Psalm 71:15

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, or your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge. — Psalm 71:15 NRSV

When I was young, I hated the book of Psalms. There were no stories, no history – just a bunch of poetry that didn’t sound very poetic at all. As an adult, though, I can’t read enough of the Psalms! It amazes me how the authors of the Psalms can effortlessly switch from adoration to thanksgiving to supplication, and back again! I still like the stories and the history, but I kinda see the Psalms now as an instruction manual for worship and prayer.

This particular verse, however, spoke to me in an unusual way as I was preparing for tomorrow’s lesson. You see, as a Youth Minister, it’s kinda my job to tell of God’s righteous acts and deeds of salvation. How many times, though, do I do that all day long? As a Christian, it’s kinda my job to tell everyone of God’s righteous acts and deeds of salvation…everywhere. Not just in front of a bunch of teenagers on Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

I reflect pretty often on the awesome things that He has done for me, but I’m not supposed to keep those things inside of me. I should be sharing those things with everyone around me so that they, too will know how awesome and wonderful and loving our God is. I like the way this verse ends by pointing out that we don’t even know all the things He’s done for us.

Lord,
  Give me the courage to tell those around me of your righteous acts and deeds of salvation. You are so good to me, even beyond what I am aware. I want my love and excitement for You to fill me to the point that it has no where to go, but to spill out onto the people I come into contact with. Father, bring people into my path that need to feel Your love. Bring people that need to hear of Your saving grace. I know that I cannot do anything, but through Your power. Thank-you for Your faithfulness, and thank-you for loving a sinner such as I. Amen.

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Dedication

I was going to write a devotion today and dedicate it to Meg. Meg is a young lady that I follow on Twitter (@girlnamedmeg) who is currently in a tough battle with cancer. Meg’s battle has negatively impacted almost every area of her life, yet she always seems (to me, anyway) so upbeat in her tweets. I decided that by dedicating a devotion to her, I could possibly give her some words of encouragement that she could look back on whenever she is feeling at a low point.

As I got ready to write and headed to the blog, I realized that my previous post is exactly the thing that I imagine I would need to be reminded of if I were fighting the same battle that she is. I, of course, have no idea of the hardships she has been through, but I do know that she is fulfilling the plan that God has laid down for her life even before she was born (Jer. 1:5).

So, I formally dedicate the post titled, “He Thinks About Me!” to Meg! May the Lord of hosts who formed you with a purpose in mind always be your strong tower (Ps. 61:3, Prov 18:10)!

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He Thinks About Me!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”? — Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Most often, it is the NIV version of this verse that gets quoted (NIV uses ‘plans’ instead of ‘thoughts’), but I prefer this version.  Think of when you had a teenage crush.  You constantly wondered if the object of your obsession was thinking of you.  Well, it makes me excited to know that the Lord of all the universe thinks about me!  Not only does He think about me, but He thinks good things about my future!

In addition to the Lord thinking good thoughts about me, His word also tells me that all things work together for my good!  (Rom. 8:28)  With this knowledge, how is it that we are constantly getting caught up in worries and fears for our future?  Why is it that we have such a hard time trusting in the Lord with all our heart and leaning not on our own understanding (Prov 3:5)?

“Be still, and know that I am God” — Psalm 46:10a

‘Zion’s Battle Song’ (Ps 46) speaks of being at peace during times of great turmoil.  If our trust is in God, we shall not be moved out of His good thoughts (or plans) for us because He “is our refuge and strength” (v. 1).  If you’re currently in a time of turmoil and are uncertain about the days that lie ahead, rejoice because the LORD of hosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our refuge (v. 11)!

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Deception & Christianity

Yesterday in the parking lot at work I saw something on the ground that looked almost like a wad of $100 bills. I picked it up and realized it was one of those tracts made to look like money. In case you’re not familiar with them, the idea is to drop one on the ground and walk away. When someone picks it up (thinking it to be money) then proceed to read it and are presented with the gospel message.

The first time I saw one of these about 16 or so years ago, I thought, “That’s an awesome idea!”…I was 15. Yesterday, though (and again today when I saw another one in the same spot) I was appalled at the thought that a Christian would feel the need to use deception to tell someone about salvation. I’m sure that there are stories to be found of someone picking one of these up, hearing the message of salvation, and accepting Christ. I also understand and agree that if one soul is saved through something, then it’s worth all the cost, but I have a hard time believing that these people wouldn’t have been reached if the Christians in their lives (friends, family, co-workers) would’ve been doing what they are supposed to do. (Sharing the gospel.)

Jesus didn’t leave hidden messages to lead people to God. He proclaimed loudly and boldly that He was not only a messenger from God, but the very Son of God in the flesh. Were I one of the unsaved, unchurched people these things are intended for, I doubt I would be very receptive to the message of the tract after having my hopes of an easy hundred dashed.

Instead of hiding behind an anonymous tract, we should also be bold about who our savior is. If we have a personal relationship with Christ, then we can speak with boldness and confidence about who He is. Many people already have bad ideas about Christians because of people who claim Christ, but don’t live according to His teachings. Let’s not give them deception and manipulation to add to the list.

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” — Acts 4:20

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Food for Thought

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”–2Corinthians 5:17

Many times, we as christians, tend to forget one of the most important and wonderful things about our faith. As Paul put it in his letter to the church at Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith…not of works, lest anyone should boast.” I’ve heard the question many times in my life, “What happens if someone trusts God, but dies before they get a chance to pray?” It’s important for us to always remember that it’s not what we do, but what we’ve been given. God knows whats in our hearts. He knows who and what we trust. If it’s a must to say the prayer, then where’s the grace? Haven’t we just declared that without the action, there’s no salvation?

What we must remember, and share with others is that a total, complete faith is what is required to become a member of the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s not the prayer, it’s not the church, it’s the Man. And that Man is Jesus. Without Him, there is no Salvation. All it takes is acceptance of Christ as your Saviour and Lord of your life.

“He hears three words. Spoken yet unspoken. Powerful, roaring like thunder, tender as breath. They thrill him, but he is afraid to believe. They say he will never again be alone. he will never again be a shadow, dancing, searching, aching to belong. He does belong. Compleely. Intimately. Eternally. They are only three words, but they tell him all of this and much, much more. They simply say: ‘Welcome home, son.’ –From Blood of Heaven by Bill Myers

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Crazy Christian Protestors

If you haven’t heard about the independant Baptist group protesting at military funerals, check out this video.

My first reaction was, “This chick’s crazy!” My second reaction was, “Man, all the people she is turning away from Christ.” Their protest signs and her speech seem to be using selective memory in their Bible thumping. Whatever happened to “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”–1 Cor 13:1? 1 Corinthians 13 is often called the love chapter.

“4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

Of these characteristics of Godly love, Ms. Roper definately does not embody kindness, not parading itself, not behaving rudely, does not rejoice in iniquity, and rejoicing in truth.

The biggest thing that irked me, though, was when Sean Hannity said, “I’m a Christian. I don’t hate God,” and she responded with, “You’re not a Christian.” (Because he’s Catholic.) No one besides me and God knows where I stand with Him. As a Christian, I am to make my own judgement based on people’s actions as to whether I think they may be a Christian or not, but I have no authority upon which to tell anyone whether they are or are not a Christian. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”–Luke 6:37

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Holy Leisure

“After an exhaustive study was conducted on the great men and women of God throughout the centuries, one thing was found in common: They are marked by ‘a holy leisure’–a sense of divinely ordered relaxation, an inner serenity that cultivates the wisdom to prioritize one’s time and energy, and a productive leisure that kindles relationships and fires inspiration.”–Gail MacDonald

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Before It Was Said

Before It Was Said–FFH

Everyday I sit and pray that God above will watch over me and my family,
But everyday I seem to pray the same old thing in the same old way and I start to think
That maybe I should change and find something better to say
But I’ve learned to believe that you always hear me when I pray

(Chorus)
So I get down on my knees ’cause I’m stronger than these voices inside of my head
They try to deceive me and make me believe that I would be better instead
To take my requests and put them to rest but You’re already one step ahead
You know just what I would say before it was said

Every night I lie awake wondering if You’re listening to every heartbeat
You’ve told me that You know the deepest part of me, you’ll watch over me and my family
So I guess I shouldn’t change ’cause You hear every word that I say
I know You are here when I come to You this way

(Chorus)

So I guess I shouldn’t change ’cause You hear every word that I say
And I knew You were here when I knelt down today, yea

(Chorus)

One day when I was about thirteen, or so the pastor at my church’s yearly week-long revival spoke about prayer. He talked about how sometimes we, as christians, get stuck in the rut of cookie-cutter prayers. He then proceeded to give an example, which was word for word almost exactly what I prayed (and still pray) every single night. “Lord, thank-you for this day. Thank-you for my food, friends, and family. Thank-you for my church, and help me to do Your will. Amen.”

I was aghast. Had my whole prayer life become nothing more than habit? Was I ineffective when it came to portraying to God how I felt and what my desires were? Since then, I’ve often revisited this subject in my mind. I’ve learned that what we say in our prayers should come from the heart. It should be whatever we want to express to the Lord. Sometimes I don’t have the words to express what I feel, but I know that the Lord knows my mind and my heart. I know that when my words fail, that’s when the Spirit takes control.

I still pray those words every night because that’s what’s in my heart. They’re not habit or laziness or my cookie-cutter prayer. I don’t let doubt nag me and draw me away from my relationship with God. I could probably come up with a different way to say those things everynight, but then I’m focusing on the prayer and not on who I’m praying to.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” James 1:5-7

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

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Hot or Cold

Revelation 3:14-22

The book of Revelation is an account of things witnessed by John while imprisoned on the island of Patmos. The title in Greek is Apokalypsis Ioannou, “Revelation of John.” It is also commonly called the Apocalypse, which is a transliteration of the word apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling,” “disclosure,” or “revelation.” A better title for the book, however, comes from the first verse: Apokalypsis Iesou Christou, “Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
John was exiled to the island prison because of his testimony for Christ. Patmos was a small, volcanic island in the Aegean Sea where the Romans would banish political prisoners. During this time, Romans were beginning to openly persecute the early church.

v. 14 Jesus wanted each church to know without a doubt who was the true author of Revelation. From the introduction, we can learn a lot about the person of Christ:

Amen—it is so; so be it
Christ bears witness to the glory and power of God and also intercedes on behalf of His disciples
Christ was, is, and always will be in existence. Without Him, nothing without Him, nothing was made that was made. (Jn 1:3)

v. 15&16 Our lives do not go unnoticed. God knows everything we say and do…even before we do it. The Laodicean church was luke warm, therefore Jesus said He would spew them out of His mouth. The Bible states firmly that nothing can separate us from the love of God or His grace, but when we won’t give ourselves over fully to Christ, we will often find ourselves on our own.

v. 17 Because of man’s sinful nature, he does not realize that he is a wretched being. We are tricked by Satan into believing that we do not need a thing—that we can make it on our own. He tells us we are rich when we are poor, happy when we are miserable, and that we can see when we are really blind.

v. 18 Jesus offers us everything that the devil wants us to think we already have. With these gifts, we truly have everything we need.

v. 19 As a gardener prunes his plants, so does the Lord shape and mold His followers. Being a child of God is not a guarantee of an easy life, but all things work for the good of those who love the Lord.

v. 20-22 Christ’s invitation is open to all. We only have to open the door, and Christ will come into our lives.

When we are on fire for the Lord, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. Lukewarm christians not only aren’t effective for Christ, they also drag other christians down with back-biting, division, and uncommitment. Christ said that He’d rather us be on fire for Him or not even associate ourselves with His name at all.

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Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valey of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely good ness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

In today’s hectic world, how could anyone not love that psalm? It talks of peace, security, fulfillment…all the things that to many, seem so elusive and out of reach. An unknown author once said,

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

That is the peace that God gives. Isaiah calls Christ the “Prince of Peace.”

God knew way before man what stress does to the body. Many of the laws given to Isreal were not intended to keep them from evil, but rather to improve their health. Want to lower your cholesterol…lose weight…at risk for heart attack? Seek out a healthy spiritual diet as well as a physical one. As Jesus said to the devil, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Let God fill you with His peace.

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