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Posts Tagged ‘devotions’

Heavenly Father, we ask that You continue to heal and restore as we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Comfort those who mourn the loss of loved ones from that day and all the actions that have followed in its wake.

Be with our military as they leave their families and sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears on our behalf.

Guide our leaders as they direct our nation.

Eternal God, help us to fix our eyes on You, to live like Christ, and to respond to Your Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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I love lemonade.  There is nothing like a glass of lemonade during the summertime.  It’s the best you could ask for.  A cold glass of lemonade hits the spot after mowing the yard, walking the dog, or just relaxing on the porch.  This amazing drink will immediately satisfy me, draw a thirst quenching “aaahhh” from my mouth, and deliver a toothy smile to my face.

Sure there are different kinds of lemonade out there.  You can get lemonade in an Army mess hall or even a Navy galley.  But I’m talking about the good stuff.  The lemonade recipe that your grandmother used.  You know what I’m talking about.  A recipe with real lemons, sugar, and plenty of kick.

My wife and I recently went to a Chick-fil-A and ordered lemonade with our meal.  We didn’t know what to expect of the drink.  Would the lemonade be a watered down version or something that tastes too syrupy sweet?  The sign said it was made-from-scratch daily, so we decided to take a chance on their lemonade.  We were both amazed.  It was absolutely fantastic!  It had to be one of the finest lemonades out there.  Where had this been all of my life?  Why didn’t anyone tell me that Chick-fil-A lemonade tasted so good?

To say that I was surprised by their lemonade would be an understatement.  I had been settling for something less, when this recipe was clearly better.  This discovery became our new gold standard when it comes to lemonade.  No longer will we settle for something less.

God understands good lemonade.  He gave humanity a recipe to follow regarding life.  He knew that this recipe would satisfy us, quench us, and make us smile.  This recipe is the finest out there.  In fact, it is the perfect recipe.  It is the gold standard of recipes.  But some folks wanted to make their own recipe.  They wanted different ingredients and proportions in the mixture.  They were willing to settle for a recipe with less because it was something that they had made.

Romans 1:25 shares that people exchange the truth about God for a lie or “the” lie depending on your translation.  This passage tells how people “worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator . . .”  This lie is about self.  I know better.  I am more important.  I will do whatever I want.  The rules don’t apply to me.  In essence, I will follow my own recipe.

Folks have the choice to follow their own recipe in life.  Perhaps they didn’t know just how satisfying God’s recipe is for us.  But when you taste and discover how incredibly satisfying it is, you won’t settle for less.  May God bless you and your pursuit of His righteousness, His recipe for your life.

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Memorial Day allows us to remember the meaning of sacrifice.  Veterans, soldiers, and veteran groups frequently celebrate Audie Murphy and his sacrificial efforts during World War II.

As a soldier, Murphy was credited with destroying six tanks, killing over 240 German soldiers, and capturing many others.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the battle of Holtzwihr, France.  In this campaign, Murphy’s unit was reduced to 19 out of 128.  As they continued to take losses, Murphy ordered his men to fall back while he provided rifle fire to protect their escape.  When he ran out of ammunition, he climbed on top of a burning M10 tank destroyer and used its .50 caliber machine gun to fight the enemy.  He also called in artillery fire to slow the German advance.  Murphy continued to shoot and call in artillery for an hour until he was wounded in the leg.

When asked after the war why he had seized the machine gun and taken on an entire company of German infantry, he replied simply, “They were killing my friends.”  His selfless service and sacrifice is celebrated every year.

Each Memorial Day we celebrate the suffering and sacrifice of veterans.  But to understand sacrifice we must  look past the holiday weekend.  To understand sacrifice we must look to God.

John 3:16 shares that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  A sacrifice was made for us.  Christ was wounded for our wrongs.  Isaiah 53 is titled the Suffering Servant.  This chapter in the Old Testament shares how the Son of God would be “pierced for our transgressions” and suffer on our behalf.  His actions would bear our iniquities and justify us before a Holy God.

As Christians, we understand that Jesus went to the cross for our sins.  His substitution on the cross ultimately atoned for the sins of the world.  He interceded to save us.

While stories of sacrifice, war wounds, medals, and heroism will take center stage this holiday weekend, remember that we understand sacrifice through the love and devotion of Jesus Christ.  He is truly our Savior.

 

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Moms play a critical role in every family.  They raise us, nurture us, love us, demonstrate the right way to live, and make gigantic sacrifices for us.  We owe them an incredible debt.  Now consider the additional responsibilities of being a military mom.

Military moms act as a single parent during deployments.  Their work load doubles when duty calls a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine overseas.  They endure hardship, long hours, little rest, and loneliness.  They sacrifice time and comforts to make life better at home.  A military mom keeps the family together while times are tough and a loved one is deployed.

The Bible shows us a great example of motherly love and action in Acts 16:1-2.  “Paul came to Derbe and to Lystra.  A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethern at Lystra and Iconium.”

Timothy was a remarkable and talented young man.  He was highly recommended by the local church leaders.  His mom, Eunice, had done such a good job raising and teaching her son that Paul wanted to take him on his missionary journey.  Think about this accomplishment.  Her work at home made this young man ready to enter the ministry of the early church and reach the world for Jesus Christ.

She was a strong woman of faith as was her mother (2 Timothy 1:5).  But Eunice was unique in that she was able to pass this faith along to her son.  This was no small feat since Timothy’s father was not a believer.  It also required extra work since it was usually the father’s job to teach the sons and the mother’s job to teach the daughters.  Perhaps there were times when she felt too exhausted from all the work of the day to spend time with her son.  But she would not give up in her responsibilities.  She was faithful and willing to do the extra work.  Praise God that Eunice made time to teach her son Timothy!

Be mindful of Eunice and her tremendous example from scripture.  Think about her loving sacrifice of time and how it changed her family and ultimately the world.  Consider how moms have made time for us and how we should respond with our own families.  May God give you the faith, the vision, and the strength of Eunice as we celebrate mothers across America.

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May 3, 2012 is the National Day of Prayer.  Events will be held across the county where people are encouraged to pray for our nation, our elected leaders, the military, and each other.  The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray.  It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

While the day may be used to focus on government functions and civic purposes, feel free to make space for personal issues.  Allow a time for repentance.  Make time to renew your relationship with the Lord.  Share the inner concerns of your heart and take them to the Throne of our Creator.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the events of work, school, and family, but share some of tomorrow’s valuable time with our Heavenly Father.

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I am often amused at the alphabet soup people place behind their names.  Most folks will visit a MD, CPA, CFP, and perhaps even an Esq. with a JD.  Clergy are not immune from the soup spilling on them.  Does your pastor have a MACE, M.Div., Th.M., D.Min. or Ph.D.?

Alphabet soup seems to be everywhere.  It touches every profession and career.  The growing level of certifications, licenses, and degrees seem to have no limit.  It has gotten to the point that I cannot recognize what all the abbreviations stand for.

The Army has several different levels of its own alphabet soup:  rank, military occupational specialty codes or MOS, and additional skill identifiers or ASI.

I believe that two factors are influencing the trend; greater levels of specialization and human pride.

People like the notoriety and uniqueness that the alphabet soup provides.  It makes you stand out.  It shows your determination and hard work.  It makes you different from everyone else.  Consider the pride folks have in hearing people shout, “doctor” or “pastor” before your name.

Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 23:1-11.

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus encouraged his followers to live differently.  Don’t do what they do.  Don’t act like you are high and mighty.  Don’t make a scene.  Don’t draw attention merely for the glory of self.  The disciples were even told to avoid the title of rabbi or teacher in their fellowship.  They were to consider each other as brothers.

Jesus wants us to live and act in a humble manner.  Don’t get caught up in the game of alphabet soup.  While certain professions will require designations behind your name, be sure to honor God with a servant’s heart.  The praise of man is cheap and fleeting.  Instead, seek to be exalted by our Heavenly Father.

 

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It was reported this week that Jennifer Aniston’s beauty routine costs an estimated $12,000 a month.

Her beauty habits, which include hair-care, skin-care, eyebrow-care, makeup, spray tans, nutrition, and exercise training — run a steep $11,933.97 per month.  That totals $141,037.97 each year.

It was interesting to read how many people lavished approval and praise on the story.  They affirmed her determination and stamina in pursuing a youthful figure.  As a Hollywood actress, she has to stay fit, look young, and eat right.  That is the only way that one can ultimately get the right role in a million dollar movie.  Many compared it to a gym membership for a firefighter.  It’s the price of doing business.  It’s necessary for this line of work.  You expect a firefighter to be strong in order to rescue people from burning buildings.  So, you should expect a movie star to look her best for a role.

As a Christian, I’d like to suggest another way to view the story.  God does not care what you look like on the outside.  It doesn’t matter one little bit.  God places greater priority on our heart, our thoughts, and our actions.  Beauty is determined on the inside.

Jesus directly addresses the issue with a group of Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-28.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Jesus knew that the Pharisees were playing a game.  On the outside, they appeared pretty good to the crowds of people.  But in reality, their hearts and actions showed a very different person.  Jesus exposed the truth about this group.  You can wash the outside of a dish, but the inside is still dirty.  The same is true today.

While our society and Hollywood may only focus on the external appearance of a person, beauty is truly from within.  In a world where teenagers are getting plastic surgery to improve their looks, we have a responsibility to teach people where beauty truly resides.  God wants us to focus on the inside.  We need to share a different perspective on beauty, one that honors God.

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