Monday, May 16, 2022

A House with No Mirrors

 


While on vacation recently, we stayed at a house that was being remodeled.  As part of the remodeling, all of the mirrors had been removed.  Imagine that, a house with no mirrors. There were no visual reminders of ME, which was so therapeutic.  I’m not sure I could defend this with Scripture, but I bet the mansions in Heaven don’t have mirrors either.


o   Romans 12:3 - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

 

Things to think about:

·       When I look into a mirror, by definition, I am focusing on myself. 

o   I take in my overall appearance, see how I’m aging with my wrinkles and gray hair, key in on the flaws my eye is naturally drawn to, how do my clothes look, my physical condition, etc.

§  Sometimes I’m OK with what I see, other times not so much

·       In a house with no mirrors, I found I stopped worrying about (even thinking about) “how’s my hair look?” or “how’s my paunchy stomach?”

o   It was liberating to stop caring about stuff that didn’t really matter

·       According to our verse, to the extent we do think about ourselves, it is to be with humility and with an accurate understanding of ourselves as God allows us to understand

o   A mirror can be used for preening or pruning!

 

·       Thinking less about me gave me the time and space to think about other, more important things like:

o   God’s creation

o   God’s Word

o   My spiritual condition (as opposed to my physical appearance)

o   My wife and family

o   Other people

·       Hebrews 12:2 – “…  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

·       Psalm 123:1-2 – “I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy.”

·       Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Monday, April 18, 2022

Paint It Red

 

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I can let a grievance I have with someone linger too long in my mind.  While I know I should let it go, I find myself replaying the situation over and over in my mind, leading me to get upset all over again.  During this Easter season, the Lord has been impressing on my that when one of these recurring thoughts come to me, I need to paint it red.

 

Ephesians 1:7 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. 

 

Things to think about:

·       Human relations have been marred by real and perceived slights since the beginning of time.

·       Maybe there is a situation you are dealing with right now where you have been hurt by someone else and you’re having trouble letting it go.

o   FACT: Whatever we feel aggrieved by, it pales in comparison to how we have fallen short with God

·       While our verse in Ephesians is true that we have forgiveness of sins, the story doesn’t stop there

o   Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. “

·       You will recall the story Jesus told of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35 about the man who was forgiven of a debt of ten thousand bags of gold and yet he refused to forgive someone who owed him a paltry sum of money.

o   “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

·       This past weekend we remember the great debt we were forgiven of by the death of Jesus on a cruel Roman cross.  His blood was spilled for my debt.

·       As part of the renewal of my mind, I am asking God to give me a paintbrush dipped in His blood to cover over the minor offenses I sometimes hold on to.

o   Once that debt has been covered with the grace and mercy I was shown, I am refusing to try and remove the paint.  Rather I want to focus on His blood shed for me to help me forgive as I have been forgiven.

·       How about you?  Do you need to start a painting project too?


Monday, April 4, 2022

Don't Worry, Be Happy

 




We recently looked at four things that can be hang-ups in our faith – death, guilt, bitterness, and worry.  For me, worry is my #1 hang-up and I find it has the ability to rob me of my joy.  While today’s verse will probably not be new to you, for me it’s one I need to constantly keep in the forefront of my mind.

 

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Things to think about:

·       Worry is the feeling of an impending negative event or loss that we have no control over. 

o   I will lose my health

o   I will lose a loved one

o   I will not have the means to support myself and family

·       Apparently, it’s pretty common to worry because our verse begins by telling us to not be anxious about anything. We dwell on future events we have no control over and in the process forfeit joy and happiness in the present.

o   That’s a terrible trade! 

o   Moreover, I find the underlying stress of worrying about things makes me grumpy and unpleasant to be around

·       Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

o   My mind needs an overhaul.  I need to learn to stop focusing on What I have no control over and turn my thoughts to Who has dominion over everything

§  Romans 11:36 - For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! 

§  We’re encouraged to bring everything to God in prayer and the good news is everything is under His control

·       There’s another clue in our text that offers a way to refocus my thinking

o   …“with thanksgiving…”

o   It’s pretty hard to be negative when we have an attitude of gratitude

o   I have found in recent days that gratitude and worry have a very difficult time coexisting.  Being thankful crowds out anxiety.

·       The payoff is what I’m after – Peace

o   And not just any peace but a supernatural kind that surpasses all understanding, guarding both my mind and heart

I’m not there yet but as I give to God the things that weigh me down, I do find that His burden is light and it gives me more capacity to stop thinking about me and thereby be able to give more to loving Him and others.

Monday, March 21, 2022

The Sounds of War




With everything going on in the world these days, it seems only appropriate to take a step back and get some heavenly perspective.    The war in Ukraine is nothing short of a travesty.  One man seems to have the world by the tail and is determined to do whatever he pleases.  Today’s study isn’t about tyrants, though; rather it is taking a look at Who is really in charge, both today and for eternity.


Psalm 11

In the Lord I have taken shelter.
How can you say to me,
“Flee to a mountain like a bird!
For look, the wicked prepare their bows,
they put their arrows on the strings,
to shoot in the darkness at the morally upright.
When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the godly accomplish?”
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch;
his eyes examine all people.
The Lord approves of the godly,
but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence.
May the Lord rain down burning coals and brimstone on the wicked!
A whirlwind is what they deserve!
Certainly the Lord is just;
he rewards godly deeds;
the upright will experience his favor.

Things to think about:
·      Is this war stirring up anxiety in you about where the world is headed?
o   Does it feel like maybe we have reached a tipping point where evil is winning? Are the “morally upright” under attack as David suggests?
o   He articulates what many people seem to feel at this point in history, “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly accomplish?”
§  Does this describe you?
·      David starts off in verse 1 by saying his faith is in God.
o   Why is this an important foundational statement?
o   His logic then builds to, “if I’m trusting God then why would I run away in fear because powerful people are intent on hurting the morally upright?”
o   There is a tendency when circumstances appear to be too powerful or inevitable to run and hide.  David clearly rejects this kind of cowardice.
·      Verse 4 is really the key here: The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
o   Our hope does not rely on whoever is sitting in the Oval Office, rather it is in He Who sits on His Holy Throne.
o   How does this truth comfort you in the midst of uncertainty surrounding world events?
·      God will not be mocked, whatever a man’s sows, so will he reap (Galatians 6:7)
o   God is watching, He sees and knows exactly what is going on.
o   Both His judgment and His blessing are coming to those according to their deeds
o   Certainly the Lord is just; He rewards godly deeds and the upright will experience His favor
·      As we have remarked a number of times, be strong, be of good courage. 

o   Proverbs 21:30 says, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Secret of Life

 



What is the secret to life?  If I could offer you long life, wealth, and honor, would that tick most of the boxes for you?  Let’s look at what the Book of Wisdom has to say is the combination to unlock access to these most desirable things.

 

Proverbs 21:21 – He who pursues righteousness and love will find life, prosperity, and honor.

 

Things to think about:

·       Righteousness + Love = Life, Prosperity, and Honor

o   We could spend five weeks exploring these five words!

·       Righteousness is right standing before God.

o   Unfortunately, we can’t achieve this on our own.  Does that mean it’s over before we even start?

§  Romans 3:11 - “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.”

o   Thankfully, there’s more to the story

§  Rom. 3:21-22 – “…the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

§  So the first step is actually been offered freely to us!

·       This righteousness needs to be put into action and that action is called Love

o   Ephesians 4:31-32 - “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

·       So when we are in right stead with God, and loving others as God loves us, it unleashes some powerful benefits

o   Life

§  Eternal life - John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

§  Abundant life - John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

o   Prosperity

§  Eternal riches – Matt. 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.”

§  Today’s needs - Phil. 4:19 - “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

o   Honor

§  Honored by men - Proverbs 22:1 - A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

§  Honored by God - John 12:26 – “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

 

·       And so, the secret isn’t so secret after all!

o   Matt.22-37-40 - Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

o   The entire Bible is the passcode to the Secret of Life

§  Go share it with someone today!


Saturday, February 12, 2022

A Tree is Known by Its Fruit

 



As I was reading our verse for today, it struck me that the core problem of evil is a heart filled with pride and arrogance.  The natural outgrowth of that kind of heart is evil behavior and perverse speech.  Let’s look at how Jesus taught about this and how we can apply this to our lives today.

 

Proverbs 8:13

I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech

Things to think about:

·       In Matthew 12:33 Jesus says, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make it bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”

·       Pride and arrogance are at the root of a bad tree that bears bad fruit

o   Conversely, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7)

§  Only a heart that is marked by a humility with regard to ourselves and an awe for Who God is can bear good fruit

·       There are two branches that naturally display the fruit of our heart

o   Speech

o   Behavior

Speech

·       In Matthew 12:34, Jesus continues, “for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

o   Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Behavior

·       And finally in Matthew 12:35, He says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

o   Proverbs 3:27 - Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

The Solution

·       Galatians 6:8 - Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

·       Proverbs 4:23 - Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.