May 31 – Devotional: Being With Friends

I don’t play golf.  I have enough frustration in my life without adding golf to it.  I signed up for the church golf tournament just to interact with a group of guys.  Thirty-six men signed up and we will gather on a Sunday afternoon for nine holes of golf.  I am most excited about is that the event has turned into a multi-generational gathering.

078 golf2

Men in their 80’s all the way down to men in the 20’s with every age in between decided to sign up.  Every church struggles with that from time to time wanting to be multi-generational but not pulling it off!  I recognize the value and importance of getting together no matter how humiliated I will be once I start playing.

Everyone knows that we need each other and that we all need friends.  Jesus knew that, and at the beginning of His ministry He invited 12 men to be with him.  That is such a powerful word, “with”.  And for three years those 12 men spent their time “with” Jesus as He travelled, as He taught and even as He died.

On that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had the eleven disciples that were left “with” Him.  He even called Peter and James and John to be closer to His life.  Now they did not really provide a lot of encouragement, they even fell asleep, but to the Son of God, even their unfaithful presence with him was important.

When is the last time you have called some friends just to be with you?  I know with schedules it is really difficult to get everybody together, but there is really power in doing so and it feeds the soul.

So today, make a list of some friends, they don’t even have to be very close ones, or even very good friends, and make a plan to get together and just be with each other.  Jesus did, and I think that you will be glad that you did.

Matthew 26:35-36

35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

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 30 – Devotional: Are You Confident?

Are you a confident person? I am really not. I am always second and third guessing myself, lying awake at night wondering if I made the right decision today, and trying to make the right one tomorrow. In an effort to boost my confidence I even bought a Subaru, because their slogan is “confidence in motion.” It didn’t help.

May 30 – Devotional- Are You Confident?

My lack of confidence is even more disconcerting as a leader. Leaders are supposed to be full of confidence, full of faith, and inspiring stories. Not me, which is why I have recently attached myself to Gideon. He was the one who led 300 men into battle against 135,000 troops. That sounds pretty courageous, but it took quite a while to get him to that point.

Even though the angel of the Lord met him face to face, accepted his offering and promised a great victory, Gideon wanted one more sign. He took a fleece (the wool of a lamb) and put it on the ground. He then asked God to have all of the nighttime dew be only on the fleece. If he found it that way the next morning, then Gideon would believe God.

Guess what happened? Yes, just what he asked. But, even that was not good enough for Gideon. Just in case that was just circumstantial evidence, he asked God to do the opposite the next night. To make the ground wet but the fleece dry. And God condescended himself and made that happen.

Gideon goes on and leads the people, but how many times have we gone back and asked God again for something? Some affirmation that He is still with us? Part of the reason God does not always answer our laying out of the fleece like he did for Gideon is because we have something so much better . . . God’s word to study and see His hand.

So, the next time you start to second guess, go back to God’s word and be reminded that He is the God who will do what He says He will do.

Judges 6:36-40

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor’ . . . And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.”

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 29 – Devotional: Acts of Kindness

Have you ever been to the Mall of America? At the time it opened in 1992 it was the largest shopping mall in the U.S. with over 96 acres under one roof, 520 stores, an amusement park, and 12,287 parking places. It is pretty massive and pretty unique in many ways.

May 29 – Devotional- Acts of Kindness

For instance, there is not a heating system in the commons part of the mall. Yes, even though it is in Minnesota, there is no need for heat. In fact, the heat from all of the lights, sunlight, and body heat keep everything so warm that sometimes, even in the Minnesota winter, they will run the air conditioner.

But, what is even stranger to me is that recently they released 72,000 Ladybugs into the mall. Yes, 72,000 Ladybugs. Why? Well, it seems that aphids are a problem on the 30,000 live plants and 400 trees in the mall. So, instead of insecticides to kill the aphids, they let the Ladybugs do the dirty work.

I wonder what that looks like . . . 72,000 Ladybugs all flying through the mall? I would imagine that they make quite an impact on the mall. Not unlike the impact we are to make on this world. No, we are not supposed to go around eating aphids, but we are to go around doing good deeds.

Paul in writing to Timothy said about us, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share.” I wonder what it would look like for 72,000 of us to go into the mall (which attracts 40 million visitors a year) and do good, by being generous.

Well, we will probably never see that, but if every one of us would do just one good deed today- I bet we could make an impact on the world around us. So, think like a Ladybug in the mall and do a good deed.

I Timothy 6:18

“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

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 28 – Devotional: Stay Connected To God

One of the most positive trends in the last ten years is Wi-Fi in waiting rooms from the auto repair place to hospital waiting room to the hair stylist. (Though I don’t need that last one personally, I noticed the last time I was there for my boys to get their haircuts.)

May 28 – Devotional- Stay Connected to God

Having Wi-Fi just makes the time go by faster and it allows me to keep working.  Whether it is writing sermons, capturing ideas for 2 minute pastor, creating a presentation, planning the calendar or dreaming about the future.  I can work and not even miss a beat with the world at my fingertips.

But, when I go to one of those places that do not have Wi-Fi or it’s not working- it is incredibly frustrating. If feels like I am wasting time while waiting, that I am trapped in a box with no connection to the world. I know, that is a little strange; but what is even stranger is when we feel disconnected from God when He is everywhere, available to us anytime.

In Psalm 16:8 the Psalmist makes the decision to never feel that disconnection. He writes, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Have you made that decision? Maybe there is something going on in your life or in the lives around you that have caused you to be shaken. It does not have to be that way; you can be near His presence as quickly as you decide to do so.

So, the next time you find yourself in a waiting area that does not have Wi-Fi? Take the moments you would have used connecting to the outside world, to connect with Him.

Psalm 16:8

“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

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 27 – Devotional: Rewards In Heaven

Okay, I sure hope this is not true, but according to FOX 5 (the local TV affiliate in Washington, D.C./Maryland) it now has just passed a rain tax. Yes, a rain tax. The website article read, and I quote, “If you live in Maryland, get ready to pay for rain. Lawmakers passed an ‘Impervious Surfaces’ tax – also being called the ‘Rain Tax.’ Basically, you’ll be charged for any surface of land you own that does not absorb rainwater. The ultimate goal is to reduce storm-water runoff and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. How much you’ll pay depends on where you live – as each county will determine its own fee.”

May 27 - Devotional- Rewards In Heaven

So, the more water that runs off your property into the storm drains, the more taxes you will pay to help fund environmental efforts. The more rain, the more you pay.  Hmm . . . glad I don’t live in Maryland. I am even gladder that God doesn’t play favorites like that.  In fact, He even loves the one who imposes the taxes and so should we.

In that great Sermon on the Mount He tells his listeners, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

So, the next time it rains, be glad you don’t live in Maryland and be thankful that God lets it rain on all of us.

Matthew 5:45

“So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

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

 

 

Perkins, Tony. “Chesapeake Bay Foundation Explains Maryland ‘Rain Tax’ – DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG.” FOX NEWS 2. Fox News. FOX 5,

May 26 – Devotional: Practicing Godliness

It happens twice a year . . . my wife’s school music concert. She teaches music at a small school leading both the choir and the band. Not every musician is able to accomplish such a feat, especially with junior high and high school students, but she is an amazing musician and very talented.

May 26 - Devotional- Practicing Godliness

So, I dutifully go and support my wife and I am always surprised by something . . . how much better the students are between the two concerts.  It is hard to believe I am listening to the same students. The difference between the fall and the spring events are a testament to what hard work and daily practice can produce.

In the book of the psalms we are encouraged to shout for joy in the Lord and to give thanks to the Lord with the lyre, to make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings and to sing a new song to Him, playing skillfully on the strings with loud shouts.

I kind of get to hear both each year. What sounds like a new song in the fall, ends up played skillfully in the spring all because of hard work and practice.

Now, I know that is not quite what the psalmist had in mind, but let me ask you- are you practicing godliness so that your life is skillfully played for the Lord? A new song is great and we should be constantly learning new songs, but a life that sounds like you have never heard the song before, not so much.

But, a song skillfully played; well, it is music to the ears. So, I will enjoy next year’s spring concert while I prepare my ears for the fall. May all of our songs for the Lord be skillfully sung for the Glory of our God.

Psalm 33:3

“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”

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 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