Big Ship, Small Helm

September 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Picture yourself on a cruise ship three football fields long, that weighs 137,308 gross tons, and carries 5020 passengers and crew—a floating city.

A window looks onto the control room of this behemoth. In the center is a high-tech control console and, like every large boat, it also has a helm with a wheel to steer the ship manually. I could hardly believe what I saw; the wheel that turns this monster ship is barely 12 inches in diameter—smaller than the one on your car. Yes, it’s power steering. And the captain used it to steer the ship through coral reefs off the shore of Bermuda.

When I look around, I see small things that direct huge things. Electronic chips control cars and planes. Leaders direct national governments and international corporations. Your three-pound brain directs rest of your body.

In James 3:3–12, it tells how a small rudder steers a ship, a bit in a horse’s mouth directs it, and a spark sets a forest on fire. He writes how our tongues can praise God or curse people. The tongue can express great good or cause great harm.

Small things direct big things. Sometimes seemingly small decisions or habits can result in life-changing directions or influence on others, both for good or bad. Have you made a seemingly small decision, a seemingly small mistake, or practiced a seemingly small habit or discipline that led to big results? Have you ever said something that caused another person great joy or great pain?

A small wheel steers a big ship. It’s also true with your tongue, your money, your relationships, your career, and with your salvation and eternal life.

Remember the bigness of small things.

PRAYER: Lord, keep me mindful of small things that direct big things. May I always remember. And may I always be wise.

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:3–5, NIV).

Seeing as God Sees

August 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Do you ever compare yourself to others who have a similar level of education and who don’t work any harder than you do, but who make lots more money or achieve a higher degree of recognition?

When I feel that way, I remember a different kind of people—and everything looks different. In countries all over the world live people who are smart, work hard, would have gotten academic degrees if they had the chance, and who give their lives to serving God or some cause. Yet they live in the poverty of an African village or a Southeast Asian jungle. Or they live under the religious oppression of a Middle Eastern society. Or they work in secret under the brutal North Korean regime. Many have no salary at all. For all their work they may receive only beatings. They may receive a prison cell. And some are tortured and killed.

We so easily forget these people, especially our brothers and sisters in faith. But God does not forget them. They are closer to His heart than we can know.

When I think of them, I ask myself what on earth am I thinking when I say I’m not making enough money or not being “successful” enough?

From God’s point of view, everything—everything—looks different from how we typically perceive things from our human point of view. Especially in a wealthy and free nation.

God does not watch TV, and he does not care who’s rich or famous. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Regardless of how your outward life appears, as your heart grows and you see as God sees, you’ll have spiritual wealth and recognition money can never buy.

PRAYER: Father, I commit to seeing as You see. May my eyes become like Yours. May Your thoughts become mine.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

Obituaries and Eternity

By Peter Lundell –

For a brief time I read obituaries in the newspaper—just for fun. It didn’t last long, because they got repetitious. Besides, reading about dead people can get morbid. Yet I learned something.

All the deceased were good people and were missed. Of course they were; people don’t spend money on obituaries for people they don’t like. I didn’t see any for jerks—no one missed them. Or if anyone really was bad, the description was whitewashed.

Each obituary listed the career highlights and accomplishments of the deceased. Some were impressive: degrees, important jobs, civic activities, and contributions. Most folks appeared to have been nice people, good people, ones we’d like if we met them. I found myself being impressed. I imagined meeting them during their lifetime and being impressed—even envious and wishing I had accomplished the things they had.

But there was always one catch: They were dead. This single fact changed everything. After reading all the impressive things they did, I found myself oddly unimpressed. I kept thinking, So what? Their life achievements are over, and now they’re in eternity.

I scoured each obituary for indications of whether they had prepared themselves for eternity. I can’t say whether they or not they did, but nothing was ever said about it. I’m sure some did and some didn’t. Some knew God and some had positively influenced others, but most centered their activities and accomplishments on themselves.

Crossing the line into eternity changes everything—everything that on this earth is impressive or important or worthwhile.

Someday people will read my obituary. Yours too. What if we live our brief lives in ways that reflect and prepare for eternity? After all, that’s where we’re all going. And besides, we’ll almost certainly end up living better lives.

PRAYER: “Lord, teach me to live with eternity in my heart, eternity in my thinking, eternity in my actions, and as I do to change the world I live in.”

BIBLE VERSE: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).

Seeing through Trees

June 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Paralleling my mother’s apartment is a thick stand of trees. Summer grows an impenetrable green. Autumn drops the leaves to uncover winter skeletons of branches through which I see all houses on the other side. Spring buds restart the cycle.

The cycle helps me overcome temptation. Through the sameness of daily life and annual events, I’m tempted to feel a sense of permanence, as if the people I know will always be there and the things I do, I will continue to do. But behind the appearance of sameness lurks an ending. Always.

Children feel as if their parents will always be there to watch over them. Adults feel as if they’ll go to work at the same place for eternity. Meeting relatives or old friends feels as if they’ll always be there next season, and that I will too. For thousands of years people have probably felt the same way. But there always lurks an ending.

Most of us prefer permanence and sameness to change. We like familiar, predictable, and comfortable. But permanence and sameness are temporary, even illusory. So I’ve started to resist that sense of permanence, the feeling of sameness. To do so, I must willfully embrace change and accept that no one and nothing will be around forever.

And when I do that, I live better.

A sense of permanence and sameness lulls a person into a daze that can cloud life for decades. Change and the cycles of life are often challenging or agonizing. But embracing change—as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything”—prepares us for the difficulties.

And that wakes us up to live more fully here and now. Our hearts embrace and our minds understand God’s hand in life.

And our eyes just might discover our path into eternity.

PRAYER: “Father, open my eyes to see through the things in my life that seem so permanent, so the same. Enable me to see beyond them, where You will take me. I trust You to enable me to face whatever I must.”

BIBLE VERSE: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NIV).

Do You Have a Growth Commitment?

June 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

I often ask people how long their New Year’s resolutions last. Typically they seem to crash and burn sometime by the end of January. So life goes on as it did before.

Positive change must be addressed every day. It happens not by achievement but by habit.

I encourage people to chuck resolutions in favor of what I call “growth commitments” that I establish for each year. I’ve done annual growth commitments since 1986 that have led to major growth and changes in my life, which also makes my wife happy.

Think primarily in terms of personal character growth, not just paying off a credit card or losing weight. Those are fine, but if you relate them to deeper issues of character growth, you’ll go much deeper with the whole commitment and attain more overall results than you would otherwise. Go ahead and have other goals. But if you keep the growth commitment to one main thing, simply expressed, you will do well.

Two keys make it work: 1—Keep it simple and short, then write it on a on a small piece of paper (or PDA), and put it where you’ll see it daily, like on a mirror, in a wallet, as a bookmark, or whatever works for you. 2—Pray it, incorporate it into time you (hopefully) spend with God each day. And do it all year long. When you write it down and keep it where you’ll always see it, you enable yourself to consistently pray it.

Doing this accomplishes two other things: You bring God’s response into it, and you reorient your own thinking around the commitment. Change your thinking and you’ll change your behavior—especially if you seek God’s blessing each day.

What would your 2013 growth commitment be?

“Lord, my life is in Your hands. In this coming year mold me into your image and grow me beyond who I am now….”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).

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