Category Archives: Devotional

Promises!

From The Simpsons
Lisa: You promised to take us to the lake.
Homer: I promise you kids lots of things, and that’s what makes me such a good father.
Lisa: Actually, keeping promises would make you a good father.
Homer: No, that would make me a great father.

God is a great Father. God makes lots of promises, and He keeps them all – 100.00% of the time. Try flipping open your Bible and seeing how many you find.

I did a test once to show how this and other Bible study techniques work. I had someone pick numbers at random without telling them the purpose. I used the first number to pick a book of the Bible and the second to pick the chapter. The first choice was 1 John 5. I had people search for what stood out to them, what commands they saw, and if there were any promises to claim. And there just happened to be some big time promises. Check these out:

  • 1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
  • 1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
  • 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Try looking for promises when you study your Bible — but be sure to read them in context.  For example, the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is not for any reader or even for Christians today.  It was part of a very particular promise made to the exiled Jews.  God kept that promise, of course, but it wasn’t aimed at us.

God is the most trustworthy being in the universe. He always keeps his promises. No one has ever regretted putting their trust in Jesus.

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Laity Sunday Sermon

umc-cross.jpgI had the opportunity to do the Laity Sunday sermon at church again this year (yes, I know it is evidence that we must be living in the end times).  Once per year they ask lay people to do the sermons at the three different services.  We spoke on Romans 12:1-13, which contains one of my favorite passages. 

For the two of you who want to listen to it, click here for the audio and the outline. 

I’ve done the praise & worship services in the past, which use PowerPoint.  I did the traditional service this year, which was a little different. 

Things look so simple from the congregation, but when you are leading the service you realize there are lots of little things that have to happen on queue to make things work. 

Thought for the day

I really appreciated this Stewardship Moment given by Becky Roberts at our Laity Sunday service last Sunday (from a Church Programs for All Seasons):

I am much like Adam – accepting the blessing with ease, but finding some difficulty in recognizing responsibility.I am often like Cain – ministering in a way that seems acceptable to me, rather than in the manner mandated by God.  

I am often like Esau – organizing my priorities foolishly.  

I am somewhat like Moses – perfectly content in the background, appealing my lack of skills, suggesting that someone more fitting be found.  

I am somewhat like Jonah – running from my assignment because I may look foolish in its performance.  

I am much like David – mercurial in my appeals, swooping from mountaintop exultation to the valley of despair, from “My soul doth magnify the Lord”, to “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  

I am sometimes like Solomon – asking for wisdom, then going my own way.  

I am often like Gideon – asking for a sign… and then for another…  

I am much like Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah – entertaining petty – if fleeting – moments for jealousy.  

I am like Naomi – allowing bitterness to tinge and change my whole life.  

I am somewhat like Zachariah – though preaching God’s power, not quite believing a miracle in my own life.  

I am much like Thomas – doubting what I yearn to believe.  

I am often like Peter – denying my association with Christ, if only by saying nothing.  

Lord, make me more like you.  

Once we acknowledge God’s gifts to us and recognize our responsibilities as stewards, we must nourish all that has been given – the bountiful, beautiful earth, other people, and our calling.  The responsibilities of stewardship are weighty and often difficult.  We can’t afford to be unobservant or uninvolved.  Perhaps one of God’s greatest disappointments is when we employ our gifts in ways that deny Him rather than acknowledge Him.

Temptation

You don’t have to fail to know the full weight of temptation. In fact, those who don’t give into temptation are the only ones who know the full weight of it. When we give into temptation quickly we don’t know how severe it really was. For example, only the weightlifter who completes the lift knows the full weight of it.

Good news for Christians: God can help us overcome temptation and give us victory over sin. Jesus knew the full weight of temptation, and He never failed. He can relate to the temptations we struggle with and he sympathizes with us.

Hebrews 2:18: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Also, your temptations aren’t unique to you.  Others wrestle with them as well.  And more good news is that God will provide a way out if you let him.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is just; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Hat tip: Walk in the Word

What does God want for me?

We often get wrapped up in wondering, “What job / car / house / etc. does God want for me?” But other than broad statements about how we should not worry about anything and that God will always meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34), the Bible teaches that God is much more concerned about developing our character more than our pocketbook. For example:

God cares more about how I drive than what I drive.

God cares more about what kind of neighbor I am than what kind of house I live in.

God cares more about what kind of employee I am than what job I have.

God cares more about how wisely and generously I spend my money than how much I have.

A hero from the Titanic

John Harper was an English preacher who drowned when the Titanic sank. He shared the Gospel until the very end. Unfortunately, his amazing story was left out of the movie. Some excerpts:

Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life.

As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!”

John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. Mr. Harper swam up to one young Man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Rev. Harper asked him between breaths, “Are you saved?” The young man replied that he was not. Harper then tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man who was near shock, reply no. John Harper then took off his life jacket and threw it to the man and said “Here then, you need this more than I do…” and swam away to other people. A few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation.

Of the 1528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man on the debris. Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and in tears recounted how that after John Harper had led him to Christ. Mr. Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under in the frigid waters were “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Why pray if God already knows everything?

prayer2.jpg Yes, God is omniscient, so He knows everything. Everything. Some people use that as an reason not to pray. Yet it can also be an excellent reason to pray all the more. If He already knows everything you’ve done, said and thought yet has still forgiven you (assuming you are a Christian), then only good can come from sharing your deepest feelings with Him.

When we confess our sins, we aren’t telling God anything He didn’t already know. But we are saying that we now view our sins from his point of view and that we are turning from them.