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Monthly devotional and news from the staff at Camp Sunrise
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Devotional Thought
February 2017
Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your prayers for the recent camp leaders' retreat! The Lord answered many prayers for good weather, safety, a profitable time, and more. But we'll save the details for the next newsletter.

In this email, we're thinking about the rain
and how it always does what God made it to do. How well do we follow the rain's example? You can read on to find out more.

The Wagners, The Ryans, and Ben Sparks

This evening I’m sitting in my living room, watching a steady downpour outside the front window.

Thousands—probably millions—of raindrops are pounding the ground, accompanied by a rumble of thunder echoing in the distance. Did you ever think about how these drops of rain are doing exactly what God made them to do? They’re watering the earth, nourishing the soil and trees.

Those trees are doing what God designed them to do, too. They’re replacing carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen, providing food for animals and other plants, giving shade on hot summer days, and probably much more.

In fact, everything God made is doing what God made it to do. How about you and me? What did God make us to do?

A scribe once asked Jesus a similar question: “Which is the first [or most important] commandment of all?” I’m sure you remember Jesus’ response: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength’” (Mark 12:29-30).

God made us (among many other reasons, perhaps) to love Him.

(Of course, Adam and every human since has failed to love God. Instead, we’ve chosen to go our own way and do our own thing. What if rain could decide to stop falling, or the trees could decide to stop producing oxygen? We couldn’t exist! We often think it’s okay to ignore God's Word and do as we please, yet this is no less rebellious (and no less dangerous) than if the rain decided not to fall. Fortunately, God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to rescue us from our willful, sinful ways and begin to glorify Him. But more about that a different time.)

If you’re not saved, it’s impossible for you to love God. But for those of us who are saved, we should be living each moment to “love the Lord [our] God” with all our being.

What does love for God look like? I’m sure many more passages of scripture could tell us, but here are three that I’ve found.

  1. When we love God, we hate evil. Psalm 97:10 says, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil!” This is exactly what God does. He hates pride, lying, murder, and evil thoughts, just to name a few. (See Proverbs 6.) If we hate evil, we won’t participate in it. We’ll encourage others to stay away from it, too.
  2. When we love God, we love others. Immediately after Jesus describes the most important command, he tells us the next most important: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31). John tells us the same thing, in more pointed terms: “If a man say, 'I love God,' and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
  3. Finally, when we love God, we obey Him. According to 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Did you notice that last phrase? “His commandments are not grievous” or “burdensome.” God gives Christians the ability to truly obey God, and even to find joy in doing so!

It’s dark outside now, and the rain has moved on—still doing what God made it to do. Let’s follow the rain’s example. Let’s do what God made us to do: to love Him.

One final thought: loving God isn’t always easy, but never forget that we can “love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Ben Sparks
Camp Sunrise
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"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised." Psalm 113:3


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