Category Archives: Devotional

New Blog Coming

Hello to all my fellow bloggers. Many of you know that I have been working on a book that is entitled The A.S.K. Principle. I blogged about this topic extensively a few months ago and I’m going to bring it back on a separate blog. I’m doing this because the book is now in full swing and is at the editors at this time. The publisher that I’m working through also suggest that I blog about the book to enable everyone to be more informed.

I will be sharing with you thoughts behind the book, how the publishing is progressing and excerpts from the book. There will also be posts about prayer and answered prayers. I pray this will be a blessing to you and will build your faith as we go along.

I have no plan as to what days or how often I will be posting on this site. Most of the posts will probably be simple and not very long so I might update it more often. In any case I hope you will follow along as we take a closer look at prayer and how it works in our lives.

I thank you for following this site and I will continue to post here until we finish our study in Galatians. Then I’m not sure which direction I will take with this blog but you can bet that God will direct me somehow. I wait for him to decide what he wants to do with the maintenance man.

Be blessed my friends

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Obligation or Devotion

It’s funny how things sometimes come around when you least expect it. This morning I was reading in Isaiah chapter 1.  I personally have been a little lapse in my daily devotional time, and decided Isaiah was a good place to begin investing more time and study.  So you may see a few posts sprinkled in on both Galatians and Isaiah going forward. If something strikes me as a Holy Spirit moment, you will know it!

In Isaiah chapter 1 the prophet points out that Israel is doing the things that God required. They were bringing the daily sacrifices  as prescribed in Leviticus. They were carrying out of the feasts during the seasons He had told him was necessary.. It seems like they doing everything they could to obey the Lord and yet God called all this an abomination!   He was angry with them. In fact, He says it is rebellion and sin.  How can this be?  It is simply because they were doing these things out of obligation instead of devotion.

This morning I also read a post from Don at TLP.  He was discussing how the Corinthians were upset that Paul had asked for an offering for the church at Jerusalem.  They thought he was doing something a little crooked.  Don talked about our giving, and I asked his thoughts on tithing.  Don pointed out that if we start to think we must still follow the Old Testament tithing law, we were under the whole law.  God is looking for our all, not just a tithe.  He is looking for our devotion, not our obligation.

Many times I find myself carrying out the obligations that are expected of me by God. I do my study, I write poems when He gives them to me, I pray for those who need prayer, I lead Worship in my church.  All of these are obligations that I have taken on. And at times I find myself doing them just out of obligation and not out of devotion. Do you find yourself in that situation once in awhile?

Anything we do for God should be done because we love Him and are devoted to Him, not because it is an obligation. In Psalm 51, David writes “To obey is better than sacrifice.” There are many who think they are going to heaven because they pay their tithes, go to church,  and they’re good people. They have fulfilled their obligations. But they lack devotion to God.  If God would and them to give everything and leave it behind they would probably have a reaction like the Rich Young Ruler. He walked away sad because he wasn’t willing to give all.  Am I?  Are you?

Let us always walk with the devotion that God had for us.   Isaiah went on to say that we should come and reason together -though our sins are scarlet they will be white as snow. There was no reason that God had tom give His Son.  There was no reason He should extend His mercy to us.  When we come and reason together with God, He says “I gave my all.  I expect the same from you.”    When I don’t what is my reason?

Do you need to be Repurposed

We couldn’t figure out what to do with the old deck in the backyard. The three-season room that had been attached to it was changed to a walk-in closet, so we no longer had use for the deck. We had always wanted a deck on the front of the house. We just could not afford to buy all the lumber again. While I was recovering from cancer, I finally had time to work on some projects around home. When we took the measurements of the old deck, it amazed us that it would work splendidly to reconfigure it and put it on the front, On Memorial Day, we tore the old deck off the back of the house. By the 4th of July we had repurposed that wood to build the deck on the front of the house. It was a dream come true for my wife and I W enjoyed it the rest of the summer and into the fall. Spring is right around the corner, and we will put in a sliding glass door out to the deck. It will be a great year!

Sometimes, our lives can get to a place where we are like that old deck. Our purpose has worn out, and we are not sure what usefulness there is for us anymore. But God can repurpose out lives if we will just put ourselves in His loving hands. He can mold us and shape us, making us a vessel that the master can use.

Lord, I feel like I am just not doing anything worthwhile for you. I give you this earthen vessel. Please make me into someone who you can use. Make me a vessel that you can pour your love through to those around me.

Our Champion

I was reading a post from Path Without End where he mentioned that Jesus was our champion and it spawned this post.

We have all kinds of champions in life.  The one we think of most when we think of a champion a sporting event winner.  They call the winner of the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the NBA finals World Champions!  I always found that strange because they don’t play an teams from around the world!  I know that football is a North American sport (our brand of football), but the don;t even match teams up to play for the World Championship with any teams from the Canadian Foot League!  How can they be World Champions?  Or in baseball – it is played in many other countries, yet those countries are not included in the World Series.  The only true World Champion would be the winner of the World Cup, which includes all countries with organized soccer teams.

Individual sporting events also bring us Champions.  Tennis matches, such as Wimbledon and the US Open; golfing events such as the Masters and British Open ad Boxing are all played on a worldwide stage.Other sports are more regional or by country, but they still call the winners champions.

Then there are real life champions.  Those who pioneer a cause or help people out of difficult circumstances can be champions.  I think of Martin Luther King Jr as a champion of the civil rights movement, along with Rosa Parks.  I think of T. J. Watt who personally raised over 33 million dollars for Houston Hurricane relief.  I think of those first responders who gave their lives at 9?11 to save others.  These are all champions and this list goes on forever.

In my own life, I have to say my best friend is my champion.  We have known each other for 60 years and through thick and thin have remained friends.  He saved my life when he pulled me out of an icy pond when we were 9.  He fought on the front lines of Vietnam when he got out of high school.  He brought me to Jesus Christ in his mobile home when we were in our twenties.  He led the attack on Baghdad from the air during Desert Storm.  He has become a mighty prayer warrior my life, and he encourages me in the faith.  He is my champion as well.

M wife is also my champion.  She is my wonderful companion. She is an amazing caregiver.  She is always watching out for my best interests.  She works hard at two jobs all the time – over 60 hours a week.  She is by my side in the good times and the bad, and shows her love to me all the time.  My champion!

As wonderful as all these champions are, they do not compare to the greatest champion of all.  He was seated beside God in heaven one day, and God asked him to come to earth and die for our sins.  God told his son that he would be born a simple child in a manger bed, amidst the livestock and shepherds of the day.  He would not even have a bed and a pillow to lay on.  He would be wrapped in old clothes, not a nice blanket.

He told His son that he would be raised by a carpenter and no-one would know who He really was.  He would learn that trade and work at it for 30 years, becoming a master craftsman.  Then he would go visit his cousin and be baptized, and God would reveal who he was.  H would then spend 40 days in the wilderness and just talk to His Father about what His mission was.

He would then come back and start teaching the people he ways of God.  He would heal all who came to him, with all kinds of maladies.  He would be persecuted by the religious leaders of the day, and be riddled with questions about his real message.

God told his son that after three and a half years of this ministry, he would be tried in court as a blasphemer of the Jewish laws and found guilty.  After that he would face the Roman authorities and they will decide to let the crowd of Jews determine his fate.  Those same Jews who he had healed and taught would cry out to have him crucified.

Then God told his son that he would be whipped mercilessly, a crown of thorns would be dug into his scalp, he would be beaten and spit upon, he would have to carry his cross to Calvary,  God told him nails would be driven through his hands and feet and the cross would be dropped into the ground.  God told him he would darken the skies, and that he would die before the end of day.  And God told him he would rise from the dead to return to the Him.

God old him all of this would need to be done because he would also carry the whole weight of sin upon him when he want to the cross.  He would be the redeeming sacrifice for all of mankind.  The sacrifices in the temple for sin were only a picture of things to come.  God’s son would be the redeeming sacrifice for everyone.  He would be the Lamb of God who died for the sins of all mankind.

After telling his son all this, God asked Jesus if He would do this thing.  Jesus looked at His Father and said “Yes, I will go, because I love these people”.  He came to this earth and everything his Father had told Him came true, and a lot more.  He loved the people as he served them during His ministry, and he faced the cross with the strength of a Champion.

Jesus is our true Champion.  He is the Champion of all mankind.  There is no greater Champion than Him and there never will be.  I was reminded of this song by Carman that some of you may have heard before.  Tt is called “The Champion”.  I end with this.

What’s the Weather Like?

I love weather. Almost any kind of it. Growing up in Central Massachusetts, I loved with winter snows as a kid. 2 to 3 feet at a time. We would build under-snow bunkers and have snowball fights across the street. Sledding and toboggan runs were common. We built a bobsled run in one place that was as fast as a jack rabbit. If we were really adventurous, we would go to the second hole of the country club to start our sled run. Down the big steep hill, jump the creek, up and over the green, then down through the woods dodging trees. If you could keep up enough speed, you could get to the top of that bobsled run and continue. The whole run was probably close to a mile! I loved that.

Summer brought the beach on warmer days. We spent a lot of time on Cape Cod and Hampton Beach. My Grandpa lived on the coast of Maine, where we would dig clams and have them for supper. He also ran a lobster boat for a while. We had so much fun joining him on that boat, shooing the seagulls away and pulling up the traps that littered the Casco Bay.  Summer was also climbing trees, hiking, fishing, camping out, catching frogs, and doing so many things it is too hard to number them.  The warmth of summer was a favorite time as well.

When I was old enough, the first merit badge I wanted in Boy Scouts was the Weather Merit badge. I was fascinated, and I still am today, with the weather.  I felt confident when I got that merit badge that I could figure weather out.  That was a dream!  I moved to Iowa in the late 70’s and found that here I like spring.  Watching the crops slowly creep up out of the ground, forming rows upon rows of corn and soybean plants is quite a sight.  Yet the weather remained a mystery here as well.

How does weather work? How can the wind be one direction and stop on an invisible line in the sky and come from another direction? How does a thunderstorm hit an unseen wall and start to build up to 20,000, 30,000 or 40000 feet? How are there different pressure gradients all through the air? How do clouds form just the right combination to reflect gold, yellow, orange, red and a combination of all these in a brilliant sunset? How does an afternoon full of clouds become a cloudless sky by dusk? So many questions.

The weather man tries to solve these dilemmas by forecasting the weather. It might get to this temperature, there is a chance if rain, there might be 2 ” of snow, but it could turn into 6″. A tornado is possible so be on the lookout. Maybe, if, but, perhaps. These are all words used often in the weather forecast. Violent storms or calm and clear – the variations are endless.

The most important thing is that we have no control over the weather. We cannot make the sun to set any sooner, we cannot put clouds in the right paces, we cannot make the temperate warmer outside on a cold day. No control whatsoever. We hope for the best and live with what we are given. A lot of people moan, groan and complain about that weather – a frustrating thing to do that never will produce any good results.

The best thing to do when dealing with the weather is to accept what you are given and enjoy it in some way. -make it a pleasing thing instead of a bad thing. If it’s going to snow all day, be thankful for the beauty that snow produces. If a tornado is coming, be thankful it does not affect you. And if it does, be thankful you’re still alive. If it’s too hot or too cold for you, make the best of it – don’t be gloomy.

Life is so much like the weather. Highs and lows. Dreary days and sunny ones. Brilliant starts and finishes, or drab and boring times. Life also brings unexpected things at times, like a summer thunderstorm that just pops up. We really can’t predict what will come next. It can be as tough as a weather forecast.

The one thing we have going for us in both the weather and life is that God is in control. Nothing gets by Him. Nothing escapes Him. You can trust that He knows what’s coming next and you can trust that He is doing good things in your life, no matter what the forecast says for the day or what happens in your life.  It may look gloomy, but He is here guiding you through. His hand will hold you in the toughest storm until He says “Peace be Still”.  The toughest seas are calmed by Him, the biggest storms are brought low.

Once God comes in and you allow your mind to focus on Him, the atmosphere around you becomes conducive to positive things.  The atmosphere is one of hope and joy.  That hope and joy follows you wherever you go and you know His peace.  It is an atmosphere you want to stay in all the time – one that makes life just seem easier even though the trials and test still come.

With the weather, high pressure signifies a calm atmosphere while low pressure signifies a stormy atmosphere.  When we set our eyes above, we can walk in calm.  When we set our eyes on the difficulties we are in, we will be troubled on every side.  You can walk in that atmosphere of God all the time, if you just set your eyes on high things, not low.

Be blessed!

 

Pride Part 4

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 (link) of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study. In Part 2 (link), we looked at two examples of prideful people – one obvious and one not so obvious, to set the stage for this post. In Part 3 (link), we looked at three ways pride manifests itself in people, one of which ran my life. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others most of us would never guess that pride was at the center of it.

Why are we looking at pride? Because getting pride out of our lives helps us become closer to God.

Here are four more ways pride appears in people – including two more that I allowed to control me. These types of pride are taken from Irresistible to God1 a book by Steve Gallagher. Steve Gallagher is the found of Pure Life Ministries, and has written several books that can help us all draw closer to God. They can easily be found on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

Unapproachable Pride – This person hates correction, no matter who it comes from, including God. They think they are right, so they won’t listen. “No one can tell me I’m wrong. If I am, I’ll figure it out”

Know-It-All Pride – This was my biggest area of pride when I first became aware of the pride I carried around. No one could tell me anything, especially about the Bible. I’d read it through at least 10 times front to back, studied all over the place, was an evangelist and teacher. I knew it all, or so I thought. This person is typically gifted and very talented. It’s easy for them to think they can’t ever be taught anything new. Their opinions are always more valuable than anyone else’s. You will hear this person say one thing over and over – “I know.” As my former pastor said to me when my sin was exposed – “No, you don’t know.” And I didn’t.

Another characteristic of the know-it-all is their distrust in the ability of others. They have a need to belittle the ability of others, and think they can do it better themselves. They often are ineffectual at delegating because they will eventually do it themselves. I still have problems with this as I am constantly reminding my wife of this little thing or that when she has a much better memory than I do. This is pride that must be in control. The controlling tendency is one of the biggest things people see, and also one of the hardest to defeat in our lives.

Rebellion – Do you know people who have a problem submitting to authority? It can be in the workplace, the church, their family or even in submitting to God! That is the result of this manifestation of pride. They gripe and complain about the people God has put in authority over them, and will do anything to undermine their authority. They refuse to submit, or do it very reluctantly. They want to do things their way, and try to get away with it. “I’m not going to listen to them. I’ll do it my way”

Spiritual Pride – This was the third type I really struggled with. I’m more spiritual than they are, so they just need to grow up a little. Don’t they know this message from our pastor is just right for them? I sure hope they are listening. It’s too bad Old Joe isn’t here today – he needs this message more than anyone. Those are just a few of the thoughts that used to go through my mind when my spiritual pride was in gear. I thought I was better, and they all needed to measure up to my standards.

This person also probably is continuing in unrepentant sin, even though he has that holier than thou attitude. I was so deceived by my pride that when I would almost get caught in my sin, I would praise God for allowing me to get away with it. I thought it was His way of saying it was OK that I was still caught up in that sin. Now how crazy is that line of thought? And how deceptive pride is!

These 7 types of pride are pretty all encompassing, but let me give you some other things that pride will cause us to do:

Pride will: produce an unteachable spirit, lead to stinginess, not admit mistakes, use sarcastic humor, make me feel more important than others, produce a lack of forgiveness, produce self-pity, cause impatience with others, produce discontentment, make excuses, produce insecurity or low-self-esteem, be envious or jealous, make us ungrateful, make us suspicious, find fault in others.

There are more – the list is long. I am sure you can see how un-Christian these traits are. All you have to do is go to I Cor 13:4-8 and compare these to the attributes of love, and you know that if you are displaying these things, you are not loving the way God wants you to.

The big question is – do you see yourself in any of these descriptions? If you do, then I suggest you open yourself up to the possibility that pride is in you. It must be confronted early, because it will only grow: and when it does, it will hide itself from you! That is the big danger with pride. Believe me, I was steeped in pride, and I thought I was very humble!

Why is it important that you deal with it now? Watch for part 5, and you will see how God feels about pride. Then you will know why it is so essential to take care of it and learn to control your pride and ask someone close to you to help keep you in check.

1 Irresistible to God. Steve Gallagher. Copyright 2003 Pure Life Ministries

 

Pride Part 3

Pride – Part 3

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 (link) of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study, In Part 2 (link), we looked at two examples of prideful people – one obvious and one not so obvious, to set the stage for this post. In this third installment, we are going to look at various ways pride manifests itself in people. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others most of us would never guess that pride was at the center of it.

You might recall that I gave pride a new definition in the last post. I define pride as an inordinate amount of attention to self: Self-love: Making everything about oneself. You may say that this is what you always thought pride was, and I would ask you if you mean a prideful person can be the quiet shy type who avoids others because he/she has low self-esteem. Most of you would probably say that person is not prideful, but I see that they are very prideful – they have a lot of attention on self. So, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get started with Part 3.

I am going reference a book entitled “Irresistible to God”1 by Steve Gallagher several times in this post. Steve Gallagher is the founder of Pure Live Ministries (See Part 1), and has done an excellent study into the effects of pride on a person, among other great books he has written. All of his books are available on Amazon, and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get more of this world out of their system. In “Irresistible to God,” Steve deals with pride, and how getting pride out of our lives helps us become like the title of the book.

The first thing you must recognize about pride is that if you have it, you will deny it. Gallagher writes “Pride is so extremely subtle that many actually think they have little or none of it within them. The truth is that it has the ability to mask its presence within a person’s heart. In fact, it is usually true that the more a person has, the less he is aware of it.”1 The problem we face is that not only is pride hidden within from the person afflicted by it, it is also a very dangerous trait to a Christian. Gallagher writes “Pride is the governing principle of hell and the unredeemed world it influences. It causes strife in the home, in the workplace, the political arena and yes, even the Christian community.”1 It becomes paramount to rid a person, especially a Christian, of any pride they might have.

I was a prime example of someone who had no idea pride was in my life. I should have known, because my wife kept telling me I was full of pride. No one else saw it, especially not me. Everyone else simply thought I was an outgoing guy who loved to chip in and help whenever I could, loved to be center stage whenever possible, and thought nothing of volunteering for special singing or filling the pulpit. But it was all me wanting attention – pride! Oh, how I wish I had listened to my wife those many years she told me pride was a problem. Heck, I thought I was humble – really!

Gallagher lists seven types of pride in his book. I will use these types to show the various ways pride can manifest itself in a person’s life, including a Christian. These seven types are: a haughty spirit, vanity, self-protection, unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride. The three I was most guilty of were know-it-all pride, spiritual pride and self-protection. As we go through these one by one, I urge you to take a hard look at yourself and see if anything fits. Remember that if you have pride, no one will ever be able to convince you that you have it. The Holy Spirit has to do that work in you. So, allow Him to search your heart as I discuss each of these types.

A Haughty Spirit – This is the type all of us would probably agree is pride. These folks think they are better than others. We see them a lot and recognize the pride in their lives. But the haughty spirit is not limited to that picture. Because of thinking they are better, a haughty spirit leads them to be judgmental and critical of others. Have you ever met a person who is always saying negative things about other people? They constantly find wrong in them and make sure everyone knows about it. Or they compare one person to another all the time, wondering why the one doesn’t shape up! This is all haughty spirit pride because it puts this person above others. “I am the best!”

Another way the haughty spirit can manifest itself is with long-time saints and new converts. The long-time saints see themselves as having gone through the fire, and just wish the new converts would get their act together and get rid of some of those little annoyances that plague them, like dressing the wrong way, or bad language, or smoking. The list goes on and on. Sorry all you long-time saints – to me this is one of the worst kinds of pride. Let God do that work on those new saints!

I was guilty of the first part of this, not the second. But it was subtle. I rarely would be judgmental of others to their face, but deep inside I did believe I was better than most. “I could have preached that message better.” “I do a better job leading worship”. “Don’t they know how to put a worship service together?” These are all things that would go through my head.

Vanity – We all know people who fit this category of pride. They do anything necessary to get approval from others. All they care about is being accepted, even if it means compromising on all their values. They so care about what others think that they might do drugs or wear a lot of make-up, or have sex, or go to this church or that church or dress a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way. They might join every committee in the church and work in the church like mad just to gain the acceptance of others. It’s all vanity, and it’s pride. “I have to be liked, whatever it takes.”

Another example of this which is affecting the church today is pastors and leaders who will not preach on certain subjects because they want to please the congregation and not step on any toes. They want everyone to like them, so they won’t challenge the people on issues like heaven and hell, or tithing or complete surrender to Jesus. They will stay away from social issues of the day. These pastors are vain, and pride is hurting the church.

Self-Protection – This person is extremely defensive and easily offended. You have to be really careful taking on any subject with them because they will always be on the defensive and before you know it they will get offended by something you say or do, and they will either be quiet or storm off. They are protecting themselves, and won’t let anybody get too close to them. Their protection comes first at any cost. “My needs first and I will defend them!”

Another manifestation of self-protection pride is sarcasm. People who constantly use sarcasm as a method of defense are all around us. I think of the TV show M.A.S.H. Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is a prime example of this kind of pride. Almost every word out of his mouth is sarcasm. I don’t know many people who are that bad, but I’d bet we all know people who use sarcasm to deflect difficult questions.

The way I used self-protection was as a defense mechanism. Whenever someone would try to correct me, or tell me I was doing wrong, I would put up a defense as good as any attorney. I rarely got offended, but often would offend the other people when this type of argument came up. And I was really good at sarcasm, still am today. I have to be very careful when I get into discussions that might get a little controversial, because my sarcasm often comes out faster than can catch it

Next Saturday, I’ll cover unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride, and talk about how know-it-all pride and spiritual pride manifested itself in me. I hope you’ll come back and visit for Part 4 in the Pride series. And thanks for reading and commenting.

1 Irresistible to God. Steve Gallagher. Copyright 2003 Pure Life Ministries