March 8 – Devotional: Why Does God Let Bad Guys Win?

Why does God let the bad guys win?  Have you ever wondered that?  I sure have.  Surely God wants the good guys to win, right, and of course the good guys are me or those I am rooting for, but it does not always happen that way.  Why?

devo 8 bad guys win

Well we don’t always get to see what happens after the enemies win, but in the book of I Samuel in chapters 5 and 6 we do get a glimpse.  You see the Philistines defeated God’s people and they end up capturing the Ark of the Covenant.  It was the golden box that represented the presence of God.  It was the worst of all possible outcomes of the enemy winning.

But behind the scenes God had a purpose and a plan.  You see after knocking over and chopping the head of the Philistine God off, (A fish/man statute housed in a temple), and terrorizing three different cities of the Philistines by infecting the people with tumors, boils and death, the Philistines decide to return the ark.  (You see the Ark made a tour of the Philistine cities much like a championship trophy makes a tour among the state or a racecar driver takes a victory lap.)  In each place God demonstrated His power was greater than their God.

But ironically the very ones who so brazenly took the ark were giving it back, in fact they even sent a tribute to the God of the Israelites so he would not be mad at them and would take the Ark back.

That is what is so amazing about our God.  He turns defeats into glorious victories.  The cross, looked like an ugly defeat, the reality the greatest victory ever won.  So what does that mean for you today?

Well the next time you have a defeat, just remember, it may be the start of an even bigger victory for you, if you will just trust, keep moving forward and keep believing.  You can do it, it can happen.

1 Sammuel 6:20

20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

March 7 – Devotional: Put On the New Self

“Oh Danielson, wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off.”  Ok, if you did not grow up in the 1980s you may have no idea what I am doing, but if you did, then your remember Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and his unusually training regiment for young Daniel on his way to karate stardom.

devo 7 put on new self

In order to build up his strength, he had Daniel perform lots of different tasks around his home, painting the fence, sanding the deck, etc, but had him do it in very particular ways.  All were designed to train his body to perform key karate moves, now Daniel finally gets mad thinking that Mr. Miyagi is just using him for slave labor around this place.

But that phrase wax on, wax off, caught on, at least around my friends.  But it is still a good training plan for us as believers.  Now, no not to wax on and off, but to put off and put on.

You see as sinners who are (naughty by nature, another 80’s allusion for those who get it.) do the wrong thing naturally and have to work to put off the old man and his ways and put on the new man.  It takes a conscious and consistent effort.  And how can we do that?

Well I often encourage people who are trying to break a bad habit, to make it hard to get to bad stuff, and easy to get to good stuff.  For a person on a diet, throw away all of the foods you are not supposed to have and replace it with healthy foods.  Yes, you can still go the store and by a Twinkie, but hopefully on the way you will stop yourself.

For the believer, those things that are attractive to the old man have to be out of reach and replaced with the good things.  So today, go and do it, I know you can.

Ephesians 4:22-24 New International Version NIV

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

March 6 Devotional: Are You Bitter Toward Someone?

They say that bitterness is like taking poison hoping to sicken the other person.  But you know as well as I, that bitterness never affects whom you want it to, it always affects you.  So why do we become bitter?

march 6th bitter toward someone

Often times our bitterness is a result of feeling mistreated, or not having had our expectations met or even sometimes, missing out on something.  Maybe you did not get an invitation to that party, or the other person got the promotion.  Bad things will happen over and over in our lives but the issue is how we will deal with them.

It is ok to be hurt, or sad or even angry, the problem becomes when we feel that way, too deeply or for too long.  It becomes a root, the Scripture says.  The root of course is the source of nutrition and support for a plant.  Most of the time below the surface, hardly ever seen but so important to the life of the plant.

You all have tried to get rid of unwanted weeds before and you know that unless you are able to get to the root system, that plant keeps growing back.  I had that happen one time in the front flowerbed of the house.  There was this stubborn weed.  I would pull it out, thinking I got all of it, until the next week when it grew right back.  We finally moved before I felt like I got the victory.

But you don’t have to move to get the victory over bitterness in your life, you have control over it?  You just have to forgive and move on.  I know that it is much easier said than done, but you control it yourself.  You have the key to the cell you have locked yourself in.

So today consider what you might be holding inside.  Is there somebody you haven’t forgiven?  Then forgive.  Quit poisoning yourself.

Hebrews 12:15 New International Version NIV

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

 

March 5 Devotional: How Do You Deal With Your Anger?

How is your temper?  Do you ever fly off at the handle?  That phrase was first put into print by Thomas C. Haliburton’s The Attaché; in England, around 1843.  It refers to that rare occurrence when an ax head would accidentally fly off the handle from which it was attached while someone was swinging it.

deal with anger 2

Can you imagine the danger of that?  A sharp heavy ax head sailing through the air!  Whoever was caught in its way would suffer some potentially serious injury.  There they are just minding their own business and whack.

That really is a pretty good illustration of what anger really does.  It often does not immediately effect the one who is angry, but woe to the unsuspecting person who receives that anger.  I think that is at least part of why the writer of Proverbs is warning us that a quick-tempered man (one who flies off at the handle) can cause a lot of damage because under the influence of anger, he/she can do some pretty foolish things.

Just recently after a game 2 playoff loss NBA player Amare Stoudemire in anger punched the glass enclosure of a fire extinguisher. The resulting injury caused him to miss game three, and made him the center of every joke around.  He later tweeted, “We all have done thing out of anger that we regret. That makes us human. Bad timing on my part. Sorry guys. This to shall pass.”

Well maybe you have never punched a pane of glass, but all of us have done or said some pretty foolish things in the heat of anger.  Let me encourage you to take the advice of James when he says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Proverbs 14:17 – New International Version (NIV)

A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.

March 4 Devotional: How Do You Spend Your Time?

Knock knock! You say,  “Who’s there?”  Ice cream! Ice Cream who? Ice cream if you don’t let me in.  Ok what is worse telling a knock knock joke, or laughing at you telling and answering one.?  Oh, I’ve got another one. Knock knock! Who’s there? Noah! Noah who? Noah way to open the door?

daily devo 4 doors

Ok, one more! Knock! Who’s there? I already know who’s there, you know how, opportunity only knocks once? Well, that may not always be true, but opportunity doesn’t knock loud or often, so when we have it we should take it.

The apostle Paul was writing to his friends in Ephesus and he warns them to take every opportunity to do right, because the days are evil.  He doesn’t necessarily mean that every day is evil, but he means that every day drifts toward evil.  It seems that this fallen world is inclined toward wasting opportunities to do good.

But, if we live carefully, being wise in how we approach our time, how we approach our day, and not just wasting it, there are lots of opportunity to follow the Lords leading and make good come out of the day.

But if we are not, we will just waste our days.  Now everyone needs a day off every now and then, a little down time to rest and relax, to recharge the old batteries.  God, in fact designed a rhythm of life for us by placing a day of rest for every six we work.  That is a pretty good pattern to follow.

So let me ask you, are you spending your days wisely?  Being careful?  If not why not start today.

Ephesians 5:15 New International Version (NIV)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

March 3 Devotional: Do You Need Some Spiritual Discipline

Coach Lindsey.  My junior high track coach.  Killer Lindsey we called him.  Seems like all he ever did was make us run.  Guess that is why he was the track coach.  I remember my first race, it was a 400 meter run.  I approached the killer and asked for advice.

devo 3 track

“Franks”, he said. “When they fire the gun you take off running, turn left, keep turning left, run straight, then make two more lefts running as fast as you can, cross the finish line and then come see me.”  That was the last time I asked him for advice!

Why? Well there really is not much you can do on race day.  Most of your performance is dependent upon your training.  Upon how well you were disciplined in your preparation.  Track isn’t that much different than preparing for a test, or practicing a presentation, or learning to play an instrument.  It takes discipline.

Hebrews 12 says that it is true about spiritual matters as well.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful, but later it produces a harvest.”  Disciplined track practices produces faster times, disciplined study, higher grades, discipline practice produces better performance.

But what does spiritual discipline produce?  Something so much more valuable, righteousness and peace.  How is your righteousness going?  How peaceful are you, it just might be that you have not been training yourself in the spiritual disciplines of bible reading, prayer, mediation on the Scriptures, memorizing verses.

Sure none of those may seem very pleasant.  Training and practice normally never really are, but the pay off the reward is amazing.  So are you needing a little more peace that you have right now?  Do you what to do the right thing more often than doing the wrong thing?  Well not start right now?  You can do it.  If you begin today.

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

March 2 Devotional: Are You A True Fan?

Have you ever noticed that when a team is winning, their stadium is full and when they are losing, their stadium is less full?  Nothing like a fair weather fan.  The kind who shows up in good weather, but stays at home when it is bad.  I recently went to watch my first Major League Soccer game.  I have only become a fan over the last several years since my boys started playing.
stadium

I happened to be in Dallas and attended an FC Dallas game (Major league soccer).  The place was empty.  Less than 5,000 people crowded into a stadium that seats over 20,000.  It felt kind of lonely.  Contrast that to the 38,000 fans who watch a Seattle Sounders game.  Do you want to guess which team is 7 and 3 and which is 3 and 8.

What is it about us that only wants to win?  Which is what makes Job’s response to his tough times all the more unusual.  You remember Job, faithful, righteous.  Yet the Lord allows Satan to make his life a living heck.  Job cant think of anything he has done wrong, but all his friends seem to think that he has.

Yet Job recognizes that while yes he is a sinner, the truth is that anything he receives that is good he does not deserve and anything that is bad, well he deserves it.  God is so holy and so different, Job knows that it is Gods business to do whatever he wants.  That’s why he is able to say the Lord gives, and the Lord takes, still blessed is His name.

Job is a true God fan.  Not just cheering God when things are going his way and booing (or not even showing up) when things are not going his way.  He is going to bless God at all times in all circumstances.

I wonder what circumstances you are facing, are you a fair weather God fan?  Why not bless the Lord no matter what?  You can do it, and do it today.

Job 1:22 – New International Version (NIV)

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.