I live for “likes” and “retweets”

How about sharing the glory!

Does everything have to be about me?

Even Paul, who is often pegged as arrogant, gets his part, and God’s part, right in today’s verses.

God deserves ALL the glory.

How much am I giving Him?

Am I willing to minimize myself to a workable piece of clay in the Potter’s hands?

“You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s masterstroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2: 1-2 (The Message)

If something is presented in a complicated way, many of the listeners/readers will tune it out.

My sister & brother-in-law are weavers. And very good at it. Occasionally, they will give an explanation on Facebook of something specific they are doing in their weaving process. The words they use are English, but what they mean in the ways they use them, sail quickly past me.

There, however, may be weavers out there who would hang on their every word. I am just not one of them.

Paul super simplifies things for non-believers. He nutshells his message to them into two topics: Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and Jesus Christ died on a cross.

When those two topics are understood, he can then go into specifics.

Paul sees the simplistic approach as important. Why? Because God can work with it.

Paul notes several verses later that his downgraded style draws folks away from celebrating him and towards God instead: “But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.” Verses 4-5

I think that my task in doing these devotionals is, with God’s help, to make them as simple to understand as possible. If someone, after reading an entry, comes away with “me” instead of “God” then I have wasted my time.

To Him be all the glory!

 

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How is your prayer life holding up during the Covid-19 crisis?

“My purpose in writing is simple; that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he is listening. And if we are confident that he is listening, we know that what we have asked for is as good as ours. 1 John 5:13-15 (The Message)

Are you praying that the Covid-19 pandemic will end? Why hasn’t it, then?

I imagine Elijah and Baal’s prophets: “Maybe, you could pray a little louder,” taunts Elijah, “maybe, he’s taking a nap.”

If you have been praying that God would end the pandemic, He has not chosen to grant that to you.

Are you discouraged as a result? Do you wonder about His hearing ability?

Deciding how God should do something is folly. His Ways are different than our ways. I have heard it said: “If we knew what God knows, we would understand why He does what He does.”

But of course, we do not.

You get the sense of the frustration in Psalms where David (usually) is lamenting something and wondering about God.

For us to behave similarly, is not a bad thing. It shows that we care, and it shows that we know where the Ultimate Source is.

I have Christ in me. He wants to live through me. He wants to love me and others. Wouldn’t successful prayer be an extension of those things?

I have a Source within me that knows what I should be doing…..and asking for. That relationship must be optimized.

 

 

 

 

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If you are a believer, why are you still trying to work your way into God’s favor?

“As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us; by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:24 (The Message)

Do you have to pray? Memorize Scripture? Tithe? Etc…?

If you are a believer and you must do such things, my question is, “Why?”

Could you NOT do those things and still be acceptable to God?

If you are not sure, then you need to hear this: You were a sinner. Jesus Christ died taking your sins on Himself. He received the punishment your sins warranted. When God raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus was free of our sins and so were you. When Adam sinned, God’s perfect relationship with him ended. God could no longer live in Adam or any of his descendants (that’s us) because of sin. By Jesus taking away your sins (past/present/future) you become sinless in His eyes and He can now live inside you as He did in Adam before he sinned. God now finds you completely acceptable to Him.

Can you do things to “upgrade” or “enhance” your acceptability in God’s sight? No! Your sins are gone. You are as clean in His sight as you will ever be.

If someone told you that God accepts them because they have done this-or-that, you would be quick to note that they can’t work their way to God. Yet, as a believer, are you trying to work your way into His good graces by doing your own version of Christian this-and-that?

What if you did not pray or read/study the Bible, would you feel guilty? You need to examine that guilt. It is not coming from God. It’s from Satan. He wants you to feel inadequate, discouraged, and frustrated. God has already accepted You. He’s in you and He loves you. He does not come and go based on what you do. Live with that assurance.

Understand that praying and Bible study are not bad things. But they are not the measure of our acceptability to God. That acceptability has already been taken care of.

 

 

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Hope in the new normal

“You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever.” 1 Peter 5:9-10 (The Message)

I often think these days, “Woe is me.”

Might be more appropriate to think, “Woe is us.”

We are all in this together. We are all getting a dose of the Covid-19 impact.

That Covid-19 impact got closer for me today. How? Today’s local online newspaper reports that a nursing home, about two miles away, has several positive tests. Could I be next?

Where is the “hope” from the title of this entry? Here it is: The suffering will not last forever.

That does not mean that the Covid-19 threat will completely end. It could, hopefully, but that is not what the verse above means.

Remember that believers are “just passing through” this life. We are all terminal. There is an expiration date for all of us unless Christ returns before that date.

BUT believers have a somewhere with God after this life.

There will not be any suffering in that place. All will be new, including us. Our terminal parts will be exchanged for eternal parts!

The suffering we are going through now is real. There are so many varieties of hurts for all of us. I cannot work. I cannot enjoy a hobby I am heavily invested in. I cannot visit my family. I cannot worship at church or attend a men’s Bible study. And the list goes on…..for me. You surely have your own list.

But we are not without hope. Things will turn out well. In time, the varieties of “normal” we have experienced in this life will transfer into abnormal. I can only imagine!

 

 

 

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Why can’t I be Godly consistent?

“There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus does not change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, he is always totally himself.” Hebrews 13:8 (The Message)

I have Christ in me. Let Galatians 2:20 explain how: “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Wouldn’t you think that with Christ in me, I would be Godly consistent? Frequently, however, I am ungodly consistent instead.

Good times – happy. Bad times – angry.

If Christ is in me, what is throwing me off? I think it is that I am often driven by circumstances.

Even though Christ is in residence in my life, and I want Him running it minute-by-minute, I often interfere. I push Him to spectator status and plow ahead on my own.

Sadly, I do this despite insisting that I want His Ways to be my ways.

There is plenty of proof that I cannot manage my own life in a consistently Godly way.

I must allow His consistency to overflow through me.

 

 

 

 

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The corona virus has made us all equal

“The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.” Ephesians 3:6 (The Message)

It is interesting that the virus has made everyone in the world equal.

No language barriers. No financial advantages.

Everyone wakes up with the reality that there is a virus in our midst. That it is beyond our control no matter who we are, or where we live.

The consequences of the virus being in our midst are real. We see numbers. We hear stories. Many seem so far away that we gather a sense of immunity. Then the local numbers pop up and we are brought back to the nearness of the danger.

The worldwide equality that the virus has brought is like our status before God. We are all His creations. We are all the same before Him. There are no front-row seats or backseats before God.

Today’s verse mentions an “offer” for everyone worldwide from God.

What is the offer? All sinners are unacceptable to God BUT He did something about our unacceptability.

What did God do? I am quoting “Life Application New Testament Commentary” (page 816): ‘God could only accept sinful people through a sacrifice that would cover their sins. Jesus Christ gave that sacrifice – himself! – through his death on the cross.’

Everyone is given the same offer: God has taken care of our sin problem by having Jesus die in our place. Jesus took the punishment we deserved. We are now acceptable in God’s sight if we will accept/believe what He did for us.

There are no coupons or special days involved. The offer does, however, expire when we expire. We either accept the offer in this life or lose out eternally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forget later. What should I do now!

“I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do…” Ephesians 1: 17-18 (The Message)

Paul prays that the Ephesians will be as Godly as possible.

Paul does not suggest doing some things now and some things later, he leaves time-frames general. I think that I have been narrowing my prayer timeframes into long-range concerns.

Maybe it is time to change my focus.

I like to ask God for help with long-range things.

What say I start asking Him for help in the hour ahead instead of just long-range things?

Maybe my long-range concentration is messing up the immediate.

Instead of, “when should I move to our summer home,” I should be asking, “what chore(s) can I do where I now am in the next hour?”

I referred a few days ago to sensing I was at an airport, with all my gadgets, waiting to go on a trip to the Caribbean. I found that I could not get into the gadgets because of my concentration on my future location.

I have been locked in for weeks. By my estimation, I have waited restlessly for the interned time to end. My productivity has been minimal. I am even neglecting normal household chores. Why? Because my focus is on beyond the immediate. And I am, therefore, seriously neglecting the immediate.

I find myself caught up in online politics and Hallmark movies. The accumulation of those passive activities has turned me lethargic most of the time. Call it bored if you will.

Paul, the apostle, is not around to pray for me as he did beautifully for the Ephesians. I must pray for myself.

I pray that I will know Jesus so well that His thoughts can be my thoughts.

I pray that I will know Jesus so well that I get the next hour Godly right.

 

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Getting the best from others

“Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (The Message)

I was struck by the second part of this verse as I read it this morning.

It is one thing to “look” for the best in others and another thing to bring it out.

I started to wonder if my search for the best in others is lazy. I wait for them. I watch them. But do I do enough to bring that best out of them?

I have been sequestered with my wife for weeks. How active have I been in bringing out the best of her? I question my results.

I think of this as it relates to a baseball manager. He obviously wants his team to succeed and he cannot afford to be passive about it. His task is to put his players in a position for them to succeed in a way that enables the team to succeed. I need to do the same thing at home.

If there are things that my wife struggles with, I need to relieve her of them or help her do them. Too often I watch her struggle and wait for it to bring out the “best” in her. What am I thinking!

 

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I don’t have it all together

(Trying to get back to producing entries regularly. This is certainly not to please the cravings of an extended list of followers, just to get some regularity to my Bible reading. Reading without responsibility does not work well with me.)

“I’m not saying that I have this all together….” Philippians 3: 12 (The Message)

Paul lists some remarkable qualifications. His pedigree is amazing, as are his life experiences.

He is as good as they come. But then comes verse 12 where he steps back to assure the readers that he, like the rest of us, is a work in progress.

We will not ever get it completely right. If we try for perfection, we will always feel inadequate. BUT God does not see us that way.

If I believe that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus when He died in my place, I have cleared out my inside sinful self. I have moved Christ into the vacancy. He lives in me!

Every believer is on equal footing with God……….we are sinless in His sight. No need to compare ourselves with others. No reason to feel inferior or superior.

God finds me acceptable. Hallelujah!

 

 

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My mind was black

I wanted to do an opinion entry today on the corona virus. I had done two on that topic recently.

Prior to the previous entries, I read, I studied, I researched, and drew some conclusions. Then I wrote them, edited them, and posted them.

Two times that went on.

Then came today. I used the same read/study/research/conclude process and then took a break before writing.

I like to get the beginning of what I’m writing about floating through my head before I start.

Today I sat trying to do that, but I could see that my mind was black. It wasn’t blank, it was black.

This was a first for me.

“What’s going on,” I thought.

It didn’t take too long for me to get it straight. I was not going to get any Help on the story.

Normally, I pray before I write asking for a “flow.” How will I start? Where will the pieces I’ve collected fit into the written puzzle?

I had not been praying about writing in either of the two previous opinion pieces. “I’ve got this,” I thought. “It’s clear and obvious. No need for Help.” Talk about foolish!

How does God get our attention?

It was a quick visual for me this time.

When my brain went black, I realized that God’s Light in my head was turned off. My brain was no longer in service for the story I thought would flow easily. I had nothing to write.

I told my wife what had happened and gave up on the story completely.

I write this entry for a blog I have seriously neglected for months.

My blogging time has been used for covering sports. The CV has now taken that away. Maybe it’s time to begin to write more on this blog?

“Lord, thank You for getting my attention. You are in me. I want You coming out through me in all that I do. Thanks for stopping me completely today. I needed the directness. I love You, God.”

 

 

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