February 4 – Who Are You?

Basic RGB

Who are you? Not “what do you do for a living” or “how do others view you.” For me, this question is tough to answer, because of the many proverbial hats I tend to wear in life.

I am a husband, I am a father, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a witness, I am a friend, I am a citizen, and so on. So to just declare who I am in a single-minded fashion requires some assistance from God. Because he alone truly understands our “who,” His Biblical insight revealed through the likes of John becomes tantamount.

In chapter one of John’s gospel account, John the Baptizer’s response to those who grilled him on his identity (John 1:19-22) is quite interesting. His first statement was a confession of who he was NOT! In essence, knowing who you are is as much about knowing who you are not as it is about anything else.

He was aware, with what he was doing, some would wonder if he was the Christ or some other great figure promised in the ancient writings of Moses and the Prophets. To all their claims, he said “no,” because he knew that God’s purpose for him was to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness;” and he was to “make straight the way of the LORD (John 1:23).” And everything he did centered on that one thing.

 My desire is to know clearly my purpose, my God-given purpose, so well that I don’t deviate toward endeavors that prove counter-productive and confusing. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean God has called me to do that something.

It has to fit His divine designation for my life. And if no one else on the planet knows what that is, I must know it like the back of my hand. Then, when they come calling and clawing to put a label on me and a description on what I do, I can set the record straight!

 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”   John 1:19-22

Biblical Meditation: 1 Corinthians 2:16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

 

February 2 – Every Day Counts

days-of-noah3

“Repent, forgive, and believe… quickly.” I heard a man make this statement many years ago, and I still remember it.

It seems that those three commands can be easily bypassed in our day-to-day lives. Noah was a beautiful example of a person who took the directions of God and ran with them. We’re not sure exactly how many years passed from the time he built the ark and the time the flood came.

At the very most, around 100 years passed by. And yet, we see no record of the wickedness on the earth turning around for the better. Many years went by and no one was moved to follow Noah’s example of righteousness.

I believe that our physical, mental, and spiritual health all hinge on these commands. Repent, forgive, and believe, quickly. In the six hundredth year, second month, and seventeenth day of Noah’s life, the curtains of water fell.

And time ran out. God was speaking through Noah and his actions all of those many years. We are again in the “days of Noah.” Regardless of the moment of Jesus’ return to earth, our world is filled with signs that point to His coming.

Just like the days before the floodwaters came, it can be easy to ignore the landmarks all around us. God is gracious and full of mercy as we turn to Him and hand over the reins of our life. Let us follow in the footsteps of Noah, and may we let others know that every day counts.

Jen 🙂

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:11, 12

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 24:36-39 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

January 29 – He’s Just My Dad

2014-08-20-fatherchildholdinghandse1327959452859

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 19 – Pattern of Three

of-three-strandsIn all God does, He weaves layers of meaning. That’s why studying how it all began on planet earth yields so much insight for daily living.

For instance, take the account of the day when God hung lights in the heavens. In my estimation, it is not coincidental that there are three elements of light; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars.

Based on an underlying 3-in-1 theme that occurs throughout the Bible, I believe God is giving us a clue to building a sturdy foundation of bond and balance.

Think about the dynamics that constitute a family: dad, mom, and children. In the order God prescribes, the male (dad) comes before the female (mom) and the children are the result of their union.

However, each role is beautifully bonded by necessity. Neither is more important than the other, yet role-respect is key and vital to their overall success. That’s why it is a sad and sick strategy when modern culture strives to manipulate the delicate strands of this holy institution.

Blinded by selfish intelligence gone wild, the ignorant and in-charge often seek to make changes that would in essence eliminate life as God designed it. Thank God for divine intervention!

Today, look for the “pattern of three.” It may come in the form of three individuals seeking your help in same, yet different, ways.

It may be the same piece of news coming to you via three different people in three different locations. And it could even be something as simple as the eggs you whip for breakfast.

Whatever and whomever might be used to remind you, let it be just that; a reminder of how God braids, bonds, and balances life. For if He cares about the little details like “1-2-3,” surely, He can and will take care of you and me!

 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Genesis 1:16-19 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

January 10 – Nobody Wins

 

nickbrandtlionbeforestormii-sittingprofileMost of the adults I know who have children have at least one thing in common. They would rather hard times fall upon them instead of their children.

It breaks our hearts to see our little ones struggling with a cold or our older ones to facing a tough situation with friends. Likewise, any man worth his salt feels the same way about his wife. I don’t want to see her in need of anything.

But often we fail to equate those same intense feelings for our family’s welfare when selfishness knocks at the door. Every one of us is prone to give into selfish desires that can destroy the lives of the very people we love the most in this world.

I am convinced the governors and satraps who conspired to have Daniel killed never imagined the harm that could come to their families if the plan was unsuccessful. I mean, why would they? There were no records of anyone surviving in a den of lions!

Daniel had broken the law by praying to someone other than the king. But, in spite of the broken law, the motive of the governors’ hearts made them guilty of selfishness and pride. They were so focused on destroying Daniel; they couldn’t differentiate the forest from the trees. And lest we think ourselves much better, take a moment to reflect on some of your own story.

We have all been down the road of selfishness that leads to evil dealings. But, thank God, we don’t have to live there.

The main purpose in having a daily dialog with God is to avoid the plague of self. He alone puts life in its proper perspective and identifies the lurking lies of the heart that can get us into trouble. Outside of Him, there is no effective way to avoid selfishness; it’s instinctual.

My prayer for us all is that the testimony of the men in Daniel and the peril of their families will wake us up. May we find ourselves humbled by the fact that our own selfishness is sin and as long as we tolerate it, all that we hold dear is at risk.

 And the king gave the command and they brought those men who accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions-them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den. Daniel 6:24 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: James 3:13-17

January 8 – The Total Package

il_570xn-352497276_euno

I like a good fight. I didn’t say I like to fight, especially when it comes to getting hit! Because I grew up watching some of the greatest boxers in the world on Saturday afternoons, I have a great appreciation for the sport of boxing.

Some of my favorite fighters were “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and of course, Muhammad Ali. It was like watching a chess match between fists when these men went at it. Every boxer had his own “style” and was often quite successful when he would stick to his game plan.   I

’ll never forget the first time I saw Mike Tyson step into the ring. Wow! What a fighter he was. Not only did he have the raw talent, and the fighter’s instinct, but he was well-trained. His coach, Costamatto, saw his potential when he was a boy and began to groom him to be a champion.   Tyson had the jab, he had a rock-solid defense, he was in great shape, and most of all he had a crushing punch. He indeed had the total package. Unfortunately, he made foolish choices and lacked character, and today he’s often referred to as “the champion that could have been.”

In the above verses, Dr. Luke accounts that Jesus grew up with the real total package. In my home, this is the highest priority for my little champions. I want them to grow up in an atmosphere that promotes strong bodies – inside and out, spiritual wisdom, and revelation of the grace of God.   For all practical purposes, life is truly a fight and each of us enters the ring every day, whether we want to or not. I don’t know about you, but if I have to fight, I would rather win! And if that be the case, let God’s Word be your gym and His Spirit be your coach.

Every day, get dressed in His strength, put on His wisdom, and let Him robe you in His grace.   Never take your eyes off these three keys. Say them on the way to work, while you cook dinner, and before you go to bed. Then watch yourself start floating through trials “like a butterfly” and stinging temptations “like a bumble bee.” You can’t lose with God on your side, the Holy Spirit in your corner and Christ as your example. You’ve got the total package!   When Joseph and Mary finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him. Luke 2:39-40  

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:12

January 6 – Strange People

DSC_0539Little babies provoke people into grabbing them, even if it’s a child they don’t know.   When we had our first child, I really had a tough time with the ‘grabbers.’ I was not very fond of sharing my baby! I can only imagine what Mary and Joseph were going through when Simeon takes their baby out of their arms and begins to walk around with him! Even if he was saying a blessing over the boy, this still must have been a little bit hard to swallow.   If that wasn’t strange enough, a little lady in her nineties starts throwing her hands up and praising God, all the while telling everyone their child is going to ‘set them free!’ Now granted, with the angel visits and the sheepherders’ arrival, Mary and Joseph were probably not too taken aback. However, I don’t care who you are, these people were a little strange!

Take Anna, the ninety-one year old praising widow. For eighty-four years, she lived in the temple, night and day. That’s like camping out in one of the local congregations 24/7.   Not only that, but she was apparently known as a prophetess, and if you know anything about the Old Testament prophets like Samuel and Elijah, you can imagine her conversations were not “light and fluffy!” All of this, coupled with the fact that her diet consisted primarily of fasting and prayer.   Nonetheless, this strange woman’s story is highlighted in the best-selling book ever written. And not only that, for all of us who know that baby as Jesus, the Lord and Master of our souls, she is a witness.

This Anna brings to light one of my favorite definitions of the word “strange.”   In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “strange” can mean “foreign; belonging to another country.” So what does that tell you? Maybe all of us should “deluge” ourselves with the Master and His ways until others think we are from another planet!   Seriously, stop right now and thank God for all those strange people you’ve passed off as crazy, or just a little annoying. Who knows, God may have them on a special assignment to change your life.  

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Biblical Meditation: Luke 2 & 1 Peter 2:9