All-Consuming

Proverb 23_4_All Consuming

The journal Christianity and Crisis once published an article dealing with the church’s response to America’s “ever-expanding economy.”  In it, the author highlighted the pressure on people to “consume, consume and consume, whether we need or even desire the products almost forced upon us….we’re persuaded to consume to meet the needs of the productive process.”

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this warning was when it was published – 1955!  Long before the advent of 24/7 satellite television, smart phones, and various devices connected to the internet (and the endless barrage of advertisements that accompanying them all), the author was already concerned about the possible impact consumerism might have on the church.

Fast-forward 60+ years, and it appears the church hasn’t managed to steer clear of consumerism.  According to Dave Ramsey, “We have more people getting behind on credit cards, more people filing bankruptcy, more people in foreclosure right now than we’ve ever had in this nation.”  Remarkably, American consumers are simultaneously earning record income while accumulating record debt. And there is little difference between the amounts that Christians and non-Christians earn, spend, save, charge, or donate to charities.

Unfortunately, the stress of financial strain has caused significant cracks in the foundations of many Christian families as well.  Sadly, when it comes to money, it would seem that many Christians are following Madison Avenue more than Jesus Christ.  We’re as busy climbing the ladder as anyone, realizing too late that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall!  When will we realize that nobody truly wins “the rat race?”

Take an honest look at what role consumerism is playing in your life today.  What unnecessary pressure have you placed yourself (and your family) under by making purchases with money you don’t have, to buy things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like?  Any changes you need to make? –Dave

Don’t exhaust yourself acquiring wealth; be smart enough to stop. (Proverb 23:4, ISV)

(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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Each Day…Best Day

Matthew 6_33_34_Each Day Best Day

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.  He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety… This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

While I don’t share Emerson’s take on God or Christ, I do appreciate his perspective on making the most of each day we’ve been given.  There is much to be gained by learning to not worry about tomorrow, or continuing to carry around the disappointments of yesterday.

Whether he intended to or not, Emerson was echoing the words of Jesus who said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).  Christ’s answer to worry?  Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (v. 33).

Emerson’s words also were reminiscent of Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he said, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Are you so fretful about tomorrow that you can’t enjoy today?  If so, let me gently remind you to cast your fears upon the Lord because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).  Are you so burdened by yesterday’s mistakes that you feel defeated in serving Christ today?  Remember that yesterday’s sins are forgiven the moment they are confessed.  Lay yesterday aside and embrace each new day. –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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Walls and Doors

Proverb 16_9_Walls and Doors

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

We’re all familiar with the Serenity Prayer – perhaps you’ve prayed it from time to time yourself.  None of what the prayer asks for is easy – but, the opening line seems to be the greatest challenge for me.  It’s especially difficult for me to accept the fact that some things may never change.  We live in days of constant change, yet things like disease, poverty, crime, injustice, etc will never be fully changed until the return of Christ. 

Perhaps the most difficult things to let go of, however, are personal dreams that life should go in specific ways.  Dreams that our marriage should be easy, our children have perfect health and always make perfect decisions.  Perhaps we’ve always hoped to have a particular job, or live in a particular neighborhood.  Maybe our heart’s desire was to impact the world for Christ in specific ways, but those opportunities never presented themselves.   

What are we to do when our dreams and our realities don’t align?  Are we to give up?  If you’ve been reading our devotions long, you know better than that!  Giving up on life is not an answer.  But, surrendering our dreams to the Lord is.  I recently read this wise quote from French designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door.” 

Friends, if you’re continuously beating, and kicking, and striving to pry open a door, maybe what you’ve encountered is really a wall.  Maybe you need to call time out and ask God to show you where His doors are?  Instead of asking God to help you fulfill your desires, ask Him how you can join Him in fulfilling His. 

Frustrated that doors aren’t opening to you?  Ask God if you are beating on a wall; then beg Him to show you His doors. –Dave  

      A person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverb 16:9, ISV) 

(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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You Can’t Kid a Kid!

Malachi 4_6_Cant kid a kid

To say he was a successful businessman and philanthropist would be a gigantic understatement.  I greatly respected him for his business and civic endeavors, so I jumped at the chance to read his authorized biography.   

While I was familiar with his business success, what was totally new to me was the rare personal glimpse inside the man’s home and family.  Unfortunately, what I read in those few pages broke my heart.  I read about the only son who could recall but a single father/son activity that his dad joined him in.  It was such a miserable time for the son that he never asked his dad to do anything again.   

His only daughter’s recollections were no better.  She was quoted as saying, “I don’t recall him going out and playing ball with us…or going to the zoo…or the art gallery.  He wasn’t an active father.  I think his choice was family or ______ (his business).  And I think he chose his business.  There’s no doubt in my mind.” 

In a 400+ page book about this man’s life, and everything that he had held as near and dear, only a few pages mentioned his children – and those mentions were hardly stellar.  As I read the sad accounts above, I was reminded of a quote I heard many years ago when both my career and my children were still young: 

      To succeed at work, and to fail at home, is to fail completely.  (David J. Moore) 

Friends, our children are only under our roofs for a short time, and then they’re gone.  Your place of work would likely replace you within a few weeks if you were to leave for some reason.  But, you are the only mom or dad your kids will ever have.  In which role is it more important for you to succeed?  –Dave  

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. (Malachi 4:6) 

(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 new devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Bold as Lions

Sunday_Proverb 28_1 Bold Lion

In Christ, we have nothing to fear!

(To receive 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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Show Me

Job 13_23_Show Me

He wasn’t sure; so he asked.

We’re all familiar with the story of Job – the man who God said was blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:8).  Yet, Job lost everything in one day all the same.  In the days following the loss of his health, livestock and all ten of his children, Job searched for answers.  In his misery, he longed to know what he had done – where he had gone wrong to deserve such loss.

In an anguished cry heavenward, Job asked, “How many wrongs and sins have I committed?  Show me my offense and my sin” (Job 13:23).  In this way we’re similar to Job – when life hurts, we look for someone to blame – even if it’s ourselves.  Sometimes our pain and suffering are the results of our own sinful choices; sometimes, they’re not.  But like Job, shouldn’t we honestly ask?

Today I want to applaud Job for having the courage to go to God and say – “Lord, show me my sins.  Point out to me where I’ve gone wrong and offended You.”  From the surrounding text we know that Job was willing to hear God’s answers and change whatever might have been necessary.

Friends, whether we’re in the midst of a painful loss, or riding on Cloud Nine, wouldn’t it be a good idea to frequently approach God in the same Job-like humility and ask Him to show us if we’ve unknowingly offended Him?  Not to beat ourselves up, but to confess and correct anything He may show us.  Will you ask Him today? –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 new devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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Your Truth

John 8_31_32_Your Truth

There’s a lot of confusion these days about “truth.”  Oprah was the latest celebrity to throw her hat into the confusion when she told the audience at the 75th Golden Globe awards, “…speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”  I’m not 100% sure what she was hoping to convey that night, but it highlights a reality that the church needs to be aware of, and prepared to confront. 

Recently, a friend and I visited a local college campus for the purposes of engaging the students with the gospel and inviting them to visit our church.  The responses were highly varied, ranging from indifference to full-out combativeness.  But perhaps the most common response was something along the lines of, “Well, that may be your truth, but that’s not my truth.”  Even more frightening was the coed who unashamedly boasted that she “created her own truth.”   

We were intrigued by this concept, so we asked her just exactly how that worked.  She said something along the lines that she decided what she wanted to accept as being true, and then that became “her truth.”  This got me going a bit, so I asked if she could also remove things from her truth, to which she said she could.  I then invited her to join me on the roof of the building, make gravity “untrue” and demonstrate her belief in her ability to create her own truth by jumping.  (No, I wouldn’t have let her jump.  In fact, we didn’t leave the spot we were in).  She quickly recognized that she couldn’t alter reality/truth, and agreed that all she really could do was form her own opinions about the truth – which I can live with.  For her opinion and my opinion are equally valuable – they’re worthless; the only thing that matters is THE truth.   

Friends, relative truth is not only out there, it’s prevalent among the next generation, and the church needs to be prepared to address it.  Jesus didn’t say that anyone’s truth would set men free – He proclaimed that THE truth would (John 8:31-32). 

When confronted with the lie of “your truth,” are you prepared to speak THE truth that sets men free? –Dave  

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) 

(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 new devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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