MORE AND MORE 1 Thessalonians 4

Almost two decades after retiring as a financial planner, I still thumb through a daily financial newspaper.  It covers more than money issues, but that’s its primary focus.  Reading story after story about corporations and small businesses, I’m not amazed at the obsession to make more and more money, quarter by quarter, year after year, or else get clobbered by the markets.

My wife and I chuckle over the poor outfit that only makes a gazillion more bucks this year than last when so-called experts predict  $1.012 gazillion.  Down plummets the stock.  Its Board of Directors headhunts a new CEO.  More and more moolah is the perpetual monkey on their backs.

Such is the world.  But there’s something different for believers.   For we can feel Jesus nudging us closer to Himself, loosening the poisonous grip of greed.  1 Thessalonians 4:1–‘…we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.’  There it is.  Pleasing God, more and more, becomes our goal in life.  More and more… of Jesus.

The specifics of how this works out in your life and mine varies greatly.  None two the same.  But to please God…more and more…is where it’s at.  Not only on certain holidays or the odd Sunday, weather permitting; but consistently ‘more and more’, no matter what.

That’s tricky.  How to do this without being obsessive, tying ourselves up in legalism or ritual.  More like wanting to rather than having to.  An eager willingness.

Like I know how all this works out in my life.  I’ve got it down pat.  Not quite!  Not even close.  I struggle as much as any one else.  However, I know the target.  I know where to aim.  You do, too.  So do your best to live for Jesus… more and more.  To know His love… more and more.  His forgiveness and kindness… more and more.  And then?  Well, how about some more!


Lord Jesus, I need you most of all.  Amen.


It’s life’s little things that trip us up.  The forgotten birthday or anniversary.  That ‘thank you’ never spoken.  Silence when encouragement is called for.  A dime-sized foot sore which prevents a beginner’s walk up the trails of Mt. Rainier.  Nine people hell-bent to give me the old heave-ho out of a church of 600.  Doesn’t take a lot to alter the course of life.  I know.  It’s those little things.

Jesus’ half-brother James says as much when he refers to a large ship, caught in fierce winds, yet maneuvered by a small rudder in the aft.  Or a powerful horse, which is no match for a tiny mouth bit forcing Trigger to go wherever you want.

Little things carry much potential.  For good…or bad.  That’s where James gets personal.  Poking in where he doesn’t belong?  None of his beeswax?  Possibly I’m being a tad defensive, fearing he’s pointing his finger directly at me!  It’s not my heart he worries about here, it’s my big mouth.

What I say can be kind and caring.  However, in the next breath, my words cut, zing and maim.  All from a few insensitive words blabbered off my glib tongue.  Thought I was being funny.  Not!  I know what I’m talking about.  Just me?

James 3: 6–‘The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’  Fire…evil…corruption…hell.  This is serious stuff.

Guess I’d better watch what I say.  Clam up a bit more.  Yap less.  Prayerfully increase the use of my mouth’s rudder and bit, asking for the Lord’s help.  On my own, forget it!

Again, just me?


Lord Jesus, help me to be more careful and sensitive.  Amen.

CUT THE CORD! Psalm 129

I dread February when I have to negotiate a better deal with our cable TV outfit for the next twelve months.  Dread an understatement.  I get hot flashes and jitters, accompanied by cold shivers.  Last year the best I can drag out of them is no additional gouging!

This time it all falls apart.  Price way up.  Sky high.  The channels we regularly watch you can count on one hand.  Some negotiator I am.  Those greedy so-and-so’s aren’t going to budge.  But there’s more to this story!

Here’s what.  We vacation on Canada’s beautiful Vancouver Island.  The waterfront condo we rent has a channel with all British programs, our favorite shows, and with no commercials.  Really?  I ponder.  An idea blossoms.

Cut the cord!  Sever them from our bedraggled, downtrodden checking account.  So, slashed and dissevered go our coaxial twisted wires.  Not as easy as they make it sound.  But I prevail.  Let the streaming begin!  And we’re the richer for it…every month.

What could be better?  You know.  Here’s Psalm 129:4–‘But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.’  The psalmist groans that he’s being treated harshly for way too long (v.2).  Handled worse than dirt.  As if a plow repeatedly etches furrows up and down his back (v.3).  We thought we had it rough.

But now the psalmist points to his sole source of hope.  Of course, to our righteous Lord.  We may be surrounded by a bunch of slimebucket hooligans, who maltreat us as their daily entertainment, yet we have One who is right as right can be, who gladly cuts those cords.  Evil will eventually fly away like a helium balloon, which slips through your fingers.  Up, up and away…forever gone!

Our sins, likewise, have their cords cut.  Good riddance.  Adios.  Auf wiedersehen.  Arrivederci.  Toodleoo, cheerio and rice krispies!  Sin’s swan song hummed one last time by God’s forgiven chosen.

We’re free.  To live richly… for Jesus.  What could be better?  Nothing in this world.  For He cuts those nasty cords!


Thank you, Jesus, for life lived for you.  Amen.


President Eisenhower spoke these wise words–‘the important is seldom urgent and the urgent is seldom important.’  This maxim, the Eisenhower Decision Principle, helps people focus on long-term goals, ignoring what needs to be ignored.  How often I’ve fretted over something that never happened.  Or when it did, the outcome was better than I feared.  So much wasted energy.  And I don’t possess a huge stamina-reserve to fritter away!

Daniel is certainly up against it.  A ‘wise man’ trainee, who’s been forcibly abducted from his homeland in Israel to ungodly Babylon.  Now all the high mucky-muck ‘wise men’ fail King Nebuchadnezzar by flubbing his demand to recount his nightmare dream-details and interpretation, meaning it’s literally lights-out for all including Daniel and his three friends.  Unless.  Now he faces the urgent and the important!

What does Daniel do?  Tell you what I’d do.  Pack my bags, escaping on some hush-hush camel train.  Cash out my investments, turning shekels into gold bars, fleeing under the cover of darkness.  Craft a nifty disguise as a female jockey.  Whatever it takes to save my hide!

Not Daniel.  Beginning at chapter 2, we see him approaching the King asking for extra time, hoping to return with some answers.  Holds out for a breather.  Takes a step back.  Why?  Daniel gathers his three friends asking them to pray to God for mercy and insight into what troubles the king.  Pray!  Not just to save themselves, but the lives of all the king’s ‘wise men’ (v.18).  Prayers are offered–important and urgent pleas.

Answers come from the Lord.  The exact right ones, of course!  Verses 20-23 overflow with Daniel’s praise to God for all His help–‘To you, O God…I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what was asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter’ (Dan. 2:23).

Is it too demanding and exhausting to lift our voices in prayer to Jesus?  And to ask a few trusted Christian friends to join in?  Answers will come.  When?  I don’t know.  In what form?  Not a clue.  Who can we trust?  That I know…and so do you.  Our great God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Good reminder on this our country’s 4th of July!  That trust business, I mean.  ‘In God… we trust.’  Agreed?


Thank you, Lord, for helping us when we need it most.  Amen.