Hunger for God – Devotional for Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8.

Rose and I love chicken. When we were first married, she ate dark meat and I loved white. Now I like dark and she likes white.  Before you hit the “delete” key, this fun fact has a purpose. We are taught to “hunger” after God, but hunger for the Lord is an acquired taste. 
I love sushi. I didn’t always and Rosemary still doesn’t. I started with just one favorite roll and every time I get one I also get a different one I haven’t tried before. I don’t always fall in love with each new variety, but more often than not I find something else I like.
God is like that. Satan has convinced us that the world has so much more to offer than God does. The earth is God’s wonderful creation but it provides just a “taste” of the goodness of the maker. It is designed to direct us to Him and not be an end in itself.
The more we pursue Him, the greater our hunger will be. However, if we ignore Him, what little appetite we have will diminish even further.  Spending time with the Scriptures and in prayer at first seems dry and tasteless. Picking up the Bible for the first time seems overwhelming. We begin with small tastes and, before we know it, we are hungry for His word. Prayer is the same. At first it seems dry, but when we learn it is more than just petitioning God, it becomes an essential part of our lives.
The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent time and effort.  
Taste and see that that the Lord is good… and be blessed.
Nick

Royal Wedding – Devotional for Saturday, April 30, 2011

For the last few days it seems the world has dropped what it should be doing to watch a wedding. Now, I’m not much of a wedding person so I may be more mystified than most people. Even I have to admit this story has it all. Handsome price, beautiful princess, seemingly in love, really nice people, a million show up outside the castle. Lots of interesting elements. Why are we so interested? Do we all love a good story or fairy tale? Does the darkness inside of us not really believe it is all as sweet as it seems? The public seems to grab at any tiny piece of dirt. Are our own lives not the fairy tale we once dreamed they would be? Is it because it’s English. Some of us love anything English, whether it’s the accents or the sitcoms. I don’t have enough training in psychology or sociology to answer these questions. But I do have to write something on today’s blog so I have some thoughts.
There is something attractive about a story that takes us up and away from our daily lives. It seems to me that is what Christ intended for each of his children. Here we are less than commoners and the King of the Universe sweeps down and rescues us and makes us princes and princesses. And He promises a Wedding Feast that will make this week’s pale. If we understand and play out the story, the world will be captivated and want to know more. Oh sure, there will be some who are jealous or just mean. They will grab at any piece of dirt to prove to themselves that the story isn’t true. We have an obligation to minimize their chances to do that. We have a duty to explain we have been blessed and that it isn’t that we are deserving but that He is good. And explain the good news that they are called to be princes and princesses too. 
Good luck to the newlyweds. If I had access to them I think I would say, “Sometime I have a story to tell you.”
Be blessed.
Nick

Be Holy, For I Am Holy – Devotional for Friday April 29, 2011

1 Peter 1:13 Thereforeprepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on thegrace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior ; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

This is one of those verses that pushes me to think, “He’s got to be kidding.” Does God really mean for us to be Holy like He is holy? What an overwhelming command! It seems impossible. But there are two aspects of this command we must not forget. First, He doesn’t command for us to be holy on our efforts. The Lord is committed to do this in our lives—make us holy. We know the process as sanctification. And that’s the second important aspect, sanctification is a process, a three-stage process by which He sets us apart for His purposes.

Stage one occurs at the moment of our salvation. When God declares us righteous, we are positionally holy. The second stage is a progression of growth as we become more and more in practice what we already are in position. This process will continue for as long as we are alive on this earth.

The Father has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and He is continually working to shape our conduct, character, and conversation. Although God is the one who accomplishes the transformation, we have some responsibility in the process. If we don’t cooperate with Him, the world will squeeze us into its mold, and we will miss the great plans He has for us.

The third stage of sanctification is our ultimate perfection when we will possess absolute holiness. Upon our physical death, soul and spirit are freed from sin, and in the resurrection, our bodies will be made perfect. We will stand faultless and spotless before Christ.

It’s the third stage, the goal, that we should keep in mind, that should keep us motivated to cooperate with the work of God in our lives. The more we become like Him in this life, the fuller this life will be.

Be holy and be blessed.

Nick

I am not going anywhere – Devotional for Thursday, April 28, 2011

   “Never will I leave you; 

   never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5


In those days after Jesus’ Resurrection and then Ascension into heaven, the disciples must have struggled with a sense of abandonment. Fear of abandonment seems one of the basic fears of mankind. Perhaps it arises from mom dropping us off at daycare or school or leaving us with a strange teenage babysitter. No matter what the source, all of us, if we will admit it, fear abandonment. Part of that fear is based on our certainty, buried deep inside, that no one would want to be with us if they really knew us. We have an implanted idea that we don’t deserve the company of others, that we deserve to be alone. For those who haven’t trusted in Christ, there is an inner feeling that we can’t really count on the things we have trusted.

It is interesting the promise to never leave us is connected with keeping our lives free from the love of money and being content with what we have. Those who attach their worth to earthly things are never content. There is never enough. When we tie ourselves to God, there is always more than enough.

It turns out the disciples need not have feared. The Lord did not abandon them. He remained with them as they spread His gospel throughout the known world, as they nearly all suffered death for His sake. He never left. He won’t leave us either and if we remained focused on His mission we will know that presence, now and forever more.

Nick


Comfort of Family – Devotional for Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today was a comfortable day spent with family. Had breakfast at Waffle House with Nicky. Helped Jessie with her resume’ which she used in a successful job interview. Went to Henry and spent time with Rose’s aunt. I guess you can say a “nothing special” day. Yet it was a special day. Family is so important, not just in the big events of daily life but the day-to-day stuff. Rose and I ended with supper at one of our old favorite restaurants that we hadn’t visited in a long time. That was comfortable. It’s interesting how we move on to the new and convenient. It’s easy to forget the things that we have been comfortable with most of our lives.

Now comfortable doesn’t mean satisfied. We still want the best for those we love. Not just, or even mainly, the best here, but the best for eternity. Life everlasting spent together with Jesus and life here being what we were all called to be.

The kids are on vacation this week. There are still some days left to spend time with those you love. Love and encourage in the comfort of your family.

Be blessed.

Nick

Play Our Part – Devotional for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I just finished watching the latest movie episode of the Chronicles of Narnia with my grandson. It was a great experience on several levels. Once again, I was amazed by the fertile mind of C. S. Lewis. I was impressed by what modern technology can do on a movie screen. I was very impressed by my grandson who had read the book and filled in the gaps that the movie left.
I know it’s fantasy and a great story; but coming on the day after Easter it had special meaning. Resurrection Sunday is so overwhelming in what Our Lord did for us. It was good to be reminded that we play a part. Amazingly, God has a part for each of us to play in the drama of the struggle of good and evil. Yes, the battle is already won and, yes, we don’t battle with flesh and blood, and yes, we battle in His strength; but we do battle. We are saved and sanctified to be soldiers. Life is not a spectator sport. We are called to be deeply involved. 
It seems unbelievable that almighty God would plan things with us as significant players; but He has. 
After celebrating the season when we honor Him for all He’s done, it’s time for us to get going with what we must do. It’s a great adventure. Let’s get going.
Nick

Jesus is Alive and Active – Devotional for Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday we celebrated the sacrificial death of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. What more could Our Savior do for us? But think about it. He is still working on our behalf as He sits at the right hand of the Father. 
First of all, even though the Son is with the Father in heaven, He is also residing within every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent to be in us and with us. Christ is actively working within to shape our character and empower our obedience.
Next, Jesus lives to intercede for those who believe in Him. He makes requests on our behalf and brings our prayers before the Father.
Then, Jesus is our Advocate when we sin. Positioned between us and holy God, Christ declares our righteous standing because of His sacrifice and our faith in Him.
What’s more, Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven. He is also arranging all the events necessary for His return.
Just as Jesus continues to work to carry on the will of the Father so should we. As part of his Body on earth, we continue in our responsibility to make disciples.
Jesus in alive and active and so should we be.
Nick

Resurrection Sunday – Devotional for April 24, 2011

Matthew 28

Jesus Has Risen

 1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Go and tell. That’s still His instruction to us today. Go and tell. Tell not only that He died and is now risen; but that we, once dead, are now alive. There is no more important story; no more significant event in world history or in our history.

Go and tell: He is risen.
Nick