Humility is not a sign of weakness. It never has been. It never will be. It ever has been and always will be a sign of strength and deep-rooted courage. All through history the strong men—strong from the standpoint of morality and righteousness—have been humble men. And in human relationships humility is a powerful thing; for it not only rebukes an enemy; it also reclaims, wins, the enemy. —David Dawson
I thank God for you. Your life is a blessing. Thank you for your ceaseless prayers and your unwavering support of me. Thanks for your “strong” life of humility as you live for Jesus Christ. It is my privilege to be your son. I celebrate you and your 76 years of life today.
In Matthew 21:13 Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” But what if, due to Covid19 concerns or other things, we haven’t been in church for awhile?
Can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God? . . . Absolutely!
In the gospels we read that Jesus [God] became flesh and blood, walked and lived among us, died upon the cross for our sins, defeated death, gave us new life and now lives in us via His Holy Spirit. Jesus inhabits our heart.
The Apostle Paul said it this way,
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
In other words, God’s new (and desired) residence is in our hearts. We are His house.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)
God no longer inhabits tents or buildings—He lives in people.
We are His temple, and God’s “house of prayer” is our heart. And you are the keeper of the temple . . . the house . . . your heart. Through Jesus, you are the priest and it is your privilege, opportunity and duty to make it a house of prayer. But how? Check out Psalm 141:1-2:
I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Call out to God! You and I don’t need a priest, a church service, or a building to pray, connect with and draw near to the Lord. Through the cross of Christ we have access to God, right here, right now. Jesus is ever knocking at the door of your heart. Let Him in. Call upon the Name of the Lord!
As the keeper of the house (which is the heart) you and I need to live a life that is continuously fragrant with the incense of prayer, rising unto the Lord day and night. We must look to and revere the Lord continuously, praising Him with worship that is bold and abandoned, costly and consecrated.
And we must follow Jesus, keeping our eyes and hearts focused on Him. We must live holy and humble; eager in the spirit of sacrifice—no matter the cost, and unwavering in service to others and Christ the King.
In these stifling times, can we still pray?…connect with Jesus?…draw near to God?
Let Psalm 141 be your guide as you look to the Lord.
Your heart is Christ’s home. Make it a house of prayer!
There are so many words flying around these days! The 24-hour news cycle, social media, YouTube, radio, podcasts, TV . . . words, words, words. My life is full of words too—from my mouth and pen—to my family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers, acquaintances and enemies.
This morning God’s Word reminded me that I am to bear fruit for the glory of God and words are fruit. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45, NIV). My words are a reflection of my heart and they are powerful. Check out these lines from the poem, “The First Settler’s Story” by Will Carleton,
Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds; You can't do that way when you're flying words. "Careful with fire," is good advice, we know: " Careful with words," is ten times doubly so. Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead; But God himself can't kill them when they're said!
Wow, I believe that nothing is impossible with God, but point taken Mr. Carleton—words are powerful. Now, more than ever, we are realizing that we can’t control much in our lives, but we can control our words. At least we can try, and we must, because words are fruit and fire.
Consider James 3:2-12, NIV:
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
I won’t belabor this diatribe on words with more words except to say that I am going to go from here heeding the words of Tim Keller and calling upon the Lord (with my words) for help.
Our words should be honest, few, wise, apt and kind. —Tim Keller
Psalm 141:1-3, NIV I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Are you in the midst of trouble, struggle, desperation, disappointment, hopelessness, the Covid 19 pandemic, . . . FEAR?
Please read Psalm 34. Read it again and again. Let God’s Word fill, strengthen, nourish, soothe, keep, protect, assure, comfort, help and lead you in these difficult days.
The writer of the Psalm (King David) is just like you and me. He was experiencing fear, trouble and great need, but he didn’t face it alone. He trusted in God—where need is not the ultimate reality, trouble is never the final answer, and fear is never the last word.
Consider these verses from Psalm 34 (NIV):
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all
God sees, knows and cares about you and me. Stay close to Him. Keep your heart pure and your mind fixed upon Jesus. Cry out to Him in prayer! God is not put off by your sadness (crushed spirit), discouragement and disappointment (brokenhearted). He wants our hearts, our trust and our faith to be in Him alone. He will deliver us and we will praise His Name!
It is when you have been scared to death and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a right place and cry out to Jesus, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing his praises. The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.
—Dennis Kinlaw, This Day With the Master, (Aug. 12)
This morning I awoke to worry—about our world, my children, my friends and the future. I know I shouldn’t start the day this way, so Lord I look to You. Thank you God for Psalm 22—a prayer from the lips of one facing trouble (who probably woke up to worry too). I looked to Your Word and Psalm 22:4 NIV caught my eye.
In you [God] our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
O God, in Psalm 22 things are bleak, the oppression is real and the situation looks hopeless. But the psalmist made a choice and looked to you. That is what I must do. And then, in my online prayer time with Daniel Henderson, I heard this:
In troubled times we have to make a choice how to respond—will it be based on what we feel, on what we see around us, or on what we know to be true?
This made me think of Hebrews 11:1 that says,
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see.
There is no feeling or seeing included in this verse—it is all about trust and confidence (faith) in what we know to be true. And what is true is Jesus, the Word of God, God’s love for us, and the power, presence and help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus is my rock, shelter, fortress, helper, provider, savior and Lord. God I need you!
A cry brings God. A cry is mightier than the polished phrase. —Samuel Chadwick
I will not worry. I will pray.
Lord, I trust in You today, I look to You today, I call upon You today.
How’s your faith today? Faith is hard, even on the best days. I just read my daily dose of the news and I don’t know about you, but I need a faith boost. Faith doesn’t come through gritted teeth or positive thinking, it comes through God’s Word. It is alive and life-giving, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We must look to God’s Word.
“. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV)
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat gets some concerning news and his faith is lagging (like mine). It says in verse 3 that he was “alarmed.” So what did he do? He prayed (see vs. 6-12).
I am hanging onto vs. 12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
That is prayer. Prayer happens when we call upon the Name of the Lord.
God help me to put my eyes upon You today.
“. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)
Are you alarmed today? Pray! Look to Jesus! Call upon His Name!
I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
These are difficult days. Life as we have known it has changed. Plans, dreams, financial portfolios, and aspirations have all been replaced by disappointment and concern. Stores, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, churches and schools are empty, the roadways deserted, hope abandoned.
It seems like time has stopped. But it hasn’t.
The clock still ticks, the calendar pages still turn, and life happens. These are not the moments we planned on. This isn’t what we hoped for.There is no clear picture of when or how this will end. We see through a glass darkly.
What are we to do?
Today, I'm looking to Jesus and taking my cues from a couple of my spiritual heroes, Elisabeth Elliot and Billy Graham.
Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now. ― Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart
I have no idea what kind of man he is. All I know is that I was blind and now I can see for the first time in my life! (John 9:25, TPT)
This morning in my Bible study and devotional time I saw a picture of myself—and my former self.
In John 9 (TPT) there is an account of Jesus healing a blind man and it really messed people up! The man was healed and he immediately ran off in joy to tell his friends, family, and the world, his good news.
The onlookers, the Pharisees, the doubters, and the skeptics were buzzing with questions. Who did it? What happened? Was the man really blind? Is this for real?
The people that witnessed the healing say, “Yep, I’ve seen that blind beggar here every day for years and now he can see.”
His parents say, “Yes, that is our son. No, he doesn’t have an identical twin. He was born blind and has been blind his whole life. But don’t ask us, ask him, he’s an adult.”
The (former) blind man said, “A man anointed by eyes with clay, then I washed, and now I can see for the first time in my life!”
The Pharisees, doubters and skeptics asked, “Who did this? Who was this man that opened your blind eyes?”
The (former) blind man replied, “For all I know, he’s a prophet of God!”
Round and round, the grilling continued . . . Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Finally, the man who was blind, who lived his entire life in darkness, in isolation, in constant need, who had no hope, no future, and a life of unanswerable questions, spoke up.
He said, “Listen, I’ve already told you multiple times, I don’t know who the man was that healed me. I don’t know what kind of person he is. All I know is this—I was blind and now I can see for the first time in my life!”
Later, Jesus went and found the healed man and they talked. Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
The man whose blind eyes were healed answered, “Who is he, Master? Tell me so that I can place all my faith in him.”
Jesus replied, “You’re looking right at him. He’s speaking with you. It’s me, the one in front of you now.”
Then the man threw himself at his feet and worshiped Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe in you!”
And that’s when I saw a picture of myself—and my former self.
I once was blind, my life was full of darkness, isolation, constant need. I had no hope, no future, and a life of unanswerable questions. And then Jesus came into my heart and life.
You can ask me all kinds of questions about morality, suffering, politics, theology, the economy, the coronavirus and even death. And all I can say for sure is that once I was blind, but now I can see.
How's your vision this morning? Do you see yourself in the John 9 account?
In John 9: 39 & 41, TPT Jesus says, "I have come to judge those who think they see and make them blind. And for those who are blind, I have come to make them see. ... If you would acknowledge your blindness, then your sin would be removed."
Today I live by faith in the One who loved me and gave His life for me. He is light in the darkness, He gives sight to the blind and he is Faithful, always and ever Faithful. Sometimes in my morning devotional time I sing. Here’s a little song by Sara Groves about God's faithfulness.
How’s your faith these days? Mine needs some work.
But what does that look like in these days of “shelter in place?” I don’t know about you, but my faith isn’t growing much in the midst of my questions, grieving, stir-craziness, depression, Netflix binges and my endless scrolling through the barrage of “helpful” posts, quips and quotes on social media (. . . like this one).
I need God’s help, and the best way to grow in faith is through God’s Word.
“. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17, NKJV)
Deep reading and Bible study may not be your thing, and even if they are, you may find that type of focus difficult in these days of confining chaos.
Recently, I came across an idea from the life of Billy Graham that is helping me during these trying times. It is strengthening me in my faith by getting me into the Word of God.
The idea comes from an article by Jerry Jenkins titled, “Precious Memories: Billy Graham.” In the article, Jenkins tells about a time when he was meeting with Billy Graham to gather information for the biography that he was writing about Dr. Graham. At one point he asks Graham about how he maintains his own spiritual disciplines (how he grows in his faith) and therein is the gold.
Below is the portion of the article that I found helpful. I pray you find it helpful too.
For our last session, we sat knee to knee across from each other in his modest office. My goal was to see what readers could glean not from all the experiences he had enjoyed as a worldwide Christian leader, but rather from his own personal devotional life.
But, as usual, I broached the subject the wrong way. I began, “People look to you as a spiritual leader, a model, almost like the Protestant pope—”
“Oh, no, they shouldn’t do that…”
“But they do. Many see you as the Christian leader of our time—”
Mr. Graham said, “They really mustn’t do that. When I think of the number of times I’ve failed the Lord, I feel this low,” and he reached and placed his hand flat on the floor.
And I thought, Billy Graham has failed the Lord?
I kept trying to ask the question, basing it on how he was so revered. He would have none of it.
I said, “Well, just tell me how you maintain your own spiritual disciplines.”
Finally, I had hit on something he was eager to talk about. He leaned forward, boring in on me with those piercing blue eyes. “The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and to search the Scriptures. And I do that.”
I was stunned. “You pray without ceasing?”
“I do,” he said, “and I have every waking moment since I received Christ at age 16. I’m praying right now as I’m talking to you that everything I say will glorify Christ.”
I could barely speak, yet still I wondered if there was takeaway value here. Had he set the bar so high no one could emulate him? When I found my voice, I said, “What form does your searching the Scriptures take?”
Mr. Graham said, “Wherever I am in the world, in someone’s home, my home, a hotel room, here in my office, anywhere, I leave my Bible open where I’ll notice it during the day. Every time I see it, I stop and read a verse or two, or a chapter or two, or for an hour or two. And this is not for sermon preparation; it’s just for my own spiritual nourishment.”
Now we were getting somewhere. Everyone wants a daily devotional life, even if they can’t pray without ceasing. I said, “How do you get back into it if you miss a day or two?”
He cocked his head and squinted. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that.”
“You never miss?”
“No, I said it’s nourishment for my spiritual life, and I don’t want to miss a meal.”
Over his shoulder, on the corner of his desk, lay his open Bible, just as he said.
Did you catch that?
“Wherever I am in the world, in someone’s home, my home, a hotel room, here in my office, anywhere, I leave my Bible open where I’ll notice it during the day."
Wherever we are, even in the midst of "shelter in place," there is a way to grow in faith
There is no greater blunder than that of ignoring or despising little things. —Philip S. Moxom
The little things—inches, minutes, moments and decisions—matter. This is evident in Proverbs 6:6-11, where King Solomon contrasts the life of an ant with the life of a sluggard. The ant lives well; the sluggard doesn’t. In both cases, the results are realized in the little things.
In Proverbs 6 we find that little oldant to be a self-starter and a diligent worker that makes a big difference for good. It moves the sand grain by grain, builds a home, gathers food, stores-up supplies and makes a life. The ant is the epitome of discipline and responsibility, and the writer of Proverbs implores us to, “consider its ways and be wise.”
The sluggard’s story is just the opposite—it is a sad tale—a life where nothing gets done. His home is covered with weeds, overgrown with thistles and surrounded by broken down walls (Prov. 24:30-31). It is interesting to note that the sluggard doesn’t decide in one grandiose moment to be lazy, sleep-in, procrastinate, and slug around. It happens gradually, a little bit at a time (or in the case of Netflix—episode by episode).
In Prov. 6:10 (NIV) it says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,” . . . and the result is tragic! Left unaddressed, little things morph into big problems. The choice to do nothing (which is a choice) leaves the sluggard dirt poor and in dire want and need. And the reality of it all sneaks up on him like a burglary—robbing him of home, health and ultimately his life. That’s the way of the enemy.
The subtlety of the sluggard’s demise is unnerving. He didn’t want to end up where he did. He didn’t say, “I’m done, I quit, I’m going to take it easy and let the chips fall where they may.” He didn’t choose a life of ruin, loss and regret, but in the midst of a little sleep, slumber and rest, it happened.
Derek Kidner tells us how:
“He [the sluggard] does not commit himself to a refusal, but deceives himself by the smallness of his surrenders. So, by inches and minutes, his opportunity slips away.” (Proverbs, p. 39)
Did you catch that? The sluggard, “deceives himself by the smallness of his surrenders.” The problem with small surrenders is that they seem harmless, but in reality they are deadly. It’s the little things:the tap of the snooze button, an extra scoop of ice cream, just one more episode, a bit more on the credit card, the careless word, that peek, lapse, laze, loiter, and suddenly—you’re lost—on a path, and in a place, that you never wanted to be.
Small surrenders make you vulnerable. They leave the windows and doors of your home and life wide open, and that gives the thief access to your heart and mind—and consequently, the opportunity of life, real life, slips away.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.(The words of Jesus in John 10:10, NIV)
Jesus makes quite a contrast between the thief (enemy) and Himself in John 10:10—much like the difference between the sluggard and the ant—one represents death and the other life.
We need not fall victim to the smallness of our surrenders. There is another gradual, “little by little” process of “becoming,” and it is in our journey with Jesus—it is called holiness. Holiness is immense. It characterizes God and it is what God wants to bring about in our hearts and lives. God offers it, we choose it.
Choose holiness. In the hundreds of little decisions each day, choose holiness.—John Eldredge
Jesus is our model and our resource for holiness. He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Growth is never complete in this life—we don’t just “arrive." It starts with just a little bit of faith, time in His Word, and prayer, and it continues and grows as we trust in Jesus and seek Him first. And as we do this, God is faithful. He is always making, conforming and transforming us into the likeness of Christ.
Much like the ant, we are to do the “little by little” that ultimately leads to a life well-lived and thankfully, we don’t do it alone. Jesus bought our salvation with His blood upon the cross and He calls us to life to the full in Him. He never forces, but He beckons, helps, empowers and woos us unto Himself—by inches and minutes—all the way Home.