Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why Pray?

It is a little past midnight, and as usual, I am experiencing another episode of insomnia. But this is not the normal insomnia that strikes from time to time. I can't sleep because I am deeply troubled by something that I just can not get out of my mind. I wanted to share it with you because perhaps you have been troubled by the same thing too. It is a question I have pondered over and over concerning prayer. I have heard explanations from preachers and Bible teachers, but I guess I have never been completely satisfied by their explanations. What troubles me is that I get different explanations almost every time I ask the question. The question is what good does it do to ask God for things? I believe that God's will is perfect, and His will will be done. So if His will is set, why should I ask for anything? Will God really change His mind for me? Further, if it is already His will, won't it happen whether I ask for it or not?

I know the explanations about unanswered prayer. I, just as you, have asked God for some things, yet did not receive them. Later, we found out that not getting what we wanted was actually a good thing. But how many times have we prayed for someone who may have been sick or in a car crash, and asked God to heal them. Sometimes He does, but sometimes He does not. I am not questioning His wisdom, but I do question the meaning of a few Bible verses. Jesus says in John 15:7, "Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you". He also said in Matthew 7:8, "Everyone who asks receives." In Matthew 21:22, Jesus said, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer". John 14:14 records Jesus saying, "Ask anything in my name, and I will do it." Psalms 37:4 says, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." I am a true warrior for Christ, but I have to admit that my faith has been seriously shaken lately. I am on the verge of not writing anymore devotions. Have you ever been to that point before? You know, the point where you seem to question things about faith in God? I am just lost!

Father, forgive me for not understanding. Please strengthen my faith. I know You created me, and You certainly know what is going on inside my heart. Is it too much to ask for a personal miracle? I have asked for it in Your name, You know it is my heart's desire, and I have believed that it will happen. But my asking has not lead to my receiving. Lord, my heart is crying out to You right now. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I overheard one of my students talking to a classmate today in such a way as to draw negative attention from everyone within earshot. I know I shouldn't judge, but she sure sounded about as spoiled as a "little rich brat". She went on and on about how she is just so much better than most of the other kids at school. She just turned 16 and for her birthday, her parents bought her a brand-new car! But it was not the kind she wanted. She actually fussed at her parents because the car they got was so "beneath her". Again, we are not supposed to judge but how do you keep from doing it with people like that? Then God hit me right between the eyes with the answer. He instantly reminded me that I am just as spoiled.

Why is it that most of our problems center around having something we don't want or wanting something we don't have? If we are totally honest with ourselves, there is probably something we want very much right now. But how do we deal with that want? Do we fuss at God because we don't have it? I have to admit, I have done that a lot lately. But oh how quickly I seem to forget all the things I do have. Although I don't have everything I want, I certainly do have everything I need...and much more! There's nothing wrong with wanting something and working hard to get it, that is as long as it is good for us and can bring glory to God. In fact God encourages us to come to Him with our wants. But we certainly should never fuss with Him, if in His infinite wisdom, He chooses not to give it to us. Instead, we should offer heart-felt praises to Him for all that He has given us. Praise God!

Psalm 113:3 says, "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised."

Father, thank you for all You have given me. I do have a want, and I know You are perfectly aware of it. Please help me to leave the details up to You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Today's devotion is about depression. I have done some research about this topic over the past couple days. I am not a professional by any means, but I just wanted to share what I have learned. As a teen, I suffered from depression to the degree of attempting suicide. Further, as a teacher of teens, today I see depression a lot more than I have ever seen before. But I was surprised to learn that depression also strikes 1 in 10 adult men and twice as many women. Depression is a real condition that can strike anyone at anytime. Depression is not the same thing as regular sadness. Sadness due to the loss of a job, loved one, divorce, etc is normal. Although the symptoms of general sadness and depression are similar, people who are depressed experience those symptoms to a greater degree and for a much longer period of time. Some symptoms of depression include:

Sad, low, empty, depressed mood, Loss of interest of pleasure in nearly all activities, Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions, Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling "slowed down", Changes in appetite and/or weight, Oversleeping, early-morning awakening, or insomnia, Thoughts of death, suicide, plans or attempts.

Do you know somebody right now who may be depressed? Please reach out to them if you can. The best way to do that is very delicately. My suggestion would be for you to also do some research to find out some effective ways to help them. Don't think it will just go away on its own; Most of the time it does not. But there is some great news in that most cases of depression are very treatable by a doctor.

I have located a few people in the Bible that were depressed. King David, Jeremiah, and Job all suffered from the condition. Although depression is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, it is pretty easy to tell that these were depressed. ( Psalm 13:2-4, Jeremiah 20:14-18, Job 7:15-16) Some times depression is simply a result of our own negative feelings that have been projected inwardly. Frustration, anger, holding a grudge, failure to forgive, jealousy, envy, and other feelings can begin a cycle of depression. I found a great Bible verse that may be able to head off these feelings before they are able to take root in our lives. Romans 12:2 says, "Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Since any of us can become depressed at any time, perhaps we should all stay aware to how vulnerable we are to it. By seeking God's face everyday, we may just be able to keep some negative emotions in check. But simply praying and seeking God may not be all we need to do for depression. I am in no way saying that God can not perform a miracle and simply "snap" us out of it. We all know God can do anything He wants to do. But He can also work through doctors. If you know someone who may be depressed, please do more than just pray for them. Ask God to lead you through the steps you need to take to help them. We know we are blessed if we help the poor. But doesn't that also mean the poor in spirit?

Father, I humbly come before you this morning asking for your help. I admit that I can not do anything without you. There are people all around me who are depressed and need some attention very badly. Please lead me to the place where I can help them. Also I pray for everyone reading this devotion today. There may just be a person that you have placed on their heart who is suffering from depression. Please show them how to help. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Christ Is The Answer

We have always heard that Christ is the answer. But what are the questions?

In difficult times, in whom should I trust? It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. (Psalm 118:8)
In difficult times, who is going to help me through my problems? Many are the afflictions of the righteous: But the Lord delivereth him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)
Who can help me destroy my enemies? I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19)
Who can take away my evil heart? A new heart also will I give you. (Ezekiel 36:26)
When I am feeling anxious, who will come to help me? The Lord will give strength unto His people, the Lord will bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)
To whom should I turn when I am carrying heavy burdens? Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. (Psalm 55:22)
Where can I get wisdom? If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally. (James 1:5)
Who will provide my needs? My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
What should I do if I am in need of healing? Is any sick among you? The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. (James 5:14-15)
Where can I find Eternal Life? The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Father, thank you for being the answer to all of our questions. Teach us to depend totally and solely on You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Lion and the Lamb

I get excited when I think about the Second Coming of Christ! Jesus will one day come back to earth, bringing with Him a peace that our world has only dreamt about. The Book of Isaiah describes many unusual things that will transpire in those days due to His incredible peace. For example in Chapter two we learn that there will be no more wars to kill and injure people. Isaiah tells us that men will "beat their swords into plowshares". In other words, we will no longer need any weapons. Instead of being used to kill people, those weapons will be transformed into tools that will help feed people. In chapter 11, we also learn that even the animals will be tame. Verse 6 says, "The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion". Can you imagine seeing a baby lamb lying in peace beside a once-ferocious lion? Believe it or not, I saw that image last night!

On Animal Planet, a story was aired about a real-life lamb and lioness. For some reason, a full-grown female lion has taken to an orphaned baby lamb. Not only do the two stick together all day and night, but the lion actually protects the baby lamb from other predators. I went Online and found a picture of the two together and decided to share it on this devotion. You can google "Heart of a Lioness" if you want to read more about it. Isn't God amazing! We don't have to wait until the End Times to experience His amazing peace. It is all around us right now. We just have to know where to look!

Father, thank you for Your incredible peace. We also look forward to the Awesome Day of Your return. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Theme Hour

On my radio show, I have a theme hour at 9pm. I highlight a different theme each Saturday Night. For example, this past week I featured "kissing" songs, that is, songs with the word "kissing" in the title of the song. This week, I am featuring "baby" songs. I thought it might be a good idea to feature some Bible verses in today's devotion. There are many good books available that feature various Christian themes in the Bible. Today, I will feature "comfort" verses since I am in need of comfort at this hour. Maybe you are too. Read these verses and let them sink deep into your heart.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save."

Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Revelation 7:17 says, "...and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Deuteronomy 33:12 says, "...the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders."

Isaiah 57:18 says, "I will guide him and restore comfort to him."

Jeremiah 31:13 says, "I will give them joy and comfort instead of sorrow."

Psalm 62:1 says, "My soul finds rest in God alone."

And my favorite: Psalm 6:9 says, "The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; The Lord accepts my prayer."

Are you struggling with something at this hour? Remember, the only way these "comfort" verses can truly fall deep into your heart is if your heart is broken.

Father, please have mercy on Your heart-broken children. We accept these verses of comfort. We know Your Word is forever true. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here, Take My Daughter

As I was praying last night, thanking God for sending His only Son to die in my place, it hit home just how incredible of an act of love He showed me. My mind shifted to my daughter, Bailey Boo. Think about your child as you read this devotion today. I know we are not supposed to hate anybody, but think of a person you dislike a lot. Imagine that dirty, filthy person bringing unspeakable harm to say, your Mom and Dad. As hard as it is, try to imagine that person actually torturing your parents over and over again, while all you can do is helplessly watch. Now imagine that awful criminal is finally caught by the police and sentenced to death. But then, you become filled with tons of compassion for this evil person that just ruined your life. You decide to do something that nobody in the world would ever consider doing. You decide to ask the police to execute your innocent child in the place of this "evil slime".

As you stand by, watching your very own baby being beaten, and having to listen to her cries of sheer pain and agony, you notice that the person you just pardoned is standing around laughing and mocking your child. As your baby hangs there on a cross, bleeding from head to toe, that evil person does not even want your pardon! Your act of sympathy towards his crime is neither deserved nor appreciated. But instead of getting angry at the person, you choose to forgive him. Wow! There is NO way I could ever love another person that much. I know that may be a sin to feel that way, but I just don't see how I could do it. But God did it! When we sin against Him, it is even more painful to Him than it would be for us to watch the torture of someone very close to us. We may think of ourselves as being a good person, but in God's eyes, we are far worse than the worst criminal. But God loves us anyway. He chose to send His only Son Jesus to die in our place. Isn't that absolutely incredible? Have you truly thanked Him for that act of love? I mean, have you truly thanked Him?

Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Father, how do I thank you for what You have done for me? I promise to always keep You first in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jesus Sure Was Convinced

There were over 40 prophesies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Messiah. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled every single one of those prophesies in the New Testament. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who was promised to come and take the sins of the world onto Himself. From the Gospel accounts of His life, Jesus convinced many people that He truly was the Messiah. He performed many miracles that helped to demonstrate the fact. But did Jesus ever actually say He was the long-awaited Messiah? Yes! In John 4:26, Jesus told the woman at the well, "I am the Messiah." In Mark 14:62, the high priest asked Jesus point-blank, "Are you the Messiah?". Jesus replied, "I am." These are just two examples of Jesus actually saying He was the Messiah.

Some critics obviously do not believe He was in fact the Messiah. On the contrary, they say He was just a man. I don't understand how anybody who witnessed the many miracles that Jesus performed could deny He was the Son of God. But all those miracles aside, I think it was still pretty clear that He was the Messiah just from His personality. Who else other than God's Son could have lived a perfect, sinless life? Think about when he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Jesus was offered some pretty incredible things by the devil! If Jesus was in fact not the Son of God, don't you think He would have accepted at least one of the things Satan promised Him? Think about when He stood before Pilate, accused of blasphemy. Jesus obviously knew He was about to be beaten and tortured if He was found guilty. But when asked, he stood silent. Don't you think if He was not the Son of God, that that would have been a good time for Him to admit it. After He was flogged and led to the Cross to die, if he was not the true Son of God, don't you think He would have said something then? And finally, just before He died, why did He ask God why He had abandoned Him? Did you know that Jesus was actually quoting Psalm 22? Considering the incredible amount of stress and torment He must have been feeling at that very moment, if He was not the actual Son of God, do you think He could have even remembered that Psalm? Not only did He convince many people He was the Messiah, including a Roman Guard standing there watching Him die, and a thief on a cross beside Him, not only did he actually say He was the Messiah several times point-blank, not only did He prove He was the One by all His miracles, but He also lived the part perfectly right up until the end. As the Roman soldier exclaimed as Jesus died, "This truly was the Son of God".

I John 4:15 says, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God."

Father, I confess that You sent Your only Son Jesus to die for my sins. I accept Your awesome gift. Thank You for being my true Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't Let It Grow

I once heard a story about an old tutor and his young student. They were walking in the woods when suddenly the old tutor stopped. He pointed out four plants to his student. The first one was barely visible above the ground, the second one was about 2 inches tall, the third one was a medium-sized bush, and the fourth one was a tall tree. The tutor told his student to pull each one out of the ground. The first two plants were easy for the student to pull out of the ground, but the third one, the bush, was very difficult. After some fighting with it, he finally managed to pull it out of the ground as well. But then he attempted to pull up the full-grown tree. He wrapped his arms around the tree but with all his strength, he was unable to even shake its leaves.

This lesson is simple. Bad habits are easy to uproot from our lives when they are new. But the longer they take root, the harder they are to destroy. I have learned that either you can destroy the bad habit, or it can destroy you. I had to deal with a couple bad habits this past summer, and with God's help, I was able to defeat and destroy them. So I am now a witness to God's enormous strength. Maybe you are fighting some "large trees" in your life. No matter how hard you try, you can simply not defeat them on your own. But God sure can! Further, He wants to help you. Consider doing what I did..I let go, and let God! It made all the difference in the world. With God's help, you can even uproot a giant Redwood!

Psalm 72:12 says, "God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help."

Father, thank you for destroying my addiction this past summer. I ask you to encourage others who may be facing some bad habits to turn it over to You. You are God Almighty! What is too tough for you? In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Beginning

It was on this day in 1981 that Ronald Regan was sworn in as President of the United States. Today also marks the beginning for a new president, Barack Obama. I remember when Regan was sworn-in, as I was in the 8Th grade, and we got to watch it on TV at Beverley Middle School. Today at Dothan High, we also let the students watch the Inauguration on TV. I don't think they quite grasp the scope of this historical moment, but then again, neither did I in 1981. Today's event is much more historical than any other Presidential Inauguration. Today marks the start of a new beginning.

I do not agree with Obama on all the issues. I feel pretty confident that most everybody disagrees with at least some of his ideas. But we need to take a lesson from Christ. He was against the sin, but never against the sinner. Likewise, we can be against some of the new President's ideas, but we must stand united with him and give him a chance to try to restore America back to the greatest nation on earth. It won't be easy for him. But if we choose to remain divided as a nation, we will never get anywhere. This problem can only be solved when we first choose to solve it individually. The Bible teaches us that all our leaders are placed there by God himself. And let's not forget, God does not make mistakes! Our new President and his administration needs all our prayers today. We must remain faithful that God has our country in the palm of His hand. We may not be as strong as we once were, but I believe we are still the greatest nation in the world. And with God's help and our support of the new President, the United States of America can become even better.

Psalm 125:1 says, "They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which can not be removed, but abideth forever."

Father, please bless our great nation. Thank you for making us free to worship You openly. I ask You to guide our new President as he attempts to lead us for the next four years. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seventy Times Seven

Sometimes in our walk with the Lord, we can feel helpless, trapped, or even doomed to repeat the same past mistakes over and over. It is easy to grow frustrated and impatient with ourselves. It seems that the harder we try to do all the right things, the more discouraged we get when we fail. We love the Lord and want so much to do all the things that please Him. But the more we learn about God's heart, the clearer it becomes that we will never measure up. If we were able to live in such a way as to please the Father, then there would have been no reason for Him to send His Son Jesus. Because God created us, He is well aware of our character defects and our nature to repeat past sins. But He does not criticize us, rather, He loves us through our repeated mistakes.

In the book of Romans, Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him. Peter asked if seven times was enough. Jesus told Peter, "not seven times, but seventy times seven." If our Lord Jesus Christ says we should forgive another person that many times, shouldn't we also extend the same amount of grace to ourselves? No matter how hard we try not to, we are going to fail at something most of the time. But the Scriptures teach us that instead of beating ourselves up about it, we should pray for forgiveness and ask God to help us do better the next time. Christ's death on the Cross was sufficient to cover all our sins...past, present, and future. This amazing grace of Jesus is not a license to sin, however, instead it should be a constant reminder of just how helpless we are, and just how much we truly need Him as our Savior.

Titus 3:5 says, "God saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy."

Father, please forgive me of every sin I have committed. Teach me that I am not perfect, but You are perfect. It is only through Your perfect, amazing grace that we are saved. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Hairy Confrontation

Well I did it again. I have written several devotions over the years concerning the danger of judging others. I try to teach my students to not judge others. I know the Bible teaches us to not judge. But, as hard as I have tried, I failed a couple nights ago. I spotted an older man sitting in a restaurant with a group of biker dudes. All of them were well into their 50's, complete with full leathers and grey hair. This one particular man had a long, grey-almost-white, ponytail. Looking at him, I thought to myself I sure hope I don't got through a mid-life crisis like he is apparently going through. He noticed me starring at him. I tried to turn my stare away from him before he saw it, but I was too late. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him get up and walk over to my table. Uh-oh, this can't be good!

As he reached my table he said, "Hello there Allen". I turned and looked at him, then recognized who he was. He used to play on my softball team a few years ago. I absolutely did not recognize him. He sat down, and we began to talk. I could not believe how much he had changed. I always knew him to be a Christian. He always did wear a little beard, but he also kept his hair nice and trim. He looked like a 55-year old hippie! I guess he noticed me glancing at his hair so he told me why he had grown the long ponytail. He grew it because he wanted to donate it to the organization Locks of Love. Wow! Talk about being embarrassed. Here I was judging him because of the look of his hair, and all he was doing was donating it to some needy child. Not only did I judge whom I thought was a total stranger, I also continued to judge him even after I found out he was a friend of mine. When will I ever learn?

John 7:24 says, "Judge not according to appearance..."

Father, thank you for reminding me that I can still be very judgemental. Forgive me. Help us to search our hearts and rid our judgemental ways. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Probably No God?

Have you seen the news concerning Christianity in England lately? The State-run buses now carry billboards that read, "There's Probably No God, Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life." Probably no God? What does that mean? I probably won't have a car accident today, but I still have auto insurance. I probably won't die tomorrow, but I still carry life insurance. So why would I want to take my chances on something as crucial as the existence of God? It is simple, as there are only 2 possibilities: Either He does exist or He does not exist. If He does not exist, then what have I lost by believing in Him? Absolutely nothing! In fact, I probably have had a more peaceful, more fun life simply because I have believed in Him. But what if He does exist and I have chosen not to believe in Him? What will I have lost then? Everything!

Have you ever asked someone who did not believe in God why they didn't believe? It is almost comical at the reasons they give. One atheist I talked to said he did believe that a man named Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago and was crucified on a Cross. But he said he did not believe He was Resurrected. I then asked him to explain the empty tomb. His reply floored me. He said Jesus' disciples stole the body. What? You got to be kidding me. How could they have taken the body with several trained Roman soldiers standing guard? And suppose His disciples did steal the body. Then why were they willing to die to spread the Good News about the Resurrection? Eleven of the twelve disciples were killed because of their faith. Why would they be willing to die for something they knew was not true? That makes absolutely no sense to me. I agree that I can not actually "prove" that He exists. But because the stakes are way too high if He does, I'm not going to take any chances.
Isaiah 45:18 says, "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it, He hath established it, He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no one else."
Father, thank you for Your Son Jesus Christ. I pray for anyone who may not believe in Him. Please stir their hearts to the truth. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From One Extreme To Another

We all know how quickly life can turn on a dime. One minute we are up, the next we are down. Just like the weather, our particular situations and circumstances are constantly changing, dictating how we feel and react to almost everything around us. Yesterday, I wrote two devotions. Those devotions were a sad reminder of how I have become a slave to my emotions. The first one was a happy devotion, but the second one was quite the opposite. There is nothing wrong with experiencing these kinds of extremes, and I believe it is important to talk about it when it happens. These devotions are just my way of venting, my way of unloading, my way of trying to put things in the proper perspective. I just wish I could find some medium ground instead of wandering out to those extremes every time.

I am happy to point out however that I have not, and will not, ever give up on Jesus! True, I am asking Him for a miracle, and I want to be to the point where I am actually expecting it to happen. Some days I do think I am at that point, but then times like last night remind me that I am not there yet. All I can do is to continue to have faith in Him and ask Him to help me get through this awful time. When I close my eyes, I can almost see the one set of footprints on the beach, as I know He is carrying me right now. I want to be an inspiration to others through these devotions. Yet I know I am allowing my circumstances in life to get the better of me right now. But I know God will not let me down. Maybe this is just my Good Friday. If I have faith, Resurrection Sunday is just around the corner! I promise to tie a knot in the rope I'm hanging onto, and hold on even tighter! This, too, shall pass!

I Peter 4:16 says, "Yet if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. "

Father, help me during this time. You know my heart even better than I do. Please remind us that we are not perfect, and it is OK for us to feel bad sometimes. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Lost!!

This is one of those devotions that I am going to regret writing in the morning. It is Tuesday night, and I must write what I feel. I don't even know if Jesus is guiding this devotion or not. Maybe Satan is. I try so hard to be positive, put total faith in the Lord, and just believe that things will work out. Well they are NOT working out! My heart longs for something, and I can not find any rest until I get it. Maybe it is selfish of me, but I can not help it! I must write from my heart. I do believe in God, and I do believe that His will is the best thing in my life. But I am having one heck of a time accepting it. Forgive me, for I know this is a sin. But sometimes the preacher needs help. Sometimes the counselor needs counseling. Sometimes the devotion writer needs understanding.

This is the lowest point in my life!!! If this is depressing you, please delete it right now. But I have nobody I can really share my feelings least nobody that I am comfortable with sharing all my feelings. I know you are thinking I am just going through a rough time like everybody else. Well maybe so, but I am having a hard time dealing with it. Life is just not fair. Why can't God fix the problem? I have prayed and prayed and prayed. I have believed that God will intervene, but it is just not happening. I know we are supposed to be happy...we are supposed to allow God to shine through our lives. Well I am trying so very hard. Tonight is a major setback! How can I continue writing devotions when I am questioning everything that is going on? I can't sleep; I can't eat; I can't even thing straight. I am an educated adult and should not be acting like a child. But I just can't help it right now. God please help me! You are all I can count on, and as much as I hate to think negatively, I just can not help it right now. Where is my miracle? I have only asked for one.

Proverbs 30:2 says, "Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man."

Father, please forgive me. I am only human. You promise to not put more on us than we can handle. Is that true? I need you to help me so much right now. You know what I want and need. Are you listening to me tonight? In Jesus name, Amen.

Is That Jesus?

A few years ago, I went to play basketball at a friend's house. There were three of us playing in his driveway. I wish you could have seen us: 3 big, fat white guys trying not to get hurt! After playing for a few minutes, it was break time! I was in serious need of some oxygen. Looking around, I could not find any. But what I did find was a beautiful little girl on the front porch. It was the young daughter of the man who lived at the house. I walked up to her, stroked her hair, and said, "You sure are a very pretty little girl." I then walked away. Because of my full beard, blue eyes, and the fact that I was nice to her, she assumed I was someone special. She turned to her Dad and asked, "Is that Jesus?" What a compliment!

I have never forgotten her remark. But thinking back on it this morning, It hit me in a different light. The Bible teaches us that we should strive to be like Jesus. Of course we can never be just like Him. In fact, we can't even get close! But by trying very hard to be like Him, we will certainly become a much better person, and in the process, allow Christ to shine through us. It's kind of like playing basketball or any other sport. We strive to be perfect at our skills. We know we can't be perfect, but that should never be an excuse to not try. Are you striving to be more like Jesus Christ? I am going to put forth my best effort today.

Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Father, please teach me how to be more like You. If it be Your will, please shine through me to bring glory to Yourself. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Collect Your Thoughts

I enjoy watching that show Survivor Man on TV. If you have not seen it, and you like adventure, let me encourage you to check it out. The show is about a man who teaches how to survive in the most remote parts of the world with very few materials. He teaches how to make shelters, find food, build fires with no matches, and many other survival skills. Most of his locations are different for each show, but the first step he teaches to survive is the same regardless of where he may be. The first step is "Don't panic and take a survey of your surroundings and resources." He says the mistake many people make is that as soon as they realize they are lost, they panic and begin moving frantically, almost at a running pace, to try to find their way out. But he teaches that all this does is drain much needed energy and could even get you injured with possibly no medical help around for miles. Instead, he says to remain calm so you can think rationally.

Although not as severe, we face every day as a survival situation. From the stresses of work, family, friends, and the thousands of "small fires" that pop up all the time, we can find ourselves in "survival mode" just to get through the day. Perhaps we should take a tip from the Survivor Man. Maybe we should start the day without panic and by getting a grip on things. Instead of rushing out of bed and running through our morning at break-neck speed, maybe we should set our clocks 10 or 15 minutes earlier and spend those few minutes alone in prayer with Jesus. I can tell you it makes a huge difference in my day! I also pray hundreds of time during the day to help me remain calm and to stay focused on the task at hand. Why don't you try it? God can do some amazing things in our day if we just turn the survival skills over to Him.

Proverbs 28:26 says, "He that trusteth his own heart is a fool: but whosoever walketh wisely, he shall be delivered."

Father, thank you for allowing me to depend on you for everything. I have faith that You will lead my steps safely throughout my day. Help me to depend totally on You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A True Miracle

Check out these weather headlines from today: Rain and Melting Snow Bring Flooding to Washington...Freezing China Warns of Many Deaths...12 Deaths Blamed on Snow and Cold in Europe...Frigid Temps Loom For Northeast and Midwest...Millions Isolated as Northwest Deluged by Flooding. Although the winter season is less than a month old, forecasters warn that it could be one of the worst in six decades! But in the middle of all this death and destruction, there is a miracle story today out of the frigid state of Minnesota: Woman recovers after Six Hours in Below-Freezing Temperatures. Here's the story from the Associated Press:

DULUTH, Minn. – A 64-year-old woman whose heart stopped beating and body temperature dropped to a dangerous 60 degrees after she was stuck in the cold for hours has survived — and her recovery amazed doctors.
Janice Goodger slipped in snow on the afternoon of Dec. 27 and wasn't found until hours later. She was taken to St. Luke's hospital, but was near death. One emergency room doctor said her body was as cold as he's seen.
"She was ice cold," Dr. Chris Delp said. "She felt, literally, like a corpse." He said it appeared she couldn't possibly survive.
But days later, she went home and seems to be doing fine.
"I don't feel any different, except I can't yell anymore," Goodger said.
Goodger, who has rheumatoid arthritis, was caring for her daughter's dog on Dec. 27 when she slipped on a patch of snow and fell in her daughter's back yard.
Goodger's stiff joints kept her from getting up. She scooted on the ground toward her car, but couldn't get in. So, she wrapped a long scarf around her legs, pulled her coat around her body, and waited as it got dark.
It was about 20 degrees that afternoon, and the temperature dropped as night fell. Goodger was in the wet snow and continued to grow colder and wetter.
She said she thought, "Well, God, it's up to you" and waited. She then went unconscious.
Goodger's daughter came home and found her about 9 p.m. She was still breathing, and her heart was barely beating.
"When a heart gets that cold, the electrical activity is so fragile, that anything you do will just stop it," Delp said.
Hypothermia-induced cardiac arrest is fairly rare, said Dave Johnson, operations manager for Gold Cross Ambulance of Duluth and Superior. Still, he said, simply moving a severely hypothermic person can cause cardiac arrest.
Delp praised paramedics and Duluth Fire Department crews on the scene for recognizing that. The heart muscle must be warmed before it can start beating again, Delp said. Shocking a chilled heart, or using cardiac drugs, won't help.
Once in the St. Luke's emergency room, doctors worked to warm up Goodger.
Doctors set up heated IV drips and a machine to pump heated air into her body. After about 20 minutes in the ER, Goodger was taken to the operating room, where cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mary Boylan used a machine to drain Goodger's blood from her cold body, warm it up, and pump it back in.
Emergency responders did CPR for at least an hour before Goodger was warm enough, Delp said.
When the time was right, surgeons shocked the muscle, and it began beating normally.
From there, Goodger's recovery was quick.
Goodger said the first thing she remembers afterward is her daughter whispering to her on Dec. 28.
"She said, 'You can go and see your sister in heaven, or you can stay and watch your grandchildren grow up,'" Goodger said.
Soon, Goodger was sitting up in her hospital bed and licking an orange Popsicle to soothe her throat.
"I went and visited her the next day, and they had already taken her off the breathing machine," Delp said. "I did not expect her to be able to talk to me; my jaw hit the floor when she smiled at me."
Delp said "everything came together perfectly" to help Goodger recover — and everyone involved did the right things to keep her alive.

Praise God! There is a valuable lesson we can all get from this miracle. When the situations in our lives seem hopeless, even deathly, there is still One who can turn it all around. Jesus Christ performed many miracles when He walked on this earth some 2000 years ago. But He is still in the miracle business. No matter how hopeless your circumstances may be today, always have faith that God will send you a miracle tomorrow!

Jesus said in Mark 9:23, "Anything is possible if a person believes."

Lord, thank you for saving Mrs. Goodger. Help us to always remember that You can do anything You want. As long as we believe in You, nothing is impossible. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The King Is Born

On this day, January 8Th in 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon and Gladys Presley. At a young age, he began singing in church and at county fairs. Over the years, he catapulted himself from small-town singer to national and world-wide Super Star. Elvis Presley became the King of Rock-n-Roll!

About 20 centuries earlier, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to a small Middle-Eastern town called Bethlehem. He was miraculously born to a young virgin named Mary and her husband Joseph. When He turned about 30 years old, Jesus began His ministry, performing miracles, healing the sick, and trying to convince the world that He was the long-awaited Messiah. Some believed Him almost instantly, others called Him The Devil In Disguise. A particular group that hated Jesus brought up false charges against Him. He was savagely beaten, thorn-crowned, and crucified on a wooden Cross. He soon died and was placed in a tomb, the entrance blocked by a large, heavy stone. But just three short days later, however, one of the greatest miracles of all-time occurred: He was raised from the dead and resurrected to the Father! It was a true case of Return To Sender! Since that time, man has never been quite the same. Not too long after His Resurrection, His disciples began their God-appointed task of spreading the Good News to all the world. Some people accepted the message and felt the awesome power of the holy spirit. Their lives were incredibly transformed, literally becoming All Shook Up, but some people questioned the message with Suspicious Minds. Consequently, those people severely persecuted His disciples just as they had done to Jesus. A couple of His followers, Paul and Silas, were sent to prison. One day while in prison, some time around midnight, Paul began to pray and Silas started to sing out loud. All of a sudden, the earth shook about and the doors burst-opened wide! God called them out! Talk about your Jailhouse Rock!

So here we are in the year 2009. The message of Christ is still the same. Whether you were born in a palace or In The Ghetto, God asks us to do just two things..."Love Me Tender" and "Don't Be Cruel" to our fellow man. It is almost impossible for our finite minds to comprehend the scope of His Amazing Grace and infinite love that He has for us. He wants to lead our steps every day and greatly increase our joy and happiness. Are you Lonesome Tonight or have you recently been to Heartbreak Hotel? Well don't fret. Take your troubles to the real King. Take your troubles to King Jesus. Our King will "never leave the building."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Make Small Corrections

As an airplane is on final approach to land, the pilot must make small navigational corrections in order to stay in line with the center of the runway and to keep the craft at the proper decent angle. One of the common mistakes of an inexperienced pilot is to make more drastic corrections than are needed. By over-compensating, the pilot can quickly loose control of the craft and have to abort the landing, or worse.

Sometimes in our lives when we have lost something or want something very badly, instead of taking small steps to get there, we too can tend to "over-compensate". In our desperate attempt to gain that for which we long, we may find ourselves taking drastic measures to get it. But that will only cause us to lose control. The only way to get those things we want is to completely yield to God's will. We have proven time and again that if we try to do the work ourselves, we just mess it up worse than what is was before. If something is very valuable to us, it may take some time to get it. We can't rush the Lord, for He knows best. The best thing we can do is let go, and let God. If we totally put our trust in Him, He is able to help us overcome the most impossible situations. If you are dealing with a tough circumstance in your life, before you accidentally make a crash landing, hand the controls over to the True Pilot.

Jesus said in Luke 17: 5-6, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed...NOTHING would be impossible" (emphasis added)

Father, forgive me for trying to handle my situation on my own. Remind me that I must keep it completely in Your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Middle East Fairy Tales?

I was reading on-line today from our local newspaper and came across an opinion from a viewer that caught my attention. In his opinion, he claimed that the Bible was nothing more than "a book of Middle Eastern fairy tales." Now I have to admit that I once did not believe much of the Bible and also thought it was just a collection of made-up stories. But praise God, I now believe that it is not just a collection of made-up stories; It is the truly inspired Word of God Almighty.

As "proof" to why it is more than just a collection of fairy tales, I challenge anyone to find a single Bible prophesy that has been wrong. There are many that are yet to be fulfilled, but none that can be shown to be wrong. And there are several ( more than 300) that have already been fulfilled, hundreds and even thousands of years after first being written. In fact, those phrophies are so accurate, that modern-day skeptics conclude that they must have been written after the fact, despite archaeological evidence to prove otherwise. Check this out from Kraft and Lahaye, 2006:

Fulfilled Bible Prophecies

A number of prophecies found in the Bible have already been fulfilled. For instance, in the Book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel identifies the ascendance and succession of world empires that would be established throughout history, from the time he spoke until the end of the age. He even identifies the breakup of the Greek Empire into four separate kingdoms following the death of Alexander the Great. These prophecies are so detailed, that until recently, many historians were convinced the Book of Daniel was written after these events occurred. However, recent archaeological discoveries have unearthed copies of the Book of Daniel that pre-date the aforementioned events. Examples of other Bible prophecies fulfilled include:

1) The Babylonian captivity

2) The exact length of the Babylonian captivity
3) The end of the Babylonian captivity at the hands of a Persian king named Cyrus
4) The prophecies of the “suffering Messiah”
5) The destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70
6) The disbursement of Israel among the nations (the Diaspora)
7) The gradual re-gathering of Israel as a nation
8) The re-establishment of Israel as a nation in a single day
9) Israel as a “burdensome stone” among the nations during the last days

There are several other amazing, fulfilled prophesies about Jesus, but I have not included those because skeptics will argue that those prophesies can only be proved by the Bible itself, and by no other secular sources. The ones above can be verified by any history book. Those old Bible prophets were more accurate than today's National Weather Service. It must have been God's Divine Word. We must agree that there are many Bible skeptics out there today. But maybe that is the reason Jesus has not come back yet. He wants every single person to come to the truth and be saved. We Christians have a lot of work to do. But God will help us.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Father, help us to remember that there are still many lost souls out there. Help us to reach those people and tell them about the Good News of Jesus Christ. For it's in His name, Amen.

Not Where Is He, But Where Am I

One day an elderly man was driving his wife to the doctor's office. They passed a car that was driven by a teenage boy. Sitting right beside him in the seat was his apparent girlfriend. She was practically in his lap instead of on her side of the car. The elderly woman questioned, "why don't we sit that close in the car anymore?" Her husband replied, "I have never moved."

During our hard times we may ask, "Where is God?" But if we are truthful with ourselves, the correct question we should be asking is "Where am I?" God promises He will never leave us in our time of trouble. He is always sitting right beside us, driving us through the good times and the bad. But when things are going good for us, we slowly inch away from Him. Then when things get a little bumpy, we wonder where He has gone. Hard times are going to come our way, there is just no way around that. We may depend on a spouse or a good friend to be there in our moment of need. But there is no guarantee that they will be there to help us. But God is always there! Why do we continue to put our faith in the things of this uncertain world?

Hebrews 13:5 says, "I will never fail you nor abandon you."

Father, thank you for being there when we need you. Remind us that we always need You, in the bad times and in the good. In Jesus name, Amen.