Quick Thought – Sunday, July 16, 2017

Read

Psalm 101

No one who practices deceit
    shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
    shall continue before my eyes.
Psalm 101:7

Reflect

Boy cheating from a girl's paperThe following story is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty).

“You don’t want to fail, do you?” Kent was getting impatient. He and Don had been going over this for 15 minutes, and Don still wasn’t sure.

“It’s cheating, Kent,” Don said. “And if we get caught, then what?”

“We won’t get caught,” Kent said. “And every one of Miss Gill’s classes has done it for years.”

Kent was right. Miss Gill gave some of the most notoriously difficult vocabulary quizzes on record, and her gifted (you read that right – gifted!) classes had figured out a system. They found where she kept her test masters, copied the answers and passed them out to everyone in the class.

After they had gotten low grades on quizzes for the first month or two of class, their grades started to climb. They intentionally got scores in the 80s for a week or two, then got into the 90s. Every week, one or two students would get less than 100 so that she wouldn’t get suspicious. And she never did – not for the five years that it had been going on.

Now it was into the sixth year, and Kent had gotten the inside scoop from one of last year’s juniors. He had gotten most of the class on-board, but Don was waffling. “It won’t work unless we all do it,” Kent said. “And everyone has done this. What will it hurt?”

What do you think Don did? If you said he gave in and cheated, you’d be right. And everyone’s grade rose, just as in the previous years. Until one day Don got careless. He went into Miss Gill’s office to get answers, and she walked in. A three-day suspension was his reward, and he barely passed Miss Gill’s class. While he didn’t turn any of the other students in, Miss Gill changed up the tests. They got incredibly hard again, and the quiz grades went down.

The worst part was that Miss Gill, who had been a friend to Don and the rest of the class, was deeply hurt by his actions. The answer to Kent’s questions, “What will it hurt,” is simply, “Miss Gill.” Plus, it hurt Don’s reputation and damaged his integrity. It made his parents trust him less, and it hurt his chances to pass a course that he was passing with flying colors. It turns out that cheating hurt a lot.

It always does. Cheating never really pays off in the long run, even if you think you’re getting away with it. Someone always finds out, and the price is steep. Bernie Madoff swindled people out of billions of dollars. He’ll likely spend out all of his remaining years behind bars. Lance Armstrong thrilled the world by winning seven straight Tour de France cycling races – before being stripped of those titles because he was found to have used drugs to improve his performance. Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez should be easy candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the belief that they’ve both used steroids to improve their hitting will probably end those hopes.

Even if none of those guys (or even Don) had been caught, cheating would still be costly because God knew. It’s a sin in his book, and he wants no part of it. People who follow the Lord should be known as completely honest without a hint of deceit.

You may never be tempted to cheat, but if you are, pray to the Lord that He will help you stay strong and do the right thing – look in the other direction and stay honest. A clean conscience with an honest failing grade is better than a boatload of guilt with a passing one.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Saturday, July 15, 2017

Read

Matthew 8:5-13

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Matthew 8:8

Reflect

Roman centurion in battleRomans weren’t known for their limitless faith – at least in anything credible. They were largely pagans, and if they believed in anything, it was in the host of Roman gods like Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. Often, they “believed,” hoping to get something in return. Other times, they showed a public faith because they were expected to, but privately, believed in nothing.

So, the world that Jesus was born into was one where the historic faith of Judaism was oppressed to some extent by the occupying forces of Rome, who thought the Jewish faith was a joke. Many of them probably thought their own gods were a joke.

In the midst of that spiritual stew appears a Roman centurion who shows more faith than almost anyone else in the Bible. While his superiors and underlings are certainly scornful of the Jews, and certainly of a simple Jewish carpenter, the centurion has somehow been exposed to the teachings of Jesus, and they’ve had an effect. And the faith that has resulted is put to the test.

At home, the centurion’s trusted servant lay dying, and with no cure in sight, the Roman makes a fateful decision – seek out the prophet and plead with Him for healing.

What’s maybe most remarkable about this centurion is his understanding of Jesus’ divinity and power. He tells Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

And Jesus, after commending the man’s complete and utter faith, rewards him. By the time the centurion returned home, his servant had been healed. This one-time pagan, who had never seen Jesus before, came to complete faith in Him. And defying the conventions and beliefs of his own people, he was willing to risk quite a bit to seek healing from the Savior.

What kind of faith do you have in Jesus? Is it unwavering? What would you risk to show faith and devotion to Him? You may never have to step out and demonstrate your faith in a way that exposes you to ridicule and even punishment. But a true faith in Christ is at least willing to risk everything, just as Jesus did for us in His death. Today, pray that the Lord will strengthen your faith and resolve, should you ever be faced with a time of trial.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Friday, July 14, 2017

Read

Genesis 11

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Genesis 11:4

Reflect

Tower reaching toward the skyThere are so many questions that arise out of the story of the Tower of Babel, so instead of finding a clever story to illustrate the point of the story, let’s just take a few minutes to answer some of those questions.

1) Did this really happen?
Honestly, you could ask that about everything in the Bible. And if we’re going to say that one thing did happen, but another thing didn’t, then it opens the entire Bible to doubt. In some way, yes, I absolutely believe the story is true. People decided they were just as good as God – we still see that every day, don’t we? So it has the ring of truth and believability.

2) What was wrong with building a tower?
I’m sure God has no problem with people building towers. Just look at the skyline of any major city and you’ll see huge buildings that reach toward the sky. The problem wasn’t with the building, but with why they were building it.

3) So, why was God mad with them?
In the first chapter of Genesis, God gave a simple command: “Fill the earth and subdue it.” God didn’t want people to just congregate in one place. He wanted them to spread out over all the earth and carry God’s message with them. At Shinar, they decided to all stay and do things their way. That’s where you hear them say, “Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” They didn’t want God’s way, but their own.

4) Is this the origin of languages?
It would seem so. God, in order to keep all of the people from uniting – ultimately against Him – “confused” their language into many, and He himself scattered them in different directions so they would do what He originally commanded.

5) How high was the tower?
No one knows, and the height wasn’t really the point. The condition of their hearts was far more important, and it seemed that mankind had so quickly after the Flood decided again that people knew more than God. As far as the height of the tower, without the understandings of modern engineering and materials like steel, it’s doubtful they truly could have ascended into the heavens with their tower. But if God hadn’t intervened, it’s also doubtful they ever would have stopped trying to accomplish that.

6) What lesson can I learn from this story?
Basically, doing things God’s way is always right and never wrong. If God tells us to do something, we should never assume that we’re smarter than He is, and look for a better way without Him. All such effort will ultimately fail and prove to be foolish.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Thursday, July 13, 2017

Read

John 9:1-17

And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
John 9:2

Reflect

Jumping without a parachute“This is all his own fault.”

“This is what happens to people like that.”

“If he’d acted right, he wouldn’t be in this situation.”

We’ve all probably heard things like that before, and we might have even said them. It’s common to think that people’s problems happen because they did something wrong, and it’s a way of thinking that goes all the way back to the beginning of time.

Certainly, there are some behaviors that are dangerous by nature.

  • Someone who stands in the middle of a busy street will likely get hit.
  • Someone who jumps into a lion’s cage will usually get attacked.
  • Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is a great way to go “splat.”
  • Sticking your finger into a light socket will give you a huge jolt and a fried hairdo.

But that’s not what was going on in today’s scripture. The man the disciples were talking about was born blind, and they believed that someone had to have sinned – either the man or his parents – to allow that to happen.

The truth is that we live in a sinful world where bad things happen to good people. Babies are born blind. Good and godly people die in terrible accidents or from awful diseases. While the people didn’t get sick because of sin, the illnesses and accidents do happen because of sin – one that happened thousands of years ago. When Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and eat the fruit, they turned loose sin into the world, and we’re all dealing with it now.

Jesus reminds us that ultimately God can do amazing things through illnesses and accidents. In this case, Jesus healed the blind man, and God was glorified as a result. Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way.

My Mom fought breast cancer for five years, and I watched the disease waste her away to nothing. She was an amazing woman of God who spent her life glorifying the Lord, and yet here she was, dying of cancer. God didn’t heal her here on Earth, but she ultimately received her perfect and healed body when she went to meet Him in Heaven. And God has been glorified ever since, as Mom’s legacy of worship and devotion to the Lord lives on through her friends and family.

Today, when you see the news about terrible things happening in the world, or when someone tells you about someone being sick or in trouble, remember that these things happen in a broken and sinful world. Pray for the people who are in trouble, and look for how the Lord can be glorified, even in the midst of trials and tragedy.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Read

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:10-11

Reflect

Sergeant Carter stood in front of what was probably the weakest looking private he had ever seen in the Christian Army. Private Pyle slouched pitifully in his wrinkled uniform and unshined boots, and instead of standing at attention, he was actually trying to start a conversation with the other privates around him.

The worst part was that this private was almost completely out of uniform. Instead of a regulation helmet, he was wearing a soup pot on his head. His breastplate, which was supposed to be made of sturdy steel, was made out of leftover aluminum foil. For a sword, he was carrying a butter knife. His shield was a flimsy umbrella – certainly not strong enough to stop flaming darts. He did have a belt, but it was several sizes too large so that it barely kept his pants up. And his dingy boots clearly had holes in them and wouldn’t last for even one march.

As Pyle continued to try and banter with the other privates, Sergeant Carter bore down on him. This day on the drill field was not going to be pretty…

This might seem a bit humorous, but in all honesty, Christians go out into the world every day equipped no better for the Christian battle than Private Pyle. In Ephesians 6:10-17, Paul encourages us to put on the armor of God to equip and protect us. Each piece has a purpose, and when we’re armed in God’s power, we can stand against whatever our enemy has in store for us. But when we let that armor fall into disrepair, or when we neglect to put it on, we’re completely exposed and open to the enemy’s attacks.

Today, I encourage you to read and re-read Ephesians 6 and take stock of your armor. As Christians, we’re constantly engaged in a heavy battle. Make sure you start each day fully prepared with God’s strength and power.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Read

Matthew 7:7-14

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”
Matthew 7:9-10

Reflect

Gopher snake“What are we having for dinner tonight, Dad?” Tom had just come home from his Saturday Little League practice and he was already hungry for the evening meal.

“Well, Tom, what do you want?”

“Uh, we haven’t had fish and chips in a long time. How about that?”

His Dad smiled. “Absolutely, Tom. Fish and chips it is!”

The few hours passed quickly and it was time for dinner. Tom sat down at the table, and a large metal plate cover sat on the table in front of him. “I thought we were having fish and chips,” Tom said.

“I know,” his Dad answered. “But I did even better!”

Tom lifted the cover to reveal the plate, and he gasped. On it was a snake coiled around a stone. “I thought you said this was better!”

Clearly, Tom is right. When you’re hungry, cold, hardened rock and a poisonous snake aren’t nearly as good as fish and chips. And I can’t think of any Dad who would do anything as terrible as Tom’s Dad did. If my Dad promised fish and chips, I’m quite certain that’s what I’d have gotten, and you’re probably no different.

In this story, Jesus is pointing out that our earthly fathers, who love us as much as earthly fathers know how to love, aren’t even close to as wonderful as our Heavenly Father, who loves us perfectly and truly knows how to give us good things. When we ask for things from Him, He is even better at giving us what we need.

Today, think of things in your life that you truly need, and put those things into God’s hands. If you truly trust Him, the Lord will never let you down.

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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Thought – Monday, July 10, 2017

Read

Matthew 7:1-6

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
Matthew 7:3

Reflect

Speck and Plank parableBill was so angry at his brother, Geoff, and he was absolutely going to set things straight. Geoff was so stubborn that he would never clean up after himself, and always left the mess for Bill to deal with.

And it had happened again today.

Geoff was trying to carry a small bucket across the room, but he was so clumsy that a little was spilling, and now Bill would have to clean it up. So Bill, who was carrying a 6-foot-long board on his shoulder, ran across the room to handle things. “Geoff,” he yelled as he ran, “You fool! Look at the mess you’re making!” And as he went, the board moved from side to side and cleared every item off of every table.

That’s pretty much the image Jesus has for us in this parable of the speck and the log. (You also might get a good picture from this video by Truma.)

So often we point out that other people shouldn’t point out our problems when they have problems of their own. But that’s not the real point. It’s that we shouldn’t be focused so much on other people’s issues that we fail to notice our own. We should absolutely be interested in helped other people when they need it, but our greatest focus needs to be on fixing ourselves – with God’s help.

For many of us, it will always be a temptation to point out where other people are making mistakes. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities, because there is an abundance of mistake-makers in the world – you and me included. Instead of focusing on just how much they offend you, pray to the Lord that He will help you find and correct the mistake-prone areas 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.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment