Come back each week to read a new devotion based on my life, what's happening in the world around us, and what God has to say to us in His Word. If you'd like to receive these directly into your e-mail box, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Whoever came up with the expression, “He eats like a
bird” to refer to someone who eats tiny amounts of food was terribly
mistaken.In fact, I have come to
realize that they knew nothing about birds.After all, we are told that the average bird eats ¼ to ½ of their body
weight every day. That means a 2 lb. cardinal eats ½ to 1 lb. of seed a
day!That’s like me eating up to 75 lbs.
of food every day! It’s no wonder my bird feeder gets emptied so quickly.
Yesterday morning, before the winter storm came upon us,
I filled up the birdfeeder thinking the birds will need food for the next day
or two. By around 3 pm, it was empty!A
bunch of birds had flocked to my feeder and I didn’t see one bird that ate “like
a bird!”In fact, I’ve noticed that
especially when the temperature drops or a storm is coming, the birds in my
backyard begin to eat like crazy, almost as if this could be their last meal
ever!They eat frantically and
furiously; and, they eat a lot! Apparently, birds have appetites that are not
The birds eating in the midst of the snow storm!
We all have appetites, don’t we?And, I’m not just talking about our appetite
for food (although that can be quite prominent for many of us). But, we have
appetites for companionship, affirmation, comfort, pleasure, stability,
security, recognition, etc. Often our
lives are driven by whatever appetite seems to be the most prominent at the
moment.And unfortunately, most of our
appetites are not easily satisfied. Thus, we often end up living our lives
trying to fulfill the appetites of our body, mind, and spirit, constantly
striving and yet continually coming up empty. We might say, we are constantly
hungry and thirsty.
I wonder if that might be one reason why Jesus called
himself the “bread of life” and the “living water.” In fact, Jesus said,“Everyone who drinks this water (speaking of physical water) will be thirsty again,but
whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14 – NIV) Later he said, “I am the breadoflife. Whoever comes to me will never
go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 –
point is that he and he alone is able to satisfy the deepest cravings of our
hearts. Through faith in Jesus, all of our appetites can be satisfied once and
for all—most especially our desire for a relationship with God our heavenly
father. Thus, we no longer need to strive, eating frantically and furiously of
the things of this world. Rather, as we put our faith in Jesus we can say with
the Psalmist, “I will be fully satisfied
as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will
praise you.” (Psalm
63:5 – NIV)
eat like birds. Rather, let’s allow Jesus to fill us with his love, grace,
mercy, forgiveness, hope, etc. In the end, he is the only One who is able to
satisfy every longing of our hearts.
know many of us just celebrated Valentine’s Day with cards, candy, flowers—maybe
even a candlelight dinner.That’s pretty
much what St. Valentine’s Day has been turned into; it’s become an excuse for a
little bit of romance. But, did you know
the day is named after a real person? He was a third century leader in the
church who was martyred for his faith.
stories surrounding St. Valentine are many. What we do know is that, he lived
during one of the most immoral periods within the Roman Empire.Sexual promiscuity was rampant. And, at one
point The Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage so that men wouldn’t have an
excuse not to go to war. (Newly married
men would not join the army to fight; some say such was Roman law.) St.
Valentine, however, not only preached the gospel and led people to Christ, he
then performed secret weddings for these new believers.Eventually, St. Valentine was arrested for
breaking the law.
St. Valentine - A Third Century Bishop
story says, as St. Valentine stood before his jailer and judge, he began to preach
the gospel to him. The man responded by saying, “If what you say is indeed
true, I want you to prove it.”Valentine
laid his hand on the judge’s adopted daughter who was blind and immediately she
was healed!However, although the judge
may have converted to Christianity, the Emperor eventually called for the death
of Valentine.We are told that, just
before his death, St. Valentine wrote a letter to the little girl who had been
healed and signed it, “Your Valentine.”St.
Valentine was beheaded on February 14, 269 AD because he refused to renounce
his faith in Christ.
that doesn’t sound like a very romantic story to me!However, it is a story that is filled with
love. It’s the story of a man who had come to experience the incredible love of
his Savior, Jesus Christ—the One who had loved him all the way to the point of
death on a cross!It’s the story of a
man who, in return so loved his Savior that he was willing to die for that
love. St. Valentine was willing to be martyred for his faith because he had
come to understand the incredible love of God shown for him through the death
of God’s Son, Jesus.
The Apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ
laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our
brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16 –
NIV)Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for
(John 15:13 – NIV)
I surely don’t mind a little
romance complete with cards, flowers, and candlelight dinners. But I’m reminded
that real love goes far beyond an evening of romance. Real love is wrapped up
in all that God has done for us through Jesus. And, real love will always cost
us something, if not our lives. Like St. Valentine, let’s live our lives as
examples of that love, loving God with all our hearts and loving one another as
he has loved us.That makes for a real
past week, we had a couple of really nice days; they felt like a touch of
spring! On one of those days, I decided that rather than go to the gym I would
go for a run outdoors. And, since it was so nice out, I decided to take a ride
to the ocean and run the boardwalk, my favorite place to run.That was not the best decision I’ve ever
see, when I left my house the thermostat in my car read 64.However, when I got about a block from the
boardwalk, which is about 5 miles from my house, the thermostat suddenly
dropped to 55.By the time I got to the
place where I parked my car, it had dropped to 48—and, it was quite breezy. I began my run, heading south and into the
cold breeze that was beginning to pick up force.Those walking on the boardwalk were dressed
in hats, gloves, and winter coats. I had no hat or gloves; I was freezing in my
shorts, t-shirt, and running pullover, which I had thought for sure I was going
to have to take off. By the time I finished 2 ½ miles, which was all I could
get myself to run in those conditions, the temperature had dropped to 43.Of course, I was kicking myself, realizing
that I should have run in my neighborhood. This was not what I expected!
running in a temperature of 43 degrees with some wind is no problem if one is
ready for it. But, I was not ready for these conditions. I was expecting to
feel the warmth of the sun on my face, take off the pullover, and find myself
in a sweat.Instead, my face and hands
were cold, and my ears began to hurt. I was definitely not prepared for the
conditions I found myself in. Again, this was not what I expected.
This is what I expected!
you noticed how that happens to us in life in so many different ways? We are
expecting life to go a certain way, yet so often things turn out so
differently.The unexpected has a way of
raising its head at the most unexpected times in our lives. And, if we are not
careful we can become overwhelmed, thrown off course, disheartened and
discouraged.Maybe in some ways, we ought
to expect the unexpected; we ought to always be ready for the unexpected. How?
By building our faith and trust in the One for whom nothing is unexpected!
Psalm 46, the psalmist speaks of what had to have been for him the unexpected:
the earth giving way, mountains quaking and falling into the sea. He says, “nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall.” He
writes of the earth melting! No one expects earthquakes, wars, and the falling
apart of kingdoms and nations—at least not in their lifetime.It had to have all seemed quite
terrifying.Yet in the midst of it all,
the psalmist declares, “God is our refuge
and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Vs. 1) Twice he says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of
Jacob is our fortress.”(Vss. 7, 11)
It seems to me that, somewhere along the line the psalmist had prepared himself
for the unexpected.
don’t know what unexpected things might happen in your life and mine today or
in the days to come. All I know is that unexpected things do happen and will
happen. Thus, the best thing we can do is prepare ourselves for the unexpected
by building our faith and confidence in God, so that when the unexpected
happens “we will not fear.”(Vs. 2)Let’s put our trust in the One for whom nothing is unexpected!
How cold is it? Well, it’s been so cold in parts of the US that it’s colder there than it is in the Artic or Antarctica. It’s been so cold that in some parts the postal service stopped delivering mail, schools closed, and whole cities stayed indoors. It’s so cold the whole of Lake Michigan has been frozen over. It’s so cold people are blowing soap bubbles in order to watch them immediately crystalize in the air in front of them! Tragically, it’s been so cold that as of today, 21 deaths have been blamed on this polar vortex.
I think many of us are dreaming about warmer days to come. I know I am. Actually, just over a week ago I was in that warmer weather when I was down in Nicaragua. It felt so good not having to wear a bulky winter coat, hat, and gloves. I could just put on a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and I was good to go. It felt so nice being able to jump into the ocean, lie out on a hammock, and just feel the warmth of the sun. Ah, now I’m dreaming again…dreaming of those warmer days to come!
The cold and ice of Chicago....
The warmth of Leon, Nicaragua...I know which I'd choose!
Our longing for warmer days reminds me of another longing within each of us—a longing that is so much deeper, a longing for something much more critical than just another warm sunny day. I’m reminded of our longing for a world beyond the one in which we live—our deep desire for a world filled with the warmth of God’s presence. I’m thinking about our longing for eternity.
The Bible says that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 – NIV) That is, God has built within each of us a mechanism that causes us to yearn for the eternal, a mechanism that causes us to seek after and strive towards something that goes far beyond what this world is able to offer. Unfortunately, all too often we block out that mechanism with the pains and the pleasures of our lives. We forget about the eternal and end up living our lives for the material and temporal. But, somehow that mechanism finds ways of once again kicking into gear within our hearts and minds. There are times in our lives when somehow we find ourselves once again longing for and even dreaming about something beyond this life—i.e. we find ourselves looking towards the eternal.
I want to remind us today that God has a wonderful eternity planned for his children. It’s an eternity that is filled with joy and peace, goodness and love. It’s an eternity that is filled with the warmth of his presence. Thus, we ought to long for, dream about, and look ahead to that day when we will find ourselves in eternity with him. We ought to live our lives filled with faith and hope, as we lean towards that which is eternal.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 – NIV)