Monday, March 20, 2023

God's Ringtone


Do you have special ringtones for family and friends?  As soon as you hear the first note, you know exactly who it is that’s calling you.  How can you know when it’s God calling you to do something?  Many people have said something like, “I just wish He’d call me on the phone, then I’d know for sure!” For the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, God worked in his life in four distinct and dramatic ways that were unmistakably His ringtone.  These notes may sound familiar to you: Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.


Ezekiel 3:10 - And He said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.”


Things to think about:

·       When God calls you to do something, He equips you in everyway that you will need.  In Ezekiel’s case, he had been called by God to preach judgement to the Israelites.  Several times He says to Ezekiel, “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.”

o   We aren’t responsible for the outcome, that’s God’s business.  Our role is to obey.


·       Ezekiel was going to need an extra dose of courage

o   Ez. 2:6-7 - And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 

o   We see every day, the open hostility the world has to God and His Word.  But this should not deter us.



·       Ez. 2:1-2 - He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”  As He spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet…

o   We won’t get into all of it here, but if you read Chapter 1 and get a picture in your mind of what Ezekiel saw, you’ll quickly realize why he needed help getting up!

o   Are you too tired, too old, too afraid to go where God has called you?  If He has called you, He will give you the strength to go.


·       We already know that God wants to renew our minds (Romans 12:2).  We also know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.

o   For Ezekiel, it was even more dramatic than that – “And He said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He gave me the scroll to eat. (Ez. 3:1-2)

o   He literally put the words Ezekiel was to say in his mouth!

§  And we need to constantly feed on God’s word too

o   Matthew 10:19-20 – “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”


·       God endowed Ezekiel with a new character, one designed to combat the stubbornness He knew Ezekiel was going to encounter

o   Ez. 3:8-9 - But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.

o   I’m not sure what Ezekiel’s personality was like before but God changed him into the man he needed him to be at that time.

What is God calling you to do?  

·       Do you feel inadequate to the task?  That’s probably because you are!

·       But like Ezekiel, God will give you everything you need to accomplish His purpose for your life.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Your Prescription is Ready


Jesus is known by many names including The Great Physician.  He has given us a diagnosis called sin that, if left untreated, leads to eternal death.  However, even when we have been healed from that dire outcome, we still have remnants of the disease in our system.  How we deal with our chronic condition makes all the difference. Let’s look at it from two sides – when we self-medicate and when we follow the Doctor’s orders.


Proverbs 23:20-21: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,
 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.



Things to think about:

·       When we are lonely, tired, depressed, angry, hungry, etc., we can be tempted to take matters into our own hands.  This self-medication frequently takes three forms:

o   Food

o   Alcohol/Drugs

o   Sex

·       Each of these can makes us feel better in the moment but can come at a very high cost, both physically and emotionally

o   Food and Alcohol

§  Proverbs 23:20-21 - Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

o   Alcohol

§  Proverbs 20:1 - Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
    whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

o   Sex

§  Proverbs 23:27-28 - for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

·       It’s not hard to see that “there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death”

·       God’s Prescription

o   His Word

§  Matthew 4:4 - Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

o   His Spirit

§  Ephesians 5:18 -  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit

o   His People

§  Genesis 2:18 - The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

§  Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

·       God’s Way is Better

o   1 Corinthians 9:27 - No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

§  V.25 - We do it to get a crown that will last forever


Monday, February 20, 2023

God's Etch-a-Sketch


Do you remember the old-time toy, the Etch-a-Sketch? You used two knobs to draw/doodle on it and when you were finished, you could just shake it a few times and it would erase whatever you had done.  We all have done things we’re not especially proud of and wish we could just shake it like an Etch-a-Sketch and make it go away.  Thankfully, God has one for your life and mine and it’s called Forgiveness.


Hebrews 8:12 - They’ll get to know me by being kindly forgiven,
    with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean.


Things to think about:

·       Just like on an Etch-a-Sketch, there are two knobs we can turn: One is our Attitude, and the other is our Actions 

o   When our Attitude is not good we draw a picture full of envy, lust and pride (1 John 2:16)

o   When our Actions aren’t what they should be, we draw a picture full of selfishness, anger, slander, etc. (Eph. 4:31)

·       We all do stupid things that we either immediately or later regret.    

o   Some of us are walking around carrying a big load of guilt about mistakes made in the past

·       BUT, when we do blow it, and ask for forgiveness, the Bible says in 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

o   Romans 8:1 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

·       God’s Etch-a-Sketch is called Love and it has two knobs too and they’re called Grace and Mercy

o   Ephesians 2:4-5 – “ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

·       He is drawing a beautiful portrait that can never be marred or erased

o   Hebrews 8:12 – “…with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean”

·       How does knowing that God has forever wiped the slate of your sins unburden you from feeling guilty?

o   How does that empower you to shake the Etch-a-Sketch of someone else who may have hurt you in the past?

o   Ephesians 4:32 - Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Who God Is


At the beginning of the new year, it seems appropriate to bring our attention back to the very core of our faith, God Himself.  While that may sound simplistic, it is far from simple!  It’s vital that we recalibrate on who He is and why we worship Him.  Below are seven traits or aspects of His being and position.


1 Timothy 6:15-16 – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, Lord of lords who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be the honor and might forever. Amen.


Things to think about:

·       God:

o   Is blessed

o   Is the only Ruler

o   Is the King of kings and Lord of lords

o   Is immortal

o   Lives in unapproachable light

o   Has been seen by no one

o   Is deserving of honor and might

·       Focusing on these building blocks of who God is helps us to clear out the noise and to appreciate anew His power and majesty.  For me, it provides the proper context against which to measure my problems and my pride.

o   How does focusing on these qualities help you regain peace and comfort?

o   Like me, does this passage create a renewed sense of humility in you?

·       Does one of these seven traits stand out to you more than the others?  If so, which one and why?

·       How does meditating on His nature affect your outlook for today, this month and this year?

Monday, December 5, 2022

Well Done!


The What, Why and How of Godly Service

As believers, we all want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.   In 1 Thessalonians, I believe we find a model to follow to help us hear those words in eternity.  It has to do with What we do, Why we do it, and How we do it.  Our genuine faith is revealed by these criteria.


1 Thessalonians 1:3 

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Things to think about:


·       Your work produced by Faith

o   There must be an output to our faith

§  James 2:14-18 - What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 


·       Your labor prompted by Love

o   Works without love are worthless

§  1 Cor. 13:1-3 - If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.


·       Your endurance inspired by Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ

o   Finishing the race

§  James 1: 4 - Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

§  Acts 20:24 - However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

o   Inspired by Hope

§  1 Peter 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Absent faith, love, and hope, we are reduced to empty words, heartless religion, or an incomplete journey.  

Putting all of these together produces fruit that honors God, serves others, and paves the way for an eternity filled with joy. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

In a Nutshell

I came across two verses in Proverbs that aren’t quite one after the other but they certainly seemed to go together.  Like most verses, each is a couplet consisting of two phrases.  It seemed to me that these proverbs could be companions with the first and last phrases acting like the outer shell of a nut and the second and third phrases like the tender meat inside.

Proverbs 19:21, 23

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble.



Things to think about:

·       The Shell

o   “Many are the plans in a person’s heart” and “then one rests content, untouched by trouble”

o   These two phrases are our lives, our dreams, and our circumstances

§  We have a life to be lived, dreams to be chased, and a calling to be fulfilled.

·       The Meat

o   “But it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” and “The fear of the Lord leads to life”

o   Inside the shell is where the core truths live – God is in control and His way leads to life

·       What plans and dreams do you have?

o   If you have trouble answering this, ask God to show you

§  James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

·       God-given plans and dreams are good!

o   Psalm 37:4-6 - Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

·       How does resting in God’s prevailing will give you confidence and peace to step out in faith?

o   Conversely, how does trying to do it yourself led to trouble and discontent?

·       Just like a savory nut is delicious, “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Monday, November 21, 2022



If you’re in danger, you want to get to someplace safe and you want to get there now!  So where do you turn when you sense danger?


Proverbs 18:10 - The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.


Things to think about:

·       God’s name is more than sufficient

o   Phil. 2:9-11 - Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

·       He’s not weak and flimsy

o   “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

·       He’s a tower, not something insignificant

·       For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land, Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

·       Not everybody recognizes Him for who He is

o   The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

·       With the devil prowling about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, you don’t take a leisurely stroll – you RUN

o   2 Corinthians 6:2 - I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

·       Once there, you are out of danger and completely safe

o   John 10:28-29 -  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 

But there’s more in the following verse:

·       The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
    they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

o   It’s very easy to think we are safe if we’ve been blessed with material wealth

§  If you live in the United States and make more than $60,000 per year, you are in the Top 1% globally!

§  Perhaps, we are taking refuge in our retirement accounts

§  Maybe it is in your position or power

o   Matthew 6:19-21 -  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So when the threat is high (and it always is for as long as we live in enemy occupied territory), take refuge in the name of the Lord. If you run to Him, He guarantees your safety.