One-a-Day Friday 4/4/14

number 1Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil (Proverbs 3:7).

I’m not nearly as wise as I think I am.

Neither are you.  Trust me.

Our wisdom is far too polluted by the ideas of this dark world.  It gets skewed by sin and perverted by pride.  Our wisdom is, of itself, utterly unreliable.

So, am I saying that we should all get lobotomized and drool our way into the Kingdom of God?

No, although that is an interesting image, don’t you think?

God gave you a brain, and he expects you to use it.  He offers wisdom to those who will take it and use it for his glory.  But it has to be his wisdom, from his Spirit and through his Word.  Anything else is foolishness at best.

And blasphemy at worst.

Praise God, he keeps it pretty simple for us.  He gives us two prime examples of his wisdom here in this verse.

  1. Fear the Lord—Well, we talked about this on Monday, didn’t we?
  2. Shun evil—Stay away from it.  Don’t embrace it, don’t flirt with it, don’t compromise with it.  Shun it.

See, wisdom doesn’t have to be complicated…of course, that doesn’t make it easy.

Happy weekend, Beloved.

One-a-Day Thursday 4/3/14

number 1Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

But I like my own understanding.  It makes sense, sorta…to me, anyway.  God’s ways, as he has pointed out, are not mine.  He doesn’t think the same way I do, and that frightens me.

I once did one of those challenge courses at a camp.  The counselor people put me into a safety harness, and then I had to shimmy up a 30 ft. pole, balance on the 12-inch platform on top, and…leap.  The harness and rope would lower me gently to the ground, or so I was told.  I just had to trust the harness.

With all my heart…and skull…and various internal organs.

My own understanding told me that I was going to die.  In great, unrelenting pain.  My own understanding made perfect sense…and was completely wrong.  I climbed, I balanced, I trusted, I leapt, and the harness held me.

God is ever so much stronger than a nylon harness.  So why do I have so much trouble trusting him?

He has a straight path for us to walk.  The problem is that it doesn’t always look straight when seen in the funhouse mirrors we like to call reality.  Which is why we have to trust him, to believe that he has us on his mind, in his heart, and under his protection.  Essentially, you have to believe that the God of the Universe, who created time itself and loved you enough to die for you, knows what’s best and wants what’s best.

So…do you?

One-a-Day Wednesday 4/2/14

number 1My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5).

That there’s a lot of if’s.

If you accept my words and store up my commands—You have to make the choice.  You have to decide to believe God and follow his ways.  Have you made that decision, Beloved?

If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding—You have to want it, and want it bad.  How much do you want it, Beloved?

If you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure—You have to be willing to dig.  I know I told you yesterday that wisdom is not hidden, that it is there for the taking, but you still have to take it.  You have to be willing to dig deep into the Word of God to uncover the riches that it contains.  Are you willing to dig, Beloved?

Because if you are…

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Ask and it will be given to you.

Seek and you will find.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Are you ready, Beloved?


One-a-Day Tuesday 4/1/14

number 1Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she calls out, in the gateway of the city she makes her speech (Proverbs 1:20-21).

Wisdom isn’t hiding from you.  It’s not stashed away in a cave on a mountain peak, or buried beneath the ocean floor.  It is there for the taking.

So take, already.

My problem is, I don’t always want wisdom, because wisdom doesn’t always fit with my desires.  There are some things that I want that are not good for me, and wisdom points this out, and that annoys me.  Since I know that it is not good to be annoyed by the things of God, I sometimes choose to avoid wisdom, pretending that it is some hidden mystery that I just can’t puzzle out rather than simple truth waiting to be embraced.

I’m so glad that you have outgrown such petty struggles, Beloved.

James tells us that if we ask, God will give us wisdom.  Simple as that.  Of course he goes on to point out that we are responsible for using the wisdom God gives. (That’s in James 1:5-7, if you’re wondering.)   Apparently we can’t use it only when the mood takes us, when we’re feeling mature.

Wisdom is a tool, not a toy.  It is a grown-up type responsibility, for grown-up type believers.

And Wisdom is calling us…

Dare we answer?

One-a-Day Monday 3/31/14

number 1The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and correction (Proverbs 1:7).

Fear can be a good thing.

In our culture, we act like fear is something to be avoided at all costs.  Maybe it’s our rebellious, pioneer, Westward Ho! roots.

Perhaps we just don’t understand the healthy side of fear.

Fear is an acknowledgment that something is beyond our scope, beyond our ability to command.  It doesn’t have to be blind, cowering terror; it’s more a healthy respect for power.  I fear lethal doses of nuclear radiation.  I fear rabid dogs.  I fear really bad haircuts—as a middle-school teacher, this is by far the most dangerous of the three.

I fear God.

But I’m not afraid of God.

Of course, nonbelievers have every reason to be afraid; indeed they’re foolish not to, when considering the consequences of an eternity without Christ.

But I believe.  My name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

I fear God’s power, because I know that he could erase me with a thought.

I am not afraid, because I know he won’t.

He has given us many promises that we who are his are his forever.  Still, that power is there, and he has no qualms about using it to keep me in line should I stray.

Which makes me want to stay very close to him.

And that, Beloved, is the beginning of knowing him.

Fear him today.

But do not be afraid.

One-a-Day Friday 3/28/14

number 1“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.  I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).

Look, I went on way too long yesterday.  You really should have stopped me.  Please pardon the sleep-deprived ramblings of a man struggling with a theological concept that he can’t fully grasp.

But this I get—I get it well enough to get out of the way and let the words speak for themselves.

Do us both a favor, Beloved.  Read these verses two, maybe three times.  Breathe it deep into your mind, your heart, your spirit.  Ladies, feel free to substitute the feminine pronouns so that nothing gets in the way of your understanding that this is for you.

I will point out one thing—I just can’t resist.  Notice the use of the verb will.

Not might.

Not may.


Wrap your heart around that and take it into your weekend, Beloved.

One-a-Day Thursday 3/27/14

number 1You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you (Psalm 91: 5-7).

These verses used to give me fits, because they seemed…well…untrue.  I mean, believers get sick, get robbed, get hurt, and die just like unbelievers.

No, they don’t.

Hear me out—yes, believers get sick, get robbed, get hurt, and die, but not like unbelievers.

Psalm 73 gives us some clarification here.  The Psalmist expresses his frustration and anger at the fact that the godly suffer while the ungodly seem to have it made.  He continues in this attitude until, “I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Ps 73:17).  He suddenly catches a glimpse of life from God’s perspective, and he realizes that the ups and downs of this life are not God’s first concern.  God’s first concern is our relationship with him; his first concern is our spiritual eternity.

So, back to Psalm 91.  Notice that the verse doesn’t say that arrows won’t fly at you, or pestilence or plague.  It says that you don’t need to fear these things.

And you don’t.  Because whatever may happen to you in this physical world, you can know that you are eternally his, eternally secure.  And the real dangers—the arrows of the evil one, the plague of sin—from those you are protected.  A thousand may fall to the wickedness of this world, ten thousand to the deceiver of men, but it will not come near you.

You are his.

Under his wings, remember?

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Wednesday 3/26/14

number 1He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge… (Psalm 91:4a).

I’m not really what you might call a “bird person.”  Sure, some of them are pretty and some of them make music and some of them are quite tasty, but in general they eat things from my garden that I had planned to eat, leave undesired presents on my car, and wake me up on the rare day that I could have slept in.

Still, there’s something about this image.

You’ve seen it on nature shows, the shot of a Mama bird spreading her wings out over her babies to hide them and guard them.  The message is, “If you want these little ones, you’ll have to come through me!”  Or what about the penguins?  You see the footage of Daddy Penguin with his baby sitting right on his feet, Dad’s wings protecting the chick.  I kind of like that image of the Father.  He holds us on his lap (penguins don’t have laps, per se, but they do the best they can) with his arms around us, keeping us safe as we take in this world of his.

Beloved, you are worth more than many penguins.

One-a-Day Tuesday 3/25/14

number 1I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)

My refuge.

My fortress.

My place of safety and strength, with strong walls to protect me from the world.

Face it, Beloved.  We all need a place to which we can retreat.  When our armor is dented and our sword arm is weary, we need to pull back and regroup, recharge, refresh.  God gives us that place; better yet, God is that place.  His love surrounds us like an unassailable wall, keeping us protected.

Keeping us safe.

You are safe, Beloved.  Rest in that today.

One-a-Day Monday 3/24/14

number 1When Cathy and I were married, a dear friend turned this amazing Psalm into an amazing song for our wedding.  I hear the music whenever I read this bit of Scripture.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

Where do you live?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to show up at your door—I’m being metphoricalish.  You see, this entire Psalm is God’s pledge of protection, but there is a caveat.  The promise only applies to those who “Dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”

So, again, where do you live?

Is your home in Christ?  Is he the one you trust, the one you turn to, the one you serve?  Do you, in fact, dwell in the shelter of the Most High?

Don’t answer too quickly.  Sure, you’re probably a believer—few who do not know Christ are interested in a daily devotional—but are you really dwelling in Christ, or in the world?

Do a little self-test today.  Flip to Psalm 139.  Read it, and pay close attention to how it makes you feel.  If you come away from lines like, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar,” and “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me,” feeling peaceful and comforted, then you are in a good place.  If those lines make you twitch…you’ve got some business to do with the Almighty.

Work it out, Beloved.  It’s gonna be a busy week.