“Grace and Peace to You”: Change a Greeting, Change the World

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2, NIV). This is a very simple greeting, but as is often the case, sometimes something simple can be quite profound…

Author Linda Olsson said, “It’s often about the simple things, isn’t it? Painting and photography are first about seeing, they say. Writing is about observing. Technique is secondary. Sometimes the simple is the most difficult.” We live in such a complex world, but at the root of all complexity is simplicity, so maybe it makes sense to take all of the world’s problems and begin to address them at a very simple level.

A Simple Place to Start

Consider the act of greeting one another. In everyday conversational exchanges, we say “Hi! What’s up? How are you? Hello there!” or as Joey Tribbiani (from “Friends”) would say, “How YOU doin’?” And while friendly enough, these greetings don’t really carry the same love or impact that saying “Grace and Peace to you, my friend’ would carry.

What if you did something simple, and greeted everyone with “Grace and Peace to you”, and meant it? Would it change anyone’s day? Would it change YOUR day? It would certainly make people think…and it might make YOU think.

First of all, it assumes you know about Grace, and that you wish it upon your fellow-man. What if you really felt that way? What if EVERYONE really felt that way? If you just stop to consider for a moment the magnitude of Grace and how healing and redeeming it truly is, imagine how different life would be if all of us approached everyone with Grace! Wouldn’t we all be in an amazing place if everyone had the goodwill and the passion to wish grace upon each other (and therefore) the world?

No Peace, or Know Peace?

The second part of the greeting has just as much potential: “Peace to you”.

peace sign

How would being peaceful change the world? Ron Artest (an NBA player) changed his name to “Meta World Peace”, but I’m not sure that even changed Ron Artest. The Baby Boomers flashed the peace sign and protested war, but did it really change anything? I think Paul is referring here to the personal inner kind rather than world peace, but if you think about it, if every individual found peace perhaps the world would as well.

But think about it: how many people do you know who are both graceful and forgiving? How many people do you encounter who would benefit from being both MORE graceful and MORE forgiving?

We live in the Polar Age, where culture encourages people to divide into opposing social groups, political parties, and critical camps. It’s Conservatives versus Liberals, Whites versus Blacks, Haves versus have-nots, Straights versus Gays, what I want versus what everyone else wants… No matter where you are in any of those polar opposites, could you sincerely wish the other side “Grace and Peace”? What would happen if you DID?

In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” If He was generous enough to leave us His Peace, the least we could do is share it with each other.

A New Way to do Social Media

In a world of polar hate, Full of insult and debate,
Could we try another way? To simply and sincerely say,
“Grace and Peace, my Friend, to YOU. Easy to say, but hard to DO
We can change our attitude, give “peace” and not be misconstrued,
Have dialog and not be rude, and keep from being lewd or crude!
No more insults to be hurled: Change your greeting, change the world!

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Abide in the Truth. Because, Wherever You Go, There You Are

Unless you’ve seen The Big Lebowski, abide is a word you don’t hear much anymore. I always think of it as coming from someone like Lonesome Dove’s Gus McCrae, who might have said, “I can’t abide a surly barkeeper.” Folks in that era still said “abide” from time to time… It was also used more frequently in Biblical times. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV) More recently, in “The Big Lebowski”, Jeff Bridges famously described his state of being by saying, “The Dude Abides”. By his definition, if we abide we are chill, content, and at one with the universe.

abide Lebowski

We don’t use the word “abide” very often today, but at its core it means to accept or go along with something. In a Biblical sense, a disciple not only learns the Words of the teacher, but they ABIDE in them.

It’s All Greek to Me

The Greek word for “abide” is also translated “continue in, to dwell, remain, endure, or stand.” By encouraging his disciples to abide in him, Jesus is basically saying that they need to reconfigure their lives to listen to him and to apply what he said. He is asserting that you find freedom not from Google, not in sound bites or tweets, but by being disciplined in the truth. In today’s culture, the idea of being someone’s disciple seems a bit old-fashioned. Why follow a teacher when you have the internet?

If I were the devil, and could not destroy the Truth itself (even though I’d been trying for over 2,000 years) then I would take another tack and try to change the way people HEAR the truth. If ABIDING in a teacher’s words was the most effective way to receive life-changing wisdom, then I would distract and diffuse… I’d emphasize individual freedom so that people would question every set of teachings, and then I’d send them many messages from many sources to keep them from following the words that could help them the most.

The Opposite of Abide is All. Around. You.

Our culture is moving so rapidly that the idea of abiding and remaining seems really old-fashioned, doesn’t it? Perhaps the closest equivalent we have today is in the world of sports, where athletes will follow a coach and abide in his words, but I don’t see that kind of disciple-producing progression happening in church. I wonder if the current generation could disconnect from media long enough to abide in something…But then everybody abides in SOME thing.

What do you abide in? I know guys who abide in sports or cars, I know women who abide in crafts or Pinterest, and people who abide in music or Snapchat or Instagram, but I don’t often meet someone who ABIDES in Jesus. Guys can remember how they played number 13 at such and such a golf course two years ago, but they don’t remember last week’s Sunday school lesson. Women talk about what they saw on Pinterest more often than they share the gospel. (Yeah I know, I’m trying to step on everyone’s toes, how am I doing?) There are darker things to abide in, but I don’t need to tell YOU, do I?

Jesus said, “if you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.” What does a disciple look like? Well first of all, they are familiar with what Jesus taught, and they embrace and inhabit his words. If, as Jesus claimed, he was “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, and if his words are truth, then it is only logical that Satan makes it his full-time occupation to try to replace, rewrite, or distract from what Jesus said.

So, What is YOUR Distraction?

The Father of Lies works in every generation to destroy the truth. Is anybody else but me concerned that truth is in such short supply these days? It’s not in advertising, it’s not on the internet, it’s not on TV, it’s not in journalism, and it’s not in politics…. We do not find freedom in liberties, but in Truth. As truth diminishes, so does our freedom. Perhaps as we celebrate our freedom, we should remember to spend more time with the one who gave up His so that we could find ours. Abide. Remain. STAND.

A One-word Change

Try this simple word, you’ve heard it said, it’s in your head,
But understand that this command makes a demand upon your time:
It wants your mind and if you see, then you will find it sets you free
To be who you were meant to be by hearing what the Master taught–
It can’t be bought, though it is sought, it must be heard and truly caught–
He brought the truth to give us freedom,
fought for us when we were beaten,
bought our hearts so he could free them…
Without him, we would all have died, but he renews our hearts inside,
And simply asks us to reside in this one word: Abide. Abide.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

There’s No Caste System in THIS Kingdom: Meet The REAL Equalizer

There are many caste systems in our world, and if the Bible is correct, none of them will matter in the end. It reminds us: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5 NIV)

Celebrate or Separate?

We make many distinctions in this world. A diverse Creator gave us many differences to celebrate, but our selfish, carnal nature has tended towards self-glorification and separation rather than mutual celebration. We place greater value on some people, places, or things, often because they have external qualities that attract us or catch our eye.

In the 90’s Billy Joel sang, “Don’t you know about the new fashion, honey? All you need are looks and a whole lotta money”, but it’s always been true. As consumers, we pay more for certain brands. Tabloids celebrate people because they have looks or money. We don’t really mix with people who are different than we are, and tend to avoid people we deem unsavory or “beneath us”.

There is a subtle caste system starting in high school (or earlier) that operates in society and culture, and elevates some people even as it marginalizes others. You know that system, with kids grouped together subtly as jocks or stoners, debaters or skaters, glee club or nerds. Hollywood has made movies for the last 30+ years that capitalized on those distinctions and perpetuated them. Why? Because almost everyone can relate to being defined in the high school caste system…

caste high school

A Different Caste

We judge/evaluate people with a quick glance and a set of assumptions. We categorize them based on how they look, where they live, or what they do. Some call it profiling, but everybody does it in some form or another. In Acts 10:34 when Peter realized that the gospel had come to Gentiles, he said “I see now that God is no respecter of persons”. He meant that in the Lord’s eyes, there is no external value or social caste system that matters. As the Lord’s creation, we are only evaluated by HIS standards, not ours.

Jesus certainly emphasized this in his ministry by reaching out intentionally to the marginalized people in his world– to tax collectors and sinners, to the Samaritans, to women… He seemed to have a totally different standard of acceptance and therefore a totally different caste system than the Pharisees or Romans did.

When John the Baptist quoted Isaiah in Luke 3:4-5, he was referring to society and culture more than topography and travel. He said, “as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, and every mountain and hill made low. The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth. And all humanity will see God’s salvation.’ ”

We look at outward appearance, but the Lord, Samuel told Jesse, “looks on the heart.” Our heavenly Father doesn’t judge on physique or fashion. Rich or poor, handsome/pretty or not, great or small, we are all the same in God’s eyes. For His children, mountains will be made low and all roads made straight. The good news is, our Creator will evaluate us not on looks but on love. The bad news: if you are depending on something external to be acceptable to God, you might find yourself at a rocky roadblock on a mountain you can’t climb.

A Different Level

Don’t slump too low in your valley;
don’t sit too high on your throne;
When the scrolls are unsealed and the Lord is revealed
We will all stand before Him, alone
His judgment’s impartial and perfect,
and will be — like His glory — eternal.
Our status or caste are the things that won’t last,
Since they’re always and only external.

Be careful what you call important,
and of what you rank high on the chart:
‘Cause it’s not how you look and it’s not how you cook,
Or if you wrote a book, or the money you took,
Or your rep on the streets, or in how many tweets,
Even if you were known, on a throne, or alone…
What God sees from the start is your innermost part,
It’s the motives and thoughts and intents of your heart! It isn’t your cash, or how pretty your face is,
But knowing what heart-felt confession and Grace is.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Prayer (The Way It Should Be) Can Change Your Life. But, Does It?

Prayer is something which probably all of us have done with different feelings and results. Is there a right way to pray? Jesus was asked that question by his disciples, and here’s what he said: “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)

In the Lord’s Prayer (or the “Our Father” prayer), Jesus encouraged us to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”. What would that look like? How would your daily life be different if God’s will were fully accomplished here on earth? What is God’s will for YOUR life, and how do you know what it is? Here are a couple of references that provide some insight: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV)

A Bold Request

John says that God’s will is different than what the world desires. How do material things stack up against abundant, eternal life? I think it’s safe to safe that anyone who equates God’s will with wealth, comfort, fame, or material things is trying to compare apples with oranges. Where God’s will is done, John says, there is eternal life.

prayer

Praying in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39, NIV). Doing God’s will does not guarantee comfort or safety. It does involve achieving what God wants and receiving what He promised. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV).

How Do You Find God’s Will?

The reason for pursuing and doing God’s will is not to find some magic formula for successful living, but to put yourself in right relationship to your Father. “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, NKJV) It is really stressful chasing around after God’s will. We should not become enamored with the idea of finding “God’s Will”. We should simply FALL IN LOVE with God.

Sometimes when you think you have God’s will figured out, you get all wrapped around the thing you think He is doing, or where you think He might be taking you. Instead, when you pray, just focus on HIM–walking with Him, enjoying His presence, and immersing yourself in his love. I think the rest will sort itself out.

Prayer should be like that; put aside the petitions every now and then and just spend time with the Father.

God sees all ends and has your best interests at heart, and will ultimately bring all things into alignment with the good pleasure of His will. Paul says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11) What if we prayed every day, “Your will be done today, Father. Not as I will, but as YOU will”? I bet we would “receive what He has promised.” And no matter the circumstances, we’d have a nice day.

Game Changer

Ignore the lies the world instills:
Trade the thrills and pocket-fills,
and cease the petty game of wills.
Take this challenge, if you dare
And step into the world of prayer!
Connect with the Divine and find that your requests will realign:
Jesus, in Gethsemane, took time to pray for you and me;
But really, what he did was pray
That God the Father have His way.
It’s something we can do, today…
Embrace the Father like the Son.
Pray: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

When You Lift Up Your Eyes, What Do You REALLY See?

“I will lift up mine eyes to the hills — From whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1, NKJV) There is actually quite a bit going on in this one simple verse, so it’s worth breaking down. Let’s take a look.

First, David is an observant man. Like many of us when we are out in nature, we behold the magnitude and majesty of our surroundings and feel strongly convicted that there is something out there greater than we are. In this case, David is so taken with the beauty around him that he is lifting his eyes UP towards the Creator. Think for a moment of things you have seen by lifting up your eyes.

lift eyes

Imagine Reality

You have seen the wind blowing through a canopy of leaves in a kaleidoscope of glittering green as you lay in the shade… Perhaps you have imagined shapes in the clouds as they shifted and passed overhead! You saw them forming nebulous white cotton-candy sculptures that floated across the heavens. You have gazed into a sky so blue it went on forever, or you have watched approaching thunderclouds with dread and apprehension.

Lift your eyes… You have seen the miraculous palette of a sunset as its colors splashed across the horizon, full of shades so rich and so subtle that you almost couldn’t even process them…There are pastel shades of peach and gold, deepening in the twilight as the earth miraculously turns on its axis away from the sun; and there are times that same sun peeks out from behind grey clouds, turning their edges silver as beams of light poke through small windows in the clouds to bathe the earth with magical radiance…

lift eyes

Would You Look at That?

You have watched a bird in flight, marveling with envy at such effortless freedom…You have looked at hills and mountains, impressed with their character and grandeur. Marveling at the scale, you have felt insignificant beside them, and have been awed and inspired by their majesty. You have looked deep into the eternal darkness of the night sky, watching the moon and stars in their courses, moved by the infinity of it all, captured by the deep twinkling lights which sent the very beams you are watching hundreds or even thousands of years ago…

When you lift up your eyes, you see the universe in its awesome magnitude, and perhaps you recognize that such a vast, diverse, and beautiful creation had a vast, diverse and beautiful Creator. David lifted his eyes to the amazing and intricate design in the hills and beyond, and fell in love with the Designer.

Up and In

Secondly, this Creator did amazing work with “up” and “the hills”. He also did some pretty nifty stuff with “around” and “in”. From horizon to horizon, from deep space to deep oceans, from vast mountains to microscopic life, the Lord who made heaven and earth deserves our respect and awe.

Everywhere you look, it’s pretty hard not to be impressed with God’s handiwork and curious about His character. David was very personally involved with Him, drew inspiration from Him, and found help in Him. If you stop and think about it just for a second, it really makes a lot of sense. Perhaps if there IS a Creator, He can offer help to those whom he Created.

David had great passion about his Creator. He prayed to the Lord, wrote and sang songs about Him, and even consulted him about important decisions. When he was lonely or troubled, he sought solace and comfort from the One whom he knew was stronger, greater, and wiser than he was. David was pretty smart. I guess he realized that if the Lord God made heaven and earth, He could help those who looked to Him for help. Say! When you  lift up YOUR eyes, what do YOU see?

Lift Us

Lord, who made the heavens and the earth,
Who blesses us with Thy eternal worth,
Surrounds us with Thy everlasting glory
And teaches us the never-ending story:
Enable us to lift our eyes and see
This world the way your will was meant to be.
When dreams are crushed, and life is filled with “why’s,
And, under circumstance, ambition dies,
Enlarge our faith by lifting up our eyes.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Do Names Matter? Would You Call a Rose a Lemon?

Names are pretty interesting. People today are giving their babies all kinds of exotic and special names… One current online list of suggested baby names includes Zeus, Adecyn (really? Is anyone EVER going to spell that correctly?), Kodiak, Merrigan, Primo, and Lorcan. I think that perhaps unusual names are given in the hope that the child will be deemed unique and special, and I get that. There might even be cases of someone trying to live up to a name, or standing out because of their name. But I would think that depending on character to make the names works better than depending on the names to make the character…

Chicken or the Egg?

The Bible feels that way, too. Consider this: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:9-11, NIV) This contains the promise that those who know the name of God will put their trust in Him, and those who seek Him will find him. (I do know for a fact that it’s also possible to know his name and NOT put trust in him; there are a lot of people out there who seem know God’s name, because they use it a LOT, but that’s probably a different blog sometime…)

Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but names matter too. Romeo and Juliet were still tied to the Montagues and Capulets, no matter how much they liked each other. And, what we call someone often indicates how we feel about them. Married couples often use terms of endearment like “Sweetheart”, and I have heard of a couple of toddlers who called their dad “Honey”, because that’s how Mom usually addressed them.

Many Facets of the Diamond

While you are thinking about names, stop to consider the names by which we know the Lord. There are lots of them: “I AM”. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Holy God. The Alpha and the Omega. The Living God. The LORD. The Creator of all things. Our Shield and Defender. Emmanuel (God with Us). Wonderful Counselor. Everlasting Father. The Holy Spirit. Comforter. Almighty God. Jesus. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. This partial list comes from Biblical writers who were inspired to describe God’s position, character, and personality through His name. David (a man who knew about trouble and needing refuge) says that if you know God’s name, you will put your trust in Him.

Reasons Not To

If that’s the case, why is it that so many people out there have not put their trust in God? Lots of reasons, but here are a few:

1) People expect a trouble-free life, and are disappointed in God when that doesn’t happen. Every rose has its thorns.

names

When we experience bad things in this life, it can be easy to blame God for pain and suffering. However, Jesus said “In this world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) David also knew that a refuge is not the absence of trouble, but rather a safe place within the troubles that beset us. In a world where trouble is coming and suffering is bound to happen, trusting the God who is called Shield, Defender, and Comforter makes sense.

Closer Than You Think

2) People assume God is too distant or Majestic to know. Many are still looking “out there” in the cosmos for God, not realizing that He lived among us, shared our sorrows, and is here with us. God’s names speak of relationship, of intimacy, and of connection. He is the God of knowing and being known. How well do you know Him? How acquainted are you with the characteristics reflected in His name? Have you talked to him lately?

3) Many are unwilling to accept God in His proper place. David calls him the LORD. He is the mighty king. He is our Father. If we try to create God on our own terms, relegate him to genie status, or limit His authority in our lives, then we do not know Him properly. Only when we submit our will to His do we begin to discover the many facets of His nature, and the attributes that make Him who He is. Have you submitted your will to His?

Introduce Yourself

4) A final reason why people don’t know God personally: they haven’t been properly introduced. Unfortunately, there are a lot people or things out there ascribed to God’s character that have nothing to do with Him at all. (Think: Westboro Baptist) Do you remember who introduced you to God? Can you think about places you have seen Him and felt His presence? Have you passionately pursued a relationship with your Father? It’s an awesome thing to do. And while you’re at it, remember to introduce some other folks to the God who loves you. Once they know God’s name, they will be glad they do. There might be trouble coming.

NAMES THAT MATTER: GOD

Creator, sustainer, the ancient of days
The Spirit, the shepherd, the Truth and the way;
Mighty, Eternal, All-knowing, all-wise,
Maker of all in the seas and the skies;
Star-breather, speaker of glorious light,
Hanging the stars in the vastness of night…
Redeemer, defender, the unblemished lamb–
The healer, the bridegroom, the only “I AM”;
Powerful potentate, Spirit of Truth,
Lover of Abraham, Isaac, and Ruth;
Counselor, Comforter, Almighty King,
Caring, Creative, the Dove on the wing…

Advocate, Righteous, the One who is higher—
The Judge, the avenger, the refining fire;
Father, forgiver, the Word become man;
Light of the World who created the plan…
Holy of holies, the Greatest and least,
Divider of sins from the West to the East;
Loving and intimate, faithful and true,
Giving each day bread and mercy anew;
Holy elector, the God over all—
Protector of sparrows and men when they fall—
Author of History, Elohim, LORD:
Captain, Commander, the bright flaming sword;
Author and finisher, Lover and Friend:
The Alpha-Omega, beginning and End…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Infinite Dreams Deserve Results From the Infinite God

Robert Browning said, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Human dreams are unlimited. They are infinite, if you will. Have you ever wondered why, of all the animals, only man has the capacity for infinite dreams?

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he prays about the possibility of connecting finite man to an infinite God. If you stop to consider what that might involve, it will open up new realms of thought and possibility in your world. The resulting potential causes him to run clean out of superlatives! “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:22, NKJV) Wow. Read that again. Paul says that God is able “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

infinite glory

Not Big Enough

Stop and think about that one for a moment. Are you a dreamer? Do you dream BIG? Even if you do, Paul says it may not be big enough. If you question his judgment, or think maybe he was a bit off, then check out 2 Corinthians 12:4, where he describes himself as a man who, either in a vision or in reality, was “caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell…” His statements seem almost giddy, or an expression of infinite wonder by a visionary who had entered a dream-world of fantasy. We might expect that from Ezekiel or John, but it’s a little surprising coming from Paul.

From Logical Legality to Happy Hyperbole

In most of his epistle writing, Paul is more likely to offer a legal brief than a hyperbolic exaggeration. His letters abound with brilliance in terms of connecting the Old Testament Scriptures to the person of Jesus Christ, and his language is usually organized and logical. If he ever waxes eloquent, it is usually connected to God’s glory, which he somewhat sheepishly admits to the Corinthians that he saw firsthand.

So when Paul gives advice about an infinite God, we should consider the source. (After all, he had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees; trained under Gamaliel; a missionary who was “not ashamed of the gospel”; and the man who was caught up into the third heaven and had experienced glimpses of God that very few mortals can imagine.) If Paul says that we need to recalibrate our earthly expectations regarding what God has in store for us, maybe we should pay attention.

Too Little? Too Late?

Our problem, he says, is not that we bother God by asking for too much; it’s that we limit ourselves by asking for too LITTLE. Jesus reminded us of that same thing in Matthew 7:11: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Paul says that God’s lowest starting point may just be exceedingly above our highest asking point. His smallest gift may be bigger than our biggest dream…. perhaps an infinite God offers more possibilities than we are aware of. As finite linear thinkers, we struggle with understanding God’s resources. We rarely imagine Him in all His infinite glory. Paul says we should venture out as far on the horizon of imagination as we can go; then go FARTHER. If you are willing to embrace that challenge, then Dream big. Pray big! God will take it from there.

Infinite Possibilities

Try to stretch your highest dreams as far as they can go;
Stretch them out until they pass all boundaries that you know.
Let God take them every one and sprinkle them with love,
And they’ll expand exceedingly abundantly above
The fondest wish and deepest dream that you’ve been thinking of.
Be infinite, and take your dreams to Jesus face to face:
His lowest starting point’s above your highest asking place.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

“A Word to the Wise”: Out Of Thousands of Words You’ll See Today, THESE MATTER

Read every word of this quote, and see if it sounds sane, or crazy. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.'” (John 14:6, NIV) This short statement is amazingly full, and it’s worth challenging. It’s also worth considering.

Depth Not Length

First of all, consider the first two words: Jesus SAID. The spoken word is incredibly important in the Bible, even from its earliest statements on. Genesis 1:3 says, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Armed with nothing more than His Word, God created the heavens and the earth. The first chapter of John informs us that Jesus himself WAS the Word of God made flesh, which is validated in part by this: Armed with nothing more than his words, Jesus Christ changed history.

word

Quotable Quotes

Think about some of the things he said, and consider the impact of his words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33) What are the odds of the sayings of any random rabbi or religious guru lasting over 2,000 years when they were uttered before the printing press, digital recording, or mass media? What Jesus said is eternal, and still provides guidance for millions around the world.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6 :68) “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” (John 8:51) Listening to and obeying what Jesus said (the spoken Word) gives life that is different not only in quantity but in quality. Followers of Jesus participate in eternal life right here on earth. It changes not just how long they live, but how they live as well.

More Than Just Words

But wait, there’s more! “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) “He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28) The Word provides blessing, and foundation for living. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

The Words of Jesus are not only foundational but they provide wisdom, and encourage us to live by higher standards. He challenged not only the religious and social institutions of his day but of ALL religious and social structures of all time.  “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) The Word provides redemption from the penalty of sin, and a way to escape death and judgment. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Pay Attention

The Word, which is the truth, offers us not only redemption, but also sanctification. It is an actual means to personal growth and behavioral change. And lest you dismiss all of this about the words of Jesus and take it lightly, consider this: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) Consider what he said. Pay attention to his Word. Cross over from death to life. Be blessed!

Whose Words?

Two thousand years ago, before recorders or TV,
Before the printing press became a new discovery,
The mystery of history depended upon memory,
And men who put things on a page to save them for another age…
Of all the pages that have been read,
Of all the things that men have said,
This claim withstands time’s harshest test,
And stands alone, above the rest:
“Heaven and earth will pass away,
And everything that men may say, But my words never will.”
He spoke two thousand years ago,
And history proves that this is so: His word is living still.
Think about it: What are the odds? Chances are, these words are God’s

To purchase my newest book Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Culture Shock? You May Be Experiencing it Right NOW

There is a conflict going on all around you, and you may not have even noticed. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV) If you’ve ever lived in another country where English is not spoken you may have gone through culture shock. Culture shock is NOT being shocked by stuff we see in another culture– it’s the emotional impact of assimilating into a foreign society.

Culture is related (obviously) to cult, which makes sense if you think about it. In any local environment, we all listen to the same news, wear the same fashions, and somewhat slavishly follow the same celebrities and customs. When we travel to another country and are plunked down into a different language and set of customs, something starts to happen…

Culture Shock

After a brief honeymoon period where everything is exciting and new, you begin to experience frustration and alienation. You can be particularly frustrated over your inability to express yourself and to have meaningful dialog with those around you.

Culture shock is like hitting an identity wall because you feel stunted and dense. You can’t explain some of the most elemental things you feel or think. It’s hard for you to share your opinions, your humor, or your feelings as effectively as you are used to doing. Your self-worth is challenged because almost all of the things you value about yourself are locked inside, hidden away unexpressed. Peter called believers sojourners and pilgrims on this earth (1 Peter 2:11), because we are aliens in a foreign land.

The Great Divide

Jesus said “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit”, and because of that irreconcilable tension, Christians are forced to live as spiritual beings in a culture driven by flesh and the values of the world. The world adores celebrities, the kind of people who project themselves out there by any means available, who say “Don’t you know who I am?”

You receive literally thousands of messages a day celebrating the shallow and the temporary, calling your attention away from things that are actually important. But Jesus called his followers to be sanctified, to be “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves”, and to somehow live “IN the world without being OF the world”.

In or OF?

And at this we fail. Early and often. We compromise. In churches we withdraw into holy huddles. Some church-goers reduce the amazing Christian life wherein we are forgiven and reborn to a bunch of lame “do’s” and “don’ts”. We justify ourselves, we rationalize our mistakes, and we criticize all those OTHER sinners. Believers struggle at articulating what we really feel about being a follower of Christ in a world that doesn’t always care about that.

Have you ever had spiritual culture shock? Have you felt like a hypocrite? Found yourself frustrated over being unable to express love the way you know Jesus wants you to? Ever used the usual excuses: “I’m not a speaker/evangelist/professional? I don’t like being up front, that’s not my gift, I’d rather work behind the scenes, or I’m really nobody special, God will use gifted folks for that kind of stuff…”?

culture

Who’s Who?

Ever felt like the love of Christ within you is an amazing treasure locked inside of you, but you’re just not sure how to express it? Then there is GREAT NEWS! God never intended for YOU to be accountable for that. In fact, Paul says the opposite is true. God has placed His amazing love within you so that people see it and recognize that it’s not yours, but HIS. We are only “earthen vessels”, but Paul says there is more to us than that!

The TMZ world celebrates looks, money, achievement, power, and external things. It rewards those who push their way to the front of the culture. It is designed to make us all feel like we are missing something. Paul says that it is not the obvious outer stuff that makes us amazing. It is the hidden inner treasure.

Whose Are You?

While we place tremendous value in what we can SEE, the Lord apparently says there is also great value in what is NOT seen. There is a spiritual dimension to us that enables the very Spirit of God to uplift us, inspire us, and motivate us to be different than the world. It is not so much a matter of who we are. It is more a matter of WHOSE we are…

IYKYK

You don’t have to tweet a lot, or drive a fancy car;
And You don’t have to get tattoos or try to be bizarre;
You don’t have to play guitar, or have your name on a candy bar,
Or get too far in politics, or be a senator or a czar!
You don’t have to be too rich, or be a movie star;
You don’t have to get drunk, and impress friends at the bar;
It’s not celebrity, my friends, that actually takes you far:
It’s not just who knows you that counts, but more in WHOSE you ARE.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Is Merriment All There is to Life? What Difference Does it Make?

Why are we here? Despite all of our technological advances, this is still a question every generation has to answer. And, honestly, each generation’s span on earth is apparently too short to figure it out. Is the answer, “Let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die!”? Are we put on earth for merriment, or for meaning? What are we supposed to get out of life, anyway? The Bible says a couple of things about it, so consider this:

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord”. (Psalm 118:17, NIV) David actually says a lot in this short comment from the Psalms about the celebration of life. To me, it echoes Christ’s statement in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and have it abundantly”. To start from the end and go backwards, David proclaims that he is alive to “declare the works of the Lord”. He looks to a Being greater than himself to find a purpose greater than himself.

Like David, your life has a purpose greater than what you see. If you play the game, “Six Degrees of Separation” where you know somebody who knows somebody else who knows the President or Kevin Bacon, you realize how interconnected and small the world is, and just how large your life is. If you think about it, it touches corners of the globe where you have never been, and all kinds of people you have never seen. Because of that, your life has a purpose much greater than simply living for yourself. And yet, simply living for themselves is what many people do.

The Mystery of History

As Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” says, we are here for God’s pleasure, not just our own. That’s why it is called His-story, and not My-story! Do you ever stop to realize that you are casual and short-sighted about life, even though you only get one chance at it? Life is not a dress rehearsal! The first part of this verse says, “I shall not die but live”, reminding us that our life will not end, and has a purpose far greater than its earthly span. I think we forget sometimes that life is far greater than an earthly sojourn—it is an eternal adventure.

merriment

C S Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Are you serious about eternity? Do you enjoy merriment of the merriest kind?

How Long Do We Have?

As eternal beings, we have the opportunity to reflect the character and works of our creator. Do you think most people live as if their actions today mattered forever? Do you? Would your world be a better place if you interacted with others as though your conversation was an eternal transaction? As C. S. Lewis points out, it adds weight to things, even to our merriment. I’m not against parties (I love to party!), but I am not too impressed with purely frivolous parties. I mean, we all partied like it was 1999, but I’m not sure it added anything meaningful to our existence. But a party with people you actually love, celebrating together– why, that’s eternal.

Here, the Psalmist not only speaks of the length of his life, he also proclaims its purpose: to “declare the works of the Lord.” What if you lived today with that in mind? Would anything change? Has God done any work in you, around you, or through you that deserves declaration? Since you are no mere mortal, live as if you matter. Live as if GOD matters. And have some merriment of the merriest kind.

Purpose

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!
But do you ever look around, or pause to wonder why?
Why are we put here on earth, and what’s the reason for our birth,
And what could be the purpose that imparts to us eternal worth?
It’s really no great mystery, the way to make some History
Is living for God’s pleasure. That’s the only thing to measure.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Hard Hearts Are Not Caused by Your Arteries

When you work with your hands, your skin can get so toughened that it forms callouses. You know, that rough outer layer that is coarse and tough. As a result, your skin becomes harder and less sensitive. The writer of Hebrews suggests the same thing can happen to our hearts.

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Hebrews 3:12-14, NIV)

Having faith in Jesus and being his follower does not make anyone perfect. Even after becoming Christians, it is possible to turn away from the living God and to be subject to a sinful, unbelieving heart. Anyone who has experienced genuine saving faith can never lose their salvation; however, it is possible to turn away from walking with God and to go our own direction. As Christians, we do it all the time.

Baby Steps…

Here’s a familiar list for those of us who sin: We dabble in sin, we even do things over and over because we repeat favorite sins, we rationalize the impact of sin, and we do things “just this once” or “just a little bit”. Maybe it’s fun, maybe it feels good, or maybe it’s what we have always done; but our sinful nature will never truly give in to our Spiritual nature. We continue to be selfish, to commit “little” sins, even after we vow to follow Jesus.

All the while our hearts grow a little more calloused and our sinful nature hangs around, being opportunistic. Like Jason from the Halloween movies, it keeps rising up to try to inflict death and destruction. I’ll grant that not every sin is progressive, but when we dabble in sin, our hearts become open to other sins. (Baby steps, baby steps…we tell a little lie, but have to explain it with a bigger lie, and so it goes.) When it comes to sin, can you predict which one will lead to others?

hard hearts

The Imperfect Hypocrite

The presence of our carnal nature insures that Christians will never be perfect in this life. The biggest mistakes I have ever made, I have made as a Christian. Repeat that: the biggest mistakes I have ever made, I have made as a Christian. I know, right? But this passage isn’t just talking about mistakes, it is describing selfish repetition of sin without repentance… It refers to daily stuff that weaves its way into our hearts and minds and won’t let go.

Sin can be the covetousness inspired by Pinterest, the lure of porn, the hateful thoughts about some of those idiots out there, or even the smug self-righteousness of feeling more spiritual than others. Those things and more are woven into our lives every day, and if you think about it, the world actually offers us a continual bombardment of sin pelting our hearts with little lures or subtle temptations.

As a result, our hearts can be hardened to sin, and we end up in places we never thought we’d go. We become calloused to sin, or (like the frog in the pot of tepid water on its way to boiling) comfortable with it a little at a time, taking small steps deeper into darkness… Generally, we don’t go straight from church to the evil empire, but sin has a cumulative effect, moving us away from the Truth one step at a time. How do we keep from believing those lies and taking those steps?

What Friends are For

One of the answers is as close as your best Christian friend. The writer of Hebrews tells us to “encourage one another daily.” Who is it that encourages you? Who do you encourage? Someone you know is struggling with something in their life, and could use some kind words. Maybe they’ve wandered into sin, or accepted some of the enemy’s lies about their true value. Encourage them. You may just keep them from ending up with calloused hearts.

Sinful Hearts, Sinful Thoughts

Sin bombards us every day as we are trying to make our way–
It sneaks up, breaks up, speaks up! Offers temptation, carnal relations,
Uses multi-media to offer sensations, holding the carrot of gratifications;
Sin calls us in a step at a time:
You’re thinking of sin while you’re reading this rhyme!
Watch that Pinterest, could be a sin test,
Calling you to look at something of interest,
When you know you love it so that it can make you covet, though.
You’d never admit that it made you kinda lit,
But your heart gets hit, and you sin a little bit…

That’s how it starts to harden your hearts,
All those little malice’s building up callouses,
Whether that sin is New York or Dallas’s.
Fight against sin. Don’t let it win,
I’m telling you again don’t even let it in.
Encourage one another to do what’s right,
Gotta help a brother continue in the fight!
Give a little love with the message that you send,
And it might help someone get through to the end.
It’s not fiction, it may cause friction,
But take ahold of Christ and keep your conviction.
There. I said it. So don’t you forget it;
Sin will try to win, but don’t. You. Let it.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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

Could You Use a Double Portion of Passion?

Vincent Van Gogh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” The Britannica Dictionary ( https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/passion ) defines passion as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”. Passion is something all of us experience from time to time, and it can be everything from a strong emotion to a driving force in our lives. Consider its impact on the prophets Elijah and Elisha:

Elijah was perhaps the most dynamic prophet in Israel. He was a seasoned veteran, a prophet who had confronted the idolatry of Baal and defied the evil Queen Jezebel. His ministry was marked by dramatic power and passion, whether he was calling holy fire down upon Mt Carmel or striding into Ahab’s court armed only with the word of the Lord. Elisha was his protégé, a younger man who was doing his internship with, arguably, the greatest prophet in Israel’s history. As Elijah’s time on earth drew to a close, he asked Elisha a question. (And, when you stop and think about it, perhaps he was asking ALL OF US a question as well…)

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” (2 Kings 2:9-10, NIV).

Visible Passion

Elijah was a powerful man of God who prophesied during the evil reign of Ahab and Jezebel (around the Ninth Century, BC). Elisha was his protégé and heir apparent. As he followed and served under Elijah’s ministry, he saw amazing things. Elisha had seen his mentor rain fire upon the prophets of Baal and challenge a corrupt kingdom. Elijah’s passion for the Lord literally drove him into precarious situations, and he represented God in the midst of one of the most corrupt monarchies in Hebrew history.

passion

Elisha saw miracles and confrontations, but he also saw Elijah’s heart. He saw him when he was exhausted and vulnerable, subject to the pressures of being God’s prophet. When they knew that Elijah’s time on earth was nearing an end, Elijah asked his student what he could do for him. Now, inheritance is a funny thing. I have seen families divided over who gets how much, or who didn’t get what. It almost always revolves around material things or possessions, but people often have strong feelings about what they feel should be given to them when someone passes. I’m sure Elijah didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, but Elisha could have focused on his staff, or his sandal, or maybe that piece of land down from Mt Carmel. In this case, though, without a second thought, Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. It was an unusual request, but one that deserves a closer look.

A Difficult Request

I think it speaks volumes to us, and here’s why: 1) Elijah conducted himself in such a way that his follower wanted to emulate the spirit and passion with which he lived. That’s a pretty good legacy. Who is watching YOU, and what will you pass on to them?

2) Elisha demonstrated wisdom in asking not for advice, or material things, but for spirit. He wanted to inherit, not Elijah’s possessions, but his passion and his power. The stuff we leave behind is not important, but the spirit we leave behind will resonate far more in God’s economy.

3) Apparently, in order to inherit Elijah’s spirit, Elijah had to be with him and see him depart. You can imagine that he stayed close no matter what kind of pace the rugged Elijah set, or what kind of danger he might face. In fact, Elijah told Elisha three times to leave him, and Elisha refused. He was stubborn and persistent as he pursued God’s blessing. Are YOU?

4) If somebody got a double portion of YOUR spirit, how much would that benefit them? 5) Someone, today, whether you like it or not, is following you. What do they see? As you near the end of your time on earth, will they find your lifestyle so compelling that they ask to have it replicated in themselves?

Finally, 6) who do you know that exhibits passion and Spiritual wisdom? It might be worth your time to discover how they got to be that way. Be passionate. Pursue. Persist.

Passion Worth Pursuing

Life is important. It’s not about fashion,
It’s not about bank accounts you put your cash in,
But it’s about seeking God’s favor with passion.
Elisha was learning; Elijah was leading,
And knew that their moments together were fleeting,
So he asked Elisha, “Before I must go,
What thing would you ask me that you’d like to know?
Elisha said, “There is one thing I would ask:
No matter my role and no matter my task,
I need to climb up to your greatness- or near it,
So please make me full of your passion and spirit!
And please, if you can, and it’s not too much trouble,
I need lots of help, so please make that a double.”

So, clearly, Elisha was very inspired
And he made that request from a man he admired!
But my question is this: Friend, in all that you do,
Whose passion would you like invested in YOU?
Consider your future. Consider your task,
And who has the spirit for which you would ask?
Spend time with your friends who are loving and wise,
And you’ll find that their attitude helps you to rise!
And while you are at it, consider this, too:
Who’d ask for the spirit that they see in YOU?

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
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