September 2023

young woman shaking hands with boss after business presentation

Windows of Opportunity

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On rare occasions 😉, my wife and I have had this argument while traveling: “Turn here!” she says. “It’s the wrong exit,” I say. “No! Turn!” she says. They miss the turn, and then I dejectedly say, “I’ll turn around.” “No, you won’t!” she says. “I’ll turn.”, I say. “It’s too late!” she says. This isn’t fun. We read about the Israelites making the same kind of mistake:

But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God… Then you replied, “We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up… But the Lord said to me, “Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.'” – Deuteronomy 1:26, 41-42

Obedience has a lot to do with timing. We have “windows of opportunity” to act on God’s direction. Acting too soon or late has the same effect; you will not be blessed.

Missing Your Window of Opportunity

We usually miss these windows because of fear or lack of faith. Like the Israelites, we want to send spies ahead of us to “find out” what we’re getting into. Then, when we learn what we’re facing, we lose heart. It’s too big for us to handle. Well, yes, silly rabbit, that’s the point. It’s a God-sized task. It’s God’s work, not yours.

Now, many times, God will have us wait an extraordinarily long time before He provides us with a window of opportunity. The birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai) is a good example. These times often are for the development of our character. God didn’t call Moses until he was eighty years old. Moses didn’t spend eighty years practicing to lead a nation. He spent those years learning how to lead and care for sheep1. Then, when the opportunity opened, Moses was ready for his call! Even then, Moses wasn’t quite prepared, but he was obedient.

You may be in a holding pattern, waiting for God to open a window of opportunity. Don’t just “wait.” Practice obedience. That’s the key to hearing and acting in God’s “window of opportunity.”

Photo by Casey Callahan on Unsplash

The Pinball Machine

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Growing up in a Southern Baptist family prevented me from ever playing a pinball machine. Well, “prevented” may not be the best choice of words. I did play pinball a few times. It was fun, but all the machines were designed to be as worldly as possible, so that bit of Baptist guidance won out. Still, pinball is such a good analogy for how the world works against Christians.

As we live, we continually encounter pins that try to bounce us off Jesus’ path of righteousness and over to another pin. If we let this continue, we will constantly be bouncing from celebrity drama to unwise streaming subscriptions to false teachings under the umbrella of Christianity, to who knows what, racking up huge scores for the enemy!

Each time we bump into one of these pins, it bashes us, sending us away from how we should live. God knew we would have this problem. That’s why He gave us “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds), and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ1.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13 NLT

Jesus expects us to measure up to His full and complete standard. If we don’t, we remain immature Christians. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes2. He goes on and tells us” we are to grow up3.

Big chunks of who we are must be replaced with who Jesus is. Our anger, lust, greed, lying, and so forth are unacceptable to God. However, we probably did most of these things after we were saved; we probably still struggle with some. These behaviors are sinful and must be replaced. Continuing the pinball analogy, as we grow and mature in the Lord, the pins remain, but we, the steel balls, grow a downy (wool) covering. This covering dampens the pins’ impact on our lives. We get less bounced around.

Overcoming the ways of the world takes personal commitment and time. We can’t make these changes on our own. We need the Holy Spirit, Christian brothers and sisters, and we need to learn sound (reliable) doctrines4 of the body of Christ5.

Good News

So here’s our good news. The more we mature as Christians, the closer we get to Jesus and the further we get from ungodly behavior. That downy insulation straightens out our life paths6, keeping us from bouncing around throughout our lives.

Photo by Patrick Von on Unsplash

  1. Ephesians 4:11–12 NLT ↩︎
  2. Ephesians 4:14 ESV ↩︎
  3. Ephesians 4:15 ESV ↩︎
  4. Titus 1:9 ESV. ↩︎
  5. 1 Corinthians 12:27 ESV. ↩︎
  6. Proverbs 3:6 ESV ↩︎
Man working in a stone quarry.

Called for a Purpose

Called by God

1 This is what the Lord says to Cyrus1, his anointed one,
    whose right hand he will empower.
4 “And why have I called you for this work?
     Why did I call you by name when you did not know me?
It is for the sake of Jacob my servant,
    Israel my chosen one.
Isaiah 45:1,4 NLT – Bible Gateway

Perhaps you may remember from the Bible when the prophet Daniel declared God’s word to the king of Babylon that his empire would be “divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.2” King Cyrus was the person who conquered Babylon.

God chose to promote Cyrus for the good of Israel. The Israelites had been conquered by Babylon and forcibly relocated to the Babylonian empire. But God chose Cyrus, and he defeated the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and the Babylonian Empire. Then, he allowed the Israelites to return to their land, and he provided the money for their relocation and reconstruction efforts.

Why did God choose to use a Gentile to restore the Israelites? Why did God give Isaiah the prophecy, “I equip you [Cyrus], though you do not know me.3” A common message throughout the Bible is that God prospers the lost for the good of His children. For example:

16 “Evil people may have piles of money
    and may store away mounds of clothing.
17 But the righteous will wear that clothing,
    and the innocent will divide that money.
    – Job 27:16–17 NLT – Bible Gateway

More Than History

You may say, “Well, that’s a nice history lesson but what does that have to do with me?” You have the same banker that the exiled Israelites had. Where God guides, He provides. God is very particular. His Word states, “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.4

God is more than able to “ …supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.5 So, no matter where He leads you or what assignment He gives you, with God, it is never about available funds or resources. It is always about faith and His will. When we know His will, and we know He has called us to the task, the depth of our faith in God determines whether God’s will is done through us or through someone else.

Good News

Every person called by God was called for a reason, for a purpose6. Our Lord has never promised that we will always see the successes that He accomplishes through our lives, but that’s okay. It’s not in our strength that God is glorified. He works in and through our weaknesses7.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2023, August 29). _Cyrus the Great_. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. ↩︎
  2. Bible Gateway passage: Daniel 5:26–28 – Authorized (King James) Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from–28&version=AKJV ↩︎
  3. Bible Gateway passage: Isaiah 45:5 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from [8]Bible Gateway passage: Isaiah 42:8 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from ↩︎
  4. Bible Gateway passage: Isaiah 42:8 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from  ↩︎
  5. Bible Gateway passage: Philippians 4:19 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from ↩︎
  6. Bible Gateway passage: Ephesians 2:10 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from ↩︎
  7. Bible Gateway passage: 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 – New International Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 3, 2023, from–10&version=NIV ↩︎

Strangers and Sojourners

Since this is Labor Day, I thought I’d include this dialog from the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Delmar O’Donnell: You work for the railroad, Grampa?
Blind Seer: I work for no man.
Delmar O’Donnell: Got a name, do you?
Blind Seer: I have no name.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well, that right there may be the reason you’ve had difficulty findin’ gainful employment. You see, in the mart of competitive commerce…

Coen, J., & Coen, E. (2001, February 2). O Brother, Where Art Thou?


I was reading this morning’s “Verse of the Day” on Bible Gateway when I noticed how the Apostle Paul phrased Ephesians 2:19. I think the Revised Standard Version does an excellent job of communicating the nuance that Paul used.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Ephesians 2:19

As you may remember, Paul was a Jew and had invested the first part of his life in becoming a Pharisee1. So, he crafted this verse to communicate to both Jews and Gentiles. Let’s break this verse down.

We Are Not Vagabonds

In today’s verse, Paul addresses the Christian Gentiles living in the wealthy city of Ephesus, a city located in modern-day Turkey. Paul first tells us that Gentile Christians are not vagabonds – a person who wanders from place to place without a job or home. Instead, we Gentile believers in Jesus have a home in God’s household.

Our citizenship is with “fellow saints and members” of God’s household! We are “fellow citizens,” not citizens in addition to saints and members of God’s family. Rather, we are “fellow citizens.” This is true in this life and our lives in heaven.

Instead of a caste system in God’s kingdom, we Gentiles are equal citizens. God shows no prejudice or partiality among His children. We know this from many verses, such as:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Why This Matters

I’ve probably not written anything that you didn’t already know. So, why does it matter? It matters because we must be as cautious as Paul when looking at others. If God was willing to graft the “wild branch”2 into the True Vine, we must not allow our prejudices and preconceptions to deny anyone from hearing the good news and being received into the kingdom of God.

Good News

Someday, you may be walking on a street of gold when you spot Paul. Based on what Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you can greet Paul, give him a bear hug, and say, “Paul, it is so good to see you finally!” And he will hug you back and enjoy your membership in God’s household.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

#Christianity #Christian #Devotional

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  1. Acts 23:6 – New International Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved August 30, 2023, from ↩︎
  2. Romans 11:17 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved August 30, 2023, from ↩︎
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