Moderation in All Things is Not A Good Thing

Thursday January 18, 2018 – Moderation in All Things is Not A Good Thing
Exodus 1-3

Today I happened to read an except from the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  The commentary to an apprentice devil is quite humorous though the point is actual very true.   As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind. Do not let him suspect the law of undulation. Let him assume that the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition. Having once got this misconception well fixed in his head, you may then proceed in various ways. It all depends on whether your man is of the desponding type who can be tempted to despair, or of the wishful-thinking type who can be assured that all is well. The former type is getting rare among the humans. If your patient should happen to belong to it, everything is easy. You have only got to keep him out-of-the-way of experienced Christians (an easy task nowadays), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things’. If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point’, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.

It is easy to return from the mission field on fire for all the great things that you want to continue to do.  One of the things I want to guard is getting to this point of moderation where it is “good enough” to be a little excited about serving God, but not all out committed.   Find a daily cause to serve and love others!

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Success is in God’s Hands

Wednesday January 17, 2018 – Success is in God’s Hands
Genesis 48-50

Admittedly I do everything I can to be successful, but then I realize that success is not in my hands.   It is in God’s and the following statement does a great job at capturing this reality.  It is not your business to succeed (no one can be sure of that) but to do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God. . .  My success or failure really does rely on anything that I do other than rest in God’s grace for me.

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Enemy Occupied Territory

Tuesday January 16, 2018 – Enemy Occupied Territory
Genesis 46-47

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.   I am not sure I have ever thought of it in that context, but I love the creativity of C.S. Lewis to get me to take another view

I also found the following statement by C.S. Lewis appropriate today as I reflect back on my time in Puerto Rico.  “Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world.”  The world all around us is a beauty of God’s creation and we need to take more time to fully appreciate it.

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Rehearsing for Eternity

Monday January 15, 2018 – Rehearsing for Eternity
Genesis 43-45

I have been “catching up” a little on my devotional reading since I didn’t have computer access in Puerto Rico and I wanted to share the following that I read in the C.S. Lewis devotional.  Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.   Admittedly I know that death is inevitable and I don’t think about it much at this point in my life although I know I am in the last quarter of my life here on earth.   I pray that I may have this attitude of my time here on earth is a good rehearsal for eternity in heaven.

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God Always Has a Plan

Sunday January 14, 2018 – God Always Has a Plan
Genesis 41-42

The story of Joseph reminds me again that God always has a plan and it make take years if not decades before we are able to see what He really had in mind.  When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers it only appeared that it was a way to cover up the hatred that they had for him and hide the wrong they had done.   Little did they know that years later Joseph would manage Pharoah’s land and grain and provide relief from the starvation that was plaguing the land.   You never really know how long it will take before God’s plan will be evident, but there is always a plan

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Seeing God in Everything!

Saturday January 13, 2018 – Seeing God In Everything!
Genesis 38-40

Recovering from my trip to Puerto Rico is going to take more than one good nights sleep.   I have a few chigger bites and I know I didn’t sleep really well any night so it feels like I am catching up on sleep.   As I reflect on the time in Puerto Rico I know that God has touched my heart and I pray that He has touched others through me.

I also wanted to include this quote from C.S. Lewis today that I think is so appropriate for how I felt as I traveled the island of Puerto Rico, I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

Much in Puerto Rico is still in disrepair and I think true recovery is going to take a long time, but it is easy to see Christ in so many people there.   Good things are going to happen in Puerto Rico and it is going to take time for a full recovery.   I can remain active by remembering these people daily in my prayers, but I also have a renewed passion to see if I can influence others to help support this area.

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Called to Be Connected

Friday January 12, 2018 – Called to Be Connected
Genesis 35-37

As I am here in Puerto Rico and getting ready to leave I am impressed again at the community of believers across the world.  The gospel tells us that every believer is a new creation and a child of God. It is out of this new identity that our sense of purpose and work flows. Knowing who we are is critical to know what we are called to do.  Love God and serve others.  The ability to discern our calling flows out of our relationship with the God who calls us.

God has spoken to us through the Scriptures and ultimately through his Son (see Hebrews 1:2). Not only that, but also the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit leads us into truth and helps us understand who we are in Christ and what we were created and redeemed to do.

When someone talks about calling it is often reduced to the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Yet calling encompasses far more than just the answers to our questions about career and occupation. Calling concerns the whole of our lives.   Today I am not sure what or where God is calling me, but I know that He is.

Calling isn’t just a category for those who pursue some sort of formal ministry; it’s about God’s desire for all believers to live as ambassadors of his kingdom.

Most people try to look for the perfect job.  I know that I do.  We all see one that not only lines up with their gifts and passions, but also gives them a deep sense of purpose and significance. In doing so, we are often tempted to see work as the source of our identity rather than the expression of it. But for the Christian, work is far more than simply a way to use our talents. Neither is work the ultimate marker of identity. It is a way for us to live out God’s call on our lives.

The word calling conjures up for a lot of people the idea of some mystical experience or a grand task to perform. But the truth is that calling applies to day-to-day life, not merely to “significant” or “spiritual” work. If we turn to God only during the big-decision moments of our lives, we forfeit the privilege of experiencing the Holy Spirit’s role of leading us day by day.

The greatest gift in being called is knowing and being connected to the Caller. It is this intimate knowledge that provides the insight and wisdom we need to make important decisions—both small and large—in our lives.   I know I have been called, but I need to seek to be connected.   Today I am glad that I am connected to the one who leads me to where he calls.

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Devoted to Public Reading

Thursday January 11, 2018 – Devoted to Public Reading
Genesis 32-34

Paul told Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13) “That’s a passage about preaching,” notes author Tim Challies, “but it’s also a passage about just plain reading the Bible out loud.  Here are some of the benefits of reading out loud.

Reading aloud is multi-sensory—Outside worship services, our engagement with Scripture tends to involve only one of our five senses—sight. When we add hearing to seeing, we stimulate different areas of our brain, providing a multi-sensory experience that can help us have a more meaningful experience with the Word of God.

Reading aloud improves retention—When we read aloud, the words we speak are translated into speech, giving us two types of memories—the knowledge of producing the spoken words as well as the memory of hearing them. This makes our memory for the spoken word more distinct from the verses we read silently.

Reading aloud slows us down—Our eyes and brains are faster than our mouths. When we read silently we see and process the words rapidly. Reading aloud forces us to read more slowly, which gives us more time to process what we’re reading and broadens our opportunity to hear God speak through Scripture. It is also valuable to read aloud to several individuals and groups. Here are some tips for making reading aloud part of your routine.

You and your family—It might feel odd at first, but try reading aloud to yourself regularly during your individual Bible reading sessions. Or add reading aloud to your family night or family devotional time.

The young and the old—Offer to read to children who might only hear about God during Sunday school class. Or perhaps volunteer to read to the elderly, who because of infirmity or advanced age might no longer be able to read the Bible for themselves. Every believer, whether young or old, benefits from being frequently engaged with Scripture.  Try it yourself this week at the dinner table.

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Putting Things Right!

Wednesday January 10, 2018 – Putting Things Right!
Genesis 30-31

I love what I read from C.S. Lewis today.  He said that, “Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”

That day where God will put them right again is going to come and I for one am glad that I will escape the judgement that will come with that time.   Putting things right is in the plan.  God knew that we would mess up the perfection that He created, but the Master and Designer will make things perfect again!

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Hang on to God!

Tuesday January 9, 2018 – Hang On to God!
Genesis 27-29

Today I found the following in my devotional reading that I wanted to share here.

“What’s the secret to being a good bull rider?”

When a newspaper reporter asked a Montana cowboy that question, he pushed back his hat and grinned: “You’ve just gotta want to hang on worse than the bull wants to throw you off.”

Today as I was reading the story of Jacob it occurred to me that Jacob probably would have preferred eight seconds on the back of a bull to the situation he faced. As he traveled to Canaan—a journey that would reunite him with Esau, his brother—Jacob carried not only his possessions but also a heart full of guilt and sin. He’d taken his brother’s birthright and blessing and had lived ever since in constant fear that Esau would seek revenge. Feeling desperate and overwhelmed, Jacob spent a night alone to take advantage of a little peace and quiet.

Instead, he got the fight of his life—a wrestling match with God!

Have you experienced something similar? I know that I have.  Maybe you’re troubled with a stressful situation at work, a dispute at church, a disagreement with a friend or a struggle within your family. So you seek a place that will give you a moment or two of peace or stability, only to find that the emotional and spiritual load you’ve been carrying has settled firmly on your shoulders. And rather than clinging to the One who can provide real relief, you find yourself making the situation worse by dwelling on the burden and letting worry get the best of you.

Sometimes you have to put everything else aside, reach out to God and hold on with everything you’ve got. The only way you can really escape the burden of sin and guilt is by embracing the One who defeated these burdens—along with death. Make no mistake—the God who created the world, who holds the stars in check and who knows the most minute issues that you struggle with, cares. He loves you and is waiting for you to trust him with your cares and concerns—present, past and future.

To paraphrase that wise Montana cowboy, “You’ve just gotta hang on to God more than sin and guilt want to pull you away.”  Today I am hanging and enjoying loving God and serving others.

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