The Aquarium at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX is a perfect place to learn about the sea creatures of our world. You will spend hours watching the colorful marine life, the playful seals of the North Pacific, King Penguins of the Antarctic and the graceful sharks of the Caribbean. It is also a place to learn about the heart and mind of God.
Near the one million gallon Caribbean exhibit, I found this quote displayed on the stone wall:
"In the end,
we will only conserve what we love,
we will love only what we understand,
we will understand only what we are taught."
There is another wise but similar saying found in Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Let us not abandon our responsibility of teaching, simply because it is difficult. If we allow the obstinacy of youth to deter our effort of instructing our children, they will learn at the feet of folly and destruction. May God help us to remain faithful in the most difficult and demanding task we will ever have. It is much easier to prepare a generation for the future than to alter their course after they have begun the journey. Amen and amen.
Extreme Makeover – Home Edition is one of those shows that tug at my heartstrings. It’s not unusual for me to cry while watching the program. Families are nominated to receive a new home by friends or associates due to extenuating circumstances.
Tonight’s show features a family of 13 living in a 900 square foot house in North Pole, Alaska. The temperature can drop to 50 below during the winter. Despite the deplorable conditions, the owner and her eight kids made room for her brother-in-law and his three children. Talk about a love that surpasses our understanding…
Even in cramped quarters, the children are home-schooled and she is raising some terrific human beings. Her circumstances didn’t limit her determination.
This story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:17-21). Jesus used the resources at hand to provide for his flock.
GospeLines Prayer: Father let me remember that I can’t put limits on You. If You can feed 5,000 with so little, You definitely can nourish me spiritually.
While I know that You don’t always work alone, you often use other people like the lady in the story. You also use those of us who are hurting and as we lift others up, I am thankful that You chose me. May I continue to hunger for Your love and Your word.
When we list Old Testament women who knew the heart of Yahweh, there is none more noteworthy than Hannah (“Grace”), the wife of Elkanah. They had no children so she prayed and prayed to God for the blessing of a male child. God heard her cries and Samuel (“God hears”) was born. She promised that her son would be dedicated to the Lord, so when he was weaned she placed him in the care of Eli to be trained as a prophet.
Her extraordinary devotion to God can be heard in her prayer song (1st Samuel 2:1-10) “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”(V.2.) Wherever she walked, the ground was holy. When she went to Shiloh with her husband for the annual sacrifice, the utensils of worship and the temple where she prayed were holy.
Now here is the question I raise. What caused the places where she walked and the objects which Hannah touched to become holy? The place where you are sitting at this very moment, whether in your office at your place of employment, or at your computer in your home, or on the street corner where someone has handed you a printed copy of this devotional, it can be called a holy place (Exodus 3:5).
Of course, Hannah might be called a good person, maybe even a great woman. And you may be a wonderful husband, a devoted wife, or, by the world’s standard, even a great person. Beloved, humankind does not possess the ability to make a place, object or a person holy.
The essence of Holiness is ascribed to a person, place or object because of the character of God. True holiness comes to a place, person or object because it reflects the righteousness, love AND presence of God.
Someone asked me last week to define the word “saint” as it is applied to an individual. I said that a saint is a person who is “different” in character and attributes, made so by the infilling of God’s Spirit, not by any human blood line or prominent position in a church. The difference is the distinctive Holiness of God which permeates the heart, soul and actions of that person, everyday, 24-7.
Oh, to be like that all the time! I yearn to know that kind of walk with my Heavenly Father. Does your heart burn within you this very moment to be like that?
GospeLines Prayer:My Lord and my God, to whom I owe the gift of this day, give me the spirit to use it as I ought. Forbid that I should stain the glory of this morning with any evil thought or darken the afternoon with shameful deed. Allow the Holiness of your Spirit to breathe into my heart the purity of your heavenly desires. O, Father, I beseech you to inform my mind each moment with your truth. Let your justice and righteousness form a throne within me to rule my will. Cast away all the forces of evil and defeat all selfishness and worldly mindedness, and carry out your perfect plan in my life today. Amen and amen.
No adult ever wants to hear these words.Unfortunately, they are spoken all too frequently across many nations.Most states in the U.S. have laws prohibiting inmates from voting while incarcerated for a felony offense or while they’re on parole.Two states even deny the right to vote to felony offenders who have completed their sentences.
Defenders of these laws say they are protecting us from voter fraud or that they are “preserving the purity of the ballot box” – whatever that means.They have decided that the past action of these people justifies their reproach.
Reproach is an expression of rebuke or disapproval. Eight times in the New Testament we are told to be “above reproach” (four of these passages are speaking specifically about elders/deacons).
What happens if someone is not “above reproach”?Do we refuse fellowship to protect ourselves from “believer fraud” or to “preserve the purity of the church” similar to those who want to keep ex-felons from voting?Do these passages justify allowing someone’s past action to elicit our reproach; or, could these passages be pointing to something entirely different… something other than our past?
“When he [Paul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26-27 – NIV)
Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) was feared by many in the early church because for years he had imprisoned, tortured and even killed Christians. Although he was now converted to Christ, they were nonetheless afraid of him.They knew of his reputation and likely did not believe the truth of his conversion.
Barnabas, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to move beyond what he had seen and believe in things as yet unseen (Heb 11:1 - KJV)
Was Paul “above reproach”?Was he “good” or “without sin”?“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1st John 1:8 – NIV)
Even Jesus said: “Why do you call me good?No one is good… except God alone.” (Mark 10:18 – NIV)
Paul didn’t claim to be without sin or to be above reproach.However, he did claim to be a forgiven child of God.He had moved beyond his past…beyond reproach.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…”(Ephesians 1:3-5 – NIV)
Paul had been adopted as God’s son through Jesus Christ and therefore was now holy and blameless in God’s sight.
Are you beyond your past… beyond reproach?Yes!If you have received Him…
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13 – NIV)
Will some still hold you in reproach or disapproval?Will some be afraid of you as they were of Paul and look to your past and not your future even though you’re now a child of God?Unfortunately, yes.To those we can only pray that they will come to hear Jesus’ words: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 – NIV)
William Arthur Ward put it this way:
Flatter me and I might not believe you.
Criticize and I might not like you
Ignore me and I might not forgive you
Encourage me and I will not forget you.
We encourage you to“not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2nd Corinthians 4:18 – NKJV) and be beyond reproach, walking forward as a forgiven child of God.
The son of retired major league pitcher, Dennis “Oil-Can” Boyd, won first place in the popular television variety show, America’s Got Talent.
Not only is Neal E. Boyd an amazing vocalist, he has got a beautiful heart and such an honest personality. Neal is so humble and really proud to be up there singing for America and his mom (who he obviously loves very dearly).
Congratulations Neal! You deserve it!
Another accomplished musician is best known for his Brandenberg concertos, but the vast majority of his works express a deep religious faith.He attended the same school as Martin Luther who profoundly influenced his conservative notions about the mysteries of his Christian faith.
At age 9, his mother died suddenly, and nine months later his father passed away.He found his home among the several churches he served in Germany where he spent most of his life writing hundreds of oratorios, motets and cantatas.
He realized that he was meant to share his love for God through his musical talent. That is why he humbly signed each piece, Soli Deo Gloria, which means, “to the glory of God alone.”
His name was composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
Humility goes against the philosophy of our world doesn’t it?A long, long time ago this proverb stood for something: “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”Kings and princes, leaders of the world knew the meaning of those words.God give us leaders today who understand that “with humility comes wisdom!”(Proverbs 11:12;18:12)
There is a fine line which separates arrogance from confidence.A poll by British Broadcasting Company asked thirty thousand people from 27 countries to rate, either negatively or positively, the impact each nation has on the rest of the world.Sadly, the United States of America is ranked among the three most negatively viewed nations around the globe.The people I know from other countries may say things like, “We love Americans, but your country is so arrogant!”
The antidote for arrogance comes in two simple parts:
1.No matter what you do, always respect others.
2.Soli Deo Gloria, “to the glory of God alone.”
Let’s get away from that old saying, “He who tooteth not his own horn, his horn will go untooted.”We can make a difference in the world one person at a time, by giving God credit for EVERYTHING, and by showing proper respect for EVERYONE.We can first expect it of ourselves, those of us who practice the Christian faith; and then we must demand it of those who wish to lead us.Together we can restore meaning to those once familiar words:honor, respect, wisdom, and humility!
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I would rather be a pauper in the Kingdom of Heaven than to be wealthy in a land of hypocrisy and godlessness.Turn this nation back to You, O Lord.Give our present and future leadership a wisdom born from the discipline of humility; I beg you to restore honor which we have lost by our arrogance.Yet if our hearts will not be turned, bring us to our knees until we are able to say once again, Soli Deo Gloria, “to the glory of God alone.”Amen and amen.