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January 25

Monday, January 25th, 2021

It is easy to feel (what word am I looking for?) less or inferior. Read the Bible and one reads stories of men and women who display magnificent faith and trust in God. Abraham. Jeremiah. Isaiah. Samson. Elijah. Peter. Paul. And we feel less than. Maybe inferior is the right word. We read Hebrews 11 and see theses giants. We even call that passage God’s Hall of Faith. But take a closer look at some of those people.

  • Abraham. Twice he tried to pass Sarah, his wife, off as his sister. (If I tried to do that? Oh boy). Ran ahead of God and gave into Sarah’s “push” with Hagar to have a child.
  • Samson. God’s chosen leader was more interested in lust than leadership. In the end God used him to bring down the temple and defeat the Philistines.
  • Elijah. He defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel then runs from Jezebel and wallows in self-pity wishing he was dead. 
  • Peter. So afraid he denies Jesus three times. A few months later he is standing before the Jewish leaders saying he wouldn’t back down and stop preaching and wouldn’t shut up.
  • Paul. Murderer. Hater of Christians. Converted and he becomes the greatest missionary ever.

God takes us as weak and frail as we are and uses us. He infuses the weak, powerless people with His supernatural Power. That’s me. That’s you.  Will you make yourself available to Him?

“Father, replace my weakness with your power. I am not inferior because You don’t see that. You see a vessel You want to use.”

January 22

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Have you ever wanted something-something better than what you have-but had something less standing in your way? Please let me explain.

Let’s suppose you were raised in a false religion or a cult. Or maybe your family tradition was a stale, musty, traditional church. And dead. But then you were exposed to gospel teaching and for the first time in your life you could feel your spirit coming alive. But-and this is a big but-you hold back because you are concerned about leaving that cult or that false religion or that dead tradition. Why? Betrayal of family? Betrayal of a belief system? Loss of friends and family? Fear of being alone? All the above could be correct or even more. I heard it explained as being like a man with his hands in the stream. He has caught a small fish in one, but a bigger fish is swimming by. To catch the bigger fish he has to let go of the smaller one. (Golem he’s not).

I think that is a pretty accurate description of the scenario I gave above: Give up to get. Jesus had a man approach Him and ask Him about eternal life. When Jesus told him he had to give up all he had to follow, the Bible says he went away sad because he was very wealthy. He had to give up to get. He wasn’t willing to do that and therefore lost everything, at least that which matters in the end.

What is God calling you to maybe give up? Are you will to give up the lesser to gain the greater?  I have been asking myself that same question.

“Father, you know the choice I need to make. Help me to do it.”

January 21

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Bob Goff in his 365 Day Journey book Live In Grace*Walk in Love wrote these words while writing about life and love as we grow up:

“It was about what we did more than who we were. It was only natural to assume God worked the same way. Do good things and succeed and you receive love and approval from God. Mess up and love is withdrawn…If only we could remind ourselves more often that God never cares about the grades on our report cards. He wants us to make it all about His love, not our performance, and He’s a whole lot more concerned about our character than our accomplishments. He doesn’t find joy in our success; He delights in our attempts.” (#19-P.24)

A little later in that same Journey he wrote a powerful sentence:

He wants us to be captivated with purpose, regardless of whether it looks like worldly success.” (p.24)

Speaking for myself, I’ve often missed this. Caring more about the end result and how I will look, often took away the joy to be found simply knowing I was fulfilling His desire for me. Performance. Accomplishment. Success = All bogus. Finding joy. Contentment. Peace = Purpose.

What about you? “Father, I’m so glad You don’t look at me to see my success but to see me fulfilling Your purpose in me and for me. In that I will find my joy, contentment and peace.”

January 14

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

One of the tragedies that many Christ-followers fall into is failing to see people, events, or circumstances through the eyes of Jesus. I can’t “swear” by this but I think that may be at the root of a lot of peoples’ anger at God. Instead of seeing whatever it is through His eyes, we see it through our lens. I know I have done that. Sometimes I have railed at God-anger spilling out of my lips; my body tense for battle; my fists clenched…before I ever know His motives or desire for me.

So, what to do? I read a great picture of that. Imagine standing face-to-face with Jesus, enjoying a conversation about life and all its challenges. He looks into your eyes, and you sense His perfect knowledge of your innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires. You look into His eyes and see His deep love and acceptance of You. Then, in this moment of intimacy, you see Him step closer toward you, so close it looks like He’s going to knock you down. But instead of a collision, He steps right into you. He turns around so He’s looking out of your eyes, He stretches His hands down into your hands, and you begin to feel His heartbeat…He has clothed Himself with you. (taken from Experiencing God’s Presence-Jan 13)

As I read that my mind went to several Scriptures. “If a man is in Christ, He is a new creation.” (2 Cor.5:17). “I have been crucified with Christ…nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.” (Gal.2:20) “And all who have been united with Christ…like putting on new clothes.”  Some translations say, “put on Christ.” (Gal.3:27)

“Father, may I live my life as seen through Your eyes. Please give me ‘Spirit eyes’ to see as You do.”

January 13

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

I actually had two thoughts bouncing around in my head this morning and thought I would use them both. But I was unsure how to tie them in together. As you will see, that was not necessary. Maybe I’ll do the other one tomorrow.

My first thought was after reading Matthew 23. I’d encourage you to stop right now and read that chapter. If this is an “on-the-go” devo reading, I’ll summarize it for you. It is what is called the “7 Woe” passage, where Jesus pronounces 7 woes against the Pharisees. He’s blunt. He minces no words. I have a sneaking suspicion He wasn’t smiling trying to soften the blow of His words. I also have this feeling He didn’t look at the sky and drop His eyes and look at His feet. No, I can picture Jesus with eyes boring right through the chests and into the depths of every Pharisee’s heart and soul as He spoke.

He had enough of their hypocrisy. Let’s clarify that: self-righteous hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is one thing; self-righteous hypocrisy is a whole ‘nother level. I think we are all hypocrites to some extent. I know I am. Why do I say that? Because not always does my walk back my talk! Yep, that’s me. Saying one thing but doing another. I recognize that and can honestly say I don’t do it maliciously or purposely. That is the sinful nature, the old man in me, who wants to still make an appearance.

Self-righteous hypocrisy is different. It is doing something then trying to cover it up with self-righteous talk. Religious talk. It is looking down on someone but not acknowledging my own sin. That is Matthew 23 in a nutshell. The Pharisees could not see their own sin because of the self-righteous log in their own eye. Jesus called them whitewashed tombs. They were tombs and monuments that looked good on the outside but were fill with dead man’s bones. There is more, but you get the point. Time to stop being a self-righteous hypocrite and put the cards on the table.

“Father, help me to be real-to You, to myself, to others. You see me as I am. Help me to stop pretending.”

January 12

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

There are a lot of people who mistakenly think the laws of God are more like a noose around the neck as opposed to thinking they are for our good. “God is a cosmic killjoy,” they say. “All He wants to do is to take the fun out of life.” “Why can’t I live my life the way I want to? After all, it is my life.”

Well, I suppose that is true. It is my/your life. And yes, I can live it any way I want. But that decision to do so also comes with consequences. Supposed we look at God’s laws in another light. Let’s suppose we are on a train. As long as we stick to the tracks we go along smoothly and on course. But if we jump the track and try to steer that train through grass or sand or whatever it is we run into, what will happen? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. You go nowhere. The train ends up stopped dead in its tracks. It is not doing and being what it was designed to be and WHERE it was designed to do it. We can complain all we want about the train being held to those tracks. We can say they are hindering its freedom.  But logic and reality say, “Nope.” Those tracks are actually serving their purpose.

The analogy may break down somewhere but the point is still true. The tracks are for the train’s safe operation. Why not see God’s laws in the same light? Throw off His laws and life goes haywire. There are consequences. Why not see true freedom in His laws? Why not see true love in them? Why not see God’s hand of care and concern in the restraint His law puts on us? That’s where true freedom is found-living for Him by His Word and not for ourselves by our rules.

“Father, help me to see Your laws as part of Your gracious love toward me instead of restrictions I see designed to box me in.”

January 11

Monday, January 11th, 2021

One of the hardest things for me through this whole Covid-related battle I’ve had has been the ability (or is that inability?) to concentrate. It’s a real thing called Covid brain. Seriously. I figured since I would be in jail, I mean quarantine for 10-14 days, I would get a lot of reading done.  Nope. A puzzle or two. Nope. Some planning. Nope. Nowhere close. It seemed like I couldn’t keep my attention on much of anything. I was tired of sleeping (how does that happen?) which is another side affect of Covid, but couldn’t concentrate. On anything. So endless TV watching became my distraction (plus I was in the same room as Jo).

It’s easy to get distracted. I’m not on social media (I don’t consider my minisculey-read blog social media) so that is not something I get distracted by. No FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Go ahead and ask me if I miss them.  Answer: not one iota. But you talk about a huge distraction! You see them everywhere. I was at the Y awhile ago and this couple came in. He went immediately to work and she went to the “stretching” area. She didn’t. She sat on the floor and for the first 15-20 minutes or so was scrolling through her phone. Seriously? Why even come? I believe Bob Goff was right when he wrote:

“It’s easy to get distracted by everything else; what takes a little more work is to only get distracted by Jesus.” (“Live in Love-Walk in Grace”-p.8)

One of the classic stories of distraction is when Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and come to Him. Remember: this was after Peter asked Him. Peter was fine until he got distracted. Then he began to sink. The full story is in Matthew 14:22-33. Imagine the story Peter would have been able to tell if he hadn’t gotten distracted!!

“Father, if I’m to be distracted, let it be by You. May thoughts of You consume me. Please help me to keep my eyes on You.”

January 6

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Have you ever noticed how often we “categorize” our worship? We talk about worship on Sunday in a certain place or time. But then act as though the other parts of our day or week are extra.

I even do that on Sunday morning during our corporate worship. I have caught myself (and not done a very good job of stopping or changing it) saying, “Please join us now and stand and sing and join us in worship.” See what I did? Say, for example, we had just had our prayer time when I say that. What have I stated? Answer: that the prayer time was not part of our corporate or individual worship, but now we are singing so we are worshiping.

No. No. No. That prayer time. That communion time (in our case). And ultimately the preaching time was all part of our worship. It is part of our psyche to make a distinction and say that singing is worship but prayer and communion and listening to the Word is not.

And it carries over into our daily lives as well. Worship does not just happen on a Sunday morning. It doesn’t just happen when I’m having my QT. Categorizing worship was never supposed to happen! Worship was, is, and always will be a 24/7/365 opportunity to praise the Father’s goodness and love. David praised God on the mountain and in the valley; on the run or on the throne; feeling good or feeling bad. Take a moment please and read Psalm 148.

“Father, worship is not be to categorized. But it is most definitely to come from my heart-all day, every day, any time, and any where. May my heart be one filled with praise.”

January 5

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Let me ask you a question-one I’ve asked myself seemingly a million times:

Is your service to God out of love or out of obligation?

Be careful how you answer that. The way we answer that is very telling concerning our way of looking at God. Please let me explain. When you and I come into God’s Presence, there are various ways to respond. Some will be terrified. I do have to wonder about the reaction of those who, while here on earth denied His existence; denied His Power; denied His Creative ability, etc. only to find out at their death all they held to was ashes. Some will be frozen in wonder and awe at the majesty before them. Some will-like the apostles- not recognize Him until after He left. I’m not just thinking of standing before Him at the throne but also while here on earth.

As a former legalist, my whole life was wrapped around performance. Not so much being enraptured by His Presence, but being convinced that I had to perform. My service to Him was out of obligation more than it was out of love. Oh, I told myself it was love, but it wasn’t really. Love has no fear and for the legalist fear is a major player. I can’t escape the duplicity of my thinking: “Jesus loves me this I know if my performance tells me so.” Many religious groups (not just cults) base their modus operandi on performance. Act a certain way. Dress a certain way. Go to church so many times. If not, shame on you!

So, let me ask you again: Is your service to God out of love or obligation? If you sit under a legalist, get out now while you still have your soul.

“Father, it is easy to see my prayer this morning. May my service to you be out of love for you and not the feeling of obligation or judgment.”

December 23

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

When I was a youngster, and if I was a betting man/boy, I would have bet my last dollar (which I had none of back then) that my mother had eyes in the back of her head. She was like “See all/know all” to me. I had 3 brothers-all younger- and we all had the “Not me’s.” I’m sure you have probably seen that Family Circle comic strip where the mom asks “who did it?” and they all say, “Not me.” Well, I think the cartoonist had it right and must have used my family as the model for that particular day. I can remember there being a time that something would happen or something was missing and mom would line us all up and say, “Okay, who did it?” Not even the “It is better to tell the truth than get caught lying” line would stop the “Not me” from flowing out of our mouths. But strangely mom would say, “Okay, Robin or Garry or Curt (never Bill), why did you do it?” and the cover would be thrown off the perpetrator.

You know, I may have escaped my mother’s piercing eyes (and disappointment) but with God it is different. As Paul David Tripp writes:

God’s grace will expose what you want to hide, not to shame you, but to forgive and deliver you.” (40 Days of Grace- Day 4-P.14)

Little did I, or my brothers, know that revealing to mom our (there I admitted it) infraction actually set us free. We didn’t have to skulk around like Golem wondering if we were going to get caught. And we no longer have to hide our sin (we can’t anyway). God’s grace brings that sin out into the light and pierces it, obliterates it. Exposes it. All for the better.

“Father, you have shined your light of grace on my sin. You have exposed it so it cannot control me. Thank you.”