Daily Devotional–Rusty “Black Friday”

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Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (ESV)

This past Friday was “Black Friday”. For those not in the know, “Black Friday” is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States that officially opens the Christmas shopping season. It has been my tradition over the last few years to go out with my brother and experience this shopping phenomena. An added bonus this year was that my sister Chelle was in town so she was able to join us  in the festivities.

This year we headed out right at midnight and hit the stores that started their sales early. Walmart was really the only store open but there were two of them near my house so we hit them both. We only managed to kill and hour or so there so we were left with a decent gap of time before the next store we hit. We mostly drove around from 2am to 4am. We passed several stores who had lines outside their doors. We passed 2 Targets that had lines that reached around their building. I think I forgot to mention that it was in the low 40s and sleeting most of the morning, yet there were folks lined up outside everywhere.

All in all we hit about 6 stores and a restaurant and got home around 10am. It was a blast staying up all night with my brother and sister riding around town and being apart of the madness that is “Black Friday”. I didn’t buy much, but the experience always reminds me of the what I like most about the holidays. I like “Black Friday” because I get to hang out with my brother, and this year my sister. I like it when we get home tired and exhausted and we get to tell the stories of the great adventure we just had.

Sadly, there was not a lot of Jesus being talked about on “Black Friday”. The local Christian store did get into the spirit of the day by opening early and selling some “Jesus” stuff at a discount, but it wasn’t all that worshipful of an experience to wait in the line there either. Every line I was in and every line I saw I wondered if I or other folks would wait like this to get into church on Sunday, or would we wait in line like this to pay to feed the hungry or donate to the poor. As I watched people fill up carts and jockey for position to make sure they got one of the limited quantity items I could not escape the warning of Jesus listed above in Matthew 6. It hit me like a ton of bricks as considered the fact that everything that was being so highly coveted for purchase in the chaos of “Black Friday” would eventually wear-out or break or lose its luster in the eye of its owner. I don’t even remember what last year’s “Black Friday’s” hot items were for example.

The first “Black Friday” was a good Friday. It was the day where Jesus gave His life as a ransom for the lives of all who submit to Him in faith for reconciliation to God and for sanctification that is the perfecting of their soles. I didn’t see this message in any of the “Black Friday” ads and sadly I didn’t tell any of the multitude I saw on Friday morning about the best deal in town. I let many folks know about the $5 DVDs at Walmart and the $199 xBox at Target, but the message of salvation I kept for myself.

I struggle with this.

Heavenly Father, thank you that as we start this gift giving season you have already given us the best gift. Thank you that in your love you gave your son as a payment for our sin debt. Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice on the cross. Father help us not be voices muted by fear and circumstance. This time of year was set apart for us to be mindful of the gift you gave us but somehow we have lost our way. I pray that you would set our feet back on the right path. We offer you praise and honor! In Jesus name, Amen.

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Daily Devotional–Rusty “Black Friday”

bestbuy_bf

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (ESV)

This past Friday was “Black Friday”. For those not in the know, “Black Friday” is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States that officially opens the Christmas shopping season. It has been my tradition over the last few years to go out with my brother and experience this shopping phenomena. An added bonus this year was that my sister Chelle was in town so she was able to join us  in the festivities.

This year we headed out right at midnight and hit the stores that started their sales early. Walmart was really the only store open but there were two of them near my house so we hit them both. We only managed to kill and hour or so there so we were left with a decent gap of time before the next store we hit. We mostly drove around from 2am to 4am. We passed several stores who had lines outside their doors. We passed 2 Targets that had lines that reached around their building. I think I forgot to mention that it was in the low 40s and sleeting most of the morning, yet there were folks lined up outside everywhere.

All in all we hit about 6 stores and a restaurant and got home around 10am. It was a blast staying up all night with my brother and sister riding around town and being apart of the madness that is “Black Friday”. I didn’t buy much, but the experience always reminds me of the what I like most about the holidays. I like “Black Friday” because I get to hang out with my brother, and this year my sister. I like it when we get home tired and exhausted and we get to tell the stories of the great adventure we just had.

Sadly, there was not a lot of Jesus being talked about on “Black Friday”. The local Christian store did get into the spirit of the day by opening early and selling some “Jesus” stuff at a discount, but it wasn’t all that worshipful of an experience to wait in the line there either. Every line I was in and every line I saw I wondered if I or other folks would wait like this to get into church on Sunday, or would we wait in line like this to pay to feed the hungry or donate to the poor. As I watched people fill up carts and jockey for position to make sure they got one of the limited quantity items I could not escape the warning of Jesus listed above in Matthew 6. It hit me like a ton of bricks as considered the fact that everything that was being so highly coveted for purchase in the chaos of “Black Friday” would eventually wear-out or break or lose its luster in the eye of its owner. I don’t even remember what last year’s “Black Friday’s” hot items were for example.

The first “Black Friday” was a good Friday. It was the day where Jesus gave His life as a ransom for the lives of all who submit to Him in faith for reconciliation to God and for sanctification that is the perfecting of their soles. I didn’t see this message in any of the “Black Friday” ads and sadly I didn’t tell any of the multitude I saw on Friday morning about the best deal in town. I let many folks know about the $5 DVDs at Walmart and the $199 xBox at Target, but the message of salvation I kept for myself.

I struggle with this.

Heavenly Father, thank you that as we start this gift giving season you have already given us the best gift. Thank you that in your love you gave your son as a payment for our sin debt. Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice on the cross. Father help us not be voices muted by fear and circumstance. This time of year was set apart for us to be mindful of the gift you gave us but somehow we have lost our way. I pray that you would set our feet back on the right path. We offer you praise and honor! In Jesus name, Amen.

Seeing is Believing

John 20:28-29 (ESV)

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

“I got to see it to believe it” is a phrase that is bandied around a lot in our culture. As a people, we are so steeped in the idea that for something to be true we must be able to rationally explain it or empirically prove it. We are constantly observing, experimenting, analyzing, and rationalizing every experience or hypothesis to make sure things are true and valid based on human understanding or human methods of proof. Looking at today’s scripture we can easily see that reliance on our own experience and understanding is not just isolated to our time. We find in the verses in John 20 prior to the verse highlighted above that the disciple Thomas is slow to believe the other disciples’ claim to have seen Jesus risen from the dead. The claim is just too much for Thomas to handle to the point where he indignantly proclaims, ““Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25, ESV, emphasis mine)

Thomas uses pretty strong language in his affirmation of disbelief. He refuses to believe without seeing. I know for myself there was a time when I echoed Thomas’ sentiments. I know there are still times where I feel like if I can just present to non-believers concrete evidence of the validity of the Bible and proof of the resurrection that they all would believe. In the exchange recorded in John 20 Jesus does indeed show up to give Thomas the proof he needs, but in doing so Jesus also challenges and encourages future generations of disciples saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The implication here is that not everyone who comes to believe in Jesus will need to see Him to get to that point.

So what is the application?

Today’s verse points out something significant about our relationship to God. The relationship between God and man is God initiated and God sustained. We have to remember that the first disciples did not seek Jesus out. They were called to discipleship by Jesus and in this exchange in John 20 Thomas does not come to his own understanding about his relationship with Jesus. Jesus shows himself to Thomas to sustain the relationship between them. It is the same for us today. Jesus calls us. Think about it when you first heard the claims about Jesus’ life did you say to yourself “well that makes sense, God becoming man, dying on cross, rising from the dead, that seems logical” or did you wrestle with the fantastic claim of book written so long ago. Do you still wrestle with it? I have described my relationship with Jesus before as and unexplainable draw to something I don’t understand. I have had moments in my life since I first felt drawn to Jesus where I have tried hard to do anything but yield to that drawing. I’ve spent years at a time trying to fill my life with things that would quiet the voice in me that says “follow me”. It is hard to be a Christian, not because Jesus lays a bunch of rules on you but because He asks those who follow Him to die to the lives they know and live a new life in the Spirit. He asks us to no longer worship the god of self and worship the God of universe. Think about Thomas. All he wanted was the self-satisfaction of knowing. He wanted assurance on a personal level. It was about him. He was completely missing that idea that because Jesus had risen that the whole creation would be changed. He missed that because of the resurrection humanity itself would have a chance to be reconciled to God. Jesus was faithful to sustain Thomas because He called him to follow and I think that is the take-away. Jesus calls us and Jesus sustains us in that calling.

What about you? Is Jesus an inescapable reality?

How has the Lord sustained you?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and love and your calling. Thank you that you call us to relationship and that you sustain us in that relationship. Thank you that you never leave or forsake us and that thank you that you will see to completion the good work you have begun in us. Help us in our imperfect understanding of you. I pray for greater portions of faith and I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit that I may testify boldly of your love. Lord Jesus thank your for your life and sacrifice. We offer praise to you. In your name, Amen.

God is in Charge of His Creation

“…then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 ESV)

I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life in the last 6 months. Some that have been out of my control. That is a hard thing for me. I was born on the 4th of July and my mom always said God did that as a joke. She claims some of my first words were, “I’ll do it myself!” While I’m sure that’s not quite accurate, her point has always been that I’m very independent. So when things are not exactly the way I believe they should be, my inclination is to fix it. “I’ll do it myself!”

While studying for children’s church a few Sundays ago, God really spoke to me about Him being in charge of everything. Starting with His creation – Me! When I really think about God’s creation, I’m so amazed! Day one…let there be light…and there it was. Day two…separated the sky from the waters…it just happened. Day three…separate the water from the dry land…let the earth bring forth vegetation of all kinds…and it was. Day four…sun, moon, stars…there they are. Day five…birds, fish…it was done. Day six…land animals…there they are…but day six wasn’t done.

This is where it gets real good. This is where God slowed down and took His time. The Bible very specifically says that God formed man from the dust of the ground. He MADE man. He didn’t just speak, He took His time. He made man with His very own hands. He made man different – special – unique! And then, He breathed life into man. He breathed physical and spiritual life into man.

God is in charge! He knows the things that I think I need to control. He knows my worries and concerns. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows everything little thing about me. He created me. No one knows the creation better than the Creator. God is in charge of His creation. God is in charge of every detail of my life. I can rest in that.

Earlier today my brother, Tony, posted “Proclaim Jesus”. That’s what I want to do. In every circumstance, I want to proclaim Jesus. I want to remember that even though I want to “do it myself”, there’s no need. God already has it under control. He’s in charge!

Heavenly Father, thank you for all Your creation. Thank you for creating me. Thank you for the opportunity to proclaim you in every circumstance. Help me to rest in the fact that YOU are in charge and I don’t have to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Proclaim Jesus

Acts 8:4 (ESV)

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

 

The family and I were doing SOAP journals on Acts 8 tonight and I wanted to share this verse. The context of Acts 8 is that Stephen an early Christian had been murdered for his beliefs in chapter 7 and a great persecution of the church had started at the hands of Saul. Verse 3 says that Saul was going house to house to drag Christians off to prison. This verse hit me because in all the adversity that these folks were facing the best course of action for them was to proclaim Jesus. I know in my own experience when times get difficult or when I am stressed or when I am down I rarely proclaim the good news of Jesus. I tend to wallow in the muck of my circumstance. I’m praying tonight that I would be more like this folks.

When times are good – Proclaim Jesus!

When times are bad – Proclaim Jesus!

When money is tight – Proclaim Jesus!

When I feel lost – Proclaim Jesus!

When I am carefree – Proclaim Jesus!

In all things – Proclaim Jesus!

Father, thank you for the Son! Thank you that you have given us a testimony to share about the great work of love and reconciliation you did for your creation. May that testimony never be far from my lips. I offer you praise. In Jesus name, Amen.

God is in Us.

John 14:16-17 (ESV)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 (ESV)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Ok, confession time. I have been trying to get this post started for 30 minutes and have yet to find a good way to begin, however the idea of not being alone because the Holy Spirit lives in us is really ministering to me this morning. I really just want to write a post that says read John 14 when you get a chance. There is a lot in there so read it slow and really think about what Jesus is saying to His disciples. The context of John 14 is it is getting close to the time when Jesus is to be executed and He is trying to get His disciples to understand the significance of their time together. The key things He wanted his disciples to get was that:

  1. He and the Father are one. If you know Jesus you know the Father and that none will ever know the Father except through Jesus. (v7)
  2. That to truly love Jesus you have to keep His commandments.(My mind immediately starts looking for a checklist of dos and don’ts but I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about here. I think He is talking about applying His teaching to our lives with the love of God and others as the pinnacle teaching.)(v15)
  3. The Father will send the Holly Spirit to live in His disciples after He has returned to the Father so that each disciple will have the power and the guidance to do the will of the Father.

The verses that corresponds with point 3 are highlighted above and this is the point I will end on. Many times in my walk with Jesus I have struggled to not feel alone. Many times I am scared to act on my faith because I worry what the outcome will be or I worry that I won’t say or do the right thing. Worse than this there are many times where I will worry about the things of this life (job, bills, relationships) to the point that I completely miss what God is doing. The big reality is I am not alone. Not only has Jesus died in my place so that I may be reconciled and have a relationship with the Father, but He has also taken up residence inside of me in the form of the Holy Spirit. It is hard to contemplate that the Spirit of God who did all the works of creation and the work of salvation and reconciliation lives inside of me. He lives in me to teach me and to guide me and to help me resist sin and to be bold for the Kingdom and to empower me to do all things. This is the same Spirit that lived in Jesus when He was in human form and this is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. What an awesome reality it is to know that God lives in us. May we all grab a hold of this truth and live in peace with boldness for the Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you God for your grace and your salvation. Thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you live in us and guide us. Thank you Jesus for your teaching and your peace. We praise you! In your name, Amen.