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Devotionals from Fall 2015 print issue (Week 7)

SERIES: READER SUBMITTED, LESSONS FROM OUR READERS

Monday: “…that the world may know that You have sent Me…” John 17:23c

In Deed and Word

There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, 15 each in the National and American Leagues. If you could go into the dugout of each team and ask the players why they are there, you might get answers like “I love to play the game” or “I want to win this game,” etc. The ultimate goal of each player would be making the playoffs and winning the World Series.

Twenty-nine of those teams’ players will be disappointed each season, but they keep trying. In 1990, the Minnesota Twins finished dead last in their division. In 1991, they not only made the playoffs, they also won the World Series. Players always have that hope.
As Christians on this planet, why are we here? In John 17, the word “world” is mentioned 19 times. In one place it says Jesus was sent into the world. It then also says the disciples were sent into the world. In two places, it implies that we were sent into the world…to be a witness for Jesus.

Often we will be disappointed. Not everyone we witness to will become a follower of Jesus, but we always have hope that some will. St. Francis of Assisi was reported to have said “Always share the Gospel. Sometimes use words.” May God continue to fill us with His Spirit and give us courage to witness for Him…in deed and word.

By Stanley A. Tucker, Reader Submitted


 

Tuesday: “You have set all the boundaries of the earth…” Psalm 74:17

No Boundaries

In the sports world, there are boundaries like foul poles, out of bounds lines and end zones. Many outcomes of games have hinged on whether a baseball lands inside the foul line, or a dribbler avoids the baseline or a receiver’s feet are in the end zone while catching a pass.

Did you know that according to the above verse, God has boundaries for the nations? This concept is confirmed in Acts 17:26: “…He…has determined…the boundaries of their dwellings.” Boundaries define a country.

We’ve recently been watching the series ‘Breaking Bad’ on Netflix. The main characters are degenerates, but they exhibit a moral “code.” For Walt, it’s family provision; for Jesse, it’s concern for children; for Skyler, it’s family protection; for Gus, it’s product theft.

From where does a moral code come? For many of us, it’s the Bible. In the Old Testament, it’s the law of Moses; in the New Testament, it’s the law synopsis of Jesus to “love the Lord with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” In this regard, spiritual boundaries define people as well.

May we be “people of the Book.” May we, through the Spirit, put into practice what it says. If we do, our influence physically and spiritually, will have no boundaries.
By Stanley A. Tucker, Reader Submitted


Wednesday: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” Romans 8:16-17a

Generous Inheritance

Baseball has statistics on nearly everything, including hitting, base running, hitting for power, hitting with runners in scoring position, ERA, holds, saves, etc. One relief pitching statistic covers the percentage of inherited base runners allowed to score.

This is an inheritance that few pitchers want, and it depends largely on how well they control the situation under pressure for them to obtain a good stat.

My parents were married for more than 50 years, and they worked hard every day except Sundays. They were frugal farmers, and when they passed away, my three siblings and I received a comfortable inheritance. This was all on their part; we had no say in it. They gave us our inheritance simply because they loved us very much.

As the above verse says, did you know we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”? We have no say in it. We don’t need to perform under great pressure to obtain it and it is just handed down to us by a loving parent. It simply shows His great affection for us and His merciful generosity. Through His inerrant words, our inherently good Father grants us an inheritance. What an awesome God!

By Stanley A. Tucker, Reader Submitted


 

Thursday: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful; Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13

A Way Out

On July 22, 2005 (my birthday!) the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs were tied 1-1 in the 11th at St. Louis. With one out, David Eckstein was batting with a runner on third. A sacrifice fly, base hit, wild pitch, balk or passed ball would score a run. Suddenly, pinch-runner Hector Luna bolted for home on the next pitch and Eckstein laid down a perfect bunt. The Cardinals won on a “squeeze play,” confirming that there are various ways to defeat your opponent.

For about 20 years, I had a strong fascination, even an addiction, to pornography. During one stretch of that period, I bought a pornographic magazine each month, even after I became a Christian. It would give thrills for a time, but I always felt empty later.

Then one month, I purchased another magazine. This occasion, I actually read one of the articles in addition to looking at the pictures. I realized for the first time that the author’s worldview was exactly the opposite of mine. I thought, “Why should I spend God’s money supporting this carnal viewpoint?” I never bought another one.

Perhaps you are struggling with an addiction to pornography, or alcohol, or another substance. The opening verse indicates God always has a way to defeat your opponent.
He provides even during temptation. He is faithful. He loves you. Rely on Him.

By Stanley A. Tucker, Reader Submitted


 

Friday: “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing…” Psalm 92:13-14

Firmly Planted

Professional men’s sports are dominated by young men. The players who seem to produce the best results are between their late teens and mid-30s.

There are some notable exceptions. In pro hockey, Gordie Howe was still a formidable opponent on the ice at age 52. In pro basketball, Tim Duncan, ancient at 38, won his fifth NBA title. In pro football, George Blanda, at 48 years old, helped the Raiders to the AFC title game in 1975.

In pro baseball, Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers hurled his seventh career no-hitter at 44. Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron competed into their 40’s, as well.

What about the spiritual side? Ruth, Samuel, David, Esther, Daniel, Mary and Mark were outstanding servants of God in their youth. Peter and Paul were active well into their middle age years, as well. However, when Christians become senior citizens, do they automatically get put out to the proverbial pasture?

In the opening passage, the phrase “fresh and flourishing” is described in one commentary as “full of sap and green.” Approaching my 67th year, sometimes I feel more dried out and gray, but what I get from those verses is that as long as I stay close to Jesus, I will bear fruit.

Plant yourself in God’s house. Continue to build your life around Jesus. Stay “full of sap.” Flourish for Him, regardless of your age.

By Stanley A. Tucker, Reader Submitted


 

Weekender: “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15 (KJV)

Going Long

Reflect on how peace can conquer so many issues in our world, and think about how your feet can take you to offer peace to others in desperate need of it. If you don’t go or move forward to offer peace, God won’t be able to use you to see people receive peace in their life.