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Last Post AT 2013 June 12, 2013

Posted by theronwatson in Devotional Thought.
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Galatians 6:9-10
This will be my last post for this year’s Annual Training. I will end the same way I began. What we do is noble, upright and just. We serve the great people of this nation, our state and all who stand on the side of freedom. We represent our families and relatives. We stand with our brothers and sisters in arms. We are united.
This passage is very clear. We should never grow weary in doing the right things. Our bodies may grow weary from the hand work of the task at hand, but our spirits should never grow weary of doing the right things. It is a matter of honor.
Honor is doing what’s right because it’s right. It is right for the sake of right. It is the same as truth. Truth need not be believed, it need only be accepted. Right is right because it is.
I tell people all the time, you are never wrong for doing right. Such is the unwavering spirit of the soldier. We seek to obey those in authority over us. We work alongside our peers. But, we serve the people of this great nation.
Let us never forget to do good, noble upright things for our friends, our families and ultimately for our God.

Oh Lord, help me to do good things to all people, but especially to those who are part of the family of believers. Let me seek to serve all in the family that is my own, my friends and all who choose the way of right, the way of liberty, the way of freedom. Amen.

To the End June 11, 2013

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2 Timothy 2:3-7
We are so close. We can see the finish line. But, we are not there yet. It would be easy to let go now and coast the rest of the way. We have fought the good fight. We have finished the race. We have kept the faith. (2 Tm 4:7) Now there is in store for us the reward for all of our hard work and dedication, freedom. It is not a trinket that you are handed after completing a task. Rather, it is an immaterial thing that you never possess, only maintain. You can see it in the faces of the people you fight for. Sometimes they are appreciative and buy your meal or drinks. Sometimes they are not. But, your sacrifice allows them the right to choose.
Here, Paul is near the end of his life. He is recounting the life he has lived, the work he has invested and the sacrifices he has made. He is writing to Timothy, his young protégé encouraging him to stay strong.
I would like to echo the words of Paul. Stay strong. Don’t compromise your values. We’ve come too far. Don’t give up, we are not there yet.

Oh Lord, help me to stay strong to the end. Help me to persevere and not give up. Bless our efforts and our sacrifice for the cause of freedom. Amen.

Church Sign June 9, 2013

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Jeremiah 31:31-34
Surely you have seen the church sign that reads, “Sign Broken. Message Inside Sunday Morning.” I guess that’s kind of what this post says. I will hold a chapel service today. You will hear the devotional message of this post in the message delivered. The passage is God’s future promise to the Israelites when they were to come out of captivity. They had rebelled against God. For their sins, God sent them into exile. But a day was coming. It was to be a day of promise and blessing. A day when God would know them and be known by them, personally.
In the Old Testament, God dealt with His people as a group, as a nation as a whole. But, in days to come, God would deal with His people individually. The promise of this passage came to pass in the New Testament in Jesus. Jesus made it possible for us to have a relationship with God on a personal basis. We are the benefactors of God’s promise.
Let this sink in, you can know God.
He has communicated His love to us in His Son. He has written His Law on our hearts in the Holy Spirit, poured out on the earth on the day of Pentecost. This is the message, it is the message of hope and restoration with God. It is the message of the Cross.

Oh Lord, speak to me in my spirit in such a way that I might hear you. Convey your message to my heart and let me be bold in my acceptance and practice of it. Be my God. Help me to be your people. Amen.

Last Week June 8, 2013

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James 4:13-17
Last week at this time we made our long journey to begin training. Do you remember what you were thinking or planning for when you arrived?
I made some guesses about how I would conduct my days. I packed enough to get by for the first few days because I made assumptions that we would have freedoms that we haven’t been given. I have been far busier than I anticipated. I have not been able to get my personal things in.
How about you?
What did you have planned? Did it turn out as you had expected?
The Bible speaks to this. In James 4, we are cautioned against making decisions about the future especially since we don’t know what our future holds. Only God knows our future. The businessmen of this parable made their plans without consulting God nor giving Him credit for their success. They bragged about themselves and what they had accomplished. It is not enough to develop a plan, no matter how foolproof it may seem, and then ask God to bless it when He was not included in it anyways. The good evangelist would say, you can’t make plans and then ask God to “bless my mess.”
What are your plans for next week?

Oh Lord, you see and know all things. You know my rising up and my lying down. In you I live and move find my being. Help me to remember that I don’t order my steps and the days of my life, you do. Amen.

Lesser Miracles June 7, 2013

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John 21:1-12
Let’s take a second look at this passage. It is a story of an amazing miracle. Generally speaking, there are three kinds of miracles; miracles over nature, miracles over healing and miracles over death. This is a miracle demonstrating God’s power over nature.
The disciples had been up all night fishing. They were cold, wet, tired and hungry. Now, there is this man on the shore that seems to be heckling them. He tells them to cast their net to other side of the boat. When they do, they haul up this huge catch of fish. How did He know the fish were there? Did He somehow see a school of fish in the false light of pre-dawn? Did He appoint them to be there?
That is a pretty amazing miracle that demonstrates Jesus’ power over nature.
But, this is the lesser miracle in the story.
One disciple peers over the side of the boat and realizes the shadowy figure on the shore is Jesus. Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. As he and the others make their way on to the shore they find a small fire burning with bread being baked. Jesus asks for some fish to add to the breakfast He has started. They didn’t need to ask, they knew it was Jesus.
The rest of the story is the greater miracle, the true miracle. Jesus reinstates Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times only a few nights before. He originally claimed he would follow Jesus to death if need be. But, when push came to shove, Peter backed down. He jumped out of the boat to get to Jesus quickly. He had some unfinished business with Jesus.
Jesus lovingly reinstated Peter. He forgave him of his offenses. That is the real miracle here, the miracle of redemption. We too can be redeemed by Jesus for the wrongs we have done in our lives.

Oh Lord, help me to see myself as you see me. Help me to recognize the things I have done that have been wrong. Though my sins be as scarlet, make me white as snow in Your perfect redemption. Amen.

Miserable June 6, 2013

Posted by theronwatson in Devotional Thought.
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John 21:1-12
How do you describe “miserable?”
I grew up in the mountains of Idaho. As school began I knew it wouldn’t be long before we spend every weekend at hunting camp. Early in the Fall in the high country, the weather changes come quicker and more severely. You might head out one morning for an all day hunt with the sun shining and come back that evening in the snow.
Miserable looks like this; you come in from that all day hunt cold, wet, tired and hungry. Most of the time you were also empty handed. That’s miserable.
That’s where we find our disciples in this story. They have just lost their friend, their leader. Peter and the others decide to go out fishing. On the Sea of Galilee, people fish at night. So, they had been up all night. They were tired, wet, cold and hungry. Now, here is this person on the shore that seems to be heckling them, “Friends, no fish…” It turned out to be Jesus. Suddenly their sullen misery turns to joy.
It has been raining on and off for days. That’s miserable. The temperature is ridiculous and the humidity is stifling. That’s miserable. But, isn’t it worth it for the cause of freedom? Consider the soldiers of old who came through this same base following World War 2. They did not have air conditioning, nor buildings with solid floors. They were in tents with dirt or pallet floors. That’s miserable. But, it was all worth it and it still is worth it for us to be miserable for a short time to defend that freedom and comfort we all enjoy.

Oh Lord, help me to put into perspective the true measure of what freedom costs knowing that others have given up so much that we all might have the life of comfort and freedom that we all enjoy. Help me to endure the rain and heat to further the cause of freedom, identify with those who have come before me and to identify with you in your suffering. Amen.

Perseverance June 5, 2013

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Romans 5:3-5
When you have an issue, who do you turn to for help, advice and counsel? Chances are it is an older person of wisdom and character. How did they come to be so? They had to endure the fiery flames of trial. Because they have been down this road before, they know the way and can help you down it as well.
Wouldn’t you like to be a person of wisdom and character? How then do you suppose you would become one? You have to endure the hard times.
It is starting to settle in now. The days are long and hot. There is so much to do. I am tired. It’s not simply a matter of waiting. It is a constant droning on of tasks to complete and sacrifices to be made along with it. That is the difference between patience and perseverance.
We all know what patience is. It is waiting. Sometimes it feels like forever. Sometimes it seems to pass quickly. But, waiting is waiting. Waiting in line takes patience. Waiting to sell a house when you need the money requires more patience. Waiting for the doctor to come back into the room requires patience. Waiting to find out why certain things have happened in your life requires another kind of patience.
Perseverance is different. If patience is waiting, perseverance is doing something while you are waiting. You have your daily tasks. You have your family concerns and the things of life on your mind. How do you get through the day? With perseverance. You just keep going and doing, putting one foot in front of the other. You just keep pressing on. You just keep working and striving knowing, trusting the end will come sometime.
All of this serves a grander purpose. It is to develop our character. It is through our own trials that we become a person of wisdom and character worth looking up to and seeking advice from.
Our character is perfected in our hope. It is hope for something greater out there that our faith sees without our eyes. That’s the real difference of a person of character.
Keep strong in the faith, in your daily walk and in your daily work to find the full measure of your character developed in the trials.

Oh Lord, help me to remember that you work all things together for good for those who love You and are called according to your purposes. Help me to become a person of wisdom and character that I may be a source of encouragement to others. Amen.

Fleeting Moments June 4, 2013

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James 4:13-17
Summertime in the south is difficult for me. I did not grow up here, so the heat and humidity have taken some getting used to. My favorite seasons of the year are Autumn and Spring. I like the Autumn best. The days are growing shorter. The harvest is being collected. The ground and God’s grace have yielded a good crop. The air is cool and dry. Nighttime is sometimes cold enough for a blanket and the days will develop a chill soon.
In the Spring, life is coming back from the bare nakedness of the trees that look dead. Growth and change are happening just out of sight in the mystery of life. The nights are cold and the days still cool, but summer heat is coming.
As the summer arrives I give a sigh as I await my blessed harvest and cooler days.
The hard part is knowing that the best, the most perfect of these days won’t last long. The heat or the cold is coming quickly. The fair moments are fleeting.
It is difficult to think that life is like that too. But, the Bible says that our lives are as a vapor. Even the moments of our lives are fleeting as well.
Here in the midst of the heat and work of training, the same is true. While it may seem that the day will never end, or the heat is unbearable, know that soon all of this will come to an end. Even these days are fleeting.
Perhaps instead of disdain, we should look at these days with a sense of wonder trying to soak in every last moment knowing they will not last long. They are all but fleeting moments.

Oh Lord, help me to remember that all things are but a moment, everything fades away, but You last forever. Help me consider with joy the moments that I have been graced with. Amen.

In the Fullness of Time June 3, 2013

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3 June 2013
The Exodus

I was thinking today about “the fullness of time.” The Bible speaks of it, but what does it mean? Time does not exist to God as we understand it. The Psalmist remarked that a thousand years was like a day, and a day was like a thousand years to God. So, what then is “the fullness of time?”
Consider the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. There was a day the Israelites entered the wilderness escaping Egypt. They made it up to the edge of the Promised Land and chose not to enter. For their disobedience, God made them wander in the desert for 40 years.
There was a day the 40 years started and a day that it ended. Whether it was exactly 40 years to the day or not is insignificant at this point. What is important to note is that 40 years passed. That’s the fullness of time.
What is the greatest day of any field exercise? The day you come out of the field. You could have spent a week or a month in the field. Regardless, the best day is the day you finish up the field problem. There is a day you enter your field time and a time it is complete. That is the fullness of time.
The same is true of summer camp. There is a day that it begins. There is also a day it will end. Some dreaded the day we started our annual training, other were excited about it. For both, a day will come that it ends. It will be a time of celebration and stories. But, it will be completed in that day. That’s the fullness of time.

Oh Lord, help me focus on the task at hand, my brothers and sister in arms and the present moment knowing it is but a fleeting moment. Help me to stay strong until the completion of the fullness of time for this time in my life. Amen.

You, Me, Us, We June 2, 2013

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2 June 2013
Philippians 4:8

For the occasion of the Louisiana Army National Guard, while we are engaged in Annual Training ::

There is something bigger than each of us out there; it is ALL of us. Individually, we can be overcome, overwhelmed, overtaken. Individually, we will not make it very long. But together… United… We are strong. We are able.
What we do for the Army National Guard is good. We help defend the freedoms others enjoy. It is noble, right and pure. We “individually” come together, corporately, to form “us.” We are a unit, united in unity, to complete the honorable task put before us.
We represent part of a whole. We represent ourselves, individually, but there is a greater purpose by far because we can be overcome alone and freedom can be taken away. We represent our families, who also must sacrifice while we are away. We represent our towns, our state, our nation.
We serve. We serve the great people of each portion and the whole. We are willing to accept great sacrifices. For some, even the greatest sacrifice.
Not everyone is called to this noble task. Not everyone is able. But, for those of us who have willingly accepted this great calling, we should never forget that it is not for any one of us, any one family or group. It is for the whole. It is for ALL of us. Freedom is not free. We must come together to defend it, for ALL of us.

Oh Lord, help me to remember that I am not here for myself. I am here to uphold a noble and honorable undertaking to defend the freedoms others enjoy, for all of us. Amen.