Category Archives: Morning devotions

The Fighting God (Exodus 14:14)

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” [Exodus 14:14]

This short, little verse captured my heart this morning; as God spoke words of comfort after a very long and difficult day.

But first the context of this verse…

The Israelites are being lead out of Egypt by God through Moses and Aaron. God commands the group to head towards the Red Sea and set up camp. Once there, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and he comes out with everything he has to capture those slaves again.

God did this to show God’s glory.

As they are beside the Red Sea the people see Pharaoh and his army and are scared silly (and a little angry that Moses lead them out here to die). Moses then speaks the word of the Lord to them:

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Basically, no need to worry, God has this. You don’t even need to raise one finger. Trust God. God will fight this battle.

With that God parted the Red Sea, the people walked across on dry ground and the rest is history. Praise be to God!

And I needed that verse this morning. Without going into all the details, yesterday was a long and nerve fraying day. I had been up since 2:30 AM with a 4 month old who refused to be put down. My wife was out of town for work. I had two kids not feeling well; both demanding attention and it seemed like at the same time all the time. My toddler was being naughty because she wasn’t getting the attention she demanded. And my 4 month old was difficult to sooth. When I would try to put the younger one down for a nap, the older one would come in crying; waking up the younger.

My emotions and nerves were frayed and I found myself on the verge of tears a number of times. Lots of praying ensued and when Connie finally got home I just crashed.

And then I read this verse this morning:  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

[Cue the tears]

Amen!
Praise be to God!
Alleluia!
Thank you!

Have you ever felt defeated or nearly pushed over the edge?
Have you ever felt like the world was ganging up on you?
Have you ever felt like Satan’s onslaughts were going to destroy you?

Have you been there? That was me yesterday, but God fought for me even though I was trying to fight. And this morning God reminded me to give it up to him next time. Satan may try to destroy me in so many ways, and on my own I have no chance but God will fight for me. And God will fight for you.

What an awesome promise.
What a faithful God.

Through Jesus Christ God has defeated Satan but Satan is still trying do as much damage as possible until that day when God makes him a footstool for is Son. So when you see the forces of Satan baring down on you; do not be afraid. The salvation of the Lord has been won for you through faith in Jesus so therefore the Lord will fight for you and the Lord WILL win.

Praise be to God and Alleluia!!!

Thank you, powerful God, that you fight for me. When the forces of evil are marching against me, you are there to push them back. May I have the sight of Elisha to see the chariots of fire around me and may I rest in your promises, oh God. May you be praised, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sighs, groaning and praying

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” [Acts 7:55-56]

Stephen knew he was in trouble. He knew his life was in danger. Stephen knew that he was not getting out of this crowd alive. But he was unfazed. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he sees the reason for his faith. And I can about imagine the peace he felt, even as the people dragged him out of the city to stone him.

The reason I was drawn to this text this morning was because of a prayer request I received yesterday from a friend. He sent a group text to a few of us; asking how we should be praying for those Christians that ISIS recently captured. This has been weighing on him and wanted to know how to pray. So I sent the above text and wondered if we should be praying that those Christians see what Stephen saw and thus be strengthened and encouraged. Someone else then chimed in and suggested that we pray that the faith of those persecuted Christians have an impact on their captors.

But is there more?

I’m not sure what those Christians truly need since I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for them. I can’t imagine what I would pray for if I were in that situation or how my faith would hold up. But I like that text from Acts so I am going to pray for those Christians using that text and then pray that their faith impacts their captors and then fall in Romans 8:26…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

…and then turn it over to God.

I don’t and can’t know what they truly need, but God does. So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take our groanings and sighs and cries and carry them to the Lord. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. Let’s give it up to God and say, “May your will be done

Let’s pray…

[Sigh]

Amen

The Pastor -|—

The Difference (Proverbs 15:16)

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. [Proverbs 15:16]

About three years ago, my wife was bombarding me with information about adoption agencies. And I remember thinking, “This is silly. We don’t have enough money to adopt. And do I really want to go into that much debt to do so?” But I didn’t relate much of this thinking to my wife. Instead I dragged my feet. I wondered aloud,sometimes, if we could afford this. My hope was that my wife would eventually lose interest and give up on this “fantasy”. Basically, I wanted her to let me off the hook because I was nervous about how much we didn’t have.

Thankfully she didn’t give up.

She continued pressing forward and eventually we found this agency and case worker that we would end up using to adopt our children. Yes, that’s plural. I am the proud daddy, now, of two beautiful and wonderful children. And I can’t imagine my life without them.

What was the difference for me?
A faith journey and transformation, and a better understanding of the fear of God through Jesus Christ.

You see, I was comfortable with my comfortable checkbook. I enjoyed my freedom and the flexibility that having “treasures” afforded me. I was still a Christian, serving as a pastor, but I wanted my cake and eat it too. But deep down inside I knew I was missing something; I just couldn’t place my finger on it then. Eventually (and I am not sure what precipitated this) but God pushed me over the ledge and said,

“Trust me”

So I did.

It was still scary to dive into adoption knowing the high cost of it, but along every step of the way, God brought friends and family and other caring community members to help us raise money and eventually finance our adoptions. And I praise God for each and every one of them because I know it was God acting through those people.

Money can’t buy you happiness.
A comfortable checkbook can’t truly make you comfortable.
A peaceful life now can’t bring you true peace.
Treasures in this life will never last.

The author of the Proverbs is not saying that if you have great treasure that you will be miserable and that if you have very little then everything will be great. That’s not what he is saying. The difference, he says, is faith; faith in the living God. And for us Christians, it is faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; truly believing that Jesus died and rose for you that you may have true peace and hope.

That’s the difference.

And so for me, my checkbook is a little thinner, but I don’t seem to care much about that anymore.

[Please don’t praise my faith here, but rather give glory to God where it belongs]

God has provided and I believe God will continue to do so. Sure, I have my moments of worry from time to time; wondering how I am going to pay for certain things for my kids (especially as my oldest approaches school age). But as I worry and wonder and maybe even drag my feet a little from time to time, God continues to push me and say,

“Trust me, my child, trust me”

And so I do. And that is comforting.

Loving Father, please continue to push me when I starting doubting Your provision in my life. Give me those reminders of what you have already done so I may cling to those as Satan tries to plant hopelessness and fear in me. May I see very much even when I have little. And if I ever have very much, may I see that I have very little without you. Grant me the strength, oh God, that you may be glorified in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. [Proverbs 18:10]

Strong towers:
~ Money
~ Friends
~ Home
~ Career success
~ Children
~ Intellect
~ Humor
~ Sarcasm
~Drugs/alcohol
~ Sex
~ Bible knowledge
~ Jesus knowledge

And the list goes on. Which ones here are your “strong towers”? Did I fail to mention yours? Basically, where do you run when the pressure is on? Where do you go when you need to feel safe? What defense mechanism do you activate to shield you from this world? Where is your safe haven; your fortress of solitude; your happy place?

We all have them. We all have strong towers. And I say “towers”, plural, because one is never enough it seems. Sometimes a situation calls for a different tower to run into. But the problem with strong towers here is that they really aren’t strong. They look good and impressive and powerful, but they can not deliver what you perceive that they promise. Strong towers here are really just towers of straw.

But notice where a righteous man goes; his strong tower is the name of the Lord:[9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:9-11 ESV]

The name of Jesus is exalted and therefore THE strong tower at which every knee shall bow someday. It is through the name of Jesus that you are saved from sin, death and the power of Satan. It is through the name of Jesus that you can have confidence in the face of death. It is through the name of Jesus that we can have hope and peace.

But be careful, the name of Jesus does not promise the easy way; rather the name of Jesus promises a cross. No where in scripture does it say that the name of Jesus promises a safe haven here in this life. It doesn’t promise success or riches or fame or prosperity; no matter what the property theologians say.

The name of Jesus is a strong tower because through faith in Jesus it promises eternal life; free from death, sin and Satan. And that is a Strong Tower.

Run to that
Cling to that
Dwell in that

The name of Jesus is to be exalted
The name of Jesus is to be praised
The name of Jesus is my strong tower

Praise be to God, always and forever, let’s pray…

Oh God, my Strong Tower through Jesus Christ, grant your children eyes to see the name of Jesus as THE strong tower. May we turn away from the straw towers of this world and run to you. We praise you that our safe haven in this world of evil and sin is the hope of the resurrection, and that we can have a name to cling to when death comes knocking. Oh God, my Strong Tower, may your name be praised and lifted high for all to see and run to. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Questioning God???

“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? [Job 40:7-8]

In chapter 38 of the book of Job; God speaks. For 35 chapters, Job and his three friends have been talking about God, but they all got God wrong. In chapter 2 we are told that Job did not sin with his lips following his suffering that God allowed Satan to inflict on Job,but Job still does not understand God.

Who does?
[You better not say that you do.]

These verses from chapter 40 almost make me nervous; as do God’s words from chapters 38-41. I can almost hear God speaking to me in those times when I am tempted to blame God or question God’s judgement.

But…

who am I to say that God is in the wrong?
who am I to question God’s judgement?
who am I to doubt God’s wisdom?
who am I to call into question God’s sovereignty?

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)

The fact of the matter is that you don’t have understanding; no one does. The mysteries of this world are meant to be mysteries. The ways of God are higher than our ways and we aren’t meant to know them. The thoughts of God are higher than our thoughts and we aren’t meant to know them. We are not meant to see and know the whole picture. If God were to show you the WHOLE picture I think your brain would explode in a gruesome mess (sorry for the image but I think you get my point).

Job’s testing was meant to bring about God’s glory, and it did. Job passed the test. God won the bet with Satan. Why God allowed Job to suffer we can only postulate (and I will be careful here since I don’t want to be questioned like Job was). But Job’s suffering was only for a moment especially considering the grand scheme of God’s design. Job was blessed even more so following this episode and I can only imagine Job’s reward in heaven.

When God doesn’t make sense;
when God frustrates you;
when God seems to be utterly random…

…run to Him. Run into his loving arms and trust Him. Trust that God knows what He is doing and that God’s higher ways will bring about His glory and eventual yours.

God doesn’t make sense now, but that’s OK, because through Jesus Christ you can have the faith that everything will make sense later on. And who knows, in heaven someday we might even be able to laugh about our suffering when we consider how untrusting and unfaithful we were then.

Who knows?
God does, and that’s good enough for me :-)

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Just do it and bring glory to God

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [1 Corinthians 10:31]

The context of this verse is Paul urging the Corinthians to honor God in what they eat/drink or don’t eat/drink, for everything belongs to the Lord. For example, in verse 27 Paul says that if an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you feel compelled to go; eat what is placed before you and don’t make a scene on the basis of conscience (for example, if you know the food was offered to a pagan god, eat it, it won’t kill you). Why turn the unbeliever off from the faith based on things they don’t understand now. Don’t use your freedom in such a way that it causes a “little one” to stumble.

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And isn’t that the purpose of our lives right there; to glorify God?

My wife shares the story of when she was doing a home visit, in her previous job, with an Hispanic family. When she arrived they offered her something to drink but all they had was orange juice (my wife hates orange juice). But to turn down a gesture of hospitality would have been offensive, especially considering the language barrier. So my wife bravely drank the orange juice, with a smile on her face the whole time. For her, it wasn’t worth risking offending this family and possibly ending any chance she had to share her faith with them in some way. The juice didn’t kill her and it definitely didn’t offend God.

Sure, there are things we need to stand up for and not do based on conscience and belief. I am not going to attend a drunken orgy on the off chance I could possibly pray with the people there. And I think you get the point. We are to bring glory to God and not use our freedom to cause others to stumble in the faith or to stumble before they even come into the faith.

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So basically we need to be mindful of how we act or don’t act, especially when it is known that we are Christian:
~ How do your actions or in-actions bring glory to God?
~ How are people seeing your faith being lived out?
~ Do your actions or in-actions cause others to stumble in their faith?
~ Are you giving God a bad name in how you live?

In whatever you do (or don’t do), are you bring glory to God?

Meditate on this today and contemplate what changes (if any) you need to make to your public (and private) display of faith. We are here to glorify God, through Jesus Christ, so just do it.

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Much Sin. Much Love

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” [Luke 7:47]

Your love of God is proportional to the sin that has been forgiven you.

If you believe your sins are not that bad or that someone else is a worse sinner; if you believe you are doing fine, then your love of God will be reflected in your faulty view of reality.

Very little love.

You will not obey as you should and you will not worship as you should. And it makes sense, if you think you’re not that bad then why would you need Jesus. Your thankfulness will be empty and your praise will be shallow and your worship will be silent.

But if you believe you have been forgiven much; that your sins are many; that you deserve the worse place in hell (if there is such a thing) then your love of God will be reflected as such.

Very much love

You will then be driven to obey and worship God. You will be driven to glorify God’s name and honor it. You will be driven to proclaim the name of Jesus through your words and actions. Which makes sense. If you believe you have received the best gift of all time, then there is no way you are going to keep it quiet AND there’s no way you’re going to turn your back on the giver.

But we do.

We turn our backs on God.
We don’t worship as we ought.
We don’t obey as we should.
We don’t proclaim the name of Jesus loud enough.
We don’t love much.

Miserable sinners that we are.

Oh God, forgive me.

Our sin is ever before us, our condemnation is just but God’s mercy and grace and compassion is endless.

Praise be to God!

We are in the midst of Lent; a season of reflection and self-examination. A season of remembering and contemplating our sinfulness. A season of repentance and drawing closer to God. So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to reflect on your sinfulness and the fact that you deserve hell. Reflect on your mortality and the fact that your bodies are decaying until death.

from dust you came and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

Remember your sin and then contemplate the cross; that Jesus died there and then rose from the grave that your sins would be forgiven. Accept the fact that you have sinned much but through faith in Jesus you have been forgiven much. Try to wrap your brain and heart around that and then worship and praise this awesome God of ours.

You are a sinner, but God our Father is our redeemer through Jesus Christ. Turn to Him and love much and praise much and worship much.

What an awesome God!

May you see your sin as filthy and therefore your sentence of death. May you see Jesus as your Savior. May your love overflow for the God of creation.

Have a great day worshiping God in every second of your life.

The Pastor -|—