Devos and Studies

Tolerance and Intolerance

Photo credit: lightstock.com Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion. Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables.

People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people.

Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.

One person decides that one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision. When people observe a special day, they observe it to honor the Lord.

When people eat all kinds of foods, they honor the Lord as they eat, since they give thanks to God. Vegetarians also honor the Lord when they eat, and they, too, give thanks to God.

It’s clear that we don’t live to honor ourselves, and we don’t die to honor ourselves. If we live, we honor the Lord, and if we die, we honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this reason Christ died and came back to life so that he would be the Lord of both the living and the dead.

Why do you criticize or despise other Christians? Everyone will stand in front of God to be judged. Scripture says, “As certainly as I live, says the Lord, everyone will worship me, and everyone will praise God.”

All of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God. (‭Romans‬ ‭14:1-12‬ (GW)


Jesus said His followers are to be known for their love for one another (John 13:35). Sadly, Christians have a reputation for being self-righteous and judgmental, not to mention hypocritical.

Why? Because of disputes about beliefs and practice, and other petty disagreements. This tends to create an "us versus them" mentality towards believers and nonbelievers.

As Paul points out, this has gone on for years. Intolerance towards others is nothing new. Christian believers get outraged by the intolerance of non-believers towards us, but we don't realize the log in our own eyes (Matt 7:1-5).

How we live out our faith shouldn't be focused on what we do or don't do, but how the Lord shines out through our lives towards others.

We are to be examples of the cross—the Lord Jesus' redemptive death and resurrection—by walking the way of the cross (Matt 16:24).

One day, sooner than expected, we will be held accountable for how we live. Everyone. That Day will reveal how we've honored the Lord with our daily lives now. ©Word-Strong_2016

On the Right Path

unsplash-paths_forest_JLelie A favorite memory from our life in the Philippines is snorkeling at Apo Island—drifting across the colorful beds of coral reefs and watching a kaleidoscope of tropical fish darting in and out. It’s a tranquil and yet stunning setting.

Apo Island sits out in a shipping channel and has deceptively strong currents. Divers have been lost because of those currents and snorkelers have drifted far from where they started.

It’s easy to get caught in a current when your attention is fixed on the lovely, lively scene below the water’s surface. Life in this world is like that. We get so absorbed in what captures our attention that we don’t realize the drift in our life. It doesn’t take long before we’re trapped in the cultural tide swirling around us.

Resisting the cultural pull

When our relationship with God is spiritually healthy, we can resist the cultural pull around us. But this requires diligence on our part. We must be alert and aware.

[bctt tweet="A spiritually healthy relationship with God helps us resist cultural pull" username="tkbeyond"]

Psalm 1:1 reminds us of the slippery slope of the world’s culture. We can see a word picture in the text—a literal progression from walking to standing to sitting. How does it happen? It’s seductive. It’s subtle, yet strong.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.—Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)

When we look to the advice of others, the still small voice of God can be drowned out. He calls us away from the crowd to Himself. He doesn’t demand our attention, nor does He shout at us.

The path of deception

When we listen to the world’s wisdom, faith may seem illogical. God’s words of truth may appear weak compared to the brash opinions of others. Soon, we may find ourselves on the wrong path.

Not too far down that path, cynicism grips our heart. We find ourselves seated among those who scoff at what we once held dear . . . and what once held us secure.

[bctt tweet="When we listen to the world’s wisdom, faith may seem illogical" username="tkbeyond"]

Be careful what you listen to, it doesn’t take much to get sidetracked. Watch where you’re going. The way may seem right at first, but it could lead you in the wrong direction.

Finally, take time to consider your closest companions. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).

Digging deeper for a personal application in your life—

  1. Who and what has the most influence in your life? This is easily determined by what grabs and holds your attention.
  2. How much time per day do you spend listening to the opinion of others? Does the Lord get equal or greater time?
  3. Make a commitment to track what most often captures your attention. Then, be willing to make changes as needed.

This was originally posted as a guest post on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog. You can read it here— On the Right Path

One Master Too Many

Photo credit: unsplash.com_CMcGregor Our current American culture is not oriented to serve others. We want to be served. Even those in service-oriented work can seem to have an attitude that says, “I’m doing you a favor.”

It wasn’t always like that in our culture. I remember when self-service gas stations didn’t exist. Now it’s hard to find full-service stations. Why? Mostly because we want to save money. And what do we do with all the money we save? We buy more things!

Scripture (Matt 6:24) is pretty straightforward. By default, we will serve either God or mammon (money or possessions). Sadly, we seem predisposed to serve mammon rather than God. Read more...


This post was originally posted on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog as— One Master Too Many

 

Those People Are Us

Photo credit: howardjkoepka.com Are there people in your life who only seem to come around when they have some need? Then they act like they're your BFF? They may want to borrow some money, need a ride, or be rescued from some crisis. They come to you for help. When the need is met, they're gone again.

This was a common occurrence in my roles as pastor and director of a ministry overseas.

The thing is, we are those people to God. You and me. All of us. Think about it. Be honest.

How many times have you called out, even cried out for God's help? Have you thanked Him for all those times? Read more...


This was originally posted at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog— Those People Are Us

Next week, I plan to post the follow up to Fuel for the Soul–Part 1

Adopted and Accepted

IMG_3137 It’s an amazing thing to watch a child meet and bond with their adoptive family. My wife and I, with our daughters, witnessed this many, many times over the past two decades. It never gets old.

For us and our Filipino staff, it was a bittersweet time. It was sad to say goodbye, but seeing this union filled us with great joy. We saw adoptive parents from many parts of the world come greet their children. Language barriers melted away with love and affection.

We also saw some of the children we cared for reunite with their families of origin. This reminds me of God’s restoring love for those who return to Him and trust in Him again.

The church worldwide is like a huge blended family. We may look different on the outside, we may sound different, and even have different customs, but we’re of the same family. Read more...


This was originally posted at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog— Adopted and Accepted

Have a blessed New Year!

 

When God Came to Earth

Photo credit: lightstock.com What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? For me, it's Jesus. You may have heard the expression, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

Indeed He is, but we're celebrating much more than a child in a manger!

We're celebrating who He is and what He did!

For today's post click on this link– When God Came to Earth

A Sign to You

Painting by Thomas Cole And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15 NIV)


The angelic appearance and announcement of the Savior's birth is both astounding and revealing. It reveals the unexpected way God fulfilled the expected arrival of the Jewish Messiah.
  • Yes, it was announced by angels, but to people of low reputation (the shepherds)
  • The sign given wasn't the miraculous display of glory in the heavens above them, it was a baby in a feeding trough
  • The birth and announcement didn't come to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but to uneducated, itinerant herders of sheep
  • This Messiah—Jesus, the Son of David—did not come as expected and would not be accepted by the leaders of Israel
  • He wasn't what they wanted, but He was what everyone needed, including us

This good news was "great joy for all the people." In other words, redemption and restoration wasn't limited to Israel. It wasn't exclusive, but inclusive of all nations.

And yet, God's peace was for those "on whom his favor rests." Those who accepted this Messiah for who He was—the Savior of the world. For those who trusted in Him with all their soul, and who trust in Him now.

In Everything Give Thanks!

Photo credit: unsplash.com_ABurden The history of Thanksgiving Day is embedded in reflection and thankfulness at times of crisis.

The pilgrims, after a long ocean crossing, were isolated foreigners—refugees, if you will—in a land far from their home and families of origin.

President George Washington set November aside as a month to give thanks, following the American Revolution.

President Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday of November as a national day to give thanks, not long after the battle of Gettysburg.

President Franklin D Roosevelt set Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday of the month, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Whatever your circumstances are, whatever your situation in life, whether you have a lot or a little, give thanks!

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1 ESV)

Give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Haggling with God

Photo credit: unsplash.com_SKunze My wife and I served as missionaries in the Philippines for many years. We often hosted guests and mission teams, and while they were visiting, we’d take them to local shops for T-shirts and souvenirs.

I remember one visitor who prided himself on being a great bargain hunter. He spent inordinate amounts of time negotiating prices and haggling over small change.

We tried to help our guest understand the local vendors’ need to feed their families. We explained that this was their only livelihood, but this man didn’t see it that way. He enjoyed wearing down the vendors for small amounts of money.

He couldn’t accept that his overbearing and arrogant attitude shamed the vendor and embarrassed us. He saw his wrangling as good stewardship. Continue reading


When have you found yourself haggling with God?

How have you tried to justify yourself with God?

This is a guest post on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s Daily Devo blog. Click on the link to read more– Haggling with God!


 

Next week I plan to return to the devo's in Romans, thanks for reading and sharing!

ROI Expectations

Photo credit: unsplash.com A popular term bandied about now is ROI—Return on Investment. It can apply to various types of investments such as time, energy, personnel, finances, and so on. It originated in financial circles where investors wanted to know what to expect as a profit for their investment.

It seems more than reasonable that investors would expect a profitable return on their investments. After all, that’s their business. Even hourly wage earners expect something in return—a paycheck—for their skills and time at their job.

Jesus taught about a lot of things, including ROI. Think not? Just look at a some of His parables and other teachings.

Continue reading

What has God invested in you personally? What has He given you the capacity to do?

What are the gifts God has entrusted you with? Who can you bless with your life?

This is a guest post on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog. Click on the link to read more– ROI Expectations


We'll return to our study in Ecclesiastes next week.

How to Not Lose Heart

  Photo credit: lightstock.com

What do you believe? How would you describe belief? It really depends on the context, doesn’t it? For instance, I can say I believe in gravity, but gravity is something that can be proved scientifically. Some beliefs have nothing to do with faith, yet express trust.

If I believe someone is telling me the truth, I can say I believe them. I’m expressing a level of trust, but not trust in the same way I trust God. I can say I believe the sun will rise tomorrow morning, but that reason is based on empirical science and experience.

What do you believe, and why do you believe it?

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”—Psalm 27:13 (NKJV)

King David said, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed.” David’s faith went deeper than thought or emotion. It resided in the core of his being—his heart. It was an absolute trust in God.

King David’s faith permeated his whole life—his thoughts, his emotions, his actions—and overflowed into worship. All the highs, the lows, and everything in between are recorded for us in the Psalms and in other Scriptures.

A man after God's own heart

I believe this is why King David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). It wasn’t because of a perfectly obedient life; Scripture makes that clear. It was because David loved God and trusted in Him with all his heart, mind, and soul.

King David’s life is a great encouragement to me, as it should be for all who trust in God. Why? Because he didn’t lead a perfect life.

He struggled with opposition throughout his life and reign as king of Israel. He struggled with moral failure. He was father to a dysfunctional family, which disrupted his kingdom and cost the nation of Israel dearly. Though loyal to a fault, he was unjustly accused and pursued by leaders (Saul, then Absalom) who wanted him dead.

David had plenty of reasons to lose heart on many occasions, but he didn’t. He always trusted in God, no matter how dire the circumstances. He believed in the goodness of God “in the land of the living.” His trust in God also gave him hope beyond this life. He is an example of true faith and genuine belief.

Some questions to think through—

  • Have you experienced a time when you almost lost heart? How did you handle it?
  • When you have struggled in life, how have you learned to trust God in a deeper way?

How can you learn to trust God in a deeper way?

Take some time to read the account of David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel to see how King David learned to overcome his struggles through genuine faith.

For example– In 1st Samuel, David's men were angry at him and wanted to stone him because their families were taken captive, but it says that "David encouraged himself in the Lord." (1 Samuel 30:6). He remembered how the Lord was faithful in his life before this.


This was originally a guest post at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's blog– Daily Devo. Click here to read it on their site– Believers

If this encourages you, please share it with others!

Knowing Right from Wrong

Photo credit: lightstock.com

People who have the law and those who have never heard of the law are all the same when they sin. People who don’t have the law and are sinners will be lost. And, in the same way, those who have the law and are sinners will be judged by the law. Hearing the law does not make people right with God. They will be right before him only if they always do what the law says.

Those who are not Jews don’t have the law. But when they naturally do what the law commands without even knowing the law, then they are their own law. This is true even though they don’t have the written law. They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty.

All this will happen on the day when God will judge people’s secret thoughts through Jesus Christ. This is part of the Good News that I tell everyone. (‭Romans‬ ‭2:‭12-16‬ ERV)


How often have you heard someone say, "I'm only hurting myself"? Perhaps you've said it yourself. I know I've thought it. And though there is a ripple effect from sin, there is some truth to the idea. Ultimately, we will be held accountable for our life—what we've done, and even thought.

There will come a day, at the end of the age—the end of time on earth—when even our secret thoughts will be judged. And we will have no one else to blame but ourselves. God has built a conscience—an internal judge in our heart and mind—into every human.

This umpire of the heart can be subdued over time. This happens when we refuse to listen to the voice inside us that whispers what's right and wrong. The result is a hardened heart and cynical mind. Learned ignorance provides no escape from judgment.

The good news is that a day of reckoning will come, when Jesus Christ—God's Son—will judge even our secret thoughts. Doesn't sound like good news to you? It is when you have a restored relationship with God because of your trust in Jesus. He is the One who rescues and restores us, even when our conscience has become dull and silent. ©Word-Strong_2015

God's Kindness

Photo credit: lightstock.com No matter who you are, if you judge anyone, you have no excuse. When you judge another person, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.

We know that God’s judgment is right when he condemns people for doing these things. When you judge people for doing these things but then do them yourself, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

Do you have contempt for God, who is very kind to you, puts up with you, and deals patiently with you? Don’t you realize that it is God’s kindness that is trying to lead you to him and change the way you think and act? (‭Romans‬ ‭‬2:‭1-4‬ GW)


How do God's kindness and judgment fit together? Do they? They do, but perhaps not as you'd think.

Jesus made the problem with judging others clear when He talked about having a beam in our eye while trying to help someone get a speck out of their eye (Matt 7:1-5). He called it hypocrisy. That's you and me. We are hypocrites when we stand in judgement and condemn others. None of us is without fault, nor perfect in motive or behavior.

Jesus is the only faultless human. He is eternal and divine in nature, and came to earth to make God known to us, and rescue us from our selfishness. Jesus is our model, and reminds us of our inherent shortcomings. Judgment is simply the natural consequence of putting ourself in God's place. That's what we do when we condemn others. Isn't it ironic that God put Himself in our place, when He sent His Son into the world.

What about God's kindness, how does it fit in with His judgment? Kindness is God's first option. He extends His kindness, also called grace, to draw us to Himself. The essential of repentance is turning to God first. As a parent, I don't want my children to suffer consequences, I want to bless them.

How much more is this true of God! He's the One who puts the desire to bless in our hearts. He is gracious and merciful, and yet He is righteous and just. But God made Himself known so we could enjoy a personal, intimate relationship with Him.

©Word-Strong_2015

Spiritual Talk

Photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com When you hear people say things like, “The Lord told me...", do you wonder how this happens or if they really hear from God? Do they have some mystical connection with God or are they just hearing voices? I’m skeptical of anyone who says to me, “The Lord told me to tell you....” And yet, throughout the Bible we read about God speaking to people.

Years ago, when I took courses to be certified as a substance abuse counselor, I was required to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Several questions dealt with hearing God speak or other voices. The clinical bias of the test was that if you heard God speak, or heard any other voices, your mental stability was in question. Since I understood this, I carefully picked my way through the test. And in case you’re wondering—yes, I passed the test and my courses.

So, how is it possible to hear God’s voice and be in your right mind?(Read more)


This is a guest post for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog called Spiritual Talk

Next week I'll return to the study Reflections from Ecclesiastes

Extravagant Love

Photo credit: lightstock.com I've encountered people from all walks of life, different cultures, rich and poor, men and women, young and old. I'm amazed, and saddened, by stories I've heard of damaged relationships with those they call “father.” The relationship between a father and child is too often a troubled one.

A myriad of reasons exist for wounded relationships; some extreme, some mundane. Whatever the reason, we all long for acceptance and love, but our relationship with our natural fathers can hinder our sense of God's love and acceptance.

Shame distorts reality, casting a dark shadow that obscures the light of God's love and acceptance. When we feel ashamed, we don't see ourselves worthy of His love or acceptance. But God sees things differently. He sent His Son to provide an all-encompassing path of reconciliation to the heart of the Father. (Read more)

This devo was originally posted on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog– Extravagant Love

Resurrection

Photo credit: @geraldteano Have you undergone any major surgery? I have. In my role as a pastor, I’ve also visited many people who were hospitalized for surgery. In all those instances, I can't recall anyone who wanted to talk about their pre-surgery condition or the surgery itself as much as their post-operation life.

There's good reason for that. The surgery was done for a purpose. It was either to enhance or extend a person's life. It's not that we didn’t talk at all about pre-op life or the surgery, but our focus was on life after the surgery. (Click this link to read more)

This week's devo is a guest post at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog– Resurrection

How do you view your daily life as a Christian believer?

Is it focused on your struggle with sin or your victory over it in Christ?

The Good News

WS-devo_PMSGreetings from Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. God chose me to be an apostle and gave me the work of telling his Good News. God promised long ago through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures to give this Good News to his people. The Good News is about God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. As a human, he was born from the family of David, but through the Holy Spirit he was shown to be God’s powerful Son when he was raised from death. (‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭1-4‬ ERV)


The book of Romans is nicknamed the Gospel of Grace. At the beginning of this epistle, it's clear what the central message is—the Good News about God's Son, Jesus.

This is the gospel in its simplest form, and here are the basics. Jesus is God's (only) Son. He is Lord and Christ (Messiah). He was born into humanity through the family line of King David.

And notice what demonstrates that He alone is the Son of God—His resurrection from the dead! The resurrection, not His death, was always the central message of the apostles when they shared the gospel message.

Victory over death, yes, this is indeed Good News! ©Word-Strong_2015

Hear, Believe, Go, Tell

WS-devo_PMSAfter Mary saw Jesus, she went and told his followers, who were very sad and were crying. But Mary told them that Jesus was alive. She said that she had seen him, but the followers did not believe her. Later, Jesus showed himself to two of his followers while they were walking in the country, but he did not look the same as before. These followers went back to the others and told them what had happened, but again, the followers did not believe them. Later Jesus showed himself to the eleven apostles while they were eating, and he criticized them because they had no faith. They were stubborn and refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen from the dead.

Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone. (‭Mark‬ ‭16‬:‭10-15‬ NCV)


Initially, those who were first sent out didn't believe those who told them Jesus had risen from the dead.

Is it any wonder that people whom we tell about Jesus don't always hear and believe at first? I know I didn't believe at first. We all need Jesus to reveal Himself to us personally. How? Our hearts need to be open and willing to believe.

So go, tell, be an example, and trust the Lord to reveal Himself to those you tell. ©Word-Strong_2015

Heart Searched

©2014 Scott Rosen When my wife was a young child, she thought of herself as a character in a storybook. It was as if someone was turning the pages of a big storybook, as she lived out each day. Have you ever felt like that? Like your life was an open book for others to see?

As a four-year-old, I remember looking up at the night sky in awe. Seeing all the stars made me feel so small. What about you? Do you, or have you ever had, a sense of your smallness within the universe?

When we have a sense that we’re being watched by someone greater than ourself, or a sense of our smallness, it's not an accident or anomaly. (read more)

This is a guest post on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's blog. Click here to read the rest– Heart Searched

Next week I'll return to writing an article, as usual. Thanks for reading!