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August 12

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of the Wise vs Words of a Fool.

There is no question that words have power. Listen to the babbling of a politician or pundit. Listen to a drill sergeant. Listen to a teacher/professor. Listen to a coach. Listen to a false teacher or preacher. Words have the power for good and for evil.

The words of Proverbs 12 ring out in their truthfulness and forthrightness. I’m going to put those verses here and let Scripture speak for itself.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (v.15)

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (v.16)

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (v.17)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (v.18)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (v.19)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (v.22)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (v.25)

Those words of Scripture speak for themselves. No commentary is needed. The only question which remains is what can I/what can you do to make my/your words life-giving instead of life-sucking?

“Father, help me to measure my words. Help my words to be words of wisdom. Words that give life. Words of truth. Words that build up. Transform my words today.”

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Notice: Due to a mess up of notification (My site is unstable or something like that) I have had to go to Feedburner. The WordPress notification was sending an https address instead of an http one, therefore sending the wrong site address. Several have notified me. Ryan says you will probably have to sign up again to receive notice of a new post. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for being patient.

August 2/Weekend

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of man vs Word of God.

It is not uncommon today, or any day for that matter, for people to put their trust in men. It has been happening since the beginning of time. I guess we see it more now since it affects us directly. We have seen the “rise” of superstar people because people have put a lot of stock in what they say. I’m speaking of the religious community specifically. We have “Christian celebrity” preachers who are millionaires or who make well into the 6 figures because gullible people hang on their every word as though it is true. They fall hook, line, and sinker for their lies. It seems ungodly and is appalling for these “Christian” speakers to live in the lap of luxury while many of their followers live from day-to-day looking for that elusive golden egg. The deception of false teaching is sad. The hero status placed on the heads of these people is nauseating. A man hawking miracle water. Grave sucking. Destiny cards. False healings. “Holy” laughter. Speakers making spectacles of themselves. It goes on and on.

All of their garbage teaching is based on “the Lord told me.” “The Lord told me to tell you to give to my work and you will be blessed many-fold.” What they don’t tell you is how lined their pockets are. We simply MUST weigh every word said by the Word of God. The Scripture twisting they employ MUST be checked. Some will say, “How can I do that?” Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth came knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

Come to Him with a sincere desire to know and gain His wisdom. If we could set aside our desire for earthly gain we can see His clear Word. Paul told Timothy this would happen, that people would want their ears tickled. It has been, is now, and will be what happens. There will always be someone to come along as the “next best thing.” It will continue to run rampant UNLESS we stop seeking earthly ease and satisfaction and start seeking Him. God has not promised health and wealth to His people; He has promised His presence in and through all things.

“Father, Your wisdom is perfect. Your Word is perfect and it is life. May I seek your perfect wisdom in all things. Help me not to be enamored by things here, but keep my eyes on You.”

July 12

Friday, July 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Deaf Ears vs Hearing Well.

It is Friday and the weekend. My favorite part of the week will be here in two days: Sunday. I love Sundays! Oh sure, I get to preach-probably one of my favorite things of all. I get to see people I have grown to love. Interact. Laugh. Cry. Hug.  But I also get to take a “look” into God’s Word. This is a high and holy privilege I simply don’t want to take for granted. This has been heightened this morning by reading a portion of Psalm 119 (I have been here all week). Rather than “pontificate” on the Scripture, I’m going to let the Scripture speak.

“Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all genertations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” [v.89]

“Oh how I love your law! It is my mediation all the day.” [v.97]

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [v.105]

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” [v.114]

“Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.” [v.124]

“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” [v.135]

Simple. Profound. Convicting. Punchy (to the point). Encouraging. Revealing. Applicable. Can’t get much better than that!! I liked them all (obviously), but the one I re-a-a-a-a-lly liked was the last one. We all have a sin or two or three or ……. that seems to dog our tracks. The Scripture seems to be saying if I walk His path and stick to His Word, I can have victory over sin, especially those I struggle with on a more consistent basis.

“Father, may Your Word be my refuge and my guide, not just this weekend; not just this coming week; but for all time. May Your Word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

July 11

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Choosing Wisely vs Choosing Poorly (or does the apple fall very far from the tree?)

As I continue reading 2 Kings, I am greeted again by familiar names-Hezekiah, Mannaseh, and Josiah. Amon is between the latter two but he was only on the scene for two years. I’m struck by their choices.

Hezekiah (H) was a good king. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Two situations though stand out to me. One was his depth of sorrow (can it be called pouting?) over his impending death.  God gave him 15 more years to live. The other situation involved his pride. When visited by a Babylonian envoy, he showed them everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G! The latter was a very poor choice on his part. When God pronounced judgement on him for showing them everything, I think his pride shows. God tells him through Isaiah that judgement would come from the Babylonians and H is relieved because it will not be coming during his reign. Very poor choice.

Mannaseh (M), his son, was next. Ironically, M was born during the extended 15 years of H’s life. This is one time when a desire turned into a bad thing. M was one of the most evil, wicked kings ever. 21:1-9 is mind-numbing in its evil. God’s pronounced judgement was also epic. Using the action of wiping a dish as an illustration, God shows the extreme consequences of M’s disobedience. A series of very bad choices.

Amon only reigned two years before his servants assassinated him.  He carried on his father’s sin. Bad choice.

Josiah, Amon’s son, was 8 years old and he broke the mold. He did a complete 360 from his father and grandfather. It can’t escape the reader that a big part of Josiah’s choices was based on the Law of God found in the temple by Hilkiah, the priest. It says in 22:11 “He (Josiah) tore his clothes.” A radical response of humility and repentance to the reading of the Word. 23:25 is a great summary of his life: “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”

4 kings. 4 choices.  Hezekiah-pouting and pride. Mannaseh-overwhelming evil. Amon-like father like son. Josiah-follow God’s Word. I, too, must choose.

“Father, may I choose Josiah’s path not that of the others. May it be said I turned to you with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might. That would be MY CHOICE.”

July 9

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Nonchalance vs. Excitement.

What kind of attitude do you have toward God’s Word (GW)? How do you approach His Word? As I read today in 2 Kings 15-17, an overwhelming sadness hit me. But, at the same time, an incredible awareness of the patience of God toward His faithless people also crept in. At least until He’d had enough. Then enough was enough.

It is easy to read large sections like that; to read of the faithlessness of the people; to read of the long-suffering patience of God, and to get jaded. But I don’t want my approach to GW to ever get jaded.

Nor do I want to approach it nonchalantly. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The right approach to GW starts with a prayer for open eyes. Whether that be open eyes to see its truths, or open eyes to be receptive to its teachings, the first approach to understanding is to ask for open eyes to see.

I think a second necessity is to enjoy GW. 119:24 says, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” There is something to be said about an eagerness approaching GW rather than a drudgery. Or even a nonchalance seen in a “whatever” approach.

A third necessity is a clean heart. 119:29 says, “Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” Sin is a barrier to learning. That barrier needs to be broken or at least lowered so GW can do its thing. When the clean heart is evident, the desire to seek becomes stronger. Psalm 119 also uses words like “I have chosen” [v.30] and “I cling” [v.31] to describe what I see is a hunger for GW.

Finally, one of my favorite verses in this chapter is verse 32: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.” Physically, an enlarged heart is extremely dangerous. Spiritually, it is a by-product of love for GW. But it can also be dangerous. Who knows what can happen when God enlarges the heart!

“Father, Your Word is life to me, to all Christ-followers. May I never take a nonchalant approach to Your Word. Bring Your Word to life as I read it with open eyes. Enlarge my heart.”

July 8

Monday, July 8th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Sameness: Rut vs Routine.

I have spent the past two weeks playing hit-or-miss. My morning Quiet Time took a hit. Maybe I should say my normal, meet-God-in-the-morning Quiet Time took a hit.  I confess to getting up early so at the crack of dawn I could ride my bike. It was a good stress reliever plus I knew that later in the day would be a lost cause. I chose to ride before my hot day began. I would have my Quiet Time at night after Jo went to bed. But with no internet it was not possible to post here.

Maybe that’s why I told Jo last night as I was getting my things ready for my Quiet Time that I’ll be glad to get back to my routine. Some might call it a rut. And I suppose it could be. Early car drivers knew the conditions of the hard-packed roads means they needed to choose their rut wisely.  I’m choosing my rut. It’s early morning now and my routine is back!

I was reminded of that this morning as I began reading Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. It is amazing to me how just after days out of the routine plays havoc with my spirit, Psalm 119 brings me back. “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” [v.2] “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” [Vv.9-11]

What great words to hear this morning! I missed this morning “routine.” I missed this sameness. In this case, it is a good routine. I must keep it from being a rut, one I dread. But I must keep it a routine, one I look forward to. It is in this routine that I find my rest. I find my refuge. I find my strength.

“Father, let me seek you with my whole heart. Let me use this good ‘routine’ as the way to know you and to know your Word. Draw me near to you, Father, as I get back into your Word.”

March 20

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Testimony of Truth vs. testimony of lies.

There seems to be in each one of us the tendency to exaggerate. Instead of telling it like it is, we embellish, lay it on thick. The problem with a lie is it won’t hold up. I once had a friend who spent time in court trying to get custody of his two girls. At least 3  times He testified in court and each time it was the same testimony. The other attorney had the gall to say, “Mr ___________ you have told the same story 3 times in court. That is impossible to do.” Even the judge chuckled at his cockeyed reasoning because when you tell the truth you have nothing to hide. You also don’t have to wonder what you said the last time you testified. The mother’s story changed like the wind.

Fabricating testimonies, “miracles,””works of God,” is pure dishonesty. One very popular dude claims when he preaches gold dust falls from heaven and feathers fall on people. That’s not real and it’s been proven. If people open their eyes to the truths of Scripture and see the hucksterism for what it is, maybe he will stop fabricating things. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God’s Word is true. Our testimony should be also. To embellish, lie, and exaggerate will eventually catch up to s. Better to tell the truth than be caught in lies.

“Father, Your Word is true. My words should also be true. Let me be conscientious of what I say and may it always be true.”

March 11

Monday, March 11th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Resisting Correct vs Accepting Correction.

Several Scriptures come to the forefront:

“Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” Pr.8:13b

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” Pr.10:17

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” Pr.15:31-32 (NLT)

In all honesty, it is never easy to accept reproof, or correction or criticism (whatever you want to call it). I think the “higher up” a person is, the more powerful he or she is, the harder it is to accept.

As a young pastor I realized I needed help and guidance but it was still hard. The older I got; the more experienced I got; the more “mature” I got, the harder it got. I was good at listening to what people said then just saying to myself, “You don’t know anything. You have no clue.” I even had someone say to me once that I was arrogant and proud but then shrugged off his words by saying,  “I’m not either. I’m just sure of what I do.” Jeff was right. I should have listened. There’s a word for that: F-O-O-L. Even though I was never domineering or authoritarian, I was still a disgrace, harmful, and led people astray by my arrogance.

Constructive criticism coming from a friend is good. Coming from leaders who love and care for their pastor is essential. But too often we defend and justify ourselves instead of listening.

The Proverbs used at the beginning of this devotion show how important it is to listen and to accept what is being said. There just might be a grain of truth in it.

“Father, help me to accept correction. Help me not to be the fool-the one who is arrogant and proud. Instead, find in me a humble and teachable spirit.”

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I am leaving town for a few days to visit my grandson and his family. I will not be taking my computer with me so I suspect this page will be silent a day or two until I return (which is to be Wednesday afternoon).

March 5

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Blind Eye vs Loving Heart.

At first glance the two topics in that title seem to be disconnected. But hang in there with me please.

In John 8 there is the story of a woman caught in adultery being brought by the Pharisees to Jesus. Verse 4 has them saying, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do you say?” If you are familiar with the story several things stand out from here on.

  • They were trying to trick Jesus. If He says, “Stone her” then He goes against his teachings of love. If he tells them to let her go he violates the Law.
  • Jesus knelt down and started writing in the sand. No one knows what He wrote but we do know the Pharisees peeled off one by one until none were left. I can speculate what He wrote but not here.
  • He refused to condemn the woman but told her to “go and sin no more.” Leave that life.

But here is where the Blind Eye comes in. Not Jesus. His is the Loving Heart. His heart is seen in His refusal to condemn, but in a roundabout way to defend and restore.

“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman.” Deut.22:22

I have often asked when preaching or teaching John 8 , “Where was the man?” I now renew that question and raise it a notch. If the Pharisees-the ones who were so law bound they hounded Jesus for minor technicalities-were experts in the Law, how could they miss this? I think the answer is seen in two words: Blind Eye. They saw what they wanted to see and if they saw something they didn’t like they turned a blind eye to it. They were so hell-bent on trapping Jesus they were willing to dismiss the Law’s teaching OR they simply did not want to see what God’s law said.

Like me, like many, they turned a blind eye to the truth. It could even be said they turned a blind eye to this woman for the purpose of their own agenda. I can be guilty of this as well. Paul told Timothy: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itchy ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (2 Tim.4:3) A disregard for truth. Turning a blind eye to what is in order to approve what is not. A Pharisee?  Yeah…at times I am.

“Father, help me not to be blind to the truth. Help me not to disregard Scripture for my own agenda. Help me to be true to you with a loving heart for others…just as Jesus was.”

February 22

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Rejection vs Acceptance.

As Christ-followers I/we sometimes walk a fine line. It’s a fine line that separates acceptance from rejection. Do I accept this line of thought or reject it? Do I view this action as acceptable or do I reject it? We don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and yet we know we ought to be distinct.

The need is for discernment. Discernment is the ability to well…discern…to know what is right and wrong. There are small things where discernment is needed and somewhat easy; there are big things where it is needed but perhaps not so easy. For me, discerning the rightness of drugs and alcohol is easy. We all have areas we are staunch about and areas which are gray.

But that’s really not where I want to go. The question I have is where? Where do I go to discern? How can I discern to accept or reject? I’m not naive enough to think that one compromise cannot lead to another. I’ve seen it in my own life. At the risk of being misunderstood or castigated, I know what the Bible says about “alternate lifestyles, as its called. I’m not a believer that God has made a person with a gene which says, “You have no choice. This is you. Accept it.” It is a choice. A sinful choice. But compromise on one part can lead and will lead one down the slippery slope of acceptance.

Discernment is needed. Discernment comes from going to the source-the Bible. The Bible is clear on its stand. It takes a lot of Scripture-twisting to see otherwise.

Discernment comes from humbly sitting at the feet of Jesus-whether in quiet; whether in study; or whether in the presence of a teacher. Discernment helps us in choosing right from wrong AS LONG AS our source is right. For example, a false teacher is not going to work.

“Father, help me to discern what is right and what is wrong; what to accept and what to reject; not based on my own likes or dislikes, my own perceptions, or what is popular in society, but on your Word. Give me a willing spirit to continue seeking You in Your Word and not make decisions without consulting Your Word first.”