Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mar 31 - Philippians 4:19

Paul wrote:
My God will fully satisfy every need of yours
according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Notice what this verse doesn’t say … It doesn’t say, “God will fully satisfy every wish of yours.”

So what do we truly need?

We say we need food, water, and air to live. That’s a “need,” right? Actually not. When believers die on earth, we still live.

So what do we truly need? Only one thing lasts forever, and that’s our relationship with Father, Son, Holy Spirit … and other believers.

In this life, believers may go hungry. We will get sick and die. But when we truly come to God, “God WILL satisfy every [real, true, and eternal] need … in Jesus Christ.”

And everything else that we label “a need” will just distract us from this truth, this hope, this glory, and this power.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who needs to need Jesus
… even more

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mar 30 - 1 Chronicles 29:17

I know, my God, that you search the heart,
and take pleasure in uprightness.
1 Chronicles 29:17

God takes pleasure in righteousness.

The world does not.

Look at the tabloids. Look at reality TV.

Why is there such a hunger in our world for this kind of drama? I’ve heard people say that they’re drawn to it. They can’t help but study, shake their heads, or laugh at the train wreck of people’s lives. It’s the same reason, they say, that we all slow down to gape at an accident on the side of the road. Morbid – but inescapable – curiosity.

What does this say about our own hearts, though? We say we’d watch the News more if it was filled with more uplifting stories, but the TV ratings don’t lie. Sex sells. Violence sells. Scandals and conspiracy theories draw us in. Why are we drawn like flies to manure, and indeed, what does this say about our hearts?

Right now … celebrate! You’re reading this rather than a tabloid.

Every time you reach for the remote, try searching your own heart even before God has a chance. Begin examining your motives. Begin “tak[ing more] pleasure in uprightness” and you’ll find the “God [who] search[es] the heart” filling you with more joy and purpose.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who likes writing these
because it always refocuses me
(and it encourages me that you’re reading them
and hopefully, daily, refocusing you!)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mar 29 - Isaiah 49:10

They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun
beat down upon them.
He who has compassion on them
will guide them and lead them
beside springs of water.
Isaiah 49:10

About half of the Old Testament prophecies are encouraging. About half are warnings.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. While the words of prophetic encouragement come more quickly to mind and sour in our hearts, the ratio is probably not anywhere close 50-50. Most of the prophets spent most of their time warning a repeatedly wayward people.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at myself, I have two parts to my heart. Half is wayward. The other half is bold, courageous, and faithful. And still another half – proving that I’m not so good at math – is faithful but tired.

If I’m honest …

·         probably 5% of me is wayward – like all of us, if I say I have no sin, I deceive myself and the truth is not in me (see 1 John 1:6-10, or Rom 7:14:25).
·         Probably 75% is of me bold, passionate, consistent, determined, and faithful.
·         And then there’s that other 20%. Too often I’m overly busy, regularly distracted, frequently tired, and persistently relying on my power instead of God’s strength.

How about you?! What are your percentages?

Today’s verse is address to that last 20 (to 80) percent of us. This world is often a dangerous desert. On our own, we are parched, sun-sorched, exhausted, and imperiled (and if you’re not today … just wait a few weeks). Our only true hope is God. When we turn to God for life, “he [will have] compassion on [us] … he will guide [us] … he will lead [us] beside springs of water” and, as it says in John 4:14, “the water that [the Lord] will give will become in [us] a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s 20% needs
to be continually refreshed
(fortunately, I know who and
where the river of life is)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mar 28 - Acts 18:9

Do not be afraid,
but speak and
do not be silent!
Acts 18:9

In Paul’s missionary journeys, he found both success and opposition in Corinth. While “8 many of the Corinthians became believers,” in other corners Paul was “5 opposed and reviled.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like hostility, battles, and angry opposition.

Paul didn’t either. Fortunately, God knew this. Therefore, “9 one night the Lord s[poke] to Paul in a vision.” It was a message of encouragement. We say half of it in our verse for today: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent.”

In verse 10, God tells Paul why he can be encouraged and be bold: “for I am with you.”   

Are you ever worried, afraid, or feeling oppression for the sake of the Gospel? Remember, ‘You-plus-God’ is always an overwhelming majority! Hear the rest of God’s word to Paul as encouragement to you in the midst of your worries and fears. “10 I am with you [and when I am with you] no one will lay a hand on you to harm you.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy with a big bodyguard

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mar 27 - Psalm 62:9

Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
Psalm 62:9

Question: How much does a “breath” weigh?

Answer: More than a “delusion.”

In the balances of this world, when we weigh our standing or worth, we tend to rank ourselves.

In my High School, the jocks and cheerleaders ranked highest. The book worms were nearer the middle. And the druggies were at the bottom.

I’m not in High School anymore. Nevertheless, we adults still rank. Prestigious jobs and prodigious pay checks are highly esteemed. And character seems to matter increasingly less.

All of these things “rankings” are ultimately a delusion. The only thing that has weight and substance is faith. It’s not our works. It’s not our clothes. It’s not our job title. It’s not our car. It’s our faith. It’s our character – which is “faith active in love” (see 1 Jn 3:18).

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants to
weigh as much as a
spiritual Sumo wrestler

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mar 26 - 2 Timothy 2:19

God's solid foundation stands firm,
sealed with this inscription:
"The Lord knows those who are his."
2 Timothy 2:19

At Spirit of Joy we have the bible memory and evangelism program for our kids. It’s called AWANA. It stands for “Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.” That phrase – 2 Tim 2:15 – comes just a few sentences before today’s verse.

Part of AWANA is the call to unashamedly “14 remind” our broken world of the “8 Gospel [of] Jesus Christ, raised from the dead” and “19 God’s solid foundation [which] stands firm.” Therefore, Janie Owens and her crew teach our kids to be unashamed workers.

Are you an unashamed worker?

There’s two ways to be ashamed. The first is to never really witness.

The second was occurring in Timothy’s community. Paul was telling them in this letter that the false “talk [of] Hymenaeus and Philetus [was] spread[ing] like gangrene.” These had “18 swerved from the truth,” and were apparently causing others to swerve from the true life promised through the Gospel.

I hear Paul implying, “Hymenaeus and Philetus may think they are doing God’s will and are his ’15 approved workmen,’ but ’19 the Lord knows who are his.’”

I don’t know about you, but on “19 God’s solid foundation” I want to “stand[ forever] firm.” And that “stand” must begin now by not being ashamed.

In Christ’s Love,
George Custer
(even if the world thinks
my stand might lead in total defeat,
God raised another man whom they thought
died in total defeat … Jesus Christ)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mar 25 - 1 Kings 8:29

May your eyes be open
toward this temple night and day,
this place of which you said,
"My name shall be there."
1 Kings 8:29

Solomon built the Temple.

Then he prayed.

Some people don’t like prayers like this. They think we shouldn’t ask God to “hear us” when we know he always hears us.

Now, I’m not going to argue with anyone who has that kind of boldness in faith! But I’m also not going to argue with anyone – including Solomon – who is having a heartfelt conversation with God.

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive" (Mt 21:22). If you want to remind God to hear, ask him to hear. If you want God’s eyes to be open, ask for him to be watchful. It’s not redundant or unnecessary. It’s relational. It’s asking a favor from a trust friend.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s praying
for God’s eyes to be open
toward this temple,
“guard us from danger, Lord”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mar 24 - Isaiah 59:21

My words that I have put in your mouth
shall not depart out of your mouth,
or out of the mouths of your children,
or out of the mouths of your children's children.
Isaiah 59:21

Have you ever said, “Wait … wait … it’s on the tip of my tongue”?

Usually that means that you want to say something … but just can’t remember the specifics.

God wants his word to be on the tip of your tongue. However, he wants you to remember the specifics.

In fact, not only does God want you to remember the specifics, but he wants you to tell the specifics … especially to your children.

Faith is passed generation to generation. If we don’t actively tell our children, they won’t tell our children’s children. And soon the faith will disappear. Indeed, the church is always one generation away from being extinct.

Have you converted the Word of God from eyes and ears (reading and hearing), to mouth and hands (a willingness to speak and an readiness to serve)? Do it now … for the sake of your children, your grandchildren, and the future of the church.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who often speaks with his fingers
(I type devotions, how do you share the faith?)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mar 23 - Proverbs 3:7

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:7

I like puzzles. I like thinking creatively and solving them.

All of life is a puzzle. And if you’re a puzzler like me, that can be kind of fun. There’s always a new challenge to solve.

But what are we warned about in today’s verse? Not to be wise in our own eyes.

I like solving things myself. That means that the best I can do is the best I can do. And taking control myself, I too often miss out on the best God can do.

In my life, it’s not so much that I need to “turn away from evil,” as today’s verse says, rather I need to quit trusting in myself and trust in Jesus.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who likes 1 Corinthians 1:30,
“Christ Jesus became for us wisdom from God.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mar 22 - Psalm 106:6

Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity,
have done wickedly.
Psalm 106:6

Iniquity. Sin. Wickedness. (You can definitely tell that it’s Lent in my daily source for verses.)

I must confess that I generally like brighter verses. But I must confess that I agree with the Psalmist: I’m part of the human generational curse. I’ve done wickedly.

Confession has two parts. First, we are called to genuinely and humbly acknowledge our sins. Some people are so prideful that for them, this is the hardest part.

Other people find another part of confession the hardest: Accepting God’s grace and forgiveness. Often we so despair that we can’t forgive ourselves, and thus can’t imagine that anyone – including God – could forgive us.

Psalm 106 is a litany of human wickedness … and God’s amazing graciousness.

·         6 Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity; have done wickedly. 8 Even so, he saved them.
·         8 at the Red Sea … 10 he rescued them from their enemies and redeemed them from their foes. 13 Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! 8 Even so, he saved them.
·         14 In the wilderness, their desires ran wild … 15 So he gave them what they asked for, but … 8 Even so, he saved them.
·         19 The people made a calf at Mount Sinai ; they bowed before an image made of gold … 8 Even so, he saved them.
·         21 They forgot God, their savior … 44 Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries.
·         24 The people refused to enter the pleasant land … 44 Even so … 45 He remembered his covenant with them and relented because of his unfailing love.
·         35 Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs … 37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. … 44 Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries.

Do not doubt that God can forgive you? Instead … “1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who accepts grace (part 2),
but needs to be more humble (part 1)

Which half are you better and worse at?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mar 21 - Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast to
the confession of our hope
without wavering, for he
who has promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

What is "the confession of YOUR hope"?

For many of us, it's easier to talk about "the confession of OUR hope." "We" believe in God. "We" confess that Jesus was crucified, died, and is risen. "We" acknowledge that the Spirit empowers. That's good! But that's general.

What if someone asked you ... WHY? Why do you believe?

If you can't say more than something like, "I've been a Christian all my life" or "I like going to church," then maybe it's time to take a leap of faith! Maybe it's time to do something bold. Radical! Maybe it’s time to do something that you can't do on your own and only God can accomplish. Maybe it's time to quit being quiet and do something adventurously uncomfortable for the sake of the Gospel.

What if someone asked you ... Why do you believe? Start writing a new chapter! What is "the confession of YOUR hope"?

In Christ's Love,
a guy who gains power
and sees hope and heaven
only -- and whenever –
he surrenders

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mar 20 - Jeremiah 2:13

My people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13

Forsaking God is an obvious evil. But why is digging out our own cisterns so evil?

First, you know what a cistern is, right? It's a pit for water. It must have a solid lining. Cisterns often hold the runoff from the rain. They can also be filled from nearby rivers and springs. In and of itself, cisterns are obviously not bad or evil.

The problem is the water. God provides living water. He is the only source for true life. "Digging out cisterns for ourselves" implies filling up our lives with our own agendas and trying to do life on our own terms.

At its worst, we're forsaking God's living water and are drinking from the world's pollution. These bacteria, filth, and parasites will steadily poison us.

But even at our best, we'll still only collect some of the good that the world can offer. Not only does the world's provision lack the nutrients of eternal life, but the best of our human efforts eventually erodes the lining of the cistern. Even the world's best will inevitably leak out, and we'll be left empty.

I don't know about you, but it's unlikely that I will formally and officially forsake God. However, I am constantly tempted to try and dig out “success” on my own terms.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants God to pour me
a little of the good stuff

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mar 19 - Deuteronomy 10:17

For the Lord your God is
God of gods and Lord of lords,
the great God, mighty and awesome,
who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deuteronomy 10:17

Bribery was one of things that stirred Martin Luther and the Reformation.

But who was getting bribed?

Leaders in the Medieval church developed a theory. They figured that the Saints -- like Peter and Paul and James and John -- were so good, that they had extra goodness leftover when they died.

Now ... we know that we are saved by grace -- not works (see Rom 3:22ff and the rest of the New Testament). But their Medieval reckoning concluded that if it took, for example, 10,000 good works to get in heaven, these Saints were so good that they each had millions of left over.

They imagined it, therefore, as a bottomless treasure chest of blessings, and for a price -- a bribe -- you could buy some of a Saint's goodness and be forgiven.

It was a great money-making scheme.

It was not good theology.

God takes no bribes!

And it's more than that. Sin is so unholy that we can't bribe him with even a treasure chest full of our best works. There's only one way to God. Indeed, he provides the way. It is through his Son and our relationship with him through faith.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who has a treasure chest
-- not of good works, but of God's grace

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mar 18 - Psalm 123:2

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he has mercy upon us.
Psalm 123:2
Who is God to you?
Today's verse invites us to remember that God is our Master. Our duty and delight should be to serve him.
True service, however, requires at least two important things.
The first is submission. In theory we say that God is our Lord and Master. In practice, however, most of us like to be "in charge." The problem is that when I rely on myself – and I do it too often – I get "Ed-sized-results." The gift of submission is that when God is in control, I get "God-sized-," "God-directed-," and "God-blessed-results."
The second piece of service to the master is keeping our eyes on him. Where is he moving in your life? What is he up to in your world? Are you as attentive to his subtle movements as a handmaiden is to her master? Watch! Listen! Pray!
In Christ's Love,
a butler

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mar 17 - St. Patrick

"Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me; …"
from the shield
of St. Patrick
Happy St. Patrick's Day.
As Lutheran's we don't venerate saints. Our understanding is that we don't need mediators to approach God's throne of grace with boldness. We've missed something vital, however, when we stopped remembering the stories of the heroes of the church.
Patrick, for example, was from Britain. As a teen he was captured by Irish pirates, and enslaved for six years. After he escaped, Patrick said in his letters that an angel visited him and called him to return to Ireland as a missionary. It was Patrick's bold witness in the 400's A.D. that turned the pagans in Ireland to Jesus Christ.
Would you return to the source of your oppression? Would you put your life and freedom on the line to witness boldly? Maybe we'll be more bold if we look for and claim the promises on Patrick's shield:
Christ, you are always with me.
Lord Jesus, I claim the promise
that you dwell within me.
As I step out in faith and witness, remind me
that I have you and your angels fully behind me.
When I'm not sure where to go,
lead the way decisively before me.
And when I go through the dark,
help me know you're ever beside.
Where my heart is divided, win me.
Where my heart is hurting, comfort me.
And where my sin has separated, forever restore me.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's Irish today!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mar 16 - Genesis 43:30

because he was overcome
with affection for his brother ...
[Joseph] went into a private room
and wept there.
Genesis 43:30
Ten of eleven of Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery.
God had a different plan, however. It was a reversal of fate. Joseph the slave rose to second in charge of all of Egypt. His brothers, however, faced hardship – famine – and came begging to him.
Since they didn't recognize Joseph, Joseph tested them. He wanted to see if their hearts had changed. He wanted to see if his ten half brothers had killed his one full brother.
When the ten brought brother Benjamin into Joseph's presence, "[Joseph] was overcome with affection." And he wept for joy for two reasons ... First, his full brother was alive and well. Second, his other ten brothers had had a marvelous change of heart.
The question for today is: Who has hurt and betrayed you?
Joseph is a model of human forgiveness. Sometimes we think that forgiving means forgetting. Ultimately it does. But Joseph shows that it's okay to test first before we trust fully again.
  1. First he showed grace – he could have punished his ten brothers the minute they stepped into his presence.
  2. Then he gave them the opportunity to prove themselves.
  3. Once their integrity was reestablished, the sin was forgiven, the division was "forgotten," and the relationship was restored.
Who has hurt and betrayed you? What do you need to do to set them – AND YOU – free.
In Christ's Love,
a recipient of grace

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Devotion DELAY

Major computer problems.
We'll have devotions back in a few days!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mar 8 - Psalm 91:1-2

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust."
Psalm 91:1-2
Do you know the hymn that quotes Psalm 91? The next words in the hymn are ... 
And I will raise you up on eagle's wings.
While all the verses in this song are powerfully from Psalm 91, the image of eagle's wings is not. Rather, God himself used these words when reminding in Israel how he led them safely out of Egypt (see Ex 19:4). "On eagle's wings" is also the promise of how God will lift us up and carry us when we are weary (see Isa 40:31).
Combining these scriptures, references, and hymns, God promises to be ... 
  • our shelter and our strength
  • our refuge and our fortress
  • our protector and our keeper
  • the anchor that keeps us grounded
  • the force that helps us soar!
Which of those blessings do you need to today?
Do you need comfort and refuge? Pray for his wings to enfold you.
Are you ready to soar? Pray for his spirit, his wind, his strength, his inspiration!
In Christ's Love,
a flapper
(I've been flapping on my own power
but am beginning to stretch out and soar)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mar 7 - Exodus 3:11-12

But Moses said to God,
"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh,
and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
God said, "I will be with you."Exodus 3:11-12
These verses are not the only time in Exodus 3 that the words "am" and "I" are used in the same phrase.
  • Here, of course, Moses uses them, saying, "Who AM I?"
  • A few verses later, God uses "am" and "I" saying, "I AM who I AM."

"Who am I?" is a common human lament. We search for identity. We long for significance. We struggle with weakness. "Who am I?" "What's wrong with me?" "Do I matter?"
Meaning, significance, identity, and hope are restored in our lives when we replace our AM I's with God's I AM.
  • He defines who we are. Loved, Blessed. Forgiven. Disciples.  
  • He gives us purpose. Love others. Bless others. Forgive others. Disciple others.  
  • He gives us freedom ... when we come to the cross
  • He gives us hope ... when the empty tomb opens our hearts
  • He makes us wise ... when we rely on his truth
  • He gives us power ... when we trust in his strength
  • He makes us strong ... when we bow humbly to wash others feet
In Christ's Love,
Wait ... who am I?
I am I AM's!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mar 6 - Isaiah 54.4

Do not fear, for
you will not be ashamed.
Isaiah 54:4
What do we normally fear? Death.
  • We're afraid of heights because we might fall and die.
  • We're afraid of air flights because we might crash and die.
  • We're afraid of spiders and snakes because they're just plain creepy. (And they might bite us and we'd die.)
Shame is a different kind of death. It's a little death.
  • Someone says something shameful about us -- gossip -- and it kills our good name.
  • We do something embarrassing, and it kills our credibility.
  • Past indescretions are made public, and we're so ashamed that we want to die. 
In Isaiah 54, God is talking about restoring Israel. They've been sinful. They've been conquered. They've been scattered. Their former glory is now a pitance. They are beaten, bloodied, exiled, and ashamed. 
God is saying, When I forgive you, restore you, and bring you home, "4 you will forget the shame of your youth." In fact, he says, I will be "5 your husband ... your redeemer ... 8 with everlasting love I will have compassion on you."
No matter how many little deaths and shames and indiscretions you have made, when you turn to God, he will bless you. Through his grace "4 you will forget the shame of your youth." In fact, he says, I will be "5 your husband ... your redeemer ... and 8 with everlasting love I will have compassion on you."
Do not fear.
In Christ's Love,
Captain Invincable
(I've died with Christ,
now the world can't harm me)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Mar 5 - Deuteronomy 11.16

Take care, or you will be
seduced into turning away,
serving other gods and
worshipping them.
Deuteronomy 11:16
"Seduced" is a word we usually associate with sexuality.
Indeed, with the ease and prevalence of pornography on the internet, we have a major problem with lust in our society today. (According to statistics I looked up for this, there are about 10,000 women accessing pornography every second in America. Women! And men access it at about twice that rate.)
In recent sermons I've talked about Baal. That's the name that evil used among the Canannites and in Old Testament times. But even though we might call it by different names today, evil, carnal excess, and depravity haven't left us.
Deuteronomy covers the end of the Exodus. God and Moses are trying to prepare the people to cross over into and thrive in the promised land. "Seduced" in this context isn't a sexual word, it's a devotional word. When we worship the flesh and go along with the world, we are "turning away" from the God of Heaven and worshiping the gods of the world.
Don't let this world seduce you away from the true God and true grace.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be wooed
by God and grace

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mar 4 - Mark 8.36

For what will it profit them
to gain the whole world
and forfeit their life?
Mark 8:36
I remember going to the stores with my kids when they were young. They constantly said, "I NEED some more Legos." "I NEED a coke from a vending machine." "I NEED a new batman action figure." 
Stores always seemed a good time for vocabulary lesson. "You may NEED a drink, but no, you don't NEED a Coke. You simply WANT your drink to be a Coke." 
It's tempting to laugh at our kids and think that we as adults are above confusing wants and needs.
We aren't, of course. One of things that Jesus talks about most in this world is money. Why? Because we constantly confuse wants and needs. We also fear -- will it be enough? To take care of our family at an artificial standard that our society sets, we work harder and harder and never see the family we're supposedly working for.
Jesus asks, "What will it profit [you] to gain [even] the whole world, and forfeit [your] life?"
What do you need to forfeit, so you can start living more fully again? Workaholism? Fear? A bad vocabulary that confuses wants and needs?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to gain
a whole life

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mar 3 - 1 Peter 5.7

Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
You have made
the Lord your refuge.
Psalm 91:9
I've told you before that currently my scripture verses are sent to me in pairs. I couldn't decide which to pick for today ... because they actually fit perfectly together.
Fear is one of the most debilitating emotions in our lives. The voice of heaven in scripture tells us not to fear or worry. Here, of course, Peter tells us to "cast all [our] anxiety on [God]."
Why? Because if God created this whole wide world, he's more than big enough to handle whatever you might consider to be big. He loves, forgives, helps, heals, and blesses.
That's a good verse ... but it's better when paired with Psalm 91.
This Psalm doesn't say that God is our refuge -- although he certainly is. Rather it says that peace and protection come when "you have made the Lord your refuge."
It's like a farmer in olden days. An enemy army appears over the horizon. The farmer can stay and fight with his shovel ... or he can run to the castle and seek refuge behind fortress walls and with the king.
As the good king welcomes the streams of peasants into the castle, he says, "You have made [king and castle] your refuge. Cast all your anxiety on [me]."
God says the same to you, of course. Are you making him your refuge and trusting him with your burdens?
In Christ's Love,
a poor begger 
in the glorious castle
of the true and only king

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mar 2 -- 2 Corinthians 12.10

Paul wrote:
Whenever I am weak,
then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
What does Paul mean by that?
I remember talking to a parent once. I asked, "When did you feel closest to God."
The parent answered, "When my child was in the hospital."
By human reasoning, how odd. But think about it. At this moment in time, this parent was at their most vulnerable. They couldn't fix the problem in their child. In other words, they'd reached the end of themselves. They had to let go of control ... and let God be in control. That's why they were closest.
That was my story too. As a 25-year-old father, I was unemployed and then underemployed. I wasn't supporting my family. I wasn't controlling my own destiny. I'd reached the end of myself. I had to let go ... and let God.
I believe that's what Paul is saying in today's verse. Whenever I [reach the end of myself], then I [allow God to work] strong[ly]."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to be
weaker and less self-sufficient

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mar 1 - Psalm 116.8

You have delivered
my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
Psalm 116:8
Sometimes I work ahead -- way ahead -- on these devotions. The day I'm writing this devotion happens to be Ash Wednesday.
For my Ash Wednesday sermon, I'm contemplating the judgmental finger that some people point at God. They say, "I can't believe in a god who casts people into hell." (Have you ever heard that one?)
Do you hear the sense of entitlement in that statement? "We all deserve to be in heaven and it's only an angry God who would cast people into hell."
That statement leaves many Christians tongue-tied ... because it sounds logical. And suddenly we're the ones who are on the defensive. Many conflicting sentiments running through our brains ...
  • We know God is loving.
  • We also know what the Bible says -- "unless you believe" (Jn 8:24).
  • Does God cast people into hell?
Lent -- especially Ash Wednesday -- is a good time to remind people of our "default setting."
Our default setting is death. It is ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
There are many definitions of hell. Without getting too specific, it is the absence love, joy, peace, hope, and blessing. At its core, hell is the absence of God.
Dust has no life in it, that means without God's resurrecting love, death is absence, ashes, necrosis, hell, and decay. God doesn't cast people into hell, he invites us to come to him and live.
In our verse for today, the Psalms sing of this hope: "You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling."
The next time that someone says, "I can't believe in a God who ...," remind them of their default position.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who doesn't
point his finger at God,
a guy who instead
raises his hands in thanksgiving