Archive for June, 2018
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord! Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit;…” (Isaiah 31:1,3)
Solutions for a broken humanity are realized not by the super powers of the world that are destined to fall, but a suffering Savior who now reigns as Lord of lords and King of kings. While social action and political processes can offer temporary relief for the symptoms of a crippled world, Christ alone can transform the human heart and, thus, the human condition.
“For after I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth” (Jeremiah 31:19).
For anyone unhappy with the direction of their life, the solution is to be found behind them—by going the opposite direction. By definition this is the working application of repentance. What was once a life lived for selfish pleasure and gain is now a 180 degree turn and the pursuit of God’s purposes. Destructive patterns are broken only when you no longer want what you are wanting right now.
“If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:14).
Action is always more challenging than intention. Social media is daily inundated with the bold claims of individuals; their goals, dreams, and aspirations. Even so, few will exercise the discipline and perseverance to see them achieved. Tweeting something like “I will not be denied” doesn’t make it happen; doing what’s necessary makes it happen. Goals are neutral. They do not have the power to grant us or deny us. When goals are not reached it’s only because, by our unwillingness to sacrifice, deny ourselves, and do the necessary daily work, we deny ourselves the opportunity to reach them. What’s your action plan? Then do it!
“Now this I say, ‘he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully’” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
We only get one shot at this life, but if it’s done right, once is enough. Consider the amount of time wasted discussing, dissecting, lamenting, and surveying all the things in this world that need to be fixed, corrected, reconciled, and rebuilt. Instead, spend that same time and energy fixing, repairing, reconciling, and rebuilding. Bountiful reaping comes to those who seek to be the answer, not the analyst; the solution and not the problem.
“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:13).
The chase to get ahead finds many padding their resume; exaggerating and/or falsifying their academic and professional achievements to gain a position. A resume reflects a person’s ambitious side—the desire to build, create, win, and have status. Knowing that, ultimately, only One opinion matters in the evaluation of our life, we do well to pursue those virtues and qualities that make for a good obituary. Having performed over 400 funeral services, from paupers to CEO’s, two observations have emerged—all end up in the same size grave and, secondly, graveside conversations regarding the deceased reflect upon the type of person they were, not the titles they held.
“Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4).
David’s request “to know my end” and “the extent of my days” expresses a desire to know the precise day of his death and the definitive number of days leading to it. While he’s asking for the impossible, that which cannot be known, it does lend itself to other possibilities. Knowing that I’m going to die does not cripple me but, rather, it compels me to live each day fully; to squeeze the life out of every nonrenewable moment; to prioritize my life in a way that makes the greatest impact on the world around me and honors the God who gives life. The possibilities are staggering.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
With the daily bombardment of negativity, doom, and pessimism, we are a discouraged world looking for an encouraging word. It’s out of such surroundings that we, the church, the presence of Christ, are given the opportunity to lift up and be the voice of refreshment. We must not wait until next time; a better time; not maybe tomorrow, but today. Searching for opportunities to encourage keeps us attuned to the positives that God is accomplishing today.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
I take cardio work very seriously. Because the past two generations of Dagnel men have not lived past the age of 60, I am diligent to see that cardio work is accomplished each day. It is a non-negotiable activity in my daily regimen. As committed as I am to the condition of the heart that gives life to my body, greater still is my concern for the heart of my soul and spirit. It is with the same diligence that I seek to guard and condition it, for it is here that the issues of life are determined. The attitudes that are nurtured in the heart ultimately become the actions of my life.
“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).
Individuals will sometimes say there are not enough hours in the day to get done all that needs to be done. These people should consider that Jesus fulfilled the purposes of God in just three years. The fact is, too much time can be the enemy of production. Having all the time you need can easily lead to the paralysis of analysis; over-planning; considering every contingency, option, and alternative possibility. Having a plan is important, but only execution gets the job done. Tasks are not left undone because of time; they are accomplished by using time well.
“I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12).
The biblical metaphors depicting the life of faith as a journey are too numerous to list in a brief devotional thought. Along with roads, paths, highways, signs, markers, and the call to follow Me, walking is, perhaps, not only the most common metaphor but the most beneficial. Even beyond the metaphorical imagery, however, a literal walk is not only great exercise, it’s a wonderful way to get away from the “noise” that clutters one’s life, and clear your head. Taking a walk offers an effective way to “turn down the volume” and better hear the One who walks with you.