Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Grand Entry

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Mark 11:1-10

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?” 

And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

   ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
   Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
   That comes in the name of the Lord!
   Hosanna in the highest!” 

I only watched about 5 minutes of the Super Bowl half-time show. Did you watch it? I have to tell you, singer Katy Perry made a stunning entrance. The entire stadium went dark. There was a long, dramatic pause, and then, under intense spotlights, Ms Perry came into view riding a two-story, mechanical lion. It was an extravagant entrance with dazzling lights and glamor the likes of which I’ve never seen before. 

But this morning, as I re-read Mark’s account of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between Ms Perry’s entrance at the Super Bowl and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. She entered on a mechanical monstrosity, but Jesus entered on a donkey. Make no mistake about it, Jesus set the tone; He came as the people’s King, but He came in humility. He didn’t come for accolades, or to receive anything for that matter. He came to give His life a ransom for all [1 Timothy 2:6].

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of what is called, The Passion Week. But please stick with Him until three days after His death. You don’t want to miss His greatest victory! 

So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. Mark 11:11

Monday, March 30, 2015


Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I am reading through 1 Corinthians in my daily devotions. This morning, in reading chapter 3, I was reminded that there is no “I” in “TEAM.” Paul made it abundantly clear that ministry works best in a team, especially when all credit for the results of ministry goes to God. In the passage both Paul and Apollos had faithfully executed their God-appointed work — planting and watering — but they had to wait for God to make it grow. 

I know that only two kinds of ministry were mentioned in the passage, but it applies to all ministries. No ministry effort should be regarded as more significant than another. Neither should anyone be envious of another’s ministry. The most important thing is to be faithful in the ministry each of us has. 

The reason is clear; all Christ followers who minister are one in the Body of Christ. When that sinks in, it’s a giant step in humility. That is the way a Christ follower should serve/minister, in humility. Working together like that leaves no place for selfish competition or jealousy of another’s ministry.

When I was a child, we sang a song in Sunday School about this very thing. It goes like this:

When we all pull together
When we all pull together
How happy we’ll be

For your work is my work
And our work is God’s work
When we all pull together
How happy we’ll be.

Teamwork in ministry gives God all the glory and promotes humility.

He who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow-workers. 1 Corinthians 3:8-9

Friday, March 27, 2015

It’s Your Choice

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I was growing up, “Let’s Make A Deal” was a popular game show. In each episode, the people chosen from the audience had to make some choices; “Will you take whatever is in my pocket, or what’s inside box number 3?” “I have an envelop here. You can keep this or take what’s behind curtain number 1.” Oh, the drama!

Well, the Bible is like that in many respects. It speaks of choices, and believe me, the prize is much more valuable than what’s behind curtain number 3!

Here are a few of the many things you can choose:

a narrow or wide gate [Matthew 7:13-14]
a narrow or broad road [Matthew 7:13-14]
a kingdom of light or darkness [1 Peter 2:9]
a kingdom of this world or of Christ [Revelation 11:15]
to build on rock or sand [Matthew 7:24-27]
to serve God or riches [Matthew 6:24]
to be counted as a sheep or goats [Matthew 25:32-33]

God has given you many things to choose from, and they all have eternal consequences. 

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An Easy Yoke

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I was born and raised a city-boy. Farming and agriculture were not on any “Things I Want to be When I Grow Up” lists. Jesus, on the other hand, was raised in an agrarian culture, and although not a farmer, He knew a lot about the subject. Many of the illustrations for His sermons came right from the fields, so to speak. Since Jesus talked about it, now I’m interested. 

One of the first verses I memorized in the Bible was about yokes. If you’re a city-slicker like me, you may think I’m talking about eggs here, but that is not the case. I’m referring to a harness that connected two animals to accomplish a task for a farmer. On one of my trips to Israel, we passed a field where a farmer, following two yoked horses, was actually plowing a small patch of land by hand. Our guide immediately pulled out his Bible and read from Matthew 11.

He went on to tell us that in ancient times, farmers trained an inexperienced animal by yoking it to an experienced animal with such a wooden harness. The straps on the experienced animal were synched tightly making it carry most of the load. The straps on the inexperienced animal were only lightly synched, so its “burden was light.”

In Jesus’ illustration in Matthew’s gospel, He talked about yoking with Him. He pulls the weight, making our burden light. Why is His burden heavier than ours, you ask? He carries our sin and shame, and many other things; our guilt, our confusion, our doubts, our failures, our fears, and all the other stuff that we “cast upon Him because He cares for us” [1 Peter 5:7].

The old hymn-writer had it right; “ A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!” [From, “He Hideth My Soul” - Fanny J. Crosby, 1890]

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Forbearing Spirit

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Some Greek words in our Bible are very easily translated—one Greek word into one English word. But often, that is not the case. Take the word, forbearing, for example. It is a rich Greek word that needs several English words to flesh out the meaning. 

Forbearing refers to generosity, goodwill, contentment, or gentleness toward others. That leads some commentators to suggest it means being lenient toward the faults, failures, and foibles of others. Others say it suggests patience and submissiveness toward one’s own injustice or mistreatment; in other words, one who refuses to lash out in angry bitterness or take revenge when mistreated. Actually it is both of those ideas, but wait, there’s more!

It is akin to being a humble Christ follower; one who puts his complete confidence in Christ and doesn’t hold a grudge when treated unfairly. When his body and/or reputation have been hurt, he doesn’t want a pound of flesh in return. 

Our modern culture is completely messed up in this area. Our narcissism has led us to conclude that if something makes you feel good but hurts me or my feelings, you can't do it. But if I do something that makes me feel good, it doesn’t matter if it hurts you or not. “Deal with it,” they will say.

A Christ like spirit is in opposition to such a demonstration of self-love, and forbearing is the key. Real humility will have a forbearance that is gracious toward others and content with its own circumstances.

Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. Philippians 4:5  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Right Here

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I was thinking about a surgery I had many years ago. I had already received something to relax me before getting anesthesia. I was groggy, dopey really. As they were wheeling my bed down the hall toward the surgery unit, I remember asking for my dear Janet, “Where are you? Are you with me?” Then I heard the most comforting words I had ever heard, “It’s OK, babe, I’m right here.” Everything was going to be just fine—she was with me.

Yet, greater still, the Lord of heaven and earth is with me. It’s everywhere in the Bible.

Moses proclaimed it: For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? [Deuteronomy 4:7].

Paul agrees: He is not far from each one of us [Acts 17:27].

David announced it: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me [Psalm 23:4].

Isn’t it great! In the wilderness, encamped by a mountainside, in green pastures, in the presence of the enemy, facing a host of philosophers and dignitaries, Moses, David, and Paul discovered that God meant what He said; the same thing He promised to Jacob, “I will not leave you.

He will never leave or forsake you either!

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. Genesis 28:15  

Suit Up

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Do you know how much the body armor costs for a dog working alongside of a Navy Seal? According to reporter, Elbert Chu, it costs $30,000! That’s right. Every K9 sent into combat is outfitted with a bulletproof vest, a harness for rappelling, microphones and speakers, and the most modern woven technology for stopping sharp objects. The dogs are faster than the Seals and they are capable of hearing and smelling things crucial to the mission. I think they are worth every penny spent on the gear that they wear. 

Christ followers are suited with special armor as well. It’s not earthly, but heavenly, and it is called, the Armor of God. Paul wrote about it to the Ephesian Christ followers. You can read about them in the sixth chapter of Ephesians. They are listed in the metaphorical sense of something that is worn like, helmets, swords, belts, etc. But what interests me is non-metaphorical: truth - righteousness - peace - faith - salvation - Word of God.

We need each of them—ALL of them! Not only do we need them, we must learn their value and how to apply them. I like the way the MESSAGE Paraphrase states it, “Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare” [Ephesians 6:17b-18a].

We face a cunning adversary, but don’t worry dear Christ follower, not even one little bit. The armor God has given us is effective. It is completely capable of keeping us safe and victorious over the schemes of the wicked one. 

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jesus, Nothing Less

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

As a Christ follower, what is it that you seek the most? Good health? Plenty of Money? The right religious system? Allow me to offer a little pastoral counsel here. If you want to seek the best thing, seek Christ. I can say it this way with equal confidence, seek God. The writer of Hebrews made it perfectly clear that it is a lofty goal because God is a “Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” [Hebrews 11:6].

Seek Him, not doctrine, or religion, or creed, as good as these things are. Many settle for some lesser passion, but the greatest reward goes to those who seek nothing less than Christ. And why is that, you ask? What is that “best reward?” The reward for those who diligently seek Him is nothing short of the heart of Christ. Here’s the way Paul said it, “The Lord—who is the Spirit working in us—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image” [2Corinthians 3:18].

I can think of no greater reward than becoming like my Savior, my Christ. He had no guilt, so I can release mine. He had no fear, so I can be fearless. He put others first, so can I. 

I can think of no loftier goal than becoming like Christ. Jesus, nothing less!

I have kept My Father’s commands, and I remain in His love. In the same way, if you obey My commands, you will remain in My love. John 15:10 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Just Do It!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

What is the best way to deepen your prayer life? Pray. What is the best way to learn how to pray? Read a book about prayer? No, pray. Go to a prayer seminar? No, pray. In fact, don’t even worry about preparing to pray. Just do it. Pray!

Where you pray, how you pray, the position you pray are personal matters. Do whatever is best for you, just do it. Pray! And don’t worry how it sounds. It’s better to pray an awkward prayer than not to pray at all. Just do it. Pray!

One last thing. It really doesn’t matter if you only pray when you are inspired, just as long as you are inspired daily!

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. James 5:13

The Monster of Selfishness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A very common sin in our culture is narcissism. Two of its deadly by-products are selfishness and conceit, traits that are the very opposite of what should characterize a humble Christ follower. 

The apostle Paul wrote a lot about selfishness, so it is nothing new. However, when he talks about it, it’s not just “I,” “me,” or “my,” it’s pursuing something in a factional way. In other words, an egotistical, personal desire to move your own agenda forward in a destructive, disruptive way. A person like this is motivated with the idea that his way is always the right way—the only way.

In a church, this kind of behavior can be deadly and divisive. It’s a behavior that leads to factionalism, jealousy, strife, disharmony, and partisanship. We see this in the make up of the Christ followers in Corinth. It was the primary problem he addressed in his letter of 1 Corinthians. So Paul asked them an important question, “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” [1 Corinthians 3:3].

Our carnal, human nature produces selfishness and conceit, and that’s why it is critical that we keep it under control. The most effective way to do this is to constantly yield to the control of God, the Holy Spirit. Paul told the Galatian Christ followers to, “walk in [by means of] the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh [Galatians 5:16].

Another thing we can do is to realize that other Christ followers also have goals and dreams and agendas as well. If we keep that in mind, it will go a long way in killing the monster of selfishness in your life.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.  Philippians 2:3 

Monday, March 16, 2015

It’s “Thank You,” Pure and Simple

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

If I were to ask you to write a definition for worship, what would it be? Now, don’t go to a theology book for your answer, just answer it from your heart. Here’s my heart answer to that question: Worship is a “Thank You" that just cannot be silenced. It really is that simple. Worship is when you’re aware that what you have been given far exceeds what you can give. Were it not for God’s touch, we would still be limping along in life, hurting, bitter, and broken. Having experienced God’s divine touch, I dare you to be silent. You can’t! 

Worship is a voluntary "thanks" from the saved to the Savior; from the healed to the Healer; from the delivered to the Deliverer. So, my dear Christ follower, give thanks to the Lord. Let it rip. If you don’t thank the Lord, perhaps the stones will [see Luke 19:40].

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Friday, March 13, 2015

At Home with God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

First things first, remove the thought from your mind that God is somewhere out there beyond Jupiter, and you are stuck on earth, a great distance away from Him. Neither are you separated from Him by a gigantic ladder where He is way up there and you are on the first rung way down here. Forget it and wipe that thought thoroughly from your mind. While in Greece, Paul told some philosophers, lawyers, and city officials that God “is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live…” [Acts 17:27-28]. We are at home with God.

It’s really powerful when you think about it. As a Christ follower, I am at home with God. When I think of being at home, I think, kick my shoes off and wear a bathrobe all day if I want to. I think of eating dill pickles with crackers and cheese, washed down with a glass of cold milk, and nobody cares.

Home is familiar. I don’t get lost in my home. I know where every room is. If God is where we live, our home, He can be as equally familiar. When I need to be nourished, I know right where to go. When I need protection from the elements, the door is right there and I can go in. 

The Psalmist said, “The Lord is my refuge…” therefore home is a place of peace [see Psalm 31:2; 57:1; 59:16; 62:7 and more!]. And think about this, God’s house has never been broken into or plundered. His walls have never been breached by anyone at any time. Never! Moses knew this too. He prayed, “Lord, you have been our home from the beginning.” 

What a precious thought, I am at home with my Lord!

Lord, you have been our home throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Book Like No Other

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Over my lifetime, I’ve read thousands of books. None of them has had an impact in my life as the Bible. I’ve spent a Christian lifetime delving into the truths found on each page, over forty five years now, and I have barely scratched the surface of its value. I even wrote a small book about the Bible titled, A Word about THE Word. Still, I find myself, day after day, digging for more treasures.

Not everyone has the same appreciation for the Bible. It has been banned, burned, scoffed and ridiculed. Imminent scholars have branded it foolish. Rulers have made it illegal. Throughout history, attempts have been made to bury it, but the Bible refuses to stay underground. 

Not only has it survived in time, but it has also thrived. It is the best-selling book in history—translated, printed, and distributed to more countries than any other manuscript. I can think of no earthly way to explain it. Maybe that is the explanation. The Bible’s longevity is not earthly, but heavenly. That’s why an angel could rightly tell the apostle John, “These words are faithful and true” [Revelation 22:6]. The words you read in your Bible are the very words of God. 

The Bible reveals God’s plan and passion for His children. Let me say it this way: The Bible is map that leads to God’s highest treasure, eternal life.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You, Too, Can be Humble

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A Christ follower will never learn to walk in humility until he recognizes his sinfulness. There is an easier way. Just read my book, You, Too, Can be Humble. [That was supposed to be a joke!]

Someone asked me once, “Pastor Rick, when did you overcome pride in your life?” I told him, “Well, it was about six years ago. I removed every vestige of pride from my life, and haven’t had a problem with it since. And, let me tell you, it really is great being in a constant state of humility.” 

OK, back to reality. A Christ follower never completely overcomes the problem of pride. Truth is, it’s a daily struggle. Satan sees to that. To overcome pride in even one area of your life is a difficult task. The apostle Paul knew that only too well, so he told the Ephesian Christ followers to walk in “ALL humility.” Evidently, walking in “some” humility just isn’t enough! Total, complete humility is what we’re shooting for. I don’t know of any Christ follower who has accomplished that, but it is our lofty goal.

The question begs to be asked, “How do we do it? Where do we start?” I’m suggesting that humility starts with self-awareness—an honest evaluation of who we really are. We are sinners and need to humble ourselves before God and daily confess our sins before Him. You’re probably saying, but Pastor Rick, aren’t we supposed to make positive confessions about ourselves? Like, “I am a child of God.” “God is my Abba, Daddy.” “I am a ‘joint-heir’ with Jesus.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Yes, all of that is true. But can you say it humbly! And think about this. Paul, evaluating himself, said, “I am the foremost of sinners!” [1 Timothy 1:15]. Even he recognized that he hadn’t reached the goal yet [see Philippians 3:12-14.] It’s easier to be humble when you remember, as the old-country preacher once said, “You ain’t there yet!”

One more thing. When it comes to your humility, please steer clear of the comparison trap. Paul warned the Corinthian Christ followers about that, and the advice is good for us as well. He said, “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding”[2 Corinthians 10:12].

Humility begins when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners. Therefore, let’s recognize our sinfulness and daily confess our sins to God.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. With all humility and gentleness, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2

Monday, March 9, 2015

We Need God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

There is no place for do-it-yourself Christianity when you are completely done in or worn out. Little “tricks of the trade,” short-cuts, and self-helps are of little use then. Self-sanctification neither makes one better nor holier. Self-righteousness offers even less!

At some point , we need more than a spiritual guru. We need genuine help, not from around us, or near us, but in us. We need help in that hidden place, the heart that we don’t let anyone else see. 

We don’t need an angel. We don’t need a philosopher. We don’t need a genie. We need God. And if you are a Christ follower, HE IS THERE!

I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth. John 14:16-17

A Heart for God and Others

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

As the great Polish composer Frederic Chopin was gasping for air on his deathbed, he reportedly whispered, “Remove my heart after I die and entomb it in Poland.” After his death, his sister apparently sealed his heart in a jar of cognac and smuggled it to Warsaw beneath her skirts. It passed through the family until it was buried in a church. When the Nazis invaded Poland, they seized the heart, but it was returned after the war. Not long ago, Polish officials secretly exhumed the relic and inspected it for damage before reporting that Chopin’s heart was still “in good shape.” It now resides undisturbed in a pillar of Warsaw’s Baroque Holy Cross Church.

I found that a fascinating tidbit of history, but it also caused me to think about the “heart” of a Christ follower as well. Where is your heart located? Jesus made a remarkable statement concerning your heart. He said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [Luke 12:34]. It’s a given that He wasn’t referring to the blood-pumping muscle in your chest, but rather you, the Christ follower—who you are.

Do you have a heart for Christ and all things godly? The apostle Paul said that the true heartbeat of Christ followers is to live for the one who died for us. In other words, we no longer live for ourselves, but we live for God and others. 

How about a heart check-up today? We need to keep our hearts in good shape, you know. We do that by keeping the foremost commandment to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” [Matthew 22:37].

And here’s a little cardio workout for you too. Pray this prayer by Charles Wesley: O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free, a heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

Friday, March 6, 2015

Give Attention to the Lord

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Someone asked me the other day why I mention sinfulness so much in our Sunday morning service. The honest answer to that is, the more I understand the holy nature of God, the more I recognize my own sinfulness. It really is that simple. And by the way, that view of yourself will effect how you pray. Allow me to explain.

People view prayer differently. For many, prayer is the last thing you do after exhausting all other options. You may hear that expressed this way, “The only thing I can do now is pray.” Others see prayer like a spare tire; something that is used only in the event of an emergency. And, unfortunately, there are those who have been lulled into a false sense of security by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, an Old Testament character who rose to a high position in Babylon, saw prayer differently. He viewed prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart toward the God he served. Listen to his heart’s cry, "I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him” [Daniel 9:3]. 

To “give attention” implies he devoted time to thoughtful, earnest prayer. He demonstrated that in the way he prepared himself to pray. He fasted and put on sackcloth and ashes, which are symbols of humility and deep remorse over sin. 

It doesn’t seem unusual for a man of Daniel’s stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, to me at least, because the closer a Christ follower draws to God, the more he is aware of his sinfulness. Paul was like that too. He even called himself the foremost [chief - KJV] of all sinners [1 Timothy 1:15]. Again, that may seem like a strange statement coming from a spiritual giant like Paul, but he saw sin for what it really is, as did Daniel. 

Daniel believed in the sovereignty of God over all things, including the Babylonian captivity. Knowing the power of Nebuchadnezzar, he saw God as the only hope for deliverance. That resulted in his undivided attention as he prayed for himself as well as the people of Israel, for God to show mercy. 

Daniel’s attitude about himself, and his fervency in prayer, stands saliently against much of what we hear in prayer today. His prayers were profound because they were centered on the sovereignty of God and grounded in God’s will. 

As you prepare for your corporate gathering this weekend, I encourage you to be like Daniel—a righteous man who prayed fervently and with great effect.

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Worthwhile Habits

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Keep growing up. That was Paul’s admonition to the Ephesian Christ followers. They needed to hear and practice what he told them, and so do we. Spiritual growth should be the goal of every Christ follower. Let me say it matter of factly: Maturity is mandatory.

I’m the father of two children. They are adults now, but I enjoyed watching them grow up. Had they ever stopped developing, I would have known that something was wrong and help needed. The same is true for each of us. If you are the same Christ follower you were last year, you need a checkup.

Allow me to offer one: Check out your habits!

Your habit of prayer
Your habit of study
Your habit of giving [time, talent & treasure]
Your habit of fellowship

If you make these habits regular activities, you’ll be on the path to spiritual growth in no time.

Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Amen! 2 Peter 3:18

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Like Eagles

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God You reign forever
Our Hope our strong Deliv'rer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles
© 2005 Thankyou Music

You may be familiar with this song. It is listed in the top 25 worship songs found at CCLI [Christian Copyright Licensing International]. I want to draw your attention to the last line of this song for our eDevotion today: “You lift us up on wings like eagles”

Birds fly, that’s what they do. Blue Jays fly. Sparrows fly. Finches fly…you get the point. But when you look into the sky and watch an eagle floating in the air, you’re watching a bird that is soaring. Sure, the eagle must do a little flying at first, but soon it connects with thermal updrafts and taps into their power. That’s the difference between flying and soaring. Soaring relies on a source of power beyond itself.

Eagles are mentioned many times in Scripture, but I think Isaiah captures it as the perfect metaphor for the person who gets his/her strength from God. He said the person who waits—trusts, rests, depends, remains, relies—on the Lord finds the strength to “mount up on wings like eagles.

From this metaphor, we get the idea that soaring means to be far above the problems and difficulties of life, seeing what is happening below from a different perspective—God’s perspective. From that view, there is understanding, which results in patience and contentment.

The eagle uses the power of thermal drafts to remain high above earth. It doesn’t rely on constant flapping of its wings to stay afloat. If you are weary of “flapping” your way through difficult times, relying on your own strength to make it through, I encourage you with the words of Isaiah to “wait upon the Lord!” Rise up because of His power. Get a new perspective of your circumstance. 

I think D. L. Moody had it right. He said, “Real, true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.”

Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Pray When You Can Worry?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I’ve said it before in other eDevotions, but it bears repeating: Worry is the most common sin of Christ followers. Are you weary of bearing unconfessed worries in your heart? Do they weigh heavily on you and rob you of the joy of the Lord, which is your strength? [Nehemiah 8:10]

Then here is your task for the day, dear Christ follower: “Cast all your cares [and worries] on [Christ] because He cares for you!”  [1 Peter 5:7]

The German word for worry means, to strangle. The Greek word means, to divide the mind. Both of these words are spot on. Worry is both like a noose around your neck and a distraction of your mind. Neither of them is suitable for joy.

Confessing your worry to God is the very best thing you can do. To be frank, God doesn’t need to hear it as much as you need to say it. Perhaps you think your worry is too small of a thing to mention or too large of a thing to be forgiven. That is not for you to decide! Your task is to be completely honest before the Lord.

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  


Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Psalm 32:3-5 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pursue Truth in Love

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Paul had a tough thing to say to the Ephesian Christ followers. They needed to grow up—to become more like Christ. That’s not an easy or pleasant thing to say to someone. So he said, “…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…” [see Ephesians 4:14-16].

I can think of nothing more difficult than the pursuit of truth and love. My college English professor would not have liked the construction of that sentence. She would have wanted to make it a plural statement, something like this: The most difficult pursuits are those of truth and love. However, that’s not what I mean to say. So, I’ll say it again, the single most difficult pursuit in life is truth and love.

Love is a difficult pursuit. And truth isn’t any easier. So when you seek them both at the same time, then “Keep your arms and hands inside this ride at all times” [as they say at Disneyland], you are in for the ride of your life!

Love in truth. Truth in love. One should never be given at the expense of the other. Neither should we embrace one without the other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want love without the torch of truth. Likewise, I don’t want the cold, hard truth without the warmth of love. 

Love in truth. Truth in love. They really are a singular task!

Righteousness and Justice are the roots of Your rule; Love and Truth are its fruits. Psalm 89.14