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September 27

Monday, September 27th, 2021

One of the false religious/belief systems in our world today is one called Deism. It is the belief system that God (or some higher creature) created the earth then withdrew His hand and basically said, “Okay boys. You are on your own.”  That is the Cliff Notes version of it.

I thought of that as I was reading about Isaiah 40. I think to justify our disbelief or to rationalize our lesser expectation of God, we minimize who He is and what He can do. Is. 40 is a masterful description of God-of who He is and what He can and does do.

After describing the glory of God compared to the flesh (verses 5-8), Isaiah launches into a litany of rhetorical questions. They start in verse 12 and go to verse 14. I’d encourage you to see for yourself. After a brief reprise he is back at it in verse 18

Check these out:

  • Verse 12-He can measure the waters in His hand and calculate the dirt and weigh the mountains.
  • Verse 26- He creates the stars and names them!!
  • Verse 23- He knows all the petty rulers of the nations-those who think they are “king” and “god.”

The classic verse here is verse 25: “To whom then will you compare me?” He is equal to no one and visa versa.

He ends with a series of verse most are familiar with: verses 28-31. But the promise of these verses hinge on these words found in verse 28: “The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired….”

God is unlimited and so is His strength. The latter is based on the former. No matter what you and I are going through, He is there. It is a promise.

“Father, help me to remember that truth today and in the future. You have not and will not leave me alone.”

All Scripture is from NASB2020

September 24

Friday, September 24th, 2021

We often hear a statement like “Forget your past.” I understand the import of that statement. If something has happened that we would just as soon forget, it applies. I get that. I really do. I’ve had enough dealings with people who have been abused, molested, had an abortion, had an affair, etc. that they would like to move beyond. And I’m all for that. Some stuff that happened to us in the past does need to be let go. We certainly can’t change it.

But there is also a time we should not let go of our past. Let me rephrase that. There are times we should not forget what happened in the past.

There is a saying that something like this: “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” We should never forget certain dates for example: July 4, 1776.  April 9, 1865 (surrender at Appomattox) December 7, 1941. August 15, 1945 (VJ Day). September 11, 2001.  October 9 (my birthday)!! 🙂 In all seriousness, some dates and events must never be forgotten.

Psalm 78 is made up of 72 verses. It is a history lesson for the Israelites to remember. It is a reminder to them of their past and God’s faithfulness in that past. It is not a pretty picture by any stretch. It is a litany of waywardness, sin, rebellion, and disobedience. But it is also about a compassionate God.

So it helps to remember some things. Take a few minutes and read Psalm 78. Then ask yourself, what would my past be like if I wrote mine down? Like the Israelites, you would probably see a messy life with a faithful God right there with you.

I know I would.

This is the weekend. Take some time to reflect on the past and how God was faithful to you through it all.

September 23

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Confession right up front. They say it is good for the soul. 🙂   A good chunk of today’s devotion is going to be snippets from Bob Goff (#265-p.314).  It so impacted me that I want to share some of it with you. Just know that any quoted section is from the devotion.

As a pastor, I struggle with something-something which involves me and others. Ready?

Taking credit. Liking the accolades. Relishing the pats-on-the-back.

Have you ever seen The Incredibles? Yeah, I know it is an animated “child’s” movie, but Pixar did a wonderful job with it (and its sequel). Mr. Incredible wanted a cape with his new uniform. His “strange” designer says, “No capes” and proceeds to show him why. To borrow from yesterday’s devotion (September 22), God doesn’t need superheroes with capes. He doesn’t need me or you seeking attention. (Implied is a cape would do that).

“Jesus was introducing us to another way to change the world-one that doesn’t require any marketing taglines, self-promotion, or capes.  He wanted to show us that all those things meant to draw attention to ourselves can actually trip us up.” Bob goes on to write: “God always seems to more interested in working through those who don’t need any affirmation outside of His. Perhaps it’s because He wants us to point people toward Him, not ourselves.”

Have you ever seen a team with potential implode because they have one (or several) who sought the glory for themselves? I could care less about “thug ball” i.e. basketball these days, but two of the games greatest players were two of the least selfish-Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. All-Stars. MVP’s. Hall of Famer’s. They were known as much for their passing ability, their selflessness, and their desire to include everyone as they were for their scoring ability.

They didn’t toot their own horn. They didn’t need to. Neither do we as Christ-followers. To quote Mr. Goff again: “We don’t have to impress to earn the right be on God’s team.”

No matter what we do-preach, teach, sing, play an instrument-whatever it is we are not asked to impress or take credit. Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASB2020)

“Father, may I lift You up, giving You praise and glory and not seek it for myself. I’m not worthy of that. You are.”

September 16

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

One of the most vivid images/pictures which has always interested me has been the potter/clay one. Maybe it is because I’ve never done pottery but have only watched it being done. But there are a lot of scenes like that. I might watch a cooking show with Jo. Looks intriguing and sometimes very tasty, but because I don’t cook it doesn’t inspire me to learn. I suppose it should.  But in my mind it is fine for someone else! Just not me! Give me my bicycle!! 🙂

But I guess what strikes me about the potter and clay is its biblical reference and picture. Isaiah 64: 6,8-9 is a picture of the potter and clay. Isaiah pulls no punches in verse 8 when he says, “But now, LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter, And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

WOW! Isaiah, as I said, pulls no punches. God is our Father. God is the potter. We are the clay. So simple to see. He is in control. He is the One who shapes us. He is the One who molds us, getting His hands filled with dirt and clay. And here is the hard part for us-starting over shaping us when we are not compliant or stubborn or need re-shaped.

That is only part of the process! Then the newly-shaped pottery is put into a kiln and fired. Do you see the application for us? Consider these words from Isaiah: “And all of us are the work of Your hand.”  He makes no mistakes.

“Father, may I be moldable clay in Your hands.”

September 3

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

I’ve been reading a book entitled Expository Apologetics (EA) by Voddie Baucham, Jr. My estimation of him sky-rocketed first when I heard him on a podcast with Alisa Childers where they discussed his book Faultlines as well Critical Race Theory, BLM, and other subjects.  I listened to it twice so that should tell you what I thought of that interview. I just finished reading Faultlines, which took my admiration into the stratosphere. He is intelligent, witty, insightful, and unapologetic about his stand for the gospel. And, one more thing: he comes at it from a black perspective (not that makes any difference to me). You need to read his book!!

Anyway, in EA he wrote something that struck me, even in my afternoon semi-comatose mind. 🙂 I want to share it with you after I say this: I have often heard it said, “We become what we worship.” I wish I could remember who said that.

Voddie wrote this:

“God created us to be image bearers; we are made in His image to reflect His glory. When we turn that worship in another direction, we do not cease to be what we were created to be; we simply pervert the reflection. As we worship, we are conformed to the image of the one or ones to whom we give our allegiance, adoration, obeisance, time, talent, and treasure.” (p.54)

What we give our worship and attention to is what we become. I don’t need to say much more except “Choose Wisely.”

“Father, You and You alone are worthy of my worship. Help me to keep my eyes on you and not on other things, people, or events.”

August 25

Wednesday, 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 23

Monday, 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 16

Monday, 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 5

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Years ago I remember my brother, Rob, singing a song made popular (I think) by Casting Crowns. I say “I think” because CC is not my style of music. But the song had lyrics that were something like this: “Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child.”

I was thinking about how true that was. We have instances in the Scriptures where Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4). But we also know He calmed His child. Case in point: Acts 16. Paul and Silas had received a beating at the hands of the Romans and were tossed into jail. Not a nice, soft bed but stocks. I’m not sure I can think of a much more uncomfortable situation than that. But instead of complaining, moping or whining, they were singing praises. Are you kidding me?

No I am not. Then the miraculous happened. An earthquake shook the jail and all the doors and stocks were opened. They could have run but chose not to.

How like God to come through!! He did it for Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel.  He showed His glory when Solomon was dedicating the Temple. God showed up in dramatic ways.

Now…He might not be as dramatic in our lives. But He does show up. Sometimes He calms the storm and says,  “Peace be still!” And sometimes He calms His child and says, “Peace be still.”

Either one works for me.

“Thank you Father for showing up during my time of storm. Calming the storm or calming me…either one is okay. I’m just thrilled You show up and know what I need.”

August 4

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

I love the picture of adoption. The Bible speaks in several places about adoption. (Romans 8: 15,23; Gal.4:5; Eph.1:3)

 I have a brother and sister-in-law who adopted Lia from China in 2003. We have one family in the church who adopted 2 girls from China at different times-one a baby and one who was 9 or 10 years old.  That latter young lady just graduated from high school as did my niece!  (They are getting old but not me!)

So many others could tell stories of adoption. Despite what some evil proponents will say, they were not “colonizing” anyone. They wanted the opportunity to either fill their empty arms or to give a chance to someone who would not have had one. Is it colonization when someone born with a severe cleft palate deformity is adopted and given a chance? A new hope? I think not.

The picture of adoption finds its real beauty in the story of God adopting us, taking us from a life of hopelessness and lostness (I know that is not a word), and being made part of a family. A forever family. All the rights and privileges of being a member of a family are ours. Just as the adopted child is given a new home and new last name, so are we in God’s adoption.

While I was not adopted physically, nor did Jo and I adopt a child physically, I appreciate God’s adoption of me. All rights and privileges, inheritance and blessings are mine. I’m glad God loved me and adopted me and made me His child by welcoming into His family.

“Father, thank you seems such an inadequate way to express how I feel. But I want to say ‘Thank You’ for adopting me into Your forever family.”