Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 22, 2018

“I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalms 142:5

It amazes me how many Christians are looking for the fast, flashy, quick-fix, five-step formula to spiritual maturity. If there is something that looks like a sure short-cut, they are on it.

Before I get off this topic of commitment I want to assure you that there is no short-cut or superhighway to becoming a spiritual giant.

Don’t get caught up in these shallow stupid fantasies of the flesh. The only way to spiritual maturity is the way David did it – commitment. Commitment was the one constant of his life. It didn’t matter if he was caring for sheep, confronting a giant, cowering in a cave, conquering enemies, or wearing a crown he was fully committed to His God.

You will have to be committed in the mundane tedious tasks that meet the needs of others when God calls you to that. There will be some giant risks you will be called to confront and some giant-sized spiritual enemies you will have to defeat. There will be lonely difficult times when you will feel like you are trapped in a cave and no one cares – even God. Every one of those challenges will require a commitment to keep chasing and embracing God. David had his cave and Jesus had His cross and so will you!

But, the fact is you will be committed to something. Everyone is! And whatever you commit to will cost you – ultimately it could cost you your soul.

Do you need to renew your commitment to obey and follow God? 

Have you been thinking about bailing on your commitment? 

Where is your commitment being tested? 

Usually when it feels like you want to get out it is time to get back in.

Jesus proved God’s commitment to you. David showed us what it looks like. 

It’s your move!

Friday, July 20, 2018

July 21, 2018

A few insights regarding the nature of commitment from Psalm 142.

The Psalmist found himself trapped in a cave primarily because of his commitment to God. Sometimes commitment seems like a trap because when you commit you eliminate every other option. Jesus' commitment led Him to a cross. If you are a committed Christian there is a cave or a cross in your future.

Also, his commitment was tested the longer he remained into the cave. He cried out and complained to God but never caved in on his commitment.

Because he endured the pain and loneliness of being trapped in a cave his commitment became stronger and he found a measure of contentment. Here is how the Psalmist found some contentment in the cave:

He Clarified – Where is my focus?

I think the key to contentment is focusing on what you love rather than on what you lack. If you obsess over what you do not or cannot have you will naturally stir up discontentment. Rather, concentrate on what you DO have in the One you love - God. The fact is that when you have God and His love you have all you need!

He Confessed - "I cry to you, LORD; I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'"

Anytime you may feel your commitment wavering and you are tempted to doubt, confess your faith and confidence in the Lord! It will always work! There is tremendous strength in positive confession.

He Committed

Another good practice when it comes to keeping commitments is this - when you feel like getting out of your commitment - recommit! When loneliness and discouragement and the pain of being trapped in your cave weakens you so you are tempted to quit, renew your commitment! Tell God, "I will love you in the cave!"

Learn from David and also from Jesus. Consider this - "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:3

When Jesus' commitment led Him to the cross He stayed focused on the One He loved and the joy of pleasing Him! That's how you find contentment in the cave!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How Is Your "OQ"?

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:1

Jesus told a story one day about two men. One of those men He referred to as "foolish" and the other he called "wise". Other than the fact that Jesus said it (and if Jesus calls you a "fool" you are one) what separates a wise man from a foolish man?

In Jesus' little story it was the men themselves who differentiated themselves by their actions. The "foolish" man built a house on a foundation of sand. While it was cheaper and easier to build on sand it was also short-sighted. When the first big thunderstorm of the season blew through with its torrential rains and winds the house crumbled as its foundation washed away. The "wise" man build his house on a solid foundation of rock. It is more difficult to chisel through the rock and anchor a foundation there. But the painstaking effort and expense paid off when that storm blew in and washed his neighbor away while his house stood strong.

According to Jesus, wisdom is not a matter of what you know but what you show! God is not interested in theories, He wants transformed lives. He wants obedience. He wants you to build your life on the foundation of a personal relationship with Him.

As the brother of Jesus, James echoes the same truth in his writings. He says, "You can't claim to be wise and act like a fool!" If you act foolish you will be judged as a fool. It is that simple.

Do you want to be wise? Build on a proper foundation. This verse tells you that you need understanding. You must understand truth from error. You must understand the importance of obeying God and living according to His revealed truth in the Word. The foundation of your life must be built on His truth and His commands and His will. You must know it and then show it.

If understanding is a key to wisdom, and it is, then humility is evidence of a wise heart. Humility is the by-product of obedience. You cannot be proud and obedient at the same time. Likewise, you cannot be wise and proud.

Intelligence can be measured by an IQ test. Can wisdom be measured?

James would say, "Absolutely!" In this third chapter he lays out an "OQ" test -an obedient quotient. The wise man passed his "OQ" test, the foolish man failed his.

How is your "OQ"?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 19, 2018

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23

Here is the testimony of one satisfied sheep! The source of his satisfaction? A very good shepherd!

When was the last time you felt satisfied? What would it take to satisfy you? What would have to happen? What would it take? Do you even know?

How did it happen for this sheep? How did he become so satisfied?

The Present Care of His Shepherd

This satisfied sheep had a shepherd who cared for his every need. The shepherd provided for his physical sustenance by leading him to lush green pastures where he can graze to the full. The shepherd provided for his emotional security. Sheep are not built for swimming. They are terrified of rapidly moving water. Should a sheep fall into the water and his wool become saturated, he become seriously top-heavy and sink beneath the currents. But the good shepherd knows that and intentionally leads the sheep away from the swift streams to the quiet waters.

And, the good shepherd protects the safety of his sheep. He guards them with his rod and his staff. The rod is the weapon used against would be predators and the staff is used to steer a wandering sheep back to the safety of the flock.

If you are not sure what it would take to satisfy you, think about these three things: having a shepherd who provides for your sustenance, your security and your safety. That worked for this shepherd, what would that do for you?

The Promised Care of the Shepherd

The satisfaction this sheep is experiencing is attributable to the care he is presently receiving from his good shepherd. His physical needs, His emotional needs and his spiritual needs are all being met. That's helpful today, but what about tomorrow? Can I continue to count on my shepherd?

The fact is, when the Lord is your Shepherd, the future is your friend! He promises to care for you in the future just as He currently cares for you!

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

This satisfied sheep shows you that if you can find contentment in your Shepherd with His current care, you can have confidence in His continued care in days to come.

Want some satisfaction? Follow the Good Shepherd!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My Light and My Salvation

"The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1a

Thank God for His light!

Thank God for being the Light!

As John wrote, "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." I John 1:5-7

Thank God for enabling us to walk in His light!

Living in the Light gives security and safety. Praise God for that.

But notice the Psalmist doesn't stop there. The Lord is not just our Light but He is our Salvation!

In this context, He saves us with His light!

As much as we fear the outer darkness and the dangers it conceals, but there is an inner darkness that is equally frightening. That darkness is sinfulness. That sinfulness separates from God. Once separated from God, there is no light and the darkness returns. When the darkness returns so does the fear.

So, the Lord really IS our Light and Salvation. By His power and presence He can protect us from the outer darkeness that causes you to fear. And by His shed blood and His Spirit He can deliver us from the inner darkness that causes fear about eternity.

Are you trapped in fear?

Are you fearful over the darkness in your heart?

Are fearful about your eternal future?

Have you received His salvation?

Are you walking in His light?

Monday, July 16, 2018

July 17, 2018

"On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "He's alive!" Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. " Acts 20:7-12

This morning I read in the Psalms and continued reading in Acts. Of course, I found a number of inspiring verses. But, this amazing incident caught my attention for two reasons: because it IS amazing how Paul raised this young man from the dead, but also, I found it encouraging that as great as Paul was, someone actually fell asleep on him when he was speaking. Maybe you have to be a preacher to appreciate that!

Pardon me for indulging myself in this moment, but there is a much greater point to be made in all of this. God's power is made perfect in the weaknesses of our humanity. Maybe Paul had this incident in mind when he wrote:

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." II Cor. 4:7

Paul was in the midst of a grueling travel schedule and the hour was late. He had been teaching intensely for hours. No one can be at their best under those conditions. Our bodies and minds get tired. And Eutychus had been sitting and listening for hours, now the hour was late. He dozed off. It is not a good idea to doze off when you are sitting in a third-story window. So, when he fell asleep he FELL - ASLEEP. The fall killed him.

Needless to say, that killed the meeting. When Paul received word of what had happened, he switched from preaching the Word to practicing it. Undeterred by the gravity of the situation, Paul simply called on God to revive this young man. God did!

Wow! It is one thing to put people asleep when you preach - it is quite another to raise them from the dead afterward!

Here's the big message in the midst of these ramblings, GOD'S STRENGTH AND POWER ARE GREATER THAN YOUR WEAKNESSES! When you are doing your best to serve Him, He will be His best for you. Don't hide your weakness. Don't apologize for it. Praise God for revealing Himself through your limitations.

Have you surrender to God - weaknesses and all?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

July 16, 2018

"The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1a

One of the first things I remember being afraid of was the dark. Maybe you were too.

My mind could conjure up all sorts of frightening creature lurking in the darkness. It was comforting to have even the small amount of light that a night light could emit. That always seemed to be enough to keep the monsters and ghouls at bay.

In the ancient days of the Psalmist, darkness WAS fearful. Robbers, murderers, and thugs lurked along dark roadways, alleys and corners. Respectable people avoided the dark as much as possible.

In addition to the human miscreants there were demons that haunted the night. Night time held great terror for people of those days. Rightly so!

Here in this favorite Psalm, we are reminded that we have a light to help us not fear the darkness. That is good news since we live in a very dark world!

What IS this light that we enjoy from our Lord?

It is the light of His presence. He IS the Light of the world! "God is light and in His is no darkness at all!"

And, it is the light of His Word. The Word gives light from His knowledge that can guide our steps.

His salvation removes the spiritual darkness from our hearts and opens our spiritual eyes.

Then, there is the light of fellowship with other Christians. His followers are people of the Light so gathering with them helps remove the fear of the darkness! I John 1:7 urges, If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin!"

Believe the Psalmist when he assures you that you need not fear the darkness when God is your Light! Walk in the joy and freedom of His light today!