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August 16

Friday, August 16th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Power vs Humility.

There is an old adage: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I wanted to start this devotion off with a question: What is the problem with these kings and power? Then I realized I already knew the answer.

Over the past couple of days/weeks as I’ve been reading 2 Chronicles there has been a recurring theme. See if you can see what I see.

Asa: excelled in following God but then fear got to him and he allied himself with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. Asa died with a disease in his feet.

Jehoshaphat: received God’s blessing but later, after having it all, he aligned himself with Ahaziah, who acted wickedly.

Joash: flourished while Jehoiada was priest and guided him. But then after Jehoiada’s death, Joash listened to others. Bad move. They abandoned the house of the Lord. Prophecy against Joash predicted his demise.

Amaziah: did what was right “yet not with a whole heart.” He brought gods of the men of Seir and set them up to worship. After God blessed him.

Uzziah: did what was right. “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” (26:12)

There are more to come I know. It is easy for me to take shots at these kings, thinking “not me.” Wrong! Power is a corrupter. Anyone is susceptible. Especially me. I’m a fallen creature like all the others.

The most powerful man I know was also the most humble man I know: Jesus Christ. He is the exception to the saying about power I quoted at the beginning. May I/you learn from the mistakes of others and from the greatest example of all by pursuing humility.

“Father, pride is a downfall for so many. It has even brought me to my knees before. Help me to pursue humility so that power is not even an issue for me.”

August 15

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Encouraging Words vs Discouraging Words.

“Home, home on the range/Where the deer and the antelope play/Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/And the skies are not cloudy all day.”

WOW! Talk about a song we wish could be true! We could live all day, every day without one word of discouragement being said. I read that the night President Lincoln was shot they found some interesting items in his pockets: 2 spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocket knife, a watch fob, a handkerchief, a leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate bill, and 8 newspaper clippings, including several that praised him and his policies. Seemingly normal stuff, except for the Confederate bill and the newspaper clippings. Was the latter there because he needed to hear good things? Was he a bit discouraged from the long, drawn out war between two factions of his beloved nation? Did he need the encouragement? Did he read them to Mrs. Lincoln out loud as they dressed for the play? ‘Course we will never know.

But there is something to be said about encouraging words. Proverbs 15 has several references to this. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (v.4). “The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the heart of fools.” (v.7). “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (v.13). But maybe the best is this one: “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (v.23).

There is no doubt our words make a difference. How am I at spreading encouraging words? There are some whose day is made by a kind or encouraging word. The opposite is also true. Some people are hurt deeply, even destroyed, by unkind words.

“Father, help me to check my words before they leave my lips. May I speak words of encouragement, not words of discouragement to others. I never know if that may be me some day who needs those kind words.”

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 2/Weekend

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of man vs Word of God.

It is not uncommon today, or any day for that matter, for people to put their trust in men. It has been happening since the beginning of time. I guess we see it more now since it affects us directly. We have seen the “rise” of superstar people because people have put a lot of stock in what they say. I’m speaking of the religious community specifically. We have “Christian celebrity” preachers who are millionaires or who make well into the 6 figures because gullible people hang on their every word as though it is true. They fall hook, line, and sinker for their lies. It seems ungodly and is appalling for these “Christian” speakers to live in the lap of luxury while many of their followers live from day-to-day looking for that elusive golden egg. The deception of false teaching is sad. The hero status placed on the heads of these people is nauseating. A man hawking miracle water. Grave sucking. Destiny cards. False healings. “Holy” laughter. Speakers making spectacles of themselves. It goes on and on.

All of their garbage teaching is based on “the Lord told me.” “The Lord told me to tell you to give to my work and you will be blessed many-fold.” What they don’t tell you is how lined their pockets are. We simply MUST weigh every word said by the Word of God. The Scripture twisting they employ MUST be checked. Some will say, “How can I do that?” Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth came knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

Come to Him with a sincere desire to know and gain His wisdom. If we could set aside our desire for earthly gain we can see His clear Word. Paul told Timothy this would happen, that people would want their ears tickled. It has been, is now, and will be what happens. There will always be someone to come along as the “next best thing.” It will continue to run rampant UNLESS we stop seeking earthly ease and satisfaction and start seeking Him. God has not promised health and wealth to His people; He has promised His presence in and through all things.

“Father, Your wisdom is perfect. Your Word is perfect and it is life. May I seek your perfect wisdom in all things. Help me not to be enamored by things here, but keep my eyes on You.”

July 30

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Defeat or Victory.

After a thrilling chapter in Psalms-chapter 139-which in my book may be one of the most exciting chapters in the whole book, he ends with some very familiar words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Verses 29-30]

What powerful verses those are! They stand even stronger when considered in the context of the whole chapter and also what is coming. Previously the psalmist has talked about God knowing us frontwards, backwards, up one side and down the other (a little poetic license there). Then he writes about how God knew us before we were born and how important His thoughts are of us. We have no other response other than to say, “Search me, O God.”

But as I read chapter 140 the other night, my eyes went to a logical presentation. I’m not sure why my eyes see things that way. 🙂 There are some words which stuck out to me. 

  • “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men.” [verse 1]
  • “Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked.” [verse 4]
  • “Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked.” [verse 8]

I’d say the psalmist took seriously the threat of those who were his enemies. He wasn’t asking for acceptance of his plan to walk alongside them. He wasn’t making any plans to give into them. No…he was asking for God’s strength and protection as he fought. He was praying for God to provide a “way through” the fire. “Deliver me. Guard me. Grant not.” I think inherent in these words is a resignation to God of his weakness and need for supernatural intervention.

If I can say it this way: maybe the psalmist is praying that God will snatch defeat out of the lion’s jaws and bring about victory for him.

“Father, thank you for your steadfast concern and stand with me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and to the point of defeat, bring me into your rest and into your arms of safety and allow you to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. FOR IN YOU, I AM VICTORIOUS!”

We make our way home today with a moving truck and Jo driving mine. If you think about it, prayers for safety would be appreciated.

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 23

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Understanding vs Obedience.

I was reading this morning (as rain fell effectively stopping my 6:00 bike ride) and ran across a phrase:

Understanding can wait; obedience cannot.

Boy, I had to stop and chew on that! How many times has God asked me to do something and I’ve not understood but did it anyway? I can’t say I’ve always been the most willing participant in some of what I was to do. Move to a new place. Being asked to leave a ministry with a deadline of when to be out.

Then I read something in 2 Chronicles that stopped me dead in my tracks. In verses 10-14 it says, “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the commands of the Lord, and also consulted a medium (my note: the witch of Endor), seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord.”

In I Samuel 15 Samuel confronted Saul about his lack of obedience with these words: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to do than the fat of rams.” In other words: “Saul, I don’t really care about your lame excuse to sacrifice animals. What I do care about is your obedience and you messed up.” (Sorry: loose paraphrase)  🙂  Seems Saul had an issue with obedience. And he certainly had an issue with understanding God’s desire!

So do I at times. God doesn’t always expect me to understand but He does expect me to be obedient. As a take off from yesterday’s devotion (July 22), no matter how long or “up in the air” I am, He wants my obedience. Understanding may wait; obedience is now.

“Father, I don’t have to understand all things. I DO have to be obedient. When issues come I don’t understand, help me to be obedient and trust your goodness.”

 

 

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 16

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Tight Hold vs Loose Hold.

I’m a big fan of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. No, not the books. The movies. Yes, I know they took great liberties in the movies. Maybe that explains why I’ve had a hard time reading the books.  I can’t get the movies out of my head. 🙂 One of the more intriguing characters is Golem. Definitely not my favorite. My first time watching it, I was stumped. Who is this creature with the love affair/obsession with the ring? It wasn’t until the 2nd or 3rd installment (can’t remember) where they tell his story. Of the discovery of the ring while fishing. The struggle for the ring and murder of his friend. Then his obsession with the ring that drove him mad and made him into the emaciated creature he became. His whole desire throughout the whole series of movies was the ring. When he finally gets it and falls to his and its demise, it is a sad scene. Not sad in the sense of tears, but sad in the sense of poignancy.

You see…Golem is me. I am Golem. I, too, have given myself over to “My Precious.” Not a ring; a thing. Who knows what it might be? It may be a thing I can hold in my hand (too tightly). It may be an event or an activity (like cycling), or a person (spouse, child, grandchild). The battle for my heart goes on. Who will be/what will be “my precious?”

I was struck by Psalm 120:1-2 this morning: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.” It sounds like the psalmist is praying for deliverance from others. But perhaps he is praying for deliverance from and for himself. Maybe he is praying he won’t give in to the “siren song” and pull of things that would draw him-much like the ring did to Golem.

“Father, help me to hold things loosely, to not be drawn away from You by things which lie and deceive in the the promise to fulfill. Help me to find ‘my precious’ in You and is You.”

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.”