Quick Thought – Thursday, June 21, 2018

Read

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Reflect

If you follow horse racing at all – as I do, especially during the Triple Crown season – you’ve likely heard of Justify. Earlier this month he became only the 13th horse ever to capture the Triple Crown by winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Really, there is nothing like watching a special horse like that run with such strength and power when history is on the line.

Of course, it’s too soon to say that Justify belongs in the same company as all-time greats like Seabiscuit and Secretariat. Seabiscuit was a little-regarded horse that wasn’t expected to be competitive; instead, he ended up inspiring the nation during the Great Depression by winning race after race – including a famed 1938 match race with heavily favored War Admiral. Overlooked at birth and for much of his early life, Seabiscuit just seemed to have an incredible will to win. We might say that he had “heart.”

In the case of Secretariat, he really did have heart – literally. Secretariat’s massive, basketball-sized heart weighed a whopping 22 pounds compared to the average thoroughbred heart size of roughly 8.5 pounds. While the horse most consider the greatest of all time ran with complete abandon and outclassed every horse for the 1973 Triple Crown, there was little chance any of them could have matched Secretariat’s physical ability to pump oxygen-rich blood.

Of course, heart and winning don’t always go hand-in-hand. Most of us weren’t born as champions, and that means that we have to keep working and trying even in the face of inevitable defeat. No horse embodies this more perfectly than Haru Urara, the Japanese thoroughbred filly that finished her 113-race career without a single victory. In 2003, as Japan was in the midst of an economic slump, the nation began rooting for Haru Urara as she continued to chase after an elusive victory. On May 23, 2004, she missed by just 0.3 seconds – the closest she would ever come. Undaunted, she ran four more times, always in front of packed stands at the track in Kochi, Japan. Singlehandedly, this “little horse who couldn’t” saved the track from certain closure. Though she never won a race, Haru Urara won the hearts of millions of horse racing fans around the world, just because she never gave up.

In the Bible, the best word we have for “heart” is “courage.” We are constantly reminded to “be strong and courageous” and to not give in to fear. Instead, the Lord asks us to keep moving ahead and to rely on Him to be there for us along the way. You may be facing some challenging situations or, as Haru Urara did, “long odds.” We aren’t always guaranteed first place, but the Lord does promise an ultimate victory if we just keep running his race.

Today, pray that the Lord will strengthen you for whatever He has in store for you today. If you sense fear starting to creep in, pray for the courage to just take the next step. Have faith that the Lord will give you the strength for the next step after that.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, June 20, 2018

Read

Matthew 23:23-33

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
Matthew 23:29

Reflect

Can you imagine trying to “pull one over” on God?

Honestly, people try it every day. They think they can sneak things past the Lord, whether it’s deals they never intend to keep, or by posing “trick questions” designed to trip up Christians in their defense of the faith.

That’s pretty much what the Sadducees were trying to do in today’s scripture. In the time of Christ, the two major groups of spiritual leaders were Pharisees (who believed in a physical resurrection) and the Sadducees (who rejected the notion of a resurrection). Even though this group dismissed the resurrection, they still posed a resurrection-oriented question to Jesus, trying to trip Him up.

The question wasn’t an impossible one, but an entirely unlikely one. In essence, a woman marries seven brothers from one family, each in succession after the previous one dies. Their question is, who will be her husband in Heaven? That’s a pretty audacious question, given that the person asking it didn’t even believe in Heaven.

Still, Jesus flipped the Sadducees on their spiritual ears by telling them that God isn’t so concerned about death as He is about life. Jesus essentially forced the Sadducees to face up to their own rejection of God’s eternal plan. Think about it – their question doesn’t even have relevance if everyone is just dead and in the ground.

Any time we try and trick God, we are going to find that He’s a lot more adept at answering questions than we are at asking them. He made us, and everything else, and all things are subject to Him. It’s dangerous to try to slip around the Lord, and a much better idea to simply play by His rules.

Today, pray that you will keep yourself in line with the Lord’s will and ways and that you will never be tempted to test Him.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, June 17, 2018 (Father’s Day)

Read

Psalm 127

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Psalm 127:3-5

Reflect

Seven months before the first observance of Father’s Day, there was little thought about celebrating fathers. On December 6, 1907, the people of Monongah, W.V., were a lot more concerned about the lives of their fathers, who had been trapped in the town’s mine. By the end of the day, 367 people had been killed in the mine’s shafts; of that number, 250 had been fathers, and about 1,000 children were left fatherless. To date, it is still the largest mining disaster in American history.

The next year, Anna Jarvis in nearby Grafton, W.V., staged the first-ever Mother’s Day celebration. Perhaps inspired by Miss Jarvis, Grace Golden Clayton approached her pastor, Robert Thomas Webb, with an idea – spend one Sunday honoring all fathers, and especially those who died in the Monongah disaster. Pastor Webb agreed and devoted the entire service to fathers.

Sadly, that day did not become the genesis for a nationwide observance of a Father’s Day. A more formal observance came two years later in Spokane, Wash., but it wasn’t until 1966 when the day was observed nationally by a decree issued by President Lyndon Johnson. And it wasn’t officially declared a holiday in the United States until 1970.

Sadly, that’s pretty much standard for fathers. This country has long recognized the contributions of mothers but has been incredibly slow to herald the value of fathers. Back when long distance calls were still a thing, Mother’s Day was the No. 1 long-distance calling holiday of the year. As for Father’s Day? That was the No. 1 collect calling day of the year. In other words, people didn’t hesitate to call their mothers to wish them well and remind them that they love them. And they also didn’t hesitate to call their fathers and ask him to pay for the call.

Honestly, a loving mother is vital to the emotional and spiritual health of a child. But a loving father is equally important, and for some reason, our society has lost sight of that. Many fathers don’t even realize how vital they are to the healthy upbringing of their children, and the media has continually cast fathers as bumbling, foolish and inept. The truth is that a godly father can make the difference for their children between health and dysfunction. They also are the primary reminder of what a wonderful spiritual father we have in God Almighty.

Today, remember the contributions of your own father to your life. If your own father wasn’t involved in your life, think of someone who filled that role in your life. Thank God for him and for what he taught you. Dads, make sure that your own children don’t have a void in their lives. Be certain to let them know today how thankful you are that they made you a father. And children, don’t let the day pass without calling your Dad and thanking him for his love and guidance.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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 – Thursday, February 15, 2018 (Lent)

Read

Matthew 4:1-11

And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:2

Reflect

Ashes for Ash WednesdayWhat’s the longest you’ve ever gone without food? Without water? Scientists tell us that you can go for more than three weeks without food. There are some accounts of people fasting for as much as 40 days.

But water? That’s a different story. The human body can only last about a week without water. So how did Jesus do it?

First, the Bible never specifically says that Jesus gave up water for 40 days. It says He fasted, so there’s every possibility – and even likelihood – that Jesus drank water while He was in the wilderness. (That’s actually a desert. We think of wilderness and picture lush green woods. That doesn’t exist in Israel.)

But even if Jesus did go without water, it would have been a supernatural act, completed through the power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, Jesus showed us that the only way we can do anything worthwhile for Him is through that same Spirit-led power.

Today, on Ash Wednesday, we start the season of Lent, where the tradition is to give up something special until Easter. Sometimes you’ll catch children offering to give up eating vegetables or doing their chores. Clearly that isn’t the point. The only point of a “Lenten rule” is to give up something that will help focus us more on the Lord’s will for our life.

If we are to be successful in fasting from anything – food, soft drinks, sweets, TV, etc. – it will be with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. A wonderful Easter is usually established by a special and sacrificial Lent. Don’t let the next six weeks slip by without growing closer to the Lord. Today, if you haven’t done so already, pray about what the Lord might have you give up this Lenten season.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day)

Read

Colossians 3:1-17

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

Reflect

Hands making a heartFabius and Lucilla had a problem. Both were Christians, and they had met and fallen in love. That shouldn’t be a problem, but in 3rd century Rome, it was. Emperor Claudius had issued an edict preventing young men from marrying (after all, an unmarried soldier is a better fighter). But Fabius and Lucilla desperately wanted to get married.

So in the dead of night, they had both sought out a priest named Valentine. They had heard rumors that he would marry young people in violation of the edict. A shadowy figure approached them. “Fabius?” The young man nodded. “Both of you, come with me.”

The figure led them to a nearby door, entered and beckoned them to do the same. Once inside, he lit a candle, and removed the hood from his head. “I am Valentine,” he said. “I understand you are both in love.”

Such is the legend of St. Valentine – the Roman priest who defied the edict of his emperor, and eventually paid for it with his life.

Today, most of us remember Valentine by giving cards, flowers, candy and gifts to the special people in our life. But the greater homage that we can pay to this saint is to show the kind of true love that he was willing to die for. Valentine’s Day is so often an “ooey, gooey” holiday. But the love of St. Valentine – which was the love that originated in Christ himself – is a love rooted in sacrifice. The love that gives you butterflies is nice, but it pales in comparison to love that leads you to lay down your life for someone else.

Today, I hope that you enjoy the day, and that there is someone who can enjoy it with you. But before you venture out for an evening of fun and romance, be sure to include the Lord in the center of your love. Pray that He will honor your time together, and that He will lead you both into a deeper relationship with each other, and with Him.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, January 1, 2018 (New Year’s Day)

Read

John 8:1-11

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:10-11

Reflect

New Year's Eve fireworksShe was dirty, half-naked and ashamed. Taken from her home in the middle of the day, several angry men shouted horrible things at her as they dragged her through the streets. With hatred in their eyes, hearts and voices, they threw her at the teacher’s feet.

Of course, they technically did have a point. The woman had broken the law – numerous times, in fact, and practically every day for as long as she could remember. In fact, some of the men who were now shouting at her were actually customers, and good ones at that. But today, they seemed to have a point to make, and they were willing to use her to make it.

These men had burst into her home and caught her in the act with one of their own. Even while they violently grabbed her and tossed her barely clothed into the street, they told their friend to just walk away. Apparently, the crime only pertained to a woman today.

And so, “dangerous criminal” in hand, they made their way to the famed teacher who was now in town and cast her at him like one might discard a piece of garbage. And then they challenged him – “Teacher, do we uphold the law of Moses and kill this woman, or do we let her live?”

They had hoped to catch Jesus in a no-win situation – either he agrees to kill the woman, and so disappoint his “love, joy and peace” followers, or he agrees to let her live, and thereby is just as guilty as she is by association.

Most of us know the rest of the story – that Jesus challenged them to go ahead with the stoning, but that only the ones who hadn’t sinned were allowed to do the stoning. And that the men were so convicted in their hearts that they simply dropped their rocks and walked away.

But what happened next is the most wonderful part of the story. Jesus and the woman are left standing together, and Jesus looks her in the eyes and says, “Who is left to accuse you?” She looks around and says, “No one, Lord.” To which Jesus replies, “Well, I don’t accuse you either. Go and sin no more.”

That’s our challenge this New Year’s Day. To begin again. To take stock of where we’ve faltered in our lives and make the determination to never go there again. People get caught up in New Year’s Resolutions, as though mustering some special will on this day will have a lasting effect. Instead, we need to see that each of us is left standing alone with the Lord, and that He’s challenging us to, “Go and sin no more.”

He’s not condemning us, and in spite of what the world may say, His is the only opinion that truly matters. In 2016, take the Lord’s hand and accept His forgiveness. Don’t simply resolve to do things differently. Follow the Lord’s lead and let his love lead you into new and better ways today, and throughout the New Year.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Wednesday, December 13, 2017

11 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “Little Drummer Boy,” by the Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Album: “Noel,” by Josh Groban
Christmas DVD: “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”
Netflix Movie: “Dear Santa”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”
Feeln Movie: “Coming Home for Christmas”
On TV:
• “Switched for Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Santa Clause,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “This Christmas,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “My Christmas Dream,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Dear Santa,” 8 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “The Santa Clause 3,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “A Christmas Carol (1999),” 9 p.m., TNT
• “Christmas at Holly Lodge,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Becoming Santa,” 10 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “A Christmas Carol (1984),” 10:30 p.m., AMC
• “Office Christmas Party,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime
Recipe: Southern Snowballs

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Isaiah 7:10-17
Matthew 1:18-25

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14

Reflect

Picture this situation.

Sweet little Mary McNamara came home one day with a big dilemma. She had some huge news – HUGE NEWS – to tell her parents. It would shake their world and change the course of her life, and she was sure they wouldn’t understand. No one would.

The only thing to do was take a deep breath and tell them. They’d find out eventually, and it would better if it came from her.

“Mom, Dad. I have something to tell you. A little more than a month ago, an angel came to me and told me I was going to have a baby, and that it would be God’s child. And I’ve never been with a guy. I mean, I’m dating Joe Carpenter, but we’ve never even been alone together. But that day, after the angel left, something felt different. And now I’ve missed my period, and I took a pregnancy test. And I’m definitely pregnant.”

Of course, her parents must have been so excited…

How would you have responded? How do you think they responded?

In Mary’s time, this could have meant death for her, especially if Joseph wasn’t so understanding. Fortunately, God spoke to Joseph’s heart, and he married her in spite of something so unexplainable – at least when looking at it as people naturally would.

Of course, this pregnancy was predicted more than 700 years earlier when Isaiah wrote that a virgin would conceive and have a son. It had to happen in order for God’s plan to be complete. But when it did happen, no one understood. They likely wrote it off as a naive young girl who simply got herself into trouble.

God does things in His own way and in His own timing. This Christmas season, look for the little miracles that God might do in and around you. Make sure you don’t discount His works and write them off as coincidence. And keep your heart focused on His constant presence as the day of Christmas draws ever nearer.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by 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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