September 11 Devotional

Cancer in an eye … an accident that causes paralysis … an arrest … these are all things that none of us would want in our life.  However, in the life of Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate), cancer in his eye opened an entire world of ministry that has carried his music around the world.  Joni Erickson Tada dove into shallow water and became paralyzed as a young woman.  From that position of paralysis, God has opened the eyes of millions of people to the needs of the handicap around us.  Harold was arrested as a twenty-one year old man and sentenced to life in prison.  It was in prison that the glorious light of the Gospel reached his soul.  He has served God faithfully for forty years in that same prison, proclaiming the salvation that he experienced there.  The men whose lives have been touched by him will only be known in Heaven.

 

So why should we complain about the afflictions we are facing today however big or small they may be?  The psalmist wrote, “I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).  You see, the key to whether we view our troubles positively or negatively is wrapped up in the idea of where they came from.  Today God is not sleeping as it regards your situation.  As a matter of fact, He is orchestrating the events that will come to you so that your life will bring the maximum amount of glory to Him!  That trouble that you cannot seem to shake, could be the channel God is using to direct you to the person He needs you to reach today.  Without that affliction (trouble) that you have, you might totally miss that person!

 

I am not asking God for cancer, or paralysis, or even imprisonment today, but I am asking Him to help me to accept the challenges that will come to me today and to see them as opportunities not obstacles.  The reality is that a trouble can be either an opportunity or an obstacle for you today.  The determining factor to which it is will be determined by your understanding of what God intended you to do with it.  Today rather than viewing your challenges as some kind of judgment on you, accept the fact that in God’s infinite wisdom, He knew that this trial was exactly what He needed to give you in order for you to totally trust Him!  He knows what He’s doing, and He knows the best way to do it.  Will you trust Him today?  You’ve trusted Him for your salvation; now trust Him to show you His will.  I thank God that when we trusted Christ He even changed our trials into blessings!

 

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” – Curtis Hutson

September 10 Devotional

I hate to admit this, but I find it very easy to worry about what is coming that I cannot see.  When I am preparing for a trip somewhere, I can imagine the worst things happening rather than the good.  When I was playing sports, I always imagined my opponent to be far better than he actually was, or at least not as good as I thought he would be.  I have heard many preachers describe worry as sin.  I must agree … because worry is really a lack of faith in God when you think about it.  If I am worrying, I am not totally depending on God and His ability to care for me in the challenges I am facing.

 

There is a wonderful story of King Hezekiah from the prophet Isaiah.  The king of Assyria had sent a very threatening letter to King Hezekiah describing the way he planned to destroy Israel.  Hezekiah laid the letter on his bed and went to prayer.  God made this promise to Hezekiah: “Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (Isaiah 37:7).  You need to read the entire chapter, but here is what it says toward the end of the chapter: “Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses” (Isaiah 37:36).

 

What a powerful God we serve!  This God can deliver on the promises He makes to us.  If God tells you in His Word that something is possible, you can depend upon Him.  If He tells you that you should not be doing something that has become a habit to you, you can depend on Him to help you stop.  If He tells you to give a tithe and you have bills that are piled up, you can believe that He will provide for every bill if you are faithful and consistent in giving your tithe.  What I am saying is that you can trust God to deliver on every promise He makes.

 

There is one more lesson to learn from this chapter … don’t think you are bigger than God!  The end of this chapter describes how the King of Assyria’s sons killed him in disgrace after his entire army had been killed.  There is no victory when you try to go against God.  It is far better to walk with God in obedience than to try to do what you want that is opposed to Him.  When the challenges of life come to you, always trust your God.  He is well able to overcome any enemy in front of you today!

 

There are times when defining moments can change your life.” – Unknown

September 9 Devotional

I remember driving into the city of Baltimore to make a hospital visit when we lived in Maryland.  I did not know the area very well, and this was a time before GPS’s when you actually had to be able to read a map.  I was thrilled that I driven directly to the hospital without getting lost.  After my visit, I proudly (bad word) drove from the hospital to get back on the beltway toward home.  I was still basking in my own glorious thoughts of how sharp I was to be able to find my way to that hospital when I looked up and saw signs for Washington DC.  I was headed in the wrong direction!

 

Has something like that ever happened to you?  That happened to me in a physical sense of direction, but I have had the same thing happen to me in my spiritual walk with God.  “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:59).  It is good for each of us to daily “think on” our ways and “turn our feet unto His testimonies.”  One of the reasons that I am compelled to read my Bible every day is because I do not trust my carnal sense of spiritual direction any more than I trust my physical sense of direction.

 

You may think less of me at this point, and if you do I am sorry that I have painted a picture of my own perfection for you.  The truth is that every one of us struggles daily to walk contrary to our flesh and in obedience to the Word of God.  I must read my Bible every day if I have any hope of staying on the right path in life!  It is not an option for me.  I committed to checking out where I stand with God on a daily basis, and multiple times throughout the day.  The reason is simple … left to myself, I will choose the wrong direction far too many times.  I need the help of my Heavenly Father.  You see, His view of my life is not encumbered with any sin at all!  What a great advantage we have as believers!

 

One of the things that I love about God is that He created me, but He allows me to make my own choices.  He has given me a free will.  One of the things I hate about myself is that I use that free will to turn away from Him too often.  I want to remain in the Word of God today so that I will make wise choices in my life.  I want to read His Word and then obey what I read so that I will head in the ways He wants me to go.  The great news is that when I realized I was headed toward Washington DC rather than home, I was able to adjust and return to the right direction.  God gives us that same option today!  Praise God for His Word and His grace!

 

Don’t look back at closed doors or open doors may close.” – Ted Camp

September 8 Devotional

There are certain foods that you eat that cause you comfort.  For each of us, these foods might differ.  You can give me butter covered noodles and a good piece of roast beef and I will be ready to take a nap!  You might like jalapeno peppers and peperoni pizza for your comfort food.  The psalmist wrote about the food that comforted him.  He wrote, “I remembered Thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself” (Psalm 119:52).

 

I was thinking about the things in the Word of God that bring comfort to me.  Here are a few that I hope will be an encouragement to you too.  I am comforted that the Holy Spirit within me is greater, nor more powerful that the Devil who is in this world.  No matter how bad things look around us in this world, remember that our God is still in control.

 

I am comforted to know that God’s promise to His children is that He will never leave or forsake them.  What a joy to know that regardless of how difficult the things are around me, I have a relationship with God that is strengthened rather than weakened.  I have had people who have told me they were friends to me, but when the difficulties came, those “friends” were long gone!

 

I am comforted by the fact that I cannot lose the salvation God has given me.  As a matter of fact, Jesus explained that He holds me in His hand and no one can pluck me from His hand.  He then added that His hand is within the hand of God the Father and no one will be able to take me from His hand!  I am told that He gives me “everlasting life” and “eternal life” and that I will live “forever” with my Savior!

 

I am comforted to know that the Bible I have read my whole life contains the words for life.  I am thankful that I don’t need to trust the opinions of anyone else, or look for another substitute Bible.  I am glad that the verses I memorized when I was a boy are still real and profitable today.  I am glad that we have a Bible that is good for what is right (doctrine), for what is wrong that I need to avoid (reproof) for how to make what is wrong, right (correction) and for staying right (instruction in righteousness).

 

I am comforted to know that when I am weak and loaded down with burdens, I have a Savior Who is willing to lift me up and carry me along!  What a great God I serve!  I cannot tell you how I appreciate the comfort of these things.  What is there to fear with this God as my Father?

 

God acts for His glory and for my good.” – Ted Camp

September 7 Devotional

I was sitting in a tenth grade History class in my school when confronted with an issue that was in the news at that time, but was also addressed in the Bible very clearly.  I remember raising my hand and voicing my opinion on the issue (in the best way a tenth grade guy can).  I gave my opinion, and told the class that I was basing that opinion on what I had read in the Bible.  I was immediately challenged by the majority of the class.  My teacher decided it would be good entertainment to see me try to defend my position and announced that I would be given that chance in the following class.  I remember calling my pastor, asking him for specific references that related to the topic we were discussing.  I approached the following class with some nervous energy.  I was convinced that the Bible was true and accurate on the subject … I was just hoping I would have the right answer.

 

You might be facing a similar challenge in the classroom, or workplace, or home you are in right now.  It is natural for us to worry about standing up for what is right, but it is also extremely necessary that we do stand for what is right.  How will the world realize there are absolutes if we are not willing to stand and defend them?  Today I read, “So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: For I trust in Thy Word” (Psalm 119:42).

 

As a believer, we always can be sure that the answers we need will be found in the Word of God.  The challenge that we have today is not whether or not the answers to the questions of life are answered in the Bible; the challenge is will we know our Bible well enough to know where to find them.  Again, I want to challenge you to read your Bible regularly for the times you will surely face in the near future that you will need to stand on the Word of God.  I will tell you that when you are standing on the Word of God your footing will be sure.  The slippery places are anywhere that is outside the authority of the Word of God.  Be very careful not to stand on your opinions if they are outside the boundaries of the Bible.  That is dangerous ground.

 

Be encouraged by this verse from the longest chapter in the Bible.  There is an answer for the questions of life, but you need to follow the challenge of the last part of the verse and completely trust the Word of God.  I know I write about this repeatedly, but I have found this to be true in my life!  I wish had heeded the challenge of those who repeatedly reminded me to know what the Bible said before I stepped out.  The tough questions life sends our way can be answered from the pages of your Bible.  Read it!

 

… Yes, that’s the book for me … the B-I-B-L-E!

September 5 Devotional

When we were kids we played a game we called, “King of the hill.”  It was really not that difficult to understand the rules for the game at all.  One guy stood at the top of a hill and all the other guys tried to replace him on the top of the hill.  Being one of the smaller guys, I always let the bigger guys “duke it out” and then would push them down the hill when their momentum got the best of them.

 

We are living in a time when the world is trying to bully our Bible out of the exalted place God meant for it to have in our lives.  Many are scoffing at it; mocking it as though it is outdated; but I am committed to standing squarely on its truths and I’m not moving!  The psalmist wrote, “Establish Thy Word unto Thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear” (Psalm 119:38).  When I read this, I paused to ask God to do exactly what that verse clearly says … I want His Word to be “established” in my life for the entire world to see.  That word means to confirm the Word, or to make it firm and true.  That’s what I want for my foundation today.

 

I think we believers spend far too much time worrying about how wrong the world is when we should be concerned about what we should do.  If we believers would simply read this book on a daily basis and then obey what we see there, we would be in far better spiritual shape than we are in today.  We complain a good bit about what’s being done in the White House and in our different governments when the bigger issues are what we are doing in our church house!  Revival in America (or whatever country you are reading this in) will never start with our governments!  Revival always begins in the heart of individuals who allow the Word of God to be the foundation they are established on!

 

Let’s not be guilty of reading our Bible or these devotionals and doing nothing to change our lives before God!  What a horrible thing it would be if we devote the time and effort to allow our eyes to run across the words on the pages of our Bibles, and walk away unchanged!  Israel was a nation blessed of God with the words of God, but they continually sought the gods of the nations that were sinking in despair around them.  Wake up today and commit your heart to the truths you know in the Word of God!  Don’t let another day pass where you just wander through twenty-four hours with little or no thought to what impact the Word of God should have on your heart!  Stand strong on the Word of God today!

 

Today there is much activity, but little accomplishment.” – Unknown

September 4 Devotional

Just before I was born, a so-called expert came on the scene to tell parents how to raise their children.  Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote a book called “Baby and Child Care.”  It became the standard many parents lived by in raising their children.  I’m very thankful that my parents did not buy a copy.  The counsel given in that book was later found to be absolutely wrong.  I am thankful that my parents had a copy of the Book of books, the Bible.  They practiced what the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119 … “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalm 119:24).

 

Where are you going to get your advice from for the day today?  Whose counsel will be most important to you in making life’s decisions?  Where will you turn when trouble is just ahead?  These are choices you are going to make today that will affect where you end up in the future.  Ted Camp has said many times “Decisions determine directions. Directions determine destinations.”  The simple decisions you will make today are going to influence where you will go and the direction your life will take.

 

Bad decisions based on the advice of this world will lead to problems and heart-ache.  Good decisions will lead you to stability and success.  Making good decisions (decisions based on the truths of the Word of God) will not always be easy, but they will always be best for your life.  There are people in this world today love to mock the Word of God and the principles that are in it, telling you that they are outdated and unreliable.  These people do this while fumbling through their lives making a mess at every turn because of ignoring those principles and truths.  Don’t fall into their trap.  A person once said, “Misery loves company;” and it is true, these kinds of people want you to agree with them and join their misery.  Don’t follow them!

 

The last thing I will say to you today is that there is no value in having a Bible that remains closed.  If you want your Bible to become your counselor, you will need to open it and search for the answers to your challenges on a daily basis.  You are going to have daily challenges … you will need daily counseling sessions with the Word of God.  I promise you … the answers you need for the challenges you are facing and will face, are all found in the Word of God.  Don’t allow this foolish world to decide for you who has the advice you need.  Just check out the lives of some of those who are called counselors in our day.  They are searching without success for answers themselves.  Trust God’s counsel, you will not be sorry.

September 3 Devotional

How much of our time is spent trying to impress other people with our intelligence, our skill, our wisdom, our experience, or how much money we have?  The answer is, too much time!  As a believer, we should do all we can to lift our God up, and to put ourselves out of the picture.  Today I read Paul’s words to the church in Corinth.  This statement Paul made always brings me back to reality.  He wrote … “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).

 

Be very careful of what Paul spoke about here.  If we are not careful we can fall into this very trap of trying to impress others.  Think about it for a moment; what motivates this kind of thinking?  The answer is that it is our pride that drives this desire within us.  Our pride is the enemy of God’s grace.  Our pride will always promote us (and eventually our sinfulness) and will demote God from the place of prominence in our life.  Pride will destroy any hope of living in a godly fashion in an ungodly society.

 

Paul makes it clear that his desire was not to depend upon his own wisdom, or even the wisdom of those who appeared to be so wise that he would meet.  His desire was simple to show the power of the Holy Spirit in his own life to those who were watching the way he behaved in this world.  His heart’s desire was to show this power so that other people could build up their faith.  He was not trying to prop them up with some fancy way of talking that would “tickle” their ears.  He wanted his life to be so controlled by the Holy Spirit that when he would testify, it would be evident that God was in control.  I hear so many folks today arguing about a specific usage of a word, rather than thinking about the substance of what they are saying.  One of the most powerful men in my life was a man who spoke so simply that any child would have been able to understand what he was saying.  That is the goal I have for the times I am preaching/teaching.  I want the power of the message not to be in the words I choose to use, but in the obvious leading of the Holy Spirit.  I want to be hidden behind the Holy Spirit when I have the chance to counsel, teach, or preach to others.  Today God will place opportunities in your path for you to make a difference in the life of someone else.  Will you try to impress … or will you hide your life in Him and let Him minister?

 

To make a message simple is hard.” – Ted Camp

September 2 Devotional

Blessed are they that keep His testimonies and that seek Him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).  There are many people today, Christians, who are willing to follow God’s plan as long as that plan fits into their pre-determined plan.  I find that we have become far too bossy with God when it comes to His will for our lives.  There is a great deal of chatter about the will of God today.  There are many people who want to tell you what God’s will is for your life today.  I will say very simply that this verse holds the key to knowing what God wants you to do with your life.

 

There is not some great mystery about discovering God’s will for your life.  I think it is a simple as this … you commit yourself to reading His Word every day; and then you obey what He tells you to do.  When you have developed these two disciplines in your life, the open doors will be clearly seen in front of you.  At that point, the decision will be to walk in obedience through open door in front of you, or to stay where you are and walk in disobedience.  There are only two places a Christian can be … in the will of God, or outside the will of God.

 

Will you have the courage to surrender your will and desires to God’s will for you and His desires for you?  If you say “yes,” be aware that it means you lose the right to make decisions for yourself, and you surrender all you have, and all you might dream about to Him.  I don’t mean to make this sound negative in any way.  I have been thrilled every day I have walked in His will.  I have been pitiful every day that I have not walked in His will.  The center of the will of God is the best place in the entire world to be!

 

Keeping” God’s testimony is the beginning of the joy of being in the will of God.  “Seeking” God Himself with your whole heart is what follows that original obedience.  You cannot seek God without keeping His testimony.  You cannot expect God’s blessing if you don’t do the things that please Him first.  As I said at the beginning of this devotional, I think that many of the things being done today under the title of “religious activity” have nothing to do with obedience to the Word of God.  There is nothing we can do that will please God if is it opposed to the principles and truths of the Word of God.  You can dress a skunk in a tuxedo, but in the end (forgive the pun), it’s still a skunk!  Commit your heart to obey the Word of God today.  Then commit yourself to seek the will of God in the Word of God on a daily basis.  You will never be sorry for the effort this requires.

 

Delayed obedience is disobedience.” – Unknown

September 1 Devotional

I remember being in Jerusalem and seeing the famous “Wailing Wall,” or the western wall of the temple in Jerusalem.  We were able to go through a tunnel that follows that western wall underground.  Of course, it would have been ground level during the days of Jesus, but there have been many streets and building built on top of it now.  There were two things that really impressed me while looking at this huge stone.

 

First, I was impressed by the massive size of one of the foundational stones that could be seen in that tunnel.  The guide told us that this one stone weighed over three tons.  What was amazing was that it was placed in the correct place without the help of any machinery.  It was moved into that spot by the strength of many men working together.  That amazed me.  The other thing that really grabbed my attention was that the stone was still there, doing what it was designed to do.  Even though the city had changed much above that stone … the stone remained in its place, doing what it was designed to do.

 

I thought about that stone when reading in Psalm 118 today.  “The Stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (Psalm 118:22).  To us today looking at that large stone in its place along the western wall of Jerusalem, we would think it was impossible for it to be cut out of the mountain it was in, and then for it to be moved into its place in that foundation.  To the Jews who were alive when Jesus walked on this earth, they looked at Jesus and decided in their hearts that there was no way this man could be the Messiah.  It did not fit the mold they had invented in their minds for what the Messiah would look like.

 

There are still many skeptical people around today who reject the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  If we want to live successfully in this world, we must realize that Jesus Christ should be the centerpiece of whatever we are doing.  When you prepare to make a decision today about anything in your life, ask yourself how Jesus would view the situation you are facing.  Ask yourself how Jesus would react if He were in your place.  Seek to give counsel that He would have given.  In order to do this, you need to spend time getting to know Him better!  The Bible is full of truths about Jesus Christ that I believe are there for our good and our knowledge of Him.  It is not enough to know about Him; we must live like Him as well.  Let Jesus Christ be the foundational Rock that you build your life upon!