April 20 Devotional

When Jesus was being led up Calvary’s hill to be crucified, He fell beneath the weight of the cross.  The soldiers compelled a man named Simon to help carry the cross.  “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross” (Mark 15:21).  This man was a Cyrenian who was probably in Jerusalem for the Passover festivities that were about to take place.  An innocent by-stander, minding his own business … asked to help carry the cross of Jesus.  Imagine his horror, as he shouldered the cross and saw the blood of Jesus all over his own clothing, and I am sure, on him as well.  He had no idea that the very blood that would free all mankind (who call upon the name of Jesus) from their sins!  He had no idea that this was the blood from the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!  Here was a common man, from another country, who was “volunteering” to help carry the cross of the Son of Almighty God!

 

As far as we know, Simon did not know about Jesus.  He was obviously visiting in Jerusalem, as many Jews would do to commemorate the Passover.  He was placed in the position of giving help to Jesus Christ in His time of need.  What he might not have initially realized was the fact that Jesus was about to give His life up for his sins, and the sins of his sons, and for whosoever will …  The mention of these sons names in particular leads me to believe that they were known of the apostles.  As a matter of fact, Paul mentioned a man named Rufus in Romans 16:13 with very kind words.  I’m not sure if he is the same man that was Simon’s son, but it made me think about the impact this contact with Jesus would have, not only on Simon, but also on these two sons of his.  When a person meets Jesus Christ, it will make a difference.  What difference has it made in your life?  Can others tell that you have had an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ?  Can your friends and family see the difference He makes?  Can those co-workers and fellow students see a difference in you?  The question for today is simply this; can other people tell that you spend time with Jesus Christ?  If you do, it will show up in your language, attitude, and heart for lost people, in your habits, and in how you serve Him.  If you know Jesus as your Savior, but are not surrendering to Him as the Lord of your life, you are missing out on a tremendous blessing!  Why not stop what you are doing right now and give God permission to rule your life?  It will be a great decision today!

 

Be willing to come up and out of your comfort zone.” – Unknown

April 19 Devotional

I was reading about one of the good kings in the history of Judah named Hezekiah.  When he took over as the king, he made some radical reforms.  He actually cleaned out the temple and encouraged the Jewish people to turn back to God and worship only Him.  He also made a way for all the people to sacrifice to God.  He did all this because he had his heart in the right place.  “And in every work that he began [King Hezekiah] in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered” (II Chronicles 31:21).  When my eyes crossed these words, it was like the eyes of the Holy Spirit crossed over my heart.  I wondered … if God was writing my life’s story, could He write these words about my passion for Him?

 

Unfortunately, I believe that many are serving in churches today “half-heartedly” or without any fervent heart for God.  How can we do that when we are serving a God Who demonstrated His heart for us on the cruel cross of Calvary?  He gave all He had in order to demonstrate His love toward us.  He did this while we were yet sinners.  Today, I do not want you to think of anyone else but yourself.  Are you serving God with a whole heart?  Are you living 100% for God today?  Totally committed to His will for your life?  Are you fully surrendered and going forward in that direction with all your might?  That is what God deserves … that is what God demands if you want to have success in your Christian life.

 

Hezekiah sought God with that whole heart.  Hezekiah sought the laws and commandments of God.  When he did that, he did it with all His heart!  Are you seeking God wholeheartedly today?  Have you considered what He wanted you to do with this day before you started on your path?  Did you dig into the Word of God this morning to give light to your path?  Have you had the Word of God convict you to the point that you decided to change your attitude or direction to match what you read?  You cannot have a heart for the things of God without having a heart for the Word of God.  I’m not talking here about reading this devotional as your spiritual food for the day.  I’m hopeful that this is your spiritual appetizer, the thing that leads you into the main course you will find between the pages of God’s precious Word.

 

I want to be a man whose heart is fully surrendered to God and His will for me today.  I want to be a man who can prosper in the way I am going, because I am going in the way He has chosen for me!

 

God is more concerned about your heart than your health.” – Unknown

April 18 Devotional

Think for a moment about how much time you waste in a normal day.  There can be quite a lot of “down time” if we are not careful.  We look at our day and think about the things we would like to accomplish.  We then begin to attack those challenges, only to be confronted with other options that take our attention away from our original plans.  Before we know it, we have wasted away a whole day.  I believe it is the same in our Christian lives.  We have all had times during a service where God specifically prompted our hearts to accomplish something for Him.  Before we know what has happened, we find that we have wasted away the opportunity, and we have turned our focus onto a totally unrelated area.  This creates a list that seems to grow all the time of “unfinished” tasks.

 

Jesus made a very strong statement that I believe we all ought to take time to consider today.  He said about the rapture of the church, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).  Jesus was making the point that our time is limited to serve the Lord here on earth.  It is important to do the things that are MOST important, and leave those things that serve only as distractions alone.  I have heard it said before that the enemy of BEST is GOOD.  Be careful today to do the things that are most important for the cause of Christ before you waste your time on things that will not last for eternity.

 

Think about the things you are planning to do today.  If you accomplished all of those things, how much of a difference will it make in eternity?  If you don’t accomplish those goals, how many other people will be affected for eternity?  If you do not have plans to make an eternal difference for someone today, consider changing your plans.  If you have plans that will affect someone else’s eternity, don’t let anyone pull you away from the completion of those goals.  Have a bull-headedness that will keep you on the mark until you complete whatever it is that God touched your heart with.  Others may tell you that you are foolish to pursue that goal … if you know that God touched your heart to do it, don’t let anyone pull you away from it.  There is a day coming when the trumpet will sound, and all our earthly efforts will be done.  Don’t waste a minute today.  Do all that God has touched your heart to do while you have the chance.  Share your faith; read your Bible; teach that class; sing for the Lord; go on visitation; volunteer for the nursery; visit a shut-in; learn Sign Language … Do it now!

 

Your lifetime is just a hyphen on a tombstone.” – Unknown

April 17 Devotional

When Jesus was asked by one of the scribes what the first or most important commandment was, Jesus answered; “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.   There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

 

Is it possible that in all the hustle and bustle of our normal ministry that we could forget these simple truths?  Is what you are planning to do for God today within these guidelines?  Do the efforts you put forth revolve around loving the Lord with every fiber of who you are … your heart, soul, mind and strength?  It seems to me that we start serving this Lord with this as the goal, but if we are not careful the praise of men flatters us so much that we begin to serve God for what “others” will say about us.  We become so enamored with hearing how good we are from others that we forget that we originally were doing it for the love of God.  Jesus stated this so clearly that we should never forget it, but we seem to do it regularly.

 

Think about it … the last time you sang a song in church; did you do it for others to hear you, or to glorify God?  The last time you gave an offering; did you do it to please your pocketbook? to impress the person next to you? or because you would give all you have to show your love for God?  The last time you shared a testimony, or prayed publically in a meeting; were you trying to use vocabulary that you knew would impress those in the room with you, or were you pouring your heart out to your God?  The last time you shared your faith with an unbeliever; did you do it to fulfill a requirement of a class, or to impress others with how many tracts you handed out, or were you about your Father’s business?

 

Sadly it seems today that we all do “spiritual” things for very “unspiritual” reasons.  Today is a day for you to love the Lord your God with all you have; and then to demonstrate that by loving those around you like He would.  Verse 31 speaks to the proof of loving God with all your being.  If we really do love Him that way, we will love those God has placed around us, like He would do it in our shoes.  The proof of loving God with all you have is to love those He sent His Son to save!

 

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John Maxwell

April 16 Devotional

Jesus saith unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk’” (John 5:8).  Imagine hearing these words after having lain in the same spot for thirty-eight years.  Jesus was asking this man to do the impossible!  There had not been a time for the past thirty-eight years that this man had been able to physically stand on his own.  His own testimony was that he could not even roll to get in the water when it moved there at the pool of Bethesda.  He did not have a person to help him, and in his mind, that was the reason he had not been healed.

We often think there are things that are impossible for us to do.  As a result we stay “laying” on the sideline with our bed under us.  I have found myself answering the question about how we got started in Deaf ministry.  Just last night, a younger person asked me if I had gone to college to learn Sign Language, and then asked how long it took me to learn Sign Language.  The truth is that some of the greatest truths I learned … some of the greatest life skills I have learned outside of college!  As I began to answer this young person’s question, I realized that I had no business ever learning Sign Language.

God touched my heart with the thought that it was not fair for a Deaf person to die without having seen a clear presentation of the Gospel in Sign Language.  Because of that, I found a Sign Language book in the local library and began to memorize the Signs to explain the Gospel.  I then stumbled and bumbled through that presentation with the first Deaf person I met.  He trusted Christ as his Savior!  As soon as my Pastor heard that, he put me in charge of the Deaf ministry!  WAIT  … I cried!  He didn’t listen, and I found myself standing in front of a Deaf group trying to teach the Bible with all of my 150 Signs I had memorized.

Was I ready?  NO!  Was I good?  NO!  But Jesus had told me to “Take up my bed and walk.”  I wonder today what “bed” you are laying on, waiting to become qualified to use?  The key to the story above of this man lame for thirty-eight years; and the key to my story of beginning in Deaf ministry; and your key to serving God … is not the man … me … or you.  The key is the power of God to use the foolish things … the weak things … the limited things for His glory.  You see, when God puts His hand on something, it is no longer dependent on its own strength.  It is the hand of God on someone, or something that gives it the power to do what He wants it to do.  Stop lying on that bed today, and put it in the hand of God and WALK!

April 15 Devotional

I can remember fishing on the Connecticut River just below a dam with my dad and some friends who lived in Connecticut.  It was something very different than anything I had ever done in my life before.  I can remember them driving the boat directly toward the dam, getting as close to the dam as possible to get in the “prime spot,” and dropping anchor.  When then sat there for hours casting our line toward the dam to catch a fish called a shad.  We caught a bunch of this large fish that morning.  I remember it because I never have caught so many fish in my life!  I also remember it because the fish were big and it was exciting to see them on the end of your line.  There was something that I did not give much thought to as a boy, but that was very important to our success on that day.  If our anchor did not hold us in that “prime spot,” we would not have enjoyed the success we had.

 

As a Christian, there is certainly a strong current from this world that will push against us.  These people (representing the current) are interested in moving us off our position of trust in the Word of God and in the God of the Word.  It is important that we realize that we need an anchor firmly set in the strength and power of our God.  We cannot withstand the attacks from the enemy without Him!  The psalmist wrote, “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O LORD.  Lord, hear my voice; let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” (Psalm 130:1-2).

 

There is a God in Heaven.  That God is interested in helping His children endure the tests that life brings our way.  It is important that we surrender to Him each and every day.  It is important today to cry to the One Who can help you in the situations you are facing right now.  There is a God Who can lift you out of the miry clay you find yourself in.  He is waiting for your call today.  He can hear your voice … have you called?  His ear is turned toward you … have you asked for His help?  He is not sleeping, but is fully aware of the challenges you are facing.  As a matter of fact, God has allowed the very storm you find yourself in.  He has a plan to use that storm to draw you to Him.  Is your anchor firmly attached to Him?  If you are trusting in your finances as your anchor, you are, or will be in trouble.  If you are depending on friends/family/church/health/success … all these will miserably fail you in the middle of the storm.  God and His Word will never fail you.  Trust Him today.  Cry out to Him … He is listening!

 

In order to realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.” – Unknown

April 14 Devotional

When I was a young man, I hate to admit it, but I had a very short temper.  There are still times that my temper gets the best of me.  I can remember a number of times when I was a young man playing in a sport where I let my temper control my actions.  I also can remember coming home after finishing the game and being so disappointed in me.  I knew at the time I was losing my temper that my actions were not following those of Christ.  I knew when I would return home that I had disappointed my Heavenly Father, as well as my earthly parents (many times).  I cannot tell you the numbers of times I would pick up the phone to call someone to ask them for forgiveness.  I remember many times when I needed to go to someone face-to-face to ask them to forgive me for my horrible attitude.

 

Of course, the Bible speaks to this very clearly.  “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly” (Proverbs 14:29).  In my flesh it is very easy to lose sight of what God wants for my life.  There were times that I would win an argument, and realize in the end I had really lost because I did not control my temper.  What a great personality trait to be slow to wrath!  I have a very good friend from Jamaica who is like this.  It takes a great deal to get him upset.  I remember one day before a softball game when he was sitting on the bench and I was swinging a bat warming up.  I thought it would be cool if I could knock his hat off by hitting the brim with my swing … I think you know where this is going …  Let’s just say it didn’t work out exactly like I had envisioned it in my mind.  I hit my friend in the head with my swing.  He looked at me and simply asked, “Why did you do that?”  He was slow to wrath (thank God for that!).

 

Today make it your goal to be slow to wrath.  There will be people that disappoint you (hopefully none will hit you in the head with a bat), and there will be situations were you might be justified in being angry.  Be careful to not have a hasty spirit.  Be careful to act, not react.  When we react, many times, we must then go back and repair the damage we have created.  I want to be a man under control today.  I want to be ready if God wants to use me today.  I don’t want to be fuming about something that I think was unfair, or where I did not get my way.  I want to be this wise man described in Proverbs 14.

 

God is more interested in making us what we ought to be than in giving us what we think we ought to have.” – Unknown

April 13 Devotional

And many charged him [blind man named Bartimaeus] that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, ‘Thou son of David, have mercy on me’” (Mark 10:48).  I love that one line in this verse, “… but he cried the more a great deal …”  He was not slowed down by the people who told him not to bother Jesus.  He did not hesitate, or lower his voice, or even stop altogether … he simply cried out more and more and louder and louder!  I wish I had that kind of staying power in my prayer life!  How many times have we asked the Lord for something once, and when we did not get it, we gave up and forgot about it?  How many times have we not even bothered to pray about something, thinking that the Lord surely would not answer us?

 

This man asked for the impossible to be done!  This man was blind and was asking that his sight be restored!  Everyone knows that can’t happen … unless Jesus gets involved!  Our God is capable of so much more than we believe He can do.  After all, the God-head had made the eyes of this blind man.  They knew all the intricate things that our modern day scientists are just now discovering with all their new and modern technology.  Jesus Christ stood directly in front of this man and represented the answer to the longing of his heart for most of his life.  When others told him to remain quiet, he just raised the volume level a little higher and started crying out a little more often!  What a great example this man is for us today.  The reason was that the answer to his problem had just arrived on the scene and he was not going to miss his opportunity!

 

Regardless of how much people around you try to deny the awesome power of your God, don’t listen!  As much as people tell you that prayer is a waste of time … that religion is simply a mental crutch … that the Bible is full of stories that are nothing more than myths written long ago … that fellowshipping in church with other believers is not necessary to spiritual growth … etc., keep crying out to the Master of this universe.  He will never fail you.  As the skeptics around you increase, allow your faith in your never-failing God to increase as well.  Remember, the cynics that were near this blind man went home just like they had come … in unbelief.  He went home and saw him family for the first time!  He experienced the joy of not giving up and seeing God do miraculous things!  He had a story to tell for the rest of his life.  What about you and me today?

 

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” – Peter Marshall

April 12 Devotional

We moved from one state to where we live right now.  I can remember searching for months with a realtor to find a house that would meet the needs of our family, as well as the budget we had to live within.  I was frustrated after searching and searching to find nothing that met the need.  I can remember being in some beautiful houses and then finding out that they were far out of our reach.  I can remember opening the door of a house we could afford, only to be met with an aroma that I could not live with.  We looked and looked until finally we found a piece of property that we were able to build the house were we now live.  My best friend built our house, and he did it with incredible skill and craftsmanship.

 

As good as he was at building a solid house for us; he could not build our home.  Let me explain what I mean.  “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain” (Psalm 127:1).  My best friend can put wood and bricks together to build a physical house, but my Heavenly Father is the only One Who can build the hearts of a family together.  God has a plan for the husband/father that is unique to our Bible.  I would like to encourage the men/boys that are reading this to look for those places in your Bible that refer to the responsibilities for leading a home.   God also has a plan for the wife/mother that is equally as unique to our Bible.  I would like to encourage the women/girls that are reading this to find those passages to learn how to be a godly woman.  God has a plan for parents and children that is also unique to the Bible.

 

If we want to build a successful home, the main ingredient will always be God.  If He is the Master-builder, we will have a home that will endure the winds and storms of life.  If we depend on the wisdom of people on this earth, we will find our house falling to the ground at the first sign of trouble in this world.  Without the help of God, the watchman watches for danger in vain.  There is no help when you see trouble coming if you do not have God’s help.  Today, surrender your life and the life of your family to the hand of God.  He will make something beautiful come from ordinary lives if you will trust Him to do it.  There are thousands of people who are trying to find the answer for a successful family.  Show them your family, led by God Himself, and let them come to know Him through you.

 

Your highest compliment as a leader is that other leaders will follow you.” – Unknown

April 11 Devotional

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, ‘The LORD hath done great things for them’” (Psalm 126:2).  Sometimes when I am driving down the road, I like to look at the faces of the people driving toward me.  I have noticed that there are not very many smiles, or even friendly looking faces.  There is an abundance of gloom and despair on faces.  We are living in a world that does not have much to smile about.  There is constant news of killings, financial ruin, health issues, and troubles beyond our ability to handle.  But, for the Christian, we have hope!  When was the last time your smiling face made a difference for someone without hope?  As a Christian, God expects that we will show the joy of the Lord so that others outside of Christ will want what we have.  I have seen many Christians who look like they are drinking the juice out of the dill pickle jar.  When you ask some believers how they are doing, you must give them a half hour for them to list all their aches, pains and problems.  That should not be our testimony.

 

The psalmist here mentioned that people noticed their laughter and immediately connected that to the blessings of the LORD.  If that is true, doesn’t it make sense that the opposite is true as well?  Doesn’t it make sense that if we are constantly depressed, and dwell always on the negative things that are happening around us we are a bad testimony to the goodness of the Lord?  God has done so many wonderful things for us that we ought to dwell on those things rather than the challenges we are facing on a regular basis.  Each of us faces difficulties.  Each of us has problems.  Each of us struggles in area’s of our lives.  But each one who believes in Jesus Christ for their forgiveness of sin has a joy that is far deeper than the problems we are facing.

 

It is important that we each realize that our faces and our countenances are a billboard advertisement for what God is doing in our heart and life.  When you give a smile to a person today, you are telling them that you have something they ought to desire to have in their life.  When you join them with a gloom and doom face, you are telling them that they are right … there is no hope.  You ought to thank God today that you are alive with the hope you have in Him.  There are unending possibilities of people you can touch today if you will keep the right attitude and laugh a little.  You might be the only person that will have a smile on all day long.  Use it well!

 

Ninety percent of this game is half mental.” – Yogi Berra