November 23 Devotional

Every person that has ever lived has had to cope with problems.  It seems sometimes that we wake up facing problems, and then spend our whole day trying to solve them.  I’m sure that there are times that you just wish you could have a day without anything going wrong; without anyone complaining about what you have done, or are doing.  The Bible tells us that we are going to have problems in this life.  That is not the greatest promise, but the one that follows is.  “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.  For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favor is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).

 

If God is getting angry at us, it is because we are allowing the sin that He hates to rule in our lives.  God is righteous and is justified to have anger when we turn our back to Him.  There is a chastening, or a disciplining that comes when we violate the principles of the Word of God.  However, as this writer here says, it is only temporary.  Let me encourage you today to realize that the difficulties you may be facing today, can result in joy for tomorrow if you have the right reaction to them.

 

I have written before about some of the discipline I received as a young boy.  I never liked the discipline then.  As a matter of fact, I can remember begging, and making incredible promises that I would live a life of perfection if I could just avoid one spanking.  Thankfully, my mother was smarter than me and knew I needed the spanking to help me to experience the joy later.  Today I am a father/grandfather and I can tell you with a totally honest heart that I am very thankful that my parents paid the price to discipline me as a young boy.  Without that discipline as a young boy, I hate to think about where I would be today.  God has a righteous anger toward sin.  We should thank Him that He will share that with us when we walk in opposition to His will.

 

Oh, I know at the time it is tough, but in the “morning” there will be rejoicing if we have the right attitude.  Don’t fight against the discipline of God in your life.  Repent, accept the consequences, and make adjustments so you will do better the next time you face that same temptation.  When I coached sports, I told my players there are two kinds of people in the world.  The loser makes excuses when scolded; the winner accepts responsibility and then makes adjustments.  There can be joy in the morning for you, if you will have the proper reaction to the discipline.  Be a winner today!

November 21 Devotional

A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16).

 

One of the worst things we can do is to try to get everyone to fit into what we think they ought to do.  We love to tell other people what we think they should do, when that is really none of our business.  God has uniquely made and gifted each of us to be used in unique ways.  If we were all the same, we would be horribly lacking in many areas.  Because we are all different, we have the potential of functioning very well when working together.  The Apostle Paul used the illustration of us being different body parts in I Corinthians 12.  It is a wonderful study, and can explain this far better than I can.

 

When I read Proverbs 18:16 today, I realized that each man has a gift that has been placed in our life.  According to this verse, that gift we have been given will make a place for us in the world we are living.  It will place us before “great men.”  There are probably times in your daily life that you feel very insignificant, and wonder why you are here on this earth.  The answer lies in the gift(s) God has given you.  Anything good that can come from your life will be a result of what God has placed within you that He expects you to use for His glory.

 

About twenty-five years ago, God touched my heart with the need for Deaf people to be able to see the Gospel through Sign Language on my hands.  I was apprehensive in the beginning years, because I have never been good at learning a foreign language.  It is not something that comes easy for me (it still does not).  But, I began the process of learning the language and asking God for opportunities to use the language to tell Deaf how to go to Heaven.  I praise the Lord, as I look at where we have gone in working with the Deaf, and where we are going … it simply amazes me!  For the past thirteen and a half years, we have been serving the Lord in attempting to reach and teach the Deaf all over the northeastern states of the U.S., in Eastern Canada, and in Ukraine!

 

How is that possible?  The answer is that it has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with us simply taking the gift that has been given to us, and “making room” for it in our lives.  All the blessings we have experienced after that have been totally of the Lord!  We simply praise God for all He has enabled us to do, and then for the opportunities to stand before “great men” and use what He has blessed us with!  Use what you have for Him!

November 20 Devotional

The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1)?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell (27:2). 

Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident (27:3).

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple (27:4).

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: In the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock (27:5).

 

Do you know Him?  No, I mean really know Him.  Troubles will come to every person in this world.  When the troubles come in your life, you will see where you really put your trust.  You can tell people to trust God when you are having it good, or easy.  It is quite another thing for you to trust God when the troubles pull up at your front door.  Do you really know Him?

 

When difficulties come to you, is God the first Person you turn to for help?  Do you depend more on your family, friends, teachers, pastor, or even a stranger for your help? for your counsel?  There is only One Person I know that can change the course of the direction of your life … it is God Himself.  I want to encourage you to get to know this God that David wrote about in Psalm 27.

 

David did not find out that God was a good hiding place while living in the palace … he discovered it while hiding out in the caves while running away from Saul.  He realized the truth of it when Saul came into that very cave where he was hiding and fell asleep.  David found God to be a resting place in the middle of the battles of life.  Instead of complaining today about all the bad things you think are happening to you, why not look for the “resting place” in the midst of all the trouble.

 

If you will look for it, you are going to find God waiting to help you.  If you insist on running to others for comfort and consolation in trouble, you will just find that they have a boat-load of trouble of their own, and you will begin to share more trouble.  Run to the Rock of your salvation today!  Run to the “King of Glory” (Psalm 24:10).  Don’t throw your hands up and lose hope today.  There is a God Who has not moved, and He is ready to help you in your time of need today.  Run to Him!  He will never fail you!

November 19 Devotional

God promised the Israelites that He would lead them out of the bondage of Egypt.  They had been there 400+ years, and much of that time as slaves.  The focus of all the Jews was the Promised Land that God told them would be theirs … or was that their focus?  I would think that if I had been in a strange land for so long, that I would not be able to wait to escape!  Or, would I?  Would I too, become so accustomed to the foods, the customs, and the comforts of that lifestyle that I would be like the Israelites in the wilderness … complaining of missing the things they had left behind in Egypt?

 

When the time came, and Moses glimpsed the Promise Land, he sent a man of valor from each of the twelve tribes into that land God had promised.  He gave them specific instructions to see what was there and to return with a report.  Ten of these men gave a negative report about the impossibilities that faced them in that land.  Two of the men had vision, and clearly communicated that they thought the land was theirs to be conquered.  This lack of vision cost, not only the ten men, but all who were in their families over twenty-years of age.

 

Today, I read a sad verse in the book of Numbers.  After counting the people from the twelve tribes, the Bible says, “But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 26:64).  In other words, none of the family members of those ten tribes were about to step into the Promised Land.  Why?  Their brave spies were men without a vision.  God’s punishment was that their families over the age of twenty at the time of the first look into the Promised Land had died in the wilderness.

 

Their lack of vision cost not only them, but their families in a tremendous way.  How is you vision of the promises God has made to you in the Bible today?  Do you find yourself doubting God’s ability to conquer the “giants” and the “walled cities” in front of you?  Don’t follow the example of these men and their families.  Be people of vision today!  Trust your God!  He is able to conquer any challenge you find in front of you today!  He was able to bring Israel into the Promised Land.  Think about it … those same giants and walled cities were still there forty years later!  God enabled Israel to take that land then, and He is well able to take care of you today.  You are required to have vision enough to trust Him!  He is able!

November 18 Devotional

Show me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.  Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: For Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).  Lord, show me … teach me … lead me … teach me … Is this your heart’s desire today?  Are you sitting at the feet of your Savior asking for direction today?  Or, have you already made your list of plans for the day and you are expecting God to fit in to what you have in mind for your life?  If you are normal, you have done the second thing.  If you are walking with God, you have done the first.

 

Obviously, the first plan is the best plan.  Why not stop what you’re doing right now and ask God to show you what He wants for your life today?  We often look so far into the future that we miss what God had for us for this day.  We are so consumed with what we will become, and where we will go that we don’t accomplish the will of God He has given us for this day.  The Bible clearly teaches that our lives are like a vapor … we see it for a very brief time, and then it is gone.  Ask God to show you what He wants you to do with your life today.

 

Ask the Lord to teach you all throughout this day.  Ask Him to help your heart to be open to His plan for you.  Keep your eyes open for the lessons God has for you today.  If your heart is eager to learn, you will improve.  If you think you already have all the answers … you’re stuck with what you presently know.  The person that is continually learning is continually growing and making themselves more valuable in the end.  Don’t miss the learning opportunities God will place in front of you today.

 

Ask the Lord to lead and guide your steps throughout the pitfalls that await you today.  Just like the character, “Christian” in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, there will be many distractions today for you to follow rather than the will of God.  Stay firmly focused on the hand of the Master, so He can easily and quickly move your heart to what you need to be doing.  Again, ask God to guard your steps so you avoid any wrong moves.

 

The last part of these verses contains what might be the hardest of all these things … wait on God for the answers to your challenges.  We love to run ahead and see what’s in front of us … wait.  We want to know what is one year and five years ahead.  God wants us to wait for Him to open and close doors.  He wants us to be totally dependent upon Him.  Here is where the ultimate victory comes.  Trust your God today, and wait for His salvation!  It is just ahead of you!

November 17 Devotional

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).  Notice that little three-letter word, A-L-L times.  I am thankful for some very good friends who have loved me at the worst times.  I am also thankful to have had friends that loved me in the best of times.  I am honored to know that I can pick up the phone, shoot an email, send a text … and have good friends that would help in a time of need.  Having a “good” friend is hard work.  In the next chapter of the book of Proverbs it says that if I want to have friends, I must show myself to be “friendly.”

 

Many of us think that to get a friend we need to buy people things they want.  Many think it is done by making promise after promise to do things that will benefit others.  Some think that friendship is something that is owed to them after spending a good bit of time with another person.  The reality is that none of these follows the Bible principle of Proverbs 18:24 … showing yourself friendly.

 

Friendship is a costly venture.  As a matter of fact, if you are going to be a real friend, it will mean you will be willing to sacrifice almost anything for the sake of helping your friend in Christ.  Notice I said, “In Christ.”  I’m not talking about money, or gifts, or even time to “earn” a friendship.  I am talking about investing your time and energy … your emotions and feelings … your gifts and abilities … and sometimes your car and money.  Biblical friendship demands proof.  You cannot claim to be a person’s friend, or simply announce to them that you are their friend.  It is something that is earned over time.  It is something that is proven through difficulties and stressful situations.

 

Choose your friends well.  I remember a man that I met when I was in my mid-twenties.  He was older than me by about five years.  He was very gifted in teaching the Word of God and in sharing his faith with others.  I went with him one night making visits to unsaved people.  When we finished the visits, I turned to him and said, “I want to be your friend.”  From that day until this day, I have worked to be his friend.  Today, he calls me a friend and I call him the same.  Today, if he called and needed help, I would drop everything to help him.  If I needed help, I believe he would do the same.  This friendship did not happen accidentally.  This friendship was built.  Choose your friends wisely and invest the effort it takes to be a good friend at A-L-L times!  It is worth it in the end!  There is nothing like having a friend that will stand with you in the storm!

November 16 Devotional

Is my life really important?  Is there any way I can make a difference in this huge world I live in?  What will it matter if I am faithful to the Word of God when so many other people are not around me?  Can I make a difference even in the church I attend, or are we all just going through the motions of Christianity?”  These are questions I have asked through my lifetime.  I ask these kinds of questions because I understand my insignificance in many ways.  However … I am asking these questions based totally on my own human understanding and reasoning.

 

The Bible says, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 1:11-12).  According to these verses, I have the possibility of actually bringing glory to the name of Christ with my life!  I know, it sounds absolutely impossible to think that … but let me remind you …

 

  • There was a woman who lived in a town called Samaria where no Jew wanted to be found.  She had been married five times before and was considering making a sixth attempt when she met Jesus.  I’m sure she thought she was insignificant, and had no chance of bringing glory to the name of Christ.  After Jesus changed her from the inside – out, she brought the men of the town to hear Him and revival broke out in Samaria.

 

  • There was a man possessed by a legion of demons that lived among the tombs, and cut himself repeatedly.  The people of the town had tried to tame him, but it proved to be impossible.  Jesus met the man, cast out the demons and transformed this man’s life.  When Jesus was preparing to leave for another town, this man begged to go with Him.  Jesus told him to return to his friends/family and show them the great things that were done.  I’m sure this man thought his life would have no impact, and certainly no chance of glorifying God.  That was before he met Jesus …

 

  • There was a woman that had been a prostitute until she met Jesus.  She later bought a costly bottle of perfume and poured it on the feet of Jesus.  Even though criticized, she glorified her Savior.  I’m sure that she felt she would never be able to do that, but her story is in our Bible.

 

You and I are here now … it’s our turn … look for the possibilities today!

November 15 Devotional

When I was a child, and even into my teenage years, I remember hearing the phrase, “Be quiet and listen, you might learn something.”  Needless to say, I have always been very eager to share my opinion, and still struggle with this today.  I have a friend who I think could be a genius.  When I am talking to him, he speaks very deliberately and chooses every word with great caution.  To a person like me … well, let’s just say that I feel the need to help him out, and fill in the word I think he’s looking for.  Usually when I do that, he simply replies, “No, that’s not what I was thinking.”  I’ve come to realize that his vocabulary is far more expansive than mine, and my few choices do not do justice to the meaning he is looking for.  I am trying to learn to be quiet.  It’s tough for me.

 

I find that even when I am praying to my Heavenly Father, I can get into a rut of doing all the talking and as a result, doing very little listening.  Before you start to worry about me, I will tell you that I have never heard an audible voice of God, but I can tell you that He has touched my heart while in prayer in some very specific ways.  I know He has led me that way in the past, and I yearn for that same leading in the future.  Look at what God told the church in Thessalonica: “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12).

 

It is interesting to me that God starts by telling them to “study” to be quiet.  That word has the idea of working hard, making it your aim.  You see, God knows we tend to talk first, and then think second.  God knows that this does not come naturally to us, but we will need to put some effort into it.  He then instructs us to “do your own business.”  My Mom always said, “Mind your own business.”  I think it’s the same thing here.  Don’t be so worried about what other people are doing today.  Get quiet and focus on what God wants you to do!  Do the work that He places in your hands to do.  Don’t spend any time worrying about what others in the world are doing, or not doing; on what others in the church are doing, or not doing.  You quietly do the work God has given you to do and He will take care of the details.  We are encouraged simply to “walk honestly,” especially in regards to those who are not saved.  This is great advice to us.  Be quiet … mind your own business … work hard with your own hands … do all of this honestly before the unsaved.  They will want what you have.  They cannot be quiet, because they are not at peace.  Show your relationship with God where you go today.

November 14 Devotional

“‘O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?’ saith the LORD, ‘Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel’” (Jeremiah 18:6).  The potter’s wheel represents a place of transformation for something as useless as clay.  Yesterday morning I helped my cousin put in a fence.  All morning, as we moved from one post to the next, I spent time trying to get the mud off the bottom of my shoes.  God used an illustration here in the book of Jeremiah to show us what He can do with us.

 

I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I feel that God has so little to work with when it comes to using me in any way that might benefit the cause of Christ.  I have so many flaws.  I have so many weaknesses.  I have so many sins that I constantly seem to struggle with on a daily basis.  The question often comes to my mind, “God, how can you use someone … something like me?”  Well, the answer comes here in Jeremiah 18.  God does not need much to begin the work.  He can use a lump of clay to make a beautiful display of His handiwork.

 

The beauty of this passage is that it is not the value of the clay, but the life-changing power of the hands that mold it!  Don’t you see today, if God can use a lump of clay, He can certainly use the things you have to give Him today!  You are far more valuable than a lump of clay!  God did not send His Son to buy back clay.  God sent His Son into this world because YOU are a sinner!  He sent His Son into this world to rescue YOU from your sinfulness, and your sinful behavior!  He loves YOU!

 

As flawed as you might be, you are so valuable to the Potter than He gave all He had to get you back on the wheel again.  Here is the key to this entire passage … stay on the wheel!  Stay in a place where God can gently re-make you.  Don’t resist the hand of the Potter today.  Remember, there is plenty of clay in creek beds today that will never resemble a work of art, because they have remained in the creek bed.  There are multitudes of people beyond number, who have tremendous potential, but will never amount to what God wanted them to be, because they never allowed God to put them on the potter’s wheel.  Don’t make that mistake today.

 

It would be a good thing for each of us to stop right now … to take a moment to surrender all we are and all we have to the hand of the Potter.  Ask Him to mold and make your life into that vessel that most resembles His plan for us.  You will not regret it!

November 13 Devotional

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

 

We have a small run off from a pond above our property.  We call it a creek, but it is more like a ditch with water in it.  I have noticed that all along this little “creek” there are trees growing.  During the dry stretches of our summers here, those trees still look healthy and strong.  What little moisture there is in that “creek” provides them the water that they crave.  The prophet Jeremiah lived during a time in Israel’s history when it seemed that all the “creeks” were drying up.  However, he knew where the real power came from.

 

As he kept his heart tender toward his God in Heaven, the Words from God came to him and became all that He needed during the spiritual drought his people were experiencing.  Where are you getting your nourishment from today?  You might not be in as tough a place as Jeremiah found himself, but you still need a place to get your spiritual refreshment from today.  Verse seven makes it obvious that the real Source for hope in a seemingly hopeless situation is the Lord.  Many have left trusting the Lord and have begun to trust their jobs, or their intelligence, or their bank account, or their good health, or their …

 

Don’t trust a temporary cistern.  A cistern in the Bible days was like a holding tank.  They would store water in these tanks so that when the drought came, they would have a source of water.  The problem with these holding tanks and the problem with us putting our trust in something, or someone other than God is that the water did not remain fresh for very long.  The Lord is a constant Source of strength for those who put their trust in Him.  The reason is because He is God and He is always going to have fresh answers to the challenges you face, or will face.  Your job … intelligence … bank … health … or any other thing will fail you.

 

The challenge of these verses today is to stay firmly planted near the Source of all help, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Others will fail you; He never will.  Others have limitations as to what they can offer; He has no limitations.  Don’t lean on men today for your help.  Trust the all-powerful God to be all you will need for this day and its challenges!