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

Go First

Aug
2018
20

We love him, because he first loved us.
                      —1 John 4:19

Helping Hand Home for Children, in Austin, Texas, has been a harbor for abused children since 1893. A child moving from their institutional custody into foster care or adoption is often cold and combative. Helping Hand therapists tell the new guardians, “She needs you to go first. You must show her she’s worthy of love before she will respond in kind.”

We’re not told what the tiff was between those gals in Philippi that caused Paul to write, “I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their difference and make up” (Phil 4:2). Hopefully, one of them decided to go first.

That’s what God did: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8). “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Any thorny issues in your relationships? Go first.

Be the first to say,
“I’m sorry, can we start over?”

Freedom

Aug
2018
17

If the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.
    —John 8:32

Jorge scaled the fence, eluded border guards, slipped into the rail yard, dodged a 200-ton locomotive, and made a perilous dash for the one thing he craved above all else. Freedom!

It’s impossible for those of us who have lived in freedom all our lives to fathom the nightmare existence under brutal regimes where torture is common and terror is daily.

It is likewise impossible for those of us who grew up in church to imagine the emptiness of life without it.

For a moment, focus your mind on this: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:1–2).

Praise God.

There is no freedom from responsibility,
but in Christ there is freedom from fear.

Grow Up

Aug
2018
16

Grow in the grace and
knowledge of our Lord.
    —2 Peter 3:18

A line from the apostle Peter’s first letter runs: “Get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. . . . Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing” (1 Pt 2:1).

He must have been writing to some bad dudes.

Not so fast.

Earlier in that letter he called them God’s chosen people (1 Pt 1:1); cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1:2); God’s children (1:14); born again (1:23).

First, he assured them of their salvation—then counseled them to abandon their toxic practices. Bad habits aren’t washed away in the baptistry; a new life begins there, but growth doesn’t end there.

Don’t doubt your salvation because you messed up. Chip away at destructive attitudes, language, and behavior. You’ll become more and more like Jesus as you grow (2 Cor 3:18).

We don’t change to be saved,
but because we are saved.

Broken and Repaired

Aug
2018
15

Whenever a piece of pottery turned out imperfect,
he would . . . make it into something else.
               —Jeremiah 18:4

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. Shattered pieces are glued back together with a secret lacquer mixed with powdered gold, creating a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, piece. Instead of concealing the scars, kintsugi highlights them.

Some Bible characters that shine the brightest had fractured pasts. David, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Paul come to mind.

One of the most effective Bible class teachers I’ve known had spiritual scars as thick as your thumb from self-inflicted wounds of a profligate past. He connected as a healer of the hurting because he knew what it was to fall, be broken—and be repaired by the gold of grace.

Broken? God is the ultimate kintsugi artisan. You will be beautiful.

God doesn’t trash broken lives.
He repairs them.

Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light for my path.
   —Psalm 119:105

Dr. Charles Eliot, Harvard University president (1869–1909), once said a five-foot shelf of books could provide “a good substitute for a liberal education” to anyone who would devote fifteen minutes a day to reading them.

Editors from Collier told Eliot if he would pick the books to fill that shelf they would publish them. The result was the Harvard Classics, a 51-volume anthology of world literature classics, published in 1910, along with Eliot’s Reading Guide, titled “Fifteen Minutes a Day.” He called it a “portable university.”

Here’s an alternate use of time: you can read through the Bible by reading just three chapters a day six days a week and five chapters on Sunday—an investment of less than ten minutes per day.

The person who can’t read is no worse off
than the person who can but won’t.

Profit and Loss

Aug
2018
13

What profit is there if you gain the
whole world—and lose eternal life?
      —Matthew 16:26

I remember when I first saw an IBM Selectric typewriter: “That’s the ultimate,” I thought—“they’ll never improve on that.” If you’re looking for a Selectric today, your best bet is a museum.

Alistair Cooke, host of Masterpiece Theatre, Letter from America, and author of two dozen books, was asked in 2004 by his seventeen-year-old grandson, “Grandfather, is it true you have a typewriter?”

“Yes,” replied Alistair.

“Could I see it?”

Change comes with blinding speed. We’re mesmerized by things new: the fastest computer, the latest smartphone, tech-loaded cars, Siri, Alexa, Tesla.

Change can be your friend . . . or your foe. Do you spend more time surfing, emailing, and texting than you spend reading your Bible and praying? Just asking.

Today you will exchange a
day of your life for something.

We Are Family

Aug
2018
10

Love each other as brothers and sisters.
                —Romans 12:10

You didn’t choose me. I didn’t choose you. But God chose us both, so we are family.

Do we have differences? Sure. Differences can lead to divisiveness—but don’t have to. There are some to the “right” and some to the “left” with whom I disagree. But we’re still family.

Family fusses make no sense to me because, in spite of differences, we have so much in common: we are enthralled by the same manger, rescued by the same Savior, saved by the same cross, elated by the same empty tomb, and destined for the same home.

Slap that sentence on the fridge before you go to the meeting and write it on the chalkboard when you’re discussing differences.

God’s children don’t need to look alike,
but need to love each other a lot.

Bless You

Aug
2018
09

The Lord bless you and keep you.
              —Numbers 6:24

Some churches close their services reciting the benediction of Numbers 6:24-26.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

For many years I’ve stepped out my door five or six mornings a week for an aerobic hour. The exercise is secondary to it being prayer time for me.

I pray for some friends every day—and for others only when something nudges me to think of them. Some have burdens I’m aware of and pray about, and some for whom my petition is a simple, “Please bless ___________.” I beseech God’s blessings for people I see along the way and will likely never see again: yard workers, garbage collectors, moms, dads, children.

Lift someone up in prayer today.

Your prayer today will help
shape someone’s tomorrow.

Don’t Give Up

Aug
2018
08

“I know the plans I have for
you,” declares the Lord.
   —Jeremiah 29:11

“Your prayer has been heard,” angel Gabriel told Zechariah—“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Lk 1:13). The old couple had given up that dream long ago—hadn’t prayed that prayer in years. But it had been heard back then and was now to be favorably answered.

Judah’s exile in Babylon would last for seventy years. “By the rivers of Babylon [they] sat and wept when [they] remembered Zion” (Ps 137:1). God told them that all would end well. “I know the plans I have for you,” he said . . . “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future . . . and I will bring you back [home]” (Jer 29:11, 14).

God doesn’t operate on our itch for instant gratification clock. Be patient. Be faithful.

Your prayer is in God’s in-box.
He’ll answer when the time is right.

Forgiven and Used

Aug
2018
07

This man is my chosen instrument.
—Acts 9:15

Deceiver
Cheater
Adulterer
Denier
Persecuter

Match these names with the word above that describes them: David, Paul, Jacob, Abraham, Peter.

These single-word epitaphs could have been chiseled on their gravestones, but weren’t, because each was forgiven and used.

Jacob was on the lam, running away from the brother he had cheated, and who had murder on his mind. Jacob heard the voice of God in a dream, promising to be with him and bless the whole world through his descendants. “Surely the Lord is in this place,” he said, “and I was not aware of it” (Gn 28:16).

God is in your space too. Are you aware of it? Are you forfeiting a blessed future because of a past mistake? Don’t let that blunder become your one-word epitaph.

God offers you forgiveness and a future.

All you have to do to receive
his forgiveness is to accept it.