NEST IN THE GREATNESS

By Dennis Fisher
The Lord God . . . put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. —Genesis 2:15

In his historical novel Chesapeake, James Michener tells the story of multiple generations living near a marsh. One character, Chris Pflaum, is introduced as a restless 13-year-old sitting in class waiting for summer break. But when the teacher reads a poem by Sidney Lanier, the boy’s heart is stirred.

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,

Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:

I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies

In the freedom that fills all the space ‘twixt the marsh and the skies.

When Chris grew up, this poem motivated him to work tirelessly to preserve the precious wetlands and the wildlife he loved.

The poem’s words stir the heart because they use nature as a springboard of praise to the Creator. But, unfortunately, our living planet can be neglected and exploited. God’s mandate to Adam has been passed on to all believers. “The Lord God . . . put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). The words tend and keep mean “to cultivate as servants.”

We are to care for and guard God’s creation as responsible stewards.

The natural world that God has made
Must not be used at whim;
We serve as stewards of His earth,
Responsible to Him. —D. De Haan

To mistreat God’s creation is to offend the Creator.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

OVERCOMING GREED

By David C. McCasland
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. —1 Timothy 6:18

Greed — it has toppled highly paid executives, brought down giant corporations, and cost thousands of workers their jobs and retirement funds. One columnist has written that unrestrained corporate greed is a greater threat than terrorism.

Greed whispers in our ear that we would be happier if we had more money, more things, and more power. It creates discontent and a growing desire to do whatever it takes to gain position and possessions. But the Bible commands us to trust in God, not in“uncertain riches”(1 Timothy 6:17).

Paul told Timothy that the way to overcome greed is to flee from it and to“pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness”(1 Timothy 6:11). And those“who are rich in this present age,” who have more than is needed, should“be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share”(vv.17-18).

Contentment and generosity are the opposite of greed (vv.6-8). As we learn to thank God for what we have and freely share it with others, we stop trying to fill the spiritual vacuum in our heart with things. And when we love Jesus more than money and possessions, we find that He is the greatest treasure of our lives. We discover that knowing Him is the source of genuine satisfaction.

God’s riches fill up our supply,
Whatever we may need,
So we can then be generous
And not controlled by greed. —Sper

The best remedy for greed is generosity.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

HEARTS LIFTED UP


By Albert Lee

As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper. —2 Chronicles 26:5

It’s tragic to witness someone starting out well in life and then finishing poorly. That’s the life story of Uzziah. He had been appointed king at the tender age of 16. Despite being so young, we read that “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord . . . . He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5).

Uzziah’s fame spread and his army grew stronger (v.8). He had 2,600 chief officers and 307,500 soldiers who helped him defeat his enemies (vv.12-13).

Sadly, we then read, “When he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction” (v.16). Uzziah had failed to remember the One who had given him success and those who had given godly counsel. He sinned against the Lord when he burned incense in the temple, and God struck him with leprosy (vv.16-19). He remained “a leper until the day of his death” (v.21).

To finish well, we need to avoid having a heart that is “lifted up.” Let’s remind ourselves often of the warning in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And let’s keep seeking the Lord, obeying Him, and thanking Him for all He has done.

Blessed Savior, make me humble,
Take away my sinful pride;
In myself I’m sure to stumble,
Help me stay close by Your side. —D. De Haan

You won’t get indigestion by swallowing your pride.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

GO BEYOND READING

By Dave Branon

As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness . . . longsuffering. —Colossians 3:12

Pastor, where are the Our Daily Bread devotionals?” The words came harshly—almost in anger. The latest edition had not yet been placed in the rack outside the church auditorium. This led at least one reader to confront the pastor about their absence. Although it was not his responsibility to distribute the booklets, he felt terrible about the way this parishioner had reprimanded him for not making sure the devotional guides were there on time.

When I heard this, I was struck by the irony of this situation. Devotional booklets are meant to encourage Christian growth and godly grace. And as followers of Christ who read devotional materials, we hope we are moving toward spiritual maturity that leads to “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering”—qualities Paul says we should “put on” (Col. 3:12).

Our spiritual disciplines—reading God’s Word along with accompanying study or devotional materials, prayer, and worshiping together—should not be ends in themselves. Instead, those actions are means to becoming more Christlike, more godly, more Spirit-led. Our spiritual practice should lead to having the “Word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (3:16). That will show in everything we do and say.

I want my heart to be in tune with God, In every stage of life may it ring true; I want my thoughts and words to honor Him, Exalting Him in everything I do. —Hess

Bible study is not merely to inform us— it’s meant to transform us.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

WHEN LIFE GOES BAD

By Anne Cetas

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. —1 Samuel 30:6

Everything looked bleak to David and his men when they arrived at Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:1-6). The Amalekites had attacked the city and taken their wives and children captive. The men were so discouraged that they wept until they had no more energy. And David, their leader, was “greatly distressed” because the people were contemplating stoning him (v.6).

In the end, David’s army rescued their families and defeated the Amalekites. But the story takes a great turn even before that when “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (v.6). Other translations use the words encouraged or refreshed.

The text doesn’t say exactly how David did this. But it makes me wonder, In what ways can we strengthen, encourage, or refresh ourselves in the Lord when we’re feeling discouraged?

First, we can remember what God has done. We can list the ways He has cared for us in the past, and how He has provided for us or answered a prayer request.

Second, we can remember what God has promised. “Be strong and of good courage; . . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).

Like David, let’s learn to strengthen ourselves in the Lord, and then let’s leave the rest with Him.

“I will strengthen,” so take courage,
Child of God, so weak and frail.
God has said so, and it must be,
For His promise cannot fail!  —Anon.

Our greatest strength is often shown in our ability to stand still and trust God.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

WHAT’S A CHURCH FOR?

By Dave Branon

Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? —1 Corinthians 3:3

Every time I hear about a church fight, I cringe. When my wife and I went out to eat with a pastor friend, he told us about some of the things that people in his church have squabbled about. Christians have been pitted against Christians over such issues as the color of the carpet, the thermostat setting, and whether the choir should wear robes.

Pastors have been run out of town during these kinds of arguments. Christians have cut off friendships. Churches have split because folks argued about such things.

Why does this happen? People who get caught up in petty squabbles have lost sight of what a church is for. The church is the place we go for worship, for reading the Word, for singing to God’s glory, for serving others, and for helping one another to grow. It’s supposed to be a place of love, forgiveness, and encouragement.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he described the unity of purpose (4:1-16) that should help us to work through disagreements without creating divisions. He knew all too well how selfish desires, personal agendas, and playing favorites could create havoc (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).

Let’s make sure our churches are safe havens from squabbles by remembering what a church is for.

O Lord, help us to turn aside
From words that spring from selfish pride,
For You would have Your children one
In praise and love for Your dear Son. —D. De Haan

Christians at war with each other cannot be at peace with their heavenly Father.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

NAVIGATING THE STORM

By Dennis Fisher

He commands and raises the stormy wind, . . . and He brings them out of their distresses. —Psalm 107:25,28

The ancient people of the nation of Axum (located on the Red Sea in modern Ethiopia) discovered that the stormy winds of the monsoon season could be harnessed by sail for speedy navigation. Rather than dreading the high winds and rains, they learned how to navigate their way through the storm.

Psalm 107 provides a wonderful word picture of how God allows storms to come our way, and then provides help for us to navigate through them. “He commands and raises the stormy wind, . . . and He brings them out of their distresses” (Ps. 107:25,28).

Trusting God for guidance in troubled times is a biblical theme. Hebrews 11 lists many who used their problems as an opportunity to exercise faith and to experience God’s grace, provision, and deliverance: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, [and] out of weakness were made strong” (vv.33-34).

Stormy circumstances are inevitable. Although our first reaction may be to run from the problem, we can instead ask God to teach us how to trust Him to navigate us through the storm.

When life feels like a storm-tossed sea
With crashing waves of pain and grief,
Turn to the Lord and trust in Him,
He’ll give you peace and bring relief. —Sper
Better to go through the storm with Christ than to have smooth sailing without Him.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC