Does a near-miss in basketball count for anything?

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; James 1-5.

I view, and attend, quite a few basketball games.

I have seen my share of bad shots. Sometimes shooters will miss hitting any part of the basket!

If one shooter misses the basket entirely and another shooter has his/her shot go around the rim and out, they both have one thing in common; they both missed.

James isn’t writing about basketball, but he is explaining something that we all have in common; we have all broken God’s law.

Sadly, there are many in our culture who would suggest by their rationale that even though they missed their shot it wasn’t by much, so it is surely worth something.  Silly them!  The near miss and the total miss are both misses and count for nothing.

We have all sinned.  Yes, some have sinned more than others but less sins don’t remove a person from the “sinner” category.

Recognizing that we are sinners is the important first step toward understanding our need for the Gospel.  What follows must be repenting of our sins and believing that Jesus, when He died, took care of the consequences of our sins.

“Lord, Your Word is clear: We are all sinners condemned to eternal separation from You.  Thank You for explaining our need of You.  Thank You for providing a way for us to still gain eternal life with You.  I love You, Lord.”

We have all “missed.”  Now what?

 

 

 

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I am lost

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Hebrews 12-13, and Jude.

Jesus is at the finish line.  My course of life needs to be a straight line to where He is.

If I want to get to where He wants me to get, I must concentrate on Him.

The course to Him will not be a straight line but it must be a straight line in my approach to it.

If I take my eyes off Him, I will head in directions that will delay my arrival to where He wants me to be.

My life is filled with potential distractions; work, blogging, home life, etc..  But they need not be distractions and they won’t be if I can do them and still have my eyes on Him.

The issue, of course, is assessing the things I do.  Can I keep my eyes on Him in this or that activity?  If an activity takes my eyes entirely off Him, then it should be examined by me closely.  It may be that I am not injecting God into the activity.  In that case, I must spend time attempting to inject God into the activity.  No success there?  Time to STOP doing that activity.

I need regular “mindful” alerts during each day.  “Can I rightly represent God in what I am now doing?”

It doesn’t take much to bring God into what I am doing but it must be an intentional act.  God is with me wherever I am BUT does He want me to be where I am?  That is a question worthy of ongoing prayer.

“Lord, I want to be on Your course.  Forgive me for wandering off.  Forgive me for looking at the water around me and losing sight of You.  Direct my paths, I plead.  Open my eyes to You.  Empower me, I beg, to walk with You and toward You.  I love You, Father.”

Are you on God’s course or one of your own choosing?

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This is a big deal

“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two and three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:28-29.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Hebrews 9-11.

This is no trivial matter.

God is not going to look past rejection of Him.

How many in my midst are rejecting God in their own way?  They don’t have signs in front of their houses announcing it or don’t gather to denounce God.  But by their lives they ignore Him.

I recall in “The Breakfast Club” where the isolated girl in the group is asked about her home life.  It is determined to be bad and the inquiry is about what exactly her family does to her that is so terrible.  Her answer: “They ignore me.”

Ignoring God is an affront to Him.

In the Old Testament there was a harsh law (death) meted out on those who disobeyed God’s law.  If that seemed harsh, imagine what will happen to those who reject Jesus.  Their fate will be eternal.

R.A. Torrey advises that our prayer for others should be that they no longer dishonor God.  A dishonored God is an angry God.  There is no soft landing for those who reject Him.

I look at the people in my midst and MUST realize that their disinterest in God is VERY serious.  There is an eternal consequence ahead for them unless they clearly see themselves before a holy God and realize the peril they are in when that happens.

“Help me, Lord, to intervene as You wish in the lives of the folks in my midst.  Today’s verse highlights the serious trouble the godless are in.  I ask for Your thoughts and Your words written and spoken this day.  O Lord, intervene this day, I pray.”

Rejecting God will not end well.

 

 

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I am a big baby

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.”  Hebrews 5:11-12.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible study; Hebrews 5-8.

I taught school for thirty-nine years.

One of the toughest times to be a teacher was after vacations.  Their bodies were in the room, but their brains were in another place.  Teaching them anything was a serious challenge.

The writer of Hebrews is frustrated with those he wants to teach.  He finds them unready to learn.

A importat truth out of these verses is that I must aspire to be a teacher of God’s truths.  That is a crucial aspiration!  I must know what I’m learning well enough that I could teach it in my midst.

I know that for me there is a long road between reading about a subject, and teaching others about those readings.  However, if I knew that I was going to teach others about something, I would tune in closely as I read.  I think that I just get lazy.  I let things roll off me and then wait for the next collection of information to come my way.

If I am going to witness to folks in my midst, I must have a foundation of information at my disposal.  I will not know in advance where a conversation about God will lead.  I need to be prepared.  I need to study.

As I live my life before others, my goal is to rightly represent God.  How do I do it? By knowing God better.  By understanding what He expects from me.  By knowing what He said.  It takes commitment.  Is it important enough to me?

“Lord, plenty for me here.  I need to be able to teach (witness).  To do so rightly, requires a full dose of You.  Fill me, Father.  Open my brain to absorb Your Truths.  I want to rightly represent You in my midst.  Help me, Father.”

Are you teaching anyone about God?  What’s holding you back?

 

 

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I am afraid to die

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  Hebrews 2:14-15.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Philemon, and Hebrews 1-4.

Jesus did in death.  How?  He came back to life.

If Jesus had stayed dead, then death would have conquered Him.  But in the Easter event, Jesus was brought back to life by God.  Death had lost its sting!

We live in a world that is fearful.  Many are not only scared to death but are also scared of death.  They don’t know what happens after they die, and it rightly worries them.

My neighbor told me that he didn’t think much about the after-life.  He was going to concentrate on the here and now.  Sounds like the folks outside of Noah’s ark as he built it.  When the rains came, I am positive that they wished that had been looking more closely at the future.

If I realize that I have broken God’s laws, and sincerely repent of doing that, then I am ready to accept His Good News.  Jesus died for my sins.  He took care of them.  It’s news really happened.

The act of Jesus dying and God raising Him from death has put me in the clear on Judgment Day.  I am terminal so unless Jesus returns I will die but the thought of death is not fearsome.  It is something to look forward to.  An after-life with God, I can only imagine what it will be like!!

“Lord, I praise You for Your encouraging Word.  Death is done.  It has no hold on me.  I die, so what?  I will be with You forever.  Thank You for providing a way to an amazing after-life.  I love You, Lord.”

Still afraid of death?  Read again what I wrote above.  God has provided a way for your fear of death to be lifted.  Take it!

 

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I want God to use me

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.  Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”  2 Timothy 2:20-21.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; 2 Timothy 1-4.

I want to be used by God.

What do I have to do to make that happen?

I believe that the more of me that God controls the more uses He can have with me.

Do I see the needs in my midst?

Do I really hear what people in my midst are saying?

If God controls every part of me then my senses will be on full alert.  I won’t miss things that He wants me to see/hear.

How much of what I do is for selfish purposes?  Am I the bottom line in my activities?

Why am I troubled when my digital recorder doesn’t work but not over neighbors living apart from God in my midst?  What’s really important to me?

Troubling stuff, for sure.

“Lord, forgive me for surrendering to You with my mouth but not with the way I actually live.  Who am I trying to kid?  Prick my conscience.  Activate me spiritually to talk/walk Your Way.  I love You, Lord.”

If I want God to use me the way He can, I must give up FULL control of my life.

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Show me what the Gospel is

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:3-7.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; 1 Timothy 5-6, and Titus 1-3.

How much better could the Gospel be said?

1 – Our separation from God is noted.

2 – What God did to change that separation is noted.

3 – What we have because of what God has done for us is also noted.

It seems so simple, but so many miss it.  So many have their own mistaken notions of each of the three “notes.”

Why do so many want to take the simple and make it complex?  O that God would lift the blinders from their minds that they might get in on what He had for them!

I think of Naaman.  Engulfed with leprosy, he is given a solution by Elisha.  Naaman rejects the solution because it doesn’t fit his idea of what the solution should be.  Fortunately, for Naaman, he has helpers who talk him into doing it Elisha’s way.

Why should I witness?  There are many who need to be persuaded that they need God on His terms and that His “terms” aren’t complicated.  Very straight forward, actually.

“Lord, I thank You for these verses in Titus that spell out the Gospel.  I am a sinner.  I realize my need for You to deal with my sin problem and consequence.  Thank You for taking care of my sin problem.  You have given me new life.  You have opened my heart to wanting to serve You forever.  You are coming back.  Help me to prepare the way here on earth for Your arrival.  I love You, Lord.”

Don’t complicate the Gospel.  Why?  Because you confuse yourself and you also make it difficult to witness to others.

 

 

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