‘Understandable’ Sin

 

1 Sam 13_11_14_Understandable Sin

He panicked.

Saul was outnumbered at least 12:1, and his own army was deserting rapidly.  In fact, of the 3,000 men that had reported for duty, all but 600 had already fled. Saul realized SOMETHING had to be done – and NOW!

Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel in order to seek God’s blessing prior to going into battle.  Saul desired the Lord’s favor, but Samuel was late arriving on the scene, so Saul took matters into his own hands.  While the sacrifices were still burning, Samuel strolled into camp and asked, “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 13:11).

Listen to Saul’s response:  “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed… I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” (vv.11-12)

“I forced myself” to do it, suggests that Saul believed he had been “strong armed” against his will.  Today we might say, “I really had no choice…”  Before we wag our fingers at Saul, let’s remember his situation:  he was looking across the valley at a huge army; his men were deserting; he needed God’s blessing, and the man of God was nowhere to be seen.

Folks, I’ve caved at far less than this; I suspect you have too.  If we’re honest, we’ll admit that Saul’s predicament was understandable.  His choices were not too different from ones we’ve made as well.  But understandable sin is still taken seriously by God; and it has consequences.  For Saul, the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to David.

Have any “understandable sin” that you’re justifying?  Remember, God still takes even our “understandable sins” seriously! –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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I Wish You Well

 

James 2_16_17_Well Wishing

My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake. (Aristotle) 

I admit that when I first read the quote above, I thought, “Well, duh Aristotle!  Who else’s sake would it be for?” 

However, the more I thought about it, I realized the other person who might benefit from such a well-wishing was ME.  Here’s what I mean.  When someone shares a concern or need with me, I may end that conversation with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry to hear that, I hope it all turns out well.  Take care of yourself now.” 

Sometimes in such cases what I’m really conveying is that I hope it goes well for that person so that I don’t have to do anything.  Hence, my well-wishing is for my own sake and not truly for theirs. 

Can you and I meet the needs of everyone we encounter?  Of course not.  However, are there times when we should get more involved?  Undoubtedly so.  Aristotle’s words about well-wishing reminded me of those of James when he wrote: 

If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:16-17) 

Wishing someone well is one thing; helping them BE well is another.  Not only does it benefit them, it gives us the opportunity to flex our faith! 

Your well-wishing…is it generally for your benefit or for theirs?  Will you occasionally back it up with action? –Dave  

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Nuts and Bolts

 

Micah 6_8_Nuts and Bolts

It’s one of those “nuts and bolts” verses that we need to revisit from time to time.  It comes from the book of Micah, and in the preceding verses, the prophet wondered aloud what God required from His people. 

Would endless sacrifices please Him?  Maybe thousands of rams or 10,000 rivers of olive oil would do the trick?  Just what can imperfect men bring to please a perfect God? 

More than likely you’ve heard the response Micah received.  Yet, it’s one that slips our memories frequently.  Ready? – here it is: 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8) 

What good things does the Lord require of His children?  To act justly.  To love mercy.  To walk humbly with God.  Not hard to read or understand, but definitely difficult to live out. 

Are our actions consistently just – are they right before God and men?  When the actions of others are not just toward us, do we love mercy?  Are we kind to them in return?  Do we extend grace?  Or do we demand justice?  Are we remaining close to the side of God, refusing to run ahead of Him or stray far behind Him?  Do we allow God to be God, accepting the lot He has assigned to us without complaint or grumbling?  By the way, perhaps part of walking humbly with Him is asking for His help in being both just and merciful? 

Acting justly…loving mercifully…walking humbly…easy to read…Christ-like to do. –Dave  

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Big and Little Dreams

Luke 16_10_Big and Little Dreams

Years ago, The Martins recorded a song called, “Dream Big.”  As the title suggests, the message was for Christians to dream big – to imagine all that God could do through them if they dared to take some chances.  I liked the song and appreciated the message… 

In 2018, Josh Wilson released a song called, “Dream Small.”  As the title suggests, the message is for Christians to dream small – to imagine all that God could do through them if they concentrated on doing the ‘small, routine’ things well.  By spending time with their children, or visiting widows and neighbors, God’s love becomes evident to others.  I like the song and I appreciate the message. 

So which is it?  Are we to dream big, or dream small?  My answer is “Yes!”   

For example, this devotion may one day end up in a book that will reach thousands with God’s Word – it’s a big dream.  I know my motives are pure, so I have no trouble pursuing it.  Yet, as I write these words, my wife is at the hospital visiting her brother.   

On her way there, she picked up some dry shampoo.  Her brother wears his hair long – really LONG – and apparently nobody had washed it for several days.  So for the better part of an hour, she combed out his hair, washed it, and then braided it.  Why?  Because he can’t do it himself, and he feels better when it’s clean and braided.  It was a ‘small thing’ that demonstrated BIG love. 

What these songs share is their message for us to place our trust in God and then get out there and demonstrate the love of Christ.  Whether that’s in big or small ways doesn’t matter.  What matters is that God is glorified through the action.   

So, what are you dreaming these days? –Dave  

      One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…(Luke 16:10) 

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Four Philos

2 Timothy 3_1 to 5_Four Philos

It’s a favorite passage of those who concentrate on the “last days.”  As Paul wrote to Timothy, he painted a rather bleak picture of mankind.  However, there is good reason to believe that Paul’s description pertained to mankind even in his day.  There was evil then, and there will continue to be evil – perhaps in a crescendo fashion – until the return of Christ. 

But tucked away within that same passage is what I’ll call “The Four Philos.”  Philos is one of the Greek words for love, and Paul says that men are:  

·         philos-autos (lovers of self)

·         philos-argyros (lovers of silver/money)

·         philos-hedonas (lovers of hedonism/pleasure); or

·         philos-theos (lovers of God) 

Nearly all of the ugly descriptions of human behavior listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 can be linked to the first choice – love of self.  But, I found myself intrigued by the way Paul worded the last two Philos.  Men will be: 

lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power (vv.4-5) 

For the longest time I understood this to mean that such people choose pleasure to the absolute exclusion of God.  But “rather than” is a comparative adverb referring to what is considered better as compared to what is merely “good.” It conveys what is prioritized or ranked higher than something else.  

In other words, these people didn’t throw everything of God out the window – it’s just that compared to their seeking after pleasure, God was a very distant 2nd…or 3rd…or worse. 

Take a serious look at the Four Philos…are you giving priority to self, money, or pleasure above God?  Any changes you need to make? –Dave  

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Every Morning

Sunday_Isaiah 33_2_Strength Every Morning

What a comfort it is to go to God every morning for renewed strength.  What a joy to know He is our salvation.

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A Buck Fifty

Ever think that what you have to offer God is insignificant? Maybe this story will make you think again!

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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