The Sustenance That Feeds You Where You Need It Most

Sustenance is defined as “food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment; or the maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.”

Jeremiah the prophet described it this way: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by your name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV). “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow by it…” (1 Peter 2:2, NKJV) There are several times that the Word of God is described as our spiritual food. It’s an interesting analogy, and one that deserves some thought.

First, it indicates that spiritual growth is a process, not something that happens instantly. You don’t eat all the meals of your life in one sitting, and you don’t absorb the Bible that way either. Peter says that we start as immature spiritual beings, and should begin with “the pure milk” of the word, receiving our sustenance in a form we can handle. It’s an analogy that makes sense. You grow in understanding God’s word as you “eat” it and apply it in your life, and it provides your spiritual sustenance.

Second, look in the mirror at your physical self. Then imagine your spiritual self. If God’s word is your spiritual sustenance, then what kind of shape is your spiritual man in? When you look into your spiritual mirror, who do you see?

I feed my physical body, (usually more than it requires) and I make sure it gets the fuel it needs to grow and stay strong. It’s easy for us to see the results of feeding our physical man. Now, picture your spiritual man (or woman) in your mind’s eye. He’s up there, waiting for nourishment. His needs are the same as or even greater than your physical body’s. But is he or she strong and healthy? How many meals a week are you feeding HIM (or HER)? For most of us, I’d bet that our “spiritual self” is just wasting away, looking like a prison camp refugee, half-starved and emaciated. Our spiritual self is weak and listless, propped over in a corner just waiting for the preacher to spoon-feed them their weekly meal…

If God’s word is our spiritual food, we should be sitting at the banquet table enjoying a feast each day, not waiting for someone else to toss us a crust of bread every once in a while. Think about your poor spiritual body, and consider feeding it a little life-giving nourishment.

Jeremiah says that a couple of things will happen. First, God’s words provide a reason to live with joy and rejoicing in your heart. Not a bad outcome if you’d like a little more JOY in your life! And second, Jeremiah says he was identified with God. He was called by God’s name, which means he was in the family, fully adopted as an heir—another positive result and another reason to rejoice. So eat. Grow. Rejoice. Repeat.

Look into your spiritual mirror. Who is looking back?
Are they strong, or is there maybe something that they lack?
If the Word of God is food, how often are they eating?
Do they get nutrition in the meals that you are feeding?
Can you, like Jeremiah, say the Word of God is filling?
Do you really want some? You can get it, if you're willing.
You can say with him, "Thy Words were found, and I did eat them"
And people will sense something godly in you when you meet them.
Remember this: the word of God is food, and it is real.
Your spiritual man should eat some every day, at every meal.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Three Simple Rules that Would Change the Entire World

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NKJV) In the midst of his lament about the judgment of Israel, Micah provides three simple rules about how to live.

He has prophesied against Israel’s corrupt rulers and priests, and he has listed their transgressions. Israel’s leaders were scheming manipulators bent on oppressing their own people. The priests abandoned true worship and were participating in pagan idolatry. Israel’s culture was corrupt, and because they were enjoying a brief time of financial prosperity, people lived with a false sense of security about their future.

Micah predicts a time of Messianic restoration, but warns first of Israel’s fall, the deportation of its people, and the devastation of their way of life. How to avoid such a fate? Three things: 1) Do justly. The Bible is full of warnings to those who abuse their power or oppress the downtrodden. God’s character demands fairness, so treat others with love and respect.

2) Love mercy. Do you? This means desiring mercy not just for ourselves, but for everybody else as well. This means not just requesting mercy, but dispensing it. Can you be merciful to those with whom you disagree, to those who are selfish and wrong, to those who don’t deserve it? God can—after all, He’s been merciful to me. He’s been merciful to you. If He only dispensed mercy to perfect people, none of us would get ANY. What if ALL of us Christians gave mercy the way it has been extended to us? Would the world be a different kind of place if EVERYONE loved mercy?

3) Walk humbly with your God. Wow, this one actually covers a lot of ground, because I think we are prideful in so many subtle ways that we don’t even realize them all. I’m so sure of that I’ll say it: right now, sitting there reading this, you have pride issues in your life. Suffice it to say that we are not naturally humble, and we pretty much operate from a “me-first” point of view.

Walking humbly with God would require first that we actually WALK with God, spending time with Him daily, moving at His pace, staying connected with Him much like Enoch did. And being humble requires that we remember who God is, and who we are: Who God is. Who you are. Take a moment to think about that, and start the day with three simple things. Be just. Be merciful. Be humble. True, if everybody did that today it would change the world; but if YOU do it, it might just change yours.

Three things that God requires of man, three very simple rules
To help the leaders and the priests all keep from being fools:
Do justly. Offer justice every single time you can;
Love mercy. Always be forgiving with your fellow man.
Walk humbly with your God, Oh man, His perfect love inspires
So you can do what He has shown you, all that He requires.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Walking into Uncharted Territory is Scary. Why not Walk with a Guide Instead?

The Bible has some things to say about walking. It tells us to walk in faith, to walk together, and to walk in love. A person’s walk is really indicative of the way they live and how they conduct themselves. That’s what makes this brief snippet about Enoch so interesting. “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:21-24, NIV)

Genesis 5 is a summary of the lives of those who lived from Adam to Noah. Almost every one ends with an obituary, saying they lived so many years, had such-and-such offspring, and ends with the statement “then he died.” Not a long eulogy, just a simple account of who descended from who, and a pretty spare description of how it ended, “then he died.” After all, that’s how it is for everyone, right?

We walk uncertainly through a changing world headed towards a certain end. Not so with Enoch. He is mentioned in the Bible several times. The Genesis account says that Enoch “walked faithfully with God, then he was no more, because God took him away.” Jude 14 says that Enoch was the seventh in line from Adam (apparently counting Adam), descending from Seth.

Enoch was apparently a noteworthy individual for several reasons. There is an Apocryphal book of Enoch attributed to him. He is commended for walking faithfully with God in Hebrews 11:5 which says, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” So why is Enoch special? What the Bible says about him is that “he walked faithfully with God.” Why is that such a big deal?

Dig a little deeper into that simple statement: 1) Walking implies proximity. To walk WITH someone, you have to be near them. Who are you near? Who do you walk with?

2) Walking with God suggests intentionality, since to walk TOGETHER means you both agreed to make that happen; (Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”) Simple but true.

3) It implies intimacy, since you travel at a pace that allows for interaction and conversation.

4) Walking FAITHFULLY means it happened consistently with commitment, and it also suggests that Enoch walked the way God was going: Enoch. Followed. God.

5) Finally, it suggests strong individuality: apparently not everybody does it, since the Bible emphasizes Enoch’s life in three different places.

Quick, of all the people you know, who do you immediately think of as faithfully walking with God? Why do you see them that way? How much time do you spend with them? How do the people you DO spend time with walk? Does it lift you up or drag you down?

This, of course, begs the question: Are YOU walking with God? Are you walking FAITHFULLY with God? When they write your obituary, and summarize what you did on this earth, don’t let it read, “He or she knew God was out there, kinda agreed with Him, but pretty much decided to only hang out with Him every now and then, and basically went his or her own way because they thought they knew better.” Different types of walks have different types of results. Don’t wait for pie in the sky when you die by-and-by. Reach up, take your Father’s hand, and start walking.

 

The Bible says that Enoch was out walking with God each day,
And then he "was no more" because God took him clean away!
Apparently he was more than just a guy who talked the talk;
Enoch rose above his peers because he walked the walk.
When someone writes the epitaph for all you say and do,
Who will they say you walked with, and who also walked with YOU?

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Unthinkable Sacrifice That Never Actually Happened

The Bible tells many stories about sacrifice and redemption, and one of the most striking occurs early in God’s interaction with Abraham. The Genesis account says this:

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:1-2 NIV)

This request from the Lord was surprising to say the least. There were pagan cultures that sacrificed children to deities, but YHWH never endorsed such activity. In fact, when the law was written later He called it an abomination in Deuteronomy 12:30-31: “for every abomination to YHWH, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt (sacrificed) in the fire to their gods.”

Abram had left Ur and been obedient to God, following Him geographically to a distant place; but the Lord apparently wanted to take Abram further still, and so He asked Abram to do the unthinkable. Abram and Sara had waited all of their lives in hopes of having a son, and it seemed the opportunity had passed them by. They were overjoyed (and yes, a little skeptical) to receive the promise of an heir when they were seventy five years old. Then they waited TWENTY FIVE YEARS to conceive and have a son. It is impossible for us to underestimate the depth of their love for Isaac. Just imagine the attachment these old folks must have had! Isaac was their heir, their legacy, and their promised one.

Surely they enjoyed watching Isaac grow to maturity in their old age, assured now that God keeps his promises… Surely as they sang songs with him or watched him grow up in their household with unrivaled love and affection, they treasured him as much as any parents had ever treasured any child.  And yet God told Abraham to go and sacrifice his only son. In light of these new instructions, Abraham’s response was amazing.

He immediately took Isaac, his only son, and prepared to sacrifice him as God instructed. So many questions come to mind when you read about the way God tested Abraham in Genesis 22. Why on earth did God do that? How could God be so cruel and heartless? What was the Lord thinking? What kind of God would require you to offer up your only son as a sacrifice? Wasn’t this the child of the Promise, the one through whom the covenant would be fulfilled? Was this a fair test? These are all legitimate questions to ask about this sacrifice, but really, aren’t those questions all between God and Abraham?

There’s really only ONE question, perhaps, that YOU should ask about this: what is it that you love more than anything, that you are withholding from God, that you refuse to offer him? “Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)  Abraham denied himself and offered God the one thing in his life that he treasured the most. His relationship changed the way men perceived God, and it changed history from that moment on. God fulfilled the covenant of redemption through Abraham because he had faith and because he was willing to offer everything as a sacrifice to God. What will be different about history when your life is done?

Think. Offer. Move to a new place. Find a new blessing.

What things went through Abram's mind? How could God be so inclined,
To make him give his only son? How could such a thing be done?
He had to hold up once or twice as he prepared the sacrifice;
Did God go back on promises made? And yet, old Abraham obeyed...
Isaac's birth and all the rest had led him to the toughest test
A man would ever think to face! And what did Abram know of grace?
God said, "Take him to the place that I will surely show you."
Abram had to think, "Oh Yahweh, do I really KNOW you?
Would you have me offer up my one and only son?
Why, Lord, would you sacrifice the only Promised One?"
Looking back now, Abram knows the answers to his plea:
For God allowed His only Son to go to Calvary,
Offered as a sacrifice for them. For you. For me.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

A Consolation Prize May Just be the Very Best Prize

Have you ever really wanted something and been disappointed? Didn’t even get a consolation prize? David knew about being disappointed. Things didn’t always go his way. Even though he was anointed king he spent years as a fugitive hiding from Saul; he knew what it was like to be alone and downcast:

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:18-19 NIV)

Do you ever need consolation? There are times when circumstances knock us off our stride, when our foothold of faith is knocked off the path and we find ourselves twisting a bit in the wind… Sometimes our foot slips on our own accord, because we are not paying attention, or are out climbing where we should not have been. I think that’s why repentance is such a consistent theme in the Bible, because so much of our slipping is self-activated…

But then there are also events or seasons that seem to come out of nowhere to surprise or batter us with doubt and anxiety. Perhaps you’ve been discouraged lately by an untimely loss or some bad news, and your foot is slipping or your foundation seems less than secure. When bad stuff happens, it can be devastating, and we sometimes assume that God isn’t there, or has forgotten about us. This Psalm reminds us that consolation is possible in the midst of sorrow.

Have you ever been climbing and someone says, “Don’t look down!”?

It is when we quit looking up we are most vulnerable. Take a moment and look to your Father. Remember that He is as good as his Word. His love is unfailing, and is there to support you. He offers a foundation beneath your feet. He extends love to you in ways you may not have noticed, and from unexpected places… you may not see them if you are looking down in defeat, so look up in hope!

He also offers consolation in the midst of anxiety, and joy in Him apart from circumstances. Peter reminded us to “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” Remember that He was able to transform the worst of circumstances into the best of results! “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3 KJV) If He could turn the cross into victory, perhaps you can consider trusting Him with whatever life has thrown at you, and opening yourself to not just His consolation, but also to his joy!

 

When your footing seems to slip, and you just need to right the ship,
Don't let discouragement prevail! Turn to the One Who never fails.
When anxiety attacks, you know Someone who has your back,
So have this expectation: He will give you consolation.
There were things which he endured so all our hope could be secured.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

A Little Yeast Leavens the Whole Loaf. What the Heck Does that Mean?

Should we be keeping the law to avoid Guilt? Aren’t we supposed to be righteous?   Shouldn’t Christians be better than other folks? When Paul speaks about circumcision he is referring to keeping the law, which he says has no real value under grace. To those who feel some sort of satisfaction in keeping rules, he reminds us that a little yeast leavens the whole loaf. I used to think he meant that a little sin contaminated the whole body, but I think if you look closer that he means something else. Something that righteous folks need to keep in mind…
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast [leavens] works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:6-9 NIV)

In the early church, many of the recently converted Hebrew Christians felt like Gentile believers from outside the Jewish faith should have to follow the law (like circumcision). In the Jewish system, following the law was so ingrained into their lifestyle that it became pervasive. Folks like the Pharisees had already replaced God’s love with the law, and when they became Christians they felt like everyone else should, too.

Cultures who worship following the rules in order to gain salvation elevate punishment over compassion, and legalism over love. In Romans 4:13, Paul reminded them, “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” Paul did not nullify the law, but said in Romans 6:1 that right living should be a result of salvation, not the author of it. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!”

Paul warned the Galatians against replacing grace with deadly, soul-killing legalism. Keeping the law is not the end game, even though most religion is focused on that. Tell me, if YOU were the devil, wouldn’t you rather have everyone equating God to keeping rules rather than loving each other? Wouldn’t you rather involve people in self-righteousness and recrimination rather than Grace?

Paul says that keeping the law is NOT beneficial for salvation. It’s a result of being saved. Here in Galatians he unpacks the notion that Christ died so that we can express faith in love, not so we can get caught in the chains of legalism and pompous self-righteousness. It is so easy to lose sight of that. We get caught up in how right we are, or who we are better than, and we get swollen with the pride of self-sufficiency. Paul points out that (KJV) “a little leaven leavens the whole loaf.” Even a little bit of yeast can influence a whole batch of dough, making it an entirely different type of bread. In the Jewish world, where unleavened bread was the staple, a little yeast ruined the whole batch, making it puffed-up and unsuitable. Conclusion? Eat the bread of life. Don’t be self-rising flour.

Paul reminded legalists who keep the rules the most
That leavened bread resulted in a different kind of toast.
He said that yeast would permeate the dough with all its power,
And puffed-up bread resulted from contaminated flour.
Run the race with love, and don't let legalism in--
Claiming to be righteous is another kind of sin!
Just obey the truth, and keep the law within its place:
The path to righteousness is found not in the law, but Grace.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Going into Battle Without Armor Would be Stupid, Right?

As long as there has been conflict, men have sought ways to protect themselves. Roman soldiers carried shields; samurai wore protective body panels; and armor has been employed by everyone from medieval knights to battleships. Gladiators wore pieces of body armor in the arena, and NFL football players wear pads and helmets today. In the Bible, Paul describes a different kind of armor for a different kind of conflict.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)

Can you imagine an NFL football player taking the field with just their shorts, a t-shirt, and their cleats to protect them? Or wearing their shoulder pads but no other protective gear? Or even just their helmet? No way. These guys compete on a field with strong, fast athletes who are trying to knock them into the middle of next week! If they weren’t wearing the proper equipment, they couldn’t perform the same way the other guys could. They would be tentative, limited, and vulnerable. Football players wear all of the protective gear they can in order to keep from being hurt or knocked out of the game. Makes sense, right? So why do you go into daily spiritual battle against far more malicious foes wearing less than the full armor of God? There are spiritual forces at work in this world that want to bring you down, to limit you and make you vulnerable. You may not think about it much, but you are in a spiritual war every day, and there really are forces at work trying to change the values in our world and in our culture. If you are uncertain about that, read the news once in a while… While Paul doesn’t tell Christians to go around knocking people down, he does tell us to stand our ground. So stand firm. Protect yourself. Avail yourself of all of the equipment God offers. If you are walking around wearing only gospel shoes, you are pretty vulnerable. Read the rest of the list, which includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith (vv 14-17). Don’t go into battle unequipped. Make sure you are completely dressed.

When you take the battlefield, conditions can be hard;
Make sure you protect yourself, and maximize your guard.
God has armor He designed to guard His troops before, behind,
To keep his soldiers all aligned in all conditions they may find.
The armor of God has been designed and put together, all combined
To guard your heart and mind when Satan tries to put you in a bind.
In the battle always keep your weapon close at hand;
When evil comes, you'll be equipped to rise! And fight! And stand.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Stuck in a Negative Cycle? Try Getting On New One

Life hits us sometimes with a cycle of suffering. Something goes wrong, or little things pile up, and circumstances seem to come at us in waves. The road gets rocky and it’s all we can do to just hang in there. In Romans, Paul says that God offers another cycle we can ride:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5, NIV)

Often when bad things happen, there is a cycle that goes like this: First, question WHY has this happened? WHY ME? Then DOUBT that God has your best interests at heart. Shake your fist at God, and conclude He’s not interested. Then decide that this faith stuff is useless. Move on in bitter cynicism… it’s a cycle of pessimistic pain, isn’t it? When we respond to tragedy from an earthly point of view, it’s understandable that people end up bitter or even hopeless with nothing to live for.

There are many things that enter our lives and create scars, leaving regret or anger behind. Paul says that hoping in God’s glory is not one of them. In fact, Paul asserts that our lives have been affected by glory in every sense–past present, and future. We have been justified through our past adherence to faith, so that we NOW have peace with God and access into His grace. His grace seasons our everyday life with spiritual insights, forgiveness, and love. And because of this radical new relationship with God, we can stand confidently in hope that He will take care of the future. It turns difficult circumstances into a choice: either THEY shape our perspective, or GOD does.

Our suffering in this present world, when appropriated by faith, bears fruit that remains, and Paul (certainly no stranger to suffering) offers a broader view. IF we can hope in the glory of God, then adverse circumstances produce perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character begets hope. God validates that hope with love, a cycle of productive pain that allows for character building instead of cynicism. It’s a much better cycle than the other one, don’t you think?

 

Sometimes life will knock you down. You'll find yourself retreating,
As things come in relentless waves, just beating, beating, beating...
Paul declared that suffering provides a chance to boast,
And when we're at our least sufficient, God is at His most.
Lifting up our hearts to God can really change our story,
And we can find His peace, and apprehend the hope of glory.
When things occur that outstrip our ability to cope,
Persevere and pray, and call upon the God of Hope.
Circumstance and sin can't win as long as you allow Him in,
And He will change the hard refrain of pain into your gain.
If you're hopeless, take a step to God in faith, because
Events can never shape your outlook any more than God does.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

It’s Time for Spring Training. So Shouldn’t You Start Training?

Pro baseball players begin their year by going to Spring Training. Pro football players attend training camp. Athletes use all kinds of training regimens to get into shape and be prepared for the challenges they face. Interestingly enough, Paul encouraged Timothy to do the same thing.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come… Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, 11-12)

Paul was advising Timothy about how to be an effective pastor, but his counsel carries a few good words of advice for all of us no matter what our vocation. 1) Don’t be distracted by what you hear in the media, social or otherwise. There’s a lot a misinformation floating around out there, so concentrate on the good stuff.

2) Train yourself to be godly. Godliness apparently doesn’t just happen magically, and Paul says that you can pursue it like an athlete pursues fitness.

Would you say that you are in training to be godly? What is your daily regimen? What are your goals? How hard do you work? Training doesn’t just happen; it requires thought and effort. Paul points out that physical fitness has value, but that spiritual fitness is something you will carry not only through this life but the life to come.

3) “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young”. Paul wanted to encourage Timothy as a young pastor, but I see this as a fill-in-the-blank verse. There are always naysayers and obstacles to overcome in this life, and Paul is saying that they pale in comparison to the high calling of God.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are __________.” Fill in the blank: Not trained. Too old. Inexperienced. Damaged goods. Too ordinary. Too Out of the ordinary. You fill it in. There’s a saying that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.

4) “Be an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” I think that list covers just about everything. Training to be godly has results. If you’d like to reflect these actions and values, work on it. Keep training!

Paul tells Timothy that athletes work hard on their fitness,
And challenges him to work out just as hard to be a witness.
Physical training has some value, but spiritual training brings
A godliness the growth of which brings value to ALL things.
So train your spiritual self, work out! And build your spiritual pecs
Since godliness has value both in this world and the next!

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Give a Definition of Dishonor. (Hint: It’s the Opposite of Honor)

Jesus was debating with the Pharisees when they decided to throw out the demon-possessed dishonor card. As often happens, the side with the weakest points resorted to insults rather than intelligence.
“The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (John 8:48-52, NIV)

Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees took place in the open courtyard of the temple, surrounded by observers and passers-by. Jesus’ opponents had already called him an illegitimate child in verse 41, so it is no longer a theological discussion or discourse. (Hmm, still happens in “debates” today, doesn’t it?) Since they could not overpower his claims or his civility, they made it personal and attempted to dishonor him. It probably doesn’t translate to us as well as it should have, but by calling him a Samaritan, they were throwing out something more inflammatory than the N word at a civil rights demonstration. Then they piled on with demon possession. Suffice it to say that they insulted his family, his momma, his legitimacy, his teaching credentials, and his mental health right there in public, in front of God and everybody.

Jesus kept as cool as ice in a Yeti, and reminded them that

1) He honored God with his words and behavior, even while they dishonored him;

2) His Father would ultimately judge their actions and their words (as He will for all of us); and

3) whoever obeyed his word would never see death.

I wonder, do we ever dishonor Jesus with our words or actions? Are there times when our language or attitude disregards him, and is more like the Pharisees’ than the Father’s?

The apoplectic scribes and lawyers, having unloaded all of their insulting vitriol against him, finished with a question, “Who do you think you are?” Given their frustration and their inability to debate, diminish or dismiss Jesus, it probably seemed like a logical question, the capstone on their attempt to dishonor him. Instead, it became a question for the ages: Who was Jesus claiming to be? Why did he make such incredible claims? What proof did he offer, and could he really grant eternal life to those who would follow him?

I’m sure that they felt smug and self-assured by asking that question, assuming he was wrong… But what if he was right? Here’s a better one: “Who do YOU think he is?”

 

The Pharisees believed that as a group they were the best,
And said that Jesus was impure, and probably possessed.
They threw dishonor at his mom, and called him a Samaritan,
But Jesus didn't bat an eye. I don't think he was scared of them.
They asked, "Who do you think you are?" although they made it plain
To anyone who listened that they thought he was insane.
After two millennia, that question still remains,
And I think it is worth consideration, just because:
Who did Jesus think he is, and who do you think he was?

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread