“Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.“ Proverbs 14:34
We affects me. Our environment indeed shapes our thinking,
choices, and behaviors. Family, church, team, community, culture, and nation
all contribute. It really sets strong definitions and shapes us.
But God’s Word also teaches that me affects we more
powerfully than we think. How you and I live actually impacts our environment.
It even reaches the national level. Today’s scripture makes this clear.
To be specific, God wants us to understand two bold things:
* That individual affects corporate (not just the other way
* That individual morality matters greatly. (national exaltation
or reproach pivots here)
Yes, our commitment to live righteously before God and
others amazingly exalts a nation. And conversely, our personal sin perniciously
affects others unimaginably more than we could suspect.
So if you want to affect good change in any culture you swim
in, pursue personal righteousness. And if you want bury a family, team, church,
community, culture or nation, practice unbridled sin.
May I ask:
* Do you actually believe that your pursuit of righteousness
or sin powerfully affects others, that moral me affects moral we?
* What fresh pursuit of righteousness needs your attention
Father God, have mercy on me. Too often I foolishly think my
sin only affects me (and You), not others. Destroy this independent thinking
and raise my dependence on You. My me affects we.
Help me exalt my family, church, team, community, and nation
by pursuing personal righteousness as You prescribe. O may my life bring honor,
not reproach, to your worthy Name and to all others, especially those who bear
Your name too. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
“… I saw visions of God.…When I saw, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.“ Ezekiel 1:1, 28
Have you ever played for a coach who was too absent, silent, or both? If so, I bet neither you nor your team got very far. It’s impossible to receive beneficial coaching from someone seldom seen or hardly heard from.
But a truly great coach always shows up and has valuable things to say – motivationally, technically, and strategically. So is it with God. He repeatedly wants us all to see and hear from Him.
Yes, God is committed to being seen, heard, known. As many as 26 times in the book of Ezekiel alone the phrase “Then you will know that I am the LORD” appears.
This begs the question, ‘How is God best seen and heard?’ How best can we know Him? Here’s the answer:
through His written word, the BIBLE. God is seen and heard best in the best way He seeks us: scripture. To know the Word is to know God. (Matthew 4:4)
through His incarnate word, JESUS. He is the exact representation of the living God. This is how we know what God is really like. (Hebrews 1:1&3)
through His spoken word, his SPIRIT. The Spirit is counselor and guide, the one who meets us in prayer. (John 14:26 and 16:13)
whenever we come to Him with EXPECTANCY, earnestly seeking Him. Those who expect the best often find it. (Hebrews 11:6) [Note: this may include fasting. Ezra 8:23]
whenever we ‘TASTE Him’, whenever we take a bite and experience Him for ourselves. We find out so much about God in each active, obedient step we take in trusting Him. (Psalm 34:8)
whenever we REP Him well to a watching world. Then the world gets a distinct idea of who He is. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Like no other god, our God is uber-committed to being known. And the commitment response He longs to see in us is this: our looking and listening, our tasting and trusting Him. Only rebellion and unbelief can kill this super connection.
Pushing back, may I ask…
How is your spiritual seeing and hearing (your Bible-reading, Jesus-imitating, Spirit-listening/praying) going?
When you attend church, read the Bible, begin praying, do you come with great expectancy?
Think you already know enough about God? Seen and heard from Him enough for now?
Where can you ‘taste’ (trust) and ‘rep’ God in a new way today?
LORD, thank You for making yourself known to me in many, faithful, even stunning ways. I really need this.
Help me to want more than I already have. Forgive my passivity and pride that makes me settle for minimums. I’ll keep looking and listening for You, humble and hungry, tasting and trusting, with joy and expectancy. Amen
A thousand things come to my attention in a day… Or is it a million? 🙂 Do you feel the same way, at least sometimes?
Life is like playing tournament basketball or volleyball. Other than rest/sleep, it‘s game on way more than we think. Constant awareness is demanded and decisions are being made all the time. It’s practically non-stop action. We have to make the right reads and spring into action. If we don’t, we’ll get beat. Life will find ways to run us over. Our joy will be stolen and our vitality sidelined. Room must be made for patience but not for indecision. Our execution needs help.
Here it is…
GOD’S WORDS. Of all the things that vie for our daily, any-given-moment attention, let it be this: hearing from the LORD. Getting His mind on matters is crucial, not just our own or others. Bible-reading and prayer is the path. (Proverbs 3:5–6 really is foundational and works! Acknowledge Him. Lean not on your own understanding.)
SPACE AND TIME. And of all the things we must decide in any given day, let it be this: creating space and making time for Him to serve up fresh, strong, wise, personal words for us. He always has things to say by His Word, through His Spirit. Let’s be ready to receive His passes, His good counsel however and whenever they come. The first step in trusting God is making daily time and space for Him, for this.
Perhaps Psalm 46:10 says it best: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.“ May that especially include me as I am still, waiting on the LORD.
May I ask…
Are you finding any of your joy stolen or vitality sidelined just now? (Heads up here: There may be spiritual/idolatry issues going on.)
How’s your decision-making going? Do you get God’s mind on matters? If so, how?
What time and space adjustments need to be made in your life today?
Where do you need God’s mind on your matters today?
LORD, come to me like you did Ezekiel. Don’t stop. I need your good words, your good counsel. Help me maintain committed, regular time and space for You by your Spirit. I especially need your mind regarding this matter today…(________) Fill me up and get me moving for your glory and my joy in Christ. Amen.
Stand for truth.
Live for eternity.
P.S. Bonus thought: Not everything that gets your attention deserves your attention. Focus on what matters most, on the wise thing to do
Peace is not the absence of trouble. It’s the presence of God.
“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’” Isaiah 43:1-2
Choose relationship over circumstance.
Who you belong to makes all the difference in the world.
“Therefore, dear friends since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18
The best players in sport are those that effectively play both sides of the ball, defense and offense. They guard well and get buckets. So much of their greatness is defined by being a two-way player. They’re the ones who’ve really got game. Are you one?
As 2 Peter closes, the apostle Peter challenges us to become two-way players spiritually. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
GUARDING. Be spiritual ‘rim protectors’. Defend the truth of the gospel. ‘Lawless men’ (false teachers, spiritual hustlers, counterfeit religions) spiritually prey on those ignorant of the Word. They downsize Jesus, minimize scripture, marginalize truth, doubt His return, cheapen His grace, push prosperity, sell special knowledge, and proclaim a freedom that eventually enslaves. They carry people away.
Let’s not let these kinds of guys score on us or our teammates. Let’s not let our confidence in Christ, in who God says we are in Him, be shaken. Commit to defense. Be immune to coercion. Know the scriptures really well. Get in front of sound doctrine and good teaching faithfully. Rightly divide the word of truth. Guard the house.
GROWING. Peter also says to grow our offensive game. He highlights two moves in particular. First, become a grace guy. Receive it. Give it. All the time. Score this ball. God’s grace is so irresistible, unstoppable. It’s the best move to make. Let it wow you and then wow others through you. Learn grace. Score with grace. Grace wins.
Second, expand Jesus’s scoring range in you by growing your knowledge and understanding of him on two crucial fronts: Savior and Lord. Savior means he’s the only one who makes us righteous, so stop trying to self-justify. Lord means I bow the knee to him as King and #FollowTheLeader for life. Whatever He says goes. He’s that worthy.
God’s Word indeed challenges us to become two-way players. Guarding the truth is imperative. And growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are the two scores we gotta get every day.
May I ask…
How’s your spiritual defense? Is the enemy of your soul scoring on you? Where do you need to tighten up the D? What truth do you need to defend or apply?
Relentlessly committed to growing in grace and following an amazing, undefeated, worthy Savior-Lord?
LORD, I wanna be a two-way player for You. I wanna guard the truth and get spiritual buckets, not just physical ones. Help me in my journey. To You be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Endeared American college basketball coach Skip Prosser had a favorite quote that expressed his heart in working with with his team, his players. It was this:
“Our chief wants in life is Someone who can make us do what we can.“ (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
We all need Someone to show up in our life to help us get over the hump, to get us where we really want to get and be all we were meant to be. And we all need to be someone that shows up in another’s life to help them too. And, as necessary, keep showing up.
Today’s short scripture meditation helps us think about this a bit more and offers a crucial way to live a well-prompted life. Check it out.
“To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.“ 2 Peter 3:18
We all need a good bottom line. It gets us beyond all the distractions. It settles our thinking when all sorts of things vie for our attention. It moves away the clutter. It lifts the haze. It clarifies. It doesn’t let us drown in the sea of everything else. It sheds true light. It brings the power of one thing to center stage and eliminates all the rest. It is the most powerful soliloquy there is.
Athletes need one. Teams need one. Students need one. Coaches need one. Businessmen need one. Families need one. Churches need one. Communities need one. Rulers need one. Nations need one. The living and the dying need one. Men and women need one. The whole world needs one.
Do you know what it is? The book of 2 Peter closes by highlighting life’s greatest bottom line.
It’s not me.
Yep. That’s it.
Bringing Him honor.
As the exact representation and fullness of God, the Father wants our bottom line worship routing this way, towards Christ, to honor the Son.
And a role of the Holy Spirit is to prompt this bottom line playing out in us.
Our bottom line why, chief purpose and maximum motivation is found here: God’s glory in Christ. Any other bottom line you and I rest on is not the bottom line. It will cave in on us eventually. It’s not built to handle the weight. Only His glory is.
And may I remind you that there’s an urgency at play here? Scripture says to do it now. And forever. So stop and drop anchor around this. Download it for a lifetime. No delay.
We were made for worship. His! Everything we say and do is to reflect this somehow. So give Him the honor due his Name now and forever. That’s the bottom line.
May I ask…
Is your life’s biggest bottom line bringing Him glory now? Trending faithfully towards forever?
Are you better at stealing glory or giving it? Which one is your default setting?
Where could God’s glory be more evident in your bottom line living?
Father, thank you for giving us such a clear, selfless, powerful bottom line in Jesus. May this play out in all I say and do today through the power of your Spirit, now and forever! Amen
“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
Two things we all want are praise and validation. Being affirmed, as having what it takes, is important. The trick is to get those things the right way, to make sure the right voice(s) are weighing in.
Jesus gives us three great clues as to how to do this:
1. DON’T CREATE YOUR OWN PRAISE. No fishing for compliments. It’s tempting but not wise. Bragging about yourself backfires. It works against the praise you seek. Self-generated praise is not valid, just vain. Heed Jesus’s words: “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.” (John 5:31)*
2. DON’T ACCEPT THE PRAISE OF MEN. It makes you settle for less than the best. That kind of praise comes back to bite because it is consistently fickle and fleeting. It skews reality and becomes addicting. Heed Jesus’s words instead: “I do not accept praise from men.” (John 5:41)
3. GET IT FROM GOD. Seek His praise. Let Him validate you by His word, through His spirit. Take aim at His approval above all (Audience of One). Jesus suggests that pursuing other praise diets will drown out God’s voice in our lives. Expect the greater reward, God’s reward. Get a “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” from Him. (Matthew 25:21)
Jesus clues us well because He’s like the finest of coaches. He will not seek praise to validate Himself, only to praise and validate others along the way. Having His Heavenly Father’s approval was, is, and always will be enough. (Do you believe this?) O may we function this same way.
You better at generating praise for yourself or the building up of others?
Are you addicted to man’s approval, dependent more than you care to admit on their praise and affirmations?
Is social media getting too much playing time in your life? What adjustments might be necessary?
Who makes you feel most validated in life? Getting enough true messages that you have what it takes?
Sweet, strong Jesus, don’t let me become easily satisfied with the praise of men. I want Yours. Win the approval war that’s waged in me. Settle my heart and make me like You. Amen
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12
Stephen Covey wrote a massive 20th century bestseller called ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’. The third habit he identifies is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. All great missions, all great teams start and build from here.
The Bible repeatedly talks about the end and asks us to live in light of it. That end includes coming judgment, the destruction of this world, the ushering in of another better one, and Christ’s catalytic return to set this brand new end in motion.
God’s Word in 2 Peter 3:11-14 gives us a few pointers as to what living with the end in mind should look like. Here’s the picture:
LIVING HOLY. This does not mean living perfect. It means living ‘set apart’ for special service to our Master. It means living for Him.
LIVING GODLY. This means living like Jesus, imitating Him, patterning ‘your game’ after His. It means living like Him.
LOOKING FORWARD. This means anticipating His return – vigilant, ready, hopeful and hope-filled. It means living in the now but with an eye on eternity. It means living with Him always in view.
GETTING BUSY. This means seizing and maximizing moments, pushing the tempo, making possessions matter and each day a masterpiece. It means ‘speeding His return’ by not being spiritually lazy, casual, or indifferent. It means working hard for what matters most.
BEING BLAMELESS. This means fighting off sin and receiving forgiveness when you do. It means living spotless before God and others, cleaning up the relational messes you make. It means keeping yourself clean.
EXPERIENCING PEACE. This means forging a great relationship with God and maintaining it. It means close friendship, committed to being on great terms with Him consistently.
May I ask… How well are you living with the end in mind? Of the six pointers scripture mentions here, where could you use some tightening up?
LORD, thank you for making the end game clear and showing us how to live in light of this. You don’t leave us guessing on either front. All other religions and worldviews do. I love You for this!
Keep future, eternal realities ever before me. Don’t let me get numb to this. I want to live with the end in mind…just like Jesus. Spirit of God, help me make this habit. For Your glory and my joy and peace. Amen
Extensive research among Olympians has identified 7 common personality traits of all elite athletes (high performance-type people). High organizational ability is one of them. It gives them structure and helps them figure out what needs to be done when. ‘W.I.N.’ (What’s Important Now) shapes their thinking. And good self-reminders populate all the time.
How do you create structure in your day (or do you simply let others structure the majority of it for you)? How do you remind yourself of what’s important, of what must be done today? One crucial but oft overlooked way is to let God’s Word remind and stimulate you. It’s prompts are amazingly valuable and beneficial, insightful and wise. The more often scripture is deeply, daily read, the better.
And what happens if you and I don’t? 2 Peter 3 gives us some clues, a ‘nasty nine’.
1. Doubt will start to dominate. (v3-7)
2. Coming consequences (judgment) will seem imaginary not inevitable. (v7,10-12)
3. Overall perspective will get wacky. (v8,10-13, 15)
4. God will seem distant and slow. (v9)
5. God’s promises will be forgotten, sidelined, benched. (v10, 13)
6. Living life with a good sense of urgency will be lost. (v14)
7. Living in right relationship with God will seem irrelevant. (v14)
8. Playing good defense, being vigilant and always on guard, will seem pointless. (v17)
9. Insecurity in life will rise. (v17)
Are you being routinely stimulated to wholesome thinking? Are you getting enough Bible intake to live wisely, with the end in mind? Are you suffering from any of the ‘nasty nine’? What mental or organizational adjustment(s) need to be made in order to get more daily wins?
LORD, fill my days with great thoughts and sound structure. Don’t let me succumb to the ‘nasty nine’. Your Word Is such a good gift. Keep feeding me the truth and reminding me by your Spirit of the wholesome thinking I need to get wins every day.
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders, to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.“ ~ 2 Peter 3:1
Cultures often use rocks to memorialize things. * Rocks are piled over corpses to give the dead a simple home. * Rock-built (often-crossed) tombstones (paired with a small flag on days like today) honor fallen American heroes due to war.
Big rocks are placed and painted on college campuses to commemorate something noteworthy. * There is a great rock showcased beautifully inside the San Antonio Spurs practice facility. It helps tell a very special story that defines that sports franchise’s deep DNA.
Here’s one more rock story. God gave His people an assignment. Take twelve great rocks from the middle of the Jordan River and pile them up together beyond its west banks to serve as a memorial. It was to signal the LORD’s faithfulness in parting those waters and bringing His people to their Promised Land. When generations to come would ask why the stones were piled up so obviously, people would tell this story of God‘s great deliverance and faithfulness.
May I ask… What all do you commemorate? How much does your memorializing include others? How do you consider Christ and celebrate His amazing faithfulness, sacrificial death, and abundant life-giving any given day?
LORD, I am in awe of your faithfulness. I treasure the sacrificial gift of your Son and unending presence of your Spirit. These are huge rocks to me. Help me to esteem others well, as better than myself, and bring You the full honor due your name in life and in death. Amen
“These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7