Friday, February 26, 2021

Taking Another Look At The Good Samaritan

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’  And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” — Luke 10:25-29

I was talking with a friend the other evening about the parable of the Good Samaritan. I am certain you are familiar with it.  The focus of our conversation had to do with serving in response to the call of God alongside people who are not “children of the King” – Christians. The second greatest commandment that the lawyer quoted says to love your neighbor. The lawyer, I surmise, was wanting to justify not showing the love of God to people that were not of his ilk. So Jesus used the example of the Samaritan – a people that the Jews despised.

In this parable, the Samaritan was the one that was kind to the Jew who had been beaten and robbed when other Jews walked by and offered no assistance. From the lawyers perspective, the priest and Levite, the religious ones, would have been the ones who would be most inclined to show love to a fellow Jew – but not so. No, it was the one who was despised and had no reason, other than his compassion for another human being, to help the man lying in the ditch. And not just to help, but to sacrifice personally his time and money to see that the man was properly cared for.

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’” – Luke 10:34-35

Then Jesus asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (v36) The lawyer answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” (v37) Here is where we, so often, make a left turn in our thinking. Remember we started off with the question, “Who is the neighbor I am supposed to love?” The focus was not on the Jew in the ditch, but on the Samaritan whom the Jews despised. The point was and is that we should love others and demonstrate that love by showing mercy to others. That is how we fulfill the second greatest commandment. The priest and the Levite failed miserably but apparently felt justified before God and their fellow Jews. The parable really had nothing to do with the Samaritan – but to make the lawyer aware of the bias in his heart and lack of love for others. Remember my conversation was about serving alongside people who do not share my faith. That is not what the parable is about and, in my view is a mis-application.

Are non-Christians capable of showing compassion toward their fellow man? Of course they are. Are Christians capable of being dispassionate toward others, even other Christians? Absolutely – that is what keeps the Body of Christ divided. Should Christians and non-Christians be yoked together in spiritual service, in my opinion, no. We must not be unevenly yoked with non-believers.  (2 Corinthians 6:14) Can Christians work alongside non-Christians while having no spiritual expectation of those who are not inhabited by the Spirit of God? Yes, I think so. But it is all about context. A little leaven affects the whole loaf. In your desire to be inclusive, you must be very careful that the very spiritual work God has put your hand to do is not undermined by the influence of those who reject your faith. Should you show love and compassion towards others – WDYT? 

Our capacity to love like God loves flows out of our love for God.  Our ability to love others – our neighbor – is a reflection of our heart for God. Our unwillingness to love others – to show mercy is a reflection of our lack of love for God. For many Christians, we can’t get even get past the fact that there are other Christians, who are not like us – worship like us – sing like us – preach like us – live like us, but are saved like us. That they are part of our spiritual family. So we just walk on the other side of the road – seeking to justify ourselves like the lawyer tried to – and failed.  

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Stop Looking At The Waves!

 “ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’  So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” — Matthew 14:28-31

You are most certainly familiar with this scripture.  We all marvel at Peter’s passion and identify with Peter’s humanity.  Have you ever been called out of the boat? The Lord asks you to do what is impossible – counter intuitive.  A seemingly impossible task – that stretches and stresses our faith and fuels our desire to focus on the wind and waves and not the One who has called us out of the boat!

I find myself out on the sea in the middle of a storm – once again. Facing a situation that seems impossible – daunting – racked with opportunity to fail. Such is the nature of our life in Christ.  We live in a world of impossibilities. Or maybe we think possible but not probable.  We doubt our ability to do what we know we are to do.  That boat may have been rocky but at least I could stay dry and safe.  Oh, I could share other stories in the Bible about people who found themselves in impossible situations and then God showed up. But not until they exercised faith. Peter may have know all about fishing, the sea, boats, and then WHAT!!! God says do the impossible – walk on the water. Contrary to the laws of nature. But it is the Law-Giver that has called on us.  The creator of all that we know and see and what we don’t know and don’t see.  I am humbled and amazed that God would use us for His purposes and ultimately for His glory.

So what about you? It is not like God has asked you to solve world hunger. Perhaps your call is small in the world’s eyes, but it requires faith and obedience which are BIG in God’s eyes.  In my experience it is natural to understand the magnitude – which is relative to each Christian, and feel uncertain – perhaps incapable of what it is the God has called you to do and be.  Courage is not the absence of fear – it is action in the face of fear. And so it is with faith.  Let me leave you with two of my favorite verses to contemplate and perhaps embrace.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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 of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8-9

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Know God Loves Me But Do I Believe It?

…“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. … I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,  But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes” —Job 42:2, 5-6

I listened to a great message on Job yesterday.  One that caused me to think about my faith and my faithfulness. There is so much about God that I do not understand. So many aspects of God’s nature and His expectation of this child that is contrary to that nature of my flesh and its desires. It is a daily struggle isn’t it? We were watching a movie based upon the movie, Robinson Crusoe, that was made in 1954. In one sin, Friday asked Robinson Crusoe, “If God loves us why does he permit sin in the world?” First I thought, that line would never make it in a movie today! But then my mind went back to the sermon. I can reason Friday’s question – consider it in the context of what I have heard and what I had read myself in the Word. But, that is not really the issue. The issue is – do I trust God with a spiritual truth that I don’t fully understand – trust Him enough to walk in that truth and not manufacture some pseudo-truth and makes me more comfortable. Am I willing to obey even if I don’t have a full understanding.

Faith and obedience are matters of the heart not the mind. Job had challenged God as if to say “God do you know what you are doing?” “God are you really in control?” Or like the question of the Serpent in the Garden, “Did God really say?”  This is at the root of the reason for the great falling away from the Scripture in the Body of Christ today is that very thing. What is that, you ask? When we believe that we know what is right and God does not.  When we look to the world for answers with respect to morality and what is right and wrong. When we are selective about what we accept as truth from the Word of Truth and reject those things that we don’t understand of agree with.  We are very much like Job in that sense. This is not so much an accusation but a warning and an encouragement. This is not a new issue – it started in the Garden and has prevailed – even in the times when some of us thought were better days for the Body of Christ – particularly in the United States.  Since the Garden there has been leaven in the loaf. I will quote again from the Truth Project – Focus on The Family – “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” Do you believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to man? The proof of our belief is in how we live and love not in what we say.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:21-22

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Who Do You Love More? Your Life Will Shout It Out.

 …they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7

Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, ‘Feed My sheep.’ In effect, He said, ‘Identify yourself with My interests in other people,’ not, ‘Identify Me with your interests in other people.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love— it is actually the love of God expressing itself. […] Faithfulness to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption that has been performed in me by the Holy Spirit— “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). And it is that love in me that effectively works through me and comes in contact with everyone I meet. […] The key …… that he is (that we are) attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. […] (Our) duty … is to concentrate on keeping (our souls) completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit.”Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” –  Psalm 37:4

That verse can be taken two ways.  First, if you pursue God then He will give you anything your little heart desires.  Second, if you pursue God, He will make His passion, your passion.  He will change your “wants” to those things that reflect His will and purposes.  That is what Jesus was telling Peter.  “If you love Me, then pursue those things that I pursue.  Do what I say to do, even if it makes no earthly sense.” What makes missionaries distinctive from other Christians is that they visibly place less value on earthly comforts and relationships than they do on the call of Jesus on their lives to pick up their cross, abandon the things of this world, and follow Him.  To feed His sheep if you will.  But that call is not limited to missionaries – it applies to all Christians. The thing about a shepherd, when everyone else is at home sleeping, he is standing guard over the flock. I am typing this while sitting in a house in Texas far from lifelong friends and family.  My point?  God has called us to this place from the place He had sent us before - and before that - and .... When He calls, you must be willing to lay what is comfortable and familiar, down.

From time to time when I tell my wife that I love her, she will say “I love you more.” Then I say “No, I love you more.” And we go back and forth several times with that.  But where is the proof of that love? The proof of love is not words, as affirming as they might be. Ephesians 5:25 says this, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  Do you love God enough to give yourself up for Him? (Romans 12:1-2)  – your hopes, your dreams, your comfort, your secure retirement, your family holidays, your friends the list goes on ….. 

The theme of the Bible is that God is supreme and deserves our total devotion … like David, we must love God with our whole heart. (1 Kings 14:8).  Listen, men, you won’t love your wife that way (Ephesians 5:25) if you first don’t love God that way. (Matthew 22:37-39). And you won’t love God that way if you are unwilling to lay your life down. Think about it. I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and devotion to God and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Danger Of Getting The Cart Of Forgiveness Before The Horse Named Repentance

 Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…” —2 Corinthians 7:10

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.[…] The foundation of Christianity is repentance. […] If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.” – Oswald Chambers – My Utmost For His Highest

I am in the process of writing a treatise on forgiveness. (I had to look the definition of treatise up) The supernatural act of forgiving.  There is a progression that leads to forgiveness.  As Christians we sin.  We come under conviction. That conviction produces godly sorrow which leads to repentance. Repentance leads to forgiveness and restoration.  Think about that.  Granting forgiveness without repentance is called enabling the sinful behavior.  Even though you will be tempted, don't give someone a "pass" because you feel sorry for them.  That means you don’t love them enough to get to the point of repentance which brings healing and restoration.  Think about the parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32)  What is the remarkable point of that story?  God is the “father” and we are the “wayward son”.  The father loved the son, but did not go after the son to convince him to come home, even though I suspect the father knew where the son was and what he was doing. The father waited for the son to be convicted, to repent of his sin and return to the father seeking forgiveness.  The son did not even imagine that he could be restored as a son.  The best he hoped for was to be treated like a hired hand.  An evidence of a broken and humble heart.  Every day, the father looked to the hills in the hope that his son would repent one day and return.  He loved his son.  He loved him enough to let the process take its course … even though the father hated what his son was going through.  The father knew that until his son’s heart was changed, there could be no restoration.

That is true for us as well.  We are commanded to forgive, but we must be careful that the forgiveness is not misapplied … and abused.  That means we must exercise spiritual discernment and emotional restraint.  We must be ready to forgive, as we have been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32) But remember, the benefit of forgiveness, which is restoration, comes after repentance and not before. We can still love, like the father, but the relationship and trust is restored through the act of true repentance. Someone saying “I am sorry” is not the test of repentance – changed behavior is. If you act on someone merely saying "I am sorry" without demonstrated repentance, you might be disappointed when they do it again - and again - and again. Our salvation is a picture of how we are to respond to one another. Don’t confusing not loving with no forgiving. Not holding a grudge against someone – which is a love issue - with forgiveness – which is a trust issue.

Think about it. I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Have you ever heard the expression  - Giving credit where credit is due? Normally the phrase is used to raise an awareness of a contribution or act performed by someone whose praises were yet unsung.  Most everyone wants to know they have value and are favored by others.  In a world that is dominated by “bad news”, where the acknowledgement and even glamorizing of the evil that prevails, to hear of good things is rare.  Micah 6:8 asks this rhetorical question and then provides the answer.

What does the Lord require of you, O man. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 

Walking or living humbly is what I am addressing this morning.  It is OK that people recognize your achievements, your character, your acts of kindness.  As Christians, we are to walk humbly.  To walk humbly means to live with an awareness that God is the source of all good things.  If you or I have any ability, it is because God formed us that way.  We may nurture that ability and apply it with good works, but its source is God. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Now and again, people may want to recognize you for your good works.  I know they have me and it always makes me uncomfortable frankly. The natural world has no spiritual discernment, so they see acts of kindness made by Christians and non-Christians as having the same root.  For you to give God the credit.  For you to give Him the glory. The world might well think, “isn’t that special!” All the while thinking that you are showing false humility. To give God the credit when you are praised is not false humility.  It is the real deal - acknowledging the One who is behind it all. 

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” – Psalm 96:3

As Christians, we have the amazing opportunity to see God at work.  People may marvel when the work is done, but without spiritual eyes, they will not have understanding that what they see is God at work through His children.  The accomplishments will seem like an amazing coincidence.  Or perhaps that act of an amazing person.  When in fact it is because of an amazing God. The only thing we can take real credit for is saying "Yes" to God and taking the step of obedience.

The bottom line on the bottom line is this.  Be careful that you don’t rob God of His glory. Give all glory to Him.  Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Christoph Graupner would signify that their magnificent works were produced for the sake of praising God with the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” – To the glory of God alone. That desire should be at the heart of every act – everything we do.

That phrase is one of the 5 Solas of the Reformation. 

Sola Scriptura  - “Scripture Alone” : The Bible alone is our highest authority.

Sola Fide - “Faith Alone” : We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Sola Gratia - “Grace Alone” :  We are saved by the grace of God alone.

Solus Christus – “Christ Alone : Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.

Soli Deo Gloria – “To the Glory of God Alone”  : We live for the glory of God alone.

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

And now you know why I end every devotion with the following phrase.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, February 15, 2021

Do You Know What Love Is

 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” —1 John 3:14-18

I heard a great sermon on love yesterday. It was Valentine’s Day so “love” was most likely the topic of many sermons, I would imagine. As interesting or entertaining as sermons might be, I am always listening – looking for – spiritual truth – nuggets if you will that cause me to remember what God has to say about it and the way I live my life as a child of God.  The Spirit of God has been working overtime on me about unity among Believers and the lack of unqualified love being demonstrated in the Body of Christ.

John did not cite a church to whom he was writing – but we do know that John was writing to Christians. John's readers were confronted with an early, first century, form of Gnostic teaching which was libertine throwing off all moral restraints. Then, like now, the leaven of carnal thinking and attitudes had spoiled the unity and demonstration of Christian love – that John was, even then, attempting to set right.

When we love other Christians without qualification of having the “right” denomination – “right” ethnicity – “right” education – “right” nationality – or “right” socio-economic standing – when we love because we have a common faith in Jesus and spiritual heritage as Abraham’s seed and God’s children – when we can do that – “because we love the brethren” – it is a demonstration and the validation of our salvation. “We love because God first loved us!” (1 John 4:19)

When we are willing to lay our lives aside for others – at personal cost – not out of duty but out of love – we demonstrate with reality of our faith and salvation.  You see – the natural man is not willing to do that. Jesus said “I lay down my life for my sheep” (John 10:11) and who are His sheep?

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand (the sheep), ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand (the goats), ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46

We are obligated and compelled by the Spirit of God and the love in us to help those in need. Very often we want to be selective with respect to who we help and who we count as our brother (or sister). Jesus made it clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” – Luke 10:25-29

He was tying to justify why he didn’t show love to certain people so Jesus told a story about a Samaritan helping a Jew (and the Jews did not like the Samaritans) when other – religious Jews walked on the other side of the road. We are do ready to justify why we should not embrace other Christians. Perhaps because the ethnic group they were born in, naturally, has done great harm to the ethnic group we were born in. What do you think Jesus would say about that kind of love? He might tell the same story to us.

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, February 12, 2021

Seeing Should Not Be A Requirement For Believing

 Without faith it is impossible to please Him…” —Hebrews 11:6

Common sense and faith are as different from each other as the natural life is from the spiritual, and as impulsiveness is from inspiration. Nothing that Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, but is revelation sense, and is complete, whereas common sense falls short. Yet faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. […] Faith is a tremendously active principle that always puts Jesus Christ first. The life of faith says, “Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I’m going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word” (for example, see Matthew 6:33). Turning intellectual faith into our personal possession is always a fight, not just sometimes. […] Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in Him. But once we hear Jesus say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

I quote Oswald Chambers from time to time. I have read his devotions for years and encourage others to do the same. A friend told me that his devotions were difficult to understand so I said I would essentially write a commentary on them to help them. That was the genesis of these devotions. And now some 10 years later and over 2275 devotions later – here I am. I still find Chambers’ insights compelling and still share “nuggets” from his devotion from time to time.

When I woke up this morning, the thought “Seeing is not a requirement for believing.” was on my mind.  The Spirit was speaking to me.  That ever happen to you?  Probably, but perhaps you don’t realize that is what is happening when it does.  Faith which is trusting something to be true without evidence is different from “thinking” something might be true.  Faith is spiritual and works on another plane than our natural reasoning.  I know that I know, but don’t know how I know.  I struggle when I try to filter a faith-fact through my natural mind.  Thomas struggled with believing that it was Jesus standing before him, until he filtered it through the natural man – “I must touch his wounds!”  Jesus then said “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.  (John 20:29)

Can you .. .will you trust Jesus even when what you are trusting Him in is contrary to reason?  I did not say contrary to the revealed will and Word of God, but to your reasoning.  Faith facts will always be consistent with who God is and His truth and most often inconsistent with natural reasoning.  It may not make any sense.  The thought of it might strike fear in your heart as you look at the “giants in the land” and wonder how on earth you are going to do what you know God has set before you. Martie and I have found ourselves in that place many times.  The hazards (if you will) of our calling.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says not to lean on our own understanding.    In other words, faith comes first.  Understanding will follow … most of the time.  When I was in Army Basic training at the ripe age of 18, I had one particular drill sergeant, SSGT San Felice.  He was 6’2”, red hair, from Puerto Rico.  He had a very thick accent.  He told us .. “I don care if you don unnerstan  me, you bedda do it!”  I think I did a lot of unnecessary pushups!  Well, our life in Christ is that way in some respects.  We hear God, we heard what God said but don’t understand the why or how, and so we doubt God and fear sets in.  The disciples did that during the storm.  Peter did that while walking on the water.  We do that when God says do something that makes no earthly sense.  It means that we have to give up our worldly confidence and rest in God’s faithfulness.  Friend, that is the life we have been called to.  We live by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  What is it that God is telling you to do?  You must choose.  BY the wat, to do nothing is making a choice . .and that choice is not for God. 

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, February 11, 2021

What God Calls You To Do Requires Spiritual Strength Not Yours

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

I may have a very clear understanding of what God wants me to do, and I may be doing it, but there is this issue of faith, or lack of it, that will raise its head every now and again.  Let me explain. 

It is clear that God has me, Martie and me to be correct, helping those who cannot help themselves.  In particular, He has made me very aware of the plight of widows.  James 1:27 says “religion is expressed in its purest sense when we help widows and orphans in their affliction” (paraphrased by me).  I have seen the mighty hand of God at work.  Do you remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18? Right after that victory, Elijah was exhausted and even ran for his life in fear.  How did that happen.  In my experience, when you are anointed by the Spirit of God for a particular work and that work is accomplished to and for the glory of God, you will be physically and emotionally exhausted at the end.  You will have a supernatural ability in the midst of the work, but after, you become very aware of your weakness in light of Jesus’ strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I just had a conversation about this with a friend and co-laborer yesterday. The work he is called to looms large and is more than he can do – but he knows that God is in the work and it is going to stretch his faith and challenge his obedience to the call.

Like Elijah    when you are “recovering”, you are vulnerable.  When you find yourself outside of the boat and your flesh kicks in  and you start to doubt and perhaps you ask yourself, “What am I doing?!?!” I recall a time when my family called upon me to bring Spiritual comfort to a family member who was at the doorstep of death. I had just read a post on Facebook about people who have suffered the loss of a loved one and the thought came to me.  “What good do you think you can possibly do in light of what others are doing? Who do you think you are?”  Have you every wondered that in the light of God’s call on your life? The truth is, what God calls you to do is between you and God.  It has nothing to do with what He has called others to do. The temptation is to take your eyes off of Jesus and focus on other things, other people.  If you do, you will immediately start to sink.  That is what happened to me. On the face of it, it seemed improbable or perhaps even impossible.  I mean how can you go from standing boldly for God at one minute and doubting that what you are doing is right the next. (Zechariah 4:6) “It’s not by strength or by power but by my Spirit says the Lord God of Hosts.” 

As Jesus followers we all live with this tension between the Spirit and the flesh. Once again, Proverbs 3:5-6 says trust God and not yourself.  If you are depending upon the world and trusting in yourself to do what God has clearly called you to do, you will fail.  You can’t do it.  Don’t compare yourself to others when considering your God-given purpose.  God will always ask you to do what is not humanly possible.  You will always need the power of the Spirit to do it.  And when the task is accomplished, you will feel just a little bit, or even a lot, of the weight of what you have just done. And it will exhaust you.  Maybe even make you fearful or doubtful.  When that happens … praise the Lord and be humbled that He would use a sinner like you or me for His eternal purposes.  Amazing!

And he (Jesus) said unto me (Paul), My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

How Do You Respond To Life With Emotion Or Devotion?

 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now?" —John 13:37

“[…] When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don’t fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification— to be set apart from sin and made holy— or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God gives you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt— wait. […] …never act on the impulse of […] feeling. Peter did not wait for God. He predicted in his own mind where the test would come, and it came where he did not expect it. “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Peter’s statement was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him, ‘…the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times’ ” (John 13:38). […] Natural devotion may be enough to attract us to Jesus[…] but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will deny Jesus, always falling short of what it means to truly follow Him.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

Peter thought that he could do a spiritual thing through the strength of his own will.  You know how that worked for him.  It’s easy to sit in judgement over Peter.  Shaking our knowing heads.  No way Peter! Who do you think you are?  And yet, we are guilty of the same thing.  Trying to be Christians … do the right thing … in the power of our flesh.  Letting our emotions be a poor substitute for the Spirit of God.  Thinking that our own plans are equal with the plans and will of God.  Essentially denying the sovereignty of God .. trying to be our own god.  What! No way you say.  Yes way!  Everything we do .. everything we say .. what we think .. what we want .. should be .. must be … in the context of whose we are and who God is.  Look … our life after our rebirth is a struggle.  Our old nature wants to rule and guide, but our new nature has another ruler and another guide.  In all fairness to Peter, he had not received the Holy Spirit so he lacked the power to be and do in a way that would overcome.  Read this account of Peter being confronted after he received the Spirit of God.

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’” – Acts 4:5-11

Is that the same guy that denied Jesus before people around a fire?  Yes and no.  It was Peter, but the new Peter not the old one.  Now Peter could have stood before those religious leaders, even with the Spirit in him and responded with his flesh.  If he had, he would have failed just like before.  The first time, Peter did not glorify God, he protected himself.  The second time, he did glorify God at the peril of prison or worse.  The difference was who he was trusting in. 

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” – Psalm 20:6-8

Brother or Sister that can be you as you face life each day.  You will always be tested to trust in yourself and not God.  To respond to a situation with emotion and not devotion.  If you are wondering where the victory in Jesus is in daily living .. that may be the root of your problem.  You are trying to do what only God can do through you.  Examine your heart.  Draw close to God through the Word and prayer.  Pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Do You Have The Faith To Believe, But Still Have Doubts?

 Up front – Some may think that devotions should be short.  A few sentences.  I write what the Lord lays on my heart.  Sometimes, like today, it can be lengthy – tomorrow it will be even longer.  No apologies, just know that is not likely to change. 

Have doubts? Join the club friend. I was talking with someone the other day.  The matter was concerning what seemed to be the imminent death of a loved one.  He said, “I sure hope that when I die, I find out this (our hope in heaven) is really true.”  (Have you ever had that thought?) That statement set me back for a second.  I never thought of him as having any doubts about his faith, but there it was.  The stress of the death or grave illness of someone you care about seems to have the effect of removing inhibitions from people.  Those situations reveal things that they typically keep hidden, and you wonder “Where did that come from?” or “I had no idea they felt that way!”  But to the point …

We are on a journey of faith – like in Pilgrim’s Progress.  We are jars of clay, formed from dust.  There is something called the Law of Thermodynamics, actually there are 4 laws, like Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, except different. “Energy cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, in a closed system, the total amount of energy that can be taken out of the system will be equal to the total amount of energy that was put into the system.” That might be why people think that they can be reincarnated.  If you leave this form, you will “pop-up” in another form.  Zero sum.  Whatever is taken away is put back in.  (Hang with me, I am almost finished with the physics lesson!!!) My point is that these “laws” are nothing more than man’s observation of God’s creation.  The truth is that God can do what He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it.  He operates on an eternal clock and we operate on seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Hey, we do the best we can. 

Here is the problem.  If we try to figure God out on our own, we are doomed to failure.  (Isaiah 55:8-9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  You, with your mortal natural mind, cannot figure God out.  (1 Corinthians 2:14) “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” You see, in order to not have doubts, you must see the world as God does, and you can only do that by the power of God’s Spirit in you. 

We are given an account of a young boy being healed by Jesus.  The boy was apparently beyond human help.  (Mark 9:21-25)  So He (Jesus) asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You (Jesus) can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘f you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”

All of us face impossible situations. Situations that challenge the promises of God and our faith.  Hebrews 11:1 says that Faith is about things hoped for and not seen.  If you want to strengthen your faith you can do two things.  First, be reminded of when God showed up in impossible circumstances and second, keep your heart and mind fixed on Jesus.  If you don’t do that you will suffer spiritual atrophy and when that happens you will be plagued by doubt. (Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord in all your ways and not your own mental capacity.” In one of the Indiana Jones movies, Indy was confronted by a huge man with a huge sword.  Then Indy remembered that he was carrying a gun, so he shot the man with the sword.  Well, in a way, Indy is me and you.  Faced with impossible circumstances, we must remember that we are “packing”.  We have the Holy Spirit in us .. the Creator God is on our side .. and He is faithful to His promises. You can believe that!

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Finding And Keeping Your Balance

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” — Psalm 1:1-3

It is so difficult to find our balance in this life of ours. The balance between living our natural life and living our new, spiritual one. They are all in the same body – so in a way they are one – but they are not. There is a tension that we live with. So many wonderful things about life – love – laughter – friends – family – joy. Anyone can experience those things – you don’t have to be born again to do that necessarily. And, as with the good – we experience the bad as well.  We all face and endure hardships. Pain – suffering – loss. It is a crazy life isn’t it? The thing is – that there is a greater reality than the day to day existence – good and bad that is all around – everyone. But only those who have surrendered their lives to God by faith in Jesus know it – experience it.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

There is a peace that rests in us that is supernatural that helps us with finding balance. Peace the supersedes any circumstance – good or bad that we might experience. I just watched a movie with Martie about a woman trying to find “it” – getting into relationships for the wrong reason – seeking God in the wrong places – until she determined that what she was looking for was within. That is much like our faith. The Spirit of God is deposited in each Believer at the point of our conversion. – we are “sealed” with the Spirit – God’s own possession. We are born into a new reality – one that takes us beyond the natural.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-25

At least that is God’s intent for us. That we would exude the fragrance of Christ. That the fruit of the Spirit would be so evident in our lives – no matter if good or bad should come our way. That our very lives would be a testimony to the Grace and Mercy and Transformational Power of God.  Yeah – that’s us or at least what we can be – if we can only find and keep our balance. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with it sometimes – keeping my balance. Like walking on a balance beam – you fall off sometimes. But good news! You can get back on the beam.  I just had a thought – or remembrance of monkey bridges – strange name – in Vietnam we would cross streams when we were on patrols – we crossed on what were branches or poles – called monkey bridges. Challenging – and what made it more difficult was that the Viet Cong (VC) would put punji stakes under the water along side the monkey bridges – if you fell off the bridge – lost your balance – the consequences were not good. A lot like living our lives in the world. Falling off – losing my balance can result in unpleasant consequences. I could go on with that analogy, but I think you get the point.

To maintain our balance there are 4 essentials that we should discipline ourselves to follow – Meditating on the Word, Prayer, Witnessing ( not necessarily on a street corner – but being ready to speak into someone’s life) and Fellowship – maintaining relationships with other Christians.  All part of having a balanced life. We should not neglect any of them – but very often do for any number of reasons that we thing are justifiable.  We rationalize why we don’t – by the way another way to look at the word “rationalize” is that we tell ourselves “Rational Lies” convincing ourselves that it is really not all that important – we can wait until Sunday.

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Resisting The Temptation To Wander

“So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan..” —Joshua 3:14-17

40 years earlier the nation of Israel stood at the Jordan. But lacked the faith to cross into the land that the Lord had given them – and because of their lack of faith, they wandered until that generation had passed. 40 years later and the same nation faced the same challenges. The people who inhabited the land were the same.  But now, the river was at flood stage – an impossible barrier. For men yes. No one could pass through the waters. The difference – the Lord went before them. Trusting God they acted by faith. The river stopped and like the sea when Israel left Egypt – they crossed on dry land. Great story. So what has that got to do with us? Our circumstances are different but our need for faith is not.  God leads us to places that require faith to move ahead -  to be obedient to His call. The first time Israel went ahead of God. The second time God went ahead of Israel. The difference is where the people put God – was He first and last? Our lives are filled with opportunities to trust God and not ourselves or our culture or the things of this world. How we respond is dependent upon where we have put God in our lives.

Most if not all of my devotions address faith – faith is at the center of our new life in Christ. Understanding the spiritual context of day to day living is essential to maintaining a proper perspective and a right attitude toward this life that we live.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Our strength comes from God not our determination, our will, or our effort. Courage is taking action even when you are afraid – personally fearful but spiritually confident. We face circumstances every day that are impossible for us. We are tempted to “not cross the river” but to stay where it is safe – even it means disobedience.  When God is not first – when He is not in the lead – then, more than likely, we will stay on the safe side. It is a temptation – a struggle that every Christian faces.  We all know when we have sent God to the back – to wait for us to call on Him when we need something – when our plans don’t work out like we were convinced they would. Living with a divided heart condemns us to a life of wandering from one spiritual failure to another.  That is not the life we have been born-again to live out – called to – destined for.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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. – Joshua 1:8

Spiritual success is hinged upon embracing God’s Word and then obeying it. Uncompromising surrender to its truth.  Resisting the attempts to water down the truth so a culture bound for hell can tolerate it and not choke on the conviction that will surely come when confronted with unchanging truth. Sinners love the darkness and hate the light. There seems to be a great movement in this country to silence people who don’t agree with the prevailing world view. Ignoring the truth does not make it any less true.  This is not about politics it is about the conflict between that natural and the supernatural.  Don’t be satisfied with wandering aimlessly in the desert of life. Comfortable with the idea that you can get by with a small faith and a silent witness. You have a great calling from a great God!

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which 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

Does that describe you? It should! Let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Problem With Trust

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Matthew 6:19-21

I was trying to think of the appropriate verse for this topic. What we trust in – who we trust – why we trust. Well I guess I should define my terms  first. Trust is “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” In the case of things that we trust, Jesus said don’t place your trust on the things of this world – it is all going to burn up – wood, hay and stubble – what was created on this earth will return to dust to nothing.  Why would we have confidence in things? Simply because things that you can have and hold and touch and accumulate make our flesh confident about our future and our contentment. Jesus always spoke from a spiritual perspective in mind. 

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21

You see it was not the having, it was the trusting in what he had and that led to his sin – missing God’s intent for the man’s bounty which was to help others with it. Misplaced trust. We all struggle with it. It is a great temptation for all of us.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” – Jim Elliot.  Jim Elliot gave his life as a martyr. The greatest sacrifice – but God has called us to be living sacrifices. Time – talent and treasure – it all belongs to God.

The real trust problem has to do with trusting others.  Charley Elgin’s Rule No. 5 – “Trust is easy to lose and virtually impossible to find again.” Once someone has violated your trust it is a problem for most people to ever trust them again. Some people seek forgiveness with not intention of changing – others are truly repentant. It difficult to separate the wheat from the tares. Only time will tell. It is a Biblical mandate to forgive – but we are not God and cannot see the heart of man – and so we withhold our trust until we see a demonstration of that repentance. That can take time – sometimes a long time.  Waiting for proof before trust is restored is one thing – withholding trust out of spite or vindictiveness is quite another. Some people just hold a grudge because they have been hurt deeply – trust violated – it is hard to find it again. Today we don’t know who to trust – so many in our government have been caught in lies and deception – it is hard to trust – Fake news is nothing more than lies. But there is One that we can trust – One who is reliable – Who does not change – Whose words are true.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the first-fruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.” – Proverbs 3:5-15

Put your trust in the right place. It is foundational to right living. Right living is out of our reach apart from having the right relationship. Let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, February 1, 2021

If Loving God Is Wrong – I don’t Want To Be Right

“But you are a chosen generation (peculiar people), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.—1 Peter 2:9-12

One of the most important things that we can do as Christians is to be true to our faith. Charley Elgin’s Rule 4 – the Darker the night the Brighter the light. The Chief end of man is to ‘Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The New Testament is replete with admonitions to Christians to resist the old nature – to not compromise with it – accepting just a little bit – as OK. All of that serves to dim our light.  I say this as an admonition not as a criticism. What is true for you is true for me – true for every Believer.  The majority of people that you pass by everyday are not Christians – put in another way – are lost and bound for hell. Our culture, in general, promotes or, at minimum, tolerates what they know to not be right. It is as if a door was opened in this country – but that is not what happened. Instead it is more like the frog in the pot. I have been watching the trend for some years now. It starts with just a little bit and then a little bit more – until the water is boiling and the frog who was comfortable and adapting to the new temperature is cooked.  That is what Peter was warning the people about. It was a problem then and it is a problem now. Like Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Martie and I were watching a documentary about Calamity Jane. She had a daughter – I didn’t know that. I thought she all she did was ride through the West shooting her revolvers! Track what I am about to say. She got pregnant and got married so the baby would have a legitimate father. Think about that reasoning. She did not fear God – she feared what people would think. There was not mention of remorse over how the baby was conceived – just a desire to cover it up. The Bible says that we should not fear what men may think but what God “does” think. (Matthew 10:28) That is a problem for all of us. As Christians our tolerance of behavior that the Bible says is clearly contrary to the will and intent of God is constantly tested – by our old nature – specifically our desire to be embraced by our culture – and more specifically by those we care about who may not share our faith.  We all learned from our youth that it is not good to be different from everyone else – it brought on rejection and ridicule. I always found it amazing at how quickly others would join in. For two possible reasons – they agreed with the crowd – or they didn’t want the same thing to happen to them. 

And I [Paul], brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” – 2 Corinthians 3:1-3

I am speaking to you as spiritual people. If you were not – you would not be reading this devotion. There are plenty of other things ready to grab your attention – every day.  My hope is that you will see what is happening in the world with Spiritual eyes and understanding. That you will see what is happening in our culture – your culture – since there are those reading this who do not live in the United States – is spiritual. To understand that as Christians – ambassadors for Christ – sojourners – citizens of heaven first and foremost – witnesses – faithful children – bright lights. We must resist the temptation to relax in the pot with the rest of the frogs. As Salt and Light – we are called to be a peculiar people – a holy nation – I don’t understand all of the dynamics – but my part – your part is clear – to be a living testimony to God’s grace and mercy and life changing power. To live and love in the context of that truth. Oh – and don’t expect the world – in general – to thank you for it.

Walk by faith. Be willing to let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone