The Brotherhood of the Big-Footed

feetSince I belong to the brotherhood of the big-footed, I need a lot of help to keep my feet pointed in the right direction. This is one reason I have a special fondness for Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

When God’s Word is your guide, and you use it as a lamp for your feet, you’re less likely to stumble and fall.  It’s an ever-ready guide to help you:

  • Gain strength and to grow in love—Ephesians 3:16-20
  • Resist evil—Galatians 5:16-21
  • Increase in knowledge and to be filled with the fruit of righteousness—Philippians 1:9-11
  • Grow in your faith—2 Peter 1:5-8

To burn brightly the old fashioned lamps needed either oil or burning embers of coal.  The oil that fires-up the lamp of God’s Word is prayer.  To find the light and guidance you need, I suggest that you make Psalm 119:33-36 your prayer for today:

Help me understand Your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
 Help me stay on the path of Your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees
and not to material gain.

The Treasure in Measure

25_powerlockI’m certain that I’ve seen and spoken the word “measure” thousands of times in my life, and I’ve read Romans 12:3 many hundreds of times.  When I read it again a moment ago I noticed something different. I saw the three words found in measureme-a-sure.

 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. ~Romans 12:3

While me-a-sure has nothing to do with the meaning of measure or the theological significance of Romans 12:3, me-a-sure motivated me to think of the things that I can be sure of knowing, like:

  • Eternal Life: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (I John 5:13).
  • The Truth: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
  • The Good Shepherd: I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own (John 10:14).
  • The Hope: I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints (Ephesians 1:18).
  • The Love of Jesus: You may know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul said there was one thing he was sure of, and it was the need to forget the things that were behind him and to focus on the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:14).”

How does your relationship with God measure-up?  How have you been reassured in times of trials and heartache?  How has your confidence in God been strengthened?  I’d like to know, so share a comment or two with me.

A Good Friday To Remember

Happy-Good-Friday-2016-CardToday is Good Friday, and it’s a day that I focus my thoughts on the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.  The essence of Good Friday and the hope of Easter is clearly stated in I Corinthians 15: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (3-4).”

In the death of Jesus, we see the innocent dying for the guilty.  Bill Crowder has said that “…death was not Jesus’ penalty; it was His destiny. It was not His lot in life; it was His mission. It was not His unavoidable fate; it was His purpose statement for coming to earth that first Christmas: ‘Born to die.'”

The crucifixion was an open display of the love of God for sinful man, and John Piper has commented: “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did.  At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift –the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

When Jesus spoke of His impending death, He would also speak of His resurrection.  In regard to His death and resurrection, Watchman Nee said, “Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”

On this most somber day of Christianity, I ask you: What is your history with Jesus, and what is your future without Him?

Eudemonics: You Da’ Man!

You_Da_Man_Recordable_Greeting_Card_By_Urban_Chakkar_729834You da’ man!  You’ve probably heard this exclamation after someone has done something great or unusual. The only reason I even mention You da man, is to help you with the pronunciation of Eudemonic (yoo-di-mon-ik).

A lot of what I do focuses on the end results of Eudemonics which is behavior that produces happiness and a sense of well-being.  This type of happiness is not associated with the circumstances of the world, but it has more to do with the concept of joy and your relationship with the Lord.

With this in mind, it’s easy to identify a few of the Eudemonic Principles in the Bible.  There is the:

  • Joy of Knowing God:  But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You (Psalm 5:11)
  • Joy of Forgiveness:  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32:1)
  • Joy of Mercy: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1)
  • Joy of Restoration:  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:12)

I encourage you to give some thought to your relationship with God, and to take the time to mediate on the joy-filled message of Psalm 62:

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.  All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.”

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

The Solid Rock

Rock-Climbing-ChecklistChristians can be perceived as being an odd bunch of people.  This might be due in part to the language of the New Testament; Jesus encouraged His followers to be light, fruit-bearing, and wise and serpents and harmless as doves.  He also reminded them that they were to be in the world, but not of the world.

Do you try to blend in with the rest of the world, or do you stand up and stand out for Jesus?

Some people struggle with a delinquent desire to fit in with the rest of the world, and they adopt questionable maxims at the risk of divorcing themselves from the message of the Master. At the heart of His message is the need to build your life on the right foundation.

The Christian faith is rupicolous in nature, and Jesus is the Rock or foundation on which you are to build your life.   When you live in His presence and among His principles, you’ll enjoy His blessings.  The words of Moses confirm this:

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My teaching will drop like the rain, my sayings will drip like the dew, as rain drops upon the grass, and showers upon new growth. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; you must acknowledge the greatness of our God. As for the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust, he is fair and upright.  Deuteronomy 32:1-4

What are the core principles that guide your life?  Do they provide a solid foundation or are they little more than sinking sand?  Do they leave you choking in the dust of the world or do they fill your lungs with the pristine mountain air of faith?

Peyton Manning Retires or Goodbye Omaha

peyton-manning1Four years ago, Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos.  Before he stepped on the field for the first time, he first waked through the locker room to meet the

In this era of super-sized egos, Manning was a rare gem.  He loved and respected the game, and it showed on that April day in 2012 when he shook hands with the guys on the practice squad, the backups, and the starters.  Every one of the Broncos already knew who he was, but Peyton wanted to know each of them.

Most people who follow the NFL were pretty sure Manning’s career was over, so no one was surprised when the news began to leak out on Saturday night.  To show respect for his fellow Broncos, Manning had sent each of them a text before his final decision to retire became public.

As I think about the way this famous man has managed his life, I’m reminded of a couple of Scriptures:

  • Romans 12:3: I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
  • James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
  • 1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

I hope aspiring athletes will remember Manning less for his signature “Omaha” and more for the manner in which he has respected the game and the way he continues to invest in the lives of others.

Choice Choices and Daunting Decisions

decisionEach day of your life, you are presented with the opportunity to choose to do or not to do. Many of these choices are minor, but there are times when major decisions must be made.  Some of your choices can be as simple as:

  • What clothes will I wear?
  • What should I eat for breakfast?
  • Which brand of toothpaste should I use?

Major decisions can be more taxing and involve questions like:

  • Should I be cremated or have a traditional funeral?
  • Should my money be invested in an IRA or a ROTH?
  • Should I use a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon for back surgery?

On occasion, people will call me when they are facing a perplexing situation that requires a major decision.  They will consult with me and ask for my opinion concerning where they should work, live, or who they should marry.  Their question is often:  How do I know the will of God?

Discovering the will of God is more of a mystery than what it needs to be.  Let me suggest five questions to help guide you.

  1. Is the action you are considering consistent with the principles of the Bible? God will never lead you to do something that is contrary to Scripture.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  2. Have you prayed and asked for guidance? For I know the plans I have for you; plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
  3. Have you discussed your situation with your friends? A nation will fall when there is no direction, but with many advisers there is victory (Proverbs 11:14).
  4. What will the results of your decision look like? If your mother reads about it on the front page of the newspaper, will she be proud of your actions or will she be embarrassed?
  5. Are you depressed, angry, or stressed out? If so, you need to clear your mind and calm your emotions before you try to make a wise decision.

I encourage you take some time to reflect on Psalm 37, and how it relates to your situation.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him

Flags, Banners, and the Cross

Banner_smYou’ve probably heard it said many times, and I agree: “If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.”  This simple phrase means there needs to be some consistency between what you say and what you do.

Since I attempt to practice what I preach, I try to read my Bible every day.  When I find a particular verse that speaks to me, I will read it in several different versions, and I’ve found that Biblegateway is a great resource to do this.

During my Bible time this morning, I was reading from I Corinthians, and the 18th verse of the first chapter caught my attention.  Notice how it’s rendered in the J.B. Phillips version:

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already  experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is                        nothing short of God’s power.

One of the realities of being rescued, is the person who needs help has to ask for it. Safety and protection is usually a concern in times of danger and distress. The same was true for David, and he spoke of this in Psalm 60:4-5:

You have raised a banner for those who fear you—a rallying point in the face of attack. Interlude. Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power.

Whether it’s a flag or a banner in the Psalms or the Cross in the New Testament, both give strength to persevere during the ups and downs of life.  Paul said:

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

I recommend that you bookmark Psalm 71:2-4, so it can be a prayer the next time you’re fearful or need some encouragement; and, it might be helpful to go to Biblegateway and read it in several different versions.

Psalm 71:2-4

Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors

I hope you will have a good week as you discover the power of the Cross and find comfort in God as your rock and fortress.

 

Standing Fast and Running Slow

standing-tallI’ve always be thankful for some of the wording in I Corinthians 16: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love (13-14).”

Since I’m a little slow of foot, I don’t run much; but, I’m a Gold Medal winner when it comes to standing.  If Paul would have said “run fast,” I’d be in serious trouble.

The word stand is grēgoreō, and it means “to be vigilant and attentive.” There are several things that demand your attention, and Peter issues a warning about two of them.  One is pride and the other one is the adversary:

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’. So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. Resist the devil: you are in God’s hands.

Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith.

What is the link between the pride and the adversary?  In the Proverbs, pride is listed as one of the seven deadly sins, and it’s characterized as a “My way, not Thy way” attitude.  This was the case when Lucifer rebelled against God:

“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High(Isaiah 14:13-14).”  

To borrow a phrase from Zig Ziglar, this is “stinkin thinkin,”and Paul warned of it: “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one (Romans 12:3).

Pride is thinking too highly of yourself, and it always separates you from God. The Bible says, “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God (Psalm 10:4).

C.S. Lewis defined pride as, “the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Instead of trying to lift yourself up in the false bravado of pride, humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up.  This is one of several paradoxes of Christianity:

  • To find, you must lose—Matthew 10:39
  • To receive, you must give—Luke 6:38
  • To be exalted, you must be humble—Matthew 23:12
  • To be great you must be small—Matthew 18:4
  • To be strong, you must be weak—2 Corinthians 12:9,10
  • To rule, you must serve—Mark 10:42-45
  • To live, you must die—Galatians 2:20

The key to this is found in the last nine words of I Corinthians 16: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love (13-14).”

Paul’s “key” was a statement, but you might understand it better in the form of a question: Who do you love the most, self or the Savior?

Wisdom: Guidelines and Lifelines For Life

life-preserverI have never thought of myself as one of the smartest people in the world, and my GPA from high school is the evidence that proves it.  This may be why the book of James is a favorite of mine.

Like the book of Proverbs, James provides guidelines for life; and, for those of us who lack wisdom, it extends an invitation: “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”

Later in the book, James lists seven characteristics of wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical (3:17).”

I find it interesting that when Solomon spoke of wisdom he also listed seven and referred to them as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: “Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out its seven pillars (9:1).” Solomon’s list is found in Proverbs 8:12-14:

  • Prudence
  • Knowledge
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Counsel
  • Sound Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Strength

The Message describes these seven attributes:

“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion—pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.”

Wisdom has been defined as the right use of knowledge, and, in the biblical sense, it’s the ability to judge correctly and to take the best course of action, based on your knowledge and understanding of God’s principles.

This concept of wisdom is in complete harmony with Solomon’s conclusion to Proverbs 8:

“Blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction so that you may be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching at my doors day by day, waiting beside my doorway. For the one who finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But the one who does not find me brings harm to himself; all who hate me love death (32-36).”

I’ll close with three thoughts, and I hope there enough to keep you thinking:

  • Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who obtains understanding. ~Proverbs 3:13
  • An intelligent man believes only half of what he hears, a wise man knows which half.
  • Knowledge is knowing the difference between a donut and a life preserver. Wisdom is knowing which one to grab when you are drowning.