August 26

Written by Bill Grandi on August 26th, 2021

How do you see yourself? Perhaps a better question is “How does God see you?”

In Psalm 26:1-2 David writes these words: “Vindicate me, Lord, for I have walked in my integrity…Examine me, Lord, and put me to the test; Refine my mind and my heart.” That second verse really makes me stop and think. It seems to put to bed why we are tested. Examine…test…REFINE.

But then I read Proverbs 25 and two separate verses stood out to me. But rather than be disjointed, I see them as co-collaborators. “Like clouds and wind with rain is a person who boasts of his gifts falsely.” (v.14)  Verse 27 then says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory.”

Those verses go to motives. They go to arrogance. They go to thinking highly of oneself. What a good way to stop that type of thinking? If you said, “Examine…test…refine” then give yourself a virtual high five. You see, I may be looking at this the wrong way, but the way to avoid seeking one’s own glory; the way to avoid boasting about what one has or can do; is to continually take an honest look in the mirror-the mirror of God’s Word. Allow yourself to be examined, tested, and refined.

I know I need that.

“Father, Examine me. Test me. Refine me. Keep me from elevating myself in my own eyes.”

 

August 25

Written by Bill Grandi on August 25th, 2021

Whenever Jo and I visit our daughter and grandson, we stay in a hotel. Several reasons which I will not go into. The folks at the hotel are fantastic! Sarah, the manager, whom we have gotten to know over the past few years, knows us and treats us well. All I have to do is call her and she reserves a room for us. We usually spend minimal time in our hotel room so the view is not really important to us.  It seems we either get a picture of the front overhang, thereby obscuring everything, or we get a picture of the construction going on with multiple storage units.  Lovely view.

Except for this past time. Our view was of the NNE, which included some car dealerships (almost empty of cars) and the interstate. AND a beautiful, full moon. We could see it as we drove into the hotel but it was obscured by trees and power lines. But we got to our room, opened the curtains, and VOILA! A gorgeous, full moon. No trees. No power lines. Just the moon.

Knowing the sun would be coming up that way next morning, I opened the curtains and rather than see a beautiful sunrise, my vision was blurred.  It wasn’t my glasses since I don’t have to wear them anymore. It was the windows. More succinctly…it was the moisture on the windows. Late night/early morning dew. Soon though, the sun burned it off and I was able to see the sun it all its glory…and clearly.

I’m thinking of the difficulty we all face and the verse from I Corinthians 13: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” (v.12) Very often our vision is obscured and our view is disrupted. We don’t see clearly at all. Unobstructed, all is beautiful. But the trees and buildings and fogs of life cause us pain. It is when our mirror is clear that our vision is 20/20 and it is then we know-God is there. He always was. It just took a little less obstruction for us to see clearly.

“Father, help me to see clearly-through all the trees and branches and fog-that You are there.”

 

August 24

Written by Bill Grandi on August 24th, 2021

Years and years ago. So many I can’t remember when or where, I bought a magnet that has been on my file cabinet ever since and the only time it has moved is when I moved and packed up everything. As you can guess, it isn’t the magnet, but what it says:

The faith to move mountains is the reward of those who have moved little hills.

I thought of that magnet saying when I read a devotion by Bob Goff (#233) recently. He writes about a long-jumper named Lex Gillette.  Lex competes in the Olympics as a long jumper. Oops, I meant to say the Paralympics as…get this…a blind long-jumper. You are probably wondering, as I did, how he pulls that off. He has a coach who yells, “Fly!” over and over as Lex sprints down the 100 meter track.  His voice guides Lex as he sprints. It’s like a homing beacon.

Amazing! Bob makes the point that if we are wondering if we should take a risk or try something, we should think about Lex. Not “If a blind man can do it, so can I” type of thinking, but the sense of learning from his heart, his courage, and his wisdom.

What struck me-hence the magnet reference-are several things:

  1. He has to trust his coach.
  2. How did he learn to run in a straight line, when to jump and how to land?
  3. What made him want to do that to start with? Did someone tell him he couldn’t?

I admire a man like Lex-a man who wouldn’t let his disability keep him down. He started with a small hill. Then, as he stretched his legs, i.e. faith, he began to climb bigger hills. Until…he moved mountains.

Maybe it is time for me, for you, to to allow our faith to develop into a mountain-moving faith.

“Father, help me to exercise my faith. Help me to remember Proverbs 21:31.”  (I encourage you to read the verse).

Bob’s book is entitled Live in Grace-Walk in Love.

 

August 23

Written by Bill Grandi on August 23rd, 2021

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a Freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-41/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broke significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiance were shook up but the car is toast.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One young lady’s 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • The church secretary’s father had a massive brain bleed on Thursday and was in a coma.  Yesterday afternoon he went to be with Jesus.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is slowly watching his father waste away from cancer.

There are more, but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync with the idea of trials and suffering and a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

And I must also say that I am not leaving out the idea this is a Satanic attack on our church fellowship. Add to the above the masks, the fear people have, the political sides being taken on social media and yeah…I am a firm believer this could very well be a Satanic attack.

“Father, I don’t understand but I’m certainly not going to blame You. You have been, are now, and always will be in charge.”

{Quote from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, page 91}

 

August 20

Written by Bill Grandi on August 20th, 2021

The reality of life is sometimes a kick in the pants.

As I wrote yesterday about the death of a friend, the truth is that death has perfect odds- 1 out of 1. No one escapes it. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, death visits us all.

EXCEPT…

Except if Jesus returns before I die. Honest confession here: I  have never been one to spend time worrying about signs, signs of the times, pouring over Revelation and Daniel and trying to figure things out, nor reading books on the Second Coming (SC)  I have just always accepted it at face value. It was going to happen.

How? No clue. Except there will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God.

Where? I understand Jesus will “set down” at Mt. Moriah, the same place where He left. Sorry Islam. You lose.

Why? Because He seen enough. And it is time.

When? NO CLUE. Call me naive but wouldn’t it be better to just be ready for whenever that day may come (or your death) than to worry about when?

The older I get the closer it gets. Death or the SC. Both sound good to me. No regrets with either. Part of me wants to be alive when Jesus comes. To see it. To marvel. To worship. Then again, if I’m already in heaven, I’ll have a front row seat.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus. Perhaps today!!”

 

August 19

Written by Bill Grandi on August 19th, 2021

I went to a funeral visitation of a friend last night.

A brief bit of background:

I was the pastor of a church in Terre Haute, IN from 1987-2000. During my time there I performed a lot of weddings and funerals. With that amount of time in one place, one is bound to do weddings and funerals that overlap. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. This family was one of them. This was a big family and I was trying to calculate how many. I gave up. I was even asked back once, after moving to Spencer, to perform a funeral for the family.

The lady I honored last night was one of the 4 or 5 sisters. She had been divorced for several years when I first met her and she had met a man who captured her. Their marriage was a dream one for her, when one morning about a year after the wedding she woke up to him making a loud noise in the bathroom. Dropping things and just making all kinds of racket. He had suffered a stroke that totally affected his right side. No more speech. No more use of his right arm.  A metal brace on his right leg, knee to ankle. But she stayed with him. I’d visit and although he could not communicate verbally, he talked with his eyes or shook his head. She loved him well. Sometime after I left she had no choice but to put him in a home. She could no longer take care of him.

She died having dementia. I spoke with her daughter as we stood at the casket. I married she and her husband in 2000, and then as he put it: “You hi-tailed it out of town.” Not really, of course. Like me he is a pastor and loves to joke. That sounds like I was John Dillinger-rob a bank and then get out of Dodge. 🙂   Her then 9-ear old daughter is now 30, married with a child of her own. Sheesh! Am I that old?  Well, yes. I have been gone for 21 years this past June.

Her daughter captured it right: “I am sad for me, but not for mom. She’s having a big reunion, a big party in heaven.” That captures my sentiments. Paul wrote, “O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?” The answer? For the follower of Christ the answer is ZERO.

When it comes to Linda, death you lost. When it came to my mom, you lost. When it comes to me, you will lose again.

“Father, thank you for salvation. Thank you for the promise of heaven and eternal life with you.”

 

August 18

Written by Bill Grandi on August 18th, 2021

Did you ever read something and not only did it stick with you, but so did a song? It happened to me this morning.

I’m preaching his week on Mark 8 so I was doing what I have been asking the folks to do: read Mark 8 during the week. Even though my sermon is all done and ready to go, I read a verse I know I have read countless times before, but this morning it stuck with me…as did a song.

The verse is verse 33. Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ and then when he rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to be crucified, Jesus turned to him and said, “Get behind me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s purpose, but on man’s.”  OUCH

Here comes the song now: “I’ve got my mind set on you” by the late George Harrison of the Beatles.  I know…I’m weird. But a fun-loving weird! 🙂 🙂

But much deeper was the realization that what Jesus said to Peter could be said to me. Way too often I have “Bill’s agenda” in mind. Way more than I care to admit my mind and heart are divided. Sadly, I’m often more interested in doing things my way and having them to work out for my betterment, than I am saying, “God, I know You have a purpose for all of this. Help me to just submit to Your purpose(s).”

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for His own purpose…”

“Father, It’s Your purpose and Your agenda I need to submit to.”

 

August 17

Written by Bill Grandi on August 17th, 2021

I mentioned in yesterday’s devotion about Psalm 13, so I thought I would follow up that devotion with a deeper look into this psalm.

First, please read Psalm 13 in its entirety. Yeah…all 6 verses. 🙂

The chapter is written by King David.  Here we go:

If God truly forgot David, as he says in verse 1, then how was David able to say he trusted in God’s faithfulness? (v.5a)

In verse 1b David says that God hid His face from him, but in verse 6b he says that God has looked after him.

In verse 2a David wrestled with this thoughts and grief, yet in verse 6a he had a song in his heart.

In verse 2b David said his enemy was triumphing over him but in verse 5b he says his heart rejoices in God’s salvation.

There appears to be a discrepancy, or at best, David is bi-polar.

Here is how I see it: David’s feelings and reality were in conflict. He felt God had hidden, but he believed God was somehow good to him. He felt the pains of inner sorrow, but he believed he had every right to sing. Same with the other two.

Sometimes our feelings are too strong in how we decide. We are often anchored to our feelings. We need to believe. We need to not rely so much on our feelings and more on what we KNOW about God’s mercy, providence, love and grace.

Less feelings. More trust.

“Father, that is a constant struggle for many of us. May I live a life of faith not feelings.”

{My thanks to Randall Arthur’s book Wisdom Hunter for the insights into this passage. It is a fiction book I highly recommend. I cannot even tell you how many times I have read it and how many copies I have given away}. 

 

August 16

Written by Bill Grandi on August 16th, 2021

Do you know what a perfect storm is? If you watched the movie by that name, it means conditions are perfect for something phenomenal to happen. It that case, conditions were right for converging weather systems to being the storm of all storms and the vessel was caught in it. {Spoiler: it sank}.

Life is sometimes like that. So is reading. Three different sources this morning-no, four if you count my re-read of Psalm 13 from the previous morning-combined to be a perfect storm.

The writer of Our Daily Bread (August 14) wrote about not understanding when God is work or how.

Bob Goff wrote about God’s delays (p.273) which can be merely annoying, and some devastating. They cause us to wonder if God is even there and if He is good.

Another source-a book on HOPE-carries the same message as the others. Even though we cannot see or feel Him, He is always present and will help us through the darkest nights.

Then I re-read what is one of my favorite psalms-Psalm 13. The message of that psalm rings out loud and clear. But…you will have to wait until tomorrow for a fuller explanation. 🙂

All that to say, God made His point this morning. No matter whether He looks like it or not; no matter whether I feel like it or not; no matter how dark it seems; and no matter how dense the cloud cover, God is there. In that I can place my trust.

“Father, whether it appears to be so or not, You are there. Help me to trust You in the dark and in the clouds.”

 

August 13

Written by Bill Grandi on August 13th, 2021

Don’t watch the news! If you do a feeling will come over you. Not a good one either. It is called hopelessness.

IMHO one of the feelings a good number of people experienced in the last 1-2 years has been hopelessness. Lockdowns. Masks. A relentless virus. Lack of personal contact. And more. But one way all this has revealed itself is in illness and even suicide. It has amped up that feeling of hopelessness.

On top of that think of the events of this past summer-the riots, rebelliousness, the angry cries-and think of what is even going on now. The rising inflation. The inflamed rhetoric. The hypocrisy. I could go on and on and it could actually bring you under a blanket that could cover you in despair.

Hope is something we all want AND need. No one feels life is worth living if there seems to be no hope. If we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is easy to despair. None of us like to be the recipient of the old saying, “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the light of an oncoming train.”

During the writing of Psalm 3 (I’m in the process of starting them again), David was in the midst of a coup by his son, Absalom. That had to be a real downer. His own son!  But verse 3 shows us that David knew where to go: “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” He goes on to write about how he cried out to God, then went to sleep, and really slept. Why? How? “For the Lord sustained me.” (v.5)

No follower of Christ is hopeless, nor should we ever feel life is hopeless. I like what someone has said,

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.

“Father, help me not to worry or feel hopeless. Help me to see and know You will sustain me.”

All Scripture is from NASB2020.