Quick Thought – Monday, June 19, 2017

Read

John 3:16-21

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:17

Reflect

King Harvest was bored. Most nights, he amused himself by dancing in the moonlight, but even that had gotten old. He needed a pleasant diversion.

Then it came to him. He had just finished reading “The Prince and the Pauper,” and he thought, “I could do that – dress up like a common peasant and see how the other half lives.” The king had a servant bring him some very common clothes, and he swore that servant to secrecy. And then King Harvest went through a secret tunnel (all kings apparently have one of those) that led to the outside wall of his palace, and he was in the outside world!

It was really quite amazing to the king, who had never really interacted with any common people. He heard people talking rudely, but he also heard them speak gently. He saw a couple of kids steal some oranges from a street vendor, but then he saw a stranger buy some fruit to give to a homeless man. The king quickly figured out that while he had a few bad subjects, he also had a lot of very good and kind subjects. And the king decided then and there that he wanted to live out that kind of love to the least of the people in his kingdom.

So each night, King Harvest changed into his common disguise, and he went to people in the city, carrying with him money to buy food and clothes. He got to know the street vendors, and even became friends with some of them – as an ordinary person named Harry and not as a king. The things he bought from them he would give to the poor “In the name of the Lord.” One of his favorite people was a beggar named Billy, who slept at night near the water under a bridge. Over several weeks, King Harvest and Billy became very good friends, but the king wanted to do so much more than present him with a new outfit or a handful of fruit.

One evening, the king decided he wanted to invite Billy to move into the palace, and so he left the palace as himself, going with his entourage through the front gate. He walked through the streets, shaking the hands of his new friends, though they had no idea he was Harry. When he reached the bridge, he walked gently up to Billy, who was bowing as best he could to show respect to his king. “Billy, look at me,” the king said. “Do you know me?”

The beggar looked up and studied the king’s face for a long while. Finally, he had a spark of recognition. “Harry?” the beggar asked. “Yes,” the king answered. “I’m Harry. I came to you in disguise so that you could know me as a man, and not as a king. But now I want you to come live with me.”

Tears streamed down Billy’s face as he realized what was being offered to him. “Your majesty,” he said, “That’s more than I could ever ask for and more than I deserve. You’re offering me riches. But you’ve already given me the greatest gift of all – yourself.”

That’s really the point of today’s scripture. God could have saved mankind any way He wanted to, but He chose to do it by sending His Son to us as one of us. Jesus lived with us, got to know us, suffered as one of us and died the death that we deserved. He gave us the gift of himself.

The only acceptable response to that kind of gift is total acceptance. To “believe,” as it says in John 3:16 doesn’t mean that we agree that it happened. It means that we place our faith in what happened and in who did it. We accept Jesus as our Lord and our Savior, and we put Him in charge of our life. Then we can have the “eternal life” promised to those who believe.

Today, it’s time to decide whether or not you truly “believe.” Is Jesus a historical figure to you, or is He the King of Kings who sits on your throne. If you already believe, thank the Lord for the gift of His Son, and pledge to follow Him even more closely. And if you don’t believe, what’s holding you back? Reach out and take Him into your heart, and accept His free gift of grace. You can read more about how to do that here.

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, June 18, 2017 (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 © 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, June 17, 2017

Read

John 3:1-15

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:14-1
5

Reflect

It was only 7 in the morning, and the day was already blazing. Asher and Elias were out collecting the daily manna for their family, and were careful not to stray too far from the camp. Asher moved a small, withered tree branch to see if there was any manna underneath, but instead he found a deadly viper coiled and ready to strike. And it did, hitting Asher square on his right arm. He screamed in pain, and immediately Elias ran to help his brother. The snake was already slithering away, but he didn’t care about that. He had to try and help Asher. What was it Moses said? Something about going and looking at a bronze snake on a pole.

Of course, that seemed completely crazy, but Elias and Asher both knew that if they didn’t do something quickly, Asher would be dead very quickly. So Elias picked up his brother and started carrying him back toward that strange bronze snake that Moses had placed on a hill near the center of all of the camps. It was only a 10-minute walk, but carrying Asher made him take much longer. After about 25 minutes, the boys were at the hill, but Asher was near death. Elias whispered to his brother, “Asher, look at the snake. Just try it. We have nothing to lose.”

Asher opened his eyes and looked toward the pole. As he caught sight of the bronze snake, something happened. He started waking up. The effects of the venom began to wear off. He put his feet down and let go of Elias. Within a couple of minutes, he felt as thought he’d never been struck by the viper (although the tell-tale snakebite marks were still fresh and clear). Neither boy could believe it actually worked, and it was something they couldn’t contain. They began running through their camp and telling people what happened. News started passing from person to person. By the end of the day, their entire camp knew the story. By the end of the next day, every camp of every tribe knew.

The vipers were everywhere, and dozens of people were struck by them every day. So now, people stayed extra close to the camps, and when they were bitten, they rushed back to the pole. Everyone who looked at it was cured, and nothing could keep anyone from getting to it when they had to.

This is the story Jesus was talking about in today’s scripture. (Numbers 21:4-9) The children of Israel had yet again hacked off God (when didn’t they do that?), and he’d unleashed a bunch of poisonous snakes on them as a punishment for their lack of gratitude. But He also gave them a remedy – the snake on the pole, which was later referred to as the Nehushtan. If they simply looked at the bronze snake, they’d be healed. It was so easy, but you had to wonder if someone refused to take a look to save themselves or a friend.

Jesus’ point was that He is just like that snake on a pole. He’s the remedy for our snakebite of sin (remember who and what talked Adam and Eve to eat the fruit in the Garden of Eden?). If we try and cure ourselves of sin, we’ll die knee-deep in them. But if we just look on Jesus with full faith in our hearts that He’s our only hope, and if we trust Him completely with our life, we’ll be cured.

It’s so simple, but most people will never look at our Nehushtan – Jesus. They think it’s too easy, or it’s silly, or sin isn’t a very big deal, or another religion will take care of things for them. These people will carry their sin snakebite to their grave. Don’t make that mistake. Look at Jesus with full faith, placing your hope in Him.

This week, start each day by looking at your “snake on a stick” – Jesus Christ. Spend a few minutes in the morning praying that He’ll walk with you through your day, and spend a few more minutes in the evening thanking Him for the day, and asking Him to forgive any sins you might have need to confess. When you keep your list short, you really do end up sleeping better, and you’ll find that you’ll start the next day with a much brighter outlook.

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 16, 2017

Read

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:31

Reflect

Peter sat in the front of the boat, looking out at the Sea of Galilee. The rain had finally let up, but the wind was still blowing hard, and the waves were beating against the boat. It had been more than nine hours since Jesus sent the disciples across the lake, and now they were still trying to make their way to the other side. At least now they had a faint bit of moonlight to guide them. Up to now, they’d been caught in a nasty storm that left them to simply stay afloat. Thankfully, Peter, Andrew, James and John were skilled fishermen who not only knew the sea but also how to navigate a boat in stormy seas.

So now he found himself exhausted and sleepless at 3 in the morning. Maybe it was his exhaustion that was making him imagine a man walking through the waves. There was simply no way it could be a person. After all, people didn’t walk on water, did they? Beside him, Andrew saw the same thing. Then Matthew and Judas noticed it. And panic spread through the boat.

“What is that?” cried Phillip.

“It has to be a ghost!” shouted Thomas. “What else could it be?”

But then they heard a familiar voice. “Take heart, friends. It’s only me. Don’t be afraid.”

“Jesus?” Thaddeus asked. “That’s not possible.”

“But it looks like him,” Peter said, standing up. And then he said something none of the others could believe. “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to meet you out on the water.”

Without hesitation, Jesus answered, “Peter, come to me.”

The disciples couldn’t believe it when Peter stepped out of the boat. Neither could Peter, but there he was, planting his first foot squarely on the water, and then the other. Before he knew it, he had taken three steps. And then he remembered something.

The wind. It was blowing the waves. What if one of them hit him? What would he do? They didn’t bring any life vests on this voyage. (Come to think of it, no one had invented those yet.) He had only spent a few seconds thinking this way, and he heard Andrew shout, “Peter, you’re sinking!”

Sure enough. Peter was now waist deep, and he really started to panic. He had walked about 10 feet away from the boat, so it was too far away to grasp. “Lord, save me!” he yelled. And at that moment, Jesus had Peter by the arm and was raising him up. “Peter, you were doing so well. Why didn’t you have more faith? Why did you doubt?” After a few more moments, Jesus had walked Peter to the boat, and they both got in.

And now all of the disciples knew. Jesus was the real deal – He had to be the Son of God.

And that should have settled it. They knew then and there that their master was no mere prophet. He was God’s Son. But they doubted some more. A lot more. And they ran away when Jesus was challenged. And they abandoned Him in the courts and at the cross. And they hid away, thinking for sure that Jesus was dead.

After all of the miracles, and after this clear display of God’s power on the waves, don’t you think they would have acted differently? Consider this – has God done great things for you, or for someone you know? Do you still doubt sometimes?

Doubt is a natural human reaction. It’s tied to fear, which is tied to a mistrust of things we don’t understand. We don’t know how or why God does some of the things He does, and we can’t see where He’s leading us. And so we act out of our human nature, and our faith runs thin, and we doubt. Just like Peter and the rest of the disciples.

But Jesus tells us the same things He told Peter 2,000 years ago. “Take heart. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Don’t doubt.” The God who conquered the wind and the waves can conquer the issues and concerns of your life. But you have to give them to Him and trust Him to do the heavy lifting.

This week, pray that the Lord will strengthen your faith and that He will help you not to doubt when you’re faced with what looks like impossible odds. Focus on your next step on the water and not the waves that surround you. By trusting Christ and taking Him by the hand, you’ll find you can accomplish any task He sets before you.

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, June 15, 2017

Read

Acts 4:32 – 5:11

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Acts 4:34-35

Reflect

Giving is an essential part of being a Christian. We’re supposed to be generous with what we have because the Lord has first been generous with us. The early church was very much about generosity, as you can see in today’s scripture. On the one hand, you have the story of how early Christians sold some of their possessions to help people with needs. On the other side, you have the story of a husband and wife who sold a piece of property but kept part of it for themselves. When they presented the gift, they ended up being struck dead by the Lord.

Governments have loved using Acts 4:32-35 to justify their use of taxes so they can spend that money on the poor. The key in this passage is that only the Christians were doing this. It wasn’t the Jewish government, and it wasn’t the Roman government. It was Christians, on their own, deciding to share the proceeds of their sales to benefit the poor. And was it all of the poor? No, it was to be distributed among themselves as they had need. And the giving wasn’t forced. Each gave what they felt led to give.

That’s a big point of the second part of the scripture. Ananias and Saphira made the decision to sell a piece of property, but also made the choice to keep part of it for themselves. That was their right, but they made the fateful choice to tell the apostles that the money presented was everything they got from the sale. That’s why they were struck down – not for keeping some money for themselves, but for lying about it to God.

The bottom line is that Christians should be generous in giving, but that giving should be voluntary. Don’t confuse paying your taxes to the government with giving to churches or to charities. Also realize that when you give, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of the gift. It’s between you and God, and as long as you’re doing what you believe He’s leading you to do, you’ll be OK.

This Sunday, pray about what God might be leading you to give to your church. Whatever the amount is, no matter what it is, make that gift cheerfully, and thank the Lord for the opportunity to give back to Him a portion of what He’s given to you.

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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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Read

Proverbs 10:13-14, 31-32

The wise lay up knowledge,
     but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near. Proverbs 10:14

Reflect

All of us say things now and then that we regret. It’s part of being human. One of the easiest places to prove that point is in the world of celebrities (and with the rise of reality television, near-celebrities). Because of their fame, they’re answering questions all of the time. And for some of them, that’s a big problem. Take, for example, these foolish statements. Try matching each quote with the person who made it:

—————————–

1. “I get to go to overseas places, like Canada.”

2. “What’s Wal-Mart. Do they sell, like, wall stuff?”

3. “Nothing changes like changes, because nothing changes but the changes.”

4. “After I die, I’ll probably come back as a paintbrush.”

5. “I’m not going for the Sixteenth Chapel.”

6. “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”

—————————–

a. Sylvester Stallone

b. Justin Bieber

c. Britney Spears

d. Brooke Shields

e. Gary Busey

f. Paris Hilton

Answers are at the bottom.

—————————–

What each of these celebs has in common is that they “put their foot in their mouth.” That’s a strange saying, and it didn’t originate from someone actually trying to eat their toes. There was an Irish politician many years ago named Sir Boyle Roche who was famous for saying foolish things (such as, “Half the lies our opponents tell about me are not true” – meaning, the other half are true?). One of those opponents said of Roche, “Every time he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it.”

Yes, even I have put my foot in my mouth, as hard as that is to believe. Once I told a woman how nice it was to meet her daughter – only to find out that the lady with her was her best friend, and they were the same age!

It’s hard to watch our tongues and guard what we say, but the Bible says that’s one of the true marks of wisdom. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives quick vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Another one I love is Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Too often, we want everyone to know what we think about things. No conversation is complete until we’ve added our two cents. In this day of social media, that’s especially true. We talk and text and tweet and post on Facebook and Instagram and let everyone know exactly what we’re doing and what we’re thinking. And most often, that means we say too much. Wouldn’t it be better to remain a little more silent and be credited with a little more wisdom?

During the next few days, try adding a little silence to your routine. Listen more and say less. Really think about what you want to say, and wait for a good opportunity to say it. If that means that you say less, that’s OK. Your goal is to say better things – not more. Pray that the Lord will help you hold your tongue, and to give you wisdom about when to speak.

—————————–

Answers: 1-c; 2-f; 3-e; 4-a; 5-b; 6-d

—————————–

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, June 13, 2017

Read

Judges 7:1-25

That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.
Judges 7:9

Reflect

The big football game was just days away, and the mighty Boston Bruisers were getting ready to take on the Nashville Nice Guys. It didn’t look like it would be much of a game because the Bruisers had beefed up their roster to include 100 of the best players in the league. But Nashville had done its best to field a good team. The Nice Guys invited anyone who wanted to play to come and join the team, and 220 players had turned out. Granted, they weren’t all amazing, but out of 220, they had to have some really great ones. And 220 players definitely had a good chance to beat up on 100.

But then the coach of the Nice Guys – someone they just called Big G – made a really strange decision. He said he didn’t want any players who weren’t totally interested in playing. Most of the players went home, and only 70 were left – but they were the best 70 players on the team, and they still had a great chance to win. Until Big G made his next move, and this was one no one understood.

The coach said that he watched the players when they got their water during the break, and only the players who drank their water a certain way could stay. That ruled out everyone but two players. So the big game was going to be played by two Nice Guys going up against 100 Bruisers. This could get ugly very fast…

That’s exactly where Gideon found himself in today’s scripture. The Israelites had to fight off a huge army of 15,000 soldiers, and as the leader, Gideon had managed to assemble a huge force of 32,000 soldiers. But God wanted Israel to know that they had won because of Him and not just because they had more troops. So He had Gideon send home anyone who wanted to leave. That left 10,000 men willing to fight, but that was still too many. God wanted to prove to Gideon and to Israel that He was capable of doing something amazing.

When the men got their water, all but 300 of them knelt to put their faces down to drink; the others kept their heads up and drank from their hands. Those 300 stayed to fight. And they won with one of the coolest tricks ever. Instead of fighting a battle the old-fashioned way, each of the 300 men sneaked up to the enemy camp carrying a torch inside of a clay pot and a trumpet. When the time came, they smashed the pots and blew the trumpets and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.” The sudden appearance of 300 burning fires and the noise from the trumpets startled the enemy soldiers, and they started fighting – each other! By the time they were done, the 300 men didn’t have to do much fighting, and Israel had won a major battle.

If the plans had been left to Gideon, he might have devised a great strategy using 32,000 or even 10,000 troops, and Israel probably would have won. But the way it turned out, only God’s plan with 300 men won the day in a way that made sure the people thought of Him.

You probably have some things happen in your life that seem impossible, and you might even sense that God’s telling you to do things that don’t make sense. But if God’s telling you to do it, that’s all you need to know. Trusting God is never wrong, because He’s always right, and he has your best interests at heart. You may come up with some very cool plans, but unless you’re doing things God’s way, you’ll never have the kind of victory He has in store for you.

This week, think about the challenges you have facing you. Pray that God will give you wisdom and direction to tackle them in a way that will not only bring you victory and success, but that will give Him glory and honor as well.

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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