May 3 Devotional

Have you ever met someone that everyone thought was famous?  Do you have the autograph of someone you have admired?  When I was a teenager, my mother worked part-time at a local department store.  One day she came home very excited.  One of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball players had come into her store, and she got me a baseball with his signature on it.  I honestly cannot even remember who the guy was.  As a matter of fact, my friends and I played with that ball later on when we had lost all the balls we normally played with.  I guess he wasn’t that famous.  But, I do know Someone Who is famous! “Let them praise the name of the LORD: For His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:13).

 

We love to exalt people to a place of fame in our society today.  When you have done this, it will not take much examination of their life to show you that they were not necessarily the person had projected them to be in your mind.  They will eventually fail to uphold the position of excellence you have given them.  One thing I try to remind myself about whenever reading the Bible is that the men and women we have given the standing of “hero” in our Bible’s were simply human, just like us.  They have failures and blemishes just like each of us.

 

The more you study God … the more excellent He is.  The deeper you dig into the character and personality of God, the greater He becomes.  What a joy to know this God as our Savior!  I am so thankful that it was God Who paid for my sin debt … I am so grateful that the King of all kings paid off what I owed for my sin … and I know Him personally!  I can’t get over that!  I know the God Who spoke and the stars were formed and placed strategically in the universe.  I know God intimately.  He is my Heavenly Father!  He is the one Who cares for me when all others have forsaken me and run the other way!  He is the one Who provides for every one of my needs, and the One I can trust not to give me what I think I need.  He guards my heart and gives me the things that I need the most.  He gave me a “love letter” I call the Bible where I can read His promises everyday.  He has given me this Book that has changed my life and continues to change it every day.  What a great God!  His name really is excellent … and I want to tell everyone about Him that I can.  Will you join me today and tell someone about Him today?

 

No man can serve two masters, but he must serve one.” – Adrian Rogers

May 2 Devotional

Have you ever seen someone that was given a special gift that they were not expecting to receive?  Have you noticed the unbridled gratefulness that spills out of that person toward the one who gave the gift?  Have you also seen a person who thought they were “owed” the gift they received, and almost seemed disappointed to receive less than what they expected?  On the one hand, you see a person who cannot stop being thankful; on the other hand, you see a person who seems to be “thankless.”  There is a story in our New Testament that illustrates the huge difference between these two.  It is a story about a woman that met Jesus and found forgiveness for something she thought was unforgivable.  Jesus’ said this about her: “Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which were many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

 

The story of this woman touches my heart every time I read it.  She demonstrated her extreme thankfulness to her Savior by her gift of perfume, her tears, and her absolute humility!  When was the last time you poured your heart out to God and thanked Him for your salvation?  When was the last time you thanked God for the forgiveness of that sin that you repeatedly commit?  When was the last time you thanked God for not giving you what you absolutely deserved?  When was the last time you thanked God that one day your feet will touch streets of gold instead of flames of fire?  You have much to be thankful for … so why are we generally so ungrateful?

 

I believe if we are honest with ourselves, one of the main reasons this is true of so many of us is that we have joined in with the worldly thinking of our day that we are really not that bad.  We have learned to justify, explain, and rationalize our sin to the point that we don’t think it’s all that bad.  We have a skewed view of sin … we are looking at it from our viewpoint, rather than from the viewpoint of our perfect God.  Do not fall into this trap today.  Realize that you are a sinner that has been saved by the almighty grace of God.  Thank Jesus for taking the punishment for your sin on the cross of Calvary and extending grace to you instead.  Thank the Holy Spirit of God for the conviction He brings when we disappoint God.  Stop and give thanks today for the manifold blessings of God He has demonstrated to you that you have not earned.  Like the woman of this story … we ought never to get over the fact that God gave us grace instead of justice!  Thank Him today!

 

Beware of a man who favors his superiors but is rude to his inferiors.” – Bob Jones Sr.

May 1 Devotional

Today, like many other days, I got a phone call about a man who is younger than me, who died after a battle with an illness.  Every time I hear about something like this, it makes me realize that my life is very short.  It does not matter how long I live, in some ways it will seem as though it has been short.  The reason I mention this today is that we need to make every day of our lives count for as much as it can.  Don’t make huge plans for your future while ignoring the opportunities that are right in front of you.  Don’t waste so much time in planning for things that may never happen that you forget to do the things that God has placed within your grasp today.

 

Job said it this way in the midst of his challenges: “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?  Are not his days also like the days of a hireling” (Job 7:1)?  Job realized that all the “things” that you might count as so precious are really not that important when you come to the place of looking back on them.  Job had enjoyed success, wealth, and a wonderful family.  Now, as he lay with boils covering his body, he looked back on it all and realized that it had all been in the control of God all along.  God gives each of us an “appointed time” on this earth.  You and I have been given a precious gift from our Heavenly Father … the breath you are breathing right now.  We have no guarantee of tomorrow … we have no promise of achieving the dreams we have in our minds today … we have no assurance that what we have done will carry on beyond us … but we do have today!

 

Don’t waste this day by looking too far into the future, or looking back at past failures.  Jesus gave some great advice too … “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:37-38).  Live today in such a way that you will not have regrets when you lay your head on your pillow.  As Jesus encouraged us; don’t judge, or condemn; forgive quickly and completely; give when you have it to give and don’t be stingy.  They way you act toward others is the way you will be treated.  Make good use of the precious gift of this day.  We may never be able to return to “fix” what we did wrong, or do the things we neglected.  Don’t miss the opportunity to do what God put you on this earth to do today!  Enjoy this day!

 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Golden Rule

April 30 Devotional

Nobody likes to admit that they need a doctor … especially a man.  There are times that everyone need to go to the doctor.  If you are like me, you will wait until the last minute, when all other options have been exhausted.  I must tell you that I don’t like to go to the doctor; except, when I am really hurting, or in trouble … I’m glad there is a good doctor that I can go to for help.  A few years ago I had a problem with my heart and had to go to the emergency room for help.  After an examination, it was determined that I had a possible blockage in my heart, and could have even had a heart attack.  Heart problems are common in my family, and I knew this day would eventually come.  God blessed me with a very good cardiologist at that time.  He began to unfold the situation to me and offer me options.  After he gave all the options, I informed him that I had prayed for him, and I would trust his judgment and experience to make the right choces for me.  You see, when you realize that you are sick, you also realize that you need the help of those how have spent their life-time studying and practicing to help problems like yours.

 

In the same way, we must all realize that we have a sin problem that we do not have the ability to remove.  Jesus Chrsit came into this world to offer forgiveness, and “healing” (as it were) from our sin.  However, when He arrived and offered the help, there were many who refused to admit they had a need.  This is still a major problem today in this world.  Look at this interesting verse from Luke.  “And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem:  and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17).  Did you read that carefully?  The power of the Lord was available to heal the Pharisees and doctors of the law.  You see, these men thought they had the “sin thing” all figured out, and they were clean.  The reality was that they were in much in need of spiritual healing as all the others that were there who came for physical healing.

 

Don’t be so spiritually stuck-up that you do not realize today that at your best, you are simply a sinner saved by grace.  There is a great deal of spiritual pride in our churches today.  We need to be willing to admit that we need Jesus every minute of every day, all day long!  Trust Him today!

 

God does not bless programs or plans, but God blesses people.” – Unknown

April 29 Devotional

Nothing is quite so convicting as knowing that other people’s eternal destiny in partly your responsibility.  We know that none of us can “save” another person … we cannot even save ourselves.  What we do have is a responsibility to tell others who have not heard about the way to Heaven that we have found.  We must understand that most of our lives are spent looking out for ourselves, while ignoring the needs of those around us.  We have become a very self-centered people.  Today I want you to consider the great responsibility you have to those around you, and encourage you to take your eyes off yourself, and consider the needs of others.

 

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).  Simply stated … without someone having a vision, there will be people who perish.  Immediately my mind runs to the importance of having a vision for the souls of men/women in sharing the Gospel, but the truth of this verse goes far beyond that.  We as believers need to get a glimpse of the things that are most important to our God.  We need to get a “heavenly outlook” rather than the one we normally have … simply looking at what we want and need.

 

I was cutting grass a few days ago and was hurrying to finish.  I was so focused on the grass in front of me that I was startled to feel a pain on my face and something striking my face.  I immediately stopped, but not in time to avoid a stick hanging down from a tree.  I was so intent on the grass in front of me, I missed the danger of the stick that scratched my face and caused some pain.  I now wear two large scratches on my face as a reminder of my lack of vision.

 

This is a reminder to me of the danger of becoming so focused on what we are facing that we forget that those outside of the love and forgiveness of Christ will suffer the pain and anguish of Hell for eternity!  I don’t want to lose sight of that today.  It is interesting that in this verse it clearly states that if we are a people of vision we are also keeping the law.  I want to be obedient to the Word of God, and I want to have a vision for the things God wants me to do today.  Don’t fall prey to the traps of the flesh today and focus on yourself and your desires.  Give God first place and live sold out to attaining the vision He has given you to accomplish with your life.  We have one life, and God has a plan for us.  Use your day to His glory today!

 

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.” – Peter Marshall

April 28 Devotional

There was a familiar statement that my parents made to me many times when I was growing up.  It went something like this; “Birds of a feather flock together.”  The other question I heard many times was, “If everyone else jumps off a bridge, will you jump too?”  The idea is the same … the people you spend time with will heavily influence the way you think and eventually act.  It is so important that we have good relationships with godly people who will be able to influence our way of thinking.  Our way of thinking will eventually result in actions that will determine the success or failure of our lives.

 

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son:  But he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father” (Proverbs 28:7).  There are two keys in this verse that really set out the plan for living a successful Christian life: The Word of God; and the right friends.  I cannot stress enough the importance of making the Word of God the foundation upon which you build your opinions and convictions.  It is not a good idea to allow your friends to build your foundation.  God alone is the One to give you the truths to build your life upon.  God has the wisdom for all the situations you will face in your life, and He has provided the owners manual for your life … the Bible.  Don’t ever minimize the importance of allowing the Word of God to seep into your heart.  Those truths are the ones that will hold you when everything and everyone around you is spinning out of control.  Without a firm foundation, other people can easily move us from the truth to a lie without us even knowing what is happening.

 

The second thing is to find friends who also want to stand on the Word of God as their foundation.  There is something about the fellowship of people who are standing with you during the tough times.  When I was in High School, we did not have a full-time Youth Pastor, so we took it on ourselves to serve God and to stand strong on the truths we were being taught.  I do thank God for lay leaders who influenced our lives as teenagers.  We needed that adult influence for sure.  I am also thankful that I had Christian friends who encouraged me to stand for Christ in a public school, and not to bend to the pressures of teenage years.  God allowed us to be involved in precious ministry opportunities as young people that have held strong all these years.  Make the Word of God your foundation and stay in the truths of the Word of God.  Then choose the right people to stand with today!

 

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.” – William James

April 27 Devotional

When troubles come and you don’t know where to turn … there is a God in Heaven.  The psalmist said, “I cried unto Thee, O LORD: I said, ‘Thou art my Refuge and my Portion in the land of the living’” (Psalm 142:5).  What a comfort to know that we can call upon the Lord.  According to this verse, He is a place of refuge.  Literally this means that God is a hiding place for the believer.  He is a shelter in the middle of the storms of life.  He is also described as our portion.  This has the idea of being our inheritance.  God provides not only a place of shelter in troubled times, but He is our inheritance as well.  He will take care of us into the future.  God is that welcomed place of peace in the otherwise turbulent world we are living in for the Christian.

 

This description of what God provides for me is a welcome and comforting thought.  I seem to spend far too much time in fear of what “might” happen, when I need to learn to simply trust on this God Who promises to be a refuge for me, as well as my portion for the things that are coming.  Fear is a result of a lack of trust.  When I am fearful about something, or someone, I am looking in the wrong place.  When I allow my focus to move off God, and onto my circumstance or situation, I have begun to live a life that is “faith-less.”  As easy as it is to say this, it is tough in our daily life to practice this.  I want to be a person who fully relies on God to take care of me, both in the area’s I am facing today, as well as with the control over things that are going to take place in my future.

 

As a child, I was blessed to have parents that loved me and were a beautiful picture of the meaning of this verse.  I had a father who provided comfort for me when fear seized me.  He also provided for my daily needs, so that I never had to worry about where our next meal was coming from; or where I would get the clothing I would need to wear for school.  In the same way, we should not waste a moment in fear and anxiety as a Christian.  We have a Heavenly Father Who is far more capable of providing for our needs than my earthly father was.  As a child, I never worried about those things because my dad was taking care of it.  As a child of God, I should not worry about these things, because my Heavenly Father is taking care of me.  Today, rather than spending a moment in fear or worry, turn to your God and thank Him for taking care of all of your needs today.

 

There are always better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

April 26 Devotional

We often flatter ourselves by thinking that God somehow needs us.  The reality is that God is able to do whatever He likes with or without us.  The truth is that God has accomplished many things in my life in spite of me, not because of me.  I can recall many times when I asked God to give me something, or do something that later I realized was exactly the opposite of what I actually needed.  God is so good to us to give us what He thinks is best.  John the Baptist said it this way: “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father:’ for I say unto you, ‘That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham’” (Luke 3:8).

 

The Jews of John the Baptist’s time were so confident in their heritage that they considered themselves something special when compared to the rest of the people on the earth.  I would love to look down on them, but I am guilty of the same thing most days.  I like to think that my opinions are the only correct ones.  I also think that everyone ought to like the same things I like; rout for the same teams I like; enjoy the same kinds of food I enjoy; and generally allow the world to revolve around me.  I can’t understand why the rest of you won’t get with the program!

 

The bottom line is that God was and is completely capable of choosing any people group to carry His message to the lost world.  I have found that others don’t need to agree with me to receive God’s blessings.  I have also learned that if I refuse to serve God, He will use others to serve Him totally without my help, or advice!  It amazes me that God can use people who think differently than me, but He does.  The most important thing that I learn from this passage is that I want to be used of God more than anything.  I don’t want God to give that blessing to a rock.  It is not something I like to admit, but I realize that God is still not dependant upon me today to do anything.

 

God can reach the lost world any way He desires, but I praise God, He has chosen to allow me to be a part of the process of reaching this world for Him!  What a great honor we have today to be a part of His Divine plan for this world!  As you finish reading this today, thank God along with me that even though He does not need us, He has chosen to use us.  What a great privilege to serve the God of eternity past and future!  There is no greater joy than to stand for God where we go today!

 

God can do extraordinary things with ordinary people.” – Ted Camp

April 25 Devotional

There is nothing worse than walking into a room that you are unfamiliar with and not knowing where the light is.  Recently, we stayed in a Prophet’s Chamber (like a hotel room in a church) where we had never stayed before.  The church did a wonderful job of converting a couple of rooms in a previous wing of their church into this nice area for visiting pastors and missionaries to stay.  One night while we were there, I needed to adjust the temperature in the room.  The controls for that were in one of the other rooms the church still used for classrooms for Sunday School.  The Pastor had shown me where the controls were when he first showed us our room.  The problem was, when I went to change the controls, it was dark, and I could not remember where the light was.  I was really thankful there were no video cameras to capture my adventure.  I’m sure we could have won something for a funny video!

 

We all were in darkness … stumbling around in our sin trying to find the switch for the light that we needed for our souls.  We Gentiles were of all men without hope.  The Jews had been given the responsibility of carrying the light through the early history of mankind.  They were to take that light to the whole world.  God stepped in to provide what man could not do.  Here’s what the Bible says about the time Jesus was born … “A Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32).  God turned on the Light for the world!  As we groped about in our lives, searching for something with eternal meaning that would satisfy the longing of our soul, God provided exactly what we needed; Jesus Christ!

 

I am so thankful today for two things: First, I am thankful that God provided the only Light that would conquer the darkness of our sin.  Let me be absolutely clear.  In a day when we are being told that the only important thing is to believe in a “higher power” (whichever higher power you want to believe is okay … as long as you believe in one), I want to tell you clearly there is only ONE Light.  That Light is Jesus Christ … THE Redeemer … THE Way … Truth … Life – there is no other light!  The second thing I am thankful for is that Jesus came here to the earth for me!  I know He came for the whole world, but He actually came to rescue me from my sin!  MY sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ!  My debt is paid in full!  I have a Savior, Who has taken away the sin of the world, including mine!

 

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” – Helen Keller

April 24 Devotional

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is watching you?  I have felt that way a number of times when I am walking through a crowded area.  I am sure that there have been times that someone was watching you that you did not know about.  It can be a weird thing if you think about it, but it can also be a wonderful thing in the case of these verses in Psalm 139.  The psalmist wrote, “O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-4).

 

In one way it is a blessing to know that we are never outside the care of our God.  What a comfort to know that whatever stress I am going to face today … my God is with me and offers help.  What a blessing to know that when I am lacking in strength, I have a God Who is well able to handle whatever supposedly impossible thing I am facing.  I am thankful that He even helped me when I read my Bible this morning to understand the truths He had for me there.  I am grateful that when I pray to Him, pouring out my heart to Him, that His Holy Spirit is able to take the language of my heart that I cannot put into words, to the very throne of God!  What a blessing to know that He is closer than any brother could be.

 

In another way, it can be very convicting to think that God knows me so intimately.  We all have become very proficient in putting on our spiritual masks so others cannot see the “real” us.  There are no masks when we go to our Heavenly Father.  He knows, not only what we show Him, but He also knows the thoughts and intents of our heart.  He sees all the filth we deal with everyday in our own sinfulness.  Let’s consider this question … if God knows us this intimately, why do we even consider trying to hide our sin, or rationalize it?  He already knows what is there … why not simply confess and genuinely forsake it?

 

I am thankful for this relationship with my Heavenly Father.  With this knowledge of how well He knows me, I want to live in a way that will please Him more and more everyday.  I want to make this day one that will honor Him and be pleasing in His sight.  I want to walk in a way that will please my Heavenly Father and demonstrate to the unsaved world that He has made a difference in my life!

 

I am not satisfied with me – I am satisfied with God.” – Unknown