Read: Genesis 15: 5
A beautiful summer night with no clouds in the sky reveals millions of stars in the sky. As I laid on the grass looking upward, I pondered the mysteries of the universe, who I am, and the wonders of God 's creation. Looking upward I saw the stars and the variety of light that they illuminated. Some were bright, others were dull, some you could barely see. But they all were part of the universe, part of the master creation plan, working together to form constellations no matter what their brightness.
Oh the peace that surrounds a quiet summer evening, laying out in a field, looking up at the stars. Gets you in quite a meditative mood. Made me realize something about my own life. Looking up at the stars I thought about all the people who I have met in my life. In some way, everyone I meet touches me. But each does so to a different degree. The brightest stars in the sky are like the people who mean the most to me in my life. They are the ones who have influenced who I am today. They are family members and close friends. Other stars, which are not so bright, are those people who I may consider just friends and acquaintances. And the really dull stars are just people I have met but who have only been part of my life, shall we say, in passing. Everyone has meant something in my life, but some have been brighter than others and have meant more to me.
Another night I was walking down a road in the darkness. I looked up into the sky and saw a hazy moon. It was almost full and had a bright ring around it. I thought to myself, "you know- God is like the moon. Sometimes we can see the moon and sometimes it is covered by clouds. But it is always there. Sometimes we purposely go out to see the moon in the sky, but most times we take it for granted. God is that way. Sometimes it is very obvious to us that He is with us. But sometimes He is covered by clouds and harder to see. Sometimes we go to Him and ask for help and guidance, but sometimes we take Him for granted. But no matter what, He is always there. He is our shepherd, the big leader, and if we look to Him for guidance, we will always receive it."
The stars in your life may need some help and you may be the person who can give them ideas or teach them something they didn't already know. Just as the brighter stars in your life have helped make a difference to you, so you can make a difference for them. I challenge you to go out and not be sheep of God, but instead be sheep dogs. Help the Lord lead those sheep in your life who may go astray. Give people a little nudge to do something they should be doing. Stand beside Jesus Christ and help Him by being a minister to others and letting your light so shine. Perhaps through your actions, you can spark some life and light into others to do the same thing. And remember, God will guide us. He is the good shepherd. By following Him, we have great hope for the future. He can help us through the good times, and the bad, and can help us with all our hard tasks. Sometimes, though, it takes something as simple as a moonlit sky to remind us of His power- and to remind us that some things should never be taken for granted. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Spend some time outside this night and look at the stars, spending time in prayer with God.
Reading: Matthew 25: 31-46
In the late 20th Century there was a craze across this nation. Teens all across the land wore bracelets, necklaces, T-shirts and other apparel that said, "WWJD." The initials stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" It was a tool to remind the youngsters when they got in situations and were unsure how to react, they should think of what Christ would do in that situation.
I used the same kind of logic on a group of youngsters around that same time. When they would tease each other, push each other, or do something inappropriate, I would say to them, "Would You Do That to Jesus?" More often than not, their answer was "no."
In Matthew, Jesus tells that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, so we do that unto Him. How do you treat other people? Is it how you would treat our Lord and Savior? Thank about that the next time you interact with others. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Watch this video portraying an old camp song, "Whatsover You Do," which reminds us of today's lesson.
Reading: Deuteronomy 10: 12-21
You may find yourself in places where you are asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I have to admit, recently I was at a meeting where the gathered recited this and it had been quite a while since I spoke aloud those words I learned in elementary school.
In the Pledge of Allegiance, we end by saying, “and liberty and justice for all.” What does justice mean? To me, it means fairness: not showing partiality, taking into account all sides, and making a decision that is the best based on the circumstances.
How does God call us to do justice? We need to treat everyone equally, I believe. We need to be willing to serve those in need in our communities. We need to put aside differences and be willing to work together for the common good. We also need to love strangers. We need to fear the Lord, walking in God’s ways, keep the commandments, and most importantly, love our Lord.
And who will be the judge of whether we live up to these requirements? The Lord God when we stand before the judgment seat. I think if we make an effort to follow God’s ways, when we get to that seat, God, with open arms, will give us a big hug and welcome us to the kingdom! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray for justice.
Reading: Luke 6: 17-23
Jesus sought out the poor, hungry, sad, and the hated when He walked on this earth. He promised to love and care for them and give them their just rewards in time. As children of God, we have received a promise from our Lord-- that we will be cared for and God will be with us always, even to the end of the age. It does not matter our circumstances, what we have done in the past, or what sins we have committed. He loves us and promises us to be by our side. What a great reward!
If God can love us unconditionally, shouldn't we strive to love others unconditionally? Maybe we should make a promise to God that we will treat others with respect and kindness, no matter what their situation, social standing, or race. I bet if everyone did that, our world would be a better place indeed. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Pray for those who are poor, hungry, sad, and hated.
For today's devotional, again we will use the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which will also be a big part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers this summer. First, read the passage and then discuss the four questions below. Conclude by reading the reflection and ponder the quote presented.
Reading: Psalm 139: 1-18
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? (or for younger kids, which part of the story doesn’t make sense to me?)
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text? (or for younger kids, what is my favorite part of the story?)
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me? (or for younger kids, what does this story remind me of?)
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text? (or for younger kids, what is God or Jesus doing in this story?)
As we are on our Crosswalk with God, isn't it good to know that we have a friend with us that knows all about us. In scripture we are told that God knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our head. There are no secrets that we can hold from God. God is all knowing.
There are probably things in your life that you have done that you wish were a secret to God. But isn't it wonderful to know that our Lord loves us even when we have done something that is wrong. God still embraces us and accepts us. We are God’s forever and ever. Why don't you take time out today to thank God for loving you that much! --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Pray for something that is bothering you, knowing that God already knows your problem and is there to help you.
Reading: Micah 6:8
We are all on a spiritual journey with God. We are all at a different point on our walk. Some may be very young in their faith, while others might be more experienced. It is just important that we are indeed walking with the Lord.
As we walk, we need to remember to do several things. The Lord requires us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. God has called us and made us his chosen people. We are to take up the Cross of Christ each day. We must obey Him, making sure that we do justice and love kindness. And we need to do all that humbly.
It may not be an easy task. Often, people may not want to hear about the gospel of Christ. There may be stumbling blocks along our way, but we will be rewarded if we show kindness and justice and humbleness in our life. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Watch this video, which is a depiction of this Bible verse in song.
Reading: Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
Think of the person whom you love the most in your life. It could be a spouse, child, parent, or friend. You undoubtedly have very strong feelings for that person. Love is a very strong emotion. You may feel you love that individual with all your heart.
How much do you love God? Scripture tells us that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might. Therefore, we should show more love to God than to any other person on earth. God should be our top priority.
It's tough to always think of God first. We are human and sometimes our human tendencies tend to have us put ourselves and others ahead of God. But we should make God our top priority. Without God, we could not do anything. Without God, we would not have the loves of our lives with whom we have strong feelings.
Is God number one in your life? If not, shouldn't God be? --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Watch this YouTube video of a song we sing at camp to remind you of today's lesson.
Reading: Isaiah 11: 6-9
What a great reward we will have in the kingdom of God. There will be no hurt. There will be no destruction. All those we are with will know the Glory of God. The wolf and the lamb will live together. The leopard will sleep with the kid. Lions and cows will be friends and they will eat with the bears. Children will not be threatened by snakes. Oh what a place it will be!
As Christians, we have so much to look forward to after our life here on earth is over. The best is yet to come. Through Jesus Christ we have been given eternal life in a peaceful kingdom. What hope that gives us when times on earth get tough. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Listen to this musical rendition of our scripture verse for today.
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