Archive for May, 2013

Wealthy and miserable.

You probably know a few people like this.

You’d like their wealth but you don’t want their misery.

Yes, I know that there are plenty of flat-broke people who are miserable.

But those folk typically don’t have admirers who’d love to trade places with them.

There are many, many people, though, who’d gladly accept — at least initially — misery if it came with a suitcase of cash.

The seeming presumption is that money compensates for the misery.

Yeah, right.

Is that why so many rich people have lips that are pursed even more tightly than their wallets?

Of course, like you, I’d like to have more zeroes after the number in my bank balance. It would be nice to have a mountain cabin and a beachfront villa and a private plane to transport us as desired for two-day getaways.

But I know that’s never gonna happen because I would never spend money that way even if it did come my way.

You see, knowing that I had redirected so much money toward fun rather than faithful ministry would leave me miserable.

And I don’t like feeling miserable.

King Solomon learned a thing or two during his life about being rich and miserable.

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.” (Proverbs 15:16 New Living Translation)

The choice between a frugal lifestyle with fear of the Lord OR great treasure with inner turmoil is actually a no-brainer.

With faith in God, I’m already a winner in eternity and I don’t have to worry about how tall and thick the walls of my emotions-protecting financial fortress are.

If I lose every earthly thing but still have faith, I will still be a zillionaire in eternity.

But if gain the entire world’s wealth — or just the $73 billion of the world’s richest man — and don’t have faith, I will still be an indigent pyre of pain in eternity.

Let’s be glad for the blessings we have. Particularly the one called salvation.

It’s priceless and will never lose value.

As always, I love you

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I Samuel 18-19 list two occasions that King Saul, gripped by jealousy, tried to kill David.

It’s a pitiful sequence attempted by this image of a large, handsome man beset with insecurity rooted in his own failures of character and faith.

He failed in Spearthrowing 101 and 102, of course, because it wasn’t God’s will for David’s life to “get dead” at the hands of Saul.

If only Saul had accepted God’s revised plan for his life and demonstrated an attitude of humility, Saul might have reigned in unity with the giant-killing protege ordained by God.

Pride got in the way, though.

Listen, not everything in life goes the way that we want.

I know this as well as you.

We’ve all had important plans fall apart, occasionally because of our own failures.

That stinks.

But we have no basis for trying to punish others because of our insecurity or failures or residual aspirations.

The last thing we should do is throw spears at ones doing what God has called them to do.

Because at whom are we really throwing the spears?

That’s right. At God.

Not a good idea.

We only harm ourselves and the loved ones counting upon us.

Let’s accept that fact that God sometimes chooses others to do things that we desperately wanted — or want — to do ourselves.

He has His reasons.

Part of His rationale might be our failure of character or faith.

Let’s accept God’s revised plan for our lives, and demonstrate an attitude of humble submission to His will. We can then serve in unity with the better-qualified or kinder-hearted person ordained by God.

There’ll be less drama and more fruit for the faithful.

Especially in the next life.

As always, I love you

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It’s one of the greatest stories not only in the Bible, but in human history.

I’m talking about David and Goliath.

There are so many lessons for us but in the brief moment I have this morning, I want to focus on one — our faith should never be contingent on what humans haven’t done but instead on what God CAN do.

Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” (I Samuel 17:32-33)

King Saul looked at what he and his army hadn’t done against the enemy because of shallow-faith fear and he presumed that victory couldn’t be gained by David.

David wasn’t focusing on the size of his enemy, though.

David was focusing on the size of his God.

To David, that’s all that mattered.

Faith had led to dead lions and dead bears and live sheep.

And David knew that he would win again because he knew that he was going in the power of God.

Satan sends mouthy, malicious foes our way from time to time, either in human form or in circumstantial form.

Their mission is to promote fear and fleeing from the battle.

Their mission is to draw us into obsessing about the size of the threat rather than the size of our God.

David didn’t let the hollow-faith Saul corrode his faith.

And God’s power didn’t leave David throwing weak, misdirected stones.

God won and He used David in the process.

Let’s remember that God is bigger than Goliath.

No matter what modern form that loser takes when standing before us and no matter what hollow-faith advisors might be saying to us.

As always, I love you

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It’s wonderful that God offers forgiveness to repentant Christians.

There is more to repentance, though, than simply saying we’re sorry for doing or thinking or saying _____________.

If we don’t change our ways, we haven’t repented, have we?

We’ve simply confessed our sin.

That’s not good enough.

God deserves a better response from us after we’ve crossed the line.

Imagine that you let somebody drive your car and they drive recklessly, driving off the edge of the road and wrecking it.

Would you ever let them drive your car again if he or she didn’t confess their misdeed and pledge to stay between the lines and follow all the driving rules?

I seriously doubt it.

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that He forgave her for her sin. The text in John 8 doesn’t record her words of confession and repentance, but His act of forgiveness implies that he saw the sentiments of her heart and soul.

It was His final statement in that sequence, however, that triggered this Morning Devotion.

Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

If this woman had returned to promiscuous behavior, the grace shown her would have been forfeited.

This is the fruit of genuine repentance — enduring sanctification.

We’ve all stained ourselves with stumbling-block sins.

For some, it’s lust.

For others, it’s vanity.

For who knows how many, it’s bitterness.

We’ve repented along the way, I’m sure.

But have we really?

Are we living out the “sin no more” thing with those stumbling-block sins?

Do we automatically ignore Satan’s bait of unjust treatment designed to prompt angry resentfulness?

Do we rejoice for the physical provision we have rather than covet the nicer, more abundant blessings received by others?

Is online porn no longer a problem for us?

Jesus wants us to go and sin no more.

Let’s do what He says.

As always, I love you

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Yes, there are some people who have influence because they are clever and perceptive and sensitive and visionary and physically attractive or imposing.

The reality is, however, that most people don’t possess this set of persuasion characteristics.

Even among Christians.

So if we’ve been called to influence the unsaved world around us yet we lack the charm and drive of a top salesperson, how are we to persuade others evangelistically to the extent that we should?

Hmmmm…… I love how God doesn’t hitch the power of the Gospel to the pizzaz of the believer.

He simply, in a very real way, asks us to let Him do the talking.

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:38)

You and I can go on and on with an unsaved person about the love of God and the peace of being in His presence and the strength found in His Spirit and etc. and etc…..

But another’s changed heart isn’t the sign of our personal power.

It’s the work of the Lord.

Remember how the Apostle Paul said that one plants and another waters but it is God who provides the increase?

That’s how it is with respect to John 7:38.

When rivers of Living Water — the loving words of Jesus — start flowing from our hearts at work rather than a drop now and then, that’s when our faith will be seen as real rather than as a box-checking facade.

Is this how you’re seen by others at home or school or at church? As a fountain of faith feeding a river of loving, inspiring words?

This is how my congregation needs to see me since I am her pastor.

And so I need to drink daily. I need to drink deeply.

This is why I read the One-Year Bible and this is why I write the Morning Devotion each weekday.

It’s all about the river.

It’s all about the increase.

It’s all about Jesus.

For His is the only hope for eternal life.

For others and for us.

As always, I love you

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Success in life is more about attitude than aptitude.

Yes, an athlete needs certain abilities in order to find success on the field or court or wherever.

But there are far more athletes whose success has been based on determination more than on DNA.

And so it is in the realm of faith.

If somebody loves God enough and wants to serve Him passionately, then hard work for the kingdom — including the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer — is something that will naturally occur.

Why? Because success is based more on determination than on DNA.

This is why Jesus said what He did in John 6:29.

“This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one He has sent.”

Clearly, God wants us to do more than to sit on a pew, contemplating our conviction the Jesus is the Messiah.

He wants us to work our tails off in building the Kingdom for His sake.

But God knows that the real work in dealing with people is to find the inspirational button that triggers their determination.

Once that button is pushed, the faith-to-fruit process will kick in and ministry will occur.

Jesus knew that once a person truly believed in Him as Messiah, he or she would put his/her shoulder to the wheel and push for Kingdom success.

If you’re level of ministry volunteerism isn’t what God wants, then it’s likely that you have work to do in your beliefs regarding the Lordship of Jesus.

Please read the four gospels again. I’m confident that decision will work to your advantage.

As always, I love you

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We don’t want to believe it because it doesn’t make us look good in God’s sight.

But we’ve all done the trade-in thing with God at one time or another.

Hopefully, it was a momentary lapse into selfishness that was quickly followed by repentance and a return to faithfulness.

I was reminded of our vulnerability for distraction/destruction while reading this morning from the Bible. The psalmist was pointing to the need for deep loyalty to the Lord, something that the wilderness-wandering Hebrews struggled to embrace.

It didn’t matter that multiple miracles from the hand of God had happened before their eyes.

That still wasn’t good enough to inspire lasting loyalty.


They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull. They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt” (Psalm 106:20-21)

Lest we point fingers and start picking up stones, we should evaluate if we have statues of grass-eating bulls in our lives.

Is there an activity that is more important to you on Sunday than going to church?

Is there a hobby or thing that is financially more important to buy or maintain than God’s call to sacrificially support ministry? Do I buy the larger flat-screen TV or do I give to the special offering to repair the sanctuary’s leaking roof?

Is there a nurtured grudge that is more golden to you than obedience to God’s command to forgive?

Grass-eating bulls won’t bring us inner peace and we certainly can’t ride them to heaven.

Discarding the statues and humbly taking Christ’s hand WILL shape us into what God wants and will take us to where we want to be forever.

Let’s do our best to appear faithful to our God, not foolish.

He’s got great things waiting for us in heaven.

As always, I love you

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