Archive for the ‘Today’s Walk in the Word’ Category

Thank You Note

Apr
2018
23

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
—Psalm 107:1

Early this morning I gazed for several minutes at a portrait of my late father. Today would have been his 112th birthday. I stood there thinking about him and thanking God for him. I owe him much . . . and much to my heavenly Father for granting me the love of my earthly one.

This morning’s reflection moved me to alter my routine prayer pattern. There are specific people I pray for every morning, but I didn’t this morning. Instead, I sent a thank you note—a prayer of thanks—to God for their parents.

May I suggest that you do the same today? Lift a prayer of gratitude to the Father for the parents—living or deceased—of those who mean much to you.

Except for the parents of your loved ones and friends,
you wouldn’t have your loved ones and friends.

The unfolding of your words gives light.
                     —Psalm 119:130

It’s been said that if you live with a lame man, before long you will walk with a limp. Clubs, clans, and cliques prove that people become like those they hang out with.

The same is true with what you listen to and watch. If you’re a news junkie, there’s a good chance you are perpetually anxious and angry. If you’re feeding at the trough of trash, you’ll begin to smell like it.

On the other hand, make your Bible your best friend, and it will be transformative.

The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119. It tells you that if you spend time in the Word: you will begin to walk in his ways (v. 3), turn your eyes away from worthless things (v. 37), gain knowledge and good judgment (v. 66), rejoice in his promises (v. 162), and experience peace (v. 165).

Work at the perfume counter, and you’ll smell like perfume.
Work in the fish market, and you’ll smell like fish.

[S]uch a man is warped and sinful.
                  —Titus 3:11

Don’t be influenced by destroyers of unity. They are contagious; a hazard to your spiritual health. “I urge you,” wrote Paul, “to watch out for those who cause divisions . . . Keep away from them” (Rom 16:17).

If you give a sympathetic ear to the disrupter of unity, you become a partner in the crime of conflict. “[D]on’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil way, making you his partner” (2 Jn 10–11 MSG).

Paul counseled Titus that after trying twice, “have nothing more to do with a person who causes conflict, because you know that someone like this is twisted and sinful” (Ti 3:10–11 CEB).

Don’t ever give a divisive person the keys to your church.

Love stitches things together.
Antagonism rips things apart.

[W]atch out for those who cause divisions . . .
Keep away from them.
   —Romans 16:17

Sooner or later nearly every church is contaminated by contention. Like cancer, it infiltrates furtively at first. But eventually, it metastasizes and permeates the body, resulting in severely depleted strength. Or death.

The apostle Paul exhorted Christians to encourage one another, build each other up, love one another. He was following up on Jesus’ instruction: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples . . .” (Jn 13:34–35).

Satan’s most effective tactic for destroying a church is to infiltrate it with those who are divisive. He chooses intruders carefully: they are often persuasive, charismatic, invariably wearing a mask of love.

And they are toxic!

The person “who stirs up trouble among brothers” is detestable to God (Prv 6:16, 19).

Avoid the divisive person.
Don’t bathe in dirty water.

[G]od did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
                        —2 Timothy 1:7

Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Author Ryan Holiday wrote about two sons of an alcoholic father. One became a boozer; the other a teetotaler. Each was asked why he turned out the way he did. Each answered, “Because my father was an alcoholic.”

Same environment. Opposite outcomes.

We all face situations over which we have no control, but we do have control over how we react to them. What happens to us is reality. How we react to what happens to us is choice.

You are not defined by circumstances, but by how you respond to circumstances.

You allow adversity to
weaken or strengthen you.

[T]he Son of Man came to seek
and to save what was lost.
        —Luke 19:10

As the Son of Man, he hungered.
As the Son of God, he is the bread of life.

As the Son of Man, he thirsted.
As the Son of God, he offers the thirsty the water of life.

As the Son of Man, he grew weary.
As the Son of God, he provides rest to the weary.

As the Son of Man, he wept.
As the Son of God, he is preparing a home where there will be no more crying.

As the Son of Man, he was led as a sheep to the slaughter.
As the Son of God, he is the Good Shepherd.

As the Son of Man, he was sold for thirty pieces of silver.
As the Son of God, he is our Redeemer.

He became the son of man
that we might become the children of God.

Your Storm Shelter

Apr
2018
13

What kind of man is this?
Even the winds and the waves obey him.
                  —Matthew 8:27

“A mature hurricane is by far the most powerful event on earth,” writes Sebastian Junger, in The Perfect Storm. “The combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union don’t contain enough energy to keep a hurricane going for one day. A typical hurricane encompasses a million cubic miles of atmosphere and could provide all the electric power needed by the United States for three or four years.”

Are you facing into the wild winds of a personal storm that seems equally powerful and devastating?

Like the names of hurricanes (Ike, Harvey, Irma), your storm may be one word: Divorce. Cancer. Grief.

The only way to survive it is also one word: Jesus. In him you will receive mercy and find grace to help in your time of need (Heb 4:16).

The storm may be stronger than you,
but Jesus is stronger than the storm.

Government and God

Apr
2018
12

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,
and to God what is God’s.
    —Matthew 22:21

Do you know anyone who likes to pay taxes? Neither do I.

The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus on taxes: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

If Jesus said “No,” he was in trouble with Rome. If he said “Yes,” he was in trouble with the Jews, who hated Rome.

He asked for a coin designated specifically for tax payment. “Whose image is this?” he asked, holding up the coin. “Caesar’s,” they said. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” he said.

Obligations exist, both to government and to God.

A coin stamped with Caesar’s image belonged to Caesar and should be given back to Caesar. A human stamped with God’s image (Gn 1:27) belongs to God and should be given back to God.

Cheat neither government nor God.

Come to the wedding banquet.
       —Matthew 22:4

Jesus spun a story about a king who invited some well-heeled friends to a wedding banquet for his son, only to be insulted by their refusal to come.

First impulse is to brand these invitees as a wicked, wretched, worthless brood. But not so fast.

One rejected the invitation because he was taking care of his farm; another because he was taking care of his business: both legitimate occupations. The things that claim priority in our schedules are not necessarily bad things.

Sometimes we don’t RSVP to the Lord’s invitation for our time and attention because we’re busy—often in legitimate activities.

Our challenge is to be sure we don’t let the second best beat out the best, the good eclipse the grand, the temporal trump the eternal.

The good is sometimes
the enemy of the best.

Bring them here to me.
   —Matthew 14:18

Jesus’ disciples asked him to dismiss the crowd so the people could go buy themselves some dinner. He said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they protested.

“Bring them to me,” he said.

You know what he did with that skimpy snack.

Do you feel inadequate? “I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the resources. All I have is . . .”

Bring it to me, Jesus says.

He doesn’t demand abilities and resources that you don’t have. Just bring him what you have. He asks for no more; you should offer no less.

He can do a lot with your little. He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).

At the end, we will probably have more regret
about what we didn’t do than about what we did.