Quick Thought – Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Read

Matthew 18:1-6

Matthew 19:13-15

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4

Reflect

Children playing in leavesI love working with children. For a while I worked as a substitute teacher, and I worked with grades 3 through 12. I primarily love English classes, since that’s closer to my background and college degree. And the source material for middle school and high school feels right at home.

But I found that once students reach middle and high school, there’s a much greater chance that they don’t have any use for us as adults. For example, I worked at a high school, middle school and elementary school that all lie right next to each other. My days in the middle and high school were pretty rough – the students had little or no respect for me as a teacher or adult. But my days in that elementary school were among my favorites. By the end of one day, one of the students even came up and gave me a hug. When they’re that young, they still care about the approval of adults. They want to make us happy. And they can be a real treat to be around.

That’s really the attitude that Jesus was speaking about. He didn’t say that we had to act like children, but that we had to have that childlike attitude dependence upon adults, and more specifically, their parents. At that point, the disciples were  trying to figure out who was the best. Jesus saw that the children knew who was the most important – He was. The children hung upon His every word, and they crowded around Him to be as close to Jesus as possible.

That’s the attitude Jesus wants us to take. Rather than seeking glory for ourselves in any area of life, He wants us first to seek Him as those children did – getting as close to Him as possible so that His ways and words will guide our every step.

Today, pray that the Lord will give you that childlike dependence upon Him. Draw close to Him, and look closely for His guidance for your life in the hopes that His words will be your words, and His steps, your steps.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Douglas Blaine.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Matthew 17:1-13

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Matthew 17:4

Reflect

The barn in Animal FarmGeorge Orwell was one of the most insightful writers of his generation – or of any other generation, for that matter. (Actually, Orwell was a pen name – his given name was Eric Blair.)

Orwell only wrote a handful of books, and the world today only really remembers two of them – Animal Farm and 1984Animal Farm is a remarkable tale about totalitarianism and specifically Communist Russia. But its real charm is that it’s written using a farm as the setting, and the animals there are the main characters. Still, it’s impossible to miss the point of the book if you’re paying attention – or is it?

When Orwell was seeking a publisher for the book, one of the publishing houses who considered Animal Farm was Alfred A. Knopf, which was noted for its award-winning authors. But when they reviewed Orwell’s masterpiece, they dismissed it, saying that it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

They simply didn’t get it.

Sometimes we’re that way with the Lord. Even when His message is larger than life, right in front of us, it’s still not clear enough. In today’s scripture, Peter had that same problem. God sent Moses and Elijah to meet with Jesus on a mountain. It was an amazing moment, as Jesus was clearly glorified while meeting with legendary prophets from the past.

Peter should have been lost in worship of the Lord. But instead, he thought it would be a great idea to build some shelters so the three men could get some rest. Seriously? Elijah and Moses appear from Heaven to meet with the Son of God, and Peter thought they needed huts?

God’s message to us isn’t really complex. Most often, He keeps it simple for us. Love God, love other people, serve Him, and lead other people to Him. If it even seems too difficult to understand, it’s because we’re the ones making it difficult. Look for the heart of God in any scripture or message, and you should be able to get the point pretty easily.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Monday, August 21, 2017

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Psalm 14

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1a

Reflect

Radio host Paul HarveyIf you’re reading this (and there’s a good chance that right now, you are), you’re probably either a believer in God or else you’re curious about Him and are investigating God and the Bible.

Either way, for most of us, it’s probably hard to imagine having absolutely no belief – and no respect – for God and His ways. Belief is a part of who we are, and the absence of that belief is difficult to grasp.

But if you look around our world, you can tell that there are countless people who either have no belief in God whatsoever or no belief that His Word, ways and promises are real.

God, of course, doesn’t change. So when Americans constantly alter their moral views toward a more liberal understanding, they’re basically moving away from the way God sees things, and toward the way they wish He sees things.

Over time, it has become more acceptable in society to dismiss God as either a hoax, a myth or a nice story. And along the way, it’s gotten easier for most people to put him in a convenient box where they can take Him out whenever they please. Or, worse, it’s become easier to write Him off altogether.

This is nothing new. It’s been the goal of our Enemy since the beginning of time. We can see the evidence around us today. But that evidence has been growing, especially since atheists like Madeline Murray O’Hair achieved legal victories in the 1960s. (This 1965 essay by commentator Paul Harvey shows just how long this battle has been going on.)

There’s a fine line between compassion and capitulation. We can love people different from us without giving in to their beliefs and letting them infiltrate our personal faith. Jesus did this all of the time (as when he ministered to tax collectors and prostitutes without engaging in their behaviors). As Christians, the best thing we can to do push back against this moral creep is to maintain morals and standards in our own lives without being “preaching” or strident toward those who don’t share our views.

Today, pray that the Lord will strengthen your resolve to live the Christian life. Also, pray that He will give you His heart for the lost, and that, through the leading of the Spirit, your gentle moral stand may spark the curiosity of those who don’t know Him.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Read

Genesis 27

Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.
Genesis 27:17


Reflect

Cheating in SchoolDeception always comes with a high price. Actually, any action you make can earn you some consequences you didn’t plan on – good or bad. Your positive actions night generate infinitely more good attitudes than you counted on. At the same time, your negative actions can have far-reaching consequences beyond what you can see at the moment.

Let me share an incident from my own history. When I was in high school, I was part of a gifted English program. Because we were in an advanced program, we were expected to perform at a high level in pretty much every area. One of those areas was vocabulary, where making a perfect score on the tests seemed impossible to us. We studied and struggled for a couple of months and yet could never seem to overcome the difficulty of the exams.

That’s when a student from the previous year’s class told us how they ended up passing the tests – they’d started stealing the answers. It turns out that every class for many years had done this, and passed that secret on to the next year’s edition. With that knowledge in hand, my buddy Clark and I led the way in getting the answers and passing them to our fellow classmates. There were only about 15 of us in the class, and we had 100 percent participation.

Each week, we’d decide who would get less than 100 percent – just to make sure not everyone would just immediately pop up to perfection. The plan went perfectly for months, until one day one of us decided to steal the answers in the middle of class and got caught red-handed – me. That day, I earned a three-day out-of-school suspension, which also meant that all work that I missed while at home counted as a zero. Our final term paper and presentation were due during my suspension, but I was allowed to turn them in early (though the grades on both were bad). My grade in the class went from an A to barely a C. Rightfully, I should have failed the course.

Even though one of my classmates “outed” everyone else for cheating, without proof they escaped punishment. Still, our teacher, who had been so close to us that year, was hurt that we would show such disrespect to her. While I was cheating on those tests, it seemed so innocent – just a better grade on a test. I didn’t see how it might threaten my graduation and rupture a relationship between a teacher and her students – or between my parents and myself. It took some time before I was able to regain their trust.

Jacob’s deception of Isaac and Esau was far worse. A father’s blessing was highly prized, and could contain details about the son’s inheritance and the future. When Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, he received promises of the richness of the earth, as well as control over his family – including Esau. Rebekah knew that would be the case, and chose Jacob over Esau to receive the blessing. Jacob went along with the plan, and in so doing ensured that his brother would thereafter seek to kill him.

That’s the way it always is when we’re caught in deception. It doesn’t matter if we intended to hurt someone or not – the fact that you deceived someone will break that relationship, and sometimes that break can be permanent. The only way to avoid that is to not deceive, and to always be honest. Honesty has its own rewards (such as, “A good and honest life is a blessed memorial, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.” and Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed” – Proverbs 10:6 and 9).

Always prize honesty over deception. Regardless of the seeming innocence of the act, and the ease of the supposed rewards, the price of deception will always be higher than you can measure. And the true rewards of honesty will always exceed what you can see at the moment.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Read

Matthew 15:10-20

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
Matthew 15:11

Reflect

Sticking out tongueThe Bible has a lot to say about the words we speak. Words spoken in faith often resulted in healing. Proverbs 18:21 even says that the power of life and death is in the tongue.

In today’s passage, Jesus says that the things you speak are far worse for you than any bad food you might eat. Imagine that every time you said words that hurt someone else, you got sick. Or if every dirty word you uttered made you physically filthy. What if the bad things you say you want to happen to someone else instead happened to you?

Now, imagine that there is actually life in your tongue, and the things you speak made you healthy and well, or the blessings you spoke to other people actually happened to them and to you.

That may not actually happen physically to you, but your words are precious in the Lord’s sight, and He wants you to always use them for good, and never for evil. He doesn’t want you to defile, or dirty, yourself by saying words of profanity and abuse. Rather, He wants your words to be a blessing to yourself and to others, and to Him as well.

Today, let life come forth from your mouth. Pray that the Lord will sanctify your speech and that you will use your words always for blessing, and never for cursing.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Monday, August 14, 2017

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Matthew 5:13-16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

Reflect

Candle in the darknessHow far away do you think you could see a candle at night?

One mile? Two? Five? Ten?

The truth is, that on a flat surface, in pitch darkness, you could see the flickering of a single candle as far away as 30 miles. That’s an amazing distance, but it shows that light truly does defeat darkness.

Jesus was saying the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount. He told His followers that lights placed in full view of others will help illuminate the darkness. And He encouraged us to shine light in our lives to give honor and glory to God.

You might ask what that light looks like. It’s a good attitude, even when things are going poorly. It’s doing good deeds for others, but not taking the credit yourself. It’s speaking in good and decent language, without resorting to course and rude words. It’s sharing your testimony of what the Lord has done in your life when you have the opportunity to do so.

Your entire life can be a light to others, but only if you live it in a way that honors God. Even without preaching the Gospel, you can draw others to Him simply by allowing His light and life to flow through you.

Today, pray about the light the Lord wants you to shine. Ask Him to help you continually shine His light in your life, and pray for opportunities to bring His light into dark places.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Quick Thought – Sunday, August 13, 2017

Read

Ephesians 4:17-32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Reflect

Corrie Ten Boom in the "Hiding Place" in her former home.Sometimes heroes come in different shapes and sizes. Often, they’re so unlikely that they could be standing right in front of you.

The Ten Boom family is a prime example.

During World War II, the Ten Booms took their Christian responsibilities seriously and began hiding Jews in their home in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Even though discovery meant certain imprisonment, the Ten Booms, along with their friends, saved the lives of around 800 Jews over the course of about three years.

At one point, they even constructed a hidden room the size of a closet on the top floor of their house (in youngest daughter Corrie’s room) so that their “illegal” guests could have time to hide in case the Nazis investigated the home.

Eventually, that day did come. A local informant turned the Ten Booms in, and the Nazis raided the home. The entire Ten Boom family was thrown into concentration camps, where Corrie’s father Casper and sister Betsie both died.

Corrie is remembered for her heroic acts during the war, but also for the way that she forgave her betrayer and captors. She is remembered for sayings like, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

It’s doubtful that you’ll be betrayed in a matter of life and death, but you will almost certainly have times where people do things to hurt you, whether on purpose or not. The Bible is very clear on forgiveness – it’s not an option. Jesus led the way by forgiving those who crucified Him, and if we’ve confessed our sins to Him, He has even forgiven us. How, then, can we do anything less by holding unforgiveness in our hearts toward others?

Today, examine your heart and see if you have hardness toward anyone. If you do, pray that the Lord will help you release that so that you can forgive them, allowing your heart to fully heal.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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