Today’s Devotion: Robbing Ourselves

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                    Pastor Derek’s

                    Devotional Journal

                    August 10, 2009

 

Day 2 – Robbing Ourselves

Scripture: Proverbs 1: 8-19 (NLT)

8My child, listen when your father corrects you.  Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.   9What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.

 10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!  11They may say, “Come and join us.   Let’s hide and kill someone!  Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!  12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
 13Think of the great things we’ll get!   We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.  14Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.”

 15My child, don’t go along with them!   Stay far away from their paths.  16 They rush to commit evil deeds.  They hurry to commit murder.  17 If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away.  18But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed.  19Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.

 

What is the writer saying? 

At every age it is good that we consider the correction and instruction we have received from our parents.  Even in adulthood we are to continue learning from them.  If we adopt this attitude, our life will be marked by grace and honor.

But there are other voices seeking our attention.  They are the ungodly, saying, “Come and join us as we destroy someone.  For our own amusement, let’s lay a trap for someone innocent.  And let’s destroy them completely.  Let’s see what we can get from them.  Let’s treat them unfairly and take all we can from them to add to what we already have.  Let’s see how much we can take and how much stuff we can fill our lives with.  There is plenty to go around”.

We must not throw in our lot with the ungodly in this.  We must avoid this kind of thinking and this kind of life like the plague.  Consider the birds of God’s creation.  Even they can see when a trap has been set to capture and destroy them.  But these people and all who join with them, set a trap for themselves, a trap that will ultimately destroy them from within.  This is what happens when we get greedy for money.  We end up robbing ourselves of the good life God wants us to enjoy.  And we cannot serve both God and money.  (Matthew 6:24)

 

How does this apply to me? 

When I was a child, my parents were quite poor.  But there was a value my mom and dad instilled in me that continues to direct my life: “Treat people fairly”.  Even though my dad has been gone for nearly 20 years, fairness remains a core value for me.  But I need to be continually reminded that happiness and joy in life does not come from gathering wealth or having a new car or truck.  Joy and happiness is not the result of having new furniture, nice clothes, playing golf or having the latest in technology.  And getting ahead at the expense of someone else brings misery to my soul rather than enhancement to my life.  I need to remember all this and allow the words of my parents to continue to direct my life.

But I am reminded of something else today.  I must continue to instill these values in my now grown-up children.  And I still have a responsibility to live this value of fairness in front of our granddaughter, so that she might do the same with her children and her children’s children. 

 

My prayer today: 

Oh God, Jehovah Jireh, my provider and my life, I struggle sometimes with my desire for things.  I know you tell me that what matters most is godliness and contentment with what I have.  But sometimes I become selfish in my thinking and want for those things that can never make me happy.  And if I am not careful, I can begin to compromise my values to get what I want.  God keep me from this, I pray.  Give me the grace and strength to live a contented life before our children and our grandchild. 

Let my life be one that is guided by fairness and honesty toward others.  You are my God, Provider, and Giver of Life.  Live you life through me today, I pray.  May the attitude of my heart, the words of my lips, and the activities of my day bring honor and glory to you alone!

Today’s devotion: Wisdom and Discipline

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                        Pastor Derek’s 

                        Devotional Journal

                        August 9, 2009

 

Day 1 – Wisdom and Discipline

Scripture: Proverbs 1: 1-7 (NLT)

1These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.  2Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.  4These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.

 5Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.  Let those with understanding receive guidance
 6by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.

 7Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.


What is the writer saying?

The words found in the Book of Proverbs are to teach me wisdom and to help me live a life of discipline, so my actions might be right and my dealings with others might be just and fair.  These are for everybody.  Through them the wise become wiser, the simple and unlearned gain insight, students and teens gain knowledge and begin to develop discernment.  But to fully benefit from these proverbs, one must explore the deeper meaning of these wise riddles and sayings.

Undergirding the understanding of these proverbs must be a healthy reverence and fear of God, just as one might fear a father.  But the fool will neither fear God nor seek wisdom and discipline in his or her life.

 

How does this apply to me?

I am struck again with the reality that, regardless of how long I have been on the Christian journey there is so much change that still must be affected in my life.  I am reminded that when my actions are wrong, they result from my failure to make the right choices.  When my words are harsh, it is not because someone drove me to frustration; rather, it is because I made the wrong choice.  I chose to speak hastily and from my sinful nature rather than speaking from the new nature that was placed in me on the day I was saved 36 years ago.  This book is for me.  God wants to make me wise and god-like.  But I must recognize Him as my Father and the One to whom I must one day give account.

My prayer today is for wisdom.  My prayer is not that I might gain insight that will result in change in others; my prayer is that God might give me insight that will change me.

 

My prayer today:

“Oh God, my Maker and my Wisdom, how do I allow myself to be so incredibly out of touch with you sometimes?  It’s not just my thoughts; what I do so often is not right, just or fair.  My prayer today is for understanding of the wisdom of this book.  Just as Solomon prayed that he might be wise above all others, I pray that, through his wisdom as found in this book, I might gain understanding of you, myself and of others, and that I might develop godly discipline that changes the way I think, speak and act.  You are my Maker and my Wisdom.  I cannot do this without you.  Abide in me, and may the fruit of your presence within me be a mature and Christ-like character that causes people to turn to and worship you.”

New Children’s Program

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Starting June 14 we will be switching our children’s program over to a brand-new format called Worship Kidstyle!  There will be many changes, but the bottom line is this…more staff, more dynamic material and more fun!  The children will have their own worship service each week complete with drama and music and then activities and games will reinforce the lesson for the week.  Please pray for us as we make the transition!

One Act of Righteousness

Today’s Reading: Romans 5:1-21

18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Romans 5:18-19

A few years ago I was door-knocking in Syracuse letting the community know about an event we were having and inviting them out to it.  I eventually knocked on the door of a middle-aged LDS man who was very polite and wanted to discuss the Bible with me a bit.  We were talking about different versions of the Bible and he quoted me his favorite passage from this chapter in Romans.

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Romans 5:18-19

I believe that a lot of LDS people have a love for the person of Jesus Christ.  I believe it with all of my heart.  However, I long for the day when they lay their burdens completely down, holding on to nothing, and put their faith in Him alone, “The One” as their only hope for atonement of sin and consequently, right standing with God.

Back in the saddle

Today’s Reading: Romans 3:1-4:25

First of all, a confession.  I haven’t been in my Bible at all for a few weeks.  I have let the pressures of our building project mount up and in a time when I needed spiritual refreshing the most, I didn’t bother going to the well if you know what I mean.  I value my daily time with God, and as we near the end of a very long project, I want to make sure I stop neglecting my relationship with Him.

So without further ado, back into Romans.

So much to take from these chapters…I love the first several verses of chapter 4 where Paul continues to pound on the futility of the law.  Then he drops an A-bomb…Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness…are you ready?…BEFORE he was circumsized!  I never picked up on that.  I love God’s Word and how it all fits together.  I am a child of God and an heir to the promise given to Abraham thousands of years ago.  Not through the law, not through blood, but through faith.

Hey there, true Jew!

Today’s Reading: Romans 2:17-29

So today’s passage clarified yesterday’s a lot more for me.¬† Actually, let me paraphrase Romans 2:12-13 based on my new understanding of it:¬† God will punish sin, whether you knew God’s law or not.¬† It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard it before, just whether or not you live it.

Today I was reminded of what makes a ‘true Jew’.¬† Both here and in Galatians, Paul makes the point that true Jewish lineage is not in where you were born or who your parents were or whether or not you are circumcized.¬† Rather, true Jews are those whose hearts are right with God.¬† Not of their own effort, they were MADE right.¬† They have been justified by faith and nothing else.

It is this ‘heritage of faith’ that passes on the ‘bloodline’ of Christ to all who believe.

The Secrets of Men

Today’s Reading: Romans 2:12-16

So I am really struggling with the meaning of this passage today.¬† For¬† clarity’s sake, I will include it for you to read:

“For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

I have read this in a few versions now, English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New American Standard, even The Message.  Here are my immediate struggles.  What does it mean that all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law?  The more I read it, I start to think it is suggesting that they perish without being held accountable to the law.  Seriously, what could it mean?  Why specify that they not only perish, but that they perish without the law?

Now, I’m not suggesting that they are justified.¬† I see a clear line drawn that those who are doers of the law will be justified.¬† Of course, I also know that no one completely does the law.

When it says that “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts“, I think, “That’s really interesting.¬† The WORK of the law.¬† Is this the work of the cross in fulfilling the law?”

All I know is, it’s an internal work.¬† A day is coming when God judges the secrets of men – not our outward doings, but the messy insides that only the blood of a Savior can clean.

Of Judgment and Community Learning

Today’s Reading: Romans 1:18-2:10

I want to talk a little ‘inside baseball’ here.¬† I am a pastor and have been in full-time ministry for 8 years this month.¬† Often times, no matter how much Biblical knowledge you have on any given subject, it can be hard to know what God wants to have happen.¬† During those times, a plurality of Godly leaders is a real advantage, as you can collectively consider a matter from several angles and more correctly interpret the consequences of any given action.

There’s a reason for this.¬† I am going to let you in on a little secret that not everyone knows – The Bible doesn’t explain everything completely.¬† I think it was designed that way for a reason…so that we would come together around God’s Word more, but the bottom line is, there are tons of unanswered questions for any given passage.

In my reading today, Paul warns the Roman believers about judging each other.¬† The paraphrased version is this: Don’t judge each other.¬† If you judge someone for something they do when you do the very same things yourself, you only make it worse on yourself.

Seems pretty straight forward right?¬† Well, it’s giving me fits tonight.¬† I mean, on one hand, I can see the obvious implications of it.¬† But what does this look like in not-so-obvious situations?¬† For example, one of my responsibilities at Lakeside is to assist in finding other leaders in the church.¬† Often times, their personal character and how they live plays a huge role in who is selected.¬† Now, is that not judging someone?¬† Am I not really saying “Well, so-and-so yells at his kids and wife a lot so he doesn’t really possess a Godly character for leadership.”¬† I am basically rendering a verdict on whether or not that person is fit to lead.¬† Is that not judging?¬† After all, rendering a verdict is what judges do best!

Also, I’ve yelled at my wife and kid before.¬† Am I saying that I just don’t do it as much?¬† Is that not saying that my level of righteousness is appropriate but the person’s is not?

Anyway, these are all tough questions from just one passage in the Bible that at first glance seems so harmless.¬† 1 Timothy gives us the qualifications of a leader and one of them is slowness to anger.¬† I have a responsibility it would seem to pick our leaders on that basis but yet, I know it’s wrong to judge as well.

I am thankful that I do not make these decisions alone.  I have been a part of a team of Godly men in our church who are God-fearing and humble and I have more confidence in decisions that we make together.  I believe this is how we should operate as a church, and I am so proud to see it happening at Lakeside.

Many of you know that Mike Roos, one of our Shepherd Leaders, is moving to Washington soon.¬† Also, Gregg Freeman is deploying to Iraq.¬† They will leave big shoes to fill and we must grow again and fill them.¬† Some of you all will have to step up…All of us will, actually.¬† But we will do it well, because we’ll do it together.

From start to finish

Today’s reading: Romans 1:8-17

Of all the books in the Bible, I think Romans has by far the most doctrine.  In our culture and around the world in religion, the issue of faith and works and how they work together is a huge subject.

Paul says in this passage, that the Good News or the gospel “tells us how God makes us right in his sight.¬† This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. (v.17)”

Faith completes the work.  Completely.  We are changed from the inside out to do good works, but faith is what makes us right Рcompletely right, as in perfect Рwith God.

Other passages I am reading: Proverbs 1:1-33

Jesus: more than a man with a resume

It’s time to start a new book in my quiet time and I decided to study Romans ¬†since it’s been about a year. ¬†I hope I try to at least read through Romans once or twice a year, but this time I am going to try to study it more and I will try to write about what I’m reading here.

Today’s Reading: Romans 1:1-7

I hope I articulate this well, but here is what struck me about today’s reading. ¬†As Paul opens up this letter, he talks about who Jesus is; that he was a man, born into David’s lineage and one who basically meets the requirements of what the prophets spoke of concerning the Messiah. ¬†I want to specify that He ‘met the requirements’ but probably didn’t ‘fit the profile’. ¬†This is why so many had a hard time believing in Him. ¬†However, I don’t think that Paul thought much of Him ‘meeting the requirements’. ¬†Instead, I affirm what he says in verse 4, that he was “shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit.”

Fulfilling prophecy is an important part of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. ¬†It completes the picture of God’s redemptive plan…one He had from the start. ¬†However, without the resurrection, Jesus is just a man with a good-looking resume. ¬†The resurrection affirms His deity.

Paul concludes this section with a call to everyone of us.  The call to share the gospel with the unbelieving world.  He mentions that as members of the body of Christ, this call is extended to all the believers in Rome, and we know that this goes for us too.

My prayer today is for our church to take part in the work that God has called each and everyone of to. ¬†Be there for a friend. ¬†Help a neighbor with his yard work. ¬†Invite someone to church. ¬†And do it all with purpose…that one day God will use you to reach that person with His Good News.