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October 20

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

All of us go through those times when our faith is dry. The late Keith Green once wrote and sang a song with these lyrics: “My eyes are dry/My faith is old/My heart is hard/My prayers are cold/And I know how I ought to be/Alive to You and dead to me.”

Been there. Done that. Don’t want the t-shirt.

There are all different reasons as to why our faith can become dry. I’m not going to get into them. Instead, I want to look at the cure.

The verse which started my thoughts this morning was Pr.20:27-“The spirit of the person is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being.” My mind quickly went to the story of David. After Nathan exposed David’s sin, it drove him to his knees and he wrote Psalm 51. Included in that chapter are these words: “Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; Cleanse me, and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Verses 7,10). David is not only praying for a clean heart, but also a restored one.  Ps.139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Acts 3:19 says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

There will be times of coldness, of distance, of hardness, of feeling disjointed. When those times hit, don’t despair. If it is the result of sin, confess it and ask for forgiveness and a renewed spirit (ala David). If it is just one of those times that happens to all of us, don’t panic. Seek the Lord and He will show up.

“Father, when I am dry flood me with Your presence. When I sin, forgive me. Help me to always seek Your presence.”

All Scripture from NASB2020.

October 19

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

I think one of the hardest things to do is to deflect praise from oneself to where it belongs. In the past we had a boxer (Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali) proclaim early in his career that he was the greatest. Sportscasters are known to choose a GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).  Recently, a football player announced that he was “the greatest.” I was so disgusted by this shameless self-promotion just from a headline, I couldn’t tell you who it was, what team he played for, or what position he played.

How different from these words:

“Praise the LORD! Praise Him, you servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time on and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.” (Ps.113:1-4)

Or these:

Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” (115:1)

What a difference-taking credit or giving credit. The psalmist is unequivocal in his stand: the name of the Lord is to be praised. I don’t, you don’t, deserve any praise. It all goes to Him. Deflect it there.

“Father, You are worthy of my praise. May I never gather praise or seek praise for myself. May I always deflect it to You.”

All Scripture is from the NASB2020 edition.

October 12

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

Bone-tired. Weary beyond belief. Asleep on his feet. Those are just some of the phrases we will use to describe how we feel. I’ve been there. So tired I can barely think. So weary it was an effort to pick my feet up and put one foot down in front of another.

I’ve been there spiritually as well. The battles have been intense. The days long; the nights short. The arm wielding the sword hanging by my side. The helmet askew; the head bowed in weariness, and yes, even defeat. The armor stripped off because I am just too wiped out to wear it. The shoes too heavy for my feet.

But from out of nowhere comes a second wind. As Petra sang it so many years ago: “I got my second wind/The Spirit is moving again.” Isaiah 40:28-31 has just happened!

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives strength to the weary, And to the one who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”  (NASB2020)

The end of myself became the beginning of Him. The end of my strength became the beginning of His.

Physical. Mental. Spiritual. Weariness touches us all.  But so does the energy of the Spirit. I find myself rejuvenated.

Physically- the weariness gives way to intentional movement.

Mentally- a clarity comes that assesses situations and knows how to act.

Spiritually- The “light goes on” and a fresh wind blows through.

God’s Word is once again true: “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”

“Father, thank you for that fresh breath, that promised life which comes from You keeping Your Word.”

October 1

Friday, October 1st, 2021

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my thoughts on Luke 1 were getting way out of hand (too long) so I thought I would split my thoughts into two posts.  It will certainly make it easier to stomach. 🙂

In yesterday’s devotion I wrote about Zechariah’s hesitancy and ultimate acceptance of Gabriel’s words (God’s plan), as well as my admiration for Elizabeth’s willingness to go along with God’s plan. We have no record of her thoughts until later in Luke 1 when she visits with Mary. 

But let’s move on to Mary and some observations I want to make:

1. Mary.  I suspect we all know the story. After being told what she could expect-“You will conceive and bring forth a son” she was also told who that son would be. Here is what hit me this morning. Zechariah was struck dumb when he asked, “How will I know this?” (v.18). Why was Mary not dealt with in the same way? Why was she dealt with differently when she said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Was it the question, “How will this be?” as opposed to “How will I know?” Was it more expected out of a mature and aged man who knew of the coming King as opposed to a young teenage girl? I guess we will never know while on this earth.

2. Mary’s response “My it be done to me according to Your word” rattles me. Here she is-an unmarried, virgin teenage girl whose whole world just got rocked with this earth-shattering announcement.  “May it be done to me.” WOW!  I’m not a Mary-worshiper by any stretch, but even someone who isn’t has to be impressed.

I tend to be more like Zechariah than Mary. At least I have been in the past. “Are you sure, Lord?” “Seriously God?” I have often questioned God a lot about things which were different and out-of-the-ordinary. Still do at times, especially when events happen which I don’t understand. As I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser and more mature, I’ve accepted God’s work and way somewhat easier. Not all the time but it is better than it was. 🙂 I still tend to question, but I believe that is okay. As long as those questions lead me to seek Him and not my own way.

How about you? Me? I like Christmas in September (yesterday’s post) and October (today’s). It has some great lessons which, like Christmas, should be all year ’round…at least the spirit of it.

“Father, may I be willing like Mary, even when something seems strange to say, ‘I am yours. Let it be done to me according to Your word.’ ”

September 30

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

September 30, 2021. Christmas is just around the corner…less than 3 months away. I read Luke 1 this morning as I read through the NT again this year, and it made me think of Christmas. In July, Jo watched a whole month of Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. I walked in once and said, “Oh look! Snow!” And it was really snowing. People were wearing heavy coats, hats, gloves, and their breath was able to be seen. B-r-r-r-r.

Seemed strange to me when it was 100 degrees outside and the TV was showing snow falling. And it seems a little strange reading Luke 1 in September knowing most will see Christmas in those words. And rightly so. If I was a betting man I would be “bet” more sermons are preached on Luke 1 & 2 during December than at any other time of the year. (I am s-o-o-o-o-o smart don’t you think?) 🙂 

But I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of other thoughts which I’m sure you have heard or thought of before which hit me this morning:

1. Zechariah’s (Z’s) lack of understanding but willingness to accept Gabriel’s message…and its meaning. I know Gabriel said “because you did not believe” but far be it from me to question Z’s questions. Talk about an “out-of-left-field!” announcement!  He is minding his own business, doing his priestly duties when BAM!

2. He learned to trust. He came out of the temple unable to speak. But what about Elizabeth, his aged, long-suffering wife? What a shock it had to be to her as well! Old. Infertile. Beyond child-bearing age. “You’re pregnant.” Nothing is said about her reaction. Nothing. We can talk about Z’s hesitancy and acceptance, but let’s not forget Elizabeth.

There is something to be said about people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, people who are willing to question (Z) and then accept God’s program for them. I admire them, and find myself really admiring Elizabeth as I read about her later in the same chapter of Luke.

“Father, may I be a willing servant to accept Your will and plan for my life, even though I have no clue what it might entail.”

As I wrote this, and even more as I now type this, I began to realize how long this post was getting to be. So I finished writing it and have decided to post the rest of it tomorrow.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on Mary in tomorrow’s devotion.

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 17

Friday, September 17th, 2021

3 chapters. 3 passages.

I’ve been reading through Psalms again-my second time this year. I’m using a different translation this time through-one I am getting more familiar with and have really grown to love. The NASB2020. But the translation really is unimportant to the weight and import of these 3 passages.

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.” (Psalm 61:2b-3a)

“My soul waits in silence for God alone; From Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62: 1-2)  {Note: for an added bonus read verses 5-8}

“God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

These verses came home to me recently as I was visiting with someone. This man’s life had been controlled by alcohol and at the ripe young age of 67, he came to know Jesus as his Savior. He is now 78 and has not had a drink in all those years. He speaks of being in the muck and being pulled out in his former job (he is retired) with a major pipeline. His reference to Psalm 69 was so refreshing because he was able to make a great application with it. And he also spoke of how Jesus did that for him. He now stands on the Rock-Jesus-his refuge and strength. What a refreshing visit it was!  May his tribe increase!!

May my heart be as tender to God’s help and saving grace as his.

“Father, You are my strength. My rock. My refuge. May I always acknowledge that and live that.”

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 15

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

As one reads the Scripture, you will notice that Jesus’ first really public words were in a synagogue. Luke 4 records those words for us and they are directly taken from Isaiah 61:1-2a:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD anointed me to bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” (NASB2020)

Jesus then finished His reading with these words: “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, “In Me.”

Jesus didn’t come to the “uppity-ups” or to the “hoity-tointy” crowd. He didn’t come to the castles and palaces, to the kings and queens, to those who thought they needed nothing or no one. (He wouldn’t turn them away though). No, Jesus came to the humble, the brokenhearted, the lost, the lonely, the slaves, the captives, the addict, and others. He came for the blind, the leper, the lame, the prostitute, the falsely accused. He came for those who were lost and knew it. He came for the outsiders. He came for the rejected.

He came for me.

I like what Bob Goff said,

Some people wag a bony finger when we run toward someone who’s messed up. But isn’t that what God does with you and me? Forget being right; be Jesus. (#257-p.306)

It shouldn’t matter what others think. Jesus certainly didn’t care. In fact, if we are his followers, Jesus’ mission and ours should be the same.

“Father, help me to keep my eyes open to the needs of others. Help me to see people, not cases.”

September 14

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Psalm 1:2 says, “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law me meditates day and night.”

Psalm 19:7-10 is absolutely the most beautiful passage about the Law of the Lord. Please take a moment to read that now.

Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word.”

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have treasured Your Word in my heart, So that I might not sin against You.”

I Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring Word of God.”

J.B.Phillips once wrote a paraphrase of the NT in order for his high school students to understand it better and have it come alive in their hearts. He called the Bible living documents.

For many Christ-followers the Bible seems to be last place they go. But as you can see by the Scriptures above, the Bible should be the first place we go. As Peter once told Jesus: “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

“Father, help me to run to the Word. Help me to go there first and be drenched in Your truth.”

All Scripture from the NASB2020.