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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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Sleeping with our eyes open

We used to have early morning meetings which were the normal mix of coffee and conversation. When we got down to business, however, I would look across at one of the men and sometimes his eyes were open, but he was gone… fast asleep. “The lights were on,” as the saying goes, “but no one was home.” That was a little freaky because he was both present and potentially absent at every meeting. According to WebMD, “You might be surprised to hear that some people sleep with their eyes open. And it's more common that you'd expect. About 20% of people do it, including babies. Doctors call this condition "nocturnal lagophthalmos."” Keith Green called it “asleep in the light.” 

The world is sleeping in the dark

That the church just can't fight

'Cause it's asleep in the light

I was reminded of this when I read a poignant account towards the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Some key things happened in quick succession, and you can...

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As good as dead

and he as good as dead  Hebrews 11:12

We know God specializes in taking things that are totally impossible from a human perspective and turning them into something totally miraculous. We just don’t like to be the ones in totally impossible situations. A good percentage of our prayers, whether for finances, for health, for favor, or for grace, are prayed so that we can get out of an impossible situation. 

The fact is, unless we regularly get into totally impossible situations where we are in trouble, unless God shows up with a miracle, we may not be living a life of faith. Not all situations of faith come about in the same way:

  • Category A: “Help, God!” – these are unplanned, unpredictable I-need-a-miracle situations where life happens and we find ourselves beyond our capacities or resources. Our car gets rear-ended, and we need grace; our child gets ill unexpectedly, and we need a healing, a criticism comes out of left field, or the bottom falls out...
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Tents of Trauma, Tents of Transformation

The speed at which momentous things are happening in the nations and in the Church is astounding. Some of the change is traumatic, and some of it is terrific. Miracles are needed at national and international levels… and miracles are happening. I have to choose how I see what I see. I cannot ignore the fact that political leaders of all tents are making decisions counter to the Word of God. I am also seeing God do amazing things in “simple” ways. During 2020 we saw the traumatic tents of field hospitals and even temporary morgues. Today, revival tents are popping up all over the USA from Florida to California. 

On the one hand we see political leaders wielding power and at the stroke of a pen foundational changes appear to be made. On the other hand we are seeing old fashioned evangelists pitching tents, literally and figuratively, hammering pegs of truth into grounds of adversity, breaking the soil. Thousands are finding peace with God through Jesus Christ....

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Approaching life like Jesus

I know that power has gone out from me. 

“Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
“They laughed at him… but he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’”

A funny thing happened on the way to Jairus’ house. Jesus is on a mission to heal a sick twelve year old, the only daughter of an important person. Dad is distraught, Jesus is responding to the 911 call. If you were Jesus, you might be thinking, “I can handle this… stay focused.” But then there is the jostle of the crowd, and all of a sudden Jesus feels power go out of him. He knows that interruptions can be divine interjections, so he pauses to address the situation… during which time the patient dies. The young girl, that is.

Three things emerge from this passage. First, Jesus was feeling differently. His team was feeling the pressing, moving throng, crowding and almost crushing Jesus. He was feeling the touch of faith and the transfer of...

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