Friday 12/13 ~ Our God-Shaped Emptiness

The scripture for today, December 13 (12/13), is Ecclesiastes 12:13 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

Pearls Cover-Palms-300dpi-Thumbnail“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

When the King James Version was published in the early 1600s, they italicized all words that were not in the old documents of the Bible. The word “duty” above was not in the original. Translators inserted it to help us understand the original. But perhaps, in this case, it did not help. Fearing God is the whole of man ~ not our duty, but our essence.

Fearing the Lord is a gift. Isaiah 11:2 predicted regarding Jesus:

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him ~

     “…the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,”

          “…the Spirit of counsel and of power,”

               “…the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

Solomon had tried everything to find happiness, as he explained in his book of Ecclesiastes ~ Pleasure (ch. 2), hard work (ch. 3), advancement (ch. 4), riches (ch. 5). None brought him true happiness.  Eventually, he concluded that only one thing can bring that happiness deep down inside where no one and no situation in life can touch it ~ God. God is the whole of man ~ if we let Him be.

Why? Ecclesiastes 3:11 explains it richly: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” Another way to view this is “There is a God-shaped emptiness in everyone’s heart.” Fill your mind with the Word of God. Then God will fill your heart and being, and make you feel complete.

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Friday 12/6 ~ God’s pride and joy

The scripture for today, December 6 (12/6), is 1st Corinthians 12:6 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-ThumbnailThis is Paul talking about spiritual gifts and jealousy.  Later in this chapter, Paul explains, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (12:21f). He further explains, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body….” (12:13).

For ambitious people in the church who “fight” for position, this is hard to take. Standing in front with a microphone are the most sought-after positions in the church.  Such positions have the potential of making you famous.

Sorry, folks. Not to God. To God you are dispensable. The church could easily survive without you. God could easily get along without you. So, get control of your ego. Huh?

Do you really and truly believe this? Those who do the seemingly menial works (the “weaker”) are indispensable to God ~ you who take food to the bereaved, who read the Bible to the sick, who clean the bathrooms, who daily pray for members and the lost, who give a tract to a friend, who share a bulletin with a neighbor, who send a thinking-of-you card to a lonely person, who mow the church building lawn, who pray with someone who has just told you of a problem, who watch the nursery, who periodically quote a Bible verse to a friend in distress ~ such works that are in the background ~ the ones that don’t make it into the “schedule of worship,” the bulletin, the newspaper, the church periodicals, the billboards are the ones who are indispensable.

To you who are jealous of people who get to have a more public position in the church and stand in front of the congregation and” lead” don’t be. Take heart. God is working more in you than them. Further, public approval by people is their reward. Your reward is from God himself.

You may seem weaker to the others, but to God you are strong. You are mighty. You are God’s pride and joy.

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Tuesday 11/19 ~ A little self-reflection

The scripture for today, November 19 (11/19), is Ezekiel 11:19 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00- Worship Changes KC COVER-thumbnail“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Although the 600+ commandments in the Old Testament /Covenant Law of Moses were nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:10-13), God has always had laws to keep us safe. In the New Testament/Covenant era, he does not have a lot of laws, but he still has them.

What is our worship like? Is it full of things God never asked us to do? Does our worship elevate God or ourselves? When we’re done worshiping, do we say, “We were so great!” or “God is so great!”?  Do we worship to make ourselves feel good or to make God feel good?

We add all kinds of things to our worship that were commanded only under the Old Testament/Covenant Law of Moses, or things we think would “add to the effectiveness” of our worship. If, for example, it’s okay to add things to our singing and praying because then they would sound better, then it is okay to add lemon pie to the Lord’s Supper because then it would taste better.

Again, the question: Who are we worshiping and trying to please? God or ourselves? Do we deep down have a heart of stone, but put on our halo and say, “Surely not me”?

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Sunday 11/17 ~ I think I could die for you

The scripture for today, November 17 (11/17), is 1st Chronicles 11:17f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem.’ So The Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David.”

The people who followed David admired him because he knew how to be a good leader. And they loved him because they could tell he loved them.

So, many were willing to do anything to make “Captain David” happy. David had been born and raised in Bethlehem. Now he was grown and had a following of those evading power-hungry King Saul, all brave soldiers and their families. They had traveled throughout the country either evading or defending themselves against Saul and other enemies.

Their travels took them back to David’s home town which was being held by enemy Philistines. For old-time’s sake, he longed for a drink from the well he had drunk from many times in his innocent youth. Three of his strongest men ~ The Three ~ risked their lives to bring their captain, David, that drink of water.

How much do you admire and love the Captain of your Salvation, Jesus? How much are you willing to sacrifice for him? Do you say, “I’m too busy to do anything for Jesus and his kingdom today”? Do you say, “I’m afraid if I say something about Jesus to so-and-so, s/he will insult me”? Do you say, “Someone at church offended me, so I’m not going to worship Jesus anymore?” Do you admire Jesus enough to put yourself in the slightest danger just to do the smallest thing for him?

Ah, Lord Jesus, you put yourself in danger for me. You were willing to die for me.  Help me have that same kind of love and determination for you despite dangers.  And, Lord, I think I could even die for you.

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Saturday 11/9 ~ A little bit of physical, a whole lot of spiritual

Silver Cover-KINDLE-thumbnailThe scripture for today, November 9 (11/9), is Luke 11:9 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

” ‘So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ “

Does this mean that, if you ask for your favorite team to win, they will win? Does this mean that, if you ask for a particular job, you will get that job? Or, if you have your eyes on a particular young man or young woman, you will marry that person?

In the context that Jesus said this, he had just taught his disciples what many call the Lord’s prayer. In that prayer, Jesus instructed us to ask for a little bit of the physical and a whole lot of the spiritual.

You might say, “Well, that doesn’t leave me much to pray for.” Oh, yes it does. Shift your focus from yourself. It leaves the rest of the world to pray for. What about their little bit of physical and their whole lot of spiritual? How many people do you pray for? Not as a group, but by name? Not occasionally, but every day?

Well then, will God give you every one of the souls you pray for? God gives everyone free will. He does not force people to follow him. God provides opportunities for people you pray for, and he even moves their hearts. But he does not force them. You must still, keep on praying, even when you feel like someone is hopeless. Maybe they are hopeless during your lifetime. But sometimes someone’s soul is saved after your death.

So, pray for others and never tire of it ~ a little bit of the physical and whole lot of the spiritual. Seek and you will find. God will answer in his own way. And that’s a promise.

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