January, 2011

Fruit Bearing – Devotional for Monday, January 10, 2011

The purpose of a fruit tree is to bear fruit, as is the purpose of a Christian. You and I were made to bear fruit. For the Christian, our “fruit” is changed lives…our own, and others. Yet some believers’ lives are “barren” for long stretches of time, bearing no fruit at all.

Let’s do a little fruit inspection. In the last year, has your life changed? Have lives around you changed? Maybe you too are in a barren period.

Author James Michener was raised on a farm. He recalls from his childhood that a neighboring farmer raised apples. One day, young Michener was passing by his orchards and witnessed a strange thing: the neighbor was driving nails in some of the trees that were not bearing fruit. He watched in curiosity as this farmer approached a barren tree and drove four large, rusty nails into the base of the tree, north, south, east and west. Then he moved higher on the trunk of the same tree and repeated the process. When Michener questioned the neighbor, he told the boy, “Just wait until next spring. You’ll understand it then.” When spring rolled around, Michener said that apple tree produced the biggest, reddest apples he had ever seen. The farmer said, “You see, those rusty nails remind the tree that it was made to produce apples. Sometimes it forgets.”

Some of us need a jolt to remember that we were made to produce good fruit for the kingdom of God. And sometimes pain or hardship is the “nail” that reminds us. You’d be surprised at how many of us bloom and bear fruit in places where we once felt the sting of a nail.

Heavenly Father, I want to do what I was created to do. Please do in my life what is necessary to make me a fruit producer.

Nick

Lost Your Passion? Devotinal for Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lost Your Passion?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4 NIV

I had a busy day today. I woke up about 6 and drove to Baton Rouge for a Kairos meeting and then drove to Alexandria for a second meeting. At each meeting were a dozen or so folks who had given up their Saturday for ministry. It was encouraging. Most were older folks who have served the Lord faithfully for many years. But their enthusiasm for the ministry is as strong as ever.

It’s like a good marriage. Happily married older couples have learned the secret of never forgetting their first love. Sure children and grandchildren come and we build homes and careers, but if we will just keep on loving that first love that started it all, the fire stays alive.

Jesus praised the church at Ephesus for many good works. They worked hard and endured even during difficult times. They didn’t tolerate sin. They were careful to be faithful to the truths of God’s Word. They did not allow false teachers to lead them astray. They even patiently suffered for Jesus and didn’t give up. However, Jesus added that He had this complaint about them: “You have forsaken the love you had at first.”They had lost their passion for Jesus.

I didn’t see any of that today. I saw folks willing to give up time and to plan to give up much more time to be of service to Jesus.

How about you? Have you lost the passion you had when you first believed?

The Christian life is a passionate life. Passionate spirituality is the desire of every true follower of Christ. Yet life has a way of slowly separating us from God.

It is great to have involvements, to work in ministry, even to serve on committees. But the secret to passionate ministry to keep alive the first love, Jesus.

Father, forgive me for getting so caught up in “doing” that I’ve neglected my relationship with You. Help me to return to my first love for You. May my passion for you become my motivation for service. In Jesus’ name …

Nick

Don’t Just Sit There – Devotional for Saturday, January 8, 2011


It’s a New Year and we want to make a change. We want to make a difference. 
Chuck Swindoll tells this story:
Now, admittedly, some go a little nuts when they decide a change is needed. Larry Walters did. The thirty-three-year-old truck driver had been sitting around doing zilch week in, week out, until boredom got the best of him. That was back in the summer of ’82. He decided enough was enough; what he needed was an adventure. So, on July 2 of that year he rigged forty-two helium-filled weather balloons to a Sears lawn chair in San Pedro, California, and lifted off. Armed with a pellet gun to shoot out a few balloons should he fly too high, Walters was shocked to reach 16,000 feet rather rapidly. He wasn’t the only one. Surprised pilots reported seeing “some guy in a lawn chair floating in the sky” to perplexed air-traffic controllers.

Finally, Walters had enough sense to start shooting a few balloons, which allowed him to land safely in Long Beach some forty-five minutes later. When asked why he did such a weird thing, Walters usually gave the same answer: “It was something I had to do . . . I couldn’t just sit there.”

Aren’t we tired of “just sitting there?” What are we going to do differently this year? It doesn’t have to be as radical as what Larry Walters did. But it does have to be something different. It is said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If we want something different, we need to do something different. What’s it going to be?


Nick

At Home in Your Heart – Devotional for Friday, January 7, 2011

At Home in Your Heart?
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. —Ephesians 3:16-17

 
The doorbell rings. You aren’t expecting anyone. You go to the door with a combination of anxiety and anticipation searching your mind for some fact that would explain why you are getting a visitor at this hour.

You open the door and there stands Jesus. Your heart jumps with joy but somewhere in your being you hope He doesn’t want to come in. You quickly scan the interior of your house in your mind to decide what room you should escort Him to. Will He know what has happened in each room of your home? Will He hear words that have been spoken? You know He will. His kind eyes say “Aren’t you going to ask me in?” So you do.

You notice your laptop on the table and ridiculously hope that He doesn’t ask to use it to check His email. You hear the television softly in the background and try to remember what you were watching. You steer Him away from the chair with the stack of magazines next to it, frantically trying to remember what might be in that stack. This wasn’t the way you expected it would be when you came face-to-face with Jesus.

How foolish we are. He already knows about the magazines, the television, the spoken words, what’s on the computer. If we have a resolution to make this year, shouldn’t it be that if He rings our door bell this year, we  will be ready to hug Him, kiss His check and welcome Him in with joyful, tear stained eyes?

Consider this and be blessed.

Nick

Finding Your Contenment In Jesus

Finding Your Contentment in Jesus
 
Hebrews 13

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you;
   never will I forsake you.”b]’>[b]

 
Think about this: What do I really want this year? If you tear away all the extras, what’s the bottom line? For me I think the bottom line is that I want to be content. The first step in being content is to honestly evaluate what I have.
The first thing to recognize is that I need to compare myself with the rest of the REAL world, not what I see on TV or imagine others to have. Economically, there is no doubt I am “better off” than most of the world. I have more freedom and opportunity.
But the most important thing is that I am better off than most of the world because  I have Jesus. As I face the new year, I want to find  contentment in Jesus, my companionship in Jesus, and my confidence in Jesus. Then I’ll find my comfort and my courage in Jesus. 
 
When I am contented in Jesus and He is closer to me than any one on earth could possibly be; when I am confident in the midst of trials and testing that He will provide…then, and only then, will I know the courage that comes from His comforting presence.   

Pray, “Lord, with all my heart, with all I am, I want to know you. I want our relationship to be close and my faith to grow. Cleanse me and make me new that I may be all that You want me to be this year.”

Nick

Be a Stained Glass Window – Devotional for Wednesday, January 5, 2011

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” —2 Corinthians 4:7
 

Greg Laurie tells of a little girl who was asked in her Sunday school class what a saint was. Thinking of the saints in stained glass windows, she replied, “Oh, those are the people the light shines through.” She was right. That is exactly what a saint is: someone whom the light shines through. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). According to Scripture, a saint is a true believer.

It seems so difficult for us to have men see our good works, yet glorify the Father. Don’t we love “taking credit.” We do so even when we have little or nothing to do with the outcome. How can we be sure that He gets the glory? It is possible when the light shining through us isn’t ours, but His.

Consider:
Do things that do not come easily based on our “natural” talents.
Do things that He calls you to do; not that which comes naturally.
Do things in groups with other believers. It is easier for Him to get the glory for group efforts since they are so rare.
Do things that have eternal significance.
Seek first the kingdom.

Let His light shine through and be blessed.

Nick

Life is like a roll of toilet paper – Devotional for January 4, 2011

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16
 

Life goes by so quickly, doesn’t it? An old friend of mine said it best when he told me, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!”


Remember as a kid, a month before Christmas, it seemed the magical day would never come. In the time that month would take to pass, now an entire year goes by. Life is moving so fast, and with it our opportunity to leave an eternally significant mark.



If we failed to make a deliberate effort to leave such a mark, we will never do so. We need to abandon thoughts about “one day.” We need to focus on today. 


What will I do today that will make a difference for eternity? Then that must I do.


Do it now, the roll is rapidly vanishing.


Nick

Whom Do You Seek? Devotional for January 3, 2011

 I want everything my God has for me in 2011. I want a productive fearless life. What we achieve is very dependent on our attitude. On what have we focused? What do we seek? Much of today’s devotional is based on Pastor Doucet’s New Year message.

We are told in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you.” I think it is significant that the word used is “ask” not “demand” or even “request.” There is a certain amount of inquiry involved. We go to our God with a questioning heart. He is the one who knows what we need. It’s not a question of our desires or whims. We want what is best for us and no one knows that better than Our Lord.

Often our askings go askew. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3 I am reminded of the small child who will repeatedly ask for candy or to go out to play in the rain or to be left on their own near a busy street. All these things look good to the child. Only one with the paternal perspective knows what’s best.

As with all things, we must go to Our Lord with the proper perspective and attitude. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 We need to ask, submitted wanting what God wants for us. What we really want is to be another example of God’s greatest miracle.

“I think the greatest miracle that God can do is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that unholy man holy and put him back in an unholy world and keep him holy. But we are more afraid of holiness today in the church than we are of sinfulness.”  Leonard Ravenhill

We want to be made holy by God and put to use in an unholy word. If that has not been our history, we need a different path. If I want a different result, I need to do something different. Whom are we seeking? We need to seek the Lord. We need to seek the source of life. “Why seek the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5

If we are not living the miraculous life, if we are not a holy thing making a difference in an unholy world, it’s an issue of desire and direction. What do we seek? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20.

Lord I seek you humbly, wanting all you have for me, wanting to be all I can be.
Nick
4 of 5
12345