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January 19

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

I live near a very secular college located in a very liberal and secular town. If one doesn’t agree with the liberal agenda and secularism then that person is made to feel on the “outs” and is in for a long road to hoe.

I wonder if Paul felt those feelings as he made his way to Mars Hill in Acts 17. As he looked around, the Athenians were proud of their multi-cultural, pluralistic approach (not sure they would have called it that) to “religion.” His go-to in his sermon was there is only one God and while He will overlook ignorance for a short time, it won’t last forever.

Roman culture could not and would not tolerate Christianity because of one truth: the early Christian’s belief that there is only one God and there is salvation in no other name. Jesus is not just some add-on god to the many in Paul’s day or in ours. While the Romans were tolerant of multiple gods, they were intolerant of the faith which taught there is only one God and only ONE WAY to that God.

Sound familiar?

Biblical Christianity, with a Christ who says, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by me“; a crucified and risen Savior; and a God who wants allegiance only to Him, is as offensive to our world as it was to the Romans. Ultimately, every knee will bow and every false religion will bow at the feet of Jesus.  (Phil.2: 10-11)

I’ll stake my claim and my life on that.

“Father, I believe Jesus is the only way to You. No matter what that may lead to, may I always stand firm on that truth.”

January 18

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

A couple of nights ago Jo was watching TV and as I was walking through I stopped to watch. It was an episode I had seen before on NCIS about the death of a homeless vet. It was at the end of the show when Gibbs was scrolling through his computer looking at vets who died homeless.  Director Vance walked in and said, “There but for the grace of God.”  Gibbs said, “Yep.”

That is a very familiar saying (“There but for the grace of God go I”). It is also a saying which can be said with no religious connotation at all. It is simple an acknowledgment of gratitude and recognition that another person’s fate is not our own.

But for the Christ-follower that phrase takes on a much deeper meaning. Think about it: all we are/ all we are not; all we have/all we have not, comes down to grace. Consider these words: “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all to fall on Him.” (Is.53:6- NASB2020)) Other translations conclude that verse with “and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (sin) of us all.”

We were not left alone, lost, or hopeless in despair. Not with Jesus! Isaiah tells us that Jesus chose to identify with us and become our substitute all. because. of. grace.

I would be lost. I would be lonely. I would be hopeless. I would be aimless. “There but for the grace go I.”

“Father, thank You for Your unlimited grace. Thank You for rescuing my sorry and lost soul and raising me to new life.”

January 17

Monday, January 17th, 2022

First,  some updates for you. Funny how God works. I have been wondering how Martha and Diane have been doing so I emailed Diane but wasn’t sure if Martha would be able to do that. But as I was looking I saw a post-it-note with her address (I had sent her something) and a phone number. Lo and behold it was hers!  Martha texted back and said she was doing much better and hoped to come home tomorrow (Tuesday).  She was in ICU with viral pneumonia (not COVID-related).

Diane is suffering from COVID-pneumonia.  She is now home after 7 days in the hospital. Still on oxygen. Please keep praying for her.

Now to the devotion for today:

In preparation for the next sermon series called “Truth Decay,” I just finished reading Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers for the second time. In a chapter she entitled Cosmic Child Abuse? she took on the progressives who want to say the following:

“Who originated the cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser.” (p.207) William Paul Young, author of the heretical book “The Shack.”

“Penal substitution {Note: one dying in place of another} is tantamount to child abuse.” (p.208) Steve Chalke

“God didn’t set up the sacrificial system. People did. The sacrificial system evolved as humans developed rituals and rites to help them deal with their guilt and fear.” (p.209) Rob Bell

Others like Richard Rohr and the late Rachel Held Evans were also included. Their quotes were too long to include.

I reject the whole idea of God as a cosmic child abuser. God’s wrath seen at the cross existed because He is love. It was through the death of Jesus on the cross that we find forgiveness NOT wrath.

In Galatians 6:14 Paul wrote, “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.”  The progressives can say, “May I never boast except in man’s efforts/ingenuity.” Guaranteed that unless they come to the cross, they will most definitely experience God’s wrath (which they say doesn’t exist because He is a God of love not wrath).

“Father, thank you for the cross.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

January 11

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

I may be grasping at straws here, and I may be way off the mark, but I think we as people, many of us at least, spend way too much time and effort trying to prove our worth. No matter how it shakes out, we very often are consumed-to the point of going way beyond normal-trying to prove to ourselves and others that we have got what it takes. We are driven by the desire to feel important or to show our importance to ourselves and to others.

We will even go so far as to act humble or to drop our head as if to say, “Awww shucks” while all the while straining our shoulder muscles to pat ourselves on the back or to hear more of how helpful/indispensable/worthwhile we are.

Something we should really grasp is that looking to others (or ever deep inside ourselves) for our sense of well-being is pointless. That’s right…pointless.  Honestly? We will never be good enough or consistent enough to garner the regular praise of people, many of whom are in the same boat as us.

And let’s face it: we may succeed in one moment and then face-plant in the next. That’s a fact of life. Life is a series of ups and downs. Praise. Disappointment. Accolades. Removal. Cancel culture is real good at that. Agree and all is good. Disagree and bye-bye.

Our worth, my worth, is not found in what I do or what others think of me. No, it is found in Jesus Christ. My unrighteousness is replaced with His righteousness. That’s why when I look in the mirror I don’t see “Wreck,.” “Misfit.” or “Loser.” I see “Loved one.” “Special.” “Redeemed.” “His.”

“Father, help me realize and remember my self-worth is not tied to how I feel about me or what others think about me. It is based on what You think.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

January 10

Monday, January 10th, 2022

Before I get started I would like to ask you to pray for two of my readers: Martha Orlando is in the hospital with bacterial pneumonia (not COVID-related) and Diane Ronzino is in the hospital with COVID-pneumonia.  Thanks.

One of the emotions many Christ-followers struggle with is bitterness. Frankly put: bitterness will eat a person alive. There is no one reason why bitterness rears its ugly head.

In 2 Kings 5 there is a story of Naaman. Naamen was a well-loved general but he was afflicted with leprosy. The real hero of the story is not Naaman (although he did have to exhibit faith). It is not Elisha, the prophet who told Naaman to wash in the Jordan 7 times. The real hero is, of course, God. But someone else is a player-a young Israelite girl who had been taken captive.

She approached her mistress, Naaman’s wife, about a prophet in Israel who could heal his leprosy. Her words were, “I wish my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria.”

She had every right to be bitter. But instead, she had a tender heart. She wanted the best for her enemy, rather than hoping for the worst.

Taken as a captive how could she possibly do that? By refusing to be bitter. She sets an example for us. What is interesting  is how it shows Jesus to us.  She was not a bitter person. If anyone shows us we should not have bitterness it is Jesus. If anyone could have or should have been bitter it was Him. But instead of raining down invectives and hateful remarks and holding a grudge, Jesus chose to use very few words: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  That sounds like a great example to follow! It sure beats allowing ourselves to get eaten alive by poison inside us.

“Father help me to follow the example of the Israelite girl and ultimately, the example of Jesus. Help me not to hold a grudge or get bitter. Help me live in freedom.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

December 30

Thursday, 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 23

Thursday, 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 16

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

During my communion thought this past Sunday, I shared a story I read. It really is quite moving:

In 2010, at the age of 94, George Vujnovich was awarded the bronze star for organizing what the New York Times called “one of the greatest rescue efforts of WWII.” Vujnovich, the son of Serbian immigrants to the US, had joined the US Army. When word arrived that downed American airmen were being protected by the rebels in Yugoslavia, he returned to his family’s homeland, parachuting into the forest to locate the pilots. Dividing the soldiers into small groups, he taught them how to blend in with the Serbs (wear Serbian clothes and eat Serbian food). Then over months he walked each small group out one at a time to C-47 transport planes waiting at a landing strip they’d cut out of the woods. Vujnovich rescued 512 elated, joyful men.

Every Christmas we celebrate what I consider to be the greatest rescue event in history. God became man so man could be rescued. He willingly gave up all He had to come to earth to give up even His life. But He didn’t go from heaven to miraculously show up on a cross. No, it started with a baby. And that led to the greatest rescue event in history.

“Father, thank You for the reminder of rescue we happen to observe each week. But what is important is that we recognize the impact and importance of what we celebrate.”

December 14

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

I have always been a music person. Ever since I can remember (that might be a day or two) 🙂  I have always been a person who listens to music. I used to tell my folks I could study with music playing. Not true.  I have to admit that when I am studying or reading it has to be quiet or at least with background music I cannot know the lyrics to, i.e. classical.

Christmas is a time for songs, for singing. One of the best parts of this season is the songs-both old and new.  It doesn’t get much better than O Holy Night or Joy to the World.  The angels sang. Children sing. Adults sing. Young folks sing. Old folks sing. We can’t stop singing.

Chris Tomlin has written a (non-Christmas) song with the lyrics: “How can I stop from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name. I know I am loved by the king and it makes my heart want to sing.”

This will be a different type of devotion today. I want to share some of my songs with you-those which have been meaningful to me this Christmas season. I hope it will give you something to sing. So here are a few of my favorite “new” Christmas songs. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/5Vwu-t7QRaE

https://youtu.be/mt_xfOutfSQ

https://youtu.be/182xcb3GyOg

https://youtu.be/qmNDI4f8Wrw

If you want the lyrics (except for the last song which has them), hit CC and the lyrics will come on the screen. Enjoy the songs! May they lift your heart to heaven and put a spring in your step and a song in your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…(you get my drift).

December 13

Monday, December 13th, 2021

An excerpt from Paul David Tripp’s book, Come, Let Us Adore Him struck me big time this morning:

“If God was willing to send His Son to restore our relationship of love with Him, you can be sure that He will not let anything separate us from His love. You see, the Christmas story is the world’s best love story {Ed. note: sorry Hallmark. 🙂 } It’s about a God of love sending the Son of His love to live a life of love and die a death of love, so that all who believed in Him would be welcomed into the arms of love forever and ever. Embedded in the Christmas story is a promise of unbroken love for the children of God.”

There is so much that is right about that statement. Do you realize how important and appropriate the Scripture in Romans 8 is that says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus”? (8:39)

The Christmas story is more than a baby in a manger (although that would be enough). It is also a love story. One of unconditional love. One of love given away when it is undeserved.

“Father, may that truth become clearer as each day draws me closer to the celebration of the birth of Jesus.”