Sunday, June 30, 2013

Living by faith moves us....

Hebrews 11:8-12 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
This "faith chapter" is a historical illustration of what the preacher here is saying about living by faith.  It is evident in the decisions and choices we make.  It causes us to move, to live in tents, have children, be parents, and take responsibility - not only for ourselves, but for others.  The faith God gives also has with it the grace to take those steps along the way of our lives. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Being serious about living by faith

Hebrews 10:35-39 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,“Yet a little while,and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith,and if he shrinks back,my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. 
This chapter is an exhortation to remain faithful- to keep on drawing near to God in repentance, to keep on gathering together for mutual accountability and encouragement, and to keep on serving Him despite some of the trials of this life.  He is coming; He will keep this promise as He does all others.   May we keep our promise to follow and trust in Him.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Able to do what we cannot do...

 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14 ESV)
We are able to live the life of faith the same way we are able to receive new life - through Christ alone.  Our living up to God's standard is impossible, but He has done it. And in Him we have the Holy Spirit Who not only seals our salvation, but guides our hearts to live the life He wants us to live. So often we fall back into relying on ourselves instead of Him.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Paul is the one God used to emphasize and explain our identification with Christ.  When we put our trust in Him, we identify with His death on our behalf; we are receiving the salvation He has offered.  But it is much more than a past event with a future hope.  It has everything to do with now.  We live by faith in Him.  Our desire for His righteousness causes us to make decisions and act differently; we allow Him to live out His righteousness in us.  Just as we were not able to be good enough to receive salvation and eternity with Him; we are not good enough to live righteously without His presence in our lives.  May He shine through today.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”(Romans 1:16-17 ESV)
I'm not good enough.  I'm not good enough to earn my salvation; I'm not even good enough to live the life of faith on my own.  Even my faith is a gift from God, so living by faith requires His grace. It's not all about comparing myself to those around me, because as we saw in Habakkuk 2, those around us are wicked.  We do not compare to them; we live by faith despite the way they live.  And we hope and pray they respond to the gospel too.  Righteousness does not behave in a snobbish way.  To be truly righteous is to be saved by faith, live by faith, and share our faith, unashamed to trust in Christ.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The righteous shall live by faith...

 And the LORD answered me:
 “Write the vision;
  make it plain on tablets,
  so he may run who reads it.
 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
  it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
 If it seems slow, wait for it;
  it will surely come; it will not delay.
 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
  but the righteous shall live by his faith.
 “Moreover, wine is a traitor,
  an arrogant man who is never at rest.
 His greed is as wide as Sheol;
  like death he has never enough.
 He gathers for himself all nations
  and collects as his own all peoples.”

(Habakkuk 2:2-5 ESV)
Sandwiched in between everything that was going on around this prophet was this truth that sticks out in bold print: "The Righteous shall live by his faith."  Troubled about the rampant sin in his society, he had cried out to God to do something.  God answered, but not in the way Habakkuk liked: God was going to use a more pagan society to chastise Israel. (Sometimes we feel that way, don't we?)  Now the prophet is even more troubled: How could God do that? This is God's answer: despite all of the wickedness, greed, pride, deceit and injustice going on around us, we are to live by faith.  Do we really believe that God is great and God is good, and the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? Let us live by faith and trust in Him, no matter what.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who has the right to tell me what to do?

 The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV)
This is the conclusion of the first of Jesus' seven "Woes" on the Pharisees.  He is upset with them, but He also is concerned about them because "they just don't get it."  They were into knowing the things of God so they could look better and tell others how to live.  But they are not alone. Many of us are into the comparison game, and we don't like anyone telling us how to live. We have a pride problem. The first step in true spirituality is humility, and humility is demonstrated in serving others, not telling them what to do.  It is living by the verse before these:  Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. (Matthew 23:10 ESV). Yeah, He has the right to tell us all what to do.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I reckon...

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 
"Reckon" is not one of those everyday words for most of us. It has to do with how we see things, with how things "line up" in our eyes.  The truth of scripture, and the example of Christ, is that we see others as more significant than ourselves.  That does not mean we put ourselves down - that we compare ourselves to others, but when it comes to how we live, we behave as if they come first.  It is coming outside of our own little world, where it is all about me and what makes me feel good, and I care, and act as if I care, about what matters to others.  In short, what really matters is that the matters of others matter to us - not in a nosey way, but a loving, compassionate, servant way.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Humility in context...

Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the Lord,and bow myself before God on high?Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,with ten thousands of rivers of oil?Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good;and what does the Lord require of youbut to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God? 
This friendly reminder in verse 8 is a favorite of many of us.  It is the bottom line of an answer to a question: What does God really want from me? When I come to worship Him, what can I possibly offer   Almighty God as a pleasing gift?  Justice - making sure OTHERS get the treatment they deserve, is big. Demonstrating going-out-of-my-way "Good Samaritan" kindness is huge.  But the one bottom-line motto of my life has to be living life before Him with an modest mindset - that I am important to God, but He and others come first.  When we get that, when we live that, then we show we get what God really wants for Sunday - the rest of our lives lived humbly and holy before Him.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How low can you go?

 The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:11-12 ESV)
When Christ said these well-known words, he was confronting the self-righteousness of the Pharisees in what we call "the seven woes."  Though they are a rebuke, they are a loving compassionate rebuke, as if Jesus is saying: "You just don't get it."  The first thing we need to get as a follower of Christ is that we have no reason to boast about being a believer.  The first and foremost characteristic of a disciple is to follow in His humility - to not show off , but to lay low.  "How low can we go" is not a bad thing - it's a measure of how serious we are about following Jesus.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

With all humility...

 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
Paul loves long sentences.  This is actually not one of his longer ones, but it is full of powerful truth for us to apply to life.  In the middle of this one, at the center, is this phrase "with all humility."  As we live the life Christ calls on us to live, the way to interact with those around us is humility - having a lowliness of mind that sees ourselves in proper perspective - as important enough for Him to show His love, yet not more important than those around us.  May we have enough confidence in our relationship with Christ today that we see no need to put down those around us to make ourselves feel better.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Servant's heart...

 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him... When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:3-5, 12-15 ESV)
Jesus had His act together. He knew Who He was, why He had come, and what He was to do. Therefore, He was free to serve.  It is only when we are insecure, caught up in ourselves, and going down the wrong path that we resist or resent humbly serving others.  We need to follow His example, do as He has done, and seek to serve one another in His name, by His strength, and for His glory.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Taking heart...

 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33 ESV)
 Take heart!  Other translations say "Take or have Courage!"  The future is unknown to us. But we do know who holds the future.  It is Christ.  By listening to Him, learning from Him and trusting Him, we can face the future, both in this life and the life to come. We can live life courageously.  Will we?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Courage begins and ends with the Lord...

 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
  whom shall I fear?
 The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
  of whom shall I be afraid? ...
 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
  in the land of the living!
 Wait for the LORD;
  be strong, and let your heart take courage;
  wait for the LORD!
(Psalm 27:1,13-14 ESV)
Looking at these bookend verses of this Psalm, David had a lesson to learn. This mighty man of valor and courage did not possess these on his own.  In between he shares his fears and struggles against real and potential foes.  What was the key? Waiting for the LORD - looking to Him, listening to Him, trusting in Him.  Such it is with us as well.  Courage does not come simply from within; it comes from Him. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Courage... It's not about me

 When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and he arrayed them against the Ammonites. And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.” So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. (2 Samuel 10:9-13 ESV)
Joab got it.  As a general in David's army he knew that he needed to be courageous not for his own sake, but for the sake of his people, the people of God.  And he knew it was not his courage that would win the battle - it was the LORD.  This battle changed the course of history. This win set in place a series of wins so that all of the surrounding countries made peace and submitted to Israel. If we read on, who got the credit?  Not Joab, but David, and the Lord.  May we, like Joab, realize it's not all about me, yet we need to be courageous for Him and others.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Courage to pray...

1 Chronicles 17:16, 19-20, 22, 25 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? For your servant's sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And you made your people Israel to be your people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God. For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you. 
This passage contains some of the greatest quotes from David   "Who am I? ... There is none like you... " and so forth.  But the one we want to focus on is this one - based upon the character of God, and the goodness of God, David has courage to pray.  May we find that same courage today as we look to Him, all He has done, all He is.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

courage... it's not genetic...

1 Chronicles 28:20 Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. 
Courage is something we are to seek and to seek to pass on.  Neither comes all that naturally.  We tend to avoid discomfort, rather than facing it head on, and we tend to neglect those things that are important.  David did not want Solomon to miss his greatest calling, and he know that for that calling he would need courage from The Lord.  He sought to pass on the best he could his own love for God. This too is not genetic, but it can be caught.  May we be infectious in our love and courage.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Courage in a void...

 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV)
Repetition is a reminder.  There is no doubt in Joshua's mind here what he should do and be; he was to be courageous as a leader of God's people.  But virtues like courage are never to be taken in a void; they are never to overpower other virtues that keep it in check.  Like submission to God's will and Word.  Without that balance, Joshua could have recklessly entered the land, killing people without thought or reason.  We indeed were created to be courageous, but not in a void.  The other virtues of Christlikeness round us off so our lives are pleasing to Him.  Be courageous, be courteous, be pure.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

To my wife...

 “Many women have done excellently,
  but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
  but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
  and let her works praise her in the gates.

(Proverbs 31:29-31 ESV)
Today is the day I celebrate The gift - the gift of my wife.  Next to my relationship with God through Christ, it's the best gift He's given me.  I enjoy getting up with her, getting home to her, and going to bed with her every day.   She's not perfect, but she fits the Proverbs 31 woman so well.  Here's for Four More Years - make that Thirty-Four More Years!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A treasured find...

Proverbs 31:10-12 An excellent wife who can find?She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm,all the days of her life. 
I can!  I can!  What a treasure to find a wife you can trust!  Not only with fidelity, but with your heart and life.  This chapter goes on with many more qualities of a godly wife, but the foundation is this: she can be trusted.  I know when I turn my back she is not running me down, wishing me revenge, or wasting our "riches".  What a peace and joy to find an excellent wife.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Completely Captivated...

Song of Solomon 4:9-10 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!How much better is your love than wine,and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! 
Solomon is captivated by his bride.  I know how he feels.  I'm hooked on my wife.  But there is much more here, something deeper than mere physical attraction.  She is first his sister; there is a bond of the soul.  He is looking through the eyes to the heart, and sees a deep inner beauty. I can see a love for The Lord.  The connection is deep and rich.  She fulfills all the senses.  The oneness God intends.  What a wonderful gift!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Best Water...

 Drink water from your own cistern,
  flowing water from your own well.
 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
  streams of water in the streets?
 Let them be for yourself alone,
  and not for strangers with you.
 Let your fountain be blessed,
  and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
  a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
 Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
  be intoxicated always in her love.

(Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV)
God doesn't want us drinking from the gutter. Who wants to drink water out of the streets?  That's what it's like to look for love anywhere but your wonderful wife.  She is the refreshing blessing God has provided. She gives the best water that really satisfies.  She gives that joy, not just when young, but over and over as the years go by.  My heart rejoices; I am greatly blessed!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Presence makes tthe heart grow fonder....

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 
Solomon is interesting in his "mixed bag" of observations and advice, throwing in here this call to enjoy life with your wife.  The key is realizing that she is the one "God has given you."  Spending life together draws us closer.  If absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, presence does more so. (at least in my case.)  It is much a matter of choice - will I make the most of the life and marriage God has given me? Will I chose to enjoy live and love the wife of my youth, more and more every day?  If I choose that, no toil or trial can take that joy away.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Worth Working for after the Wedding...

 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her....  And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”...
So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
(Genesis 29:18-20, 25,30 ESV)
This event is full of lessons and applications, but the one I want to focus in on is that Jacob was willing to work for Rachel, even after he married her.  His love for her did not wane; it increased.  Our tendency as men is to work hard to get a wife, and then once we have her, we take her for granted.  My wife is still worth working for - every day.  God's blessings to me through her are new every morning.  May I not take her for granted.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Better than good...

 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”...  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
 “This at last is bone of my bones
  and flesh of my flesh;
 she shall be called Woman,
  because she was taken out of Man.”
 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

 (Genesis 2:18,21-25 ESV)
Wow! Does God know what He's doing or what?!?  Everything He made is good - magnificent, wonderful.  And He saved the best for last - my wife.  Okay, that is the application for me... but really, God cares enough to give us the best.  In His infinite wisdom He gave man a wife - just the right fit, so they could compliment one another.  We are blessed.  The life and love He has given us to share is better than good, better than gold, It's a God thing. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How to build a life...

 By wisdom a house is built,
  and by understanding it is established;
 by knowledge the rooms are filled
  with all precious and pleasant riches.
 A wise man is full of strength,
  and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
 for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
  and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
 Wisdom is too high for a fool;
  in the gate he does not open his mouth.

(Proverbs 24:3-7 ESV)
The house here is one's life, much like Jesus' parable of the wise man building his house on the Rock.  Wisdom begins when we choose to trust in God and His Word, and continues as we make decisions based upon that faith and knowledge, under the guidance of His Holy Spirit.  Such a foundation makes all the difference in what our house looks like, how stable it is, and how it holds in the times of storm.  May we build wisely today.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The importance of wisdom...

Proverbs 4:5-9 Get wisdom; get insight;do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland;she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” 
How important is wisdom?   In the big scheme of things?  Definitely in the top ten.  We need to pursue wisdom with a passion greater than that of a lifemate, because we will need wisdom even when he/she is not around.   Every day we make decisions all day long, some of which have long-lasting consequences.  One good or bad choice can change a lifetime.  We need wisdom as a basis for the Holy Spirit to guide us.  An all-wise God with an all-truthful Book gives us that foundation.  Today may we choose wisdom, get wisdom, live wisdom.