Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Anger Management

By Allen White

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

 “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

 “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:12-22

It’s hard to grasp the reality that Jesus is both God and man. He’s not half and half, but fully God and fully man. If we tend to think of Him as more one than the other, we enter into heresy.



I used to think Jesus could do all of the miracles He did because He is God. He lived a perfect life because of His Deity. How could I compete with that?

Yet everything Jesus did was directed by His Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can relate to that.
Accepting a Divine Being in human form is challenging to grasp. It ranks right up there with God revealing Himself as a Trinity – again, mind boggling. But, the hardest thing for us to grasp is the love of God.

How could a perfect God have such mercy on imperfect people? How could He have such compassion for humans, who by their actions made themselves His enemies? We know what God has revealed about Himself, but we certainly don’t know everything about Him.

In these two accounts, we witness something remarkable about Jesus. He is angered by the money changers who are cheating the devout at the temple. And, He’s angered by a fruitless fig tree. Jesus is mad. He turns over tables and curses a tree. Jesus didn’t sin, but He also didn’t hold it in.

The money changers were an obstacle to honest worship. The fig tree got in the way of a full tummy. Both of these irked Jesus, and He made that known. Jesus didn’t take time to reason all of this out. Sometimes zeal takes things where wisdom cannot.


The first time I saw a fig tree was on a drive along the 99 freeway in central California, near Fresno. The trees looked bent over and deformed – frankly, they all looked cursed. But, figs weren’t the issue. Jesus was teaching His disciples about faith.

The withered fig tree was a small example of the power of faith in God. Jesus told them, “If you think this is something, then you just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet.” (I’m sure our Perfect Savior didn’t have bad grammar.)

Jesus is a real person. He feels things just like we do. Jesus didn’t have an anger problem. He expressed His anger, but He never sinned.

What do you do when you feel anger? Do you lash out at someone? Do you sulk and fume?

The sin and evil of this world should make us angry. But, rather than just ranting and raving about the wrongs of this world, what are you doing about it? If your anger merely makes you unpleasant to be around, then you’re not accomplishing much for God’s Kingdom.

Pay attention to what makes you angry. When you hit that Popeye moment when you “can’t stanz it no more,” then ask God what He wants you to do about it. As Jesus said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is God Calling You to do Something Ridiculous?

By Allen White

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion, See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

 “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

 “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11

I know it seems a little early to talk about Palm Sunday. I mean we haven’t even broken all of our New Year’s resolutions yet. But, this is where the Gospel is taking us.

It’s interesting that a prophesied event starts with a donkey-jacking. Jesus instructs His disciples to find a specific donkey and colt and to bring the animals to Him. If anybody asks, they are to say the Lord needs them. “The Son of God has requisitioned your beasts.”



The disciples don’t hesitate to act. They lead the animals back to Jesus without fear of a low speed chase of any kind. Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled specifically and exactly. No one animal would have worked. No other animal or mode of transportation was suitable.

The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, unconventional as they were, in order to fulfill a prophesy uttered centuries before. But, if we were among the disciples, would we have been as willing to take the risk? What about the donkey owner? What about “Thou shalt not steal?” I suppose technically it was borrowing.

Now, before we get all excited and decide to requisition our neighbor’s new car, we should keep in mind that Jesus’ words were a one time, specific instruction. And, of course, we should also remember, “Thou shalt not covet…” But, sometimes God calls us to do things out of the norm in order to magnify His glory.

When someone wrongs us, and we forgive rather than hold a grudge, God is glorified. When we live in obedience to God’s Word, even when doing so appears to give us a disadvantage, God is glorified. When we put aside the temporary fixes and allow God to transform us, He is glorified.

What crazy thing do you feel God is leading you into? Please keep in mind, if where you think God is leading you contradicts God’s Word, it’s not God leading you. Please understand, I don’t say this lightly.

God’s plan for each of us doesn’t usually fit in societal norms. God didn’t design you to fit into a broken, fallen world. He made you for so much more.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

[Weekly Digest] Galatians419 Devotionals for week of 1/22/2012

Personal Note -- I would like to thank all of you for your generosity toward this ministry over the last few weeks. Every gift helps to move this ministry forward. I am both honored and humbled that you read these devotionals and support them. God bless, Allen


Just in case you missed something this week:



God Is Unfair, And We Should Be Grateful

By Allen White   

Why should people who don’t work as hard or don’t work as long be paid the same as people who’ve worked so hard all day? If two people had the same job today and one was paid less than the other, we would call this discrimination. If someone was paid the same for doing far less work, we would label it favoritism. There is an unfairness to this scenario that is a little hard to live with. Read more...





When Last Place Gets First

By Allen White

Jesus has nothing to prove. He is the most powerful being in the universe. In fact, He created the universe. Jesus knows everything – past, present and future. He is present everywhere all of the time. And, Jesus never changes. 




Shouting at Jesus

By Allen White

Imagine yourself as one of two blind me. We don’t know how long you’ve been blind. But, whether it was your whole life or just a part of your life due to an injury, it’s incurable.

But, now you have a shred of hope. You’ve heard about Jesus and His ability to heal. You’ve heard stories of other blind people who are now seeing. This is your shot at possibly seeing for the first time in your life. Read more...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shouting at Jesus

By Allen White

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

Imagine yourself as one of two blind me. We don’t know how long you’ve been blind. But, whether it was your whole life or just a part of your life due to an injury, it’s incurable.



But, now you have a shred of hope. You’ve heard about Jesus and His ability to heal. You’ve heard stories of other blind people who are now seeing. This is your shot at possibly seeing for the first time in your life.

You hear the crowd. As the crowd noise rises, you hear Jesus and His disciples coming your way. This is your chance of a lifetime. This is your one shot to healing and sight.

You and your buddy begin shouting at the top of your lungs. What you lack in sight, you make up for in volume. The disciples immediately try to quiet you down. Your desperate cry is deafening.

You cannot be dissuaded. You continue to shout until you have Jesus attention. Your need is so desperate. The cure is standing right in front of you now.

Some people think you’re making a fool out of yourself, but they just don’t understand. The key to your future – the pathway from begging to productivity – the only answer to your problem is right there. Wild horses couldn’t keep you away.

Jesus turns and speaks healing into your life. Instantly, you can see. You believed. You asked, and now you see. Now, you really have something to shout about.

The blind men had an advantage over you and me. Their need made them completely helpless except for Jesus’ intervention. For most of us, we’re still trying to figure something out to make things happen on our own. The sooner we get to helplessness, the sooner Jesus can help.

What are you truly desperate about these days? How are you exhausting yourself, yet not getting the results you desire? When was the last time you shouted at Jesus?

Maybe it’s time to cry out: “I can’t do this. Can You help me? I’m about ready to give up. Jesus, I need You do so something I can’t.” Jesus answers loud prayers like that. Maybe not always in the way we expect, but He hears us and acts. Do you believe?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When Last Place Gets First

By Allen White

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus has nothing to prove. He is the most powerful being in the universe. In fact, He created the universe. Jesus knows everything – past, present and future. He is present everywhere all of the time. And, Jesus never changes.



In that first paragraph, you have Theology 101. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. (Those terms track with the sentences of paragraph one, in case you were wondering.)

By possessing all knowledge, power and space, Jesus certainly isn’t insecure. He is just as comfortable with last as He is with first. Jesus was at home on a Heavenly throne just as much as He was in an earthly home. He certainly didn’t need to look out for number one.

The request from James and John’s mother irritates us on several levels. First, since the brothers couldn’t get their way with Jesus previously, they complained to their mother. Mommy had to intervene for her boys. I’m sure the other ten were collectively rolling their eyes.

They were grappling for something they didn’t deserve. One wanted to be Jesus’ right hand man, while the other wanted to be the left hand man. Had they secured those spots, I’m sure the next controversy would involve who had which spot.

This power play by Zebedee’s boys did nothing but lower morale and nurture resentment among the rest of the disciples. When we put ourselves forward, we tend to move backward. God is the one who elevates us or demotes us.

When our lives don’t appear to be headed up and to the right, we might wonder why God isn’t blessing us. But, is position and worldly success really a blessing? What if God gave us what we thought we wanted, then we later discovered those things drew us further away from God? Is that a blessing?

If God could use a negative circumstance in your life to draw you closer to Him, would that be worth it? Would we choose comfort and ease over a close connection with our Savior?

Life is hard. Sometimes our circumstances cause us to question God’s love and His plan for our lives. If we allow those low points to take us deeper into God’s love for us, then we have succeeded. But, if we live shallow lives that appear to be outwardly successful, is that success?

Oh, and the other thing that irritates us about James and John – sometimes we feel we deserve more than we do too.

How can you put yourself last today? How can you prefer someone over yourself? How can you serve someone without expecting something in return? These actions elevate us to Christlikeness.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

God Is Unfair, And We Should Be Grateful

By Allen White

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

 “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

 “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

Why should people who don’t work as hard or don’t work as long be paid the same as people who’ve worked so hard all day? If two people had the same job today and one was paid less than the other, we would call this discrimination. If someone was paid the same for doing far less work, we would label it favoritism. There is an unfairness to this scenario that is a little hard to live with.

When you think about this unfairness, it extends well into our spiritual lives. Some of us have been Christians as long as we can remember, while others might come to Christ on their death beds. Why is it that a life-long commitment to Christ seems to get the same reward in Heaven as a last-minute decision?

Shouldn’t life-long Christians be entitled to larger mansions or better seats at the table? After all, they’ve worked all of their lives to serve Christ, right? It would be unfair to give them the same reward as these Johnny-come-latelies.

For those who are keeping score, let’s review the concept of fairness in our spiritual lives. Every person who’s ever lived has sinned (Romans 3:23). The fair thing for God to do is to punish our sin with death (Romans 6:23). When it comes to our eternity, we don’t want fairness. We all want mercy.

Whether you’ve worked hard to live a good life or have partied hard and didn’t care, God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. Our good work amounts to nothing. When it comes to the things of God, we don’t want rewards, we need grace.

As believers, we should rejoice every time someone makes a decision to follow God, even if it’s at the 11th hour. If we can’t celebrate someone crossing from death unto life, then our attitude is “Well, they can just go to Hell. That’s what they deserve for the way they’ve lived their lives.” And, that’s what we deserve as well.

Rather than begrudging God’s patience with someone else, we should be grateful for God’s patience in our lives. God has a plan for us. God has a plan for them.

If we are jealous of people who seem to sin more and get away with it, then maybe we should sin more. Let’s see where that gets us. Maybe we haven’t accumulated enough regrets yet.

Where do you struggle with this idea of fairness? How are you tempted to prove you’re more deserving in your relationship with God than others might be? God’s grace is sufficient, even for our bad attitudes.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Can’t Out Give God

By Allen White

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:27-30

It’s easier to make an investment than a sacrifice. A sacrifice seems like your just giving up something valuable in return for who knows what. On an investment, you expect a return, even if it’s only 0.89% these days.


We invest time in our children, so they grow up to make good decisions. We invest money to send them to college and put a roof over their heads. At times, it might feel like a sacrifice, but it’s an investment.

Many believers have given generously or have even foregone lucrative opportunities in order to serve God and build His Kingdom on this earth. Sure you might not be driving the nicest car or living in the biggest house, but according to Jesus’ words to His disciples, our reward is eternal life and, oh, 100 times our investment.

Let’s think about that. As I talked about Bible numbers  a few days ago, when Jesus says 100 times, He doesn’t just mean that if you give $10, you’ll get $1,000 in return. In Bible times, the number ten symbolized an infinite multiplier. So, what does 10 tens or 100 times mean? It’s an incredible return. But, this is about more than money.

Most of Jesus’ disciples didn’t have much money to contribute. In fact, with Judas Iscariot helping himself to the treasury, financially, they were moving in the wrong direction. But, they gave of themselves. They devoted themselves to follow Jesus and trusted that He would supply their needs. And, He did.

After Pentecost, when Peter and John encountered a lame man begging for money, they didn’t have money to give him (Acts 3:1-10). But, what they could give him was a miracle by the power of God. The man simply wanted to feed himself. God, through Peter and John, gave the man something money couldn’t buy – his fully restored health.

God wants to use you. How have you let God use you? What God wants to do in your life is only limited by your willingness to surrender to Him. How do I know that? Because the biggest obstacle in my life is me.

But, when I’ve said, “Lord, here I am. Use me.” He has in remarkable ways. I know what you’re thinking, “But, Allen, you’re a pastor. God uses pastors differently than other people.” I wouldn’t be a pastor if I hadn’t surrendered myself to God, now would I?

God isn’t necessarily going to call you to be on staff at a church. But, God is calling you to full-time ministry. Your ministry might take place in an office or a factory or a school or a neighborhood. Your ministry might not come with a paycheck, but God will provide for all of your needs.

God doesn’t want your faith to be tied to the S&P 500. God wants you to trust deeply in Him. He will provide for all of your needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). I know that’s true.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does Poverty Make You More Spiritual?

By Allen White

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:16-26

Americans are among the wealthiest people in the world – even in this economy. The majority of the world lives on less than $2 per day. We can barely get a decent cup of coffee for that.



Even though most of us haven’t appeared on a show like the “Top 500 million Wealthiest People in the World,” we are a little uncomfortable with these words from Jesus. Do we need to be poor to truly serve Christ?

Some authors like David Platt in Radical challenge us to use our worldly resources to expand the Kingdom and not spend so much on ourselves. While that is certainly biblical, we always need to be careful when we transfer our convictions to other people’s lives. Some Christian leaders have dubbed this the “Poverty Gospel.” The best thing for any of us is to gain a clear sense of what God has called us to do. If we’re not sure, God will direct when we ask.

The dilemma with the rich young ruler who came to Jesus was not that he had money. His issue was that money had him. Jesus encountered many other wealthy people in His ministry, yet He did not challenge them to give up their wealth to follow Him.

Jesus, who is God, is omniscient. He knows everything. Jesus knew that this man didn’t struggle with morality. He kept the Law down to the jot and tittle. The man’s issue was his attachment to his money. Jesus knew this struggle. He knew the man couldn’t follow two masters (Matthew 6:24). For this man to choose Jesus, he had to deny the other love in his life. Sadly, he couldn’t do it.

I’ve known quite a number of wealthy people over the years. Most of them have a great perspective on money, God and generosity. They have money, but money doesn’t have them. But, there are a lot of middle class folks who get caught up in the pursuit of money and (implied) happiness. They are serving a cruel master.

Money may not be your issue. The cheap substitutes for God fall in three categories: pleasure, possessions and prestige. Some people are held back by what others might think about them. Others are caught up in whatever makes them feel good. And, yes, others crave more stuff.

If you don’t think you fall into one of those categories, let me ask you this: what do you do when you’re stressed out? Do you rely on pleasure, possessions or prestige or do you rely on God? Ouch. Vegging out in front of the TV just to “numb out” is a legal, available drug. What should you do?

Read five Psalms and talk to God in the morning. Seriously, I do this most days. It changes my perspective on life, reminds me God is in control, and gives me the courage I need to face the day.

Now, what about all of that money that either has you or you so desperately want? Give it away. The antidote for materialism is generosity. Give a regular tithes and offerings to your church. Help the poor through credible ministries like Water of Life or World Vision. Then, ask God to satisfy the desires of your heart.

What you desire is not a thing or an experience. What you truly desire is a close connection with your Heavenly Father. The world will try to convince you otherwise. We call it advertising. But the things of this world are a poor substitute for all God has in store for each of us.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Advantages of Childhood

By Allen White

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Matthew 19:13-15

Most people come to Christ as children. In fact, 80 percent of all Christians make the decision to follow Christ before they are 12 years old. That was true for me.



While I can’t remember not being a Christian, I do remember making a decision for Christ 40 years ago. That seems like a long time. Of course, I was seven at the time.

Why are children more responsive to the Gospel? Well, for one, they don’t have to deal with the complexities of life and the big questions that weigh on adults. While children today are exposed to so much, so early, they have a certain innocence and simplicity of faith. Now, they will certainly wrestle with weighty issue in their teen years and especially in college, like we all did, but a child sees the world much differently than an adult.

Children are more creative, more imaginative. If adults possess the creativity of a child, we either label them as eccentric or genius or both. Adults must work hard to fit in. Children are far more comfortable with who they are.

Children have so much fertile soil for the Gospel. They are open to spiritual things. They are accepting of what seems impossible for adults. Adult lives are full of weeds. Much like the Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13:1-13), the cares of this world tend to crowd out life-giving faith. This is true, even for believers. When was the last time you thought or said that something couldn’t happen?

So, two conclusions here. First, we all need to nurture the faith of the children in our lives. This might mean volunteering in a class at church. Every church needs volunteers. Adults may seem easier to work with, but working with children is far more rewarding.
Secondly, you and I need to become more childlike in our approach to God. We serve a God who can, not a God who can’t. We serve a God who will, not a God who won’t. We serve a God who dreams big, not a God who thinks small.

When was the last time you dreamed big? When was the last time you might have embarrassed yourself a little with your enthusiasm? When was the last time you realized the Creator of the Universe wants to do big things in your life? Hold on to the child-like dream. Don’t let the weeds choke it out.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

[Weekly Digest] Galatians419 Devotionals for week of 1/8/2012

Just in case you might have missed something this week:



It’s Time to Parole Yourself

   
By Allen White

For my children, forgiveness is easy. I would even say it’s cheap. They pick on each other and fight like children do. When one of them is hurt or upset, we ask the offender to apologize. It usually goes something like this:

Offender: “I’m sorry.”

Offended: “That’s okay.”

Sometimes we do this sort of exchange too. The problem is that if someone has hurt or offended another, it’s not okay. If it was okay, it wouldn’t hurt. If it was okay, it wouldn’t matter. If it was okay, no apology is necessary. If it’s okay, then what will keep them from doing it again and again? It’s not okay. It does matter. Read more...


Marriage is Hard, Worthwhile Work

By Allen White

Among the religious people in Jesus’ day, divorce was cheap. If a man’s wife burned his toast, he could simply give her a certificate of divorce, and the marriage was over.

Jesus’ challenge to them and to us is “Don’t cry over burnt toast. Tough it out.” That may seem silly, but think about the reasons people you know have gotten divorced. Did it really have to come to that? Read more...


Modern Day Eunuchs?

By Allen White

In Bible College, there was always a group of guys who claimed to be “Bachelors ‘til the Rapture.” This was the group that spent Saturday nights alone in their dorm rooms. If you couldn’t get a date, then why not over-spiritualize it? Read more...


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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Modern Day Eunuchs?

By Allen White

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:10-12

In Bible College, there was always a group of guys who claimed to be “Bachelors ‘til the Rapture.” This was the group that spent Saturday nights alone in their dorm rooms. If you couldn’t get a date, then why not over-spiritualize it?



The disciples’ question about avoiding marriage implies that they weren’t married at the time. If they had been married, they would have known better than to ask. Marriage is worth far more than all of the trouble.

To have someone who loves you and believes in you - To have someone to support and encourage - To have a partner and companion - To have a lover and friend – these are the benefits despite any conflicts.

But, Jesus said, “Hey, if you’re called to be a eunuch, then be a eunuch.” Some men were born eunuchs. Some became eunuchs. These often worked in harems. If a person could accept it, then, sure, he could be a eunuch for the Kingdom. Some people are indeed called to be single – but not many of us.

Studies show the happiest man is a married man. Of course, they also say the happiest woman is an unmarried woman. It’s probably a good thing that other studies show that woman tend to outlive men.

When I was single, I was a pretty good Christian in my own mind. Marriage has certainly revealed my selfishness and flaws. Now, I know what to work on. And, I certainly have plenty to pray about.

Several years ago, a man in our church began to lose interest in his wife. His interest was drawn toward a girl he dated in high school. Even though he hadn’t talked to her in years, he began to imagine his life with her instead of his actual wife, who he talked to every day.

Eventually their marriage failed. His relationship with his wife just couldn’t compete with the imaginary relationship in his head. He lost his wife and children to live alone with his fantasy. He never reconnected with his long lost love. Last I heard, he still lives alone.

Would it be better to live alone than to deal with the problems in marriage? Absolutely not. If God has called you to be single for Him, then you’re not married now. If you are single and you feel God has called you to remain single for Him, then God will give you the grace you need.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marriage is Hard, Worthwhile Work

By Allen White

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 19:1-9

Among the religious people in Jesus’ day, divorce was cheap. If a man’s wife burned his toast, he could simply give her a certificate of divorce, and the marriage was over.



Jesus’ challenge to them and to us is “Don’t cry over burnt toast. Tough it out.” That may seem silly, but think about the reasons people you know have gotten divorced. Did it really have to come to that?

Jesus reminds us that marriage as God intended is a union of body, soul and spirit between a man and a woman. To separate is definitely not a clean break. It’s a jagged tear that leaves both spouses deeply wounded. Even the most seemingly amiable divorce feels like going through Hell.

Marriage takes hard work. Our spouses point out all of our flaws. They know how to push our buttons. At times they are selfish. And, at times, so are we.

Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman described his marriage as a “30-year tug a war.” That seems like a good description.

All of us are prone to sin. Put two sinful people together for years of marriage, and you will have both mistakes and outright sinfulness. Yes, we should avoid sin – by all means. But, the reality is we all sin, pretty much every day. There is a remedy.

The Bible tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Colossians 4:32).  Kindness, compassion and forgiveness can take us all a long way.

There are reasons for divorce. Jesus specifically named sexual immorality. Short of that, we should do our best to work out our problems and become the spouse God intends us to be.

Some days marriage may seem impossible. But, God will help us. God will not help us control our spouse, but He will help us control ourselves.

Years ago, I heard a speaker say that 70 percent of conflict in marriage is caused by the same issues over and over. If nearly three quarters of fights are caused by the same issue, then you’re probably not fighting about as much as you think.

What issues do you need to focus on in your marriage? What resentment or bitterness are nurturing toward your spouse? Forgive and don’t allow the devil to have a foothold in your marriage.

Pray for your spouse every day. Pray for God to use your marriage to grow you spiritually.

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