March 5 Devotional

“‘Bring ye all the tithes unto the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith,’ saith the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field,’ saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-11).

 

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we ask God for the things we want, but how hesitant we are to give Him what He asks of us?  We run to God when we have a problem and almost demand deliverance from whatever it is we are facing.  However, God makes some very simple requests of us and we have a list of arguments, or rationale that explains why we cannot do what He wants us to do.  In these two verses there is an amazing promise.  That promise is that God will take care of us, even in the face of our enemies.  The promise is that our enemies will not be able to triumph over us as long as we remain faithful to our God.  These are incredible promises.

 

The promises of verse eleven are dependant upon our obedience in verse ten.  God makes a simple request … bring 10% of what I bless you with, and give it back to Me.  I don’t believe this is some kind of “forced” giving, but it is to be totally voluntary, and from a thankful and loving heart.  Notice that third word in verse ten … “ALL.”  God is looking for us to bring something from ALL He has blessed us with.  Think about what that means in your life personally.  What things can you identify in your life that you know are absolute blessings that only God could have given you?  He wants you to willingly return 10% of that to Him, or to His control.

 

We often read this verse and think about our (precious) money.  Your money is only one small speck of what God is talking about here.  Your health; your family; your job; your house; your car; your abilities and talents; your time; your reading; your entertainment; your thought life; your … I think you get the idea.  Sometimes I think we get the idea that God is our “genie” and we just run up a quick prayer if we want something.  The reality is that we need to be faithful to give God what He deserves everyday.  Use what God has given you to be a blessing to Him and others today.  There is a great blessing in giving back to God, because He gives more.

 

There is more to life than making a living.” – Dr. Bill Rice Sr.

March 4 Devotional

I was remembering a funny thing I saw on a television show years ago.  One man was talking about going to his homeland that was very far from the United States.  Another of his friends asked, “Do you know how far that is from here?”  To which a third man answered, “Four-thousand, seven hundred, fifty-three miles.”  Both of the first two men looked at the third man with a sense of awe, and asked how he knew that.  The third man simply replied, “You mean I’m right???”  Sometimes we get information, just to impress others, when the reality is that that information is basically useless and results in no actual benefit for our walk with Christ.  As a believer, you have a responsibility to be constantly growing and becoming more and more like Jesus.  If you are not careful, much learning can make you useless.

 

The writer of Proverbs says it so simply, yet powerfully.  “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).  I love that last little phrase … “Oh yes, and while you are gaining all that wisdom, don’t forget to pick up some understanding along the way.”  I have found that some of the smartest people I have met in my life had the least amount of actual “book-learning.”  I am not in the least putting down a good education.  I believe we should get all the information possible in our lives today.  One of the big problems I see in our society is that after a certain age, we feel that we can now coast, and we do not need to continue to learn.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I am not advocating ignorance today.

 

Having said that, I believe we do need a great deal more of “understanding” today.  We have some incredibly “wise” people, but we are really lacking in good old fashioned understanding.  Please continue to pursue knowledge and facts and details, but don’t forget in all that pursuing to remember to learn as well how to apply what you are learning to real-life situations.  When a person is sitting in a hospital room having just received a bad report from a doctor, they will not need to know how many gallons of water pass over Niagara Falls in an hour (sorry, just picked out a random thing).  They also will not necessarily need every verse you have memorized quoted “at” them at that point.  They will need someone with compassion and a working knowledge of Scripture to speak to their heart.  With all your getting, get understanding today.

 

Have an understanding so you don’t have a misunderstanding.” – C. Blair

March 3 Devotional

I can remember visiting my mother’s grandfather when I was a very young boy.  The one thing that has remained in my memory from those visits (besides the fact that my great-grandmother had about fifty cats) was the peach trees in his back yard.  I can remember how excited I was to go there when the fruit had ripened and we could pick a peach right off the tree and eat it.  There is something about getting to eat fruit that is that fresh.  As I think about that, I wonder … “What kind of fruit will my life produce today?

 

Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalm 92:13-14).  According to this verse, there ought to be fruit being produced in our lives all throughout our years.  From the time we are planted, until the time we become old and fat (sorry about the “fat” part … I didn’t write it).  There are some very important things mentioned here that speak to the production of fruit in our lives.  First, is that we ought to be planted in the house of the Lord.  I’m not saying this is the local church, but it certainly refers to being planted in a place where the Lord is exalted and displayed.  I want to be in a place like that on a regular basis.  Today we are blessed to have churches that preach and teach the Word of God.  Find one and commit yourself to it.

 

The second thing is says here is that our fruit should be visible in the courts, or outside the house of the Lord.  I want my light to so shine that men may see my good works and glorify my Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).  I want to have testimony that is such that the fruit of my life is evident to those looking.  When we went to my great-grandfathers house and it was not the season of harvest for the peaches, I remember thinking about the time the fruit would be ready and dreaming about it.  I want to walk with God so closely today that God will touch my heart with things that will produce fruit for Him, even into my “old” age.

 

When the psalmist talked about bringing forth fruit in our old age, I believe he was saying that we ought to be fruit-producers all the way through out lives.  In other words, if I am breathing, I should be doing something that will count for God.  Don’t live your life today in a selfish way that only provides benefits for you.  Live full out for God.

 

I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” – Jesus

March 2 Devotional

There are many things that people are trying to get that they think will show that they have been successful.  Some people think that if you earn a great deal of money that the pleasure you can get from that would mean success.  Others think that the more people that know who you are bring success.  Some think that the number of degrees you have earned in college or university means you are successful.  Others think that the amount of people you can call a friend equals success.  As I grow older, success has changed in my mind many times.  Today I read a verse that reminded me of what I think God sees success as in our lives.

 

We are introduced to a man named Obededom, in I Chronicles 13.  In this chapter, the story is told of the children of Israel bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel.  Instead of carrying the Ark the way God had given instruction to carry it, a new cart was used drawn by two oxen.  Uzza (one of the men driving the cart) reached out to steady the Ark when it shifted on the cart, and he was instantly killed.  David then refused to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, but instead placed it in the home of Obededom.

 

Obededom and his family experienced great blessing because of the Ark being in their home (I Chronicles 13:14).  When David decided to bring it back to Jerusalem, Obededom decided to up-root his family and follow the Ark to Jerusalem (I Chronicles 16:5).  He left all he had known to remain close to the presence of God.  Some probably criticized his decision; some probably thought he had become some kind of radical person; some may have told him he was not needed in Jerusalem.  None of that mattered to Obededom … he wanted his family to be near the Ark of the Covenant.  Because of his decision to move his family to stay with the Ark, look at what God did for him: “All these of the sons of Obededom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two of Obededom” (I Chronicles 26:8).  Did you catch that? Obededom’s family continued to be men of strength to serve the Lord.  You will also notice that sixty-two of his family members were named as faithful workers.  I want to have this kind of success in my life and the life of my family.  It will only happen as I remain close to the presence of God.  Decide today to stay in His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to change you.

 

One good father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – George Herbert

March 1 Devotional

We often are very pleased to tell people when we know someone that is thought to be famous.  I have had people tell me, “Oh, I have met _____,” as though that was going to impress me.  The Old Testament prophet Malachi said, “’for from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name shall be great among the heathen,’ saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:11).  The reality is that every tongue is going to confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  God’s name brings very strong reactions wherever it is spoken even today.  When some hear the name of God they fall on their face in adoration.  Others use His name as a curse word.  Still others say His name as a common expression of their surprise, or just to say it without any thought of the magnificence of God.

 

There are many people alive today who are trying with all their influence to tell us that there is no God.  It does not matter how loudly they make their claim, there are people from the rising of the sun in the east to the going down of the sun in the west who know the name of God.  Even the atheist uses God’s name (although in vain), and in using His name, recognize His existence.  I believe that one of the driving forces in the life of every Christian ought to be to make that name known among the people we will meet every day.  To many, God is simply a figment of some religious person’s imagination.  To the believer, it is the name of our Heavenly Father, our Abba (our Daddy).

 

One thing is for sure … if a person is every going to meet God as their Heavenly Father, they must go through His only-begotten Son.  There is simply no other way to know God.  We need to realize that reality of the singular way into Heaven.  No, we are not trying to make the way to Heaven so narrow that very few enter, but we must be in line with the Word of God.  The Bible says clearly in Matthew 13 that there is a “broad” way that leads to Hell and destruction, but that there is a “straight” and “narrow” way that leads to life everlasting with God.  Don’t be shy today to tell someone that you know God personally.  God made every person born on this earth to want to know Him.  Don’t be bashful about knowing God personally.  Go tell someone about what He means to you today!

 

No other generation but ours can evangelize the present generation.” – John R. Mott

February 28 Devotional

Discouraged?  Thinking there is no hope or help for you or the world?  Don’t lose heart, there is still a God in Heaven.  There is still a God Who is actively working for you, and He has not forgotten what you need the most.  We might ask God for money, or success in business, or for good health; but the things we need the most are His mercy and His truth.  Here is a great promise for you to hold on to today.  “He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up, Selah.  God shall send forth His mercy and His truth” (Psalm 57:3).

 

There are certainly plenty of people around today who would threaten to “swallow us up.”  There is a sin nature within us that threatens to “swallow us up.”  There are plenty of temptations for us to yield to in our everyday lives.  Don’t look at them.  Don’t focus on the troubles, but focus on the answer to each of them.  Look to Heaven where your help comes from!  We are not alone in this struggle for holiness.  We are not alone when we stand for what is right and true.  We are not in the minority when we stand where God wants us to stand!

 

David faced Goliath with no fear after asking the question, “Is there not a cause?”  I ask the same question for today … is there not a reason for us to attempt to live godly lives in our world today?  The resounding answer to David’s question was “yes!”  The answer to my question is also “yes!”  This verse from Psalm 57 should give you encouragement that help is never far away when you stand for God in a world that seems to be godless.  There is a cause … there is a reason to stand for God today … there are people depending on your testimony to remain strong and solid in the face of the enemy today.

 

I want to stress today that just about the time you think there is no hope, you need to realize that God is standing with you every minute of every day you live as a Christian.  He has with Him an endless supply of mercy and truth!  When you come to the end of your resources, He will always be there with His mercy and truth to take care of you.  When you have read everything you can read, and you still don’t have the wisdom you need, He will be there with mercy and truth.  When you have come to the end of your wealth of advice, and there is still counsel needed, trust Him to come along with mercy and truth.  He never fails!  He is always on time!  Help is on its way!

 

You should not meddle with the charts, compass, or the day, but simply trust the Captain … because He knows the way” – Dr. Ted Camp

February 27 Devotional

A few years ago I heard a song that really touched my heart.  I read these two verses in the Old Testament book of Nahum and thought of the grace of God.  The prophet Nahum wrote, “Who can stand before His indignation?  And who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?  His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.  The LORD is good, a strong-hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:6-7).

 

The words of the song are:

Condemned to die on a cross for crimes he had done.  He was guilty, everyone could see.  But his destiny was changed as he looked at Christ and said, “When Your kingdom comes, remember me.”  In Paradise that day he stood, just like the Lord said he would; surrounded by those who had gone before.  One said, “Friend how do you come?  What are the deeds you have done?”  With tears in his eyes, I can hear him reply; “There are no merits to my name … and no works that I can claim … He that brought me here, told me to say …”  I have come by the way of the cross; I have come by the way of the cross; it is nothing I have done, it’s the blood of God’s own Son.  I have come by the way of the cross.

 

I had nothing to claim, but my guilt and my shame … hopelessly lost, I could not find my way … until His glorious light of love showed down on me.  His mercy washed all my sin away.  What He did for me that day, was the price I know He paid … by His grace I too can say … I have come by the way of the cross; it is nothing I have done, it’s the blood of God’s own Son.

 

I see millions gathered round the throne from every kindred and tongue.  Those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Every person casting down their crowns at His feet.  This will be their song … we have come by the way of the cross.

 

Today is a good day to remember that you cannot do one thing to EARN the favor of God.  That grace is given without any merit on your part!  What a blessing to know that God paid my debt, not my own efforts!  I am thankful that even the Old Testament speaks to the grace of God.  You see, it has never been about us reaching up to Him, but has always been about Him and His reaching out to us.  Nahum understood it, and we should too.  Take time to thank God today for saving your soul.  He is worthy of our praise!

 

I am not saved because I love God – I am saved because God loved me.

February 26 Devotional

When we were young children, my father and mother would load my sister and me in the car on a hot summer afternoon and we would take a drive.  It was always a great time with the windows down and the warm wind whistling through the car.  I was excited to see all the things a little boy’s eyes can see that others might miss.  One of the highlights of that trip was coming down a hill into a valley where a natural spring shot water out a pipe and into a holding area.  Dad and Mom always had a cup in our glove compartment, and we all would get a drink of wonderful, cold, refreshing water.  I never knew where the water came from, but I knew no man had made it come out of the side of that hill.

 

As a Christian, I have a source of refreshment and comfort.  It is not physical water.  This refreshment comes in knowing that I have a God Who is constantly watching out for me and giving me the very things that are essential to my walk with Him everyday.  The psalmist wrote, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).  The constant that we find in this verse is the Lord.  He is always going to be God.  He is always going to be available.  He cannot be explained away by men, or fully understood by us either.  But He is faithful to us.

 

In a day when it seems nothing is dependable, we can depend on our God.  He is real.  He is not some mystical “force,” but a personal, living God.  Just the other day I was standing in a line and I heard a man say something about the weather.  He commented, “That’s mother nature for you.”  I thought about how bad it is that we cannot even give God the credit He deserves.  Now, it’s one thing for someone in the world to say things like that, but how often do you give God the credit for the good things He has done and is doing in your life?  It is God Who sustains you, not your family … boss … friends … president … 401K plan.

 

Today take time to give honor to God.  Thank Him for his sustaining work in your life.  Ask Him to help you to lean on Him more for the challenges you will face today.  Remember, He is the Fountain of Living Water for each believer.  He is ready and willing to provide for the needs you will have today and for the rest of your life.  Drink from His Word today!

 

Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” – William Carey

February 24 Devotional

 

We are stuck in a vicious time today.  It is vicious because there are people constantly telling us how good we are.  These people are telling us how much value and worth we have in this society.  We are told to demand a better way for us, and to think positive thoughts about ourselves.  I hate to break the news to you, but we are not basically good.  We have no value, except for the value God placed on us when He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place.  Now, there is great value in that, but there is nothing in and of ourselves that we can boast in.

 

Look what your Bible says about you … “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 53:2-3).  Not real pretty compared to what we are hearing today in our world.  My real fear for you is that this kind of thinking has spread dramatically into our churches today.  There are many churches you can choose from that will not speak plainly and clearly about our sinful condition as expressed in Psalm 53.

 

We are told how good we are and how valuable we are even in our churches.  I especially notice it in some of the new praise/worship songs that are being sung.  The words in one of these songs that I heard for the first time a few years ago really touched my heart.  It was talking about how what we are living today in not about us, but all about Him.  I thought about how true that really is.  We tend to yearn to draw the attention for what God does to us rather than reflecting it to Him.  I remember being drawn into the truth of the words, only to be disappointed with the actions of the singers who were singing the song.  Every one of them was doing all they could to draw attention to themselves!  The exact opposite of what they were singing.

 

I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I am telling you that this is the problem I face today, and probably you too, if you are honest with yourself.  We want the praise of men, even in church.  The harsh reality is that there is none that doeth good here on this earth.  There is not even one of us that would seek God on our own.  I am thankful for the work the Holy Spirit is doing in my life today to draw me to consider my Heavenly Father!  I need Him even to get me to the place that I will truly worship Him.  Trust Him today, and ask Him to draw you into a more intimate relationship with Him today.

 

We are all failures – at least, all the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

February 23 Devotional

More and more I realize how much more value I place on the heart of a person than the words I hear, or the things I see.  I am less impressed with your words, and far more impressed with your actions.  There are more and more people today making great promises, or great promotions about what they are going to do.  I have become very skeptical of the promises of men, rather I find myself waiting to see how they act when out of the eye-shot of others.

 

I remember meeting a man who was introduced to me as the next president of a large and respected Christian organization.  He appeared to be very compassionate, and very concerned about the group he ministered in.  I watched him from afar greeting all the people who had come to his initiation ceremony.  He had a friendly face and seemed very humble in his interactions with these people.  Just a few minutes later, I witnessed him (behind the scenes) being very gruff with some of the people that were not going to be on stage … people that would have been considered less important.  My mind quickly changed at seeing his “real” heart come out.

 

Josiah became the king of Judah as a young boy.  He immediately began to turn his nation back to God.  One of the first things he did was order the repair of the temple.  While the men repairing the temple were working, they found a copy of the laws God had given Israel.  When he heard what was in that book, he rent his clothing and began to weep because of the sins of his people.  God responded to Josiah’s actions with these words:“’Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants therof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee,’ saith the LORD” (II Kings 22:19).

 

God is more interested with what is in our heart than how much money we have … how smart we are … how often we go to church … what our title is … who we know … where we have been.  You see, with God it is a heart issue all the time.  We cannot see each others physical heart (thankfully), but we can see what is in the heart of a person, motivating them to the actions that come out of them.  Give God your whole heart today.  Ask Him to help you maintain a sweet testimony for Him today.  Remember, there is always someone watching you when you are “behind the scenes.”

 

It is the unseen root that produces the seen fruit.” – Unknown

February 22 Devotional

Whenever it gets close to Christmas you will begin to hear the question asked, “What do you get the person who has everything?”  In the ultimate sense, God is the Person Who has everything.  What could you and I possibly give Him that would make Him most happy?  Here’s your answer; “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

 

There is one thing that you and I can give God that pleases Him far more than the money we drop in an offering plate.  There is one thing that we can give God that pleases Him more than something we give up (that we love) for a certain time.  There is something that means more to God than the car we drive, or the square-footage of the house we live in, or the price-tag on our clothing, or ______________.  That one thing is a spirit within us that is broken and contrite.

 

Sounds strange, but think about it from God’s perspective.  The child of God who is constantly trying to impress Him with what they can do or what they can give Him, is simply giving back what has been given by Him anyway.  I remember when our children were small and the time came for my birthday.  One day one of our children asked me if they could borrow $5.  When I asked what they needed $5 for, their reply was that they needed to buy me a gift for my birthday.  I gave them $10 and asked for something better than what they were planning on (just teasing).

 

While I appreciated their thoughtfulness about buying me a gift (with my own money), I would have preferred for them to have always asked my advice before making a decision and then to completely obey what I told them.  That’s what God wants from us.  He doesn’t need our “token” offerings to Him.  He wants our spirit to be totally crushed before Him, so He can do whatever He wants with us.

 

He wants us to run to Him when decisions are placed in front of us, and to hear us promise Him that whatever He tells us to do, we will completely obey!  He wants a totally yielded spirit to be presented to Him every morning, and repeatedly surrendered all through the day.  That is the sacrifice He is looking for from us.  Our money, time and talents will all follow if we have first offered Him a broken and contrite (crushed to powder) spirit.  What are you bringing to God today?

 

If you do what you can – God will do what you cannot.” – Dr. Ted Camp

February 21 Devotional

When we went to church there were unwritten, but clearly understood rules for our family.  These were not “church rules” established by the Pastor or the Deacons.  These were rules that were set in place for our four-person family.  There was not an arbitration committee to solve differences, or disputes

 

.  There was no room for a lawyer to plead our case, or to stand in our defense if we violated.  The only justice we knew was in the form of the famous “wooden spoon” that somehow made if from our kitchen into my mothers purse.

 

Let me give you some idea of the rules that were in place for our family (in no particular order).  Rule #1 – Be early for every service – showing up just before the service was not on time – at least twenty minutes before was on time.  Rule #2 – Sit still and face the front of the church at all times – there is no excuse for turning around to see who is behind you, or what they are doing.  Rule #3 – When it is time to sing, you sing with your whole voice (musical ability was optional).  Rule #4 – Always bring your Bible to church – there is no reason to go to church without a Bible.  Rule #5 – Dress in the best clothes you have to go to church – you are going there to honor the King of kings – dress like you are going to visit the president of the United States.  Rule #6 – Absolutely NO goofing off during the invitation time.  Rule #7 – There is no excuse for missing a service without a doctor’s excuse.

 

All these were rules that we followed as a family and I find that they are still firmly settled in my heart.  God spoke to His children and told them, “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:  but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes” (Psalm 50:21).  I am thankful that God has rules that He will enforce.  When I think of the benefit to me and now our children and grandchildren, I am grateful for a good foundation to build a life upon.

 

God promised in this verse to “reprove” us and to “set them in order before thine eyes.”  God has standards and principles that are meant for our good.  I will tell you that my folks were criticized for the strict rules we lived by, but now that I am a father and grand-father, I am thankful for the guidelines put in place for me to help guide my life.  I thank God for His reproof and rules that He sets in place for my life.  I know they are good for me.

 

Be still and KNOW God – Be busy and NO God.” – Unknown