Category Archives: Devos

Lessons learned from doing a jigsaw puzzle…

My wife, Sharon, and I are no different than most of you… COVID-19 has forced us to do a few things to pass the time while we’ve been staying close to home. One of them has been doing a few jigsaw puzzles… and believe it or not, we’ve learned some important spiritual lessons while we’ve struggled to put the puzzles together!

We purchased one jigsaw of Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park, in our home state of Montana, that was especially challenging…

Here are some of the spiritual lessons we learned… (And may I suggest you read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1 Peter 4:10-11 as Scriptural support for many of the lessons learned.)

1. Every piece is important if the picture of the beautiful landscape is to be completed… the shapes may be different and the colors varied (even those with slight differences) – but all are important! And so it is in the Church – the “Body of Christ” – all are important, all are essential, if we are to represent Jesus Christ without distortion in our world.

2. Recognizing the difference between the pieces and appreciating what they contribute is an important key to successfully completing a jigsaw puzzle. And it is no different in the Church – the “Body of Christ!” If we are to complete the beautiful picture of who Christ is and what He has accomplished, the differences among us (as well as our similarities) must be acknowledged and appreciated – differences in background, culture, race, gender, gifts… and I could go on – all are important.

3. Our puzzle was on a card table in one of the rooms of our home. We had to be vigilant – there was a time or two, or three, or four, that a piece of the puzzle slipped from the table on to the floor – and there I was on my hands and knees searching the carpet for the fallen piece. In the Church we can afford to be no less vigilant! Every member of “the Body of Christ” is important to our Lord! As His faithful servants, we must do our best not to lose even one member of the Body! He, “the Good Shepherd,” searches for “the one lost sheep!” until He find them – so should we (cp. Matthew 18:10-14)!

4. Sharon and I fumbled around a lot on this puzzle… it wasn’t the easiest by any means to put together. Human spiritual leaders, even the very gifted, do a lot of fumbling around as we seek to represent Christ through the Church in our world! But not Christ! He knows where every piece fits and we are at our best the more we consult Him and let Him lead us. I don’t know how many times I grabbed the box that the puzzle came in to see what the finished product would look like and where a piece might fit.

5. And finally… you NEVER want a missing piece to mar the beauty of the picture on a jigsaw puzzle! To Sharon and my dismay, we had one piece missing (see where the arrow points on the pic). When Christ is involved – when His Lordship is acknowledged – when He leads there will be NO MISSING PIECES! When all is said and done and we, the Church (and each individual in it) stand before Him in Heaven the picture will be complete! The church in Philippi was given this inspired assurance from the Lord… “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in [or among] you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6)

COVID-19 Restricted… and FRUSTRATED!

FRUSTRATED! That’s how you feel…

Thanks to COVID-19 (or something else) you feel like you can’t do ANYTHING!

You love the Lord… you love His people… You’re seeking to serve Him and do His will… You haven’t been able to go to church in a normal way… Those stupid masks (and “social distancing”)… the class you love to attend with friends is only done on Zoom… You love to go out, meet people, and share with them about Jesus, but you feel locked up at home… FRUSTRATED!

You think you have it bad… How do you think “Type A” Apostle Paul must have felt? He writes to Timothy from prison and says, “I am suffering, even to the point of being chained like a criminal!” Not an easy situation for an “international evangelist” and “church planter” to handle! It had to be frustrating for a guy used to being a mentor – investing in the lives of young guys in the ministry, like Timothy!

But Paul hastens on to put things in perspective – for Him, and for us! He declares, “But God’s word is not chained [or bound]!” (From 2 Timothy 2:9)

I mean, just look around, incredible doors of ministry to places and people we’ve never reached before because of the restrictions of COVID-19! Opportunities to be the hands, feet, voice, and healing presence of Jesus to others in the power of the Holy Spirit! Sure… a lot of things we can’t do anymore or places we can’t go – but just as truly new doors of opportunity we never dreamed of! Social media, can be a vehicle for sharing the gospel, an encouraging word, and a prayer – not simply a time waster, garbage can for gossip, or smelly pool of negativism.

Hey, “The Word of God is not bound!” In another epistle Paul declared, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard that my imprisonment is for Christ!” (From Paul’s prison letter Philippians 1:12-13)

With God’s help let’s put our “frustration” in a garbage can, and reach up and take “faith” from off our spiritual pantry shelf! Let’s trust God to open incredible doors of opportunity, to lead us, and use us so that in this challenging time, we discover “the Word of God is not bound!”

Onesiphorus

Does the name Onesiphorus mean anything to you? Probably not in a personal way… But if you’d had the privilege of a personal conversation with Apostle Paul late in his life – in prison in Rome, just before his martyrdom – He’d have told you just how much this guy and his entire household (probably meaning the members of the church that met in his house) meant to him!

Here’s what Paul had to say about it in 2 Timothy (I just read it in my Bible during my time of “coffee with the Lord)…

“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains! On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus!” (2 Timothy 1:15-18)

People who help others – especially older saints – in their time of loneliness and need are very special! Their concern is like a “cup of cold water” on a hot day to a parched throat! It’s like the healing hand of Jesus extended – more than that – it’s like His loving presence, His comforting voice in their time of deepest need. Not only did Onesiphorus get involved in helping Paul… his entire “household” (likely implying his congregation or the “church” that met in his house) ministered to his need! They were “the body of Christ” in Paul’s deepest need. How did Jesus Himself say it… “As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me!” (Matthew 25:40, 45) How did the old gospel song put it… “Oh to be His hand extended!”

Oh what a challenge! What an honor to be an “Onesiphorus” kind of person (or a member of his household) to someone in need! Gotta tell you… I want to be one! And as passionately as I want to be a member of his household… I want to avoid like the plague being like those in the province of Asia… especially like Phygelus and Hermogenes who forsook Paul in His time of need… ashamed of him… ashamed of the gospel (see 2 Timothy 1:8)!

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