Showing posts from March, 2022

Be successful

Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out.  (Robert Collier) God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no weekend war that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-11) Many of us go through the same routine day after day, without thought as to why or how we do whatever it is we do within those routines. Do you honestly think through the steps of brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or even putting on your clothing? Do you just head to the coffee pot not really thinking through the 'desire' for that first cup? If you are heading to work today, do you actually think about each twist and turn in the road, or do you kind of drive out of '

Trust is....

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) What comes to mind when you hear the word "trust"? If you are like me, you might immediately go to the idea of being able to rely upon someone because of their integrity. They exhibit steadfastness of character and strength that invites you to 'trust' their ability. Some may go the route of saying 'trust' means you can count on something or someone. None of these definitions is wrong - they are all accurate ways to describe trust. There is one other way to describe trust - probably the most accurate of all - Jesus. He is the one with supreme ability and strength; integrity that goes beyond whatever we have seen modeled in others; and the foundation upon which we

A nutrient-rich environment

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, " The old life is a grass life,  its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; g rass dries up, flowers wilt,  God’s Word goes on and on forever.  This is the Word that conceived the new life in you . (I Peter 1:22-25) At the point of conception, life begins. We may not see all that is occurring, but we know there is a 'multiplication process' at work that is bringing new life upon new life. God's Word conceives life within us - new life - each and every time we hear it, embrace it, allow it to affect our lives. New life upon new life - this is the assurance we have in Christ Jesus. Our lives are not ours alone - we are meant to share that life with others - by modeli

The fruit of willingness

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Galatians 5:22-23) I often speak of finding 'something new' in scripture - passages I have read a hundred or more times, but all of a sudden something new comes across to me. There isn't any 'new truth' - it is just that I was finally open to seeing t

Will you be overcome or will you overcome?

Who has a harder fight than he who is striving to overcome himself? (Thomas Kempis) Every God-born person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. (I John 5:4-5) It is indeed a hard fight to live as an overcomer in this world, is it not? There are all manner of temptations just lurking around every corner. If you don't see something on TV that gets your mind to consider things that bring fear into your heart, you have ample opportunity to glean some fear-invoking thing from any number of social media sites. We are inundated with all manner of seed thoughts that could take root if we aren't careful. The media attempts to spin fear with reports of shortages of all kinds. You may not even have considered 'laying up storehouses' of goods until you hear these bleak reports of doom and gloom. One thing I have had to lear

Appetite or Hunger?

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. (Psalm 23:1-3) I don't need a thing - how many of us can speak those words with our heart bearing full and total agreement with them? Most of us will give lip service to the idea, but deep down inside we desire things we don't have, look for ways to acquire what we think we 'need', and are always on the search for 'more' of something, aren't we? Our desires stem from what we feed the most - it creates an appetite within us for what we desire. If you had never tasted chocolate in your lifetime, you likely don't have any type of craving for it. Indulge yourself with a couple of pieces of rich chocolate and that 'taste' will create a desire for more. Why? Appetite has more to do with our thinking than it does the need to correct an imbalance of some v

Are you gifted?

He who loves with purity considers not the gift of the lover, but the love of the giver.  (Thomas a Kempis) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12) Maybe you hadn't really stopped to think about it for a while, but God's gift to you is his love. We think often about what we need God to do for us - extend grace, bring healing, keep us from harm, open doors that are closed - the list goes on and one. How frequently do we stop to consider the 'giver' of the gifts? All God gives is for our best - all God gave was his best. That bespeaks love with a depth none of us really fully understands or experiences in

A slip of the mask

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. (James Baldwin) Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed . You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town. (Luke 12:1-3) A great many of us fear being 'exposed' for who we really are - believing ourselves to be unwanted, unappreciated, and perhaps even under-valued - so we hide behind some mask. What's worse is that Christian believers hide behind a mask of 'religious piety', all the while attempting to hide their very real struggles looming just behind that 'pious hypocrisy

Lego Lessons

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (I Peter 1:5-8) Don't lose a minute building - that is a pretty direct explanation about how we are to live our daily lives. We are to be engaged in this walk with Jesus - not just onlookers. We are to build and allow for there to be his building within. We are to allow one character trait he may focus on today become the launching point for where he may focus tomorrow. You may have heard it sa

Forth-Tell the Story

Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the story of your love— how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it. Your love has always been our lives’ foundation, your fidelity has been the roof over our world. (Psalm 89:1-3) We can count on God - he is faithful. We can count on him because he has been, is now, and will always be faithful. We can remember his faithfulness in our lives - the times and seasons when he has been right there with us through it all. God is trustworthy - we can count on him. He is 'foundation' for our lives. We aren't trusting in a shaky foundation - we are trusting on the one who brings grace upon grace into our lives. Grace in the past, grace in the present, and grace that will ever be needed in our lives.  We forget that God has prepared both our present and our future. We forget he has been faithful yesterday and we begin to worry about what it is we will

Is God your second-hand friend?

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. (I Peter 1:4) Getting to know someone isn't always that easy, is it? We can hold back a little until we realize the other person is kind of 'all right' and we can probably share a bit more with them. We don't just dump everything out into the relationship and hope for the best. We wait to establish trust and then we unpack a little. Why? We don't want the discovery of some things by just anybody. We want those things to be shared with only those we consider to be our 'inner circle', or the ones we value and trust the most. Imagine that God invites us to get to know him personally and intimatel

We are family

God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love... Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him... (Deuteronomy 7:9) It is a foolish thing to believe we come to Christ all on our own - as though we were on some quest to "find God" and came upon him all of a sudden. We are chosen - he seeks us out. Certainly this 'seeking' on his part has nothing to do with our goodness, nor does it have anything to do with how 'hard' we are seeking for him at that moment. Even the desire to seek is all his doing. Sometimes we get too 'big' of an impression of ourselves - as important as a positive self-image may be, it doesn't mean a thing in God's economy. We don't 'get chosen' because of our 'goodness' or 'seeking' - we are chosen because h

Not one more blow!

Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]? (Jeremiah 23:29) Both fire and a hammer have an effect of changing what they touch, don't they? They both can reduce to pieces that which are touched by their influence. There is a "heating" effect of both. The hammer begins to "heat up" the nail as it drives it through the wood - repeated blows from the hammer actually change the temperature of the nail! Why on earth does God compare his Word to fire and a hammer? The Word of God changes whatever it comes into contact with, and it has a way of changing the "temperature" of whatever it touches. It is important for us to see God does not say the purpose of the fire is to consume us. It is just used to consume whatever cannot hold up to the test of the heat! In other words, whenever we feel like the Word of God is a little "cons

Just needs a little fixin'

I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their own lives, that men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life. So correct us, God, as you see best. (Jeremiah 10:23-24) Have you ever found yourself in a position where you required a substitute for what is wrong or inaccurate in your life? Correction is needed, but maybe it is not so much because we are completely wrong, but there is some "inaccuracy" in our lives which gets us going in the wrong direction. It is kind of like only seeing half of a room in front of us one way, then turning around to see the room we thought was filled with beauty also contained a few smelly corpses. Correction puts things in the right framework - gives us the right perspective when what we have been pursuing is just a little inaccurate. It also gives us a swift kick in the seat when what we have been pursuing is totally and completely wrong! If you have ever taken your hands of the wheel in your car to see if your car will &quo

Multiplied blessing

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) God comes alongside of us in hard times - that should bring comfort to someone who needs that word today. If you don't need to hear it, perhaps you are the one to come alongside another who is going through the hard times today. Either way, God is at work! Have you ever noticed how you can be going through some really rough stuff and then before long you find yourself helping someone else who is also going through something a bit harder than they can handle alone? This isn'

Be known

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Psalm 119:23-24) It was a pretty bold thing for David to 'challenge' God this way, wasn't it? If you are anything like me, you'd rather not have God looking all that closely at times! You'd rather not give him the 'clear picture' into your soul because you know exactly what he will find. Yes, we are men and women with a heart after God, but to be entirely truthful here, we don't always have all that great of a track record of remaining 'sin-free'. David was not deterred from asking for God's 'examination' because he knew with each 'exam' came a greater influx of God's grace into his life - mercy given when and where it was the least deserved. David wasn't asking God to just 'seek out his sins' -

Not another wait

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. (Lamentations 3:28-32) Life isn't always going to go our way. In fact, we will likely face more than one hiccup in our day today. When hiccups come, how do you handle them? Do you complain like I do sometimes? Do you say life isn't fair like I do at times? Do you just want to escape it all like I do on occasion? If you didn't notice it as I asked those questions, I don't always embrace what I am going through - there are times I want to find the quickest and easiest way to be 'out of the mess'. Life is heavy and hard to take - sometimes more frequently than we might like. When we face these 'hiccups&#

What are you tolerating?

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.  (John Wesley). Have you heard that before? Have you stopped to consider just how true this statement actually is? Think about the days gone by, regardless of your age. I was born in the late 50's, so I have seen a bit of change around me. I have seen dress lengths go from mid-calf to just a tiny bit under the backside. I have watched as pant legs have gone from baggy to form-fitting, flared to skinny, finely tailored to ripped and torn. Hair styles have gone from bobbed to flowing lengt

Timid people don't get the answers they desire

Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. (Joshua 1:9) As we contemplate these words spoken to Joshua after the death of Moses, I want to focus on just a couple of things today. The instructions to never let God's Word be out of mind seem mighty important to me - God emphasized this a couple of times in one conversation! Anyone ever get 'off track' in life? I don't think I have ADHD, but I can be headed out to the shop to do one project, see somethin

Not ever gonna be a size five!

How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God. Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. (Psalm 84:1-4) We have all kinds of "longings", don't we? If the day just seem to drag on and on at work, we "long" to be home or out pursuing some other activity. If the laundry is piled high and the sun is shining, we long to be outside enjoying the weather, not scrubbing away yesterday's stains. If the traffic jam keeps us barely inching along, we long for another passenger in our car so we can take the high-occupancy lane! There are all kinds of "longings"

Barren or Promised Growth?

If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again. (Isaiah 58:9-12) I live in the Arizona desert, so growing things here is a little more difficult than it might be in the lush greenbelts of our country. Xerarch is a term that indicates the ability to grow and even 'evolve' in dry places. Most of us face those "dry places" in l

So, that's what I am worth!

God blesses everyone who has wisdom and common sense. Wisdom is worth more than silver; it makes you much richer than gold. Wisdom is more valuable than precious jewels; nothing you want compares with her. (Proverbs 3:13-15) Wisdom, worship, and worth - could wisdom lead to worship, worship to worth? Wisdom is really application of the knowledge we have already received. It is when we finally make the connection between the "how-to" and the "let's get 'er done". Worship is simply a matter of heartfelt dedication and directed thought, action, and emotion toward another. Our attention is to be directed toward none other than God - perhaps because he has shown us how to make the connection and we are finally 'getting 'er done'. Worth is sometimes the hardest thing for us to get hold of because we have all kinds of things running around in our minds about "worth" that aren't actually 'truth-based'. The term "worth&quo

That isn't what I thought I saw

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Psalm 29:18) Many of us think of 'vision' as the ability to see with our eyes. When it is not there, such as when we have been plunged into darkness by someone covering our eyes with a blindfold, we grope our way through life, don't we? We have to rely upon our other senses or else we will stumble. How well do you move in this state of total darkness? Are your movements as fluid as normal? Not likely - you probably take shorter steps, feeling your way to make sure your footing is solid before you even take the next one. I think we sometimes approach our spiritual life this same way - with a "blindfold" of sorts making us "stumble along" with uncertainty and a lack of vision. Vision is more than what we see with our eyes - it is what we hope in our hearts, understand with our minds, and sense in our spirit. Perception and discernment - t

Committed to one focus

Lord, who shall dwell [temporarily] in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell [permanently] on Your holy hill? He who walks and lives uprightly and blamelessly, who works rightness and justice and speaks and thinks the truth in his heart... (Psalm 15:1-2) Men and women of understanding know there is a time and place for everything. The events of today prepare us for those of tomorrow. We may not always see clearly today what tomorrow holds, but we do know if we conduct our affairs to the best of our ability today, listening intently to the voice of God as we do, we will be in a better position for what tomorrow brings. Most of us think of living 'uprightly' as being in line with what is right, but it also means being directed vertically. In a spiritual sense, we are to conduct our "business" of today - directed vertically, upward in our focus. The opening statement of this psalm causes us to consider two aspects of our walk - the here and now, and the future state of ou

They're looking at YOU

Well, now is the right time to listen , the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God ; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; havi