Thomas Edison once said, “What man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.”

He is correct.  If your mind can conceive a dream, you character should be able to set the proper boundaries around the dream to allow it to happen.

A dream can become a swamp.  Without boundaries, you can try anything and everything to make the dream come true.  Before you know it, your dream can become muddled in mediocrity with no real focus.

But when your dream is conceived, and you put character boundaries around it, your dream will be like a slow, steady, and powerful river floating toward its destiny.  Nothing can keep it from succeeding.  Nothing can stop it. If a river faces a barrier, it either goes through it or around it.  So will your dream.

So dream a great dream.  But just make sure it has great character boundaries focusing it.

Then success will occur.


Here is a success formula that we all need.

For life to have meaning we must first have a dream.  We need something that makes us get up in the morning.  It drives us.  It impassions us.  We can’t get it out of our minds.  We know it’s why we were created.  No dreams is meaninglessness.

But there’s a necessary second step as well.  The dream must have perseverance.  It must have a relentless desire to succeed.  It must be like a dog with teeth on a leather shoe.  It won’t let go no matter what.

So if you want to be successful in life, first find your dream.  Discover what makes your heart beat more quickly than anything else in the world.

Second, commit to that dream.  Go for it.  And when those difficult times come, you refuse to give up.  You keep moving forward until the dream is yours.


The Post (Week 16: Proverbs 16-22) 

See if you can figure out the commonality of the following verses in our readings this week.

“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

“In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)

“The King’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)

Do you see the common thread as the Sovereignty of God? Even though man thinks he runs the show, God is ultimately the one in control.

Notice the balance of these two thoughts in Proverbs. Human beings are responsible for what they choose and what they do. God gives us the steering wheel and calls us to be faithful with it. Proverbs gives us principles to guide our lives and our interactions with others in wisdom. But, much of the time, we live our life as if we deserve all credit too. An organization stays in business through tough times and we give the CEO a big raise. A degree is earned and we applaud the graduates. We forget that if a good story has been told, God is the one that ultimately deserves the praise.

What are some practice aspects of this truth? When we are in tough times and begin to think we are alone and that everything depends on us that is never the truth. The Holy Spirit is always at work whether we notice or not. And he is in control. When our children make decisions that we are saddened by, we know that God is still telling a good story and can use all things for good. Even the things we would never have planned.

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 16)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

Simple Question and Comparison:

One of the ways Proverbs gets us thinking is by using rhetorical questions. If I ask you a question, it more or less forces you to find the answer. A question is one of the most powerful tools of communication. You can learn a lot about what you really believe when you let God’s questions penetrate your soul.

Look at Proverbs 17:6 from this weeks reading: “Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?”

This implies that using money in ways that don’t make you wise is so unprofitable that you would be better off without money. This proverbs is tying two ideas that we might not have thought to put together - wisdom and money.

Another way Proverbs gets to our heart is through comparison. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

Or this one, “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)

Or this one, “Better to live on a corner of the roof, than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)

These proverbs do a great job of showing value judgment on what we should invest our lives in. They also assess how a fool would live and show that it will end in disaster.

What other questions and comparisons jump out at you in this weeks readings?

Notes from David’s Journal

As I read and reread Proverbs, I’m continually struck by how my heart is convicted when I read these verses. When Solomon first became king, God gave him the privilege of asking for one thing to rule over the people. He disdained power, control, money and influence. Instead, he asked for wisdom. These pithy proverbs drip with wisdom.

In these chapters, you will discover wisdom about our words, thought life, parenting and generosity. I can’t possibly cover them all. But let me tell you what I did. With each proverb I wrote by the side its basic message in one word. Do the same. Then, in the future, when you’re confronted with a tough decision and need wisdom, go back to your margins and look for what each proverb is saying. You’ll then easily find the subject matter. And you just may find what God wants you to know as you’re making this decision.

God still speaks to us today and one of the major ways He does so is through His Word. He is speaking. Are we willing to seek and listen? To God be the glory!


Maybe this way to achieve more hope in your life is too simple.  But I’m going to give it to you any way today.  Here it is.

Sleep.  Your body was created for sleep.  Most people need seven to nine hours of rest every day.  For teens and kids even more is needed.  Their bodies are growing at huge rates and they need even more sleep than we do as adults.  

Lack of sleep can inhibit productivity and trigger anxiety.  If not properly addressed, it can cause serious healthy consequences.  Indeed, amazingly, a lot of healing is done while the body is at rest.  It’s God’s way of giving us an anesthesia so he can do some of his best healing work.

How are you doing on the sleep front?  Just remember: a lack of sleep can lead to a lack of hope.

And all of us need hope to get moving forward in life.


The Post (Week 15: Proverbs 9-15) 

“The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short,” (Proverbs 10:27).

How am I to understand this Proverb? Is it a promise that if I try to live a godly life, I will live an extra long time? Does it mean that every elderly person I meet is godly, and friends who die young are not? Common sense and experience tells me this is not true. But how am I to interpret and learn from Proverbs if they are not unqualified promises?

A good principle for reading the Proverbs, especially the section starting with Chapter 10 titled “Proverbs of Solomon,” is to see them as wise, generalized conclusions about how the world works doing things God’s way. In other words, even though our world is fallen, Proverbs show us a great way to live life. The fear of the Lord really does add years to one’s life; on the whole, a life lived in this way will adopt fewer bad habits, will learn trust and therefore reduce stress. If we follow principles in Scripture, we will watch what we say, we will value hard work, and we will care for our family and friends. As a result, our lives will be enhanced.

Let’s choose one of these examples and see what our readings say and try figure out how to apply it. Look at what Proverbs 11 says about watching our mouths, or human speech. We see here that the mouth can be a blessing, or a curse depending on its usage (vs. 11 and 14). Also at times, it seems like one of the godliest things to do with a mouth is to keep it silent. “A man of understanding holds his tongue…a trustworthy man keeps a secret (vs. 12, 13).” Proverbs 10:19 says the same thing, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

However, these Proverbs are clearly not promises. They do not say, if you always shut your mouth and stay silent you will never sin - but, it’s a good principle to watch what you are saying, and therefore make a wise choice.

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 15)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

We’re getting down to the end of our observation section of Bible study. Next stop in three weeks will be interpretation. It might be a good time to go back over what you have learned and put your observations on an index card in bullet form. That way, you can take those observations with you as we move towards interpretation.

Okay, here’s the next tip: look for things that are emphasized. In Proverbs this is easy because there are many topics that are repeated over and over again. Proverbs does this through different devises. One is parallelism.

A way in which parallelism works is to emphasize opposites. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (vs. 13:20). The second line is almost the opposite of the first, and the two lines together remind readers they will be shaped by the company they keep and by the advice they listen to.

Another way parallelism performs its task of emphasis is by giving the second line, not as an opposite, but as an extension. “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snare of death.” The contrast of death and life is not contrasted but illustrated twice.

The point is to see which topics the Scriptures emphasize and how we are called to live in light of these truths.

Notes from David’s Journal

As you enter into this next reading period, Proverbs 9 concludes Solomon’s “wisdom” section. You probably noted how, in the previous chapters, Solomon constantly extols the necessary aspect of wisdom in all our lives.

Someone once said that the difference between knowledge and wisdom is simple: knowledge is facts you put in your brain and wisdom is the practical application of that knowledge. That’s why a lot of people we know are very smart when it comes to knowledge but are really stupid when it comes to living their lives rightly. Or, as one person put it, to educate the mind without educating the morals is to educate a menace to society!

As you begin reading Proverbs 10 and beyond, note the pithy “wisdom” sayings of Solomon. They cover a variety of topics, from the proper use of the tongue, for how to handle relationships, to handling debt, to anger management…even some tips for marriage! They are very useful for today - indeed timeless truths.

Therefore, here’s what I’d love for you to do. As you read this section of Scripture, note beside each verse the subject Solomon is addressing. Then, in your own words, write how it may apply to your own life. Think of the area it’s addressing and figure out the “wisdom,” the practical application for you! I think you’ll find yourself improving your life situations and becoming wiser by the day.


Spend time today reflecting on the fact that our sin nailed Jesus to the cross.  It should have been our cross!  We should have suffered upon the cross instead of Jesus.

But because of his great love and mercy, he substituted himself for us.  He who had perfect righteousness, took sin upon himself, so that we, who are filled with sin, might receive his righteousness.  "He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ"--2 Corinthians 5:21.

Do you know how sinful you are?  Have you gotten in touch with the Biblical fact that all of us have fallen way short of God's glory?  Do you know that before you met Jesus, you were a traitor, enemy and sinner before the holy God of the universe?  Do you know that you deserve eternal hell as your destination?

Only then do you desire the grace of Jesus.  Only then do you desire his forgiveness.

Let me put it another way: our love of God is in direct proportion to how great a sinner we know ourselves to be.  If you think you sin a little, your love for God will be just a little bit.  If you think you are a gross sinner, your love for God will be great.

This week, reflect upon the cross of Christ.  Realize anew it's because of your sin that he had to die.  Understand that your sin nailed him there.

Then experience the exponential growth of his grace in your heart.  Realize anew his eternal mercy given to you through his death.

Realization of your sin should increase your love for him.

That's what's happens in my life, when I survey that wondrous cross!


Here is a great way to deal with worry.  Write all of them down.  Yes, write every single one of them down on a sheet of paper.  Make sure you don’t miss one.  Put the list in a secure place where you know where it is.  Ok, got it?  List is complete?  Now put away?

Now here’s what I want you to do.  Every few weeks, go back and carefully look at the list.  Go through each item you’ve listed.  Now answer this question.  How many of them have actually happened?  How many of them have occurred?

From my experience, few, if any, of them ever occurred.  Relatively rarely do any of them actually happen!

It’s a good lesson for all of us to learn.  When we worry, we are spending tomorrow’s energy for today’s life.  And if they rarely happen, that means we are robbing today of its many blessings by worrying about something that probably won’t happen tomorrow.

It’s impossible to have hope with worry!


The Post (Week 14: Proverbs 2-8) 

T.S. Eliot, the great poet of the early 20th Century, described the difference between wisdom in the ancient world and wisdom today. He said, “Wisdom has become knowledge and knowledge has become information.” In other words, we have transformed wisdom, which helps us make good decisions in light of God’s truths, and turned it into trivial pursuit in which we recite statics and facts. It makes us look good, but most of the time this kind of information doesn’t help us to know how to navigate hard situations of life.

So what is wisdom from Solomon’s (the writer of the Proverbs) perspective? Tim Keller says, “Wisdom is competence with regards to the realities of life.” Wisdom is not only being moral and good - it’s much more. It’s knowing the right thing to do in situations where the moral rules do not apply. For example, Proverbs 6:2-3 describes being “ensnared by the words of your mouth.”

Wisdom helps us to know who to say something to, when to say it and how to say it. If you need to confront your boss, or your spouse or your teenager or a friend, there aren’t specific moral rules that guide you into knowing the time and place. But, wisdom can be your guide. Wisdom is being in touch with and understanding reality.

Many of us in church communities don’t like to be in situations where the moral rules don’t apply. It makes us feel uncomfortable because we don’t exactly know what to do. It calls us to trust God because He can guide us to make a wise decision. Many times, we will make up extra rules so we don’t have to think – it seems we want rules for every situation.

In contrast, the Proverbs call for wisdom, one of our temptations would be to avoid wisdom and look only for rules. (Or again make them up if they are not there). You can see the temptation to become a legalist here. But, God did not give us moral rules to guide every situation. He asks us to trust Him and seek His wisdom. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

The book of Proverbs becomes very important to our everyday life. It teaches us how to navigate relationships in marriages, in businesses, in politics, in communities, in extended families and thousands of other scenarios. One of the great verses to get us launched into a wisdom pursuit is right here in Chapter 3: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 14)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

I watched the movie, “Be kind, rewind,” (very funny by the way) and the one thing that jumped out at me was their creativity. The main characters basically retold 10-15 classic movies in their own way. It had me thinking, if we approached the Bible in the same way the stories would jump off the page. For example, as you read through Proverbs, try to picture how the stories would look like. What does the young man in Proverbs 7 look like as he is becoming like an ox on it’s way to the slaughter? Proverbs is so picturesque it calls for us to envision what the principle looks like. It calls us to ask what are we feeling as we hear the words?

A few other ways to get creative is to read the chapters in different translations and look for differences. Or, read one chapter aloud to yourself or somebody else. Some of these proverbs really shouldn’t be divided into chapters, those divisions came later were not original to the text. Recently, I heard a pastor speaking and he simply read through a whole passage and sat down afterwards. It was very moving.

Here’s one more that might be a real challenge: write a paraphrase of some of the proverbs you’re reading this week. Write it down in your own words. Then you will really see what you notice and understand and what you do not.

Notes from David’s Journal

Sometimes it’s hard to admit things as a “man of God,” a minister of the Word of God, a preacher, if you will. But someone once said, confession is good for the soul. Here is my confession: I like Phil Collins’s song, “Easy Lover.” When I jog, I love to listen to it. Its fast-pace, good rhythm and great harmonies really get me going.

Now, before you cast me aside as an evil-doer, understand this fact: the song is based on the Proverbs 6 woman, the seductive woman trying to lure an unsuspecting man into her wiles. Phil Collins’ instruction is vivid and real: men, watch out! She’s an “easy lover,” but she’ll bring you down to your knees. “She’ll take your heart but you won’t feel it,” Collins continues.

The book of Proverbs is Solomon’s wisdom literature. I personally think it was written at the beginning of his kingship, right after he sought wisdom as his highest priority, his greatest need in leadership. God heard his prayer, granted his request and I believe the book of Proverbs is the result of this desire from God.

Proverbs 6 is God’s wisdom about sexual temptation, especially for men. Bottom line for men: when tempted, run! Don’t go near it. It will steal your soul and hurt your heart, sometimes beyond repair, save the Lord’s grace. All men are tempted in this way, but God loves us enough to give us His wisdom through Solomon. Keep reading. You’ll discover even more!


No matter how hard I try I can’t rewrite history.  I can’t go back in time and rewrite things in general history that I wish would have gone differently.  It’s impossible.  It’s unrealistic.

The same is true with what has happened to me in my past.  I can’t go back and change it.  I can’t go back and rewrite it.  As much as I’d like to do so, I must come to grips with the reality that the past is past.  It has happened.  I can’t change it.

Therefore, I choose to learn from these past experiences.  I choose to learn from my bad choices and failures.  And I choose to move ahead—a lot smarter and wiser person that I would have been had I not gone through those mistakes and failures.

History is history.  It’s fun to study but it can’t be changed.  The past is past. No matter how much I’d like to change what happened I just can’t.

Therefore, today, increase hope in your heart by leaving your past in the past.  Don’t let yesterday define your today.

And enjoy life to the full.


I had the privilege of playing basketball for the University of North Carolina in the 1970s. I had the special privilege of playing for Coach Dean Smith, a Hall of Fame coach, an innovator and basketball genius, a man of impeccable integrity.

On Monday night, North Carolina won its sixth national championship in its storied history. Coach Smith won two of those. Three belong to Coach Roy Williams, the present Tar Heel coach. The other championship occurred in 1957 under Coach Frank McGuire – an undefeated season.

Roy and I were in school together. He is a friend. Like his mentor, Dean Smith, he’s a really good coach and an even better person. After Monday night’s championship victory, I conjectured what he learned from Coach Smith that has made him so successful in his own right.

It didn’t take me long to discern my answer. It’s simply three things.

Read more here:

AuthorStacey Martin

The Post (Week 13: Exodus 35-40, Proverbs 1) 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

This verse probably causes a little hesitance in us all. Is this about being scared? Terrified? We can get a good insight if we look at the way “fear” is used in connection with God in other passages. 

Deuteronomy 10:12 says, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his way, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Psalm 130:3-4 states, “If you, O Lord kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

And lastly, Proverbs 9:10 gives us great insight by interpreting the word fear, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

What do we see from these verses? That fear is connected with love and understanding, forgiveness and passion. There’s no terror here, but almost a fearful joy. What we fear or are in awe of the most shows what our greatest love is. If you are in touch with what you fear to lose the most, it will show what your life is arranged around. If you are a people pleaser, your greatest fear might be rejection. If you are a power performer you might fear humiliation. But when your greatest fear is God, it has the ability to cast every other fear out. Isn’t that an amazing thought?

This is the reason Proverbs begins with this idea of fearing the Lord; it is the first step to knowing God in the deepest part of our hearts. A writer I enjoy, Tim Keller said, “The fear of the Lord is a life rearrangement of joyful awe and wonder, for both who the Lord is and what He has done.” In other words, when we see the forgiveness He gives fully by grace, and move toward walking in his ways, God can become the core of our motivation and we can begin to understand His wisdom. We’ll begin this process by examining Proverbs for the next month.

Tips for Reading - (Observation tip #13)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

The Proverbs can be a little hard to read if you read them all together in a row. There are a lot of them and there is no narrative to follow. So here are a few practical ways to read the Proverbs:
• Read one Proverb a day with other Bible reading that you are doing.

• Make a topical list: Take a blank sheet of paper and every time you come across a Proverb that expresses an emotion, or talks about the fools and wise, or the hard workers and the lazy, write down the Biblical reference and describe it. At the end of this year you will have a list of emotions and habits to reference. Keep the list handy for you next emotional meltdown or as you are working on disciplines.

• Pray the Proverbs: Many Proverbs are easily adapted into prayers of either praise for what God gives or a request for insight. Consider reading them out loud as a prayer to God.

• Re-Title them: If you looked in my Bible, you would see the Proverb I’m reading has a title describing the topic. If I re-title it with what strikes me about the content, it helps me to understand what’s being said.

• Look for Christ and characteristics He showed, like wisdom, forgiveness and purity. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to do this. Just use your cross reference to discover the connections.

Notes from David’s Journal

Exodus 35-40 continues with the exact commandments from God on the construction of the Tabernacle. One can't help but notice the elaborate detail God expects. Moreover, the finest, best material is used. I don't think that's because God is extravagant, but I do think it's supposed to remind us of the greatness of God's character and His complete holiness.

As you read how the High Priest is supposed to perform the sacrifices for the forgiveness of the Israelites' sin, keep this in mind (it was pointed out to me years ago by a friend); each movement of the High Priest, from the place for the blood sacrifice, to the laver, to the inner courts, to the holy of holies, is in the perfect movement of (you guessed it!) the Cross!!

It's another Old Testament example of foreshadowing the death of Jesus for our sins. In the Old Testament, the blood of goats, bulls, birds and other animals were offered to expiate sins for a short period of time...until the next sin was committed. In Christ, we have the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, once and for all, forever, never to be atoned for again! God gives clues and insights into what He is going to do in the Old Testament.

Keep looking for them as you read through the Bible. Like the man who appeared to Jacob being a theophanic vision of Jesus coming to earth, so is this movement of the High Priest suggesting the Cross, God's ultimate expression of love, his blood shed for our sins.

The Tabernacle, God's mobile worship unit, given so the people will know God is forever with them. Jesus in us, God's forever Tabernacle, his eternal mobile worship unit, living in us, through us, for His glory and His glory alone!


How do you eliminate some stresses and strains in life?  We all have them.  Yet we need to eliminate as many of them as we can.

How do so?  Here’s a suggestion.  Embrace the life you have.  We all have one.  At least for today, it’s probably set before us.  It may not be all you want.  That’s ok.  But it’s the one you have.

Therefore, embrace it!  Enjoy what you have in life.  Accept your next 24 hours for what it is.  Then squeeze every ounce of joy you can from it.  From the people in your life you enjoy.  To the entertainment event you will be able to watch.  To the quiet time with God you may have.  To accomplishing even one task at work.

Find what you enjoy.  Now enjoy it!  It will take pressure off your shoulders and allow you to enjoy what you do have.

Embrace the life you have.  Enjoy the day you have.  These are great ways to lower stress and enjoy life to the full.

Plus it helps create hope in your heart today.


If you’ve lived any number of years, you’ve realized the temporariness of life.  It goes by so fast.

Therefore, here’s a truth about the temporariness of life that will help all of us enjoy our days here to the full.  

All things in life are temporary.  If things are going well for you, enjoy them to the full.  They probably won’t last very long.  Therefore, you need to enjoy every second they are a part of your life.

But if things aren’t going well, don’t worry.  They probably won’t last very long either.  They soon will pass.  Therefore, just hold on.  Don’t give up.  The storm will soon pass.

That’s the nature of the temporariness of life.  Both the good and the bad will soon pass.  That’s the way things operate.

So just keep moving forward.  Keep your eyes focused on the horizon.  Enjoy the moment.  Hold on in the storm.  

Most likely, neither will last very long.


The Post (Week 12: Exodus 28-34) 

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, you must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’” (Exodus 31:12-13)

When we read this passage today, we may think it was only about taking a break from work and creating balance in life. But this passage was also one of the most important aspects of godly living given to the Israelites and passed onto us as the body of Christ.

First, there’s a connection between observing the Sabbath and knowing God has claimed us. As the people observed the day of rest, it was a reminder that they belonged to God. As they set a day apart for worship and rest, they were reminded that they had been set apart for the pleasure of God. They were to enjoy their relationship with God on that day. Later in Exodus, the day is called a “Sabbath day of rest to the Lord.”

Secondly, it showed God would provide for them. If there were seven days of work to be done, the people would have to trust God that He would help them complete their work in six days. Verse 17 reads, “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.” In other words, as the Israelites rested, they pictured the work of Creation and were reminded that nothing is beyond God’s power.

It is also a sign to His Recreation of our fallen state with rest offered on the Cross of Christ. It screams out that we could never work enough to cover up for our selfishness and our rebel qualities that tend to be our own gods. Instead, God offers rest from our works of the law and offers us grace.

So, the discussion of the Sabbath touches on our need of balance in work and rest in our physical life, but much more it addresses the need of rest in our spiritual life as well. Have you taken a rest this week?

Tips for Reading - (Observation tip # 12)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

Let’s repeat a helpful tip in Exodus: “Look for Repeats.”

The Scripture writers repeat concepts, themes and actual phrases to emphasize the importance of certain thoughts and ideas.

For example, look how many laws in Exodus are repeated. That’s not because Moses needed to fill up the Papyri, but because the laws are important. Look at the topics of the Sabbath, the Sacrifices and the Tabernacle. Notice which ones are repeated and try to see what the significance is.

If you read Exodus 32, you see even when principles were repeated they were still missed by the people. How many repeats are we missing?

Notes from David’s Journal

As you read this week’s chapters, it’s interesting to note several things. First, notice Aaron’s priestly garb. It is described in infinite detail. Moreover, Aaron alone is the high priest allowed to intercede for all the people. This is a foreshadowing of Jesus, our personal High Priest, who daily makes intercession for us.

Also notice, only Aaron, as the High Priest, is allowed to make atonement for the people. “Yom Kippor”, the Day of Atonement for the Jews, happens once a year. A perfect animal is sacrificed for the sins of the people (though today for many Jews, this is done symbolically and not actually). For Christians, this day has been replaced by Jesus, our once-and-for-all sacrifice, the perfect lamb of God, given to us to take away our sins not just annually, but forever! To Him be all praise and glory!

Finally, examine the commandments about the oil, which symbolizes God’s presence for the people, especially when sprinkled on places of need. For Christians, this oil is symbolic of God’s never-ending presence.

When Jesus left us to ascend to heaven, He said it would be for our benefit that He leaves. Why? Because, after his Ascension, and then Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit), Jesus was not geographically limited. He now exists in the hearts of all people everywhere. Before, Jesus could only minister to and care for the people where He was physically located. Now He can minister to and care for all people all over the world! Praise our living Savior!

So much of these following chapters give us insights and glimpses into the future work of Christ. Keep looking closely into these verses. You may be surprised in what you discover about Jesus!

To Him alone and always belongs all the glory!


Would you dare practice forgiveness today, this week, and throughout all of 2017?

 If so, here is what that looks like:

To forgive is not to forget.

To forgive is really to remember;

That nobody is perfect

That each of us stumbles when we want so much to stay upright

That each of us says things we wish we hand not said

That we can all forget ah Love is more important than being right

To forgive is really to remember;

That we are so much more than our mistakes

That we are often caring and king

That accepting another’s flaws can help us accept our own

To forgive is to remember

That the odds are pretty good that we might soon need to be forgiven ourselves

That life sometimes gives us more than we can handle gracefully

To forgive is to remember

That we have room in our hearts to

Begin again

And again

And again and again.


Have you ever noticed that whenever you have a dream, people come out of the woodwork to try and thwart them?  They ask questions like, “Who do you think you are” or make statements like, “This can never be done.”  The harder you try, the louder their voices become.

It’s as if they feel threatened by our potential success.  Our success intimates their sense of failure.

What is the answer?  Make sure your dream is to what you’ve been called.  Have no doubt about it.  Be assured it’s a true calling from on high.

When this is done, you are focused.  Nothing can keep you from moving toward your dream.  The naysayers’ voices start diminishing into darkness.

When you know your dream, you know nothing can keep you from it.  It’s the source of all hope.  It’s what will get you up in the morning.

Do you know your dream?  If so, go for it today!

And do so with great hope in your heart.


The Post (Week 11: Exodus 21-27) 

“These are the laws you are to set before them” (Exodus 21:1). We are now entering the section of Exodus more focused on the law, beginning with the 10 commandments last week and now going into details of everyday life. The topics range from social responsibility to protection of property, from guidelines of justice and mercy, to the design of the tabernacle and what should be offered there.

It might look like following the rules was the way to be in relationship with God, but it was not. It is clear that God started a relationship with the people back in Exodus 3. He had seen their misery and offered to rescue them. The response that was expected from the people was to have a meal in God’s honor, the way he said to and put some of the blood from the lamb that was served that night on their doorpost. That would show that they trusted God (Exodus 12). Then, the people went on their trip to a land flowing with milk and honey.

So, what is the purpose of these laws? They are like a fence, put around the people to protect them and help them understand who God is. It is not a list of rules to obey so they could get a relationship with God. They already had that. It is rules for those who already know the love and rescue of God and are called to live in a new way.

This gives a great insight for the whole of Scripture. We do not engage in good works so we can have a relationship with God. Instead, good works become evidence of those who know they are loved and want to live like they belong to Christ.

Tips for Reading - (Observation tip #11)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

We are at the last “W” and then we will address some new ideas.

“Wherefore” is the question of difference. You could paraphrase it “So What?” What difference would it make if I were to apply this truth? Wherefore is the question that gets us doing something about what we’ve read.

Remember, the world of God was not written to satisfy our curiosity, or even to give us deep truths as much as it was written to change our lives. For example, what about knowing that the law is meant for our protection instead of meant to gain God’s love. How could that apply to your life? Does your life have the enjoyment that Moses seems to have in tough times? What about in rush hour traffic? Or in a struggle in the home over when to go to bed, or how work was done today? Where are some practical places God wants you to experience joy? How can you apply these truths?

When we get to the section on Application, I will give you a number of ways to answer these questions, but for now it’s a good reminder as to where we are headed.

Notes from David’s Journal

This week, pay attention to the more specific laws given by God to Moses. At first blush, you may be tempted to do a cursory reading of these chapters without much interest. However, the entire Bible is inspired by God. Therefore, rich spiritual truths are to be discovered, yes, even in these verses!

Primarily, I'd like to ask you to do some study in the number of verses that call for God's care for the poor and oppressed. Justice is a major concern in the heart of God and note how often he asks for justice for the slave, the poor, the disenfranchised, the hurting. You can see God's love manifested in His laws. He wants the foreigner and wayfarer to be cared for. He wants those to whom harm has been done to receive fair treatment. God's fingerprints are written all over His laws. Read them closely. They're really not boring at all, but reveal the heart of a compassionate God who wants His children, in and outside His covenant community, cared for.

Finally, in chapters 26 and 27, you'll see the beginnings of God's plan for the Tabernacle, His mobile worship center! Keep reminding yourself as you read these chapters (and the ones next week), God's intricate design for worship. Every piece of the Tabernacle points to an aspect of God's glory, majesty and honor. Each piece gives us insight into why God is worthy to be worshipped and praised.

His Law and His presence magnifies our worship. To Him alone and always belongs all the glory, honor, praise and worship!


I’ve faced many “today’s.”  After six decades plus of living, I’ve had to repeatedly pull my feet across the bed, onto the floor, and force myself to arise and begin my day.  Many of these days I didn’t feel like getting up.  I enjoyed the soft sheets and warm covers too much.

Yet I did wake up, get up, and made it through each day.

What helped me make it through each day?  There were a lot of factors, but one often overlooked that was really important to me was this one: my conscience.  Deep within, I knew I had to.  I had a wife and family depending on me.  My co-workers needed my best energy.  I had obligations and responsibilities that I alone could do.  My conscience motivated my personal responsibility.  Therefore, I got out of bed over and over again---even when I didn’t want to!

In Romans 1, Paul gives a couple of reasons to believe in God.  First, he points to creation.  Its infinite cohesion declares the glory and existence of God.  But he also points to conscience.  He emphasizes the moral code embedded in all humans everywhere.  For example, we all know that killing is wrong and consciences universally tell us so.  From where did conscience come?  Paul says clearly, “God!”

Therefore, when facing each day and having trouble getting out of bed, listen to your conscience.  It’s God’s voice within nudging you to get up and get going.  It not only helps you, but all those depending on you. 

Arise and shine for God’s glory.  He created you.  He realizes how indolence produces death.  He knows that laziness produces paralysis.

Listen to your conscience.  God is the one whispering to you, “Get on up.  It’s good for you to start moving.  You’re less depressed when you do.  And I didn’t create you to stay in this bed all day long!”

Amazingly, when you get up and start moving, hope increases.  Despair starts abating and you start looking forward to your day.

You are more productive and energized.

And, at the end of the day, you are ready to go to bed and receive a great night’s sleep---looking forward to the beginning of a new day when you will again arise, work hard, and sense…

The glory and presence of God!


The world seems to be changing faster than ever before.  It is.  Nothing ever stays the same.  We are in a constant state of flux and change.

And few of us really enjoy rapid change.  Someone once joked that the only people who like change are babies with wet diapers!

But change is inevitable and does occur all around us.  Emotionally, change causes fear.  People furiously seek stability.  We want anchors that can help us handle the stress of rapid change.

Is there a way to handle the stress and fear caused by rapid change?  I’ve discovered only one thing that really helps: faith in a God who never changes.  When you believe that he never changes, you know his care, love, concern, and presence are always with you.  You know will give you want you need in a world that seems always to be changing.

You can count on the changeless character of a secure God.  He is the only answer to all that is constantly and rapidly changing around you.

And that should cause hope to abound in your heart.


The Post (Week 10: Exodus 14-20) 

The friend that led me to Christ, Marshall Albritton, literally changed the direction of my life. Obviously, it was God who actually did the work, but He used my friend. We have been great friends for 30 years, and Marshall evens points out areas where God has used me to help shape his faith. This is the way community is supposed to work. The proverbs say, “Iron sharpens iron.” We read about this in the story of Moses and his father in law Jethro.

First look at how Jethro, a Midianite priest who was not of the same faith as Moses, actually comes to believe in Jehovah as the one true God. “Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, ‘Praise be to the Lord who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly” (18:9-12). Moses was used by God to influence his father in law. Jethro saw how Moses lived his life toward God and this convinced him that he was to worship God Almighty.

At this point, Moses could feel a bit on the proud side of influencing his father in law, but he is humble instead and is open when God uses Jethro to correct some of Moses’ unwise leadership decisions. The very next day, after Jethro has been changed, he sees Moses attempting to arbitrate every dispute in the small nation of Israel. With wisdom and insight he urges Moses to make a major administrative overhaul - a rigorous judicial system where most of the decisions are made at the lowest possible level, only the toughest cases being reserved for Moses himself as the Supreme Court. Moses listens to his father in law and then puts the entire plan into operation (18:24). The advantages for the people, who are less frustrated by the system, and for Moses, who is no longer run ragged, are beyond calculation.

This story shows the desire of God to use his people to change lives, and the process He uses is humble leadership. Who can you influence today? Who does God want to use to influence you?

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 10)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

I am going to take a break from the 6 W’s for a week and give one assignment: memorize the 10 commandments.

A survey of Americans recently asked what is the standard to judge good behavior. Most responded the Ten Commandments. The follow up question was to list as many of the Ten Commandments as they could. Most people could only get about four.

We will talk about the law next week, but I think it is a good goal to know the Decalogue (or 10 Words as they were known) as we head into the law portion of the rest of Exodus. By the way, notice the first four laws are between God and man, and the last six are between man and man. How many other observations can you make about the 10?

Notes from David’s Journal

Interestingly, Jesus reduced all the Law and the Prophets, practically the entire Old Testament (minus the Wisdom Literature—Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs) into one sentence. Here it is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your might and your neighbor as yourself.” That’s profound, isn’t it? Can you imagine a world where everyone loved God first, with all they have, then put equal love toward others more than self? It would be like, well, the kingdom of God!

The idea for this statement is found in Leviticus 19:18, a verse Jesus undoubtedly knew. However, it’s also the essence of the Ten Commandments, about which you are reading in this section of Scripture. Exodus 20 is the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai. These ten laws express the heart of God and the Great Commandment Jesus quoted. The first four have to do with our love of God. The last six have to do with loving neighbor. Can you imagine a world where these ten laws are perfectly obeyed? It’s called the kingdom of God!

When someone comes to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, when this relationship expands and grows, the first thing you want to do is please the One who has given you this new life by grace. The Law of God, the Ten Commandments, and all the things God asks you to do, are never “have to’s,” but “want to’s.” The heart desires to please God more than anything, especially “self” wants. The only way the Law of God is well kept is by a heart filled with God’s love. But when that love grows, you’ll find a keener and greater desire to obey God and see His will be done.

Grow in grace. Obey God. Thus fulfill the Law and the Prophets.