May 5th, 2013
”…it is impossible for God to lie…we can hold on to His promise with confidence. This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls…” Hebrews 6:18b-19a
Ever feel insecure about your salvation? Ever wonder if God is really there or if he cares about what you’re going through?
Our emotions and intellect are such powerful determiners. Though an overwrought imagination, hormonal imbalance, stress, inadequate rest or nutrition, trauma, illness, or grief all have the potential to distort “reality,” we seldom recognize the effect of their presence.
There is only one source of Truth! Since God cannot lie, if and when He says something, we can “take it to the bank.”
Feelings are like the caboose of our spiritual “train.” God’s Word is its engine. If I trust my feelings to determine the truth of my relationship with God, it’s like trying to pull a train by its caboose. It doesn’t go anywhere!
However, when I put my trust in God’s Word for assurance, hope, peace, etc., I not only move forward in my relationship with God, but my feelings will eventually, even if reluctantly, follow along behind.
PONDER: If the devil knows I will trust my “feelings” more than what God says in His Word, what advantage does that give him in his efforts to deceive me?
PRAYER: Lord, open my eyes to see the devil’s schemes. Help me not lean on my own understanding but trust solely and fully in the promises of your Word.
May 9th, 2013
“…you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” Luke 19 44b
Jesus spoke these words as He rode into Jerusalem, in the midst of a triumphant procession, with people shouting praises to God, declaring Him their promised King.
As He looked out over the city, He began to weep. He grasped what no one else could see, and it broke His heart. He’d come to bring salvation, not from the Romans, but from the vice-grip of sin that’d plagued the world since mankind’s fall in the Garden.
In spite of their enthusiastic celebration that day, the people of Jerusalem were not open to what God was doing in their midst and would miss their hour of opportunity.
So, when is the time of salvation? Is it a specific date and hour? How will I recognize it? How will I know if and when it’s passed?
The Lord has told us exactly when it is. He was very specific and abundantly clear. “I tell you, NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2 NIV (emphasis mine)
As long as it is still “today” we have opportunity for salvation. When NOW is gone for good, it’s over.
PONDER: Do I presume there’ll always be another day, another moment, another opportunity? How can I possibly know which breath will be my last?
PRAYER: Lord, bring me face to face with my own mortality, the fleetingness of my life. Help me seize my opportunity NOW.
May 7th, 2013
“Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us…” Genesis 13:8
Nobody likes conflict, yet it is an inevitable facet of living together in community. Each person is unique and different. The varying personalities, priorities, and perspectives of us humans put us on a collision course with each other.
But according to this verse, conflict doesn’t have to divide people. How we deal with our differences will make the difference. That seems so obvious, so simple! Then why is there so much division among people, even in the Church?
Scripture makes it clear: it’s not our differences that make it difficult for us to get along. It’s our sinful nature–that inner compulsion that demands things be done “my way or the highway!”
Selfish people find it difficult to yield. Even when social or religious pressure brings what appears to be a compromise, the self-centered individual will manipulate behind the scenes until he/she achieves the desired outcome.
PONDER: How do I react when I don’t get what I want…in my marriage, in a board meeting, on vacation, at work? What happens in my thoughts, my actions, my conversations with others, after I “give in”.
PRAYER: Lord, I don’t always recognize my selfishness. I just do what comes natural. If anything is to change in my life, Your Spirit must reveal my true self to me. Give me grace to look honestly at my heart (my motives, my attitudes), and allow You to change me from within.
May 5th, 2013
“Usually a host serves the best wine first…but you have kept the best until now!” John 2:10
Jesus is a guest at a wedding feast in which the wine supply runs out. Jesus asks the servants to fill six huge, stone pots with water. As soon as the jars are full, He tells them to take some of it to the Master of Ceremonies.
Imagine the servant’s trepidation as he marches to the head table with his “offering.” At this stage in the festivities, most of the guests are inebriated, but surely, even drunken party-goers will know something is wrong.
When it comes to wine, the aging process is key to the best taste. “Vintage” equals “premium,” right?
However, when the master of the feast tastes this wine, which Jesus has just made, he declares they’ve saved the BEST for last.
Could it be that Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh, the timeless and eternal Son of God, can make something fully aged and mature in the time it takes Him to speak the Word?
PONDER: If God is God, would creating something totally developed, full-grown and complete, be a problem for Him? What hint does this first miracle of Jesus give us about His creative power? Is anything impossible for God?
PRAYER: Lord, I find it difficult to comprehend One so beyond myself. I limit You so often in my mind. Help me acknowledge that, to God, the most impossible tasks are just a “piece of cake.”
May 5th, 2013
“But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Luke 5:39
We are such creatures of habit. The old is comfortable, familiar. It gives a semblance of control. No surprises.
That’s why “religion” seems to work for folks who want to feel good about themselves. It gives us a list of things to do that promote feelings of spirituality, while protecting our pride and sense of control. It’s measurable, predictable, and doable. We like that!
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day hated Him, because He challenged their religious systems, exposing their manipulative, prideful masquerade, their self-centered efforts to “appear” spiritual before men.
The Pharisees loved “old wine.” But Jesus came, offering “new wine” — not religion, but a vital relationship with God in which love and trust are the hallmarks.
It’s sometimes easier for those to recognize their need, who have no “wine” at all, whose thirst is obvious and demanding, than for folks who’ve become content with the taste of the old wine of religion and self effort.
However, as at the wedding in Cana, the new wine Jesus offers is always the best wine of all!
PONDER: Am I content with religion, with going through the motions, just having a “form” of godliness? Or do I long for real relationship with God, the abundant life Jesus promised, and the power to be like Christ?
PRAYER: Give me new wine, Lord. I’m tired of the old!
May 2nd, 2013
“And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived without shame, clinging to each other with the knowledge that they were perfect for each other. Adam recognized the gift God had made, especially for him, from his very own body.
Their feelings of mutual appreciation and dependence created a peaceful, supportive, loving environment. Adam was well aware he was incomplete without Eve. Eve recognized that without Adam she would never have existed.
Now, something has changed. No longer transparent in each other’s presence, they make garments to hide their nakedness. Rather than celebrate each other, they play the blame game.
The peace, tranquility, freedom, and joy they had once experienced has been replaced with fear, suspicion, manipulation, and desire for control.
From that day to this, even the best relationships have suffered from these same tendencies. Only the unconditional, selfless love of God poured out in our hearts is sufficient to overrule the sinful tendencies inherited from our first parents in the Garden of Eden.
PONDER: Am I ever manipulative, controlling, self-centered in my relationships? How’s that working for me?
PRAYER: Building a beautiful marriage is like trying to fill holes in a leaky boat. Just about the time I get one hole plugged, another leak springs up. Please help me, Jesus! I recognize that only by denying my selfish tendencies and yielding to Your control will I ever experience the relationships I long for.
April 21st, 2013
“…I will make people throughout the earth terrified because of you. When they hear reports about you, they will tremble with dread and fear.” Deuteronomy 2:25
After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the people of Israel are finally preparing to cross Jordan and take possession of the Promised Land. Incredibly, the Canaanites, whom Israel has feared all these years, are now trembling with dread at the mere mention of their name, because the Lord has struck terror into their hearts.
Apparently, impacting people’s thoughts and responses is not a difficult task for Almighty God.
If we could only comprehend and trust the power of the God we serve!
Proverbs 21:1 declares, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he turns it wherever he pleases.”
Again, Proverbs 16:7 says, “When the ways of people please the Lord, he makes even their enemies live at peace with them.”
This doesn’t negate all effort on our part, but so much of the time and energy we expend creating our desired impression could be more productively channeled into staying intimately connected to the One Person in the Universe who knows what, when, where, why, how, and with whom everything will best be accomplished.
PONDER: Can I trust God to go before me in every situation, to prepare people’s hearts for the outcome He sees is best?
PRAYER: Forgive me for striving so hard to accomplish what, though impossible for me, is so simple for You.
March 24th, 2013
“He (Jesus) saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. …Jesus came toward them, walking on the water…” Mark 6:48
The disciples are terrified, struggling to keep their little ship afloat. Meanwhile, the same tumultuous sea that threatens their craft also rages around Jesus as He walks the waves.
His position is much more precarious and frightening than that of the disciples, who at least have a boat between them and the depths. Yet, Jesus is at peace, unhurried, unafraid.
We might say, “Jesus was God. No wonder He was at peace.”
It’s true. Jesus is God. However, Philippians 2:6,7 says He forfeited all His rights and privileges as God to empty Himself and become a man. Only by limiting Himself, could Jesus fully identify with us.
So, when walking on that raging sea, Jesus did so as a mere man, but one who dared not depend on Himself. He’d come to know and trust His Heavenly Father utterly and completely.
How like the disciples we are as we face the storms in our lives. Even so, if we will listen, we, too, will hear His voice saying, “Take courage! I am here!”
PONDER: How well do I know God? Enough to trust Him in every situation?
PRAYER: Lord, You understand my human fears and frailties, but you call me to know and trust and depend on You, as You speak peace to my soul in the midst of life’s storms.
February 24th, 2013
“They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.” Mark 6:51,52
Jesus has just fed 5000 men and their families with 5 loaves and 2 fish, after which His disciples gather 12 baskets of leftovers. Later that same day, in the wee hours of the morning on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples are terrified by a huge storm that threatens to sink their ship.
Jesus comes walking on the water toward them. As He steps into the boat, the winds stop. Scripture implies that, had they fully understood the miracle of the loaves, they wouldn’t have been so shocked and amazed when Jesus calmed the storm.
So what was the lesson of the loaves?
We humans tend to qualify the impossible, as if some impossibilities are less feasible than others. Let’s face it — each is equally hopeless for us, yet equally simple for God! If God has ever done anything for us, why not trust Him to do everything?
PONDER: Do I really believe nothing is impossible for God? Do I frantically struggle against life’s difficulties in fear, or do I expectantly call on Jesus to help me accomplish what I cannot?
PRAYER: Lord, to You, nothing is too difficult! Help me learn from the ways You have helped in the past and trust that, though the impossible is always hopeless for me, it is an easy task for You.
February 24th, 2013
“…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…” Matthew 6:1
Wait a minute! Isn’t this double-talk? How can I do my good deeds for all to see, if I don’t do them publicly? Hmmmmm…
As is so often the case, Jesus is talking here about motive! The very same deed, done in the very same way and in the very same venue, can glorify God or glorify self. The difference is something only God can see, because He is the only One who can look into my heart.
When we do our good deeds for the glory of God, it won’t matter whether anyone sees or not. We do and say what Jesus asks of us, that He might be honored and lifted up. If someone sees and acknowledges us, we give God glory. If not, that’s okay, because we did it for Him, not ourselves.
PONDER: How motivated am I to give and serve when I know no one but God will ever see? When I do serve others (my spouse, kids, church, pastor, co-workers…), how do I feel when no acknowledgement comes?
PRAYER: Lord, You alone can see into my heart and reveal the motives behind what I do. Help me know when it’s my “glory” I’m seeking. Purify me, so that You will be glorified in all I do and say.