I’m not sure if I should label it progression or regression, but I have gone from wearing no glasses, to bi-focals, and for several years now I have moved into the tri-focal stage.
Each step in this vision process involved a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for new glasses. The last time I got a new prescription for eyeglasses, I noticed the abbreviations OS and OD. The OS is for the left eye, and it is a Latin abbreviation that means “oculus sinister.” The right eye is OD and is the Latin “oculus dextrus.”
The fact that I have a sinister left eye, made me curious, and I looked at the etymology of oculus sinister and dextrus:
- The Latin meaning of sinister speaks of that which is “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left.”
- Dextrus has the meaning of being “right or ready.”
In these two words, we see the struggle that each of us face. It is the conflict between evil and good or flesh and spirit. In Romans 8:5, Paul said: “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”
Since your “outlook” is determined by the flesh or the spirit, you may want to take an “in-look” at what the Bible says about desire:
- James 1:14-15: Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
- Proverbs 27:20: Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
- 2 Peter 2:14: Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, they entice unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices.
Which one of your eyes guides you? Do you see the world through the sinister side or the saintly side? I encourage you to take a look at your life, and consider using the words of Psalm 119:36-38 as your prayer for today:
“Turn my heart toward Your Law, so I will not earn money in a wrong way. Turn my eyes away from things that have no worth, and give me new life because of Your ways. Keep Your promise to Your servant, the promise You made to those who fear and worship You.”
A show that was popular a couple of years ago was known for the five words that formed a single question. The question was the title of the show: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
In the sermon this past Sunday, the message concluded with just three words that formed a single promise: “God is able!” You were asked to remember those three words and to think about them during this week. The five verses below will help you stay focused on this promise:
- When it comes to the subject of grace, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you (2 Corinthians 9:8).”
- Concerning the power that is necessary to live the Christian life, “God is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).”
- Paul told Timothy that he could trust God, because “He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:12).”
- When hard times come, you should know that “Since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested (Hebrews 2:18).”
- A verse in Jude 24 summarizes these principles: “God is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”
What are you doing to stay focused on these three words? I suggest that every time you open or shut a door, remember to say: “God is able.” If you do this, God might open a door for you.
Even though I’ve never watched a full episode of Duck Dynasty, I do know the motto of the main character on the show. Phil Robertson often says: “Happy! Happy! Happy!”
Have you ever given any thought to the source of happiness? The ancient philosopher, Aristotle tried to answer this question. He believed the most important factor in an effort to achieve happiness is to have a good moral character: “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life (Nicomachean Ethics).”
Happiness is not an on-going quest for instant gratification. It is, however, the product of a disciplined life that has been focused on the practice of the virtues.
To be content, your life needs to be filled with the right content. A good example of this is seen in a contrast of Abraham and Lot. After a family feud, Abraham allowed Lot to claim the well-watered and fertile plains of Jordan as his territory. Lot turns his herds and servants in that direction, and after a brief period of time, he has “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Genesis 13 describes this city and its inhabitants as exceedingly wicked.
The difference between these Lot and Abraham is seen in the word content. Lot’s tent (life) was full of conniving desires that led him away from the virtues of God; however, the story of Abraham was much different: His tent (life) was content as he delighted in the goodness of God.
Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- How happy am I?
- Does the content of my life help or hinder lasting contentment?
As you think about these questions, read this excerpt from Psalm 1: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
Is happiness an accident, or is it the result of a life well-lived?
It jingles and jangles in a jar, and it rattles around in your pocket or coin purse. It bears the message, “In God We Trust.”
While you are well-aware of the inscription on your coins, is that motto your life theme? Do you trust in God?
Let me rephrase the question: “Can you trust in God?” Is the character of God worthy of your trust?
When you read the Psalms, it is very clear that the writers of Scripture believed in the trustworthiness of God:
- Psalm 9:10: Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
- Psalm 13:5: But I trust your mercy. My heart finds joy in your salvation.
- Psalm 37:3,5: Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness . . . Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
- Psalm 56:4: In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
After you have given some consideration to the verses above, the next question for you is, “Will I trust in God?”
Solomon said that you are to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).”
When the wise sage said you are to “lean not” he was saying that you are not to prop yourself up with you own wisdom. Instead you are to “acknowledge” or trust God and allow Him to “direct your paths.”
The next time you pull a coin out of your pocket, take the time to read the inscription: “In God We Trust.” Then examine your life and ask yourself: “Am I trusting God?”
Many years ago, I was told that good speakers have at least three characteristics in common: They stand up, speak out, and sit down.
The book of Proverbs is full of good principles for you and the way you speak. Proverbs 4:24 is a good example: “Remove dishonesty from your mouth. Put deceptive speech far away from your lips.”
When you consider the underlying principles of this verse, you see that:
- Dishonesty needs to be removed: Whenever it moves in you need to move it out.
- Dishonesty is a nasty dish of lies that should never be allowed to nest in your mouth.
- You should never be receptive to deceptive speech: Put it far away from your lips.
In Proverbs 10, Solomon highlights the benefit of wholesome speech:
- The mouth of a righteous person is a fountain of life (verse 11).
- The tongue of a righteous person is pure silver (verse 20).
- The lips of a righteous person feed many (verse 21).
If you’ll take the time to compare the words of Solomon to the teachings of James, you’ll see a well-defined contrast:
- Solomon likened the tongue of the righteous to pure silver.
- James said the unrighteous use of the tongue will “defile the whole body.”
Listen to the manner in which you speak and the tenor of your conversation. When you become more aware of what you say and how you say it, you get a better idea of the real you. This is because your speech or your tongue is the index of your heart.
For the most part, I love the spring season of the year. I did say, “for the most part.” When it comes to the “part” that requires me to trim the 100 foot of hedges, I rethink my love affection for spring. There are some days that I work all day in the yard, and I am bone-tired by the time I finish.
When I read 2 Corinthians 7, I get the idea that Paul was bone-tired physically as well as spiritually: “In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside.”
The remedy for Paul’s affliction was encouragement:
But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more . . . In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you (2 Corinthians 7:6,7,13).
Paul said that both he and Titus were encouraged and refreshed by their interaction with other believers. Does your presence encourage or discourage other people? Solomon said:
- A twinkle in the eye delights the heart. Good news refreshes the body (Proverbs 15:30).
- Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
This could be one of the blessings of the golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you refresh and encourage others, it refreshes and encourages you.
Even though he was in prison, Paul was not imprisoned by his circumstances. In Philippians 4:4, he said: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
As I thought of the remarkable attitude of this wonderful servant of God, I thought of several places in the Psalms where you are encouraged to rejoice:
- In Psalm 9:14 the writer said that salvation is a reason to rejoice: I will rejoice in Your salvation.
- Mercy is the subject of rejoicing in Psalm 31:7: I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy.
- The faithfulness of God is another reason to rejoice. Psalm 33:21: For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.
- The writer of Psalm 119:14 said the promises of God’s
- Word were a source of joy to him: I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
As Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
To embrace the will of God for your life, I encourage you to consider how Paul made a connection between rejoicing and giving thanks. He did it in the verse above as well as Romans 12:12: “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…
How can “rejoicing always” can make a difference in how you you pray and how you give thanks?
There’s a passage of Scripture in the book of Isaiah that speaks about God’s wonderful love, care, and protection of His people. In Isaiah 43:1-3, it says:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior.”
When I read this Scripture from Isaiah, a couple of thoughts came to my mind, and I want to share them with you:
- You can have confidence in God, this is why he said: “Don’t be afraid.”
- You can have a relationship with God because He has redeemed you; He knows your name; and, He claims you as His own.
- When times are tough, and you feel like you’re in over your head, remember that Jesus knows something about water. He walked on top of it, so He can certainly walk you through it.
- When you encounter the raging rivers of life, Jesus can see around the bend. He will chart the best course, and He still knows where the still waters are (Psalm 23:2). “You
To claim this verse as your own, speak it to yourself: “You are my personal God. I know you have redeemed me and know my name. I know you claim me as your own, and I give thanks to you for You are the Holy One and my Savior.”
When Jesus was crucified, there was a message written in three languages that stated: This is Jesus the King of the Jews. You may know these three languages were Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; but, do you know how many languages exist in the world today?
There are some 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, and the language most frequently spoken is Mandarin Chinese. Due to China’s large population it is estimated that 1,213,000,000 people speak this language.
There is a country much smaller than China and it lies just south of the equator, and 99 miles north of Australia. It is Papua New Guinea, and it is smaller than China in both land mass and population. What’s interesting, however, is that with a population of just over 7 million, this country is incredibly diverse when it comes to languages. The Linguistic Society reports that Papua New Guinea has 832 indigenous languages.
Even though there are thousands of languages spoken in the world today, there will be a day when everyone speaks the same thing. There is coming a day when people will hear the name of Jesus and bow their knees to Him, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
There’s no need to wait for some future day to confess the goodness of God. In whatever language you choose, you can follow the example of the Psalms, and do it now:
- Psalm 7:17: I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
- Psalm 9:2: I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
- Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
There’s an interesting piece of conversation in I Chronicles 28 between God and Solomon that occurs after the rule and reign of King David. At the start of Solomon’s reign, God set some standards to help guide the new king: “The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
There are a few principles in this passage that may help you:
- God doesn’t just single you out. He mingles in with all of His creation: “the Lord searches every heart”
- God understands because He stands over you every moment of your life, and He aware of every one of your thoughts and desires.
- Even though God detects sin, He doesn’t reject the sinner who asks to be forgiven. From the heights of His holiness, there flows a river of mercy.
- If there is anything God does not do well, it’s playing hide and seek: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”
When you seek God and find Him, you will also discover:
- The fountain of life (Psalm 36:9).
- The river of delights (Psalm 36:8).
- The water of eternal life (John 4:14).
- His great love and rich mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
- The perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2).
I’m not sure how you arrange your schedule, and plan each day of your life, but let me make a suggestion for the rest of this week. Make it a priority to seek God. When Asaph wrote Psalm 50, he said: “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.”
Have you ever been subpoenaed or received a summons to appear before a judge? If you don’t follow the dictates of that summons, you are in contempt of court. How serious is it, if you refuse a summons from the Mighty One?”