Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Boyhood Memories

Boyhood Memories
Scripture Reading: Psalm 145:1-20
They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of your righteousness. (Ps. 145:7 NASB)
When I think of my boyhood days, pictures of skiing down hills on barrel staves, sled riding on the hilly streets in town, hay rides and wiener roasts, bicycling, roller skates, and homemade scooters fill my mind. As a boy, I played marbles, rolled hoops and tires down the alleys, and built tree houses. I made sling shots and pea shooters (both of which got me into trouble at times). There were always caves to explore in the Muncy hills and arrowheads to find. Life was not dull. There were so many exciting things to learn, things to see, and places to explore. Boyhood is a time for adventure.
     As I think of boyhood, I wonder what Jesus did when he was a boy growing up in the small village of Nazareth. Did he play with wood blocks? (His father was a carpenter.) Did he write or draw pictures in the sand? (He did at the age of 32 when the woman caught in adultery was thrown at his feet by her accusers). Did he walk around the village and play with the other children his age? (He walked a lot with his disciples).
     I have to think that Jesus’ boyhood wasn’t too much different than my own. I had chores to do and he had to sweep up the shavings in his father’s carpenter shop. On numerous occasions I had to wash the dishes and dry them with a towel, and Jesus took a towel and washed the feet of his disciples. I had to attend school to learn how to read and write, and as a boy Jesus sat in the Synagogue talking to the teachers. I got into trouble at times and the Bible says, “Jesus was tempted in all points the same as I am, yet without sin (Hebrews 2:18). He is perfect in his divinity and totally human as far as his humanity is concerned. He possessed a human nature, but not a sinful nature. I don’t believe he did anything as a boy that brought any taint upon his relationship with his Heavenly Father. That’s why I want to be more like Jesus.
     All of us have childhood memories. The ones that were enjoyable we hang on to and share with our friends and the ones that were painful should be turned over to the Lord. I believe that’s what Joseph did because he was able to say to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20 NASB)
     Are you holding on to memories that are painful? Take your painful memories and negative attitudes and turn them over to the Lord. He has offered to carry them for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have promises to carry my burdens so today I am giving them to you. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wind Power

Wind Power
Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-13
Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2)
I’ve traveled in many different directions across the United States and I can’t remember a state where the wind didn’t push or pull on my car. The wind coming off Lake Michigan along lakeshore drive in Chicago roars like a mighty lion. I remember going into Chicago on liberty while at the Great Lakes Naval training center and got caught in a November blizzard and the wind plastered me with snow. Traveling west across Kansas we have to fight the winds blowing at an angle across the highway. I’ve been in Florida and watched the ocean waves roll in on the wind. The same is true of the Pacific Ocean where surfers ride the wind driven waves. And what about the hot desert winds that can cause dangerous sand storms. The winds have a lot to say about the changes in weather around the world.
     God used the wind to bring locusts in to Egypt during the ten plagues. He brought quails to the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. It was a violent northeasterner wind that blew the ship that the Apostle Paul was riding off course and onto the rocks. The wind brought rain clouds in answer to Elijah’s prayer at Mount Carmel.
     When the time came for the promise of the Holy Spirit’s coming, the wind was God’s instrument of deliverance. We can’t control the wind any more than we can the movement of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. He speaks to us in a still small voice. We listen as he teaches us, guides us, and instructs us in God’s word. He is a silent help that comes alongside to show us the way to God.
     There is great power in the wind and God describes that power in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (NASB)
     Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to control your life, your actions, your speech, your conduct? He is the wind power that we need to get out the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is looking for Spirit-filled believers to act as his agents of salvation.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me make use of the “wind power” that you have placed within me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus' Last Words

Devotion Three
Jesus’ Last Words
The promised one by whom the world was created came unto his own, but
they received him not (John 1:11). At his birth there was no room for him in the
inn. Herod sought to slay him, but he fled to Egypt. When he attempted to
minister to his home town of Nazareth, they tried to throw him off a cliff. The
Pharisees and Sadducees plotted against him. One of his own disciples betrayed
him into the hands of his enemies.
Man had done his worst. A mock trial was held and Jesus was sentenced
to death on a cross. And there he hangs – silent! As we look upon him, his lips
seem to move – is he crying for pity? No! What then are his words? Is he
pronouncing judgment on his enemies? No! He is praying, praying for his
enemies. We listen as he says, "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they
do (Luke 23:34). The first, of seven saying on the cross was a Word of
Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus modeled the value and importance of
prayer. Even now as he hangs dying he continued to teach us that nobody is
beyond the reach of divine mercy.
The second of Christ’s sayings was spoken in response to a request by a
dying thief. “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your
Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in
paradise.” (Luke 23:42,43)
It was no accident that Jesus was crucified between two thieves for Isaiah
the prophet foretold seven hundred years earlier, “he was numbered among the
transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12) God never acts arbitrarily. He has a divine purpose
for everything he does. Being numbered with the transgressors is evidence of his
position as our substitute.
“Standing by the cross were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the
wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25).
There stands Jesus’ blessed mother. What agony she must be enduring.
She was the one who brought him into this world. She planted the first kisses on
his little brow. She was the one who held his tiny fingers as he took his first steps.
She watched as he turned water into wine. Now she gazes upon his suffering as
pain is etched across his face. Jesus looks down and sees his mother’s heart. His
beloved friend John is standing next to her. Jesus speaks, “Dear woman, here is
your son. And he said to his disciple John, “Here is your mother.” And from that
time on this disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:26-27)
Here is a perfect example of children honoring their parents. Jesus’ act on
the cross embraced love, affection, gratitude, and respect. In the midst of intense
suffering, he took the time to care for his mother.
About the ninth hour the fourth words came from the lips of Jesus when he
cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
(Matthew 27:46).
These are startling words. To think that such an exclamation would come
from one who was the object of the Father’s love is unbelievable. From eternity
past he had enjoyed unbroken fellowship. Complete harmony existed between
the members of the Godhead. Now there appears to be a break. It is
inconceivable that God would forsake his Son, even for a moment. This cry is
deeply mysterious. What mind is capable of analyzing the meaning of this
amazing cry? “Why have you forsaken me?” In this cry, we see the awfulness of
sin, the absolute holiness of God, the inflexibility of his justice, the meaning of the
cup in Gethsemane, and Jesus’ unswerving fidelity to his Father.
Jesus fifth word was the cry, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Think of it! The creator
of heaven and earth with parched lips. The Lord of Glory in need of a drink! With
this cry we see the evidence of Christ’s humanity. Jesus was truly the God-Man.
The writer of Hebrews said, “For since he himself was tempted in that which he
has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews
The sixth word from Jesus was a word of victory. When Jesus therefore had
received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). These words represent
the triumph of the cross. Victory has been won. Salvation secured. Suffering for
the sins of mankind is complete. We finally reach the climax for which Jesus came
to this earth. He paid for our sins by the shedding of his own blood as of a lamb
without spot or blemish. It was a perfect sacrifice for a sinful people. The final
atonement was made. Satan’s power has been crushed – his destiny sealed. As
the song writer said, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, sin has left a crimson
stains, he washed it white as snow.”
The final word from Jesus is a word of contentment. “And when Jesus had
cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and
having said thus, he gave up his spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus' Arrest and Trial

Devotion Two
Jesus’ Arrest and Trial
Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the
elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked,
“that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in
the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the
power of darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:52-53 NLT)
The arrest of Jesus was perpetrated by Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
According to John’s gospel Judas was the treasurer for the twelve and was
described as a “thief.” But Judah Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him,
said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the
money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor – he was a thief, and
since he was in charge of the disciple’s money, he often stole some for himself.
(John 12:4-6 NLT)
When the disciples were gathered around the table in the Upper Room
Jesus said, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me.”
Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And
Jesus told him, “You have said it.” (Matthew 26:23,25 NLT)
Judah left the Upper Room and went to the Sanhedrin to “cut a deal” to
betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He sealed his bargain by agreeing to
identify Jesus with a kiss. It was not only a “kiss of death” for Jesus, but his act
also sealed his own eternal destiny.
The mob that followed Judah into the garden dragged Jesus first to the
house of Annas (John 18:13-15) for a brief examination, then to the house of
Caiaphas for the formal trial before the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was a panel of Jewish judges who were responsible for
administering the Jewish court of law. This panel included a High Priest, a vicechief
justice, and sixty-nine common members. It was the Sanhedrin’s duty to
protect an innocent man from being wrongly accused of guilt. The standard, or
law code, was called the Mishna. This law code was completely ignored during
the trying of Jesus. The entire proceedings were a bogus and a mistrial should
have been declared.
From Caiaphas they proceeded to Pilate, the Roman procurator at his
praetorian, or place of judgment. Pilate vainly sought to deliver Jesus, being
thoroughly convincedof his innocence. (John 18:28-38) Wishing to avoid the
responsibility of condemning Jesus, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, but Herod
only mocked Jesus and sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 28:8-12)
After the Jewish crowds were whipped into a frenzy by the Jewish leaders
crying out “crucify him, crucify him,” Pilate pronounced him guilty and sent him to
be crucified. Jesus was led forth, bearing his cross, along the Via Dolorosa, “the
sorrowful way,” to the place called Golgotha.
The amazing thing to me in this whole series of events is Jesus’ complete
control. Judas must have expected some kind of deception since he brought so
many soldiers, but Jesus shocked both Judah and the arresting party by boldly
presented himself to them. He had nothing to fear and nothing to hide. He
would willingly lay down his life for the sheep.
Even as he stood before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, he possessed a “bearing”
that none of them could understand. He was violently mistreated, spit upon,
flogged, and struck; yet opened not his mouth. There was no cry for mercy, no
begging for forgiveness, no attempt to avoid the suffering and shame. The
prophet Isaiah said it best, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never
said a word. He was like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before
the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (isa. 53:7 NLT)
Bob Delaney

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beware of Snakes in the Grass

Beware of Snakes in the Grass
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1-24
Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. “Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” “Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.” “You won’t die!” the serpent hissed. (Genesis 3:1-4a NLT)
What a snake in the grass! Would you believe a shrewd, wily, lying, deceiving creature like a serpent? The serpent, who was none other than Satan in disguise, beguiled Eve into believing that God was witholding something good from her that would make her as wise as God. Satan is described in the New Testament as a “liar and the father of lies.” He is not capable of telling the truth because the Bible says “there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) It is sad to say that countless numbers of people in today’s post-modern society still believe in Satan’s lies. We are warned by the Apostles John and Paul to beware of false prophets who hold the truth in contempt.
     When I was a young boy I came face to face with a snake in the grass. I was walking down a path to the creek when I almost stepped on a coiled up poisonous copperhead. I jumped as high as I could (probably set a world’s record) and made a beeline for home. Needless to say, I possess a definite fear of snakes. One time while building a house in Missouri I got bit on the hand by a black snake that was hiding in my lumber pile. I want nothing to do with snakes of any kind.
     How could Eve allowed herself to be beguiled by the serpent? Keep in mind that our first parents were living in the age of innocence. They had no idea what sin was since none had yet been committed by man. Several factors worked in favor of the serpent. First, he was a creature of beauty and Eve apparently saw no evil in him. Second, he was shrewd, meaning clever or astute. Third, he was capable of deception. Eve bought into his program of deception and the sin of disobedience was committed. Not only that but she gave to Adam and he willingly ate and sinned as well. The consequences of their sin brought a curse upon the world along with death.
     Jesus warns us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We need to be aware that Satan is our enemy and is still spewing out deception and lies. The only way to ward off his evil devices is to make sure we have prayed on the whole armor of God as taught in Ephesians 6:10-18. Refuse to listen to the world—rely on Jesus, he can be trusted.

Prayer: Dear Lord, there are still a lot of snakes in the grass, and we need the protection that you have to offer through your word and faith in Jesus Christ. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seeking Wisdom

Seeking Wisdom
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 2:1-22
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. (Pr. 2:2-4 NLT)
The writer of Proverbs saw wisdom as a treasure worth seeking. Every day we face decisions, choices, questions, and judgments that require wisdom. We are bombarded on television to invest in gold and silver as a hedge against bad economic times, or to purchase this or that better car, or to take advantage of some new opportunity. What should we do? Who do we turn to for wisdom in making a sound decision?
     Solomon, the wisest man on earth, knew the source of his wisdom. In Proverbs 2:6-7 he says, “The Lord grants wisdom? From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity.” (NLT)
     David, the father of Solomon, learned early in his ministry as king that God was the source of wisdom. I Samuel 5:17-19 says, “When the Philistines heard that David has been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming and went into the stronghold. The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord Replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly give you the victory.”(NLT)
     How do you and I go about seeking the wisdom from God? James, in his epistle, gives us the answer—we must ask for it. If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (Jas. 1:5-6 NLT). As you can see, there is the element of faith involved in the asking.  
     Do you need wisdom? Are you facing a crossroads and don’t know which way to turn? Should I buy new struts and tires, or purchase a new vehicle? Should I go to college or get a job? How should I proceed? Pour out to God your lack of understanding, your confusion, your indecision, and your doubts and fears. Admit to the Lord that you don’t know what to do or which way to turn. Then, in faith, believing, ask him for wisdom to make the proper faith choices. Claim the
 promise that “God grants wisdom to those who ask for it.”
     Make a list of the needs that require God’s wisdom. Take them one by one to him in prayer.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I confess the need for your wisdom for present and future decisions

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Imitating Christ

Imitating Christ
Scripture Reading: John 13:12-20
You also became imitators of us and of the LORD, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NASB)
My handicapped grandson looked up at me and patted the floor. Since he couldn’t speak the words, it was his way of saying, “come down and play with me.” As we sat on the floor together, I noticed that Jonathan copied every move that I made. If I lined up the cars and trucks, he did the same. If I pretended to load up the big dump truck with blocks, he would duplicate my actions. Then I’d dump them out and he would laugh and do likewise. I kidded him by saying, “Jonathan, you’re a copycat.”
     At that moment I realized what the Apostle Paul meant when he said to the Thessalonians, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Th. 1:6)
     How does the message of this verse affect my everyday walk with the Lord? People are observing my actions, making judgments, and drawing conclusions about the person of Jesus Christ that I represent. If I want to bear an effective testimony for the Lord, I must be willing to imitate the actions that Jesus modeled for us while here on earth. What kind of actions did Jesus model for us?
     Jesus showed compassion for the lost sheep of Israel. He went out of his way to provide help for the needy. He feed the hungry and grieved for the dying. He encouraged the downtrodden and gave support to the weak. He showed kindness to those who opposed him and offered the grace of God to his enemies. In spite of all the hate, pain, suffering, and humiliation heaped upon him, he was still able to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
     Jesus modeled the kind of Christian life that I should follow. What kind of example do I portray to the grocery clerk, the gas station attendant, the postman, the delivery boy, the tax collector, or the average person on the street?
     Jonathan’s actions in imitating the different way I moved the cars and trucks showed me that countless people within the sphere of my influence may be copying my actions as well. Are you living the type of lifestyle that God wants others people to copy? If you are, then praise God for a life well lived. If not, then ask God to help you become an imitator of Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you set the pattern of Christian living that you want me to follow. Help me to be a copycat for Jesus. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Benefits of Waiting

Benefits of Waiting
Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:1-14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yet, wait for the LORD.           (Ps. 27:14 NASB)
Why is it so hard to wait? We live in a fast paced society. Everyone wants instant gratification. Young and old alike want it—right now! When we have to wait in line for a long time we let people know by our body language that we are displeased. If we don’t get an immediate response to our wishes, we fuss, fume, stomp our feet, stare menacingly at the offender. I remember when my kids were little they used temper tantrums to get what they wanted. It almost never worked, but that didn’t stop them from trying.
     The other day I waited what seemed like forever for the traffic light to turn green, and just as it was turning green I saw out of the corner of my eye a car racing to beat the yellow light. He didn’t make it, but that didn’t stop him from racing on through the intersection even though the light had turned red. This happens all the time in the big city, and numerous accidents, some fatal, happen because people aren’t willing to slow down and wait. There seems to be no regard for others. No concern for the consequences that happen from impatient decisions. No fear of oncoming traffic. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! It seems that people on the street have an, “I have to get ahead of the other guy” attitude.
     God isn’t in a hurry. He doesn’t count time like we do. With God “a single day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a single day.” (2 Peter 3:8) He could have created the day in a single moment; instead he took his good old time. Six days of twenty-four hours in a day = one hundred and forty four hours = eight thousand six hundred forty minutes =five hundred eighteen thousand four hundred seconds. God wasn’t into “instant gratification.” He wanted everything to be just perfect. That’s why at the end of each day he said, “It is good.”
     Are you aware that growth and maturity in the Christian life takes a lifetime to complete? That’s why the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:6: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT) Nothing comes easily and nothing comes quickly. The Holy Spirit needs time to adjust our attitudes, correct our missteps, and deepen our faith.  
     Waiting develops patience, and I sure do need patience. Waiting gives me time to reflect upon God’s goodness. Waiting helps me learn the ways of God. Waiting strengthens my resolve. The next time you face a difficult situation, slow down and wait upon the Lord.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me slow down my pace and wait patiently for your direction. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Be Prepared

Be Prepared
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-13
So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return. (Matthew 25:13 NLT)
At the young age of twelve, I joined the Boy Scout Troop 28 in Montgomery, Pa. My first duty was to learn the scout law that says, “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” My next step as a tenderfoot was to learn the scout oath or promise: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The thing that stuck with me through all the years of my life was the Scout motto: “Be prepared.” This motto has a twofold meaning: (1) be prepared in mind by disciplining yourself to be obedient to every order and (2) be prepared in body by making yourself strong and active. This same philosophy was drilled into me while serving in the military.
     The same principles can be carried over into our daily walk as Christians. Believers need to be prepared and expect opposition to the gospel of Christ. Satan has his share of deceitful workers, false teachers and prophets that spread lies about the person and work of Jesus Christ. The foundation of Scripture is being attacked daily by atheistic groups, agnostics, evolutionists, main line media, and university professors of all shapes and sizes. The exponents of the social gospel deny the biblical truths of the virgin birth and infallibility of the word of God, and have replaced it with their own brand of “feel good” philosophy. It is important for believers to maintain a strong stand for the truth.
     I am reminded of David’s flight through the wilderness with King Saul hot on his trail to find and execute him. He had to be prepared physically and mentally to face the ever present dangers. He knew that if King Saul captured him it meant sure death. He had at his right hand six hundred loyal dedicated men who were willing to lay down their lives for their future king.
     Believers can take courage in the fact that Jesus Christ gave his life as a ransom for our redemption. When opposition comes we can take refuge in him knowing he will never leave us or forsake us.
     Preparing ourselves to be physically strong and mentally alert is profitable, but as Paul tells young Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8 NLT)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us a believers to be properly prepared for the life you expect us to live.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Dead Dog Receives Mercy

A Dead Dog Receives Mercy
Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
Mephibosheth fell to the ground before the king. “Should the king show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” (2 Sam. 9:8 NLT)
David was a fearless warrior, an excellent tactician, a loyal commander, and an obedient servant of the Most High God. With God’s help he defeated the armies of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek, subduing them and making them his servants. He showed no mercy to the enemies of God.
     At the same time, David was a man who showed mercy and kept his covenanted promises to Jonathan, his lifetime friend. The Bible says, “One day David began wondering if anyone in Saul’s family was still alive, for he had promised Jonathan that he would show kindness to them” (2 Sam. 9:1 NLT).
     What do a disobedient son, an unfaithful spouse, and a rebellious nation have in common? All three are in dire need of mercy. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!) (Eph. 2:4-5 NLT)
     David, acting as God’s representative showed mercy to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, by taking him under his wing and sitting him at the King’s table. “And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, moved to Jerusalem to live at the palace.” (2 Sam. 9:13 NLT)
     Is it easy to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has put your child in danger, to someone who has broken their promises, or betrayed your trust? No, of course not! The sinful nature of man wants to strike back and seek revenge. To show mercy is not natural—it is supernatural! Once you receive mercy, you are able to show God’s mercy to others.
     Again and again David benefited from God’s mercy and forgiveness. When confronted with his sin, he repented and confessed; thus receiving mercy and forgiveness from God. This is why the Bible says, “David was man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
     Do you know of someone (a co-worker, family member, colleague, or close friend) who needs a healthy dose of mercy from you? Instead of judgment, show mercy. Instead of revenge, give forgiveness. In place of anger, show love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I need your help in showing mercy. Forgive me when I’m judgmental. Stir up compassion in my heart for others.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beautiful Feet

Beautiful Feet
Scripture Reading: Romans 10:5-17
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15 NLT) you ever looked at a person’s feet? Some feet are just plain ugly. I knew a friend who had ugly feet. Jim was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and his toes were twisted one on top of the other in a grotesque manner. I don’t know how he ever walked. He certainly could not wear shoes, but somehow he managed to navigate around the house. He reminded me of King Saul’s son, Mephibosheth who was crippled as a child when his nurse dropped him while running away in fear. The lad’s feet became lame with what we call a “club foot.”  I never thought of feet as beautiful until I read what God has to say about beautiful feet in Romans 10:15.
     In Jesus’ day sandals were the normal footwear. The roads were dusty and rough. During the rainy season a person’s feet would become caked with mud. Not a very pretty sight. It was the task of the servants to wash the feet of guests as they arrived at a person’s house. It would be considered an insult and rude if this task was not performed.
     When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples he decided it was time to teach his friends a lesson in humility and servitude. He took a basin of water and a towel and proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet. Why did he do this? If you remember, prior to the meal the disciples were arguing who would be greatest in the kingdom. Not one of them was willing to humble himself and wash the feet of Jesus and his friends. They all sat down at the table with dirty feet. Jesus used the occasion to teach them that a servant must be willing to humble himself in order to reach others with the gospel.
     During the days of the service in the Tabernacle, the priests were required to wash their hands and feet in the wash basin sitting right outside the door. “Next Moses placed the wash-basin between the Tabernacle and the altar. He filled it with water so the priests could wash themselves. Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons used water from it to wash their hands and feet. Whenever they approached the altar and entered the Tabernacle, they washed themselves, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Exodus 4030-32 NLT)
     Are you using your feet to carry the good news of God’s love to people in your locality? Whether you wear sandals, shoes, or no shoes, God says your feet are beautiful.

Prayer: Dear Lord, use my feet to take the Good News to lost people wherever they may be found. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Getting Right and Doing Right

Getting Right and Doing Right
“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. And because of Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous.”               (Romans 4:20-22 NLT).
One of my all-time favorite videos is Mr. Holland’s Opus. Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) has a passion to compose a memorable piece of music. Reluctantly, in order to provide for his family, he accepts a job as a music teacher and ultimately realizes that his real passion is teaching and inspiring young people to live out their dreams. The story line climaxes with Mr. Holland leading his former music students in performing his “Opus” to a packed audience.
     On his third missionary journey, Paul spent three years in the Corinthian church before coming to a crossroads. It was decision time. The question was—since he was so far west and close to Rome, should he visit the church there (one he did not start), or should he fulfill the responsibility to safely transport the financial contributions donated by the Macedonian Christians to the suffering church at Jerusalem? Which would it be—Rome or Jerusalem? Would it be to the southeast or northwest? After much prayer and deliberation, he decided to write a letter to the church at Rome, and proceeded to take the offerings to Jerusalem. He would later visit Rome, but in chains under arrest for alleged insurrection in Jerusalem.
     The letter to the church at Rome was not just a postcard. It is considered to be one of Paul’s greatest works—his “magnum opus!” In the first eleven chapters he explains what is necessary in order to “get right” with God, and in the last five chapters, he explains how we are to demonstrate the righteousness of Christ that has been credited to our account. The word “therefore” in Chapter twelve is the hinge that connects doctrine with duty, theology with practice, understanding with application, and believing with doing.
     Dr. David Jeremiah in the introduction to Romans in his Study Bible (2013) states: “Those who have trusted in Christ Jesus for salvation were never meant to live defeated, despairing, boxed-in, unhappy lives.” Take heed to what Paul says in Romans 5:17, “The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (NLT)
     Dr. Jeremiah goes on to say, “Life certainly presents an abundance of problems, but those who belong to God have been given an abundance of grace—the unlimited, unbounded favor of God in Christ—with which to deal with those troubles.”  Are you trusting your all to Jesus?

Prayer: Dear Lord, how I thank you that your grace is sufficient for all my needs. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Availability is the Key to Serving Christ
Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:14-22
Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Ex 3:10 NASB)
As I meditated upon the above passage of Scripture, the Lord impressed upon my spirit the words; I have a plan for you. It took many years before I realized the full extent of God’s plan, but I did learn that one important key element in serving the Lord was availability. If a person is not available, then God can’t use him. It all boils down to having the right attitude and being willing to say to the Lord, “Whatever it takes!” As my wife and I teamed up to serve the Lord, we learned another important principle—flexibility. Flexibility became our middle names for you never know what kind of situations the Lord allows you to be in. While in Cameroon we often lost electricity and water for days at a time. In Papua, New Guinea we had to purify the water and use it sparingly. That meant taking a shower by wetting down, soaping, and rinsing off. In Peru we were not allowed to flush toilet paper down the toilet because of the poor sewer drainage system. Instead it had to be put into a waste paper basket. All these things called upon each of us to exercise flexibility. Do you see why flexibility became our middle names?
     In the Old Testament we see availability in the actions of Moses at the burning bush. God sought Moses’ availability and the text says that Moses resisted. He gave all kinds of excuses why he wasn’t the one God wanted, and asked God to send someone else. But God answered his every excuse and said to Moses—you are the man. I have chosen you. I have a plan already in place for you. You will be my mouthpiece to Pharaoh and the lords of Egypt. In the end, Moses learned the secret of availability, and went before Pharaoh demanding the release of the children of Israel “or else”. Pharaoh resisted and found out what the “or else” really meant. Finally, after ten plagues and the death of his firstborn, Pharaoh sent the Israelites away. The Bible tells us they “went in haste.”
     I love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip had a tremendously successful evangelistic program going in Samaria. Hundreds were being saved and receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly Philip was whisked away by the Holy Spirit to a desert of all places. There was a man returning from worshiping in Jerusalem who needed to hear the Good News and Philip was sent by God to preach to him about Jesus. Philip never would have reached this man for Christ unless he had made himself available and flexible to God’s calling.
     God has a plan for your life just as he had for me. Are you willing to be available? It boils down to whether you want to sit in the stands and be a spectator or whether you are willing to step up to the plate. God will use you if you will make yourself available.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may I be willing to answer your call by saying, “Here am I send me.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best of Friends

Best of Friends
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 18:1-16
“After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became best of friends.” (1 Sam. 18:1 NLT)
What does it take to become best of friends with someone?
     My son, Gary, was always coming home and saying, “Dad, I have a new friend.” To Gary everyone he met was a friend. When he was a teenager I never had to worry about his whereabouts, because I knew he was in his room writing letters to the friends he met at summer Bible camps. I believe at one time he was corresponding with sixteen people—most of them girls. It is not difficult to make friends, but it sometimes takes years of sharing experiences before you can say, “_____and I are best of friends.
     Other times, as in the case of David and Jonathan, the best of friends bond is formed immediately. The Scripture says, “And Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.” (1 Sam. 18:4 NLT) Jonathan gave his most important possessions as a token of his love and friendship.
     A best friend is one with whom we can laugh and cry. We feel free to share our deepest secrets knowing they will be kept sacred. Our best friends encourage us and stay close during difficult circumstances. They don’t flee when the enemy attacks. They are willing to come alongside sand say, “I’m here for you!”
     I met and fell in love with my best friend on November 18, 1953 on a YR71 ship at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, and we have been inseparable since that time. His name is Jesus Christ, and he has been loyal and faithful to me just as David was with the king’s son, Jonathan. He has given me so many precious promises that I can’t begin to name them all. One promise that I have relished is found in Hebrews 13:5 where Jesus says, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.” Because of this promise I can say along with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Ps. 118:6 NLT)
     Do you have a best friend? One who will stick with you no matter what may come. Is it a spouse? A brother or sister? A classmate? A close neighbor? My wife and I have been best of friends for sixty-one years, but we both agree that our very best friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for my two “best friends,” my wife Elaine and the Lord Jesus. I am so glad that I don’t walk through life alone, but that you have placed both best friends in my life so we can travel on our journey together. Thank you for being my best of friends.