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.”

Monday, June 13, 2022

Opposite Day

 


Little kids love playing Opposite Day where you do the opposite of what’s expected.  You say “Goodbye” instead of “Hello”, you eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner, etc.  Somebody else who celebrates Opposite Day every day is God.  In almost every case, God’s wisdom and instruction is to do the opposite of what the culture or our natural inclinations would be.  Let’s look at a few examples and see which ones ring especially true for you.

 

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.

 

Things to think about:

·       Love your enemy

o   Revenge and fighting back are natural instincts

§  Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

·       Forgiveness

o   Holding on to a hurt is another reaction that comes easily to us. 

§  God says in 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.

·       Selflessness and Generosity

o   Look out for Number 1!

§  God says in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

·       Humility

o   We live in an age of self-promotion

§  God says in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

·       Have Faith

o   It’s hopeless!  We’re going to hell in a handbasket! Fear, anxiety, depression are the hallmarks of our society

§  God says in Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

·       Be Quick to Listen, Slow to get Angry

o   You’re not a true follower of a given ideology if you’re not angry and shouting over whoever disagrees with you

§  Gods says in James 1:19 – “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”

·       Contentment

o   You don’t have enough, if you had a little more, then you’d be happy

§  God says in Luke 12:15, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

·       Righteous Living

o   If it feels good, do it!

§  God says in Galatians 6:7-10, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 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. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Whatever comes your way today, take a moment to pause and consider your thoughts and actions.  If you’re like me, there’s a good chance that what first pops in your mind is the OPPOSITE of what you need to do!


Monday, June 6, 2022

Worn Out

 


Work is good, too much work is not so good.  We should be doing what God is blessing, not necessarily asking God to bless what we’re doing.  When things are done under our own steam, driven by our own wisdom, it is exhausting.  When God is in charge, He is gracious to give peace and rest.

 

Psalm 127: 1-2 - Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
 In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for He grants sleep to those He loves.

 

Things to think about:

·       What are you working on these days?

o   Is it invigorating or debilitating?

o   Are you losing sleep over it or sleeping like a baby?

·        I’ve been conditioned to believe that I should always be working harder, always pushing just a bit more

o   If I don’t do it, it won’t get done

o   My competition is working when I’m not

o   Maybe I’m just being a little lazy or complacent

§  Have any of these lies crossed your mind?

·       Our verse says that when we are working in our own strength and on our own agendas, God won’t bless the work and we will be worn out

o   Have you ever seen this play out in your own life?

o   How frustrating is it to work on something that isn’t working???

·       On the other hand, God wants to be your partner (actually, the boss) of what you are doing

o   When He is leading the project, your work will not be in vain

o   How much more comforting to know that your work, your ministry, your relationships are being led by God and that His plans never fail

§  Joshua 21:43-45 - So the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

·       If you are struggling with peace and assurance about something you are engaged in, ask God who is building the house, you or Him.

o   Be ready to give it back to Him and even open to walking away from it if He tells you to

o   Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Monday, May 23, 2022

Supply Chain Issues

 


From computer chips to Christmas toys to baby formula, there are countless stories about the impact supply chain issues are having on our economy and people’s lives.  A lack of important commodities has a bull whip effect on all the other products that need them.   Guess what, God doesn’t have supply chain issues!

 

Philippians 4:19 - And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Things to think about:

·       How have you been impacted by a delay, total lack of availability, or just skyrocketing prices due to the global supply chain?

o   Has it triggered a change in your behavior like hoarding certain products, or maybe doing without something, or deferring a purchase until a later time?

·       Fear, insecurity, frustration, and anger are some emotions that come to mind when I think about how I react to the inconvenience (or worse) of not being able to get what I want, when I want, how I want it

·       Our God however doesn’t have any supply chain issues!

o   Eph.2:4,6-7 - 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…And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 

§  God is rich in mercy and grace

§  Mercy to make us alive while we were yet dead in our sins

§  Grace expressed in His kindness to us in the coming ages

o   He has enough for our spiritual wisdom and knowledge

§  Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

o   He has enough for our strength and power

§  Eph. 3:16-17 - I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

o   He has enough to give you hope for the future

§  Eph. 1:18 - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.

o   He also has enough to richly provide for our enjoyment

§  1 Tim.6 - Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 

·       And the list goes on and on and on!

o   Our God is a God of abundance, not scarcity

§  And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.