There’s a popular store where you create your own stuffed animals. The process involves choosing a “shell”, filling it with fluff, accessorizing, then taking the new made-to-order friend home. It may seem like a modern concept, but many ancient cultures developed their deities in much the same way. They imagined, designed, and worshipped gods that were made from their own ideas; and on several occasions, the Apostle Paul mentioned it. For example:

“Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible man.”Romans 1:22-23 NKJV

It’s easy to dismiss that verse as applicable only to “pagans”, but is it? The ancients made their gods according to personal preferences, but it can be a potential problem for modern worshippers too. Slowly and unintentionally, the “less-preferred” parts of the Bible can be minimized, while “more-preferred” parts are highlighted. At that point, there’s danger of “creating” an image more suitable to our liking. Consider Paul’s original word-picture; “sophia” (wise) is basically our English “sophisticated” and “moros” (fool) is basically our English “moron”. In other words, the All-Powerful Living God of the scriptures isn’t subject to our interpretations, and true spiritual “sophistication” begins with acknowledgement of that simple fact.

Is your view of God a proper balance of His character traits? Will you give Him the honor, thanks and worship He deserves today?

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Christopher Columbus spent years gathering information. He concluded that the earth was round, therefore he set his sails to go west. On his journey, he discovered more than he could imagine and it was all because he was willing to act on truth. So, what does it mean for a believer to act on truth? It’s living “therefore”.

In Paul’s letter written to the Roman believers, the word translated “therefore” (meaning “these things being so”), is used 49 times to highlight pivotal points regarding sin, hopelessness, faith, sacrifice, and new life. For example, in chapter 3, he wrote:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight…” (v.20)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith…” (v.28)

He also mentioned Abraham and David; men who acted on “therefore”. He often mentioned Christ, who came because of “therefore”. And he mentioned believers walking in new life because of “therefore”. It could be said that the life of a disciple is a real-life display of Paul’s “therefore” discussion. It’s setting your sails to head west because there’s a settled conviction of what’s true.

So, what truth will you act on today and what “therefore” will you live out?

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What will you be known for?

After the flood, Noah’s descendants faced a series of questions. For example, “Where would they live?” and “How would their society function?” Under Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod, they decided to build a great city with a large tower, even though there was a mandate from God to spread out across the earth (Gen. 9:1). This was their stated goals:

“…Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the earth.” – Genesis 11:4 NKJV

There’s nothing inherently wrong with building a city, or a tower, but the issue was motive and their desire was “to make a name for themselves”. It would be a monument so large that future generations would know they’d taken charge of their own destiny. The story of “old-great-granddad building a boat” wouldn’t come close to the ones told of them. Then suddenly, as they worked and went about the project, people everywhere started speaking oddly. Life-long friends could no longer understand each other…and the project ended.

For us, there’s also a need to be known, but we’re often tempted to focus on the wrong audience. Being known by God is far more important than being known by people. The tower generation got what they wanted. They did succeed in making a name for themselves, but it’s forever linked to rebellion and failure. Who’s your audience today, whose approval are you seeking, and what will you be known for?

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Do you ever feel like the “bad” is winning all around you while the “good” struggles?

Perhaps some days you wonder if it’s even worth the effort to seek out and do what’s right, but the Bible reminds us God is working in the lives of those who serve Him. For example, take a look at what David wrote:

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD and He delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.” –Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV

David knew a lot about success and failure. He knew what it was to win big, but he also knew what it was to struggle. Before his reign as king, there was a long period of time between the prophet anointing him, and the actual crowning moment. And along with waiting, he had to keep moving around to avoid King Saul’s attempts to kill him. There must have been many days where it seemed like the “bad” was winning, and God was busy elsewhere. However, he knew the Lord to be faithful and trusted Him even in the details.

Will you trust Him today even if it seems like the “bad” is winning? Will you faithfully walk the path He’s laid out for you, even if it feels lonely or pointless? The Lord is faithful and to know Him is the true definition of “winning”!

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Wisdom 3.5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Is your confidence built exclusively on the Lord, or a mixture of Him and other sources? For example, it’s very tempting to rely on experience or other people to “firm up” the weak corners of life when the hand of God isn’t clearly visible. By contrast, the scripture teaches a reliance; a proactive clearing away of worldly debris to verify that our feet are firmly placed on the foundation of Christ and His truth. “Trust in the Lord…”

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9/11 and the Meaning of Sacrifice

True sacrifice isn’t a marketing slogan, it’s the willingness to give your “last full measure” for someone else.  On this day seventeen years ago, we witnessed people choosing to sacrifice themselves for others. They were first-responders, law enforcement officers, service members, co-workers, and fellow plane passengers. Many things represent the American spirit, but none are more noble than self-sacrifice. I’m still proud to be an American (even with our imperfections) and give thanks every day that God chose to raise up this great nation.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 NKJV

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Who needs you today?

As Paul was building on his statement to be “living sacrifices”, he mentioned this:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15 NKJV

So who needs you today? You have the opportunity to be part of improving someone’s personal weather forecast from “rainy” to “partly sunny”. Through a simple note, text, or comment, your words can be powerful. A compliment can lift a spirit, encouragement can motivate a tired soul, a loving challenge can alter a future and asking forgiveness can soften a heart. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that:

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”

It’s not rocket science, but chances are your friend probably doesn’t need a scientist today as much as they need you.

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