FLATTERY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33 ESV, Romans 16:10-27 ESV, Psalm 26:1-12 ESV, Proverbs 20:19 ESV

Daily Verse: “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 17:18 ESV)

EULOGIA (2292 + 3306): Blessing, praise, thanksgiving, the extolling of another; in some contexts, excessive praise is improper: flattery; by extension, generosity and (giving of) gifts.”[i]

Excessive praise.

Paul warns believers about smooth talkers.  People who know the right thing to say to get what they want.  A salesperson trying to meet his quota will say anything to get you to buy his product.  False teachers try to fill your ears with empty words and lead you astray.

Becoming more self-aware happens when you follow Jesus.  Because we confess our sinful nature to Christ, we know our weaknesses.  When God exams our hearts, He exposes our vulnerabilities and helps us see ourselves more clearly.  By knowing ourselves, we can identify the manipulators in our life and avoid their company.

Choose wisely.

Select the people you surround yourself with to grow your relationship with Jesus. Identify the friends in your life who tell you the truth.  Instead of people telling you what you want to hear, develop relationships with people who tell you what you need to hear.

My friend Lori and I met in elementary school, if not sooner.  I can’t remember not knowing her.  She tells me the truth.  When unsure of something, I call her because she will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.

I also have friends who tell me what I want to hear; I take their words with a grain of salt.  Our relationships remain surface because they don’t speak the truth.  Their flattery falls on deaf ears.

Developing a network of friends who encourage and uplift you on the journey takes prayerful intent.  Allowing Jesus to work in your life will expose the false teachers who only flatter you with empty words. Live for the applause of one.  Seek God’s praise as you live your life for Him.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (pp. 113 & 160) Thomas Nelson

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MATERIAL

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13 ESV, Romans 15:23-16:9 ESV, Psalm 25:16-22 ESV, Proverbs 20:16-18 ESV

Daily Verse: “For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” (Romans 15:27 ESV)

SARKIKOS (4559): “Pertaining to flesh, i.e., bodily, temporal, or animal, unregenerate: carnal, fleshly.  Signifies having the nature of flesh, i.e., sensual, controlled by animal appetites, governed by human nature, instead of by the Spirit of God.”[i]

Nature of flesh.

Sharing our blessings helps us keep perspective.  Giving away material possessions, especially the most treasured, challenges anyone. 

Because of the gas prices, I purchased an electric bike.  Since I live close to church, grocery store, restaurants, the movie theatre, etc., I can bicycle everywhere.   When one of my walking buddies told me her intentions to buy a bike, I let her borrow mine for a test drive. 

The nature of my flesh didn’t want to lend the bike, but I knew in my spirit what I needed to do. 

Lending her the bike for a weekend helped release its hold on me.  When worry popped in my head about the bike’s condition, I reminded myself that relationships matter more than things.  We can’t replace people, but we can replace stuff.

Generosity encourages.

Not only does sharing our blessings with others encourage them, but it also uplifts us.  My friend had so much fun with my bike.  Our relationship with each other and Christ continues to grow as we share spiritually and materially.

Full confession, I struggle with guilt because of the material blessings in my life.  After visiting El Salvador and witnessing the poverty and conditions of their homes, I recognize my blessings.  Landing in Atlanta, I felt the consumerism of our country grip me.  Americans take for granted more than most of the world ever will have.

But God does give us material blessings.  What we do with His gift matters more than how much we have.  Sharing with others, blessing them, just like we did with the El Salvadorians, makes the difference.  We took food and necessities when we visited their homes. 

When we delivered food and necessities, our new friends shared their spiritual blessings with us, worshipping the Lord with joyous hearts.  Years later, their faith still encourages me.

Life with God comes with all kinds of blessings.  Share your gifts with those around you, and shed heaven’s light into a dark world.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 224) Thomas Nelson

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OPINIONS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 29:1-36 ESV, Romans 14:1-23 ESV, Psalm 24:1-10 ESV, Proverbs 20:12 ESV

Daily Verse: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1 ESV)

DIAKRISIS (1253): “Judicial estimation: discern, discerning, disputation.”[i]

Judicial estimation.

Opinions equal judgments based on someone’s estimation of a thing or situation.  We all have them.  However, summing up a case based on your criteria doesn’t mean it’s true.  Because of our limited knowledge, we must care when making wise decisions.  Better to say, “I don’t know,” than to make a wrong assumption.

Often, opinions come with assuming.  Because you don’t have all the facts, you fill in the gaps with what seems like reasonable assumptions.  Jumping to incorrect conclusions happens when we think we know things we don’t know.

Get the facts.

While teaching tennis camp, one young chap liked to defy the rules.  Constantly, I found myself having to remind him of my authority.  As a coach, I’ve learned not to make assumptions.  Instead of thinking the young man a spoiled brat, I talked to the program director about his behavior.  As a result, I learned he had recently lost his mother to cancer.  Not even a teenager, my young student had reasons for his behavior.

By learning the facts of the situation, I knew how to deal with it better.  Instead of getting frustrated with the student’s behavior,  God gave me the patience I needed to provide him with grace.  Quarreling doesn’t draw people closer to Christ, but love does.

As you meet people young in the faith, don’t quarrel with them.  Instead, learn about them and the circumstances in their life.  Then find ways to come alongside them and show them the love of Christ.  Help them grow in their faith as they get to know Jesus through your actions.

Opinions don’t equal facts.  Find the truth before you make a wrong decision.  Don’t let assumptions lead you down the wrong path.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 66) Thomas Nelson

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OBLIGATION

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21 ESV, Romans 15:1-22 ESV, Psalm 25:1-15 ESV, Proverbs 20:13-15 ESV

Daily Verse: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1 ESV)

BASTAZO (941): “Signifies “to support as a burden.  It is used with the meaning of sufferings “borne” on behalf of others, Mt. 8:17, Rom 15:1, Gal 6:2.”[I]

Behalf of others.

As Christ-followers, we have an obligation to our fellow man.  Helping people persevere through the trials and tribulations of life points them to Jesus.  Standing on the firm foundation of Christ gives us the strength to help others in need.

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 ESV)

Welcoming others into the family of Christ begins by living in harmony with those around us.  Not everyone will agree with our Biblical worldview, but they may become interested in what we have to say as we share our lives with them.  However, living at odds with people creates division in the relationship and doesn’t draw them closer to Jesus.

Connect harmoniously.

When we connect with people instead of trying to convert them, we can encourage them on the journey.  Asking questions and listening to their answers tells you how you can help.   Without investigation, you won’t know how to build up and support those around you.  People look fine on the outside, their inner turmoil invisible to the human eye.

Every person you meet struggles in some area of their life.  Depression and anxiety plague our society.  Financial pressures, health issues, and relational conflicts all cause strife.  Jesus came to help us overcome this world.  As we follow Christ, we discover His peace that surpasses all understanding.  Then we get to share Jesus’s grace and mercy with others.

Living for God means loving the people He places in our life.  Our obligation on behalf of others happens one act of encouragement at a time.  When we see the downtrodden, we can build them up with the love of Christ.

Fulfill your obligation to God and people today, uplift and encourage everyone you meet.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 52) Thomas Nelson

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SUBJECT

2 minute read.

2-minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27 ESV, Romans 13:1-14 ESV, Psalm 23:1-6 ESV, Proverbs 20:11 ESV

Daily Verse: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1 ESV)

HUPOTASSO (5293): “This was originally a Greek military term meaning to arrange (troop divisions) in a military fashion under the command of a leader.  In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.[I]

Voluntary attitude.

One boss outshines all the others, God.  Subjecting ourselves voluntarily to God’s authority in our life makes Him our boss.  If we serve Jesus, making Him a top priority in our life, we will also please our earthly bosses.

Everyone must submit to authority, whether at work, home, or in society; we all have rules to follow.  Sometimes, what people want differs from God’s law.  During those times, prayer and supplication help us navigate the tricky terrain.  Ultimately, you will answer to God for your actions on earth when this temporary life passes away.

Assume responsibility.

Don’t blame others for your actions.  Too often, instead of cooperating with the authorities in our lives, we look for ways to break the rules without suffering repercussions.  God wants us to take responsibility for our actions, submitting everything to His inspection.  God knows everything, even the things you try to hide.

Early in my career, I came across a boss I couldn’t please, no matter how hard I worked.  Praying about the situation and seeking Godly advice, I resigned.  Through that experience, God taught me to trust Him more.  Spending time on my knees in prayer led me to a better job, more aligned with my personal beliefs.  During the five months in between jobs, God provided for me in myriad ways.  Not once did a bill go unpaid.

Subject yourself to the ultimate authority in your life, God.  Following Biblical principles will make you a valuable employee wherever you work.  Serving God means loving Him and others and respecting the authority God places in your life. 


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.260) Thomas Nelson

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TRANSFORMED

2 minute read.

2-minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28 ESV, Romans 12:1-21 ESV, Psalm 22:19-31 ESV, Proverbs 20:8-10 ESV

Daily Verse: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)

METAMORPHOO (3339): “As a verb, means “to change into another form” (meta, implying change and morphe, “form,” is used in the passive voice.)  of believers, Rom 12:2, the obligation being to undergo a complete change which, under the power of God, will find expression in character ad conduct; morphe lays stress on the outward, the present continuous tenses indicate a process.”[I]

Complete change.

Allowing God to transform you means you will change your actions.  Instead of following fleshly desires, you will pursue Godly ones.  Learning and applying Biblical principles will change what you do. 

Placing your faith in Jesus, then imitating what He did will cause you to act differently.  With over 2,000 verses about managing money, you will learn how to live within your means.  Applying God’s relational guidelines will create life-giving relationships.  The Bible has instructions on every aspect of life.  When you follow them, you will have a transformed life.

Godly transformation.

Submitting your life to Jesus allows God to transform your life, leaving behind the sins of the past; you get another chance.  Facing a tempting situation, you can choose to follow God’s commands instead of your human desires.

When someone angers me, controlling the emotion can take everything I have.  Praying “Grace, not anger” brings God into the situation and allows Him to transform me.  As I seek Jesus, my anger begins to disappear, allowing me to reason.  But only by seeking God can I experience His transformation, which leads to changed actions.

Pursue God today with all your heart.  Allow Him to transform your mind and soul.  Let the world see the difference following Jesus makes as you bring your actions in line with God’s will.  Loving God and others will lead you to live life to the fullest one day at a time.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 162) Thomas Nelson

FIRSTFRUITS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21 ESV, Romans 11:13-36 ESV, Psalm 22:1-18 ESV, Proverbs 20:7 ESV

Daily Verse: “If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16 ESV)

APARCHE (536): “Denotes, primarily, “an offering of firstfruits.” Though the English word is plural in each of its occurrences save Rom. 11:16, the Greek word is always singular.”[i]

Firstfruits offering.

One thing the Bible makes clear, we give our best to God.  Taking the first of our crop and offering it to the Creator makes Him top priority in our lives.  Tithing means giving God the first 10% of your income.  We can also give God the firstfruits of our day by devoting time to Him in the morning before we do anything else.

God knows our hearts.  When we offer Jesus our firstfruits, God blesses the rest.  Living off 90% of your income with God’s blessing makes it far more valuable than 100%.  Everything belongs to God; you can’t outgive Him.  Giving your offerings to God returns what He already owns and shows the Creator the condition of your heart.

Heart challenge.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul talks about firstfruits concerning faith.  If someone gives faithfully, they have their hearts set on Jesus.  But for those who don’t, their branches get trimmed, not connected to the Father.

Engaging our hearts by offering our best to God draws us closer to the Creator.  The action shows where we look for hope and provision.  Instead of turning to the world, we connect with the Big Guy in the Sky.  By doing so, we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Challenge your heart today, and give God the firstfruits of your crop.  Watch how God does more with 90% than you can with 100%.  And as for the age-old question, do you tithe on net or gross income?  The answer lies in another question, do you want God to bless on net or gross?  You choose.

Everything we have comes from above.  Without God, we don’t have life.   In all you do, put God first.  Giving God His due defeats idols in your life and keeps your heart pure.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 32) Thomas Nelson

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HEARING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37 ESV, Romans 10:14-11:12 ESV, Psalm 21:1-13 ESV, Proverbs 20:4-6 ESV

Daily Verse: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 ESV)

AKOE (189): “The sense or the thing heard, a message or teaching Rom 10:16-17.”[i]

Thing heard.

Hearing about Jesus leads you to Him.  Even though my parents raised me in a Christ-following home, I didn’t truly understand faith until my twenties.  The list of do’s and don’ts found in the Bible overwhelmed me.  From my childlike perspective, my long list of sins made me unworthy to engage with God.

What I learned as I matured, God knows we will sin.  As humans, we can’t help ourselves.  Battling the flesh never ends, no matter how long you follow Jesus.  But what does happen as we pursue Christ; He cleanses us from our sinful ways.

Hearing about Jesus made me understand faith.  Believing in the supernatural requires trusting what we can’t see without proof.  The more one hears about Christ, the more one believes.  As you begin to practice what you hear, your faith will grow.

Confidence in Christ.

Hearing about Jesus and what He does in the lives of His followers will give you confidence in Him.  Listening to the miracles that occur every day in our world strengthens our faith.  Watching as bodies of believers come together to help each other in times of crisis draws us closer to the Savior.

Faith wavers when we walk alone but grows when we gather with others. Attending corporate worship allows us to hear how Jesus works in people’s lives. Listening to others will help your faith remain strong.

Everyone has moments of doubt.  Life’s challenges can make one wonder.  But our faith will grow when we hear about Jesus and the modern-day miracles happening in the world today.

Develop confidence in Christ by listening to what others say about Him.  Attend a local church with solid teachings, and you will hear about the wonders of the Savior.  When you do, you can’t help but believe in Jesus.  Apply what you hear, and your trust in Christ will thrive.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 11) Thomas Nelson

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STUMBLED

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34 ESV, Romans 9:25-10:13 ESV, Psalm 20:1-9 ESV, Proverbs 20:2-3 ESV

Daily Verse: “Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,” (Romans 9:32 ESV)

 PROSKOPTO (4350): “Of Israel in regard to Christ, whose Person, teaching and atoning death, and the gospel relating thereto, were contrary to all their ideas as to the means of righteousness before God, Rom 9:32.”[i]

Contrary ideas.

Jesus’ ministry on earth introduced contrary ideas of God’s righteousness.  Before Christ, the law defined if one could stand before God blameless.  But with Jesus, He makes us able to stand before God with no sin. 

Without a doubt, we will all stumble over the law.  The white lies you tell still count as falling short of the mark.  Cheating on taxes means cheating on God.  Indulging in food and drink defines gluttony.  Jewish law contains 613 commandments people must follow to remain blameless before God.  No one can do it, only Jesus.

Solid foundation.

Following Jesus creates a solid foundation for you to walk.  You become righteous because of Christ.  God knows we need a Savior because we can’t uphold the laws. Therefore, Jesus came to do what we can’t do for ourselves.

Accept your sinful nature.  Stop fighting the natural and accept the supernatural.  Allow Jesus to cleanse you from your sin, placing it at the foot of the cross.  When you stumble, Christ helps you to your feet.

Jesus gives you stability in a fallen world.  The culture’s constant state of change makes it difficult to find solid ground, but God’s unchanging character provides us with a place to stand.  Shifting sands cause unsteady feet, but the rock of Jesus doesn’t move.

Become righteous before God by placing your faith in Jesus.  Let Him guide you along the path of righteousness, one step at a time.  With Jesus, you will walk on a firm foundation, no longer stumbling over laws you can’t keep.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 214) Thomas Nelson

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CONSCIENCE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14 ESV, Romans 9:1-24 ESV, Psalm 19:1-14 ESV, Proverbs 20:1 ESV

Daily Verse: “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— “ (Romans 9:1 ESV)

SUNEIDESIS (4893): “Literally means “a knowing,” a co-knowledge with one’s self, the witness borne to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God, as that which is designed to govern our lives.  That process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting the former to do the former, ad avoid the latter, Rom 2:15 (bearing witness with God’s law) Rom. 9:1.”[i]

A knowing

Co-knowledge with oneself, a knowing that directs us from within our souls, conscience guides us in God’s will.  As a lifelong Christ follower, I believe the better you know the scriptures, the more your conscience will speak to you.  What we put into our minds becomes evident by the actions we take.

“You’re the one who has to sleep with yourself,” mom said.  Over my lifetime, the words came from my mother’s lips often.  Her advice remained the same when faced with tough decisions and forks in the road that could lead to different places.  Years after she moved to heaven, I still hear her voice at pivotal moments, reminding me that we must live with our decisions.

Follow the prompt.

The longer you follow Jesus, the more prompts you will receive.  As you learn about His ways and begin memorizing the scriptures’ wisdom, the Holy Spirit will guide you.  Moments of uncertainty will come with a nudge in one direction or another.

For instance, Solomon tells us in the book of Proverbs that the borrower becomes a slave to the lender.  Recalling my days steeped in credit card debt, I quickly realized the truth of these words.  I didn’t sleep well when I laid my head down to rest with a mound of bills.  But once I worked to become debt free, my evening’s rest became much sweeter.  No longer a slave to the lender, I slept like a baby.

Now, I listen to God’s prompting whenever I get the urge to overspend.  Solomon’s words pop into my mind, and I restrain myself.  I do have to sleep with the decisions I make.  Following Jesus helps me make better decisions.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you from within your heart.  Read and memorize scripture to help you deal with life’s tricky situations.  When in doubt, take the high road, and do what Jesus did.  Without a doubt, you will sleep much better.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 241) Thomas Nelson

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.