Quick Thought – Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Read

Ephesians 6:10-20

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:13

Reflect

Picture yourself in this scenario. On the day of your biggest final exam, you wake up a little late, skip breakfast and barely make it to school in time. You didn’t study the night before (and barely studied at all), don’t know where your textbook it and you don’t have a pen, a pencil or a clue about what’s on the test. You’re completely unprepared. How do you think you’ll do on the exam?

Being prepared is essential, no matter what you’re trying to do. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, wanted us to keep that in mind about our faith, too. The Christian life can be difficult; being prepared to live it makes it much easier.

Paul described “the whole armor of God,” and usually when we read that, we picture medieval knights going into battle, clad completely in thick armor and wielding a sharp sword. But Paul was thinking more of the armor worn by Roman soldiers. Each piece had a purpose, and Roman soldiers depended on the pieces to keep them prepared for battle.

The belt held the soldier’s armor in place, and it also provided some protection to vital organs. Our belt of truth holds our faith in place by making sure that we’re prepared for whatever lies our enemies may test us with. Picture the belt as holding your spiritual pants up.

The breastplate was vital to a soldier. It protected their most vital organs, like the heart and lungs. Our breastplate is righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ, who keeps our heart pure.

On a soldier’s feet were protective shoes that made sure they didn’t get hurt by stepping on something as simple as a sharp rock. The Christian’s shoes are to be the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Basically, think of the Lord’s Gospel of peace as keeping sharp spiritual pebbles out of our shoes.

Soldiers needed strong shields to block the arrows fired at them by their enemies. Our shield of faith does the same thing. Our faith in God defeats the fiery arrows of doubt our enemy shoots at us.

The Roman soldier wore a helmet to protect their brain from injury. Our spiritual helmet is our salvation, which protects our minds and our thoughts, and keeps us focused on the Lord and His plans.

Roman soldiers were greatly skilled with the sword, and used it to engage their enemies close-up in battle. The only offensive weapon of a Christian is the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. Think about when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. He used the Word of God to counter every attack thrown at him. That’s how the Lord wants us to respond, too. But we can only use the sword if we practice – by reading the Bible frequently.

The last piece in our armor is prayer. Soldiers didn’t have that in their arsenal, but they did stay in constant communication with their commander so they would know their orders. Prayer is our only way to stay in touch with our commander – God – so that we can stay on track with His plans for us.

That’s it – seven simple pieces of armor. Without them, you’ll be going into your daily battles unprepared. But with them (and with God’s help), you can have a lot more victory every day. Today, try starting your day by mentally putting on each piece of armor – and keep doing it every day so it becomes part of your spiritual routine.

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, April 25, 2017

Read

Matthew 9:14-17

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:17

Reflect

Most people today have only seen wine in a bottle. But in Jesus’ day, after wine fermented in a vat, it was transferred into jars or animals skins so that it could finish the fermentation process or be consumed later. Once a wineskin had aged its contents, it would never again be useful for holding new wine. As the wine aged, the gasses it released would force the skin to expand, almost to the point of bursting. Eventually, the wine would finish fermenting, and the skin would lose its natural flexibility. An old wineskin would now be holding old wine. If you emptied the contents and poured new wine into the skin, the new wine would release more gasses, and the wineskin would burst, unable to expand any further.

So why did Jesus bring this up? In His day, the Pharisees were caught up in religious rituals, and they demanded that everyone else do the same. They felt that the only way to please God was to fulfill every aspect of the law – at least as far as everyone could see. Jesus shattered their world with His teachings. In the parable of the wineskins, He was saying that old religious rituals don’t work with new faith. Basically, He was telling the Pharisees (and us) that a faith based on works doesn’t impress God. He wants our open hearts (fresh wineskins) to be containers of the Lord’s Good News (new wine).

As we move through this fall, look for ways that the Lord is calling you to keep your heart fresh, renewed and receptive to His message and His will.

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, April 24, 2017

Read

Matthew 8:28-34

The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
Matthew 8:33-34

Reflect

A farmer went to the hardware store to buy a saw so he could clear some trees. However, just a week later he was back at the store to return the saw.

“This saw doesn’t work,” he complained. “I’ve been working all week, and I’ve only been able to cut down two trees. It’s wearing me out.”

The clerk took the saw, pulled on the handle and cranked up the chainsaw. It immediately roared to life.

Surprised, the farmer said, “Wait, you mean it turns on?”

Sometimes, we all miss the point. In today’s scripture, Jesus encounters two demon-possessed men, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, drives the demons out of the men and into a herd of pigs. The pigs promptly run toward a cliff, jump over it and drown in the sea.

The people from the nearby town, who had been terrorized by the possessed men, came out to see what happened. For the first time, they saw these men clean, dressed and sane. And what was their response to this? They asked Jesus to get out of town. Instead of rejoicing with the healing of these men, they were angry that Jesus had hurt business. Instead of focusing on healing, they focused on the ham.

We live in a very cynical, hammed-up world that desperately needs the healing offered by our Lord. We’re the only people who can give that to them. It’s usually pretty easy to get caught up in the negative details of the world. Just turn on the TV and you’ll be overrun by bad news and celebrity drama. We can miss the spiritual point and be overwhelmed by the mess. Or we can make a choice to show them the difference that Christ has made in our lives.

Today, pray that the Lord will help you to look past the world’s ham, and to offer to others His healing.

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, April 23, 2017

Read

Joshua 1:5-9

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”
Joshua 1:6

Reflect

“I’m afraid, Daddy.” Sarah stared through the open door that led to the basement.

Sarah’s father took her hand and reassured her. “I’m here, honey. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“But it’s dark. What if something trips me?”

“I wouldn’t let anything hurt you.”

Sarah looked at her dad. “Will you go with me?”

“Yes,” her father replied. “I’ll hold your hand. And I’ll be with you the entire time.”

Reassured, Sarah took a deep breath, held tightly to her father’s hand, and took the first step through the door…

From the time we were children, we have always been reassured by having someone bigger and stronger going with us into situations that are scary or unsure. God knew this when he was sending Joshua and the Israelites into the promised land.

Three times in the passage above, he told Joshua to be “strong and courageous.” But He didn’t leave it there – he reassured Joshua that He – God himself – would be with His people wherever they went. Fierce battles awaited the Israelites in their new homeland, but God wanted them to know that no matter what happened, they wouldn’t be alone. Victory awaited them because they had their Father with them every step of the way.

Today, think about the tough situations that you might face today or this week. Re-read the passage from Joshua, and pray that the Lord will be with you, just as He was with Joshua, and just as He promises He will be with all who follow 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 – Saturday, April 22, 2017

Read

Psalm 136:1-9

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1

Reflect

Have you ever tried to remember something by repeating it over and over? Like a phone number or an address? Sometimes, by saying something again and again, the message works its way into our brain and stays there forever.

In Psalm 136, there are 26 verses, and the second line of each one says the exact same thing: “for his steadfast love endures forever.” Clearly, the writer of this psalm wanted us to remember that God’s love is both ever-faithful and everlasting.

Why is that important?

Even though we can know that the Lord is good and that He takes care of us, sometimes our days can be pretty rough. But we serve a God who can overcome anything and everything. The God who has overcome Pharoahs, pagan kings and even death can also overcome the problems you encounter from day to day.

His steadfast love endures forever!

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, April 21, 2017

Read

Psalm 34

James 1:2-16

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:1-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Reflect

Imagine being at work and having the worst day of your life. Nothing you do is working out, and your boss seems to be losing his patience with you. You seem to have destroyed the copier, broken the coffee maker and locked up the computer server. Now, he calls you into his office, and you’re certain it’s not to talk about a raise. As you approach his door, you’re probably thinking, “Thank you, Lord, for all of today’s problems!”

Really? Probably not, right? But both of today’s scriptures point us in that direction. “I will bless the Lord at all times,” Psalm 34 says, and “all” doesn’t mean “some.” It means that no matter what happens, we are supposed to praise God. And James, who was the brother of Jesus, tells us to “Count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds.” That means that in spite of the problems that come our way, we are to never let the Lord’s joy slip away from us. James goes on to say that when our faith is tested that it will result in “steadfastness,” or endurance. That endurance is what leads to us becoming more complete Christians.

Today, try to look at any problems you have as special opportunities to praise the Lord. It’s easy to keep His praise in your mouth when times are good, but the trials He allows are chances for us to exercise our faith when times are less than good.

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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