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:

What

·       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. 

Why

·       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.

How

·       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

Safe!

 


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.

 

Monday, November 14, 2022

How to be a Supermodel

 


Who knew YOU could be a supermodel?!  Believe it or not, you have all the right assets to be what others should be emulating.  But what are the things that take an Average Joe like you a make him a poster-worthy?  Paul tells Timothy, his young colleague in the faith, how to set an example for others – and it’s a framework we can use too.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 - …but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity

 

Things to think about:

·       I’m always drawn to lists in Gods Word.  He could have said anything but these are the five qualities He chose as how we can set an example for all believers.

·       Timothy is a young man so you don’t have to be a grizzled veteran before you can be a model for others to follow.

·       Oh – and whether you are modeling these qualities or not, people are watching, so it’s a matter of what they’re seeing and if it reflects godly characteristics

Speech

·       This is a matter of what you do say

o   Prov. 10:21 - The lips of the righteous nourish many,
    but fools die for lack of sense.

o   Prov. 10:31 - From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

·       and what you don’t say

o   Prov. 10:19 - Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
    but the prudent hold their tongues.

Life

·       How you live and act in the day to day

o   Titus 2:7 – In everything set them an example by doing what is good

o   John 14:15 - “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Love

·       This is the motivation that seasons everything.  The antithesis is legalism.

o   1 Cor. 6:14 - Do everything in love.

·       Here, we have the ultimate role model to follow

o   Eph. 5:1-2 - Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Faith

·       Demonstrating a quiet and consistent confidence in God

o   2 Cor. 5:7 - For we live by faith, not by sight.

o   When we are going through challenging times and the outcome is not clear, our faith is put to the test.

§  It’s easy to claim but a little harder to put into practice

§  Again, people notice if what you said you believe aligns with how they observe you

Purity

·       Rejecting people, places, and habits that corrupt and embracing that which is of God

o   Titus 2:11-14 - For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

 

Titus 2:7-8 - In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

·       It’s interesting that the last word here is “us”, not just “you”

o   The way we model a Christ-centered life reflects not only on ourselves but on all believers

Monday, October 31, 2022

Dress for Success

 


If you have been a Christian for very long, you are probably already familiar with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6.  But, do you know about the clothes you are supposed to have on UNDER the armor???

 

Colossians 3:12-14 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

Things to think about:

·       Wardrobe Malfunction

o   In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve did a pretty poor job of getting dressed. 

o   God made better clothes for them and He’s designed a heavenly fashion for us too.

·       What’s in season this year?

o   Compassion

o   Kindness

o   Humility

o   Gentleness

o   Patience

o   Love

·       Why are we getting all dressed up anyway?

o   So we can be more like the Designer

§  Forgive as the Lord forgave you

§  Bear with one another

·       Why are these articles of clothing needed for us to be in harmony with one another

o   These are the same qualities God lavishes on us in our weakness

o   Which of these qualities can be a little itchy or chafing at times?

·       The armor in Ephesians is to protect against external enemy forces. 

o   Our clothing here is to keep us together internally and not war with one another. 

§  The armor is hard, these articles are soft and gentle

o   Our fight is with the forces of evil, not fellow believers who will inevitably stumble or not meet our expectations in some way.

§  Of course, this is true of us as well; we have let someone down or offended and are in need of others forgiving us.

·       Above all, put on love (not guilt or obligation)

o   This isn’t a costume to pretend you’re something you’re not

o   The sincerity that can only be motivated by love must be the overriding basis for our actions

o   Otherwise, our “good works” are really just filthy rags

 

Dress for Success!