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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quiet Time: You Never Arive

You Never Arive

Read: 1 Samuel 18:5-7

The women sang as they played, and said,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.” - 1 Samuel 18:5-7 (NASB)

As a teen, I remember winning several competitions as a bassist. After which I received invitations to work college performances, local bands, and a few Disney gigs. I made some decent money and it seemed as if everyone was patting me on the back. It felt good - really good - too good. In my eyes, I was, as the saying goes, “At the top of my game”. However, a personal instructor of mine saw the attitude change, as well as, the first flickers of pride. He took me aside, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You know Doug, you never arrive.” At first I didn’t know how to take his stern rebuke, but then it hit me; I wasn’t at the top of my game, I was still in training, and I’ve been in training ever since.

In 1 Samuel 18 we see that David went wherever Saul told him to go and did better than expected. He did so well that Saul made him one of his generals. Well, David was already popular with his peers, but his new position and the fact that he never lost in battle really made him famous. Even Saul’s household jumped on the D-train. Of course that’s when the trouble started. As is often the case with living legends, people began to get excited about his exploits and put together a hero’s welcome home parade. The young women actually created a song for the event, but the lyrics unintentionally put Saul down in front of his men, and from that moment on Saul was out to bring David down. Yet, you never see David acting proud or displaying an elitist attitude. David simply wanted to serve and bring God glory.

It’s easy to get prideful when we forget Who gave us our gifts and talents. It’s doubly hard when we lose sight of who we serve, but then again, it can be pretty difficult to humble ourselves when people are singing our praises.

So, let’s just sing His praises and give the glory all to God.

Proverbs 27:21
The Message (MSG)

The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quiet Time: God With You

GOD With You

Read: 1 Samuel 16:17-19

Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him. – 1 Samuel 16:18

Teachers like to give out awards to encourage students when they perform well or show good character. Often they’ll give the kid a document, a button, or a bumper sticker stated his action or personal accomplishment. The teacher understands that the practice reinforces good behavior, and helps the student see a tangible return for his right behavior. He sees that someone respects the fact that he did good, and his peers see it too.

David was well known among the young adults of his day, but Saul didn’t know him…yet. They knew his family and where he lived. They liked the way he talked, fought, and stood up to bullies and bad guys, but most of all they liked his music. Of course it didn’t hurt either, that he was easy on the eyes. David, in a word, was popular with his peers. But check out the last thing the young reporter said to Saul, “the LORD is with him.”

“The LORD is with him”, what a thing to have someone say about you! Saul was suffering terrible terrors and miserable sleepless nights because the LORD had left him. (The Holy Spirit empowered people back in the Old Testament times to perform whatever service God had for them to do; like being a king over His people) But, can you imagine the impact of living a life so filled with the Spirit of God, that your popularity is couched not just in the fleeting fancies of beauty or talent, but in the fact that you are a man or woman of God. That God actually moves in you and through you in such a way that others sense and see Him?

Oh, that God would be so evident in our lives that people would see and glorify Him! (Matthew 5:16)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quiet Time: Be Diligent

Be Diligent
Read: Proverbs 12:23-25

The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the slack hand will be put to forced labor. - Proverbs 12:24

Diligence is needed in ministry, as well as, vocation. Be constant, attentive, and persistent and your skills will increase to the point that you may even find yourself the expert and leader in the field (Proverbs 22:29).

[dil-i-juhnt] adjective
1. constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything

If you're tired of being told what to do; do it before you're told.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quiet Time: Check Yourself Out

Check Yourself Out

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:22-24

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
 – 1 Thessalonians 5:23

I like the way one pastor reminds us to stay strong in our walk with Jesus. He says, “God’s effectiveness through our lives is enhanced or hindered by the way we live.” - Joe Stowell.

He got me to thinking about my walk this week. This caused me to do a personal inventory that I thought I’d share. May-be it’ll help you too.

Saturday is a good day to look back over our week and see where we walked well with Jesus and where we walked away from Him. Some questions we may ask ourselves are:

1. Did I surrender to God’s sanctification (setting me apart)?

2. Was my spirit, the part of me that communes with God, strengthened?
a. Did I have a daily quiet time?
b. Did a certain scripture stand out?
c. Did I meditate and memorize it?
d. Did I abstain from evil?

3. Was my soul (mind, will, emotions) edified or did I take in stuff that hurts my walk with Christ?
a. Did I learn something new this week?
b. Did I turn away from that which would corrupt my mind?
c. Did I do what should be done, not just what could be done?
d. Did I connect with someone through empathizing?

4. Was my body strengthened and brought into submission?
a. Did I exercise?
b. Did I moderate my intake?
c. Did I get proper rest?

I pray these questions help us prepare for worship tomorrow, that worship prepares us for the work ahead, and that our work ahead is pleasing and glorifying to God.

P.S. if you think of some other questions that might help, please share them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quiet Time: Don't Be Fooled Into Fearing

Don't Be Fooled Into Fearing

Nehemiah 6:10-14

He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me – Nehemiah 6:13

Don’t let evil frighten you from doing good.

There’s a YouTube video of a huge bull mastiff dog being frightened by a little radio controlled mouse. It’s hilarious to watch this big gal lute dancing and prancing to avoid the bogus rodent when he could simply eliminate the supposed threat with a single chomp. You might say he was scared into being that which he was not.

Shemaiah wanted to bring the Hebrew’s new leader, Nehemiah, down. So Shem acted like God told him to tell Governor Nehemiah to hide in the temple and said that men were coming to kill him. However, Nehemiah wasn’t so easily fooled. He had a job to do; a holy calling on his life to lead God’s people and he wasn’t about to let his enemies dishearten him or discourage the people in the process. He knew who he was and from Whom his strength came. Nehemiah would rather die  than cower in self preservation. So, the work on Jerusalem’s wall progressed and the tide was turned. Instead of Nehemiah and his fellow Israelites becoming frightened the nations surrounding them saw what the Hebrews had accomplished and lost their confidence. They recognized that this work had been completed with the help of God (Nehemiah 6:16).

You know, there something pretty interesting in the YouTube video that I bet most people over look. There’s another dog in the picture. He’s acting as if the toy mouse doesn’t exist and almost looks amused by the mastiff’s goofy actions. The ruse has absolutely no affect on him. I guess the other dog just couldn’t be fooled into fearing.

Fear should never stop God's people from doing good.

“Holy courage and magnanimity will engage us, whatever it cost us, never to decline a good work, nor ever to do a bad one.” – Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Here’s the link to the video:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quiet Time: Soul Singing

Soul Singing

Read: Psalm 42:6-9

The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

Could it be that one reason God created music was to give man a language that speaks straight from the heart?

“The music reminded us that there is always beauty to be found in life – even amid the ashes,” said Ernest Gordon, author of Through the Valley of the Kwai. He was recounting the night a sick party of emaciated and jungle rot ridden men were marched into the camp where he was imprisoned. As they stumbled toward the cookhouse for a bowl of rice, the men heard the makeshift orchestra from Gordon’s prison camp playing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. This stopped the haggard troop in its tracks. Ernest continues, “While they listened, faces came to life… I thought to myself, ‘Aren’t there two kinds of food – one for the body and one for the soul?"

I vividly remember a time of personal struggle and turmoil as a teenager that often woke me up in the middle of the night. My parents, as leaders, had a key to our church which was located just a block from our house. Unbeknownst to them, I would often slip out of the house and into the sanctuary during the early morning hours. I left all of the church lights off except for the one over the piano. In that cavernous darkness, illuminated by a single lamp, I sang my prayers to God. You know, I can’t remember a time that I felt more intimate in my walk with Christ. In a small way, I think I can relate to Psalm 42.

The Psalmist understood the pain and pressures of life. He knew what it was like to be persecuted for his faith and overcome by sorrow (Psalm 42:6). It was as if his problems were conspiring to crash upon him as a tumultuous storm (Psalm 42:7). Yet, in the midst of the tempest he finds strength and confidence in the Lord his deliverer and lifts up a prayer of praise (Psalm 42:8). Oh, and by the way, the Psalmist wasn’t afraid to ask God, “Why” (Psalm 42:9).

Music helps voice the hurts of the heart. May I suggest, if you’re a musician or vocalist, why not try developing a prayer song during your next devotional time with God. But then again, aren’t the arts for everyone; therefore, anyone can put prayer/praise into practice.

After all, prayer is simply the soul’s song, so, sing it out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Song Series: Healing Rain

Healing Rain (No More Anemia)
Read: Psalm 51

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. – Psalm 51:8

“I believe that when you genuinely call upon the presence of God and that when the power of God falls; you can’t help but be changed.” – Michael W. Smith speaking about his new song “Healing Rain”.

During my wife, Des’, first pregnancy she became severely anemic. The doctor recommended that she eat iron rich foods and get plenty of rest. That’s how I discovered my talent for cooking, or at least for cooking beans, greens, and other bulk dishes. I even came up with a robust whole grain loaf that I dubbed “Energy Bread”. It consisted of whole grains, of course, but then I added molasses, honey, sourgum, and sometimes dried spinach. The thing weighed in at a whopping two pounds or more per loaf and looked like a dark brown brick. But, you know what? All that “power cooking” worked! Within a few weeks my wife was back to her old energetic self and the anemia was beaten for the remaining months of pregnancy.

I hear people say that the church is anemic. I’m not sure what exactly they mean by that but I’d guess it has something to do with a lack of power or relevance. If this is indeed the case, may-be all we need is a little spiritual power cooking. We could all start with some good old fashioned prayer with fasting (Daniel 9:3) crying out to God for renewal and a fresh sense of His presence in our lives (Psalm 69:32; Psalm 85:6). Then, when the power of God falls upon us we will, no doubt become convicted of our sins and return to Him lifting holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8) in reverence and awe. Finally, with our anemia gone, we will experience the presence of God and be effective and infectious followers of Christ (Psalm 51:10-13).

LORD, heal me!