Lost in Indianapolis

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 21:25

This past fall me and a couple friends were eating dinner talking about the upcoming Big Ten and SEC championship football games that were happening that night. We jokingly talked about how expensive tickets would cost. Out of curiosity we looked up the prices and found out tickets were only 7 dollars! We made the impromptu 2 hour trip to Indianapolis and got to watch a great football game. After the game somehow we got separated and ended up lost at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy. We spent about 15-20 minutes wandering in circles around the stadium just trying to find each other. Once we found each other we were so disoriented we had no clue which direction our car was. One by one our phones began to die each guy taking a guess at what direction to go as we wandered in circles. No one person led. Each of us kept saying which direction “looked right”, and we kept getting further and further away from the car until we eventually put the address of the car into a phone GPS. In the book of Judges, the nation of Israel makes countless mistakes. As the book progresses the nation spins further and further in a downward spiral of sin and ungodliness. The Israelites had no human king, but they had also abandoned following their ultimate king: God. God is meant to be our king, and if our life has no leader, no king, we won’t be able to figure out what direction we should be moving.

Lost on the Bike Trail

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Exodus 13:21

A few years ago my dad and I went on a Saturday biking trip. We drove out to a state park with a cool biking trail and spent the day biking around. We were having a blast when I decided I was going to go on ahead just a little bit. I told my dad I was just going to see what was over the hill while he rested and that I’d wait for him. I biked on ahead enjoying the trees and scenery whizzing by me as I flew down the trail. Eventually, I realized I had been riding for a quite a while and stopped to look back for my dad. When I looked over my shoulder he was nowhere to be found. Somehow when I was on my own I had veered off the trail and had no clue where I was. Without my dad’s guidance I had gotten severely lost, and in fact had trouble even finding him again. When the Israelites were lost in the wilderness God led them day and night. We may not have a pillar of fire or cloud ahead of us showing us where to go all the time, but if we are Christians we are led by the Holy Spirit, and God’s word. God’s instructions for us aren’t restrictive but are His way of keeping us on the path he has planned for us. We can’t do any better going off on our own. Look on God’s leading and instruction as a blessing to keep us in line with his will instead of oppressive decrees today.

Treadmill Runs

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us

Romans 8:18

 

The treadmill was invented in 1818 by an English engineer named Sir William Cubit as a torture device for prisoners. Prisoners were forced spend hours a day on the treadmill in order to pump water or produce energy. Where I play college soccer we still use treadmills in a similar fashion. Our team runs twice a week at pretty high speeds for pretty long distances on the treadmills. It can be hard and usually results in our group of 30 college aged boys walking like 80-year-old men for most of the months of January and February. The pain of the treadmill runs are tough, but they’re worth it. We go through the pain and put in the effort because the reward of becoming better soccer players outweighs the trouble of running. This is just a blurry reproduction of the beautiful picture of our Christian lives. Becoming a better soccer player is a decent reward, but our reward in Christ for persevering in the faith is far greater. In Romans, Paul is saying that whatever trials we may go through for Christ absolutely pale in comparison to eternity with him. When we look at eternity with a savior who loves us dearly, no struggle is too large. Remember that any struggle you face is not even worth comparing to the glory that is yet to be revealed to us through Jesus.

Fetch

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

I haven’t told a story about either of my dogs in any of these devotionals yet, which is incredibly unbelievable. It’s probably about time to end that streak. I have a black lab back home named Raven that my family and I adopted from the pound when she was 6 months old. I love her to pieces; in fact I probably spend more time with her than with most of my friends. She loves to run and go for walks, but more than anything she loves for me to go out to backyard and throw a tennis ball or stick or anything she can chase down and bring back. I don’t know a ton about dogs, but I do know that dogs like her were bred specifically to chase things and bring them back. Her long legs make it so she can run long distances, her webbed feet make it so she can fetch objects that fall in the water (if she wasn’t scared to death of water) and her expert control of her jaws make it so she can carry a delicate package back to her master. Raven is happiest when we play fetch, because that’s exactly what she was made to do. The same principle applies to you and me. As we learn more about God we learn that he first and foremost created us to glorify Himself. True pleasure isn’t found in the world or somewhere hiding deep within ourselves, but found in glorifying God. We’re happiest when we do what God made us to do, which is praise and glorify Him.

I Promise!

5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did it:

Exodus 9:5-6

 

“I promise!” I exclaimed. A good friend of mine had just told me an extremely confidential secret. We were in second grade and my best friend had just told me the girl he “liked.” In second grade that’s a secret to be guarded with more diligence than Fort Knox. I held to my promise– for a little bit, but before you know it I was talking to another friend and the secret I had promised and promised would never come out of my mouth slipped out. We’ve all been there: made some type of promise and broken it, or had a friend adamantly swear they would or wouldn’t do something only to have whatever was agreed on severed. People are imperfect and continuously make mistakes, but The Lord is faithful to his promises. He always has been and he always will be, even when how he lives up to his word isn’t how we would expect it. In this passage what God promised the Israelites that the next day he was going to kill the livestock of the Egyptians, and the next day he did exactly as he said. God doesn’t always give us a timetable on his promises like he did in this situation for the Israelites. Sometimes his promises of faithfulness and love and peace come in ways we wouldn’t choose, or take much longer for us to see than we would want. However, if we knew what God knew and could see what he sees we would make the exact same choices as Him. Rest in the fact that Lord has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful in your life.

Roller Coaster

28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Matthew 10:28-29

I haven’t had too many experiences in my life where I have legitimately thought my life was about to end, but I’m absolutely terrified of heights so this past summer at King’s Dominion amusement park I had one of those moments. Some friends and I decided to make a trip to King’s Dominion near the end of last summer and had a blast. Somehow or another we ended up in line for a ride that would be best described as a swinging pendulum of death. The ride swung from left to right getting higher and higher all the while spinning its riders in a circle. As we approached the ride my palms began to sweat and my heart rate slowly climbed to a rate close to that of a young rabbit. As the ride got higher and higher my screams got higher and louder. My screams were not happy screams of enjoyment but screams of absolute terror. Even though I was clearly strapped in safe and sound to the seat, in my mind my life was legitimately in danger. I was terrified. This fear soon passed as the ride subsided, but many of us have long lasting and deep seated fears that seem like they just won’t diminish. We may fear failure, or the future, or friendlessness, but whatever our fears are we can rest assured that we are held in the hand of an all powerful God. He is greater than all and He promises to hold us. I can’t think of anything more comforting than that.

Semi-Truck Gospel

put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self…

Ephesians 4:22-24

There was a boss at a big company who had an employee that constantly showed up to work late. The boss told his employee he had one more chance, but if he showed up to work late again he would lose his job. The very next day, the time came for the young man to begin his shift and he was nowhere to be found. The boss repeatedly called and texted him with no response. Finally 4 hours later the employee arrived at his work. His boss, clearly baffled, asked “why in the world are you so late? I told you this was your last chance.” Being a fair employer he allowed the young man to explain himself. The employee began explaining that he was on his way to work when he got a flat tire. He started trying to fix the tire on the side of the road when he dropped the spare tire. The spare tire bounced off his foot and began rolling across the three lane highway! He hurriedly explained to his boss that he had to run out after the tire so he could finish changing the tire. He exclaimed, “After I bent down to pick up the tire I looked up and a semi truck was barrelling towards me, and without even slowing down hit me head on!” His boss had a confused look on his face before he slowly responded: “If you got hit by something that big you would look a lot different right now.” Ephesians 4:22-24 explains that we should look a lot different if we have been hit by God’s “semi-truck gospel.” The good news that Jesus came to Earth and forever paid the debt we owed is a big deal- a big enough deal that it should change us. To “put off our old self” and “put on the new self” means that we need to daily put away who we once were (dead in sin, unworthy, and unrighteous) and live as a reflection of God’s saving grace (alive in Christ, loved, forgiven)

Holy

The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Usually, these blogs start with a story, and they still will after this one, but I think this deserves to be explained without a story. This is such a tough aspect of God to get to know as we meet Him through his word, but it’s clearly in the Bible and it’s part of who He is. God tells Moses that He is going to rain down plagues on the Egyptians who have enslaved His chosen people. It’s so hard to understand that a God who loves everyone so much could rain down these awful plagues on so many people. This part is important: God is holy. Since we can’t judge anyone without some sort of bias or hypocrisy because we aren’t perfect it is hard sometimes to imagine perfect judgment. However, all judgment and wrath that God brings is Holy. God wants all people to know that He is the LORD of the universe and that any other god we worship is worthless in comparison to him. Our response to seeing God’s holy judgment and actions that we don’t understand should be faith. We aren’t fully going to understand God; He’s just too big for that. What we can know from this is that God is holy, and even when we don’t understand His judgment, it is perfect. That fact is something we can rest in.

Fall on your Face

The LORD said to Joshua “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?”

Joshua 7:10

My last play of basketball in middle school was a pretty memorable one, even though I don’t actually remember most of it. I was never much more than a barely above average basketball player, but in this particular game, I had been playing pretty well. I definitely had the most points I ever had in a game, and our team was winning by quite a good margin. On what would end up being my last play I got the ball on a fast break with nobody between me and the basket. I coasted down the floor and jumped thinking I would complete a routine layup like I had done hundreds of times in my life. The next thing I remember is waking up laying flat on my back on the gym floor with the athletic trainer standing over me. Per video evidence, I know that a player from the other team had hit me from behind and sent me flying into the wall behind the basket. You could definitely say I got knocked down. In this story, Joshua and the Israelites have been knocked down. Because of the disobedience of some of Joshua’s men, they had lost a battle they certainly should have won. Joshua was distraught over the defeat and sin of the people. God immediately rebukes him and tells him to get up and fix the problem. Our God is a God of second chances. If you get knocked down by circumstances in life or even your own sin, remember that God doesn’t want you to stay down. Get up off your face and continue pursuing after the God of second chances.

Sunrise Over the Exxon Gas Station

 

The heavens declare the glory of God,

   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Psalm 19:1

By my house, there is an Exxon gas station. It’s your basic gas station; there are a few gas pumps and a little convenience store, but what happens over top of it in the morning is what makes it special. Most mornings around 7 o’clock the sun rises just over the top of that Exxon gas station. If the conditions are right the sky will be brushed with hues of pink, orange, and yellow that make it hard to keep your eyes on the road. While it’s no sunset over the ocean, or beautiful mountain peaking through the clouds, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been struck by the beauty of the sunrise over the Exxon gas station. As you go about your day today take notice of the little things that have beauty in them. Whether it’s people created in God’s image, trees, grasses or flowers; when you are amazed by creation–by something big or small– remember to direct that amazement and praise to the God who created it all. The fact that in his goodness God would bless us with an earth so pleasing to the eye tells us a great deal about his character and how much He loves us. The heavens and sky are singing praises to the God of the universe, so we might as well sing along because he deserves it.

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