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Posted in Daily Devotions

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

The Tempter in the Garden of Eden was a serpent. From the first pages of the Bible we are introduced to the way sin comes into our lives. It slips in and grabs a quiet foothold before we are aware of it. Temptation slips up on us before we recognize the seriousness of what’s happening.

Someone has put it this way: “Who’s there,” I cried, “A little lonely sin.” “Enter,” I said, “Then all hell broke lose.”

There is something about the very nature of temptation that not only makes it initially attractive, but keeps us coming back for more. Even when the initial thrill is gone we find ourselves mired in the muck of our own worst instincts.

It’s sort of like a incident some time ago on the Enterprise ride at the Minnesota State Fair. Riders boarded their little cars on the Enterprise to be spun around at high speed for about four minutes. Being dizzy and scared is apparently something for which people will pay money.

The ride, however, ceased to operate properly and could not be stopped for about 20 minutes. When people were finally rescued from their thrill, all were sick and some were taken to the hospital.

There is something exciting about certain areas that the Bible tells us to avoid, but the excitement is an emotion we feel when we get on the ride, not when we get off.

Loving God, forgive me for giving in to sin. Help me to have a healthy spiritual life by living your way. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

Surrender is essential. We are free moral agents. We can choose, but choose we must. If we want the healing of Christ, we must open ourselves to the Spirit of Christ. We must yield ourselves to the authority of Christ. Some of us want a nodding acquaintance with him. We want to be counted in his company, but at a distance. It cannot be done. Regardless of how hard or harsh it may sound, sooner or later we must confront our personal Gethsemane and pray either “My will” or “Thy will” be done.

As he came to the end of his distinguished ministry at City Temple in London, the great British Methodist preacher Leslie Weatherhead said: “I am to be asked shortly on a radio program to answer the question, ‘What have you learned from life?’ Well, I have learned a lot of things from life, but from my own failures, from the confidences of innumerable men and women, from the rough and tumble of forty-five years in the Christian ministry, and from my observations as a student of personal, national and international affairs, I will tell you the outstanding thing I have learned. It is this: Life will only work out one way, and that is God’s way. He made it like that. Every other way has across it a barricade bearing a notice which says, ‘No thoroughfare this way.’”

Only our Creator has the key that unlocks the doors to peace and serenity. Let’s surrender fully to God through Jesus Christ.

Dear God, I surrender all to you today. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. (Mark 1:25-26)

Jesus delivered this man with the unclean spirit. Jesus has that authority today. He can deliver us from whatever may get into us. It is sad that so many people even in the church only give lip service to the authority of Jesus. They really don’t believe that he can deliver them.

There is an old story about some linemen who were busy putting up telephone poles through a farmer’s fields. The farmer ordered them off his land, whereupon they showed him a paper giving them the right to plant poles wherever they pleased. Not long afterward a big and vicious bull charged the linemen. The old farmer sat on a nearby fence and yelled: “Show him yer papers, darn ye, show him yer papers!”

For to many Christians, Jesus’ authority is only a paper authority. It is something we study for inspiration, but we really don’t believe it applies to our situation. Is this our belief? There are too many witnesses to Christ’s authority today for this position to be true!

Father, I believe; help me with my unbelief. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Lord’s Supper

Posted in Daily Devotions

This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20)

Once there was a family of five that disagreed on every subject. If one said the cup was half empty the other would say it was half full. At times their disagreements became heated arguments. Often feelings were hurt. Outside observers wondered how this family could stay together. Yet there was more to this family than that. Something magical took place when it came time to sit down for the evening meal. The disagreements and arguments were quickly forgotten when that family sat down for the evening meal. They could put aside their disagreements long enough to enjoy each others company. During the meal different members of the family would share the experiences they had during the day. There was a sense of closeness and unity as that family ate together.

In the same way we come together as the church to share in Holy Communion. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we come together as one body. As the body of Christ we might have different opinions about beliefs, or about church business, but our differences are forgotten as we come together to receive the bread and cup that God has given us. There is that sense of unity, of oneness as we come together and share the bread and cup. When we share communion with each other we acknowledge not only our need for food but also our need for each other.

God of all, through the meal of Holy Communion may you bring unity to your people. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

Mark Twain noted that there is a principle difference between dogs and humans. Strange things do happen in the animal world, but not as often as in the world of humans.

A census worker, in the last census, approached a house in her territory very slowly? There was a fence around the house and the worker was terribly afraid of dogs. She opened the gate ever so quietly and hurried up to the house and rang the bell. She breathed a sigh of relief when the lady of the house opened the door. She felt safe now. Whereupon the lady of the house promptly bit her! It’s true. The census worker required medical attention for a human bite.

We know it is sometimes the nature of a dog to bite, but a human? What gets into us? Some would say, “The devil made me do it.” But that is only passing the buck. As God’s people, we are called to take full responsibility for our actions. I realize most of us don’t have the problem of biting other people, but all of us have something that needs an adjustment. “Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more,” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Dear God, reveal to me the things I need to correct for my spiritual health. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. (James 1:12)

None of us is beyond temptation. It is a foolish Christian who treats temptation as no threat, believing he or she cannot fall. We are all susceptible at times, and if we are not vulnerable in one area, we usually are in some other.

During the early days of the Civil War, body armor became a bit of a fad, especially in the North. Some of this body armor did not work very well. In other words, it failed to stop bullets. Some of it actually saved some lives, however. The danger lay in believing it made one invincible.

Paul writes in Galatians 6:1, “My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.”

Dear God, guard me from temptation, and keep me from falling into the trap of thinking I am invincible. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Captain, My Captain

Posted in Daily Devotions

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

My dear friend and mentor Pastor Johnny Price tells the story of a new kind of modern airplane was on an experimental flight. It was full of reporters and journalists. A few minutes after the takeoff the captain’s voice was heard from the loudspeakers: “I’m delighted to be your pilot, and the captain of this airplane on its first historical flight. I can tell you that the flight is going well. Nevertheless, I still have to tell you about a minor inconvenience that has occurred. The passengers that are sitting on the right side can, if they look through the window, see that the closest engine is slightly vibrating. That shouldn’t worry you, because there are four engines, so you can feel perfectly safe. And, we are at the unbelievable altitude of 62,000 feet, flying at a speed of 1,050 mph as planned . . . But, if you’re looking at that engine, maybe you can notice that the second engine is glowing, or more precisely one could say that it’s burning. That shouldn’t worry you either, since there are two more engines on the left side, and the altitude and speed are still as planned.

“Those of you that are sitting on the left side shouldn’t worry if you notice that one engine that is supposed to be on the left side has been missing for about ten minutes. But, I must ask for your attention of one thing that seems to be a little more serious. Along the aisle, all the way through the plane, a crack has appeared. Some of you are, I suppose, looking through the crack and seeing the waves of the Atlantic. Those of you that have very good eyes can notice a small life boat on those waves that has been thrown out of the plane. Well, ladies and gentlemen, your captain is speaking from that life boat.”

There are some situations, I suppose, about which we shouldn’t even joke. And yet when I first heard that little piece of humor, I couldn’t help thinking how descriptive it is of so many people’s lives. Their plane is falling apart and they fear their captain is as remote as the one on that raft in the Atlantic 62,000 feet below.

If that is your situation, I suggest you reread Jesus’ words in our scripture reading today, because God is greater than anything we may be facing.

Dear Lord, be great in my life today. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Temptation can really play havoc with our lives. There was a humorous “Cathy” cartoon strip sometime back. Cathy is struggling with her diet. See if this progression is familiar:

Frame 1: I will take a drive, but won’t go near the grocery store.

Frame 2: I will drive by the grocery store, but will not go in.

Frame 3: I will go in the grocery store, but will not walk down the aisle where the candy is on sale.

Frame 4: I will look at the candy, but not pick it up.

Frame 5: I will pick it up, but not buy it.

Frame 6: I will buy it, but not open it.

Frame 7: Open it, but not smell it.

Frame 8: Smell it, but not taste it.

Frame 9: Taste it, but not eat it.

Frame 10: Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat!

There are temptations far worse than food, but it is true that some of us should probably not work in bakeries. It helps to know your own weaknesses. Still, Jesus tells us, God is greater. There is no temptation that can snatch us out of God’s hand. And if we pray for help in the face of temptation, we can resist.

Loving God, love me out of my temptations. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Daily Trials

Posted in Daily Devotions

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. James 1:2

A man who had hitchhiked from coast to coast and had walked many miles in the process was asked what he had found the most difficult to endure. To the surprise of his questioner it was not the steep mountains or the dazzling sun or the scorching desert heat that had troubled him, but, in the words of the traveler, “It was the sand in my shoe.” Frequently the little things in life make the practice of the Christian faith most difficult. Somehow the great trials of life-moments of crisis, of serious illness, of death and bereavement-have a way of raising us and bringing us closer to the only source of spiritual strength, our Savior, Jesus Christ. But those smaller trials, how they plague us! How they succeed again and again in causing us to fail and stumble. Those little irritations in the home, those endless vexations at the shop or office, those little rubs with the neighbors, those petty quarrels at church-those are the “sand in our shoe,” which wear our Christianity thin.

Heavenly Father, help me to respond with faith and joy to the trials of life. In Jesus Name, Amen

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13.8)

A Western reporter interviewed Boris Yeltsin once. When asked what gave him the courage to stand firm and help insure the fall of Communism in the former U.S.S.R., Yeltsin credited the story he had read of Lech Walesa, the electrician who helped bring democracy to Poland several years before.

Similarly, Walesa has stated that he was inspired by reading accounts of the civil rights movement in this country, led by the late Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. King has indicated that he was spurred to action when he learned of the courage of one woman, Rosa Parks, who simply refused to sit in the back of the bus.

We seldom know the potential of the seeds we will sow. God gives us seeds. It’s up to us how we are going to use the seeds we are given. If we water and nurture the seeds, however, at harvest time the yield will be fantastic, beyond belief.

Father, help us to sow seeds of love and hope. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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