Day 20: T is for Tower

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

T is for tower. Tower means a building or structure that is higher than its diameter and also higher than its surroundings; a towering citadel (fortress); support or protection (bulwark).

There are different types of towers in the world today. There are towers that are used to see things far and wide. There are towers that project light around them. There are towers that are used to transmit things as well. There have even been towers used as fortresses … as a secure place from harm. All of these towers serve special purposes. All are important in their own rights.

Towers that see things far and wide … When I think of this type of towers, I think of forestry towers. Growing up in Alaska and being around so much timber and so many forests, it was very important to have tall towers to see things far and wide. I am sure that it was one of those towers that was key in spotting the forest fire that started on June 5. It has progressed so quickly and has burned over 70,000 acres, but could you have imagined not having any warning at all? We need these type of spiritual towers as well. We may not be able to stop the raging fire that is headed our way, but with warning, we can plan a route of escape or be able to have time to seek shelter to protect ourselves.

Towers that project light around them … I think that we all know what type of towers these are. They are lighthouses. Many a life has been saved by the lighthouse’s strategic location … and a faithful keeper of the light. God’s Word is our lighthouse and God is the keeper of that light. But, faithful friends who know God’s Word can also be that light that shines in the darkness showing us the way.

There have been towers that are used to transmit things … In by-gone years, a telegraph machine was used to transmit messages across the miles. Today we have the telephone … and the written word. The Christian Writer’s Workshop this past week was such a blessing to me. First, just to have the fellowship with other Christian writers and authors … even though I was definitely the “young” one on the block. We need to share with others what God has taught us and the written word allows us to be as a “voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord …” John 1:23

There are towers used as fortresses … We need a strong tower that can keep us safe and secure when the devil is on the warpath. Where can we find this tower? We can find it in the Lord Himself. He is our high tower. He is our strong tower. He alone is our strength, is He not? May we find ourselves seeking Him more.

Lesson Objective: To understand what a tower is. To learn what the different types of towers are and how they play a role in our lives as Christians.

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 18: R is for Render

“… then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21

R is for render. To render means to give or, more specifically, to give back something in return. What is the first verse that comes to your mind when you hear the word render? Was it Matthew 22:21? If it was, I would not be surprised. It is a verse that has been quoted often enough for us to easily remember it.

But, do we truly understand what this verse is teaching us? In context, it is speaking of money … and taxes in particular … that is due (owed) to Caesar (the government). God has ordained the government and there are going to be things in life that we will have to render to them, and let us not forget that there are things that we must also render to God.

But, looking beyond the context, what principles can be found here for our everyday life … life where it meets the road? It is very easy to slip into the mode where life is dictated by the flesh, but Romans 8: 12 tells us that “… we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”

Our flesh is a deadly evil … and what does our flesh like to do best? It likes to render evil for evil, does it not? I mean, let us be honest here. Does your flesh like to retaliate or strike back at someone who has hurt you, or wronged you, or humiliated you, or slandered your name? I know that mine does.

If we are responding in the power of the flesh, then, yes, we will try to get even or try to return hurt for hurt. But, Romans 8:13 tells us that “… if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” So, if we want life and health, what are we to do? We are to daily mortify [subdue; deaden] the flesh.  This is not always the easy road … but, yet, God requires us to live after the Spirit.

There are people in my life who have hurt me with words, who have hurt me with actions, who have slandered my name, who have told lies about me, who have misjudged me, who do not speak to me, etc. I am positive that you have a list as long or longer, do you not? If I were to share this with the average Christian, their response could very easily be “Cut them out of your life. They do not deserve …” But, it really is not about what a person deserves, but what is due them.

The Bible plainly tells us that what is due them is NOT evil for evil. So, when we are tempted to do evil toward another, what are we to do instead? I am glad that you asked because the Bible gives us instruction on that as well! I am to love unconditionally (Matthew 5:44). I am to answer quietly (Proverbs 15:1). I am to use words that are fitly spoken (Proverbs 25:11). I am to pray for them (Luke 6:28).

Lesson Objective: To understand what it means to render. To acknowledge areas in your life where you are rendering evil for evil and to correct those areas by mortifying the flesh and living after the Spirit of God.

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 17: Q is for Quit

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

Q is for quit. To quit means to give up or to move, typically permanently. Wow! I never thought about that … when I quit, the chances of it being permanent are greater than it being temporary. As I think about this from that light, I realize how true that definition is. How many times have I quit something never to return to it? What a tragedy!

Trials in life are a fact of life, are they not? It does not matter if we are saved or not saved. We will face trials. The question is … how do we face our trials? Do we face them with stern composure and strong stamina? What happens when that trial drags on and on? Do we still remain as strong in our resolve as we did in the beginning? Probably not.

Speaking for myself, it gets tough! I get weak, and I get weary. To add to that, I begin to lose my way. My vision becomes blurred, and I begin to stumble around. My faith begins to quiver. The doubts and lies of the devil start to penetrate to the point that I am now feeling them acutely. Ouch!

How do I gain back that strength and stamina that I once had? That faith that was so strong that it could move mountains? I go to the Rock … the One that is higher than I! I get in His Word and I start digging until I find some scripture that I can stand firm on and that I can fight the attacks of the devil with.

A poem that I had heard many moons ago, that has come back to me in times when I am tempted to give in to defeat and let the devil claim the victory, is entitled, “Don’t Quit.” May you write it in the fly-leaf of your Bible and whenever the devil jumps up on your shoulder and tempts you to give up and to give in, be sure to remind Him that you are not a quitter! Remind him that God is on your side and God ALWAYS wins!!! Yes, He does! Hallelujah!

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don’t you quit. Life is strange with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure comes about, When he might have won if he stuck it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow — You may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out — The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, and you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit — Its when things seem worst that you must not quit.”1

Lesson Objective: To understand what it means to quit. To acknowledge that we all will face trials, but we do not have to accept the lies of the devil and roll over dead. Instead, we can find strength anew by digging in God’s Word. Where do you find yourself at, my friend? Are you ready to give up? Are you too tired to tread even one more step? Well, let me encourage you … DO NOT QUIT!  You are probably closer than you ever imagined!

Did you pass or did you fail?

1http://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=1820

Day 16: P is for Potter

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:6

P is for potter. Potter means one that makes pottery. So, what then is pottery? Vessels made mainly from baked clay. I did not realize it, until Pastor preached on it recently, but there are 3 main types of pottery. Do you know what they are? Well, they are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain (china).

We have a missionary friend who is a potter by trade. When he is visiting churches, he often will do a demonstration using the potter’s wheel to make a vessel. You can visualize in your mind how the process works, you can read about it in books, or you can watch a YouTube video on it, but until you actually see it in person, you do not get the full impact or importance of the Potter in our lives today.

When you think of a potter making a vessel, what is foremost in your mind? Well, in mine, I think of wet clay. This type of vessel is referred to as earthenware. There are some very interesting qualities that are associated with earthenware. First, it is the cheapest. Secondly, it has a high elasticity … when wet. Thirdly, it is the easiest to shape. Do you see the spiritual lesson unfolding here?

Spiritual Lesson of Earthenware: God made man from the dust of the ground (aka earth as in earthenware). We were made from the cheapest soil, not made from the fine, expensive kind. Yet, when the Master potter adds the water of His Word to our lives, He is able to very easily shape us for we are at our highest elasticity at that time.

The second type of vessel that a potter makes is stoneware. Stoneware is very thick and heavy. It really matches its name … for it is as hard as STONE. It is very solid and not permeable. It is the most durable.

Spiritual Lesson of Stoneware: God wants us to be strong in Him. He wants us to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and that takes strength. Even though God uses weak materials (aka our human flesh), He can make us strong.

The third type of vessel is porcelain (china). Porcelain is a very valuable clay. It is made by heating materials to an extremely high temperature. It has been completely purified to where it is almost of translucent quality. It too is impermeable. Even though it is almost translucent and very delicate looking, it has great strength. But, what is most noticeable is its great beauty!

Spiritual Lesson of Porcelain: We are very valuable in God’s eyes, even though we are just mortal flesh. But, as He puts us in the fire and our impurities begin to melt away, He makes us into a beautiful vessel. One of honor unto Him.

Lesson Objective: To understand how even though we are just vessels of clay, if we will remain pliable, the Master can make us into such beautiful vessels. Are you letting the Master Potter mold you and make you into that beautiful vessel? That vessel of honor … fit for the Master’s use?

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 15: O is for Others

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

O is for others. Others is used in reference to anyone other than oneself. I know that we like to think that we are the only person on this planet, but, let me assure you, we are not. There are many other persons; in fact, billions of other persons.

Since there are so many others living here with us, how does that affect us? How are we to live and act? Well, one of the principles found in the scripture today is that we are to “esteem [respect; honor] other[s] better than [above]” our own selves. Hmph! Is that not sitting too well in your spirit, my friend? Why do you think that is? Have you been promoting self too much these days? Have you been so wrapped up in your own little life and own little world that “you deserve” that you have pushed aside and cut off all others who dare to stand within your personal space? Is this sounding too familiar?

I really am more of an introvert than an extrovert. I like my personal time and my personal space just as much as the next person … believe me! BUT, that does NOT excuse me from reaching out to others around me!

We have spent so much time in the world and listening to the world … and reading all of those “make me feel good” quotes that are all over social media, that we have let them completely brainwash us. This is a fact.

How are we going to reach others around us (saved and unsaved alike) if we will not even get the bushel basket lifted high enough to let our lights shine before men? That is our purpose, is it not, dear Christian? To live a life that testifies of God’s love, His saving grace, His mercy, His omnipotence, and so much more?

I believe that we need to win the lost for Christ. The scripture so plainly backs this up. But, what about that person sitting next to you in the church pew? What about that Christian sitting at the very back of the church trying to not be seen because they are so over-whelmed in their spirit from the attacks of the devil that they just want to find a hole and die?

When was the last time that we did something for someone else expecting NOTHING in return … and I mean NOTHING? God has given EACH one of us talents to be used for His glory. When was the last time that you used it to serve in your church? To serve another brother or sister in Christ? To serve that lost person that will not let you into their personal space?

The Bible goes on to tell us in Philippians 2:4-8 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Oh, my friend, my heart is greatly convicted! Woe is me, Lord! How can I compare? How can you compare?

Lesson Objective: To understand that others means just that … OTHERS … NOT self, NOT me, NOT you, and NOT I! What are you doing to reach others around you? How much time have you taken for others today, this week, or this month?

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 14: N is for Nigh

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you …” James 4:8

N is for nigh. Nigh means near in place, time, or relationship. There are things in life that we should be close to and there are things in life that we should not be close to. The most important thing that we can choose to be close to is God.   Without a close relationship with God, all else truly pales in comparison.

In our Christian lives, there are going to be times that we are closer to God than at other times. What determines this? Umm … ME!? Yes, me! When I feel far from God, guess who moved? Not God … I did! If you are going through a season in your life where you feel far from God, you probably are. But, guess who moved? That’s right … YOU did!

I love hymns and there are so many good ones … each one telling their own story. The hymn that I want to share with you today is entitled, “Nearer, Still Nearer.” It was written by Lelia (Mrs. C. H.) Morris (1862-1929). Lelia was born in Ohio and from what little I found on her background, it looked like she lived her entire life in Ohio. She enjoyed writing hymns as she did her housework … now, that was true multi-tasking! When she became blind at the age of 52, her family built her a 28-foot-long blackboard to write the hymns on that she composed. It is said that, in all, she wrote over 1,000 texts.1

I imagine this hymn held more meaning than some to Lelia because, as we saw in our devotion yesterday, it is in our storms and the dark of night (aka her blindness) that we find ourselves closest drawn to our Savior.

V1: “Nearer, still nearer — close to Thy heart; Draw me, my Savior, so precious thou art; Fold me, O fold me close to Thy breast, Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest,” Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

V2: “Nearer, still nearer — nothing I bring, Naught as an off’ring to Jesus my King — Only my sinful, now contrite heart; Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart, Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.”

V3: “Nearer, still nearer — Lord, to be Thine, Sin with wits follies I gladly resign — All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride; Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified, Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.”

V4: Nearer, still nearer — while life shall last, Till safe in glory my anchor is cast; Through endless ages, ever to be, Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee, Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee.”

I do not know about you, my friend, but this hymn speaks to my heart in such a keen way. It makes me want to be the writer of this hymn as my heart cries out with those very words … “nearer, still nearer!” I desire, not just a one-time moment, but a continual movement nearer and nearer to my Lord!

Lesson Objective: To understand the desire of God for us to draw nigh to Him. Does your heart cry out as the hymn-writer’s does in this hymn?

Did you pass or did you fail?

1https://hymnary.org/text/nearer_still_nearer_close_to_thy_heart

Day 13: M is for Morning

… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

M is for morning. Morning means the period between midnight and noon, but more specifically between sunrise and noon. I am not a coffee drinker, but if I were, morning would still be my most favorite time of the day. Is it your favorite time of the day as well?

Our country has seen some very severe storms this summer. I know for us here, we have had a couple. It seems like they invariably come in the middle of the night. Yikes! Storms bring their own darkness, but add to it the dark of night and the darkness is so thick that it feels like it is penetrating to your very soul.

It is the same way in our spiritual lives. Storms of life come in pairs or back-to-back with no relief between them for the weary worn believer. I have been there. I am confident that you have been there as well, my friend, have you not? Or you may even be there right now.

When those storms come, what do you do? Well, for me, when those storms of nature come, I find my prayer closet (I literally go into our closet and start praying). Nature’s storms strike great fear in my heart … when I say great fear, I mean GREAT fear! So, when I find my way to my prayer closet, I do two things. One, I close my eyes and cover my ears (squeezing hard) because I want to shut out every bit of the noise and lightening that is completely surrounding me. Two, I start praying as if my life depended on it … because when the storms are so great that our mobile home is rocking, yes, make no mistake, my life is depending on those prayers!

Storms of life can be great and they can put great fear in our hearts. They may even be shaking us to the very core of our being. But, what must those storms do? They must drive us to our prayer closets and in those closets, we must shut out every bit of the noise and storm that is raging around us. When the noise has subsided, we then can find God. It is here that we can cry out to Him in prayer … sharing our every fear and our every burden. It is also here that we can find His still, small voice speaking to us.

No battle was ever won nor storm endured that did not find oneself anchored in Him. Where do we find Him? In His WORD! Storms will come, my friend! There is no avoiding them. The question is  … how prepared are you? Are you in His Word searching for life’s answers? Are you writing them down? Are you claiming them in your storm?

Always remember that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Hang tight, my friend, morning is coming!

Lesson Objective: To understand the blessing of the storms in life. To find ourselves in our prayer closets seeking the face of God and clinging to His promises … that the weeping will only endure for a time and then His joy and peace will follow.

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 12: L is for Love

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is LOVE.” I John 4:8

L is for love. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. That seems like such a simple definition; yet, how often do we struggle with love in our relationships? Love for a spouse. Love for a parent. Love for a child. Love for our neighbors. Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love for the church. Love for God. Who knew that there were so many relationships in our lives … and these are only a small part of them?

I know this is not Valentine’s Day … or even close to it … but I would like for us to take a moment and reflect on what true love is. I am sure that at some time or another you have told someone that they were your “true love.” If you have not, you more than likely have heard someone else say it. But, what is true love anyways? Let us take a look.

True love revolves around God. What? Do you mean to tell me that love does not revolve around a man? No, it does not. Why do I say that true love revolves around God? Because I John 4:8 tells us that “God IS love.” So, in truth, our definition above should read, “Love IS God.” Am I correct?

So, since God is love and true love revolves around Him, then where does that leave us? Well, if we are His children, we are to love as God loves. Again, I John 4:8 tells us that “He that loveth not, knoweth not God …” What else can we learn about true love?

· True love loves with ALL its heart Deuteronomy 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD they God with ALL thine heart …”

· True love loves with all or loves with nothing; there is no in-between; it is either one or the other — Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other …”

· True love does not rely on words, but is fulfilled in action John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He GAVE …”

· True love loves the unlovely Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

· True love is unconditional; we must love even when others do not do what we want them to do — ouch! This is a tough one for me because I am a very detailed person and on my sanest day, it drives me up the wall if others do not fall into place. I want everyone and everything to go as I want … but, I am learning that it is NOT at all about ME, but it is ALL about HIM!

· True love does not have to agree with someone to love them (let that sink in for a minute); Christ ate with Publicans and sinners, yet did not participate in their sin; He loved them even while they were living in sin.

· True love is the test of our faith; if we truly know God, then we will be able to love others — I John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Lesson Objective: To understand what true love is. To examine yourself to see if you are living a life of true love toward God and man. Who is God telling you to love? Is it a wayward spouse, a rebellious child, a brother or sister in Christ? Who?

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 11: K is for Knee

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10

K is for knee. Knee means a joint between two parts of the human leg. “The knee joint is one of the strongest and most important joints in the human body.”1 The knee joint is used for almost every daily activity imaginable. It is used for sitting,   running, walking, standing, and even kneeling. It is actually the true support of the body for all of these activities. One would think it would be the feet, since the feet are the ones at the bottom on the ground, but that is not true.

Think about this for a minute … the knee is one of the most important parts of the body … it has greater value than the eye, the hands, or the feet. The only part of the body that would have more value than the knee would be the heart. Romans 10:10 shows us this, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Let us briefly look at each of these main areas that the knee is important for. First, we need to be WALKING. If you have been to the doctor any time in the past, you have probably heard the same thing that I have heard … “You need to be walking!” Eeks! Does he have to remind me every single time that I come in? Yes, he does! Because walking is one of the single most healthful things that we can do for our bodies. Spiritually, we need to be walking in the garden with our Lord every single day as well!

Secondly, we need to be RUNNING. “Running?” you ask. Yes, running! Now, I am not a physical runner either … and that is nowhere on my list of goals to achieve in my lifetime. But, spiritually, I need to be a runner! Hebrews 12:1 tells me that I am to “run with patience the race that is set before” me. As a Christian, I also should be running aka fleeing from sin. We see this in numerous scripture passages (I Corinthians 6:18, I Corinthians 10:14, II Timothy 2:22, etc.).

Thirdly, we need to be SITTING … at the feet of Jesus. Martha spent all of her time serving and failed the most important part and that was sitting and learning at Jesus’ feet. Ashamedly, I have found myself too many times in Martha’s shoes. What about you, my friend? Yes, we need to serve. But there is a time to serve and there is a time to sit. May we not fail to do one over the other when BOTH are so important.

Fourthly, we must be STANDING. We just recently finished Vacation Bible School at church and each night we did the pledges to the Bible, the American flag, and the Christian flag. We stood out of respect and honor to what those items represented. As a Christian, we could add one more item to that and it would be the Lamb of God. Have you heard the lyrics, “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb, with all my strength, with all I am. I will seek to honor His command. I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.”2 Once we have taken upon ourselves God’s armor to fight against evil, we must stand firm in God! (Ephesians 6:13)

Lastly, we must be KNEELING. When we bow our knee in prayer, we are humbling ourselves before a righteous and holy God, are we not? Yes, we need to stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, but let us not forget to also kneel in humbleness to Him!

Lesson Objective: To understand how the knee plays a key role in our Christian life. To understand how important it is to not only walk, but to run, to sit, to stand, and to kneel.

Did you pass or did you fail?

1https://www.innerbody.com/image/skel16.html
2http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-pledge-allegiance-to-the-lamb-lyrics-ray-boltz.html

Day 10: J is for Joy

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of JOY; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

J is for Joy. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure, happiness, or delight. According to this definition, one could easily think that joy was an emotion. But, it is not.

There is so much heard and seen in the world today about happiness. It seems like it is a world-wide … or at the minimum, a nation-wide … epidemic, correct? It seems like we are over-run with unhappiness. What is the world’s answer? Make yourself happy! They tell you to stop letting others dictate your life. In other words, DO things that make YOU happy! Hmm!? It makes me believe that happiness is based on the circumstances around me. Is that what you are seeing as well?

The definitions of joy and happiness are very similar, and, therefore, can be mistaken as one and the same. But, as I study this word, I am seeing more and more of a difference between the two.

In fact, out of curiosity, I looked up to see how many times the word happy was found in the Bible. It is found 25 times. That really is not a substantial amount seeing as there are 783,137 words in the King James Bible. So, that means that the word happy appears in .00003 percent of the words of the entire Bible. Wow! That is a great indicator of how important our happiness should be in our lives.

Now, look at the word joy. It is found 187 times. I did not read each of the verses with happy and joy in them, but I read enough to see a pattern coming forth. “What is that pattern?” you ask. Well, I see where happiness was always surrounded by happenings. Joy was always surrounded by inner peace and contentment that had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding it. Take time today to check it out yourself and see if you can see this as well.

Out of all of the verses on joy, I love Psalm 16:11 because it just seems to so simply put true joy into perspective … and I need simple! True joy is found in God, my friend! You can try to change all of the circumstances around you in search of that peace and that happiness, but you will never find it … aside from God Himself!

True joy comes from being close to God … being in His presence … and being obedient to Him. It is not all about Y-O-U, my friend, but it is all about Him! I am sure that you have heard of the simple acrostic for J-O-Y (Jesus-Others-You). When we put Jesus first, others and yourself will fall into their proper place (Matthew 6:33). When you spell Y-O-U backward, what do you have? U-O-Y … does that even make sense? No, because U are in the way! Put J-esus first and then you will have J-O-Y!

Lesson Objective: To understand the difference between joy and happiness. To understand how “U” (you) can get in the way of true joy. To learn to put J-esus first, followed by others, and leaving yourself (“U”) for last.

Did you pass or did you fail?