Quick Thought – Thursday, August 24, 2017

Read

Matthew 6:25-34

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33-34

Reflect

Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl against the Tennessee TitansLife hadn’t turned out quite the way Kurt had planned. Like so many young men, he had dreams of playing professional football, and he was always the best player on any team. In high school, he had been the starting quarterback, but it was a smaller team in Iowa, so the only scholarship he was offered was at a smaller college in Iowa.

It took him three years to get the starting job in college, but he made that one year count and was his conference’s offensive player of the year. Still, that wasn’t good enough to get the attention of any NFL teams, and he ended up going undrafted. One NFL team did invite him to their rookie camp, but they would up cutting him from the roster before the season started.

So Kurt had come to this unexpected “career” – a college graduate with NFL aspirations working as a stockboy for a local grocery store. A year later, he did start playing Arena football, and he quickly became one of the better quarterbacks in the league. The money wasn’t good, so he still had to keep the job at the grocery store. But after three years, he finally got his shot – the St. Louis Rams wanted him to play a season in Europe. There, he was the league’s passing leader, so the Rams added him to their roster – as the third-string quarterback.

The next year, Kurt was moved to second-string behind a much-heralded free-agent. In the preseason, the starter had a season-ending injury, and Kurt found himself in the starting role for the entire year. And what a year it was. Kurt was the best passer in the NFL, leading his team to the Super Bowl. That year he became only the seventh player to win both the regular season and Super Bowl MVP awards. And this year, Kurt was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If you follow the NFL at all, you know that Kurt to be Kurt Warner. He ended up having a storybook career and is a loving father and husband. But if you asked him, he would tell you the most amazing part of his life is His relationship with Jesus Christ. He cites Matthew 6:33 as the key verse in his life.

“(This verse) encourages me to set aside everything I ever thought was important and focus on what He is telling me is important. From the day I became a Christian, until the day I see Jesus face to face, my goal in life is to align my thoughts, my actions and my life with the perfect plan of my Heavenly Father. This, to me, is what being a Christian is all about and the reason Matthew 6:33 has changed my life.”

Like Kurt, you may have some major goals that haven’t come about yet. Life may not have turned out the way you hoped it would, and you may have some anxiousness about that. But the Lord reminds us to put aside our anxieties and fears and focus on His will. He calls us to look to His will and ways before anything we might hope for, trusting that He will take care of our needs.

Today, pray that the Lord will align your goals with His plans for your life. Pray that He will ease any anxiety you may have about the days ahead, and that He will give you peace as He guides you toward His path for your 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 – Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Read

Matthew 18:1-6

Matthew 19:13-15

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4

Reflect

Children playing in leavesI love working with children. For a while I worked as a substitute teacher, and I worked with grades 3 through 12. I primarily love English classes, since that’s closer to my background and college degree. And the source material for middle school and high school feels right at home.

But I found that once students reach middle and high school, there’s a much greater chance that they don’t have any use for us as adults. For example, I worked at a high school, middle school and elementary school that all lie right next to each other. My days in the middle and high school were pretty rough – the students had little or no respect for me as a teacher or adult. But my days in that elementary school were among my favorites. By the end of one day, one of the students even came up and gave me a hug. When they’re that young, they still care about the approval of adults. They want to make us happy. And they can be a real treat to be around.

That’s really the attitude that Jesus was speaking about. He didn’t say that we had to act like children, but that we had to have that childlike attitude dependence upon adults, and more specifically, their parents. At that point, the disciples were  trying to figure out who was the best. Jesus saw that the children knew who was the most important – He was. The children hung upon His every word, and they crowded around Him to be as close to Jesus as possible.

That’s the attitude Jesus wants us to take. Rather than seeking glory for ourselves in any area of life, He wants us first to seek Him as those children did – getting as close to Him as possible so that His ways and words will guide our every step.

Today, pray that the Lord will give you that childlike dependence upon Him. Draw close to Him, and look closely for His guidance for your life in the hopes that His words will be your words, and His steps, your steps.

Reflection copyright © 2017 Douglas Blaine.

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, August 22, 2017

Read

Matthew 17:1-13

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Matthew 17:4

Reflect

The barn in Animal FarmGeorge Orwell was one of the most insightful writers of his generation – or of any other generation, for that matter. (Actually, Orwell was a pen name – his given name was Eric Blair.)

Orwell only wrote a handful of books, and the world today only really remembers two of them – Animal Farm and 1984Animal Farm is a remarkable tale about totalitarianism and specifically Communist Russia. But its real charm is that it’s written using a farm as the setting, and the animals there are the main characters. Still, it’s impossible to miss the point of the book if you’re paying attention – or is it?

When Orwell was seeking a publisher for the book, one of the publishing houses who considered Animal Farm was Alfred A. Knopf, which was noted for its award-winning authors. But when they reviewed Orwell’s masterpiece, they dismissed it, saying that it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

They simply didn’t get it.

Sometimes we’re that way with the Lord. Even when His message is larger than life, right in front of us, it’s still not clear enough. In today’s scripture, Peter had that same problem. God sent Moses and Elijah to meet with Jesus on a mountain. It was an amazing moment, as Jesus was clearly glorified while meeting with legendary prophets from the past.

Peter should have been lost in worship of the Lord. But instead, he thought it would be a great idea to build some shelters so the three men could get some rest. Seriously? Elijah and Moses appear from Heaven to meet with the Son of God, and Peter thought they needed huts?

God’s message to us isn’t really complex. Most often, He keeps it simple for us. Love God, love other people, serve Him, and lead other people to Him. If it even seems too difficult to understand, it’s because we’re the ones making it difficult. Look for the heart of God in any scripture or message, and you should be able to get the point pretty easily.

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, August 21, 2017

Read

Psalm 14

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1a

Reflect

Radio host Paul HarveyIf you’re reading this (and there’s a good chance that right now, you are), you’re probably either a believer in God or else you’re curious about Him and are investigating God and the Bible.

Either way, for most of us, it’s probably hard to imagine having absolutely no belief – and no respect – for God and His ways. Belief is a part of who we are, and the absence of that belief is difficult to grasp.

But if you look around our world, you can tell that there are countless people who either have no belief in God whatsoever or no belief that His Word, ways and promises are real.

God, of course, doesn’t change. So when Americans constantly alter their moral views toward a more liberal understanding, they’re basically moving away from the way God sees things, and toward the way they wish He sees things.

Over time, it has become more acceptable in society to dismiss God as either a hoax, a myth or a nice story. And along the way, it’s gotten easier for most people to put him in a convenient box where they can take Him out whenever they please. Or, worse, it’s become easier to write Him off altogether.

This is nothing new. It’s been the goal of our Enemy since the beginning of time. We can see the evidence around us today. But that evidence has been growing, especially since atheists like Madeline Murray O’Hair achieved legal victories in the 1960s. (This 1965 essay by commentator Paul Harvey shows just how long this battle has been going on.)

There’s a fine line between compassion and capitulation. We can love people different from us without giving in to their beliefs and letting them infiltrate our personal faith. Jesus did this all of the time (as when he ministered to tax collectors and prostitutes without engaging in their behaviors). As Christians, the best thing we can to do push back against this moral creep is to maintain morals and standards in our own lives without being “preaching” or strident toward those who don’t share our views.

Today, pray that the Lord will strengthen your resolve to live the Christian life. Also, pray that He will give you His heart for the lost, and that, through the leading of the Spirit, your gentle moral stand may spark the curiosity of those who don’t know 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 – Friday, August 18, 2017

Read

Matthew 21:33-46

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.”
Matthew 21:43

Reflect

Gift boxesToday’s passage is one of the more tragic parables that Jesus taught because it directly foretells his own death. In the story, the master’s servants are continually mistreated by the tenants, until one day he sends his son to get the business moving. Stupidly, they think that if they kill the son, they’ll get his inheritance for themselves, and so they murder him. And as a result, the master destroys the tenants and finds someone else who will care for his vineyard.

While this scripture primarily pertains to God spreading the Gospel beyond the Jews to the Gentiles, it also has a very real application in our everyday lives. The Lord has given each of us some gifts in our lives. Your calling in life is a gift. Whatever talents you have are gifts from Him. And the way He has called you to further His kingdom is a gift as well.

Each of us is responsible for using these gifts, and for caring for and nurturing them, and ultimately using them. If you don’t use your gifts, and if you don’t respond to His call for your life, God’s will still accomplish His will – through someone else. None of us will ultimately be an obstacle to what the Lord wants to do. He will simply find someone else to do what He called us to.

Today, if you’re not sure about what the Lord has called you to do – in any area of your life – ask Him to reveal His plans for you. Ask Him to give you the desire and the courage to step out each day and use all of your gifts 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 – Thursday, August 17, 2017

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Matthew 21:28-32

“Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
Matthew 21:31

Reflect

Punch in the jawOne of the hardest lessons I ever tried to teach my daughter is, “actions speak louder than words.” You can tell me anything you want to tell me, but unless you back those words up with actions, your words don’t carry a lot of meaning.

I used to tell her this story: Imagine that a kid in school came up to you every day and said, “I really like you! You’re my best friend in the world.” And then they hauled off and punched you in the jaw. Every day it was the same thing – “I like you,” and “Wham!” How much would their words mean to you if they were always followed by a punch to the jaw?

On the other hand, imagine someone who never told you they liked you, but every day found a way to do something nice to you. Which of those two people would you actually count as a friend?

That’s the same basic principle at work in today’s scripture. One son says, “Dad, I’m there for you,” but never showed up for work. Meanwhile, the other son said “I’m not coming,” but then changed his mind and showed up. Clearly, in that case, the son who did the work was the one who made his father happy. His actions spoke volumes more than his words.

You can make all of the promises you want to make – to your friends, to your family, to God. But unless you back those promises up with actions, your words will ultimately be empty. And perhaps even worse than that, people will learn that they can’t count on what you say.

Today, think about all of the things that you want to do, both today and in the future. Pray that the Lord will help you follow through on the things you’ve committed to, and also that He will help you to always put actions to your words.

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 – Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Read

Genesis 27

Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.
Genesis 27:17


Reflect

Cheating in SchoolDeception always comes with a high price. Actually, any action you make can earn you some consequences you didn’t plan on – good or bad. Your positive actions night generate infinitely more good attitudes than you counted on. At the same time, your negative actions can have far-reaching consequences beyond what you can see at the moment.

Let me share an incident from my own history. When I was in high school, I was part of a gifted English program. Because we were in an advanced program, we were expected to perform at a high level in pretty much every area. One of those areas was vocabulary, where making a perfect score on the tests seemed impossible to us. We studied and struggled for a couple of months and yet could never seem to overcome the difficulty of the exams.

That’s when a student from the previous year’s class told us how they ended up passing the tests – they’d started stealing the answers. It turns out that every class for many years had done this, and passed that secret on to the next year’s edition. With that knowledge in hand, my buddy Clark and I led the way in getting the answers and passing them to our fellow classmates. There were only about 15 of us in the class, and we had 100 percent participation.

Each week, we’d decide who would get less than 100 percent – just to make sure not everyone would just immediately pop up to perfection. The plan went perfectly for months, until one day one of us decided to steal the answers in the middle of class and got caught red-handed – me. That day, I earned a three-day out-of-school suspension, which also meant that all work that I missed while at home counted as a zero. Our final term paper and presentation were due during my suspension, but I was allowed to turn them in early (though the grades on both were bad). My grade in the class went from an A to barely a C. Rightfully, I should have failed the course.

Even though one of my classmates “outed” everyone else for cheating, without proof they escaped punishment. Still, our teacher, who had been so close to us that year, was hurt that we would show such disrespect to her. While I was cheating on those tests, it seemed so innocent – just a better grade on a test. I didn’t see how it might threaten my graduation and rupture a relationship between a teacher and her students – or between my parents and myself. It took some time before I was able to regain their trust.

Jacob’s deception of Isaac and Esau was far worse. A father’s blessing was highly prized, and could contain details about the son’s inheritance and the future. When Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, he received promises of the richness of the earth, as well as control over his family – including Esau. Rebekah knew that would be the case, and chose Jacob over Esau to receive the blessing. Jacob went along with the plan, and in so doing ensured that his brother would thereafter seek to kill him.

That’s the way it always is when we’re caught in deception. It doesn’t matter if we intended to hurt someone or not – the fact that you deceived someone will break that relationship, and sometimes that break can be permanent. The only way to avoid that is to not deceive, and to always be honest. Honesty has its own rewards (such as, “A good and honest life is a blessed memorial, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.” and Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed” – Proverbs 10:6 and 9).

Always prize honesty over deception. Regardless of the seeming innocence of the act, and the ease of the supposed rewards, the price of deception will always be higher than you can measure. And the true rewards of honesty will always exceed what you can see at the moment.

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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