Monday, December 18, 2023

Wrong Side of the Road


All I have ever known is driving on the right-hand side of the road.  All of my habits and reflexive behaviors assume what I have accumulated over the past 40 years of driving.  That is until we started going to the Bahamas where, due to their history as a British colony, they drive on the left side of the road (or as some people say, the “wrong side”).  When I come back home, it gets really confusing because what used to be completely natural is now something I have to think about.  The guaranteed sign I’m confused is to turn on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal – very embarrassing!  


Deut. 4:9 - Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.


Things to think about:

·       It’s amazing that something that we think is so permanently etched in our minds can be rewritten in a fairly short period of time.

o   It’s also really scary because I realize how moldable I can be by my environment.

o   Scarier still is that even when I want to do the right thing, I can easily get mixed up with catastrophic consequences.

·       Slow slides can lead to bad rides!

o   What are some areas that can get us confused on the rules of the road in God’s kingdom?

o   Cultural influences

§  1 Kings 11:2 - They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 

o   The company we keep

§  1 Corinthians 15:33-34 - Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning;

o   A weak conscience

§  2 Timothy 4:3 - For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

o   Inappropriate relationships

§  Proverbs 7:25 - Do not let your heart turn to her ways
    or stray into her paths.

o   Bad doctrine

§  Hebrews 13:9 - Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.

o   Complacency

§  Deut. 4:9 - Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.

·       Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

o   Your drivers license isn’t from this world

§  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ


Monday, November 13, 2023

Eyes to See


This is one of my all-time favorite videos.  Before you read too much further, please take a minute to watch it.  (if it looks like you need to buy something, you don’t.)  It does a phenomenal job of reining in my impatience, judging attitude, and general self-centeredness. 


Matthew 9:35 - When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.


Things to think about:

·       As recently as three days ago, I was on a plane when the guy in front of me leaned his seat all the way back and I could barely use my laptop.  I thought of all kinds of clever (and mean) things to say to him. 

o   And then I remembered this video.  I have no idea what hurts, fears, shame, guilt, etc. this guy might be going through, but I’ll guarantee you one thing, he is going through something.

§  How do I know? He’s BREATHING

§  Nobody gets a pass on the challenges life throws at us.

Do you tend to show mercy or malice as an initial response?

·       In Matthew, we read that Jesus takes a different tack than me

o   He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless

§  The Message says it like this, ‘’when he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.’’ 

o   His heart broke when I was still lost, and I didn’t even know His name

§  He sees us as lost sheep in need of a shepherd

§  How does that word picture encourage you to be more sympathetic?

How does His sacrifice on your behalf motivate you to be more generous in your attitude towards other people?

·       Can you think of a time when your attitude about someone changed when you knew more of their story?

o   What can we do to learn more about what others are going through?

·       If you would like some of the special glasses in the video, they’re actually available!

o   Matthew 9:36 - Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” 

Monday, November 6, 2023



The 59-foot tall, 1,000-ton Central Solenoid magnet, the world's strongest magnet

I read a sentence in a recent Rick Warren devotional that stopped me in my tracks.  “People are attracted to Christ more than they are persuaded to Him.”  Many of us worry about having the perfect argument to answer the hardest questions.  The reality is the barrier often isn’t intellectual but relational.  Our topic today is about magnets and the power they have to attract. 


Titus 2:10 - so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.


Things to think about:

·       Magnets have the natural property to attract things with the opposite charge

o   Our “positive energy” can be most effective with negative people and circumstances

o   As Christians, sometimes we repel or are repelled by those with an opposite charge

§  Do you naturally go towards someone with a different belief system or towards them?

·       Remember who you were before Jesus drew you in

o   Jesus spent a lot of time with people who had the opposite charge

§  Why does your Master eat with sinners?

§  Is it not the sick who need a physician?

·       What do you think the most attractive quality of the Christian magnet is:

o   Knowledge

o   Wisdom

o   Not drinking, dancing, or smoking

o   Or maybe…LOVE???

§  In service

§  In generosity

§  In availability

§  In empathy and compassion

§  In forgiveness and acceptance

·       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.

·       John 3:16 - For God so loved the world…

Love is the ultimate magn

Monday, October 30, 2023

Same Trees, Different Day


I’ve been walking in our neighborhood over the past couple of weeks as the fall foliage has been in its full glory.  I took the first picture when all the leaves were a dazzling array of brilliant colors.  About a week later, I took the second picture due to the stark contrast in external beauty.  Same trees, just different days.  It got me thinking about how the underlying qualities of the trees haven’t changed, just the season.  Our lives can be very much the same way.


Ecclesiastes 3:1 - There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens


Things to think about:

·       The thing with the trees is that to the outside observer, one picture looks like a postcard and the other like something in the delete file.  But the reality is those are the exact same trees.  Same roots, same trunk, same limbs.  The trees didn’t do anything wrong, they aren’t being ravaged by a disease, they haven’t been damaged by a vandal, they are just experiencing the ebbs and flows of life.

·       We can often mistake the natural rhythms of life as reward or judgement.  In fact, it may just be there are seasons as found in Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Here are some typical seasons we go through:

o   Job

o   Health

o   Relationships

o   Mood

o   Feeling of closeness to the Lord

·       But there a few unchanging things that are vital to focus on.  Think of these as the roots, trunk, and limbs.  Even though the beauty of the leaves fell to the ground, the core value of the tree is unchanged:

o   Our value

§  Genesis 1:27 - So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

§  The world may not value you as much when you’ve lost your leaves, but you are still made in the image of God

o   Our place

§  Colossians 2:6-7 - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

·       Our roots hold us firmly in place and we grow stronger in the Lord as out trunk adds more rings of experience and wisdom each year

o   Our eternity

§  Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

·       Our circumstances may make us look a little worse for wear and tear, but there is no storm, cold snap, or pest that can uproot us or tear us down.  Once we are planted in God’s Kingdom, we’re there to stay.

·       The seasons and circumstances will change, but whether things are going really well or not so much, your value, God’s love for you, and your place in the Kingdom are never in jeopardy.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Love Hurts


The problem with love is it makes us vulnerable.  Only people we love can truly hurt us.  Since we are created in the image of God, then why would it be any different for Him?  Turns out, it’s not.


Judges 10:13-14 - But you have forsaken Me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

Things to think about:

·       Judges 10 is just another verse in the same song that goes something like this:

o   God rescues His people

o   They become complacent and replace Him with false gods

o   Judgement ensues and they pay for their sins through hardship

o   A crisis brings the situation to a head

o   The people admit they are in the wrong a cry out for help

o   Initially, God said No 

§  But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

§  God is hurt and because He is righteous, it is His prerogative to tell them No

o   Persistence with their plea

§  But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.”

o   Repentance

§  They turned from their sin - then they got rid of the foreign gods among them

§  Turned to God through obedience - and served the Lord. 

·       Mercy

o   And He could bear Israel’s misery no longer.

o   One of God’s most distinguishing qualities is His mercy (us not getting what we deserve)

o   He loved them too much to take a hardline, even though He was fully in His rights to

o   The relationship is more important than being right.

·       What applications can you see in your own life?

o   When you have been shown mercy by someone

§  If you are a believer this is an easy question

o   When you have shown mercy to someone (or could show mercy in a current situation)

o   Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Bonus Content

·       Deliverance

o   Judges 11:32-33 -  Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

o   Uses those who are available to be used, not the most distinguished

§  Son of a prostitute

§  His brothers drove him away

§  Psalm 118:23 - The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;

o   God regularly uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise

§  Maybe He could even use you and me!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Give That Man a Hand!


Sometimes when I do a good job, I just don’t get the credit I think I deserve.  The hero of our lesson today, Tola, knows a little bit about that.  After Abimelech, a really evil ruler died, he was succeeded by Tola.  If all you looked at was how much Scripture real estate is used on each, you might think Abimelech was wonderful. For context, Abimelech gets 56 verses and 1,441 words going into great detail about all of the terrible things he did.  Compare that to Tola, who received two verses totaling a mere 46 words.  Abimelech tormented the country for just three years and Tola “saved Israel” and led them for twenty-three years.  Thankfully, his (and our reward) is not here but in Heaven!


Judges 10:1-2 - After the time of Abimelech, a man of Issachar named Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died and was buried in Shamir.


Things to think about:

·       If I empty the dishwasher or pick up the disaster after our grandkids go back home, you can be sure I want to get some praise for it.  In fact, if my wife doesn’t step up to the plate in a timely enough fashion and with the proper level of adulation, you can be sure she’s going to hear about it.

o   OK, let’s be honest – do you sometimes feel you get the shaft for getting recognized when you do something you’re proud of?

o   And, if I don’t get the credit I think I’m due, I’m more than happy to fill the void

§  Proverbs 27:2 - Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

·       So, who are we trying to please, men or God?

o   Galatians 1:10 - Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

o   What can drive us to feel the need for human approval?

§  Pride, insecurity, acceptance

·       When we do take matters into our own hands, it completely negates whatever eternal reward we may have had coming our way.

o   Matthew 6:1-4 - “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


·       Our time will come, it’s just not now

o   1 Peter 5:6 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you

o   I’ll bet Tola is one happy guy in Heaven!

·       And when our time comes, it will be for eternity

o   Daniel 12:3 – (The archangel Michael speaking) - Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 

Next time you’re tempted to toot your own horn, remember God wants to give you so much more than fleeting recognition here. 

·       1 Corinthians 2:9 - “What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love Him