The Windshield

Hebrews 12_1_2_The Windshield

The meme told a great truth, “There’s a reason the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so large.”

We can’t effectively go forward if we’re constantly staring in the rearview mirror.  Folks, we all have things in our pasts we wish were not there.  Every single one of us.  But once repented of, there remains no reason to look upon them any longer.  You need not focus on my past mistakes; I need not focus on yours.  Perhaps more importantly, however, is our need to stop reliving our own “stuff.”

If Christ’s forgiveness is to have a practical impact on our today’s and our tomorrow’s, we must stop looking back on our yesterday’s.  He longs for us to take what He’s done for us and apply it to our lives NOW.  Forgiveness of our sins isn’t something that benefits us only in eternity.  It frees us today!  Christ wants us, from this day forward, to look in His direction.  We’re to fix our eyes on Him – the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  To do so we must look straight ahead…through the windshield.

If you must, cast but an occasional glance in the rearview mirror as a reminder of Christ’s goodness to you, then put the car in “Drive” and move forward.  –Dave

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…(Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)

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Kind and Stern

Romans 11_22_Stern and Kind

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

While we would likely never call ourselves “extremists,” many of us are.  We tend to view God in one of these extremes – “all mercy” or “all judgment.”  An all mercy crowd may see God as unwilling to hold sinful men accountable for their choices and actions.  It’s difficult for this crowd to contemplate a loving God honoring man’s choice and allowing them to spend eternity in hell.

In contrast, an all judgment crowd may see God as an angry tyrant in the sky who is impossible to please.  Such folks hold up an endless list of rules and constantly measure themselves (and others) against that list.  The possibility that God may actually accept them “as is” (presuming they’ve placed their faith in Christ) is almost impossible for them to believe.

Paul’s message above is for us to give serious attention to both the kindness of God and His sternness.  “Kindness” is derived from a Greek word that means “the Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids cruelty.”  God’s kindness to mankind is best demonstrated in His offer of forgiveness through Christ.

“Sternness” comes from a word that means “sharp or severe.”  In our way of thinking, God’s willingness to honor a person’s decision to reject Christ (God’s kind offer) with an eternity in hell seems severe.  Yet, God tells us He’s willing to do just that.  In fact, in this passage Paul reminded the Romans that God was willing to cut off Israel (His chosen people) for their failure to accept Christ; therefore we should understand He’s willing to do the same today.

Have you considered both the kindness and sternness of God?  Do you need to strive for a better balance? –Dave

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Troubles and Glory

Sunday_2 Cor 4_17_Troubles and Glory

Temporary troubles exchanged for eternal glory – pretty good trade!

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Rest and Be Not Dismayed

Multiple_God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

It’s one of our most beloved Christmas carols, yet precious little is known about its origin.  The writer(s) of both the tune and the lyrics are anonymous.  Historians are divided on both the time and place of its introduction – some dating it as early as the 1770s.  However, all recognize it as the famous carol which impacted ole’ Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843).

While singing it to myself recently, it occurred to me just how biblically-sound these lyrics are.  Consider for example:

God rest ye merry gentlemen:  “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) 

Let nothing you dismay:    “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Remember, Christ, our Savior was born on Christmas day: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23)

To save us all from Satan’s power:  “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18-19)

When we were gone astray:  “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 56:3)

Tidings of comfort and joy:  “I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13)

This Christmas season, rest and be not dismayed, for your Savior was born to save you from Satan’s power! –Dave

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Engrossed

1 Cor 7_29_31_Engrossed

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on… those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29,31)

It’s admittedly a somewhat strange passage.  In it, Paul is instructing the church to live in light of the fact that current, earthly things are passing away.  Even very important things like marriage are to be kept in their proper perspective, which is slightly below living out (and sharing) our faith in Christ.  Radical concept I know!

Paul then appears to address a 21st Century audience in verse 31.  For what generation before ours has had so many “things of the world” in which to become “engrossed?”  Please notice that Paul doesn’t denounce “things” at all.  In fact, the language Paul selected means to “take advantage” of the necessary things available.  Scripture acknowledges that we need all kinds of things to survive  in this world.  Money, shelter, clothing, food, jobs, transportation, some technology, and so on.  All necessary things which we need, and are to take advantage of.

The key, however, is to avoid becoming “engrossed” in these same things. Engrossed comes from a Greek word meaning to “overuse or abuse.”  The same word is used to describe something that is used excessively to one’s detriment.  We might say that what we are intended to consume, ends up consuming us.  The user becomes the used.

Paul’s instruction?  Remember that the things which enamor you will soon end up in a trash heap.  You and your things are on opposite trajectories.  You are headed to an eternity in heaven – your stuff is headed to the dump.  Therefore, don’t get too attached!

The things of this world…are you consuming them, or are they consuming you? –Dave

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Squawk or Walk?

Exodus 4_27_Squawk or Walk

The call of Moses at the burning bush was to be just that – the call of Moses, ALONE.  Yet Moses complained and argued so much that God acquiesced and allowed Moses to have a partner – his brother, Aaron.

After the bizarre encounter at the camping spot mentioned yesterday, Moses sent his wife and children back to Midian.  He would continue toward Egypt without them, but he wouldn’t be alone.  The very next verse tells us:

The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. (Exodus 4:27)

Bear in mind that Aaron was in Egypt, and Moses had no means of contacting him. Aaron only knew of his baby brother’s need for help because God had moved in the heart of Aaron and called him to join Moses in his work.

Friends, there are two points I want us to see.  First, when our work is in the center of God’s will – things flow.  They won’t have to be forced.  That’s doesn’t mean we’ll never have to ask for help, it just means that we’ll likely not be in it alone.  God will move in the hearts and minds of others to join us.  Others will want to come alongside.

Second, notice the differences between the responses God received from the two brothers.  God told Moses to go, and received a laundry list of concerns, complaints and excuses.  God told Aaron to go, and the next sentence begins with, “So he went…”

Which brother are you more like when God calls?  Moses, who squawked about God’s call? Or Aaron, who walked into it?  Are you a squawker or a walker? –Dave

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Blind Spots

Exodus 4_24_26_Blind Spots

At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him.  But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (Exodus 4:24-26)

There’s a reason you’ve likely never heard it discussed – it’s bizarre!  However, there’s a valuable lesson within its wackiness if we’ll sort through the weeds a bit.

This passage follows Moses’ recent encounter with God at the burning bush.  In obedience, Moses rounded up his wife (Zipporah) and sons, and headed down to Egypt to free the Hebrews.  But a strange thing happened along the way.

Commentators are divided on exactly what that strange thing was.  Some say God sent an illness which threatened to end Moses’ life.  Others say an angel appeared to Moses threatening to kill him.  Either way, we know God was angry because Moses had neglected to circumcise his sons.

While one obvious lesson from this encounter is that God doesn’t overlook our disobedience – there are consequences.  The less obvious, yet equally true, lesson is that it was the spouse of the neglectful one who first spotted the problem.  Circumcision was a covenant between God and Israel (Genesis 17).  Moses was a Hebrew; his wife was not.  Yet Zipporah was the one who detected the problem in their family, and she was the one to take action to correct it.

My point today is not that women are more spiritually-sensitive than men (although I probably wouldn’t argue that too much), but that we all need to remain open to the spiritual counsel of those closest to us – especially our spouse.  They often see our blind spots before we do.

Feeling brave?  Ask someone close to you if they see the need for spiritual growth in any area of your life – then humbly listen to their response.  You’ll likely learn something.  Who knows, it may even save your life! –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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