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June 28

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

After I finished Revelation and my analysis of it (It started with the April 18th post), I did what I always do. I started reading the NT again, beginning with Matthew 1. It will be a challenge to finish it on or close to December 31. I am now in Matthew 23. This will be my first of two posts from that chapter.

Matthew 23: 1-12

My first inclination was to comment on the “do as I say not as I do” scenario we find ourselves in as Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their hypocritical double standards. But as I read further with that thought in mind, I came to these words in verses 10-12: “And do not be called leaders, for only One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus is the Leader. My leader. The logical conclusion to that statement might look like this:

  • Jesus is the Leader.
  • Jesus is Greater than me.
  • Therefore, I am to be His servant.

Being a servant sounds simple, but it isn’t. It requires a dose of humility (for some of us more than a small one). It requires the willingness to raise others up and put myself down (not in false humility). My purpose is to make His Name great.

The Pharisees didn’t do that. They couldn’t! They were too busy promoting themselves and their own self-righteousness. That’s the whole gist of verses 4-7. Self-promotion can never promote the great Name of Jesus. Self-promotion can never honor, exalt, magnify, glorify and make great the Name of Jesus.

We are to live for the fame of His Name. I/we cannot do that when we are clamoring for the microphone.

MAKE GREAT HIS NAME!!

June 27

Monday, June 27th, 2022

A recent Our Daily Bread devotion (June 26) told the story of a dog whose owner broke his ankle and was using crutches to walk. Soon the dog began to hobble as well. He took the dog to the vet worrying that something was wrong, but the vet said there was nothing with him. He romped and played like all dogs until he was with his owner. That’s when he walked with a limp. I guess you could say the dog was trying to identify with his owner. 🙂

I heard some sad news yesterday. As this lady told me the news, all I could do was hold her and let her cry. NO words were needed. None were necessary to be said. They would have been a drippy faucet-annoying and serving no good. After she got herself together, we talked.

I’m a fixer. I want to fix people’s problems.

But I can’t.

That’s not my job. That’s not in my “pay grade.”

That job belongs to the only ONE who can fix it. Someone has said, “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t.) When someone is hurting, don’t attempt to take away their pain. (You can’t.) Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can.) Because sometimes what people need is simply to know they aren’t alone.”

All those are true. For me. For you. What I did offer was that I-and the church-would walk alongside her through it all. She needs to know that more than anything right now.

Be someone’s “come along” as you come along side someone who is hurting. Don’t try to fix. Just be.

June 22

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Down through time, there has always been hot button issues. Slavery. Child labor. Corporate greed. Fundamentalism. Segregation. Abortion. Sex outside marriage. Drugs. Rock ‘n Roll. Same sex relationships. I’m sure you can name a number of others, even more important to you than the above. But all the hot button issues usually come down to one word:

SIN

Invariably, when a hot button takes front and center, the others take a back seat or are simply glossed over for a time. “Let’s focus on this one” we say, and as we do another steps aside or is simply put on the back burner. Take today, for example. Because of appalling breech in the privacy of the Supreme Court by the leak of a draft about Roe v. Wade, people protest, fire-bomb, hang in effigy, and even try to assassinate one of a justices. Meanwhile, the real moral issue-not social issue-moral issue of abortion is laid aside. “Who cares what the Bible says about life and dignity.” Come to think of it the whole same sex discussion is the same.

When we do those things we forget sin is sin, and it is all an affront to God. Abortion. Same sex relationships. Anger. Lust. Gluttony. Blasphemy.

All sin. And all sin we are to abhor, or “detest” as the NASB2020 translates Romans 12:9. “Abhor/detest what is evil. None of us can look in the mirror on any given day and say, “You did not sin today.” If you can, please tell me your secret!

Read again Romans 12:9: “Love must be free from hypocrisy (Love must be genuine in some translations). Detest (abhor) what is evil; cling to what is good.”  (NASB)

Let’s just start hating sin. Period. In all its sizes, shapes, and colors.

June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

June 20

Monday, June 20th, 2022

Surgery was a success so the doc says. It is 6 days in and in my mind the jury is still out. I know part of it is being a man. You know…I want healed yesterday. I want to feel better yesterday. I want to be able to ride my bike yesterday. But with him having to do more than he thought, this is to be expected.

Except in my mind.

I had visions of my last back surgery. The removal of a bone fragment on a nerve brought instant relief!! Maybe too instant in my mind. Not this time. It is going to take some time for my spine and legs to function normally.

That reminds me of today’s verse from Proverbs which I highlighted: “A man’s steps are ordained by the Lord; how then can a person understand his way?” (20:24 NASB20202)

Exactly! I have in my mind the way things ought to go or to be. God has something different in mind. The reality is that He will reveal His ways and His thoughts when it is His time. Not mine.

The lesson about my back is mine. The lesson from the Book and from the Father is God’s timing is right and true and will prevail. My steps are ordered by Him and I cannot know His way or timing.

“Father, help me to trust You. Help me know and trust that Your timing is always perfect.”

June 9

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

I actually wrote this on Tuesday morning, June 6th, while at the hotel.  If I had had a way to post this that morning I would have done so, but typing on my phone is not my idea of fun so I figured I would do it this morning.  Here were my thoughts on that Tuesday morning.

After a very restless night not sleeping in a hotel bed, fraught with a lot of tossing and turning and pain and discomfort, I received a text from a man in the church who told me on June 1 that he would be praying for me all month. Here was his text:

“Lord, I pray for Pastor Bill. Lord, if his bodily pain persists, may his bodily pain lead to your Spirit’s deeper working in him. I know that many times continued pain uncovers things in us. I pray that if you are uncovering something, that he in raw honesty, talks to You about it and he lets You do whatever You want to do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I have often said that pain is never wasted. Just Sunday, one of our ladies sat next to another young mother going through the trauma of betrayal and a broken marriage. When I hugged the one mother (Lady #1), she whispered, “Only God could know that she (Lady #2) would be going through what I’ve just gone through.”

And that’s it!! Pain is never wasted. We were never meant to keep the lessons we learn from pain to ourselves. God is in the midst of the pain. Being fully human He knows what it is like. He promises that He will be with me through my pain and carry it with me, and when it gets too heavy,  He will be my heavy lifter.

I know Lady #1 knows that. I also know Lady #2 is experiencing some of that and will, with Lady #1’s help and other’s help, come to see that. She will also come out on the other end praising God for His faithfulness.

“Father, thank You for Your presence. Thank You for Steve’s words. Thank you for Lady #1’s willingness to use her pain to hold Lady #2’s hand and let her cry. May I be that same type of vessel.”

I would love to share with you the name of Lady #1 but privacy will not allow me to do that. I’m sure you understand.  🙂

May 25

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Has something ever had its grip on you and to get rid of it was like ripping teeth out? Alcohol. Drugs. Porn. Tobacco. Food. Job. Busyness.  The list seems endless doesn’t it? These things, these addictions, these nuisances have such a grip on one’s life that it is hard to give them up. We call them addictions because they seem to grab us by the throat and won’t let go.

Revelation 18 pictures that for me. The whole “here is what it means” aside, a unique picture is given.  First, I think it is only correct to say this is a continuation, a sequel and fulfillment of the story started in chapter 17 when it speaks about the doom of Babylon. I even mentioned that event in yesterday’s devotion. Babylon will fall…guaranteed. What Babylon is does not apply here. IT. WILL. FALL.

Chapter 18 is its fall. Verse 2 tells us the inevitability of that. The Lamb will overcome. The description of Babylon and its fall is vivid. All who commit sin with her will fall. He does call out His people so they will not be part of the judgment (verse 4).

Verse 8 says judgment is coming. Without question. The rest of the chapter describes that judgment which ends in complete obliteration.

A stronghold is defeated. We all have them. Jesus calls us to Himself and tells us “My grace is sufficient for You. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Living for the enemy is a losing cause. All will be burned up. Strongholds will be defeated. Babylon will fall.

“Father, may I relinquish to You all the strongholds of my life. Please give me victory of my “Babylon” as I watch those enemies fall.”

May 17

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Revelation 13 today…spells trouble. For me at least. 🙂 I’m sure there are prophecy buffs who will make much of this chapter. And I suspect they would have an adequate explanation. But since my idea is to “de-prophecy” this, I’m going to focus on two other things.

The first is the beast which comes out of the sea. In verse 2 it says, “and on his head were written blasphemous names.” What could those names be? My take is that blasphemy is anything that denigrates the holy God or depicts Him as who He isn’t. In verse 5 it says he was given authority to speak arrogant words and blasphemies against God-to blaspheme His name and those who dwell in heaven. He waged war and the only ones he couldn’t defeat were those whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world.  (v.8)

The other beast reminds me of what we have today-false teachers who perform parlor tricks to deceive. Todd White. Paula White. Shawn Boles. Bill Johnson. Kenneth Copeland. Joyce Meyer. Benny Hinn. You get the picture. False teachers who deceive with false promises and false “healings.” (i.e. parlor tricks). This beast had a number: 666. The most imperfect number of all.

My take on all of this: Be aware. False teachers abound. They say things that tickle our ears. People misrepresenting God and His Word (blasphemy). Its all there and it is calling each of us to follow. Don’t! Stand on the truth.

“Father, the siren song of false teachers beckons. Help me to resist through the power of Your Word and the presence of Your Spirit within.  Help me to proclaim Your truth.”

May 2

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Today begins a task I’m not sure I’ll finish. I’m not sure I’m up to it frankly. The past two weeks of posts have been about Revelation 1-3. Today begins chapter 4. Chapter 4 I understand, grasp and stand in awe. The rest of Revelation I think I will just be in awe. No understanding. No grasping (except at straws). So I’m not sure how far into Revelation I will go.

Revelation 4 can be summarized in one word: worship. Two places words of worship are used: verse 8 and verse 11.

It starts with John being told to “come up here” and he would be shown some marvelous things.  What is he captured by? The One on the throne who is then surrounded by 24 thrones with each throne occupied. Light shoots out from the one throne and 4 animals appear: a lion, a calf, a creature with a face like a man, and a flying eagle.

Their purpose? Worship.

Then the 24 elders who were on the 24 thrones were also moved.

Their purpose? Worship.

Makes one wonder what my purpose is. No, I don’t wonder. Led by 4 creatures and 24 elders, I have my purpose: worship. My life in heaven will be dominated by worship. That should say what my life on earth should be dominated by. This should be practice time, preparing me for a lifetime of praise and adoration.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God…Worthy are You…to receive glory and honor and praise.”

AMEN!!

April 28

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Everyone who knows me knows I like to ride a bike, as in, I provide the power. B-i-c-y-c-l-e. 🙂 It is absolutely essential the bike be in good working condition to enjoy my riding-chain lubed, tires inflated, brakes working properly, appropriate cycling clothing (bib shorts with a chamois), gloves, and helmet (never without it).

I forgot one other essential-water bottles. I have 2 24oz Polar or Camelback water bottles. They are insulated to keep liquid colder, longer. I freeze my drinks ahead of time, usually the night before-one with water and one with an electrolyte mixture. I fill the bottles about 3/4 full then freeze them. Before I head out for my ride, I top them off. This generally guarantees me cold, sometimes very cold, drinks for about 2 hours. There have been times when I took the bottles out of the freezer too soon, or my ride went longer than planned or it was hotter than I thought and my cold drink became…

LUKEWARM. Ugh! Looking forward to that cold, refreshing drink running down my throat and all I get is bland, lukewarm liquid is a downer. Disgusting might be a good word. But I drink it anyway since it is better than dehydrating.

The church at Laodicea had a similar problem. No other meaning can come from Rev. 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Just as a lukewarm drink of water while riding on a hot, sticky day is unfulfilling, so Jesus says that about the church.

Furthermore, He says that He wishes that they were either hot or cold and, tragically, they didn’t even know they were in such dire straits!! Read verse 17. Talk about seeing right through a person…or a church!

I could write more, but you can add your own thoughts. I’m arrested in my thinking by verse 19: “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.” A loving Savior offering a way out of the yukky, lukewarm state.

“Father, may I not become lukewarm in my faith but find myself on fire for You. If I get lukewarm, rebuke and restore me to life.”

Here is a blast from the past for you to listen to. Maybe more relevant today than when we wrote it back in the ’80s.