Failure or Forgiveness

Psalm 51_2_Failure or Forgiveness

“Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.”  (James Altucher) 

I have no idea who Altucher is, but, like you, I know the truth of his words above!  How many people have been destroyed – not by their initial mistake – but by the later efforts to cover that mistake up?!  How many jobs have been lost because an employee chose to cover up a mistake versus acknowledge it and ask for help correcting it? 

It’s a tough reality isn’t it?  Despite our best efforts, we cannot prevent making mistakes now and then.  Yet, none of us want those mistakes aired for public viewing…so, what are we to do?  Everything within us wants to cover our errors and pretend they don’t exist; but, as Altucher says, that’s a very fast track to actual failure. 

A quick survey through Scripture reminds us that cover up attempts never turn out very well.  Ask David how his cover-up efforts with Bathsheba went.  Or Moses and his attempt to bury the Egyptian he killed in the sand.  Judas’ “secret” sign of betrayal didn’t work out, and the Samaritan woman living with her 5th “husband” couldn’t keep that fact hidden.   

Yes, sin needs to be covered – but not by our efforts to hide them, but by the blood of Jesus that washes them away.   

What is your typical response to your own shortcomings, mistakes, or sin?  Do you attempt to hide them form others?  Or do you take them to God?  One response leads to failure; the other leads to forgiveness.  The choice is ours. –Dave  

      Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:2). 

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No Weaving Allowed

2 Timothy 2_3_4_No Weaving Allowed

Looking back on his lifetime of serving Christ, Paul compared active ministry to being a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer.  Each was dedicated, diligent, and disciplined; but, the comparison to being a soldier (below) stood out to me.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (2 Timothy 2:3-4, ESV)

I’ve never been a soldier, but I imagine one of the toughest things (outside of active combat) would be the daily surrender of one’s will to the authority of another.  There would be constant, daily suffering in that alone.  But perhaps equally challenging is the need for single-minded focus.  For a soldier to succeed, they must be devoted to their mission and to their commander.

A good soldier cannot entertain diversions which would interfere with his duty.  They serve to please their commanding officer alone, which means they cannot let other priorities entangle them.  The Greek word for “Entangle” means to intertwine or weave in.  For the soldier, there could not be a military and a civilian strand woven together.

Likewise, the soldier of Christ cannot weave together a strand of the secular and a strand of the sacred.  Instead, all of life is to be viewed as sacred and lived for one purpose – to please our Commanding Officer, Christ.

I think the application is pretty clear – is pleasing Christ our primary focus and duty?  Or are we so entangled with ‘civilian affairs’ that our life is coming unwoven? –Dave

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Everything and Nothing

1 Peter 1_6_9_Everything and Nothing

I’m currently making my way through the book of 1st Peter for the 1st time.  Wanting to learn all I can from it, I’m using a Kay Arthur Inductive Bible Study method.  During the first week, Arthur had me read through the entire book in one setting, and then repeated each chapter focusing only on the recipients. 

Initially I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth the time and effort – I mean really; spending six days just focusing on only the initial readers of Peter’s letter – why bother?  But, in the end, I’m grateful I did.  What I found was that Peter’s first readers weren’t living in ideal conditions either.  In fact, they were going through significant trials that resulted in a great deal of suffering.  While the specifics differ somewhat, Christians today also face difficult situations, false accusations, slander, intimidation, and harsh treatment, etc.  They were not “of” their world then any more than we are “of” our world today.  They were aliens then, and we’re aliens today.  Christian citizenship has never been of this world (Philippians 3:20).   

Yet, Peter wrote to encourage them (and us) to stand firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:12).  While we taste the salt of our own tears, Peter says we can also taste the goodness of God.  As we suffer, our faith is proven genuine; and genuine faith results in the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:6-9).   

On the final page of Week One’s study, Arthur wrote this profound truth about Christians:  We are “In need of everything but lacking nothing!”  As children of God, we look to Him to provide absolutely everything we need to endure life.  Yet, in His provision, we find we lack nothing. 

Take some time today to consider the ways in which you are depending on God.  In what ways has He provided for you? –Dave  

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Beaten Path

1 Chron 28_9_Beating a Path

You’d expect such words from the man after God’s own heart.  As David prepared to die, Scripture tells us that he pulled Solomon (his son and the future king) aside and gave him some words to live by.  Among them were these: 

      If you seek Him, He will be found by you. (1 Chronicles 28:9) 

As a father, David knew the best thing for his son would be to walk in fellowship with God.  A strong, close relationship with the Lord would help Solomon be a better man and a better king.  But David also realized that Solomon had to form his own relationship with God; that was one treasure that Solomon couldn’t simply inherit.  Each generation must choose to seek God for themselves. 

But, IF they will seek Him, He promises to be found.  “Seek” is from a Hebrew word (darash) that means to “tread” upon.  If repeated frequently enough, one “beats a path” where previously there was not one.  It came to mean “to resort to” or “to seek.”  What is sought becomes one’s “go to place.”  David’s basic message to his son, therefore, was:  “Beat a path to God’s door frequently, and you’ll always find Him at home!” 

I love the reminder that God’s objective is to be known – He’s  not a cruel Creator trying to frustrate His creation.  He’s a loving Father welcoming His children home.  But, we must seek the path leading to His door.  When people voice frustration about not “being able to find God” they’ve frequently just stopped looking.  He’s always longed to be found.  Jesus confirmed His Father’s words when He promised, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 7:7)   

How do we seek Him?  Your path may look a bit different, but I’ve found that His Word, His church, and speaking with Him in prayer are paths that consistently lead to His door.  Want to find God?  Beat a path to His door. –Dave  

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Off The Wagon

Psalm 17_3_Off the Wagon

Well, I fell off that wagon quickly!  Only a few days earlier, I had read these words: 

      I have determined that my mouth will not sin. (Psalm 17:3; HCSB) 

David’s prayer was that his words would in no way be sinful.  The Hebrew word for “Sin” in this verse (abar) carries the idea of “passing over” an established boundary.  We operate freely within certain limits set by God, but when we pass over those limits, we sin against Him.   

David didn’t want his words to pass over the limits of speech set by God.  While Psalm 17 doesn’t tell us what those limits are, elsewhere we’re told our words should always be truthful (Exodus 20:16), gracious (Colossians 4:6), edifying (Ephesians 4:29), and loving (Ephesians 4:15).  On and on we could go.  But, there’s one more I’d like us to consider:   

      A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverb 15:1) 

As I mentioned earlier, I fell off the wagon after only a short ride; and unfortunately it was my failure to give a gentle answer that knocked me off.   After making the necessary apologies, I reflected on my verbal mishap.  If I’m honest, I have to admit that what I had done when first reading David’s Psalm was NOT make a determination.  I had done nothing more than acknowledge his words as “a good idea.”  But, “determination” as used by David carried the idea of purposing something within the heart, and then devising a plan to make it a reality.  I had done none of that.  But, I plan to change that – SOON.  With God’s help I will no longer speak to others when I’m super frustrated.  Nothing good will come out of my mouth until I’m calm. 

How about you?  Does your mouth ever cause you to sin?  If so, what plan can you  devise to change that? –Dave  

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Precarious Position

Romans 5_8_Precarious Position

“If my performance ever slips, I am suddenly in the precarious position of losing my value to the world.” (Constance Rhodes) 

I was devastated.  The “B” on my report card proved what I already knew – I wasn’t perfect; but now others would know too.  The thought frightened me.  The perfect 4.00 GPA fell to an imperfect 3.98 – still an excellent number for most people – but not good enough for those like me whose very value was wrapped up in our performance. 

Not good enough… If I had a dime for all the times that thought has crept through my mind, especially as a young person.  For far too long I valued myself as if I were a race horse or a Major League Baseball team – if I won in the classroom or on the athletic field, I was worth more to others.  I was worth more to myself too.   

That’s an okay system as long as you do well…ut what happens when you don’t?  Surely the time is coming when our abilities won’t stack up well against others; and such a system absolutely pits us against our peers – after all, we must compare ourselves to something in order to measure our performance.  As Rhodes says, performance-based value is a VERY precarious position – for everyone! 

What a respite it is within our performance crazed culture to be able to come to the foot of the cross and be reminded of our real worth.  At the cross we realize that the God of the universe died because He loves us.  He values us so much that He longs to spend eternity with us.  Now THAT is worth and value.  And the amazing thing about it is we don’t have to perform well in order to receive it or maintain it – all that is required is faith. 

How do you define your worth and value?  Is it in what YOU can do?  Or is it found in what God has done FOR you?  Give it some thought. –Dave  

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)       

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Declared

Sunday_Psalm 19_1_The Heavens Declare

All of creation exclaims that there is a God!

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