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June 18

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

I’ve been out of touch for a couple of days as I visited my daughter and grandson in Ohio.  Except for his team losing (they didn’t do that bad with only two practices under their belt), we had a great time.  Here is my devotion for today:

Have you ever met a know-it-all? I’m sure you have. They have an answer to everything and for everything. Even if… they have no clue.

There is nothing wrong admitting you don’t have the answer to a question. I remember an old TV show-I think it was called Room 222-which had a Student Teacher (I think her real name was Karen Valentine) as one of the stars of the show. She was the student teacher and in one of the episodes I can remember her being asked a question and even though she did not know the answer, she faked one. Bad move. It came back to haunt her and her mentor was able to teach her a valuable lesson. I can’t remember the question or her “answer.” Or even the consequence. But I do remember the lesson she learned. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know.” It is better to say Idk than to make up an answer which proves to be untrue.

How many times have you or I been stumped by a question concerning God, Jesus, the Bible, something within the Bible, or some theological question and you tried to bluff your way through? The Trinity. God became flesh. The Sovereignty of God. Predestination/Election. The Second Coming. And so many more.

Seems it would be better to say, “I don’t know the answer to that” or “I’ll try to find the answer” than to try to bluff and be found out to be a Pharisee.

“Father, teach me humility and the willingness to admit I don’t know the answer to a tough question. I’m not expected to know it all anyway. Help me to keep seeking You and Your Word.”

May 13

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

For the past few weeks I’ve been doing what I call “Drive-bys.” In an effort to be a pastor to the people God has entrusted to my care, and since I can’t go directly to them, nor see them on Sunday morning, I initiated this plan. I drive into a person’s driveway, pray for them,  then text them that they have been the victim of a drive-by. Sometimes they come outside to say hi and sometimes not. If they aren’t home I leave a card. Monday, May 11, I did a drive-by of some of our newer people. The oldest daughter, who just celebrated her 14th birthday on the 3rd, has had Lyme’s for 10 years and so they needed to be extra careful because her body fighting off two wretched diseases was asking too much. Anyway, they all came out to the porch and I sat and visited (appropriately distanced of course). The mom asked me 3 questions while I was there:

  1. “I’ve never heard you speak about eschatology. What is your view?” A: I’m pan-millenial…it’ll all pan out in the end, i.e. I don’t spend a lot of time on it. When Jesus comes; how He comes; no matter the timeline-you better be ready.
  2. “Do you believe in eternal security? It appears you do.” A: Yes. Conversation ensued.
  3. “What is the unpardonable sin?” (Mt.12:31)

Good question. What precluded that was a word or two about suicide, divorce, unfaithfulness, turning one’s back on Jesus, and several other issues prompted by Question #2.

My answer: Rejection of Christ. Judgmental people want to condemn all kinds of people to hell because they do this or do that. But there really is only one sin that is unforgivable. Rejection of Christ. Deny Him here and there is no second chance. Destination sealed. In my Quiet Time this morning I ran across this verse: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.” (John 8: 2 4). Bingo!  There it is in black and white (or red if you have that). Straight from Jesus’ mouth.

“Father, thank you for showing this truth this morning. I’m not concerned about my salvation, but I am aware others have or continue to reject you. May their hearts be softened to accept You.”

April 24/Weekend

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Should I or shouldn’t I? Do I go or do I stay? Is God calling me to do this or to do that? Those are questions probably most of us have asked from time to time.

I remember once when I was in a pastorate that had sucked me dry. I had sought to get out and the time was finally here. I had already interviewed and preached at a church and had been asked to accept the call to pastor that church. I asked for a couple of weeks to pray. In the meantime, I had already had an interview lined up with another church just in case church #1 didn’t work out. So I went ahead and interviewed with church #2 and found them to be wonderful and engaging and seemingly eager to break out of their mold. I was unsure and said something to a friend. He said, “Bill, take church #1. They have already extended a call. Plus even if it ends up being the wrong choice, God won’t abandon you.” He was right. I did. And church #1 did end up being the right choice for several reasons.

We often work ourselves into a frenzy or get frazzled trying to figure out “God’s will” for a certain situation. Should I or shouldn’t I? What choice? You know the questions. In his devotion book Good Morning, Lord…Can We Talk? Chuck Swindoll gave four great suggestions we should consider before taking a step of faith:

  1. Be sure it’s the Lord who is speaking.  We ought to make sure it is not just our wish or someone else’s for us.
  2. Be sure the decision doesn’t contradict Scripture. To leave a good, honorable, stable job to manage a porn store, for example, is not the right choice.
  3. Be sure your motive is unselfish and pure. Motive. Motive. Motive.
  4. Be sure the “leap” won’t injure others or your testimony. See #2. I think it would be wise to seek counsel and most definitely the “go for it” from those close to you.

Those are some good suggestions. I wish I had had them when I was trying to make that decision back in 1984. I now know it most certainly was the right one, but I could have saved a lot of unnecessary questioning back then. Not that either one would have been wrong, but church #2 never again did contact me. (Later one of the couples involved in the interview apologized. I don’t think they were thrilled how it went down). 

“Father, thank you for freedom of choice. As I choose-big or little-may the choices I make be Your desire for me. Open my eyes to see Your leading.”

April 3

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

I read in the April 3 devotion in Our Daily Bread these words:

On the night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave his final speech, ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.’ In it, he hints that he believed he might not live long. He said, ‘We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you…[But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.’  The next day, he was assassinated.

It was almost as if Dr. King “knew” he was going to die soon. That got me to thinking: what if I knew I was going to die in exactly one week. What would I do?

  • Would I love Jo any differently? Would I do something with her we have put off?
  • Would I love Tami and Janna (my daughters) and Braden (grandson) any differently? Would I make sure my millions were doled out evenly? 🙂
  • Would I love the people in the church I pastor deeper? Is there any grace or forgiveness I need to extend? Is there anyone I need forgiveness from?
  • Would my last sermon be an earnest plea for salvation? Holy living? Sacrificial service?
  • Would I ride my bike with more abandon, taking on the challenge of more hills?
  • Would I contact my friends (all 2 of them)  🙂 to thank them for their friendship and get together for one more pizza run or bike ride?

I could go on and I’m sure you could also. But the “what if” or “would I” is not what matters. It is the “what about now” that matters. No one knows when they may be called home.

“Father, I stand before You this morning pondering the ‘what if.’ You are more interested in the ‘what will I do for now.’ Show me how to live now and what You desire from me N.O.W.”

 

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 11

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

I’m pretty sure all of us have heard the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I once had a little book with that title. It’s subtitle was “It’s all small stuff.” I don’t know about the accuracy of that latter statement because there sure are some things that loom like mountains in our eyes.

At the same time, I am also being reassured by God’s Word that God sees the small stuff.  I have often been asked, “Pastor Bill, does God care about the little things? Is there anything too small for me to pray about? Does He really care about such-and-such?” There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind that I would say to these folks:

  1. There is nothing too small for God or to tell God. Take a look at Psalm 8:3-4. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?” David sees man as something insignificant (small) in the grand scheme of things compared to creation and, yet, God cares about us.
  2. The widow who gave her mite (Mark 12:41-44) was small and insignificant in the eyes of the religious leaders. And she gave a really, really small amount of money when compared to others.  But it depends on whose eyes saw. The religious leaders would have ignored her (and did if they even saw her); Jesus saw her. They would have looked down on her small gift; Jesus applauded it.

Two examples of seemingly small things that caught God’s eye. How can we possibly think that our concerns are too small for Him?

“Father, thank you for seeing all and seeing the significance of each person, each gift, each request.”

November 21

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Fool or Wise?

Over the past couple of months I have read two books that came from a unique perspective. Their authors were former atheists who came to know Christ as their Savior. They wrote for different reasons. Confronting Christianity by Rebecca MacLaughlin was written to answer 12 arguments that Christianity (God) is accused of. Why I Still Believe by Mary Jo Sharp was written to counteract actions in the church which threatened to turn MJ away from her life in Christ.

The denial of God’s existence is very real. There are those whose life mission is to disprove or argue His existence. The late Stephen Hawking. Dawkins. The late Christopher Hitchens. And others. But Psalm 14 puts a word on them that is ominous and no one wants to be called: F.O.O.L.

No one like to be called a fool and yet the ultimate foolishness is the denial of God.  But what concerns me is the one who believes in God and yet lives as if He doesn’t exist. What do I mean by that? Glad you asked. 🙂  It’s the one who lives:

  • As though God is a second thought not a first thought.
  • As though he is the master of his own fate
  • As though he is the ultimate ruler of his life and doesn’t need God’s authority.
  • As though he is smart enough to act and doesn’t need God’s wisdom
  • As though he has it within himself to overcome sin and temptation and doesn’t need God’s power in his life.
  • As though he gets things done by merit and does not need nor have to rely on God’s grace.

Could it be that every time I/you do or think the above thoughts we are saying, “God, I don’t need you. I’m going on this alone” even though we may not verbalize it?

I want to borrow from Paul David Tripp’s book Come Let Us Adore Him:

A fool has no ability whatsoever to rescue himself from his own foolishness. A fool is always a person in need of eternal rescue…He (Jesus) was born to rescue fools like you and me. (pp.122-123)

“Father, help me not to live in such a way so that it appears I don’t believe in You. Instead, help me to live a life of wisdom-a life of surrender to You and not to myself.”

October 25/Weekend

Friday, October 25th, 2019

My title is Questions vs Amazed.

My Scripture reading today was in Isaiah 10-11. I was not expecting what I saw in chapter 11. It leaves me with questions but also encouragement. The passage with questions will mean I’ll have to study it.

My question is 11:1-5. Is this talking about David, or Jesus, or both? I’ll be interested to find out. At first I thought Jesus. Then I thought David. Then I thought both.  Hmmmm.

The amazing part is verses 6-9. All the animals, natural enemies all, are peacefully with each other.

  • wolf dwells with the lamb
  • leopard lies down with a young goat
  • calf, lion and fattened calf together
  • little child will lead them
  • cow and bear shall graze
  • their young lie down together
  • the lion shall eat straw like an ox
  • nursing child will play over a cobra’s den
  • weaned child put hand in an adder’s den

As you can see they are natural enemies and yet they will be together peacefully. My initial thinking is this is in the new kingdom or this is just imagery of when Jesus reigns.

What do you think?

“Father, questions are always there. If I had or knew all the answers I wouldn’t need You or Your Word. Thanks for giving me an inquiring mind. May I always seek Your wisdom in all things.”