January 6

Written by Bill Grandi on January 6th, 2022

As I read 2 Corinthians 11 this morning I highlighted a couple of verses.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his trickery, your minds will be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (v.3)

Then I read these two verses:

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (verses 13-14)

I drew a line connecting them. According to verse 4, the Corinthians were good at welcoming false teachers. They were not very discerning. The word we would use is they were “tolerant” of false teachers.

On one hand that is easy to see. Someone comes in and very subtly teaches something which sounds good but really isn’t. The undiscerning don’t catch it. They accept it as “gospel.” What makes it hard is more often than not it isn’t the big things which cause the slip-the deity of Jesus, the reliability of the Scriptures, that Jesus was fully God and fully man, etc. What I would call the “biggies.” It’s often the small things, say like a grab for power over time that cogs the wheel and gums up the engine. Or even legalism which sneaks in as “this is how a follower of Christ lives.”

I certainly am not dismissing having a discerning eye toward whacky things, like those pushed by Bethel and those of their ilk.  Ideas like calling themselves apostles, gold dust falling from the ceiling, and other non-biblical ideas. We need to be aware of cults like that, of those who sneak in putting our faith at risk. Given the infamy of today’s date, I’d even go so far as to say those who believe politics should be preached from the pulpit need to be examined more closely.

“Father, help me to keep my eyes and heart open to Your truth. Help me to be discerning to recognize what is not truth.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

January 5

Written by Bill Grandi on January 5th, 2022

If I was a betting man (which I am not), I would be willing to wager that most, if not all of us, will at one time or another in 2022 ask or want to ask Why? Now, I’m not talking about the little one who has a thousand questions and they all seem to start with the word why?

No, this is much more serious. When a health event hits us our first question might be Why? When a catastrophic event hits us-a death, fire, destruction, car accident-we might be inclined to ask Why? When a financial hardship hits we may be tempted to ask Why?

We may never know the answer to that question while here on earth, but we can take comfort in the truth of One who does. Just this week (Monday) I finished writing a sermon from Daniel 2. In that chapter is a verse which speaks to this issue: Daniel 2:22- “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” (NASB2020)

We can take comfort in the fact that God is never surprised or afraid. He is never caught off guard. And while the event that happens has me rocking backwards on my heels and a tad bit flustered, God is not wringing His hand wondering, “What am I going to do?”

Take heart. Those moments of darkness are not dark to Him. He is the light on the head of the coal miner. He is the compass in the hands of the explorer. As the old hymn says, “There is no shadow or turning with Thee.” (Great is Thy Faithfulness)

“Father, what You do in the light, You do in the dark. When I have questions-especially Why?-help me to trust Your all-encompassing hand.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

January 4

Written by Bill Grandi on January 4th, 2022

Before I start would you please pray for one of my most faithful readers and commentors: Martha Orlando. Her husband, Danny, contacted me yesterday asking for prayer. She is in the hospital with pneumonia.  Thanks and I know she will appreciate it.

WOW! A wealth of info flooded me today. I’m narrowing it down to one dominant thought (at least for me).

God wants me to be present in the moment, but there is no way He expects me to focus here and live here forever.

We often hear people say-and rightly so-be in the present. What they are saying, I think, is don’t live in the past. For a mom or dad they are saying, “Be all there for your children. Don’t be playing with them on one hand and have a phone in the other.” For some-like sports teams-they are saying, “Don’t look ahead to the next game or games. Focus first on this one.” And that is so true. A person who focuses on the past will always be making crooked lines. The team (or person) who always focuses on the future games will lose sight of now.

I believe that I need to learn from the past and not dwell there. I also need to live in the present but not dwell there either. Although I do not know what my future holds, I need to remember that God does. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells me “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and do not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will make my paths straight.” (word changes mine)

Paul David Tripp wrote:

If eternity is the plan, then it makes no sense to shrink your living down to the needs and wants of this little moment. (Jan 3-NMM)

That reminds me of the unicorn in C.S.Lewis’ Narnia book, The Last Battle. When the unicorn sees heaven he says, “This is the land I’ve been looking for all my life.” For the Christ-follower that should be true. He has set eternity in our hearts. I’m not made for this world only. Neither are you. Let’s live for the now with an eye always looking to the future.

“Father, I trust you to take my past. I can’t change it. Help me to live in the now but not be stuck here. Help me to keep my eyes firmly planted on the future.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

Jan 3

Written by Bill Grandi on January 3rd, 2022

True confession: I wrote this on the morning of January 1.

At this point, I will be using 2 outside sources during my Encounter Time this year (besides the Bible reading I normally do). One, New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp (which I have used previously about 3 times. I took about a 2 year break), and Truth for Life, a 365 day devotional by Alistair Begg. Any reference I make to them will either be NMM (Tripp) or TFL (Begg).

To begin the year Begg focused on Genesis 1:1 (You probably know that by heart. 🙂 ). His basic thought was that God is God. He was before time, i.e. there was never a time God did not exist. He always existed in the Trinity- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

I’m not going to belabor the point in order to impress you (I can’t do that anyway).  Instead, I want to lead off this new year with something I think is really important: no matter how deep a person wades into God; no matter how astute someone becomes by his study of God and His nature; no matter how conversant someone gets about God’s attributes, it is all for naught if God does not live in that person’s heart. It’s like the old saying, “Much learning doth make thee mad.” (Festus to the Apostle Paul in Acts 26:24)

Knowing about God is not the same as abiding in God. Knowing about God is not the same as allowing Him to reign over me and to change me.

“Father, I pray that this year will truly be a year of growing closer to You, of more than knowing stuff about You but really knowing You. As I read and journal help my words to be words You gave me, words that You are teaching me. Help me never to do this to impress others but to always lift Your name high.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

December 30

Written by Bill Grandi on December 30th, 2021

In this, my last post of 2021, I leave you with some words from Bob Goff. But first, my words. 🙂 As 2020 ended, it was not unusual to hear words like, “I’m so glad 2020 is ending. I am so ready for 2021.”  Hmmmm. My 2021 started with COVID long-haul that eventually led to a 48 pound weight loss in 4 weeks, several procedures and finally gall bladder surgery.  But all in all, other than some lingering smell and taste issues I can live with, I have no complaints as I can see God’s hand in all of it. Was I comfortable with it all? No, of course not. But I trust and rest in Him.

Here we are at the end of 2021 and I hear the repeat sentiments of the previous year. But I don’t hear the defeat and despair of people. Yes, the variant has reared its ugly head ahead bringing shut downs and dire warnings, mandates, and other nonsense. But I think people are tired of feeling defeated.

No one knows what 2022 will bring-except One. But it is because He knows that He also invites us to dream and to be involved in His work. Now for Bob’s quote:

When God gives us dreams, He wants us to change as we choose them. We achieve our dreams by bravely facing the lopsided odds. We might think achieving a dream is the point, but I think for God it’s more about seeing us become more like Jesus with each step we take forward. Of course, He celebrates with us too. (#365-p.418)

Those are good words to carry with us in 2022. Never stop dreaming. As Bob would say, “Dream big.” May 2022 be a year of new challenges seen; new mountains conquered; and new dreams fulfilled. All done in the power of the Spirit.

“Father, I give you my old year. It is done. I now give You reign over my new one-2022. May I follow Your dream(s) and Your plans for me.”

 

December 29

Written by Bill Grandi on December 29th, 2021

I am actually writing this early Monday morning in a Fairfield Inn breakfast area. No one is here yet so it is relatively quiet. Jo and Tami are still sleeping. I’m taking Braden to baseball conditioning since it is raining. Such a chore! 🙂 Anyway, I got up early to prepare for my day.  I’m glad I did.

I have been reading through the Psalms for the 2nd time this year but as I sat down with a strange Bible (not the one I use every morning), I searched for where I had left off. Nothing sounded familiar. That means either 1) I’m paying no attention when I’m reading 🙁 , or 2) I’m further ahead than I thought. No matter. I landed on the passage I was supposed to read this morning.

With 2022 fast approaching, there is always a question or two: what will it bring? and how will I do?  The answer to the first is “No clue.” The answer to the second can be found in Psalm 86.  Here is what I highlighted this morning:

Teach me Your way, Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your Name. I will give thanks to You, Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forever. For Your graciousness to me is great, and you saved my soul from the depths of Sheol.  (86:11-13 NASB2020)

But You, Lord are a compassionate and gracious God, Slow to anger and abundant in mercy and truth. (v.15)

Those are some pretty solid words (as Braden would say) to go into 2022 with. No matter the opposition I have nothing to fear. And when I do stumble and give in to the lies of the enemy, I have a compassionate and gracious God.

Good words from God’s Word to hold in my heart. I pray you will too.

 

December 23

Written by Bill Grandi on December 23rd, 2021

This is my last devotion until after Christmas (at least at this point, unless “the Spirit moves me”). You know how minds can change! 🙂 We plan to leave Sunday after church for Ohio to visit our family. Our planned return is Tuesday. I will not be taking my computer and my phone is ancient everyone says (it is an iPhone 5). So I leave you with this thought until next Wednesday.

In his book (which I have mentioned several times this month), Paul David Tripp writes the following:

My hope in writing is that this devotional would stimulate you to live with a birth-of-Jesus mentality. My prayer is that the story of the birth, life, and sacrifice of Jesus would be the story that would shape everything in your life. I hope that whether it’s your finances, your marriage, your work, your sexual life, your friendships, your education, your leisure, or your future, that you would make sense of every dimension of your life through the lens of what the Christmas story tells you about life.” (Come Let Us Adore Him-p.145)

I like that phrase “birth-of-Jesus mentality.” To me that speaks of living in the moment, of being present, but also of having every aspect of my life controlled by an awareness of Jesus’s involvement and presence in my daily life.

What a great through! It’s like what the apostle Paul talked about when he wrote about taking every thought captive.

“Father, may I live with a birth-of-Jesus mentality. I ask that every thought be brought under submission to You. May I live with the birth of Jesus always in my vision.”

 

December 22

Written by Bill Grandi on December 22nd, 2021

Christmas around the Grandi household was magical. It had its challenges (traditions and money) but mom and dad made the best of it. We never had an empty tree. I found out later that sacrifices were made for us to enjoy Christmas. Lights went up early in the windows but the tree not until we went to bed Christmas Eve. That was largely due to the fact that we didn’t get the tree until Christmas Eve day because they were so much cheaper to buy. But Christmas morning was magical. We went to bed with nothing and woke up to the whole living room being transformed-tree, lights, trains, gifts. I can still see pictures of me on the steps with my two, then three brothers, as we stared at what was before us.

I wish I could say I didn’t cheat but I can’t. We hunted for the gifts and usually found them but, and this is a big but, I never knew ahead of time what I got. We went against my parent’s wishes by searching out the gifts, but I never opened a gift; never looked at one; never shook one; or never cut the paper only to tape it back together. I think as I look back I would say because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.

I like surprises. I guess in some way that is why I like to think about grace. I am surprised that God’s love is so evident in His grace. Grace can radically change a life; it is always there. We don’t have to go hunting for it or sneak around looking for it. We don’t have to wait for one special moment and say, “OK God. I open grace.” Grace is always there. God’s grace may be a surprise to us, but not to God. His grace has always been there, always extended, always for the taking. Christmas is about grace. God’s grace. John 3:16 tells us that.

“Father, may grace be my song this Christmas. But not just for Christmas but for every day, all day.”

 

December 21

Written by Bill Grandi on December 21st, 2021

“Do not be afraid (Fear not); for behold, I bring you good news of great joy…” Luke 2:10 (NASB2020)

Those words are meaningful and bring comfort to many. Tragically, there also many whose lives are overrun by fear. It’s almost like they live in a perpetual horror movie. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of what lurks behind the door. Afraid of every person. Afraid of taking a step into the unknown. Paul David Tripp wrote: “There’s nothing that could ever be known, exposed, or revealed about you that isn’t covered by the present grace that is yours because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” (O Come Let us Adore Him-p.141)

The December 20th devotion from Our Daily Bread had the story of Linus from the Peanuts comic strip. Linus had a blue security blanket. He knew he should depend on it less but had trouble parting with it.

In the movie “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when a frustrated Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus steps forward, with security blanket in hand, and quotes Luke 2: 8-14. When he hits “Fear not” he drops his blanket-the thing he clung to when afraid.

That begs the question: what do you cling to? What is your security blanket? Remember the Scripture says, “Fear not.” At this time of the year, don’t you think it is good time to lay aside that heavy weight and trust Him for your security?

“Father, help me to lay aside that which I am afraid of and lean on You more.”

 

December 20

Written by Bill Grandi on December 20th, 2021

I am not a watcher of commercials. I despise them. I mute them. I “Ahem” if Jo has the remote and fails to mute. This was especially helpful when the endless-and I do mean endless-appeals for Medicare during open enrollment time played more times that I ever want to remember. And if had I seen William Shatner fake putting up four fingers instead of three one more time I think I would throw up.  Yes it was that annoying…AND THAT IS WITHOUT SOUND!

But there is one commercial, that even though I have not heard it, I have seen it.  It strikes my funny bone. It is the commercial for a car company. The mom is taking the kids home when she apparently open a panoramic window and the kids see snow falling. The father is on top of the roof with a snow machine making snow fall. As the drone camera pans away it shows their house as being the only one with snow falling…and…it is a desert-like setting.

I know one thing for sure: that snow will not last.

There really is only one thing which will last: love. We often get so wrapped up in other pursuits that all of our overtime and energy is spent running after the wrong thing(s).  What better time to show love than right now, at Christmas time. After all, the greatest example of love was shown by a God who entered time and space as a human in order to save us.

I agree with Bob Goff who wrote:

“Leave a legacy of love. The rest will blow by like it never happened.” (#354-p.407)

“Father, You left a legacy of love and leaving one should be our ultimate goal. A love that leads others to you. “