February 25 – He Sees and Knows

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I can be guilty of having temper tantrums from time to time. And although I am not proud of it, they tend to encroach upon me just about the time things are going pretty good. Sometimes, all Hades breaks loose and I find myself questioning God as to “why,” but not so much anymore. I’ve lived long enough to know it’s usually darkest before the dawn and if you just hold on awhile, things will get brighter.

What tends to trigger the oversized baby in me is a sense of not being understood by those closest to me. Here’s an example: I have a certain way I fold my t-shirts. Not a big deal, normally, but definitely a preference.

On most occasions I am just grateful when Jen or one of the children goes the extra mile and does mine. But there are those rare moments when that little voice says, “If they really cared about you, they would know how you like your shirts folded.” If I don’t nip it in the bud, that kind of thinking will hit me in the backside before I know it, leaving a whole lot of precious people feeling unappreciated. I know, you can’t relate…

The fact of the matter is every human being can and will feel that no one truly understands them at times. And guess what? They are right! We are so unique and our ways are very individual. God made us that way on purpose. One, a puzzle won’t come together if all the pieces are just alike. And two, if we had someone on planet earth that knew us “picture-perfectly,” we would never need to seek the face of our Creator. He alone knows and sees who we are and where we are headed. All others are His instruments to help get us there.

I love how Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do You know me?” Jesus wasted no time on frivolous introductions, He spoke in a way the man would know He knew him; but how? And here’s the nugget I encourage you to ponder with me and my family today: Jesus stares into Nathanael’s eyes and He says, “I see you! And I know you better than anyone, including yourself. Don’t worry; what I see in you doesn’t change what I think about you. So, if you feel the need to have a pity party, no problem; fits don’t faze Me. I’ll still be around when the smoke clears. Then, I will remind you that in Me alone lies perfection, not people.” He sees!

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. John 1:47-48 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. (Check out all of Psalm 139!)

 

February 24 – Show Me

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Most of the people you know are “show me” kind of people. That simply means they prefer actions over words. In my estimation, it is pretty normal and I don’t think that God is too terribly offended by that sort of initial reaction. Now the desired goal, as we grow up spiritually, is to walk more by faith than we do by sight. But we shouldn’t expect to jump out of a boat and start walking on the water overnight, if you know what I mean.

There is a whole lot more to it than that. When we hang around the Gospel account of Jesus’ time on earth, we will find that most of those who were ministered to and mentored by Him were “show me” kind of people until they grew to trust that His words could back up His ways.

That brings us to Nathanael, one of my favorite Bible guys. I see him as an honest, genuine, hardworking individual who was all about the truth. Depending on where you look, the name “Nathanael/Nathaniel” can mean, “Gift of God” or “No guile, no deceit, no falsehood, no duplicity!” And since I have a Nathaniel for a son, I reckon the Bible Nathanael was a little bit of both of these two traits: gifted and brutally honest.

That’s important to me when I survey his response to Philip. When Philip came to tell him that they had located the One the Law of Moses spoke of, he wasn’t being disrespectful with his question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

It’s possible that he was saying, “I don’t remember the law saying anything about the Messiah coming out of Nazareth, of all places!” But regardless, I don’t see him or those like him as rude and faithless because they require some, “show” before they say that they “know” all is well and good. And the way Philip responds is perfect when dealing with a Nathanael. He didn’t try to debate or further explain; he simply said, “Come and see.”

This is good wisdom for me today. Because there are still times I forget.   With my own son, I can find myself a tad frustrated when he unconsciously challenges me to show him instead of just pointing it out to him. And sadly, there have been more times than I care to mention that he has come to me and asked why my actions failed to line up with what I had previously told him. You and I are surrounded by Nathanael’s. And if we will let them, they will help us always have something to show for what we think we know!

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 16:13  Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth

February 23 – Found to Follow

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One of the toughest things in the entire world is to get boys to follow. That’s the truth, even if I am a boy. Many of my lumps and bumps came from not following whoever was in charge of leading me at the time.

Very rarely was it because I was being willfully defiant or stubborn. On the contrary, most of the time, it was a matter of memory; I’d forget the instructions about as fast as they were given. At that point, I would follow the first fun-loving notion that popped into my head. Now I’m a dad raising my own crop of boys and nothing’s changed!

I’ll never forget the time my Caleb almost spent the night at the zoo. He was about four at the time and all he had to do was stick with his big brother. That’s it. But between big brother’s own set of distractions and Caleb’s desire to go another direction, when it came time to board and depart, little Caleb was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Just about the time Caleb realized he was lost, the park security guard and his big brother came to the rescue. Now, if you were a bit panicked reading this, imagine being the parents hearing about it after the fact! Like I said, getting boys to follow is no easy thing, but very necessary.

In the case of Jesus and Philip, I see Jesus, like a big brother, looking purposefully for Philip. Now, the Bible doesn’t elaborate a whole lot about Philip’s particulars, but it is clear that Jesus sought him and instructed him to follow. The amazing part of the story is Philip’s response. With no questions, no qualifications, and no qualms, he obeyed. God knows, I want to be like that!

The truth is all of us have been sought after by the Lord. And like a big brother, He is telling us “Come, this way.” May we recognize His demands as divine direction. The Father has sent Him to help us get to the right destination without too many “bought lessons.” Today, I make a fresh commitment to pay attention and follow His lead, no qualms. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. John 1:43-44 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

February 22 – Home Sweet Home

frnt_angle_lightboxOur relocation to the country has been a blessing. Maybe I’ll be talking about it for many devos to come. Much of what we know God has asked us to do is continuing without a pause. The surroundings we are in just play a different kind of part in enhancing each day’s work. Here’s a little sample of what I heard from Benjamin, our 4 year-old, tonight.

Mom, why is this bug I caught called a lightning bug?”

 “Well, because he lights up.”

 “Is it because he hates darkness?”

 (Long pause) “Yes, I guess he does his job because he hates the darkness!”

Wow! That little guy just hit me right between the eyes! He lights up because he hates the darkness!! What a beautiful, powerful picture of all that God has given us to do and be in this dark world. We have no idea or clue who or what we are affecting, just by living our everyday lives.

Anytime I watch the combines roll through the fields, I can’t help but get teary. Not just because I love observing the familiar process that breathes hundreds of childhood memories, but because I am seeing first hand an example of ripe and ready fruit getting plucked out of the field and whisked into the harvest truck. Have you noticed lately? Doesn’t the time seem short?

Don’t be weary in well-doing, and most of all, don’t forget what home really is. Let the mission we’ve been given infiltrate our hearts, our actions, and our words, so that through each of our days on this earth, all the rest of the harvest can come home, too.

Jenny 🙂

When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. Matthew 21:34

 Biblical Meditation: John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

February 21 – On Time

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Jen and I had been married a couple of years when I took a position as a youth coordinator in our community. My primary focus was a junior leadership council with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. That’s just a fancy way to say I was teaching a group of youngsters leadership skills through running a t-shirt and mug business. I found out pretty quickly I was over my head – I didn’t know the first thing about shirts or mugs.

Thankfully, I met a wonderful local merchant who was interested in working with us as a partner. As time clicked on, we started making progress. Orders were rolling in and I found myself spending a majority of my time down at her store. That part was great. But what I didn’t realize was how often I would tell Jen I was “on my way home” and didn’t actually leave for another thirty minutes or so (i.e., until I finished what I was working on).

So one day, the owner of the store (who was and is a dear friend) said, “How does your wife feel about you telling her you are on your way and you don’t leave here until quite a bit later?” I thought to myself, “Jen understands I’m working. She knows I don’t mean to be late.” I’m sure I had a puzzled look plastered across my face as I told her I didn’t know how Jen felt about it. She encouraged me to ask her. So I did. I will never forget that day. With tears in her eyes, Jen communicated to me that she had been praying God would somehow help me understand how much it means to her for me to be on time. “If you’re not sure when you’ll be here, just tell me.”

Because I am a “one-task-at-a–time” person, I often find it a challenge to break away and move on to the next assignment. And thus, punctuality is always a constant work in progress. But that does not excuse its importance. God is all about timeliness. Now, don’t misunderstand, He controls the clock! Things might not happen when you think they should, but it won’t be because He’s late. And as for you and me, one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of punctuality—be on time. If you are like me, don’t beat yourself up if you know your struggle, just receive the correction and get going in the right direction!

The Character First I WILL’s for Punctuality:

I WILL be at the right place at the right time

I WILL prepare for unexpected delays

I WILL do my work ahead of time

I WILL plan a daily schedule and keep it

I WILL not fall into the trap of “just one more”

God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time. Generous to a fault, you lavish your favor on all creatures. Psalms 145:14-16 Message Bible

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:1a There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

 

February 20 – Depth of Perception

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God’s Word is like a time machine. If you spend morning, noon and night reading it, thinking on it, talking about it, digging around in it, memorizing it, you will, at some point, go for a trip. And you will see things you never imagined. Most importantly, you will see answers.

I guess that’s why I’m a bit strange to some. Back when I had no time for the Bible, I was in the dark on a whole lot of things. And fear of the known and unknown dictated much of my behavior. But one day, somebody told me the Bible contained God’s Word, written straight to me… and that through it He gave insight to all who gave it priority.

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went to work. At first, my mind struggled. Focus was a big issue because the words didn’t instantly start painting pictures. I realized later this was largely due to the dulling process of modern entertainment. My mind was used to sitting back while all the creative work of perception was done without my participation.

As I stayed with it, however, something remarkable began to happen. I would lose track of time and I would come away with marvelous insights. The Bible began to come alive to me with practical wisdom for my everyday life.

 I truly believe creativity is dictated by the depth of one’s’ perception. To the degree in which I can see, I can achieve. The creative soul starts with a notion (thought) that soon becomes motion (action). And that’s exactly what happens when God’s Word becomes a way of life for you and me.

Creative success follows. Why? Then you and I can see where we’re supposed to be going. So today, take a ride in God’s time machine. See what He has in store. Don’t worry; He’ll get you back in good time!

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. Joshua 1:8 Amplified Bible

Biblical Meditation: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

February 19 – Get Back Up Again

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I got on the scales the other day and man, was I surprised! I hadn’t weighed in a year and my workout schedule has been a little sporadic, to say the least. I’ve been running and I’ve been swimming. But I haven’t been consistent.

Though I’m not a fanatic about working out, I know if I plan on being around in good health any length of time, it is necessary. All my life, I’ve never really put on much weight, so I didn’t really consider that to be the reason for my pants getting snug. (!) Nonetheless, the extra pounds snuck up on me.

Accomplishing anything of value will require the steady stream of tenacity. No matter how instantaneous success might seem, nothing significant happens overnight. It takes years of root development for a mighty oak to be able to stand strong in the midst of a raging winter storm. The same is true for you and me.

And with all the planning and persistence you can muster, there will be days when you lose your grip and start to slip helplessly out of control. The tiger indeed gets you by the tail. That’s when grace comes in: you rise again to regain your strength, and once more, begin.

For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. Proverbs 24:16 New International Version

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.