God’s Will One-a-Day Monday 7/16/18

A life worthy

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Eph. 5:17).

My wife, the Lovely Catherine, tells the story of seeing a church skit once upon a time. The skit involved a group of people trying to figure out God’s will in various difficult situations. From time to time, little notes would waft gently down from the heavens, telling the recipient exactly what God wanted from them.

That would be awesome.

It doesn’t work that way,

but

that would be awesome.

Beloved, may I be so bold as to say that I know God’s will for Monday?

Of course I may.

Relationship

That’s it. God wants to know and be known by the people he has created and fed and clothed and loved and lost and redeemed at the price of his Son. Those who are far from him, he wants to draw close. Those who are near to him, he wants to draw closer still, because unlike your Aunt Susie with the funky perfume, you can never get too close to God.

But Michael, it’s more complicated than that.

No, Beloved…it isn’t. If your actions today bring you and those in your world closer to the Father, then you are in his will. If they pull you farther away from him, you are being foolish.

Don’t be foolish. Mondays are tough enough without that.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Make It Count One-a-Day Friday  7/13/18

A life worthy

…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:16)

Evil is.

Make no mistake—there is evil in this world, no matter what the popular culture and the intellectual elite say.  It surrounds us, and seems to grow with each passing day.

But

You do not belong to evil.  You are not of this world. God will bring you opportunities to shine for him, to be salt and light to the people around you.

Take them.

Be on the lookout this very day for ways to serve a risen Savior in a fallen world. Pray for the vision to see the opportunity, the courage to take the chance, and the strength to bear the consequences.

It’s Friday, Beloved.

Make it count.

Be Wise One-a-Day Thursday  7/12/18

A life worthy

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise… (Ephesians 5:15).

If you follow Christ, the world will not understand you.  More than that, the world cannot understand you.  John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” That light is Jesus, and if he lives in you…well… you’re pretty much a mystery to the world around you.

So, Beloved, riddle me this: Why do you keep trying to do things the world’s way?  Why do you constantly fail to grasp that the way of Christ is infinitely superior to the way of the world? Why do you follow the world’s advice, or try to impress the world? It’s never going to work, so you might as well dump that idea and move on.

Oh, and by the way: you means we.

Paul says that we must be very careful to live in wisdom. It doesn’t come by default. If we are not on our guard, we will naturally fall into the unwise patterns of the world.  We must stand fast in the wisdom he has given us, the wisdom the world cannot understand, the wisdom that looks like foolishness to those without him.

Embrace your inner enigma, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Exposed One-a-Day Wednesday  7/11/18

A life worthy

But everything exposed to the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it it said, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  (Ephesians 5:13-14).

“Everything exposed to the light becomes visible.”

How does that make you feel?

This is one of those “thermometer” verses. Reading it is like taking your spiritual temperature. For example, if you read that verse and think, “Yes, Lord–shine your light and show everything within me!” then you are probably in a pretty good space. If you read it and mentally burn your Bible and run away into the night, you might be in some trouble.

If you physically burn your Bible and run away into the night, you have deeper issues than I am equipped to engage in a daily devotion.

This is powerful stuff, Beloved. It’s a reminder that we stand naked before God, every action and word and thought exposed before him. It should cause you to pause, to reflect, to repent, to rejoice.  If you can read it and have no reaction, I suggest that you stop everything and pray.

Hard

Wake up, Beloved. Christ is shining on you.

Happy Wednesday

What’s Done In Secret One-a-Day Tuesday  7/10/18

A life worthy

For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret (Ephesians 5:12).

I scroll through my news feed and see the darkness masquerading as light, and I wonder…

if this is what we shout to the world, what do we hide?

And I shudder.

Beloved, do not flirt with the dark.

Just don’t go there.

Be in the world

but not of it,

Loving the sinner,

while hating the sin.

Shine the light you have been given, and trust God with the shadows.

For some things really are none of your business.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

This Little Light One-a-Day Monday 7/9/18

A life worthy

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them  (Eph. 5:11).

Good things generally need light in order to grow.  Sure, you can grow some things in darkness—mold, mildew, assorted fungal yuck—but not the good stuff.  Apples, raspberries, peaches, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—these need light.  What “Fruitless deeds of darkness” are you having something to do with? Hey, you don’t have to tell me—I’m not running a tabloid here. But ask yourself—what do you have in your life that is fruitless?  What fungal yuck are you growing in the temple of the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t have to be raging evil. I’m assuming that you’ve never stolen a baby or sold your mother on eBay. But if God isn’t part of what you’re doing, if the Light of the World is not invited along, then it’s darkness.  It’s fruitless. Pull it out by the roots—or better yet, ask God to do it. He won’t “accidentally” miss anything. Expose it to the Light, and let it wither away.

Let today be trash day.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

For Him One-a-Day Friday  7/6/18

A life worthy

…find out what pleases the Lord.(Ephesians 5:10)

There’s a big difference between desire and love.  Desire is about you—your wants, your needs, and how the object of your desire can fulfill them.  Even the term, “Object of your desire,” sounds like a thing, not a person.

Love is not about you; it is about the beloved.  Your wants, your needs are subordinated to theirs.  When you love someone, you want to know everything about them.  So you spend hours with them, hanging on their every word. You study them, looking for the things they like to do, to eat, to wear.  Kind of like stalking, only not so creepy. You pay attention; you get to know them. Then you show your love by doing things that you know they’ll appreciate. It can be hard work, but it feels like pure joy.

When was the last time you dove into Scripture with the sole purpose of knowing God better, of finding out what makes him happy?  Better question: When will be the next time?

Happy Friday, Beloved

Light One-a-Day Thursday  7/5/18

A life worthy

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)

Our culture has a thing for darkness. It’s in our entertainment, our conversation, our politics–what was once whispered about in secret is now celebrated from the rooftops.

This should not be.

As children of God, we are called to be different.  We are light. Notice that the verse doesn’t say that we have light, but that we are light.  Light has nothing to do with darkness.  I’m not saying that it shouldn’t, but that it can’t.  Go into a dark room and flick on the light switch. What happens to the darkness?

Gone.

Just as sin can’t exist in the presence of God, darkness can’t exist in the presence of light.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can play the games that the world plays. If you dabble in darkness, you can’t live as light.

Hey, I don’t want to step on any toes.  I’ll let God do it.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Where there is no light, there is darkness.

Where light is, darkness cannot be.

Go, Beloved of God, and live as a child of light today.

Happy Thursday

Freedom One-a-Day Wednesday  7/4/18

A life worthy

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

Today is Independence Day.  Today we celebrate our freedom.  Of course, as Americans we celebrate our national and political freedom. As men and women of God, we celebrate our spiritual freedom.  Christ has set us free from our bondage to sin. He has set us free from our need to try to earn our salvation, to somehow save ourselves.  He has set us free from the stress and worry and angst and anxiety which so often attack us.

Hear me, Beloved.  I’m not saying that those things are gone.  On the contrary, sin and self-righteousness and anxiety are still very much evident in this world and, at times, in our lives.  What I am saying is that you are no longer in bondage to them.

When Paul wrote the above verse to the Galatians he was talking about freedom from the Mosaic Law.  Some Jews had chosen to follow Christ, but still felt compelled to meet the demands of the old covenant.  Paul was pointing out that a person who has Christ no longer needs the old law, and to try to follow it is to be like a slave who, once free, returns to his chains.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that, for some of us, worry and stress operate in the same way as the Mosaic Law.

It’s about power.

The Judaizers liked the Law because it gave them a sense of control over their destinies.  They had rules to follow, stuff to do, that they thought would get them to Heaven.

“But Michael, I don’t worry because I feel powerful.  I worry because I feel powerless.”

Yes, but it’s still about power.  About control. You worry because you know you are not in control, and you desperately want to be. Because if you’re not in control, someone else is, and there’s a part of you that just cannot handle that.

I’m in the same boat, by the way.  May I steer? Of course not.

Sometimes trust seems beyond our grasp.  And without trust, there is no rest.

So let’s pray for trust today, shall we?  I’ll pray for you, and you for me. Maybe we can both be set free.

Today is the day to celebrate your independence.

And your dependence.

Happy Fourth, Beloved.

Wrath Tuesday  7/3/18

A life worthy

For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure, or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).

We have to take God seriously.

Seriously

Grace is essential.  Grace is enormous.

But grace isn’t everything.

There is also wrath.

I know we don’t like to think about it, much less talk about it, but there it is. Wrath is as much a part of God’s character as grace is. Without it, there would be no need for grace. Wrath is a byproduct of his holiness, the natural response to our violation of God’s righteousness. Those who live for this world and its pleasures have not placed themselves under God’s authority, so they are not protected by his grace. They face his wrath.

And it is a consuming fire.

I’m not trying to freak you out, Beloved. If you belong to Jesus, then you are under his grace, and you are already forgiven. Praise be to God for his endless mercy!

Just don’t take that mercy lightly. It cost a lot.

Don’t play with fire today.

Or arsonists.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.