Monday, May 24, 2010


All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor 6:12

The first part of this verse is hard enough – utilizing discernment to determine what I should leave off simply because it is not profitable for the furtherance of the kingdom of God.  But, then comes the second half of the verse.

How many things do I allow to master me?  Emotions.  Schedules.  Activities.  Desires.  Food.  There are so many things that I want or need.  There are so many things that are a part of my day.  But, the question comes down to mastery.  Am I mastering all of these things, utilizing them as I seek to glorify my Savior?  Or, are these things mastering me?

Far too often, I become the slave.  Slave to my earthly desires.  Slave to food.  Slave to a schedule.  Slave to the computer.  Slave to the expectations of someone other than my Lord. 

Paul is pretty determined – I can almost hear emphasis in these words.  “I will not be mastered…”  I am challenged to have the same determination – no master but Christ Himself. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Delight, not Anxiety

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.  Ps 94:19

Is that not an awesome verse?  Imagine that – delight instead of anxiety!  I love the thought!

And yet, when it comes to practicality, this verse seems pretty far-fetched.  This morning as anxious thoughts multiplied rapidly within me, I opened my prayer notebook to find this verse staring at me.  I began to ask the Lord to pour His consolations over me – I was ready for a delighted soul.

The problem came, as it frequently does, when I began to argue with Him over His consolations.  They weren’t what I wanted.  They weren’t promises to make life lovely and exciting.  Instead, they were consolations that He would be with me in the muck.  That’s not really what I wanted today.

The thing about God’s consolations is that they are not focused on this brief interlude of life that we think is so huge.  We get so caught up in our time here on earth that we forget that life – and therefore any related hope – is eternal.  So, when God’s eternal consolations begin to pour over us, we get frustrated because they don’t meet our earthly circumstances head-on.  Instead, they remind us of the need for an eternal viewpoint. 

It’s amazing how an eternal focus in and of itself can change those anxious thoughts.  Then God still pours His consolations out on top of that!  Today I am challenged to surrender my anxious thoughts to His perspective, all the while excitedly anticipating the delight that will fill my soul as His Word fills my mind. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Christ, Not Comfort

To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.  1 Cor 4:11-13

These aren’t the happiest verses in the Bible, to be sure.  In context, they follow up a bit of sarcasm as Paul is trying to make a point to some very self-assured and arrogant Corinthians.  And in the context of my life this morning, these words tugged a bit – no, a lot. 

What am I willing to endure personally in order to minister?  If I am honest with myself, not much, especially if the ministry situation is not an easy one.  I have frequently found myself saying that if I can just have a nice haven at home, I can endure much more in a difficult ministry situation. 

In other words, “Lord, make me comfortable at home, and I’ll do whatever You ask with whomever You ask.” 

In truth, I don’t want to be uncomfortable.  I want our home to be a shelter and a haven in the midst of the struggles of ministry.  But, I am challenged to be willing to surrender all comfort for the sake of the gospel, whether it is in ministry to the poorest or the richest, the most open or the hardest of hearts.  That is not an easy challenge to consider, and it is one I’d rather just silence and put aside.  But I will not.  I will pray instead that my family learns to find a haven in Christ Himself regardless of our circumstances.  For the truth is that a comfortable home is fleeting, but the arms of our Savior will never fail. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Him First!

This morning several verses have been prominent in my mind.  They are very familiar verses.  They are verses God has used many times to knock me out of selfish mode.  And, it is needed today as well – very greatly needed. 

1 Cor 10:31 Whether then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Matt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Today I am hungry – finally not for the desires of my heart or the things that will be added to me if I seek Him first.  No, today I’m hungry for Him.  I want to truly honor Him.  I want to do everything for His glory.  I’m tired of the selfishness that has overcome me.  It has affected my eating, my diligence around the house, my stewardship, my craving for more stuff – and being overwhelmed by that stuff.  I’m done!  I want Him!

How thankful I am for You, Lord!  For Your Word that stirs me.  For Your love that will never let me stay put.  Please grant me nothing more or less than what I need to glorify You today!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eternal Significance

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Cor 3:12-15

What drives the things I do each day?  There are certain things I can’t get away from simply due to the fact that I have a family – cooking, cleaning, maintaining our home.  But, even those things are not without eternal significance.  Even through those things I can either choose to simply do them because they are expected and needed for our survival or I can open my eyes to the eternal impact those activities have.

But then there are other things – things that I spend much of my time trying to accomplish.  Are they eternal?  Even as I type this, I am challenged to consider my computer tasks.  Do they have eternal significance? 

In the end, any of my hard work that is only accomplished for earthly purposes is like wood, hay, and straw.  It will not survive the test of fire.  It will burn away.  I am challenged to do what I do with God’s kingdom in mind, not this earth.

Lord, please open my heart and mind to have your view of the tasks before me each day.  May I learn to have an eternal kingdom mindset that all I do be in line with thoroughly enjoying You and furthering Your kingdom.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whittling Away the Limits

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God… 1 Cor 2:11-12
The Spirit of God dwells in me.  The Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.  God, through His Spirit, gives those thoughts and His wisdom to me.  So, why do I continually feel so lacking in wisdom and understanding?
I was challenged this morning to ask the question: How do I limit the flow of wisdom from the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind?
I immediately sensed a couple of areas where I lack in focus and true attentiveness – areas that would prevent me from hearing and receiving.  So, today begins the process of working on those areas, knowing that tomorrow He could bring up more areas needing work.
It’s a bit overwhelming to think of the continual nature of this challenge.  I realize that I not only have to work on the things of this morning, but I also must continually ask today’s question that He may continually whittle away at the things that limit the flow of wisdom.  But, it’s worth it to me, knowing that the more He whittles, the more I look like Him.  And that, after all, is the ultimate goal!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Weakness, His Strength

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  1 Cor 2:1-5

I have always firmly believed that if I’m going to be someone other people turn to for advice or help (something I have always loved to do), I have to be strong myself.  What person would go to a counselor who is falling apart in his own personal life?  What advice could that person truly give?  So, I have tried to live my life with an air of togetherness.  If I have it all together – if I seem perfect – then people will be able to trust me.  If I air my own struggles, then they will not find me reliable.

Paul had the opposite opinion, and he had it right.  Human strength has limits.  Human wisdom has confines.  Human understanding knows bounds.  But, God’s does not.  Paul recognized that no one needed anything he could give, because his own giving would have limits.  Instead, they needed what God could give.  Yet, Paul also knew that he could still be a vessel! 

God has been chipping away at my “strong” image lately.  He has let me know in no uncertain terms that I must show vulnerability and need.  I have been so frightened of doing so – would people ever be able to trust me again?  Yes!  And more!  Why?  Because it is not my human frailty in which they will be trusting.  Instead, they will see that I rely on the unending supply of God’s strength and they will know that they, too, can rely on Him.

Being there for others has, in truth, been about me helping them up until now.  But, that must change.  If it isn’t about them coming to know Christ, either for the first time or in a more intimate way, then my help is useless.  So, I must come in my own weakness so that God’s strength will shine beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Bold Fool

Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  1 Cor 1:20-24

It’s funny the things that strike me when I read certain verses.  When God is working on my heart on a specific issue, it seems to be illuminated everywhere. 

That has definitely been the case this morning.  God has reminded me of how easily I tend to be intimidated.  Intimidated by intelligence, “wisdom”, and a good argument.  I feel that I can’t hold my own because, to be honest, my brain doesn’t seem to dredge up information at the appropriate time.  It always seems to wait until at least thirty minutes after the fact, and then I’ll think of all sorts of brilliant things to say!

So I frequently say nothing at all.

I am not called to be a brilliant debater – to have all of the words at the right moment.  I’m called to proclaim the truth to the world and allow God to work His wonders upon the hearts of those whom He has called.  As long as I speak and shine His message in truth, it really doesn’t matter how foolish it sounds to this world.  In fact, it should sound foolish to many.  If it makes sense to the world – if it is arguable by their standards – then it is not His truth.

Oh, Lord, may I have the boldness to proclaim and not worry about being foolish!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1Cor 1:4-7

I’m not really sure I like what stirred in my heart as I read these verses this morning.  You see, I’ve been in a bit of a slump.  A general blahness, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  And, naturally, the more tired I get of it, the more I cry out to God to get me out of here.

But then I read these verses, and I realize that I’m a lot like the Corinthian church.  I’m here by choice.  I’ve been given everything I need, just as they had been.  But, I have chosen to not utilize those tools – not draw upon the grace, knowledge, and gifts that have been bestowed upon me.  Instead, I try to skate through life utilizing my own resources.  It’s like trying to subsist on crackers and water from one little drawer when there is a whole storehouse full of amazing food just waiting for me to consume!

Today I’m challenged to remember that I have been enriched in Him and given everything I could possibly need.  I have been given full access to the throne of God!  What could I be lacking?  I must draw on His resources rather than trying to subsist on my own.  It’s practically impossible to be in a blah slump when I remember whose I am, where I belong, what my purpose is, and what resources are available to me.

Monday, May 3, 2010


…and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” Exodus 36:5

One of the struggles in every church I’ve ever attended has been having enough.  Enough people.  Enough money.  Enough provision.  I see in Exodus 35 how God stirred the people’s hearts.  In these chapters, there are two distinct actions – God stirring and the people responding.  They are separate.  Just because God stirs does not mean that the action will be automatic.  Otherwise there would be no such thing as sin or disobedience.

When I look at the condition of churches in general and my church specifically, it is obvious we lack the abundance, whether in manpower, finances, or resources in general.  Somewhere there is disobedience.  Many places, actually.

The challenge for me today, though, is this.  Am I personally being obedient to the stirring inside me?  I can’t cover all of the provision, but so often I let that discourage me.  If there’s no way to handle it all myself and no way to ensure that everyone else is going to be obedient, how in the world can such a massive task be accomplished? 

In truth, that is God’s job, not mine.  Mine is to obey, and if I’m not doing my part then I hold responsibility for the shortage. 

I don’t know if I’m doing all that God has stirred within me to do, probably because I haven’t stopped to consider it.  So, today my challenge is to do just that – consider my own obedience.  If I am being fully obedient, then God will take care of the rest.  If I am not, then it’s high time for me to fix it!