Word of the Day

Lordly Necessity

Deuteronomy 10: 12

Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

First, you can line through the name Israel and write in your name. That is how you should read this verse. Second, please recall that you have to modernize this language. We no longer use the word “fear” the way it was used in this context. A better, more modern word would be revere. You would not go amiss by replacing the word fear with the word love either. God’s first requirement of us is that we love Him. That makes perfect sense doesn’t it. We wouldn’t be part of His family if we didn’t first love Him.

Secondly, we are to walk in all His ways. Selah. Pause and think about that for a moment. What are His ways? What does it mean for us to walk in His ways? Think about a typical day for you. What does that look like? How do you perceive that you do walk as He walks? In what ways do you think your walk and His diverge. I do not think this means walking around preaching all day. I believe it means acting like Him in all of the normal things you do. For example, grocery shopping, pumping gas or being on the job, if God was doing those things, what would it look like? How would He progress through a normal day? Walking in His ways not only means doing the things He would do but also doing every day the way He would do. How are we spending our time? How do we use our words? How do we interact with others? How do we set our priorities and carry out the necessary tasks of life? I would add, are we listening to Him on a minute by minute basis or even on a daily basis so that we can get His direction, His leading so that we can follow in His footsteps?

Love Him! That is the directive. Do we? How do we? Is this a passive verb or is it an action verb? What did the author intend to convey when he wrote that we are to love the Lord, our God?

Finally, we are to serve the Lord with all our heart and all our soul? What does that even mean? First, how do we serve Him? I would suggest that first we probably need to spend some time with Him, ask Him what He would have us do and then listen. Second, it probably has something to do with serving and ministering to His kids. Then the calling upon our lives is to do that thing, whatever it is He shows us, to do that with all our passion, with all our heart, with all our strength. It ends up being the passion of our lives, the driving force.

Our lives are never better than when we are ardently engaged with our divine Father. It is that which will fill you with the greatest joy you can know. Let us, then, endeavor to follow this scripture’s leading. Let’s meditate on it until our spirits understand the meaning of it and then let us pursue the Spirit’s leading with vigor.

Poured Out

Psalm 38: 9 – 10

Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.

I am moved by David’s passion and how he lays his heart out before the lord. Is this something we do? Is this something I do?

When I am under stress, I turn into a turtle. I withdraw into my shell and hold everything inside. We all know, at least intellectually, that this is not good, not healthy, and completely non-productive. David had a better system. He poured out his heart to God, his beloved, his father. He emptied himself of every thought without judgment. He just said was he was thinking and what he was feeling without restriction or prejudice.

I know there are many things that we think and feel that we also know are completely invalid. We don’t want to say them because we know they are ludicrous. There is some sense in that but that mature, logical theory does not apply here. When we talk with our Father, we need to feel free to pour ourselves out as David did. You can be as irresponsible as a child and say everything you think, express every emotion you feel. It is His job to pick you up and put your feet back on the right track. We get so busy being grown-up with our stoic faces and stiff back that we functionally shut out our Father and His healing touch. We never let Him rescue us much less touch our broken hearts because we won’t allow ourselves to be completely open to Him. It is as if it is against the rules to let down our guard for even a moment.

We really need to learn that we can run into the shelter of the most high where there is no need for our guard, where we can exhale fully and let ourselves feel the depth and richness of human emotion. God is passionate, you know that right? And we are made in His image. He did not create us to be stiff upper lip, intransigent robots.

God said that David was a man after His own heart. We can meditate on that statement for days, weeks, even years. What was it about David that moved God’s heart? Why is it that we don’t find God saying of David that he stirred His imagination or made Him think? In other words, God reveals that David wasn’t a child of His soul or His mind. I am sure that David and God had great thoughts together. Of course they shared great images from their imagination. Yet when God described David, He reveals him as part of His own heart. David lived in the center of God’s being and I am sure that, to this day, David lives to sing his lovely songs to the Father and they share great joy together. However, when David lived on earth he shared all he thought and all he felt with the love of his heart, his first love, God the Father; Lord and King but Father above all.

Or should I say parent because Yahweh is both Mother and Father. He is One, the One. He is not segregated into Mother and Father but is both. All in all, all in one. He is everything we need. It is just an unfortunate result of language and our humanness that we have gender specific pronouns. Yahweh is as female as male so when you need a trait that we on earth define as feminine have no reservation for that which we need abides in our beloved in richness and fullness. H/she is all the compassion you need and has the answers to every hurt and every problem. We can, therefore, trust in an unhindered fashion. We can, and should, pour out our hearts which are full of fear, frustration, anger, worry, and anxiety. And when we pour it out to our God and Father, then we are no longer full of those negative emotions. We can safely give them to “Him”, and He will give us back the reassurance and confidence we need. The truth of that statement is readily detectable as you read the songs of David.

David’s psalms often begin with expressions of anguish. Sometimes all but the very end is full of the suffering, anger and torment of his situation but always, by the end of the psalm, God has restored him. In the end of every calamitous event is the resurrection of Jesus and the lifting of our own heads.

Here is the morale of the story – God cannot lift our heads if we are stiff necked and proud. It is when we bow our heads that we allow Him to be God. When we pour our guts out on the floor before Him, He can lift us up. Remember, it is in our weakness that we are strong for God teaches us, “My power is strongest when you are weak,” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). The revelation of that statement caused Paul to write, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12: 10). In other words, we can never put on His strength if we never abandon our own. Ours is just a shadow anyway. It is just a projected image of the true strength which is in our Dad.

God makes a trade with us, taking our misery and giving us His glory. Isaiah 61: 3 foretells this as Jesus’ calling, his ministry, “Giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” We take our sadness, sorrow and misery, all of our challenges and frustrations to the Father and He trades with us giving us all of His goodness. He freely offers to trade happiness and joy for our sadness and grief.

So, be like David. Pour out your heart to God. Purge yourself of those toxic emotions and receive back joy unspeakable.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Matthew 5: 44 – 45            NET

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

You’ve heard that you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and that is a good focus of this passage, but I particularly like verse 45 for two reasons. First, it tells us the reason for the mandate to pray and love, which is that we might be like our Father. Secondly, it teaches us the difference between love and judgment, loudly revealing our Father as one who loves.

After we get saved and Jesus begins to clean us up, it is easy for us to want to separate ourselves from the unrighteousness people and actions we see in the world. Unfortunately, we begin to judge those people and we separate the world in to we and they. This, our Father does not do. He loves the whole world, so much, in fact, that he gave His only begotten son so that NONE should perish (John 3: 16). Speaking of John 3: 16, do you know what the very next verse says? “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” By the way, those were words spoken by Jesus. God sacrificed His only son so that through his sacrifice, the world might be saved, not condemned.

God sent His blessing into this world and it will work for whomever will work according to the way Yahweh engineered it. Sometimes, the unsaved are better believers than we are and thus, succeed to a greater extent than we. This ought not be, but it is. We are too busy fussing at each other and judging other Christians and the unsaved that we fill our churches, and our own souls with doubt and unbelief.

God put spiritual and physical laws into the earth. Gravity is a great example of one of these laws. Gravity works the same on the wicked as on the righteous, doesn’t it? God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He is constantly pouring out His best to anyone who will accept Him. He has also created laws which exist in the spirit realm. They too work for whoever applies them. He told us that whatever we believe, we can have (Mark 11: 23 – 24). He has told us to use our words to create our dreams and even that the power of life is in our tongues (Proverb 18: 21). Yet I find we are still running around spewing all kinds of garbage and unbelief from our mouths. Meanwhile, others are using God’s success system to great effect and they never give Him the credit. We are too worried about criticizing anyone who succeeds and making sure our pastors never have too nice a car to ever live in God’s overflow. We are afraid of being criticized ourselves. That is one of the reasons why so many Christians are so carnal. They look at the church and don’t want any part of it. They want Christ but they find the lifestyle of the heathen more attractive and they find more love outside the church than in it.

I don’t like it and I bet you don’t either. We’ve got to begin to take this gospel seriously. We need to buckle down and become students of the Word and believers. Then we need to do what the Word tells us. We need to commune with God and listen to His voice. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide us without getting all weird about it. Just quiet yourself down and listen to him.

None of us wants to be a part of this mealy mouth Christianity. None of us wants to see the unsaved surpassing God’s people using God’s own system. We are supposed to succeed and then give God the glory. And, we’ve got to stop judging one another and “those other guys.” Jesus said he didn’t come to judge the world so what makes us think we should. God sends the rain on both our crops, so He isn’t judging. He isn’t withholding His blessing. Our judgments are killing us while those we criticize are experiencing faith healing, financial prosperity and loving relationships. It is time we got over ourselves and seriously begin imitating our Father and learning His ways. Love is our mandate. Turn in your judge’s robe for a coat of compassion. Let love and acceptance color the way you think of all people, yes ALL, even those unsaved because God has not separated us into we and them. He is sending His truth to everyone who will listen. He is sending the nourishing rain to whomever will receive. Be blessed in the name and power of Jesus and live this gospel to the full. Receive God’s blessing and share that blessing with others. Let it overflow onto others, the good and the bad.

Old is New Again

Proverb 4: 7

The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.

I have a question for you today. Proverbs is a wisdom book, so is it primarily a book of the Old Testament or does it transcend the Old Testament? Is its advice pertinent to this generation? Okay, so that is two questions.

The reason I bring this up is because we tend to have a very different perspective on the Old Testament books since we are New Testament believers. So, what do we do with the book of proverbs? And, for that matter, what about Psalms? We tend to relegate the Old Testament books to the antiquated section of the library in our minds. Why, then, do they keep putting those old books in our Bible? Why aren’t we just printing New Testaments?

It is hard to win the argument for the exclusion of the book of Proverbs or Psalms. Many “New Testaments” include those two books. Truth be told, there really is very little New Testament content. One would have to admit that historically, the gospels are Old Testament. Jesus had not gone to the cross, had not defeated death and hell, and had not yet provided the means to salvation and redemption. Of course, as “Christians” we like reading about Jesus so those four books make their way into what we call the New Testament, the Christian Testament.

The same cannot be said of the Psalms or Proverbs, though, or can they? What is it about those two books which attracts us to them? It seems plain that David, who is the major contributor to the Psalms, had a revelation of both the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. What of Solomon and the book of Proverbs? There is absolutely something transcendent about those writings. One thing is the personal tone with which Solomon wrote. It is as if He penned each proverb as a personal letter to each of us. Beyond that, though, is the spirit of revelation with which he wrote. He wrote about creation and who was with God at that time and he wrote about your today. Something in that resonates within us.

There is a book, however, which reveals the Messiah even more than the psalms and proverbs. That is the book of Isaiah. The text makes me think that the prophet had some sort of encounter with the person of Jesus. Isaiah doesn’t tell us about it but, clearly, he had insight beyond that of most people. This book, though, we find easier to consign to the Old Testament library. That is a shame because Jesus calls out from those pages.

We’ve acknowledged before that Jesus is the Bible in its entirety because he is the Word. The thing which separates the books is that many of the Old Testament books are a historical record and many of us never liked history class. However, most of the great Bible stories are also tucked into the folds of those pages. Also, we never see the hand of God as clearly in the New Testament as the Old. There certainly are miracles in both sections of the Bible but parting rivers and seas is the stuff of the old book. Swarms of locust and frog infestations, epic battles and battles where only God lifted a hand, those are the landscape of the Old Testament.

I think it is easy to see why we comfortably bring the Proverbs and Psalms into the New Testament with us. They are not strictly historical, and the writing is more modern and emotive. They clearly offer wisdom and worship for today. However, there is great faith in the other Old Testament books as well as the foundation for our faith. We need to know what the book of Deuteronomy holds. We need to see Father Abraham and his family as he and his descendants evolve into the nation of Israel. Important lessons lie at the foot of Egypt as we ponder how God’s chosen people ever arrived there in the first place. And what does the Babylonian captivity say to us today. Yes, the New Testament writers spoke directly to us, telling us what they believed we need to know. We must glean the kernels from the Old Testament stories, but they are there, and they are there in glory.

I want you to see God in all His glory. I want you to live in His glory daily and I believe the Old Testament books will inspire you as well as inform. I want you to have all that Jesus died to give you; nothing missing. The One Year Bibles make reading the Old Testament much easier if that helps, or just jump over to Isaiah and find Jesus. You are going to enjoy what you see. I would love to hear your Old Testament stories. What are you finding there that is inspiring you?

Don’t Do It Now

Joshua 1: 8

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

You’ve heard the popular saying, “Do it Now.” It was a great message and helped a lot of us in our everyday life. In fact, that saying has become part of the cultural jargon of our age. So, why am I telling you not to do it now? There is a time to be still and that is the subject of this Word of the Day.

Have you ever sat down to meditate and your mind been flooded with the myriad of things you need to do? Of course. Me too. We run at such a fast pace at times that it is challenging, no, very challenging to slow down physically, much less mentally, long enough to meditate.

Today’s verse is one of my favorites because it is so poignant. Moses has just died and Joshua is about to take over for him. Yahweh Father spoke with him regarding this huge task and God gave Him the best advice He had. Today’s verse is that advice. Now, to my way of thinking, if meditation is the single piece of advice God gave the one who was to lead His people, Israel, then it must be really important. Note that God didn’t say, “Pray Joshua, make sure you pray every day.” No, He told him to meditate. So, I took that to say that meditation is really important stuff. So, I set a goal to meditate daily.

Wow, what a challenge that turned out to be. First, I couldn’t sit still. I used Dr. Jim Richard’s guided meditations to help me learn to calm my physiology. Then, I found my mind was running rampant. Dr. Mark Virkler taught me Psalm 46: 10, “Be still and know that I am God, (KJV).” Well, easier said than done but I knew this stillness was important. The NASB says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Wow, that is loud. It goes along with some of our recent Words of the Day about letting God work in your life. I needed to master this skill, and I finally did. One of the things I had to learn, though, is “Do not do it now.” I had to discipline myself to let things wait. I had a to do list with each item prioritized. I knew the most important things to get done but I actually treated them all as if they were “A” priorities. If something came off of my master list and onto my daily list, then it felt to me like an imperative. Those things haunted me when I tried to meditate. Additionally, when I slowed down a tick, all sorts of other to do’s and ideas came to mind. Finally, I learned to put my to do list or even just a pad of paper and a pen beside me when I sat down to meditate. As those things came to mind, I wrote them down and went back to meditation. Sometimes it was more of a mind purge than meditation but then again, that turned out to be one of the benefits of meditation. Some of the things God had been trying to show me for ages freely flowed out of my sub-consciousness as soon as I got still for a moment.

Whatever your “A” priority is, and I am hoping meditation is one of them, you may have to learn, as I did, not to do everything else which comes to your mind. We have to learn to calm ourselves down and stick to our task. Writing down those other things is one way to help you stay on task. You cannot always do everything now and get the priority items done. Those are usually the more involved tasks, the ones which take a bit of time and concentration. It is so easy to do the little minute tasks instead of sticking to the big, important item. You will feel like you got a lot done but you will not be accomplishing the important, life altering tasks. Put these on your schedule, block out time for them on your calendar. Close your office door, turn off you cell phone and focus. Breathe deeply and settle your physiology. Breathe and relax your mind. Turn your eyes on Jesus. You will see that he is there with you and that he is already paying attention to you. Then ask him to help you with your task. Invite the Holy Spirit to be the leader. Put your mind on them and let them guide and support you. I promise you, this is a better way to work than the haphazard way I did.

Roommate

Colossians 3: 16

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

When we read the Bible, particularly familiar sections of it, our minds react immediately with recognition. The downside, though, is that familiarity puts our minds in to a comfort state rather than an inquiring mode. We tend to read over the passage a bit more than one that is new to our eyes and mind. One of the cures for this is to read from different Bibles periodically. I love this version of this scripture. It is the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and not only is it my favorite Bible, but also I like this verse best from the NASB. However, look what you get from reading the first part in the God’s Word translation, “Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you.” They say the same thing but the phrasing in the GW Bible strikes the brain in a little different way and, I believe, opens it up to a different understanding.

The Word of God is to dwell within you. Dwell is an interesting choice of word. God’s Word is to live, abide, set up residence within us. Of course, we are the architects of that indwelling presence. When we set up the Word’s abode within us, we are not supposed to issue visitor’s quarters. This is to be a permanent residence of the Word.

Secondly, the Word is not supposed to be a superficial roommate with whom you have little to no relationship. These are to be permanent quarters which allow the Word to dwell richly with you. All the wisdom of the Word and the richness of its meaning is the have room within you to express itself and to expand. We are to abide with the Word of God with all its fullness in ever increasing measure.

When we allow the Word to abide with us and in us fully, then there is no space for fear. Doubt loses its foothold. Faith is given fertile soil in which to grow and our lives in Christ blossom. It’s true. There is life in that Word and it gives sustenance and growth to the seed which is sown there.

It may be obvious but, how does the Word of Christ come to dwell within us? Secondly, how does it become a richly dwelling presence? There is more to this than simply reading the Bible. It begins with a passion to put the Word inside us. That means you have developed a desire to read the Word. You want to read it and you do so daily. It becomes something you do rather than something you have to do. We can develop a desire, even a passion for God’s Word, especially when we appreciate that it is the life of Jesus and that it is God’s personal word to us.

Besides reading the Word, we can also put the Word in us by listening to anointed Bible teachers share the Word with us. This dwelling presence is not an intellectual, brain thing. This is about the Word residing in our spirits, being intertwined with who we are, our spiritual selves. Sure, you mind should engage with the Word but just to read the Bible with your mind or to memorize passages is not the same as having the Word richly dwell within you. I would rather have you read one verse and engage with it than to read a chapter everyday. It is your mixing with the Word that causes that indwelling richness. If the Word is going to dwell within you richly then you have something to do with that. We are not passive receptors and this is not data entry. I am talking about letting the Word of God indwell you such that it impacts your life, even who you are. I am trying to convey that this is more of a personal engagement than an intellectual one. The Word will inform your mind, no doubt, but that information should come up from your spirit. The wisdom and richness of God are to dwell in your heart, or spirit, in the person of Jesus who is expressed through the living Word. The Bible is a book but when it comes alive, as it truly is to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, then it becomes a person, a person with whom you have interaction and a relationship. That Word of God that you hold in your hands becomes the very alive person of the savior living within you. He brings hope to everything you encounter and He is love overflowing. He will change your perspective and your life BUT not because you go to church on Sundays or read the Bible once in a while. No, this is choosing a roomy whom you want to spend your time and life with. And yes, it is just that intimate and personal.

Even as you read the Word of the Day, I want it to affect your thinking. I want you to read it in the morning and meditate on it all day so that something goes down on the inside of you. It might even be something I didn’t write but that the Father showed you. That’s cool! Hopefully the Word of the Day changes who you are because it is the Word being delivered to you. It’s what you do with the Word of the Day that matters most. Spend a few minutes thinking about the verse. While you pump gas, get dressed, or any of the mindless chores you will have to do today, think about the Word dwelling richly within you with all wisdom accompanying. Read it in different bible versions. Ask what it means to have the Word abiding within you and how it can impact you. Ask how the Word gets into you in the first place and then how it comes to reside. Ask yourself. As the Word dwells richly within you, increasingly, you will find that those answers arise from your own spirit where the Word resides.

Entrusted

Psalm 37: 5 & 7                    God’s Word

Entrust your ways to the Lord. Trust him, and he will act on your behalf. Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

This is one of my favorite Bible passages. It is important to me because it speaks to an issue that I constantly must consider. This passage is about the partnership with God. When we partner with Him, then the work load is shared. We have our part and He has His. The key is for us to do our part and to stay out of His part. Therein lies the challenge but also ultimate success.

I believe in working. In fact, I believe in hard work and working smart. Most of all, though, I have learned that neither of those eclipses the number one guideline which is, let God lead. This reminds me of a verse that we should all memorize. It is Proverb 10: 22. The NASB and the King James read essentially the same, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” I think few of us have understood what “He adds no sorrow to it means.” The Hebrew Bible clears this up for us. It reads, “It is the blessing of the Lord which makes rich, and your toil adds nothing to it.” The “sorrow” written of in the other translations is the sorrow from toil. There is no travail in success when the Lord is in it with us. Our “toil” isn’t what will bring success. It is He and His blessing which provide the success for each undertaking. The New International Version reads, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.”

God isn’t against hard work, nor is He against working smart but what He really wants us to learn is to work wisely. That is an entirely different deal. Spiritually appraised people learn to work first in their spirits by connecting with the spirit of wisdom. Here is where patience comes in. The Passion Translation says to “commit everything you do to the Lord.” We are to entrust all our ways, all our plans, dreams and assignments to Him as the first step. Then we surrender ourselves and our projects fully to Him. He may have you working really hard for a time, but it is to be at His direction. Sometimes the thing He will tell you to do is to meditate. Okay, that does not fit into western thinking, but God knows that sometimes that is the best thing to do. And that is the point. We are supposed to surrender our thinking to His ways.

One last thought, none of this works without first seeking the Lord. The whole idea is partnering with Him, tuning into Him and allowing Him to guide you. Your work load is to be managed by the Father. We are supposed to wait patiently for Him but only after we have surrendered ourselves to Him and entrusted Him with our goals. So, this does not mean watching television while we wait upon God. It means seeking Him and meditating on Him and His Word. See, that is your part. Then the answers to all the questions will be presented to you. This waiting is in faith. It is expectantly listening. You are to be co-laborers. That does mean you work but it is at the Father’s direction. He will show you the way when you commit all your plans and hopes to Him.