Monday, December 26, 2011

Spur on...

Week 52:

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

One of the things we must do in the kingdom is to encourage one another in our walk with Jesus. This world is very tough on us as we try and be a disciple of Christ. I need my brothers and sisters in my life to encourage me to continue in the work of the Father. 

Nestled within a passage encouraging perseverance is the above verse. The whole section is addressed to many, a group of Christians. It is bathed in the idea of community. As we all know, it takes community to stand strong in our faith. Satan would love nothing more than to separate/single us out and make us think we are walking this walk all alone. The Hebrew author is encouraging community here. This single verse (10:24) gives those in community a simple instruction for each other.

I love the NIV translation of “spur one another”. Other versions use “provoke”, “watching”, and “stimulate”. I just love the edginess of “spur”. When thinking of a cowboy on a horse, spurring makes the horse react and go. Bronco-riders in a rodeo really get the horse going when they spur the animal. So, to “spur one another toward love and good deeds” has such a strong and somewhat urgent charge. To me it means to take an active role in holding my brothers and sisters accountable to love and take part in good deeds. It also challenges them to do the same for me. 

When thinking of the word love, I tend to fall into the trap that in order to encourage a person to love, I must be gentle in my approach. This verse tells me to challenge others to love and practice good deeds. Even the words “provoke” and “stimulate” are challenging words. Therefore, I believe that there comes a time to challenge others toward love and good deeds. This is especially needed during a time when perseverance is call for. When times seem tough and discouraging, I need to be “spurred” to keep moving with love and toward good deeds. 

As we come to the end of another year, think about your Christian community. Do you need to be the cowboy or the horse? As the cowboy, who do you need to spur on? As the horse, who do you need to hear from to be spurred on?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”


1. As the question said above, which are you the cowboy or the horse? 
2. What is your current circumstance that would prompt you to believe you are?
3. Who do you need to spur on?
4. Who do you need to hear from to be spurred on?
5. What is God telling you with this passage?

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links. General purchases: Click on the Banner at the top of the blog. For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, December 19, 2011

How small...

Week 51:
Psalm 62:9 Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.
This is such a great reminder of how small we are and how big God is.  Think about it, the highborn seem to have it all together.  They have privilege, circumstance, and want for nothing.  Yet, God says that they are a lie and a breath.  The assumption here would be that lowborn men would be small in all eyes. 

What is interesting is that in the eyes of God and the balance of things, they are both only a breath.  Compared to the God of the universe, they are nothing.  However, God still cares for each.  It is amazing to me how God can be all-knowing, all-powerful, and have trillions of souls that have, are, or will live and yet can think alone of me. 
Another interesting point is how the writer depicts the highborn…a “lie”.  Is the writer saying that since both are a breath, the highborn is living a lie?  Is the highborn deceived by his existence and the material wealth he may have?  Is he living under some false sense of security?  Furthermore, am I highborn or lowborn?  I would much rather be considered just a breath as opposed to a lie. 
A story I tell myself is that the Psalmist wrote this with little or no knowledge of the coming grace promised through Jesus.  Therefore, we can read this and realize how small we really are compared to God and his vastness and in the same light, know the rest of the story of the grace that is given to those of us who follow Jesus.  I do believe that I need to be reminded that I am just a breath so that I can appreciate the reward that comes through the grace of the Cross. 
Thank you Lord for how ominous you are.  I also thank you for taking time to think of me as well.
1.        What was the first thought that came to mind for you when you read the above passage?
2.       Which do you think you are…lowborn or highborn?  Explain why.
3.       Does this passage also remind you of the grace you have received?
4.       Spend some time this week seeing where God’s vastness is revealed.  Take time to make mental notes of the evidence that you are but a breath. 
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, December 12, 2011

With nothing I came...

Week 50:
I Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
How often I need to be reminded of this fact.  The old phrase, “You can’t take it with you” is so true and so Biblical.  We come with nothing and leave with nothing.
It is interesting what that implies.  The most notable implication to me is that we have an immortal soul.  There are many times as I wander through this life that I do not take time to think about my immortality.  You say, “Immortality, we will die!”  We will die to this earthly body, yes…to our soul, no.  Rick Warren tells us that we are made for eternity.  Part of his argument in The Purpose Driven Life is that we are being prepared for eternity.  We get a choice as to which eternity that will be.  We can choose one with the Father or one in hell.  The thought of the soul helps me remember that there is more to this life than just the material things.
Another implication is that of the love of materialism that our culture has bought.  I catch myself getting caught up in daydreams of things I might could have or collect if I just had more money.  The verses prior to verse 7 and verses 9 and 10 give strong warnings and consequences for our love of things…especially money.  This is not to say that money is evil, just the love of it.  When I get caught up in my selfish little fantasies of what I could have, I need a reminder of verse 6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain”, and again in verse 8, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 

A final implication can be that we are just stewards of what has been given us while here on this earth.  I brought nothing with me, so what I have has been given.  Yes, some would say that I earned what I have, but even then, God gave me the ability and the circumstance in which to earn the material wealth which I may be entrusted.  I have to ask myself, “What have I done with God has given me?  Have I glorified Him?”  If I put this into the context of, “…we can take nothing out of it.” (The world), it places me into a mindset of reflecting on what I have done with God’s blessings so far.   I am just a steward of His blessing, not an owner therefore, I own nothing material.  
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
1.       What material things are you caught up in right now?
2.      What did I Timothy 6:7 spark in your heart when you first read the passage?
3.      What is your take on our “immortality”?
4.      Spend some time this week listing the things that are blessings but you have thought of as yours.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Re-encounter God...

Week 49:
Genesis 46:1-3a 1So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob!  Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.  3a“I am God, the God of your father,” he said.
As I was teaching my Sunday morning class from this chapter the other day, this passage stood out to me.  Why would Jacob stop at Beersheba and have an encounter with God?  So, I asked my class, “What do you think was so special about Beersheba?”  What happened there that Jacob/Israel would stop there to encounter God? 
This leads me to this question for all.  Where do you have memories of an encounter with God?  At what place was this encounter?  When you go back, what sights, sounds, smells do you encounter?  Does this bring you back to the place and time where you encountered him?  As I think about those questions and the places that come to mind for me, I realize that in those places and sensing those senses, I re-encounter Him all over again to some degree.  Many times it is actually heart-warming.  One of those major places for me was the site where I experienced The Crucible Project Weekend.  Now, every time I go back and staff at that location, I feel the presence of God in a different way.  

The responses in my class ranged from the mothers in the room connecting with the experience of child-birth, to the college students remembering their baptism, to the men in the room remembering a mountain top experience with God.  In each case, when we return to physical location of that experience, we re-encounter God is some way. 
Now, here is what is interesting to me…Beersheba was home.  Abraham had settled there for a time after his treaty with Abimilech.  Isaac did the same.  In fact, it was at Beersheba that Jacob deceived his father and brother.  It was from Beersheba that Jacob had fled.  In all cases, God spoke with all three men at Beersheba.  It was home, it was where God led them, spoke with them, and would guide them.  For a lot of us, home is where we first experience God.
I know God is with us all the time.  He is watching over us, guiding us, working all the time.  I do believe however, that there are special places where He has allowed a deeper encounter with Him.  And I believe that there is no accident that when we return to those places of encounter, His spirit lingers in the sights, smells, climate, etc.  I believe He reminds us of how wonderful that encounter was.
  1. Describe one of your encounters with God that shows up when you return to that place of encounter.
  2. What is it about that place that reminds you or your encounter with God?
  3. What do you think God is communicating to you in that place?
  4. Say a prayer of praise to God this week for those places of encounter.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to: