Quick Thought – Friday, March 24, 2017

21st day of Lent

Read

Genesis 25:19-34

Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Genesis 25:33-34

Reflect

Have you ever seen a child be ungrateful for something special they were given? Imagine a child on Christmas morning who bemoans the presents they’ve opened. Their parents have spent all year working hard to earn money and then spent even more time specially picking out those presents. But when the child opens the gift, they say, “I didn’t want this! Where’s the other toy I asked for?”

Can you imagine the hurt and even anger that those parents might feel?

What Esau did with his birthright was even worse.

Being the firstborn male child in a Jewish family had great importance. It signified purity and strength, and the firstborn son was second to only his parents within the family. Esau held that position within Jacob’s household, and yet it seems that he never truly appreciated the gift he had.

The real test of that came when Esau was simply exhausted. He had likely been hunting, and came to Jacob when he was tired and extremely hungry. Jacob posed to him an impossible offer: “I’ll give you some of my stew if you’ll trade me your birthright for it.” Let’s put it into terms we can really grasp: “I’ll give you some of my stew if you’ll trade me your wedding ring/car/life savings for it.” There’s no way any of us would give away even one of our most precious possessions for a bowl of soup, no matter how hungry we were.

And yet Esau traded his precious birthright for that stew. (I really hope that stew was amazing, considering how high the cost was.) That’s why the Bible tells us that Esau hated or despised his birthright. He simply placed no value on it, and valued his empty stomach to a greater degree.

Today, think about the gifts that the Lord has given you, regardless of whether those are talents or spiritual gifts or actual physical things. Give thanks to the Lord for those things, and ask Him to help you never take them for granted.

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, March 23, 2017

20th day of Lent

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Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
Psalm 13:1

Reflect

Sometimes we all feel like Jan Brady. You know, the middle daughter on The Brady Bunch who is famed for saying, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” (Of course, that only happened one time on the show.) But Jan seemed to frequently feel like the odd girl out, forgotten not only by other kids but by her siblings and parents.

On the show, of course, Mike and Carol Brady were incredibly loving parents, and always managed to make sure each of their children remembered that they were not only loved, but just as much as the other children, and in a special way. It seemed corny on the show, but it worked. And as corny as it was, it’s a very good picture of our Father’s love for us.

At some point, each of us has cried out to God, wondering if He’s heard our prayers. At those points, it seems like he’s in the business of answering other people’s prayers, but has turned a deaf ear to ours. Even though our faith tells us to keep trusting God, our weary hearts can lead us in a different direction.

It’s really OK to start out with David’s cry in Psalm 13:1 as your cry: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” But that journey eventually leads to David’s conclusion in Psalm 13:5: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” If we hold on to the Lord, His eternal love will shine through and we will discover that we’ve never been forgotten.

Today, if you’re feeling a little distant from the Lord, cry out to Him with all of your heart. Pray that He will reveal Himself to you in a fresh and special way, and that He will lead you to a place where you can clearly see His hand in your life.

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, March 22, 2017

19th day of Lent

Read

Matthew 14:13-21

Matthew 15:29-39

But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
Matthew 14:16

Reflect

What’s the biggest meal you’ve ever made? Have you fed more than 10 people? 20?

How about 5,000?

A lot of people think that these two miracle stories are exaggerated and that fewer people were fed or that everyone only got a little bit of food. That would be a fine notion (aside from contradicting scripture) except that in verse 20, we learn that, “And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”

Plus, when the Bible referred to numbers in crowds, it typically only referred to the men in the crowd. That means that the actual number fed was probably closer to 15,000 or 20,000. Plus, Jesus did the whole thing again (recorded in Matthew 15) when he fed another 4,000 (or with the “new math,” 12,000 or more).

Jesus saw the need, and he had compassion on the crowd for its physical needs. But He turned to His disciples to fill that need. And what was their response? “We don’t have what it takes to help these people.” But with the little they had, Jesus performed a miracle and multiplied their small offering into a feast big enough to feed a multitude.

You may think the gifts you have aren’t significant or enough for God to use. But if you’re willing to put them in His hands, the Lord can not only use them – He can multiply them to minister to people beyond your mind’s imagination or comprehension.

Today, trust the Lord with what you have. Pray that He will take your gifts and talents and use them to His greater glory.

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, March 21, 2017

18th day of Lent

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Psalm 12

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Psalm 12:1

Reflect

Decency, formerly seen in society, passed away some time ago. It was born in the heart of God and nurtured through the following of His principles. No one can remember the last time anyone saw it. It is joined in death by its cousins, honesty, morality and virtue, and survived by its rivals, deceit, immorality and obscenity. No services will be held to remember decency, though it will be honored in the hearts of the few who can remember it.

Sadly, this “obituary” is far too close to reality than any of us would care to admit. Every day, it seems as though the things of God are more and more rare, and the ways of man and of this world are more and more exalted. Rudeness and nastiness are even seen as virtues or assets of those who wish to get ahead in this world.

Many years ago when I first read this Psalm, it seemed somewhat true even then. But today, there are times that I look around and shake my head at the reality of verse 8: “vileness is exalted among the children of man.”

What is the remedy? The only one is for people to once again embrace the principles and qualities of God and to worship Him. Apart from the Lord, godliness and common decency will be a thing of the past.

Today, pray that the Lord will continue to foster goodness, decency and godliness in your heart and that you will quietly shine those qualities to those you encounter today and in the future.

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, March 20, 2017

17th day of Lent

Read

Matthew 13:1-23

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
Matthew 13:23

Reflect

Like so many other people, I have always loved and cherished the parables of Jesus Christ. They’re so wonderfully descriptive and illustrative, and no story that we can devise ever comes close to their perfection. Among all of His other qualities, Jesus was a master storyteller.

Today’s scripture is one of the most beloved of His parables. The parable of the sower is an amazing story of how the word of God is spread. But since its first telling, it has been misunderstood. Jesus doesn’t say directly who the sower is, but every indication is that it’s God himself. We aren’t the sower – although He may use us to spread the seed. But ultimately, God is the one who scatters the seed, and He’s very liberal in how he scatters it.

He so desperately wants everyone to come to know Him through His Son that he tosses the seeds among rocks, thorns, weeds – people who are hard-hearted, stiff-necked and unlikely to respond. But such is the character of our God that He still holds out hope that even the unlikely may heed the call of His Spirit and turn toward Him.

Meanwhile, He also throws the seed into fertile ground – those who are more likely to accept the message, as well as into the fertile hearts of those who already know and love Him. And it’s there that His message bears the greatest harvest, multiplying itself 30-, 60- and 100-fold. You and I are part of that harvest, and whenever we heed His word and follow it – especially where it leads us to build His Kingdom here on earth – we can expect the seed of His Word to grow in our lives.

Today, pray that the Lord will continue to plant His word in your life and that your heart will be fertile soil that will allow the seed to grow and multiply. Ask Him to give you the wisdom about how He would have you help build His Kingdom, and that He will help you keep focused outward to a world that desperately needs to know Him.

Reflection copyright © 2016 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, March 19, 2017

3rd Sunday of Lent

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Genesis 37:12-36

Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
Genesis 37:28

Reflect

The man had been sitting at the bar, staring at his glass for at least an hour when the trouble-maker arrived. The burly man stepped up to the bar, snatched the drink from in front of the man and downed in one gulp. The little man just started to cry.

“Come on, man,” the bully said. “I was just joking around. I’ll buy you a new drink if you stop crying.”

“You don’t understand,” the little man said. “This is the worst day of my entire life. It started when I overslept and was late to work. My boss was so mad that he fired me. When I went to drive home, my car had been stolen, and the police said there was nothing they could do. So I got a taxi ride home, and left my wallet, with all of my money and credit cards inside. The cab driver just drove off. And when I went inside, I found a note from my wife that she’d left me for my best friend.

“So I came here to drink, and to think about ending my life. And just when I was getting ready to do that, you came in and drank my poison.”

Those are two guys who had bad days, but it’s hard to imagine that their days were even worse than Joseph’s. He was on top of the world when his brothers tossed him in a hole, faked his death and sold him into slavery. From there, his days were destined to get even worse for a while, as he was falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Joseph had every reason to forsake God and turn his back on the Lord.

But God had a plan, and Joseph held on to the hope that God had not forgotten him. Ultimately, God restored Joseph to an even greater position that led to the salvation of Joseph’s entire family.

You will certainly have bad days in your future, and some may leave you beyond hope. But remember that God always has a plan, and will keep His hand on those who stay in His will. (And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28)

Today, pray that the Lord will bless your efforts this day. Also pray that when things go wrong that He will help you stay close to Him until such time as His ultimate plan is revealed.

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, March 18, 2017

16th day of Lent

Read

2 Timothy 2:14-19

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Reflect

A train conductor once boarded a train that was getting ready to leave the station. He approached the first seated passenger and asked for his ticket. Looking at it, he saw that the man was on the wrong train. “But this is the train the ticket agent told me to board,” the man said. The conductor sent the man off to find his correct train, and then checked the next passenger’s ticket. It, too, was for a different train. The same thing happened with the third passenger, and the fourth. At this, the conductor got angry that the ticket agent was sending people to the wrong train.

Storming into the ticket office, the conductor blurted out, “Are you so confused that you’re boarding passengers on the wrong train?” The agent calmly assessed the situation and replied, “They weren’t on the wrong train. You were.”

Most of us are leaders in some area of our life. And as leaders, it’s vital that we stay “on the right track” so that those who follow us can also stay pointed in the right direction. That goes for every area of our life – including our spiritual development. If we’re not “on track” with the Lord, we can expect our workers, students, family members or others follow us in the right direction.

Today, pray that the Lord will help you stay close to Him, and to set a godly example for those He has entrusted to your care.

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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