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

No Vacancy

Dec
2018
21

There was no room for them in the inn.
                         —Luke 2:7

The Bethlehem innkeeper has caught a lot of flak for his callous cruelty in not making room for Joseph and Mary, forcing Mary to give birth to Jesus in a barn and make his bed in a feeding trough.

It’s probably an unjustified judgment. The couple wasn’t turned away because the innkeeper was hard and heartless, but because the Inn was already full and he had to display a “No Vacancy” sign.

Many fail to make room for Jesus, not because they consciously reject him, but because they are preoccupied with other interests and activities. They simply have no space for him. They give lip-allegiance to Jesus, but “let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing” (Lk 8:14).

Life can only hold so much.

You shall know the truth, and
the truth may make you uncomfortable.

Make the best possible use of your time.
               —Colossians 4:5

Author Frederick Buechner says it takes one-sixth as long to write Xmas as it does to write Christmas. “If you do your cards by hand,” Buechner claims, “it is possible to save as much as seventy-five or eighty minutes a year.”

I’m stumped about how Buechner came up with those numbers—but his concluding comment is spot-on: “It is tempting to say that what you do with this time that you save is your own business. However, the Christian position is that there’s no such thing as your own business.”

That’s so, because “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor 6:19–20). No wonder Paul told us we should “make the best possible use of [our] time.”

Time is a terrible thing to waste;
it’s a slice of life.

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
       —Proverbs 20:3

He stormed into the convenience store and started dressing me down because my front left tire was on the stripe next to a handicapped parking space. I responded in kind: told him he was rude, unworthy of the badge he was wearing, needed to take a course in sensitivity training—and threw the usual at him, “Why don’t you spend your time and taxpayers’ money going after the real criminals?”

As soon as I said it, I wished I hadn’t. “A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back” (Prv 29:11).

“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22, 23).

All we achieve by heated response is
to make ourselves the equal of the offender.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.
    —Hebrews 12:2

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick stepped into frigid, shark-infested water to attempt a twenty-six-mile swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. Sixteen hours later, thick fog rolled in, and she called it quits. Unknowingly, she had thrown in the towel less than a mile from shore.

“All I could see was the fog,” she said. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Two months later Florence tried again. Fog again. This time, she held a mental image of the shore—and made it.

Some of our days are drenched in a fog of adversity and anxiety, doubt and depression. That’s when we must visualize the shore “by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish” (Heb 2:1–2).

Faith moves mountains.
Fear creates them.

I have not come to call
the righteous, but sinners.
      —Mark 2:17

Tara Lawton quit going to her health spa because she sensed she didn’t fit in. She was overweight and felt that the svelte were staring at her and judging her. So Tara joined a gym that was exclusively for people committed to losing at least fifty pounds.

Jesus reached out to religious misfits. Matthew was manning a tax booth when Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Tax collectors were spiritual outcasts. Matthew wouldn’t have been invited to a synagogue—and if he had been, he wouldn’t have gone; he would have felt as out of place as a rabbi at a cockfight. But Jesus named him one of the top twelve.

If you ever feel you’re not good enough to hang out with Jesus, remember that you’re the very one he came to seek and save.

If Jesus looked you in the eye and said,
“Follow me,” would you hesitate?

In everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
             —Philippians 4:6

When the doctor walked into the surgical waiting room, Bob and I met him to hear his report. He said the surgery had gone well. When he left, we retreated to a corner of the room, and I said, “Bob, let’s pray.” He looked alarmed, and said, “Oh, wow! Do you think it’s that bad?”

Why do we think of prayer as a last resort? Two reasons, I think: a sense of self-reliance, and its opposite, a sense of self-reluctance.

Self-reliance has unjustified swagger: I can handle my problems myself; I don’t need help. Self-reluctance has unjustified modesty: God has a lot on his plate—wars, global warming, the Dallas Cowboys; he doesn’t have time to mess with my mess.

He has plenty of time for you and is waiting to hear from you.

Let nothing poison your prayer power.

Celebrate Today

Dec
2018
13

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
       —Psalm 118:24

Celebrate today by divorcing the past and marrying the present.

Celebrate today by divorcing resentment and marrying forgiveness.

Celebrate today by divorcing malice and marrying love.

Celebrate today by divorcing indifference and marrying compassion.

Celebrate today by divorcing negligence and marrying diligence.

Celebrate today by divorcing irresponsibility and marrying commitment.

Celebrate today by divorcing apathy and marrying persistence.

Celebrate today by divorcing animosity and marrying peace.

Celebrate today by divorcing irritability and marrying cheerfulness.

Celebrate today by divorcing anxiety and marrying serenity.

Celebrate today by divorcing surliness and marrying sweetness.

Celebrate today by divorcing cynicism and marrying optimism.

End today better than
you were when it started.

Raising the Dead

Dec
2018
12

Young man, I say to you, arise.
              —Luke 7:14

It is unknown how many Jesus raised from the dead. We have a record of only three: a widow’s only son, a synagogue leader’s only daughter, and a pair of sisters’ only brother.

Jesus didn’t raise them to compensate the dead; he raised them to comfort the living: the weeping widow (Lk 7:12–15); the devastated dad (Lk 8:40, 49–56); the sorrowful sisters (Jn 11:17–44).

Curiously, none of the resurrected three said a word about what was on the other side. Was that for our benefit? Was it because God knew that once people envisioned what it was like there, the last place they would want to stay would be here?

“The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace” (Is 57:1–2).

There’s more to come.
And it’s all good.

What Is Your God?

Dec
2018
11

Their own strength is their god.
         —Habakkuk 1:11

God showed up out of the blue and commissioned Gideon to save Israel from their seven-year Midianite oppression. Talk about a lopsided fight—the Midianites had 135,000 soldiers; Gideon was able to round up 32,000: four to one odds. God told Gideon he had too many—said if Gideon’s ragtag troops won, they would boast that their own strength had saved them (Jgs 7:2).

A series of God-directed reductions brought Gideon’s fighting men down to 300, bringing Gideon’s odds to 450 to one. Armed with nothing but trumpets, torches, empty jars—and God—they trounced the Midianites.

God once said of the Babylonians, “Their own strength is their god.”

If we’re not alert and self-aware, our God-given gifts become our gods:

His money is his god.
Her beauty is her god.
His position is his god.
Her talent is her god.

We are finite. God is infinite.
Go with infinite.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
                            —James 4:7

Jesus answered each of Satan’s wilderness temptations with scripture: three temptations; three scriptures. Game over. Old Scratch glanced at the scoreboard and hightailed it for the Exit.

Abraham, “the father of those who have faith” was “absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised” (Rom 4:11, 21).

Let your weight down on the promises of God; on scripture.

Russell Kelso Carter (1849–1928) wore many hats: rancher, professor, physician, minister, author, and composer. He wrote both the words and music to Standing on the Promises. The second stanza goes like this:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

God doesn’t make promises
that are too good to be true.