Our Responsibility

Today’s reading is Psalm 78.

Here in verses 9 through 66 the psalmist recalls the history of God rescuing the Israelites from slavery and then providing for them in the desert as they traveled towards the Promised Land. Yet despite this, they continued to doubt God’s greatness and provision and continued to sin against Him. I could not help but read this and think of the parallels between the Israelites and our country today.

Our American ancestors moaned that they were not free from British rule and rightly so, yet after fighting for freedom they did not give the same freedom and rights to Black Americans or women…keeping Black Americans as slaves for nearly 100 more years and not allowing women to vote for about 150 more. Nearly 250 years later, we still see racism and sexism present in our country. And although we should continue to pray and take action to end both, I fear we can only improve but that neither will end fully as long as there is sin in this world until Jesus comes again. Our country also continues to glorify lifestyles that the Bible clearly states are not what God wants by normalizing these ways of living in movies, TV shows, and even commercials. Christians who stand firmly on the Bible’s word are then alternatively demonized.

Not only do we as a country continue to move away from God’s will for our lives, but we also continue to question God’s greatness and provision similar to the Israelites (see Psalm 78:10-20). Suicide rates, depression, and anxiety continue to increase. We fear the next virus or economic crash and despite our lack of trust and faith, God continues to richly bless us in similar ways to the Israelites. It may not be parting of the Red Sea, manna and quail falling from the sky, or water spewing from a rock, but God continues to provide for us and improve our lives…even if we don’t attribute to Him because we are not viewing things through the correct lens.

For example, in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected President, 50% of the world lived in extreme poverty, now it’s about 10% with even less in the US. Despite the recent pandemic, US households have the highest inflation adjusted incomes in history and paid down record amounts of debt in 2020, as well as hold two times the amount in checking accounts as they did at the end of 2019. Many are still struggling yes, but the data shows most people’s lives are improving financially and poverty and hunger are becoming closer and closer to being eradicated each and every year. Most junior high students have a phone in their backpack with more computing power than was used to power the first Apollo mission to the moon. Yet we continue as a country to doubt God’s provision and separate ourselves more from Him and His biblical values and instruction. See the parallels when it comes to the Israelites and us now?

With even public schools now removing prayer and God from nearly everything and forcing the teaching of other worldly, non-Biblical views at very young ages, what are parents and grandparents to do? How do we change this trajectory our country is on currently to move further and further away from God and His teachings? Psalm 78:1-8 tells us.

Give ear, O my people to my

teaching;

incline your ears to the words

Of my mouth!

I will open my mouth in a parable.

I will utter dark saying from

of old,

things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers told us.

We will not hide them from

their children,

but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the Lord,

and his might,

and the wonders that he has

done.

He established a testimony in

Jacob

and appointed a law in

Israel,

which He commanded our

fathers

to teach to their children,

that the next generation might

Know them,

The children yet unborn,

and arise and tell them to their

children,

so that they should set their

hope in God,

but keep His commandments;

and that they should not be like

their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious

generation,

a generation whose heart was

not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

We as believers and followers of God’s Word must teach it and tell of His great works and provision in our lives to our children and grandchildren. We cannot merely leave it up to attending church and Sunday school and think that the next generations will believe and follow God’s will based on that alone. The Bible has always taught us it’s our responsibility in our homes. However, it is even more necessary in today’s world where God’s teachings are merely not just excluded, but again demonized as hate and discrimination while other ungodly views are forced upon our children in media and schools.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

God knew the teaching of His Word was needed at home and that we needed consistent exposure…even before the outside influences of Hollywood entertainment and social media of today.

Think of the impact we can have by teaching our children. God has blessed my wife and I with three children and a fourth on the way. If our four children have four children who they teach God’s Word who have four children who do the same and so on and so forth…in 10 generations that would be 1,048,576 who have believed and followed the will and Word of God. And think of the impact each of them would have telling others about God who might believe and teach His Word and the Gospel to their families to not only follow God’s will but have eternal life?!

I would encourage each of to reflect today and pray for wisdom on how we can improve in the frequency of teaching God’s Word, telling of his provision, and of course speaking about His saving grace on the cross to our children and grandchildren. Imagine the difference this will have on them and their lives and generations to come!

Casting Lots

It’s been really neat to follow along with Jon’s recent posts about hiring people. Took me back to my days in a corporate environment and some of the hiring adventures I experienced. I can remember walking away from interviews and being surprised (even shocked, at times) at what some people shared. And then wondering what I said or did in interviews that left people chuckling or puzzled? I mean, sometimes things just come out when you’re nervous or in a pressure cooker!

At one point in my career, I was building a new team of people that needed a skill set and knowledge base that we didn’t have a lot of in house. Hiring from the outside is a really cool opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives and unique talents, but it also comes with more risk. When you leverage existing talent within the organization, they usually have a reputation of work product, and you have a longer chance to observe them…but hiring externally, you’re relying on a resume, short interviews, and their former bosses’ opinions – people you don’t have a relationship with and have little motivation to help a different organization.

Sam, a young man in Michigan, had an interview that still leaves me smiling. His personality was as big as he was tall, and what he lacked in experience, he made up in knowledge. He worked hard and knew his stuff in the financial arena, coming up with great ideas and solutions to the different interview questions.

In that first interview, Sam spoke really fast and seemed to be sweating quite a bit. Halfway through he stopped me and confessed that he was nervous/ecstatic/distracted because the night before he asked his future father in law for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage! He received his blessing and so that morning Sam picked up the ring and planned to propose that evening! He was just so excited and thrilled for this next phase of life. I will never forget his zeal in that first interview.

There was a risk in hiring Sam – he didn’t have as many years of experience, but he had heart + determination. He knew his stuff and I believed his contagious personality was just what the other salespeople in Michigan needed to get them excited. Some leaders say they just have an instinct, or trust their gut… but when I boil it down, it’s actually the Holy Spirit. Like Jon, prayer was a critical part in making hiring decisions. Asking the Lord to show me what I’m missing, give me a peace in my heart about a certain candidate, protect me from bringing in the wrong person to our company. How amazing that we have a living God that goes before us and walks beside us!

In Acts 1, we see the last account in the Bible of casting lots, and specifically it was for a personnel change within the disciple group. Talk about a high pressure “hiring decision”!  If you aren’t familiar with casting lots, it was a tradition used by men of God to make decisions. We don’t know of all the methods specifically (sticks, stones, etc), but we do know the first example is back with Aaron and which animal to sacrifice (Lev. 16:8), and continued for hundreds of years with a range of circumstances. Dividing land, determining fault, settling disputes. This continued until this last time it’s recorded in Acts. Jesus had just ascended to heaven and they were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. While they’re waiting, Peter addresses the group of disciples and their need to replace Judas. They brought forward two candidates, Joseph of Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed over the decision and asked God to show them who to select, and then they cast the lots. Maybe they had marked sticks or stones, we don’t know… but whatever they used, it came up that it was Mathias to replace Judas.

Casting lots is never mentioned again, and maybe I’m making a leap here, but it seems to me that once the Holy Spirit arrives, living in us, guiding us, then we no longer need to cast lots. Romans 12:2 tells us:

Being transformed in the renewal of your mind that you may be able to prove what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.

Discerning the will of God isn’t easy, but we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the Living Word to rely on. What an opportunity, strike that, OBLIGATION we have to transform + renew our minds! If we aren’t talking with Him or studying His words regularly, how will we know His will? Do you believe that God can and will press upon your heart, the path He has for you? We don’t have to flip a coin to make a tough decision – we have the Holy Spirit inside of us! I can’t wait for Acts 2 and what BJ has to share with us next week about the Holy Spirit, it’s going to be great!

Oh, and Sam? She said yes. And fifteen years later he is still doing great things with that organization, and he and his wife have three sweet kiddos.

To The Church

Happy Tuesday Bible Journal family!

In Revelation 2 we have hear Jesus speak to John and to four of the seven churches in the province of Asia. The words Jesus speaks to John would be the letters written for the churches then and to all of us as “the Churches” now.

The letters to the churches are of praise and encouragement, but also warnings.  So as you read through Revelation 2, listen to His words and hold onto His promises.

7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

To the Church in Ephesus

  • He is our right hand that holds it all in His hands. v.1
  • He knows our actions and our deeds. v.2
  • He understands our perseverance.v.3
  • He reminds us to repent when we have fallen. v.5

To the Church in Smyrna

  • He is the First and the Last v.8
  • He knows our pain and needs. v.9
  • He reminds us the devil will test us, still be faithful to receive your victor’s crown. v.10

To the Church in Pergamum

  • He holds a sharp double-edged sword. v.12 (Hebrews 4:12)
  • He will provide manna v.17
  • He will provide a white stone with a new name on it. v.17

To the Church in Thyatira

  • He knows our deeds, love, and faith, our service and perseverance. v.19
  • He gives us time to repent, are you willing?
  • If we don’t repent, we will suffer. v.22
  • I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.  v. 23

Jesus is reminding us that He truly knows us. (Romans 8:27-37)  He knows what is said and done in the dark and what is in the light. (Luke 12:3)  That judgment will be passed and He gives us the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. (John 9:39 and Matthew 4:17)

To each church and to each of us Jesus says, Whoever has ears let them hear.  Do you hear Jesus speaking to you today? Listen close, He knows what we go through every day, He is here for us, waiting. All we need to do is listen.

Dear God,

Thank you for your words that we are able to apply to our hearts each day.  God, we know you are with us always and know every detail of our being.  Help us to listen and obey your words. That in this wonderful Christmas season we remember and focus on your ultimate sacrifice of sending your own son Jesus to live a perfect life and ultimately die for our sins.  The sins we all like to hide away, let us bring them to the light and repent.   God I’m sorry when I lose faith, I’m sorry when I don’t listen.  Search my help and reveal to me all that you desire and help me to live not by my will, but yours.  Help me to open my ears, and hear your loving voice today.  We love you.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Socks

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2

When do you remember first worrying about what others thought of you and trying to fit in? For me, it was junior high. I began to really care about how I looked, dressed, and the brand of my clothes. I remember wearing some jeans and wondering that morning if I had grown and if they were long enough. That same day, someone made a comment about me having “high waters” on and then a girl who many of us junior high aged boys were fond of chimed in and said…”Looks like the tides are coming in, Chet.” You can be rest assured I never wore those pair of jeans again, and I made sure my pants were never too short again. In fact, my wife is going to chuckle when she reads this because I think this experience is why likely today I am still always asking her if my pants are too short (like even maybe just last week). Unless if’s for exceptional performance at something, nearly all of us are constantly trying to fit in. Even as adults, we are worried about what others think and follow to the norms of this world.

This world is always trying to get us to conform, even though Romans 12:2 clearly tells us it’s ok to be different, which is exactly what we will be, when we are following Christ. This world tries to tell us that we can do whatever we want and feel like because that will make us happy. This world tells us that rules and guidelines God gives us in His Word keep us from being satisfied. Do whatever you feel like..that will bring you happiness and peace. Then you will be free. However, God knows whatever He tells us is sin in the Bible will actually make us a slave, not free. Sin either initially gives us a sense of anxiety knowing we did something wrong shortly thereafter or gives us temporary satisfaction in the moment, but it will eventually bring us pain and hurt at some point in the long run. This world tells us that many things the Bible says are wrong are now socially acceptable. Things have changed since Bible times we are told, and the Evil One will even trick us into believing that some things are not a sin just because Jesus didn’t specifically address them. But, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us,” 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Evil One knows that if we discredit one piece of Scripture…he’s got us..because that means you have to throw out the Scriptures as a whole. We, as believers, must stand up and recognize that the nature of our faith is 2 Timothy 3:16 is true and as a result, we believe ALL Scripture to be true. We must then do all we can to live out the truth of those Scriptures to reveal the character of God.

Romans 3:23 tells us “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Isaiah 59:2 tells us “..your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” But, thankfully the character of God is to give us that which we do not deserve as told here in Romans 6:23.. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We all have a God shaped hole in our heart due to our sin that only He can fill through a relationship with Him.

No matter how hard we try, we will fall short and sin, but Romans 12:1 tells us that we should do all we can to make our own body holy and sacred, dedicating it to Him and doing all we can to not sin. Romans 12:2 then also tells us that when we do this and do not conform to this world we will know the will of God. How many times do we ask ourselves why something bad is happening in our lives, others’ lives, or in our world today? How can this seemingly bad thing be good? What good can come of this? What is the right thing for me to do right now? Well, this tells us if we give our life up to Him, we will better understand His will and what is going on. Who doesn’t want that wisdom and the peace that will come from it?

For the last few years, a few guys in my office have been on me to get rid of my old plain, solid colored dress socks that match my suit and switch to wearing the crazy designed, multi-colored socks that don’t have to match your suit. I pushed back caring about what potential clients would think and wondering if someone would trust a financial advisor who dresses like this. Well, three months ago I was in San Diego and walked into a store with probably a 60 feet wall full of crazy socks. I began to think (or maybe it was the Holy Sprit’s divine intervention)..maybe it’s time. So, I did it…I decided not to conform with the regular old, plain socks and to get some crazy socks…to be different. Let me tell you after 3 months, I love wearing them. It’s actually fun, and I like not having to worry about matching. Covering up past sins which cause worry and anxiety is not enjoyable. Giving your body as a sacrifice and not conforming to this world and what this world says is right may sound boring and not fun. However, if you hear the Holy Spirit telling you to change the way your living through His Word or through Christ-centered friends, listen and take action. Turn away, and give your life to Jesus. You won’t have to worry about the bondage of past sins that make you a slave. It may be even better and more freeing than not having to worry about matching socks….

 

Wait on the Lord

1 Samuel 26 and Psalms 27

1 Samuel 26 reads like a repeat of 1 Samuel 24, that we explored two days ago with Jennifer Armstrong.  The circumstances are two different events, although  similar, with Saul once again pursuing David. David has another opportunity to kill him, yet he shows mercy for the second time.  The picture Jennifer painted of choosing reconciliation over revenge, and trusting God’s authority, is applicable to this chapter as well.

I love how Psalms 27 so clearly describes David’s experiences outlined in 1 Samuel. He shows us that putting the Lord at the center of his life removes his fears (verse 1). Surrounded by enemy armies, he declares his confidence in God’s protection (verse 2-3). Even when David had the opportunity to take control, kill his enemy, he chooses to show mercy and allow God to work how He will.  TWICE!

Like David, we can trust God to deal with our enemies. Do you have a Saul in your life that you need to commit to the Lord’s hands?  He is the supreme authority, the righteous judge, and the ultimate miracle worker.  As a mentor once told me, “Let that go… it’s above your pay grade. That’s work that the Lord will do”.

I’m so encouraged by David’s cries out to the Lord in this Psalm, seeking wisdom and leadership (verse 11) in the middle of his drama. He chooses to WAIT for the Lord, even when under duress.

In contrast, my instinct is to take action. The Lord continues to give me opportunities to be patient and wait on Him. I’m a problem-solver, coming up with a mental action plan for the 12 “what-if” scenarios I create in my mind for any given situation. Inaction can make me uneasy, even when I know that immediate action isn’t always the best solution.  Waiting – whether it’s on direction from the Lord, or for my kids to get in the car – does not come easy.

I can think of a big season of waiting in my life, while handling hurts at the hands of others. God used this time to grow my trust in Him, He provided more wisdom, and delivered hope.  He protected my heart from seeking revenge, and in time, turned it toward reconciliation.  Had I taken immediate action, the outcome would be very different.  While the waiting can be the hardest part, in hindsight, we can see the beautiful work God does. For me, more time brought more truth.  And more time and truth brought more healing.

Lord, Thank you for being a righteous judge.  Please give us an ear to hear your direction and a heart to follow. Help us to know the difference of when you are leading us to wait and when you are leading us to action. Amen 

Not of This World…

Have you ever done something to honor God’s direction and His Word, yet others didn’t see it that way?

Today’s reading is Joshua 22 and Proverbs 22. We read here Joshua gives the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh their land and sends them off. Before doing so, in Joshua 22:5, He instructs them to follow God’s greatest commandment to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. Upon receiving their land, they built an altar as a replica of the altar the Israelites. The Israelites hear of this and prepare for war against them because they believe they did this to worship another God, believing there should only be one altar which they had, to honor the one true God. Thankfully, they sent Phinehas and ten chiefs, one from each tribe, to check it out before attacking. They learn that the reason for building the altar was to replicate the original altar of the Israelites because the Jordan River separated them from easily getting back and they wanted to not only continue to honor God as Joshua had instructed, but also to make sure their children continued to know God and love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind (Joshua 22:26-28). Not only were they concerned about their continued commitment to love God, but they were also following what Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way you should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” After learning of the real truth of the altar, they are very pleased and obviously do not attack them (Joshua 22:32-34).

Unfortunately, we may not always be so lucky when we honor God and His Word. We may or may not be attacked physically, but others may scorn us with words, gossip, and it may come between our relationship with them and others. This makes it very difficult to honor God and always follow His way because as sinful humans, we care what others think about us. However, if we follow God and His will, others will often realize this later, as the Israelites did, but if not, we must be at peace with this. We must remember that we are living for an audience of One. We are told many times in the Bible that to follow God is to not be of this world and the world will hate us (John 17:14-16, John 15:18). Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” In Mark 8:36, Jesus says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Let us pray as we start our day today…Lord, please help us to love you with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Let us be not of this world, as hard as it will be, but let us follow you and your will for our lives, not caring what anyone thinks but you. We know we are not perfect and know we will mess up. We will likely even misjudge others who we think are not following God’s will but are. We thank you for your saving grace through your Son Jesus. We love you. Amen.

What Are You Waiting For?

Joshua 18 & Proverbs 18

Chapter 18 of Joshua continues with the land division process for the final seven of the twelve tribes.  BAM!  Joshua hits them right between the eyes with his question of What Are You Waiting For?, as he charges the tribes to go get what God has given them!  I love the different ways this question is asked in the different versions of verse 3:

  • How long are ye slack…King James
  • How long will you put off…English Standard
  • How long will you wait…New International

We do not know WHY they’re slack – or HOW LONG they planned to put it off.  We do know that Joshua doesn’t mince words and clearly he wanted them to get a move on it.  I wonder if their reasons for waiting are much like mine?

  • Comfortable – were they cozy in their current stomping grounds and life was going along okay – why shake up the apple cart?
  • Fearful – were they concerned about some of the current inhabitants of the land and wanted to avoid conflict?
  • Doubting – did they question if the Lord REALLY intended this land for them? Really, God?  THIS land, for US, right NOW?
  • Unsure to Start – maybe they were ready and willing, but genuinely didn’t know WHAT to do first. Were they waiting around for someone to give them their marching orders?

What has the Lord given you that you need to take hold of? Do you have a gift or talent ready to be used for His Kingdom? Has He put a promise in your heart that you need to BELIEVE today?  Does He have something that will bring you much joy and delight?

I can think of a specific time in my life when God put it on my heart to take the next big step in healing a relationship.  While I felt God calling me to this deeper level of healing, it was definitely uncomfortable and didn’t feel like the easiest road.  In addition to the doubts I had about myself and if this was even possible, I also didn’t know HOW or WHAT to do FIRST.

When we are called to a purpose or given something to take hold of, God doesn’t promise it to be easy and without trials.  He promises to be WITH US through it. He will guide us – sometimes right through the center of a mess, that brings us to a deeper reliance and rest in Him. He will surround us with His presence when we do not know what to do.  He will place His Word on our heart that will speak to us. He will send brothers and sisters to minister to us and share wisdom.

I love how Joshua sends out 3 men from each tribe to do the survey of the land so he can assign the 7 parts for the 7 remaining tribes.  What great wisdom! Parents have experienced this with kids – they’re more likely to split a cookie evenly when they know someone else will be choosing who gets which half.  Twenty-one sets of eyes are better than seven. I wonder how many of Joshua’s decisions were impacted by the gained wisdom from the decades spent with Moses. In addition to the Holy Spirit and the Living Word, God uses His people to pass down wisdom to future generations.

Proverbs 18 is full of challenges for us seek wisdom and understanding before taking action and opening our mouths.

He that separateth himself seeketh his own desire,
And rageth against all sound wisdom.
A fool hath no delight in understanding,
But only that his heart may reveal itself.
A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts.
13 He that giveth answer before he heareth,
It is folly and shame unto him.
15The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge;
And the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

Just like Moses to Joshua, and Joshua to the Israelites, God has surrounded me with wisdom-sharing people,  especially when I needed it.  At an early age, I had a mentor counsel me (drill into me) the importance of seeking wisdom, staying coachable and ‘easy to help’.  He taught me to proactively seek  feedback and surround myself with experienced Godly people. Over the years,  I’ve leaned on this huge life lesson.

Back to Joshua’s original question for us: What are we waiting for? When will we take hold of what God has for us? Let’s move forward with wisdom!

Thank You Lord, for your gifts. Thank you for making Your wisdom available to all of us.  Help us to seek wisdom through Your Living Word and surround us with believers to point us to You.  Amen.

All You Need Is Love

When Jesus speaks of the perfect life, He is very clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” -Luke 10:27. In perfect love, God desires our wellbeing, our fellowship and obedience.

Obedience is a hard word for me to hear, let alone to say or do! But obedience to God’s precepts ultimately make us better, stronger, healthier and happier. God’s law is no longer imposed, but encouraged in love. It’s not offered in oppression, but in freedom from sin through a life of tangible fellowship with the Creator of the Universe. Obedience to a perfect God is to seek the love Jesus speaks of.

Love gets more complicated when we are concerned for our well being, when others threaten our way of life, our freedom or interests. This is when we must chose between our own understanding or trusting God.

I am fascinated by the intensity of the discourse after this very unusual and surprising election. I have had to remind myself that God is eternally sovereign and we are not.

Living out our faith is about love in action, showing love without favoritism, loving the unlovable, practicing grace and gratitude. It is helpful to recognize our hypocrisy and self-righteousness, avoiding demagoguery, so easily embraced.

Personal spiritual transformation is the true source of social change. It is born in Love. God’s Spirit guides us. There is no other way.

God is sovereign and everything, even political power, comes from Him or is allowed by Him.

We have a lifetime of opportunity to live out values like kindness, humility, forgiveness, bravery, sacrifice, integrity, generosity, and compassion. We might easily claim these as our own, and overlook them in others, but love is the champion of justice and truth.

More than anything Jesus is saying to me, “trust God, surrender all to Him and love each other like there is no tomorrow.”

Perhaps John Lennon had it right; “all you need is love!”

1 Chronicles 15; James 2. Secret: Amos 9; Luke 4

Hall of Faith or Hall of Fame?

Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the hall of faith. This is where the legacies of the heroes of Scripture are chronicled. Very different from the halls of fame we encounter in our culture today. 

Walking through a sporting goods store this past week I noticed a very large banner. An athlete up at the break of dawn, with all the ‘essential’ gear, stared into the camera with determination.  The text read simply “I WILL”. Here is another ad from the campaign. 

Under Armour I WILL campaign
Under Armour I WILL campaign

The memory of the familiar “JUST DO IT” slogan immediately came to mind and I thought ‘at least this “I WILL” campaign was a bit more transparent of a rallying cry, God willing we will have an easier time seeing it empty.’ In my estimation, when comparing and contrasting the heroes of Scripture from Hebrews 11 to this campaign, it was their faith that helped them realize they and their will were the furthest thing from true glory.

 

Extra Credit: Self Examination. From conversations with them, some teammates that went on to pursue and reach the professional level struggled with a seemingly constant battle against selfishness. These people were not selfish but their battle was against a lie that said the only way to make it was a completely self absorbed lifestyle, dedicating every moment to their bodies and skills. A constant placing of themselves, and their training, first.

Compare this to your “making it”. Ask yourself what does “making it” look like to you? Is your definition of “making it” of this world? Titles, money, position… What sort of “training” is required to always be first in your life for your definition of “making it”? Know that the world will lie to you about the answer to this question. Praise God that He has given us the truth!

From the hall of faith we get a sense of what making it looks like to our God. It is simple. It is faith. Where the first verse defines faith, the second verse speaks to the stark difference in the bases for congratulation between the ‘people of old’ and today; where faith was this bases in the ‘people of old.’ Their faith was their accomplishments, not victory on this earth, some position, or peer perception of them. It was their faith in God. Here is the big question that we all need to get right. In your life does faith in God = making it?

Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to show you what success looks like. To give you a deep passion for pleasing Him in this way, a steadfastness for pursuing this with a single eye in meekness, humility and faith.

For further study: Memorize and meditate on Hebrews 11:1. Here we find the definition of faith. Such an important factor in following Christ.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 7–8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1–38

Discerning God’s Will

A Christian is obsessed with God’s will. Our love of the LORD is synonymous with obedience to His Word (John 14:15). To know it. To do it. To serve Him is our greatest privilege. God’s Word speaks to so much but what about the things it does not speak to specifically? 

As I read today’s scripture I’m reminded of advice I received with regard to discerning God’s will: focus on His revealed will. When we are faced with decisions in life that we cry out for discernment on we need to look to scripture and focus on God’s revealed will. In the past, I have acted like a child, just wanting my answer for my particular situation. ‘Should I major in this or that… God’s word says to love people… right, right, but what about my major….’

I have heard it said that God does not care when it comes to these smaller things. You may have heard it phrased as a question; “Does God really care who wins the super bowl?” In my estimation, of course He does! I have come to believe God cares about everything (1John 4:8). I have also come to believe that God knows everything (Psalm 139:4). If God is love (opposite of not caring) and God knows everything, my faith strengthens me to believe that His revealed will contains all I need (Isaiah 46:9-10, Romans 8:28, 2Corinthians 12:9). And so by the grace of God, those who love God, can face a specific decision and know that God’s will for you is fully contained in God’s revealed will. Praise God that we need not over complicate things nor worry and that obeying God is simple and the burden light if we let it be! (1John 5:3, Ecclesiastes 7:9) #FaithForward 

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today’s reading: 1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108–109

Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to place on you a love for His Word and to light your path.

For further study: Make a study of all the places in scripture where God reveals His will. Copy them down and share them with your family at the dinner table (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Ask your family to join in and add to the family collection of God’s revealed will.