On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

The power of habit: Bible reading

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

What if you were told you that you would die tomorrow unless you took one pill? Would you miss it? Probably not. You would probably set an alarm. You would do something to make sure that you always took that pill every single day, because you know it is a matter of life and death.

There are other things like that in our life, things that aren’t a matter of life and death, but still very important to us. We have daily routines and habits that are really important—brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing your homework, or eating meals. These things have become part of your regular life, and you wouldn’t really consider cutting them out.

Let’s look at a disciplines that is important for your spiritual health. We need to be diligent about practicing this. If we don’t practice it we put our faith at risk. We risk falling from the faith and losing out on eternity. Jesus himself tells us to “watch and pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation.

The habit is Bible reading. It’s something that Paul tells Timothy to continue. He urged him, “Continue in what you learned and have become convinced of.” Paul wants to Timothy to make a habit of remembering what he had been taught. He wanted Timothy to keep Scripture on the front of his mind, continuing to remember it.

Then he tells him, and us, why.

The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. There is no better or higher reason than this. God’s Word rebukes us when we are wrong. It teaches us of God’s love for us. It points us to God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. It equips us for a life of righteousness. It gives and strengthens our faith in Jesus.

God’s Word is good for everything else in this life too. In short, God’s Word is also a personal trainer for our daily walk as Christians. It equips and trains us to live as God’s people in this world.

Would you ever skip brushing your teeth on purpose? Of course not! It wouldn’t be healthy. The same goes for daily Bible reading. Sustain your spiritual health and grow in it by including God’s Word in your daily life.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the many opportunities You give us to make Your Word a part of our daily routines. Strengthen our bond with You and help us realize the importance Your Word has on our daily lives. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The power of habit: Prayer

James 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Why we don’t pray more? I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes don’t pray more because I think I can get more done if I actually “do” it than if I pray about it first. I think that my thinking, my working, my worrying, and my planning are more powerful than actually praying about it.

When I write it down it sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? But our lack of prayer says just that. Our lack of praying says to God that our activity and our working is more important than asking him to act and work and do.

James inspires us to believe that prayer is a powerful thing. He tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Our prayers matter. Our prayers change things. Our prayers make a difference.

If you believed that something was powerful, would you do it? Of course. If you thought something would make all the difference in the world, you would make sure it happened. If you thought something mattered, you would make time for it, intentionally, purposefully, regularly. That’s what we do for things that make a difference and matter to us.

James gives an example of an effective prayer. He reminds us of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. Elijah prayed that it would not rain—and it didn’t rain. God withheld rain for three and a half years because of Elijah’s prayer. Then Elijah prayed again that it would rain—and God sent rain.

Prayer works. Prayer matters. It is powerful and effective, not because of the person who is praying, but because the person praying invokes God’s powerful name and humbly relies on God’s gracious promises and saving will. The story of Elijah—and many other stories throughout the Bible—show us that this is true.

So pray. Make a habit of it. Your Father in heaven loves you. He has forgiven all your sins, and he now invites you to call on him in prayer. In his love for you, he hears your prayers and works powerfully for you and for the world.

Dear Lord, You teach us that prayer is a powerful thing. In Your grace, Father, you invite us to pray. Help us to understand how powerful prayer is so that we make it a part of the very fiber of our life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

We need to be really connected

Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

These are the days when we are more connected and yet more disconnected at the same time. We are more connected on our phones, more connected through social media. At the very same time, we are also quite disconnected as we live life. We’re connected thumb-to-thumb but not face-to-face and not soul-to-soul.

That can be a dangerous thing. Social media can lead us to be fake with other people. We easily filter the way life is really going. We can easily hide what is really going on with us. We can easily isolate ourselves from the Christ-centered community that we so desperately need. The truth is: The lone wolf gets picked off. That’s who the devil goes after because there is no one around to help when tempted.

God’s people need each other. We need other people in our lives. That is precisely why the writer wrote these words to us. He knew that we needed a Christ-centered community around us.

On the one hand, we need each other to see the blind spots in our faith and the sins that hide in the corners of our lives that we can’t see. We need other Christians to show us our sins. Even more than that, we need them to show us Jesus’ forgiveness. We need a Christ-centered community around us to keep us close to our Savior.

On the other hand, other people need us just as deeply in their lives. They need us to lovingly show them the blind spots of their faith, the sins that hide in the corners of their life. They need us to show them their sins and even more than that to tell them that Jesus has forgiven it all! They need us to spur them on with gospel encouragement!

We all need the family of believers, the community of Christ-followers, around us. In fact, they are God’s gift to you to keep you close to Jesus until he returns. And in the very same way, you are God’s gift to them to keep them close to Jesus.

Dear Lord, thank You for blessing us with many wonderful friends. Be with our friends and me. Help us to encourage each other to grow in Your Word. Keep Christ as the center of our lives and bring us closer to each other by bringing us closer to You. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Who is the witness?

Acts 1:8 (ESV)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

When I was in high school and college, I had to give speeches. Everybody did. Some speeches were better than others. You could always tell who had taken a speech class, because their speeches were just better. I was never that good, because I had never learned the art of delivering a speech.

That’s what it is. Delivering a speech is an art form that takes years of experience and training. A good speech is one that draws the audience in so they are interested in the topic. It must be ordered properly. It must be logical and interesting. The speaker should be prepared, confident, and even convincing. These things make giving a good speech so difficult. It’s what makes public speaking difficult and fear inducing for so many people.

And now Jesus wants us to talk about our faith? That’s what he says here. He told his disciples (and us too!) that this is who we are. We are witnesses of who he is and what he has done. We are his witnesses here, there, and everywhere. We’re supposed to talk about Jesus and share our faith?

But what will we say?
How will we say it?
How will we know what to say?
Will people listen?
Will they agree with what we’ve got to say?

Jesus doesn’t ask us to figure that out. Being a witness is not at all like delivering a speech.

Did you notice what he says? First, there is this amazing promise that we’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes. Jesus is promising here, and in other places, that he’ll give us the Holy Spirit so that we’re confident, so that we have words.

Then, he says, “You will be witnesses.” Jesus isn’t asking us to say it just right or to win the argument. Jesus isn’t asking us to put together a “good speech.” Jesus isn’t even asking to convince anybody about anything. He’s asking us to be witnesses. A witness doesn’t have to convince. A witness has to tell the story. It is the job of the attorney to do the convincing. Jesus is asking us to tell the world about the good things that He’s done. His Holy Spirit will do the rest.

You are the witness. Witnessing is not like giving a speech. It’s simply telling the story of Jesus. This is who you are. The Holy Spirit will be with you.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your Holy Spirit. Remind us that we are your witnesses and all you ask us to do is share the message. You will give us the words. You will give us the confidence. And You will do good things through the Word we share; You promise it. Make us Your witness in all that we do and say today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Numbers don't count

Judges 7:15 (ESV)
As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”

Everyone loves underdog stories. We all want to see the scrappy team from the small town win the state championship. People love to root for the underdog. But nobody wants to be the underdog. When it gets down to it, we would definitely prefer to be the top dog with no one to challenge us.

Gideon didn’t want to be the underdog either. He was given the job of rescuing God’s people, the Israelites, from the invading Midianites. Israel was outnumbered badly. From a military point of view, their best course of action would be surrender and hope they were treated well as prisoners. Gideon knew that, but he still tried his best to muster the best fighting force he could, a little over 32,000 men. He was as ready as he could be to face the enemy. The opening whistle of the most important match in Gideon’s life was about to sound.

But God had a lesson to teach Gideon.

You see, God had already promised to save the Israelites and to help them defeat Midian. And God wanted them to trust his promise to the win that victory for them. So, what did God do? He commanded Gideon to dismiss almost his entire army. At the end of that day, Gideon was left with less than one percent of his original force, only 300 men! You can’t even fill a large gym with 300 men, but that was Israel’s entire army. This meager army was up against an enemy so large that you couldn’t even count their camels, let alone soldiers. Gideon was about to learn a lesson on trust.

Israel did win the battle that day. But they didn’t win because of numbers, or strategy, or ferocity. They won because God was on their side.

God wants us to know the same thing. God is on our side so power, might, wisdom, or numbers don’t matter. If God is for us, who can be against us? With our trust in God, we really have nothing to fear.

It is true that even Christians sometimes suffer during their lives. Does this mean they didn’t trust in God enough? Or maybe God doesn’t care about them? No.

We believe that God will protect us spiritually above all else. He has already won the greatest victory possible for us. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he suffered for every person through all of time. Jesus death paid the price for our sins. The battles against sin, death, and the devil have all been won for us. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

God may not help our team win every championship. In fact, we will face troubles in life, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we can trust God’s promise that He has won the final victory for us and is waiting for us in heaven.

That inspires the same confidence in us as in Gideon to call out, “Get up! The Lord has given this into our hands!” If God is for us, who can be against us? He will for fight for us in life so that we might enjoy an eternity with him.

Dear Lord, thank You for fighting the battles we couldn’t. Thank You for watching over us and protecting us. Help us to remember Your promises and to always put our trust in You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Back to school

Acts 2:46 (ESV)
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.

It’s game day, time to start school. You know what you have to do, so you get out on the court or field to face your opponents. Then you realize something’s wrong. You’re all by yourself. The other team is there, looming over you like a dark storm cloud from the other end of the field. However, not one of your teammates can be seen. Not on the court. Not on the bench. Nowhere. You have no one on your side.

Do you ever feel like that is your spiritual situation? Maybe you feel like the only Christian at your school facing the whole science department that teaches evolution as truth. Maybe you’re the only one at your job who doesn’t want to take a longer break than allowed.

In those situations, you may feel alone and unable to handle the pressure. You know his promise to always be with you, yet the present situation makes you question God’s presence.

That’s one of the reasons God surrounds us with the church and puts other Christians in our lives. God does not want us to be alone. He wants us to be together.

God equips your Christian friends to help you through all kinds of life’s problems, earthly or spiritual. Whether you have questions about the Bible or about your homework, whether you’re trying to pick a college or what to wear to school tomorrow, Christian friends can help because they (like you) know where to find answers to life’s critical questions. Christian brothers and sisters can remind you of God’s promises and give encouragement, comfort, or even correction from God’s Word. And not only do you get to enjoy these benefits, but to share them! God calls you to be that encouraging, supportive Christian friend to others too.

Most importantly, when you do crack under the pressure and give in to sin, your Christian friends are there to point you to Jesus. Your Christian friends are there to show and give you Jesus’s forgiveness. His perfect life and innocent death paid the penalty for all your sins. That’s the message you need to hear most of all. That’s also the message your friends need to hear from you most of all.

Do you have Christian friends? Thank God for them! Surround yourself with them. Then be one for them!

Dear Lord, thank You so much for blessing us with Christian friends so we can encourage each other to stay close to You. Forgive us for the times we haven’t been the friend You want us to be. Thank You for being the perfect friend. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

When it seems out of control

Ephesians 1:22-23 (ESV)
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

For twenty minutes, 149 passengers were absolutely out of control. A fan blade broke off, causing one of the engines of their plane to explode. For those twenty minutes, they didn’t know whether they would live or die, and they couldn’t do anything about it except sit and wait. They were absolutely helpless and couldn’t do anything except pray.

We can relate when we hit that patch of black ice on the road in the middle of the winter. We can relate when the other driver rear-ends us or crosses the middle of the road into our lane. We can relate when sickness or cancer comes without any cause at all. We can relate when someone suddenly loses a job through no fault of their own.

We couldn’t stop our tire from going flat or our car battery from dying over night. We couldn’t stop the other driver from falling asleep at the wheel or rear-ending us. There is so much in our lives over which we have no control at all. It’s such a helpless feeling, because there is nothing we can do about it.

That’s why these words from Paul are so important to remember, especially when life seems out of control. Do you see what Paul says about Jesus? Do you see what God did? He put all things under the feet of Jesus. All things. Things like the exploding engine in that Southwest plane. He ruled over those moments when the engine exploded and the plane suddenly lurched toward the ground. He ruled over those moments when your car skidded out of control on black ice. He ruled over those moments when you or someone you love suddenly got sick or lost a job.

He is Lord and ruler over all things “for the church.” That’s Paul’s way of saying that Jesus is Lord for the people who believe in him. He is Lord over all things for you, for your good, for your benefit.

Things may be out of your control, but they are never outside of his control. He sits as King over all.

Dear Lord, when our life seems out of control, remind us that You are Lord and ruler over all things. Remind us that things are never outside of Your control. Calm our heart with the truth that things are never outside of Your rule. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

I love to watch the Olympics. It’s a fun time to watch the athletes compete for the gold medal. These athletes have trained their entire lives for this one moment. They know the battles they will face. They will need to endure trial and suffering. They will have to give up certain luxuries that other people can take. But, yet they give up those things and focus on their one goal. They train for one purpose—to win their event. So, they keep training for years and years.

And then the event arrives. The pressure builds. In that moment, what do the Olympic athletes rely on? Their training, their coach, and their form. They have practiced and practiced. They have trained and built their strength so that when the pressure is on, they know exactly what to do and can do it without even thinking. Their training has become a part of them.

The Christian life is similar to the training of an Olympic athlete, except a Christian isn’t training for a one-time event like the 800m run, the 100m dash, figure skating, or speed skating. Being a Christian isn’t an event; it is a way of life. And the Christian path is filled with trials and temptations. The devil and the world, who influence you and your friends, will want you to do certain things, to “enjoy” sinful things, and to give up all your training for a good time.

In those moments, there is a lot of pressure. When temptation is standing right in front of you, the pressure is on. You can feel it. In moments of temptation, what can you do?

Many times, our strength isn’t as great as the Olympic athlete, and we fall to temptation. In those moments of weakness, what can you do?

Like an Olympic athlete, you have something to rely on in moments of temptation and weakness. You have God’s Word. You already know God’s Word and can learn to know it better. Read again Paul’s words to young Timothy. Paul encourages Timothy to continue in God’s Word! Paul encourages Timothy to not give up his “training” but to continue in reading, studying, and applying God’s Word. Why? God’s Word gives you the power to tell the devil and all the temptations, “No.” God’s Word points you to Jesus and reminds you he’s won the contest for you. God’s Word tells you about forgiveness from all your guilt—yes even your secret guilt—because of what Jesus did.

When temptation’s pressure is on, remember your training. Run to God’s Word.

Dear Lord, help us constantly train in God’s Word, so that by Your grace we may fight the temptation that are all around us.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, August 9, 2019

False teachers

Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Remember Little Red Riding Hood? On the way to her grandmother’s house, she runs into the Big Bad Wolf who wants to eat her. The wolf goes to her grandmother’s house and tries to trick her by dressing up like her grandma. The wolf tries to get Little Red Riding Hood to come close so that he could eat her. But Little Red Riding Hood knew it wasn’t her grandma because of the wolf’s teeth. She recognized her enemy and escaped.

Jesus warned his disciples about false teachers. He warned them not to follow these teachers because they would be led to destruction and hell. Here, Jesus tells his listeners how to discern between good teachers and false teachers—by their fruit.

In our Christian life, we are going to run into people who talk to us about the Bible but don’t accurately teach what it says. We call these people “false teachers.” They seem harmless and look innocent like sheep. They might be nice people. It is easy to listen to their message because it seems right. They have great youth programs. If a lot of other people follow them, they must be ok. The teachers appear safe, but their teachings are harmful and dangerous.

Why are they so dangerous? Because they don’t point us to the Jesus of the Bible. They point us to a different version of Jesus, a different version of the cross, and a different version of how God wants us to live. They point us to ourselves rather than to Jesus.

Jesus says, “You’ll know a false teacher by looking at their fruit.” Their fruit is what they say about the Bible and about Jesus. We can look at what they teach, what they do, and even their attitudes. It was easy for the Big Bad Wolf to say the right things. But he couldn’t hide his teeth and his bad breath. It’s easy in the church world to say some of the right things, but mix in false things too. False teachers put on a good show and make a good argument but can’t hide their false teachings. We need to watch out for those false teachers.

God’s Word and his Spirit help us. We can watch out for false teachers because we have the Word. With the Word, we can learn to identify truth and lies. The Holy Spirit leads us to the truth. We know the message of the Bible: We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Good teachers will always point to Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.

Dear Lord, keep us safe from false teachers. Help us discern good teachers from bad teachers so that we may be with You forever in heaven. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What are you sweating?

Mark 14:34 (ESV)
And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

I don’t think anybody saw it coming. I don’t think anyone expected to hear that Robin Williams had committed suicide. Robin Williams was a comedian who brought joy and laughter to many people from many generations. And just like that, we discovered that he had an inner darkness and a deep sadness that led him to take his own life.

What’s scary is that his story isn’t so strange. There is a darkness and a deep sadness in many people that lies hidden behind smiles and laughter. What are you sweating?

I’m talking about the trivial things we worry about—making it to a meeting on time, looming deadlines, family crises, broken devices, the news, terrorist threats, the dwindling oil supply, another downturn in the economy, or an endless number of other things.

Maybe it’s more serious than all that. Are you sweating bullets? Maybe it’s an illness in the family, an impending move, a job loss, struggling to pay the bills, even a relationship on the rocks. This is the bigger stuff, the stuff that really affects our lives.

Maybe there is something so heavy on your hearts that you’re sweating blood. You may be so overwhelmed with fear, sadness, and depression that you’re sweating drops of blood, overwhelmed to the point of death.

That’s what Jesus felt when he prayed in Gethsemane. Jesus was sweating blood because of his anguish. That is precisely what he confessed to his disciples. Jesus was so overwhelmed by what he was carrying and by what he was about to do that he turned to his disciples and asked them to pray with him. That’s how heavy this burden was.

But that’s just it. He already carried this burden to give you peace. He did it willingly and gladly to lighten your burden and to wipe the sweat from your brow. He carried your burden to heal you and give you peace. That’s what Isaiah promised he would do: The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.

Dear Lord, You sweat drops of blood and carried our burden to bring us healing and peace. Give us this hope and this healing when we are sweating all the things that happen in our life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A friend loves

Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

A friend loves at all times,

    and a brother is born for adversity.

I Always try to be conscious of thanking those that served in the military. I recall one time as I thanked a gentleman for his service, he thanked me politely and then looked down for a few seconds. When he looked up again he said, “I miss the friendships…What I miss most is the friendships.” Then he walked away. I spent the next few minutes thinking about those friendships built between this man and his brothers in arms as they faced all kinds of adversity.

We need a friend who will stick by us during times of stress and trouble. That person becomes more than just a friend, they become a brother…a sister.

Can you picture the disciples sprinting away from Gethsemane in the moments after the soldiers began tying Jesus up? Can you see the desperate glances thrown back over their shoulders? The adversity has hit them hard, but they are certainly not acting like they are Jesus’ brothers.

It’s sad to consider how little adversity it can sometimes take for us to stop being someone’s friend. Maybe there was someone you used to hang out with in grade school, someone who was like a brother or sister to you. Lots of memories from sleepovers or camping trips. Then you got to high school, and other people decided that friend of yours was weird. Nerdy. Someone to be AVOIDED or MOCKED. You saw it happen. You saw the abuse they were taking. Rather than drawing close to them during their trouble, did you run away instead?

Jesus didn’t give up on the disciples as he was led away to the cross that night. He doesn’t give up on us bad friends either. In fact, his entire existence on earth was to prevent our ruin. He refused to leave us, even when it cost him dearly. He continues to stick closer than a friend or brother. Look at yourselves through Jesus’ eyes. You were the perfect candidates to be ignored and avoided. Yet Jesus still seeks a closer relationship with us and never leaves us.

As I think about the people in my life that God has graciously placed around me, I think about sitting on a dorm room bed and talking with some of them about guilt, about family struggles, about worries for the future. I think about them sticking up for me, even when they would have been better off sprinting away, casting desperate glances over their shoulders. I am grateful for friends who are closer to me than brothers and sisters, and I am well aware that I don’t deserve them. I pray that God allows me to be the kind of friend who supports people on the battlefield that is this entire life.

Dear Lord, only You can teach us how to be a truly good friend. Give us the love and courage to support others, even when it will cost us something. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Personal faith-sharer

2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the pan, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; stir in the cake flour, pour it into the pan and bake for 75 minutes. I remember mom teaching me this as a kid. I was interested in how to make more than PB&J, so I listened, watched, and learned. To this day I still like to create in the kitchen.

It’s fun when you can continue to do the things you were taught when you were little. It’s fun to build on what you learned from the important people in your life.

My parents taught me a lot of other things too. I did wood working, I planted a garden and learned to do the laundry. I learned habits too—like patience, compassion, and hard work. Most importantly, my parents taught me about Jesus. I say “most importantly” because if they had not shared Jesus with me, who would have?

Maybe you have had some of the same thoughts. Maybe you’ve thought something like this: “If so and so wouldn’t have shared the good about Jesus, would I have ever learned about my God and my Savior?”

The good news is that many of you do know who Jesus is because someone told you about the need for a Savior and Jesus, the solution. Maybe it was a pastor, a teacher, a friend, parents, or another family member. Maybe you’re just starting to hear about Jesus from these devotions. All of that is God’s work in your life, sending faith-sharers to help you know who Jesus is.

So, remember to take the apostle Paul’s words to heart and continue to grow in what you have learned. Keep growing so that you can be that person who shares Jesus with someone else. In the meantime, say “Thank you, God” for bringing me Jesus through my own 2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the pan, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; stir in the cake flour, pour it into the pan and bake for 75 minutes. I remember mom teaching me this as a kid. I was interested in how to make more than PB&J, so I listened, watched, and learned. To this day I still like to create in the kitchen.

It’s fun when you can continue to do the things you were taught when you were little. It’s fun to build on what you learned from the important people in your life.

My parents taught me a lot of other things too. I did wood working, I planted a garden and learned to do the laundry. I learned habits too—like patience, compassion, and hard work. Most importantly, my parents taught me about Jesus. I say “most importantly” because if they had not shared Jesus with me, who would have?

Maybe you have had some of the same thoughts. Maybe you’ve thought something like this: “If so and so wouldn’t have shared the good about Jesus, would I have ever learned about my God and my Savior?”

The good news is that many of you do know who Jesus is because someone told you about the need for a Savior and Jesus, the solution. Maybe it was a pastor, a teacher, a friend, parents, or another family member. Maybe you’re just starting to hear about Jesus from these devotions. All of that is God’s work in your life, sending faith-sharers to help you know who Jesus is.

So, remember to take the apostle Paul’s words to heart and continue to grow in what you have learned. Keep growing so that you can be that person who shares Jesus with someone else. In the meantime, say “Thank you, God” for bringing me Jesus through my own personal faith-sharer.

Dear Lord, thank You for sending people into our life to share the good news about Jesus. Through Your Word and sacrament, we have the greatest treasure ever given. In the Name of Jesus, Amen..

Dear Lord, thank You for sending people into our life to share the good news about Jesus. Through Your Word and sacrament, we have the greatest treasure ever given. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Thank you, God, for your support in life.

Psalm 145:15-16 (ESV)
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

A personal note of thanks:

Heavenly Father, I just wanted to say thank you for ice cream. It’s so good! It’s cold! It’s tasty! In all honesty, Lord, I want to say thank you, not just for the ice cream but for all the good things you give me. So often I forget to do so. You are so generous, and I often fail to give thanks. Thank you, God.

God, You don’t just care for us, You care for everyone. You love everyone and everything, even the creatures of this world that are a distant thought to us. Without You, Your creation would not make it. We would not survive. But there You are, taking care of all people, all creatures, and all creation. Thank You!

And you’re more than just there—your hand is open, and your blessings overflow. You give the squirrels their nuts, the birds their worms, and the mighty lion his food. Then there is us. We are just a speck of sand on this earth. But we have Your attention! We have Your love! And You take care of all our needs. Thank you!

As we sit here and think, we can’t help but remember that You not only give, but give so generously. Our closet, our home, and our hearts are full of Your blessings. You have blessed us with so much variety and continually give us more than what we need to get by. You give us our life and breath, our time and talents. You give us our loved ones, our friends, and so much more. We are so blessed! Thank you!

We especially thank You, Lord, for the gift of Jesus, our Savior. In him, we have the joy and confidence of knowing that even when our earthly strength fails or tragedy hits, no matter our age,we have eternal life.

Dear Lord, You created the world and continue to care for it even though it is filled and tainted with sin. Thank You! Help us all to turn our eyes to You as the animals do and give thanks to You for all your many blessings. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A King from sinners and for sinners

Matthew 1:5-6 (ESV)

5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah

Did you ever pretend to be a superhero when you were younger? Little girls pretend they are Wonder Woman, and little boys dream of being Superman, Batman, or Spiderman. What person from the Bible intrigues you? Some of the better known names even those marginally familiar with Bible history might recognize include Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, and more. Each of these Bible “All Stars” have exciting feats of strength and might attributed to them and play a part in God’s salvation history. They also have something else in common: They were all sinful human beings.

This shouldn’t surprise us. God himself tells us in Scripture, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). This timeless truth included the Bible “All Stars.” This truth includes us, as well.

That’s what makes the genealogy of Jesus so amazing. That’s what makes it so grace-filled. According to his human ancestry, God the Father used a family line of sinful moms and sinful dads to bring about the sinless Son of God. Jesus is a King who came from sinners in order to save sinners. What depth of love this is for us who do not deserve it! What amazing love this is that assures us of our salvation!

Dear Lord, the history of mankind is littered with sin and failure and shortcomings. Your earthly ancestors were no different and neither we I. Yet, despite mankind’s sin, You came into this world perfect and willing to take our place and suffer the punishment our sins deserve. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Thank you, God, for your plan.

Psalm 139:17-18 (ESV)
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

We wake up every morning with so many thoughts, some bad and some good. Sometimes we just can’t shut off our mind. Our minds wander during the day at school or work. We think of the tests coming up or the job reviews. We think of the clothes that we’re wearing and if that certain person will notice us. We think of the friends we have and the stupid decisions that we’ve made. We think of what we’ll eat today and what practice will be like. So many thoughts.

Emotions flood our heart and mind too. We wonder what people really think of us. We wonder who we can really trust. We wonder about the decisions we make, second-guessing many of them. Sometimes we even wonder what we’re really worth, or if we really make a difference in this world. Our minds are filled with thoughts, some bad and some good.

God too has thoughts, a vast sum of thoughts that are intent on giving us everything good.

There many reasons to thank God. Where do we start? After all, he made us. He gave us all our talents, our gifts and abilities. And he gave them to each one of us, each one individually, each one specifically and specially. This is all a gift from our Creator, from our Father, our God.

And it’s not just that. God didn’t just make us. He came for us. He lived for us. He died for us. And in Jesus’ dying for us, God declares that we are of inestimable value to him. In Jesus’ rising for us, God says that we are completely perfect in God’s eyes.

These are God’s thoughts, and we’re just getting started. That’s why God’s thoughts are so precious to us. They go on and on and on. They bring endless comfort, joy, and hope to our souls. That’s why it’s a good thing to turn our thoughts to God’s thoughts now. And not just in November, but always. In him, we find love, forgiveness, and guidance for this challenging life. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and we praise him for that!

Dear Lord, we thank You, God, for Your many and precious thoughts that center on Your love for us and for all your creation! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Ike’s bike

Judges 17:6 (ESV)
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

I read this devotion from Josh McDowell and wanted to share it.
"Welcome to the latest episode of Current Culture! My name is Geraldo Winfrey-Raphael, and I'm your host. Today we're talking to ordinary people about morals and values and whose version of right and wrong is ... well, right... or wrong. Our first guest is Ike, a high school student."

Geraldo nods seriously into the camera, then turns and thrusts a microphone toward a teenage boy dressed in black. Geraldo tries to keep up with Ike's purposeful stride as they walk across the school quad.

"You look like an intelligent high school student," Geraldo says. "How do you choose between right and wrong?"

Ike stops walking and looks straight into the camera.

"Right and wrong?" the student says. "There is no 'right' and 'wrong'! Read your Nietzsche, man! Get a grip on Machiavelli! Those words are nothing but the wishful thinking of a society too weak to face the prospect of a godless world and the lack of moral absolutes! That's what Nietzsche said, man! Look it up!"

Ike begins walking again. Geraldo starts jogging to keep up with the young man. Finally, Ike stops abruptly in front of a bike rack, an expression of shock on his face.

"Is something wrong?" Geraldo says. "Are you all right?"

"My bike! It's gone! Somebody stole my bike!"

Ike throws his arms in the air and begins pacing in front of the bike rack. "Oh, dude, this is wrong! This is totally wrong!" "But I thought Nietzsche said ..."

"Aw, shut up, man! Like, Nietzsche never had a Trek 950 with titanium hubs and alloy rims and all kinds of really cool stuff! Oh, this is so wrong!" Another student approaches, then stops.

"I thought your mom drove you to school this morning," the other student says. Ike suddenly stops his pacing and looks at the camera. "Oh," he says. "Yeah. That's right." He shrugs. "Cool."

Ike and his friend walk away. Geraldo faces the camera, then draws a single finger across his throat in a slicing motion.

In the above script, Ike quoted Nietzsche and Machiavelli. These were two philosophers who said that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Their writings had a significant influence on Adolph Hitler and other dictators of the twentieth century. Do you think that Ike really believed what he said about right and wrong? Why or why not? What do you believe about right and wrong?

Dear Lord, we admit that sometimes we act like there's no such thing as right and wrong. But we don't want to do what's right in my own eyes; we want to do what's right in Your eyes. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Good smells and good advice

Proverbs 25:20 (ESV)
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
    is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
    and like vinegar on soda.

Walk by Bath and Body Works at the nearest mall, and you will be bombarded by vanilla, fresh rain, and summer berry (whatever that is). Step outside on the Fourth of July, and it’s likely you’ll be able to tell that someone in your neighborhood is grilling. Smell is a funny thing. A good smell can lift our spirits. A bad smell can kill our mood. Solomon compares good advice to a wonderful smell.

At times, our friends need our counsel, but our advice isn’t very good or very godly. Someone wrongs them, and you are filled with rage on their behalf. “You should totally get back at them!” Your friend wants to do something you know is wrong, but you want to be supportive, so you blurt out: “You should do what makes you happy!”

Sometimes you are the one who needs good advice but get bad instead. You needed someone to tell you a hard truth, but the people around you just told you what you wanted to hear.

Later in the aftermath of bad decisions, the smell of this bad advice makes us sick to our stomachs. Why didn’t we just say/seek the right things? A cloud of stink only enhances our misery.

Jesus gives the best advice. To the guilty and burdened he advises, “Come to me and find rest.” To the fearful and anxious he says, “Cast all your anxiety on me.” To those wrestling with relationship issues he says, “Love as I have loved you.” To those who are feeling lonely he says, “Know that I am with you always.” To someone about to do something harmful to their souls he says, “Be careful that you are standing firm on what I’ve taught you.” These pieces of wisdom are so good, they are better than even the smell of summer berry (whatever that is). They are so valuable because they come from God himself.

What does Jesus teach us here about wisdom for our friends? 1) Make sure your advice is well grounded in God’s Word. That’s yet another reason to make Bible study a priority. 2) Surround yourself with friends whose heartfelt advice comes from a heart where Jesus makes his home. I thank God for friends over the years who told me exactly what I did not want to hear and kept me from making terrible mistakes in the heat of the moment. 3) Be the friend and surround yourself with friends who tell you about the love and forgiveness of Jesus. I’m so grateful to God for friends whose wisdom took me back to Jesus’ cross and empty tomb again and again. The fragrant smell of their words still brings me joy to this day!

Dear Lord, only You can teach us to be a good friend. Help us not only give sound, biblical advice but also surround our self with people who will do the same for us. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

If Only

Psalm 81:13-14 (NIV)
If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways.

“If only… I had more money.”

“If only… I had a better relationship with my family.”

“If only… I could just find the right job.

It’s not only greed. It’s not only a desire for more. It’s a complete lack of faith in God to provide all that’s good. Adam and Eve fell into that trap.

“If only… we could have our eyes opened and be like God. If only we could know evil, as well as good. If only we could enjoy something more than what God has already given.”

What more could God have given them? What more could God give us? We have from him all that we need and so much more.

Yet we are not content with him. “If only …”

If only there was a way out of this trap we have fallen into. If only God would take pity on us and forgive us for wanting more than him. If only there was a Rescuer to set us free from our foolish sin and greed and mistrust of God. If only there was a way to escape the curse of death that we have brought on ourselves.

It’s more than “if only”–it’s a rock-solid, gospel-truth promise of God: the “offspring of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) has crushed the serpent’s head for us. His name is Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We don’t need “if onlys”. We have a gracious, forgiving Savior who is our all in all.

Dear Lord, forgive us for wanting more and failing to trust You for everything. Thank You for forgiving us and saving us through Jesus, your Son. In Him, we have all we could ever want.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Happiest Day of My Life

Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

A teacher asks her second-grade class to draw a picture of the happiest day of their lives. After they turn in their assignments, she straightens them into a pile and begins to scan through them. She pauses at one picture. The picture is of a funeral. She looks for the name at the top and calls the student up to her desk. When she asks him to explain, he tells her the happiest day of his life will be his funeral. The happiest day because he will go to heaven.

When the Christian Paul wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he was expressing the heart of being a Christian.

From the Bible, Christians understand and believe that they are full of sin. They see the selfishness inside themselves. They see how much they resent God commanding them to do things they don’t want to do. They realize how they really have nothing to offer God for him to look on them with favor.

They also understand and believe how much God loves them. Jesus lived a completely innocent and sin-free life. He then covered himself with all the garbage of our sin and guilt. Jesus took all the blame and all the shame we deserve. He stood still under the crushing justice of God’s anger over our sin. His sacrifice guaranteed no Christian will ever experience even an ounce of God’s justice.

Christians understand and believe that heaven is waiting for them. When they die, Jesus will welcome them into that place filled with joy and peace, where there is no sadness, and sorrows no longer exist. It’s no wonder Christians look forward to the day when they leave their pains, their aches, and their struggles behind to gain the perfect happiness of living with Jesus forever!

The same love from Jesus that fills Christians with hope also fills them with purpose. Jesus’ love leads believers to want to serve Jesus in any way and in every way they can. They live to give glory to Jesus.

I’m looking forward to my funeral. In the meantime, I thank Christ he’s given me another day to serve him.

What about you?

Dear Lord, thanks for giving us heaven. We can’t wait to be there with you! In the meantime, help us live for You, serving You with our whole life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.