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He’s Bigger Than My Suffering
January 3, 2020 | Big God Small Me, God's greatness, God's power, Healing, Hope, Hurt, Series, Sermons, Suffering, Trials

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He’s Bigger Than My Past
January 3, 2020 | Big God Small Me, Condemnation, Disappointment, Failure, God's character, God's greatness, Grace, Healing, Loneliness, Series, Sermons, Trust

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He’s Bigger Than My Blindness
January 3, 2020 | Big God Small Me, Fear, God's greatness, God's Word, Pride, Religion, Salvation, Savior, Series, Sermons

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He’s Bigger Than My Disagreement
January 3, 2020 | Big God Small Me, Conflict, Forgiveness, God's character, God's greatness, God's Word, Injustice, Opposition, Reconciliation, Series, Sermons, Unity

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The 2020 Challenge
January 1, 2020 | Bible study, Devotionals, Discipline, God's Word

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God (Psalm 42:1, esv).

What does a new decade hold for you? Are you longing for something new, better, different? Are you tired of flipping pages on the calendar and going through the motions of your life? Want to make a choice that will transform your days from dead to lively, from flat to full, from the start of just another year to your best decade yet?

Spend time with God in His Word.

“God will speak to you personally if you open His Word and listen.”

This isn’t just another task or meeting. This is an invitation to spend time with the King of the universe, listening to His voice in the pages of the only Book on the planet that will transform your soul. This isn’t a book club. It’s not an appointment with a personal trainer who might help you marginally reshape your body. This is God, who spoke the universe into existence, and who will speak to you personally if you open the Word and listen.

How’s that work? Simply and methodically. Open your Bible, and follow these three steps.

Step 1: Discipline
Here’s the spiritual workout plan: I challenge you in Jesus’ name to discipline yourself to spend thirty minutes in God’s Word every day for a month. During those thirty days, set aside the first half hour of every day—before you shower, before you dress for work, before you drink a cup of coffee (or while you drink it). Commit to this: “I will not do anything else until I get thirty minutes with the Lord in His Word.”

At first, it’s going to feel like hard work, but it won’t stay that way for long. It’s like when you start working out on a treadmill with no fitness base—grueling at first, but over time it grows easier and eventually becomes addictive. Get up in the morning, and make yourself do it. Get a friend to hold you accountable. Check in with each other. Go after this choice that will change your life forever: thirty minutes for thirty days. It starts with discipline.

Step 2: Desire
Over time, God’s Word will become your desire. This step involves another thirty days. No longer will reading the Bible just feel like a discipline. You will find that you look forward to it, that you can’t wait to spend time with the Lord. Like David, you’ll say, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). You’ll wonder how you lived without it. You’ll recognize how famished and impoverished your soul was and how difficult the Christian life felt on empty. No longer will it feel like a burden or obligation.

After thirty days of discipline and thirty days of growing desire, you’ll conclude, “I want it. I desire it. I hunger for it.” After these sixty days, you’ll say, “I chose God’s Word as my authority, and my life has been changed forever.” And then you get to move on to step 3, which will blow your mind.

Step 3: Delight
In the third, thirty-day step, you will begin to experience what David observed about the blessed person, whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). David didn’t tolerate God’s Word, the way we do brussels sprouts. He didn’t gut it out, the way we do dental cleanings. He loved God’s Word. “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). And we can get to that place too.

When you begin to delight in God’s Word, time spent in His Book will become your favorite time of your day, the best part of your week, the most treasured moments of your life—alone with God, digging into His Word, being fed by His Spirit. And the effects will seep into every part of your day so that you will find God’s Word running in the background of your thoughts constantly.

King David experienced this delight. So did the prophet Jeremiah, who wrote, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). So did the disciples, who “said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures’” (Luke 24:32)?

So can you. Choose God’s Word. Start with discipline, and watch as discipline gives way to desire and grows into full-blown delight. This can be the defining choice of your next decade.

I dare you.

Journal

  • What are your hopes, dreams, and goals for 2020? In what ways would you like to change and grow?
  • Which steps have you experienced on the continuum of discipline, desire, and delight? Describe.

Pray
Lord God, what do You see for me as You look ahead to this new year? I don’t long to do more; I long to be more, by Your grace. And I know that the key catalyst for my soul change is time alone with You in You Word. You don’t force me, but You do invite me, and I choose today, this year, to accept Your invitation. May I learn to delight in Your Word. Would You teach me, speak to me, and make me more like Your Son, Jesus, in whose name I pray, amen.

What Your Kids Need Most From You
March 28, 2011 | Children, Devotionals, Family

“Let only word(s) . . .good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  Ephesians 4:29

So what is it that your kids need most from you?  Love? Food? Shelter? As the father who raised teenagers, I wonder if most kids would say “cash.”

Joking aside, I believe that deep within the heart of every person is a longing for their parent’s approval—for a confidence that my mom and my dad know me, love me, value me, and are proud of me.

Whether it’s the preschooler who says, “Look what I’ve made, Mommy!” or the high school girl who nervously asks, “Dad, how do I look?” as she stands in the doorway decked out in her prom dress. Grown children are no different:  they can’t wait to show Mom and Dad the new house or the new car or the new baby.

I’ve heard people say, “I’m done with my parents’ approval. I once wanted it big time but I never got it and now I’m fine without it.”  I’ve also seen these same people drop everything and fly across the country to their father or mother’s deathbed, aching for one last chance to connect.

I’ll say it again—deep within the heart of every person is a longing for parental blessing.  The word used in the Old Testament for “blessing” means literally to bow the knee.  It expresses fondness for, confidence in, and recognition of a specific person. Scripture actually mentions five different ways parents can bless their children, but today, we’ll look at only one.

Here’s the principle: A blessing is not a blessing until it is spoken.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the tongue.”  The clear message of Scripture is that what we say is very powerful.

What we say has the power to destroy.  I am sure you can quickly call to mind some painful, awful things that have been said to you.  You remember them more keenly than words of praise, I know.

Yet while the tongue has the power to destroy, it also has the power to build up.  The biblical word is edify.  We can edify our loved ones by saying:

  1. Words of affection— “I love you.”
  2. Words of reconciliation— “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.  Please forgive me.”
  3. Words of vision—“You’re going to do something great.  God’s going to use your life.”
  4. Words of security— “You will always be mine.”

I often said to my kids when they were growing up,  “How long will you be my son?”  The first words my three-year-old boy would say were, “Forever, Dad.”  We need those words of security, don’t we? We all need the power of spoken words.

But words take time.  Mom tries to rush a few words in her daughter’s bridal room while the photographer is there, but it’s too late.  She waited too long.  Dad tries to get a few words in just before his son gets in the car and heads off to college.  He can’t believe how the years have gone by, and all the things he wanted to say never got said.  Loved one, you have to say it.

I want to hold up my parents as a model of this.  Since I was a kid, I have repeatedly heard words from my parents that have had a powerful influence in my life.  My dad wrote a letter to my wife and gave it to her the day we married. Near the end he writes, “I commend to you my son.  I love him dearly.  I’ll miss him deeply, but I give him up gladly to you since you are the one I have prayed for since his childhood that God would provide for him a virtuous woman.  You’re it, Kathy.  God bless you both.  Your loving future father-in-law.”

Parents, I am holding up to you this challenge.  Don’t miss your chance to say those words of blessing to your children.  Don’t let another day pass.  Pick one of the four blessings above and say it today.  You might want to ration one a day, or your kid might drop from a coronary. But say it, say it, say it.

Please don’t sit with your arms folded and resentment in your heart and say, “What about me?  I never heard it from my parents.”  Break the cycle, men and women of God!  Pass on words of blessing to your kids and to those you love. Follow after God’s heart and get the words said.

Your children will remember them and you will begin a cycle that, conceivably, will never end.