June 19

Written by Bill Grandi on June 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Highs vs Lows.

I’ve been there. So have you. We’ve all been high. We’ve all been low. We’ve all been to the mountain top. We’ve all been to the valley. Sometimes in close succession. I’ve known what it is to complete a task, relish a victory, enjoy a feeling of euphoria, only to have that followed by a giant crash.

Sort of like Elijah. His story in I Kings 18-19 shows the highs and lows that often come to one who is faithful and obedient to God, especially when the “odds are stacked against you.” In chapter 17 Elijah comes on the scene with a prophecy of a drought and his time with the widow. But his biggest challenge was in chapter 18 where he challenged the prophets of Baal. After that victory and the rain falling which broke the drought, Jezebel threatens Elijah with death.  Elijah runs and then proceeds to have a pity party about being the only one left. He wants to die. An angel wakes him and tells him to eat. Again the same. Then God speaks.  But He wasn’t in the strong wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake. He wasn’t in the fire. He was, however, in the whisper.

The point for this devotion is not in how God speaks. It is actually two-fold;

  1. Elijah went from the thrill of victory (Mt. Carmel) to the agony of defeat (Jezebel and fear) in a heartbeat.
  2. God will “speak” to us on the mountain top and in the valley. He may appear silent but He’s not. He may choose the silence and despair of the valley to “speak” His loudest.

Don’t despair if you find yourself on the mountain top one minute and the valley the next. More often than not a valley follows a mountain top experience. Listen for God’s “voice.” Sometimes that is when He speaks the loudest.

“Father, I know there will be highs and lows. Help me to never get too high or too low so as not to hear your voice. Please keep me receptive to you no matter where I’m at.”

 

June 18

Written by Bill Grandi on June 18th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Shaken vs. Broken.

Have you ever received a box as a gift and your first inclination is to do what? Shake it. Kids are notorious for doing that. Unfortunately, shaking it sometimes breaks it, especially if it is not packaged well. How different it is to be pleasantly surprised and then slowly and carefully unwrapping the gift to see what’s inside.

There are some peoples’ lives who seem to be a story of shaken. It seems every day brings something new to challenge them. Tragedy hits. One after another. The loss of a job.  Child(ren).  Property. Friends (yes, even so-called church friends). A thousand voices screaming unasked for and uncalled for advice. Feelings of despair. Accusations. Failing health.

Know someone like that? I do. His name is Job. Job went through more than anyone I know. He was shaken but his faith was not broken. In fact, Job 1:22 says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

There are some people you just have to admire. Their life seems to be one shaking after another. I must admit that while I have had my share of setbacks (some self-inflicted) and downturns, and yes tragedies, there are people who have had it a lot worse than me. Those are the ones I admire. Especially when their faith is strong and stands the test. They are shaken but not broken. How about you?

“Father, when it comes to being shaken, may my faith be strong. May it be said of me ‘In all this he did not sin or charge God with wrong.’  May my faith stand secure in You.”

 

June 17

Written by Bill Grandi on June 17th, 2019

I realize this post is so close to the one titled June 16-Weekend Extra but I wrote that as I was thinking about it. I want to title today’s devotion:

True Riches vs False Riches

There are certain things common to all humanity.  Some are certain like death and taxes. Another is if we live long enough we will reach the age of retirement. I am 66. According to our government, I have reached that age. Unfortunately, due to a faulty decision in 1974 I cannot retire; I don’t have SS. And due to the fact that I never made a lot of money and was short-sighted early on, I didn’t plan very well. Okay…not much at all. So I will continue working. I have told Jo I want to die with my boots on-either cycling or preaching. 🙂

I say all that not for your sympathy but to make a point. We are a people too often obsessed with a big bank account. We live as if that big bank account is worth everything. We live and think as if that big bank account is true riches.

But Ephesians 1 tells us differently: “…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saint. (verse 18-emphasis mine).  This verse puts a whole new twist on what are the riches worth having. To borrow from the title: what is true and what is false. While there is nothing wrong with having earthly riches, in the grand scheme of things the real riches worth having are of a different ilk. As Jesus asked, “What good is it if a man gains the whole world but loses his soul? And what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

“Father, help me to be a pursuer of real riches. Help me not to get caught in the never-ending trap and endless cycle of wanting and needing more. Help me to seek true riches, the ones which last, the ones which matter.”

 

June 16-Weekend Extra

Written by Bill Grandi on June 16th, 2019

My title is Lights Out vs Lights On.

I know it is late in the weekend and I plan to post another tomorrow but wanted to post a thought from this weekend.

Two events are affected by the weather today-Father’s Day and our 46th Anniversary. A tornado came through and hit the REMC facility so all of REMC is out. Our house electricity went out for about 7 hours and came back on about 3:00 A.M. (Different provider than REMC). The office is still out. If the sun was out it wouldn’t be too bad inside but it’s gray and threatening. Seems strange walking into rooms and flipping a switch for power and response and not get it.

How typical of life too. There are different kinds of people:

  1. The light is off and they stay in the dark. God’s Word is shined on them and they refuse to respond.
  2. The light is shined but its either a false light or they refuse to heed God’s Word and choose their own light.
  3. The light of God’s Word is shined and they respond to that light with illumination in their hearts.

Jesus said He was the light of the world. All who would come to Him will find the true light. So much of what people hear today is false light-I’ll call it black light-whether it be from a worldly teacher or from someone who calls himself a biblical teacher. Jesus also commissioned me (all His followers) to be a light and not hide it under a bushel. I may be the only light in someone’s world.

“Father, you are the True and only light of the world. All who come to you must come through Jesus, the Light.  As He is the Light of the world, so must I represent that Light. As you have illuminated my life, let me the instrument to bring your light to others.”

 

June 14

Written by Bill Grandi on June 14th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Faith vs Works.

I was listening to one of the leaders of the church last night as he was telling of the impact of the Gospel in Liberia and Niger. The Christians there have built schools to teach the kids and the Muslims are sending their children to the school. Not only are they learning the 3 R’s but they are also hearing about Jesus. In fact, the parents are saying, “Teach our children. It’s not too late for them to hear about God.” When told it is not too late for them, their response is “Yes, it is too late for us but not for them.” Some of the children are abandoned. Some are orphans due to war.

What is making a difference? The church putting feet to its faith. It’s that way all over the world. Churches big/small; rich/poor; suburban/rural; black/white; public/meeting in private; you name it, are putting feet to their faith and showing Christ in their actions.

I read that some of the early reformers (specifically Luther and Calvin) rejected the limited view of vocation, that serving Jesus belonged to the clergy. There is, in my mind, no such thing as a “professional Christian.” Lives are being changed around the world not because pastors/clergy are getting “with the program” (as I call it), but because individual followers of Christ and churches are getting involved in peoples’ lives.

I saw it put this way: What matters is not faith and works; it is not faith or works; it is faith that works.

“Father, give me the strength and the wisdom to put feet to my faith, to have a faith that works. Help me to keep my eyes open today for those who need You and need to see an active and caring faith.”

 

June 13

Written by Bill Grandi on June 13th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Education vs Usefulness.

There are certain subjects I try to avoid like the plague. Math. Science. Chemistry. To name a few. Why? Because I either had a bad experience with them or I wear a dunce cap concerning them. Those three subjects especially are not in my wheel house of comfort. One thing I can say though is that I am fortunate I had the opportunity to learn and was able to learn. I’m no rocket scientist, mind you, but I’m grateful for both the opportunity and ability.

Fortunately, one of the requirements for being a follower of Christ is not education, smarts, big brain, or whatever else you may want to call it. What matters more is the willingness to be used.

When a young boy came forward at a meeting to follow Jesus, people whispered behind his back. “It’s only a gypsy boy.” Rodney Smith didn’t listen to those voices.  He heard only One-the voice of the One calling him. He was the teenage son of uneducated gypsy parents. He went out and got himself a Bible and an English dictionary and taught himself to read. Gypsy Smith became a prominent evangelist in the US and the UK in the late 1800’s.

It really doesn’t matter how educated/uneducated you are; how wealthy/poor you are; how refined/unrefined you are; how “classy”/unclassy you are; how bright/dull you are. What matters is how useful you are willing to be. In my mind, the ultimate question is this: Am I willing to be used by God in whatever situation, wherever he places me, when He asks me? God is not interested in my education-prowess. He wants to know if I’m willing to be His.

“Father, You’ve not asked me to be super-smart, super-intelligent, super anything. You have asked me to be available, to be willing to be used. So please take what I have to offer-no matter how great, no matter how little-and use me for You.”

 

June 12

Written by Bill Grandi on June 12th, 2019

My title for today’s devotion is Autopilot vs Striving.

I read recently that pilots are become more susceptible to making errors due to auto-pilot and all the advancements made to flying and self-flying. One of the commercials I have seen lately has been one of the major car companies (Nissan) introducing a “Driver Assist” to the Rogue. I’m pretty sure the other car makers have as well. That sort of concerns me. I know how easy it is to get distracted while driving with the steering wheel in my hands, let alone be “relaxed” when it comes to driving with awareness.

Vigilance is a word that I think has lost its oomph. In some ways many have hit autopilot when it comes to their Christian walk. When I sat down at my kitchen table this morning to have my Quiet Time, I prayed earnestly (I don’t always) that God would give me something from His Word. The old hymn Break Thou the Bread of Life came to mind. “Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee Lord; My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.” Another stanza has these words: “Show me the Truth concealed, Within Thy Word, And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.” (My apologies for the King James English).  🙂

One of the things I want to guard against is being on autopilot. I want to continue to hunger for God’s Word. That’s why Psalm 92:12-15 (Please stop and read it) stood out to me today. Not only do I want to flourish but I like the phrase “They still bear fruit in old age; they are full of sap and green.” What a vivid picture that puts in my head!  I want to continue striving, reaching for, and sweating with arms outstretched and hands wide open. No autopilot for me!! The only “driver assist” I want is God’s help to stay the course and keep going.  I want my last breath to be still seeking Him.

“Father, please don’t let me be content with autopilot. Even at age 66 I still want to be striving with arms outstretched and hands wide open reaching for all you have for me. I don’t want “couch-potato” to describe my remaining years.”

 

June 11

Written by Bill Grandi on June 11th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Wisdom Given vs. Wisdom Wasted.

One of the most intriguing, confusing, unbelievable, disheartening, and incredible stories in the Bible is Solomon.  At a young age, Solomon did not ask for riches or a big kingdom but for wisdom. It was seen on one occasion (the 2 prostitutes and the dead baby controversy), but it was also marveled at and spoken about (Queen of Sheba).

But in chapter 11 Solomon’s life takes a disturbing turn. After a description of his wealth in chapter 10, chapter 11 opens with these words: “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women…” The list of women reads like a list of Who’s Who of heathen nations. It even says he married women from nations God said, “You shall not enter into marriage with them…for surely they will turn your heart after their gods.” And turn they did.  For the sake of ease-and because this is the way my preacher mind works-here’s how I noted it in the margins of my Bible:

  • The warning: “You shall not…” [v.2]
  • The numbers: 700 wives/300 concubines  [v.3]
  • The fall: “And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned his heart after other gods.”  [v.3b-4]
  • The false gods: Ashtoreth. Milcom. Chemosh. Molech. A Who’s Who of false gods. [vv.5-8]
  • The consequence: The kingdom would be torn. [v.11]

Even the wisest man on the earth could not resist the pull of fleshly pursuit. Wisdom was asked for and given; wisdom was cast aside as he allowed the influence of his wives to grip and consume him.

“Father, if it could happen to someone like Solomon, who am I to think it won’t or can’t happen to me? Keep my focused on You and not the side attractions. Solomon’s foreign wives are not me, but I have those things clamoring for my attention, calling for my affection as his wives did for him.  Help me to resist and be strong in You.”

 

June 10

Written by Bill Grandi on June 10th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Selfish vs. Generous.

We hear different kinds of statements: “Pay it forward.” “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” “I get more joy out of giving than I do getting.” “God loves a cheerful giver” (in reference to (mostly) church-giving).

I am a (naturally) generous person. I say that, not as a brag, so please don’t think it that way. I learned it from my mom and my grandfather. And ultimately from my Father. I like doing things for people. I like buying small things and giving them as a kind gesture. For example, I like getting a book and giving it to a colleague. Or a meaningful book and giving it to someone in the church. I have no clue how many copies of New Morning Mercies I have given away. When Jo was working, I felt much freer doing this. Now that she is retired and money is tighter, I can’t do it as often. I miss it. 

It is part of my DNA.  God has blessed me with so much I want to share it with others. I’m careful as I say that lest it be misconstrued as a selfish thing: “He wants blessed so he gives.” No, not at all. That really isn’t my motivation. That’s not saying I don’t benefit. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and the one who waters will himself be watered.” What a word picture I get with the verse! I picture two people having a water fight with one starting it with a hose only to get drenched himself. 🙂 🙂

Something happens-to the recipient and the giver-when generosity takes place. I have found God uses a fire hose when I use a garden hose. But I will never experience that until I give the first squirt.

“Father, you have a generous heart. It all started with you giving Your Son. May I be like you-not for the purpose of getting back-but simply to follow your example. Please give me a generous, giving heart.”

 

June 7/Weekend Extra

Written by Bill Grandi on June 8th, 2019

I’m back from my time away so hopefully I will be more consistent here. I wrote this yesterday (Friday) morning but didn’t have a chance to post it.

My title for this devotion is Overwhelmed vs Underwhelmed.

I think one of the traps that is easy for a Christ-follower to fall into is familiarity. Familiarity with God. More specifically, the presence and power of God. Like the saying says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Not hatred but a laissez-faire attitude. Kind of like “Aw shucks” or “Been there, done that, seen it.”

This hit me as I read I Kings 8. In verses 10-11 it says the priests came out of the Holy Place and “a cloud filled the house of the Lord.” A bit later in verse 27 Solomon prays and says, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house I have built.”

Now take a moment to read Psalm 86.  Pay particular attention to verses 8-13.

How can I/we read those passages and not take a “gut-check” to see how I/we respond to God’s presence? In worship? In my Quiet Time? In my daily walk? Am I overwhelmed as Solomon and David were? Or am I underwhelmed? Has my awareness of His presence become old hat and unexpectant?

“Father, please guard me against being underwhelmed. Help me to always be aware of your greatness and the power of Your Name. I would much rather be overwhelmed and speechless than underwhelmed and empty.”