Monday, August 8, 2022

Future Bob

 


I’ve been thinking a lot about Future Bob recently. Future Bob is me in 10+ years who is going to thank Today Bob for trying to get in a little better shape, eat a bit healthier, and have a couple of nickels in the bank for another day. While these are all good things (and I think the Bible encourages them), God is even more concerned with Eternal Bob, so what are some things Today Bob can be doing to have the best outcome for Eternal Bob?

 

1 John 3:2 

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 

Things to think about:

·       What is Today Bob doing to help out Future Bob?

o   Being more intentional with exercise and diet

§  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.

o   Being a good steward of our finances

§  The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.

o   Trying to leave a positive legacy for my children and those around me

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

 

·       As good as these things are, they are but a mere foreshadowing of what’s in store for Eternal Bob

o   Our bodies aren’t meant to last forever

§  2 Cor 5:1 - For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 

§  2 Cor.5: 4 - …(we long) to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

o   Treasures in Heaven

§  Matthew 6:20-21 - but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

§  2 Timothy 4:8 - in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

§  1 Peter 5:4 - And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

o   Not what man says about me but what God says

§  Romans 8:16-17 - The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

§  1 John 3:2 - Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

By taking care of Today Bob and Future Bob, I can do my part to impact the kingdom for those around me and to the honor of God.  What lays in store for you and me is unspeakably wonderful and should motivate us to make the most of our short time here!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Being There

 


This last weekend, a number of us went to visit a dear brother whose health is in rapid decline.  He has been admitted to a care facility where it seems likely he will see out his last days.  We wanted to go see him to encourage him and as we say Down South, “Love on him”.  Moreover, we felt it was important to let his family know that their husband/father has touched the lives of many men.

 

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

 

Things to think about:

·       As our verse in Proverbs 17 points out, when the chips are down, you really do find out who your friends are.

o   A couple of chapters later in Proverbs 19:4, it says “Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.”

§  We see the same thing with the prodigal son after his money ran out and he wasn’t a cool kid anymore

o   Let’s not be sunny day friends

·       Romans 12:15 in The Message says it really well

o   “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.”

o   You’ll notice that we’re not supposed to necessarily have any answers when they’re down, just hold their hand and cry with them.

·       But let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to show up when you’re needed most.  Here are a few well-intentioned reasons people might give for not being there:

o   I don’t know what to say/do

o   It’s awkward

o   Not a good day for me, I’m really busy

o   I’m sure enough other people will go, I don’t want to create a crowd

·       In Proverbs 3, the Bible says we should move past our uneasiness:

o   “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person.  Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” (emphasis mine)

o   Wow, that’s a powerful concept – your hand is God’s hand for that person

§  How does that change your perception of the importance of the impact you can have on people?

 

·       Jesus says in John 17:20-23, “I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

o   Our friend’s family and the staff at the facility definitely noticed this group of men who came to encourage and pray for their friend.  According to Jesus, this is the strongest testimony we can offer an unbelieving world.

o   Also (and importantly), our friend noticed.  Even though he was unable to speak, his smile and tears spoke volumes.

If you have a friend who needs you now, don’t wait.  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow and they need you now.


Monday, July 18, 2022

Fake News

 


Everyday, we are bombarded with “facts” and “news” that are grounded not necessarily in truth but in someone’s agenda.  They are attempting to persuade us that their slant is the truth.  As we so often find in the Bible, there is nothing new under the sun, and fake news is not a new phenomenon but has been around for a long, long time.   In Colossians 2, Paul repeatedly urges the church at Colossae to not fall for it (and neither should we!)

 

Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ.

 

Things to think about:

·       We can identify fake news through two lenses – the Message and the Messenger

The Message

·       Fine-sounding arguments with lots of detail

o   Colossians 2:4 – I tell you this so that no one may deceive you through fine-sounding arguments

o   Col. 2:18 – “…goes into great detail about what he has seen”

·       Hollow and deceptive

o   Col. 2:8a – through hollow and deceptive philosophy

·       Human-based and worldly

o   Col. 2:8b – depends on human-based tradition and the basic principles of this world

·       Worthless Works

o   Col. 2:23 such regulations have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence

§  Don’t touch this!  Don’t taste that!  Don’t go near this!

§  The Forbidden Fruit Effect

The Messenger

·       False humility and unspiritual

o   Col. 2:8 – Do not let anyone who delights in false humility

o   Col. 2:23 – “…their false humility…”

§  The pretend to be lowly in spirit but really are high in pride

o   Col. 2:19 – “his unspiritual mid puffs him up with idle notions”

o   Often based on a “special insight”

 

·       What’s the antidote to Fake News?

o   The Good News of course!

§  Just like a Treasury agent is trained in spotting counterfeit currency by studying the real thing, we must have a strong grasp of the truth to see the lies

§  Jesus is the source of truth, not man’s fine-sounding and idle thoughts

·       John 14:6 - I am the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me

§  Acceptance by God is found in faith and obedience, not self-abasing works, and false humility

·       Isaiah 64:6 – all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags

o   Next time you hear about a special insight or a new “ism”, call it out for what it really is – Fake News


Monday, June 27, 2022

Why or Who? What a difference one letter makes!

 

What a Difference One Letter Makes!

The other day a friend of mine was sharing with me a series of difficult challenges another friend was going through.  It seemed to her that her friend had already been through enough and she didn’t understand why God would allow more misery to be heaped on this other person.   As humans, we often want to understand the reason behind events to try and make sense of them.  We seek simple answers to infinitely complex questions. But this is often a fool’s errand and leaves us twisting in the wind spiritually because the reality is we frequently will never know Why.  And to stay stuck on having to know why moves us further away from, not closer to, Who is in control, the Lord God.  So, while it is natural to want to know “Why?”, the better question is always, “Who?”.  One little letter makes all the difference.

 

Proverbs 3:5 - “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

 

Things to think about:

·       Asking Why is one of the most human things we can do

o   Even Jesus asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

o   Are you going through a challenging time when you really want to ask Why?

·       God asks us to trust Him, not to understand Him.

o   Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

§  Why do you think God places a higher priority on trust versus understanding?

·       Even if we are bold enough to demand to know why, can we really understand anyway?

o   Isaiah 55:8-9 - “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

o   Job 40:1-2 - The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!”

·       Trusting in Who and not worrying about the Why is another way of saying Faith

o   Hebrews 11:11 – “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.”

·       Trusting in Who and not worrying about the Why leads to greater obedience

o   God wants us to trust Him like a child trusts their parent. 

o   Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

·       Letting go of the need to understand Why leads to a happier life

o   Proverbs 3:6 – “acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight”

o   In what ways do we open ourselves up to more peace when we stop asking Why?

§  Worry, fear, confusion, anger are just a few that come to mind

·       The next time you are tempted to ask Why, get out your mental pencil and erase the Y with and replace it with an O!

o   Psalm 77:13-14 - What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  

 


Monday, June 20, 2022

The Parable of the Pressure Washer

 


One summer day, a man went out of his house and in the bright sunshine he saw that his driveway that had once been clean had become unclean. Over time it had become blackened with all sorts of dirt and filth, so he determined to devote his time and energy to removing the impurities.  The next morning, he took his pressure washer and began to clean the driveway.  As he was cleaning, his neighbor on the right side of his house saw him and asked what he was doing.  He replied that he had become disgusted with the state of his driveway and desired to restore it to its previous luster.  A short while later, the neighbor on the left side asked him what he was doing and again he replied that he wanted to bring his driveway back to its previous condition. After many hours and with much effort, what was soiled had become clean again and glistened in the bright summer sun.

The next day, he noticed that his neighbor on the right was out pressure washing his driveway.  The day after that, he saw his neighbor on the left was cleaning his driveway as well.  Both told the man that his example inspired them to attend to their driveway.

Truly, truly I say to you, when you remove the dirt and filth from your own lives you are a model to those nearest to you to do the same.  For how you choose to live will be an example for others to follow.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:9 – …to give you in ourselves an example to imitate

 

Things to think about:

·       OK, so maybe that was a silly parable, but the point is still made

o   The world is watching how we live

§  At home

§  At work

§  Recreation

§  Stores / restaurants

·       Examples of the kinds of dirt that can creep in over time to darken our witness:

o   Complaining

o   Gossiping

o   Anger

o   General negative outlook

o   Overindulgence

o   Crude language and humor

o   Not be sociable (inhospitable)

o   Not being interested in others (self-centeredness)

·       God’s pressure washer

o   His Word

§  2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

o   His Spirit

§  Col. 1:10-11 - so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 

·       Pressure washing is a tedious job

o   It’s slow, there’s not always a quick fix

§  Col.1:10-11 – “"We're praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God; by being strengthened through his glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience."

o   Missing one spot really makes it stand out.

§  Col. 3:5 -  “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

o   Requires ongoing maintenance – not “one and done”

§  Gal. 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

§  2 Timothy 3:14 – “…But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of…”


What’s the condition of your driveway?  Has it become a little (or maybe a lot) dirty over time?  Perhaps it’s time to get out God’s Word in the bright light of day and let it and the Spirit wash off the sin that so easily encumbers.  The world is watching a will follow your lead.

Matthew 5:16 – “ In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”