Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

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Righteous Deciders

May 30, 2020

 
It seems easier to comprehend a God of the grand and monumental but what of the random and trivial?

Can I make a decision that He does not know?

Can the wind change the course of His intentions?

Can my decision alter His plan?

Can circumstances accumulate beyond His control?

My day will be filled with thousands of decisions, some are recognizable as consequencial but most are not even acknowledged as a decision.

Every decision is a dalliance with the future.  We speculate against the opaqueness of uncertainty.

How silly it is to play a blind prophet when we have One who controls it all? He knows how our individual minds work.  He knows the clouds that impede our thoughts and reasoning.  He has given us wisdom, knowledge, and reasoning.  He has given us prayer. 

Why do we become undone when decisions come?  Could it be that fear has shackled out minds at one of life’s respites because we cannot peer beyond the bend?

Good decision making does not remove uncertainty. It merely enables our minds to live with it. However, we usually live with uncertainty in the most unrighteous of ways.  We glorify the decisive decision makers.  We heap prestige upon the visionaries who appear prophetic of future’s prospects.

Yet, we ignore the One who  holds uncertainty’s tolls.

Believers should display our belief in the most practical of ways, by how we decide.  I suggest that righteousness displayed in decisiveness shows glorious godliness.  

This is my suggestion on how a Christian should decide:

  1. Pray
  2. Use your mind; use your knowledge and wisdom. They are gifts of God for this purpose.
  3. Pray some more.
  4. Ensure you are on solid Biblical ground and walking in the Spirit.
  5. Pray some more.
  6. Ask for wise counsel.  The body of Christ is our gift for this purpose.
  7. Pray some more.
  8. Weigh the cost. Weigh the benefits.
  9. Pray some more.
  10. Make the decision and then trust.  

Our decision making should not display anxiety and apprehension.  Our decision making should not be indecisive.  A righteous decider should display belief.  Belief that nothing is beyond God’s power.  Belief that God is a good Father.  Belief that God knows me down to the dwindling hairs on my head. Belief that the Spirit of God has been participating in this decision that I am making.

Belief that in Christ, I cannot make a bad decision.

I can make a righteous decision that may not turn out as I had hoped or planned, but that doesn’t mean it was incorrect to God.

I can make a righteous decision that may result in all sorts of unfortunate, unintended consequences, but that doesn’t mean it’s a mess that God has to clean up.

I can make a decision that displays my faith and confidently live in all the consequences because God holds the past, present, and future.

So, let’s start glorifying God in how we decide.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/498255

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Oreo Cookie of Life

May 26, 2020

 

Most of the time we over-complicate our relation to the absolute (God).  Now, over-complicate does not mean that we are making our relationship harder than it needs to be.  

Dying to self is a difficult task requiring endurance and perseverance. Over-complicate usually means misalignment; doing things for the wrong reasons.

I have recently engaged in an enlighting task for myself.  I applied a tool of my profession, a logic diagram, to the analysis of my spiritual life.  I want my “what” to correspond correctly to the appropriate “why”.

A logic diagram flows purpose (why) into actions (how).  A well constructed logic diagram readily reveals the reason for every contemplated activity and allows for each activity to be crafted to achieve the true purpose.

My logic diagram resembles an Oreo cookie.

One wafer is to glorify God & enjoy Him / Love God; my purpose.  The other wafer is faith; my how.  Everything between those cookie wafers is my life.

Not very complicated.

It is very easy to allow our relationship with the world around us to dictate out relationship with God or have no relationship with God.  That means we have replaced our wafers and if you’ve got wrong wafers them you’ve got inappropriate relationships.

That is the sweet work of a faithful follower of Christ; getting the sweet filling of life appropriately positioned between the absolutes of God and faith.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/497549

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Sign in the Sad

May 24, 2020

Depression is something I don’t understand.  I gravitate towards answers that are conclusive with clear prognosis.  Depression does not accommodate either. 

Depression does not lend itself to a comfortable cause-effect diagnosis.  I want those whom I love to be happy.  I want to “fix” it for them.  Their sadness seems like my failure, even though I know it is not.  

Depression relegates solvers into supports verging on spectators.  

I have heard the explanation of causes – chemical, biological, neurological, environmental and the combination there of.  I don’t dispute their veracity while acknowledging their bothersome uncertainty.

I have often wondered if there is more intertwined in the uncertain explanations than the physical.

We are told that there will be a time when the experience of the depressed will not be limited in numbers.   Consider a world where the reality of the depressed is not unique, not a clinical diagnosis, but the universal experience of the whole. Where the joy has gone and darkness reigns.  Where the merry of heart have resigned and numbness ascends.  

Maybe, depression is more than a taste for an unfortunate few but a universal sign beyond that particular issue; a foretaste to when merriment yields to blindfolds being removed.  Reality being revealed to a world, which has chosen it’s own rule.  A reminder of the warnings of old, to the prophesies, where we are told, that merriment in what we hold will be banished beyond any gravitational fold.

Maybe, these thoughts are more imagination than inspiration, but I long for the depressed to be made whole now. Even if depression isn’t a sign, I am motivated even more to pray for the lost to be found, so that they never know the absence of joy, follow into the on-coming darkness.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/496874

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Socially Distant

May 21, 2020


We are told to distance ourselves.

Separation has become a prescription.

Conveyance prevention, a priority.

Efficacy measured by normality.

We separate, fearing the unseen.

Celebrating the fruitlessness of disease never known.

But what of maladies needing proximity?

I have heard it said, “I’m taking a break from God.”

Distancing for a time from the Divine.

Is separation the prescription for spiritual affliction?

What conveyance is this break preventing?

Do we need less Spirit; peace, love, joy?

To isolate alone, isn’t that a symptom of the malady?

Distancing oneself to ruin, it seems.

All the while, the prescription resides in drawing near.

We should pull close when unfelt feelings arise.

When God seems not to hear.

When the old man wants to flee,

We bind him in our need.

Abiding in the Spirit, there is the key.

Side by side or I’ll think, “A break is all I need”.

Assurance will come, when ruin is foregone,

Through the healing breath of the Unseen.

Celebrated in the fruitfulness of the Known.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/495489

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Testing For Fear – Psalm 56:3

May 14, 2020

I am a bit anxious this morning, I will not lie.

All the self-confidence belies the insecurities of a day full of significance.  Today, I lead a team readied for a presentation instrumental in winning a five year, $15 million contract.

It is a big deal for a small company.  We have been waiting for eight years. 

I am embarrassed by my own anxiety.  No lives hang in the balance.  My employment is not dependent upon the perfect pitch.  All today can hold is a hope for a bulwark against tomorrow’s uncertainty,  so that I won’t have to worry about where tomorrow’s prosperity will reside.

Oh, foolish man that I am.

In essence, my anxiety reveals an inherent resistance to trusting the One who truly controls the conditions of my future.

God knows what I need and when I need it. He has provided my daily bread my entire life and I know He will provide tomorrow’s.

My anxiety is just a fear;  a revelation of an unholy alliance with control.

Are you fearful, like me?  Our response to uncertainty is the most revealing test one’s faith can undergo. Testing for fear is not a scare opportunity.  

The nature response to uncertainty is fear, whether we recognize it as fear or not.  Fear changes us.  It effects our behavior.  It modifies our attitude.  It steals our joy.

Fear is a foe.

So, I repented this morning.  I have changed my anxiety to trust.  I have done all the work to be prepared for today but God has done more.  It has been Him who has sheltered me to this point and it will be Him who shelters me through tomorrow. 

Therefore, I can enjoy the opportunity of today.  There are not many people who get to do what I have the privilege to do.  I will trust, which enables me to enjoy.
https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/491949

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Pride and Persistence – Numbers 16:8–11

May 9, 2020

“And Moses said to Korah, “Please listen, sons of Levi! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel set you apart from the community of Israel to allow you to approach him to do the work of the tabernacle of Yahweh, to stand before the community to serve them? He has allowed you to approach him, you with all your brothers, the descendants of Levi, but yet you also seek the priesthood. Therefore you and your company that has banded together against Yahweh. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?””

What does your heart desire?

What is the passion of your life?

What motivation drives you toward your goals?

I have a list of goals that I wrote shortly after graduation from college.  Most of those goals have been obtained.  Some are beyond my grasp.  A few would not be enumerated if the list were written today.

I struggle to discern the motivation behind my own youthful list and now even my middle-aged musings.  Therefore, I will not hazard in the foolish task of questioning the motivation of others priorities since I am baffled by my own.  

However, I am aware of the fine line between pride and persistence.  

A good goal will stretch you.  It will challenge you.  A good goal will require persistence.  Yet, the persistence of a good goal can cultivate a discontent in the unfulfilled now.

How do you live in the unfulfilled now?

Discontent in the now can be dangerous for decision making.  Consider Korah and his followers.  They challenged Moses and Aaron because the role of their now was too little for the hopeful goals of their future.  Their decision to resolve an unfulfilled now resulted not in fulfillment but in destruction.  

They wanted a priesthood that was not God’s will.

I don’t know the all motivations of Korah. I do know that his persistence was motivated by something other than righteousness.  

We are called to contentment in God, which means joyfullness with where you are today.  I often ask myself when I sense a dangerously developing persistence, “will I be content in Christ Jesus, if nothing changes”?  

There have been seasons where the honest answer to this question has been “no”.  We all battle the multiple manifestations of pride.  For me, pride often lurks within the persistence necessary for betterment.  I want to be all that I can be.  I want to live to my fullest potential.

Why?

Why are you striving?  Why are you persistently pursuing your greatest potential?  You have to know your why…honestly know your why…if you are to have any hope of balancing current contentment with righteous persistence.

https://ref.ly/Nu16.8-11 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Fear or Friend – Psalm 46:1–3

May 4, 2020

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very sufficient help in troubles.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth change,
and though the mountains totter into the midst of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though mountains shake with its surging water.”

May I be bold enough to add, “though a virus infects throughout the earth, and though people fall, though economies totter, though our healthcare system shakes”.

We are not a people accustomed to uncertainty.  We are accustomed to regular returns, predictable profits, and a pill for every malady. We are accustomed to the refuge of a regular wage and the strong towers of a robust hospital.

Where does the anxiety of this time come from?  Why do we hear of despair from COVID’s destruction?

The earth has changed, and our response has been an innate cry for help in these time of trouble. That cry has been direcred largely toward the government.  The government, who according to the news, should possess all the resources for sufficient help.

Yet, this fact reveals the greatest deficiency of our modern world.  Society’s cry reveals it’s misplaced trust for refuge and strength.  Our greatest help in times of trouble is never the institutions of man nor the strength of one’s net worth.  

COVID is a merely another revelation of our greatest vulnerability.  We are a society in a fallen world, full of sinful people without sufficient help against the troubles of coming eternity.

Therefore, COVID is a blessing.  Any crisis that awakens a misplaced cry, serves the helpless by informing them of a trust that has drifted from the true source of strength and refuge to an illusion.

Uncertainty is a friend.  A friend does not allow loved ones to meander into destruction with insufficient refuge.  This current uncertainty can be that friend if we allow it to reveal were we have placed out trust.
https://ref.ly/Ps46.1-3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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The Order of Things – Leviticus 9:7

April 7, 2020

“Then Moses said to Aaron, “Approach the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. And sacrifice the people’s offering and make atonement for them, just as God has commanded.””

The order of things matters.  The sequencing of components is critical.  The chronology of events is crucial.

There are ingredients in a recipe when removed, ruin the meal.

Change the sequence of your DNA and you become a different person.

Remove critical links in history and our world transforms into something very different.

I struggle with my Bible reading plan, when it comes to Leviticus.  Leviticus is about the law.  Leviticus is about rules.  Also, Leviticus is about the order of things and that the order of things, matters.

The Israelites got to experience the glory of God.  They were allowed to witness His power.  They were overwhelmed with joy and worshipped.

Leviticus 9:23–24: Then Moses and Aaron entered the tent of assembly. When they came out, they blessed the people, and God’s glory appeared to all the people. Then a fire went out from before God, and it consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And all the people saw it, so they shouted for joy, and they fell on their faces.

Yet, there were instructions, whose fulfillment were necessary, prior to God revealing His glory to His chosen people.  Atonement for the sins of the priests and the people was necessary before God came down amongst them, fulfilling their joy and worship.

The order mattered.

I am reminded that the order still matters. Atonement still matters. Atonement is still the critical ingredient for a true relationship with God. We do not dictate the terms of our relationship with God.  God determines the order of things.

I fear that many people are seeking well-being, harmony, and a form of joy through a spiritual experience with god, absent atonement.  The problem with atonement is that it requires me to acknowledge:

  • That I am a sinner,
  • That my sin separates me from God and His glory,
  • That I need a sacrifice to atone for my sin,
  • That Jesus Christ was the atoning sacrifice for my sin.

Once again, the ingredients of atonement matter.  I cannot know salvation without the belief in all those critical ingredients.  Remove any one and Christ’s atoning sacrifice is no longer applicable to me.

We rarely talk about atonement anymore.  We rarely talk about sin anymore.  I don’t know what other people are experiencing when they describe a spiritual experience while denying the critical ingredients of atonement.  Whatever they are experiencing, it is a pale imitation of the true joy predicated on a relationship properly ordered with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Let’s not be content with a pale imitation.

Let’s obediently acknowledge the true order of God’s plan, starting with atonement.

If you have any questions on atonement, please send me an email or a comment.

https://ref.ly/Le9.7 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Mind Matters – Philippians 4:8–9

March 31, 2020

“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

My mind prepends things; good things, bad things.
My mind ponders things; kind things, cruel things.
My mind plans things; commendable things, contemptible things.

My mind conceives things; wonderful things, wicked things.
My mind craves things; honorable things, hurtful things.
My mind concocts things; uplifting things, demeaning things.

My mind flits amongst so many things, that rarely is it ever settled.  Mixed and competing emotions battle for that moment of expression, when the mind touches the physical world.  Where the mind settles at the moment of action determines whether those actions are destined for the treasury or the dung heap.

The mind matters; the things (thoughts) of the mind matter.

The mind determines who we are in the physical world, which matters. I don’t want to diminish the works  of the mortal world.  However, the motives of the immortal world, the world of the mind, matter more.  Good works from bad motives always corrupts the produce, no matter how pleasing it may appear to the physical eye.  

The settling of thoughts matter because your thoughts define who you are.  Who are you?  Write down five thoughts upon which your mind routinely revolves.  Are they worthy thoughts or unworthy?  Are they redeeming thoughts or demeaning?  The preponderence of those thoughts define you.  Therefore, they matter.

If those thoughts are not who you have been called to be, then you must change your mind.  Easy to say, hard to do.  Yet, the mind must be controlled in order for it to be changed.

How do you control the mind?  First, you must be resolved upon who God has called His children to be. Write down five characteristics that you know should defined a child of God.

These are the feasts for your mind to settle upon when it is unsettled.  These are the honorable things, the right things, the pure things, the pleasing things, the commendable things, the fruit-of-the-spirit things for your mind to return to.  Think about these things. Ask the Holy Spirit for these things.  Your mind is a collaboration between your will and God.  Ask and you will receive. Think upon the things of God and it will happen.

And soon, the things you think about, the things your mind returns to, will transform you into the person God has called you to be, practicing things pleasing to Him and worthy of the treasury.

https://ref.ly/Php4.8-9 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Do You Know Him? – John 17:3

March 28, 2020

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard criticism that people like me make too much of Jesus.  That people like me focus too much on the person of Jesus Christ rather than the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard arguments that the obsession of people like me, on the person of Jesus, is too exclusive of the beliefs of others.  That people like me should accept Jesus’s teachings on the intellectual bookshelf, amongst the other great moral philosophers of the ages.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard reasoning that people like me have made too much of the great historical figure that Jesus was.  That people like me have been duped by history’s charlatans into believing that Jesus was something more than a mere mortal.

They don’t know him!

Jesus did not reveal himself to be studied. He revealed himself to be known.  I can study historical figures and learn about their actions, motivations, and philosophy but I will never say that I knew them. Jesus continues to be a topic in many lectures.  His teachings are analyzed in countless books. I can learn everything about Jesus but I will never know him until I actually follow his teaching and believe what he said about himself.

I wonder do you know him?

Faith is the prerequisite to knowing God and Jesus Christ, whom he sent.  God did not reveal himself for intellectual praise.  God revealed himself through his son, Jesus Christ, to demonstrate his mercy and grace by saving a people who believe in him, as he revealed himself.

I wonder do you know him?

God doesn’t save people who are intellectually aware of his historical teachings.  God doesn’t award merit to the strict adherence to rules given in the wilderness.  God saves those who believe in him, love him, know him.  People like me.  

I know him because he saved me. I cannot help making too much of Jesus. The person of Jesus Christ is worthy of too much focus because that is what love does.  God is exclusive.  He always has been exclusive.  He is a jealous God.  He is exclusive to those who receive his free gift.  He is exclusive to people who know him.

I wonder will you know him?

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:27

https://ref.ly/Jn17.3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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