Give Back Willingly

Journal Entry // October 25, 2022

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. (ESV)

1 Chronicles 29:14

Why is it that I hold on so tightly to the material blessings and objects of this world? I have been conditioned over these many years through advertisements and cultural pressure to see the accumulation of things as not only the solution to all my problems but the general indicator of success in this world. The gathering of material things is the measuring rod that we are to use as we assign value and worth to people. Now, whether we outwardly acknowledge that as a culture any longer is debatable but the valuation is still there and probably even deeper than it has been in the past. It is so prevalent that it has crept into the church and has become almost like a silent doctrine of sorts. We are losing our understanding that all things come from the Lord. Not just the material items we gather and display for others to see but the relationships, the influence, and the meaning of our lives. The Lord is the One who gives us everything we have and don’t have in this world.

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A Good Man

Journal Entry // May 22, 2021

When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, [24] for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.

Acts 11:23-24 ESV

Barnabas… This is what I want my life to demonstrate. This is how I want those around me to experience the love of Christ. I want to be characterized as a ‘good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.’

That is such a beautiful picture of what the grace of God does to change the heart of a man.

  • When Barnabas arrives he looks at the people and surely sees a group of new believers that are not Jews and were outside his normative understanding of how God works, but his reaction is to see the grace of God being displayed. He takes in the big picture of God’s grace working in the hearts of men and women.
  • And he was glad. Unlike Jonah, Barnabas saw God’s good hand saving the lost and it brought joy to his heart. He saw God working in mysterious ways and rejoiced.
  • He brought a word of encouragement to those around him. He saw God’s work, he let it warm his heart, then he shared this warmness with those around him.
  • For he was a good man… How was he able to do all this? Because he was full of the Holy Spirit and faith. This is the key.
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Fear and Comfort

Journal Entry // May 20, 2021

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Acts 9:31 ESV

Fear and comfort. It seems odd to find both of these words describing the walk of those in the early church. This is another one of those two-sided actions that should be prevalent in my life. Another reminder of my role and God’s role in my life.

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Sharp Rebukes

Journal Entry // October 10, 2022

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (ESV)

Titus 1:13

How do I handle a rebuke from a fellow believer that is seeking to correct an obvious error in my life? Does this answer change if the rebuke is sharp? I’m afraid the answer is the same for both questions. I don’t seem to handle a rebuke very well at all. My initial reaction is typically and reflexively defensive. I want to justify or excuse away my actions. I want to explain why my situation is not the same as everyone else’s situation. No, I do not handle a rebuke, sharp or not, from anyone very well. This is unfortunate as this is necessary for my spiritual growth and health. How am I to better see and understand my errors if they are not pointed out to me? It is easy for me to turn a blind eye to sin in my life. To just brush it away with a lot of nonsense that makes me feel better about why my situation is unique and God understands or even condones my actions. No, I need those sharp rebukes. I need a good friend and companion to help me see the error of my way. I need people in my life who care enough to help me stay on the straight and true path of the Lord.

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Humble Repentance

Journal Entry // October 8, 2022

And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (ESV)

1 Chronicles 21:8

What is it that reveals the humble heart of David that was set upon seeking the Lord our God? It seems like we are always trying to provide an answer to this question by looking at the wrong things. The books and articles I read, the sermons I listen to, and the teachings that all purport to provide solutions to this question all tend to look for the answer in the visible outward expressions that are revealed in our actions. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to work on our outward actions as they are true indicators of our inward heart and character. How I am behaving reveals the true inward state of my heart and mind. The problem with this solution is that we end up focusing on our outward appearance and neglect the source of our sin, which lies squarely in our hearts. It is the pride of our hearts and mind that sets the agenda. It is only with humility that we can begin to emulate this same heart for God that David demonstrates throughout the Bible.

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Expecting Adversity

Journal Entry // October 6, 2022

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (ESV)

2 Timothy 3:12

The writings of Paul are continually reminding us that the Christian life is one filled with trouble, heartache, and adversity. He has a continual theme of persecution nagging the believer as they walk through this world. The Bible continually teaches us that the world is not our true friend seeking to build us up and encourage us in the faith. It is clear in its teaching that our enemy (the world, the flesh, and the devil) are only seeking to destroy us as we are the representation of Christ on earth. And with all these warnings from God’s word we still seek to befriend the world. We still seek to be known by the world. We still seek to be approved by the world. We continually forget that all who strive to live a godly life will be at enmity with the world. The world will always hate the godly.

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To Gain Christ

Journal Entry // September 30, 2022

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (ESV)

Philippians 3:8

Paul has learned and is passing on a valuable and important lesson to all of us in this particular verse. That lesson is simply having a proper holy perspective on life and the circumstances we each find ourselves. There is only one thing of importance. There is only one thing that truly matters. This one thing is the preeminent concern for each and every one of us. That concern is the surpassing worth of knowing Christ and being known by him. Christ alone is THE object of eternal value in this life. Everything else is to be counted as loss and even rubbish in comparison. The ultimate knowledge of Jesus Christ as my one and only Savior is the gain I should prize. The only true and lasting gain. The eternal reward of happiness and joy being found in Christ alone for all of eternity.

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Leave the Simple

Journal Entry // May 16, 2021

Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Proverbs 9:6 ESV

Living and walking in the way of insight is not a simple matter. Living life as a follower of Christ is complicated and difficult. A simple carefree life is one given over to slavery. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the master of the simple. But those who fear the Lord are walking and living in a complicated way.

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Just a Book?

Journal Entry // September 25, 2022

Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. (ESV)

2 Kings 22:10

This passage of Scripture has captured my thoughts today as I have been contemplating the reality that the people of God had lost their way to such a degree that not only did they not read the Book of the Law and have it as the central focus of their worship, but it had been in disuse for so long that it was not even recognizable. The priest in this story recognized that this was the Book of the Law when he discovered it, but the secretary who brought it before the king only offered it up as a book. As if this Book of the Law was just another book in the library of the temple and of no significance. My thoughts today have been focused on the potential for this becoming a reality in my life. Will I become so wrapped up in my day-to-day life that the things of God become just an add-on to living? Will the Book of the Law merely be just another book that may or may not have importance to my life? These are important questions that I need to ponder and reflect on daily.

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Playing With Fire

Journal Entry // May 15, 2021

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

Proverbs 6:27 ESV

I was actually looking to have a more positive reflection this morning. I was hoping for some passage of scripture that would lift my eyes heavenward and show me the character of God. But God has once again brought a passage to help me think rightly about my heart and the consequences of sin.

These two chapters in Proverbs are continuing with an exhaustive picture of the forbidden woman. Except in this section the writer moves on from the woman not necessarily knowing what she was doing to actively enticing. Actively seducing the man that was too casual with his steps, letting himself turn aside to her street being forgetful of God’s commandments.

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