God’s Word

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January 8

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Left Behind: Worthy vs Temporary.

Am I that far off in saying that we all want to leave something behind for which we will be remembered? I don’t think so. We all (or most of us anyway) want to leave behind a legacy, a point of reference where if our name is mentioned people says, “Oh yeah. I remember (such and such) about him/her.”

In the media world, for example, actor Tom Hanks was recently honored with the Cecil B. DeMille award. In his craft, that may be the highest honor to be bestowed. Known for his body of work, he will now be known for another (higher) honor.

The Sports world has its honors also. Hall of Fame. MVP. Super Bowl champs. Stanley Cup. College football #1.

Music. Stage. Lifetime Achievement. The list is seemingly endless. People want to be remembered-hopefully for good and not for bad. Think Al Capone. Bonnie and Clyde. Elliott Ness. Billy the Kid. And others.

In the OT is the book and story of Job. I’m pretty sure we all know that story. Everything is taken away from him but his life, but Job still said, “I know my Redeemer lives.” When everything he loved was wiped out, Job’s response was, “The Lord gives; the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21)  When encouraged by his wife to curse God and die he said, “Shall we receive good and not evil from God?” (2:10)  (He also called her a foolish woman but we won’t go there! 🙂 ) In Job 19:32-24 he wished “his words were recorded, engraved in rock forever.” Funny thing is? They are. In the pages of THE BOOK.

What is it I want to be known for? Kindness? Generosity? Giver of grace? All the above. All are well and good. But the greatest? He was a Lover of Jesus. Yeah. I like that.

“Father, may the legacy I leave behind not be one of fleeting memories and temporary awards. May it be that I loved you first and foremost, above all, and that you were the reason I lived.”

 

January 3

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

Sorry this is late in coming today. Computer issues (it wouldn’t turn on) were a big downer. Finally…

My title for this devotion is Ready or Not.

As a child playing hide-n-seek the saying was familiar.  Count to 100 as everyone scatters and then say, “Ready or not here I come.”

I think one of the things many, if not most, people don’t like are surprises. Oh, we don’t mind surprises on our birthday or at Christmas. We like the surprise of seeing a loved one we haven’t seen in awhile (like a service man surprising his/her child at school). Those kinds of surprises bring a chill up and down our spine and a smile to our face and heart.

It’s the other kind of surprise we aren’t fond of. The kind that take the wind out of our sails. The kind that take our breath away. The kind that test our faith. They hit us when we least expect it. These seem to rise up out of nowhere and slam us. I don’t know about you but those are the kind I don’t like!

But I read something today that speaks to that. Proverbs 3:25-26 says, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” We are often thrown curve balls. Some pitchers throw curve balls so wicked they buckle the knees of the batter. Life’s surprises may do that but God’s Word says we don’t have to be afraid of them. Not when our confidence is in God.

“Father, help me to not be afraid of life’s surprises. Instead, help me to trust You no matter what comes.”

December 29-31

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Three things Moses prayed for in Exodus 33: 12-21.

LORD, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

LORD, GUARANTEE YOUR PRESENCE.

LORD, SHOW ME YOUR GLORY.

Moses did not want to be adrift. He didn’t want to lead the people of Israel without the presence and promises of God. What a great challenge for 2020!

Jo & I leave today for Sandusky, Ohio.  Tomorrow her sister has a procedure on her eyes that she must have or things will not turn out well. But it is in Lorain, OH and Jo is totally unfamiliar with that part of the state and unsure of driving where she has not been. Neither have I but she feels more confident with me driving (okay so maybe just with me being along). We will return Tuesday.  I will be out of commission as well on both blogs.

I have a decision I need to make: whether to continue “Living in the Shadow” or not. I have been doing two blogs for two years now. I started this one as a devotional outlet for New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I called it Be Transformed. I continued it by renaming it and just using it as a random devotional blog. I had several purposes. One, it kept me disciplined in having a daily Quiet Time. Two, and this will sound somewhat self-centered, I wanted to see if I could write and possibly transfer the daily devotions into a book form. The first, I accomplished. The second, I’m not sure about. What I do know is keeping two blogs going was, at times, time-consuming. It was stretching that is for sure. But what I hoped for (a consistent and growing readership) did not happen. So I’m faced with deciding what to do. I’d appreciate any input you might have…good or bad.

In the meantime, have a fantastic end of the year and a great start to 2020.

December 24

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Your word: Bond vs Betrayal.

When I was young whippersnapper growing up, I remember often many adults, especially my grandfather and my father, saying, “Remember Bill. Your word is your bond.” Back then (it was the Dark Ages you know?) a handshake was enough. Deals were sealed by the shaking of hands. There was no “pinky swear.” Often times, there was no contract.

But times have changed. We recently had to have some maintenance done to our house. The biggest was replacing our 20+ year old roof made of shingles they no longer make. 🙂 I contacted different roofers and settled on one who gave me the best price and had a good reputation. We also needed more room badly so I asked him to extend our small kitchen and add an extension (18×14) using the existing patio. The work was to start in September. How does late October/early November sound? Then he kept putting me off-starting and stopping, skipping days on end-and fitting me in whenever and losing precious good days. Before he started I had also asked him about finishing the room inside as well. He shot me a price. Sounded good until it came time to possibly start. Suddenly his price was not all that good. His words failed. I had some friends help.

Sadly, his word did not mean that much. I’m glad God was not like Him. God gave a promise (a covenant) to Abram. He changed his name to Abraham which was like His handshake. And He saw it through. It turned out just as He said-Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Jesus. There were more, of course, but just 6 names alone show God’s amazing promise and keeping His Word.

“Father, Your Word, Your covenant, Your promise was enough. You said it would be and it was. Through all the highs and lows of Israel’s history, Your promise never wavered. It still doesn’t.”

{And just an aside: can you think of any better time (other than Easter) to remember this covenant-keeping God than right now at Christmas? Merry Christmas to all of you.  May this time of the year be filled with Jesus and the essentials He offers: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE.}

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.”

December 16

Monday, December 16th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Real Value vs Underestimated Value.

Several years ago by brother used to sing a song written by Tim Sheppard. It was based on the Scripture/Jesus’s words where He asked what can a man give in exchange for his soul. Some of the lyrics were: “What can a man give in exchange for his soul/Can you name a price to give for your life/Can you be bought or sold?” I’m afraid there are far too many who are selling their souls cheaply.

We seemed to have lost sight of the value of the human soul. We sell ourselves to the lowest bidder: alcohol, drugs, sex, laziness, gambling, etc.  You name it. Sorta reminds me what Judas did to Jesus. 30 pieces of silver. In Zechariah 11:12, after having lovingly shepherded His people, God laments that all He was worth to them was 30 pieces of silver.  The price of a slave. According to Ex.21:32 the exact price an owner was to be paid should their slave be accidentally killed was 30 pieces of silver. God didn’t take that slight kindly! He had Zechariah throw the money away!

Many years later God’s Son was also sold for 30 pieces of silver. Judas himself realized his folly and threw the money at the feet of the religious leaders declaring he had betrayed innocent blood. They used it to buy a cemetery.

Our world today is divided. We have those who totally devalue human life.  They buy and sell people like they are cattle-often for less than 30 pieces of silver. We put down people-their jobs, the contributions-all to make ourselves look more valued.  On the other end of the spectrum are those who tell people they can have their best life now; can have all the nice things in life; they deserve the best-all because they over-value the temporary and put more value on a man’s “place” than his soul.

My value is not in what I have. It’s not even in what you or others think of me. My value is found in Jesus. It’s what he thinks of me that is important. One word comes to mind: INVALUABLE.

“Father, may I see my true worth is found in You. It’s not dependent on my status, stature, or what others think. It is dependent on what You think.”

December 13/14/Weekend

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

I started writing this on Friday, the 13th, but found myself having to leave the house for some lab work before it was finished so I thought I would finish it this morning and then post for the whole weekend.

My title for this devotion is Big God vs Little god.

Sometimes we see God as little. We hogtie Him with our unbelief. We minimize Him with our small thinking. We limit Him with our inability (or is unwillingness) to trust.

In my reading of Jeremiah I can came across 2 passages which piqued my thinking. The first is found in Jer.32:16-19.  This is simply a prayer of praise Jeremiah expresses. But notice what he says about God: “It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (emphasis mine).

How’s that for blowing apart an unbelieving, small thinking and limiting view of God? It sort takes that little god and shoves him right out the window.

But that is not all. Those were words of a prayer of Jeremiah’s. How about from God’s own mouth? Same chapter, verse 27 we read: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything to hard for me? (emphasis mine again).

One from Jeremiah. One from God Himself. And both are saying the same thing!! There is nothing too hard for God. That has so many applications for us. So many I don’t even need to reiterate them. You can do that yourself.  The important idea to remember and take to heart is that we serve a great big, powerful God who dwarfs any attempt to discard His abilities or tempted to put Him in a box.

“Father, you are so much bigger than I can fathom. Help me not to be one who tries to limit You or box You in by my unbelief, minimizing,  small-thinking, or the inability to trust You. Help me to trust the One who says there is nothing too hard for Him.”

I’m going to be a little out of character for this blog. I’m asking you to check out this video. This is the one that came to mind when I wrote this.

November 15/Weekend

Friday, November 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Read, Relish and React.

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture many times before and then just one time there is this (dare I say magical powerful) moment when during one reading you feel like you have been hit by a sledgehammer or that the light has gone on LED? It has happened to me many times before…today was another.

I’ve been reading through Isaiah the past couple weeks as I read through the OT. Yesterday I read the great Messianic prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This morning I read Isaiah 55. There is so much there, especially in things we say or hear but may not know where they came from.  Read slowly please:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (v.6)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (8-9)

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (11)

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (12)  {Note: this one of the early worship songs by the Maranatha Singers}

Powerful words. Let God’s Word wash over you today and this weekend. Prepare yourself for worship this Sunday by reading and rereading these verses.

“Father, You said your word would not return void (empty). I’m trusting for that in my life today and this weekend.”

November 14

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Saying vs Living.

The past few days I’ve been reading a book by Mary Jo Sharp called Why I Still Believe. It is subtitled “A former atheist’s reckoning with the bad reputation Christians give a good God.” Mary Jo’s basic premise is after her conversion to Christ from atheism, how could she reconcile the church’s poor representation of Jesus. Her husband became a worship pastor almost by default so she got hit first hand with hypocrisy. In fact, the day she came to church to make her commitment public, the pastor’s wife judged her on the dress she was wearing. No greeting but a disdained “looking down on her” look with the words that she needed to check her dress. There was too much cleavage. In another incident, an atheist friend of hers she invited to class asked some honest questions about creation/young earth/old earth and was rudely shot down by the teacher and the pastor. They had no idea who he even was.

Hypocrisy wears many coats and hats. And I suppose we all (definitely me) are hypocrites from time to time. I know for a fact my actions do not always match my words. To quote Mary Jo:

Hypocrisy requires a reference to a standard of moral conduct which a person verbally accepts, but then denies by their behavior. (p.149)

Here is my analysis of it:

Standard= the Bible, God’s Word

Claim= to believe the Bible

Hypocrisy= to say I believe but live opposite.

I confess. I am a hypocrite at times. I don’t want to be. But I am.  Sounds like Romans 7 doesn’t it? But I also know that cannot be a cop out or a “get out of jail free” card. Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the Pharisees, the religious hypocrites.

“Father, Your Word is true. It tells me all I need to know to live a life of godliness and holiness. But believing it and living it are two different things. Help me not to live a life contrary to Your Word, Your standard.”

{Note: Mary Jo’s book is an excellent and easy read. She has taken a very difficult subject (the existence of God) as well as the hypocrisy she has seen and molds them into a fine book. I’d highly recommend it. And, in case you are wondering, she exposes the hypocrisy of the atheist beliefs as well}.

November 7

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Answered vs Unanswerable.

Have you ever noticed there are some Scriptures which simply take your breath away in their breadth and scope of reach? I’m going to ask you to do something I’ve never done before-something I have already done. STOP reading this devotion and read Isaiah 40 first. Please. Oh yeah…be prepared to be awed.

READING ISAIAH 40

Thanks. Did you notice the rhetorical questions (questions asked but no answer expected)? Isaiah 40 is filled with them. List them. Verse 12.  Verse 13 (2 of them). Verse 14 (several). Verse 18. Verse 25.

But those alone are not enough. Look at the “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” questions. (Verses 21 & 23).

Anchoring all of this is a verse you may have skipped over (thanks to my “guidance.”) But now go back and read it. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.” (V.8)  There’s the anchor!! God’s Word has been, is now, and always will be. His Word never changes. Why? Because it is God’s Word and He never changes. Trying to explain an unexplainable God and trying to understand all that means is like trying to answer rhetorical questions. You can’t answer it because it is too lofty. (Brain explodes here). I can only say, “I believe.”

“Father, words truly fail me. Try as I may I’m lost. Take these inadequate but humble thoughts and accept them as they are intended: praise and adoration of and for a matchless God.”