Jesus told us in this world we would face turbulence. But we need not be afraid, He has overcome the world. This devotion is an audio podcast.
What Really Matters
I once heard a story of a man who had turned the basement of his home into his man-cave. This was his place where he would chill out and do “man stuff”. In this man-cave, he had a wide screen television with a great sound system. The walls were hung with diplomas and certificates of achievements. His sports and hunting trophies were there. Sometimes he would go down, sit in his favorite chair and look fondly at all his stuff.
One day while he was at work the area he lived in was hit by a tremendous storm. Rain poured for hours. Streets and homes were flooded. He rushed home to find that for the most part his home was ok. But when he opened the door to the basement, he saw that His man-cave was filled with water. Everything was destroyed. All his stuff was gone.
While he stood looking and grieving over all his ruined possessions, he seemed to hear the voice of God speaks to him. God whispered in his ear saying, “Don’t worry about all this stuff, I was going to burn it all one day anyhow.” You see your stuff is just temporary and no matter how fond you are of it, it will not last. One day it will all rot, rust or burn.
The message is this, “don’t get too attached to your stuff, because your stuff does not really matter”. The Bible teaches that one day, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” The Bible also says that we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. The truth is there is no profit to be had in all the gold in the world. It is only the treasure that you lay up in Heaven that really matters.
From Down Where The Pavement Ends
Once while working on a project I hit my finger with the hammer. Ouch, I threw the hammer down and grabbed my hand. Then I proceeded to jump and dance as I held my hand and sang ouch, ouch and ouch. I had almost stopped working for the day, but I decided to put up one more board. I had the board up and decided to swing the hammer one more time. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but I didn’t and so I had a finger that was the color of a grape and it hurt “ouch”.
It is a funny thing about pain, no one likes it and yet we know that it is a gift from God. Yes it is a gift, can you imagine what my hand would look like if there were no pain. I probably would have pounded my fingers into mincemeat and not even realized it. But God gives us pain to protect us from ourselves and the world. So “ouch” is a wonderful word!
Pain comes in many forms. The pain I have been talking about came about from a careless accident. It was physical. The finger healed; but I will remember it and be more careful. We often have emotional pain and sometimes we have spiritual pain. And sometimes all three combine. At these times we wish we could be like a wounded animal, and go find a deep dark cave and curl up and die.
I have felt this kind of pain as a result of being a pastor. With the help of the Holy Spirit I tried to be a good pastor. Seeking Gods will, all week long I would pray as I prepared the sermon. Then preaching until I had no more energy, I would pour my heart out for the congregation. Only to be pounded by people I thought I could trust, as they would go home and have roast preacher for lunch.
That pain was intense. There have been times when it was physical, my heart would hurt so bad that I was afraid I was having a heart attack. Emotionally I have faced depression; I have suffered with the lost of appetite and even lost the desire to preach. After all why preach? No one is listening, or so it seems. Spiritually, I became like Job and wondered why God had turned his back on me.
I know now that pain is my friend. Through it I learned how to trust God and I learned how to pray, I thought I already knew those things but I didn’t. In the last chapter of the book of Job, he says, “I had heard of God with my ears but now I have seen Him with my eyes.” In effect he was saying, before I thought I believed but now I know that God is real. Job had finally gotten to the place, were God wanted him to be. And that was the purpose of the pain in his life.
You know we face nothing that Christ did not face. As a pastor I understood that. When people abandoned me, I knew how Jesus must have felt when people went back from following him. When I was betrayed I remembered that a disciple betrayed Jesus with a kiss. When I hit my finger with a hammer and felt the intense pain, I knew that it was nothing compared to the nails driven through the hands and feet of my Savior!
So what should be our course of action? Well since pain teaches us about Jesus, when we suffer, let us worship Him. Pain will teach you how to pray, be strong, and to be wise. So when you suffer; kneel in prayer, stand in His strength and depend on His wisdom.
Pain, Ouch! A gift from God! Bringing us from where we are to where we must be if God is going to use us. Count it as all joy to suffer for Christ because He first suffered for you.
Douglas. & Deborah Huff
From Down Where The Pavement Ends
Most mornings I spend a half hour or so listening to my friend. As I sit, mostly with my eyes closed, I try to take in all that He has to say. Sometimes He tells me secrets about Himself that I never knew. Occasionally He reveals His reasons for things that seem to have no reason. Other times He just lets me know how glad He is that I am His friend.
My friend is Jehovah Shalom, the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Lover of my soul and my Prince of Peace. Some people would call what I am doing, “Prayer” but I call it listening to my Friend. Sometimes when I sit listening to Him I drift off to sleep. However, He does not mind that I go to sleep, no more than I mind when my grand-baby goes to sleep in my arms. You see it’s easy to fall asleep when you know the Peace that is beyond your understanding.
You might ask, since you are spending time with God shouldn’t you be praying for your friends and loved ones? Shouldn’t you be telling Him your trouble and asking for help. Aren’t you just wasting your time sitting there with your eyes closed? Don’t you have more important things to do? The answer is no, there is nothing more important than listening to my Friend
All day long God walks with me. He has told me to pray without ceasing, so we have a running conversation. We talk about my friends and their needs. He knows about the ones who are sick and hurting and He knows that you need encouragement. We talk about my family and I ask Him to watch over them. For the most part my days are filled with me talking and God listening.
That is why most mornings I spend time listening to my Friend. I enjoy the feel of His hand on my shoulder and the sound of His voice whispering in my ear. When He whispers in my ear I feel the warmth of His breath on my neck and His Spirit enlarging my soul. As I drift in and out of sleep, I dream the dreams of eternity. I have peace that is beyond my understanding because my Friend is God, the glorious One, the Lover of My Soul. He is Jehovah Shalom. He is my Prince of Peace.
Douglas & Deborah Huff
My favorite place for a morning quite time is the back porch. Here I can see the sun rise, feel the morning breeze, and listen as the birds start their business for the day. Knowing that days have started like this for thousands of years helps me to draw close to the God of hope and glory.
As I sit and try to commune with God, my dog will pester me for attention. She stands on my left nudging my hand begging me to pet her. When I ignore her she goes around to the other side and nudges my right hand. If I continue to ignore her she comes around in front of me and plops her big ol head down on top of my Bible. When I push her back and continue to read she will lay down at my feet and wait until I decide to pay attention to her.
Why does she so persistently seek my attention? Is it because I feed her and take care of her? No. She would be loyal to me even if I did not feed her. She is persistent because she longs for my touch. Because I am her master, Her greatest joy is in the touch of my hand.
Like this dog I long for my Masters touch. While I sit on the porch and watch the sunrise I look expectantly to God. With the morning breeze He fulfills His promise as He opens His hand and satisfies my great desire with an amazing caress. The birds pay no attention to worldly affairs, as they have for thousands of years they just go about their daily business of singing to the Glory of God. So through it all I am remember this; God is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His works. And He has promised To be near to all who call upon Him. If we seek first His Kingdom He will fulfill our greatest desires with the touch of His Hand.
From Down Where The Pavement Ends
This is the prayer that was read to the nation on radio by Franklin D. Roosevelt as Allied troops were invading Nazi-occupied Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
“Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give them strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
… For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let Justice arise—among all thy people. They yearn but for the end of the battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some, will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home— fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them– help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice…. And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
… With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogance. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace– a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, almighty God. Amen”
This devotion is an audio podcast. Listen as I talk about how in life we often wish we had a third hand. But when we are in God’s hand He meets all our needs.
I remember once when I was a teenager, my daddy and I where deer hunting in the area of Oglethorpe County called Goosepond. My daddy had gone in one direction towards his stand and I went another way toward mine.
As I was going to my stand I jumped a deer. When the deer ran, I followed it. The deer never ran far, and although I never had a clear shot at it, every few yards I would catch a glimpse of it. All evening I followed that deer, with it staying just close enough to keep me interested in the hunt.
Now, here’s the problem; while I was concentrating on following the deer I was not paying attention to where I was going. All of a sudden I realize that I had been following that deer for several hours and now it is getting dark. But where am I? Which way do I go to get back to my daddy? I was lost! I was separated from my daddy and did not know how to get back to him.
Ok, you see the problem, and you probably know where I am going with this. You see the world has ways of separating us from our Heavenly Father. There are things that capture our attention and they beguile us into following after them. They may not be bad things; they are just things that take our focus of God. We start following after these things and all of a sudden we realize that we have not heard from God in a while. Now it’s dark and we don’t know how to get back to our Father. And it is dangerous to wander around in the dark.
OK, back to the deer hunt. I was lost and I really wanted my daddy. What did I do? Well I called out for him. He was a long ways off, but he heard me and he answered me. We continued to call back and forth until I found my way back to him. To this day I can still remember the sound of my daddy’s voice as he called out to me in the dark.
What do you do when the world draws you away from The Heavenly Father? What do you do when it is dark and you don’t know how to get back to Him? Well you call out to Him. You can be sure that He will hear and He will answer your call. In Psalms 141:1 we read; “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.”
Look, if you find yourself separated from God and it is dark just keep calling out to Him and He will keep answering you. You will never forget the sound of His voice as it leads you home.
From Down Where the Pavement Ends
The Roman soldiers dragged him from the dungeon. They made him pick up a heavy wooden beam. When the lash of the whip cut across his back, he started walking. He and two others carried the instruments of their deaths up the hill. Today he was going to die. It was what he deserved because he was a thief.
From the top of the hill came the thud of hammers and screams of agony as nails tore through flesh. The crosses were lifted into place. His long torturous death had begun. He looked over at the other men hanging on their crosses. He knew both men. One of them deserved to be there because he was also a thief. However the other Man did not deserve to be there. He was there because the religious leaders hated Him.
Even in his agony he wondered, “what is wrong with these people?” Like snarling animals they ridiculed and abused the Man in the middle. At one time, he even joined them and hurled insults at the innocent Man. But as he watched and listened, he realized this Man was the Son of God. He repented and begged Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.
He heard Jesus cry out to His Father. The sun went black and the earth shook. Jesus said, “It is finished!” and placed His spirit into His Father’s hands. Later the soldiers pierced the Savior’s side, but Jesus was already dead.
Later using a heavy club, the soldiers broke the legs of the thief. Unable to lift himself any longer he suffocated. But he died with peace in his heart. He had met the Savior and he knew on this day he would be with Jesus in Heaven. It was the best day of his life.
From Down Where The Pavement Ends
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12)
This morning I awakened long before daylight in order to read the Bible and pray. I find that early morning is the best time to pray. I don’t know why this is. It may be that the raucous sound waves of the previous day have finally bounced off into outer space, while the coming day still has the innocence of newness. I do know this, the coolness of the early morning air refreshes the soul while the early morning sounds are a multilayered symphony that entertains and encourages the heart.
I have found that in and through all thing’s we can learn spiritual lessons. There is no doubt that God is always ready to teach us. For instance, this morning I realized that the birds began their singing long before daylight arrived. It’s as if the birds are feathered prophets who joyfully prophesy about the coming of the sun. They lift their voices in a song of praise to the glories of light even while it is still darkest night.
God would have us to learn this precious lesson from the birds. Trials and troubles will come. Uncertainties are certain to appear. Cancer may cloud your future, a lost job may delay your dreams and a casket may close on the life of a loved one.
But, even though a broken heart may cause our voices to tremble, like the birds we should sing. Let our songs and our prayers rise up to the God of all creation even in our darkest hours. Listen, the Son of God is risen and His Light has overcome darkness. The lesson that God would have us to learn is this; we have a risen Savior and Joy Comes in the morning.
From Down Where The Pavement Ends