Devotional #2: Of Waves, Wind, and Wisdom

A few summer's ago I took a group of graduates down to Newport Beach, California for their Senior summer trip. We made our way down to the ocean as soon as we arrived and being the silly little Oregonians that we were, we ran at the water like deer run at headlights. It was like we had never seen waves in our lives. I wrecklessly made my way into the water screaming my head off with glee when I was silenced with a mouthful of salt water. As I knelt down to spit the water out and catch my breath, a wave came in and toppled over me bringing me into complete submission to the Pacific ocean. The problem with waves, is that you never know how often they'll attack, and that's just what they did to me. One by one they came in compacting me into a little ball and giving me the washing machine effect. I finally crawled to shore and breathed in the smog infected air that to me was like the freshest air I've ever breathed. And so I lived to tell the story. Being tossed by those waves has given me a better perspective on James chapter 1. Check this out: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord," James 1:5-7. As we see here in this section, the wind controls, drives, and directs the waves of the sea and the wind will always be here. It shows up when it wants, goes when it wants, wherever it wants. James is telling us here that the person who wants wisdom and understanding, simply has to ask and the asking must be accompanied by faith. True faith is not found in the company of doubt and doubt causes a person to become like a wave of the sea, controlled and conquered by the circumstances of life. Now, back to wisdom. Well who wants a thing as simple as wisdom? one might say. Take a look at the prayer of Solomon sometime in 1 Kings 3:3-12. This great King asks God simply for wisdom and God grants him an endless amount of riches, provision, and blessing. So with wisdom comes an abundance of God's best. But as you know, your desire for something will intensify the way it is asked for. When a child wants a new toy, they don't just ask, they beg! When you want to skip school for a day and go out with a friend, you don't just ask your parents to skip, you grovel at their feet! If you waver for a minute, mom's and dad's pick up on that and will instantly shut you down (we've all been there!). When we come to the Lord, may we not throw out token prayers as if we deserve for God to answer them. Rather may we ask with persistance, standing like a rock in our faith where we will see two incredible things take place: The winds of this life being unable to control us and only God's very best not being witheld from us.

  Devotional #1: The Price is Wrong Bob!
A few Monday's ago the fella's, my wife, her mom and I headed down to the CBS studios in L.A. and participated in a taping of The Price is Right. When I first had the idea of going to the show I just wanted to see the studio it's filmed in. Well me made it there, but once we were there I wanted to make it to contestant's row, then my name got called! But once I was on contestant's row I wanted to make the right bid so I could get on stage, and I did! But once I was on stage I just wanted to make it to the wheel, and I did! Once I made it to the wheel I.... well I'm not going to give any more of the story away but the point is, as people, having the sinful nature that we do, we can't ever be satisfied, we always want just a little bit more. In the book of James we read this in verse 2 thru verse 4: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Maybe you're going thru a tough time, experiencing a difficult challenge, and are being tossed around having fallen into a tumultuously hard trial, and it feels as though God has abandoned you or is causing trials to happen to you as punishment for sin. I'm writing this so you know the truth, God has not left you nor is He punishing you. You see, God knows our nature, He knows that only in Him can we be totally satisfied. That is why He allows trials to take place in our lives. They are allowed by Him to make us stronger people who are better equipped to do His work and the things He's called us to do. When sandpaper is applied to a piece of rough wood for a period of time, the wood becomes smooth and useful as that paper goes against its grain. Trials are a mere piece of sandpaper that may rub us the wrong way for a season, but ultimately will bring us to a place of usefulness and satisfaction in Jesus, removing our nature of feeling incomplete and unsatisfied. We can choose to fight off these trials and do it our way rather than God's way, but that will only lead you in a vicious cycle of always lacking and always wanting. How do we do it God's way? Well that's the good part. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep" (John 10:14). In the 23rd Psalm we see Jesus' description of Himself brought to life as David writes, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." All you have to do in your trial is hang out with the good shepherd. The One who knows you like nobody else does, the One who will lead you to piece and prosperity, the One who will see you through your "valley of the shadow of death," the One and only One, who will ultimately satisfy and complete you! So don't "freak out" in the "Landslide's" of life, but spend your hard times with the Lord and in His Word and you will begin to know true satisfaction.