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June 30

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

One of the members of “the Trinity” is misunderstood. Well…He does get a bad rap sometimes and, at times, is often forgotten. It is pretty obvious I’m not speaking about God the Father or God the Son. God the Holy Spirit is the One often looked at with shady eyes and raised brows. I think some of that is because of ignorance and some is because we treat Him with such mystery. We think He’s a ghost-like Casper- friendly, but oh so eerie.

I was ignorant of the Holy Spirit for many years. I knew He existed but was “afraid” of Him. I focused on Jesus and my first experience with raised hands brought a cold sweat to my body. I learned then and have continued learning about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8-11, part of the Scripture I read this morning, offers some help but, if you are like me, there may have been some confusion as to what those verses meant. As a result the Holy Spirit’s purpose stayed cloudy. I do know this: the Holy Spirit’s purpose was never to draw attention to Himself. His purpose was and is to always glorify Jesus. ALWAYS.  That’s why to draw attention to the Spirit in song or to the manifestations of the Spirit is wrong. John 16 tells us He was to do three things: convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

  • Convict of sin- the specific sin of not believing in Jesus as Messiah-the only sin not forgivable, that damns people to hell.
  • Convict of righteousness- this might be better understood as self-righteousness (hypocrisy). He exposes the blackness of our own heart.
  • Convict of judgement- the context is that of the world under Satan’s control. The world cannot judge itself because it is blind, sinful and evil. (Current events show that).

The Holy Spirit is not really a ghost- an apparition. He has a specific purpose.  And He accomplishes it all by always drawing attention to Christ and the cross.

“Father, help me to understand more. Help me to see the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life and allow Him to do His work in me.”

Note: I’m indebted to Pastor John MacArthur for his “help” this morning.

June 26

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Sometimes I will make the statement to someone- “That’s not a hill I want to die on.” It could be about anything really, but it is especially true when speaking of Bible teaching.  I recently was reading a book by Gavin Ortlund called Finding the Right Hill to Die On. Long story short: it divides into 3 tiers the doctrines we find important. #1 is the essential where there can be no compromise. You must believe them. #2 are those which are important but allow for some differences (mode of baptism for example). #3 are those which really are of no consequence to our salvation (like your view of the 2nd Coming).

A #1 tier would be what I read today in John 14. Verse 6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me.” This statement cannot be sloughed off as non-incidental.  Non-essential. Look at that verse again. I am THE way; not A way. I am THE truth; not A truth; I am THE life; not A life. There is no mixing those up.

Our culture would have us believe there are many ways to God; there are many truths to believe; and life can be found in temporal things. W.R.O.N.G!!! Jesus is the only way to God because He is the truth of God (Jn.1:14) and the life of God (Jn.1:4). This verse shows the exclusiveness of Jesus. Let me repeat that: this verse shows the exclusiveness of Jesus. He is not one of many; He is the only One. And even though it may sound narrow, get this wrong and you get it wrong. All cults (JW, Mormons, Bethel included) all mess up here. He is fully God and fully man. He was God in the flesh from birth to death. There is no one like Him. No question. No hesitation. No equivocation. No fudging. No part way.

CHOOSE!

“Father, I choose Jesus. I choose to worship Him as the one and only way, truth and life. That is a hill I will die on.”

May 20

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

These are interesting times. And, as can be expected, times like this brings the conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. Along with the cultural conspiracy theorists (who did this; where did it start; who’s behind it; what are they hiding; etc.), we also have what I will call the “prophecy theorists.”  This time is a link to something in the Bible-Daniel or Revelation to be sure- that is a “sign” of or the beginning of the signs for the second coming of Jesus.

Now, I’m not knocking prophecy. It is obviously a vital part of the biblical landscape, but there are some who spend every waking moment looking for signs. On a recent visit someone asked me about my eschatology. I gave my stock answer: “I’m a panmillenialist because it will all pan out in the end.” I’m not trying to be disrespectful to prophecy buffs, and especially to God and His Word, but how many times does someone have to be told that not even Jesus knew when He was coming back? I went on to tell this person that my rule of thumb is to say, “I don’t know the signs or the when, but what I do know is that when Jesus returns, you better be ready.”

I think that has credence thanks to Luke 12:35-48. Jesus says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find them watching…And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.” As I see it, my responsibility is not to look for and interpret “signs” but to be ready and help others be ready when Jesus returns. I will continue, and always will continue, believing Jesus is returning. When? Who knows. All I do know is I want to be that servant who is ready and expectant for when He does. I sincerely hope you are also ready.

“Father, You have promised Jesus will return. I believe that. You have said He could come at any time. I believe that too. Help me to live as a servant who is ready for his master to return.”

May 18

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Do you have a daily routine? What is it? Pre-covid, that is, since many routines have changed. Many conduct work from  home so they stay in their pj’s or sweats all day, except above the waist. 🙂  No question things have changed. I’ve been fortunate though. My routine hasn’t changed. Up at 3:30; Quiet Time; office about 5; study; office work; ride or lunch; drive-bys; office to close out; home for the evening (unless I have a meeting). I realize not everyone’s day is like mine. But in some way we are all alike.

Pre-Covid we rolled out of bed, grabbed a quick bite, then rushed out the door to beat the traffic on our way to work. Rinse. Repeat. But what would happen if we changed all that around? Well, my philosophy is the dark/night is for sleeping (unless you work the night shift). So instead of rushing around your day would start with a slow move toward bed! You would lay your head down and rest. All night long. Your day would have been in “progress” for 8 hours or so before you were even aware of it. Welcome to the Jewish world in the Bible!! That’s right. A Jewish day actually began in the evening (6:00). So they rested and slept and then got up to the realization that God was already at work. In fact, He’s been at it all night long since He never sleeps or slumbers. Psalm 121:3-4 says that.

How different when our day begins with resting in the One who never rests, sleeps, or slumbers! What a difference from our get-up-and-go life! Take a moment right now and do what I just did as I wrote this devotion. Stop and read all of Psalm 121 in total. Don’t worry it is only 8 verses. 🙂 Meditate on it. Dissect it. What a rich psalm! This is mine and your psalm and word for today.

“Father, help me to rest in You. Help me to hold fast to One who is sure. Help me to begin my day at rest, knowing You were awake all night.”

May 11

Monday, May 11th, 2020

Admit it. Go ahead. There is no shame in it. Be honest and admit it. I have had to…even though it kills me to do so. They say the older you get you start forgetting to do things. I want to amend that. The older you get the more you start forgetting. Period. There used to a time when I memorized my sermon word for word. That’s right. Word for word. And I preached them that way. I started giving up on that when I forgot a poem midway through and had to make up the rest. Then it was memorize by clusters.  Or main thoughts. Or key statements. Now it’s called cheat sheets in my Bible or on the pulpit. 🙂

Memorizing verses is the same way. I can remember being a memory machine. Going against the pastor in a head-to-head competition of Scripture memory battle and holding my own. I knew them word for word. Now…when it came to school work my memory suddenly flew out the window. 🙂 🙂 But I digress. I envy those who are young and can memorize Scripture like its the phone number they have committed to memory.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Hiding God’s Word in my heart puts a “protective barrier” around it. I read of a young Christian who came to his mentor to show him how he had memorized Scripture. He proceeded to quote the entire Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). His mentor was amazed and encouraged him not only to “say” but to “live” the words. To which the young man said, “That’s the way I learned them. The Scripture wasn’t sticking so I decided to practice what I memorized on a non-believer. When I did I found it stuck.”

What a unique way of learning Scripture! Sort of hard to forget the “life lessons”…no matter how old you are.

“Father, may Your Word be life to me. Help me to hide it in my heart. May it stand as a barrier between me and sin.”

May 5

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Every morning my alarm goes off at 3:30 (except Friday which is my day off). I get up; shower; shave on certain days; get dressed; get my glass of ice water; then sit down at the kitchen table where it is deathly quiet (a good thing) and have my Quiet Time. Around 5 I make my way to the office where I put things away I have brought from home, then sit down at the computer and enter this devotion. After that I start working on a sermon.

I do that…like clockwork…almost every day. I rely on sameness to keep me centered. Focused on the task. May I call it tradition?

Yesterday’s devotion focused on how tradition can be bad. But there are times tradition/routine can be good. Each day I have a routine-I’ll call it tradition-of doing the same thing. In my case, almost at the same time. There is a certain comfort level that comes from sameness. I like change; I do change fairly well. But there are some things which should NEVER change. My early morning routine should never change-although it sometimes does due to ministry. I’ve tried it; it doesn’t work. Meeting with others, preaching, laughing, hugging, has all changed over the past 7-8 weeks. I know when I get back to meeting in person it will be hard. But change I must.

When it comes to the truths of the Scripture, there can be no change. No new “enlightenment.” Jesus said to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees (Mt. 15; Mk.8). Some traditions are good and are never meant to be changed. Stand on the tried and true words and Word of God.

“Father, some things never change. Your Word is certainly one of those things. May I be faithful to You through all time, day in and day out.”

 

April 16

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

One of the good things-or at least it could be a good thing- about this current crisis is that it has offered a time for us to slow down and take stock of our lives. No sports-on TV or live. No youth leagues. No clubs. No travel to meetings. No school. No…well…nothing.  We can’t even eat out in a restaurant, and I KNOW someone who really misses that! (She doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe).  ‘Course that also means no small groups; no church meetings; and no gathering for corporate worship unless it’s all virtual.  There is that but let’s recognize it is not the same. 

What it should have done is slow us down. Instead of binging on the latest shows, it has given us an opportunity to spend time in God’s Word. Some have expressed a deeper hunger for God. Psalm 119 has some interesting verses for us to consider:

  • How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. (v.9)
  • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  (v.11)
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.  (v.37)
  • The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver. (v.72)
  • Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day.  (v.97)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  (v.105)

Jeremiah, the prophet, once wrote: “When your words came, I ate them, they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (15:16)  I’m wondering if I can say the same thing. Is God’s Word my joy and my delight? If not, why not?

“Father, help me to use this time of slow down to enhance my love for You and Your Word. May it be or become my joy and my heart’s delight.”

April 1

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Have you ever read a Scripture before-perhaps hundreds of times-and either not really paid attention or never really grasped its weight? I have. In fact, today’s Scripture is one of them. I actually read this passage a couple of days ago and it stopped me in my tracks as its meaning hit me. I revisited it this morning. Here is the Scripture: “You search the Scripture because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness of me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)  The old KJV gave it as an imperative: “Search the Scripture…”  It is true the word “search” can be seen as a command, but it is better seen as implying diligent scrutiny in investigating the Scripture.

As I’ve tried to read more on apologetics, once common strain seems to come out. Many (most) agnostics and atheists know the Scriptures better than many who say they are followers of Jesus. Of course, their knowledge is just that-knowledge. Head knowledge. They have done what Jesus describes here. They know the Scriptures “but refuse to come to Him that they may have life.” In the Pharisees’ efforts to be religious they knew the law of the Scripture, but they did not know the heart of the Scripture. All they had pointed to Jesus as Messiah, but they never saw it.  They knew the Scriptures alright, but not the One they pointed to.

That begs the question: how do I know the Scripture? As a club to be wielded or as a light pointing to the True Light-Jesus?

“Father, as I read and study the Scriptures, make Yourself clearer to me. Help me to continue learning truths from Your Word. Let me read the Scriptures as life that point me to You.”

March 18

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

How’s this for a kick in the teeth or a slap in the face?  All Scripture is from Proverbs 18.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (v.2)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the foundation of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (v.4)

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Vv.6-8)

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (v.13)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (v.21)

Need I say more or add to them? It is a malady that runs through my veins and is in my blood. I’m not alone. We would all do well to “keep our trap shut” as my grandfather used to say, and weigh our words.

“Father, it is easy to see the devastation my words bring. Help me to show restraint and remember death and life come from the same place.”

December 17

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Burning vs Heeding.

One of the more comically sad sections of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 36. It is one those places where as you read you don’t know whether to laugh at the image conjured up in your mind or be sad by its reality.

Okay, so Jehoiakim (J from here on) is king. He has fallen far from his father Josiah’s status as king. According to 2 Chronicles 36:5 it says, “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.” In fact, J was one of the last kings to rule in Judah before Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) captured Jerusalem and sacked it for good. He was, in fact, one of the kings taken captive by Neb. Anyway, Jeremiah was told to write down the words J needed to hear and to deliver them. Jeremiah had his scribe, Baruch, do both.

Baruch did as he was told and when asked where the scroll came from and how he came to write those words, he was honest and told them they were dictated to him by Jeremiah. And now comes the comically sad part. The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll and then as he read them to the king, the king would cut them off 3 or 4 columns at a time and burn them. I see it comically sad because of the picture conjured in my mind of the king hearing but then basically saying (by burning the words), “Out of sight; out of mind.” It is like two pictures developing. One, of pure obstinence and disrespect for Jeremiah’s (and by proxy God’s words), and the other of him burning up the scroll as though that will make it all go away.

Then it hits me how that is sometimes a picture of people as they read the Word. They blatantly discard the teaching of the Word and even at times like to pretend its not there. They go on to live their life in rebellion or disrespect for God’s truth and His Word.

And lest I point a finger at “they,” I must remember there is a finger pointing directly at my own heart as well. Knowing what God’s Word says but pretending it doesn’t exist should not even be part of me.

“Father, help me not to be Jehoiakim in spirit or in action. Help me not to disrespect You, Your true messengers, or Your Word. And most definitely help me not to pretend Your Word doesn’t speak truth.”