Fresh is Best

2 Timothy 2_15_Fresh is Best

The activity at my bird feeder in the front yard was way down.  I was keeping it stocked with a quality seed mix, but the birds just weren’t coming.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out – until I went into the back yard.

There, I discovered a slew of birds feasting on fresh fruit – peaches on the tree, and wild strawberries on the ground.  When given the choice between fresh fruit or prepackaged, processed seeds, they chose fresh.

I think those birds have a lesson for us.  How often do we as believers feed ourselves only on the prepackaged messages that others process for us?  Specifically, how many weeks go by when the ONLY spiritual meal we’ve taken in is the sermon planned, processed, and packaged by the pastor?  Don’t get me wrong – that’s a VITAL meal to have each week.  The prepared pastor has spent hours mining the Scriptures, pulling out the nuggets of gold for us. But that is not the ONLY meal we’re to have each week.

Between the messages that others prepare for us, we need to be dining within the pages of Scripture ourselves each and every day.  We don’t need degrees in theology, or years of experience teaching or preaching in order to understand God’s Word.  God’s Spirit will make it clear and meaningful to us – IF we’ll open its pages and eat a fresh snack of it each day!

Give it some thought.  Are most of your spiritual meals prepared by someone else?  Or do you prepare some yourself? Both are good, but fresh is best!  –Dave

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Excuse or Forgive?

Colossians 3_13_Excuse or Forgive

Have you ever had trouble forgiving someone?  Ok, it’s a dumb question – we’ve ALL struggled with forgiving at least one person somewhere along the line.  I suppose the reasons for remaining unforgiving are many, but today I’d like to address at least one – namely, that granting forgiveness somehow excuses the offender.

In his book, The Weight of Glory, CS Lewis wrote:

Forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

As Lewis so effectively states, true forgiveness involves the acknowledgement that the offense was inexcusable.  That is precisely WHY forgiveness is needed.  If I could defend, excuse, or explain away every mistake I’ve ever made, then those around me need not forgive me as much as simply understand me.  Yet there is a huge difference between understanding and forgiveness.  The one is based on human reasoning; the other is based on our relationship with Christ.

We forgive because we have been forgiven. –Dave

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The “Middle Man”

Ezra 7_10_Study Obey Teach

Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. (Ezra 7:10, NLT)

One day, I want to catch up to Ezra in heaven and just hang out for a bit. Before then, I’d love to develop his determinations.  The original Hebrew conveys the idea that he had “firmly set his heart” on studying, obey, and teaching.

Before you check out from this message because you’re not in an “official” teaching role, let me remind you of two things.  1). If you’re a parent, God calls upon you to teach His ways to your children (Deuteronomy 4 and 11).  2). We should all grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures to the point where we are ABLE to teach others (Hebrews 5:12).

If we’re all to be teachers in those capacities, then we need to take note of Ezra’s other determinations as well.  Namely, we simply cannot teach something unless we’ve first taken the time to study.  “Studying” conveys the idea of looking into something frequently; to seek its truths and meanings with the hope of understanding.

But unlike most topics, teaching God’s Word involves a critical “middle man” – obedience.  For example, I can teach math without “obeying” math.  But when it comes to Scripture, it’s not enough to study and then to teach.  The teacher of God’s Word must also be an adherent to God’s Word.  It will never be perfect, but there must be a sincere, consistent attempt to walk according to what he has learned himself.  A person who knows Scripture, but refuses to follow Scripture, is not fit to teach Scripture.

Friends, let’s follow Ezra’s example and determine today to study, obey, and teach God’s Word in whatever capacity He’s given us. –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kingly Concern

Nehemiah 2_2_4_Kingly Concern

The example comes from a most unlikely source.  Artaxerxes was the King of Persia – the land in which the nation of Israel was exiled.  The king’s personal cup bearer was a Jew named, Nehemiah.  The young Hebrew was distraught over the news he’d received regarding the state of affairs in Jerusalem – the walls were in ruins and the city was in shambles.

And it was the sovereign king who took notice of his servant and asked:

“Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” (Nehemiah 2:2, NLT)

Nehemiah took a chance and responded truthfully to the king.  He laid out for Artaxerxes exactly why he was upset.  Upon hearing Nehemiah’s explanation, the king asked a second question:

“Well, how can I help you?” (v.4)

Isn’t that amazing?  I see three important truths in Artexerxes handling of this situation for us to model:  1). the King noticed.  He was not too busy, or too high and mighty to involve himself in the lives of others;  2). He inquired about what was wrong; and 3).  He asked how he could help.

Folks, if the king of a pagan land can demonstrate such compassionate care for a servant, surely we can do likewise for our friends, family, and neighbors.  On any given day, there are countless people hoping you will notice their struggle and ask:  “What’s wrong?  How can I help?”

Of whom can you ask those questions today? –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Guardrail

Romans 12_9_10_The Guardrails

Hate WHAT is wrong.  (Romans 12:9b, NLT, emphasis added)

We’re living in unprecedented times.  Divisions among people have never been this great during my lifetime.  Covid-19, and how to respond to it, has divided us.  George Floyd’s death, and how to respond to it, has divided us.  An upcoming presidential election is dividing us.

The fact that there are issues that we disagree on is nothing new.  What seems to be new however is our inability to disagree, agreeably.  Instead of following Paul’s admonition above to hate WHAT is wrong, we have fallen into hating WHO (we think) is wrong!

Paul was no fool.  He understood that fallible men might disagree on what is wrong, and hatred could get out of check.  Therefore it’s important for us to step back for a moment and look at the commands surrounding v. 9 above.

Before:  “Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.” (v.9a)

After:  “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (v.10)

Isn’t that fascinating?  The command to hate WHAT is wrong is sandwiched between two commands to love people – even those WHO may be wrong!  Love is the guardrail that keeps our hatred from getting out of hand.

Friends, the name-calling and disrespect for those with whom we disagree needs to stop.  God’s Word tells us to love them deeply and grant them honor.  Hate evil.  Love people.  –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ruined by Foolishness

Proverb 19_3_Ruined by Foolishness

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord. (Proverb 19:3, NLT)

We’ve said it here before – Proverbs are general truths – not absolutes.  For example, a person’s life can run into trouble for a variety of reasons, some of which are beyond their control.  However, the general truth of God’s Word is this – if a life becomes ruined, it is generally because of one’s OWN foolishness.

Sadly folks whose lives are absolute messes, frequently look everywhere but in the mirror for someone to blame.  Even God is held responsible by irresponsible men.  Yet the wording is very clear, the foolishness which leads to ruin is an individual’s own.  We need not accept the false guilt others may try to heap upon us for their desperate situations.  However as followers of Christ, let’s attempt to help them find their way out!

Yet even with our help, until individuals begin to take personal responsibility for their individual choices, real change within families, communities, and societies simply will not occur.  The answer is not to be mad at the Lord; the answer is to be remade by the Lord!

Is life in a freefall right now?  Don’t cry AT the Lord, cry TO Him!  –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Faithful to Rescue

Sunday_Psalm 31_5_Faithful to Rescue

Our Lord is a faithful, rescuing God!

(To receive free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Relational Rot

Philippians 4_8_Attitude Adjustment

It will likely have to be cut out and replaced.  Either that, or the whole thing will have to be torn down.

Thankfully I’m not talking about my house.  However the little shed in the backyard is showing its age.  Specifically, it’s showing areas where I’ve simply neglected it over the years.  A pile of wood leaning against the siding had allowed moisture and time to rot it away.

Pretty small thing in the big picture.  But as I put the mower away in that shed I realized I’ve neglected some much more important things over those same years.  For instance, I’d become lax in expressing my appreciation for my lovely wife.  It’s amazing how quickly we can go from seeing NONE of their faults to seemingly seeing ONLY their faults.  So let me tell you a couple of things I really admire about my wife!  She is incredibly loyal to me, and supportive of my teaching ministry.  And she has been unflinching in her devotion to our children.

How about you?  Have you allowed any “rot” to develop in your major relationships?  If so, let me encourage you to intentionally focus on the things you appreciate about them instead.  Because what we focus upon grows.  Remember, you married him/her for some very good reasons – go back and recall a few of them today! –Dave

… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Subjects or Students

Colossians 2_2_Students or Subjects

Several years ago I heard about a speaker who addressed a conference of high school teachers.  At the opening of his presentation he asked, “Who here teaches Biology?”  Many hands went into the air.  “Who teaches math?”  More hands.  “How about Chemistry?”  On and on it went until most subjects had been covered.  He then drove his point home.  “Wrong.  None of you teach subjects, you teach PEOPLE.”

When students are young, their teachers are known by the grade level they teach – Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, etc.  The focus is on the pupil.  Somewhere along the line, however, the focus becomes the subject matter and not the students. I’ve used this illustration repeatedly over the years when attempting to emphasize to Bible teachers that we don’t “teach the Bible, we teach people.”  And people often need more than just a chapter and a verse in order to accept the love and acceptance of Christ – they need His people to demonstrate His love and acceptance frequently.

Sadly, to my own shame, I realized that I’d become unbalanced with my classroom.  I had poured so much time and effort into the lesson preparations that I’d neglected to give proper time and attention to demonstrations of love through sincere interactions with the people I teach.  I’ll try to do better.

Friends, every pastor or teacher I know needs help demonstrating the love and appreciation they have for those under their care.  Close your eyes for just a moment and ask God to bring one or two people to mind.  Then take a minute to contact them letting them know you were thinking of them!  You may never know the difference you can make! –Dave

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love… (Colossians 2:2)

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seeking or Succeeding

2 Chron 31_20_21_Prosperous Path

His father had literally closed the Temple and forbidden the Israelites from worshipping there.  So when Hezekiah became king in his father’s place, he had a lot of restoration to make – in God’s Temple, and in God’s people.  And in relatively short order, Hezekiah had corrected his father’s many wrongs.  Scripture summarizes his efforts this way:

In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful. (2 Chronicles 31:21, NLT)

While Temple restoration projects might not interest us, there is an important principle in this verse that has widespread application.  In all that Hezekiah did, he SOUGHT God with all his heart.  As a result of his seeking God, Hezekiah was very successful.  Seeking God was the engine; success was the caboose.

Far too many people today reverse this important order.  They make success the goal, and expect God to wholeheartedly support them in the process.  Folks, that’s just backwards.

It always amuses me greatly when anyone refers to me as a businessman.  Granted I was IN business for a number of years, and I did OWN a business for more than a decade.  And by God’s grace, that business was even moderately successful.  But not once did I think of myself as a businessman.  Instead, the business was simply a way to put food on the table and to fund the ministries in which I’ve been involved.  Had I set out to simply run a successful business, I would have likely run it straight into the ground!!!

I didn’t always get it right; I failed on many occasions.  But as a general rule, the goal was to please God first.  As a result, He blessed the efforts.

Give it some thought.  What’s your primary motivation – seeking God wholeheartedly, or being successful? –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions.  For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment