Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Tuesday, May 31 2016
Verse of the Day
“…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” [Exodus 25:8-9 – NKJV]
We have an intuitive nature that allows us to devise strategies to get things done. Some of us are better at planning than others, but it is an attribute that can be learned and developed. It’s a key part of your skill set at work. Every employer values employees who can strategize and plan; after all, that’s how we get things done in life, isn’t it? And here’s a comforting thought: No matter the level of your “planning IQ” there is hope for you. All you have to do is read the greatest book on management and business ever written, the Bible.
As today’s passage tells us, God is a planner; in fact, He is the Master Planner! He has an ultimate Plan for mankind which is revealed in His Word, a plan for each of us, and a myriad of other plans that thread their way throughout space and time.
If you want to learn more about planning, read the Bible. Focus on how God gets things done. There are tasks that God reserves for Himself like Creation and there are projects that He uses His people to accomplish like building the Tabernacle. Regardless, there is much for us to learn.
Friday, May 27 2016
Verse of the Day
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” [John 11:47-48 – NIV]
The audacity! The people were beginning to believe in Jesus. Just imagine what would happen to the religious rulers of the day if belief in Jesus got out of control? They were concerned about the Romans taking away “our temple and our nation.” Funny, I thought it was God’s temple and God’s nation, but then what do I know? When the institution of religion becomes more important than its objective—worshiping and glorifying the Lord our God—then we’ve strayed way off course. God had absolutely nothing to do with the religious practices of the day. And that is exactly the point of so many of Jesus’s parables.
The old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same” is no doubt true. Things don’t change much, do they? The tendency to look out for “number one” is as prevalent today as it was in Jesus’s day. We are just as concerned about “turf” as the Sanhedrin was. What’s “ours is ours” and we’re going to fight to keep it to the bitter end. What kind of attitude is this? It’s certainly not one that we need in our lives. What’s ours is really God’s and we are His stewards. If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves then we will use what God has given us to bring glory to Him. Let’s make sure that we look out for the real Number One, Jesus Christ! Make Him first in your life today.
Thursday, May 26 2016
Verse of the Day
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 – NKJV]
First let’s clarify what I mean by leverage. I am not using the term in the financial sense (i.e., the degree or extent to which a business or investor is using borrowed money), nor am I using it in the engineering sense (as in using a fulcrum as a means of moving a heavy object). What I mean by leverage is the use of information about a person to affect, shape, or influence their behavior. Leverage is most commonly associated with business, politics, and other high-stakes activities, but we often see it employed in everyday life, too. Whether we know it or not, we often use what we know about others to influence them. The application of leverage raises connotations of a bad or evil motive or intent; however, that is not always the case. I’d like to submit that God uses leverage in His Plan for us; to save us and bring us into a loving relationship with Him.
God knows each of us intimately. He is constantly at work to bring about our salvation by using people, events, and other forces to affect and influence our behavior and ultimately our receptiveness to His Son, Jesus. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He brings all the leverage at His disposal to bring us into a right relationship with Him. And the fun part is that He knows beforehand exactly how we will react!
Of course there are countervailing forces at work. The evil one uses our prideful, self-centered nature to twist our minds and hearts so that we resist God and His Word. The secular world is actively involved in tearing down, demeaning, demonizing, ridiculing, and humiliating Christianity and Believers, but we know that God will prevail! We love Him because He first loved us. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
Wednesday, May 25 2016
Verse of the Day
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29 – NKJV]
In these devotionals I make fairly frequent reference to my background as a rock ’n’ roll guy, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for yet another shout-out to the Hollies and their 1964 hit “Just One Look.” It just seems so apropos. I think that it fits to a “T” the scene that unfolds before us in today’s passage. Picture Jesus walking towards His cousin, John the Baptist; John glances up and immediately recognizes Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Just one look, that’s all it took, yeah!
I don’t think we need to trouble ourselves with questions like “How did John recognize Jesus” and so on. If we let our brains spin out of control we can come up with many layers to this onion. But, it’s obvious that John was divinely inspired and God had given him insight into Jesus’ identity. After all, John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to announce His coming. So John knew full well who and what Jesus was. He was (and is) the Christ, the Son of God.
What about you? Do you know Him? Can you state with certainty that He is your Lord and Savior? Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away your sins and mine! All honor and glory goes to You, Lord Jesus!
Tuesday, May 24 2016
Verse of the Day
When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. If he cannot afford a lamb, he is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for his sin – one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. … If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. [Leviticus 5:5-7, 11 – NIV 1984]
The concept of fairness is getting a lot of press nowadays. When we were growing up, we learned the ways of the world and the worldly concept of what is fair (and conversely, what’s not) was ingrained in our psyches. But what is fair from a secular perspective and what is fair in God’s eyes are often diametrically opposed to one another. When those of the secular world look at God’s Word, they are often shocked by many of the things that God considers to be just and right. We as Believers have to “unlearn” much of what we were taught over the years as we study God’s ways. Humans are fixated on fairness, while God is the epitome of truth and justice. He is everything that is just, right, true, and holy. In the end, God’s justice prevails because it focuses on and reflects His majesty and glory. It really is all about Him!
Today’s passage from Leviticus is interesting because conceptually it is one of the few in the Bible with which the secular world could agree. The situation involves certain types of sin offerings where a person does not respond when he/she is a witness and could give testimony, touches something ceremonially unclean, touches human uncleanliness, or takes an oath carelessly. This is the only offering which takes into account the offender’s ability to “pay” and makes adjustments accordingly. There is no such reprieve based on circumstances and ability for the other offerings.
Contrast this with the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), which is perhaps one of the most unfair results in the Bible from a human perspective. In this parable, Jesus describes a landowner who hires workers for his vineyard throughout the day—beginning at dawn and again at 9 a.m., at noon, at 3 p.m., and finally at 5 p.m. When it came time to settle up with the workers, the landowner pays the ones he hired at 5 p.m. the same amount he’d agreed to pay the ones that he’d hired at dawn. In fact he paid all the workers the exact same amount without taking into account the fact that many had worked less than the others. Those that started earlier in the day were appalled that those that started much later (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) got paid the same as they did. When they complained, the landowner said, “Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?” (Matthew 20:13-15.) The point Jesus is making is that the length of time which a Believer knows and believes in Him has no bearing on his salvation. The parable stands for the proposition that a concern about rewards based on merit, as opposed to the grace of God, has no place in His Kingdom.
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
Monday, May 23 2016
Verse of the Day
“Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” [Matthew 8:22 – NASB]
Many of us procrastinate. Why would you want to start something today when you can put it off until tomorrow? This habit pops up frequently at work, where it gets us into no end of trouble. Our enemy, the cursed “deadline,” is after all aptly named, and woe to the one who fails to meet it! A true procrastinator, however, is noncommittal about all aspects of his/her life, and that is exactly the point that Jesus is making in today’s passage.
When Jesus says “follow Me” He doesn’t mean when it’s convenient or when it suits you. It’s a drop everything kind of moment. No procrastinating, just “do it!” The Apostle Matthew is perhaps the best example of faithful obedience to the call of our Lord. When Jesus said “Follow Me!” he got up immediately and followed Him (see Mark 2:14). How will we respond? Do we have other, more pressing obligations in our lives? Are we committed to follow Him tomorrow or when it’s convenient? Or, are we like Matthew? When you hear Jesus calling you, drop everything and follow Him!
Friday, May 20 2016
Verse of the Day
Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9 – NKJV]
Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” [Matthew 27:22 – NKJV]
Many of you have served in the military and others have played instruments in marching bands, but regardless of whether you’ve had any experience with marching in formation, you are probably familiar with the command: “About Face!” One minute you’re facing one direction and a second later, the exact opposite—your perspective has changed by 180 degrees! The passages for today illustrate this to a “T.” As Jesus makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” and less than a week later they respond angrily to Pilate, “Let Him be crucified!” What a difference a week makes!
We are really fickle, pliable, indecisive, and capricious creatures, aren’t we? We change our minds and our allegiances on a dime. We vacillate between this and that, seldom taking a stand when we can avoid it. The Israelites expected Jesus to be a warrior king, one who would deliver them from the Romans and when they learned that He was really a meek servant, they turned on Him. Are we any different? We often try to fit God into a mold or pattern of what we want Him to be and when He doesn’t meet our expectations, we abandon Him. What kind of God do we want: a powerless god of our own creation, or the Creator of the Universe?
Thursday, May 19 2016
Verse of the Day
Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. [Genesis 47:20 – NKJV]
Many of us pride ourselves in our ability to make the tough decisions in life; we believe that we are truly gifted problem solvers. Whether at work, at home or elsewhere, we know how to step up and get it done. Moreover, we are confident that not only do we end up with a good result, but it’s the right result to boot. But, is it really? By whose standards are our solutions judged—the world’s or God’s?
In today’s passage, Joseph “bought the land of Egypt for Pharaoh.” At first blush, this seems like a harsh and unjust result. Is it fair that Pharaoh got even more wealth and power at the expense of his people? Was the “era of big government” about to begin in Egypt? What was Joseph doing anyway? Was this really a decision that came from God? Well, let’s delve into the background of the passage for the answers.
God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, which he put to good use when he predicted that Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven gaunt cows was in actuality a harbinger of seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of extreme famine (see Genesis 41). Recognizing that there was “no one so discerning and wise as [Joseph],” Pharaoh appointed him as governor with power and authority equal to his own. Joseph was tasked with saving Egypt, but there was much more to the story. God used this situation to save His chosen people, Israel, and to build them into a great nation. And, what may look like a power grab by Pharaoh was in reality God saving the people of Egypt from starvation and certain death.
Just to be clear, God is part of every decision we make. His will and His result are paramount. Lest we think that somehow our bosses at work are more concerned about a secular, earthy “correct” answer, never fear. God’s way is the right way regardless of whether you are at work or at home. Look at the result that Joseph got. It was the “right” one for the world and the right one for God. So make sure that you consult with your Boss when you face decisions; you’ll be glad you did!
Wednesday, May 18 2016
Verse of the Day
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” [Matthew 26:27-28 – NKJV]
As many of you know, I’m a retired tax lawyer. I specialized in corporate, partnership, and M&A (i.e., mergers and acquisitions). One of the concepts that you have to get familiar with in a hurry in my former profession is figuring out what something’s worth; we commonly refer to this as its “fair market value.” It’s not always easy, but there are tried and true techniques that give you an indication of what something is worth, whether it’s stock, tangible or intangible assets, etc. Just curious, but have you ever given much thought as to what you’re worth?
It’s been said that the value of the physical elements in the human body is somewhere around one dollar. Two caveats: this is dated information so it doesn’t take into account inflation; second, it does not account for those of you who have gold teeth. Clearly, this is not an indication of your true value. Another approach might be to determine the net present value of all the services you provide, including the income from your job and the imputed income from your role as parent, caregiver, etc. But, again, this just doesn’t seem to be appropriate.
If you are a Believer, your “fair market value” is best described in today’s passage. Jesus died on the cross for you and me so that we could spend eternity with Him. We often hear this expressed as Jesus “redeeming” us from our sins. That’s a good segue back to my past life as a tax professional. A “redemption” is a tax and legal term or concept generally associated with stock buybacks and similar corporate transactions. What could be more apropos? Jesus bought us back! He was the price paid in the deal. So now we know our true value. Thank you, Jesus!
Tuesday, May 17 2016
Verse of the Day
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” [Luke 12:15 – NKJV]
Today’s verse is sandwiched between a request to Jesus for His help in an inheritance dispute and Jesus’ response in the form of the Parable of the Rich Fool. But the verse itself is telling. We just never seem to get it, do we? Our life is not about the stuff that’s in it. It’s about our relationship with the Lord our God and with our fellow man.
The rich fool had an overabundance of crops and his barns were filled to capacity. He built new barns to store his harvests and felt so good about himself that he decided to kick back and relax. But God had a different message. The fool had decided to eat, drink, and be merry, but God told him that he was going to die that very night and what good would the stuff be then? This question still rings true today doesn’t it? What good is the stuff? Use it for the glory of God, but never let it become your god. Never forget that stuff is just stuff. In what do you place your sense of hope, trust, and security? Is it in your stuff or your God’s?
Monday, May 16 2016
Verse of the Day
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. [John 15:4 –NIV]
I don’t know about you, but every once in awhile I used to like to handle stuff on my own. After all, when you do it yourself it gets done right, doesn’t it? A person who takes this approach at work or in other aspects of his or her life is often referred to as a “lone ranger.” Believe me, this is not a compliment. When you strike out on your own you are, well, after all, on your own. There is nobody to turn to for advice, help or wise counsel. You are it. Is this smart? Of course not!
So if the “lone ranger” approach is a losing proposition, why would unplugging yourself from Jesus be effective in your walk with Him? How can you possibly do good works in His name without having a deep and abiding relationship with Him? Well, you can’t. As Jesus tells us in today’s passage, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” So immerse yourself in the Word and pray constantly to Jesus for help and guidance in your life. All of us “branches” need to bear fruit to honor and glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Friday, May 13 2016
Verse of the Day
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” … Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. [Matthew 8:5-9, 13 – NKJV]
Faith, reliability, trust, and authority are all intertwined. When I was a teenager my friends and I dreamed about our first cars. Our dreams were big and the list was short: a Jaguar XK-E, a Corvette or a GTO. We would be satisfied with nothing else. That is until we got our 10-year-old Plymouth. The thing about clunkers is that they aren’t reliable. Every time you put the key in the ignition something new is bound to happen—you just never know what. Trust was not part of the ownership experience. Speaking of reliability and trust, how about Old Faithful? Aptly named? You bet! It erupts every 91 minutes. One last point: if you sign a contract with a big company you’d better make sure that the person you’re dealing with is an officer who has the authority to act on its behalf.
When we put our faith in others all too often we are let down, disappointed, or deceived. Our fellow travelers are not always reliable and trustworthy. On the other hand, the reason we put our faith in God is because we know without a shadow of a doubt that He is 100-percent reliable, predictable, and trustworthy. But, does the same hold true for His Son, Jesus? Read on.
Today’s passage is one of the greatest acts of faith in the New Testament. It reveals a man, a Roman Centurion, with great insight into who Jesus really was/is. The Centurion approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his beloved servant. When Jesus offered to come to his home, the Centurion declined because he was not worthy, but went on to demonstrate a true understanding of Jesus and his absolute faith in Him. He understood that Jesus was the Son of God and, as God’s Son, had the authority on earth to perform miracles. So Jesus replied, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”
Do you acknowledge Jesus’ authority in your life? Do you have faith in Him? Seek Him today. As your Savior, He wants to have a loving relationship with you.
Thursday, May 12 2016
Verse of the Day
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. [Revelation 21:23– NKJV]
In John 8:12, Jesus tells us that “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His light shines on our lives helping us see ourselves as we are—sinful creatures in need of His saving grace. He lights our path as we walk with Him, keeping us safe from harm. Likewise, Jesus calls us to be the “light of the world,” sharing the Good News with those around us (see Mathew 5:14). Perhaps the Prophet Isaiah says it best: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (see Isaiah 9:2).
In today’s passage we learn that not only is Jesus the light of the world in a figurative sense, He is also quite literally the light of the world when we arrive in the New Jerusalem where there will be “no need [for] the sun or the moon [because] the Lamb is its light.” This is certainly fitting because before the sun was created on the fourth day in Genesis 1, Jesus provided the light for the newly created earth on the first day (see Genesis 1:3 and John 1:1-5).
Shine Jesus, shine!
Wednesday, May 11 2016
Verse of the Day
“…when you are invited [to a wedding banquet], take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
[Luke 14:10-11 – NIV]
I don’t go to all that many parties, but I am reasonably well-informed about appropriate party behavior and etiquette. It’s one thing to be the life of the party, which can be kind of fun if you’re the right person for the task. After all, you could end up entertaining a few folks and providing a few laughs and priceless moments. But, it’s an altogether different thing for you to get all puffed up, self-righteous, and full of yourself by assuming that you are one of the most important guests. By adopting this kind of attitude you are doomed for disappointment, embarrassment, and humiliation.
In today’s passage, Jesus is suggesting the proper attitude for a partygoer, aka a Believer. Adopt an attitude of humility. If you choose the lowest place at the banquet table instead of the highest, then it is possible that the host may choose to move you to a more prominent position. Please note the analogy between the wedding banquet and the Kingdom of Heaven. If we want to be exalted in God’s eyes we need to adopt an attitude of humility. As Jesus says, “…all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Tuesday, May 10 2016
Verse of the Day
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. [Proverbs 16:9 – NKJV]
We humans like to labor under the delusion that God is up there in Heaven somewhere and that here on earth we can go about our lives pretty much as our hearts desire. We acknowledge that He is in control, but then we tell ourselves that in reality we make our own plans and decisions. We think we have “free will.” Well, think again! Today’s passage tells us that God is in charge. Please don’t get too worked up about this—God is not a puppet master, but He does direct our lives in accordance with His Plan. There are several ways to look at this. Some might find this a scary concept. We like to feel like we are living our own lives and that when it comes to the mundane, day-to-day matters or even the big decisions we face, we are the boss. On the other hand, having a loving God who “directs your steps” is a very comforting thought. He’s not an absentee landlord hanging out in Heaven, but a “hands-on” God who is part of our lives in a very intimate and personal way.
Monday, May 09 2016
Verse of the Day
“The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding [the walls of Jerusalem]…” [Nehemiah 2:20 – NIV]
Planning is a big part of our lives at work. There is always some sort of project going on that manages to keep us busy and stressed out, both at the same time! Whether it’s a merger, a major software revision, designing and building a new factory, or any one of the myriad of other things that happen in corporate America, we somehow tend to find ourselves involved and up to our elbows. The great thing about major projects is that they invariably demand a team approach. You just can’t get stuff done nowadays without other people. And to be an effective team member you have to be able to get along with everyone. In business vernacular, you have to able to “play well with others.”
In today’s passage, Nehemiah, perhaps one of the greatest “businessmen” in the Bible, states with conviction that the walls of Jerusalem will be rebuilt thanks to the Lord. After the Israelites returned from exile, they found the walls in disrepair; almost in ruins. Nehemiah was a planner, an organizer, and a motivator. Just like any project leader in today’s workplace, he knew that he would have to create teams to get this herculean task done. So, he organized the people into teams and each rebuilt a section of the wall. The task was completed in record time despite considerable opposition. Much credit goes to the leadership of Nehemiah, but God deserves the glory because He gave them success.
Our modern-day project leaders can learn a great deal from Nehemiah about organizing a project and creating teams to get the job done. Also, those of us who are team members can see the value in our individual contributions by reading this story. So, if you want to learn more about how to manage and work on a project, read God’s Word. You’ll be glad you did!
Friday, May 06 2016
Verse of the Day
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. [Proverbs 11:2 – NASB]
I’ve got the talent to be a pretty good golfer, but to be brutally honest (with you and myself), I’m not. In fact, I’m just plain bad. I play once or twice a year with my good bud, Lewie Bock, and spend most of the time “in the woods.” Thanks to a wicked slice, my tee shots rarely see the fairway. The ball heads into the trees in a hurry. Invariably the search for my wayward ball always starts 10 to 20 yards further down the path than its actual trajectory would warrant.
Why in the world is that? Well, it’s pride, of course. Even with respect to our failures and shortcomings we humans still imagine that we perform better than we have in actuality. Ironically, our pride isn’t limited to our accomplishments, but extends to our weaknesses as well. Amazing, isn’t it?
As today’s passage points out, there is nothing but dishonor in pride. It’s sinful behavior and that’s a fact. So eliminate pride from all aspects of your life no matter where it might be lurking. This is best accomplished by adopting an attitude of total humility. A wise person is a humble person.
Thursday, May 05 2016
Verse of the Day
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” [Ecclesiastes 1:2 – NIV]
You know if you think about it, life is pretty meaningless. It’s futile, pointless and there is absolutely nothing satisfying about it. Of course, what King Solomon is really saying (and me too!) is that life without the presence of God is meaningless and futile. If God is in your life, you have purpose; you have direction. Your life has meaning only if God is part of it!
Think about it. Most people pursue wealth, a never-ending stream of possessions, fame, power, and on and on. Why? Because they are not satisfied with their lives and they are deluded into thinking that these things will bring them “happiness” and “fulfillment.” Life for them is an endless search for meaning and without God it ends tragically, unfulfilled, and, as Solomon says, meaningless. Money, houses, fast cars, television, fantasy, sex, travel, sports, food, alcohol – each of these things is a drug, a distraction from the real meaning of life. Escapism isn’t the answer; only a relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior, brings true happiness, true fulfillment. Only in Jesus do we find meaning in life!
Wednesday, May 04 2016
Verse of the Day
Then [Stephen] knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. [Acts 7:60 – NKJV]
Stephen was appointed as one of the first deacons of the early church. He was described as one who was “full of faith and the Holy Spirit”—so much so, in fact, that he performed great wonders and signs among the people (see Acts 6:8). But as so often happens, many people in the church were jealous of him and falsely accused him of blasphemy. He was taken before the high priest and when asked about the charge against him, Stephen responded with an impassioned speech about the Israelites resisting the Holy Spirit both in the past as well as in the current day. The crowd was so incensed that they stoned Stephan to death.
As today’s passage vividly points out, what is so remarkable about Stephen is that even as he was being martyred, he cared not for himself but for the members of the angry mob who were taking his life. He implored God to “not charge them with this sin.”
Do we care about other people in the same way that Stephen did? Would we do what he did? What level of mercy and compassion do we have? Are we merely paying lip service to loving others as we love ourselves? I for one need to pray to be more like Stephen. How about you?
Tuesday, May 03 2016
Verse of the Day
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” [Daniel 3:24-25 – NKJV]
I’ll bet when you were growing up your Sunday School teacher taught you all kinds of Bible stories—David and Goliath, God parting the Red Sea, Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were fun and entertaining for 5- and 6-year-olds just like other fairytales that our parents read to us, such as Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and Cinderella. But as we grew up we were told that all of these stories were myths created by people seeking to explain their existence without the benefit of modern science.
So what gives? All of a sudden later in life we become Believers, and all of that great worldly knowledge about the myths of the past is again questioned; this time, not by scientists and other heroes of secular society, but by God’s Word. Why? Because if we believe God’s Word, all of the Bible stories we learned in Sunday School are true. And not only are they true, but they are far more profound, far more meaningful, and far more interesting than we could have imagined as children.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s lieutenants decided to create golden idols of his likeness for all the people of Babylon to worship and pay tribute to. As Israelites, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the idols, which eventually resulted in Nebuchadnezzar commanding that they be cast into a fiery furnace (which incidentally had been heated to seven times its normal temperature). After they were cast into the furnace, the King is shocked and amazed when another person appears with them in the midst of the fiery inferno—a fourth person whom he identifies as the “Son of God.” Yes, Jesus, our Savior was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, protecting and saving them from the intense heat. They emerged totally unscathed without a burn on their bodies; in fact, even their clothing was completely intact. Wow, Jesus saved them and He has saved us too!
So, maybe “Trix are for Kids,” but the stories of the Bible are for kids, young people, adults, and everyone else who believes in God.
Monday, May 02 2016
Verse of the Day
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. [Proverbs 3:11-12 – NIV]
Most of us don’t like being told that we are wrong, that we’ve made mistakes, and we especially don’t like someone else telling us what we should have done instead. We all have a little bit of an issue with authority. We think we know what’s right for us and when a parent, teacher, boss, doctor, policeman, or judge suggests otherwise we get all bent out of shape. Discipline, regardless how well-intended, is rarely well received.
When you think about it, most of the authority figures in our lives only have our best interests at heart. So, how do you react when God disciplines you? Do you resist and resent His efforts to help you with your journey or do you welcome His nudges and jolts towards a more Christ-like life?
As King Solomon points out in today’s passage, “the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” What don’t we understand about God and His desire for us to be His children? We need discipline because all too often we fall short. As the author of Hebrews points out in Hebrews 12, discipline is like the training that an athlete goes through as he or she prepares for a race. By disciplining us, God is getting us ready to “run the race.” And as you run, always remember to keep your eyes on the Prize!