Quick Thought – Sunday, July 8, 2018

Read

Matthew 26:6-13

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Matthew 26:10

Reflect

How much is Jesus worth to you?

That’s a tricky question to ask since people so often assume that churches and ministries that ask such questions are only after their money. But with no strings attached, ask yourself, “How much of the money I have saved would I spend to simply show Jesus my devotion?”

In the case of Mary (the sister of Lazarus), it was pretty much everything she had.

In John 12, we learn that she’s the woman in today’s story. And we also learn that the “perfume” she had in the alabaster jar was spikenard, which was extremely expensive. In fact, John tells us that the jar of nard was worth 300 denarii.

In biblical times, a denarius was essentially the value of a day’s wages for a skilled laborer. Today, at minimum wage prices, that comes to around $60. So that puts Mary’s jar in the price range of $18,000.

So again, ask yourself – “Would I pour $18,000 worth of perfume on Jesus’ head to show him how much I love him?” Honestly, I don’t know if I could say “Yes” to that question. And considering the value of the jar, it’s easier to see why Judas had an objection to Mary’s literal outpouring. (Of course, he probably had more of an interest in pocketing the money than giving it to the poor.)

But Jesus cautions us to look not with our physical eyes at how we worship, but with spiritual eyes. Not all of us will be called to break an alabaster jar in our devotion to Him, but we should be willing to put everything we have on the line for Him if He asks it of us. And we certainly shouldn’t think others to be foolish if He leads them to pour out their love for Christ in an extravagant way.

Today, thank the Lord for all He has done for you. Let Him know that He indeed is Lord of your life and all that you have. And let nothing in your world keep you from showing Him how truly important He is to you.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 7, 2018

Read

Genesis 40

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Genesis 40:23

Reflect

Michelle was desperate.

With just one month to go before graduation, she was failing two courses and was thus facing the embarrassment of having to miss the ceremony and enroll in summer school. While lamenting her situation at lunch one day, Kristen, an intelligent but unpopular classmate, spoke up.

“I can help you with that,” Kristen told her. “If we work together every day, I can make sure you’re ready for your finals so you can pass and graduate.”

“I can’t afford tutoring,” Michelle said.

“You’ve caught me when I’m feeling pretty generous,” Kristen said. “I’ll do it for free. I just want one thing. You’re pretty popular – when all of this is done, just tell your friends that I helped you out and encourage them to hang out with me.”

“Done,” Michelle answered. “Just help me pass and I’ll tell the whole world.”

Sure enough, Kristen’s help paid off. By the time final exams rolled around, Michelle had improved so much that she made As on every one and passed with flying colors. She easily graduated and had a huge party to celebrate. All of her friends were invited – except for one. She left out the very person who had helped her get there. And she forgot all about the promise to introduce Kristen to all of her friends.

If that story was true, what would your opinion of Michelle be? Would you really be able to count on a “friend” like her?

Such was Joseph’s situation in prison. He had interpreted the dreams of two men – one who was to be executed, and the other who was to be restored to his position. And the restored cupbearer promised to tell people about what Joseph had done for him – but when he had the opportunity, failed to do so. But instead of languishing in unpopularity, as Kristen did in the first story, Joseph continued to languish in an Egyptian prison on trumped-up charges. Thanks for the help, cupbearer.

Today, think about the people who have helped you in your life (including the Lord), and what you’ve done to show them gratitude for what you’ve done. Thank the Lord for their (and His) efforts, and ask Him what you can do to show appreciation.

Also, when you do things for others, realize that your efforts may not be recognized. In those cases, simply offer your labor to the Lord, and thank Him for the opportunity to serve others in His name.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 6, 2018

Read

Genesis 39

And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.”
Genesis 39:13-14

Reflect

Brian Banks was a promising young football player when he attended high school in Long Beach, Calif. One day, he was one of the most sought-after linebackers in the country and had agreed to play for USC. The next day, he was fighting for his freedom after he was accused of assaulting and raping a classmate named Wanetta Gibson.

Wanetta said that Brian had dragged her into a school stairwell at their school, and there had raped her. In spite of constant changes in Wanetta’s story, prosecutors threatened to take Brian to trial. If convicted, he faced 41 years in prison. Afraid of the consequences, Brian accepted a plea deal that cut his sentence to five years, and also placed him in California’s sex offender registry.

There’s only one problem – none of what Wanetta alleged ever happened. Years later, she admitted to Brian that the story was fabricated, and his sentence was eventually overturned. The truth did set him free from the allegations. He also got a chance to try out for an NFL team, and he often speaks to groups about his experiences.

That’s not too different from what happened to Joseph. Young Joseph was already a slave, having been sold into that sad state by his brothers. But because of his intelligence and eye for excellence, he had quickly elevated into a position of honor in his master’s house. But he was also handsome and had caught the eye of his master’s less-than-honorable wife. And because Joseph did have morals and ethics, he refused her advances.

And because she was a spiteful, less-than-honorable woman, she made sure he paid for his refusal. Overnight, Joseph went from slave to inmate.

Just because you do the right thing, that doesn’t mean that other people won’t try and undermine you. Dishonest people will do dishonest things, and their actions may hurt you. But ultimately, you must remember that God is supreme and will uphold you if you’re in the right. Stay the course, keep the faith and remember that God is on your side.

Today, pray that the Lord will protect you from plans and schemes of less-than-honorable people. And if you are undermined by others, pray that He will ultimately reveal their wickedness and restore you and your good name.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 5, 2018

Read

Matthew 25:14-30

“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Matthew 25:29

Reflect

So much is lost in translation. We read talents, we think of abilities. And even when we think of a “talent of gold,” we rarely think of the amount in terms of what it really was. And the entire parable depends on us understanding those amounts. So let me help you with that.

The three “servants” were not so much “slaves” as “fund managers.” Here’s why. A talent of gold weighed about 75 pounds. At today’s market value, that makes the guy who had the least responsibility – one talent – responsible for about $1.4 million. That meant Mr. Two Talent had roughly $2.8 to manage, and the five-talent guy was managing around $7 million.

Sure, one guy had a lot less than the other two, but it was still a boatload of money, and the boss certainly had expectations that he’d manage it well. But why did each man get the amount he got? Each had probably proved himself in a different way. The five-talent man was likely a senior servant who had shown he could really be trusted. The two-talent man was probably “middle management.” And the one-talent man was most likely someone the boss was watching to see if he could handle a smaller amount – but still a sizable amount.

The boss’ departure implied that he was going to be gone long enough for the three men to grow their respective funds. Two of the managers did good jobs – doubling their money – but the third just hid it and hoped the boss wouldn’t mind. For this, his money was taken from him and given to another to manage. And he was basically fired, removed from both his nice position in the company and the master’s presence.

Everyone in their life has at least “one bag” to manage. They have a talent or skill, possessions, influence or money. We all have an area that God has entrusted to us, and whether or not that “bag” grows is really up to us. We can either bury our gold, or we can manage and grow it into something that honors the Lord and reflects well upon Him. If we don’t, we are told that God may remove our “bag” from us, and allow another to manage that area in our absence.

Today, pray that the Lord will reveal to you what is in your bags. Ask Him to help you make a plan to grow what He has given you, and to give you the heart and desire to follow that plan to its conclusion.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 4, 2018 (Independence Day)

Read

Romans 13:1-7

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
R0mans 13:1

Reflect

It’s summer, and you probably aren’t looking to get a history lesson while class is out. But today is also the 4th of July, so we’ll take a detour into American History for just a minute or two.

Today’s scripture causes some problems for a lot of people who see that the founders of America went against scripture by waging war against their British masters. After all, it basically says that all authorities are placed there by the Lord and that anyone who goes against those authorities is going against God. That might make George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the rest look pretty bad if that’s true. And it would justify the criticism of a lot of people who say that America isn’t a Christian nation and never has been.

But the truth is a bit different. The truth is that the colonists had problems with King George and the British Parliament, and they tried to resolve them through negotiation. And each time the response was silence, higher taxes or violent force (including the incident where, in 1770, British troops fired into an unarmed crowd in what’s now called the Boston Massacre).

Because of these things, the colonists saw themselves as defending themselves against a tyranny that would have taken away their lives and liberty, and deprived them of happiness. (Which is why those things were placed up front in the Declaration of Independence.) Our founding fathers really weren’t attacking their authorities or trying to get away from government. Instead, they were looking to establish a government in this country that would fairly represent its people.

Now, 241 years later, the USA is still going strong. Sure, we have our share of problems, but there’s no doubt (at least in my mind) that God had a hand in establishing this nation and helping it prosper over the years. One thing most of our founders agreed on is that God had to be honored, not only in establishing the United States but in moving it forward. Today, give thanks to the Lord for allowing us to live in such a great nation, and pray that He will turn the hearts of its people back to him.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 3, 2018

Read

Genesis 31

Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
Genesis 31:35-36

Reflect

Jacob was, beyond almost anything else, a man of honor. He agreed with Laban to work for seven years in order to marry Rachel. Then Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah instead, and instead of losing it, Jacob worked for seven years more so that he could still marry Rachel.

As a businessman, Jacob was shrewd and built his fortune honestly, always giving Laban the choicest part of the flocks. He never cheated, never stole, never deceived.

But the apple didn’t fall far from Laban’s tree.

When Jacob decided to part ways with Laban, his beloved Rachel decided to steal her father’s household gods or teraphim. These were most likely idols that were used in the worship of God – but because the Lord didn’t want anyone worshiping “graven images,” they were still idols, and should not have been used by Laban – and certainly not stolen by his daughter.

When Laban caught up to Jacob’s caravan, he found Rachel sitting in her tent. As a daughter, she should have stood in his presence, but instead, she remained sitting, and explained that it was because it was “that time of the month.” In a very short span, Rachel was both a thief and a liar. And yet she was married to a man of great honor.

God greatly prizes honesty – that quality occupies one of the Ten Commandments. Dozens of scriptures condemn lying and praise honesty. The actions of Jacob embody what the Lord wants from His people. Rachel’s actions are precisely what He condemns.

Today, pray that the Lord will give you a love and desire for honesty, and ask Him to help you always be honest in all of your dealings.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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, July 2, 2017

Read

Matthew 25:1-13

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Matthew 25:13

Reflect

Jewish weddings at the time of Christ had a lot of interesting traditions that might escape our understanding today. One of them involved a nighttime procession by the groom and his friends to the bride’s house, and then back to his home after some ceremonies. Everyone in the procession – whether attending the bride or the groom – was supposed to carry their own torch or lamp.

Jesus referenced this tradition in today’s scripture, where 10 virgins were waiting for the groom to arrive. Five of them were wise and made sure to have enough oil on hand to last the night. The other five did not prepare and were destined to run out of fuel too soon.

How does this story apply to us? One implication is that these foolish virgins represent people who only believe in Christ half-heartedly and do not put their full faith and trust in Him. Unlike the other virgins – who had complete faith and trust, and who watched and waited for the bridegroom’s return diligently – they waited until the last minute and found themselves deficient and lacking.

Jesus also pointed out that we, as his followers, do not know when our bridegroom will return. This follows his admonition in Matthew 24:36 that not even the Son of God knows the Father’s timing when it comes to the “end times.” Thus, it is in our best interest to keep our spiritual lives in good order and prepare our hearts at all times for Jesus’ imminent return.

Today, pray that the Lord will help you stay vigilant and that He will keep your heart, mind and soul pure at all times.

Reflection copyright © 2018 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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