Who had Faith so Great it Amazed Jesus? You? Or This Guy?

Amazing Faith

I am amazed at this story in Luke about something amazing. Jesus had been asked to heal a centurion’s servant, and before he even got to the house, this happened:

“[Jesus] was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.” (Luke 7:6-10, NIV)

Luke tells us about a centurion who was sympathetic to the Jews, and had apparently earned their respect (at least in part because he had built them a synagogue). His servant was deathly sick, and he heard about Jesus and sent elders from the synagogue to ask him to consider healing the servant. Luke describes how the centurion acknowledged Jesus’ power, had faith in His ability to heal, and how Jesus then healed the servant from far away, a fairly astonishing event.

The Amazing God

The gospels tell us over and over that Jesus did things that were amazing, and that people were astonished by him. Have you ever been amazed by Jesus? Consider what Matthew 7:28 said about him. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching”.

In Luke 5:8-9, he gets this reaction: “Simon Peter…fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken…” I’m sure professional fishermen had large catches before, but apparently Jesus helped them to accomplish something remarkable.

Again, in Mark 6:51, the disciples were desperately caught in a deadly storm when Jesus “climbed into the boat with them, and the wind just died down. They were completely amazed…” We pretty much expect Jesus to affect people in that way, because, after all, he was God. He did amazing things.

amazed

Amazed by Faith

But I love this story about the centurion not because of what Jesus DID, but because of what happened when he heard what the centurion requested: “When Jesus heard this, he was AMAZED at him.” It is one thing for us to be amazed at God; but I had never thought about what it might take for God to be amazed at ME. The Centurion. Amazed. Jesus. Let that sink in.

It is apparently possible for us to amaze the Almighty. #lifegoals #beyond adulting #wow!! If the Centurion could do it, maybe it’s possible even for folks like us!

Do you really have faith? Can you believe God enough to depend on Him without reservation? Do you trust that He has your best interests at heart, and can do what He promised even if you can’t see him? The centurion was so confident in the Lord that Jesus was amazed at his faith. Have you amazed him with YOUR faith lately?

Get up, go look in the mirror, and ask: Who has amazing faith? And say:

amazed by this guy

Amazing

Jesus did amazing things that crowds turned out to see;
He healed the sick and lame, he even calmed the raging sea!
A Roman soldier asked for help, but didn’t ask for proof;
He felt unworthy asking Christ to step beneath his roof.
When Jesus heard the man’s request, he turned, the crowd to tell,
“I haven’t seen a faith like this in all of Israel!”
With that, the centurion’s servant left his sickbed, and was well!
Perhaps we all should ask with faith, and have our faith be raised;
Believing God is gracious and is worthy to be praised!
Have faith in Jesus; maybe BOTH of you will be amazed!

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

Presence Presupposes That Wherever You Go, There You Are!

From devotional writings of the early Church Fathers to “The Hound of Heaven”, men have reflected about the presence of God. Jesus said, “I am with you always”. The Lord introduced himself to Moses not as a name but as the eternal “I AM”. Although we cannot see God, there are definitely times when we feel Him near, times of comfort or awe… In the Psalms, David expressed his own feelings about being close to God:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; or if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10, NKJV)

presence of God

Inescapable Intimacy

David had learned that God’s presence was everywhere, and that no matter where he went, God was there. We can all find encouragement in Psalm 139, because it promises us that no matter where we go the Lord will guide us and hold us fast.

After all, David wrote this Psalm from experience. He had felt God’s presence as a solitary shepherd, tending sheep by himself and facing the elements, predators, and loneliness. David felt the power of the Lord when he stood between the armies and faced Goliath. He knew God was with him as he hid in the caves of Adullam, and as a fugitive hiding from Saul’s fits of rage. The Lord was with David from the pasture to the palace, from obscurity to celebrity.

The Other Side of the Song

Psalm 139 provides us assurance that we can live each day with a sense of the security and comfort of God’s presence no matter what life throws at us. There is, however, another side to David’s song. Do we really think it’s a GOOD thing to hang out with God wherever we go, to have His presence beside us no matter what, no matter where?

Have you ever wanted to hide from God? You know, put Him away for a little while so you could do your own thing, and then maybe catch Him on the flip side? David did. Even when he went his own way, even when he ignored the Lord, God was there. “If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there”. David had made his bed in hell, and God was still with him. So it is with us.

Opening the Presence

Perhaps you have done some things that make you feel unworthy to associate with the Living God. Maybe you have ignored Him, or avoided Him, or left God behind as you have gone about your business; the good news is that God’s secure, comforting presence is still near, and He is with you. If you haven’t sought the Lord in a while, climb up into His lap and sit for a moment. Catch up. Don’t ask Him for stuff, just enjoy His presence for a few minutes…

presence of God

Remember your first love, rejoice in your salvation and let his peace surround you. No matter where you have been, and no matter how far away from God you think you are, you can say with David, “even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” If you’ve never introduced yourself to God, why not now? And if you’ve wandered away from Him a bit, go ahead and climb up into His lap. Welcome back.

Taking a Broken Break

Just this once the Lord won’t care I walked away and left him there!
I needed just a little break for these few steps I want to take.
Surely he’ll just look away when I choose darkness over day,
Or say the things I want to say, or take some time for me to play.
I know He loved me first and best, and yeah I failed that little test
But so did all the rest. I’m blessed,
But all these appetites suppressed affect me more than I had guessed!

I sometimes try to hide me, when I think He might deride me,
Or think that He denied me, just because I chose to sin;
But then I realized He only put His love inside me
For to comfort and to guide me in whatever state I’m in.
He is not there to scold me! His hand is meant to mold me,
To comfort and enfold me, and to there forever hold me so that I can leave the old me
I’ll celebrate His essence and His substance with persistence,
Knowing that His presence signals nothing but acceptance.
I’m paranoid, Lord, with blindness: help me see your loving-kindness.

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

Repent, Refresh, Renew: Your Secret to Staying Happy!

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.“ (Psalm 51:10-12, NIV) David was not a man of half measures. When he fell into gross sin, he did so dramatically and completely by committing first adultery and then murder.

Is It Really Such A Surprise?

Does it surprise you that David could fall so far even when he knew God’s law so well and loved God so much? How did that happen? Christian take note: none of us is ever immune to sin. Bible knowledge and perfect church attendance do not create a guarantee that you won’t ever follow your heart into stupid choices. Every Christian I know is a dirty rotten sinner, including me.

The Apostle Paul, who was certainly one of the most spiritual men who ever lived, said that he struggled mightily with sin, and followed his fleshly desires against his own better judgment: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:15; 19-20)

It Wasn’t Just a Paul Problem…

Paul describes an internal spiritual battle that all believers experience when the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit does battle with our selfish, carnal nature. It’s something every one of us deals with. The flesh wants to slide into sin, and the Spirit wants to renew. David gave in to his fleshly desire and fell deeply into sin. When he came to his senses and repented, he did that deeply too. He not only acknowledged his sin and felt remorse, he begged God to restore their fellowship.

In David’s great prayer of confession in Psalm 51, he asks the Lord for several things. I’m thinking that this passage would be a pretty good one to pray through every day, and not just when you are battling sin. Here are David’s requests: 1) “Create in me a pure heart”. David understood that God was the only source of purity, and he asked God to sanctify him.

renew heart

2) “Renew a steadfast spirit within me”. David didn’t want to return to the Lord for a moment or a day, but for a lifetime. He had already proven that he could follow his own evil desires. David, who once pursued God as the deer panted for the water, had wandered into the desert. Confronted with his sin, he asked the Lord to make him steadfast, consistent, and persistent. Having tasted once the Spirit of the Lord, he understood that only God’s Spirit could renew his heart and restore his fellowship.

Headed the Right Direction

3) He wanted to hang out with God all the time. David had traded God’s eternal presence for temporary delight, and found only disappointment and heartache. He now understood that only God’s presence offers true delight, and only God’s Spirit sustains. David wanted to exchange the regret and remorse of sin for the renewal and refreshment of forgiveness.

4) “Restore to me the joy of your salvation”. Do you remember being relieved, glad, secure, content, and joyful in your first knowledge of salvation? Return to that moment. The honeymoon is never over, and the great romance continues! Rejoice anew in your salvation. As John says in 1 John 1:4, “These things we write to you so that your joy may be FULL.”

5) “Grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” David did not beg for wisdom, discipline, or for the ability to control—he begged God for sustenance. What sustains you? How willing is your spirit? If you ask God to purify and dwell in your heart, to grant you the JOY of your salvation, and to sustain you, and MEAN IT, I think that you will find that your heart is willing indeed. Repent. Renew. Be restored. Be sustained.

The King’s Lament

I don’t know why I ever thought myself above reproof,
When I saw Bathsheba bathing as I walked upon the roof;
She brazenly displayed herself and all her worldly charms,
And I knew that as I watched her, she would soon be in my arms.
I didn’t see where it would lead, or all the consequences,
And every day I wish I would have come back to my senses.
I might have kept from taking steps and breaking Yahweh’s trust,
Instead of giving in to sin and falling into lust.

I’m sorry, Lord. Forgive me for my wicked, selfish sin,
Create in me a brand new heart. Renew me from within.
Be present with me, Lord, and make my heart a new creation,
And please restore within me all the joy of my salvation!
Grant me a willing spirit, let me walk in all your ways;
Sustain my soul, and let me humbly love you all of my days…

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

Your Big Transgressions Require Big Repentance.

I bet you haven’t used the word ‘transgressions’ in awhile… In the dictionary, it’s “an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense.” That’s something we have all done, and the Bible reminds us in the words of King David that even royalty could make mistakes. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:3-4, NIV)

David may have been the greatest king of Israel, but he was also one of its greatest sinners. When he spotted Bathsheba bathing he was tempted, which in itself is not sin. But what followed is almost a textbook case of how big transgressions can emerge from seemingly small temptations.

The word transgressions comes from the notion of going beyond the boundaries, of over-passing the rules. That often starts with temptation and develops from there. As James says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, KJV)

A Walk Upon the Roof

David’s demise started with a walk on the palace roof. (A place David had built, where he stood upon the pinnacle of his own accomplishments as Lord of all he could see, where he felt protected, private, and proud… all fertile elements for temptation to take root and come to full flower…Say, where do YOU experience that same environment or those same feelings? That can happen when you are all alone, or feel safe that nobody will know what you did. When there is no accountability, or when you are full of your own rights or accomplishments, then beware: conditions are ripe for temptation to turn into sin!)

transgressions require repentance

David was drawn into transgressions that seem unthinkable for a man after God’s own heart. His lust led him into adultery, betrayal, cowardice, and murder. He even made others complicit in his sin by having them bring Bathsheba to him (imagine the talk among the servants!) and leave Uriah alone in battle to be slain. (You think Joab lost a little respect for David over this “let’s abandon Uriah” thing?) When the King of Israel fell into sin, he fell hard.

In the space of a few weeks, David committed adultery, deceit and murder. These actions are startling in a man who rejoiced in the God of his salvation, who adored and loved the Lord so publicly and passionately. (I guess sin and depravity are startling in every one of us, for that matter, aren’t they?) I have often wondered why the Hebrew people portrayed heroes with such incredible flaws. The only explanation is that they were simply recording the truth, not varnishing or white-washing it. And perhaps it’s also so we can relate to and learn from David’s horrible mistakes.

What Can We Do About It?

But if we can learn from how David failed to avoid temptation and how it led him into big transgressions, we can also learn from how he repented. It was not David’s purity that made him a man after God’s own heart. It was his response to his own impurity. Real quick, here are three things David teaches us about true repentance:

1) “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” He knew what he did was wrong, and he felt profound conviction over it. He didn’t sin and walk away; he realized all that he had done, and he couldn’t forget it or put it behind him. His remorse followed him remorselessly. When we commit transgressions, our repentance needs to be total and authentic.

The Right Place to Seek Forgiveness

2) Even though he sinned publicly and involved others, he knew his sin was a private matter between him and his Creator. “Against you only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight.” While David’s actions had many, many earthly consequences, he also understood the heavenly ones. It grieved him to betray the Living God, and it was to the Living God he turned for restoration. While there are always earthly consequences to sin, our repentance needs to be personal and private between us and the Lord.

3) “You are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” Even though he was a king who could have had Nathan killed for revealing his sins, David accepted God’s authority in his life. He didn’t rationalize or equivocate, he didn’t tap-dance or make further excuses. David didn’t hire defense attorneys or try to circumvent the law. He acknowledged his transgressions and placed himself willingly under the verdict of a Righteous Judge.

Proper repentance always involves the right respective about who God is and who we are. I am always surprised that David’s failures were written about so candidly. After all, he was Israel’s hero and greatest king; but God allowed us to see his failings because we, too will fail. And He allowed us to see his repentance, because we, too, need to repent. You have undoubtedly committed transgressions, too. The next step is up to you.

It’s Your Call

Here's a tip for your transgressions:
Offer up a real confession.
This is more than my two cents,
(I offer this with no pretense)
Since Sin requires a deadly sentence,
Start with a heart of true repentance!
Don't obfuscate, prevaricate,
Procrastinate or hesitate.
You've sinned, so you know what to do:
The rest of it is up to 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

There is a Cosmic Romance, and YOU are a Big Part of It

A wedding ceremony is full of romance. In these unique celebrations of love, there are flowers and music. The groom is dressed in his finest, waiting by the altar as the lovely bride approaches. He is nervous, she is blushing. She glows with beauty, and he glows with pride. There is a sense of anticipation and joy that makes a wedding day very special.

With that in mind, stop and think about this: the Bible compares the way the Almighty God of the Universe feels about YOU to the way the groom feels about his lovely bride. It says, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5, NKJV)

Weddings are amazing events, full of love and romance. When you consider the amount of time, creativity, and preparation poured into a wedding day, it has to be one of the most anticipated days of a lifetime. I was the father of two beautiful brides, (and one handsome son as well!) . Each event was significant and special, attended by hours of planning, selecting, decorating, and choosing every element so that the wedding day went just right.

The Perfect Day

At a wedding there are participants, coordinators, flowers, colors, and rehearsals. There are photographers, videographers, tuxedos, caterers, locations, churches, gifts, meals, DJ’s, music, toasts, and shoes… There are countless other things besides mere romance to consider.

When I’ve had the privilege to officiate at weddings, I have noticed that most of these details are very important to the Bride. She is not only giving herself away, she is coordinating the blending of two families to create a new one. That means, of course, that her wedding must be special. It should commemorate the occasion with all of the appropriate decorations and elements. Brides and their mothers (and perhaps their wedding planner) dream of, conceive, plan, and manage every detail of a wedding so that it will be a perfect day.

romance

Grooms… not so much. Most of the time (in my observation) Grooms leave a lot of that preparation stuff where it belongs, with the Bride and her mother. Yes, they smile and say, “Yes Dear”, or “That looks great”, but really, how much work do most grooms have to do getting ready for the wedding? So why didn’t Isaiah say, “As the bride rejoices over the wedding day, so shall your God rejoice over you”? Why did he compare God’s love for us to the groom?

Anticipation the Way it USED to Be…

I’m gonna get real for a minute. In our modern age of birth control, weddings have lost something that used to be a huge part of the anticipation and build up for the special event. Face it, most couples today have slept together already. Before birth control, you were playing Russian roulette with your future to do that, and 60+ years ago, most women weren’t willing to take that chance. I’m not being Polly Anna, and yes I know that people still did it, but not nearly as easily or as often as they do today.

Weddings before birth control still held the romance and pure physical anticipation of intimacy. Physical consummation was scary, mysterious, spiritual, sexual, and highly anticipated, particularly by the groom. He’d been mooning over his fiancé, longing for her, and doing all of the highly charged heavy petting she would let him get away with. 60 years ago a groom approached his wedding day begging for union. That was just the way things were before women engaged in the “sexual revolution”. The danger of pregnancy outside of marriage was a powerful (but not total) deterrent to sex before that special wedding day.

But Wait, There’s More

I’ll pause for a moment and say that even today, when I officiate weddings, it is always a special moment when the bridal procession starts, and I can see from up close the look in the groom’s eyes as he watches his beautiful Bride, prepared and reserved for him, coming down the aisle to be presented to him.

There is always longing, pride, affection and commitment in that look; I mean, it’s a wedding! But where physical intimacy has not yet occurred, the sense of anticipation is that much higher. The desire for intimacy brings the groom an even greater sense of urgency to the bride’s approach. It puts the RRRR in “romance”! The groom is a raging combination of love, romance, and hormones, anxious to consummate this union that he has anticipated so long…

True Intimacy

Lest you think I am obsessing over this aspect of the ceremony, picture this: Isaiah says THAT is exactly how God rejoices over us. That is why Paul quoted Moses in Ephesians 5:31-32: ““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” A man leaves his home and family to start a new one, and to become one with the woman he loves. He will find completion and comfort in her arms, and they will discover the delights and pleasures of that union together.

As a groom stands and rejoices that his bride is coming down the aisle to be his—that is how God feels about us. That is how God feels about us!
As we walk down the aisle to be His bride, can you feel His gaze upon us? It is filled with pride, affection, commitment and joy—as well as the pure longing for intimacy that has been planned since eternity past, and will bring joy for eternity to come. Be glad! You are being rejoiced over. You are at the center of the cosmic romance.

The Eternal Romance

The blushing bride is in the aisle, approaching sweet and pure;
She cannot hide her glowing smile, and yet remains demure.
Her face is like a work of art; she looks her very best–
Anticipation makes her heart beat faster in her chest!
Her steps are slow and measured as she walks into the room;
She could not be more treasured by her loving, waiting groom.

He sees her dress, her hair, her skin, the beauty waiting there within,
And drinks this lovely vision in, and knows that she’s reserved for Him!
He looks at her with perfect pride, a love that cannot be denied,
A heart that wells up deep inside with love for His eternal Bride!
Where joy is full and tears are dried, this Cosmic Romance will 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

The Purpose Driven Life: Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dream

Nothing defines your purpose better than standing up and announcing it in front of everybody you know. Have you ever done that? According to Dr. Luke, Jesus did it in his hometown, at his home church:

A Surprising Statement?

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, “ (Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV) These were the words Jesus read in Luke 4:16-19 at his home synagogue in Nazareth to proclaim his purpose and begin his public ministry.

Luke’s account of it says, “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He [read from Isaiah 61].” Jesus had grown up in Nazareth, where apparently it was his normal practice to attend synagogue on the Sabbath. He announced his mission to a group who probably found it surprising that an apprentice carpenter would claim to be called to devote his life to fulfilling the word of God.

Not What They Expected

As the eldest son in Mary’s house after the death of Joseph (sometime after Jesus was 12), he had probably been fulfilling his obligation of working to take care of his mother, brothers and sisters. Jesus was undoubtedly part of the village landscape, and people there were familiar with him. I’m sure most of them assumed they knew what his station in life would be. But things had recently changed.

He had been baptized by John the Baptist and allowed his connection to the Spirit of God to go public. He had been tempted by Satan in the wilderness and had offered the Word of God as his defense. Jesus had gone and preached to great acclaim in Galilee. Now, in his home synagogue, he began his public ministry with a proclamation from Scripture. He read from Isaiah with conviction and understanding, and his commentary on the meaning of these verses put a stake in the ground about his identity and his purpose.

This was a Good Thing, Right?

So, what happened next? Did they accept him? NO! The very people he grew up around tried to stop him! “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way…” (Luke 4:28-30)

This somewhat surprising turn of events is really not all that surprising. The people in the village had labeled Jesus, and assumed he would be a craftsman like Joseph before him. They weren’t ready for such radical change, and Jesus’ announcement scared and intimidated them.

purpose driven

He announced he had a mission from God, so they suddenly saw him differently and treated him differently. But wait, you say, that doesn’t happen in our enlightened and tolerant culture! Hmm… why does the media follow the Kardashians and the Jenner’s but ignore all the good things that happen through every church in America each week? Why does it criticize Tim Tebow so much but celebrate the shallow and self-absorbed?

And it’s not just about media coverage, it’s about the way the current culture defends itself against change. The culture that celebrates shallow celebrities condemns champions of morality as haters. In the Sixties, Martin Luther King was killed for proclaiming a dream. He boldly called for God’s justice in an unfair world. If you ever proclaim a godly purpose, there are plenty of dream-killers ready to halt your progress.

What’s YOUR Purpose?

Have you ever wondered about God’s purpose for your life? He has one, you know. There is something to be done in the Kingdom of God that only you were created to do. It has nothing to do with worldly assumptions, money, fame, or self-importance. But it could very well involve helping the poor, healing those who are broken-hearted, and sharing freedom with those who are bound.

It may be that your purpose is connected to whatever your dream is; when you discover that purpose, you may be surprised at who supports you and who tears you down. When you decide to better yourself, to commit yourself to the Lord, to pursue His mission for you, there will be someone around you who wants to keep you down, and wants things to stay the way they are.

The example of Jesus says, “When God calls you to do something, don’t listen to the discouragers, the labelers, the dream killers, the ones who will try to stop you and tear you down. Follow your calling above all else.” If you are surrounded by naysayers and skeptics, pass through the midst of them, and go on your way. The Kingdom of God should always get priority over the labels and assumptions of culture.

A Surprising Announcement

Jesus stood before his friends and chose Isaiah’s scroll,
And there proclaimed his mission from the words upon the roll.
The Spirit is upon me, and my mission has been started,
To preach the gospel to the poor and heal the broken-hearted.
I’ve come to set the captives free! To all of you I say:
The Kingdom of the Lord is now upon you. Here. Today.

The people almost came undone! Why, how could this man be the one?
How has the Kingdom now begun? Isn’t this Joseph and Mary’s son?
They formed an angry mob and tried to throw him from a hill,
But Jesus slipped among them through the power of his will,
Committed to the mission he had come here to fulfill.
His purpose was compelling then; it is compelling still.

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

Want God to Appreciate Your Heart? Start Here

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22, NIV) What an amazing thing for the God of the universe to say about someone! Would God say that about you? He called David “a man after my own heart”. So, even though David did despicable things, perhaps there is hope for all of us.

Perfection not Required

Apparently perfect behavior was not the key to chasing after God’s heart, so why did God say this? What can we learn from David that could teach us about how to be that kind of person? Take a quick walk through the Psalms and look at David’s intimate connection with God’s loving-kindness, and what it teaches us:

1) David was a man for whom seeking God was a passionate pursuit. “The Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8). David sought the Lord day and night. He prayed often to the One he called “the God of my life”, and he depended upon God’s goodness and creativity.

heart

2) His daily relationship with God gave him purpose and direction. “Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” (Psalm 143:8) Would YOUR week be any different if you approached every day like that? When you read the account of David’s life, you find that David was successful when he sought the Lord’s advice and followed it.

3) David’s feelings about God were not a private matter. He sang and prayed to the Lord even in public; he put it out there. “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; but I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving-kindness and Your truth From the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:10)

He didn’t worry about offending anyone or being too vocal about God; he shared and sang and wrote about the love of his life. It was something he could not contain. For David, his relationship with God was like a grand love story that he had to share with everyone.

A Modern Parable

Picture a man who falls in love with that special woman who completes him, and provides all the love and affection he ever dreamed of. So, he marries his beautiful bride, enjoys the ceremony and then takes her home and locks her in the back room. Now, imagine that he only takes her out a few minutes a day or a few hours a week. Would that make sense? NO!! And yet, that is how many of us treat God! We fall in love with the God of the Universe, we call Him Father, and yet we only spend a few minutes a day with Him, or visit Him at his place once a week.

That’s certainly not how David did it. Consider revealing your love for God the same way he did. Learn from his passion, his persistence, his prayer, and his public display of affection. Perhaps God will say, “I have found ________ (YOUR NAME HERE!), a person after my own heart.” How cool would THAT be?

“A Man After God’s Own Heart”

Start with a boy, who, tending sheep,
Beneath the stars, too in love to sleep,
Looks up at the heavens’ glistening art,
And comprehends the Creator’s heart.

Least regarded, chosen king,
Transformed by a giant, a rock, a sling!
A man who gazed at God above,
And understood; And fell in love.

Powerful warrior, loyal friend;
Head of the kingdom without end;
Poet, prophet, singer: dance,
Caught in the grip of God’s romance!

Love the Lord and love His word!
Let your songs and praise be heard,
Reaching countless human ears,
Timeless for a thousand years!

But O! That sword can cut two ways:
For those same lips that sang God’s praise
Will kiss their way into a fall,
A story shown and known to all…

Scheming, lying, murderous lust;
Broken hearts and broken trust,
Written down for all to see,
Captured for eternity…

Deep your capacity to transgress!
But deeper, a longing to confess:
To bring your contrite, broken heart
Back to the Maker’s matchless art.

Honest now, with no pretense,
No vain attempt at self-defense!
Broken as a consequence…
Confessing, teaching us that this
Is how to have a heart like His.

Acts 13:22 “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart…”
Matt. 22:37: “And Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy god with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…”

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

Not Getting As Much Out of Church as You Want? Try Dancing!

There is much speculation about the decline in church attendance over the last several decades. Books have been written about it, experts have offered strategic approaches, and the church uses more modern marketing techniques than it ever has before. Now, I’m no expert, but I have a suggestion for your church that may seem a little far-fetched, and it’s straight from the Bible. It’s a very simple step to take. (Well, actually it involves several steps!) Start dancing more and strategizing less! Let’s take a couple of pages from King David’s book:

Some Expressions About Expression

“I was dancing before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21, NIV)

“I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9:2, NIV)

“The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give!” (Psalm 21:1, NIV)

dancing before the Lord

For David, a relationship with God was not a burden, an obligation, or a chore. It was cause for celebration and rejoicing. After every great trial and every great victory, David rejoiced not in his own ability, and not in his own ego, but in his ongoing relationship with God.

Unbridled Enthusiasm

In 2 Samuel 6:14-15, he celebrated the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem: “Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” His wife Michal was disgusted at his exuberant public display, but David told her, that in terms of expressing his gratitude and passion for the Lord, “I was dancing before the Lord… I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes…”

When was the last time you were undignified because you were just so darn happy about what God has done in your life? When have you [ever] danced with joy before the Lord? We Baptists probably have a real struggle with this passage, kind of like we do with serving real wine at communion—it probably wasn’t REAL dancing, was it? (The Bible says he danced with “all his might”, so it sounds like real dancing to me.) In any case, I think Scripture teaches us that it’s ok for us to be passionate about God, to rejoice and celebrate.

Remember all He has done for you! Think about forgiveness and grace, and celebrate! Think about something even simpler: today is a gift from God. Whatever your circumstances, you have today. How would David say you should treat it? I think he’d say: “This is the day which The Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24, NIV) That sounds like great advice to me. Let’s rejoice! Dance like nobody’s watching!

Just Dance

When you think you’re in control,
But the God of the Universe grabs your soul,
And showers you from up above, and powers you with His great love:
Then take a chance, and take a stance,
and let your joy burst forth: Just dance!

When you’re sleeping in those pews,
But you hear a verse that you can use,
Then tell me: what have you got to lose?
Just take a stance, and move those pants: Just dance!

If worship seems too commonplace, and boredom shows on every face,
Jump up into the realm of Grace, and move a bit! It’s no disgrace!
Shake yourself! Put up a fight! Get up and move with all your might!
Don’t worry if you look a sight!
Just grab your pants and take a stance: Just Dance!

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

Priceless Love: It Has Nothing to Do With Mastercard

A few years ago there was a series of priceless MasterCard commercials which depicted different special events and then broke down the costs involved in getting there. (Naturally you could put all those costs on your credit card!) Each commercial concluded by reminding us of the true value it had: Tutu, $48. Dance lessons, $800. Shoes, $54. Seeing your daughter dance at her first recital: priceless. That “priceless” theme is still used on some memes, and it often points out that there are things so valuable we can’t put a price tag on them.

priceless shirt

Priceless Value

The Bible talks about value as well: “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep… How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! Both high and low among men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:5-9, NIV)

David was called a man after God’s own heart, and many of the Psalms he wrote reflect his passion for and devotion to the Lord. He was smitten with the priceless love of God. If you are ever stale in your daily time with God, just start reading a Psalm a day and reflecting on God’s love and majesty the way David did. It will open your eyes. This passage offers several insights as to why David was so close to God:

Look At It This Way

1) David had the right perspective. He understood the Lord’s place in the universe, and he understood man’s place as well. God is majestic, more glorious than nature, loving, righteous, just and faithful. He transcends nature and has authority over man. The greatest evils in the world have always occurred when man reverses those roles and places himself in authority. Even when David made huge mistakes he maintained proper perspective and stayed humble before the Lord.

2) David understood that God’s love is more valuable than anything else. (Bread for your brothers at the front, 4 shekels. Five smooth stones, free. Sling, 2 shekels. Protection of the Living God: priceless.) David reflected often upon God’s priceless love and loving kindness. He sang about them as a shepherd and as a King. He believed in the unfailing riches of God’s love and kindness, took refuge in them, and proclaimed them to be universal, offered to all men great and small.

priceless love

David took sustenance from God’s love, and likened it to a “river of delights”. When is the last time you truly felt that way about the love of God? Actually felt like you were seated at the banquet table of His feast, or bathing your parched lips with the coolness of living water? Pause for a moment and pray through those images the way David did. Enjoy a helping of God’s amazing grace and take a deep drink of God’s priceless love. Feel better?

Getting Well and Truly Lit

3) David saw that human wisdom and understanding were only relevant if they were connected to God. “In your light we see light.” There are dozens of light and dark references in the Bible, so this one might be easy to miss. But David was a man after God’s own heart because he sought illumination from the one true source rather than from something man-made… Some of my former Young Life kids would talk about “getting lit”—street talk for getting stoned. It may offer escape, but it’s a poor substitute for what David knew that REALLY worked. If you REALLY want to “get lit”, go to the light. The closer you get to it, the better you’ll see…

Truly Priceless

Your love goes to the heavens, Lord, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like majestic mountains, strong and wise!
Thy justice is unfathomable; your loving presence brings
The great and small a refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Your holy love is priceless: from the greatest to the least
You offer us abundance in your house and at your feast.
We drink eternal water in your river of delight;
Your fountain gives us life, and in your light we see the light.

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

Patience is Something that Requires Lots of, Well, Patience

They say that patience is a virtue, something that Micah apparently believed: “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7, NIV)

Timelines… Long, Surprisingly Slow Timelines

Have you ever been frustrated because God’s timing is different from yours? Does it ever seem like it’s taking a REALLY long time for Him to act or move or provide something on your behalf? When you think about patience, consider these folks:

Abram was 75 when God told him, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you”. (Genesis 12:2). He was naturally skeptical when, TEN YEARS later he still had no children, but God assured him in Genesis 15:5, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” It was ANOTHER FOURTEEN YEARS before Sarai became pregnant with Isaac.

Imagine speaking with God, having his rock solid promise, and waiting TWENTY-FIVE YEARS for its fulfillment. Do you think Abram may have had his doubts during that time? Struggled with believing God’s promise?

And what about Sarah? Barren, ashamed, laughed at, scorned… She waited so long that when she knew she would actually bear a son, she laughed out loud! Against all logic, God’s promise was delivered and so was Isaac.

A Star in Egypt

Moses as a young man was a rising star in Pharaoh’s house but became a murderer-fugitive, and had to go live as a sheep herder in Midian. According to Stephen, (Acts 7:29) he lived there FORTY YEARS. Exodus 7:7 says Moses was EIGHTY when he went to see Pharaoh. I don’t know about you, but 40 YEARS seems like a really really long time to wait for something… Did he have patience? Do you think Moses ever wondered about his life purpose while he tended sheep? Wondered if God had any reason for sparing him as a baby in the bulrushes? Felt alone or discouraged?

David was anointed King of Israel while he was still a sheep-herding teenager, but didn’t become king until he was THIRTY. In those intervening years, he ran, hid, fought, feigned madness, and was threatened by Saul. He lived in a life-or-death situation, estranged from his family as a fugitive in the wilderness. God’s pending promise did not negate the difficulties or dangers of the time David spent waiting for it to come to pass.

A Different Path to Inauguration

As David hid out in the desolate country around Ein Gedi, or as he hunted and lived off of scraps, do you think he ever longed for instant gratification? Certainly David felt oppressed and discouraged during those years, and yet even when Saul was delivered into his hand David refused to harm the Lord’s anointed. God was ultimately faithful in his promise and David became Israel’s greatest king. In Psalm 40:1 he said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined and heard my cry.”

patience

Even though Paul preached powerfully and began telling his story right after his conversion, he spent THREE YEARS in semi-seclusion away from public ministry before God began to use him greatly. So when Micah says he will wait for the God of his salvation, he is honoring a long list of Biblical characters who showed patience and faith.

Be a Good Waiter

Are you a very good waiter? DO you find yourself getting impatient with God, or worse yet, giving up on His promises? Micah (and Abraham, Sarai, Moses, David, and Paul) would say: “Be patient. Watch expectantly. Wait for the God of your salvation. You might be surprised at what He will do.” (And maybe also at when He will do it)

Sarah’s Testimony

God gave me a promise. And I watered it with tears,
And I tried to hide my anguish, all my doubts and all my fears,
While the other women laughed behind my back; my hope grew dim–
But my small faith somehow remained intact. I trusted Him,
Way past the time that trusting made Him sense, and even after!
When I found out His word was true, I couldn’t hold the laughter!
God’s promise seemed to take forever. But now that it is done,
I know His word is true, for He has given me a son!

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

Inside Stuff: It’s not Outside but What’s Inside that Counts!

You can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to look inside of it to see what it really says. Solomon understood that: “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21, NIV) On one hand, Solomon is stating the obvious: an omniscient, all-seeing God is aware of everything a man does, whether inside or out.

Nice House..

This verse reinforces the lesson Samuel learned when he was sent to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the future king of Israel. He watched pass in review, and had some good first impressions based on their appearance. Samuel thought Eliab looked noble and therefore worthy, but the Lord had other counsel for him. In spite of Eliab’s kingly countenance, God essentially told Samuel, “It’s a nice house, but there ain’t much furniture”.

It was perhaps the Biblical equivalent of “All hat, no horse” when the Lord said THIS: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV)

inside matters

Not only does God see our outward appearance, but He alone also discerns our thoughts and motives; He watches all our paths. The obvious question here is, when the Lord looks at your heart, what does He see? What are the thoughts and intents of your heart?

Seeing the Whole Picture

Certainly He knew that David had not only greatness in him, but sin and heartache as well—and yet He still called David to be king. So it is with each of us: even though the Lord knows what we are capable of, even though He sees every hateful thought, lustful desire and selfish motive, he still says this: “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5, NKJV) He still calls us as the Church to be his Bride…

inside bride

We are shallow creatures who are drawn to external things and temporary baubles. Some wedding participants can be more wrapped up in how the flowers look or what people wear than what is truly important. An earthly bride wants to look perfect; but like David it’s not how she looks outside that really matters! And the same is true for the groom. It’s what they are INSIDE that will determine their relationship.

Someday, we will be a Bride standing at the altar, purified from all of our hidden transgressions, looking into the eyes of God’s everlasting love… And He says He will be REJOICING over us! At the wedding feast of the Lamb, it’s not going to be about how you look; it’s going to be more about WHO you are looking at. Know this: the Groom will be looking at you and rejoicing! If you give the Lord permission to take care of the INSIDE, the outside will be just fine.

Inside Out

You’re looking good: your hair is dyed,
Your makeup has been well applied.
But even with your catwalk stride,
You can run, but you can’t hide!
The Lord sees who you are, inside;
He knows your sinful, selfish pride,
The hidden hate, the times you lied!
And yet He set your sin aside,
Taking you to be his bride,
Offering love that cannot be denied.

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

Words are powerful: How Important are Words in YOUR World?

Words have the power to transform or trash. They can unite and inspire, or they can divide and harm. Something said can insult us and hurt us, but it can also be the soothing salve on a fresh emotional wound. Take a moment and think about your words, or the impact someone else’s comments have had on you. I bet you can still remember that thing someone said to you once that hurts your feelings even now when you think about it. I had a derogatory nickname in elementary school that still stings if I think about it. Words last a long time…

words kill

The Power of Words

I guess it’s not surprising that the Bible offers insight about words and what they do. After all, Scriptures themselves are words… “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.” (Proverbs 4:20, NIV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)

So What About This Treasure?

A couple of questions naturally arise from these verses:

1) how much of God’s treasure do you actually hear and “give attention to”? We are in a world surrounded by and bombarded with words from every imaginable source, covered over with phrases or slogans designed to influence you, get you to buy, to build a Brand, give you a call to action, or persuade you to listen again.

Some Words About…

Words in our culture invade and surround you;
You hear them and see them in things all around you:
The radio, laptop, your TV, your phone,
On billboards and signs, they won’t leave you alone!
They fly through the air and they nest in your ears;
Your brain then records every word that it hears!
Words in commercials will just try to sell you;
You can’t believe everything newscasters tell you.

The words fill your mind, and there’s no place to hide,
Since those THOUSANDS of messages can’t be denied!
So be careful what words you allow to reside,
Since it’s words that influence who you are, inside… If THOSE words are sobering, they’re just a start:
The real danger lives right at home in your heart:
Your heart’s not at risk from words flying about,
But from words, Jesus said, from within, coming OUT.

Do you really pay attention to God’s word? Does the quick sermon on Sunday morning arm you with all the spiritual power you need for the week? Is your weekly small group lesson enough to equip you for spiritual battle? What do you “incline your ear to”? Do you pay attention to what you pay attention to?

Song Lyrics, Yes. Scripture, well…

2) How many of God’s sayings reside in the midst of your heart? I know SO much useless information and so much junk…but how many of God’s sayings are “in the midst of my heart”? When I think of all of the hundreds of old songs I can sing along with– every meaningless word of old tunes like “Hang on Sloopy” or “”Do-wa-diddy, Diddy-dum-Diddy do”, or even “You Can Call me Al”, it makes me think that perhaps my brain capacity has been just a teeny bit under-utilized. Maybe we should all start singing favorite Bible verses to catchy tunes.

3) It sounds pretty easy, but pay attention to the phrases and comments you USE. Instead of tearing down, try building up. Words have a remarkable facility to do either. Use them to do good.

words

So we have millions of words stored up, but the question is, Are they good ones? What do they say about us when we are saying them? We sure use a lot of them (he said, in a blog full of WORDS…). And by the way social media friends, when you criticize, rant, curse, mislead, spin, lie, spew hate; or when in conversation you tell dirty jokes, ridicule, gossip, cuss, and swear, it’s an indicator that maybe “the midst of your heart” needs a little work. Just sayin’.

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