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Trust and do good

Trust in the Lord and do good. Psalm 37:3

Trust and do. This is an interesting concept. Somehow we have the idea that trusting God and doing good are mutually exclusive. There is a notion held by some that inaction is more spiritual than action.  

Take a few minutes and read through Psalm 37. There are the juicy bits, of course, such as “…and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I like that. When I read the whole song, I find an almost even mix of things that tend towards rest and action. If I miss the AND, I miss the whole thing.

For example:

Active resting

Active doing

Trust 

Give generously

Commit your way

Lend freely

Delight yourself

Turn from evil

Be still

Practice justice

Do not fret

Be righteous

Hope in the Lord

Speak wisdom & justice

Be meek

Keep God’s law

Be content with little

Be blameless; don’t take matters into your own hands

Wait for the Lord

Be a...

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We Know Nothing

We speak of what we know
John 3:1-21 

“We know.” Smart guy, solid religious background, years of study, stimulating intellectual environment, wrong conclusion. Nicodemus comes to Jesus and starts off by saying, “Rabbi, we know…” A few mind-blowing facts from Jesus and Nicodemus’ last recorded words in this conversation are “How can this be?” This is followed by a sound rebuttal in a real us-and-them passage, Jesus points out that He and His disciples are actually the ones in the know: “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” Pretty strong words from the Lamb of God. 

How about us? Do we approach God from a “we know” perspective? We know our history, we know our doctrine, we know our Bible, we know what God said five years ago. The paradox is that we do know some things, and yet that very knowledge can leave us isolated from the...

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But it was because the Lord loves you

The Lord set his affection on you and chose you because the Lord loved you. Deuteronomy 7:7-8

God gets bad press. The ‘liberal media’ has been around since the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say…? You know why he said that, right…he wants to dis-empower you!” As Israel came out of Egypt Moses tried to help untangle their preconceptions about God from their experience of Egyptian gods. He also tried to lay the groundwork for the fledgling nation to avoid future entrapment by other gods.

The 10 Commandments and related instructions were therefore very clear: keep God as the one and only, and don’t flirt with foreign gods. “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them.” This is the M&M verse (if it helps you remember it better): no money, no mercy, no marriage, no mingling. Israel knew slavery—they had been at the receiving end of it for many years. Back in the tent as they thought about...

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Big ask—big reward

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:14

Who wins when I ask for big things? I have thought it was me, of course. Recently, however, I have been seeing a different dynamic at work when looking at three passages that follow each other in the book of John. When you see them together it will blow the punch line, but it is worth doing anyway:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, … You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16

Three times in quick succession Jesus urges us, “Ask Big!” These are pretty astounding promises. With such a blank check in our hands, why don’t we ask for outrageous things more often? We could go into the normal list of things: we have a poverty mentality, we don’t think we are worthy, we do...

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“What are you crying for?”

 

Crying was not really smiled up when I was growing up. If your brother gave you a shove and you fell and hurt yourself, the question was “What are you crying for?” If you broke your favorite toy… “What are you crying for?” If your parents said “No” when you wanted “Yes” and you cried… “What are you crying for?” followed by the inevitable, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Nowadays we tell people, and not just children, “It’s okay to cry.” While there were some advantages to the get-up-and-get-over-it mindsets of our parents, there were disadvantages as well. It is appropriate to cry, sometimes, and the question is, “What are you crying for?” or, more accurately, “What are you crying over?”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a...

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Better without the bitter

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.   Hebrews 12:15

Things don’t always turn out the way we expect. Tonight as I write this devotional Bob Norsworthy and John Simpson are heading for Jakarta for two weeks. The plan was to continue consulting to a major corporation, and to recruit clients and encourage consultants for our first Indonesia Venture in December. The only snag is that the client has just been told that their assets are frozen, and they are therefore unable to hire us. After deliberation, Bob and John decided to press forward, take the twist in the road, and prepare for the rēp Venture. 

We have two choices: take the twists prayerfully, or get twisted. We have been given so much: a not guilty verdict, heaped blessing, life itself. Despite the fact that we should be grateful, seeds are dropped onto the sand of our lives each day, some healthy, some designed...

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Be generous enough to kill

Each person should do as he has decided in his heart, not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

During a recent time of prayer, I gained a little more insight into a phrase that has been rattling around in my mind for some time:  “The world’s business system is based on buying and selling, but the kingdom of God is based on giving and receiving.”

Why is it especially important for businesspeople to be generous? I believe that part of the answer lies in this truth: to be effective against the motivations of this world, we must secure victory over getting things for ourselves. Stated a little differently, to have spiritual authority in the marketplace, we must not be under the authority of money. Put yet another way, Mammon (which means greed deified) rules...

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Hard heart, hard hat

Leaders impact people. While leadership is not everything. it is something. The behavior, character and competence of leaders has ripple effects in the lives of the people whom they lead. Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt, was in a tough situation. On the one hand, he had a free workforce to labor on his projects. On the other hand, he had an 80-year-old liberator telling him to let the slave laborers take a break to go and worship in the desert. Had Pharaoh been an enlightened leader he might have thought giving a week of Personal Time Off (PTO) was fair… but he didn’t, and the disingenuous cycle continued: start plague repent stop plague change mind next plague. After a while Moses said,

“You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.”

There was much back and forth, toing and froing, between Moses and Pharaoh....

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Gaining promises

 and gained what was promised
Hebrews 11:33

Hebrews 11 lists the accomplishments of great heroes of the faith. This phrase in verse 33 challenges me: “and gained what was promised.” The principle is that what has been promised still has to be gained. I know that this is obvious, but when I read this I confessed to God that I had been passive. “If God said it, I will wait to see it happen, but there is not much that I can do to make it happen.” On the one hand, just waiting is very realistic. There is nothing I can do given the magnitude of the things God has promised. On the other hand, this verse tells me that people of faith somehow “gained what was promised.” So I reflected on the things that I am pretty sure God has spoken to me, and spent time praising God, thanking him for what he had promised. 

The second aspect that was highlighted to me is the source of the promises overshadowing the content of the promises. I acknowledged and...

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Fast company

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

God did an amazing job in completely changing the mindset of a whole nation. Here were people who had lived immersed in another culture. The Egyptian boys had the cool haircuts, they drove the fast chariots and had a nice tan. The Egyptian girls were allowed to have tattoos and body piercing. So how do you take a whole nation—men, women and children—and cause them to have different minds and different hearts from the culture they have lived in for 400 years? I believe there were some keys:

    • Persecution: I doubt that they would have been ready to leave Egypt had they not had a really rough time.

    • Leadership: they needed someone to say, “God has said…”

    • Miracles: the probability of the Israelites believing God without an awesome demonstration of His power was low.

    • An impossible dream: the dream of the Promised Land was huge....
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