Tag Archives: daily walk

What About Today? (2 Chronicles 26)

I don’t care who you are, or how kind and giving you’ve been, or even if you have done great things in the name of the Lord. Sin is sin. And all sin comes with consequences. My sin. Your sin.

We see King Uzziah, a good king who obeyed God. During his reign Judah was blessed because of their obedience as they followed the king. People had jobs, the building industry was booming, the army was strong and well equipped, and Uzziah’s fame spread far and wide.

But as so often happens with us humans, Uzziah’s pride led to his downfall. Instead of being humbled by God’s blessings, the king became proud. And his sin led him to be unfaithful to God. I hope you’ll read God’s Word today and see what happened to him.

God didn’t give Uzziah a free pass just because he had obeyed God in the past. Uzziah sinned. And God punished the sin.

I was at a friend’s house yesterday and she had a plate of fresh fruit for us to nibble on. Colorful melons, plump, juicy grapes, tangy apples, berries that popped with flavor in my mouth. It was so refreshing on a 92 degree day in Pennsylvania.

Today I thought about that fresh fruit. It came at the hard work of farmers who planted and nourished and weeded and then harvested each melon, each bunch of grapes, each berry. Someone washed, then pealed, and cut the fruit she’d bought and displayed them on a serving platter. The end result of all that work was not only beautiful, it was so good!

But if you hid one rotten grape in the midst, one imperfect apple, one molded berry, it wouldn’t take long for that fresh fruit to rot, too. All the good work of those farmers wouldn’t prevent the fresh fruit from being ruined by just one rotten grape.

It’s interesting that if you put a healthy apple in a barrel of rotten ones, the barrel doesn’t become healthy. But if you put a rotten apple in a barrel of healthy ones, you’ll have a barrel of rotten apples in no time.

That’s like sin. The good things we did in our past, the times we were obedient to the Lord, brought us blessings at that time. Those blessings might still be felt years later. That’s how God works. But if you sin today, if you don’t obey God today, July 8, 2020, you will have put a rotten apple in your barrel of blessings.

The good king, Uzziah, died a leper. He was excluded from worshiping in God’s House toward the rest of his life, and couldn’t even be buried with the other kings because he’d been unclean. God did not give him a free pass just because he had been obedient in the past. Uzziah sinned that day, and didn’t deal with his sin.

So God did.

The same is true for each of us. My prayer is that all of us will deal with our sin problem today. Every time God brings a sin to our awareness, I pray we will fall on our knees and ask Him to forgive us. I pray that we will never be satisfied living with a sin, even just one.  Because one sin not confessed is a rotten apple that cannot help but spread.

You’ve been obedient in the past? Good! What about today?

When Bad Things Happen (Jonah)

Most of us have had bad news told us, or have gone through really hard times and have asked, “Why me?” If you’ve been with me very long you know I believe the correct question to ask is, “Why NOT me?”

But here we have  a boatload of men facing death at sea for no real fault of their own. Jonah was disobeying God. Jonah was receiving God’s hand of punishment. The sailors were merely caught in the middle. They were caught in the same storm Jonah was facing as a direct result of his sin.

So let me ask you: Are there people caught in the crosshairs of God’s judgment on you because there is sin you haven’t dealt with in your own life? Is your family facing difficulty because you are running from God?

When Jonah’s sin was dealt with, God calmed the sea. The sailors were saved, both physically and spiritually. Read the book of Jonah today. It is an amazing account of God’s grace.

I wonder, on a larger scale, if our nation is facing God’s punishment on Christians who are not dealing with sin in our own lives. Is the USA going through this awful unrest because the Church is trying to exist with Satan instead of fighting him?

I think the book of Jonah tells us when bad things happen, we need to first look at whether they are God’s punishment on us for tolerating sin in our lives. Then if God points out the sin we need to confess it, repent of it, ask God to wash it away and then live in obedience. If we don’t, that stormy sea will not calm. And we just might go down with the ship.

Do We Want His Help? (2 Chronicles 24-25)

It might have seemed logical for Israel and Judah to join forces against a common enemy. After all, they were family, all descended from Grandpa Abraham. And besides, isn’t there strength in numbers?

But God sent a message to the king of Judah:

O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the Lord is not with Israel – not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overcome. (25:7-8)

God was against Israel because of their sin. He would not go to battle for them, and if Judah aligned with them, God would not go to battle with Judah, either. I think there is something in here for us today.

No matter on which side of the political aisle you sit, I imagine we all can agree our nation is in serious trouble. I think it’s time we figure out where God’s loyalties lie and align ourselves up to Him instead of a political party or ideation, because God alone has the power to help us or overcome us. Only with God can we hope to be on the winning side of this national crisis.

So where do God’s loyalties lie? First of all, He is loyal to Truth. Absolute, unchanging Truth as recorded in the Bible. Truth, by definition is true 100% of the time. Opinion is just opinion, even if it is dressed up as “my truth.” What is true for you and not true for me is not true unless it is true in Scripture. It is crazy to suggest otherwise. It’s dangerous and divisive to believe otherwise. God will not bless multiple “truths.” He is loyal to Truth. Period.

Secondly, God is loyal to people who obey Him. If you read Scripture you can know exactly what is expected of God’s children. You will read the blessings that come through obedience, and the consequences for disobedience. God doesn’t demand we be politically correct. He demands we obey Him no matter what.

And God is loyal to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, God’s Son, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the name above all names, the only One who saves. That Jesus. God is loyal to all who accept Jesus as their Savior. We who have that relationship through the blood of Jesus know we are on the ultimate winning side.

Are we ready to shed ourselves from allies God cannot and will not go to battle with? Hear Him say to the nation of Judah as though He were talking to us, that even if we align ourselves with the enemy and fight valiantly, sincerely, and courageously, we will lose.  God is very upfront about that. It’s His way or devastation.

“For God has the power to help or to overthow.” Do we want His help? I guess we know what we have to do.

Every Day (I Kings 17)

Many Old Testament stories are familiar. If you grew up going to Sunday School, and if you are as old as me, you might remember flannel boards. Sunday School teachers would put up pictures of the Bible story, move the characters around on the board, as the account of that Old Testament man or woman would come alive. I loved flannel boards.

I thought of that today as I read about Elijah. I remember the flannel board story of the prophet lying beside a stream, hand stretched upward while ravens brought him dinner. I remember the same man standing before an altar, with fire coming down from heaven and burning up the sacrifice while terrified priests looked on. I remember seeing Elijah in the kitchen with a widowed mother.

And that’s the story that spoke to me this morning. The widow was starving. There was a serious famine in the land and the food supply was dwindling. When Elijah meets her, she tells him she is getting ready to fix dinner from the last of her resources. She was going to use the last of her flour and oil to make bread for her son and herself, knowing that would be their last meal before they starved to death.

Elijah, upon hearing their situation, said to the woman, “Feed me first.”

Really Elijah? You want this woman to use her last bit of food to take care of you before she takes care of her son? What are you thinking? I am sure none of us would condemn the woman had she turned the prophet down and fed her son.

But Elijah promised the woman that the flour and oil wouldn’t run out until God made it rain. What speaks to me is the woman’s reaction. She fed Elijah with her last bit of flour and oil. She fed Elijah instead of feeding her son.

When this dear widow went back to her kitchen she probably didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think she could prepare herself for what she saw. There was flour in the jar and oil in the jug. She fed her son! And she continued to feed her son. In fact, Scripture tells us:

“So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” (17:15-16, emphasis mine)

If you are like me, you might be missing out on God’s provisions because you don’t give Him the first of your day or you’re finances. You might read your Bible when you find time, and give to your church after you pay your bills. You make sure you take care of yourself before you obey God’s command to take care of widows, or to go and make disciples, or to love your enemies and do good to those who mistreat you.

In fact, there is a popular lie out there, touted by some Christians, that say we need to take care of ourselves first. They will tell you you can’t love others until you love yourself. They say you can’t serve until you are satisfied, can’t be effective unless you are happy. That is totally opposite of what Scripture teaches us.

I’m pretty sure the widow didn’t feed Elijah because she felt good about herself. She fed Elijah while her own tummy was growling and while she feared the future. She fed Elijah, knowing her own son was starving.

And because she did, there was food every day.

Do you trust God? Really? Do you trust Him with your time and money, with your family and friends, with your job, your health, your future? Then give Him the first of what you have. Paul tells us to die to self, not build ourselves up. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, not get revenge. He tells us that the first will be last and the last first, that we who give up our lives find life.

God can, and wants to, bless us every day beyond what we ask or think. The only thing that is holding Him back is you and me. He promises that if we give Him all we have, if we surrender ourselves, if we don’t hold back, He will bless us…

every day!

Meaning and Purpose (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

Solomon is a bit of a “Debbie Downer.” Is he right to say life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind? Should our focus be on living life to the fullest, to eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die?

The thing about old Sol is that he was trying to give life meaning by his own effort. I’m sure if there had been self-help books back in the day, his library would have been full of them. Solomon tried using his intellect, his riches, his connections to try to find the meaning of life. And he came up short.

What Solomon found is that you can’t buy happiness. You can’t think your way in to a meaningful existence. Sadly, the king was very right to say his life was merely a meaningless puff of smoke.

But the truth is, we humans are created in the image of God, which gives our lives meaning. We were created to fellowship with our Creator, which gives our lives purpose. We are blessed by our Father with love, joy, peace, and we know that this puff of smoke we call life is only the beginning.

We were born for eternity. No bank account can come close to what awaits us. No power, or applause, or spouse, or comfort, or a feeling of self-worth compare to what is ours through the blood of Jesus.

No life is meaningless. Every one of us is living our choice for eternity. You might think like Solomon and choose to eat, drink, be merry and die tomorrow. But you will find yourself face to face with the One who died for you. And you will give Him an account about what you did with His grace. At that moment you will realize just how meaningful your choices in this life really were. You’ll have eternity to realize the purpose of your life on earth was to prepare you for forever.

Stop trying to “find” meaning or purpose for your life. When you submit to God, He gives you meaning. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, He shows you His purpose for your life. Life is a blessing! Life is precious and purposeful when you know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

I pray that each of us will take a moment and thank God for this amazing gift of life. And I pray that we will live today in sweet fellowship with our Creator, a glimpse of what heaven will be for eternity.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that you will confess your sins today and allow Him to forgive you, to give your life meaning and purpose that will bless you beyond what you can imagine.

Just know that your life has meaning and purpose. It is the vehicle that will usher you into eternity. Choose well, my friend.

 

Do You, or Don’t You? (Proverbs 26)

Solomon has a lot to say about fools and what our response should be toward them. In Psalm 14, Solomon’s father King David described a fool as one who says there is no God. So, believing Solomon must have learned from his dad, I’m going with that definition of “fool” rather than merely someone who does stupid things.

If you are reading chapter 26 and get to verses 4-5, and if you are like me you’d probably have to stop and question what you see there. Do you, or don’t you, “answer a fool (one who denies God) according to his folly?”

This morning I’ve sat here and thought about these two seemingly contradictory verses, prayed that God would give me understanding, and dug through some commentaries to see what others have said about it. As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to the question, “Do you or don’t you?” is “Yes.”

The difference is the fool himself.

You know the person who loves to debate, finds a platform to expound an opinion every chance he gets, the person who loves to hear himself (or herself) speak. Most of the time it doesn’t take long to figure out if this person is genuinely interested in having a conversation, or is intent on having an argument. If the latter is true, that person is not ready to hear the Truth. Solomon would tell us to walk away if all he wants is to bait you into a war of words. Walk away rather than stooping to his level of meaningless dribble. He doesn’t even know how foolish he sounds. Don’t be like him.

However, if someone is expressing the foolish notion that there is no God, or that the Bible isn’t true, or that Jesus isn’t the Savior, and you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to speak up, you need to obey. If you ignore the nudge and stay silent, that person will walk away thinking his foolishness is true. If this person is sincerely seeking answers, and you don’t share what you know is true, you will have lost an opportunity to share the Gospel. You will have disobeyed.

I pray all of us are ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. I pray that the Gospel is never far from our thoughts and that we are eager to share the Good News with anyone and everyone. Our world needs Jesus. Let’s be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, let’s not get caught up in word wars or argumentative encounters. But let’s be quick to lead a sinner to his or her Savior as God gives us opportunity.

So, do you or don’t you share the Gospel? Yes! May God give us the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. And may He be glorified in our response to the fool who says He doesn’t exist.

Turning Our World Upside Down (Proverbs 19-21)

So often we do things without considering the consequences. We act and react in the moment, or we make decisions based on how we are feeling, or how we hope it will make us feel. And often, we live to regret it.

Solomon had a lot to say about that in his proverbs.

If you lie, you will be punished. If you don’t work, you will go hungry. Abusing alcohol leads a person on a wrong path. Laziness leads to poverty.

But there are also proverbs that assure us:

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. (19:8)

If you are kind to the poor, God will bless. If you listen to advise, you will become wise. If you fear the Lord, you will have life. If you lead a righteous life, your children are blessed.

We would be wise to read the proverbs and apply them to our own lives here in 2020. I believe our world would turn upside down if Christians lived the wise, loving, obedient, caring, righteous lives Solomon prescribes.

Gentle Answers (Proverbs 13-15)

The proverbs about our speech speaks to me today. Oh, that we in 2020 would learn these truths and apply them to our lives.

We tend to want to have the last word. We don’t listen to each other because we are insisting our own voices be heard. Hate is the language of so many, and enemies are those who simply disagree with us. Opinion is touted as fact, and the majority of us are too quick to believe what we hear without discernment.

I wish that all of us understood that:

A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)

 

Leading By Example (I Chronicles 29)

I believe the best leaders are those who lead by example. The “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality cannot result in good leadership; not in a home, in a church, or in a nation.

I was reminded of that when I read verse 9 today.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David himself had dug deep into his own pockets and gave generously to the cost of building the temple of the Lord. The other leaders had followed his lead freely and wholeheartedly. It was a cause for great rejoicing among them all.

David said something in his prayer that is a good reminder. In verse 14 the king prayed:

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (emphasis mine)

I love that. Anything and everything we have is loaned to us by God, making us able to use those things for His glory. It’s a humbling thought, that God would entrust His riches to me.

So, what kind of example am I of this truth? Do I give my time and my resources (both of which are gifts of God)? Do I give generously, knowing what a privilege I have to use what God has given me for His glory?

And this is what is convicting me today: is my example one that inspires others to give generously of their own time and resources? Do I even want others to give with the same attitude I have, the same level of commitment, the same generosity? Or do I want them to do more than me, be better, more generous givers, more committed than I am?

Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord? (verse 5b)

I want my answer to be a resounding: ME!!!

 

Blessed Because (Psalm 145)

It is often that the verses my mother underlined in the Book of Psalms have to do with God’s love, protection, and faithfulness. Just in this one psalm, Mom underlined four verses:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” (vs 3)

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises…” (vs 13b)

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (vs 18)

“The Lord watches over all who love him…” (vs 20a)

David tells us that God is worthy of praise. He is faithful, near to us, and watches over us. These verses are timely considering the unrest surrounding COVID 19. I pray that they are your experience in all this, that you are resting in the knowledge that God is with you every step of the way. I hope you aren’t living in fear like those who have no hope.

Mom seemed to understand the correlation between our personal relationship with God, and His blessings on us. He is near to all who call on him. But in verse 18, David repeats that thought with this caveat: “to all who call on him in truth.”

It’s a mistake to think God comes near to just anyone who prays, or just anyone who isn’t an axe murderer. Not all roads lead to God. Scripture makes it clear that if we want to be near to God, we have to come to Him in truth. How can you know that truth?

Jesus said HE IS THE TRUTH. (John 14:6) You draw near to God through His Son. Period. Read God’s Word. You will find the absolute one and only truth by which you can enjoy a closeness with God.

God doesn’t protect just everyone, either. He protects those who love him, according to  the psalmist. Scripture talks a lot about love, and what love for God looks like. It’s not just three words, “I love God.” Love for God involves obedience, sacrifice of self, commitment, and a servant’s heart that lives love out of gratitude for what God has done. God’s protection is reserved for those who love Him, to those who have accepted what Jesus died to give, the forgiveness of sin and a glorious eternal home.

God’s blessings are directly related to our relationship with Him. Because, no matter what happens, if we live or die, if we have a brick home or a cardboard box, if we are a part of a big old family or alone, those of us who know Him have God! And those of us who know Him know it doesn’t get any better than that.

I am blessed because of my relationship with the Creator, Holy, Eternal God through His Son Jesus. I pray you can say the same.