Friday, October 31, 2014

God’s Active Mercy

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Perhaps you’ve heard or read the story that happened long ago, in a land far away…

There was an old man in a small village, a Christ follower. He also had the reputation for receiving direct messages from God. One day another Christian came through that village—a Christian haunted by his past. People told him about the old man and one day, he met him.  He wanted to make sure the old man was “legit,” so he gave him a test question, “I am a Christian, but for years I have been carrying the guilt of a terrible sin. The next time you talk to God, would you please ask him to tell you what that terrible sin was?” 

The old man agreed.

The next day, the two met again. “Did you talk to God last night?” 

“Yes, I did,” said the old man. 

“Did you ask him to tell you about my terrible sin?” 

“Yes, I did,” the old man replied.

“And what did God tell you?”

In a strong, clear voice the old man answered, “He told me to tell you that He doesn’t remember.”

I don’t think we fully understand the forgiving mercy of God. Perhaps it’s because we often cling to the painful memories of our past sins, and presume that God does too. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In His active mercy, God determined to wash away our sins of disobedience once and for all.  How, you ask? In His active mercy, He spilled the blood of His dear Son. Then, in His active mercy, He raised Him from death’s curse to assure that the guilt of our sin is gone—not only from our record, but also from His memory. It’s just as God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” [Jeremiah 31:34b].

That’s God’s active mercy. Believe it, dear Christ follower because it is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.

…You who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy… Romans 11:30

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mission Possible or Impossible?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

“Your mission, should you decide to accept it…” Those words introduced the story line for a popular TV show when I was growing up - Mission Impossible. Whenever the IMF [Impossible Mission Force] was called together, they were given a task that no one thought could be done, and yet somehow, they managed to succeed.

Christ followers of all ages have been give a mission. You know that, don’t you? It came from the lips of Jesus and is known as the Great Commission. He said, “Go, and make disciples of all the nations.” [See Matthew 28:19-20]

Possible or Impossible?

Our world is in chaos. Wars around the globe, with many lives needlessly lost—many slaughtered barbarically. Famine takes its toll, causing starvation that affects entire countries. Crime and violence holds men, women, and children in fear. It all sounds rather apocalyptic. 

How does God equip us to be witnesses in such a dark and violent world? The answer to that question is also found from the lips of Jesus. It’s by means of the Holy Spirit that He sent to His followers after His ascension into heaven. 

The gift of God, the Holy Spirit, was made possible because Jesus died and rose again. Paul made that abundantly clear to the Ephesian Christ followers when he prayed that they would understand, “…the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” [Ephesians 1:19]

Truthfully, we can’t comprehend the power of God to raise Christ from the dead. But is it true? Do we really have that power in us? Paul thought we did. At the conclusion of another of his prayers for the Ephesians, he said, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:19-20, emphasis mine]

The key is to unleashing that power is complete surrender to God. It is the only way to reach a lost and hurting world. By the way, you can start reaching the world by reaching out to those around you! When you surrender to God and let Him work through you, Christ can do immeasurably more than you ask or can even imagine!

What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”  Acts 1:8 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Battle Fatigue

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I received an eMail from a Sister in the Lord a few days ago. The content of it was to pray for a mutual friend who seemed to be struggling with sickness and spiritual fatigue. Toward the end of the eMail she said that she has been “flooded” by such requests recently. It doesn’t surprise me, especially the spiritual fatigue, because it seems as though the battle against evil has heated up in recent days. 

No, I’m not talking about the upcoming mid-term election! I’m referring to the ongoing battle that Scripture warns us about concerning:

• The world — the dominant value system around us
• The flesh — the old nature within you
• The Devil — the one who is out to “kill, steal, and destroy” any and everything godly

Victory is ours, thankfully! But it won’t happen through self-help strategies, seminars, conferences, or therapies. Victory is ours by means of a person — Jesus — the One who came to “save the people from their sins.”
Paul knew about that war only too well. At one point he cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body dominated by sin and death?” [Romans 7:24]

Paul answered his own question, and it’s our answer as well, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 7:25 NLT-SE]

You are at war today. You may not be wearing fatigues, eating in a mess hall, or dodging bullets, but never forget you are a soldier for Christ and you will be in the war until the day you pass on to glory. So, when battle fatigue hits you, turn to Christ. In Him you will find “rest for your soul.” [Matthew 11:28-30] 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remember Who You’re Talking To

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Have you ever had an opportunity to speak with someone of worldly esteem? Perhaps a person of nobility or a famous Hollywood type. I once read about Robert A. Cook [1912-1991], a former pastor, author, radio broadcaster, and President of The King’s College [New York], when he spoke at Moody Bible Institute. 

The day before his speech at Moody, he had been in Washington DC at a gathering where he had personally spoken with the Vice President, George H. W. Bush. He went on to say that a little later, he had a brief conversation with President, Ronald Reagan.

He was silent for a moment to let that soak in with the students who seemed to be in awe of his opportunity.  Then he smiled and said, “But that’s nothing. Today, I talked with God!”

Think about it, dear Christ follower. Each and every day we have the amazing privilege to speak with almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, Ruler of all things, perfect in holiness and righteousness, merciful, omnipotent God! He calls us His children and told us that He is concerned for our every need. 

The next time you bow your knee to Him, keep in mind precisely who it is you are talking to!

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven… Matthew 6:8-9a 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Fear of the Lord

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Yesterday in our musical praise at the church I pastor, we sang verses from the Bible—Scripture Songs we used to call them years ago. One of them was from Psalm 19, which is about the Word of God. Here is the entire song, verses 7-10:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 
 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 

While we were singing, one of the lines “jumped out” at me. It was verse 9: The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. Obviously, I couldn’t stop what I was doing and begin to ponder the verse, but later in the day, I started thinking about the “fear of the Lord.” I began by reviewing many passages in the Bible, which talk about the fear of the Lord. It strengthened my heart, and I hope it will be an encouragement to you too.

One of my Bible College professors was fond of saying, “To fear God is to bow to His sovereign authority.” The Psalmist wrote about it this way, Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry [Psalm 34:11-15].

Later, his wise son, Solomon, wrote, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… and, Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil [Proverbs 1:7 and 3:7].

To say, the fear of the Lord is an Old Testament concept is to misunderstand Scripture. Paul wrote these words to the Christ followers at Philippi, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… [Philippians 2:12]. 

He also wrote this to the Corinthian Christ followers, Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God  [2 Corinthians 7:1].

These are merely samplings of the MANY biblical references concerning the fear of the Lord. As I meditated on the powerful words of Scripture, I was reminded that when we fear God, our greatest joy is pleasing Him; our greatest disappointment is displeasing Him. 

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. Psalm 19:9

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Epic Struggle

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Every Christ follower fights the battle. I’m talking about the war between our old, sinful man and the new, spiritual man that is becoming more Christlike. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s that epic struggle of who you used to be and who you are becoming as a Christ follower. 

When I say every Christ follower, I truly mean it—past and present—every Christ follower! Yes, even those whom we think of as deeply spiritual, are right in the middle of the fight. The apostle Paul, the great, early Christian missionary and author of most of the books in the New Testament, battled with it. He even wrote about it to the Roman Christ followers. 

Now, I’m one of those guys who would like to tell you that at some point in your Christian life you’ll be free of the struggle. But I must say, you will neither outgrow it, nor become so spiritual that you are no longer impacted by it. You are in it until you get to heaven. 

So, now the big question: What are you going to do about it? Just how will you deal with this struggle. Well, let me tell you if you think you can overcome it in your own strength [will power], you are sadly mistaken. Sure, it may work for a short time, but in the long-haul, it won’t last.

I suggest starving it out. An old-timer was sharing a testimony about this very thing. He said, “It’s like I have two dogs fighting inside me. One is a white dog that wants to do good and serve the Lord. The other is a black dog that wants to only do things of the flesh. They are constantly fighting each other.” 

Someone asked him, “Which one wins?”

He responded, “The one I feed the most!”

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Romans 7:22-23 New Living Translation- SE

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Those of you who know me know that, for the most part, I am computer illiterate [technologically challenged for all you PC folks]. But there is an absolute truth that I have learned. Computer aficionados call it G.I.G.O. = “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” What you put into your computer determines what comes out of your computer. 

Dear Christ follower, the same thing is true of your mind. What you feed it will, at some point, influence your behavior. Perhaps Paul had that in mind when he told the Philippian Christ followers, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate [think, ponder, consider, muse] on these things. [Philippians 4:8]

He went on to tell them if they fed their minds those kinds of things, that “…the God of peace will be with you. [Philippians 4:9b] One country preacher said, “You should be so saturated with the Word of God that your blood is B[IBLE] positive. If you cut yourself, you should bleed Bible verses!” 

Exaggeration? Yes! But I like his passion for the Word. Would that every Christ follower had that kind of passion for the Bible!  

Maybe we could start living by the maxim: B.I.B.O = “Bible In - Bible Out!” Let’s saturate our minds with the Word of God. The more we do, the more it begins to control our thinking and behavior. With that, we become more like God’s dear Son, our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

be filled with the knowledge of His [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God… Colossians 1:9-10

Don’t Give Up; Don’t Give In

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Living by faith in a broken world is not easy. Weather doesn’t cooperate with our plans. Our old bodies have sprung a few leaks here and there. Once beautiful relationships are torn apart. Work doesn’t work right anymore [no pun intended]. Politics…don’t get me started!

If you’ve ever read the story of Adam and Eve, you know that one of the consequences of sin was that life would become more difficult—hard, if you will. An example of that is when God told Eve that childbearing and delivery would increase in sorrow and pain [Genesis 3:16]. Then He told Adam that it would take blood, sweat, and tears to till the ground in order to make bread to eat [my loose translation of Genesis 3:19]. 

Well, Christ followers, that was the easy part! Because, added to that, came a war. It wasn’t a war against human enemies foreign and domestic, it was the war of living godly with a sinful nature. And it involves struggles against an enemy that seeks to “steal, to kill, and to destroy.” [John 10:10]

We, like Christ followers before us, are in that struggle, and recently, I’ve talked with some who seem to want to give up or give in. Let me encourage you to hang in there. You are not forgotten, nor have you been abandoned by God. 

Many have gone before us who remained faithful. For some, it was faithful to death. Hebrews 11 mentions a few of the Old Testament faithful: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Gideon, Samson. Then, while not mentioned by name, there were some New Testament “saints” who remained faithful to death. [Read Hebrews 11:35-38] 

I will be the first to admit that times are tough. But in the same breath, I must tell you that God is TOUGHER!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rise and Shine

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Did you hear the story of the old mountaineer couple sitting in front of their fireplace just whiling away the time? Finally, the wife said, “Jed, I think it’s raining. Go outside and check, will ya?”

Jed just sat there. She asked a second time. Same response. After a long period of silence, she asked a third time, “I think it’s raining. Go outside and check, will ya?”

Jed didn’t move his gaze from the fire. He let out a little sigh, then said, “Ah shucks, Maggie. Why don’t ya just call in the dog and see if he’s wet?”

I’m not sure if he was lazy or being practical…OK, he was lazy! And laziness is something every Christ follower must deal with. When I find in myself a tinge of laziness, I like to read biographies of men and women who accomplished great things for God. 

Take John Wesley, for example. It was estimated that he traveled 250,000 miles on horseback in his ministry. He ministered about 40 years, so that comes out to about 20 miles per day. He preached over 4,000 sermons. He produced about 400 books or booklets. He learned 10 languages. 

To top that off, when he was 83, he wrote in his diary that he was annoyed in that he could no longer write 15 hours a day without his eyes hurting. At age 86, he complained in his diary that he had an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning! 

Enough already! It’s time for me to “rise and shine, and give God the glory. Glory!” How about you? There is so much to be done.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Monday, October 20, 2014

God’s Joy — My Strength

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I was listening to some “oldies” this weekend, when something hit my “funny spot.” Guy Mitchell had a 10-week #1 Billboard hit, Singing the Blues, back in 1956-57. The lyrics are pretty sad, I think. The first stanza goes like this:

Well I never felt more like singin' the blues
'Cause I never thought that I'd ever lose your love dear
Why'd you do me this way?
Well I never felt more like cryin' all night
'Cause every thing's wrong and nothin' ain't right, without you
You got me singin' the blues

So, you’re probably asking, “What’s with the ‘funny spot?’” If you’re old enough to remember the tune, it was a “finger-snapping,” “toe-tapping” kind of song. Forgetting the words, if you just listened to the music, you might want to do “The Bristol Stomp!” [You probably don’t remember that song either!]

The song reminded me that we put so much emphasis on worldly things in an attempt to go through life happy. What we really need is a lasting joy. Not superficial happiness, but real, honest to goodness JOY!

Have you experienced that? You thought that new job would make you happy; it did, but then it became painstaking work. You thought that new relationship seemed so simple to ease into - this must be the one! Then, slowly it soured. You thrilled to the latest toy, and then a new gadget hit the market. 

The wise Solomon wrote, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” [Proverbs 14:13 - New Living Translation] 

What we need is real, lasting joy. The harsh reality is that happiness comes and goes. It appears and disappears with circumstances. So where do we find that constant joy? In Jesus! The apostle Peter reminded the saints of his day that because of their faith in Christ, they were “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” [1 Peter 1:8]. 

The reason for lasting joy in Jesus is simple: God-given joy is based on things that do not change with circumstances. On our best day, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. On our worst day, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave in victory over sin and death.

Nehemiah rightly said that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” The Hebrew word translated strength, is mah-oz. It not only means strength, but also fortress and rock! When we commit our lives to walking in repentance and holiness, then that joy is ours! We can actually live out Paul’s instruction to, “REJOICE EVERMORE!” [1st Thessalonians 5:16]. Jesus is our Rock and Fortress — the stability of our lives.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stirred Up

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I love it when my wife stirs things up in the kitchen. When she stirs up her special chocolate chip cookie dough, it comes out of the oven in what we affectionately call “healing cookies.” OK, I don’t mean that literally, but they are so good, they change the attitude of people eating them, even the sick! 

But some things are not good when stirred up. Take communication, for example. When people, and yes, I mean Christ followers too, use harsh, sarcastic, mean, sharp, cutting, abrasive, hateful words, it stirs the heart of others into anger, which is not a good thing. 

I’ve heard Christ followers rationalize the use of harsh language with this excuse, “Well, they had it coming to them!” Or, “I had to defend myself.” Be honest now, what excuses have you come up with for stirring things up with your harsh words — that is, if you’ve ever used harsh words!

As our Savior hung on the cross, people lashed out at Him. They heaped ridicule and abusive words on Him. Mark’s gospel says it like this, “Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads…” [Mark 15:29 - NASB].

He took it all on, including the punishment for our sins. His ultimate response was rising in triumph from the grave on the third day with the message: Your sins—even your harsh words—are completely forgiven; the price for your sins is PAID IN FULL!

When we commit our lives to Christ, the Spirit of God resides in our hearts and minds producing godly character. We call it The Fruit of the Spirit, two of which are gentleness and self-control. 

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can effectively live out Paul’s exhortation to the Christ followers in Ephesus when He wrote, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers [Ephesians 4:29].

In the heat of a moment it’s difficult to reflect on what you’re doing. But when you can, ask yourself, “Are my words harsh or gentle?” “Am I stirring up anger or giving a gentle answer?”

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. Proverbs 15:1-2

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Your Behavior Matters

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I’m a behaviorist at heart. Bottom line for me is, what do you do with what you believe? Take Scripture, for example. Some Christ followers assume that when someone affirms the authority of Scripture [inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility], they also submit to its authority. Trust me, that is not always the case.

Israel is a prime example. They held to a high view of the Torah, and often failed miserably in holding to its statutes and precepts. And so the apostle Paul made this accusation against them:

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you [Romans 2:17-21; 23-24]. 

Paul’s exhortation to the Romans centered on the idea that Israel’s disobedience led Gentiles to blaspheme God. That is true in our culture too. Our Lord is often ridiculed because of the behavior [the sins] of His children. Believe it or not, you are the only “Bible” some people will ever read or know. As Paul told the Corinthian Christ followers, You are our epistle written…known and read by all men [2 Corinthians 3:2].

The purpose of this eDevotion is to encourage you to know, or remember, that the authority of Scriptures is not merely a doctrine of belief, it is something to be pursued and lived out—in our behavior. True, Christ followers will always be accused and maligned. And if it happens to you, make sure it is for righteousness sake, not for sinful behavior!

Keep your behavior excellent among the nations, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God… 1 Peter 2:12

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Timely Word

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

For me, it’s usually about 5 minutes. That’s about how long it takes for me to walk away from a conversation and think, “I wish I would have said this!” Solomon had it right when he said there is joy in “a timely word.” I just wish I knew what that felt like!

I learned a good lesson about this many years ago, when a friend of mine was at a hospital preparing for surgery. I went to visit him and share a devotion before he went “under.” I didn’t read a passage about how God would keep him safe or that everything was going to turn out fine. Instead, I read a passage about God’s abundant forgiveness and reminded my friend that he was going into surgery completely forgiven by his loving Savior. 

Later, when I visited my friend in recovery, he told me that those words were exactly what he needed to hear, and that he went into surgery filled with peace and confidence.

Here’s the point. Most of us are not good with a quick come back for a Christ following friend who is down, or grieving, or depressed, or fallen, or doubtful, et al. Don’t think that you have to come up with something witty or clever. Most often, the simple Good News of the Lord’s forgiveness is all they need. Why? Because we are often plagued by the guilt of our actions [or inactions], and knowledge of our Savior’s loving forgiveness is the antidote.  

Be the kind of friend to talk about God’s overwhelming forgiveness. The Lord is like that, you know. The Psalmist described Him as One who is good, ready and abundant in forgiveness and mercy [Psalm 86:5].

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What’s It Worth?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

We humans tend to put a value on everything. How much we value someone or something affects the decisions we make. For example, if you value a certain type of meat enough, say prime beef over choice or standard, you’ll be willing to pay $15.00 per pound instead of $6.00 per pound. If you value winning a race enough, you’ll get up early every morning to train for it.

First things first, Christ highly values YOU! He went to the cross and poured out His blood to pay the price for YOUR [MY] sins. What is the value of that, you ask? Essentially, the aggregate of the wealth of all material things. Listen to Jesus explain it to His disciples:

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  [Matthew 16:26]

One day, Jesus told His disciples He must “suffer many things.” And that He did. But He did it for you—that you might be saved. For Jesus, it was a simple formula; lose His life or lose you. He valued you so highly that He gave His life for you!

Now comes the big question: What is Jesus’ worth to you? In light of Jesus’ statement that He must “suffer many things,” what are you willing to “suffer” in order to follow Him? Let me put it in a positive frame: follow Jesus at all costs! Carry whatever burden you must. Bear whatever cross you must bear. Lay aside the sin that so easily besets you. Forfeit whatever temporary pleasure you must in order to follow Jesus. That is being a Christ follower. 

There’s an old hymn that says, “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus!”

So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:33

Monday, October 13, 2014

Believe the Bible

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

It happened to me again last week. Someone asked me, “Why do you believe the Bible when it’s archaic and proven to be inaccurate?” Well, what is YOUR answer to that question? I have been asked that question in a variety of ways over many years. The details of my conversation with the man are not important for this eDevotion. However, I would like to tell you the foundational truth that I stand on with regards to the precious Word of God.

For centuries, theologians have written about the inspiration of Scripture—that mysterious process by which God used humans to produce divinely authoritative writings. Still it remains somewhat of a mystery because the Scripture doesn’t talk about it in exacting details. We get only a glimpse of the Divine at work in a few passages.

One of those is 2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

A simple understanding of this verse is that Scripture didn’t start at the human level [“…not of the prophet’s own interpretation…”], but from a divine level […”men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”].

The word translated carried along [moved, prompted in different translations], is a nautical term describing a ship moving through the water as wind pushes against the sails. In other words, men were propelled, moved, inspired by the Holy Spirit to produce the precise words that God wanted us to hear.

Peter had confidence that he was writing the very words of God and thought that Paul did as well. Listen to his encouragement to early Christ followers: and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. [2 Peter 3:15-16, emphasis mine]

Since the Bible started at a divine level, what it says is what God says. It’s His love letter to you. The Bible is God’s human repair manual that you can study and obey with full confidence that it is the very word of God. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What Is Your Answer?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

America is enthralled with the game show Jeopardy. It has been on daytime and nighttime TV since 1964—50 years! Why is it that so many people enjoy watching such trivia related programs? Could it be that we like to be the first to blurt out the correct answer? Perhaps it feeds our egos to know we are smarter and faster at the trigger than the person next to us.

On another note, why is it that so many Christ followers are afraid to give answers about their faith? Is it the potential embarrassment or fear that we are not able to give the right answer? Is it as simple as we fear our egos will take a hit when we’re put on the spot?

The apostle Peter didn’t mince words when he said, “Always be prepared” with an answer in life’s Jeopardy game [my very loose translation of 1 Peter 3:15]. That’s the advice he offered to Christ followers of all ages. As we interact with people in our daily lives, Christ followers are instructed to be ready to share our reasons of hope in Christ, whether we feel qualified or not!

When I was growing up, I had what some people would refer to as a “motor-mouth.” Quite often, my dear Mother would say, “Zip it up!” That meant to be quiet. But today, I’m telling you, “Don’t zip it up!” Look for opportunities to share your hope in Christ, and trust the Holy Spirit to strengthen you as you do.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Be Joyful

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

How many of you would agree with me that there are many “joy killers” in the world today? From natural disasters, to evil atrocities, to political ineptitude, to personal hardships, to, well, you get the idea—JOY KILLERS! It’s easier to be discouraged than to be joyful, and yet that is exactly what the Bible says to do: “Always be joyful.” [1 Thessalonians 5:16, NLT - SE]

Let me say it this way: You have a fundamental need for joy. Without joy, life can be overwhelming and oppressive. 

The word “joy” is found over 250 times in the Bible, 16 of which are found in the book of Philippians; an amazing number since Paul wrote to the Christ followers at Philippi while he was a prisoner in Rome awaiting his execution—not the most likely place to be full of joy!

Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22], joy exists in us because we are in Christ—Christ followers. That’s right, Christ’s joy is in us, which makes a full measure of joy possible. Here’s how Jesus said it:

Since you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:10-11

Christ’s joy was so full that He endured the cross! The author of Hebrews said it like this: “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

In Christ we find fulness of joy! 

For me to live is Christ... Philippians 1:21a

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Delight Yourself in the Word

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I was a young Christ follower, my pastor told me that “meditation” was something that only Eastern Religions do. I think he had in mind of someone sitting cross-legged on a mat with thumb and middle finger forming a circle, while quietly chanting, “Ohm - Ohm - Ohm,” in an attempt to become one with the universe. I’m not bespeaking that practice, I’m simply telling you that in my initial walk with Christ, I rejected meditation.

But as I began to read the Bible, I soon discovered many passages that encouraged the practice of meditation—especially on the Word of God. So, how does one go about the practice of meditation on the Word? 

In the New Testament, the Greek word for meditate is logidzomai. It’s an accounting term, of which the primary meaning is, to take an inventory. In that sense, meditation is not the loss of consciousness, but, rather a fully engaged mind that ‘thinks,’ ‘ponders,’ ‘reasons’ what God is communicating in His Word.

I meditate on God’s Word by asking questions about what I am reading.

Is there a sin to confess? The Holy Spirit often uses the Word to make me aware of something that I need to make right with God.

Is there an attitude to change? The Holy Spirit often nudges me to deal with negative attitudes like, worry, doubt, fear, bitterness, PRIDE, and more.

Is there a command to obey? I must obey God’s commands whether I feel like it or not.

Is there an example to follow? Of course you can, and should, learn from your own experiences. But a wise person will also learn from the experiences of others, both positively and negatively.

Is there a prayer to pray? I often pray the great prayers found in the Bible. I especially like the prayers of Paul found in many of his letters in the New Testament. 

Is there a truth to believe? The Bible makes truth claims about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, history past, future predictions, heaven and hell, and much more. I find I am more stable in my relationship with God when I align myself with those truths.

Is there something to praise God about? God inhabits the praise of His special people [Psalm 22:3]. My walk with the Lord is more joyful the more I praise Him!

I hope this will encourage you to spend more time in the Word, and find your delight in it! 

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2