Archive for May, 2009

31
May
09

ARE YOU THE HULK? (5/31/09-6/6/09)

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL FOR WEEK OF MAY 31 TO JUNE 6, 2009

ARE YOU THE HULK?

Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2

Many Christians will reflect on this verse as their guide to Christian living.  It gives us two basic points that are very simple, yet can be difficult to live out.

First, we are called to not be “conformed to this world.”  That means we shoud not cling to the patterns of this present world.  We should not adhere to the same attitudes, teachings, philosophies, speech, actions and ideals in this worldly system that currently exists.  We shouldn’t necessarily be blown about with every whim and craze.  While we are in this world, we are not to be a part of it.

Next, we are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  This tells us that we should be a completely, noticably different person from the people of the world.  We should be changed since “old things have passed away and all things are become new.”  The word transformed means to be completely changed.

As a kid growing up on comic books, one of my favorite superheroes for a time was the Incredible Hulk.  Dr. Bruce Banner was bathed in gamma radiation during a test, and it changed the molecular structure of his body.  Whenever he gets stressed, anxious or angered, he is transformed into the eight-foot tall, green skinned, one ton sensation known as the Incredible Hulk.  The Hulk definitely does not look like everyone else, he doesn’t talk like everyone else, and he doesn’t act like everyone else.  He is definitely a very different creature.

When it comes to our spiritual condition, who are you: Dr. Banner or the Hulk?

Do you look, act, and talk just like the average person, like Dr. Banner?  Or are you a very different creature?

Are you the Hulk?

23
May
09

ENDURANCE IS THE KEY (5/24/09-5/30/09)

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL FOR WEEK OF MAY 24-30, 2009

ENDURANCE IS THE KEY

“But if I go to the east; He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him.  When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.  But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.  I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”  Job 23:8-12

As a senior in high school, I was having the time of my life.  I was on the varsity soccer team, was editor of the school newspaper, and was looking at colleges to attend.  But during the Christmas break, I became tired and fatigued, and eventually learned that I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  My family was devastated.

After going through about a year of chemo, I went into remission.  But less than a year later, the leukemia came back.  The only option available now was a bone marrow transplant.  not having any matching siblings or donors, they took my own marrow, cleaned it out, and started the transplant process.  I had a 20-percent chance of surviving the BMT.

While I was in the hospital in Virginia, 6 hours from home, and with no family around, I be came depressed and lonely.  I would pray and pray to God, but I wasn’t sure if He heard.  I started to wonder if He even knew what was going on with my condition.  Where was God when I needed Him?

Just like Job, I was looking all around for some mighty work or word from God to give me hope.  But God had another plan.  He did not send trumpets and angels with glorious signs, wonders and miracles but He was doing a far greater work in me.  “Know that the testing of your faith develops endurance,” wrote James.  And notice that Job is never commended in the Bible for his patience, but his endurance; “Have you not heard of the endurance of Job?”

It was only by testing my faith that he could strengthen my faith.  All that was required of me was to stick with God, and not give up on Him.  After all, He never gave up on me.

In order to make gold pure, the refiner has to put it through the fire to allow the impurities to rise and be removed.  The gold is allowed to cool, then it is placed in the flames to be melted again.  This process takes several firings before the gold becomes pure.

How poignant a picture of how God works in us.  And the greatest part is, He really does know what we are going through.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN SOUL JOURNEY (DISCOVERY HOUSE PUBLISHERS)

17
May
09

IT’S WHAT’S NOT SAID THAT’S AMAZING (5/17/09-5/23/09)

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 17-23, 2009

IT’S WHAT’S NOT SAID THAT’S AMAZING

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Genesis 2:7

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia as a senior in high school.  I had chemotherapy and maintenance chemo for over a year.  About 10 months later, I was diagnosed with relapsing into ALL.  The only chance that I had now was having a bone marrow transplant.

I went to a university hospital in Virginia, where I would get chemo, full body radiation, and an autologous bone marrow transplant.  They were explaining how they would havest a liter of my own marrow, wash it and put it back in my body.  The harvest would be done as an inpatient surgery, going into each hip 25 times to get enough marrow to use.  The heavy chemotherapy and full body radiation was designed to suppress all the marrow in my body and kill off the blood cells in my blood, all of which would radically rid my body of the leukemia.

The nurse then explained that they would put the marrow in my body.  I thought that since they took it out by surgery, they would need to put it back in using surgery.  But this concerned me because I would have no white blood cells to fight potential infection from surgery, nor would there be any platelets to clot my blood.  I mentioned my concern to the nurse about having surgery when I would be in so much danger.

“What surgery,” was her response?  I expained my assumptions about receiving the transplant.  She smiled at me and said that the marrow would go in through an IV.  “Though an IV?  Into my blood?  What good does that do?  It belongs in my bones!”  The nurse explained that once the marrow got into my blood system, the cells would know exactly where to go and graft right in.

I was stunned and amazed.  My first thought was Genesis 2:7, which says “God formed man. . .”  Yes, it is amazing that God just reached down to grab some dirt, blew on it, and man became a living soul.  But it is what is not explained in those three words that is amazing!  God designed our bodies in such a way that some 6,000 or so years later I could have a bone marrow transplant!

The body is an amazing structure.  Consider the eye, and the miracle of its intricate workings and delicate functions.  Meditate on the nervous system, that not only delivers impulses to the brain for us to see, but also allows us to hear, feel, taste and move our bodies.  Study the heart and the circulatory system that picks up oxygen and nutrients to help our cells stay alive and then gets the waste to dispose.  Not to mention the clotting and infection fighting properties that it provides.

David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works.”

While these words truly do say a lot, it’s what’s not said that’s amazing!

17
May
09

WATCH OUT, GOD WILL PROVIDE! (5/10/09-5/16/09)

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL – WEEK OF MAY 10 TO 16, 2009

GOD WILL PROVIDE

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide . . .  Genesis 22:8

At one point in my life, my first wife had been in hospitals for various progressive reasons.  First she was in Charleston, WV for a week, then we had her transferred to Cleveland, OH for about a month.  After that, she was sent to a hospital in Huntington, WV, and then was in a rehab hospital in Barboursville, WV, which is around 50 miles from our house.

On an average day, I would take my daughter to school, then go to work, about 20 miles away.  My mother in law would  pick up my daughter from school and take her to visit my wife.  After work, I would go get our daughter, visit, and take her home for bed.  All totaled, I probably traveled about 140 miles on an average day.  Needless to say, I’d loved to switch my 401 K to some oil company stocks.

The car that I was driving at the time was an old Chevy Lumina from the last century that has enough mileage to have driven me to the moon.  It had been a good car, and we have done all the scheduled maintenance to keep it running well.  When it was brand new off the showroom floor, it got 24-25 miles per gallon.  In later years, that figure has gone down to about 21-22 mpg.

At that time, though, I had noticed the milage improving.  At one fill-up, I calculated the milage, and came to a figure of 27 mpg.  I double checked the milage and gallons pumped and recalcualted.  It was still 27 mpg.  I dismissed it as being wrong somewhere, perhaps adding gasoline and forgetting to reset the tripometer.  When I filled it up the next time, it was at 29 mpg!  This time, I knew for a fact that I had not added any gas, and I double checked the figures again, arriving at the same result.

In that short time span, I had milage at up to 30 mpg, and the lowest that it had been is 24 mpg!  This comes from a 12 year old car rapidly rolling way past a quarter of a million miles.  And don’t forget that this same car got 24 mpg when brand new, and had gotten 30 mpg!

It is in very strange, unexpected and appropriate ways that God provides for us when we least expect it.  Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only, promised son as an offering to Him.  Abraham had faith that God would provide, but I am sure he and Isaac never expected to find a ram caught by his horns in a thicket as God’s provision.  It was a strange, unexpected and appropriate way that God provided for him.

It was a Psalm writer who said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

When you atch out, because God will provide!

03
May
09

CLEANING THE SILVER (5/3/09-5/9/09)

MAY 3-9, 2009

CLEANING THE SILVER

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.  Proverbs 25:4

When we really want to put on airs for a fancy dinner, we pull out all the stops.  We place the best of our linens on the table.  We take out our best china and crystal for the special occassion.  But most of all, the masterpiece of the table presentation is the silverware.  But the silver doesn’t look too nice if it has been tarnished.

In order to clean tarnished silver, it takes a lot of work.  A costly chemical is typically needed to be used, along with a lot of elbow grease.  We will rub, and rub, rub, rub, sweat and rub some more.  Until finally, after sweating and wearing your self out, you have freshly cleaned, sparkling silver that looks far too pretty to use for eating.

God considers us to be His silver.  Just like the silverware, we are going to be used for a specific purpose, the masterpiece of His presentation and plan.  But we all need cleaning.  Could you imagine what screams and groaning the silverware would make if it could be heard as it is being cleaned?  Much the same is true of us when we encounter trials and adversities.  And it takes a lot of work for God to “remove the dross” from us.  If truth be told, we probably resist the cleanings that God brings in our lives when we should “encounter it all joy when you face various temptations,” as James said.

But here is the beautiful part of it all.  When God has finished removing the dross from us, we become a vessel for the finer, fit to be used as His masterpiece.




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