Quick Thought – Friday, May 26, 2017

Read

Matthew 26:1-16

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Matthew 26:14-16

Reflect

Guy Fawkes led a plot of Catholic revolutionaries who tried to blow up the British Parliament with close to a ton of gunpowder. He was caught on the day he was supposed to detonate the powder – November 5, 1605.

Marcus Junius Brutus joined with dozens of other conspirators to plot the assassination of Julius Caesar – who, by all accounts, was a brutal dictator. He and others carried out the murder on March 15, 44 BC.

Benedict Arnold was a successful officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In spite of his successes, General Arnold felt he was never properly rewarded, and so he plotted to hand over the American fort at West Point, N.Y. His British contact was discovered, and with him, so was the plot.

Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples Jesus chose to follow Him. Unfortunately, Judas was apparently greedy, and he also seems to have been disappointed that Jesus wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman rulers. He arranged with the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

All four of these men live in infamy, and so do their names. Guy Fawkes was executed for his crimes and is remembered in England each year on a holiday that celebrates the uncovering of his plot. Brutus was key in William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, along with the famous line, “Et tu, Brute?” He later committed suicide after losing a key military battle. Benedict Arnold fled to England and found that the British didn’t like traitors any more than the Americans did. He eventually died in poverty in Canada. And Judas? He realized too late that he had betrayed an innocent man and tried to return the silver. Perhaps in shame or guilt, he hung himself.

No one wants to be remembered as Guy Fawkes. The phrase, “Et tu, Brute,” is often used when someone feels betrayed. It’s an insult to call someone a “Benedict Arnold.” And it’s an even bigger insult to call them a “Judas.”

In today’s scripture, we see the beginning of Judas’ journey into the “dark side.” Later in Matthew, we see Judas carry out the plot, culminating with a kiss on Jesus’ cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas was trusted by the King of Kings, and he rewarded that trust by turning Jesus in to the people who would kill Him.

Are we any better. We often say that we love Jesus and that He loves us, but how do we reward His love? By following Him and standing up for Him when others insult Him? By telling people about our Savior and asking them to trust Him, too? It’s all too easy to betray our Lord, even as we think that Judas is something and someone we could never be.

Today, think about times when you might not have stood up for Jesus when you had the chance, as well as the times that you did. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith, and to help you defend Him if and when you’re challenged.

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 – Thursday, May 25, 2017

Read

Romans 12:9-21

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Romans 9:14

Reflect

One of the hardest things that Christians are asked to do is to be nice to people who aren’t nice to us. Over and over, Jesus set a standard of loving others, regardless of how they treat us.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luke 6:27)

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1)

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a)

It’s a theme that was so clear, that Jesus’ followers picked up on it and lived it out. They wrote about it, and when they were persecuted, they let their love lead the way. They prayed for the people who were trying to hurt them, even while they were preparing to die.

It’s doubtful that any of us will have to die for being a Christian. But that doesn’t mean we won’t suffer in some way for having a faith in Christ. When we do, we can respond with anger and hatred, and that might feel like the right thing to do. But the greater call to us is to show love to those who hate us and even to pray for them. It’s not easy, but our love in the face of persecution may be the very best way for us to tell others about Jesus.

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, May 24, 2017

Read

Matthew 26:36-46

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:40-41

Reflect

Jesus knew that the end was near. He had celebrated a special meal with his closest friends, and now He needed to spend some time in prayer to prepare for what was coming – his death on the cross. So He took His very closest friends – Peter, James and John – into the Garden of Gethsemane with Him to pray. While He prayed, the others kept watch … or did they?

Three times, He left to pray, and three times, He came back and found them sleeping. It was frustrating enough that He even asked the question, “Couldn’t you even stay awake with me for an hour?” (Obviously, this was a question that didn’t need to be answered. Jesus knew the answer already – the three had fallen asleep three times, so, no, they definitely couldn’t stay awake for Him at all!)

Today, we live in a world that lives for itself. We entertain ourselves constantly, and most of us keep our focus on anything other than God. We’re a busy people – far too busy for God. Can’t we even spare an hour for our Maker each day? A half-hour? Fifteen minutes? Five minutes?

Most people don’t spend even five minutes a day in prayer, let alone Bible study. It’s no wonder that so few people know anything about God or the Bible.

How about you? How much time do you give God each day? This week, think about how you can give the Lord a little more of your day. After all, you simply can’t build a relationship with anyone if you don’t spend time getting to know them.

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 – Friday, June 2, 2017

Read

Psalm 50

For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
Psalm 50:10-11

Reflect

Tim sat in the pew on Sunday, waiting for the ushers to pass him the offering plate. He had most of $40 in his pocket, money he had made mowing lawns in the neighborhood. He’d heard about “tithing,” that is, giving 10 percent of your income to the church. But now that the money was his, it was harder to part with it. After all, it was his money. He had a $5 bill and a couple of ones, but not the exact $4 needed for a true tithe. So why not give $2, or even $1? Wouldn’t God be grateful for that much? It was more than nothing.

He thought and prayed for a moment, reached into his pocket and then pulled out his offering…

How much do you think Tim gave? How much do you think he should have given? And would God be happy with any amount?

Today’s scripture reminds us that what Tim put into the plate wasn’t God’s – everything in Tim’s pocket was God’s to begin with. He owns it all – the cattle on a thousand hills, all the birds of the hills and every dollar in Tim’s, yours and my pockets. Churches need the money to operate, and our generosity makes their jobs easier, but God himself needs none of it. He already owns it; he’s just waiting to see how we’re willing to spend it and whether or not we’ll be generous with Him and with His Church.

The way that we give tells a lot about our faith. If we’re stingy with God, then it’s likely that He doesn’t have a whole lot of our heart. If we’re generous with Him, then it’s likely that we trust Him more, and that He has more of our heart. The next time you’re in church, pray about how the Lord wants you to give to Him – in time and money. Let Him speak to your heart, and then act on what He tells you to do.

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, May 22, 2017

Read

Deuteronomy 3:23-28

Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.
Deuteronomy 3:27

Reflect

Throughout my life, my family has raised horses. At one point, we had a young horse that my Dad wanted me to care for. I promised and promised, but I never worked with her, and my Dad got tired of waiting. I really like horses, but I’ve never been one to want to raise one, so I’ve mostly watched while other people have worked with the animals. For my Dad, watching just wasn’t going to cut it. He didn’t need an extra horse eating feed and soiling its stall, but getting next to no attention. He made arrangements to sell the horse.

I remember the morning that the buyer showed up to pick up the horse. It finally dawned on me that we’d be losing her and that I wouldn’t have the chance to see her again. I cried and I begged and I pleaded. But it was to no avail. The decision was made – the horse was going away. No matter how sincere I was at that moment, my actions had ensured that she would be sold to another owner.

In reading today’s passage, we see that Moses did amazing things for God, but he sinned in such a way that the Lord did not permit him to enter the Promised Land. (Read Numbers 20:2-13 to get that whole story.) Moses didn’t fully trust and honor the Lord in the presence of Israel, and he took credit for what God was doing. As Moses neared the end of his life, he begged the Lord to allow him to enter the land that he’d pursued for 40 years. But because of such a severe violation of the Lord’s commands, God had to keep His word. He told Moses that he would not cross the Jordan, but would only get to see the Promised Land from afar.

It might not seem fair, but sometimes, when we commit sins, no matter how sorry we are, we will still suffer severe consequences. The best we can do is ask for forgiveness and learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, never repeat them. We can also accept our consequences with grace and maturity and show the Lord and others that our faith is deep enough for the tough times.

The next time you do something that will bring you an outcome much worse than you expected, it’s OK to pray that the Lord will spare you from a harsh consequence. But if you have to endure a brutal penalty, pray that He will uphold you with grace and that He’ll help you learn from the experience so that you won’t have a repeat performance.

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, May 21, 2017

Read

Psalm 14

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
    there is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
    to see if there are any who understand,
    who seek after God.
Psalm 14:1-2

Reflect

More than 130 years ago, a philosopher named Friedrich Nietzsche began what is now known as the “God is Dead” movement. Nietzsche was brought up in a Christian home by strict parents. But instead of seeing his family’s faith as real, he instead saw it as fake, and he felt that Christian morals were harmful and restrictive.

He first wrote in 1882 that, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” Essentially, Nietzsche felt that people had killed God in their hearts. Whereas Christian faith gives us hope that the Lord made us, loves us and has a plan for us, Nietzsche wrote that, “Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”

Nietzsche and all who share his atheism are what the writer of Psalm 14 had in mind when he wrote, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” The truth is that, in 1900, Friedrich Nietzsche died, and instantly found out that his unbelief was a lie; it was Nietzsche who was dead, and God who was and is alive!

As He has done since the dawn of time, God looks to His creation to see who will follow Him, and He calls to each of us to believe in Him. Imagine if you had children, and then one day they turned to you and said, “I don’t have parents! You don’t exist!” How hurtful would that be to you? It must be even worse for the God who lovingly made each of us from nothing. On the other hand, how happy must our Lord be when we look to Him and say, “I love you. You’re my Father. Thank you for making me and taking care of me.”

Today, spend some time thanking God for His hand in your life and think of ways you can demonstrate His love to others without using words.

Reflection copyright © 2015 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 – Saturday, May 20, 2017

Read

Romans 8:26-30

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Reflect

One winter morning many years ago, a fleet of fishing vessels set sail from the east coast of Newfoundland, only to encounter a violent storm. As the townspeople waited for good news about the fate of their loved ones, night fell without even one vessel returning home.

Throughout the night, the families waited patiently (and sometimes impatiently) for the boats and men to return. Some even offered up prayers that God would return everyone safely. But to their horror, one fisherman’s home caught fire.

Virtually every man was in the fishing fleet, so it was left to the women of the town to put out the blaze. Sadly, they were no match for the fire, and the home was lost.

As the light of morning arrived, so did the boats, one by one. Everyone was overjoyed – save for the wife of the man whose home was destroyed by the fire. This woman greeted her husband, but her hugs and kisses were accompanied by tears as she told her husband of the tragedy that had taken their home and possessions.

But instead of grief, the man responded in a way she hadn’t expected.”Thank God for that fire, honey,” he said. “Last night everything was pitch dark, all except for the light coming from the fire of our burning home. It was that light that safely guided us home.”

The Bible doesn’t say that all things are good. In this story, the storm wasn’t good, nor was the sadness and grief of the loved ones who were worried that the fishermen were lost. And, most of all, the fire that consumed a home and belongings was definitely not a good thing. But together, all things did work together for a good outcome.

In our lives, it’s hard to see how some of the things that we encounter can ever bring about anything good. But God assures us that everything that happens, no matter how bad it seems at first, can and will come together for good, so long as we love Him and stay focused on His purposes.

This week, focus on building your relationship with the Lord. Pray that He will help you stay on His path. Pray even more that, when trials come your way, that He will give you faith to look for how He will ultimately bring a positive resolution.

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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