The Root of Evil

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1Tim 6:10).

Money is NOT the root of all evil. And no, I am not contradicting Scripture. This verse has been used throughout the decades as a basis of manipulating naïve, but well-intentioned individuals from letting go of that evil money. This verse is about coveting and goes hand-in-hand with the command, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Anything, even good things, become evil whenever we pursue them ahead of the Lord, God. Scripture tells us that craving (the love of) money has caused people to wander away from the faith resulting in “piercing themselves with many griefs.”

Money is good for what it’s good for. It can be a source of blessing others and certainly can be used to fund the spreading of the Gospel. When we assign our wealth, either great or small, a skewed priority, it can lead to sinful actions—all kinds of evil.

The flip side is contentment. Paul tells us in Philippians that he learned to be content regardless of his circumstances, both whether suffering need or living in abundance. If we are obedient to God as He leads us in both obtaining money and in being a good steward in using it, His peace will be the true reward. And blessings always follow obedience.

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Doers Not Just Hearers

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You (Ps119:11).

A much respected Bible teacher often says, “I make no apologies for repeating myself, that’s how we learn.” As a teacher, I can attest to that. Do you know that in order for a new vocabulary word to become part of the brain’s long term memory, we must be exposed to that word in 17 spaced, spread out, intervals? It is no wonder that even non-bible readers are familiar with John 3:16. We’ve been exposed to it from tattoos to license plates and even on the football field.

 
Another principle of learning involves using a number of senses. If you want to learn the Spanish word for jump, say “saltar” while jumping. Or try pantomiming Psalm 119:11 noted above while saying it aloud and reading it. You will be using four of your five senses.

 
The very best way of learning a new word is to apply it, that is use it in the correct context. Likewise the very best thing we can do with God’s word is to apply it by using it. God’s word is inexhaustible. There is not one situation, not one trial, not one area of our lives where God leaves us on our own.

 
In order to release the real power of the Scriptures, that final step of application is the key.  Jesus, Himself tells us that this is the prudent thing to do– Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

 
To repeat from James 1:22— Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Do You Love Me?

Do you love Me? ….Feed My sheep (John 21:16).
When our oldest son was little, he stood on a chair looking out the back door window, shouting in his best two-year-old televangelist voice to our dog, “Shane on the hill, do you know Jesus?”
My first thought was, “Where did that come from?” Our church didn’t preach like that, and we rarely watched TV.

Jesus asked this same question to Peter—three times. The third time really grieved Peter because, even though he screwed up a number of times with his hot temper and his multiple denials of even knowing Jesus, he felt that deep in his heart he did love Jesus. And Jesus “knowest all things.”

In English, we use the same word to describe everything from our pleasure with a great taco to the intense stirring in our heart for our newborn. As I read this passage, I feel the Lord is asking us to examine the depths of our heart.

Like Peter, I mess up… hourly. My choices are often the comfortable ones, rather than the risky ones that leave me vulnerable and require trust. In actions, I often choose the sheep I want to feed, and those I judge and dismiss. And my thoughts aren’t always overflowing with love either.

But the Lord does know all things. And He may have to remind us with this question over and over and over again of what we should be doing, and thinking, and being, so that we can honestly answer, “You know that I love You.”

Connecting with Others

Guide me in your truth and teach me (Psalm 25:5a).

I usually start with a scripture and ask God to speak to me from that verse, or I might happen upon a verse and God gives me a fresh or timely understanding of it. I don’t usually start with an idea and try to match it to a scripture, but that is exactly what I am doing today and here’s why.

Recently one of my students who happens to be a teacher, shared a concept with me that I really felt was worthwhile and correct. Since all truth comes from scripture, I thought that I would check the validity of it seeing what God’s Word has to say about each component.

What she shared was a strategy for behavior management which involved really listening to the child. It is one that for the most part, transfers to really listening to adults as well. It’s a relationship builder, in order to develop person-to-person connections. There are four parts, the parentheses are mine:

Listen (really intently listen)

Touch (hand-to-hand, or on the arm or the shoulder.  An appropriate touch shows compassion and attentiveness)

Be Present (focus on what they’re saying; mind-on)

Playfulness (not taking it lightly, but with an upbeat outlook or a positive/hopeful attitude)

And here is what God’s Word says:

ListenKnow this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19).

TouchBut while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him (Luke 15:20). Showing compassion and attentiveness for sure.

Be PresentListen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being foolish and insulting (Prov 18:13).

          also —Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Eph 4:15).

Playfulness (Hopefulness) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thes 5:11).

What a great formula for giving value and showing encouragement to others.

Teach me Your way, O Lord, whenever and wherever it appears.

No Room for Arrogance

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith (Romans 3:27).

Being a Type A is ridden with guilt. We never feel that we do enough or are enough.

Like the lyrics in one of Lauren Daigle’s songs, the voices in our minds say “I’m not enough or I will never measure up.”

It may seem humble when we feel we’re not enough, but actually it is the opposite—pride—thinking that we can do things better on our own. Or control—“I got this one God.”  But it always falls short.

God wants us to be depending on Him. That’s how He designed us. We can see this also in Ephesians where we are told that salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done. God wants us to rest in His grace and love.

In another of Lauren Daigle’s songs she says “I’m getting tired… No more performing out of fear.” The name of that song, I’m Losing My Religion, may seem like a contradiction to some, but what she gave up was lies, and what, or rather Who, she found was Truth.

Sanctification is Not Fun

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16).
The topic of salvation came up in one particular conversation with our family, and our young grandson asked, “Saved from what?” In my head I heard an old televangelist with a deep voice booming, “Eternal doom!” Actually, that is correct, but it doesn’t end there, and of course, that’s not quite the appropriate answer for a four year old.
When we use the word salvation it does mean being saved “from” but it also means being saved “to”. After many years of being a believer, it was recently explained to me very simply (How did I miss this for all these decades!). Salvation has three parts—justification, sanctification, and glorification).
Most people define salvation as the first part—“justification.” By Christ Jesus’s death, He paid the price for our sin. He paid the fine, the penalty, the consequence. By accepting in faith His death, burial, and resurrection, we are believing that He is our very own individual substitute. The penalty has been removed. Justification is once and done. And it can’t be taken back. Everyone has eternal life somewhere, and the believer, through faith alone, will be in the presence of God, saved indeed from eternal doom.
The second part of salvation is sanctification. Although since Christ did it all, there is nothing a person can do to be justified other than believe, the believer does have an active role in sanctification. It can be defined as becoming more Christ-like, and this is one of our biggest jobs here on earth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are in a daily battle to fight our own selfish, prideful, sinful human nature, to keep it from not conforming to the world. I had a sermon note from one Sunday where I had written, “Sanctification is not fun.” Oh how true, but we’ll talk about that one another time.
The final component of salvation is glorification. This doesn’t happen until after we’ve left this world, after the physical death of the believer. Think about what it would be like to live in a sinless world, surrounded by goodness and perfection and love. Scripture just gives us small glimpses of what this will be like, but knowing the character of our creative, generous, loving, and amazing Father, it will be incredible.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. We will not all sleep, but we will all be transformed…in the twinkling of an eye. And we (believers) confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (1 Corin and Romans).

Big Little Things

Do not despise these small beginnings… (Zechariah 4:10).
Our God is very intentional. Nothing that He does, or makes, or says is insignificant. In Scripture, for example, each word choice is there for a reason. Some words need to be looked up in the original language in order to grasp the significance that God intended when He gave it to the writer. Or better yet, interpreted to us by His Holy Spirit.
The small word “but,” used close to 1600 times, is of great importance in Scripture showing and comparing opposite courses of thought or action.
Life has so many, many more small moments than big ones. And sometimes some of the smallest things that we do or say have an impact on another’s life. How often have we heard stories about someone contemplating suicide until a stranger recognizes them with a small “meaningless” conversation or a smile. It may translate to HOPE. God can use them all.
Mathew Henry expresses it this way, “Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, yet God often chooses such, to bring about great things by them.”

And the small beginnings mentioned in today’s verse may translate to the first step of FAITH…

…for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.