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August 16

Friday, August 16th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Power vs Humility.

There is an old adage: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I wanted to start this devotion off with a question: What is the problem with these kings and power? Then I realized I already knew the answer.

Over the past couple of days/weeks as I’ve been reading 2 Chronicles there has been a recurring theme. See if you can see what I see.

Asa: excelled in following God but then fear got to him and he allied himself with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. Asa died with a disease in his feet.

Jehoshaphat: received God’s blessing but later, after having it all, he aligned himself with Ahaziah, who acted wickedly.

Joash: flourished while Jehoiada was priest and guided him. But then after Jehoiada’s death, Joash listened to others. Bad move. They abandoned the house of the Lord. Prophecy against Joash predicted his demise.

Amaziah: did what was right “yet not with a whole heart.” He brought gods of the men of Seir and set them up to worship. After God blessed him.

Uzziah: did what was right. “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” (26:12)

There are more to come I know. It is easy for me to take shots at these kings, thinking “not me.” Wrong! Power is a corrupter. Anyone is susceptible. Especially me. I’m a fallen creature like all the others.

The most powerful man I know was also the most humble man I know: Jesus Christ. He is the exception to the saying about power I quoted at the beginning. May I/you learn from the mistakes of others and from the greatest example of all by pursuing humility.

“Father, pride is a downfall for so many. It has even brought me to my knees before. Help me to pursue humility so that power is not even an issue for me.”

August 9/Weekend

Friday, August 9th, 2019

My title is Following Wholeheartedly vs Following Haphazardly.

Unexpected. That’s what I found.

First, Abijah, successor to Rehoboam. Abijah made a speech denouncing Jeroboam’s revolt of rebellion against God and against Rehoboam. Abijah knew God was with him and his army. He soundly defeated Jeroboam’s army because they relied on God (13:18)

Second, Abijah’s son, Asa. It begins with these words in 14:2: “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” That right there is a strong testament to Asa’s resolve. It goes on to say, “He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandments. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars.” (14:3-5)  He purged Judah.

There are multiple references to his purging. Even his own mother was deposed as queen and her Asherah pole was tore down, crushed and burned.

When Azariah the seer came to see him and gave him words from God, Asa’s response was one of obedience. He and the people entered into a covenant with the Lord and sought Him will all their heart and soul.

He followed God wholeheartedly. He had involved God’s help in battle.

And then…he sought help from the king of Syria instead of God. The end result of the deal with the king was good, but not with God. His failure to seek God’s help was his downfall.

Unexpected. More way than one. But a warning for sure. What led Asa to seek outside help? Did he get prideful? Filled with fear because he forgot where his help came from? We aren’t told. But a warning to me. To you.

“Father, success is yours; failure mine. Credit is yours; pride is mine. Help me to trust you not outside help. Help me to stay true all the way to the end.”

August 2/Weekend

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of man vs Word of God.

It is not uncommon today, or any day for that matter, for people to put their trust in men. It has been happening since the beginning of time. I guess we see it more now since it affects us directly. We have seen the “rise” of superstar people because people have put a lot of stock in what they say. I’m speaking of the religious community specifically. We have “Christian celebrity” preachers who are millionaires or who make well into the 6 figures because gullible people hang on their every word as though it is true. They fall hook, line, and sinker for their lies. It seems ungodly and is appalling for these “Christian” speakers to live in the lap of luxury while many of their followers live from day-to-day looking for that elusive golden egg. The deception of false teaching is sad. The hero status placed on the heads of these people is nauseating. A man hawking miracle water. Grave sucking. Destiny cards. False healings. “Holy” laughter. Speakers making spectacles of themselves. It goes on and on.

All of their garbage teaching is based on “the Lord told me.” “The Lord told me to tell you to give to my work and you will be blessed many-fold.” What they don’t tell you is how lined their pockets are. We simply MUST weigh every word said by the Word of God. The Scripture twisting they employ MUST be checked. Some will say, “How can I do that?” Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth came knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

Come to Him with a sincere desire to know and gain His wisdom. If we could set aside our desire for earthly gain we can see His clear Word. Paul told Timothy this would happen, that people would want their ears tickled. It has been, is now, and will be what happens. There will always be someone to come along as the “next best thing.” It will continue to run rampant UNLESS we stop seeking earthly ease and satisfaction and start seeking Him. God has not promised health and wealth to His people; He has promised His presence in and through all things.

“Father, Your wisdom is perfect. Your Word is perfect and it is life. May I seek your perfect wisdom in all things. Help me not to be enamored by things here, but keep my eyes on You.”

August 1

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Isolation vs Companionship.

There is a foolish bent many people-especially men-have. They can go it alone. They don’t need anyone. A number of years ago there was a book called The Friendless American Male which focused on that vein of thought: men thinking they don’t need anyone. ‘Course that simply is not true.

We all need someone in our corner. As I was reading I Chronicles this morning, in a list of people which included military leaders, leaders of tribes, David organizing the priests and Levites, and a whole host of other lists, there are three verses I know I have read before (unless I skipped over them… 🙂 ), but saw for the first time today. Here is what it says:

Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding and a scribe. He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni attended the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.  [27:32-34]

David had someone serve as counselor for his sons. David himself had a counselor (someone he deferred to).  David had a special and close friend. David was not isolated. He used others to help make decisions. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

It all starts with God (according to that verse in Proverbs). But God also brings people alongside us who lend their expertise-whether it be that of serving as a counselor, a sounding board or someone to bounce ideas off of-or as a friend. No man is to be isolated or to live in a isolated environment.

“Lord, help me to gather around me people with wisdom and character and grace. People who are not ‘Yes’ men, but those who are honest and straightforward. Men who love You more than anyone else. Help me to find wise men to be my counselor and friend.”

July 31

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I actually wrote the bulk of this Monday morning at Jo’s sister’s apartment that would see us for the final time that day. I was going to title this An Observation. But this morning I went back to it and reworked some of it, mostly by adding some thoughts. But when I reworked it this morning I decided on a different title:

Stretching vs. Atrophy.

Here is the reworked devotion:

This Monday as I read my devotion from “Faith” from an Our Daily Bread collection of devotions, knowing today would the last day we would ever see this apartment and all that has taken place over the last month or so, I had to make some observations. The author’s devotion was on Stretching. As I sit down to have my Quiet Time,  the apartment is quiet. The outside is quiet. My soul is quiet and at rest. Today we pack up and move what remains in Vicki’s apartment. It has been a “stretching” experience in so many ways.

For Jo it has stretched her far beyond her comfort zone. I have not seen her cry like she has in a long, long time. Maybe after my second bike accident when I was seriously injured and the ensuing trauma which followed. Jo has had to go to bank after bank-back and forth-many times. Talk to Job & Family Services (a government agency…’Nuff said0. Apply for Medicaid for her sister. Become POA.  Make future funeral arrangements. Nursing home. Hospital. Phone calls. Way, way, way out of her comfort zone.  She’s a saint putting up with all she has.

For me it was giving up the routine of my job. Not being there for what I consider my responsibility has been hard. It has been hard to leave for weeks (3 of the last 5 to clean out this hoarder’s apartment. Scrubbing on my hands and knees to clean up…stuff. I cannot say enough about how Ryan and Diana (youth pastor and secretary) have held down the fort. Nor can I praise the leadership of OVCF enough for letting me come and go as I have, telling me “you have got to take care of your family.”

Stretching is painful. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and stretching was vital to recovery of motion. I’ve had meniscus and collarbone surgery. Stretching was vital to recovery.  One of the most important recovery mechanisms after a bike ride is stretching. In the life of the Christ-follower, stretching is vital to growth. It hurts to stretch muscles that want to curl up and atrophy. It hurts to stretch spiritual muscles that will do the same. But it is absolutely a necessity. Stretching helps us to focus not on what has been but on what will be. In our lives, stretching will help us focus not on what we have been, but on who we can become. It is easy to see ourselves with all our failures and shortcomings, but God looks beyond that to see who we are as His new creation through the power of His Spirit.

“Father, thank you for stretching me. Thank you for giving me (sometimes) unpleasant situations that challenge me to break out of sameness and safety and step out onto the water. As I take those steps-present and future-help me to keep my eyes on You, not the waves kicking up. And help me to remember this is all in your plan for me. Stretch me where I need stretched.”

July 30

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Defeat or Victory.

After a thrilling chapter in Psalms-chapter 139-which in my book may be one of the most exciting chapters in the whole book, he ends with some very familiar words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Verses 29-30]

What powerful verses those are! They stand even stronger when considered in the context of the whole chapter and also what is coming. Previously the psalmist has talked about God knowing us frontwards, backwards, up one side and down the other (a little poetic license there). Then he writes about how God knew us before we were born and how important His thoughts are of us. We have no other response other than to say, “Search me, O God.”

But as I read chapter 140 the other night, my eyes went to a logical presentation. I’m not sure why my eyes see things that way. 🙂 There are some words which stuck out to me. 

  • “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men.” [verse 1]
  • “Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked.” [verse 4]
  • “Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked.” [verse 8]

I’d say the psalmist took seriously the threat of those who were his enemies. He wasn’t asking for acceptance of his plan to walk alongside them. He wasn’t making any plans to give into them. No…he was asking for God’s strength and protection as he fought. He was praying for God to provide a “way through” the fire. “Deliver me. Guard me. Grant not.” I think inherent in these words is a resignation to God of his weakness and need for supernatural intervention.

If I can say it this way: maybe the psalmist is praying that God will snatch defeat out of the lion’s jaws and bring about victory for him.

“Father, thank you for your steadfast concern and stand with me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and to the point of defeat, bring me into your rest and into your arms of safety and allow you to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. FOR IN YOU, I AM VICTORIOUS!”

We make our way home today with a moving truck and Jo driving mine. If you think about it, prayers for safety would be appreciated.

July 25

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

My title for this devotion is My Wondering vs His Purpose.

When I was growing up, one of the questions teenagers asked was, “What am I here for?” I don’t know if that was a question asked by teens before that time or if the ’60s brought that question to the forefront. The ’60s was an age of upheaval and of being unsure of things. So we often asked “What is my purpose in life?” As I recall a parachurch ministry had a tract based on that question: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

As I was reading I Chronicles I read the section (Chapter 17) of David’s desire to build God a house. He was somewhat embarrassed that his house was better than the house where the Ark was and God’s presence was. He thought one of his purposes in life, especially after having his own house built, was to build a better house for the Ark. But Nathan took God’s words to David that building Him a house was not his purpose. His purpose (to make a long story short) was to be king. To act like a king. To fight like a king. To rule like a king.

In Psalm 138:8 it says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” David knows whereof he writes. He knows God will fulfill His purpose for me because David saw it in his own life. And no matter what it is God sticks with me. “His steadfast love endures forever.”

“Father, You are true to Your Word. You promised it. It shall be. Fulfill our purpose in me. Fulfill your purpose for me. I know you will bring it to completion and finish what you started. [Phil.1:6]. “

July 19/Weekend

Friday, July 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Meeting a Celeb vs Meeting Jesus.

Have you ever really wanted to meet someone? As a youngster I was deeply interested in baseball. I want to meet some of my baseball heroes. Since I was from Pittsburgh and played first base, I wanted to meet Dick Stuart. i.e. Dr Strangeglove (he wasn’t very good on defense but he could hit the ball a mile). I began reading material from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and wanted to meet the Christian ballplayers. I got into music and wanted to meet Tommy James and Frankie Valli. I had the chance to meet  one of my favorite Christian rock singers when I met Dana Key of DeGarmo & Key. He even came out of his bus to talk! Cool dude enjoying making music in heaven right now.

My “worship” of my childhood idols has waned and disappeared. I’m older now. Wiser (I hope). Less moved by someone’s name or status in life. Definitely not as “hungry” to meet people as I used to be. They all put their pants on the same way I do.

I used to wonder what I’d do if I met a celebrity. Stammer? Stutter? Speechless? Make myself a nuisance by wanting a picture? Gush? Maybe be disappointed at the arrogance? Aloofness?

Even better. Meeting Jesus. Imagine what that will be like.  Will I stutter? Stammer? Or fall down at his feet in worship? Hug him? Be hugged? Weep tears of joy and gratitude? Laugh? Does it matter? I don’t think so. I will be in His presence. That alone will be worth it all.

“Father, there is no one greater than You. There is no one I’d rather met than you. I look forward to that hug and ‘Welcome Home’ from you. Until that time, let me not be enamored by anyone or anything other than you.”

July4/5/weekend

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

I started writing this July 4th in the evening but failed to finish when my brother-in-law came in and started talking. So I finished it this morning. Used it for a Communion Thought, then decided to record it here. I am back from Sandusky for about 2-3 weeks until I have to return to drive a moving van back. Jo will be heading up there for a few days each of the next three weeks to hopefully pack things away and get financial stuff squared away.  Your prayers for her safety would be much appreciated.  Here’s the devotion:

My title for this devotion is Freedom that costs nothing vs Freedom that costs something or everything.

Today is Independence Day. A day we, as Americans, have one of two responses to: indifference or patriotism.

The indifference I don’t understand. {Enter Bob, Jo’s brother. The rest is written today, July 7th} In spite of its difficulties, we still live in the greatest country on the planet. I lived during the ’60s and experienced Kent State, the protests and all the other garbage that went on. I didn’t approve of it then; I don’t approve of it now.

Jo had the news on last night and they had a story of a 21 year old Marine whose life was forever changed on 9/11. He told him mom then that he would catch whoever did that. Bin Laden is long dead (Hooray!) but he kept his promise to fight the evil and joined the Marines after his high school graduation. He lost his life at the age of 21 in Afghanistan. She was not kind to Colin Kapernick in her speech.

Indifference to the cost paid by others for our freedom is unconscionable. That mother certainly wasn’t indifferent.

So it is with Jesus. Freedom isn’t really free. It costs something. Sometimes everything. It cost the lives of men and women since 1776. Over 2000 years ago it cost the life of our Savior so we might be free. Our freedom cost His life.  So our freedom from sin wasn’t free. Indifference for us is not an option.

“Father, may I never grow jaded and indifferent to your love and sacrifice for me. You have said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.‘  Help me to know true freedom which comes from you.”

July 2

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Faith vs Sight

I know I keep coming back to this topic of faith. Maybe it’s because it is more than a word. It is-in my mind- a word of action.

Let me explain. One of my favorite scenes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the scene where Indy has to perform three acts to get to the cup of Christ. (A penitent man shall pass. The name of God.) The final one is where Indy has to take a step of faith by walking off the ledge onto a then unseen bridge. When he finally shuts his eyes and trusts his step of faith, he steps onto a bridge. His step of faith was rewarded.

Faith is an action word and an active word. This past week I have turned back the clock on my music. I spent some time listening to Mylon Lefevre, Kenny Marks, and Steve Camp. Steve has a song whose title goes by a line in the song: “Don’t tell them Jesus loves them ‘till you’re ready to love them too.” Faith should always have feet.

We may not “see” what a step of faith might bring. (I’m guessing if we did we might not take that step).  🙂  But step we must if we want to follow God’s directives in our life.

“Father, I’m not always eager to step out in faith. Sometimes I’m too pragmatic and want to know the result. But not always is that your way. Help me overcome any fear or hesitancy I have and take that step of faith.”