Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Your Future...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test." -- 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
The following explanation is found on the SAT web site: "The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college... measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century." Simply put, this is a test to discover your knowledge and skill for further study and success. For many, their future depends on the results.

Paul never took anything for granted. When he wrote to these believers in Corinth, he challenged them to test themselves. He may have offended some, but such a test is far more important than any SAT exam. This is the final test to discover your position with Christ. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior or not? For everyone, their future depends on the results.

When did you take that step of faith my friend? Was it a sincere confession of sin, repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation? Has your life been transformed by the Spirit of God living within your heart? Don't blow it off; test yourself now, because your future depends on the results.

Think about this: "I cannot believe that a man is on the road to heaven when he is habitually performing the kind of deeds that would logically indicate that he ought to be on his way to hell."
                                                       ~ A. W. Tozer

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 8:1-15 / NT - Galatians 1

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

"Fluff" never satisfies...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 6:20-35 / NT - 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10

"I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing." -- 2 Corinthians 12:11
We live in a day when a smooth talker, pretty face and a winsome smile can win the public in a heartbeat. Political offices, leadership roles and other prestigious positions will often be awarded to those who may lack the heart and skill, but look and sound good. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

I speak today for my fellow pastors who have heart and skill to feed their flocks. But Sunday in and Sunday out the congregation reminds them of how great the "super-preachers" were that week. They will often compare my dear brothers with those that tell better stories and funnier jokes in the pulpit. There are hundreds of faithful, loving and passionate pastors across this land that should be heard with open hearts and commended with grateful words. These are the men who feed your souls. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

October has been highlighted as "Pastor Appreciation" month for a number of years. When was the last time you told your pastor how much you appreciated his messages and his care for you and your family? Unlike the "super-preachers", your pastor prays for you in the night and prepares his sermons with you on his heart. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

Think about this: "The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God's Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified; his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river. Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul."
                                                                       ~ Edward McKendree Bounds

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14

Monday, September 26, 2022

Masquerades...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 6:1-19 / NT - 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
It will soon be that time of year when children and even adults will "masquerade" as someone other than themselves. They dress in costumes for fun and entertainment, but there are those who regularly change their identity for evil purposes. Some wear masks to rob banks and others change names and appearances to deceive people out of money. The "masquerade" eventually leads to their condemnation.

In the spiritual life there are many who seek to lead others astray for personal gain. They talk the talk and appear to be true believers, but in fact they are simply false apostles. They preach and teach another Jesus than the Lord of the Bible. Paul wrote with great concern for his spiritual children, that they would not be deceived like Eve had been in the garden. Remember, if someone's righteousness is only a "masquerade", it will only lead to condemnation.

Costume parties may be fun for the moment, but we eventually need to take off our masks and embrace the truth. Be careful of those who are not the real deal and strive to lead you down the wrong path. Be discerning when listening to the teaching of others and settle for nothing short of the God of the Bible. Any other God is a "masquerade" and will only lead to condemnation.

Think about this: "A man can be outwardly conformed to the Christian way of life while he is inwardly conformed to the spirit of this world."
                                                    ~ Sinclair Ferguson

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 6:20-35 / NT - 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Fame...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 5 / NT - 2 Corinthians 10

"But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
The lyrics to the Broadway song "Fame" include the following: “… I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, Fame … I'm gonna live forever, Baby remember my name, RememberRemember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember my name” It's a catchy tune as well as a catchy concept. Many people live their whole life for "Fame".

A lot of people believe that living forever is being remembered for becoming someone famous. They commend themselves so often that they become legends in their own minds. But, Paul makes it clear that true "Fame" is only found in the Lord's approval. The lyrics of "The Famous One" written by Chris Tomlin are far more Biblical and true; “You are the Lord, The famous one, Famous one, Great is your name, In all the earth, The heavens declare, You're glorious, glorious, Great is your fame Beyond the earth” Wisdom says that we should live our whole life for God's "Fame".

Are you boasting in yourself or the Lord? Do you live for your own "Fame" or the "Fame" of God? The point is that the Lord is already the "Famous One". So, as you pursue "Fame" in your daily activities, let it be His "Fame"... not yours.

Think about this: "Seeking to perpetuate one's name on earth is like writing on the sand by the seashore; to be perpetual it must be written on eternal shores."
- Dwight Lyman Moody

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 6:1-19 / NT - 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Be a Blessing...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 4 / NT - 2 Corinthians 9

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -- 2 Corinthians 9:8 
We collect lighthouses. One lighthouse in our collection sits outside with a working light that shines in the dark. It has a little solar chip that soaks in sun rays all day and then lights up all evening. The sun rays are free and abundant, providing the blessing of continuous illumination. God's sunlight is a gift that just keeps on giving.

In the same way God provides for the needs of his children in abundance. His grace abounds, so that in all things at all times, we have all that we need. The Lord blesses us this way so we will abound in every good work. In other words, the light of God's grace is free and abundant, providing continuous blessing. His grace is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Have your daily needs been recently met by God's abundant grace? Is there food in the cupboard and gas in the car? Are your bills paid up to date and a little left over? Then God's grace has provided all that you need and enabled you be a blessing to others. Remember, God's grace is a gift that just keeps on giving. So let your light shine and be a blessing to someone today!

Think about this: "When we let go of money we are letting go of part of ourselves and part of our security. But this is precisely why it is important to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus' command to deny ourselves .... When we give money we are releasing a little more of our egocentric selves and a little more of our false security .... Giving frees us to care. It produces an air of expectancy as we anticipate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adventure in the world, and that is worth living for and giving for."
                                                                  ~ Richard Foster

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 5 / NT - 2 Corinthians 10

Friday, September 23, 2022

A tremendous privilege...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 3:13-35 / NT - 2 Corinthians 8

"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." -- 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Time and again catastrophes occur and financial help is desperately needed. Money is quite often raised through concerts and similar fundraisers. People are touched by the needs of others, but they still need to be motivated to give. Part of such motivation involves providing the donor with some personal benefit from their donation. Selfless giving is a rare commodity.

Paul noted a very significant quality in the churches of Macedonia. These believers were motivated to give toward the needs of others without receiving personal benefits. Why, you may ask; because they made the choice to give themselves first to the Lord. As a result of such spiritual devotion they pleaded for the privilege to share in helping others in need. When the heart is given to the Lord first, selfless giving is never rare.

Do you struggle when asked to give to the needs of ministry and compassionate care for the hurting? Are you one of those who need to be motivated? Or have you given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord and consider it a tremendous privilege to share in the ministry of giving? Once you've given yourself to the Lord, the privilege of giving is no longer rare, it becomes an exciting opportunity.

Think about this: Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a LIFE by what we GIVE."

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 4 / NT - 2 Corinthians 9

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Someone to Help...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 3:1-12 / NT - 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:16

"For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus" -- 2 Corinthians 7:5-6
"Smooth Sailing Cruises... No bumps, just bargains!" and "Smooth Sailing Success... executive and life coaching." These are just two of many internet sites built on the idea of "Smooth Sailing". Oh, if it were only true, that the many journeys of life could always be "Smooth Sailing". But, life is just not a "Smooth Sailing" experience. In real life we will be harassed at every turn with conflicts and fears, so we need someone to help.

Some believers have been led to believe that the Christian life is a guarantee of "Smooth Sailing". They are under the persuasion that the winds will always blow our way and every storm will pass us by, because we are God's children. But then we read about Paul, and all such thinking slips away fast. The great apostle Paul suffered with harassment, conflicts and fears. The storms raged in his life and ministry, "but God, who comforts the downcast", comforted him! He found SOMEONE to help.

Does life leave you battered and beat down so much that you want to sell your boat? Are you wise enough to know that "Smooth Sailing" and real life just don't mix? Storms will come your way more often than you desire, but God comforts the downcast. If he is your God... you will always have SOMEONE to help!

Think about this: "God is the great reality. His resources are available and endless. His promises are real and glorious, beyond our wildest dreams."
                                                                                                        ~ J. B. Phillips

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 3:13-35 / NT - 2 Corinthians 8

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

TODAY!

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 2 / NT - 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:13

"As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." -- 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The fifth point in the Procrastinator's Creed states: "I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations." So, for a great many in our world, the sun will always come out "tomorrow", no matter how dire the circumstances. But, maybe not, for we only have the guarantee of TODAY.

On two counts Paul emphasizes the need for urgency. Those who have not yet accepted the Lord's favor and salvation should respond today. And those who have the opportunity to "urge" others to receive God's grace should always act quickly. While "tomorrow" may hold amazing possibilities, we only have the guarantee of TODAY.

What are you waiting for my friend? If you have chosen to put off God's amazing offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus, don't wait another minute. And if you have received this wonderful gift, who has God brought into your life that needs to hear? Don't wait, because "tomorrow" on this earth may never come. Remember, we only have the guarantee of TODAY!

Think about this: "The Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a deathbed conversion — one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume."
                                        ~ William Guthrie

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 3:1-12 / NT - 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:16

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Jars of Clay...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 1 / NT - 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." -- 2 Corinthians 4:7
I find it interesting that whenever I buy a bouquet of flowers for my wife she is focused on the flowers and cares very little for the vase. The poor little guy just sits there unassuming, holding all the beautiful flowers together for everyone to see and appreciate. And that's the way it should be; to show God's beautiful flowers.

Paul tells us that the Lord "made his light shine in our hearts" (vs. 6). We are merely the little vases in which he shines. The world is meant to see the "all-surpassing power" from God in our "vases"... or "jars of clay". It's not about us and all that we can be; it's all about the Lord and all that can be seen of him. And that's the way it should be; to show God's bountiful power.

What do others see when you come around my friend? Are you more concerned that they see the vase that they miss the flowers you contain? Do they ever see the "all-surpassing power" from God in your life and marvel at him? Don't ever forget... we're just "jars of clay". And that's the way we should be: to show God's overwhelming glory.

Think about this: "I was but a pen in God's hands, and what praise is due to a pen?"
                                             ~ Richard Baxter

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 2 / NT - 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:13

Monday, September 19, 2022

Living Credentials...

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 8 / NT - 2 Corinthians 3

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." -- 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
While I waited for my orthopedic doctor to come into the office some years ago, I reviewed his many degrees and diplomas on the wall. Then I looked carefully at an interesting picture by the window. The photo was of an injured NFL football player who was being treated by my doctor. I believed then that I was in good hands; not because of framed certificates on the wall, but because of the living experience portrayed in the photo.

As Paul said; our letters of recommendation are people changed by our ministry, not diplomas and ordination certificates. We are often more impressed by a man's academic credentials than the results of his ministry. After all is said and done, when we appear before the Lord, will he ask what degrees we have acquired? Or will he review the lives that were changed for Christ by our testimony and influence? Our ultimate credentials are the living letters of people.

Are you pursuing a degree right now, or sometime in the near future? This is a good thing if it will provide you with the tools to better care for the souls of others. But never rest in the certificates on the wall as your credibility for ministry. The call of God, a servant's heart and lives changed are your recommendations. Your single and most valuable credential will always be the living letters of people changed for Jesus.

Think about this: "Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will not be judged by how much I have done but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all. No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice."
                                                               ~ A. W. Tozer

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 1 / NT - 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Our Fragrance...

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 6, 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 2

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." - 2 Corinthians 2:14
Just after finishing college I worked as a store detective for a large department store. I would walk the store aisles through the day watching for shoplifters. Numerous times a day I would step into an aisle and I would immediately know that the office manager had recently passed by. She was far out of sight, but her fragrance lingered.

Paul tells us that every believer has the privilege of being led in triumphal procession in Christ. The battle has been won and as a result we are saved. We are now sent into the world to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere we travel. As spiritual conquerors in the Lord, wherever we go, the sweet smell of victory should linger.

How do people feel after you've left the room? When you're far out of sight are they glad that you were there? Do you leave a pleasant scent of the "Lily of the Valley" (Song of Solomon 2:1) behind? Wherever you go, does the sweet smell of victory linger?


Think about this: "The people who influence us are those who have stood unconsciously for the right thing; they are like the stars and the lilies; and the joy of God flows through them."
                                      ~ Oswald Chambers

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 8 / NT - 2 Corinthians 3

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Be a Blessing...

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 5 / NT - 2 Corinthians 1

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." -- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
In January 2010, a Magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti. The weeks that followed brought tons of supplies into the country, but many reports suggested that the provisions were undistributed, being held up in warehouses. Such stories of delayed relief were most distressing and raise the question; why give so much, to relieve so few?

When we reflect on the outpouring of God's blessings in our lives, Paul gives us food for thought. God "comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those who in any trouble". The Lord gives blessings to us in great abundance to share, not to hoard. The beauty of this truth is that the more we give to others, the more God gives to share. After all, why should the Lord give so much, to relieve so few?

When was the last time the Lord poured out his blessing in your life? Did you seek the opportunity to be a great blessing to someone else as a result? If the doors of your life were opened, would it look like those who are called "hoarders" on TV? Or is your life like a fresh stream, ever flowing into the lives of others with God's abundant provisions? Don't let the Lord give you so much, and relieve so few!

Think about this: "We are never more like God than when we give." 
                                                                                            ~ Charles R. Swindoll

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 6, 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 2

Friday, September 16, 2022

How's your grip?

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 3, 4 / NT - 1 Corinthians 16

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." -- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
My grip is no different than most men my age. I can easily crush a soda can with one hand or maintain a firm grip on my dog when she wants to chase a squirrel across the street. At the same time I can hold a new born infant tenderly or carry an egg across the kitchen without breaking the shell. It's God's creative gift to have a steel grip in a velvet glove.

The believer has much the same quality spiritually. As Paul counsels, we are to be firm and strong, doing everything in love. Our guard should never be down and our courage should never wane. We are to have a spiritual strength that confronts evil forcefully and presses on toward righteousness powerfully. At the same time we are to minister with the loving compassion and tenderness of our heavenly Father. We are born again with a steel grip in a velvet glove.

How about you my friend? Are you the kind of believer that is known to be firm and strong? Yet, is it rare that anyone experiences your loving touch? Or are you quite loving in everything and have no courage to deal with evil and pursue righteousness? The Lord created you with a unique grip physically and a similar spiritual quality. As you fully exercise all that you are spiritually, you too should have a steel grip in a velvet glove.

Think about this: "Joy is love exalted; peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is love in training."                                                                                                                      ~ Dwight Lyman Moody

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 5 / NT - 2 Corinthians 1

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Not in vain...

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 2 / NT - 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." -- 1 Corinthians 15:58
The last few months were quite an experience for both Jayne and me. As a result of back surgery (me) and wrist surgery (Jayne), we both went through rehab exercises and major efforts to get back to normal. Thankfully, our labor was not in vain.

Paul's teaching on the resurrection is a great motivator. The promise of a glorified body in our future gives us hope and a driving force to press on in our spiritual lives. The work of the ministry may be hard and exhausting, but as we push ourselves for Jesus there will be a final day when our work will be complete. Then we will find, neither restored strength or some other magnificent achievement, but an imperishable body that will inherit the kingdom of God. Our labor for the Lord is never in vain.

Last week, or last month may have been grueling. You may be so tired and almost too weary to continue. Don't give up my friend. The way may be hard, but the end will be sweet. Keep your eye on the prize and be assured that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.

Think about this: "Christians that would hold on in the service of the Lord must look more upon the crown than upon the cross."
                                          ~ Thomas Brooks

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 3, 4 / NT - 1 Corinthians 16

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Future Hope...

Today's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 1 / NT - 1 Corinthians 15:12-34

"If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." - 1 Corinthians 15:19

When you are considering new employment, benefits are a major priority. Yes, you appreciate a weekly salary that will pay your bills, but your focus is definitely on the future. If, after thirty years, all you have is a drawer full of pay stubs but no retirement, you may feel quite empty. Future hope is all encompassing.

When you take into consideration the daily blessings we have in Christ, the above verse is quite thought provoking. Isn't grace for the journey enough to satisfy? The answer may be found in the idea of "journey". Without a risen Savior we are all on a "journey" to nowhere. Future hope is all encompassing.

One day at a time is good advice, but when we come to the end of all our days what will we have? With a risen Savior we have both daily blessings and heaven as well! In light of such a promise there is nothing to pity. Future hope is all encompassing.

Think about this: "Everything antecedent in the incarnate life of our Lord moves towards the resurrection and everything subsequent rests upon it and is conditioned by it." 
                 ~ John Murray 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 2 / NT - 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Work Harder...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:153-176 / NT - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." -- 1 Corinthians 15:10
Ah yes, we are what we are by the grace of God. Such is a profound truth that should keep us focused every day of our lives. But, as a result, do we work harder? In another place we read, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13). We love His grace and HIS working, but what about OUR working?

Evangelicals have battled so much over "grace alone" for our salvation that we forget about the fact of Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." God gives free grace, and we should freely work.

How about it my friend, are you working harder today because you are what you are by the grace of God? Are you so devoted to His cause that you work with unlimited diligence? In the words of our Lord, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." (John 9:4) By the grace of God, work harder.

Think about this: "You cannot be too active as regards your own efforts; you cannot be too dependent as regards divine grace. Do everything as if God did nothing; depend upon God as if he did everything." ~  John Angell James

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Song of Sol 1/ NT - 1 Corinthians 15:12-34

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Need for Order...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:137-152 / NT - 1 Corinthians 14

"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church... For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." -- 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33
The first edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, whose full title was Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, was published in February 1876 by U.S Army Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert and is currently in its tenth edition. Robert desired a means to provide order in church and various business meetings. Over the years I have used this little treasure successfully to keep organization and peace. There needs to be order to be productive.

From the time Paul penned the above words, to church meetings conducted last week, without organization and orderly direction there can be no benefit. There are many who come to services and meetings with much to offer for the strengthening of the assembly. But like a beautiful symphony, each part must be contributed at the right time and in the right way to the produce sweet music. There needs to be order to be productive.

The next time you attend a service, special meeting or business session, allow good order to prevail. Pray for the leadership to have wisdom to guide the event in a peaceful manner. Should you have something to contribute; remember that you are only one part of the whole and are participating in a Divine symphony. There needs to be order to be productive.

Think about this: "Christians in concert are an abridgment of heaven, shining like a firmament of bright stars."
                                            ~ George Swinnock

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:153-176 / NT - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Where is the Love?

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:113-136 / NT - 1 Corinthians 13

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7–8
Twenty-one years ago today our nation sat in shock and dismay. Almost 3,000 lives were lost in a matter of a couple of hours. The weeks that followed were filled with an outpouring of compassion and love for one another. Today... we sit in a nation torn apart over political, racial, and social division. Where is the love? 

1 Corinthians 13 was not initially meant to be a pleasant poetic reading, written for weddings. It was written to address the division and strife within a local church. Favoritsm, greed, competition, and selfishness ran rampid. The greatest Christ-like spiritual quality was desperately missing. Where was the love? 

Our ministry is the saving and nurturing of souls. The Lord has sent us out into the world to reach hurting and broken lives. But we can never accomplish this calling when we can't get along with one another. Are you filled with, and compelled by, the selfless, life-sacrificing heart of Jesus? Where is the love that never ends? 

Think about this: "Not tongues nor faith nor prophecy nor knowledge nor martyrdom nor philanthropy, but love is the Christian's mark of distinction."
                                                ~ Vance Havner

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:137-152 / NT - 1 Corinthians 14

Saturday, September 10, 2022

We're all needed...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:89-112 / NT - 1 Corinthians 12:13-31

"The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"" -- 1 Corinthians 12:21
Since I had back surgery I have been very cautious in how I bend. Over the summer I was so cautious that I moved the wrong way and hurt my knee. Each part of my body is important and needs proper care, because each part is needed.

Paul gave wise counsel to a church family that had suffered from divisiveness. There was no member that was any more important than the next. Paul wrote in verse 27, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."  As each one is a part, each one is important. They are all needed.

As a member of the body of Christ you are important. You have spiritual gifts and purposes that have been given by the Spirit of God. While these are incredibly significant, always remember that the body is made up of many parts. We are all important and all needed

Think about this: "Church-goers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out."
                                                                                                   ~ Billy Graham

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:113-136 / NT - 1 Corinthians 13

Friday, September 9, 2022

What do you know?

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 72 / NT - 1 Corinthians 11:17-12:11

"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup." -- 1 Corinthians 11:27-28
There are many physical maladies that need to be detected early. The best way to discover certain problems is to do a regular "self-examination". Along with such "self-exams" are those pesky annual physicals. Over the years I have received positive medical care due to these exams and always wondered why anyone would ignore such helpful procedures. I guess some people just figure "what you don't know won't hurt you".

Paul had a very different belief. He knew that unchecked sin leads to an unsafe life. The Lord's Table is to be approached with a prepared and cleansed heart. The bread and the cup are to be received in a worthy manner by an examined people. Careless and sinful living is not a lifestyle that will just be ignored over time. A "self-examination" is imperative because, "what we don't know can hurt us".

As we come to the communion table, we are reminded of our Lord's sacrifice to redeem us and set us apart as a people of God. Moments of examination bring us back to the basics of our relationship with the Lord. Take time to learn what may have broken your fellowship and pray with David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

Think about this: "An humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning."
                                             ~ Thomas à Kempis

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:89-112 / NT - 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Together...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 1 / NT - 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

"Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. - 1 Corinthians 11:11-12
It's been nine years since we said farewell to my mother-in-law. Her home-going was not unexpected, but a sad time nonetheless.  As my wife was with me through my parents passage, I made every effort to be there for her. While our roles within the family may differ, we are never independent of each other in the challenges of life. We are in this thing together.

Paul gave clear and distinct directions for marital roles of leadership and partnership. Over the years these instructions have either been ignored by some or misinterpreted and abused by others. Right in the middle of his instruction Paul gives the balance of dependence to protect from both extremes. And for every marriage to be blessed, the central truth is highlighted... "All things are from God".

My friend, the strength of our marriage should always be the ruling presence of the Lord and the supportive partnership of two. We should laugh together and weep together. We should grieve together and grow together. We are never independent of each other, and all that we are and have is always from God.

Think about this: "Love is not a state, it is a movement. Personal contact is not a state, but a fleeting movement that must be ceaselessly rediscovered. Marriage is not a state, but a movement—a boundless adventure."
                                                                                     ~ Paul Tournier

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 72 / NT - 1 Corinthians 11:17-12:11

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Glorify God...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 4 / NT - 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
When I turned sixteen my Pastor gave me a copy of "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon. This book, which was first published in 1897, has since sold over 30,000,000 copies which places it as the ninth best selling book of all time. The full title is "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?" While the lingering phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" has been quite popular, the more precise and Biblical question should be: "Does It Glorify God?"

Paul led believers to live a selfless life that considered others first. The greatest focal point was the honor and glory of the Lord in everything. He never handed out wrist bands or bumper stickers that raised a qualifying question for decisions. He just stated a simple word of counsel; "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". Life becomes so much clearer and far more simplified when we bring every decision and action into line with this mandate.

Here it is my friend... Will that purchase glorify God? Does that conversation glorify God? Is that thought or action bringing Glory to God? Does your treatment of that person Glorify God? Is your conduct at work glorifying God? You may ask; What does God have to do with it? EVERYTHING. Remember... "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Think about this: "The ultimate end of all things that come to pass, including the ultimate end of the great drama of redemption, is found in the glory of the eternal God." 
                  ~ J. Gresham Machen

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Chronicles 1 / NT - 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Lessons from the Past...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 3:16-28 / NT - 1 Corinthians 10:1-22

"Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." -- 1 Corinthians 10:6
It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is... that we don't learn anything from history. Could this be true? Is it possible that some people never learn from the past? While in high school drivers education I remember being shown pictures of auto collisions caused by careless drivers. That same year one of my classmates died from the same kind of careless driving. Some lessons from the past are never learned.

As Paul wrote to believers who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he was confident that they could learn from history. While the unbeliever is lost in their sin-bound condition, every believer has the freedom and power to learn from the past, avoid evil and live rightly. Examples are recorded in the pages of Scripture as lessons to keep us from careless living. Lessons from the past are given to be learned.

Do you regularly read the Scriptures from Old Testament through the New Testament? Have you considered the positive lessons to follow as well as the examples of evil to avoid? Don't be like my friend who ignored tragic examples of the past. "... if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (verse 12)

Think about this: "I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once a year. My custom is to read four or five chapters every morning immediately after rising from my bed. It employs about an hour of my time, and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day. In what light soever we regard the Bible, whether with reference to revelation, to history, or to morality, it is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue."
- John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 4  / NT - 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1

Monday, September 5, 2022

Whatever is Necessary...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 3:1-15 / NT - 1 Corinthians 9

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." -- 1 Corinthians 9:19, 22
They call us at dinner on a daily basis. They send us brochures in duplicates. They come knocking at our doors on a regular basis. Who are these nefarious schemers that seek our attention with such determination? They are sales people! They strive to win us over to buy their product or service and they won't take no for an answer. They will do whatever is necessary to win as many as possible.

While you will readily relate to the above experiences, do you believe that there might be a greater reason for which to win people? Don't you think that a heavenly home is more valuable than new siding for your earthly one? Sales people are seeking the big paycheck, but Paul was seeking the big blessing of souls saved. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to win as many as possible.

Are you afraid of offending people with your witness for Christ? Paul said earlier in chapter one, verse eighteen, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." A soul is worth far more than a paycheck, so never give up. Do whatever is necessary to win as many as possible!

Think about this: "I would rather win souls than be the greatest king or emperor on earth; I would rather win souls than be the greatest general that ever commanded an army... My one ambition in life is to win as many as possible. Oh, it is the only thing worth doing, to save souls; and, men and women, we can all do it."
                                                         ~ R. A. Torrey

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 3:16-28  / NT - 1 Corinthians 10:1-22

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Known by God...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:65-88 / NT - 1 Corinthians 7:25-8:13

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God." -- 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
The world is full of scholars and experts in their various fields. They know that they know, and know how to inform others about that knowledge. There are very few who have the capacity to exercise their knowledge graciously to benefit others. These are those who are moved with love and compassion to use their knowledge to build up, not criticize and tear down. Such individuals are often well known by the world.

In the church there are also those who are scholars and experts in Biblical matters. They know the right and wrong as well as all the implications of both. But it takes a special love from God to exercise such knowledge with care and understanding. These brethren care little about what they know, but care very much about how they love. Such individuals are always well known by God.

Which one are you my friend? Do you know that you know, or do you know that you might love with such knowledge? As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15 "...speaking the truth in love... we will in all things grow up". When we love God and his church with all that we know, we will always be known by Him with love.

Think about this: "Let me always remember that it is not the amount of religious knowledge which I have, but the amount which I use, that determines my religious position and character." 
                                                               ~ Alexander Maclaren

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Kings 3:1-15 / NT - 1 Corinthians 9

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The Main Thing...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:41-64 / NT - 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

"I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." -- 1 Corinthians 7:35
The balanced Christian life is a difficult pursuit. Within the context of Scripture marriage is a blessing from God, but as with everything else, balance is the key. As Paul presents the converted lifestyle, he would have us conduct ourselves with an undivided devotion to the Lord in view.

There are many people who are quick to live the Christian life in the extreme. They choose to withdraw from almost everything possible to be distinct for Christ. Yet, Paul says, "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." (verse 17) Be devoted to the Lord and live your life to the glory of God.

The principle is clear my friend. Live an "undivided" life for Jesus. Make your choices wisely about any change, and be sure that such changes never jeopardize your devotion to the Lord. It's all about balance and keeping the main thing the main thing.

Think about this: "It may be true that there are two sides to every question, but it is also true that there are two sides to a sheet of flypaper, and it makes a big difference to the fly which side he chooses."
                                                                                          ~ Source unknown

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 119:65-88 / NT - 1 Corinthians 7:25-8:13