Jesus in the Morning – Devotional for Thursday, March 31, 2011

“My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3
 
Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship. I have heard that for years, but I’m not sure I have understood all the implications of that. I know I am suppose to love Jesus and you cannot love someone that you do not know. And you cannot know someone that you don’t spend quality time with.

To know Jesus is to love Him.
To love Him is to trust Him.
To trust Him is to obey Him.
To obey Him is to be blessed.

Why the morning for our time with Him? In the morning all things are new. Our energy levels and focus should  be at their peak. Our initial input (in the morning) directs our day.

Consider if we begin the day with the newspaper or the morning show or listening to the news channel on our way to work, we have set our attitude for the day and it is based on what’s happening in the world.

But what if we begin our day in quiet company with Him, considering His word and listening for direction for our day? With that start our perspective is completely different. Beginning with the news fills us with stuff we can do little about. Starting with our Lord places us on track to do not only what we can do, but what we should be doing.

Give it a chance: time to knowledge to love to trust to obedience to blessing.

What a trip and you can’t get it in the Advertiser on Good Morning Acadiana, Fox News or NPR.

Be blessed.

Nick

Persecution – Devotional for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
Matthew 5:11
Most of us Christians in America are getting the feeling that persecution isn’t far off. We see the signs of the end times. Even believing in the rapture, we know that things will get worse before they get better. 
Christ never promises his faithful people an easy road of faith. And if you live for Jesus Christ and stand for him, you will likely suffer, to some extent, for what you believe. If we’re not suffering now, maybe it’s because we are not standing. 
If it became a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us? There are lots worse things than being persecuted for Christ. It’s been said many times that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. But could we even stand ourselves, if it became clear we were fearful Christians? 
It is a great blessing to be persecuted for Christ. If we don’t feel persecuted, maybe we need to be a bit more obvious that we are Christian.
Nick

Alone – Devotional for Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today I was alone. It wasn’t much fun. Rosemary was in Henry taking care of her aunt. Jessie and Kaydence were gone all day. After a busy weekend with a full house, a day alone sounded great. But it wasn’t. I was suppose to just rest and try to stay off my knee. I know it was an opportunity for solo spiritual pursuits or something but that didn’t happen. 
I suppose that in truth we are really “alone” most of the time. Even in a crowd we are alone with our thoughts, our concerns, our fears. No one knows everything that we are about. No one except Him. If we don’t cultivate our relationship with the Lord, alone we will always be. 
People are great. Loved ones are a blessing. But only Jesus knows us well enough to be a constant companion. Someone to whom we don’t have to explain or pretend. We expend enormous energy keeping up the facade’s that everyone else has come to know as us and, after years of “knowing” us, they now expect.
The house is noisy again. No longer alone. Next time I’m by myself, I promise to practice the presence of God. He’s alway there. We’re never really alone. Sometimes, we just don’t take advantage of His presence. Maybe I won’t wait. I can be with Him anytime. Kaydence want’s to get on my lap. Better go.
Be blessed.
Nick

Wound Care – Devotional for Monday, March 28, 2011

We know that there are wounded in the church. The sources of the wounds are varied. Some were caused by the church, or by it’s members or by elements of an unloving world. The source is not as important as our willingness to care for the wounds. Caring for spiritual wounds is similar to caring for a natural wound.
The first step is to clean the wound. Much of the damage from wounds comes not from the original trauma but from the foreign bodies, the nasty stuff, that gets into the wound. In fact, most wounds will heal naturally. But if allowed to fester they become infected. Our spiritual wounds are the same way. We have to clean out all the stuff that has turned a slight into a life damaging situation.
After cleaning, a wound must be drained. For a spiritual wound that often means we have to :”talk out” all the hurt and pain and stuff we have allowed to grow in a wound. For those of us trying to help, that means being willing to be available and to listen and to love the hurt one unconditionally. 
Next we apply ointment, for us that’s the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. In the secular world there are folks that are paid to listen. They are professional listeners. The psychological profession has grown rich on paid listening. Proving that being listened to helps. But that profession doesn’t have the healing power of Word of God and the Holy Spirit that can provide the healing once the “infection” is gone. As a born again child of God we have that mighty tool.
Finally we cover the wound. During the healing process the wounded needs some protection. We need to shield those who are wounded until they are healed. We need the wisdom of God to know how long that protection is needed. We have to be careful that protection doesn’t become enabling. 
Be kind, for every person you meet is fighting a battle. Next to you, in front of you, behind you are people who look like they have everything together. But scratch the surface, and you may find someone facing a cancer recurrence, someone agonizing over a partner’s infidelity, someone fear the lose of employment.
Aways be ready to listen, to love and to help change the misaligned focus from self to a God who cares.
Be a blessing and be blessed.
Nick

Walking Wounded – Devotional for Sunday, March 27, 2011

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Every church has its share of obvious walking wounded. You know what I’m talking about. They seem to live under a cloud, born losers, never can seem to do anything right. Like Linus they don’t meet potential. In fact, they don’t believe they have potential.  They suck off an incredible amount of church resources and pastor patience. In the end, we don’t seem to know what to do with them. Deep inside we know they have great potential, but it’s difficult, sometimes impossible to see.
What should we say to them? How should we treat them. Sadly, and if the truth be known, there are many more hurting than the obvious ones.The tough cases are the wounded ones who never appear wounded, who don’t let their wounds show. That includes almost all of us.
Our message needs to be; “God loves you so much that Jesus Christ hung in agony and blood for you. You are precious to God. You are the object of God’s love. The blood of Jesus Christ was poured out on Calvary for you. The cross sets you free. He who died for you now lives in you. He gave Himself for you that He might give Himself to you. When Jesus Christ died for you, He didn’t just take away your sins, He took away your self. You are crucified. So who can harm a dead man? But more he gave you new potential, the possibility of a meaningful and blessed existence. 
On Sunday night at Amana we will consider how we can better deal with the wounded, especially those wounded by the church. Join us. You are either wounded or dealing with someone who is. So this session is for you.
See you then.
Nick

Walking Wounded

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Every church has its share of obvious walking wounded. You know what I’m talking about. They seem to live under a cloud, born losers, never can seem to do anything right. Like Linus they don’t meet potential. In fact, they don’t believe they have potential.  They suck off an incredible amount of church resources and pastor patience. In the end, we don’t seem to know what to do with them. Deep inside we know they have great potential, but it’s difficult, sometimes impossible to see.
What should we say to them? How should we treat them. Sadly, and if the truth be known, there are many more hurting than the obvious ones.The tough cases are the wounded ones who never appear wounded, who don’t let their wounds show. That includes almost all of us.
Our message needs to be; “God loves you so much that Jesus Christ hung in agony and blood for you. You are precious to God. You are the object of God’s love. The blood of Jesus Christ was poured out on Calvary for you. The cross sets you free. He who died for you now lives in you. He gave Himself for you that He might give Himself to you. When Jesus Christ died for you, He didn’t just take away your sins, He took away your self. You are crucified. So who can harm a dead man? But more he gave you new potential, the possibility of a meaningful and blessed existence. 
On Sunday night at Amana we will consider how we can better deal with the wounded, especially those wounded by the church. Join us. You are either wounded or dealing with someone who is. So this session is for you.
See you then.
Nick

No News is Good News – Devotional for Friday March 25, 2011

I read a newspaper this morning. I wasn’t impressed. I did it because it was free at the restaurant where I had breakfast. I had not read a newspaper in weeks. I used to get the newspaper delivered every day. Then, without good reason, my delivery person changed and I stopped receiving the paper. I noticed I really didn’t miss it. I get a daily email from the news paper with the headlines. That’s more information than I need.  It disturbs my wife that I rarely watch the news. I think it gives me a better perspective. There is little good news. I have plenty enough issues of my own without starting my day reading about a lot of things which really don’t impact my daily life. More importantly, the paper contains much I can do nothing about. I’d rather focus on the needs of my family, friends and church. I always seem to find out when those folks need something.

I try to keep my ear open to the Lord. If I need to do something, I think He’ll let me know.

In some ways, ignorance is bliss and the “news” is not.

Be blessed.

Nick

The Best Defense is a good Offense – Devotional for Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some who know more about sports than I do say, “The best Defense is a good Offense.” I don’t know about sports, but that certainly seems to be true in the Christian walk.  It seems we spend too much time trying not to be bad. We’re trying to get out of trouble rather than to move  into righteousness. 
While we certainly need to defend against the world, the flesh and the devil, our primary activity needs to be directed offensively into being “in Christ” and therefore moving into righteousness. That’s where true holiness is. 
He is our righteousness. Take the offensive: move into Him, move into righteousness.
Nick