June 2 Devotional

 

One of the most popular words heard in our churches here in America and around the world today is “worship.”  In many churches what is being called, “worship” has replaced solid Bible teaching.  Much time is given to us singing the same phrase over and over, while the time given to preaching the depth of the Word of God has been reduced to the point that the speaker can only slightly introduce the topic God has laid on his heart.  I honestly am confused a bit about what Biblical “worship” really is about.  Someone recently pointed out to me that any time we saw “worship” happening in our Bible, it was always accompanied with sacrifice.  That thought settled on my mind, but honestly I have not had the time to pursue that study.

 

Today I read a verse where Jesus talked about “worship,” and it caused me to pause and think about its significance.  While Jesus was in the process of leading the Woman of Samaria to saving faith at the well, He made this comment: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: For the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23).  That last phrase caught my attention.  “For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”  God is looking for worship today.  He is actually seeking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 

Without getting too deeply involved with the debate about what true worship really is, let’s take the time to focus on our own efforts to really worship God in spirit and in truth.  The word “worship” in John 4:23 appears only here in all the New Testament.  It carries the meaning of bowing the knee.  God is looking for those who will come to Him and bow in humility before Him.  Remember who He was talking to here at the well when He made this statement.  He was speaking to a woman who had to go to that well at noon, rather than in the cool of the morning or evening with the other ladies.  I believe she did that because of the embarrassment of her reputation with five previous husbands.  She lived a life of humility that was self-imposed.  She was a sinner and knew it well.  She had no idea that the King of all kings had come to her well just to meet her on that day!

 

This is just the person God is looking for today.  He seeks those who will humbly come to Him, and serve Him under the complete influence of the Holy Spirit.  Will He find you coming that way to Him today?  Volunteer today.  God is worthy … and we are not!

 

June 1 Devotional

What you plant is what you will grow. What a simple, but deep thought! We spend a good amount of time every day planting things. We plant actions: If good, we will grow good fruit. If bad, we will grow rotten fruit. We plant thoughts: If good, we grow good actions. If bad, we grow weeds. God has the desire to see good things come from our lives every day.   If we are honest, and some will not want to be, we must all admit that we have planted bad seed in our lives. I am so thankful for the mercies that are new every morning from our God! Where would we be without Him? There is one thing for sure; if we do not drop seeds in the ground, we will never see a harvest. Today I was reading in Proverbs chapter 10 and noticed a verse that really gripped me.   “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:5). We know that the time to plant seeds is in the spring season. This verse points out that the person that has planted well in the “spring,” will certainly have something to gather in the “summer.” That is a person called a wise son. This is a direct challenge for us to consciously plant good seed in the “spring” time of our lives. We need to be doing things today that will result in good fruit in the future. If we do this, we are called wise. The opposite is also true … if we don’t take the time to do good things today we will produce weeds in the future.   The person that sleeps during the harvest is a son that brings shame to himself and his family. Today you have opportunities in front of you to plant some good seed … you are wise to do that. Tomorrow will be the time for the harvest. The idea is that we need to be diligent in both the “spring” seasons of our lives as well as the “fall” times in our lives. There is a diligence required in the Christian life to actually enjoy the fruit after all the hard work.   Plant the right seeds of kindness and love and see what God will grow out of that for you. Witness to the person that you meet today. There will come a time when the seed of the Word of God will produce some fruit. Be ready to harvest it when the time comes. Don’t give up hope that your spiritual maturity will come. Stay in the Bible, follow its truths, ask God for His power and help and then trust God to bring the fruit in your life. I know that there are times that it seems there is no hope, but if you follow this Bible truth, you will see fruit. It is dependent on you and me not sleeping during the planting or reaping time. God gives the increase if we remain faithful.

May 31 Devotional

There were many that followed Jesus when He was walking on this earth, simply to see a show of some kind.  They were waiting to see a miracle, or be fed in some unique way, or they were just curious.  There are many today who are going to church simply to see the show; to get some free food; to make good business contacts … really they are going to get something for free out of it without having to put much into it.  After Jesus fed the 5,000, people flocked to see Him again just to get some more bread for free.  When Jesus taught them the exclusivity of the Gospel (He was the only way to reach the Father and touch Heaven) … “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66).

This exodus of these so-called “disciples” caused Jesus to ask those original twelve disciples a question.   “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, ‘Will ye also go away” (John 6:67)?  Jesus wanted to know how committed these men were to what He was doing.  In a way, I believe Jesus was taking their spiritual pulse.  He wanted to check their spiritual heartbeat.  Were these men in this thing to see some miraculous event take place, or to be fed, or to gain something for themselves personally?  I think Jesus is asking the same kinds of questions of us today.  Will you teach the Sunday School class you are in charge of in order to get a higher standing in your church?… or to gain the approval of someone else in the church? … or out of a sense of guilt?

I believe our Heavenly Father is looking for some people who will serve Him out of love for Him and what He has done for them through Christ.  Where are these kinds of workers today?  There are still many that are doing this.  We may never hear their name.  We may never see them promoted even in the churches where they serve.  We may never read their name in a Christian publication.  Let me tell you this … God knows their names!  He is fully aware of what they are doing and what they have done!

In response to Jesus’ question about whether or not the twelve would leave, “Then Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life’” (John 6:68).  Peter’s answer is a great one that each of us needs to consider today.  There is no other place to go to serve that is better!  There is no earthly boss we can follow that will bring more joy to your life.  Serving Jesus Christ is the greatest joy we can experience here on the earth!  He has the words of life!  He is the Light!  He is the Bread!  He is the way, truth, and life!  He is all that we will ever need, and He ought to be our Leader today.  If you’ve fallen into the trap of pleasing men rather than pleasing Him, repent and return to Him today!

May 30 Devotional

The chief goal of every Christian should be that we want to glorify God and please Him.  There is a theme that flows throughout the Bible that is the key to making this possible.  Today, as I read my normal chapters in the Bible, I came across this theme in two different places.  I thought maybe God was trying to tell me something, and thought you might benefit from it as well.  Here are the verses that touched my heart: “And unto man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’” (Job 28:28).  “What man is he that feareth the LORD?  Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.  His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.  The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:12-14).  A question comes to my mind about my walk with God after reading these verses.  I am wondering if I “fear” my God like I should?

 

There are things I am legitimately afraid of … snakes … heights … guns … failing God.  Do I give enough attention to that last one?  Do I live in fear of disappointing God?  That ought to be on the top of my list of things to fear.  Some of you might be reading this and thinking that we should not fear God … after all, He loves us all and wants the best for us.  It is true that God loves us, and it is true that He desires the best things for us.  As I said earlier, there is a theme that runs throughout our Bible that speaks about wisdom being directly connected to our fear of God.

 

This fear of God has been described as having a reverence for God.  As I read my Bible, I believe it also involves a real fear of disappointing God, or violating His standards of righteousness.  When I was misbehaving as a boy, Mom would often say, “Wait until your father gets home.”  I did not like to hear those words.  I had a healthy “fear” of my father.  As I recall, my dad only spanked me one time in my whole life.  It was not a fear of punishment that I had for my earthly dad; but a fear of disappointing him, and not pleasing him with my actions.  You see, I loved my dad so deeply (and still do) that the thought of disappointing him brought me anguish.  The thought of not meeting up to his approval was painful for me.  I feared disappointing him because I loved him so much.  I love my Heavenly Father even more.  I do not want to disappoint Him.  I fear that I do that often.  It is that fear that drives me to attempting to live a righteous life.  Not out of fear of punishment, but from a heart of love.

 

To follow you must also learn to forsake.” – Unknown

 

May 29 Devotional

There have been times in my Christian life that God touched my heart to do things that did not make any sense to me.  There were times God prompted my heart to give when I had needs of my own.  There were times God nudged me to go places I had no desire to go, to do things I did not feel qualified to do.  There have been ministry opportunities that God has placed before me that would not have been my choice at all, and yet there is a wide open door to walk through.

 

In His infinite wisdom, God allows each of us to go through times of testing to reveal our spiritual character.  Many times we struggle against His hand during these times, until we finally come to the place of complete surrender.  It is at that time that God shows us clearly His plan for that testing time.  Abraham and Sarah had just seen the birth of the son God promised them after waiting a very long time for his birth.  That son, Isaac, had grown to be a young man somewhere around fifteen or sixteen years old when God instructed Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice.  God then told him to begin to walk, and He would show him the right place for the offering to be made.  Abraham rose early in the morning with Isaac and a few servants.  He did not wait until mid-day, or evening, but obeyed early in the morning.

 

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off” (Genesis 22:4).  Have you ever wondered how Abraham knew this was “the” place?  Abraham’s obedience led him every step he took.  If he had been fighting God’s plan, or questioning the wisdom of the instruction, he might not have known the right place to stop.  You see, God knew about the ram that would be caught in the thicket.  He had already planned for the sacrificial ram.  God wanted to see the sacrificial heart of Abraham clearly demonstrated.  That ram was already lingering near the place of sacrifice, just waiting for the arrival of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:13).

 

I wonder about my walk with God … am I totally committed to God’s plan for me?  Am I willing to do things that do not make sense to me?  Beyond that, I wonder if when I see the will of God for me that I do that will with all my strength and energy, or do I waste time arguing with God and trying to show Him an alternative to His plan?  How many “rams” have I missed because of a lack of obedience?  How many “escape routes” did God have in mind for me when I took that detour in my Christian life to do what seemed right to me? Walk with God in obedience today … a ram is waiting.

 

We have a God Who delights in impossibilities.” – Andrew Murray

May 28 Devotional

Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to find a person who will do exactly what they told you they would do.  I have had many situations where someone made a promise to me in private, and then in public said the exact opposite was the case.  I have learned to be careful in trusting people who make big promises.  As my father has told me many times, “If it sounds too good to be true … it probably is.”  I am happy to tell you that is not the case with God!  When God makes a promise to you, you can build your life upon it.  He has never lied, and He cannot lie.  He will do all that He says He will.

 

In the first book of our Bible we read the story of a couple who had been promised a son.  Abraham and Sarah were waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for their first child.  Abraham was 100 years old, and Sara was in her 90’s.  Yet, God had made a promise to Abraham that his off-spring would be in number as the stars in the sky or the sand on the shores.  Finally, God came to them and told them that they were about to have a son.  Both Abraham and Sarah laughed at the idea.  The name “Isaac” means, “laughter.”  Even though they laughed, God was serious, and nine months later, Isaac was born.  Here is how the Bible described it … “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken.  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him” (Genesis 21:1-2).

 

The phrases that caught my attention, and that I want you to see today are these: “as He had said” … and “as He had spoken.”  You see, there are times in each of our normal, everyday lives when think that God has forgotten about us.  Times when we feel that God is not paying very close attention to the challenges we are facing.  Times when we feel that things are about to get out of control, and God is losing His grip on the situation.  It is in these times that we need to remember these phrases … what He has promised … He will do!  Where He has touched your heart to work, depending on Him to provide, He will provide.  You can be sure that if God has prompted you to work for Him that He will also provide for you at just the right time.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait a long time before they saw that little boy born.  Hold on to the never-changing promises of God today!

 

God makes no mistakes … if you think He does, you are mistaken.” – Curtis Hutson

May 27 Devotional

A true friend is the one who tells you that you have a piece of green spinach between your front teeth.  A true friend is the one who will be brave enough to tell you that you are acting out of character, or out of line.  A true friend is the one who shows up at your house when all your other so-called “friends” have already put as much distance between you and them as possible.  A true friend is someone you trust to help you do what is so difficult … live a separated, Christ-like life.  It is not easy to find a true friend.  It is not easy to be a good friend.

 

I have a very dear friend in Zhytomyr, Ukraine.  His name is Sergei.  His wife Nelya and their son Roma are like extended family to us.  I remember the first time I called Sergei my friend.  He informed me that he did not use the word “friend” easily, and that he was not sure we were friends.  That statement caused me to really evaluate if I was willing to pay the price that friendship demands.  I then explained to Sergei that I had decided to be his friend regardless of his decision to be my friend.  Praise the Lord, he decided and we have been friends for about seven years!

 

Today I read a verse that I read every month.  It always causes me to pause and consider what kind of friend I am to the people I call “friends.”  “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).  I have written in my Bible, under this verse … “It does not say “polishes” – sharpening is tough, but necessary.”  When I think about the illustration this verse gives me it always makes my mind go to a knife being sharpened on a sharpening stone.  The person sharpening the knife makes repeated motions with that knife against the sharpening stone in order to remove any barbs that might have come to the blade of that knife.  A true friend will not be there only in the good times, but will be involved in a repeated way in order to help each other become the people we need to be.  By the way, both the stone and the metal of the knife are worn with each stroke.  However, each stroke (though costing each of them something) is one stroke closer to perfection.

 

Friendships in this life unfortunately are few and far between.  Make the most of the friendships you have in this life.  Don’t assume that you will always have good friends.  It takes consistent work, and consistent sharpening.  Be a genuine friend today and you just might find your own Sergei somewhere!

 

Loyalty cannot be demanded, but must be earned.” – Unknown

May 26 Devotional

The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason” (Proverbs 26:16).

 

It seems that the day in which we are living has far more people who think they know what they are doing than those who actually know what they are doing.  It seems that there are many “counselors” and not too many people actually “doing” something.  There are many people willing to “coach” others about how to live life, but very few that are in the game actually getting something done.  The word “sluggard” appears six times in the Bible, all in the book of Proverbs.  The verse above is the last time it is seen in our Bible.  The word refers to being lazy, or slothful.  I believe this is something that each of us needs to be aware of, and try to get as far away from as possible.

 

The writer of Proverbs 26 says that this lazy man is “wiser in his own conceit that seven men that can render [give] a reason.”  I think what God is getting at here is that if we are not careful, we can fall into a trap of laziness.  In that laziness we can develop at attitude and thought process that enables us to rationalize, or make excuses for anything we are “not” doing.  At the same time, we will develop the ability to defend our improper behavior so that no one can change our minds.  There is a great danger in getting to the place that you think you have discovered all the answers.  I remember a time in my life when I thought that I had to know everything there was to know about the Bible.  After all, I had a Bachelor of Science degree in Bible that it took me four years (really four and a half) to achieve.  I thought that I would be able to extol my great wisdom on people and that they would be amazed and delighted to hear me.  It was shortly after that time that reality set in and I realized I had a great deal to learn.

 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the world revolves around you.  It never has, and it never will.  The world revolves around our God … it always has, and it always will.  Do all you can to sign up to work for Him.  I know that word “work” can be a dirty word in the world we are living.  God still desires for us to get involved and be active in His service today.  Don’t let this day pass without rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in the work of God today.  There is plenty to do, and not enough workers to get it done.  Volunteer today to do something no one else is doing!  There is plenty to be done, don’t plan forever, and get involved today!

 

When growth ceases, decay begins.” – Unknown

May 25 Devotional

I remember vividly the day that I realized that Jesus Christ gave His life for MY sin.  That was the day that information about Jesus moved from my head to my heart.  You see, I had been taught the facts and stories of Jesus all my life.  There was a pivotal point in my life when all that “information” came to reality for me.  That moment in my life occurred when I saw myself as a sinner for the first time.  When I realized that I was a liar, I also realized the penalty for those lies was separation from a God I truly loved, but had no chance of meeting with my sin.  I attended an old fashioned tent meeting just days after this realization came to me.  As the preacher was sharing the truth of the Word of God and the Gospel, my heart began to beat quickly.  Believe me, I had heard these words hundreds of times before … but this time was different for me.  Now I knew the preacher was talking about me!  That Saturday in July, I knelt in repentance and received the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, the Lord!  My life drastically changed that day!  No, I did not need to give up drinking, gambling, drugs and cursing … I was a six-year-old boy.  My life did drastically change … I had been headed to Hell as the just reward for my sin … now I was on my way to Heaven by the grace of God!  I’ll never forget that day!

 

Now know I that the LORD saveth His anointed; He will hear him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: But we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:6-7).

 

Trust in what you want … God will not force you into faith.  Let me encourage you to trust in the name of the Lord.  There will be many things that offer themselves as substitutes for you in your life time.  Don’t place your confidence in what the world offers you as substitutes for power, authority and success.  In the days we are living we can expect many “false Christ’s” to come on the scene.  There is only one Jesus Christ and He is clearly identified in the Bible.  Follow Him … trust Him … yield to Him … allow Him to direct your steps today.  Also, get to know Him.  He ought to be the apple of your eye.  Your mind should dwell on Him and how He wants you to live every day.  Don’t be ashamed of Him!  He is the answer for the problems the people are facing that you will be around today.  Lift Jesus high in your life … He will draw men to Himself.  What a Savior!

 

It is more important to follow the voice within than loud noise outside.” – Unknown

May 24 Devotional

I grew up eating good old Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.  I can remember my grandmother cooking chicken and dumplings (also called chicken pot-pie) when I was growing up.  I can still see her placing the chicken thighs in the pressure cooker in the morning when I was leaving for school.  She began cooking it right after breakfast, and added all the other ingredients all throughout the day until just before serving.  At that time she would scoop up home-made dumplings on a large spoon, and drop them on the top of the entire pot of wonderfulness at the last minute.  Those dumplings would float on the top of the pot-pie and would cook with the steam that was rolling around in the pot.  I can still smell the wonderful aroma that engulfed our home when Grandmom was cooking my favorite meal.

 

As fond as that memory is to me, there is one that is even sweeter.  That is the sight of my wife sitting at our kitchen table each morning, with an open Bible and a box of tissues in front of her. What a beautiful aroma fills the house when those who live there feast on the Word of God on a regular basis!  “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).  I hope I can say that!  I have elevated the words from the Bible to a more important place than food is to me.  I want to make the Word of God more precious than food.  I want to give more attention to the preparation of the Word of God for my heart than I do in the preparation of my food to eat.

 

I hate to admit it, but I love to cook.  I enjoy taking different ingredients and putting them together in a pan to see what the combination of them will taste like.  In much the same way, I love to read different sections of my Bible and see how God’s Holy Spirit mixes them together in my heart to form me into the person He wants me to be.  I want to yearn for the Bible like I yearn for my daily food.  As I have grown older, I find that I love eating different kinds of foods.  As I have grown spiritually, I find that I have a deepening love for the truths of Scripture, and that I am not content with just a shallow serving of a verse here and there.  I love digging deep into the truths of the Word of God.

 

Allow me to challenge you to dig deeper into your Bible everyday.  As Job discovered, your Bible will become more important to you as the pressures of life increase.  Trust the Word of God for direction today.

 

As you go through the Word of God – Let the Word of God go through you.” – Unknown