6.28.09 – 2 Kings 17:41a

Let me preface this Devotional by saying I respect the work the following people did while they were with us and my hope is that they had a personal relationship with Jesus.

This past week was filled with news of “celebrity” deaths. These were people that many consider icons of a certain period of time. Certainly when you think of Farrah Fawcett, “the 70’s” can easily be part of your next thought. No one disputes Michael Jackson’s contribution to the world of music and to music videos. These people and the others who have passed on contributed to their field of work. Consider this, is their contribution more important than what you do on a daily basis in your field of work or for example what a Teacher or Fireman does?

Because these people are part of “pop culture” they are made to be larger than life, more important than that Fireman and sadly more important than Jesus. We can pass this off and just say it’s part of our society, but isn’t that the bigger issue? Our society puts more emphasis on “Pop Culture” than it does on Christ. The one that is there for us from dawn to dusk, day after day, week after week and we would rather watch another hour of Michael Jackson coverage than read our Bibles. If we gave Christ half of the time we devote to worldly things our lives would change immeasurably.

So who or possibly what do you “idolize”? Pop-culture is all about what’s hot! Today’s superstars are tomorrow’s has-beens. The newest fads and clothes are yesterday news in a month or two . . . so what ever it is, if it’s taking time away from your relationship with Jesus isn’t it time to “reconnoiter” your schedule and spend some time with the one who will always be on the top of the charts
2 Kings 17:41a – Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.

6.15.09 – 1 Corinthians 15:58

As I write this I am on a bus with 35 Jr. High School Students. We our on our way to Missouri for a mission trip to rehab a couple of homes. Along with the 35 kids are 8 adults. One of them is my friend Jason, we’ve been serving together since last fall. Jason leads a very busy life. He owns a construction company that performs a wide range of services, from backyard patios to a complete home. Jason has a wife and two young boys, in addition to serving as a youth coach he is a decision counselor and an usher at our church. My point here is that Jason leads a very busy life. Our Jr. High Minister
specifically asked Jason to come on this trip because of his knowledge in the construction business. His experience would be an invaluable asset in our task to lead the kids in the repairs and painting of these homes. As luck would have it, as this date approached Jason’s company (Jason) became very busy with jobs to be performed. With the economy being what it is . . . . to be a busy construction company is certainly a blessing.

Jason had every reason in the world to bow out of this trip and as he told me, even considered such. Then his wife handed him the above verse. Even with his responsibilities at home and his business, his wife new that the work that we were to be doing this week was far more important. With that said, the above verse assures us that any work we do for the Lord will be justly rewarded. When you consider all the good Jason will do this week by putting some things on hold it exemplifies the Christ like behavior of serving others first. Certainly this summer offers you an opportunity to serve in some capacity. Sure you’re busy . . . . but are you any busier than Jason? The opportunities abound for you to
change someone’s life forever and the best part of it all is that you will be rewarded 10 times over. What or WHO will you impact this summer?

1 Cor 15:58 – Therefore, my brothers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

6.8.09 – 2 Timothy 2:1-2

Can you remember a person that had a positive impact on your life? maybe a coach, a teacher, hopefully a parent. Through our lives we encounter scores of people who “teach” us how to live our lives. Some more directly than others but we all process what we see on a daily basis, good, bad or indifferent. Some of this goes in and right back out but when we are exposed to a specific person for a long period of time we certainly learn from them. Now think about a person that impacted your life negatively. This could have been the kid down the street that always got you in trouble a co-worker that yells a lot or anyone in between. You can also look at this as how we see those around us. Do you respect this person
or that person and learn from their behavior or do you try and keep a distance from them? Whether you realize it or not your children, your business associates & your neighbors are observing how you live your life. Are you a Mentor to those around you? Titus 2:7 – In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. Or are you setting a different example? Proverbs 26:4 – Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Which one of these people are you? Do you live your life as it is being observed? Not in a materialistic “look at what I’m doing today” way, but in a caring, God fearing way that sets a positive example for everyone you come in contact with.

In all we do, in all we say, we set an example every day . . . .

2 Tim 2:1-2 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

5.31.09 – Psalm 121:7-8

When we were young much of what happened to us was closely monitored by our parents. There was an inherent feeling of comfort with Mom & Dad nearby. When we fell and skinned a knee or some other life shattering event happened, we could run to our parents and they would make it “all better”. As we grew older and started venturing out on our own who was always there to rescue us or prevent us from making huge mistakes? . . . Our parents.

Whether you know or accept this to be true, God is watching over everything that goes on in your life. Think about a time when you were about to, or actually did something stupid and/or wrong and for whatever reason you emerged unscathed. There are way too many of those in my past! However, I can look back on those moments now and know that even though I wasn’t looking out for my self or my friends God was watching over us just as he did with you. This happened because God has a plan for YOUR life.

Now just as your parents did, God might have a little repercussion planned for you, if you blatantly ignore him and live for yourself and your needs.

When you put your life in God’s hands and trust in him implicitly, then you are freed to live life to fullest. When you veer off the “right path”, God will be there to catch you when you fall, just as your parents did when you were a child. PSA 121:7-8 – The Lord will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore

5.24.09 – John 15:13

Memorial Day, Like most things in life we tend to take this day for granted. It’s a day where we get together with friends and “kick-off” the summer by firing up the grill. I sat behind a young couple in church this morning. As is customary in our church, the pastor recognized any serving military personnel along with their families and last, but not least, the families that have lost loved ones while serving in the armed forces. The young man and his wife were obviously very affected by the latter recognition. I’d like to think I’m about as patriotic as the next guy, but when I saw this unfold in front of me, it really sank into what this day means to those who have lost a parent, spouse or sibling. Then I thought that this person that they were mourning also fought for me. Every person killed in action since the Revolutionary War died for you and me. They died to give me the right to sit here and write this. They died for you to have the right to read this and hit delete if you don’t like it. An American Soldier dies almost every day and we just go about our business taking the freedom that
he or she was fighting for, for granted. It’s almost shameful that we only honor them once a year.

So what can we do to honor them 24/7/365? Paul wrote in Galations 5:13 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. It is only fitting that we honor our fallen heroes by using the liberty, first granted to us by God himself, to serve others. If we would all give just one hour a week to serve I’m confident our world would dramatically change. So did you put out your Flag today? Great start . . . . now find a cause you can wrap your heart around and truly honor those who have given everything for YOU . . . . by serving! John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

5.10.09 – Psalm 9:10

Mother’s Day . . . . domestically speaking, there is no other day in our society that is more revered, and deservedly so. From the minute we are brought into this world our Mothers provide for us in so many ways. When asked who do you trust more than anyone else? most people answer, “my Mother”. This is no surprise, as most of us have a deep personal relationship with our Mothers.

Believe it or not, Jesus knows who you are and wants to have the same kind of relationship with you, that you have experienced with your Mother. In the same way that your Mother has been there for you, Jesus can be there too. He can provide, comfort in times of despair; . . . . assurance, when there seems to be no reason for any; . . . . sound advice, if you’ll only ask; . . . . and greater joy than you have ever experienced. Other than baking cookies, he can be all that your Mother is, and so much more.

It’s only natural that we trust our Mothers, for they brought us into this world. So why is it that we can’t trust Jesus? It’s hard to trust someone that you don’t know, isn’t it? The good news is that he his waiting for you right now and a relationship with Jesus will do wonders for every aspect of your life. Your Mother has undoubtedly come to your rescue one or twice, but I urge you to take some time to get to know the only one that can truly SAVE you, Jesus Christ.
PSA 9:10 – Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

5.3.09 – Matthew 5:22

For me, reading the above verses a few years ago would have caused me to just scratch my head. Our Pastor read and explained these verses sometime last year and they really stuck in my head. I say this partially because I have never really had a great relationship with my brother, we’re not at odds or estranged, we’re just not “close”. Why am I saying this here . . . .”they say” the first step in fixing a problem is admitting to it . . .

This is exactly what Jesus is telling the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. God wants to have a relationship with each of his children, that would be you and I. There are multiple references in the Bible where we are told to put God first. However, here we have the Son of God telling us that before we come to worship he wants us to resolve our petty differences with our fellow man. When you think about it, most of our disagreements with others are petty, yet we let them fester until we can’t even remember why we were initially mad, we just know we were mad. Can you think of an old friend, co-worker or family member that you have a disagreement with. Maybe it’s that very issue that is keeping you from having a better relationship with God, not to mention the person involved. I think Luke put it very concisely in Luk 6:37 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God wants to be close to you, but he knows if your heart is weighted it can not be fully open to him. Settle your differences and you’ll be in a much better place to receive God’s word.
Mat 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ (aka, you vain fellow) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

4.25.09 – Proverbs 1:15

Out of all the great versus and teachings in Proverbs this one should resonate for all of us. Think back to when you were a child and you were trying to talk your parents into to letting you do something they were against. As kids, our negotiating skills left a little bit to be desired, so our best argument was, “Johnny’s parents said it was ok for him to go” and they answered with the classic line, “if Johnny parents said it was ok for him to jump off a cliff would you?” You knew that was coming, right? . . . The truth is that they were only looking out for what they thought was best for us. I
would say most of the time they were right on the money.

As we mature we become responsible for our own decisions via the free will we are granted by God and the Great County in which we live. The “them” Solomon speaks of in Pro 1:15 refers to “Sinners.” They say a man’s character is judged by the company he keeps. I think our character is greatly affected by the company we keep. If you hang out with people who use drugs there’s a good chance that one day you’ll do the same. If you associate at work with those whose ethics are not pure, then soon enough, you’ll be heading down that same path. It’s really that simple to head down that wrong path, unless, you choose the “road less traveled”. “Going along with the group” is an issue we all have faced since we were kids. It was not easy back then to say, “No, that’s not something I want to do”, and it is not any easier today, but this is exactly what Solomon urges us to do.

Do the decisions you make on a regular basis lead you to the peace that only righteousness can offer or are your decisions affected by what others might say or think?, and possibly leading you down a dark path! Pro 1:15 – my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;

4.20.09 – 1 PETER 5:2

Below are quotes from 4 different men of varied backgrounds. However, they all seem to understand that service to others is the “secret” to true happiness.

No time is better spent than that spent in the service of your fellow man.
-Bryant H. McGill-

Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.
-Billy Graham-

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
-Muhammad Ali-

The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.
-Mohandas Gandhi-

Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself, gets large and full of joy. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.
-Horace Mann-

Now think about this . . . . How do you get your happiness “fix”? Do you go buy “stuff”? Do you go to the hottest places to be seen? Are you wrapped up in your business’ success and how much money you’ll make this year? If you’re doing this or that and at the end of the day you’re laying in bed thinking there has to be more . . . well there certainly is.

Think about the last time you helped someone without being asked, your basic “random act of kindness”. It could be a simple gesture like taking a grocery cart in for someone or volunteering at a shelter. That feeling of helping another is unmatched and the good news is that it’s not by happenstance. God created us to help one another, so why wouldn’t he make the feeling we get when we’re helping others, one of the best experiences we’ll ever have. Sure, closing a big deal at work may give you a fleeting feeling of elation but not the comforting feeling that we get when we know that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life. The more you serve the better it gets and the more you’ll want to serve. Then
perhaps someone else will see your actions and they’ll want to serve and so on and so on. Lastly, if we don’t lead by example then how will others, especially our children, learn that service is the most admirable of deeds. Giving of your time and resources to those who truly need help is a reward unto itself. 1 Peter 5:2 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

4.12.09 – John 16:33

Hope, . . . . In the last year we’ve heard a lot about Hope. For a such a small word it can mean so many things to so many people. For a child at Christmas he “hopes” for a certain present. For the girl on her first date, she “hopes” that he is ”the one”. For that first time Marathon runner, they “hope” that they can make it to the finish line. For the family struggling to makes ends meet they, “hope” they can pay their mortgage.

For those who believe in Christ and that today marks his Resurrection, it is this very event that gives us “eternal hope”. Hope that when we screw up, we’ll get it right tomorrow. When I strayed from living right and partied my 20’s away my mother always had hope that God was watching over me and that one day I would figure “it” out. Her hope was that God would bring me back to her and the rest of my family and closer to him. When I did not have hope myself, she had hope for me, Why? because her hope was of Jesus and the wonderful things he can do in someone’s life. This hope is not anxiety laden, it is a hope wrapped in peace and faith that God has a plan and whatever the outcome, it is for the greater good. I can now tell you without an instance of hesitation that because of my mother’s hope & prayers, he was
with me every second. In those days, I put myself in quite a few bad spots and came out of every single one unscathed. God had a plan for me then and I’m doing my best to make use of it now. I also know that a life with Christ is not without its problems. It’s these “blessings” that make us better people, especially when we put our hope and faith in the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Today let’s pray for those who know and feel “hopelessness” as it is the saddest state that one can be in. Jesus overcame the world, most of the time all WE have to do is overcome ourselves. Have hope in the eternal gift that Jesus offers and tomorrow you can resurrect your life.
John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24