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August 12

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of the Wise vs Words of a Fool.

There is no question that words have power. Listen to the babbling of a politician or pundit. Listen to a drill sergeant. Listen to a teacher/professor. Listen to a coach. Listen to a false teacher or preacher. Words have the power for good and for evil.

The words of Proverbs 12 ring out in their truthfulness and forthrightness. I’m going to put those verses here and let Scripture speak for itself.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (v.15)

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (v.16)

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (v.17)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (v.18)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (v.19)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (v.22)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (v.25)

Those words of Scripture speak for themselves. No commentary is needed. The only question which remains is what can I/what can you do to make my/your words life-giving instead of life-sucking?

“Father, help me to measure my words. Help my words to be words of wisdom. Words that give life. Words of truth. Words that build up. Transform my words today.”

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Notice: Due to a mess up of notification (My site is unstable or something like that) I have had to go to Feedburner. The WordPress notification was sending an https address instead of an http one, therefore sending the wrong site address. Several have notified me. Ryan says you will probably have to sign up again to receive notice of a new post. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for being patient.

August 6

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Blind Faith vs. Faith in the Unseen.

I know there are people who struggle to have faith. They are pragmatic in their approach. Like Thomas they won’t believe unless they see. Unless they see something tangible, or unless they can touch it, they find it hard to believe.

There are also those who have blind faith. Like someone who dives off a cliff or a rock into a body of water without first checking out the danger, they leap. They leap into the unknown and call it faith. I prefer to call that blind faith. It is my contention that an uninformed step is not really faith at all.

There are also those who cannot see yet believe. I’d like to think I’m in this camp. I have not seen God and yet I believe. I have not physically touched God and yet I believe He exists. I’m certainly far from an expert in all of this and being able to logically and adequately convey my thoughts is not a strong suit of mine. But I am aware that God is bigger than I can imagine and He owes me nothing. Even though He wants my praise, He does not depend on it. He is totally capable of being God without my approval.

Solomon’s prayer of dedication sums it up well. “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house I have built.” (2 Chron.6:18) God is so much more than I can think or imagine. He cannot be contained by a building or in a building. His presence and power is endless. His existence is far beyond my understanding. But I believe. That is not a blind faith. It is a faith rooted in truth. It is rooted in having “seen” Him. I’ll stand with the person who said, “Because God is great, He will be sought; because God is good, He will be found.”

“Father, You have made yourself known. Not by sight or touch, but by actions. My trust is not a giant leap into the unknown. It is a step into proven waters. May my faith continue to grow.”

July 31

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I actually wrote the bulk of this Monday morning at Jo’s sister’s apartment that would see us for the final time that day. I was going to title this An Observation. But this morning I went back to it and reworked some of it, mostly by adding some thoughts. But when I reworked it this morning I decided on a different title:

Stretching vs. Atrophy.

Here is the reworked devotion:

This Monday as I read my devotion from “Faith” from an Our Daily Bread collection of devotions, knowing today would the last day we would ever see this apartment and all that has taken place over the last month or so, I had to make some observations. The author’s devotion was on Stretching. As I sit down to have my Quiet Time,  the apartment is quiet. The outside is quiet. My soul is quiet and at rest. Today we pack up and move what remains in Vicki’s apartment. It has been a “stretching” experience in so many ways.

For Jo it has stretched her far beyond her comfort zone. I have not seen her cry like she has in a long, long time. Maybe after my second bike accident when I was seriously injured and the ensuing trauma which followed. Jo has had to go to bank after bank-back and forth-many times. Talk to Job & Family Services (a government agency…’Nuff said0. Apply for Medicaid for her sister. Become POA.  Make future funeral arrangements. Nursing home. Hospital. Phone calls. Way, way, way out of her comfort zone.  She’s a saint putting up with all she has.

For me it was giving up the routine of my job. Not being there for what I consider my responsibility has been hard. It has been hard to leave for weeks (3 of the last 5 to clean out this hoarder’s apartment. Scrubbing on my hands and knees to clean up…stuff. I cannot say enough about how Ryan and Diana (youth pastor and secretary) have held down the fort. Nor can I praise the leadership of OVCF enough for letting me come and go as I have, telling me “you have got to take care of your family.”

Stretching is painful. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and stretching was vital to recovery of motion. I’ve had meniscus and collarbone surgery. Stretching was vital to recovery.  One of the most important recovery mechanisms after a bike ride is stretching. In the life of the Christ-follower, stretching is vital to growth. It hurts to stretch muscles that want to curl up and atrophy. It hurts to stretch spiritual muscles that will do the same. But it is absolutely a necessity. Stretching helps us to focus not on what has been but on what will be. In our lives, stretching will help us focus not on what we have been, but on who we can become. It is easy to see ourselves with all our failures and shortcomings, but God looks beyond that to see who we are as His new creation through the power of His Spirit.

“Father, thank you for stretching me. Thank you for giving me (sometimes) unpleasant situations that challenge me to break out of sameness and safety and step out onto the water. As I take those steps-present and future-help me to keep my eyes on You, not the waves kicking up. And help me to remember this is all in your plan for me. Stretch me where I need stretched.”

July 24

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Facts that Hear vs Facts that Act.

Sounds like a strange title doesn’t it? It’s almost like, “What is Bill smoking?: Nothing. Never have. So my mind is not a jumbled mess. 🙂

Let me put it this way: Have you ever heard something that sounded good, had facts to back it, BUT required a little too much exercise of faith to pull it off? Allow me to explain: On December 17, 1903 the Wright brothers made history by flying. They defied the law of gravity. But did you know the idea wasn’t theirs? Year before some mathematicians and scientists figured out flight was possible but nobody was willing to take them up on it. Until the Wright brothers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Alexander Campbell, the founder of what is called the Restoration Movement, once said, “Faith is belief in testimony.” He further said, “Faith is belief in testimony of credible witnesses.” Think on that some. What changed the apostles was not the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but their witness of the Resurrected Christ. And it was that belief that transformed them and therefore gave them credibility with the people who listened. The apostles had to act upon the fact of the Resurrection. It was not enough just to hear the story. They saw the risen Christ. Then allowed that fact to revolutionize their lives.

The same goes for those who heard the apostles. The apostles were credible witnesses but those who heard had to believe what they said and act on that faith.

That goes for all of us. The Gospel is presented to us. We hear. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” [Rom.10:17] We then decided whether to say, “Oh that may be facts or it may just be talk” OR “Those are facts I need to believe and act on.”

“Father, your Word is truth. It was written by inspired men who were credible witnesses to your work. Help me not be someone who has the facts and does nothing. Help me to be one who hears, believes, and acts.”

July 22

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Calm Waiting vs Anxious Waiting.

One of the hardest things to do-at least in my mind-is to wait. For years I have said that God has three answers to our prayers: Yes. No. Wait awhile. We aren’t too fond of the No because that means we have been denied. We like the Yes because that means God has “agreed” with us about our need. It’s the “wait awhile” that is sometimes hard to accept.

David Rupert, in his new book Living a Life of Yes says there are three kinds of dreams: Fulfilled (Yes). Denied (No).  And Delayed (wait awhile). The same thing said about answers to prayer can be said about dreams.

The delay-wait awhile-is tough. God’s promise to Abraham took 25 years to happen! Look what happened in the interim due to Abraham and Sarah’s inability to wait.  They weren’t very good at it.

Neither am I. Maybe that’s why Psalm 131:2 spoke to me: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within.” A weaned child is being fed. He is content.  I was struck by the words “calmed and quieted my soul.” So much of patient waiting relies on that…something I’m not very good at from time to time. But. need. to. get. better. at!

“Father, help me to learn to calm and quiet my soul. Help me to see your hand in my ‘wait awhile.’ Help me to wait calmly and quietly as you work. Help me to allow you time to unfold your plan.”

I will be in Ohio for most of this week bringing our job cleaning Jo’s sister’s apartment to an end. Next Sunday we drive there to load a Penske truck on Monday to bring things home. I will post this week as I have time and internet (she does not have it in her apartment).  Your prayers would be appreciated.

July 18

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Reliable vs Unreliable.

Each day we practice faith without even taking note of it. Each morning I get up to shower. I turn the faucet on believing water will come out.  Every morning I sit at my kitchen table to have my Quiet Time. I don’t investigate my chair before I sit down. I don’t get down on my hands and knees and run my chair through a checklist to see if it is “sitworthy” or not. I put the key in the ignition of my truck without saying, “Okay truck! Will you or won’t you start?” I have faith that my shower will flow with water; the chair will hold me up; my truck will start. I depend on those objects to be reliable, especially because they have given me no reason not to.

However, the story would be different if my shower had a history of being cranky; the chair was getting kind of wobbly; and there had been a time or two recently when the turn of the key brought only a click. The unreliability of an object determines my faith.

The late Bible teacher Stuart Briscoe once said, “Faith is only as valid as its object.” My faith is in One who has proven himself faithful and trustworthy.  I’ve been reading 1 Chronicles this week in my QT. I thought Leviticus and Numbers was bad! They have met their match. 🙂  The first 8 chapters (where I am right now) will rival any section of Leviticus and Numbers for the snoozefest of the year award. Oh man, has it been tough. But I have tried to keep my attention by looking for names I remember. I’ve run across Jabez; the kingly line of David and Solomon; an almost verbatim account of a section in Matthew 1 (Jesus’ lineage). I have run across Judah and Tamar’s son, Perez, but there is no mention of Zerah. There was a clan of linen workers and potters, the latter who were in the king’s service. I read how even some of the mighty warriors gave in to the culture’s influence and broke faith with God. There were more people to see.

Long story short (sorry): no matter how “boring” this section has been, I have seen God’s Word come true. He said it, it happened. “These are the consequences.” “This is my promise. It will be.” My faith is in God’s trustworthiness. As it has been said, “Have faith in God, not faith in faith.”

“Father, you have proven yourself over and over to be trustworthy. In all things. At all times. May my trust be in who You are and have proven to be, rather than in the idea of faith. I have no reason to doubt you.”

July 17

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Being Asleep vs Being Awake.

As an exercise person, I know one of the essentials to effective exercise is recovery. Allowing the muscles time to recuperate is critical to being on top of my game the next ride. (Since I cycle that is my go-to thought). Did you know one of the most critical elements to recovery is not a protein drink or eating right afterwards or stretching, although they are all important, but something we do naturally? It is something we do and have done since the day we were born. S-L-E-E-P. That’s right. Sleep. Proper rest. Being an effective athlete and thinking sleeping 3-4 hours a night is enough is not going to cut it.

As a follower of Christ, sleep is important. Exhaustion is one of the enemies of clear-headed, sharp thinking. There is no virtue in being bleary-eyed and unable to function. No one can go for long periods of time with sleep deprivation.

EXCEPT GOD. In fact, He needs none. How about I just let the Scripture state the truth: “I life up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” [Psalm 121:1-4]

He neither sleeps nor slumbers. Just as important: He never gets tired either. I need sleep. I get tired (even more and quicker as I get older). But I have the assurance that as I rest, God is alert and never sleeps. That gives the promise of safe and restful sleep since He does all the “worrying” for me.

“Father, thank you for the assurance of You staying awake and being alert while I sleep. Please give me the rest I need to continue fighting the battle for you.”

July 15

Monday, July 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Inside vs Outside.

I have spent a good part of my 66 years on this planet being involved in one way or another in athletics and being fit.  From playing baseball starting at the age of 8; to playing basketball in high school and college and beyond; to taking up cycling in the ’70s on a too-small 3 speed Schwinn (I split the frame because I was too big), I have been “busy” with sports of some kind. I should have quit basketball much sooner but you know what they say: “A man thinks he can play like he used to but he’s really only a shell of what he once was.” (I made that up because it describes me).  I started weightlifting in the late ’70s and seriously in the late ’80s to supplement my cycling. So I told myself. In truth-and this hurts to say it-there was more vanity than I care to admit. I put way too much emphasis on how I looked-in the mirror and in person-than I had any right to. I liked the feeling of “the pump” that came with getting big and the compliments which came my way. Ego and pride are a dangerous combo.

As I said, I spent way too much time concerned about my outward appearance (not that I really have that much to be proud of). I should have been that concerned about my inward beauty. God told Samuel, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” I should have taken that to heart. I should have taken much better care of my inward beauty. If I had been as diligent about my inward “look” as I was my outward “look” my life may have not so chaotic. And heart-breaking. And disruptive. And so “noisy.”

Inward beauty is to be the pursuit. Outward beauty is just window-dressing. A display in a window is designed to draw a person’s attention and start him/her thinking/dreaming what they would look like in that outfit or something similar. Reality is something else.

“Father, may my reality be a deeper concern about my inward state, my heart, my inward beauty. The saying, ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ is partially true. Many only see the outside and think, ‘WOW!’ But inside tells a different story. May I be more concerned about my inward beauty-my heart-the part you see.”

July 12

Friday, July 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Deaf Ears vs Hearing Well.

It is Friday and the weekend. My favorite part of the week will be here in two days: Sunday. I love Sundays! Oh sure, I get to preach-probably one of my favorite things of all. I get to see people I have grown to love. Interact. Laugh. Cry. Hug.  But I also get to take a “look” into God’s Word. This is a high and holy privilege I simply don’t want to take for granted. This has been heightened this morning by reading a portion of Psalm 119 (I have been here all week). Rather than “pontificate” on the Scripture, I’m going to let the Scripture speak.

“Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all genertations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” [v.89]

“Oh how I love your law! It is my mediation all the day.” [v.97]

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [v.105]

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” [v.114]

“Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.” [v.124]

“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” [v.135]

Simple. Profound. Convicting. Punchy (to the point). Encouraging. Revealing. Applicable. Can’t get much better than that!! I liked them all (obviously), but the one I re-a-a-a-a-lly liked was the last one. We all have a sin or two or three or ……. that seems to dog our tracks. The Scripture seems to be saying if I walk His path and stick to His Word, I can have victory over sin, especially those I struggle with on a more consistent basis.

“Father, may Your Word be my refuge and my guide, not just this weekend; not just this coming week; but for all time. May Your Word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

July 3

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

I’ve been in Ohio helping Jo close up and clean up her sister’s apartment so I have been unable to post my devotions early in the morning. Nor have I been able to even post them since there is no internet there. I find myself at McDonalds using their wifi to post the past two days and today’s devotion. I guess I can’t tell people I don’t go into Mickey D’s anymore. 🙂 Anyway, here it today’s devotion.

My title for today’s devotion is Patience vs. Insolence.

I was thinking this morning (I know…dangerous) as I was reading the Scriptures how patient God is when man’s insolence is involved. I’ve been reading in 2 Kings the past few days, and while my head is spinning in my inability to get a hold of all the kings and then they lived, etc, one thing I haven’t had trouble doing is seeing their disobedience and insolence so prevalent in the kings. Just this morning starting at 2 Kings 10:32 and stopping at 13:21, my mind is boggled by the number of kings and their disobedience.

But the fact that God hung in there with them is a testimony to His faithfulness and grace. Then I read these words from Psalm 116:5- “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.” How appropriate a description. 3 words:

  • Gracious
  • Righteous
  • Merciful

They sure describe God during the kings period. And they sure describe Him during this time of our history. I am truly amazed at God’s graciousness with His people.  If it wasn’t for grace we would be toast.  Our approval of abortion, homosexuality, ungodliness and other sins has to hurt His heart. But His grace continues. His mercy continues. His righteousness is everlasting, but someday it will all end as it did with Israel and Juday.

“Father, may I not be the one who shows insolence toward You-Your grace, righteousness, and mercy. Help me to be true to you.”