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Devotional for 7-20-2019

HEART MEDICINE

One of my dear physician-friends wrote a book entitled “The Body Reveals.” He began his medical career as a general surgeon then studied to become a cardiovascular surgeon. One day while we were talking, he said, “Larry, the most disturbing part of my practice is that I cannot get people to look at their lives – what they are doing to themselves. People think they can do anything they want and then go to a physician for a prescription or some surgery and all of their problems will be corrected. That’s not the way we work. There’s a connection between our bodies and our minds, and we are very complex beings, because of the way God made us.”

There’s an intimate and complex connection between our heads, hearts, and bodies. God, our Creator, reminds us in His Word that our hearts contain emotions, values, goals, desires – the “sum total of who we are.” And, Solomon said it so well: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Incidentally, this is the only time the word medicine is used in the Old Testament. So, we must listen to God’s voice!

Our “peace of mind” directly affects our ability to maintain a life of wellness. Conversely, a “troubled mind” makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be healthy. A “troubled mind” makes it difficult to regain our health once we lose it. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you!”

The most important lesson for us to learn from this verse is that “God is in control.” Whatever is, is a gift from Him to us, and He is somewhere “in” that gift. He is at work in our lives shaping us into His image. We must always remember that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Prayer: Lord, life is difficult. Sickness comes, doubts arise, and suffering hurts. Grant us strength, peace and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Devotional for 7-19-2019

HEART DISEASE

Many live marginalized lives when all of us can be blest by God and have His favor. Most search for secrets to His blessings and gifts. Many become angry at those who are enjoying life more than they are and become resentful at God for His blessings to, on, or for others. It’s “wrong” for people to have more than they do.

God has no secrets and no favorites. All of us have equal access to Him and His word. It is our choice as to whether or not we will take advantage of what He has to offer us. And, furthermore, it is our responsibility – if we choose – to seek His favor: His grace and goodness.

But there certainly are conditions. For example: “A man of perverse heart does not prosper, he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.” Here is a good starting point if we want God’s blessings: is my heart clean and pure or perverse and deceitful?

God gives one reminder that we must never forget. What is in the heart inevitably comes out of our mouths. There is no way around that God-given admonition. Our hearts are the center of our universe and what is in our heart becomes the foundation of our life. Our heart is what drives us. So, if we bow to and worship money, we will do whatever it takes to get it – even if it is wrong and harms others. The same would go for fame or power or prestige.

If God is not at the center of our heart, something else is and that is what we will live and die for. There are many who want to have it both ways: do whatever to get whatever they want, and then give God whatever is left. That’s the description of a perverse and deceitful mind.

Prayer: This day, Lord, can be a day when we focus on “hearts.” May we look deep inside our heart and carefully examine its contents, and then get rid of all our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper, he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.” 

Devotional for 7-18-2019

FINANCES AND FRIENDSHIP

Is there a limit to friendship? It seems that there is.

“A man lacking in judgment strikes the hand of another in a pledge, and puts up security for his neighbor” is sound advice!

Only the hardest of hearts want to see anyone suffer from a lack of life’s necessities. Most of us want to be thought of as having kind hearts and willing hands. Many have given more than their share of their goods and finances without thinking of the cost to them personally. There have been times that what once seemed wise, in the final analysis, was not wise, but stupid. So, we come to a verse that puts the idea of giving into the proper context for us.

It’s foolish or a “man lacks judgment” for a person to place their name on a contract unless they know for certain the character and financial resources of the other person. So, there is indeed a limit to friendship.

Very often, and with good intentions and the desire to be “liked,” we foolhardily shake hands or “make a pledge” for a person who cannot or will not honor their word. To enter into any agreement with any person for any reason must be given careful, prayerful thought. It is foolish to give our word and promise to fulfill any contract simply to be liked or considered a “friend.”

This proverb addresses the idea of “certainty.” If, for example, the person who is the primary individual on the contract becomes unable to fulfill his obligations, the burden of fulfilling the obligation falls on the “hand shaker.” To do so may endanger the family of the co-signer as well as encourage the one wanting financial assistance to be extravagant and careless in spending. Being “nice” often results in being swindled. However, always be kind.

Prayer: We ask, Lord, that we may seek Your wisdom and guidance before making foolish choices to help others. May we be kind, cautious and prayerful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:18 A man lacking in judgment strikes the hand of another in a pledge, and puts up security for his neighbor.

Devotional for 7-17-2019

LOVE, LIKE, AND FRIENDSHIP

Years ago I read a book entitled, “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You.” Never mind the word love in the title of the book or in the mind of the author. The message the author wanted his readers to understand is that love is an obligation for Christians – but to like someone, well, that’s a choice.

The book makes it clear that we all do things that are difficult for others to accept – especially those who know us best. But to get above strange differences and ugly habits and accept others as they are – that is “true” friendship. And, when things go awry, it doesn’t matter. They are to be overlooked. A friend willingly overlooks the worst in a friend and is always ready to lend a hand, give a hug, or share words of encouragement.

Is that not the way we Christians are to treat each other? I recently heard someone say, “Well, I love them enough to get into heaven, but that does not mean I have to love them for the way they are and how they act.” Oh yes, it does.

There are different ways of understanding what Solomon meant when he wrote: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” In the Hebrew text “One who loves at all times” comes first and is then followed by “friend.” The idea that Solomon wants us to understand and accept is that friends, by choice, can do what is right and to be expected among and between friends, at all times. Or, “Only that one who loves at all times is a friend.”

When we enter into times of adversity, when one’s world is turned upside down and inside out, when life no longer makes sense, strong human relationships – true friendships – are critical. And, a true friend loves us through it all, no matter what.

Prayer: Father, help us to cultivate friends who will be with us “through it all” and like us as well as love us. Help us to be a friend to someone today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. 

Devotional for 7-16-2019

WANTED: GODLY WISDOM

Many years ago I had a friend who wrote a book on decision making. He carefully researched the decision-making process of world leaders throughout history as much as was possible. He concluded that a leader could be known and understood by the people he went to for counsel and information before making a decision. He looked at character traits, religious beliefs, education, and friends. From his extensive research, he concluded that those whom we look to for advice before making a decision reveals who we are and what to expect of us.

But advice is not wisdom. Advice that comes from most individuals, is only an “opinion about what could or should be done about a situation or problem.” One can purchase advice or seek advice from friends or associates, but it is not actually wisdom. Heed the words of Solomon: “Of what use is money in the hands of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom.”

It is foolish, according to Solomon, to think that anyone can buy wisdom since it is a gift of God. Wisdom can only be acquired by studying God’s Word and depending on Him for insight and foresight through prayer and the counsel of wise Christians. Even if someone could buy wisdom, they would be a “fool” for they would lack the sense to know what to do with it.

God’s wisdom is not for sale. It is available to those who have a desire to get to know Him by spending time with Him and seeking wisdom from Him as revealed in His Word. God makes Himself known to those who willingly seek Him with all their heart. The only requirement for those who want God’s wisdom is to seek it as He has revealed it in His Word.

Prayer: Father, help us to understand the importance of true, Godly wisdom. May we seek it with all our heart, and when we find it, follow it faithfully and fervently. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:16 Of what use is money in the hands of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom. 

Devotional for 7-15-2019

EQUALITY FOR ALL

One of the great ongoing debates in our nation today concerns unequal justice. If the person who committed an offense is on my side politically or socially, for example, it is almost a foregone conclusion that “our side” wants “justice” for that one as they interpret the law. It seems as though most are more than willing to overlook justice for the “wrongdoer” if it will not cause “our side” to lose in the race for prominence, prestige, position or political favor.

How very wrong in the eyes of God! Justice, in God’s eyes, is to be applied equally. He makes no apology or excuse for wrongdoing. One cannot read His Word without coming to the conclusion that “justice must prevail!” This concept is stressed in the Law and the Prophets and in other Old Testament writings. God will not bless or accept the behavior of those who attempt to justify the wrongdoing of anyone for any reason in any situation. In His Word and in His world, wrong is wrong and cannot be negotiated or resolved by getting the largest number of votes.

Injustice is always repulsive to God because it is a violation of His very nature and character. He is a just and holy God and to favor one side above another cannot exist in His creation, and should not exist within His Kingdom.

“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.” One thing to note about this verse is the fact that the words Solomon chose to describe “injustice” is a word that describes the most intense outrage possible to a Holy God. To Him, inequity is repulsive – even if it involves “the home team.”

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to see right and wrong through Your eyes and in light of Your Word. May justice come to those wrongly condemned, and may justice prevail! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.

Devotional for 7-14-2019

COVER IT UP!

Asking for forgiveness is often more difficult than it seems. To have offended someone and not be troubled by the pain it produced in the other person is indeed the sign of a calloused heart and an indifferent attitude: both an abomination to God!

But to acknowledge that we have wronged another person is difficult. For whatever our reason may be, and although we do not admit it, we all seem to think we live a life that is as close to perfect as possible. Our opinions are absolute, and our values are without question, the ones that every person ought to hold.

That, however, defies Scripture and reason. Most of us have a difficult time getting through one day without some conflict about some issue with another person. And, if our opinion or position on the issue does not agree with the other persons, conflict erupts.

Now, conflict is not all bad. Often creativity comes out of conflict and that’s good. If however, we become hardened in our position and refuse to accept the ideas of the other person and use words to hurt and harm them, that is indeed wrong and displeasing to God.

We are all equal in God’s eyes – even when our ideas or positions disagree with another. If we are thoughtless in expressing our differences to the point that we use abusive language to destroy and defeat one of God’s children – that’s definitely wrong. End of discussion.

“He who covers over an offense promotes love.” Here we are advised to plead for forgiveness and “cover it up.” Another way of saying it is to “forgive and pray for the other.”

Prayer: Give us tender hearts, Lord. May we spend time today making amends, where necessary for harming others and blessing them in Your Name. Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. 

Devotional for 7-13-2019

IT GOES IN A CIRCLE

Few events in life are as precious as the arrival of a grandchild. They bring new life to aging parents and hope for the future. They all develop their own individual ways and unusual habits that are endearing and worth tucking away in “memory banks” for future moments. Memories like the names they give us to get our attention, their favorite blankets they cannot live without, or the huge number of stuffed animals they can carry from one place to another without dropping a single one of them are some of mine.

Solomon said it well: “Children’s children are a splendor to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” The inestimable joy that comes with a grandchild is difficult to explain. It is indeed like a burst of splendor that produces pride that is difficult to diminish no matter what happens.

But there seems to be a circle in this verse that we must not overlook. With all of the pleasurable moments we enjoy with our grandchildren, there comes tremendous responsibility. It is in the second section of this verse: “parents are the pride of their children.” Here, Solomon sets a stake in the ground that indicts parents. He insists that we must recognize and accept the responsibility that we who are parents have to God.

To have an honorable grandchild the grandparent is responsible to have been a model parent. This does not imply that parents are to be perfect. That’s not possible. But it does mean that the grandchild’s parents were well mentored by parents who honored God in all things.

Prayer: Father, every parent wants to be a parent that pleases You. Forgive our failures and open our minds and hearts and help us to follow Your example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are a splendor to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. 

Devotional for 7-12-2019

PASS IT ON!

It was just before noon when Joseph walked into my office. His clothes were dirty and wrinkled. He must have been cold from the driving rain and winter wind.

“I know I look nasty,” he said. “I’ve been sleeping in a barn for the past three nights. There’s no heat, and it’s been hard to stay warm. Mind if I sit in your chair over in the corner? It really looks comfortable.”

“This soft drink is all I’ve had for two days. I’m a diabetic and need to eat but I’m drinking this drink as slowly as I can until I find someone who can help me. I was thrown out of my home Christmas Day because I couldn’t pay the rent. Do you have any money you can give me? I’ll have some by Friday and can pay you back then.”

Our offices are located on a state highway, and many folks like Joseph stop by daily. Cal stopped by Monday. His mother, along with his two-month-old daughter, was killed by a drunk driver the day before. He was on his way to Florida to make funeral arrangements before he deployed to Iraq with his Marine unit. He did not ask for anything except prayer. “I saw your Chapel,” he said, “and I knew I could find someone here who could pray for me. That’s really all I need.”

It is difficult to remember a day when no one has stopped by for help. Their stories are compelling, often even heart-breaking. Occasionally they are untrue. In the end, however, they answer to God for what they do. “He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to help those who are poor and in need. You’ve sent them our way for a reason. May we show Your love, mercy, and grace to those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:5a He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.

Devotional for 7-11-2019

GENEROSITY MATTERS

Thinking “poor” is difficult for most of us. We have so much more than we need that it is difficult to understand what it is like to go without, be without, or do without. For most, the distance between a delicious meal and pangs of hunger is unimaginable. Many of us have never had to go without a meal much less gather morsels from a garbage can to survive.

I frequently hear stories of individuals who have invested some of their “things” in those who have represented themselves as poor only to find out that they had been “duped.” Some say they will never give again because they were fooled. I find this attitude disturbing.

There are times when I find myself “guarded” when people come to my office with a need for some “thing.” It might be for money to pay the utility bill, or milk to nourish a baby, or money for a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. Often when I find myself questioning their motives I ask myself: “Who am I to be their judge?”

In Proverbs, there is a verse that says, “For God made both the rich and the poor.” With that in mind, what should my response be to those in need? Is my response an indication of how I would respond to Jesus if He came to me with a need and I did not recognize Him?

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said, “What you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it unto me.” If we fail to respond with compassion to those in need how can we expect God to hear us when we have needs?

When we see someone in need, let us never forget that God brought that one into our lives to help them somehow. It’s not an option. Rather, it’s our obligation to do whatever we can.

Prayer: Lord, give us hearts that are sensitive to the needs of others. May we bless their lives as You have blest ours. May we do for others as You have done for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. 

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