Real World Reality

April 30, 2017 Leave a comment

RealityMost of us realize the food ads we see in magazines and on television are photographed by highly skilled photographers; even the food itself has been artfully produced and posed to make it mouth-watering appealing. But one photographer decided to professionally photograph the real thing, say a taco just purchased from Taco Bell alongside an appealing ad for the same product.  The results are humorous, though not too surprising.

In God’s Word, He has presented us a “photograph” of the best, His Son.  Placed alongside Him, we fare badly, never able to fully measure up to His beauty, to His holiness, to His lovingkindness.  Just like fast food from the real world isn’t exactly like fast food from the advertising world, we live in the real world and have the scars to prove it.  However, one day, an expert photographer will appear and airbrush away all our flaws.  Then we will look our best, able to live in the best world, able to live with The Best.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  1 John 3:2

Don’t Put Up With It!

March 4, 2017 Leave a comment

img_1147For years, I’ve used a decorative paper towel holder in my kitchen. It looked nice; matched my kitchen theme—roosters—and held my roll of paper towels within arm’s reach.

There was one problem with the holder.  It was made for an earlier time, when a roll of paper towels wasn’t as thick as it is today. That meant every time a new roll was placed on the horizontal pole, I had to use one hand to grab a towel and the other to pull it away from the roll and tear it off.

This was frustrating, because when I’m cooking,  I don’t always have a free hand to grab a towel. Of course, the problem resolved itself once several towels were removed. Then, the roll would move freely on the holder. After that,  I wouldn’t give it another thought.

The other day, I accidentally hit the bottom of the ceramic holder, and a piece of it fell off. I didn’t immediately think about replacing it, because it wasn’t that noticeable, and it didn’t  affect the way it worked. Later that day,  I was in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store shopping for another product, and I happened to pass by a shelf of paper towel holders. Several of them had labels describing them as being perfect for today’s extra large rolls.

That was the moment I decided not to put up with the frustration I felt every time I inserted a new roll of paper towels on the ceramic holder, and I used my 20% off coupon and purchased a sleek new modern-looking one.

When I brought it home, I placed a fresh roll of paper towels on it, and presto! problem solved. I’ve had it a week now, and I’ve probably changed the roll three times—I’m very messy in the kitchen—and, every time I install a fresh roll, I ask myself why I didn’t buy a new paper towel holder sooner.

Why did I put up with something that was clearly a problem and had an easy solution?

The answer’s pretty simple. It seemed like a small problem, and I had too many other things to think about, and, after removing a few sheets, I didn’t notice it again until I needed a new roll.

Too often, we treat spiritual problems in the same way. A situation arises; tempers flare, angry words are spoken, lustful thoughts are entertained, gossip is spread, godless choices are made, and then we move on.

However, the sin that caused the problem in the first place remains; it’s never examined, never prayed over or confessed, and the situation  happens again. And again.

God’s Word gives us much counsel about dealing with our sin, and one example is found in Psalm 51 where David realizes the only solution to the sorrow he’s experiencing is to confess his sin to God.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:10-12).

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Don’t put up with it!

 

The Author Who Had No Platform

January 24, 2017 1 comment

bible-879070__180One of the most important concepts in the publishing industry today is  “The Platform.” You may not know what that is, but think for a moment about people who’ve recently released a book—people like  Bill O’Reilly, Alec Baldwin, and Megyn Kelly. These authors have a built-in platform. The mere suggestion they might write  a book has readers signed up to buy a copy before it’s even been written.

That’s a platform.

Publishers and literary agents will ask a potential author, “What’s your platform?” If you’re on the news regularly, have already written a best-selling book, have held  a prominent political office, or even if you’ve committed some serious offenses against humanity, the publication industry is  willing to sign you up immediately. Thus, platform is less about writing and more about having visibility and authority in the eyes of the world.

When the Author of Life came to earth, he had no platform. Although he gathered around himself a group of followers,  they were few in number and were considered the riff-raft of society—prostitutes, tax collectors, and a handful of rebels and fishermen.

He did have something to say, however. In fact, He had a lot he wanted to tell people—about Himself, about His Father, and about His Word.

His Word brought into existence everything that was, everything that is, and everything that will be. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1.

The message he delivered received bad reviews from those in authority, from the people who had developed a platform of their own. At the earliest opportunity, they crucified Him, hoping to obliterate His words.

But the words were important; the words were Life, the words brought Life. His words were taken up by others who had no platform, but who faithfully wrote down what He had said, who delivered the message he could not deliver because he had no platform.

If we, as His followers, are willing to deliver His Word,  we  provide Him with a platform the world cannot ignore.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation . . .” Isaiah 52:7.

Categories: Devotionals

What’s The Right Way To Read The Bible?

December 29, 2016 Leave a comment

bible-879070__180What’s the right way to read the Bible this year? You’ll find the answer in the Bible!

David, speaking in Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to ME the paths of life.” David has a personal relationship with God. While it’s true the Bible has a message for all people, God intends for that message to be understood and received by each individual personally. 

I read through the Bible every year, and I’ve used a variety of Bible Reading Plans to do this, but no matter which method I use, I try to  make it personal by making notes in the margins. You can easily make the Scriptures personal by asking this one question at the end of your Bible reading: What message does God want me to take away from this passage? 

For a great selection of various Bible Reading Plans, click here.

How personal can it get? Psalm 139 says it all.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you

Categories: Devotionals

An Indescribable Gift!

December 14, 2016 2 comments

Gift 3Every year, I give what I call my “Reason for the Season” gift.

It’s a present  to remind each recipient of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. My “Reason for the Season” gifts are never very elaborate. Most of them are simply stocking stuffers and cost very little.

These gifts can be as simple as a bookmark with a Scripture on it or a key chain with a Christian symbol swinging from it. During past Christmases, I’ve given a calendar or a devotional book. For children, I’ve put Veggie Tale toys and Bible story DVD’s under the tree. I’ve also given mugs and ornamental plaques with Scriptures on them.

I started this practice several years ago when my daughter was a teenager, and I suddenly realized the true meaning of God’s “gifting” us with His Son was being lost in the hustle and bustle of checking things off her Christmas wish list. Now, purchasing these “Reason for the Season”  items from a Christian bookstore a few weeks before the big holiday seems to take the edge off the Christmas rush and serves as a reminder of the purpose of this celebration.

Truly, the “Reason for the Season” is a tiny helpless baby sent by a powerful, holy God to rescue a hopeless fallen sinner.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Corinthians 2:15: 

Categories: Devotionals

Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

In a movie theater When I watch a movie, I’m intrigued by how the story unfolds, how the writer has pulled the threads of the plot together to get to a satisfactory—and sometimes unsatisfactory—ending. Of lesser importance to me are the specifics surrounding the actors’ ability to nuance the characters in the movie. Perhaps of least importance to me is the technique behind the camera shots or the way in which the director chooses to film the action in the movie.

However, my husband is not that interested in the “story” of the movie. Instead, he pays more attention to how realistically an actor portrays his character, and whether he or she is good at the craft of acting. He can also get excited about how a movie is filmed, noting things like the director’s love of close-ups or tall buildings.

I believe these two different methods of watching a movie reflect how we relate to other people. For example, take what happens when my husband and I meet a new couple. I immediately start asking questions about their background, their family, their “story.” On the other hand, he is much more interested in asking questions that reveal the couple’s emotions, feelings, and opinions.

Not surprisingly, our personality differences affect how we worship God, how comfortable we are with a certain style of worship, and how we enter into a worship service or respond to the pastor’s sermon. I believe Jesus seeks to encompass all kinds of worshipers with his words from John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

How does your spirit worship God?

Categories: Devotionals

Life Out of Focus?

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Out of FocusOne of the great things about most cameras today is the automatic focusing feature. I’m old enough to remember using a camera that required fiddling with a bunch of dials before snapping the picture. Most of the time, those waiting to be photographed weren’t very patient about this process, and, oftentimes, after all that effort, the photo turned out to be out of focus after all.

As children of God, it would be nice to have this automatic focusing mechanism built into our daily lives, so that the moment our lives became blurry around the edges—from taking part in all the world has to offer, from neglecting Bible study, from participating in non-glorying activities—then our focus would automatically be returned to our Father and to living out Christ in us, “the hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27).

However,  none of us has an automatic focusing mechanism. What we have is something even better—the Word of God. While having a device to automatically redirect one’s  focus towards God sounds good, in reality, such a device would ultimately lead to taking God for granted, and it would not adhere to the command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

God’s Word directs us to focus on Him in numerous passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament. One of my favorites is 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Have you lost your focus? Direct your heart today to the love of God“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Direct your heart to the steadfastness of Christ. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Spending time  with the Lord in daily Bible study brings clarity to our lives and sharpens an otherwise blurry picture.

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