Friday, October 30, 2015

Here As One of Us

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Let’s say, for just a moment, that you were the God of creation and had decided to reveal yourself to the created. How would you have done it? Would you have aligned the stars of heaven to proclaim, “I’m here!” Would you have autographed the creation by making the paths of the major rivers of earth to announce, “I did this!” 

Too silly? Well, I’m with you, but God did reveal Himself. Rather than my suggestions, He did it the perfect way. He revealed Himself in a human body—the body of Jesus Christ. Though being God, the tongue that called Lazarus from the dead was a human tongue. The hand that reached out to rescue Peter from drowning was a human hand. The dusty feet that walked the length and breath of Israel announcing, “The kingdom of God is near,” were human feet. The tears that rolled down His cheeks were from a heart as broken as yours or mine has ever been. That’s why “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” [Hebrews 4:15].

So people came to Him. At night. In narrow streets. On the seashore. Around the Temple. They invited Him into their homes. He played with their children. They got to know Jesus, the revelation of God in human flesh. 

I want you to know Him too. Jesus is more than a portrait in stained glass. He is God walking among us. 

The Word became human and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Right Path

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

The path toward righteousness/holiness is not the easiest path, but it is the best path. There are many blessings for staying on it. Life is much richer when we deny ungodliness to walk in righteousness. Are you walking on it daily?

One of the reasons it is not easy is that the path toward holiness demands our obedience. That has always been the way. From Genesis to Revelation, we are told to obey God. To do that, we must abandon our culture’s wisdom and embrace godly wisdom. Where do you find godly wisdom? Certainly not from Congress or a college class room. You won’t get it from a bar tender or Hollywood. You will, however, get it as you fear the Lord. Yes, you read it correctly, to fear the Lord. Listen to the Psalmist, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey His commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise Him forever” [Psalm 111:10].

We are refreshed as we walk on the path toward holiness. God did not design our bodies to live with anger, bitterness, hate, or resentment. In fact, living with these emotions over a period of time can cause us physical harm. By walking on the path of righteousness, we lay those harmful emotions where they belong, at the feet of Christ [1 Peter 5:8], then, He restores us.

Sure, there will be missteps along the way. Thankfully, God takes steps to correct them. It’s a sign that you belong to Him, and a wonderful demonstration of His love for you.

Are you lost or confused? Stay on the path of righteousness. There is a path that the world follows, but it only leads to death [Proverbs 14:12]. By staying on the path of righteouss/holiness, you’ll find your way every time.  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:5-12

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Familiar Voice

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I am currently teaching a series on the Apostles’ Creed at the church I pastor. A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the phrase, “… from thence He shall come to judge the quick [those alive] and the dead.” On that day, the Scripture says, “All in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son and come out…”

As I pondered that, it stuck me that there is coming a day when everyone will hear the Lord’s voice. Some will hear it for the very first time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because He hasn’t spoken, it’s more about they have never listened. It will not be a familiar voice, it will be the voice of a stranger. It’s likely they will hear it that once and never hear it again, as they will be eternally separated from Him. If that’s true, the only voices they will hear from that point forward, will be those that they followed here on earth. How sad!

In contrast, the Saints will hear a familiar voice—like sheep that know their shepherd. They have heard His voice before and opened their heart’s door to Him.

On that final day, the door will open, but it will be different. On that day, He won’t be coming to our house, we will be entering His!

Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will come out. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.  John 5:28-29

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Family of Friends

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

One of my Bible College professors was fond of saying, “The Church is a family of friends, and friends who are family.” When you become a Christ follower, not only does God pardon you, but He also places you in His family of friends. 

“Family” is the best term to describe the Church. We are called, and call ourselves, brothers and sisters. Just to make a point, the terms “brothers,” or “brothers and sisters,” is mentioned 148 times in just two books of the New Testament [Acts and Revelation]. 

Because God uses His family to bless His family, so much is accomplished in it. He gave each of us gifts so that we could love each other, honor one another, be watchful for troublemakers, and to bear each other’s burdens. 

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. Ephesians 1:5-6

Monday, October 26, 2015

Prayer and Peace

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Sure, you can worry, but it comes at a high price. The Greeks had an interesting view of what it means to worry. They used a word that means, to divide the mind. Think about that for just a moment. Worry creates a double-minded thinker. If worry actually worked, there would be no problem with it. But rather than doing anything about tomorrow’s problems, worry simply negates today’s strength. When your perception is divided, your vision is distorted. When your strength is divided, you lose energy and stamina. I don’t know about you, but who can afford to lose their power?

What is the prescription for worry? How can we overcome its grip on our lives? We need two things; one, our part, and two, God’s part. 

Our part must include prayer with thanksgiving. Paul said it best when he told the Philippian Christ followers to, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” [4:6 - emphasis mine].

God’s part includes guarding your heart with peace. Paul continues, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” [4:7]. 

Try it. You will be amazed at what happens when you replace worry with prayer and thanksgiving!

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:7 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Our Divine Helper

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I follow a Christian theology that is Trinitarian. That means I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As Christ followers, we talk about the Father a lot. We study the Son, Jesus, and pattern our lives after His example. But what about God the Spirit? When it comes to the Holy Spirit, some are confused at best. 

Allow me to simplify things a little. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our lives, which enables us to carry on the work of Jesus. Jesus promised us this Helper. He said, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” [John 14:16-17].

“The Helper.” The Holy Spirit helps us in three very specific ways:

Inwardly, by granting us the Fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-24

Upwardly, by praying for us when we don’t know how - Romans 8:28

Outwardly, by pouring [literally, gushing] God’s love into our hearts - Romans 5:5

If you want to be everything God wants you to be, don’t overlook God the Holy Spirit’s impact in your life. All God’s children are led by Him.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today, Not Tomorrow

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I first gave my life to the Lord, I had no idea where it would take me. To be honest, if God would have shown me at that time all the changes I needed to make in my life, I’d have boarded a ship to Tarshish! Yet, here I am today pastoring a church in Julian, California, and writing books and eDevotions. Had God told me that back then, I probably would have laughed my head off in unbelief. But that’s the Lord’s way. He doesn’t show us more than is necessary. 

That is especially true about the difficulties we face. We know we will have them because our Lord told us so, “In this world you will have tribulation” [John 16:33], but He doesn’t show us more than we need to know. What He desires is for us to cast our cares upon Him and trust Him for our future.

That’s why we take things a day at a time. We haven’t yet developed the faith to overcome all the problems we are to face in the future, but God has given us all that we need to overcome what we face today. Keep in mind the Lord taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And also remember that the Children of Israel, while in the wilderness, could only collect enough manna for one day. So, too, the Lord gives us sufficient grace to face our daily challenges. 

As one who is called according to His purpose, there are many adventures and challenges ahead of you. God will supply everything you need to face each situation. Trust Him for strength to face today’s challenges and tribulations. Tomorrow is another day.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Joyful Lives

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I have a question for you today. The answer to this question is a declaration of your priorities and spiritual direction. Are you ready? OK, here you go: What brings you joy?

The Psalmist has a great answer to this question. He wrote, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” [Psalm 1:1-3]. 

Oh the joys…” is from a Hebrew words that means, blessedness, happiness, joyfulness. He knew where real joy could be found; knowing God and abiding in His Word—His “statutes,” His “precepts,” His “laws,” His "commandments.” They rejoice the heart.

The truth behind this is that the Word of God contains divine principles and guidelines that, when followed, lead to godly character and conduct. Since God created us, He knows best how we should live to bring glory to His name, and joy to our lives. And so He gave us those instructions in His Word. The Bible reveals every precept, law, statute, and commandment you need to know to live a godly life and be filled with joy.

Living God’s way has a high and holy purpose. Furthermore, it has eternal significance. So live in the light of that daily. If you do, each and every day is joyful as you see that purpose unfold. Knowing your life is on the right track is a source of great joy.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; Psalm 19:8 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Restored by the Word

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Whatever your soul needs, you can get it from the Word of God. Never doubt that! Some Christ followers think it is only helpful for certain spiritual problems, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is not simplistic or inadequate when it comes to the complex issues of life because it can redeem and transform the soul. That is something that can only be done by God through His powerful, eternal Word. And it touches every aspect of our life; what we believe [creed], what we are [character], what we do [conduct]. 

The Psalmist said the Law of the Lord is perfect. The Hebrew word has the idea of being whole or complete or sufficient. One commentator wrote that Scripture "lacks nothing [for] its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of Divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct. . . . It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the [needs] of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there" (Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, Vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], p. 171).

Let’s face it, our thinking and reasoning is imperfect, but not God’s. His is perfect. So it follows logically that His Word is perfect. So perfect, in fact, that it can restore your soul—convert it, revive it, refresh it, transform it. 

There is no competition from a human perspective here. Man’s ways are impotent. There isn’t an alternative or substitute for the Word. Everything you need for godliness is found in it. Through His Word, God can transform you into the person He wants you to be.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. Psalm 19:7 [NASB]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Standing Stones

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Some people are exceptionally good at remembering things, and some, well, not so much. I travel quite a bit and it is easy to forget places and events on those trips. So I take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures! They help me to remember the experiences, which have brought great joy to my life. Likewise, I don’t want to forget God’s goodness. That is all too common among Christ followers, even for those with the sharpest minds.

Since we are prone to forget, it is necessary to make what I like to call STANDING STONES in our lives. A standing stone is something that can be seen or handled that represents a special event. 

A good example of what I’m talking about is found in the book of Joshua. The Children of Israel were about to enter Jericho. Israel had a small, inexperienced army and Jericho was a well fortified city. They needed God’s help to overcome the odds. 

First, God provided a miraculous path, a dry path through the Jordan River, just as He had given them at the Red Sea. It must have been a great encouragement for them to have a tangible expression of God’s strength and presence just prior to the battle to come. 

But God also knew human nature. He knew how prone we are to forget. So He had them to pick up stones, twelve of them to represent each tribe. They were to build an altar with these stones as a reminder of God’s help and deliverance. Then later, when asked what the stones represent, they could recite their blessing. 

There’s an old hymn that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Can you recall all the blessings of God in your life? I know I can’t. But over the years, I’ve erected standing stones, reminders of God’s presence: photos, journals, objects…each intended to spark a memory of God’s goodness. 

At the church I pastor, we have put a jar in a prominent place on the platform of the sanctuary. We have strips of paper there where people can write about an answered prayer. The strips are then placed in the jar so that all who attend our services can see how God is at work in our church family. 

Standing stones. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to start erecting them. Find creative ways to remember the Lord’s involvement in your life. When you see them, and remember what they stand for, you will be more thankful.

And Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”  Joshua 4:5-7

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Our Source for Spiritual Victory

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

As a pastor, I often have to deal with Christ followers that struggle with spiritual defeat—recurring sins. Their collective questions are pretty much the same: How do I overcome sin in my life? My answer is always the same: Learn, and practice applying biblical principles to specific situations. That’s right, knowledge of the Word is extremely helpful when it comes to dealing with sin.

A lack of knowing God’s Word always leads to immaturity. That’s because the Bible teaches you what God expects of Christ followers. Likewise, it offers divine counsel on dealing with sin. Knowing this, and applying it, leads to maturity.

How did Jesus overcome temptation to sin? When He was personally attacked by Satan, He quoted Scripture, which applied to specific temptations [see Matthew 4:1-11]. He was an overcomer because He knew and believed the Word of God. Furthermore, He refused to compromise its godly principles. His is our example to follow.

Don’t expect maturity overnight. It’s a continual process just as it is in life. But if you really want to be an overcomer, you must mature in Christ. The Apostle John used three metaphors to describe our spiritual maturity: Children, Young Men, and Fathers. 

1 John 2:13 - I write to you, dear Children… Spiritual children are not yet mature in their faith and must, as Peter said, “desire the pure milk of the Word, that [they] may grow thereby” [1 Peter 2:2].

1 John 2:14 - I write to you, Young Men… Spiritual young men are strong because, as John said, “…the Word of God abides in you.” In other words, The Bible has found a home in their heart.

1 John 2:14 - I write to you Fathers… Fathers are mature because, as John said, “they know Him who has been from the beginning.” Their maturity is based on a relationship with God, produced by a long time in prayer and the Word. 

Where do you see yourself here? A Child? A Young Man? A Father? Cling to the Word. The more you get into Scripture, and the more Scripture gets into you, the more mature you will become. With maturity comes a victorious Christian life. Scripture is the best source for spiritual victory.

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word… Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9; 11

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New and Improved

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I managed grocery stores, way back when, one of my responsibilities was to make sure we kept up with all the new products that came out, and see that they got shelf space in some way. One day I was placing a new item in the bake-goods aisle. It was a brownie mix made by a well known manufacturer. Boldly written in a banner underneath its name, it said, “New and IMPROVED. Made with real imitation chocolate!”

As a Christ follower for over 45 years, I’ve watched with great concern as some have endeavored to come up with a “New and IMPROVED faith.” Unfortunately, that new faith is less biblical and God-centered, and more mystically, non-biblically man-centered. Some of it has to do with people claiming extra-biblical revelations directly from God.

Since my early days as a Christ follower, I have believed in the uniqueness and centrality of the Bible. I take it over man’s word any day, any time, anywhere. I lean on God’s Word rather than man’s word because it implies that the Bible is insufficient for Christian living. In suggests that we need something additional to fill a gap or void in Scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Paul taught Timothy that Scripture was sufficient to fully equip a Christ follower for their work [see 2 Timothy 3:16]. If that is true, what more is necessary? In fact, the Bible is the Standard by which we are to test all things. It follows logically that if a revelation doesn’t conform to the Bible, it must be rejected. If the revelation conforms to the Bible, it isn’t a new revelation. In either of those cases, there is no need of additional revelation.

God is jealous of His Word and went to great lengths to preserve it for us. He has also warned us to go to great lengths to guard it—protect it from corruption of any kind. From beginning to end, nothing was to be added to, or taken from, it [compare Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19].

There is no “New and IMPROVED Faith.” There is only “THE Faith,” once and for all given to the saints. Scripture contains everything you need to know for godly living.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.  Jude 3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dead to Sin

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

One of the most troubling things I experience as a pastor is to see people who profess faith in Christ [what I like to call Christ followers], who are living in constant, unrepentant sin. Paul must have experienced this too. He asked a rhetorical question in his letter to the Roman Christ followers, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” What’s your answer to the question? Paul’s was the strongest negative in the Greek language, anathema [Romans 6:1-2]. Anathema, “God forbid!” “Absolutely not!” One commentator said that Paul’s answer to Romans 6:1 expressed his horror and outrage at the very thought that a Christ follower could live in a constant state of sinfulness.

The reason for Paul’s outrage is that, as Christ followers, we have died to sin. It’s impossible to be both dead and alive to sin at the same time. Here is the theological truth to our ongoing holiness: Unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1], because they keep walking the path of the world. Christ followers, on the other hand, have been “delivered from the kingdom of darkness” [Colossians 1:13] to live in a new place, the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. In other words, Christ followers no longer live under the dominion of sin, all though, from time to time, they still may commit sins. 

Because the realm of sin is no longer the Christ follower's home, he is repulsed by sin. He is no longer “at home” in sin. Therefore he repudiates, renounces, and repents of his sin. He just can’t stand to be there. Understanding this is the foundation to our progression in holiness. 

Be encouraged today in the knowledge that Christ followers don’t live in the realm of sin. In Christ, we are dead to sin.

How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:2

Monday, October 12, 2015

Prayer Makes A Difference

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Automobiles aren’t like they used to be. In former days, we had to give them a tune-up every 15,000 miles or so. Now-a-days, about every 100,000 miles. But they need a tune-up nonetheless.

Our prayer lives are like that. Most of us could use a little tune-up from time to time. We often lack consistency. You know what I mean, don’t you? It’s feast or famine; desert or oasis—long, dry spells with occasional interruptions of revival water.

And let’s not forget the times of insincerity. Those kind of prayers are hollow, memorized, and rigid. Even though they are offered daily, they are more liturgical than lively, and they can be really dull. 

How about dishonest prayers? That’s when we ask Him for something while in the back of our minds we're saying, “Yeah, right. Like He’s going to answer that one.”  

I have encouraging news for you today. Though our prayers are awkward and our attempts feeble, the power of prayer is in the One who hears it, not the one who prays it. Since God is the Hearer, prayer makes a difference!

It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does His will. John 9:31 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]

Confession is Good for the Soul

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

You’ve probably heard the maxim, Confession is good for the soul. Don’t bother looking it up in the Bible. You won’t find it there. It is an old Scottish proverb, which, by the way, has a word missing. It actually says, Open confession is good for the soul.

Regardless, I think the truth of that proverb is replete in Scripture. In fact, confession is a means to glorify God [see Joshua 7].

Confession does for the soul what tilling land does for a field. You’ve probably watched a movie or two, which depict farmers from older times—pre-tractor days. With a horse, or yoked animal, they worked hard to clear the land, removing stones and pulling stumps. Though the work was grueling, they knew that seed grew better in cultivated land—land that was prepared for the seed. 

Confession is an invitation for God to cultivate the acreage of your heart. Perhaps you have a stone of greed that needs to be removed. Maybe there is stump of guilt with long, deep roots. Or you have soil that is dry and parched, way too crusty for anything to grow. God specializes in preparing soil for the seed of His Word. So, invite Him to do so.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the ultimate “Farmers.” Together, they walk the field of your heart; digging out rocks, pulling out stumps—preparing your heart for harvest. Invite them to work the soil of your soul. That’s what confession is all about.

Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me. Joshua 7:19

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Diligent Student of the Word

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

As a pastor, I’ve heard some strange things come out of the mouths of Christ followers. I’ve heard this one a few times, and it never ceases to amaze me: “I don’t need to study the Bible because I’ve got the Holy Spirit who teaches me the truth.” When I question the person about it, they even come up with a Bible verse, 1 John 2:27, to substantiate their belief: “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as He has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

Before you say, “Right On,” consider this: there is no implication here that the Bible or studying the Bible is unnecessary. In fact, John had just exhorted the readers to abide in what they had been taught and to turn away from teachers who deceive believers and deny Christ. 

So when John said, “… For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know,” think of Him as a your resident “Lie Detector,” who gives discernment to protect the Christ follower from false doctrine. That’s why the Holy Spirit is called, “The Spirit of truth” [John 14:17].

Since the Holy Spirit is, and knows, the truth, He protects you from error. However, you are still responsible to be a student of the Word. Timothy was a young man of strong spiritual stature. Still, Paul exhorted him to be a student of the Word, study it diligently, and handle it accurately [2 Timothy 2:15].

Rather than thinking I don’t really need to get into Scripture, take on the attitude of the Psalmist who said, “Oh, how I love your Laws! I think about them all day long” [Psalm 119:97]. 

The Holy Spirit protects you from false doctrine, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for diligent Bible study.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Encouragement for your daily walk with God

You don’t want to come to me for advice about your computer. Let’s just say that I’ve finally made it to the 19th century when it comes to technology. But there is one thing I’ve learned—the hard way. It’s known by the acronym G.I.G.O. — Garbage In, Garbage Out. In other words, input determines output. Whatever you put into your computer is what comes out of it.

The same is true of you, dear Christ follower. What you feed into your mind will influence your behavior. Think of it as “reaping what you sow.” That’s why it is absolutely essential that you expose your mind to things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” [Philippians 4:8]. One old, country preacher put it this way, “If you cut yourself, you should bleed Bible verses!” Exaggerated? Yes. But it does speak about a passion for biblical truth that each and every Christ follower should share. 

Paul prayed for the Colossian Christ followers to be be filled “with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. The concept of being filled here, is the same idea Paul had in mind when he told the Ephesian Christ followers to be “filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]. “Filled” is a matter of “control.” Be controlled by the Spirit, and be controlled by the knowledge of God’s will. The net results are the same. When you are filled with the Spirit, He will govern your choices. When you are filled with the knowledge of His will, your choices will reflect godly wisdom and understanding. 

I’m writing this eDevotion to encourage you to saturate your mind with God’s Word. The more Word you take in, the more it will control your behavior. Think of it this way: B.I.B.O. — Bible In, Bible Out!

Godly behavior is the result of godly thinking.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:9-10

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Godly, Not Gods

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I want to make it absolutely clear at the beginning of this eDevotion that you are not God, a god, nor will you ever be God, or a god. The reason I make that disclaimer is that many religions, philosophies, and New Age pundits promote that very thing. It is one of the oldest lies known to man. We find its origin in the book of Genesis when Satan declared to Adam and Eve that if they would follow his way, they would “be as gods” [Genesis 3:5].

Since that time, mankind has had the desire to control circumstances, the future, and the people around them. In other words, we want to be the master of our fate. Our problem is that we are creatures, and we will never, ever, be the Creator! The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t expect you to become a god. He wants you to be godly. That means adopting His values and character. Paul called it, “an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life,” in his letter to the Ephesian Christ followers.

Knowing that God wants us to be godly will help us face life head-on. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me,” as if we are gods and don’t deserve such state of affairs, we will see that every difficulty enables us to grow in Christlikeness. 

It also helps us to remember that earth is not heaven. Never make the mistake of thinking that the “abundant life” [John 10:10] is perfection; perfect health, a lavish lifestyle, instant relief from every problem, or they-lived-happily-ever-after. That kind of thinking makes God out to be a genie, not a sovereign, almighty God. 

We exist for His glory and purposes, not ours. Our time on earth, and the experiences we have, are God’s way of developing godliness in us. In other words, He’s building and strengthening our character, preparing us for heaven.

Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:22-24 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An ICTC Attitude

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Some Christ followers allow circumstances to determine their attitude. Is that you? If life is going smoothly you feel good. Then, as it typically does, life gets hard and your mood drops off the charts. Did you know that you don’t have to live that way! But how? It isn’t a secret, really. Like the apostle Paul, we have to LEARN, and PRACTICE, being content. 

All you have to do is develop, what I like to call, an ICTC attitude. What is that, you ask? It stands for: I Can Through Christ. An “I Can Through Christ” attitude, when learned and practiced, allows God’s power to touch your weakness so that you can adapt to changing circumstances. When we respond to life’s circumstances that way, we get past living by our feelings and begin to live by faith [see 2 Corinthians 5:7].

An “I Can Through Christ” attitude requires submission and trust. As we yield to God’s way, our desire to control events is replaced with reliance on Him. The net result is that we stop fighting against our circumstances, which, by the way, only brings anxiety and stress. Reliance on God is trusting that He is overseeing every situation we face, and that He is working out His perfect plan for us — one that is for His glory and our good [Romans 8:28].

Paul could speak about contentment with a great deal of authority. For him, it wasn’t ethereal. He faced rejection and many difficult trials with an “I Can Through Christ” attitude. If we believe God has our best interest at heart, we can learn and practice contentment too!

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. John 14:1

Monday, October 5, 2015

Going Higher

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Listening to some Christ followers, you’d think that spiritual highs are a reason to boast about how lucky God is to have them on His team. I have a different view. God blesses us to foster genuine faith. The blessing of God is His unique process for maturing a Christ follower.

Why does God allow us to experience spiritual highs in the first place? Here are a few ideas: to encourage our spiritual growth, to deepen our intimacy with God, and to develop obedience. We learn so much about God in those moments of peak revelation and they are intended to carry us through more difficult times. When life gets hard, we look back and remember what He taught us on the “mountaintop.” Remembering Him, we are motivated to love and serve the Lord with all our heart. No reservations—we give ourselves fully for His work and His glory. 

By the way, spiritual highs are not always experienced in corporate worship. I’ve found that the prayer closet is the best place to experience spiritual highs. When you are alone with God - while no one is looking or listening - you can experience profound worship, deep devotion, and true intimacy with God. It’s there that you have your most intimate conversations with God. 

Every moment of your life is ripe for growth and spiritual maturity. If you allow Him to lead you on the path of obedience, He’ll take you to even greater heights.

By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, “Your descendants shall come from Isaac.” Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that’s what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar. Hebrews 11:17-19 [The MESSAGE Paraphrase]