Devotionals

Here are some devotionals mostly written by me unless
otherwise noted. Copyright Dr. Dan Tomandl. Permission is given to freely use
for non-commercial use. Please reference my main page.


Why 3 days in the grave?

Why did Jesus remain in the grave for 3 days? Why didn’t he demonstrate His
divine power and resurrect himself off the cross soon after he died? It seems
like it would have been a convincing testimony to the large crowd gathered to
witness His death and would have spared his disciples several days of agonizing
depression. Of course He could not get off the cross before death – He had to
fulfill his mission and die to pay the penalty for our sins. But why stay dead
so long?

During our church’s Maundy Thursday service it hit me that all that time in
the grave could have been an example for us. Victory will come to us in our
trials – yes, we are assured of that – but the timing is not always as soon as
we would want. Jesus Himself told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But
take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) Praise the Lord for the
“overcoming” but, help us, Lord, to have faith during times of trouble.

4/93


Acceptance/Forgiveness

I was Just on both ends of acceptance and forgiveness. I have a son who is
very cooperative and a strong Christian, but is
forgetful. He forgets to pick up after himself – you can remind him to “take
out the garbage” or whatever, and he would often still forget. Well, it was my
turn – I didn’t close the door on the car properly last night – the dome light
stayed on. My wife noticed it at 4 am,
got up and fixed it. She was not pleased with me.

We are not perfect. People will let you down. We all have faults. This does
not excuse our short-comings or imply we needn’t try to do better or improve
ourselves. It does mean we all need forgiveness and acceptance from each other.

Matt 6:14 “For if you
forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive
you.” (NIV)

1/5/98


 
 

“Father” vs. “Daddy”

Rom 8:15b-16 “.. you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit
himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (NIV)

What do you think of when you hear “Daddy?” Probably a small child calling
to his father. God? – probably not. That would be “Father” with a capital “F” –
more formal. We try to make God much more distant than He wants to be. In the
Greek “Abba” would be found coming from the mouth of a small child. God wants
us to come as little children. He wants a close, familiar, intimate
relationship.

5/97


The Double-minded Man

James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all
men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him
ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea
that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a
double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the
Lord.”

What is a double minded man? As I understand it, it is one who is not fully
committed to Christ – one who is going to heaven and has trusted Jesus for his
salvation, but still hangs too much onto the things and cares of this world.
This poor person is miserable. He is like a boy scout who wants to get a
camping merit badge but doesn’t like the outdoors – during the outings he might
perform his duties but does not enjoy the experience and would try to do as
little as possible. So too the uncommitted Christian will have more duty than
joy. But the one whose will is aligned with Christ’s will want to help others
and work for the Kingdom. He will experience God’s full blessing, help, and
joy.

1/97


 
 

This scripture needs no comment. Though it is taken out of context, the
title the Lord gave me when I read this recently is

A Father’s Prayer

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped
praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that
you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing
fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened
with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great
endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has
qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of
light.” Col
1:9-12 (NIV)

7/96


God’s Will For You: Give Thanks

Ever want to know what God’s will is for you? Of course, most of us have.
Here are some specific instructions that Paul sent to the Thessalonians. In the
middle of giving some general advice, Paul goes so far as to say that “this is
God’s will for you.” I Thes 5:16-18 says “Be joyful
always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s
will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) Note that Paul says “give thanks in” not
“for.” Let’s face it, we all go through some pretty tough situations from time
to time. We reluctantly acknowledge that God doesn’t promise Christians a
trouble-free, pain-free life. On the contrary, Jesus warned us: “In this world
you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
(NIV) No, we aren’t required to be thankful “for” the tough situations, but we
can live victoriously in them – perhaps in spite of them, or because of what
God can do or teach us through them if we let Him.

11/97


The Parable of the jeweler’s friend

Once upon a time there was a jeweler and his friend. Every day the friend
would stop by the jeweler’s shop to visit with the jeweler and admire the gems
in the shop. One day the jeweler gave his friend a stone that the friend had
been particularly admiring. Thereafter from time to time the jeweler would give
his friend a gem – sometimes a ruby, sapphire or even a diamond. One day the
jeweler asked his friend about his growing collection. The friend replied with
downcast eyes – he had put each gem into his pocket by itself – without
protection – in amongst his keys and change. After a few days the gem could not
be found. This happened to each one!

How would the jeweler respond?

What of the friend’s gem collection?

What do we do with the insights the Lord gives us?

Looking for a New Year’s resolution? How about saving the insights the Lord
gives you (from reading the Bible, sermons, friends, etc.). You can use
complete sentences or just notes. Make them on paper, note cards, or computer
files. Make yourself rich!

Prov
16:16 “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather
than silver!”
(NIV)

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to
him.”
(NIV)

12/30/97


Jesus – The Light of the World

John 8:12 “When Jesus
spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever
follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
(NIV)

At Christmas time there is much use made of the analogy of Jesus as the
Light of the world. This is an entirely appropriate comparison. Light enables
us to see; it spreads – and spreads quickly – and it overcomes the darkness.

A single candle when lit will instantly give a lot of light to a whole room.
It is different with darkness. Open a box of darkness and the darkness does not
spread; it is overcome by the light. The darkness is not impotent though
– the open box can make shadows by blocking the light. But even the shadows can
be overcome. How? – by reflection. And that is where we come in. We are not the
Light – that is Jesus. We are called to be reflectors though – to help spread
the Light and drive out the Darkness.

God designed the universe such that light and darkness behave differently,
and that light is the more powerful. In physics, darkness is just the absence
of light, so there is no contest. Spiritually, darkness represents the opposite
of goodness – evil. And just as physical light is more powerful than darkness,
goodness is more powerful than evil. As Paul declares in Romans, “Don’t allow
yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive – overpower evil with
good!” Rom. 12:21
(Phillips)

May you all have a Merry Christmas, and thank You, Jesus, for coming and
giving us your Light.

12/22/96

[Inspired by lighting of advent candles (and of course by the HS) 12/22/96. Sent out to Good
News newsletter 12/23/96,
12/29/96]


Looking Up

I was working in our church nursery. There was this one 20-month-old boy who
was sliding down a little plastic slide. He landed a little hard and
immediately looked up at me. He was wondering how he should react – laugh?,
complain?, cry? I laughed and so did he. Then we laughed together. I was
reminded how open – even hungry – little ones are for examples of how to behave
and for confirmation and approval. And the very little ones are not the only
ones looking for examples of how to behave. I think it extends into elementary
school ages. Well, more than that – junior high, senior high – really people of
all ages often look to others for examples and validation – just more with the
younger ones. May I, Lord, be a good example for others to look up to. And may
I look up to You for my example.

4/27/97


Jesus What?

The Christmas season provides a good time to remember the importance that God
places on His Name. Too often we hear God’s name used carelessly, or worse as a
curse or swear word. God saw fit to include proper use of His name in the 10
commandments — right along with “there is only one God” and “do not murder.”
Although the commandment referred to “Yahweh,” the specific name for God
originally given to the Jews, I think we can safely extend the intent to any
name for God — like Lord, Jesus, and Christ. But why did God include this
commandment in the top 10? As I have pondered and prayed about this I have come
to this conclusion: it has to do with respect.

A proper understanding of who God is and a proper reverence toward Him is
crucial to the whole Christian experience. Careless use of God’s name can
undermine that experience — that relationship. Breaking what some would
consider a “minor” commandment can easily act as acid to our faith. I guess
that’s why proper use of God’s name (like meaning God when we say “God”) is so
important.

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the
LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (NIV)

12/96

[for church Christmas devotional booklet 12/96

the Good News email list 12/6/96]
 
 


Seek Him

Jer 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you
seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)

seek” – ok

find” – good

all my heart” – hmmm, that’s tough. Help me, Lord.

12/97


God gave us power, love and what!?

I
was reading II Timothy last night and was cruising down the page: “For God did
not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of …” –
so far so good. Kind of what I was expecting. But the next word caught me
off-guard: “self-discipline.” Now, I’m happy for God to give me power – power
is good; power is easy (at least superficially). And love – everyone could use
more love and could be more loving – there’s a warm fuzzy. But
“self-discipline?”
–that sounds more like work. That sounds like what I
struggle with most nights when I try to get to bed early enough to get enough
sleep. That sounds like eating your vegetables, not gossiping, doing your
assignments, regular private devotions, etc., etc. Of course when you take time
to think about it, it does make sense. There’s a reason Paul mentioned these
three together. Self-discipline is often needed to put true love into action.
And how much power would God give to an undisciplined person.

Yes,
Lord, please give me the spirit of self-discipline.

“For
God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of
self-discipline.” II Tim 1:7 (NIV)

9/5/97


Timidity/Power/Love

      _
    -   -              \  |  /
  /    /  \             \ | /
 | Tim/dity|        –- POWER –-
  \  /    /             / | \
    - _ -              /  |  \
 

“For
God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, and of love,
and of self-discipline.” II Tim 1:7

No
Timidity. God offers us Power. Now that’s good news – we needn’t be wimps in
the Lord. But God does not offer us raw power – raw power is too easily abused.
No, God offers us power that is tempered with love and self-discipline. When my
two boys were young, my older son wanted authority over his younger brother, “Can
I tell him what to do and what not to do?” “No,” I told him, “you don’t have
the love it takes to guide that power.” And so God gives us power – but in a
packaged deal – wrapped with love and self-discipline. Such is the wisdom of
God.

Lord,
may we make use of the power You offer us, and use it
wisely – for Your purposes.

3/93


Living Love Letter

2
Cor 3:3 “You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the
living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (NIV)

I
believe this can be paraphrased like this:

“Dear
World,

Here
is [your name], made with the Spirit of the Living God.

Love,

Jesus”

What
does this mean? That I am perfect? That I am “God’s gift to
mankind?”
No, of course not. But it does mean that God has a purpose for
me that involves more than my being rescued and being helped. I am to carry His
message to the world by what I say and by how I live. I am to be a minister of
love in the name of Jesus. Help me to be so, Lord Jesus.

<10/97


“Where there is a will there is a way.”

You
have heard this saying. It is usually used to encourage a person to press on
and that by hard work and determination he can achieve his goal. But it has
another meaning…

God
can do anything He wants, of course, but He usually works through people. He doesn’t
always get the most qualified person for the job. He doesn’t force His will
upon us. He looks for a person who is willing to do His will. He then
will equip that person as needed. Look at Moses – he made all kinds of excuses
but finally agreed to be God’s instrument to save the Hebrew people. Mary had
many questions, but was willing to be the “handmaiden of the Lord” and become
the mother of the Savior.

And
as God asks us to do His will, He looks first for our willingness, then comes
His equipping and guidance, then His blessing of working for Him. Yes, where
there is a will (to follow Him), there is a way (for God’s will to be done
using us).

I
do not live to please myself but to do the will of the father who sent me. John
5:30

1/98


Why Should God Help Me?

My
son was praying, asking for God’s help with the SAT test he faced tomorrow. The
SAT is very important – its score can greatly influence college admission and
scholarships. My son was anxious. Later I began to think about the request, and
about how God might receive such a request. Why should God help us in our
various life situations?

From
the analogy of God as our Heavenly Father, I have come to these possible
answers: God loves us and likes to give good gifts to his children; and, as
Manager of the family business (the Kingdom
of God
), He wants to help
with any plan that will help build the Kingdom.

Thinking
of my own children, sure, I agree – even enjoy – to treat my kids to an ice
cream cone now and then, but how much more would I help them if the request
were for a tool to help them better care for the yard. Or, how would I react to
a request for a car – 1) a really fast car – one that could easily end up
wrapped around a tree; 2) a modest car to get to work several miles away; 3) a
car to pick up friends for church teen activities.

My
prayer for my son is that God would help him get a good score on the SAT, but
even more that God would help him focus his gifts and talents for use in God’s
Kingdom. If only my son would pray like that, there would be no limit to what
he and God could accomplish together.

“Our
Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.” Matt 6:9-11

11/4/94


What, me worry?

The
following appeared in our church newsletter written by Pastor Bob Russell, Redmond Church of the Nazarene, 5/24/94.

One
of my most consistent battles is with worry! It seems that I am not alone in
this area. We worry about our kids, our jobs, our future, our safety.
Sometimes, we even worry about really important things, like, who are the
Supersonics going to draft this year. “Worry” is something most of us are really
good at doing. In fact, we do it all too well.

 Yet,
what is “worry” really? It is a feeling of anxiety and uneasiness. It is
ultimately a lack of trust in God’s ability to bring us through the situation
we are facing. Jesus instructed His disciples to “not worry about your life…”
(Matt. 6:25). He was not telling them to be careless, rather He was telling
then to put their attention on the One who is able to take care of then. He
said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
When we “worry,” we are putting all our attention on the situation at hand: the
difficult finances, the uncertain job, the problem child, etc. Combat “worry”
by putting these things in the hands of God, who cares for us and highly values
us. Do the things He wants us to do, say “yes” to the plans He has for our
lives, He will take care of us. That is what Jesus means when He says, “…seek
first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.” “Cast all your anxieties on Him
because He cares for your” (I Peter 5:7). So, let’s give our “worries” to the
Lord and trust Him to do His best for us.

–Pastor
Bob


YOU’RE IN THE WRONG LANE!

While
I was riding the bus on the way to work this morning, I saw a car blocking our
lane. We had just finished picking up some passengers; traffic was temporarily
stopped on both lanes going in our direction. This car, though, was trying to
get into the left lane and he had only partially made it. Normally I use my bus
commute time to pray and meditate. This morning I was distracted by the
traffic. There was no one in front of him – and well there shouldn’t be because
just around the curve that lane disappeared – the two lanes narrowed to one. It
was well time to merge over.

“YOU’RE
IN THE WRONG LANE,” I wanted to shout. Then the words echoed in my mind and
spirit: “You’re in the wrong lane” came bouncing right back to me. I was in the wrong lane. I was supposed
to be praying and here I was looking at traffic. “Thank you, Lord, for the
reminder.” Then thought, how gracious God is to give us His Holy Spirit to lead
us, and how gentle and merciful that leading is – to keep us on the right
track, to avoid dead ends and wrong paths.

Help
me, oh Lord, to always be sensitive to your leading.

“Why
do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention
to the plank in your own eye?” Matt 7:3

“But
when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” John
16:13

1/98


Dear Teenage Son,

I
know you sometimes chafe under my discipline. Now I know I’m not perfect, but
please realize that my instructions and discipline have the long-term goal of
making you a better equipped person. When your mother and I let you go out of
the nest, we don’t want to see you flutter helplessly in the winds of the
world. We don’t want to see short or broken feathers that will cause you to
struggle just to say off the ground. We want to see you fully developed and
strong, so that you can soar like an eagle and use the winds of the world to
pursue God’s calling for your life. So – eat your vegetables, come home on
time, get enough sleep, work hard, do your homework, be truthful, follow the
Lord.

Love,

Dad

4/99


Life = One Big Prayer

“ … in every condition I please myself by doing little
things for the love of God. My set times of prayer are not different from other
times of the day. . .. my grestest
business does not divert me from God.”
”. . . the shortest way to God is to go straight to Him by a continual exercise
of love and doing all things for His sake.”

–Bother
Lawrence

10/99


What Does it Take to Please God?

Micah
6:6-8 (NIV) says, "With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down
before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with
calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten
thousand rivers of oil? . . . He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what
does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk
humbly with your God."

Justice
is treating everyone fairly.
Mercy is showing kindness to others whether they deserve it or not.
Being humble is recognizing who you are in relation to who God is.

If
you practice these qualities, then you are on your way to pleasing God.

–Lyn
Willis, editor, Trans Africa magazine, from vol. 18, no. 1, 1998.

10/99


 

How many points does it take
to get into heaven?

 

 

Four
men in a building club died together in an accident and knocked on heaven’s
door.

·        
St. Peter: here’s how it works: 1000 points are
required to get into heaven – tell me about your lives.

·        
man1:
I’ve been good; obeyed my parents, law abiding; paid most of my taxes.

·        
St. P: Very good –
7 pts

·        
man2: Whoa! Well, I went to church every
Sunday for 50 yr
. / 12pts

·        
man3: Hmm, I worked in a street mission
surely that will get me into heaven. /
15 pts

·        
man4: I haven’t done much, but I trusted in
Jesus to take away my sins. / 1000 pts !

·        
St. P: It says in the Bible, "For by grace you
have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift
of God not
because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9) Getting into
heaven is not about doing anything or even being good but about asking Jesus
into your heart and life and trusting in him to forgive your sins.

·        
man1: You mean you pray once and ask God to
forgive you and that’s it? – You’re on
your on way to heaven and you can live however you want?

·        
St. P: No;
asking Jesus into your heart & life is like signing up on his team signing up is only the
first step. After that you want to do what you can for the team.

·        
man4: Yeah, it’s like our building club – we could
always use all the help we could get –
even holding a nail. We didn’t often need an expert carpenter. And you
could learn as you go – both how-to and
how-not-to.

·        
What about all those rules?

·        
Rules are from a caring, good father for our good. Like don’t play in traffic;
eat your veggies; and don’t play with fire.

·        
I get it – It’s not for God that we obey his
rules – but for us.

·        
Right; and if we don’t do what God wants
sometimes (which is what sin is), we feel bad –
its like acid that can eat at you if you don’t flush it away. Jesus is
the heavenly shower who takes away our sins if we ask him and turn away from
them.

The
most important thing is to get started. It was too late for three of our
builder friends, but it is not too late for you.

 

1/20/01 given at the City
Team Mission, Seattle

 


 

The Prayer of Jabez

 

“The
Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson is a wonderful
little book that applies a prayer in the Old Testament to our lives today. Some
have criticized the book for leaning toward a formula approach and trying to
make God into a Santa Claus-like blessing-giving vending machine. I don’t think
the criticism is valid. Below are an expanded paraphrase of the prayer of Jabez based on Wilkinson’s book, the prayer itself, and a
quote from the book. There is another good little book on prayer, “The Prayer
of Jesus” by Hank Hanegraaff.

 

Oh
God, my Father in heaven, I know you love me so much – more than I can ever
know – and you want the best for me – the absolute, honest-to-God, best
for me personally. I want your best for me too and am committed to
embracing it in my life. Bless me, I pray, with your best; help me to be a
sharp tool in Your hand and give me the knowledge, wisdom, and power to
accomplish Your will with my life. Expand my sphere of influence – may I be a
light and a river of life to those around me – for Your glory. Protect me and
guide me, your child and servant. Amen

 

I
Chron 4:10
(NIV) Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that
you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep
me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

(NKJV)
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh
that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from
evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

 

“I
cry out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only You
have the power to know about or to give me.” (p. 23 The Prayer of Jabez)

 

1/02


 

66.6 Degrees

 

I
have a digital thermometer in my house – it displays the temperature in tenths
of a degree. Now I’m not superstitious, but when it displays 66.6 I get
uncomfortable (the so called number of the beast in Rev 13:18). But does it mean something? Like should I not do what I was about to do? I
don’t think so – I mean, if the temperature goes from 66 to 67, it has to pass
through 66.6. But yet I remain uncomfortable when I see it. The Lord gave me
this thought to help me: use seeing 66.6 as a reminder that sometimes we can’t
avoid seeing or passing near evil. After all, we live in a fallen world. For
example, we’re not going to stop scantily clad babes from walking past us or be
exempt from other passing temptations. But of course, it is still our
responsibility to avoid temptation as much as possible. Like looking away from
excessively exposed body parts and generally avoiding dwelling on or adopting a
temptation. “You can’t keep birds from flying overhead, but you can keep them from building a nest in
your hair.” and “In the world you have tribulation; but be
of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (RSV).
And finally, “Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the
offensive — overpower evil with good!” Rom 12:21 (Phillips)

 

So
now when I see 666 anywhere I use it as an occasion to focus on God and the
help He offers. I’m no longer uncomfortable when the temperature drops below 67
(just a bit chilly).

 

5/03


 

Failed Abortion

 

Some
twenty years ago she could not bear to add another child to their crowded home
in Romania.
An abortion seemed the only answer. But after two “failed” attempts, a doctor
said, “This baby will not die; it wants to live.” However, the doctor warned
the mother that the baby might be physically handicapped, deformed, or mentally
retarded. The mother prayed and made a covenant with God that if He would let
the baby be born healthy, she would give the child back to Him to use in any
way He chose. The baby was born premature but healthy. Now 19, Paula Cini testifies, “I am now a first-year student at European Nazarene College
preparing for a life of Christian service. It is not easy being in a different
country, far away from those I love. But in my mother’s womb, I refused to die.
Today I refuse to become anything other than the gift my mother promised to
give back to God.” (Adapted from the April 2003 edition of Holiness Today)

 

Praise
the Lord; but what about us? What are we refusing and what are we becoming?

 

8/03

[sent to Good News email list 8/18/03]

 


 

Work vs.
Prayer

 

“Work
like it was all up to you; pray like it was all up to God.”

 

I’ve
never liked this statement. Oh, I do agree with it in the sense that we are to
work hard and pray hard, and that we should not neglect either – praying about
something doesn’t mean we are excused from doing anything about it; and of
course, being active in a situation does not mean we don’t need to pray about
it.

 

I
don’t like the statement because it advises that we not consider God when
working, and not work when praying. But when I pray, I pray not only for God to
act, but for guidance and strength for me to do my part. And when I work, I
count on God’s direction so that I’m working as part of His Plan, and I count
on His enabling power – in my life and
permeating the situation I’m working in.

 

“I can do all things in him who strengthens
me.” Phil 4:13

2/11/04

 


 

Who’s That?

 

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel. This contains one
of my favorite passages in the Bible – the scene where Samuel first hears God.
When young Samuel comes to Eli because he thought that was who was calling him,
Eli advises that the next time He called, Samuel should respond: “Speak, LORD,
for your servant hears.” 1 Sam 3:9.

 

Three things stand out to me:

• “LORD” – Samuel is going to address the LORD,
Yahweh, Lord God of the Universe!

• “your servant” – Samuel’s attitude is right –
he recognizes his relationship to God and is ready to serve.

• “hears” – not only does Samuel address the
Lord, but the Lord speaks to Samuel; and Samuel is ready to really listen.

 

We would do well to be like Samuel.

1/05


 

Holy, Wholly, Holey

 

The words of the famous hymn (and Rev 4:8) are “Holy, holy,
holy, Lord God almighty!” But what
about us?
How can we describe a disciple of Christ? I suggest “Holy,
wholly, holey.”

  • Holy” because even though we are but
    flesh, God calls us to be holy – “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your
    God am holy.” Lev 19:2b.
  • And
    how can we possibly be holy, but by being wholly committed to God and letting His grace work fully in us
    – “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as
    an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living
    sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze
    you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that
    you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all
    his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.” Rom 12:1-2
    (Phillips).
  • Finally,
    holey” – discipleship comes at
    a price. Oh, salvation is a free gift – I’m not arguing against that. But
    following Him may not always be a bed of roses; in fact, Jesus promised us
    otherwise, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you;” John 16:20
    and “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any man would come after me, let
    him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Mt 16:24. Taking
    up His cross led to holes in his
    hands and side. Being holy like God and being wholly committed to God may
    require being holey like God.

 

~96-05


 

SonShine

 

Consider this:

  • Sunlight
    warms the Earth and gives it life.
  • It
    warms us; it is a pleasure to be out in.
  • It
    enables us to see and not stumble in the darkness.
  • Finally,
    it lets others see us. And what they see is a combination of us and the
    light that shines on us; that is, our skin and clothes absorb some colors
    and reflect others, so what an observer sees will depend on both us and
    the light we’re bathed in.

It’s the same in the spiritual world – just replace “sun”
with “Son.”

  • Jesus
    is the Light of the world.
  • He
    offers life, abundant life, victorious life.
  • It
    is a pleasure to bask in His Presence.
  • He
    gives us discerning hearts, guidance and wisdom to enable us to walk in
    the Light and avoid the Darkness.
  • And
    what do others see when they look at us? Hopefully not just us (and
    realistically, not just Him). He made us to be us – not Him. We are not mirrors but uniquely crafted
    reflectors. And we need to reflect for all we’re worth!

 

2/17/05


 

SonRise

 

I saw the sunrise this morning. It started with only a
faint glow in the east. This was enough to see that there were some clouds in
the sky – dark clouds, hiding the brightening sky. But then as the sky grew
brighter, and the sun directly illuminated parts of the sky, those clouds, once
dark, became light – first with a soft glow, then with brilliant streaks of
vibrant color. Breathtaking! A sunrise without clouds is nice, but one with
clouds can be awesome.

 

The clouds in our lives are the problems and trials we
face. As we give them over to the Lord, we allow Him to show us the way to deal
with them. Then they become bright spots of victories won in our lives.

 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of
the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light
of life." John 8:12

3/4/05


 

BE Here!

 

When
God commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses asked, “When I talk to
the children of Israel
and they ask me for Your Name, what should I tell them?” God answered, “I AM.
Say, ‘HE IS sent me.’”*

 

Jesus
echoed this phrase when on one occasion he declared, “Truly, truly, I say to
you, before Abraham was born, I AM." (John 5:58)

 

When
we look out at our world now and see the needs both near and far, we might well
plead, “BE here!” – not that God is not here, but that we ask for His Power to
work and for His Might to be seen and for each of us to be open to his working
through us. God described Himself – named
Himself – as BEING.

 

Oh,
God, BE here!

 

*Paraphrased
from Exodus 3: 13-14

3/05


 

“Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First”

 

We’ve
all heard this instruction on an airplane. And the reasoning is clear and
sound: though a parent (or any caring person) may be tempted to unselfishly
help someone else with their mask first, that course of action is short sighted
– though you may succeed in that helpful act, you’d be useless to give further
help if you’re unconscious (or dead!).

 

This
principle has application in many areas of life; let me mention three:

 

  • Physical:
    As parents we must be careful to not run ourselves into exhaustion, but
    take time to meet our own needs – like for sleep (especially challenging
    for those with very young children)
  • Emotional:
    again as parents of young children, or major caregivers of an ailing
    parent, we need some time off – to be away and alone; to be with friends
    in social settings.
  • Spiritual:
    we need to avoid the trap of being so busy “doing the Lord’s work” that we neglect to “be the Lord’s work” – spending time
    with Him, in His Word, and in worship (as opposed to serving in a worship
    service).

 

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9/06


 

The Gift”

 

"Which
of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him!" Luke 11:11-13

 

Something
struck me when I recently read this familiar passage. What is the gift that God
is offering to us here? – not whatever we want (like
Santa Claus) – not for freedom from troubles (though that is attractive); but it is what we need most – the Holy Spirit. This
is the gift that can guide us, comfort us, and empower us for service. Yes this
is the gift. He will lead us to
victory for the glory of the Father!

 

Ask!

 

7/07


The Humility of Christ

 

St. Augustine wrote so
beautifully of the humility of Christ:

 

The
word of the Father by whom all time was created

was made flesh and
born in time for us.

He
without whose divine permission no day completes its
course,

wished to have one
of those days for His human birth.

In
the bosom of His Father He existed before all the cycles of the ages.

Born
of an earthly mother, He entered on the course of the years on that very day.

The
maker of man became man that He, ruler of the stars, might be nourished at the
breast.

That
He, the bread, might be hungry.

That
He, the fountain, might thirst.

That
He, the light, might sleep.

That
He, the way, might be wearied in the journey.

That
He, the truth, might be accused by false witnesses.

That
He, the judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal
judge.

That
He, justice itself, might be condemned by the unjust.

That
He, discipline personified, might be scourged with a whip.

That
He, the foundation, might be suspended on a cross.

That
He, courage incarnate, might be weak.

And
He, security itself, might be wounded.

And
He, life itself, might die.

 

 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!

Phil
2:5-8

12/07


From That Time On

 

Matthew
4:17a marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It is just after his
temptation. “From that time on Jesus began to preach . . .”

Here
is a question: what was it like, say, six months earlier? Did Jesus want to
preach then? Was He aching to tell as many as would listen about the Kingdom?
About the abundant live they could live? About real, deep
satisfaction in life, and a personal relationship with God Almighty?
I
suspect He “couldn’t wait” to get started. But of course He did wait. He kept
His Main Goal in mind – the salvation of mankind. He didn’t want to get
sidetracked or do anything to jeopardize His main mission. He had to wait until
He was prepared and the time “was right.”

If
you find yourself waiting or “just preparing,” don’t get discouraged. Your job
right now may be “just” preparing – don’t get sidetracked. Or you may be
waiting for His timing. Hard? Yes. Worth
it?
Yes indeed.

10/09

 


Shooting Ourselves in the Foot

 

I’ve been reading through Isaiah and was struck by these passages from
Isaiah 33 — how aptly they describe the condition of people without God: we
are our own worst problem, and that the solution is our Lord.

your breath is a fire that consumes you.” (v 11c) [Pause and let this sink in: we are the
source of what consumes us!]

“The sinners in Zion are
terrified;
   trembling grips the godless:
“Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
   Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

“Those who walk righteously
   and speak what is right,” (v 14-15a)

they are the ones who will dwell on the
heights,” (v 16a)

the LORD is our king;
   it is he who will save us.” (v 22b)

 

11/10