Quick Thought – Friday, March 17, 2017 (St. Patrick’s Day)

15th day of Lent

Read

Luke 6:27-36

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”
Luke 6:27

Reflect

Life had been tough for Maewyn. Well, not at first. He had a loving family, and his dad was a deacon in the church. But Maewyn hadn’t bought into all of that God stuff and instead spent his time daydreaming and staring out at the sea.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t a good place for him to be. One day a marauding band of pirates saw Maewyn walking along the beach and decided that he’d make a good cabin boy. So they kidnapped him and took him to their camp, forcing him to do all of the dirty work they didn’t enjoy, like washing the dishes, peeling the potatoes and cleaning the fish.

During those six years, however, a funny thing started happening to Maewyn. He started remembering all of the stories about God that his father had told him. And he found himself developing a faith in that God and in those stories. He eventually escaped from the pirates and found his way home where he decided to study more about Christ.

After a number of years, Maewyn decided that God wanted him to carry his faith to people who didn’t know him – especially the people in the land of the pirates who had abducted him. He did just that and brought the Christian faith not just to one village, but to an entire country.

You might have guessed that Maewyn is actually the Patrick that we honor on St. Patrick’s Day. (His actual name was Maewyn Succat, and he later took the name Padraig, or Patrick.) Yes, he was kidnapped by pirates. He did find faith in Christ while he was enslaved. And after studying Christianity and becoming a Catholic priest, he returned to Ireland from his home in Britain. Whether or not he drove the snakes from Ireland is a matter of legend and debate, but it’s quite certain that he Christianized Ireland and is today regarded as that country’s greatest saint.

It would have been very easy for Patrick to have written off the people of Ireland after some of them had imprisoned him in slavery. But instead, he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him back to the land of his captors in the hopes that they would embrace the same Lord who had saved him. And because of his faithful efforts, the Christian faith flourished throughout Ireland.

Today, make sure to wear some green. You might even eat some corned beef and cabbage. But give thanks for the life of St. Patrick, and learn something from his godly example. When people treat you badly, don’t repay their ungodliness with some of your own. Instead, show them the love of Christ and give them something and someone worth believing in.

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 16, 2017

14th day of Lent

Read

Genesis 37:1-11

But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”
Genesis 37:10

Reflect

Two years ago, researchers in England unveiled the results of a study that showed that people who are big self-promoters often turn people off with their boasts.

“The researchers wanted to find out why so many people frequently get the trade-off between self-promotion and modesty wrong.

“They found that self-promoters overestimate how much their self-promotion elicits positive emotions while underestimating how much it elicits negative emotions.” (Dailymail.com, May 13, 2015)

It makes sense. Think about people you know who tell everyone about how great they are, or about how great they do something. How excited are you to hear about how wonderful they are, especially if they tend to tell you about it on a regular basis?

In today’s scripture, Joseph found out the same thing. Young Joseph was a very gifted boy and had an amazing talent for dreaming and interpreting dreams. But was also a little headstrong, and bragged to his family about how great he was in his dreams. In all truthfulness, the dreams were true. But telling your father that he will one day bow down to you is probably not a great recipe for family unity.

Most, or maybe all, of you are probably very good at what you do. But letting your actions speak for themselves is a much better plan than telling everyone about your greatness. Today, pray that the Lord will bless your efforts in what you do, and also that He will give you true humility in letting those actions speak for themselves.

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 15, 2017

13th day of Lent

Read

Matthew 23:23-33

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
Matthew 23:29

Reflect

Can you imagine trying to “pull one over” on God?

Honestly, people try it every day. They think they can sneak things past the Lord, whether it’s deals they never intend to keep, or by posing “trick questions” designed to trip up Christians in their defense of the faith.

That’s pretty much what the Sadducees were trying to do in today’s scripture. In the time of Christ, the two major groups of spiritual leaders were Pharisees (who believed in a physical resurrection) and the Sadducees (who rejected the notion of a resurrection). Even though this group rejected the resurrection, they still posed a resurrection-oriented question to Jesus, trying to trip Him up.

The question wasn’t an impossible one, but an entirely unlikely one. Basically, a woman marries seven brothers from one family, each in succession after the previous one dies. Their question is, who will be her husband in Heaven? That’s a pretty audacious question, given that the person asking it didn’t even believe in Heaven.

Still, Jesus flipped the Sadducees on their spiritual ears by telling them that God isn’t so concerned about death as He is about life. Jesus essentially forced the Sadducees to face up to their own rejection of God’s eternal plan. Think about it – their question doesn’t even have relevance if everyone is just dead and in the ground.

Any time we try and trick God, we are going to find that He’s a lot more adept at answering questions than we are at asking them. He made us, and everything else, and all things are subject to Him. It’s dangerous to try to slip around the Lord, and a much better idea to simply play by His rules.

Today, pray that you will keep yourself in line with the Lord’s will and ways and that you will never be tempted to test 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 – Tuesday, March 14, 2017

12th day of Lent

Read

Matthew 22:1-14

“And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.”
Matthew 22:12

Reflect

Imagine throwing a party that no one wanted to attend. You bought all of the food and drinks, decorated for the day, planned the activities and – most important – sent out all of the invitations. And those went to your closest friends and family – people you were certain would show up. But not one person came, and no one even bothered to RSVP. How would that make you feel?

The party in this story is even a bigger deal than our hypothetical party. Jewish weddings in the time of Christ were such a big deal that the party would often last an entire week. People absolutely loved going to weddings, and that was just the average weddings of average people. But a royal wedding would have been a HUGE deal. To receive such an invitation would have been an enormous honor. But in Jesus’ parable, the king’s invitations went completely unheeded. None of the invited guests wanted to come. The king’s first invitation was ignored, and the some of the servants who delivered the second invitation were treated with violence. Finally, the king resorts to inviting anyone who the servants could find. Still, those who were invited would have known how big of a deal this wedding was, and they would have gone home to clean up and put on their finest clothing for the big event.

But one man showed up “with no wedding garment.” There is a suggestion that each guest would have been offered a beautiful, clean garment – much as a man might be given a coat and tie to enter a nice restaurant. But this man seems to have refused the nice clothing, and opted to continue wearing dingy, dirty “street clothes.” Seeing this, the king had the man ejected from the party, bound hand and foot, into the darkness outside.

That’s not a pretty picture, but it’s pretty clear that God says we will not get into His presence on our own accord. Our “clothing” – the supposed righteousness we try and create for ourselves – will never be good enough to earn God’s eternal rewards. Only the righteousness that He provides us (free of charge!) will earn us entry into His presence in Heaven. But if we opt to spurn his garments of righteousness and opt to continue doing things our own way, we can certainly expect that He will not allow us an eternity with Him, but rather apart from Him in utter darkness.

Today, if you truly know the Lord and have accepted His son, thank Him for that gift and ask how you might share it with someone else. If you haven’t yet accepted Christ, today would be a perfect day to cast aside the filthy rags of your sins and instead clothe yourself in His righteousness. (You can find a great explanation of 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 – Monday, March 13, 2017

11th day of Lent

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

Today’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 – Sunday, March 12, 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent

Read

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

One 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 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 – Saturday, March 11, 2017

10th day in Lent

Read

Genesis 33

Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.”
Genesis 33:10

Reflect

In the middle ages, the chopped-up “innards” of a deer were often cooked into a pie. These were called the “umbles” and the pie was “umble pie.” Very often, this sort of pie was eaten by people from a “humble” station in life, and the term evolved into “humble pie.” Eventually, in English society, that term took on the meaning of owning up to something you had done wrong.

In the early 1800s, there was a story about an American soldier who shot a crow with his rifle. A British officer complimented the young man on the shot and asked to see the rifle, which he then turned on the soldier, demanding that the young man take a bite from the crow. Once the rifle was returned, the soldier turned the tables on the officer, pointed the gun at him and forced the Brit to consume the rest of the crow. That’s one story about how we got the term “eating crow,” or taking up the distasteful task of admitting a serious wrong.

In Genesis 33, you can see Jacob eating a healthy portion of crow and humble pie. After a number of years living far away from home, Jacob has finally decided to return home, but he realizes that means he will come face-to-face with his brother Esau – who he had duped out of his birthright and inheritance. Jacob had every reason to suspect that Esau would still be hacked off about the deception, especially since they hadn’t seen or communicated with each other since then. In Genesis 32 you see Jacob preparing for the impending showdown, which finally takes place in Genesis 33.

Jacob ultimately had to face up to what he had done, and he did so by offering a huge gift of livestock to show his brother that he was truly sorry. And he found that an amazing thing had happened – time and distance had done an incredible healing work on Esau’s heart. Their eventual face-to-face meeting completed that healing as the brothers were finally able to put the past behind them.

Putting off the difficult tasks of life rarely works out well. At some point, you will have to eat crow or humble pie and come face-to-face with whatever you’ve been avoiding. That’s especially true in relationships, where the rawness between two people only gets worse the longer their differences go unresolved.

Today, search your heart and ask the Lord if there are any difficult situations in life that you need to deal with. If there are, ask Him to give you the strength to face those situations with strength and courage, and to stand with you along the way.

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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