Stand Firm

Scripture: “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name…But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.”  Luke 21:12,18,19 NIV

Observation: Christians will be persecuted because of Jesus.

Application: This is not exactly a biblical truth or promise that I am excited about. However, we have but to look at today’s society to see that it is a fact. True, we haven’t had any Christians fed to lions, crucified, or used as torches for street lights, but the attack is real. In every corner of society we see Christians being quieted, offended, mocked, threatened, and mistreated. We can’t speak this; we aren’t allowed to think that.  We Christians are truly being persecuted and it will probably get more severe. Jesus said it was going to happen. We have but to stand firm and we gain eternal life. We can smile as we are being mistreated and abused because of who we follow.

Prayer: Father, give us strength to endure the unfair treatment that is forced on us. Amen

Doug

Love My Creation

Scripture: What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands;  Psalm 8:4-6 NIV

Observation: God created and we are to care for his creation.

Application: God created all things and by him all thing were created. He made us, man, a little lower than the angels. We are to care for all of His creation. Not just the trees, not just the unborn babies, not just my car, your house, or my friends–ALL things, even our enemies.  This is especially hard for me. Jesus had enemies. He had people that tried to twist his words so that they could accuse him. He had people that lied to him and about him, stole from him, and set him up. He had people that chose a murder and thief instead of him to be spared from crucifiction. He had the people that flogged him and killed him.  Yet, he still loved them and cared for them. Even with his last breaths, he asks God to forgive them. How much more of an example of caring, loving, stewardship do we need?  There are many groups of people that want nothing more than to belittle, dismiss, and harm Christians just to silence us. God created them too and we are charged with caring for and loving them just like we love helpless unborn babies.

Prayer: God, give me the strength to care for and love your creation as you expect me to do. Amen

Doug

What Have You Done With What the Lord Has Given You?

Scripture: While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.  He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.  So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.  “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ ” ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’  “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’  “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’  “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth.21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’  “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’  “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ” ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’  “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.  But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ ”  What have you done with what the Lord has given you?  Luke 17:11-27 NIV

Observation: Jesus tells us a parable to demonstrate how God wants us to use what he gives us to further his kingdom.

Application: I need to look at my life closely and identify all the Lord has done and given to me.   Am I taking full advantage of these blessings?   Have I turned them back to him with a marked return on his investment in me?  Have I kept it “safe,” afraid of risking for my savior? Maybe I think believing is enough.

Prayer: Father, most of the time I feel inadequate as your child.  Probably because I don’t invest enough time culivating what you have given me spiritually.  I have to know you in order to increase your investment in me.  Lord, I surrender my time and life to you.  Please help me to use all you have given me and to be diligant in knowing you more.  Amen

Laurie

The Rocks Cry Out

Scripture: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  Luke 19:38-40 NIV

Observation: All creation will proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

Application: Our responsibility to Jesus is to acknowledge him before men. That’s our great commission.  “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'”  Mark 16:15 NIV.  Jesus is the good news. If we don’t tell the world about him, our trees and rocks will.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. Help me to boldly proclaim him before men. Amen

Doug

God the Forgiver

Scripture: Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.  Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.  As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.  They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ”  Genesis 44:1-5 NIV

Observation: Joseph, number two to Pharaoh in Egypt, set up his brothers to appear to be thieves and get a little pay-back  before he acted as an agent of God to create the nation of Israel.

Application: Joseph was Pharaoh’s second in command in Egypt. He was tasked with ensuring that all of Egypt would survive a world-wide famine.  He was put in that position, by God, through his brother’s deceit, to give guidance to Pharaoh and to save Egypt from the famine.  Ultimately, his place in Egypt set in motion the creation of the nation of Israel.  Joseph knew that God had a plan for his life but knowing that truth didn’t stop him from putting his brothers through fear and dread before he revealed himself to them.  He was a dictator. While he saved Egypt, his family, and surely countless others, he was a man, with a memory, and he made his brothers suffer before he provided for their needs.

This is where my thoughts would not come together.  Mom and I talked and she finished this devotional for me.

Dad ask me to put together some feelings about today’s reading.  He was having trouble putting into words what he felt the Lord had to say.
The real issue with Joseph is that he was unable to truly live out forgivenss as Christ does with us.  Let me give an example, someone hurts you deeply and as a Christian you forgive them, you even go to them and tell them they are forgiven.  Your relationship is repaired.  Time passes and that person has a hardship. Down deep inside you think that they have gotten what they deserve.  The joy you feel in their suffering doesn’t feel right to you, hopefully.  We need to strive to forgive as Christ does, when he forgives, he forgives forever.  He sees us pay consequences for sin or be hurt…and He never thinks for a nano moment it’s what we deserve–instead he weeps.  We as humans lack this ability, if we say it’s not true we’re lying to ourselves.  We have Christ on our side.  We need to give these feelings, one by one, to him and let him help us truly forgive!

Prayer: Heavenly Father with all my heart help me to learn your way of forgiveness.  I acknowledge it will take me my earthly lifetime to get a handle on these feelings and release them to you. Amen

Doug and Laurie

Our Brother’s Keeper

Scripture: Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.  So watch yourselves.
Luke 17:1-3 NIV

Observation: Jesus is instructing his disciples on their responsibility for another’s actions.

Application “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9 NIV Cain’s question to God is answered in Luke 17.  Jesus’ admonition about bringing sin behavior to another clearly reveals that, yes indeed, we are our brother’s keepers. We have a mighty responsibility to conduct ourselves above reporach.  Remember that we have but to call upon the Lord. We call upon him, we take on his attributes, we become Christ-like, and we will be above reproach. The possibility that we would bring sin upon another, cause another to sin, is no longer a possibility.

Prayer: Father, help me to be Christ-like in my daily life so that I never cause another person to sin against you.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit that guides my actions and attitude. I pray that I honor you daily and that I protect my “brothers” from harm. Amen

Doug

Missed Opportunities

Scripture: “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’  Luke 16:25,26 NIV

Observation: The rich ruler was in hell and he was begging Abraham through Lazarus for relief from his agony.

Application: It could be misunderstood from this passage that because he had a good earthly life the rich man was being punished with eternal damnation. Likewise, because Lazarus had a bad earthly life he was being rewarded with heaven. Wealth and/or the lack of wealth is not the issue. The issue is what each did with the gifts that God gave them. What do we do with the gifts God gives us?  What do we do with our salvation? Do we keep it to ourselves or do we let others in on the secret? What do we do with our wealth?  Do we hoard it or do we share it?  The ruler implied two things in his agony. First, he was all about himself which was most likely the way he lived his life. Secondly, he implied the Lazarus was a giver. It can be deduced that Lazarus thought of others before himself during his life. That’s why the ruler asked Father Abraham to please let Lazarus dip his finger into water to quench his thirst. The rich ruler squandered his opportunities in life to be a blessing to others–Lazarus apparently did not.  What will you do today to be a blessing to someone else? Don’t squander your opportunities in this life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me and allowing me to bless others. I don’t ever want to look back on my life and regret missed opportunities. Amen

Doug

My Righteousness

Scripture: Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.  Psalm  7:8 NIV

Observation: David was a man after God’s own heart and it was that chasing after God that made David righteous.

Application: Are we ready to be judged based on our righteousness, on our integrity?  I’m not sure that I am. I feel very unrighteous and unworthy most of the time. I don’t question my integrity but my past haunts me. Satan knows that about me and he uses it to get me to call into question my standing with the Lord, my righteousness. Praise God that Jesus is my righteousness. I can never be worthy on my own. It’s Jesus’ righteousness that makes it possible for me to be deemed righteous.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for standing in for me and for being my righteousness.  I could never be considered worthy without your sacrifice. Help me to honor you in my daily life as I interact with others and always behave lovingly and with integrity. Amen

Doug

Judgmental? Not Me…

Scripture: Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”   The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?  Luke 13:14-16 NIV

Observation: The Church leaders, Pharisees, and people in the temple that day were quick to accuse Jesus of “breaking rules” or  not doing things acoording to what they thought was right.

Application: This really saddens me.  This truth is still one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the church and believers today.  We spend way too much time being critical of what other Christians are doing.  The way is narrow and scripture tells us that many will be left behind, read Luke 13.  Only the Father has the authority to judge and correct us.  Therefore set your sights on knowing and sharing all about our Savior;  let the Father do the judging.

Prayer: Heavenly father look within me and show me the areas of my life where I am judgmental instead of encouraging.  Lord teach me how I can affect your kingdom by loving and encouraging others to seek and know you.  Amen

Laurie

Our Protector

Scripture: Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.  Genesis 35:5 NIV

Observation: Jacob and his family, servants, livestock, and possessions were in a country that was hostile to them. His oldest sons had just defended the honor of their sister and the people of the area could seek retaliation for what they had done. However, the Lord promised them protection.

Application: Wow!  When we are God’s people, his possession, we are protected by the creator of the universe. He made a mountain and he promises to protect me, “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 35:5b What do we have to fear?  He is with us in all that we do.

Prayer: Father, thank you for protecting us. I ask that you watch over all of my wife and kids today in whatever they are involved.  Bless their day and give them success as they work, study, and play. Amen

Doug