April 2019 Devotion

FRUSTRATED WITH THE ALMIGHTY

There have been dark moments in my life that challenge my relationship with God. It’s not a matter of questioning His existence or role in my life. Those issues were settled decades ago. Instead, these issues occur during times when his inaction frustrates me. An injustice Hi seems to be ignoring or a difficulty that is not corrected are items that feed my discontent.

Please, understand that I love God. He is my everything. He rescued my life from the pit of spiritual destruction. His sacrifice on the cross is wonderfully precious. I belong to Him.

It is difficult to understand why our trust I god is woefully shallow at times. How fortunate we are that God’s personality is deeper than ours. He understands our frustrations and comforts discontent. Further, he is unmoved by our inappropriate emotional weaknesses.

But I trust in you, O LORD: I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. (Psalm 31:14-16)

I have discovered that it is best to keep working through our emotional difficulties. In god’s time, He always addresses our problems. His solutions have been both surprising and wonderful. Therefore, we can choose to trust Him even on the days when we are frustrated.

March 2019 Devotion

CASUAL DOESN’T WORK

I have a few acquaintances who are nice people; however, our relationships have not developed into a trusting friendship. Moving from casual into something more takes time. Ironically, we can struggle in this area with God. He wants to be our best friend. Often, we want to keep our distance from Him

A casual, or acquaintance type, relationship with God does not work. He wants to be much more than this in our lives. Yet, when I spend time with God, His desire for my discipleship is overwhelming. To be perfectly transparent, there are times when I would rather watch television than overcome a spiritual hindrance. The Holy Spirit within me is more than willing to cooperate with God; however, my sinful nature resists.

The Lord says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up onluy of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah29:13)

Does anyone want to have this horrible heart condition that was revealed to Isaiah? A casual relationship with God is not possible. Our Lord desires to be part of our everyday life. He is much more than another chore.

Time with God is always beneficial. I am always refueled, replenished, and refreshed when our relationship is healthy. There is o excuse for my spiritual slothfulness. Forgive me Lord. Let’s move forward instead!

January 2019 Devotion

WIDE AWAKE It is always hard for me to rest the night before I have to do something I do not want to do. My mind races with questions, fears, anxious thoughts, and concerns. When I do sleep, my dreams are uneasy. Further, it difficult for me to pray when I am distraught. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:2) Since I cannot sleep, does this mean that I have exhausted the love of God? No, God still loves me dearly. I am just having a very bad night. The momentary insomnia provides the evidence that I am struggling with my faith. This is not necessarily a hopeless situation. Increasing our faith is somewhat like bodybuilding. We must walk through difficult scenarios to become spiritually stronger. Each person seems to have his or her are of weakness. Just as the muscles will fail on occasion, we, too, will have our moments of spiritual malfunction. Fortunately, these things are quickly corrected with prayer, trust, empowerment from the Holy Spirit, and hope. In short, God comforts and restores us. Our wounds serve as a reminder not to fail on the next occasion. I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1-4)

December 2018 Devotion

PEACE ON THE WATER

Jesus spent much time on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples. Although they traveled through a few storms, it was often a quiet place of peace. This enabled Jesus to sped special times with His team of future leaders. The boat seemed to be just he right size for such expeditions.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. The, because so many people were coming and going they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So, they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)

Our alone time with the Lord is significant. We, too, need to seek a place of peace when our life becomes too busy for prolonged. Periods. Often, it is a matter of prioritization. It may be necessary to schedule these moments so that they are not missed.

Is it okay to spend money on leisure? In my opinion, if the result is quiet time with the Lord, then it is acceptable. If the activity adds to our busyness, then it is unprofitable. Remember that a serene walk costs very little.

Jesus’ ministry was more than busy. Crowds followed Him throughout the region. The water provided a place of peace, or a vehicle to a solitary place, that was difficult to find elsewhere.

Does your schedule need more quiet time with the Lord? What can be re-prioritized? If Jesus rested His disciples, are we exempt? God instituted the seventh day of rest a s gift for His people. We may not be subject to Old Testament Law; however, the wisdom of the idea is obvious. When are your special moments with the Master?

November 2018 Devotion

DAILY BREAD

We have plenty of squirrels our backyard. These ambitious creatures are forever foraging. Their nests bulge with surplus; yet, they are driven to find more. Their strength is in their ability to acquire.

It is uncommon for God to give s a surplus. More often He provides what we need for each day. This can be difficult for people who have a squirrel mentality. Learning to live one day at a time is problematic. The Lord is faithful while the situation remains uncomfortable.

He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.’” (Words of Jesus, Luke 11:2-3)

God wants to be our source of strength and stability. He does not want our acquisitions or surpluses to be our security. This keeps us actively seeking His provisions. The Lord is not attempting to enslave, but rather understands our desperate need for constant fellowship with Him. This interaction is vital to our spiritual health.

If we only speak with God when we are uncomfortable and communication is His greatest desire, is it any wonder we are in constant need? This is an important principle. The more time we spend in fellowship with Him, the more peaceful life becomes. Even when the difficulties do not change. His solace makes life sweet.

The application for this is obvious. We need to prioritize our time with the Almighty. He has all that we need. Further, we don’t have to be alarmed or disturbed by His “daily provisions.” He knows that we require an additional allotment in the morning.

September 2108 Devotion

Get A Job!

Our forefather, Adam, enjoyed the good life. Along with Eve, they lived in a paradise that makes any vacation seem subpar. They were blissfully ignorant of stress, overtime, budget restraints, customers, labor disputes, interviews, meetings, promotions, terminations, competition, share holders, reports, lawsuits, and graveyard shifts. All of that changed after sin entered the world.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are ad to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Work is a curse. We were designed to be perpetually on vacation. Since this is impossible, we must labor. God promises ultimate rest in the world to come if we love Him. Until then, life will be arduous. Still, the peace of god fills our lives with purpose, strength, rest and joy.

“Come to me,  all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Words of Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30)

July/August Devotion

Busy, Busy, Busy

It is said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” That passage is found in 2 Opinions. In other words, it is not in the Bible. Laziness is clearly addressed in multiple passages; however, the need for rest is also presented. God does not want His people running on empty.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. (Psalm 116:7)

Television may seem like a great distraction; however, it is far from relaxing. In my opinion, most shows cause an adrenaline rush which is the situation we are trying to avoid. It is better to find a less stressful activity. Still, searching for an undisturbed moment or two can be difficult for many.

God’s enemy likes to keep us busy. He knows we will eventually burnout without the proper care. Junk food, sleeplessness, and too much adrenaline all feed into the downward spiral. Eventually, the crash occurs.

In the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and make it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)

We can follow God’s example with a time of rest. We can unplug from the internet, turn off the cell phone, and find some quiet time with our Lord. In the New testament, we are given freedom to choose our moments. In my case, I like to keep my pastoral activities on Fridays to a minimum.

One man considers one day more sacred than another, another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. (Romans 14:5-6)

June 2018 Devotion

FOLLOWING JESUS

Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow me.” Initially it meant that He would become their instructor. Through time, they would discover that the Savior was much more. Two-thousand years later, “Follow me,” is just as powerful.

No matter how long we have been following Christ, we are still learning better ways to do things. Each day becomes a fresh adventure in Him. At times, the path seems gentle. On other occasions, it seems like we are climbing the Matterhorn of faith.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your won understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The second part of this command, “lean not on your won understanding,” is perhaps the hardest. Our plans, desires, and dreams are jettisoned in the shadow of Christ. We think that we know our limitations, resources, and abilities. This is true without the divine empowerment of God’s Spirit. This means if God calls us, He is responsible to provide for our needs, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I believe 90% of the difficulties in discipleship come from our battle to release control.

Ski slopes are categorized by ability. There are expert, intermediate, and novice slopes. Sitting around the lodge drinking cocoa does not prepare one for the Olympics. We may like the bunny slopes, but God has black diamonds on His mind.

The same thing is true about our spiritual growth. Following Jesus is much more than attending a half-hour weekly Sunday service. Instead, we must apply our faith daily. I recommend starting each morning in prayer.

May 2018 Devotion

FEAR IS A LIAR

 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:22-26)

 

It is easy to forget Jesus’ words when we are going through struggles in our lives. Our minds and imaginations wander in a multitude of areas and scenarios and we forget that our lives are the Lord’s and He always has the best plan for us. Focus on that. Do not allow fear to creep in and overtake for God has control of our lives and He will not abandon us!

 

Thank you Lord, for never leaving or forsaking us. In Jesus’s name, Amen!