January 31 – What Is “Acceptable?”

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There seems to be two ways to look at most things in life. What we accept and what we don’t. It just boils down to those two options. Whether you are looking at fixing a house, disciplining your children, or detailing your car, it’s important to know what is acceptable to you, preferably based on God’s Word.

I remember a time when you could eat off the floor of my little Honda Accord when I was 18 years old. Well, God has provided a new and better little Accord, but frankly, you couldn’t pay me to eat off the floor now! I have experienced a shift in my priorities!

Take time to decide what is acceptable to you in the important areas of your life. Is it “acceptable” to live in a miserable marriage, or do you have a part to play in fixing it? Is it “acceptable” to raise children who run around crazy and disrespect you? Is it “acceptable” to spin the gerbil wheel for eighty years and miss your God-given purpose?

 Know that what you decide, as it coincides with God’s way of doing things, will literally change what you see and experience. Pray and ask the Father to guide every quality decision and He will help you begin the small changes that must take place in your heart.

Jen 🙂

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

 

January 30 – The “God-Kind” of Nature

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Not long ago, my son showed me where a mother ringneck dove had built a nest in a tree close to our home.

She was so beautifully camouflaged by the branches and leaves I could barely see her. There was something very “Genesis” about this momma and her nest. Nobody had to tell her what to do; instinctively she found the proper location, at the proper time, to do what she was created to do.

In my estimation, that’s so simple, we almost need help to misunderstand it. The activities of the birds and the fish are seasonal reminders to those who choose to pay attention. A Creator crafted all that exists to function according to supernatural specifics.

Many of us call that “nature.” And if that Creator thought enough of doves and dolphins to give them built-in “honing devices” to operate in certain seasons, surely He has not forgotten us! On the contrary, there is more than ample evidence surrounding us that is literally shouting His love for us.

So the next time you take note of the many minnows teaming in the streams, or the robins singing their morning song, remember…you, too, were created to do that thing only you can do. It’s your “God-kind” of nature.

 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

 

January 29 – He’s Just My Dad

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When I was a kid, there was a popular 7-UP commercial featuring the welterweight boxing champ of the day, Sugar Ray Leonard. The soft drink company capitalized on the father-son relationship between Ray and Ray, Jr., his son.

The climax came when a group of young boys came through the boxing gym, spotting Sugar Ray in the ring. After recognizing him, they shouted, “It’s the champ!” And Little Ray came back with a simple, “Naaah, it’s just my dad.” What an impression that made on my ten year-old mind.

At the heart of every person is a child longing to know their daddy better than anyone else does. And that little person also wants to be the one who says to the whole world, “Hey, if you want to meet my pops, you’ll want to follow me, because he’s my dad.”

This, in a nutshell, is the beauty of Christ. Through Him, we can waltz right in and take a seat in the lap of the Creator of the Universe. To the world and all that’s in it, God is often known as the Invisible, All Powerful One. But to Christ, He is Abba (another way to say Daddy!).

For all who have discovered the marvelous Christ-connection to God, He is your Papa too. And that places you in a privileged position; you are “Junior” to the world. Now, while the masses seek a glance of the One True God, you can help them out. Yes, He is God, and yes, He is awesome. But to you, He’s Dad!

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18

Biblical Meditation: Romans 8:15-17 Message This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

 

 

January 28 – Embarrassed Eyes See Dimly

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Recently, I was going over the account of Israel’s first king with my children and all of a sudden, there it was. God miraculously peeled back the invisible curtain and revealed a truth I had never considered in all the times I have recounted this historical event.

The scene starts with Prophet Samuel giving King Saul some clear-cut instructions from God (I Samuel 15). But instead of obeying, Saul took the liberty to modify the command to fit his own pious plans. Later, when Samuel returned and confronted him, he denied any wrongdoing and justified his actions without even flinching.

And it wasn’t until Samuel told him that God had rejected him as king that he finally said, “Ok, what I did was wrong and I’m sorry, but Samuel, please don’t make me look bad. Come back home with me and acknowledge my victory before all my people (my paraphrase).”

 As I wove into my child-like embellishment all the other times Saul had done a “half-baked” job of obeying God, I saw it. This would-be king was so afraid of falling flat on his face, his vision was impaired. Every order he received was sifted through an internal grid of “no matter what happens, I can’t look bad.”

He cared more about being embarrassed before the masses than he did about being embraced by the Master. Wow! Then I stopped, and reminisced over times in my own life when I was guilty of the same kind of short-sightedness. Ouch!

I admit, I have never relished being the back-end of cruel jokes and jeers. So much so, that as a kid, my parents had to drill into me the absolute necessity of telling the truth. Back then, I would waste no time fabricating or falsifying a few key facts to avoid looking bad.

Even now, it is daily time with God that helps keep my heart delicate and non-deceptive when it comes to obeying His wishes, regardless of how it might make me look before the crowd.

I pray this is not your struggle. I hope when it comes to being embarrassed you are untouchable. But chances are, I am not alone. And if that’s the case, my encouragement is the same as what I offered each of my children (as I took a dose myself).

Acknowledge the tendency before God and ask Him to raid the cupboards of your heart in search of this “vision thief.” Ask Him to set your sight “aright.” That way, you and I don’t wake up one day to find ourselves paranoid and alone, thinking everybody is out to get us (like King Saul). To obey is better than sacrifice!

Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” I Samuel 15:30 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep your foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.

January 27 – This Thing Called the Body

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 When it comes to Christianity, I struggle sometimes with the “how comes.” Why are there so many fragmented pieces? Why is there so much duplication and yet, limited unity? And why, if our Savior and Lord came and healed the sick, prospered the poor, fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, and opened prison doors for the captives, why do we struggle so in doing the same?

In all honesty, there are many times I get so caught up in this type of thinking, I lose sight of what God taught me years ago. During a time of “wandering through the why’s,” I asked God for help with some of these questions. And instead of answering me in an audible voice, He led me to the prayerful words of Christ in John 17.

There I saw the Lord prophetically praying His will for those who would one day be known as Christians. He knew unity and harmony would be a feat that only His Father could muster. There would be so many from different walks of life, with so many mindsets. That is why it is a sign of maturity when we choose to pray as Christ did for the Body of believers instead of critiquing and criticizing its shortcomings.

This morning I was moved by the thought of this great Body, more than a billion strong world-wide, united through prayer and harmoniously representing Christ in its manifold languages and flavors! There is nothing like it in the entire universe! So I commit once again to pray for her and play my role. And may the world feel the weight of Christ’s love for them through our obedience.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. . John 17:23

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 2:8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.

 

January 26 – Stay Hungry

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We squint at absolute truth. It is so pure; our minds struggle to contain it.

Truth, real pure truth, does not rely on reason. It doesn’t have to make sense. It is the truth whether it is ever accepted by anyone. Truth need not jockey for a place. Because the truth is the truth, places and people will ultimately be examined under its lens.

When Christ told Nicodemus the truth about the Son of Man (Himself), Nicodemus had no file for it. “The Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” But His statement was the truth, nonetheless.

And this Nicodemus, a great teacher of the Jewish people, pondered and wondered on this truth for many mornings and evenings. Maybe he never truly understood it, but yet he continued to stand under the truth-laden messages of Christ until Christ was “lifted up” on the cross. Perhaps then he caught a glimpse. Who knows?

My prayer for us all is that we may so hunger for truth that we become willing to ignore the abundance of what we do know for a sliver of what we cannot comprehend. Because when this occurs, our pursuit of God will take orbit.

And just as I envision it might have been for Nicodemus, Christ will gently develop room within us to contain what often cannot be explained, in order that it might remain. Oh, that we may hunger!

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.

 

January 25 – Fueled By Gratitude

 

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Take a moment and recall an event in your past that could have destroyed your life. Most likely you had some ownership in the matter, but found yourself out of control.   What a scary place to be!

One such occasion comes to mind for me. I was barely sixteen. It was the summer of ‘86 and my buddy Greg had just got his new wheels. His dad had restored a late model Mustang and it was “sweeter than candy.”

So on a Sunday evening after church Greg took me and two other friends joy-riding. After playing some video games we headed home. As we crossed over the overpass and approached the turn-on ramp Greg lost control of the car. Because of our excessive speed, the car went air-born, flipped, and rolled into oncoming traffic on I-35!

It happened around 8:00 pm and traffic was thick, but no one hit us. The three passengers (including me) came away from the wreck unhurt. But Greg went to the hospital that night, unconscious. He suffered several injuries to his neck and head but thankfully he survived the tragic event.

For all practical purposes, all four of us got a second chance on life. We didn’t know it then, but now it’s very evident that there are many people who would have been directly affected by our demise.

Now that’s quite a serious example, but that’s what gratefulness is really all about. It means always being ready to count your blessings. It’s recognizing that things could be a whole lot worse and making the very best of the life you have right now.

To drive this home, take a look at this idea from a God-perspective out of the Message Bible: We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.   Ephesians 2:3-6

 God is ultimately the One who is responsible for all the blessings we enjoy. So, our daily thanksgiving is a necessary part of healthy living. “Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you!”