Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Making Decisions--Personal Evaluations

Making Decisions—Personal Evaluations
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”        (Romans 12:1,2 NIV)
In our first three devotions we focused on godly attitudes in making wise and prudent decisions. We stated that submission to the sovereign and moral wills of God was a key element. For those areas where direct references are not given to guide us, we should be motivated by love and seeking the best interests of others.
     In this final devotion, we shall focus our attention on another several other principles that involve personal assessments. We will be using the Bible reference listed above from Romans 12:1-2.
     The first thing the Apostle Paul tells us to do is to submit ourselves to God. This is seen in his statement, “offer your bodies.” This closely relates to our previous principle of “submission” as stated in devotion two, and is a key element in determining the will of God.
     Second, we are commanded “not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” What is Paul trying to tell us in this statement? I believe he is saying, “Don’t allow our present society or culture to mold our thinking.” Don’t be swayed in your decision-making by the social media or twitter crowd. Their opinions are tainted by the culture of an unbiblical worldview.
     Third, he admonishes us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” The word transformed comes from a Greek word (metamorphousthe) translated in English as “metamorphosis” meaning a total change from the inside out. (2 Cor. 3:18) The key to this change is the renewing of the mind which is the control center of one’s attitudes, thoughts, feeling, and actions.
     Paul gives us a blueprint to help in the renewing of our mind process. He urges us to do a realistic self-evaluation. In verse 3 he says, “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.” (NIV) What is Paul saying to us in this verse? He is telling us to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. Paul is advocating that we emphasize our strengths not our weaknesses in making wise and prudent choices.
     Paul says, “Know yourself.” Know your abilities and spiritual gifts. Do what you can to shore up your weaknesses, but go with your strengths.
     There are several other principles that we could look at such as “considering circumstances, seeking special revelation, second-best decisions, and danger-zones, but space does not allow for a full explanation of each.
     The final principle that I want us to consider is “seeking Godly counsel.” The book of Proverbs urges us to seek wise counsel before finalizing our decisions: “Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life.” (Prov. 19:20 NLT). See also Prov. 11:14;13:20;15:22;20:18;25:5-6)
     In our decision-making process we need to seek (l) Biblical counsel (Pastors), (2) Experienced counsel (those who have gone through similar experiences), and (3) Best available counsel (Christian or non-Christian).

     It is my intent that these devotion have at the least given you some practical guidelines for determining the will of God in a given situation. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Making Decisions--Motivated by Love

Making Decisions—Motivated by Love
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 NASB)
In our previous devotion we learned that total submission to the sovereign and moral wills of God is the key to making wise and prudent decisions. We need the skills taught in God’s word to be able to face life’s difficult choices.
     Making decisions can be a fearful undertaking especially if it involves going to a hostile environment. One reason we are reluctant to make such decisions is the possibility of consequences. A second reason is we often face a decision with uncertain consequences.
     In 2007 we came face to face with the decision whether or not to join a Wycliffe Associates mission team to Papua, New Guinea. We would have to fly from St. Louis to LAX, and then take Quantas airlines from LAX to Brisbane, Australia which was a fourteen hour flight. From Brisbane we would fly to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua, NG. We would stay overnight at the mission guesthouse before taking WA’s private plane back to the jungle compound in Ukarumpa. Uncertainties arose which had to be dealt with such as: Where would we get the funds for such a long trip? How would we handle the fourteen hour flight? What about health and safety issues? As we considered God’s will, two factors played a role in our decision: (1) our degree of love for the Lord, and (2) our submission to the sovereign and moral will of God.
     Our thirteen member team taught a two-week VBS curriculum to one hundred and forty missionary children. We had a blast and fell in love with the missionaries, the country, and the people.
     Following God’s principles for making decisions may make them clearer, but the consequences may still be hard and uncertain. We found this to be true on our other trips to Peru, Africa, and France. It is amazing to us, but not to God that he brought us through each one with our health and safety intact.
     What skills do we draw on when we face decisions that do not fall under submission to God’s sovereign or moral will?
     Over and over again the Bible tells us that love is a motivating factor in determining the will of God. In at least eight places the Bible tells us to love God and love our neighbors. One such reference is in Galatians 5:13,14 where it says, “For you have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love, ‘For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NLT) Other references include Lev. 19:18; Luke 10:25-28; Romans 13:9; James 2:8)
     The Apostle Paul wrote, “Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:10), and he included love as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22). What principle are these and other Scripture passages telling us? When it comes to decisions that aren’t clearly dealt with in God’s word the motivating factor is love. Not just any kind of love. Not on human love. Not the kind of love a mother has for her newborn. Not with phileo (‘fill’-E-o) or brotherly love. The kind of love that Paul and others are referring to is agape love.
     Agape love is an act of the will in which we put another person’s interest before our own. Our decision making process should relate to the welfare of others. This is what Paul is teaching us in Philippians 2:3,4 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NASB)
     Many people don’t want to make good decisions; they want to make painless decisions

Monday, February 24, 2014

Making Decisions--God's Three Wills

Making Decisions—God’s Three Wills
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:11-12 NKJV)
In our previous devotion we looked at some of the wrong methods used by people to determine the will of God. Where are we to go to find answers to life’s tough questions? What resources should we use? How do we determine the will of God? 
     It might come as a shock to discover that God doesn’t encourage us to ask that question. I have asked that question of God many times during my lifetime and have not as yet received a direct answer. Do you know what I’ve found out? I was actually asking the wrong question. I should have been asking, “How do I go about making good decisions? Changing the question also changes the direction of the answer. It shifts the responsibility of the decision-making from God to us.
     If the Bible is our guide book, and it is, then what do I want it to teach me? I want the Bible to help me develop skills necessary to make wise and prudent choices. Before I can learn what these principles or guidelines are, I must first understand God’s three wills and what part they play in my decision making process. Let’s take a brief look at God’s three wills:
First, God’s Sovereign Will is his purpose from eternity past to eternity future whereby he determines all that should take place (Eph. 1:11). The Bible teaches us that God has a plan and is working out his will. He is sovereign in the affairs of men and nations, and he works out all things according to his purposes. The problem we have with God’s sovereign will is that we don’t always see his hand in things. We do have the advantage of hindsight, but lack the ability of foresight.
     God did not leave us clueless when it came to his Son’s entrance and mission in the world. The ancient prophets foretold his birth, mission, death, and resurrection. (Ps. 22-24; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 53:1-12; Dan. 9:26; Isa. 7:14;9:6;53:1-12; Micah 5:2; Mt. 1:18-23; Lk. 2:11 and many others.)
Second, God’s Moral Will as described in the Bible tells us what God wants us to believe and how he wants us to behave. He gives us specific commands as well as general principles to guide us through life’s difficult decisions. One such principle is described in 1 Peter 4:8-11;
     “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
     God’s sovereign and moral wills give us clear directions. We are to act in love and kindness. We are not to be self-serving. We are to operate with integrity. We are to be faithful and generous. Most of all we are to exercise proper motives. If we put into practice these principles we will be on our way to following God’s will and making wise decisions.
Third, God’s Individual Will is determined in a large part by our willingness to submit to God’s sovereign and moral will. This attitude of submission must permeate everything we do.

     It is important that we make the study and implementation of God’s word a lifetime commitment. By so doing we will have laid the foundation for making wise, prudent, and godly choices. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Making Decisions--Wrong Motives

Making Decisions—Wrong Methods
Down through the history of mankind people have devised all sorts of ways to seek divine guidance for the living of life.
     One method used in pagan religious rituals was called the “quiver of the liver.” They cut open an animal and took out the liver. They believed the motion of the animal’s organ would direct them in discovering the mind of the gods. Today we no longer believe in the mystical powers of the stomach, however, the language is still used when you hear people say, “I had a gut feeling,” or “I felt it in my gut.”
     Other people in ancient times consulted the stars. Astrology was used by the “wise men” who followed a star to reach Bethlehem. Astrology was studied by philosophers of old to try to determine the origin of the universe. The signs of the Zodiac were widely used during the Hellenistic-Roman era to find the mind of the gods. These signs of the Zodiac are still being used today.
     Others in ancient Greece and Rome consulted oracles. Priests and priestesses were believed to have divine ability to know the mind of the gods and predict the future. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In Tibet, oracles have played, and continue to play, an important part in religion and government. They are considered a form of divination.
     Divination was a consuming passion of pagan religious practice, and was strictly forbidden by God. In Deuteronomy 18:10-12 we read:
     “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” (NKJV)
     These verses leave no doubt as to God’s will concerning divination; yet modern day followers of Christ still engage New Age “channelers,” consult Ouija boards and tarot cards, and play innocent looking games such as Witches’ Brew and Dragons and Dungeons. These methods are dangerously close to divination and fall under God’s condemnation.
     Other well-meaning Christians play “biblical roulette” to seek God’s direction. They let their fingers walk through the Bible in hopes that a verse will pop out at them indicating God’s direction and will. Have you ever heard a person who was seeking God’s will say, “I was leafing through the Bible and a verse suddenly stood out to me.”
     Still others flip open their Bible and with their eyes closed put their finger on a verse and believe that’s God’s will for them.

      None of these methods of determining the mind of God on a particular matter are approved of by God. Has God provided a means for you and me to use in determining His will and making good decisions? The answer is a resounding YES! We will consider some guidelines in the following devotions. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fear versus Faith

Fear versus Faith
Scripture Reading: Exodus 14-1-31
“As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the Lord for help.” (Exodus 14:10 NLT)
When my boys were young we loved to go camping at Big Spring State Park in Missouri. In the evening we sat around our campfire watching the flickering flames and listened to the chirping of crickets, the hooting of owls, and the yapping of coyotes. Sounds at night always seem closer than they really are, and noises in the forest are especially scary. Ghostlike shadows make the hair on the back of one’s neck rise and feelings of fear emerge. Darkness has a way of doing this to a person.
     That’s what happened to Israel when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. God led the people by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea. Pharaoh allowed them to go, but then God changed Pharaoh’s mind (Ex. 14:4 NASB). The people stood facing the Red Sea and looked back and saw the Egyptian army pursuing them. They were literally trapped. Great fear gripped their hearts. What were they to do? Why did God allow this to happen? The answer is given in Ex. 14:4. “I have planned this so I will receive glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies. After this, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (NLT)
     The purpose of God’s glory is to show that God is God. Our tirals and tribulations are intended to bring God glory. Each difficulty we face gives us an opportunity to show the watching world that God is greater than any adversity we encounter.
     On several occasions Peter allowed emotional fear to overwhelm his faith; once when he saw Jesus walking on the water (Mt 14:30), and again while standing by the courtyard fire at the trial of Jesus (Mt. 26:74-75). It is important to note that Jesus never gave up on Peter. When Jesus arose from the grave following his death and burial, he immediately sought out Peter and restored him back into fellowship. 
     Fear is one of the tactics that Satan uses to keep us in bondage. Living in constant fear stymies our spiritual growth, and leaves us vulnerable to other destructive attacks.
How do we live free of fear?  First, we need to recognize that God is sovereign and in control of every situation.  Second, He reveals himself to us in ways we least expect. Third, he gives us a great promise, “…fear not for I am with you. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. (Heb. 13:5). 

Prayer: Dear Lord, Help me to remember that you are greater than any fear. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Disruptive Moments

Disruptive Moments
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
“Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                         (2 Cor. 12:10 NLT)
Have you ever experienced a disruptive moment?
     Disruptive moments are those times when unwelcome events occur in our lives that usually involve pain, inconvenience, failure, set-backs, or humiliation. These difficulties pop up unexpectedly and find us totally unprepared. I would liken them to pot holes or bumps in the road of life. Sometimes they are short in duration while at other times they linger endlessly.
     I experienced a disruptive moment while on a mission trip to Peru in 2008. I was bending over to get into a tiny taxi and bumped my left ear on the door frame smashing my hearing aid. To some this may seem like a small bump, but to me it was devastating. Not only did I ruin a $2,000 hearing aid, but now I could only hear out of one side of my head. Would I be able to teach the children and hear their responses? Other bumps in the road appeared when each of our team members got a twenty-four hour sickness with flu like symptoms. How were we going to handle these disruptive moments? Those of us that were not sick met together for prayer. We also searched the Scripture and decided to claim the verse in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We determined to trust the Lord in spite of the bumps in the road.
     The Apostle Paul experienced a lot of disruptive moments in his life. He was beaten and left for dead, shipwrecked on his way to Rome, bitten by a poisonous viper and survived, put in chains and cast into prison, suffered a thorn in the flesh, endured hunger and hardships, and numerous other failures, disappointments, humiliations, and set-backs. How did he manage to keep going?
     He did the same thing that we did when we were hit by disruptive moments. He prayed and trusted the promises of God, especially the promise the Lord gave him in 2 Corinthians 12:9;
      “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
     Why does God allow us to experience these disruptive moments? What could be his purpose? I can think of at least two reasons: (1) to cause us to turn to him in total dependence and faith, (2) to allow us to experience the power of God in the midst of our weakness. When bumps in the road appear in your life allow God’s grace to overshadow you and bring you peace.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I know disruptive moments will come, help me to fully trust in you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Overcoming Fear with Bravery

Overcoming Fear with Bravery
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manassah, and I am the least in my entire family!”           (Judges 6:14-15)
I shall never forget the time as a boy when I came face to face with an angry, mean, coiled up Copperhead. Instantly, my blood pressure rose, my pulse quickened, my pupils dilated, the hair on my neck stiffened, my muscles tensed, and fear flooded my mind. I didn’t have time to think—fight or flight! I jumped as high as I could and raced back up the path. Did I make the right choice? Was it cowardly for me to jump away from the snake? Not to me! When a poisonous snake is involved, I would much rather use “flight” than “fight.” Did I mention that I am deathly afraid of snakes?
     It is not a critical issue when the physical area of life is involved, but what about the spiritual areas of life? Sometimes while serving the Lord we find ourselves facing dangerous situations. Like the time we were working with Bible translators in a compound in Ukrarumpa, New Guinea. If we wanted to leave the protection of the compound and drive over to Goroka, we had to face the possibility of bandits stopping and robbing us of our possessions. We always traveled in a caravan of vans to avoid this possibility. Nevertheless, the danger was always prevalent, and for the same reason we were not allowed to walk around the fenced compound at night. 
     God puts us in different situations where decisions of fight-or-flight must be made so we can learn bravery and trust.
What is Bravery?
     In our previous discussion of courage, we saw the internal resolve of Joshua and Caleb who displayed courage in the face of national dissent. Their infusion of courage was the result of absolute faith in the covenant making God of the Israelites.
     Gideon possessed a courageous resolve, but he lacked the bravery to demonstrate that courage. In fact, when the angel of the Lord found him, he was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide it from the marauding Midianites (Judges 6:11). The angel promised to go with him to defeat the Midianites and Gideon’s internal courage was demonstrated by bravely taking three hundred men, clay jars with torches inside, and a Ram’s horn to cause such confusion in the camp that the entire army fled for their lives.
     If we stay close to the Lord and learn to trust him for all our needs, we can be certain that he will give us the needed courage and bravery to stand against the enemies of God at needed times. Have you, like me, ever been tempted to collapse in sheer panic and fear? It is during those moments when we need to call upon the Lord for courage. He will give us internal resolve to overcome our fears before they overcome us. God’s word says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)


Monday, February 17, 2014


Courage Against Overwhelming Odds
“But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses.” “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We certainly can conquer it!” (Nu. 13:30 NLT) “Then all the people began weeping aloud and they cried all night.” (Nu. 14:1) Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt!” (Nu. 14:4 NLT)
In this devotion we see another example of True Grit and Courage. Many nations have established prestigious awards for displays of extraordinary courage in face of the enemy. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that can be bestowed on an individual. One such Medal of Honor was awarded to Cpl. Sergeant Alvin C. York for courage against overwhelming odds near Chatel-Chehery, France on 8 Oct. 1918. Cpl. York fearlessly led seven men to charge a machine gun nest and captured four officers and one hundred twenty-eight German soldiers.
     The Bible records many stories of faith and courage, and two of my favorite heroes are Joshua and Caleb. You, no doubt, know the account of the twelve Jewish men that Moses sent in to spy out the land of Canaan and bring back a report. Do you remember what happened when they returned? They all agreed that it was great land flowing with milk and honey. They even brought back evidence of the bountifulness of the land. When it came time to enter and take charge of the land ten of the spies convinced the people that the people were too plentiful, the cities were fortified, and there were GIANTS in the land. Upon hearing this negative report the people began wailing, hand-wringing, and rebelling against Moses. Their faith failed at a critical moment despite all the miracles that God had wrought for them. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, voted to go in and take possession of the land. Caleb stood before the people and said, “Let’s go at once to take the land, we certainly can conquer it!” (Nu. 13:30)
     If God were going to give Medals of Honor for faith and courage, certainly Joshua and Caleb would be high on his list. In my estimation they were deserving of being listed in the Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. How would you like to stand before over two million wailing, weeping, disconsolate, rebellious people and say, “Let’s go in and take the land?” That, my friends, took a whole lot of faith and courage.
     It is well worth noting that of all that generation, only Joshua and Caleb entered the Land of Promise, and received an allotment of their choosing.
     Down through the ages countless saints have paid with their lives for their faith and courage in the face of persecution. Burned at the stake, torn apart by lions, tortured, beheaded, and crucified, they refused to recant their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Believers in different parts of the world are still having to face torture and martyrdom for the faith. In many 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

True Grit

True Grit and Courage
Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:17-18
One of my all-time favorite western movies is True Grit (1969) starring John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby.
     Teenager, Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) recruits a one-eyed, mean, drunken deputy marshal (John Wayne) because he has “grit” and a reputation for getting the job done, to help her find Tom Chaney who murdered her father and bring him to justice. The two are joined by Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell) who wants to find the same man and take him back to Texas for a similar crime. As the story unfolds, we see Mattie’s determination, courage, and stubbornness to see that justice is done. She reveals a level of “grit” that is equal to the reputation of Rooster Cogburn himself.
     The resolve of fourteen year old Mattie Ross is an example of the grit and courage shown by three young Hebrew teenagers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, while facing the blazing fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. They stood their ground in total reliance upon God as the king raged and threatened to throw them into the furnace of fire.
     The Bible uses a synonym for the kind of faith and courage exhibited by the three Hebrew youths. It is the word “rely” as used by Hanani, the Seer, the prophet Isaiah, and the Apostle Paul.
     Hanani the Seer reminded King Asa, “Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and horsemen? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them all over to you.” (2 Chron. 16:8 NLT)
     Isaiah said, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” (Isa. 50:10 NLT)
     The Apostle Paul explained why troubles come to us—“that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:9 NIV)
     Upon what or whom are you relying on today? Is your grit and courage firmly established on an eternal person, plan, promise, and place? We can rely upon the promises of God because he cannot lie. When we rely upon the Lord, we must trust his plan to be perfect for us. (Jer. 29:11) Our God has specific promises that are especially designed to meet our needs. Search out the word of God and find that promise, and claim it for your own. Finally, God is preparing a special place for each of us.

     Isn’t it time that we as believers in Christ stand up for the truth and show some TRUE GRIT? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 6:12-19
“Then it  happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of her window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (2 Sam. 6:16 NASB)
The people in Yaounde, Cameroon celebrate the Lord with gusto. When I first attended one of their worship services I was amazed at the sheer joy they showed in their singing. It seemed impossible for them to stand perfectly still and sing. They clapped, shouted, twirled around, and swayed to the music. It was not done in a disorderly manner, nor was it disrespectful to the Lord. It reminded me of David’s experience when the ark of the Lord was brought back to Jerusalem. The Cameroonians did not show any inhibitions or negative emotions. To them celebrate really means celebrate. We see the same kind of enthusiasm in many of our African American churches today.
     For other people, praise and worship are internal processes with little or no show of emotion. Songs are sung while standing or sitting without any body movement. They clap to certain songs and some will sing with uplifted hands, but not everyone partakes in the same manner. They are just as joyful, but worship in a silent manner. That may not be the way it is in all Caucasian churches, but it is what I have experienced in the churches I’ve attended over the past fifty years.
     King David definitely fell into the first group. He showed his joy and praise by leaping and dancing before the Lord. He wasn’t deterred by the criticism of others. All that mattered to him was raising his voice and lifting up his heart to God. David didn’t mind making a fool of himself as long as God was being glorified. Michal didn’t like what she saw and held him in contempt. God was pleased and accepted David’s actions, but punished Michal by withholding children from her for the rest of her life. She paid a bitter price for her hatred and despite.
     I thoroughly enjoyed worshipping with the African people in Cameroon. It is impossible to stand like a statue when all around you people are clapping and singing so joyfully to the Lord. You could see in their faces and body movements how much they loved the Lord and desired to celebrate him.
     What kind of worshiper are you? Do you stand like a statue and sing with your lips barely moving, or do you vocalize with great joy and enthusiasm? It is not my place to pass judgment on what your method of worship might be, but I do believe that God wants us to celebrate and glorify him in our worship. If our worship does not have the Lord as the sole object of affection and devotion, then it is not really worship.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to worship you with joy knowing that you are worthy of my praise. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Carried on Eagle's Wings

Scripture Reading: Exodus 19:1-6
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle’s wings.” (Exodus 19:4 NLT)
People worldwide are seeking assurance and security in the marketplace, at home, at work, and even in the church. Businesses are downsizing or closing up shop, friends and families are divided, and churches are ill-equipped or unwilling to meet their needs. People everywhere are crying out for help, but none is to be found.
     Moses faced challenges of epic proportions in his leadership role as Israel’s deliverer. The people were despondent and teetered on the brink of mutiny. I’m sure Moses thought to himself on more than one occasion “how can I hold this multitude together. They are like a flock of frightened sheep scattering in all directions.” Lack of security will do that to a person. It is easy to lose ones sense of direction. What was Moses to do?
     At that precise moment, God stepped in and spoke to Moses and the people. He reminded them (we’re so prone to forget) that it was by His almighty power that they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. I love the phrase where God said, “I brought you to myself and carried you on eagles’ wings.” Isn’t that great?
     If you are a believer, it is because God sought you out and chose you to be one of his children. Paul clearly tells us in Romans 3:11-12, “No one is seeking God, all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one.” (NLT) Those words certainly applied to Israel.
     I remember a time when I was in need of God’s eagle wings. I was fishing high in the mountains of Colorado miles away from any medical facility. I felt tightness in the upper chest area. I was scared and frightened. No one was there to help me. I thought for sure that I was going to have a heart attack and die. Due to the altitude I could only take a couple steps before stopping to catch my breath. I called out to God for help. Slowly, I made my way back to the car where my wife was waiting for me. We ended our vacation and drove back to Missouri. Three days after arriving home I was in the operating room of Boone Hospital in Columbia, Missouri having quadruple bypass surgery. I definitely believe that I was carried home on God’s eagle wings.
     It is not by accident that God chose the eagle as his symbol of deliverance, and it is not surprising that seventeen countries have chosen the eagle as their coat of arms symbol. I doubt if I would be here today, if it were not for the protection of God’s eagle’s wings.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I can’t thank and praise you enough for providing eagle’s wings for me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:1-19
“The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 NLT)
The world places no value on broken things. People who are broken are often discarded by our society like shards of glass. We live in a culture that idolizes youth, beauty, outward appearances, and self-reliance. If a fetus in the womb has a defect—abort it. When people get old and unable to care for themselves we hide them in forgotten old folk’s homes. It’s like the old adage: “out of sight is out of mind.”
     What is brokenness? Tony Evans in his book “Free at Last” says, “Brokenness is the work of God by which he strips us of our pride and self-sufficiency so that the beauty of the life of Christ will shine through.” (p. 170, para. 1)
     Mr. Evans goes on to say, “true brokenness is God striking a blow to the flesh in such a graphic way that we have no strength left to fix ourselves” (p. 170, par. 4). This is a great definition because our unredeemed self-life (flesh) is never able to please God. The flesh is at war with the Spirit, and no common meeting ground exists between the two. That’s why the Apostle Paul said to the Galatians, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh, for the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for they are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal. 5:16-17 NASB)
     Once we come to realize that God alone is all we need for daily living, we are on our way to true brokenness. Self-sufficiency is so engrained in our self-life that even after salvation it clings to us and prevents the life of Christ from shining through.
     A few years ago I searched and found my sister (who I hadn’t seen for over twenty-five years) in a nursing home in Panama City, Florida. She is now ninety-one years old. At first, neither one of us recognized each other. I was saddened to see her sitting in a wheel chair and all alone. I asked her, “Do your children come to see you?” She answered, “No, they never come around.” How terrible to be broken and cast aside!
     Can God see the beauty of brokenness in your life? Are you daily crucifying the flesh and walking in the Spirit? What are some ways you can reach out to the broken-hearted? Do you know of someone who could benefit from an encouraging word?

Prayer: Dear Lord, There are over a hundred seniors living around me in this over fifty-five mobile home community. Help me to be a friend and reach out to them with encouraging words.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

All is Forgiven

All is Forgiven
Scripture Reading: Psalm 32:1-11
“Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight.”              (Psalm 21:1 NLT)
Ernest Hemingway, a classic author, tells the story of a Spanish father and son who no longer spoke to each other. The father decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The remorseful father took out the following ad in the El Liberal newspaper, “PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA.”
     At noon on Tuesday, the father went to the square where he found eight hundred young men named Paco waiting for the forgiveness of their fathers. Paco was a very common name in Spain. (Taken from After Thoughts, First Baptist of Orlando, Pastor Uth).
     Wow! Can you imagine eight hundred young men yearning for forgiveness from their fathers? What could have been said to cause such disruption in their relationships? Were hurtful words spoken? I can hear the father saying, “You never do anything right!” or “You’ll never amount to anything!” or “You’re so stupid! And I can hear the son responding, “You just don’t understand!” or “Get off my back!” or “You are a jerk!” Words have a tremendous power to hurt.
     Have you ever been hurt by words spoken in haste or in lan unkindly manner? Yes, we all have been guilty at some point in time. I have to confess that I have been guilty of hurtful words spoken out of anger and frustration. There is no excuse for my actions. I was thoughtless and rude. Countless children and adults are carrying around more hurt than God ever intended. Isn’t it time that we all learn how to forgive one another?
     Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally. It takes some effort on our part to forgive. Pride has to be swallowed. Confession made. Healing begins when we learn to forgive ourselves the same way that God forgives us. Jesus commands us to love one another the same way that he loves us.
     Think of those eight hundred young men gathered around the fountain waiting for forgiveness from their fathers. We all long to be forgiven, we long to be loved, and we long to be at peace with ourselves and others. God our Father longs to forgive us, to lavish his great love on us, and to bring us his peace.
     Once we have made peace with God through Jesus Christ, we can enjoy the peace of God.

Prayer, Dear Lord, I ask you to guard my tongue so that I do not hurt others with my words.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Access Denied Warnings

Access Denied Warnings
Scripture Reading: Revelation 22:1-13
“After banishing them from the garden, the Lord God stationed mighty angelic beings to the east of Eden. And a flaming sword flashed back and forth, guarding the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24 NLT)
Both government and private sectors have highly classified information on computers that requires a special code or password to access the data. When someone attempts to gain entrance, the computer with flashing lights on the screen sends a message that says Access Denied. Hackers bent upon illegal entry will spend hours trying to circumvent the law and gain access to information that they have no right to obtain that may cause extreme damage to our national security, business ventures, and people’s lives. Such an invasion occurred recently when the credit security of Target customers was compromised and one hundred and ten million people were affected.
     People who ignore access denied signs on high voltage panels, toxic waste reservoirs, and other dangerous byproducts are susceptible to physical endangerment including death. Many over the counter products have warning signs to protect the consumer from ill effects. These access denied warnings are printed on labels to keep the consumer safe.
     Warnings are not always painted on structures or printed on labels. Sometimes they are given to a person verbally. I remember my mother warning me as a young boy not to climb up to the shelves on the back porch where she did the washing. Of course, you know what happens when you tell a child not to do something. Curiosity got the best of me and I climbed up on a chair ignoring her warnings to see what interesting things were on the shelves. Disobeying her warnings led to drastic physical discomfort. I tipped over a bottle of boric acid that spilled onto my eyes, and began screaming at the top of my lungs. My mother ran out and rushed me over to the cold water faucet to wash my eyes out with water. Fortunately for me, no permanent damage occurred and I learned to heed my mother’s warnings. It pays to pay attention to the warning signs that God places for our protection and safety as well.
     Throughout the word of God we see commands that have the equivalent of access denied warning signs. One such sign is found in Gen. 3:24, “A flaming sword flashed back and forth, guarding the way to the tree of life.” Eating of this tree would have left Adam and Eve in a permanent state of sin with no hope of salvation.
     Access denied signs are a product of God’s grace. Paying attention to these warnings will save you untold heartache, and keep you in a right relationship to your heavenly Father.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the many warning signs you give in your word to keep us safe.    

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Access Denied Warnings

Access Denied Warnings
Scripture Reading: Revelation 22:1-13
“After banishing them from the garden, the Lord God stationed mighty angelic beings to the east of Eden. And a flaming sword flashed back and forth, guarding the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24 NLT)
Both government and private sectors have highly classified information on computers that requires a special code or password to access the data. When someone attempts to gain entrance, the computer with flashing lights on the screen sends a message that says Access Denied. Hackers bent upon illegal entry will spend hours trying to circumvent the law and gain access to information that they have no right to obtain that may cause extreme damage to our national security, business ventures, and people’s lives. Such an invasion occurred recently when the credit security of Target customers was compromised and one hundred and ten million people were affected.
     People who ignore access denied signs on high voltage panels, toxic waste reservoirs, and other dangerous byproducts are susceptible to physical endangerment including death. Many over the counter products have warning signs to protect the consumer from ill effects. These access denied warnings are printed on labels to keep the consumer safe.
     Warnings are not always painted on structures or printed on labels. Sometimes they are given to a person verbally. I remember my mother warning me as a young boy not to climb up to the shelves on the back porch where she did the washing. Of course, you know what happens when you tell a child not to do something. Curiosity got the best of me and I climbed up on a chair ignoring her warnings to see what interesting things were on the shelves. Disobeying her warnings led to drastic physical discomfort. I tipped over a bottle of boric acid that spilled onto my eyes, and began screaming at the top of my lungs. My mother ran out and rushed me over to the cold water faucet to wash my eyes out with water. Fortunately for me, no permanent damage occurred and I learned to heed my mother’s warnings. It pays to pay attention to the warning signs that God places for our protection and safety as well.
     Throughout the word of God we see commands that have the equivalent of access denied warning signs. One such sign is found in Gen. 3:24, “A flaming sword flashed back and forth, guarding the way to the tree of life.” Eating of this tree would have left Adam and Eve in a permanent state of sin with no hope of salvation.
     Access denied signs are a product of God’s grace. Paying attention to these warnings will save you untold heartache, and keep you in a right relationship to your heavenly Father.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the many warning signs you give in your word to keep us safe

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Time for Everything

A Time for Everything
Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
“There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Eccl. 3:1,4 NLT)
Twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Solomon refers to time. Most of us are slaves to time. We jump out of bed in the morning to the buzzing of an alarm clock. After a quick breakfast, we race to work in order to get there on time to punch the time clock. In many work places the company has a set time for taking a break. For those of us that worked at a warehouse in St. Louis it was ten o’clock in the morning and three o’clock in the afternoon. Everything shut down for fifteen minutes. Lunch time was from eleven thirty to twelve o’clock. At the designated set time the whistle blew and we all departed for home. Doesn’t that sound like time is our master?
     It never ceases to amaze me that Solomon did not add one more time sequence to his poem—a time to forget and a time to remember.
     There are incidents of failure and regret that we try hard to forget. Times when we failed to honor God in a relationship or business activity, or an ill-spoken word that hurt someone deeply, or personal decisions that didn’t turn out well. All of us have some type of dirty laundry that we have shoved down into our sub-conscious hoping that it will be forgotten forever, but Satan keeps attempting to dig it up and use it against us. I would love to forget the difficult times of childhood when neighborhood kids shoved me around and beat me up. I would love to forget those great depression years when my parents worked night and day to keep food on the table and roof over our heads.
     There are other time conscious memories, however, that should never be forgotten. Memories of the joy we experience while serving the Lord. I don’t want to ever forget the life-changing memories of my mission trips to Africa, Peru, France, and Papua, New Guinea. They were challenging but joyful experiences. I don’t ever intend to forget the way God picked me up out of the muck of sin and set my feet on the Rock, Christ Jesus. The psalmist expressed it well:
     “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” (Ps. 40:2 NLT)
     Are you enslaved by time? Is time your master? They say that time heals all wounds, but I prefer to take my failures, hurts, and problems to Jesus and let him carry my burdens. The Apostle Peter said, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” (1 Pet. 5:7 NLT)

Prayer: Dear Lord, how comforting it is to know that you are willing to carry my burdens.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Childlike Heart

A Childlike Heart
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:1-10
“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly father.” (Mt. 18:10 NLT)
Jesus had a special heart felt love for children. When he questioned the motives of the disciples who were arguing about their position in the kingdom, he took a small child in his arms and used the little one as an example of greatness. This mild rebuke taught the disciples a great lesson about faith and humility.
     Jesus’ use of children shows us how much we can learn from them. Children have a simple faith. They entertain few doubts and exhibit a wild-eyed curiosity, innocent trust, and eagerness to please, that Jesus would love to see in us.
     Perhaps you remember the courtroom scene in the movie Miracle on 34th Street where the prosecutor’s son was put on the stand to testify. The defense attorney asked him, “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” The boy answered, “Sure I do.” When he was asked, “How do you know?” He looked at his daddy (who was the prosecutor) and answered, “Because my daddy told me so, didn’t you daddy?” Of course the spectators roared with laughter but the point is well taken. Children are quick to believe what they hear and regard it as the gospel truth. My wife taught first and second graders in a rural public school and children would go home at night and relate the day’s events. How many times have you had one of your children come home and say, “The teacher said so” as if that were the gospel truth?
     Children are sensitive to parental approval and disapproval. Caught with the proverbial hand in the cookie jar the child stands before the parent. A stern reprimand brings a gush of tears and a crestfallen look. The sobbing is intermingled with whispers of “I’m sorry and I promise not to do it again.” These evidences of remorse reveal the genuineness of their sorrow. No loving parent would withhold love, acceptance, and forgiveness from such a display of brokenness. And neither does your heavenly father cast you aside when you confess your sin, and plead for his forgiveness.
     My wife has a soft place in her heart for pre-school age children, and believes children are never too young to learn about God and his love.
     How does God want you to approach him? Doesn’t he want you to come with a childlike heart? Why don’t you to sit down right now and tell God what is breaking your heart?

Payer: Dear Lord, listen to my bleeding heart. Help me become more childlike in my attitude and approach to you. Help me be like a child who is quick to admit wrongs and seek forgiveness. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Broken Heart

A Broken Heart
Scripture Reading: Genesis 6:1-22
“Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart.” (Gen 6:5-6 NLT)
Unholy alliances between fallen angels and the sons of man brought about giants who were known as “renown.” These supernatural beings were evil and ravaged the earth to the extent that God was sorry that he had created man. The Bible says, “It broke his heart.” (Gen. 6:6)
     The evil was so widespread that God decided to wipe out the human race. Noah was the only righteous man that found favor in the eyes of the Lord. A broken heart leads to disastrous results.
     Years ago my wife and I visited the famous Longwood Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The construction of this unique octagonal shaped plantation home began in 1861, but was never finished because of the Civil War. When war started the workers dropped their tools and joined the Confederate army in the fight against the Union. The inside of the house was never finished except for the basement which was completed by local workers after the war.
     According to various internet sources Dr. Haller Nutt died of a broken heart when Union troops ravaged his plantation despite the fact that he carried papers identifying him as an important Federalist. The story is told that his wife, Julia, later sued the U.S. Government over this issue and won a large monetary reward that she used to send all their children to college.
     A broken heart, shattered dreams, lost wealth and loved ones can cause a person to take drastic actions even bringing harm to themselves and others. We have seen reports of young people taking their lives because of bullying, and soldiers committing suicide due to the extreme pressure and stress of military conflict.
     In the video, Home Alone 2, a “pigeon lady” in New York Central Park isolated herself from society because of a broken heart when she was left standing at the altar. When young Kevin McCallister encouraged her to make friends she said, “I don’t want my heart broken again.”
     Have you ever experienced a broken heart? Perhaps you lost your favorite pet, or best friend, a loved one, or a longtime business partner. How did you handle the loss? Who or what did you turn to for solace?
     God is the one person who understands our grief. He knows what separation means? While on the cross Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Turn to him for comfort.
Prayer: Dear Lord, my heart grieves for those who are suffering the loss of a loved one or friend

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Overloaded Plate

An Overloaded Plate
Scripture Reading: Exodus 5:1-23
“Load them down with more work. Make them sweat! That will teach them to listen to these liars! (Exodus 5:9 NLT)
What’s on your plate? Is it filled to the brim? No, not with food! If not with food, then what is it filled with? It is filled to the brim with unfinished tasks, duties, and responsibilities. More than you can possibly handle? You are working with an overloaded plate. How can you possibly meet all the deadlines? Do you feel stress building up? Are your nerve fibers crying out in pain? How close are you to feeling burned out? When is giving your very best not good enough?
     The above scenario has become a serious problem not only in the secular world, but also in Christian endeavors. More and more Christian leaders, pastors, and missionaries are leaving their fields of service because of overload, cut budgets, and stress related pressures. Some organizations are already operating in a crisis mode while others keep plugging along. People are getting burned out because of an overloaded plate. Why? Some blame it on the economy and downsizing while others are simply trying to get more production with less labor.
     My experience over the years is that Christian organizations tend to place more burdens on their workers until their plate is overloaded and they suffer from burn out and return home defeated and broken in spirit.
      When Moses went before Pharaoh on behalf of the children of Israel he was accused of distracting the people (Exodus 5:4), and sent shamefully away. Pharaoh took away the straw and forced the people to hunt for their own straw making their labor more intensive and stressful. In addition the slave drivers demanded that they maintain the same quota of bricks.
     How did the Israelite foremen deal with their situation? First, they asked Pharaoh to lighten the load, but he refused. Then they turned to Moses and said, “May the Lord judge you for getting us into this terrible situation with Pharaoh and his officials. You have given them an excuse to kill us!” (Ex. 5:21 NLT)
     Moses did the same thing that you and I must do when confronted with an overloaded plate. He took the matter to the Lord (5:22). Whenever we begin to feel stressed out, we need to immediately turn to the Lord for relief. This may not be all that is needed, but at least it is a proper place to start. God will help us to refocus our energies upon him, and provide the strength to continue.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you know that it is difficult to say no to a request for help, especially in Christian circles, but we must keep our plate from becoming overloaded and burned out.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Helping Hands

Helping Hands
“Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any longer. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset.”         (Ex. 17:12 NLT)
General Grant’s battle strategy during the Civil War was to out-number the enemy. He believed that superior forces and weapons would win the battle. He followed the principle of war that the army holding the high ground usually wins.
     As Christians we are involved in a battle for truth against a powerful enemy, but God as our commander-in-chief, has the superior forces and holds the high ground. His army is composed of believers of all ages from many different walks of life.
     Consider the battle the Israelite army had with the Amalekites. Joshua was the commander, Moses was the prayer warrior, Aaron and Hur assisted, and the Lord God, Yahweh Nissi, was the rallying point. The uplifted banner ensured the victory.
     This Old Testament event teaches us the importance of “helping hands” that are needed to assist in the struggle for the truth. The battle will not be won by just one individual, but a multitude of helping hands assisting one another to ensure a victory.
     Pause for a moment and consider professional sports. In basketball, records are kept of the number of assists a player has. A professional golfer would not be successful without the assistance of a caddy. Baseball players with a strong and accurate throwing arm save games by coming in as relief pitchers. A race car driver cannot win without a team of mechanics. Football players have coaches and assistant coaches. Tennis players have ball boys and ball girls to retrieve the tennis balls. Many more examples could be cited for the value of helping hands.
     The same is true in Christian service. A pastor relies upon his leadership team and the people in the pew to assist in the work. Bible translators rely heavily upon volunteer support personnel to assist in maintaining their airplanes, vehicles, computer equipment as well as tutor their children and handle their accounts. The Bible could not be translated into the heart language of Bible less people groups without their assistance.
     Let the above examples remind you of the important assets you possess as a believer. Look for opportunities where you can join with others in prayer, encouragement, and help. Identify with other Christians who can and will come alongside you with “helping hands.”
     Remember, we are sitting with Christ in the heavenly places, so we hold the high ground. (Ephesians 2:6)
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for believers in my life who come alongside with helping hands