God’s Word

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November 23

Monday, 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 18

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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 11

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

“The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.”

I wish that was original with me but I’m sure it’s not. I just cannot tell you where I read it or heard it. But here is what is running through my head this morning:

Today’s world is a mess. It’s like an old DeGarmo and Key song playing through my head right now: “Judgment Day.” (I know it is not possibly your style of music but the message is pointed. I’m sorry I couldn’t find one with lyrics but Dana’s voice is clear enough to understand the words). Guns blazing. Riots on the streets. Vitriolic speech. Accusations galore. And the lists go on. Why? Because that is who we are. We would like to say it is not me…but it is. I go back to my original statement: The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. The Bible is clear on this fact -> it all comes from within.

Paul David Tripp wrote:

“If your heart isn’t ruled by God’s honor and your life by God’s plan, you may seem religious, but what you’re living isn’t biblical faith.” (40 Days of Faith-p.22)

Isn’t this exactly what Jesus got so upset with the Pharisees over? Here, listen to Isaiah 29:13- “And the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me…’ “ Sound familiar? It should. Jesus used those same words in Mt. 15:8-9. 700 years before Isaiah was describing the heart of man-then, and in 700 years- and yes, even in 2020.

James is right, you know? We fight and quarrel because our passions are at war within us (James 2:1) Read again my opening statement. Can you disagree? Not according to Isaiah, Jesus and James.  That statement is surely not original with me, but it still holds true.

“Father, help me to get my heart aligned with Yours. May my life and heart be consistent with Your Word.”

November 4

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

I originally posted this yesterday, November 3rd, the day of our election on my other blog. I include it here a day later still not knowing the outcome of the election.

At the risk of being taken as political, I’m going to make a statement that I firmly believe: God does not care about a person’s race; a person’s skin color; a person’s nationality; a person’s social status; a person’s religious upbringing; a person’s education; a person’s job; a person’s political persuasion; a person’s state of residence; a person’s 401K, or any other distinction man may make. In our world today it seems like unless you state publicly, “BLM,” you are a racist or some other ugly moniker. I personally believe ALM- All Lives Matter- and refuse to say any one race is more important than another.

I believe God would say the same thing. How do I know that? The Bible says so. Here, check out Romans 10: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be save.” (v.9). Then notice the words in verse 11: “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who…'” See that word? E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. Oh, but I love verse 12: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on ALL who call on Him. For E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There’s that word again!! Twice everyone is used; once all is used. That shows God is not black or white; rich or poor; slave or free; American or Hispanic (take your pick); or interested in class, color, or creed. God is for EVERYONE, especially when it comes to salvation. Jesus died for all.

“Father, thank you that I’m included, along with all others who come to you and claim the Name of Jesus for salvation.”

October 30

Friday, October 30th, 2020

On Tuesday nights I have been teaching a Route 66 class. I taught if for six straight years on Wednesday nights and needed to take a break. Someone asked me if I would teach it again so I am.  It is a 2 year trip through the 66 books of the Bible. As I read Romans 7 this morning my mind went back to the first 5 books of the OT, specifically Leviticus through Deuteronomy.

Boring books on the surface. Measurements of the Tabernacle? Yeah, not so exciting. But I have gained a new appreciation of these ancient books. I have learned, first, you simply cannot divorce the OT from the NT.  The shadow cannot be separated from the reality. There is so much in the NT that brings the OT to life.

But what really stands out to me is how much more alive and meaningful those old books are when seen as God’s desire for holiness from His people. He gave the Law so His people would know how to act (among other reasons).

This came home to me as I read Romans 7:7 this morning: “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ ”  So the law pointed out sin and gave a name to it. How else would I have known it was wrong to covet if not?

God desires His people to be holy. His people in the OT. His people in the NT. His people today. Me. You. While the Law is not binding on us for salvation, it is a good reminder that we have been set apart by God for His purpose.

“Father, You are holy. The Scripture says, ‘Be holy as I am holy.’ You are there. You want me to be holy as You are. Lead me and teach me how to be holy.”

October 22

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

There is no question our world is unsettled right now. As I write this in 2020, we have experienced a pandemic the likes of which my generation or after has never experienced before. We have watched cities be held hostage; cities burn and in some cases are still burning; corrupt politicians grease their own palms and flaunt their sinful agenda, thumb their nose at people all while doing their own things to further their agenda. We have seen lies and cover ups, the likes of which we have never seen before. We have seen sin flaunted in the open, almost daring us to say anything derogatory toward that sin. And we simply cannot forget the hatred and vitriol we have seen from and on social media.

Something is wrong. True. But we are also seeing a fulfillment of Romans 1: 18-32.  Put aside for a moment the obvious reference in that passage to homosexuality. See the blatant reference to mass chaos in our lives. How can we read this passage without seeing the result of disobedience to God’s law?

There is a story told -true or not is up for grabs-that a UK newspaper once asked its readers “what is wrong with the world?” It is told that G.K.Chesterton, a Catholic writer, poet and philosopher answered that question with a 4-word answer: “Dear Sirs. I am.” How’s that for brevity and truth? I am what wrong with the world. It’s called sin and I have the disease. We all do.

“Father, the only solution to the sin problem is You. Jesus died for my sin so I can know victory over death, hell and the grave. I don’t have to be intimidated by sin any more. Give me the strength to surrender my will to You. The reason: me; the solution: You.”

October 19

Monday, October 19th, 2020

We live in an instant world.  Instant potatoes. Instant coffee. Microwave dinners. You get the picture. What we don’t have are instant gardens (although we do have chia pets) 🙂 , instant height, instant weight gain or loss, or (fill in the blank).  No, those take time. I used to hear people say, “Anything worth having is worth saving for.” Man, I wish I had followed that advice. I know an older couple who paid cash for everything. They didn’t even write checks! ‘Course that was back in the mid ’70s.

What great advice though to remember that good things are worth the wait. We tend to appreciate things more. Come to think of it, growing as a Christ-follower is like that. While we may get frustrated that we aren’t growing as we would like, growth happens over time. I’m always skeptical when someone comes to Christ and immediately wants public access. I’ve often thought that celebrities who come to Christ ought to be discipled first before leashed upon the world. How many do you or I know who weren’t ready for the backlash or scrutiny that came as a result of a public testimony?

Growth is not instantaneous. It takes time. Sowing. Cultivating. Watering. Fertilizing. I wish my growth could skyrocket, even now. But it never has and never will. Slowly. Somewhat methodically. But always at God’s timing. Then Psalm 1: 2-3 becomes a true picture of where I am and desire to be. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither.”

“Father, it is frustrating sometimes that growth takes ‘steps.’ Sometimes slow; sometimes quick; but always incremental. Help me to be trusting so I can be like a tree planted by the water.”

October 6

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

I believe if there is one thing which could change the course of our faith-derail it even-it would be the validity of the resurrection of Jesus.  If someone could somehow prove it never happened everything falls apart. I just finished reading I Cor. 15 in One Faithful Life by John MacArthur. In his commentary he gives Paul’s 6 disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection. Here they are:

  1. Preaching Christ would be senseless. (v.14)
  2. Faith in Christ would be useless. (v.14)
  3. All the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars.  (v.15)
  4. No one would be redeemed from sin. (v.17)
  5. All former believers would have perished. (v.18)
  6. Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (v.19)

As you can see quite a bit of weight lands on the resurrection. Quite a bit of truth is dependent on the resurrection. When you think about it, that explains why so much effort has been put in by skeptics to somehow disprove its validity.

And that is good news for us! We stand on truth.  If the resurrection were not true they would not be trying so hard to find loopholes and use flimsy excuses. Standing on truth is a good place and solid place to plant our feet.

“Father, thank you for the resurrection. It is the hope of all mankind. It is the rock of all Christ-followers.”

October 5

Monday, October 5th, 2020

One of the things I have always encouraged in people is to question, i.e. they have the right to question what I say. But when they do, always go to the Word! Two things come into play: 1) The only dumb question is the one not asked; and 2) Ignorance is not bliss. It’s the latter I’m thinking about this morning. Not knowing is okay. But there is also the matter of not knowing because we don’t care. That is ignorance. And that is not bliss.

I agree with Chuck Swindoll (not that he really cares whether I do or not. 🙂 ) when he writes:

“Slice it any way you wish, ignorance is not bliss. Dress it in whatever garb you please, ignorance is not attractive. Neither is it the mark of humility nor the path to spirituality…On the contrary, it is the breeding ground for fear, prejudice, and superstition.” (“Good Morning Lord…Can We Talk? p. 274)

It’s so easy “to plead the fifth” as they often say on TV shows. I’m going to plead ignorance, which in this case, leads to silence. Question: how can that lead to biblical wisdom and knowledge? It can’t. And doesn’t. And therein lies the rub. We have far too many who say they follow Christ who DO NOT KNOW because THEY DO NOT ASK.  Maybe a favorite pastor or radio/TV personality says something and rather than investigate we accept it as “gospel” or we lock step to the party line. That can be-and usually is-very damning. Face value vs faith value. Only trust the Word.

“Father, may I be a student of Your Word. May I find my answers there and not in man. Help me to know and be wise, not live in ignorance.”