Archive for September, 2013

If we care about someone, we’ll try to please him or her with our choices.

We do this for family members.

We do this for friends.

We do this for employers who provide the paycheck we need.

We certainly do this for ourselves.

But what about the Lord?

I’m grateful for the six-word reminder in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians:

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10)

Notice that Paul doesn’t simply say, “Don’t sin.”

Instead, the apostle calls believers to do their homework.

“Determine” implies discernment between possible choices.

“Carefully” means being thorough and purposeful in order to avoid careless oversights.

How do we carefully determine what pleases the Lord?

We read the Bible. Hopefully daily as with resources like the One-Year Bible online.

We discuss our findings with mature believers.

We pray for understanding and wisdom.

We examine successful — and unsuccessful — choices made by ourselves and others.

We listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us and to give us peace about a particular decision or direction.

And then we assess the outcomes of our choices.

Did good for the Kingdom result?

Did good for others result?

Did our choices honor God and strengthen our Christian influence with others?

It’s all about pleasing the Lord.

We focus on that and God will take care of us.

That’s the promise of Matthew 6:33 — Seek God’s Kingdom first and He’ll take care of us.

Live to please the Lord, my friend.

And listen to His Word and His voice and His saints in order to do this more often.

I will do the same.

As always, I love you

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It’s good to be reminded periodically as to why we have certain routines.

I was given a delicious reminder this morning of the above fact while doing my devotional reading in preparation for writing this devotion.

The installment for today printed in the One-Year Bible includes the following verse:

The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.” (Isaiah 50:4)


That says it far better than I could.

I started this Internet ministry almost 15 years ago because I wanted to share with others the insights from my Bible reading that had comforted me and, I believed, could comfort them.

Since I did my Bible reading in the Morning before heading to work, that’s when I chose to write the devotions and post them online.

I have learned much more about God’s will because of involvement in this writing ministry.

And that’s what I continue trying to share each time I post a devotion — something that opens our understanding to God’s will.

What I share is not my wisdom, but instead God’s. Though I have a useful idea now and then, I will be the first to acknowledge that my brainpower is but a blip compared to the infinite, tested intellect and authority of our heavenly Father.

I have a heart that wants to comfort the weary, but I know that it is God’s Word that needs to permeate and reassure the hurting heart that better days are ahead for those who trust Him.

I encourage you to seek a greater understanding of God’s will as part of your morning routine.

If you sincerely seek it as your read His Word and the words of those who want to help you — such as with the Morning Devotion — you will find insights that can help hearts that are weary with discouragement and confusion and fear.

What a blessing it will be for your heavenly Father when He sees you learn something from your Bible reading that you use to help somebody to have a better day.

You’ll be blessed as well.

And those are both very good things.

As always, I love you

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I took a few minutes at our church picnic Sunday to publicly thank a man in our congregation who did some carpentry work in the fellowship hall.

You’d think by William’s reaction that I had just handed him the keys to a brand new house.

He was so excited and when I handed him the certificate of appreciation signed by some of our church leaders, his face beamed and we hugged and he walked back to his seat pointing all the applause toward heaven.

William is Spanish and speaks very little English but it was clear what he was saying.

He was praising God for the opportunity to serve and he was redirecting all the praise to his heavenly Father.

It was a beautiful moment.

I’m glad for William.

Yes, it’s very nice to know that your efforts are appreciated.

Please take a few moments today to give words of appreciation to somebody in your life.

It’s what God wants us to do — “Therefore, encourage one another” (I Thess. 5:11).

Particularly those giving their time to help your congregation’s ministry.

If you’re not part of a congregation, please give some encouragement to somebody you know who volunteers for a community service organization.

Encouragement is the oil for the engine of community service, whether part of a congregation or not.

The more encouragement you give, the smoother that life within your corner of the world will flow.

As always, I love you

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I’m glad that God puts so many core truths of scripture on the bottom shelf for us.

I’m talking about “Keep It Short and Sweet” biblical principles that make for a successful life of faith and are described simply so that our clogged minds can attain/retain the kind of life that God wants and people need.

Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible contains yet another example of this simplicity.

“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This wasn’t Jesus talking.

This was the Apostle Paul.

He wrote these words in Galatians 5:14.

But actually it wasn’t Paul who coined the quote above.

It was Moses.

Well, OK, it wasn’t actually Moses.

It was God.

For the “Love your neighbor as yourself” was given by God to Moses as part of the book we know as Leviticus. More specifically, the phrase comes from Leviticus 19:18.

From God to Moses to Paul to us.

Passing the torch of truth.

Passing the commission to love.

Like Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13, if we don’t sincerely love others as diligently as we love ourselves, we’re rebels against the authority of God.


Rebel? Or servant?

Which one are you?

Do I look for people who need encouragement? Or am I waiting for SOMEBODY to encourage me?

If I like it when somebody buys my lunch, do I look for opportunity to bless someoneby buying their lunch?

If I like being quickly forgiven when making mistakes, do I quickly forgive others when they do something that costs me time or money or aggravation?

If somebody says something awkward, do I refuse to bring attention to it since I’m sure that I’ve said awkward things and have been glad when others just let it go without comment?

It is not our human nature to treat others as nicely as we treat ourselves.

It IS evidence of a transformed, godly nature, though, when we do.

That’s why how we treat others shows the place of God’s Word in our lives.

Let’s get to the lovin’ the way God wants and others will get the message that we love God.

As always, I love you

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We’ve all heard the phrase, “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

OK. So what is the main thing?

Ask 10 people in a shopping mall this question and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

Ask the Apostle Paul this question and you’ll likely hear a repeat of his words in Galatians 5:6.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”

These words are part of an appeal by Paul to Christians in the Galatian region of what is now Turkey. Divisive teachers were infiltrating the congregations of new believers and trying to turn Christians into Mosaic Law slaves.

Trusting Christ wasn’t enough, the teaching went. A person also had to keep Jewish rules and regulations — including circumcision — if there were to be hope of heaven, according to the false teachers.

Paul took the knife from the rabbis’ hands, however, with his Holy Spirit-inspired teaching with these simple, direct words — “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.”

Notice the words “cut off.”

That was not by accident.

It’s not the spilling of our blood or the change to our flesh or the clinging to reams of rules that saves our souls.

It’s the spilled blood of Christ and the change in our hearts and the clinging to Christ that saves our souls.

This being the case, our responsibility is not to think we have to keep earning heaven but instead to keep expressing our hope of heaven by loving people in all kinds of ways.

Will you make a specific effort today to express your faith with a loving action for a co-worker?

For a neighbor?

For a discouraged church member?

For a family member?

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Let’s love somebody in Jesus’ name.

It’s the faithful thing to do.

As always, I love you

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In case you’ve been wondering about the absence of the Morning Devotion posts on Mondays and Tuesdays, you should know that it’s a very busy season for me involving responsibilities keeping me away from the computer on those days.

Fortunately, it is a season that will be measured in weeks, not months.

I miss my time writing and sending out the posts.

I am grateful for the brief time I have today to share something with you.

In Galatians 4:15, the Apostle Paul writes of the deep Christian love that the believers in Galatia had shown to him during an earlier visit.

Paul never specified the nature of his “thorn in the flesh,” but this verse gives a very distinctive clue.

The fact that the region of Galatia was not far from the city of Laodicea — known as THE place for medicinal salve for vision maladies — is also a clue.

By all indications, Paul went to Galatia to preach the Gospel, but while he was there, an eye condition worsened to the point that he had to stop travelling for a bit to seek medicinal care for his eyes.

“You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you. Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. ….. I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible” (vv. 11-15)

The Galatians saw the person of Paul when he walked into their lives, rather than the crud or bandages on his eyes.

For Paul to have suggested that some people would have despised his appearance can only mean that he was a visually offensive sight.

But the Galatians didn’t look at the external.

They looked at the internal.

And because of that, their eyes and ears were opened to the eternal.

Consider how the warm welcome of a visually offensive person must have encouraged Paul.

He was likely relaxed even in the midst of his physical discomfort and the Gospel message flowed.

Lives were changed.

Though the circumstances will be different in our lives, let’s strive to have the degree of Christian love that focuses on the hearts of people, not their flaws or maladies.

Whether we are taking the Gospel to them or they are boasting in the Cross to us, the display of unconditional love will only lead to good things.

Perhaps even to somebody’s salvation.

Now that will be quite a sight for sore eyes.

As always, I love you

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I love how the Bible isn’t complicated when it comes to knowing how we tap into God’s power and peace.

Yes, there are some passages that we won’t fully grasp until we’re standing in the glory of heaven. But all that we need for a solid faith and a fruitful life is placed on the bottom shelf, so to speak, so that we might please God without being a member of the Mensa Society.

The Apostle Paul gives us another reminder of how we can have a Rock-solid faith with a simple array of choices.

“Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Four decisions.

Not made by others.

Not determined by circumstances.

Choices of our will, not somebody else’s.

WE determine if we’ll live with joy. This is not about happiness, an emotion based on the proportion of our wants and needs being satisfied. Instead, joy is the celebration of a certain, better future and the contentment of knowing we’re better off than we could be or even deserve to be.

We have the promise of salvation and the provision of God’s merciful blessings. That’s enough to produce a harvest of joy.

We determine if we’ll grow to maturity. For it’s up to us to drink the Living Water of scripture and to stand in the Sonlight and to seek fertile soil of a good, Bible-teaching congregation and to be refreshed by the divine wind of God known as the Holy Spirit.

Others can’t grow for us. It’s a choice we make to do the things that produce growth.

We determine if we’ll be encouragers. We all have the flaw of being ego-centric, meaning we naturally think of ourselves first. WE want people to encourage us and maybe we’ll throw a tidbit or two of encouragement their way. But this isn’t God’s way.

Others first. That’s God’s way. Let’s make sure it’s our way, too. Let’s look for ways to encourage others in all sorts of ways at all sorts of times.

And the fourth thing we determine is to get along with others. Paul wouldn’t have told us to do this if it happens naturally. It doesn’t. At least not with everybody. You know it and I know it.

Some people are just difficult. At least toward us. We sometimes are clueless as to why and the truth is that others sometimes really test our faith because of their attitudes and actions toward us. But that’s no excuse for not living in harmony and peace.

When we’re tempted to take somebody to the woodshed, it’s time to take that name and situation to the prayer room, asking to see what changes need to happen in us.

There’s no other way to have the harmony and peace that God wants among all in His family.

I want to be part of a joy-filled congregation. I want to be part of a spiritually growing congregation. I want to be part of an encouragement-focused congregation. And I want to be part of a harmonious congregation.

The best thing that I can do to have such a church family is to practice these things myself.

As I do, others will see the value of doing so themselves.

And our Abba Father in heaven will find joy in seeing His kids experience what He so desires for them.

As always, I love you

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