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

Smile

Oct
2018
01

May the God of hope fill you with
all joy and peace as you trust in him.
       —Romans 15:13

For centuries art critics have debated whether or not Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa is smiling. Playwright Sir Noel Coward said, “she looks as if she has been sick, or is about to be.” The painting is valued at more than a billion dollars, which probably makes Leonardo smile—wherever he is.

The word “smile” appears only three times in our English translations of the Bible. But the word “joy,” which produces smiles, turns up 242 times.

The angel told the shepherds that he was bringing “good news of great joy”—the Savior had been born (Lk 2:10–11). And Jude assures us that our Father “is able to keep [us] from falling and to present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 1:24).

Don’t those words put a grin above your chin?

A smile is a million-dollar-makeover
that doesn’t cost a dime.

Anon

Sep
2018
28

Do not think of yourself
more highly than you ought.
     —Romans 12:3

Essayist JaneYolen wrote: “The best writers are the ones who really, in their heart of hearts, aspire to the byline Anon [Anonymous]. The story told is important, not the storyteller.”

The late Dr. Norvel Young, past president of Pepperdine University, often said, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

“I give this piece of advice to each one of you,” wrote Paul. “Don’t [have] exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance . . . have real warm affection for one another . . . and a willingness to let the other person have the credit” (Rom 12:3, 10).

John the Baptist’s greatness was in knowing that the story wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus: “He must grow greater and greater and I less and less” (Jn 3:30).

Deliver a knockout punch
to pride, ego, and arrogance.

Your Safe Place

Sep
2018
27

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
               —Proverbs 18:10

My firstborn’s safe place was my lap, with two fingers of his right hand in his mouth and his left hand clutching the corner of a frayed security blanket, reduced-by-wear to the size of a dish towel. “Tranquility” could have been tattooed on his forehead.

Your adult safe place may be your home. You walk through the door, slip off your jacket, kick off your shoes, and collapse in your familiar recliner. Home sweet home.

There are times when we need more; seasons when we come face-to-face with fear, and know that the safe place we need isn’t a place; it’s a person. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1). “My God is my rock. I can run to him for safety” (2 Sm 22:3).

God is your safe place
and the door is always open.

How God Sees You

Sep
2018
26

A true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.
                           —John 1:47

When Nathanael was told that Jesus of Nazareth was the one Moses and the prophets had written about, he sneered: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” I give a thumbs-down to Nathanael. But Jesus gave him a thumbs-up, calling him an “Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

And Simon Peter? His faith faltered, his courage crumbled, he made promises he didn’t keep . . . the list of his flaws is long. Jesus knew all of them but saw beyond them: You’re a rock, man. Strengthen your brothers. Take care of my sheep.

God knows all of your weaknesses but sees beyond them—he sees you as holy, loved, called, chosen, faithful (Col 3:12; Rv 17:14); he sees you as justified, saved, reconciled, righteous (Rom 5:9, 10, 19).

Some see your flaws.
God sees your faith.

A Clean Slate

Sep
2018
25

I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.
                        —Hebrews 10:17

Alexander Hartdegen, the protagonist in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, built a vehicle that hurled him more than 800,000 years into the future. He had hoped to use it to change the past, but the contraption wouldn’t take him back, only forward.

If you could go back, there are some things you’d change, right? But you can’t go back.

Or can you?

If you’re running for office, your past is going to come back and bite you. Even your spouse, or some brothers and sisters down at church, may throw your past in your face. But that’s not the way God does things. When you come to him, he does a marvelous thing: he wipes the slate clean; eliminates all past sins. “The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).

Reject rejection. Accept acceptance.

Warnings

Sep
2018
24

If you reject God’s teaching,
you will pay the price.
  —Proverbs 13:13

A West Virginia state trooper pulled a woman over for going fifteen miles over the speed limit. After he wrote her a ticket, she asked, “Don’t you give out warnings?” “Yes ma’am,” he said; “they’re all up and down the road. They say, ‘Speed Limit 55.’”

The Bible posts warnings too. Here are a few from Proverbs.

“Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way” (4:27).

“Don’t talk so much . . . Be sensible and turn off the flow” (10:19)

“It is hard to stop a quarrel once it starts, so don’t let it begin” (17:14).

“If you refuse to obey what you have been taught, your prayers will not be heard” (28:9).

When the warnings are ignored, there’s a price to pay.

Famous last words: “I did it my way.”

The Spirit prays for us in ways
that cannot be put into words.
        —Romans 8:26

John White was a praying man: diligent in private; eloquent in public. At the end of every visit I had with him, he said, “Let’s pray before we part.”

When his doctor’s stethoscope detected a problem that called for open-heart surgery, John was dismayed that he couldn’t pray; he had neither the energy nor the words. His body and mind were so exhausted that he could barely function.

He said he later realized that God had covered his deficiency: the Holy Spirit was praying for him when he couldn’t pray for himself (Rom 8:26).

Eugene Peterson paraphrased Romans 8:26 this way: “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”

The Spirit prays, and the Father hears.

Layer Up

Sep
2018
20

He has clothed me with
garments of salvation.
    —Isaiah 61:10

Die-hard joggers run in all kinds of weather. Where seasonal temperatures are extreme, most prefer winter to summer because they can add layers in cold weather, but can only take off so much in a sizzling summer without being arrested.

The apostle Paul posted his signature locker collection for the Christian runner: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. . . . And over all these virtues put on love . . .” (Col 3:12, 14).

Monitor your foul weather moods and layer up. When the cold wind of irritation nips at you, reach for a pullover of kindness. When the icy mist of frustration comes at you, zip up a jacket of patience. When a downpour of antagonism drenches you, a poncho of love is the answer.

Beware of spiritual frostbite.

Read More

Sep
2018
19

I meditate on your precepts.
      —Psalm 119:15

In a roundtable discussion about The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, a participant said, “I prefer stories in books rather than movies.”

“Why?” he was asked.

“With a book,” he said, “I can stay there as long as I want.”

I’m with him. A movie doesn’t give me the option of using my Hi-Liter or making notes in the margins.

In Hebrews 11, cameo appearances fill the stage: eight individuals, one couple, one group, and six people the author didn’t have time to write about. Each had a story that was made memorable by their faith: “All these people were still living by faith when they died” (v. 13).

You can turn there, stay as long as you want, and let their faith rub off on you. And there are another thousand or so bonus pages.

Watch less. Read more.

You are a letter from Christ.
    —2 Corinthians 3:3

President Ronald Reagan wrote regularly to his beloved Nancy when he was on the road or in the air. His successor in office, George H.W. Bush, was a prolific note-writer. My late friend Leonard Waggoner penned a poem to his wife Elizabeth every day.

In this age of email and texting, letter writing is becoming a lost art. That’s sad, for anyone who has combed through the possessions of a departed loved one has probably come across a packet of cherished letters. I have a box of letters my mother kept until the day she died; letters my father wrote to her when they were courting.

The apostle Paul said that followers of Jesus are “a letter from Christ.” Your Christ-centered life is a beautiful letter; don’t permit your writing of it to become a lost art.

The message of your life
will be cherished for generations.