Category Archives: Devotions

Looking Down On Others

So lately I have been on a kick of reading through many of my old Our Daily Bread devotional books that I have in my office.  Recently I came across this one that I think we all need to take a look at.  One of the scriptures to consider was Romans 12:3 which says, For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…”  And as you read on, here is what it said:

“After I had minor eye surgery, the nurse told me, “Don’t look down for the next 2 weeks.  No cooking or cleaning.”  The last part of those instructions was a little easier to take than the first part!  The incisions needed to heal, and she didn’t want me to put any unnecessary pressure on them by looking down.

C.S. Lewis wrote about another kind of looking down that we may have a problem with. In his book, Mere Christianity, he writes, “In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. . . . As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee who felt superior to others.  In a prideful prayer, he thanked God that he was not like other men (See Luke 18:9-14).  He looked down on extortionist, the unjust, adulterers, and the tax collector who was also praying in the temple.  By contrast, the tax collector knew he was a sinner before God and asked for His mercy.  Pride can be an issue for all of us.  May we not look down on others but instead see the God who is far above us all.”

How often have we acted just like that Pharisee who felt superior to others?  We look at clothing, and decide we are better than that person.  We look at their job, or lack of, and consider ourselves “above” them.  Perhaps we even look at the crowd they associate with, and feel that we are superior to them.  And as a result, we don’t want to talk with them, associate ourselves with them, or even worse, include them in what is going on.  “Oh, they have sinned” we think to ourselves.  But who among us hasn’t?

You see, the problem with looking down on everyone else, is that it takes our attention away from looking up at God.  And He is the only one that has the ability to look down on anyone, “…and yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Looking down from Heaven, we are all in the same boat, we are all guilty of sin.  But down here, we tend to look around, and down on others rather than looking up to God.

How sad it will be to stand in front of God on judgment day, and have to give an account as to why we considered ourselves “better” than those around us.

In Christ,

Josh

Remembering The Victory!

Just a short thought today with it being Super Bowl Sunday!  It’s amazing how important the Super Bowl seems to so many.  After all, we are canceling church tonight to have a Super Bowl Party.  Now, the reason for that is NOT to take away from God, or our time together.  We do this to give an added evening of fellowship with one another.  But it’s still interesting just how important many believe the Super Bowl is.  This week, just for fun I brought up Super Bowl Sunday on Wikipedia to see what it had to say.

“Super Bowl Sunday, sometimes referred to as Super Sunday, is a Sunday, usually the last Sunday in January or the first Sunday in February, on which the Super Bowl is played.  On Super Bowl Sunday, millions of people gather to watch the Super Bowl.  Some such gatherings are known for the large amount of food that is consumed by attendees.  As the most watched annual television program in the United States, a significant portion of the country follows the same routine on Super Bowl Sunday.  Although it has never been made an official holiday, several commentators refer to it as a holiday due to the way it causes families and friends to gather and celebrate together.  Many Americans who are not typically football fans will still gather and watch the game.”

Now, you would assume that with as important as the Super Bowl is, surly we would remember how great past winners were, right?  So let’s test your knowledge (by the way, I had to look these up myself).

  1. Let’s start with an easy one, who is playing in the Super Bowl today? Trouble with that one already?  What about the New England Patriots, and the Seattle Seahawks.
  2. The quarterback is possibly the most important play, so who are the two quarterbacks today? Did that one get you?  Try Tom Brady for New England, and Russell Wilson for Seattle.
  3. What number Super Bowl is it today? Not sure, me either, but the answer is Super Bowl 49.
  4. Since it’s so important, surly we remember last year, right? Who played, and who won the Super Bowl last year?  The answer, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos.
  5. Who won the year before that in Super Bowl 47? Ready for the answer, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers.
  6. What about the first one? Who played in, and won the first Super Bowl?  Well, if you go all the way back to 1967, you will learn that the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.

So here’s my point, if this game is so important, why don’t we remember much about the past?  Why, because it’s just a game.  But, there is an event that we do remember.  In fact, it is an event that we take time each week to reflect on and remember.  Off course, I am talking about observing communion, and remembering Christ’s death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.  I’ve seen a lot of Super Bowl games, and I have seen some pretty impressive wins.  But nothing outdoes the victory that Jesus experienced that day.  And the good news is, we can share in that victory with Him, as long as we are part of His team.

In Christ,

Josh

Finishers

Found this interesting devotional in an old issue of Our Daily Bread, a daily devotion book that I have.  The key passage was II Timothy 4:7, which says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

“When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a black belt in karate.  Several years ago, I began training and came close to fulfilling that goal.  However, two belts away from my goal, I quit.  There were two reasons: my teacher changed styles in the middle of my training, and I got so busy that I could not devote adequate time for training.

Almost every week, I am nagged by the thought that God wants me to be a finisher in all aspects of my life, but especially in my service for Him.

As Paul spoke of the conclusion of his life, he did not have any nagging thoughts of unfinished business about his ministry.  In this final farewell, Paul used imagery rich words to talk about finishing his service for Christ.  He described his life and ministry in terms of a fight, “I have fought the good fight.”  The fight was good because he had engaged in it for God and the gospel.  Then he used the imagery of a race as synonymous with his ministry, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Paul affirmed that by God’s grace he had finished all that God had given him to do.

As followers of Jesus, let us strive to be finishers, persevering in our service for Jesus Christ.  For every follower of Christ, there is a race to run.  And when we cross the finish line, we’ll be with Christ, God’s Son.  Run the race with eternity in view.”

As I consider that short devotion, I wonder, how are we doing at being finishers in life?  It’s one thing to finish a project, or to finish a job.  But how are we doing when it comes to being finishers in our service to God, and our Christian walk?  Perseverance is getting back up each time we fall.  Being a finisher in the faith means that when dark valleys come our way, we cling to the promise that, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.”  Being a finisher of the faith means that when our time on earth is through, we don’t look back with any regrets of what we could have or should have done for God.

To be a real finisher of the faith means that one day, we will hear God say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.  Enter into your master’s happiness.”  And won’t that be the ultimate prize, the prize that is worth being a finisher!

In Christ,

Josh

 

It’s That Time Of Year Again

We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, spend more time with family, and so many other great things this year.  We make resolutions because we want to bring change into our lives.  We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life.  And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three basics: wealth, health, and family.

But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and our church?  Though we could add many more to this list, here are six to consider.  Perhaps you could devote two months to each of these through the coming year?

1. Pray more.  “And they devoted themselves to prayer…”  How devoted to prayer are you right now?  Is it a once a week, once a day, twice a day kind of pattern, or are you constantly going to God in prayer about everything?

2. Confront patterns of sin.  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  This year, make a conscious effort to eliminate the things that are holding you down, and get rid of the sin in your life.

3. Invest in my spiritual gift or gifts.  “Do not neglect your gift…, be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”  The church is a body, and we all need each other to use the gifts that they have been given.  Are you?

4. Love people.  “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”  Everything we do, say, and think should be marked by love.  How’s you love?

5. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders, and other churches.  “Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind.  When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”  Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?  You, follow me.””  Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to God.  And then you will realize that there is much room for improvement no matter who you are.

6. Get more intentional about evangelism.  “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”  As followers of Christ, one of our biggest responsibilities, is to be fishers of men, to complete the Great Commission.  Are you out sharing your faith?  If not, get started this year.

Now it’s not part of the list, but I think we can accomplish any New Year’s resolution simply by remaining focused.  And when it comes to this list of six, we need to stay focused on the vision.  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

In Christ,

Josh

What Is It?

A few years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning.  He came running down the stairs all excited to see a large present beside the tree.  Once he noticed it had his name on it, he ran over to tear it open to see what was inside.  The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room screaming, “WOW!  JUST WHAT I WANTED!  I REALLY LOVE IT!  WOW!”  However, after awhile he went back over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”

Are you ever that way?  The excitement gets to you, but you don’t really understand what it’s all about.  I can remember watching an Ohio State football game a year or two ago with Nellie and a bunch of Ohio State fans.  Notice I didn’t include Nellie in that list of Ohio State fans, because she was more of a tag along anyway.  She doesn’t really get it when it comes to football.  Anyway, during the game, Ohio State made a huge play and scored a touchdown that put them into the lead, and everyone in the room erupted into excitement and cheer.  Everyone, including Nellie.  Once the excitement died down a bit, she leaned over to me and asked, “What just happened?”

Well, on that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child.  The Heavens were opened and all the company of the Heavenly host broke into praise.  Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about.  Wise men from the East came to present their gifts and to worship this newborn baby.  And for over two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Wow!  Just what I wanted!  Exactly what I needed!”

But seems that in the very next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?”  People today are puzzled by God’s gift.  They are excited, but they just don’t know why.  Perhaps it is because inside each of us is a longing to be close to that baby, a void that can only be filled by a relationship with this child.  But as we gaze into the manger scene, do we really understand what it is that God gave us?

In Christ,

Josh