September 19

Written by Bill Grandi on September 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Little People vs Feeling Little.

There are many people who feel little or insignificant. They have been made to feel less than someone else due to status, wealth, position, race, or even job. And others have done a great job at making them feel that way. But I stand on pretty solid ground when I say we were never created to feel that way. As they say “we all put our pants on the same way.” I have yet to see someone stand their pants up and jump into them. (That is wrong is so many ways!) 🙂

However, having just returned from an awe-inspiring trip to Alaska, I can speak of feeling little-in a good way. For example. take a look at  these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can your thoughts not be drawn to Psalm 8:4- “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers. the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

We were never made to feel small in another person’s eyes. As Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “There are no little people.” No matter what society says, we are on equal plane, but when it comes to God and His creation, it is humbling to realize how important we are to Him. And yet…how small we are.

“Father, Your majesty overwhelms me, humbles me. No matter what others think of me, I’m important to you. Thank you that I matter to you.”

 

 

September 18

Written by Bill Grandi on September 18th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Answered vs Unanswered.

It has often been said (at least by me) that God has 3 answers to prayer: Yes. No. Wait awhile. It shakes out (as I see it) this way:

  • No. God does not grant my request. What I asked for was not in His desire for me. A little hard to take.
  • Yes. God agrees with me! 🙂 The request I made was His desire for me. Very easy to accept.
  • Wait awhile. Self-explanatory in its meaning. God’s desire for me is not now. The answer will eventually come but not yet. This might be hardest because who likes to wait?

But wait we must. The “No” is hard to take because we know what we want and God is basically saying, “Not today. I know what’s best and what you’ve requested is not in my desire for you. I have something better.” And sometimes the No morphs into “wait awhile.” If I’m patient. But that “if” is a big word.

The real stickler is common thought today among religious people, i.e. prayers are not answered with a Yes because I/a person does not have enough faith. I think that line of thought is pure garbage! I will sometimes say that something is from the pit of hell and smells like smoke. That’s exactly what I think of that thought. As I recall “great faith” was not an essential. Oh sure, there were times Jesus commended a person’s faith. Jairus. The centurion. Even the woman with the issue of blood. But He also said that if we have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed we can tell this mountain to move and it would. Even a small sliver of faith is enough. It isn’t necessarily the size of our faith but that we have faith that is important.

Even a “no” is an answer; just as “yes” and “wait awhile” are. Big or small. Great or a sliver. It is never “your faith isn’t big enough.”

“Father, a mustard seed is all you said was needed. I bring what faith I have to You and pray for an answer- Your answer.”

 

September 17

Written by Bill Grandi on September 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is First or Second Best.

There is always a battle going on as to whether we want to be first or second. Run a race and it was commonly said, “Second place is like kissing your sister.” Basketball. Baseball. You name it. Second place was always seen as…well…second. Close but no cigar. Being first motivates an athlete. When I played basketball I had the drive to be good. In a game, to be the best. I was not a good loser. Very competitive. I was once playing a rather lackluster game for the first quarter or so, when the opposing center elbowed me in the eye and split my eyelid open. I hid it from the coaches for a minute or so until they saw blood running down my cheek. They put a butterfly bandage on it and after that I played the game the other center dreaded. Second place was unacceptable. (I did go to the ER afterwards and receive stitches). When I lost that edge, I knew it was time to hand up the shoes. The edge was gone and I didn’t care whether I won or lost, performed well or lackluster. It was time to quit.

Sports is a minor thing. When it comes to my faith and my relationship/walk with God that is a whole ‘nother ball game! (No pun intended). Unfortunately, I am guilty (as are many others…maybe all) of giving God second best. Instead of giving Him priority of my day I say, “Later.” Instead of putting Him first in my thoughts, He becomes an afterthought. Instead of giving Him the best part of me, I give Him the leftovers.

I was struck by this as I read Nehemiah 10:28-39 this morning. Among the rather tedious listing of names of men who were given specific duties, is this section where a commitment (covenant) was made to give God the firstfruits. The section is given the title “The Obligations of the Covenant” which has a negative connotation. But i was more intrigued by their commitment to give the first of everything. Not the second. Not the leftovers. Not the “let me do this first and whatever time, effort, money, and stamina is left I’ll give to you” type of thinking. No. It is “we bring the firstfruits.”

Taking it beyond tithing, do I give God the firstfruits? Do I make Him my first thought of the day? My first motivation for doing something? My first word? My first consideration? My first reason? Or do I relegate Him to second best?

“Father, those are not easy questions to answer. In fact, they are downright hard and convicting. Help me to make You my first thought of each day. My first motive and reason for doing something and not relegate You to second best or an afterthought.”

 

September 16

Written by Bill Grandi on September 16th, 2019

My title for this devotion is a Crutch vs a Necessity.

We recently had a young lady who had knee surgery to repair a torn ACL along with a torn meniscus. Her initial injury-the ACL- came from sports.  Following that injury her knee swelled up like a balloon, leading the doctors to put her on crutches until the swelling went down. She was not to put any pressure on it. Eventually as she did some rehab she was able to ditch the crutches. Then one day she stumbled and fell which was where her torn meniscus was from. She finally had surgery and guess what came out of mothballs? You guessed it-the crutches. She is now walking but has her knee is a fancy brace designed to stop injury.

There are times a crutch is seen as necessary. There are also times we use the word “crutch” to describe someone who leans on something. Only it is not seen as a good thing.

There are some who see faith in Jesus as a crutch. How many times have you heard or read someone say, “Religion is a crutch.” They see it as a weakness, as something to lean on because one can’t handle life. Tell that to the follower of Christ who loses his/her job because of their faith and refusal to compromise. Tell that to the follower of Christ in Nigeria, or India, or another country where persecution for their faith is punishable by torture, prison, or even death. A crutch? I don’t think so. Not when doing so leads to who knows where.

Faith in Jesus is not a crutch; it is a necessity. It is my lifeblood. In Matthew 16 Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was. Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Elsewhere Peter stated, “Where else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter’s words and eventual stand which led to his death were life-changing words for him. Jesus was not a crutch; He was life. Is he that to me? To you?

“Father, help me to cling to You. Help me to know You, not as my crutch for weakness, but as my strength of necessity.”

 

Weekend Extra

Written by Bill Grandi on September 14th, 2019

I wrote this while on vacation last week but had no internet service nor did I take my computer so I thought I would enter it as a weekend extra.

My title for this devotion is Man vs God.

There is a discussion/debate that has gone on for years and continues to this day. And unless I miss my guess will go on until Jesus returns. The discussion/debate? Who made the earth? Who created what we have? Was it the evolution of animal and man or was it God?

After today(Friday), my vote is God. ‘Course it always was, but even more after today. Today was a most amazing day. It began with a tour of Skagway by trolley. Skagway came about because of the Gold Rush and a few resilient people.  It is still a town of a few resilient people-more during tourist season than in the vicious winter. Ghost town is a more appropriate name. But in the afternoon we took the train to White Pass. I’m not sure I have seen as much beautiful scenery as I did today.

And all that ran through my head (after Tuesday’s all day boat ride, Wednesday’s stop at Icy Straight Point, and today’s stop at Skagway) were the words of Scripture: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the earth show His handiwork.” (Ps.19:1) Then when I came back to the room and Jo napped, I read this: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!…When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps.8:1,3-4)

All I could think of was the beauty of what God created. Much of it untouched. A waterfall in the middle of the forest. The rapidly flowing water. The glacier between two mountains. Absolutely stunning scenery. Beautiful blue water. I had and have a hard time writing it off to man’s work. Or chance. Or a big bang.

“God you have created a majestic thing of beauty. The heavens. The earth. Thank you for giving me a wonderful opportunity to witness it first hand. Yes, human ingenuity made the railroad and the Alaskan highway and the landmarks. But YOU! You made it all. Man could not have done it!”

Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. We had a camera but I needed them NOW! 🙂  The top 2 and the first on the left is from Skagway. The latter two are from Glacier Bay (Saturday’s all day ride). I even got to see the glacier calve. Talk about amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 13

Written by Bill Grandi on September 13th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Outside vs Inside.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Good, wise words to remember. Why?

We live in a world enamored by the physical. We have people obsessed with physical exercise. We have body shamers; fat shamers; anorexia/bulimia caused by the above; body positive people; and the list goes on and on. People have been driven to take their own lives because of their own low esteem and the “hate” thrown their way. The vitamin and health supplement industry is a multi-million dollar industry.

Now let me make it clear: I’m not opposed to physical exercise and taking care of oneself to live in good health or to even look good. I have tried all my life to do just that. But there is something far more important: taking care of the inside, better known as the heart. I was speaking just yesterday with a young man who is changing direction in his life and wants to pursue pastoral ministry. From ROTC to being a math teacher to pursuing this while also being an EMT. I told him if God is calling, he must go. God’s tug on his heart is real.

Jesus knew what was important (of course) and told us. After talking about traditions and scathing the Pharisees in Matthew 15, He says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (15:18-20)

Outward show, keeping traditions, mean nothing. Jesus tells us what matters is the heart. What good is it to have a finely tuned body, or to observe all the outward signs of being religious when the heart is black?

“Father, may you find my heart true. May I be as diligent with my heart as I am with my outward appearance.”

 

September 11-12

Written by Bill Grandi on September 12th, 2019

I began writing this yesterday and finished it this morning. We got back after midnight from our vacation/cruise and I didn’t make my 3:30 “gettin’ up time.” I made 6:30 but then had to hitch a ride to the office since I parked my truck there while gone. We had our house painted and rather than take a chance on overspray I left it parked at the church lot. Jo was not about to get up that early so I hitched a ride. 🙂  So yesterday became a day of catch-up. Here are my thoughts on these two days.

My title for this devotion is Fear vs Being Ready

The significance of the date does not escape me. 9/11. I can remember what I was doing and where I was at the time I first heard of the attack on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the downed airplane in the field.  That is the day everything changed for the United States. And it could be said for the world. An act of cowardice changed a nation of security and assurance into one of fear (one of their goals). A nation willing to give itself in service to other needy countries suddenly had to focus on its own borders and within its own borders.

I use that in relation to my reading in Nehemiah. Nehemiah returned-with the blessing of the king-to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Almost from the beginning he and his workers suffered opposition. I’m shortening the story but it came to the point where half the people worked while the other half stayed ready with swords, shields, bows, and coats of mail. (4:16) Sounds like fear…but its not. It’s called readiness. There is nothing wrong with being prepared and ready to do battle. The U.S. has had to take that approach. Not live in fear (although some do), but live in a state of wariness and readiness. (I know. I just traveled by air and ship). “Lest we forget” is a familiar slogan used to remind us of past events; it is a good one to use. We dare not let our guard down. Nehemiah realized the importance of working and watching. Of vigilance. We would do well to do the same.

“Father, help me to not live in fear, but to live in a state of readiness. I don’t have to fear my enemy. I have You. Nehemiah 4:15 says, ‘You had frustrated their plan.’ You can do that to my enemy also. Help me to work, but also to be ready for anything my enemy throws my way.”

 

Vacation Scripture #8

Written by Bill Grandi on September 10th, 2019

Jo and I are on our much-needed trip away-a trip to Alaska-courtesy of the folks at OVCF (the church I pastor). It was given to us after a tough season of ministry (losing two very close friends to cancer within a few weeks of each other) and in celebration of 45 years of my ordination.  Since I won’t be taking my computer and despise using my phone to do any type of blogging, I will be basically incognito from Tuesday, September 3 through Tuesday, September 10. I plan (notice the word Plan) to be back in the office on Wednesday and therefore resume my regular devotions.

So in anticipation of that, I thought I would share with you the Scriptures from Proverbs I underlined my last time through (August). I try to read a chapter of Proverbs for a month, every other month.  So here is the Scripture I highlighted on August 10th.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” (v.12)

Choose love or choose hate. Both have end results. But choose wisely.

Not it is your turn to think about it.

 

Vacation Scripture #7

Written by Bill Grandi on September 9th, 2019

Jo and I are on our much-needed trip away-a trip to Alaska-courtesy of the folks at OVCF (the church I pastor). It was given to us after a tough season of ministry (losing two very close friends to cancer within a few weeks of each other) and in celebration of 45 years of my ordination.  Since I won’t be taking my computer and despise using my phone to do any type of blogging, I will be basically incognito from Tuesday, September 3 through Tuesday, September 10. I plan (notice the word Plan) to be back in the office on Wednesday and therefore resume my regular devotions.

So in anticipation of that, I thought I would share with you the Scriptures from Proverbs I underlined my last time through (August). I try to read a chapter of Proverbs for a month, every other month.  So here is the Scripture I highlighted on August 9th.

“Give instructions to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” (v.9)

The wise person keeps learning and growing and getting wiser. What does that say about the foolish man?

Now it is your turn to think about it.

 

Vacation Scripture #6

Written by Bill Grandi on September 8th, 2019

Jo and I are on our much-needed trip away-a trip to Alaska-courtesy of the folks at OVCF (the church I pastor). It was given to us after a tough season of ministry (losing two very close friends to cancer within a few weeks of each other) and in celebration of 45 years of my ordination.  Since I won’t be taking my computer and despise using my phone to do any type of blogging, I will be basically incognito from Tuesday, September 3 through Tuesday, September 10. I plan (notice the word Plan) to be back in the office on Wednesday and therefore resume my regular devotions.

So in anticipation of that, I thought I would share with you the Scriptures from Proverbs I underlined my last time through (August). I try to read a chapter of Proverbs for a month, every other month.  So here is the Scripture I highlighted on August 8th.

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (v.13)

Seems that pride and arrogance and wrong speech go hand in hand.

Now it is your turn to think about it.