Daily Devotional for Sportsmen...
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Thursday, October 16, 2014
October 16, 2014
Today's Photograph . . . . Life Goes On Just As God Established It (Josh C)
Bible Study Verses
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. (NIV)
Thoughts While fishing off an arm of the Pigeon River in southeastern Manitoba, Canada, I came upon a massive beaver dam. I had to wonder - what purpose do all those logs and sticks serve besides a house for that beaver?
I came to realize that, as always, God has a plan for everything, even sticks. The dam serves not only as shelter for the beaver; but because it retains the water on one side, water lilies and plants grow on the other. Moose come to dams to feed off those plants. Bears know to check the dams in the Spring for beavers that did not make it through the harsh winters. Life goes on, just as God established it.
Action Point When encountering something in nature that makes no sense to you, stop and try to see it from another angle or from someone else's view point. It is amazing how many times our eyes can be opened to see God's work when we look through the eyes of someone else.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Polarized sunglasses do more than just shade your eyes from the glare of the water; they can also protect your eyes from a stray cast or the hooks of a misguided lure.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
Thoughts I recall a fascinating experience while bow hunting in Minnesota. I was in my deer stand when I heard quite a commotion in the woods. The leaves were rustling, twigs snapping, accompanied by clashing sounds. I came down from my stand and headed toward the commotion. Two big Whitetail bucks, 14 and 10 pointers, had locked horns and were struggling to get apart. I tried to get close enough to get a shot, but they pulled apart and took off in the woods.
Even more fascinating are the Bighorn Sheep rams that have head-to-head combat. They rear back on their hind legs, then drop to all fours and charge each other at speeds greater than 20 mph. Fortunately, they have double-layered skulls shored with struts of bone for battle protection. They also have a massive tendon linking the skull and spine to help the head pivot and recoil from the blows.
These above mentioned displays of aggression are typical in the animal kingdom to prove dominance hierarchy.
Action Point God made us in His image and in His likeness. We don't have to fight for a position in a hierarchy of creation. We have Christ as our role model of love.
To be controlling, abusive and dominant in a marriage, or in any other relationship, is not what God had in mind for us. "Clothe yourselves" with Christ-like attributes.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Come to the Wind River Range of Wyoming and see the largest herd of Bighorn Sheep in North America.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV)
Thoughts When you are looking to buy a new bow or rifle and having difficulty choosing the right caliber, stock or arrows, back off; or better yet, stop for a moment. When it comes to high-tech hunting equipment, one really needs some knowledge to make the right choice. As dumb as this may sound, guys, you might try asking (praying) for God's help on this decision. That should always be your first action in most matters of life. I think that if God wants to be as personally involved in our lives as he says, let him be especially involved in the exciting decisions like the one above. You never know where he might guide your path, leading you to the proper knowledge.
Action Point Always ask God for His knowledge and understanding on life's matters. He says He will give it.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
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Today's Photograph . . . . The Narrow Road With The Small Gate Is JESUS (MQ)
Bible Study Verses
He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (NIV)
Thoughts At some time in your life, you may have heard a wise sailor recite this very old saying, "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night, sailor's delight." Well, you now know where it came from?
I used to think those very wise sailors learned it from years on the high seas. I'm sure many of them have. If you had to guess how long that saying has been around, you would have to go back before the time of Jesus. When Jesus was confronted by the Jewish leaders wanting a sign from Him, He used it to confront their hypocritical way of life.
He simply showed them that they could look at the sky and know how the weather was going to unfold that morning or evening. But, they could not understand the significant events that were unfolding right before their eyes.
Action Point I think today it is so easy for people to get caught up in what the media and others believe and think about what is happening in our world, and yet, fail to evaluate for themselves what is really taking place.
Jesus wanted people to stop and examine the circumstances in which they found themselves and see the truth - that He was truly the Messiah and the fulfillment of scripture. Our world is not on a road leading in the right direction.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, (NIV).
The narrow road with the small gate is Jesus. It is only through Him that one can be saved from his sins and receive eternal life.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day It is always important to check area and national weather reports before starting out on any trip. If you have an idea as to how the weather might unfold, you will know how to better prepare. Then, prepare for the unexpected. Last. but not least, read the sky. I cannot tell you how truly accurate that old saying is.
Today's Photograph . . . . Pruning To Generate Fruit (NPS)
Bible Study Verses
John 15 1-2
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (NIV)
Today I was helping a friend prune an apricot tree that was producing very little fruit. When we began working on the tree, it was a beautiful, a full tree with branches reaching for the sky. The tree was appealing to look at, even though, as the branches fell to the ground, it was left looking bare and not nearly as beautiful as when we started pruning. This tree should now be much more productive that it was before being pruned.
Just as in life, we like to appear appealing to other people even though we may not be as fruitful in the ways of the Lord. We all could use a little "pruning" by the Father to become more fruitful.
In this scripture, Jesus is saying that God, the Father, must remove some things from our lives to make us more fruitful. Even though we may not be a bad person, God must remove some things from our lives in order to discipline us and make us better disciples and instruments of His love.
It may be painful, but if we respond to His discipline in a positive way, we will be able to grow spiritually. When we are going through rough times, there is always the choice to be bitter. But if you choose Jesus, you can choose to be better.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day When out in the field, it is always a good idea to have some way to start a fire. Even in the heat of summer, a fire can come in handy. Double wrap waterproof matches in Ziploc bags, and carry a lighter or flint-and-steel set as well. Cotton balls dipped in Vaseline, stored in a water tight container, are also handy fire starting aides.
At that moment the fingers of a man's hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the king's palace wall next to the lampstand. As the king watched the hand that was writing, his face turned pale, and his thoughts so terrified him that his hip joints shook and his knees knocked together. (HCSB)
Thoughts I remember the feeling I had the first time I hunted deer and saw a buck. I was so overcome with a rush of adrenaline, that it took me several moments to pull myself together enough to make a shot. I still get that feeling sometimes, if it's a really big buck! I've known people so overcome with this feeling that they couldn't make the shot.
Like King Belshazzar in the verses above, the adrenaline takes over. In his case, it was due to the fear of God. The king knew he had betrayed God, and that he would soon die. The body physiologically responds to fear and excitement in a similar way; and at times, is totally uncontrollable.
Action Point Hopefully, the next time we feel that rush of excitement when we are looking at a huge trophy animal in the woods, we will remember this verse and the overwhelming power of God.
Perhaps that rush will come as we lead someone to Christ and they have just asked Him into their heart. That's truly exciting!
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Make sure you have a good rest before taking a shot, especially if you have that feeling of uncontrollable shakes rushing through your body. There are several bipods available to purchase for your rifle. These would serve as a great rest, and can also get your sights above the bushes if needed.
While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [ material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide. So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. (Amplified)
Thoughts Moonlit nights and campfires are one of the best parts of the hunt. I remember a fall turkey hunt, sitting around the campfire on one of those moonlit nights, talking with my son until 2 AM. We were talking about the future, his future; and at that moment in his life, it seemed very uncertain.
Uncertainty in our lives can breed fear and loss of hope, if we let it. As I recall that time, some 18 years later, things have turned out very good. I have a son in whom I am very proud, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a very beautiful granddaughter. All of that worry for nothing, like the sparks that flew up from the fire into the night sky, only to disappear.
Action Point Titus 2:13 tells us to look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. Jesus is our Hope. He tells us not to worry, but rather, to lay our burdens on Him. In Proverbs 16:3 He says, "Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed," (Amplified).
So, why do we worry over what tomorrow will bring? Instead, let's put all our faith and trust in Him who is faithful, and then watch--be amazed--at what the future holds. Read your Bible every day and let His light shine on your future.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Always make sure to carry something in your pack to start a fire. Waterproof matches in a sealed container and propane lighter are good choices.
Another tip for making a fire: Put sawdust in the sections of an egg carton; pour paraffin over the sawdust, break the sections apart and put them in baggies. These will start a fire when it's wet. A hot fire feels so good when you get soaked in the rain.
Today's Photograph . . . . May He Find Each Of Us As Grapes In The Wilderness, Ready To Turn Loose Of The Vine That Gives Earthly Life So That We Can Abide [n The Vine (EPA.GOV)
Bible Study Verse
"I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved. (NKJV)
Thoughts Wild blackberries are one of my favorite outdoor foods. They're not nearly as seedy as the hybrid garden-variety berry, and they're much sweeter. I know of several places where blackberries grow wild. This gives me an additional incentive to hike or fish in those areas. Because I know where to look and when they're in season, I know I'll find them when they're ripe and ready to harvest.
God knew exactly where Israel was, too; not only where they were in the wilderness, but also where they were in relationship with Him. And He "found" them and made them His people. The message here is not so much about His searching, since He knows where everyone is; but about His delight in "finding" people who desire Him to be Lord.
Likewise, He knows where we are in our relationship with Him. If we're without Jesus as Lord of our lives, then we're not ready for the final harvest. When God finds us by His word of truth, we become a kind of first fruits of His creatures, just as Israel was before Jesus came (James 1:18), we become children of the living God. May He find each of us as grapes in the wilderness, ready to turn loose of the vine that gives earthly life so that we can abide in the Vine Who gives eternal life. Read John 15:1.
Action Point Even as Christians, we experience highs and lows in life. Sin, wrong choices, or just the heavy weight of daily living can cause our sweet, ripened life to be bitter and unsavory. (Kingdom terms, of course)
Think of how you will look to God if He should suddenly find you in any of these situations. Remember, He already knows where you are in your relationship with Him. It's a matter of how much you want to be like Jesus every moment of every day. In your daily prayer time, pray to be more and more like Him.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day When picking wild blackberries, also pick some leaves. They make a soothing warm drink when dried, crushed and steeped like tea. As with any wild harvest, be sure to wash them thoroughly.
Today's Photograph . . . . I Took Some Time Off, Refocused, Relaxed and Waited Patiently (Will D)
Bible Study Verses
Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (NIV)
Thoughts When I first gave my life to Christ, I had many questions. I read the Bible and prayed earnestly to God for revelation; and He was there, answering with speed and clarity.
However, I went through a time where I did not know if God was hearing me at all. Often I would ask, "Are you there, God?" I remember growing anxious, even impatient.
Daniel had a great concern. His people had become complacent and content in their Babylonian captivity and subsequent lifestyle. But, Daniel didn't lose patience. He "set his mind" (focused intently), humbled himself, fasted and prayed for them for three weeks! This scripture reveals an amazing insight into the heavenly realm of spiritual warfare. Although delayed, the angel assured him his prayer was heard while a touch restored Daniel's strength (see verse 18).
At the beginning of this deer season, I saw a beautiful ten-point well before shooting time. I watched him ease away in the bright full-moon twilight. For several weeks and countless hours, I hunted that buck. I grew impatient and started to question my spot, my abilities, my gun, etc. The questioning made me realize that I was placing too much of my time, thoughts, and energy on that one animal. I took some time off, refocused, relaxed and waited - patiently. Shortly thereafter, God rewarded me with a nice eight-point.
Action Point As I continue my walk and grow in my relationship with God, I have learned the importance of a patient prayer-filled life. Colossians 4:2 reminds us, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Be patient. Watch and wait for the Lord. He hears our prayers and will answer them because His love for us is unfailing. He will give us strength when nothing else can or will.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Deer trails often skirt open areas, parallel creeks and rivers, or follow the contours of hills. When setting up a stand, look for trails that deer naturally use to travel from one habitat type to another. Have confidence in your spot.
Today's Photograph . . . . If You Miss A Day, Don't Beat Yourself Up Just Get Back After It Tomorrow. God Is Waiting (Jack M)
Bible Study Verse
I Timothy 4:8
For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (HCSB)
Thoughts Exercise to prepare for the upcoming seasons. The days afield in pursuit of our favorite quarry are here or near. We plan, we prepare, and we perform the tasks necessary to succeed. We invest large amounts of time, effort and money in our avocations, as well as in our equipment. If we are smart, we begin to work out to get in shape. We make sure our hunting partners are in shape too, especially the dogs that we appreciate and enjoy. They must be refreshed in their training and given adequate time to be physically ready for their challenges.
As men of God, we must understand that godliness requires spiritual exercise just as physical fitness requires physical exertion. Let's prepare for what is truly important - eternity; and not forget that which also has benefit now.
Action Point Make daily spiritual exercise a priority. Discipline yourself to be in the Word of God and in prayer. Write a daily quiet time into your schedule.
If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up; just get back after it tomorrow. God is waiting, and He will satisfy your soul, and strengthen you as you exercise the privilege of His presence.
Include physical exercise and a proper diet as a spiritual discipline. If you do, you will be better prepared to enjoy God's blessing of the outdoors.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Prepare physically for the days ahead. Make sure you are in shape. Exercise ahead of that hunting trip. Have a physical by your doctor. Make sure your dogs are in shape too. Take them to the vet. Make sure all of their immunizations are up to date, and their health is good. Exercise them daily. It will make the days afield far more enjoyable and profitable.
Today's Photograph . . . . Friendly Local Game Warden (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?" (HCSB)
Thoughts What a sobering thought. There is someone who can tell you everything you have ever done. Psalm 139:7 asks, "Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?" (HCSB).
As a hunter, I have been tempted by others to violate game laws. I have been told, "Don't worry, no one will know."
I have also been approached by game rangers who have been watching the area I was hunting. These have been positive contacts for me.
For some hunters, it may not be positive. The fact that someone could tell them what they had done may result in a citation for violating the law.
Action Point Read Psalm 139. Every moment of every day God is watching us. This isn't something that should scare us. It should comfort us. God created us and knows everything about us. The Samaritan woman in John 4 understood that Jesus was interested in her and cared about her. She went to tell others about the Man, "Who told me everything I ever did," (HCSB).
Use this knowledge while making choices during the day. Ask God to give you the wisdom to make choices that are honoring to Him.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Look for opportunities to have contact with game rangers. The ones I know are more than happy to share information about the hunting units for which they are responsible.
Today's Photograph . . . . As We Go About Our Day Today, Let's See Who God Has Put In Our Lives To "Build Up" (NPS)
Bible Study Verses
Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (HCSB)
Thoughts As firefighters, we respond not only to fire calls but also to medical calls. In fact, as with most fire departments around the country, the majority of our calls are medical in nature; and so we encounter a wide variety of persons with medical needs. These include the very wealthy in million-dollar homes, as well as the mentally ill who set up their condominium living behind a dumpster.
At times, it may be difficult to be kind to a person who has not bathed in three months, has the mind of an eight-year old, is covered with lice, and with sores that we call meth bites. (Methamphetamine users often hallucinate that they have bugs under their skin and will try to dig them out with fingers, sticks, tools, etc., leaving sores about their whole body.)
It may also be difficult for us firefighters to maintain mature behavior in these circumstances. Nevertheless, we strive to treat every person as our customer, regardless of their condition, and meet whatever needs he or she may have.
Action Point Although this is an extreme example of someone "without strength," you and I come upon them every day. I believe that when Paul speaks of "we", he is talking about Christians. We are to be the "strong" in Christ. When we encounter someone "without strength," a homeless person, a friend who needs encouragement, or an unbeliever in need of salvation, we have more than a suggestion from the Word to help them; we have an obligation.
As we go about our day today, let's see who God has put in our lives to "build up."
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Next time you're out in the field and see someone with a fresh harvest, stop by their camp to see if they need help. Successful hunters often may provide insight as to where the game you are hunting might be found.
Today's Photograph . . . . When In The Middle Of The Rapids Keep Your Eyes On God (Travis L)
Bible Study Verse
Psalm 23: 2-4
He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me. (NLT)
We were rafting down the Jacques-Cartier River in Quebec last year as a family. This river contains various "classes" of rapids in it. Being our maiden voyage rafting, we did a section of the river that wasn't too difficult.
Our first section of rapids still ended up being a bit rough though! We hadn't refined our turning skills, and half-way through the rapids, we got seriously stuck on a rock. We tried shifting our weight; we each tried jumping up and down (pop-corning) to jar us loose, and we pushed off the rock with our paddles with everything we had. Somehow we got off the rock, but it was a little hairy.
The current was so swift, that we just didn't seem to be able to maneuver fast enough for what was coming at us. As the trip went on though, the rapids felt slower than the first set and we were able to navigate them much better than before. The speed of the current didn't change, but our ability to recognize what was happening and what to do about it was much sharper than earlier in the trip.
Life certainly has its way of throwing turmoil at us. We can be cruising along in peaceful waters and all of a sudden, everything seems rocky. I don't know about you, but I have witnessed some amazing people in very difficult circumstances. Whether they were dealing with cancer, the death of a spouse, a problem with their house . . . they were able to walk through their adversity with an amazing level of peace and patience. I've also witnessed others who have gone through similar experiences, yet their problems seemed to be absolutely overwhelming and despair overtook them, resulting in anger and bitterness.
What's the difference? Faith in God. Everyone will have trials and adversity to deal with in life. But those who put their trust in God, will find peace in the middle of the problems. Knowing that God is in complete control of every aspect of my or your life provides great comfort! It allows the current to slow down a bit, so that we can get our bearings straight while still being in what others may perceive as a torrent. God doesn't take us out of the current; He just goes through it with us . . . and that makes all the difference in the world!
If you are stuck in the middle of the rapids right now, keep your eyes on God - He will guide you through!
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
When rafting through rapids, always look for the "V" in the river and go straight to the middle of the "V". That will be your best route through.
Today's Photograph . . . . You Eat What You Harvest (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
Proverbs 12:27 The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt. (NIV)
Thoughts God truly has provided us sportsmen with a bounty of game animals. They are and should be treated as a precious gift, a privilege to hunt. Early on, I was taught, "You eat what you harvest." As a father, I made sure that I passed those same words on to my son.
I can still remember my grandmother helping my dad and me clean and package our deer meat. My grandmother was a farm girl. Her family ate what they raised and grew. She painstakingly cleaned the carcass with a vinegar-water mixture to remove all foreign matter, hair, and dried blood. The game we package after cleaning with this method always smells good and tastes great when prepared.
Action Point We are expected to be good stewards of God's awesome creation, not lazy and slothful hunters. From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, man was given dominion over the animals. In order to continue our hunting privileges, our stewardship of God's creation is very important. Our diligence in this is not an option. It is a command.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day Try cleaning the game you harvest with a solution of one cup of vinegar to one half gallon of water. It loosens up dried crusty blood, hard-to-remove hair, and foreign matter.
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." (NIV)
Thoughts While I was sitting at a watering hole a while back, I heard rustling in the bushes on the other side of the water. Moments later, a very nice buck poked his head out from the trees and looked around. Slowly, he emerged from the trees, extremely cautious about every move. Eventually, he came down to the water to drink and ended up a mere fifteen yards from me. (Of course I was hunting elk).
The entire time I watched him from my blind, he appeared very alert and on edge. After several minutes, a much older buck stepped out from the same area in the trees and came down to water. The first buck then seemed somewhat more relaxed, but very submissive to the older buck and still keeping watch while they drank.
Action Point A watchman in Ezekiel's time would stand guard on the wall of the city and warn of impending danger. God called Ezekiel to be a watchman for God's people and to warn them of God's coming judgment.
As Ezekiel was a watchman for the Jews and this younger buck was a watchman for the older buck, so should we be watchmen for God's children. Sometimes I find myself witnessing to others, spreading the great news about God's salvation, but omitting the ugly side of sin and death.
This verse helps to serve as a reminder that, in addition to sharing the greatness of God's salvation, we may also need to warn others of the consequences of denying what He offers to us.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day While sitting in a blind, be prepared for a visit from animals other than those you are hunting. Take along a camera. You might find that these experiences are just as memorable as your harvest.