseburger just to spite those cows, but he relented and had the spicy sandwich.

This classic diner was Truett Cathy’s start where he “invented the chicken sandwich.”  It was a rich experience thinking that it all began there. I have had that feeling before, but in a much more profound way when I was at the Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.  It was there according to Genesis 22:2 that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah. That is exactly what he was willing to do because of his faith, which led to the creation of a great nation, of which you and I are a part of today.

Oh, I know, I know . . . comparing the temple mount to the Dwarf House is almost sac religious, but beginning points are so important to our lives. We all look back on them with profound fondness, like maybe the place where we began to follow Jesus. Ironically, we don’t always know how important those moments are until much later.

Take today for instance; will what you do today for God be a beginning point that others will remember decades later? Who knows, it just might.

Genesis 22:2

“He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ ”

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 © 2013

 

 

 

 

 

September 22 – Devotional: Keeping Sin Secret

I am not exactly sure where the phrase, “a skeleton in your closet came from.”  The Internet is full of lots of different rather colorful stories, but we are all familiar with the meaning. A skeleton in the closest is a secret source of shame, potentially ruinous if exposed, which a person or family makes efforts to conceal. (At least according to the British website, The Phrase Finder.)

sept22skeleton

It is driven by fear of someone finding out something you are trying to hide. Now, I am sure most of us have some rather embarrassing things that we would rather everyone not know (which may be why many of us move away from the towns where we grew up) but a true skeleton is something that can ruin you.

 

Sin can be like that. Yes, we all are sinners and have committed sin, both acts of commission and acts of omission but there are some sins that have some rather dire consequences. Which is what some of Job’s friends thought he must have done. In chapter 10 of the book of Job, he cries out, I have not done anything to deserve this! What is happening to me? But his friend Zophar tries to remind him that we have all sinned and deserve much worse than what he is experiencing.

He gives some good advice and says, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.”

But, Job was also right. There was not a direct connection to sin and punishment; neither Job nor Zophar had the benefit of God’s conversation with the adversary. So, where does that leave us? Well, I think we should put sin far away from us, but be thankful that God forgives the sin that is in our closet.

Job 11:14-15 “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.”

Martin, Gary. “A Skeleton in the Closet.” A Skeleton in the Closet. Gary Martin, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.

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 © 2013

 

 

September 21 – Devotional: God Is Everlasting

It will soon be soccer season again in the Franks family. For the last six years I have been assistant coach to a guy named Randy. I started helping out with my oldest son’s team as our boys are the same age, and a couple of years ago added helping with Travis’ teams as well.

sept21frog

Neither Randy or I are experts in soccer coaching, but we love the game and love the kids. We work pretty well together so I really enjoy it. Since we like to play up a division we have found ourselves going up against some pretty good teams with boys several years older than ours.  In order to help motivate the team, Randy will introduce a cartoon of a frog.

The picture has a bird, which looks like a crane with a frog in its mouth, but the frog has his hands around the throat of the frog preventing him from being swallowed.  Even though the frog looks like he is in trouble, as long as he holds on to the throat of the bird, there is no way he can be swallowed.

When things are down, Randy will shout from the sidelines, “remember the frog!” And it works. You and I have something so much better to shout to each other from the sidelines. It is found in Isaiah 40: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Okay, remember the frog is easier to say, but if we can remember those three verses, we can never lose.

Isaiah 40:28

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”

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 © 2013

 

 

 

 

September 20 – Devotional: Sin Is A Game-Changer

I am looking forward to my first full season watching my new sport . . . English Premier League Soccer. I started watching late last season, but my love of the game, and my desire just to be different, have me eager to follow the full season. The most unique aspect of EPL soccer has to be the idea of relegation.

sept20sin

At the end of every season the three last place teams are moved to a lower division, while the top three teams of the lower division move up to the Premier League. (Imagine the impact on Major League Baseball if the three last place teams moved to the minor leagues. Bad news for the Pittsburg Pirates, huh?)

Most of those teams that get moved up one year – end up getting relegated the next year.  So, I am going to choose one new team and cheer for them to avoid relegation. There’s something I like about having to prove yourself in order to stay at the top level, rather than just relying on the past.

Which is kind of the way God is. No, you don’t lose your salvation if you sin, that is the whole point of needing a Savior. But, you sure can lose your position. Just ask King Saul.  He was the Lord’s anointed, but he just could not follow the Lord. He was so talented and so strong and so likeable that he kept disobeying God until the point when Samuel came and said in I Samuel 15:23, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” Verse 28 goes on to say, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.”  In other words, you have been relegated.

God takes sin very seriously; you should as well. So, I will be cheering for those three new teams, and I will be praying that God does not relegate you because of your sin.

I Samuel 15:23

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

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 © 2013

 

 

September 19 – Devotional: Called You By Name

I was standing at the door of our preschool the other day. We were looking at the possibility of doing some remodeling and I had a couple of guys with me checking it out.  About that time a class of preschoolers was coming back in escorted by its teacher.  Now, a lot of the kids do not attend our church and even the ones that do- the preschoolers do not make it into the “big room” for worship; so, I was not surprised that they did not recognize me.  But, I was surprised by the reaction they gave my two friends.

sept19name

You see, my friends were from the fire department and were wearing their uniforms.  There’s something about a man in a uniform I suppose, because every child was oooing and awing at these important men. (And me? . . . well, chopped liver once again.) All of us are attracted to a uniform; something just draws us there. I am excited that my oldest is required to wear a uniform at his new school. There is one drawback – they all look the same. Unless you somehow mark the uniform as yours, it can be easy for yours to get lost, since they all look the same.

With all of the people in the world, I think we can feel a little lost like that. We are just one more face in a sea of faces; I think this is even worse when you live in a large city surrounded by so many more faces. So, if you are feeling a little bit like that today, let me read Isaiah 43:1 to you, it says, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ ”

You are special and loved by God, uniform or not.

Isaiah 43:1

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ ”

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 © 2013

 

 

 

September 18 – Devotional: Friends Forever

It was a Michael W. Smith moment. You don’t know what I mean? Well, the other night one of our worship teams got together to have a meal together. It was a special occasion.  You see, one of the worship team members was leaving. Cody Sifford, who is one amazing guitar player and an all around super star of a musician, had accepted a call from a church in Orlando, Florida to come and lead their worship ministry.

sept18friends

Now, Cody and his wife, Jolynn (and new baby Emma) had spent the last several years with us, even leading our worship as an interim. We gathered around them, laid hands on them and prayed. It did not dawn on me until I got home and started thinking about it that I realized we had missed our Michael W. Smith moment.

If this gathering had happened in the 1980s or 1990s we would have had to sing a song to finish that time, the song, “Friends are Friends Forever”.  It was Michael W. Smith’s first hit, and it became the anthem at the end of every church camp, or graduation time for the next 20 years. I hate that we did not sing it for Cody, I am not even sure he was alive when it came out in ‘83, but the truth of that song is still powerful.

Friends are important to our well-being. God brings people both into and out of our lives along the way. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”  Even if we know we will have to say goodbye, we still love. But for those of us who have God as our Father, we will get to enjoy an eternity with each other as we worship the Lord together, and we will get to be friends forever.

So Cody and Jolynn, a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

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 © 2013

 

Smith, Deborah. A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends. Miscellaneous. Album. 1983. Friends lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing