Two of my childhood friends were Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. From the moment I met them, I’ve had a love for reading. Even when school recessed for the Summer, I rode my bicycle to the library two or three times a week to check out books.
An article in Quartz has identified a love for reading as the common trait that links the world’s most successful people. According to the article, “Reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process, increase empathy, boost creativity, and even just unwind from a long day. But books can also change the way we think and live.”
Because he had experienced the transformational power of God’s Word, Paul emphasized its role in the life of the believer:
- He instructed Timothy to, “give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching (I Timothy 4:13).”
- He reminded the church at Rome that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”
Perhaps the one verse in the Bible that best defines its awesome power is Hebrews 4:12: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” ~The Message
I encourage you to consider your reading habits, and to use Psalm 119:14 as a prayer to guide you: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
I have always been amazed at the brilliant and inventive mind of Thomas Edison. During his lifetime, Edison developed many devices including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and his discoveries were the prototype of the modern day power grid.
To offer some insight into the mind of Edison, I have selected five simple but intriguing quotes that are credited to this wonderful man:
- The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.
- The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.
- I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.
- Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
- I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator.
In 1914, Edison’s factory burned to the ground destroying his one-of-a-kind prototypes. Edison’s response to the catastrophe revealed his character: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”
This remarkable statement by Edison, reminds me of Paul’s assessment of his life. Notice the value he places on what he lost and what he gained, and how he contrasts the earthly and the eternal: “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”
What do you value most, the earthly or the eternal? Paul said: ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).“
Dorothy had her ruby red slippers, and Cinderella had a famous pair made of glass, but Imelda Marcos had both of them beat. Her massive closet had over 3,000 pairs of shoes.
You probably have several pairs of shoes that you wear based on the weather you will face or the work you will do. While you may have many shoes, are you aware of the shu that God has for you? The shu is every bit as important as the shoe:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
You see the shu in three words from the verse above:
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he spoke to them about the importance of correct footwear when he said you should have the “Gospel of peace firmly on your feet.” Your footwear may not be famous, but it can be faithful. Give God a chance to strength you, to help you, and to uphold you.
To make sure you are fashionable in God’s eyes, I’ll share a couple of verses with you that reveal the appropriate dress code:
Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ’s men and women (Ephesians 6)
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.”
How many people do you know who are named Sylvester? I can think of two. To be truthful, one of them is a cat. I can only think of one other person named Sylvester, and he disliked his name so much that he never used it.
Thanks to the work of Randal S. Olson, I learned something new about my name last night. I discovered that in the year I was born, there were 6,286 other people who were also named Stanley. The good thing is that 4,963 of us are still alive.
There is really no significance to my name; however, there is a name that is incredibly important:
- Philippians 2:9-11: God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.
Do you want to learn a little more about your name? Click here, and you can get started.
Like many people, Psalm 23 is a favorite of mine. As I was reading it earlier today, the last four words of verse 3 caught my attention: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
When left to themselves, those last four words, “for His names sake” are just a vanilla phrase. To really see the beauty of God, it helps to take a quick look at His name. As written in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the names of God are colorful and explicit in their terminology, and they emphasize the way He interacts with His creation:
- Jehovah-rophe (the Lord who heals you)
- Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd)
- Jehovah-jireh (the will provide)
- Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace)
Take these four names of God and make a personal application to your life:
- When you are struggling with emotional or physical issues, you can call out to Jevovah-rophe.
- When you feel like you’re alone and no one cares, Jehovah-raah is present.
- When you don’t know where to turn or what to do, Jehovah-jireh will provide.
- When the world seems to be shattered and crumbling beneath your feet, Jehovah-shalom is the peace in the eye of the storm.
I hope a focus on “his name’s sake” will be at the center of your thoughts today.
I recently made the comment that, “Sometimes we sacrifice the best because we are content with just the good.” I think it was Saint Jerome who said: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”
If my memory serves me well, it was Ernest Hemingway who said: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
The business of being better is discussed in several places in the Wisdom Books of the Bible. My Top 10 list of verses follows below:
- Psalm 37:16: A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.
- Psalm 118:8: It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
- Proverbs 15:16: Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble.
- Proverbs 15:17: Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.
- Proverbs 16:8: Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice.
- Proverbs 16:16: How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
- Proverbs 16:19: Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
- Proverbs 16:32: He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
- Proverbs 17:1: Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.
- Proverbs 19:1: Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
I hope these verses serve as a motivator to get you started in the pursuit of betterness. Once you get started, you can develop the habits that will keep you going.
An article in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post caught my attention: “The U.S. military has boosted security at all of its stateside bases and stations, broad recognition that the United States has heightened its awareness of a possible attack inspired by the Islamic State militant group, U.S. officials said Friday.”
With this report following on the heels of the recent incident in Garland, Texas, it was a frequent topic of discussion on Saturday morning. When the security level is raised it gets a person’s attention.
Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren said: “The military believes there is an increased and predictable security threat at home, with extra precautions, ID checks and searches launched across the country. It does not mean that an attack is considered imminent, however.”
How would your behavior change if you were told the danger is most certainly “imminent”? You may not be aware of it, but here is a statement that warns you are in grave danger!
Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering. ~I Peter 5:8-9
Watch your back, there’s a lion on the prowl.
As I was watching the nightly news, I became curious about TV statistics. Based on research by statistics brain, I found that:
- 99% of households in the USA possess at least one television.
- The average child will spend 1,480 minutes a week watching television.
- By the time a child is 18, he/she will have seen 150,000 violent acts and viewed 16,000 thirty second commercials.
With these statistics in mind, answer the following questions:
- Who or what is having the greatest influence in the life of your child or grandchild?
- If 1,480 minutes are being spent in front of the TV, how much time is being spent reading the Bible, praying, or engaging people in a positive way?
There are two warnings from Paul that are worthy of mention:
- He said you should not be like a child who is “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every false wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).”
- Make sure that “no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8-9).”
The 1,480 minutes of TV wouldn’t be so bad if it was healthy and wholesome; however, I think much of it is detrimental to a person’s well-being.
Look at the language Paul used. How much of the 1,480 minutes is captivativing philosophy that can be describe as the “trickery of men, craftiness, deceitful scheming?”
Do you ever feel like you just can’t get it done? You are too tired, too lost, too depressed, too sick, or whatever to get it done? Whenever I get in one of these down-in-the-dumps moods, I know God’s resources are unlimited, and I ask Him to re-source or re-supply me.
One of the great verses that reveals the resources of God is 2 Corinthians 9:8, and you can read it in three different versions below:
- God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. ~NKJV
- God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. ~The Message
- God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. ~Amplified Bible
Notice the “all” and the “always” in the NKJV:
- “All grace” will abound toward you
- God will “always” have “all” sufficiency in “all” things
I encourage you to embrace this principle and claim it as a promise just like Paul did. Paul knew he could do “all” things in and through the strength of Jesus (Philippians 4:13).
God has an “abundance” of resources for every good work, and they are not reserved for just people named Paul. They are available to all of His children for we are “heirs of God and coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).”