Don’t Forget

As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the baals and made baal berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side.

Judged 8:33

For the majority of my Christian life, I have spent almost all my time reading and being taught from the New Testament. I’ve never really looked at the Old Testament, but this semester I’ve been taking an Old Testament class in college and what I have learned from the Old Testament has been remarkable. It’s crazy how often I make the exact same mistakes as the Israelites. In the story of Gideon, God had just done an incredible mighty work to single-handedly defeat Israel’s enemies. But, as soon as Gideon dies they forget about God and worship other gods. How ridiculous is that?? God saves and delivers these people and they just turn around and worship other gods. I know for a fact people like you and I would never do that, right? We would never forget about all that God has done and worship man made gods. We might not build altars to other gods or give sacrifices in pagan temples, but how ofter do we manufacture Idols in our lives? How often do we give more affection, attention, and devotion to things other than God? God has delivered us for eternity. He has given his son as an eternal sacrifice and defeated sin and death forever on our behalf. The very least we could do is worship him and him alone and never forget Him.

Off Roading

And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.

1 Samuel 12:23

When I was in high school we had one Wednesday every couple months where we got off of school about 3 hours earlier than normal. It was a time that teachers could get extra work done and always left a few hours to hang out with friends I might not normally have had time to hang out with. One particular early release Wednesday me and several friends decided to kill some time at Mcdonald’s hanging out and eating cheap cheeseburgers. Somehow the discussion turned to off-roading and pretty quickly we were in the range rover of one of the guys trying to see if it could really do what the range rovers in the commercials could do. We found an open area and he turned off the road slipping and sliding through the mud. It was so much fun…at first. We were all screaming and yelling and having so much fun until we unknowingly hit a creek. The car jolted violently and we heard the nasty crunch of his car bottoming out. Thankfully there was no permanent damage but there certainly could have been. The same thing applies to us: we risk lasting damage any time we turn away from God. In this part of 1 Samuel, the people have turned away from God and decided they didn’t need him as their king. They had sinned greatly. God offers forgiveness but warns them that turning away from him is empty and will never satisfy. We too tend to turn away from God and put our trust in empty things. God is the only One we can trust in that won’t fail to fulfill our every need. Let’s not turn away and chase after lesser, empty things.

Too Short

Today’s devotional is written by a very special guest! My 11-year-old sister sent me this devotional in a package and I couldn’t help but want to share it! What a great reminder that we will certainly fall short on our own, but God is always there to pick us up!!

 

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Adopted

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1

A few years ago as a family we went out to adopt a dog or two from the pound. I was walking up and down the rows of cages with dogs on either side. Almost every single dog was up on the fence yapping or barking; all of them except for one. I almost missed her, but there was a gangly black lab looking puppy laying on her stomach silently right at the front of her cage. As I walked over she let me reach my fingers past the ‘no petting dogs in kennel’ sign to gently touch her nose. When we got to meet her as a family she promptly flopped onto her stomach so everyone could rub and scratch her. We adopted her that day, and now she plays fetch in our backyard, eats in our kitchen (her own food and ours), and sleeps in my bed (she’d tell you it was her bed if she could talk). She doesn’t just live at our house, she’s a part of our family because we adopted her. I shudder at the thought that if we hadn’t picked her up she probably would’ve been put down. You and I were in the exact same situation. We were alone and destined for death, but God didn’t leave us there. Not only did he save us and bring us into his house, but what kind of love he had that we should be called his children!!! How exciting is that??? If we trust in Jesus and make him Lord of our life we get to be adopted by God and called a part of his family and enjoy fellowship with Him, and that’s a truth we can’t be reminded of too often.

Line Leader

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Matthew 19:30

When I was in 1st grade my teacher used to assign jobs at the beginning of each week for all the students in the class. There were some jobs you didn’t want like handing out papers, or the one who had to help sweep the class and pick up trash during clean up time. There was one job every single person wanted though: line leader. There was just something awesome about being the person who’s always in front, some type of desire in our nature from a young age that wants to be first and out front. We see it all the time in our culture. Everybody wants to be the first to have the new iPhone, the first to buy a brand new car, the first to have a good idea, but Jesus says that’s not really what it’s about. Jesus turns this idea of worldly leadership on its head. Jesus demonstrated through his life that service is the way to be a leader. When he was on Earth he served all those around him even though he was literally God as a man. If Jesus says that the true way to lead is to put others first and serve, and gives us such great examples of how to live that truth out, I think it’s something we all could apply even more intentionally to our lives.

Drink the Cup

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:11

Each one of us deserves to “drink the cup” of God’s wrath to pay for our sin. Our sin merits a full measure of God’s wrath to pay for it. However, since each one of us isn’t holy and perfect or God’s son it was going to take us all of the eternity to drink the cup of punishment, in fact, there would never be a time when we would be able to finish the cup. In this story, Peter tries to save Jesus, but Jesus says he doesn’t need to be saved: God has a better plan. Jesus had come humbly to Earth so that he could take that cup that each and every one of us was supposed to drink and drink it for us. By dying as a substitute for us Jesus took that cup of God’s wrath that I deserved to spend eternity drinking and drank it all and turned it over and said, “It is finished.” He took the punishment that should have separated me from God for eternity and now through Him you and I can have a right relationship with God because our debt has been paid. Nothing spurs me on into a greater and deeper love for God and others than remembering the powerful sacrifice Jesus made in his death, and I hope reflection on that does the same for you.

Waiting on the Sunrise

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

From him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

My fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken

Psalm 62:1-2

This morning a few friends and I decided we would wake up early and try and watch the sunrise. We went out to a state park by around 6:15 because we didn’t want to miss any of the sunrise. We found a great place to watch what we hoped would be a beautiful sunrise and sat waiting. The sky was perfectly clear when we arrived, and you could still see thousands of stars twinkling in the sky. Somehow between the time when we could see the stars and when the sun was supposed to rise, clouds that covered the entire sky rolled in. We waited for more than half an hour in anticipation of the sun rising, but we never saw it. It was still fun, but it was kind of a bummer that we waited on the sun and it never showed up. Thankfully when we wait on God we never have to worry about him not showing up. God isn’t like people we rely on in this life who will fail us and let us down. God is ultimately reliable and we can trust that if we wait on him he will arrive in his perfect timing and providence even if how he arrives and provides isn’t exactly how we expect it or would plan it.

Shrimp and Grits

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst

John 6:34

One of the things from back home that I miss the most while I’m away for college is my mom’s cooking. Nothing compares to coming home from school or soccer practice or a long day and eating some home cooked food. My favorite food that my mom makes is undoubtedly shrimp and grits. It sounded a little weird to me at first, like shrimp and grits don’t seem like they belong together, but I promise you shrimp and grits were created specifically to be eaten together. The grits are all cheesy and garlic-ey and I’m sure there’s all kinds of good spices and fancy cooking stuff in there too that makes them so good. My mom’s shrimp and grits are so satisfying that I really think I could eat an entire bathtub full of that stuff. I’ve certainly tried to eat enough of them to never have to eat again, but for some reason no matter how much I eat I always wake up hungry the next morning. In John 6:34 Jesus explains that when we come to him we never have to hunger and thirst again. We don’t have to look for satisfaction in friends or in money or in popularity because we already have ultimate satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus that can never be topped. Nothing in this world will ever wholly satisfy us like an intimate growing relationship with Jesus.

Wake Boarding

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

A couple summers ago I was learning how to wakeboard with a guy from my church who runs a water sports ministry. I had gotten to the point where I could consistently get up and ride in a straight line but every time I tried to turn and move at all I would immediately fall on my face. After about 3 or 4 times of falling flat on my face, Chris brought the boat around and told me he had figured out why I kept falling. “You’re looking down at the water”, he said. “You always end up heading towards what you look at. Look up and you’ll be fine.” The next time I focused on getting my eyes up as I rode and sure enough I didn’t fall on my face. Our Christian walk is the same way; if we let our eyes drop and focus on things on the Earth we’re sure to fail. Jesus endured the cross and the shame for us, so we ought to keep our eyes focused on him, and only him. As Christians, we should want to become progressively more like Jesus, but that’s only going to happen if our gaze is set on him. Remember, we’re always going to move towards what we look at most.

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