A Check-Up for Your Spiritual Smile
Pastor Tom Murray
Verse of the Day:
Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.(Luke 20:46 NLT)
I feel like a bad parent this week.
Our 4-year-old daughter had a cavity that had advanced so deep that she had to get a baby tooth crown.
I am guilty of allowing too many sweets and not doing enough policing during teeth brushing times.
Her smile is the best. But, where the eye cannot see, bacteria and acid destroyed her little tooth.
Jesus had harsh words for people whose character is like a brilliant smile masking a mouth full of cavities.
He condemned those who “like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces” (Luke 20:46 NLT).
Jesus said the very same people who reveled in public accolades and adoration, privately cheated the most vulnerable in their community (v. 47).
God sees what no one else does. He knows our motives and true desires.
There is no honor in God’s eyes for the one wants to be recognized for being holy, yet is full of selfishness on the inside.
We are thankful that our daughter’s tooth is a baby tooth. In a few years, we’ll get a second chance.
We have a God who gives us second chances (and third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances).
Is there any spiritual, moral or emotional bacteria in your life causing motives that are odds with God?
The worst thing we can do is to do nothing. Let today be the day that you allow God’s purifying power to restore you from the inside out.
Think it Through
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“Wise people think before they act; fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness.” (Proverbs 13:16)
Around the time that I was five years old my parents had to go out of town for a few days. I was entrusted into the care of another one of the pastor families that was on staff who were willing to take me in. One night while I was playing outside with their kids I wanted to show how tough I was by going “bungee jumping” off of the playset in the backyard. I climbed up to the top (which had to only be like 4 feet off the ground) tied the rope around my legs and jumped off head first. This was not my wisest moment. There was a lot of crying that followed this event. They kindly took to me a chiropractor who attended the church to get looked at right away. I still have issues that pop up with my back and neck that probably stem from this very foolish, not thought out action.
We could blow off my responsibility from that night being that I was only five but that would just be justifying my foolishness. Even at five I should have known this was a terrible idea. We can get so good at justifying our foolishness if we aren’t careful.
In Proverbs we read there is a better way. Think before you act. It’s so simple and yet if we ignore the wisdom in this we find ourselves in a world of hurt. Save yourself a life time of hurt and always pause and think it through before you act.
Good vs Bad Advice
Pastor Armin Colón
Verse of the day:
“The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.” (Proverbs 13:14, NLT)
If you need help with your finances, you can find a financial adviser. If you don’t know what to study or what carrier path to follow, there are academic and career advisers. You can find an adviser for pretty much anything you can imagine – relationships, nutrition, fashion, leadership, even spirituality.
Even though seeking help from an adviser is good, you should not follow their advice blindly. You see, despite their best intentions, advisers are not perfect and can inadvertently not give you the best advice. They might even give you advice that they are not following.
According to King Solomon, you should only accept the advice of the wise people God has placed around you. The advice of the wise has the potential to grow your faith and to strengthen your relationship with God and with others.
You're constantly bombarded with advice. Some advice is good, and some is neutral. But some advice is flat out wrong and bad advice can ruin everything that is dear to you in one move. So, you’re called to follow the advice of wise people and to reject the rest.
How can you recognize wise advice from bad advice?
1. Who is giving you advice? Are they living to glorify God or is their advice based on selfish motives?
2. Does the advice contradict any clear teaching of the Bible?
3. Does it make sense?
4. Is the advice legal and moral?
5. What are the possible consequences of following this advice?
6. Beware of platitudes.
7. Look for a second opinion
When you do this, you avoid the snares of death. In other words, when you follow wise advice, you get to live a better life.
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
“But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king." (Luke 19:14)
Embedded in this parable about a nobleman going away to be crowned king we see Jesus telling his disciples about what his plans are. He would be crucified, resurrected and then he would go away to be crowned king. Jesus did not say how long he would be gone but he promised that he would return, as king. However the attitude of many of the people are, we don’t want a king.
This is a challenging teaching for any American, or member of a republic. As American, we pride ourselves in the fact that we threw off the bondage of the King of England and declared our independence. Many people in America may not know all about our constitution, but they know about the document that declares our independence. Jesus teaching seems to fly in the face of anyone who would declare themselves free.
It fact is, Jesus came to set up the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has a King. Jesus, has been crowned king. If you have asked him to be Lord of your life, then he is your King. You are not free. You are not independent. You are a slave or servant at best. Your will does not matter. His will be done.
So why do most Christians live as if they are independent? They don’t talk to their king each day. They only check in once a week to make sure they feel good about themselves but do they take the time to really reflect on the commands of the King? Ask yourself, are you living a life of dependence on God or have your declared your independence. Many people have asked for Jesus to be our savior but we have not laid the crown of our own pride down at his feet. However, he cannot be our savior if he is not also our King (Lord).
Examine your heart today. Are you living a life of independence? If so, you may be saying in your heart, I don’t need a King. Make sure you read all the parable from Luke 19 and prepare yourself because it does not work out real well in the end for those that reject the King.
NOTHING IN LIFE IS EVER FREE
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
The Lord commanded Joshua to assign some of Judah’s territory to Caleb son of Jephunneh. So Caleb was given the town of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), which had been named after Anak’s ancestor. (Joshua 15:13)
Nothing in life is ever free. Ain’t that the truth? In college, I had a number of odd jobs to meet my needs. For Valentine’s Day a couple of years in a row, I would take a job delivering flowers to ladies around downtown Minneapolis. I worked at a Jamba Juice, Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America, would come home during the summer and work days at Cousin’s Subs and nights cold calling for Certa Pro Painters. During my senior year of college, I worked security for school during 3rd shift, created video and graphics for another department of the school, and was an RA of one of the campus apartments. That meant lots of tired days, but the bills always got paid.
Throughout the first 5 books of the Bible, we keep reading about this ‘Promised Land’ with flowing milk and honey. Sounds to good to be true, right? I’ve never travelled anywhere that I would describe as beautiful as this land sounds. This place is supposed to be an incredible area that God has reserved just for the Israelites - the perfect place. As we read into Joshua 15, we finally find out what happens to Caleb. This guy was one of the best! Both Caleb and Joshua were part of a group of Israelite spies that went to check out the Promised Land before the whole Israelite people moved in. Only Joshua and Caleb returned with good reports of the land. Everyone else thought it was a lost cause, because it was already inhabited by strong nations. Nothing in life is ever free.
Because Joshua and Caleb trusted in God’s promised blessing, they knew that with God’s help the current people living in their soon to be land wouldn’t be an issue. Their faithfulness to God allowed them to be the only people in that generation to enter the Promised Land. Fast forward to when the Israelites finally begin to settle in, and Caleb is getting to choose his own land for him and his family. He has a discussion with the current Israelite leader, Joshua, and chooses a place. You’d think after decades of hearing about this land of flowing milk and honey, after being one of two of the most faithful Israelites in a generation, the land would be sitting there waiting for you. But it wasn’t. Caleb had to fight off three different people groups in order to inherit his land. God provided the victory to Caleb and he and his children were able to enjoy the Promised Land together, but it didn’t come easy.
Just as it didn’t flop into Caleb’s lap, the blessings God has for us don’t always just poof out of no where. Most times, those blessings God has waiting for us come out of our hard work and determination to do what God says. We often still have to do something to receive what God has for us. The Israelites were promised for years to receive this blessed Promised Land, but they had to travel there and then fight off the evil people that were currently residing there. Maybe God will give you financial breakthrough as your faithful to your job. Maybe by becoming active in church groups, God will connect you with your future spouse. Want to become more selfless? That blessing doesn’t happen by flopping on the couch. Nothing in this life is free (except us receiving grace, which still had a price tag). Your blessing may be right around the corner as you walk the path God has laid out to you.
Observations about the Rich and Poor
Pastor Jon Brooks
Verse of the day:
Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor. ( Proverbs 13:7 NLT)
Few people are more qualified to speak on the pros and cons of wealth than Solomon. In this proverb he makes observations about the rich and poor that are as true today as when they were written thousands of years ago.
First, he says some who are poor pretend to be rich.
Who among us hasn’t thought at some point ‘if I just had more money that would solve my problems’?
Or who of us hasn’t thought of buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot approaches 500 million dollars?
The recurring themes of those who win the lottery or inherit large sums of money are dysfunction, misery and tragedy. Many of these people actually end up in a worse financial state declaring bankruptcy and losing everything because the more money they got, the more they wanted. The distribution of inheritances has caused many families to fracture. At other times with more money there comes more temptation. When you have great wealth but you don’t have a relationship with Christ you are actually poor.
On the converse, there are many in the world who are materially poor yet they have a relationship Christ. Such a person is rich in terms of what really matters for eternity. A few weeks ago I traveled with my dad to Cuba to visit the Bible college our church helped plant. One of the courses being taught was on creating financial goals for your family. One pastor who was studying raised his hand and said his financial goal was to buy a towel for his child. These pastors make $20 a month. Yes, they are poor in the world’s eyes but they have the Holy Spirit in them and eternal life ahead. Don’t let appearances deceive you; they are rich.
The Jubilee Bible 2000 translates Proverbs 13:7 as follows…
There are those that make themselves rich, yet have nothing: there are those that make themselves poor, yet have great riches.
Let’s remember to pursue true riches today. When you have Jesus you have everything.
The Crucifixion of the Warrior God
Pastor Dan Wootton
Verse of the day
“So Joshua conquered the whole region—the kings and people of the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the mountain slopes. He completely destroyed everyone in the land, leaving no survivors, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.” (Joshua 10:40 NLT)
I don’t have time to unpack the complicated subject I’m attempting to approach. It’s like describing the Sistine Chapel in a two word text. “Pretty ceiling.” The problem I’m staring at is the violence of the Old Testament. Did you know the Old Testament includes over a thousand passages commanding, engaging, or celebrating violence? And we’re not talking about the type of ‘defend-your-country’ violence that many Christian Americans would support. We’re talking about the type of violence that leaves no survivors—killing every animal, man, woman, and child. We’re talking writing songs of praise in the fields of genocide.
Over the last decade, a pastor from Minnesota named Greg Boyd has worked to study the apparent contradictions between Jesus’ non-violent, merciful gospel and the warrior God of the Old Testament. Greg Boyd’s book, “The Crucifixion of the Warrior God” was released in 2017, and I’ll share a small framework from his concept here.
There are 3 solutions to facing this apparent contradiction.
1. Ignore it. Many Christians don’t read the Old Testament. If you avoid the violent episodes chronicled in the Bible, you never face the daunting complexity of a sinful culture intersecting with a holy God. We should not ignore this.
2. Balance it. Many Christians balance the good with the bad giving equal value to every episode. God is gracious, and God is wrathful. God is peaceful, and God is violent. This is probably the process I'm most familiar with, but another perspective should be considered.
3. Filter it. Boyd believes that because the cross is the central image of God, everything in scripture should be filtered through it. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ look passed the violence of the cross to discover a compassionate God longing for everyone to be saved. Perhaps we should approach the violence of the Old Testament with the same lens.
I believe that every Christian should long for a deeper understanding of God. If you’d like to go deeper into this subject, I’ll link you to a video interview with the author. Thanks for reading today, and I’ll pray that God continues to reveal His character through His word into your life.
Verse of the day:
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. (Luke 16:8 NIV)
Luke 16:1-18 is the parable of the of the unjust steward. A steward is basically a manager or an administrator of someone else’s possessions.
Christians are stewards of everything that God has given us. Many believe that stewardship is all about paying a tithe of their income. This is good way to begin faithful stewardship but it goes beyond the tithe. God has given everyone time, treasure, and talent to faithfully manage.
The unjust steward in this story mismanaged his master’s possessions. Knowing the inevitable of his loss of employment he quickly began to think of his future. He contacted his master’s creditors and gave them tremendous discounts so they would pay their debt immediately. Ultimately, he was making friends that would remember him in the future and possibly help him out. Jesus did not applaud his dishonesty but commended him for his clever use of the opportunity.
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. Luke 16:8 NIV
The primary objective of business is about making more money in the future by seizing the opportunities of today. They know how to capitalize on the resources they currently have to ensure profit gains for their company and themselves.
Christians have the opportunity to make use of their God given time, treasure, and talent to produce spiritual dividends for the eternal future. Like the unjust steward answering to his master, Christians will stand before God to give an account of how we used the resources that He has given us. Let us be wise today in how we manage what God has loaned out to us. Let us use it all to glorify Him and impact others with the Gospel. Let us cleverly use every opportunity in this life to win souls to the kingdom and make disciples.
You’re Making Me Uncomfortable
Pastor Tom Murray