November 27

Written by Bill Grandi on November 27th, 2020

Have you ever noticed how sometimes life just doesn’t make any sense? Seriously, when you think you get it, life throws a curveball. When you think life is smoothing itself out, you hit a bunch of potholes and you find yourself trying to navigate around them. Or you are just enjoying the pleasure of a nice, relaxing drift on a boat in still water when a pop-up storm hits that threatens to capsize you and maybe even your faith.

On Day 22 of his little book 40 Days of Faith, Paul David Tripp writes:

Don’t be discouraged today. You can leave your ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ in the hands of the one who loves you and rules all things. (p.50)

Later he writes even more:

He knows, he understands, he is in control of what appears to be chaos, he is never surprised, he is never confused, he never worries or loses a night’s sleep, he never walks off the job to take a rest, he never gets so busy with one thing that he neglects another, and he never plays favorites. (p.51)

How’s that for reassurance? We certainly live today in a day of insecurity and unrest. What more reassurance do we need than words like these about a God like that? Is life out of whack for you? Screwy? Twisted? Hassled? Unsure? You now know the One who knows all about it.

“Father, thank you for being in control. For not being surprised. For being the calm in the storm. Help me to trust You implicitly.”

 

November 26

Written by Bill Grandi on November 26th, 2020

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Remember to give thanks to the ONE who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and every material blessing we have. Take some time today to get away and be thankful.

 

November 25

Written by Bill Grandi on November 25th, 2020

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I ought to restate that: tomorrow is the official holiday called Thanksgiving. For the Christ-follower everyday should be a day of thanksgiving. Since I’m not sure about posting tomorrow, I thought I would focus on thanksgiving today. I’m going to borrow some thoughts from Chuck Swindoll’s devotion book Good Morning, Lord…Can We Talk? In his November 22nd devotion he quoted I Thess.5:18- “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” He then gave 3 directions we can look. {Commentary following each is mine}

Look up. I use the word “awesome” only when it applies to God or something He has done. I am not awesome; you are not awesome (Sorry to burst your bubble there). Now God? HE IS AWESOME!! His grace, His love, His sovereign control, His majesty, His power…I could go on and on. Spend time simply praising Him for who He is.

Look around. I am a blessed man. I have a faithful wife of 47 1/2 years. I have two fantastic daughters. One phenomenal grandson (no prejudice there of course). I serve a church full of people I love. I live in a small town of nice people. I have friends, both in and out of the church, for whom I’m grateful.

Look within. I have the Holy Spirit living in me. Christ in me, the hope of glory. He has taken this ugly house and made it His home. He has give me real joy. Real peace. Real love.  New eyes to see and enjoy life. So much more.

So…what are you thankful for? Can you take these three directions and use them today?

“Father, all I want to say is thank you.”

 

November 24

Written by Bill Grandi on November 24th, 2020

In a recent Our Daily Bread (11/20/20), they had a devotion that struck me. Here it is in a nutshell:

Albert Einstein paid tribute to a colleague, the famous Dutch scientist, Hendrik A. Loventz.  He never mentioned their scientific disputes, only his “never failing kindness.” He inspired scientists to put aside political prejudice and work together, especially after WWI. Einstein said, “Even before the war was over he never set out to dominate but always to simply be of use.”

That phrase “never set out to dominate” really struck me. The work of reconciliation is good and the Father knows we need that, perhaps as much now as ever. But it is impossible if we set out to dominate another person. None of us like that. Whether it be a spouse, a parent, a coach, a pastor, an elder, or someone else. In school they are called bullies. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission is to be mutual, not one submit and the other dominate. This is especially true in the church. The Bible never gives a pastor, an elder, so-called leader, or patriarch/matriarch the right to claim “this church is mine.” Nor does is give that person permission to run it like they think it is.  I have seen and heard of people who were damaged, almost beyond repair, by a domineering individual in the church.  The way I see it being the pastor of the church DOES NOT give me the right or privilege to demand my own way or to run roughshod over people. That is so un-Christlike.  Can there be a worse example in the church than that?

“Father, help me to see submission is a state of my heart. Help me not to seek to dominate but to serve.”

 

November 23

Written by Bill Grandi on November 23rd, 2020

Before I start: my blogging friend, Diane, is having surgery today. I’d like to ask you to stop and say a prayer for her safety, the doctor’s steady hands, and a good and smooth recovery for her. Thanks.

I’m not much of a horticulturist. I’m not much of a gardener either. My thumbs are black. I decided I wanted a garden a few years ago…when I was much younger. I loved fresh tomatoes (especially the yellow ones) and green peppers-usually given to me by others. So I thought, “Why not? After all, how hard could it be?” Let’s just say that after 3 or 4 summers I again relied on others for those fresh veggies. I planted. I watered. I weeded (my least favorite thing of all). I had no clue about tilling and using cardboard or newspaper to keep down weeds. I also didn’t feed them plant food. The kicker, though, is I found it kept me from more important things-like riding my bike. Why work when you can have fun, you know? For three summers I also umpired softball so there went my free time.

I’ve seen many-myself included- treat their faith like that. We want to grow. We want to see fruit. But we don’t want to put in the “effort” to grow. I’m not talking about a works-oriented salvation. I’m talking about personal nutrition. You see, God calls us to Himself then wants us to grow in that faith. He provides what we need to grow but we need to utilize it. Reading the Word. Praying. Gathering with others to worship and encourage. Reaching for Him to help us get rid of the weeds. In spite of what some may think, this does not happen on its own. We don’t lay our head on our pillow with a Bible underneath and by osmosis have it soak into our brain. God has provided all we need for growth. Let’s not be stagnant. Let’s apply the nutrients of truth and grace to our fledgling “plant” and start growing. Fruit awaits if we do.  Take some time to read Galatians 6:7-9.

“Father, You want me to grow, not stagnate. Help me to allow Your Word, Your thruth and Your grace to water my life to bring forth fruit.”

 

November 20

Written by Bill Grandi on November 20th, 2020

First, a couple of questions:

  • Have you noticed that judging is a tricky thing?
  • Have you noticed we will often judge another but overlook our own sin? (Of course you have noticed)
  • Have you noticed we are often more judgmental of people who struggle with the same sin as us?
  • Have you noticed how we often have a scale of how right or wrong a sin is?

Judging is tricky. I know what some say. They use the Scripture in Matthew 7:1- “Judge not, that you be not judged” as rationale for being able to do what they want without having you or me as their conscience. “Who are you to judge?” is the question often asked. I have some thoughts on that but let’s walk away from that for now.

I’m particularly wanting to focus on the kind of self-righteous posturing we get into when we compare. “Will you look at that. I’m sure glad I don’t do that.” That kind of self-righteous shtick that lampoons others while getting us off the hook. Sadly, if we have overcome a habit, rather than become more sensitive we tend to become a harsher critic.

Another angle to throw in is how we are often harder on others or totally avoid talking about the sin we are guilty of. Like the preacher who harps on porn or adultery because it is prevalent in his life, OR avoids talking about them because they are in his closet.

Here’s a novel idea (said with tongue planted firmly in my cheek): How about we just stop pointing fingers of judgment on sin and look in the mirror more intently and with more honesty? I’m not saying we lay down our discernment of right and wrong. What I am saying is to stop the self-righteous picking at someone else.

“Father, may my thoughts and words be pure and Christ-focused.”

 

November 19

Written by Bill Grandi on November 19th, 2020

“I can’t do it.”  You might hear that quite often from younger children. Sometimes it is legitimate; sometimes not so. Sometimes it is a cop out; sometimes it is an honest statement and cry for help. I’m not sure where I read it, but it has been suggested that instead of “I can’t” the person really means “I won’t.” In fact, as an experiment it is recommended to replace “I can’t” with “I won’t.”

There are legitimate times “I can’t” is valid. All things mechanical in a car has me yelling “Uncle!” pretty quickly.  (See my clever use of another word there instead of “I can’t?”) But, admittedly, I do say, “I can’t” a little too quickly.

Two passages of Scripture come to mind when I think of this: one is a story. It is found in Judges 6:11-18. An angel comes to Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of valor.” That is laughable because at that moment he’s threshing grain indoors out of fear of the Midianites, the very people God is calling him to defeat. When Gideon says, “I can’t,” God says, “I can.” With an army of 300 Gideon defeats the Midianites-a feat which was definitely against all odds.

The other passage is found in Ephesians 3: 20-21- “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think…” God just takes the “I can’t” and throws it right out the window with this statement by Paul. Again, when I say, “I can’t,” God says, “I can and so will you.” Listen to those words again: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly…”

“Father, help me to remember that with You all things are possible. Help me not to write off Your work and power too quickly. Help me to remember You can.”

 

November 18

Written by Bill Grandi on November 18th, 2020

Words are interesting. Obviously, we can’t really speak without them. Even the deaf person uses words, albeit sign language, to communicate. Some people use homespun words like y’all. The first church I served was in the heart of KY on the top of a hill called Mt. Carmel. They gave me some money so I could buy some food to keep in the kitchen for when I was there on the weekends. When I thanked them publicly I used the word “youns” (a PA word similar to y’all) and they looked at me like I was from outer space. I seriously wondered if they even knew what I was saying. 🙂 Some use high falootin’ words like in the King James. And some use words I would never use.

But there are two words used in Ephesians 2:4 that change everything. Two 3-letter words. Who knew two short words could have such a powerful impact and tell such a powerful story! The words?  “BUT GOD.” After talking about how dead we were in sin and had no way out, Paul uses “But God” to introduce a whole new idea. But God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us…”  Then he embarks on his grace project, i.e. being saved by grace. Lost. Found. Mired in death. Made alive in Christ. Isn’t it amazing how two 3-letter words can have such an impact, can make such a difference?

And he didn’t have to use King James English to do it. No $10 words. No “y’alls” or “wheretofores” or “whatsoevers.” No legalize.

“BUT GOD” That says it all.  “Father, thank you for those two simple words that pack a wallop. What a story they contain!”

 

November 17

Written by Bill Grandi on November 17th, 2020

I love music! I don’t sing very well but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying music. I’ve been asked from time to time if I play a musical instrument since I like music so much. I say, “No. But I play a mean stereo.” (How’s that for a throwback word? How long since you heard that word?) Anyway, the psalms are filled with…well…songs. Here are just a few:

  • “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (23:1)
  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (27:1)
  • “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” (51:1)
  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (51:10)  {Cue Keith Green}
  • “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (91:1)
  • “He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.” (103:12)

Needing security. Needing courage. Needing reassurance. Needing a fresh start. Needing His presence. Those psalms are music to my ears. And they don’t even rely on a trained musical ear or a voice like a bird. Just a good ear sensitive to the Spirit’s song and good eyes to see the notes.

I’m wondering: do you have a favorite song (psalm)?

“Father, give me ears to hear and eyes to see.”

 

November 16

Written by Bill Grandi on November 16th, 2020

I am a terrible waiter.  No, I didn’t work at a restaurant and drop food or drink in a person’s lap. I could jokingly say, “When God was handing out qualities and said, ‘Patience?’ I thought I was going to be a doctor so I said I’ll take plenty.”  But I’m not a doctor and it’s not the same word. (I know. That’s bad).

I repeat: I am a terrible waiter. I’m not as bad I used to be, so I guess I can chalk it up to maturity. I remember one incident when I was at the first church I served. I commented about this new Bible I had seen at the bookstore. I went ahead a few days later and bought it. One day later, a man came to me with that same Bible as a gift. I missed out on being blessed and him having the joy of blessing me. That has happened so many times I can’t count. But I missed because I was spontaneous. I’ve run ahead of God way too many times.

I find myself waiting again. Last Thursday, the 5th, I was outside sitting across a picnic table talking to someone, for close to 1-2 hours.  The next day she lost her sense of smell and tested positive for ‘rona. I found out Monday afternoon. So, now I am quarantined until sometime this coming week (probably Thursday to be safe). I wait. Have I said I’m a terrible waiter?

When I don’t presume upon God and run ahead, He has often taken me on a slow path. However, while people will say, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” I’m not convinced that is always best. Some of my best time with God has been the slow churn. Or as I am fond of saying, “He took me ’round Robin Hood’s barn.” In other words, He took me the long way.

I’m learning to wait. I suspect I will also continue to learn. “And that is my prayer, Father. I need to learn to wait.”