Daily In The Word – Feb. 19 – The Reward Is Worth The Wait

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

I have spoken many times about how much we hate to wait and how I (as Paul says) am ‘the worst of these’. We are so used to instant gratification in modern society that the very concept of not seeing instantaneous results bothers us to no end. But why? Everyone has their own reasons but I think in my case, it’s because while I wait for something to happen, I worry about how it will happen and whether or not it will keep happening after it happens once. For example, if I wait for weeks to hear the results of some test, even if the results are good, I worry that it may not always be good. Or if I have a good thing that happens once and then I have to wait a long time before it happens again, I worry that it won’t happen or will happen in a different way. The truth is, God guides our lives in every detail and he has planned well for what we need. When the Israelites were learning the “Laws of Moses”, God introduced a year called “The Year of Jubilee” that occurs every 50 years (7 years time 7 years and it lasts for a year) where the people were not allowed to do any work for a whole year, they relieved debts and such. People were worried about how they would eat and God cleared that one up: “If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it. But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years.” (Leviticus 25:18-21, NLT). So what does this have to do with your worry? Well… sometimes we may have to wait for a long time to see the results of God’s work (remember, time as we view it does not exist to God) but if we do it right, the results will be massively better than anything else we could ever want.

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Daily In the Word – Feb. 18 – Listen

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Catching up on the second lesson I missed this week. My verse selection was difficult this time because there were a few scriptures that resonated with me. I almost picked a different one but ultimately stuck with what I have. But before I explain what that is, I must give you the preface. There is a very popular song on the Christian radio station Air1 by the artist Micah Tyler called “Different” which talks about many different personality traits that we as Christians should follow to show that we are not like our non-Christian peers. He sings the song in a way that shows that he is singing about his own challenges just as much as he is singing to other believers. The opening line of the song says “I don’t wanna hear any more, teach me to listen. I don’t wanna see anymore, give me the vision.” These are two very human traits – ‘hearing’ where our brain receives the audio signals from elsewhere and we simply move through without thinking deeper; as well as ‘seeing’ – in which our eyes take in visual queues from the world around us and it does what it must to keep us safe but we rarely enjoy the beauty of that moment. As I listen to the terrifying things that have happened in Florida and all over the world, I see people who react in many ways – some are political, some are judgmental, and some try to ‘set the record straight’. I am a habitual ‘record straightener’ and am known for seeing random internet tabloid material such as “enter your pin backwards at the ATM to notify the police” (which does not work by the way) and then blasting out a link to snopes.com to show why that’s not true. In some cases, this is a good thing because people really don’t realize that much of what they read or see is not true (even if partially true). You might think that my verse of the day: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (Proverbs 18:13, NLT) is going to be used to directly support this but there’s more to it than that. Sometimes, ‘facts’ are more than just the bits of truth and logic connected to a story. Sometimes, the facts are the emotional reasons behind why someone does something or why something is more important than we might realize. So the next time you are about to spout off your response, listen to what is being said and think of why someone is saying it more than just whether it is right or wrong.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 17 – Flooding Life With Negativity

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

As I am making up my reading from the weekend, I have lots of things to think about. Some are bad and some are good. I look at the great potential each new day brings, I look at the wonderful gift that God gives me every day by giving me a breath in my lungs and a heartbeat. Yet, I can also think of all the bad things. I can think of the problems my children are causing. I can think of my frustrations with whatever is happening at my job. I can think of things like never feeling like we have enough money to stay out of the red. Each day, I have to make the decision about whether to focus on the good or the bad. I have honestly done both in my life, though spent more time focusing on the bad versus the good. However, I think the key is finding a balance. If you only focus on the good stuff going on and don’t try to think of the bad, you come off as the crazy person who is always happy and seems out of touch with life. Likewise, if you spend your entire life focusing on the negative, you become a poisonous person who destroys the happiness in their lives and the lives of others. Unfortunately, once we get started going one way, it’s very hard to go back. This is echoed in Proverbs: “If you repay good with evil, evil will never leave your house. Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:13-14, NLT). Once you start focusing on the negativity, you may find it hard to get back out. The more negative you get the more quarrels you may start. The moral of this story? Strike a balance but err on the side of positive. 

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 16 – Lack of Honey and Self-Control

Date: 16 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Happy Friday! I had a lot of trouble picking the topic to discuss from my reading as there was so much great stuff that appeared in my study today. I ultimately decided to discuss patience but in a way that is slightly different than you might expect. As I have said many times, I am not the most patient person, I will often find myself waving my hand as one of my children stops and starts what they are trying to say. I have learned to follow up with saying something like “Okay, now breathe, think about what you want to say and try again.” Unfortunately, I did not do this with my oldest daughter for many years and now she often finds it hard to talk to me because she’s afraid I will get tired of waiting on her to put her thoughts together. I wish with all I have that I would not have done this when she was just about to reach her teenage years because it is the time when she will need to speak to me the most but may not do so because she’s pre-loaded to expect me to cut her off. Part of my reading warns me about this: “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24, NLT) and my lack of patience makes my words very unlike honey. Now, we return to patience. I have found that patience, is often an offshoot of self-control and I often felt that if I was impatient with something, it might happen sooner or I will be able to regain control of a situation faster. This, however, is rarely the case. I am learning, to exercise more self-control in my speech and deeds but I fear that it may be too little too late sometimes. Learning to control yourself and be patient with those around you is a key topic that came out of my reading today: “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall” (Proverbs 16:32-33, NLT). No matter how impatient I am and whether or not I see this as good or bad, it does not help me. I must learn to wait on God’s timing and plan so I don’t conquer the wrong city.

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Daily In The Word – February 15 – Nothing But the Blood

Date: 15 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Today’s thoughts come from the Old Testament and in a book that I have honestly struggled to read. The book of Leviticus has some great information but much of it is mixed in with laws that we struggle to grasp in the modern world. It is actually from these items that I found something that resonated with me and indicated something from God’s word in the past that was fulfilled by Jesus. When I was in Sunday School at a young age, we would often sing the song “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” which is a great way to think about the purification of Jesus’ blood on all of our sin. It is not as popular as it used to be…perhaps because children thinking about being covered with physical blood (rather than the blood shed to free us) is a bit difficult for some people. However, blood is a very critical thing in the old cultures and even now you hear versions of it (“Blood is thicker than water”). Trust me, Leviticus goes into great detail about what blood is used for in sacrifices to God in the Israelite world. However, one verse was very notable today: “for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible” (Leviticus 17:11, NLT). It seems only fitting that the New Testament portion of my reading (there is always an OT reading, an NT reading, and a Proverb or Psalm) was from Matthew 27 where it talks about Jesus being beaten by the soldiers then crucified. So, if ever I worry about my sin stains running too deep, I can remember that Jesus’ blood made purification possible so I am right with the Lord.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 14 – Crowd Control

Date: 14 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Thoughts or today’s reading is a bit more detailed than yesterday but the focus is centralized. There are always news stories about a person or small group of people somewhere who get together around an idea, they then build excitement for that idea that rises to a fever pitch. It’s easy to see how a crowd, say, in Mardi Gras, can get caught up in the excitement and maybe do something they wouldn’t do, just like a crowd in the streets of an oppressed city can build their anger and overthrow police. In some cases, we can do good things as a people together but likewise we can do bad things as a people together. When you associate with (or are drawn into) a crowd, you may find that you do things you normally do or you may end up letting the emotions (especially anger) impact your thinking. That seems to be exactly what happened when Jesus was presented to Pilate. “Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” (Matthew 27:24-25, NLT). So this crowd was so caught up with the events and goings on that they pushed to have Jesus crucified even though the leader saw no wrong in him. One must ask if the people were drawn up in the moment. The Proverbs even argues why this is a dangerous situation: “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.” (Proverbs 14:16-17, NLT). So I urge you to look at the crowd you are in. Is it making you do what you shouldn’t do? Are you letting your decisions be compromised by those who you associate with? If your crowd is making you do wrong, you need to find a new crew.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 13 – Your Tongue of Fire

Date: 13 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Here are my thoughts from today’s reading, this one is about how we use our mouth. I think that this is so telling because just this morning, I had some tough issues controlling my temper because of the behaviors of some of my children. It’s very easy for us to see a situation, be it with children or otherwise, where we want to shout and scream about something. I am a recovering screamer, I want to be fully transparent about that. The less sleep I have and the more challenges that compound on me, the more likely I am to yell or say something I regret. There is no more humbling thing in the world than to hear your children say something with a curse word, only to realize that they heard you say that exact phrase yesterday. It’s great that they are copying their parents, but horrible that they are copying the worst part of what we have to say. This is only fitting when the Scripture discusses this in Proverbs: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13:3, NLT). It is so very true how we can open our mouths and instantly cause more pain or trouble than we ever intended. I used to joke that I once heard an ancient Chinese proverb that says: “Closed mouth, gathers no foot.” and although I’m not sure if such a real proverb exists, this scripture seems to be as close to it as we can get. Guard your tongue friends, for much good and bad can come from it.

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Daily in The Word – Feb. 12 – I Get Weak

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Now for the thoughts on my final reading (aka today’s reading). When we think of Jesus and his time on Earth. His ministry, his life, his temptation, etc. We easily think of Jesus as being stoic and still, he seems to be calm and collected all the time. However, it is clear that during the time leading to his crucifixion, especially in the hours right before the betrayal, Jesus shows the human side of his humanity as he knows what is about to happen to him. “Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (Matthew 26:40-41, NLT). Yet, even in that moment of very real fear, Jesus makes a critical statement that we all have to pay attention to: The spirit is willing but the body is weak. I admit that I have plenty of bouts with anxiety (both real and imagined) throughout my life. Sometimes, I have actually let my own fear prevent me from doing something I was determined to do. For a perfect example, when I was doing the medical tasks to prepare for the IVF for the twins, I was about to leave and found out that I was supposed to give a blood test so that they could make sure that the baby(ies) would be healthy. I refused and even walked all the way out… 4 floors down and halfway to the car before I realized that I was so anxious that I had forgotten the sacrifice my wife was making (daily bloodwork, countless shots, etc.) just to do her part and I couldn’t even give a blood test? Of course, I did take the blood test and all is well.. but in that time, I was so weak that I almost gave up on an amazing gift in my life.

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Daily In The Word – February 11 – Watch Where You Walk

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Now for the second thought from my lesson. I know that I have been talking a lot about verses from Proverbs, but so many great things can be found there. I have also talked about how I used the adage ‘If you lay down with dogs, you will wake up with fleas’ to explain to my daughter how other bad habits can impact us. Along that same vein, we must ask ourselves, what kinds of activities do we seek in our lives? For instance, if a man is a drunkard, he should probably not be in a bar. Likewise, if a man is obsessed with online pornography, he should be kept off the internet. If we seek out these negative and self-destructive activities, they will do incredible damage. So you need to ask yourself, do you seek things that are good and right? Or do you look for bad things? The Proverbs has a great statement that is so true… “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” (Proverbs 11:27, NLT). The more we engage ourselves in positive and good behavior, the higher chance we will learn to see the good in people. But when you make a bad choice or do something evil, the situation can go from bad to worse very quickly. Be careful what you seek!

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 10 – Righteous Wages

Date: 12 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Once again, I am running a bit behind on my daily readings. Weekends tend to be tricky for having time to sit still and read. Today I want to talk about how we let wealth be our security. I have been blessed with a good job that provides well for my family. It may have its own share of frustrations, and there have certainly been tough times on occasion. However, one thing is constant. I earned this money by performing honest work. Despite the many challenges it brings, I have always operated at my work as a man of integrity. In fact, I have occasionally left employers because I couldn’t morally accept what they were doing. I have also turned down many jobs that I think could potentially be compromising. It’s made things interesting, but as the 90’s country song “I Got It Honest” by Aaron Tippin says: “Every single penny I’m paid, I got it honest.” It’s no doubt that people have many criminal means with which to earn their money and people may do jobs that go against their moral code because ‘the money is too good’ but the Scripture makes it clear that if we find our safety in money that is earned in an unrighteous way, it will not end well. “Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.The Lord will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.” (Proverbs 10:2-3, NLT). Make sure all your business dealings are done in a way that is righteous and God will not let you suffer.

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