Tuesday, March 02, 2021

What Do You Do Best?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

What do you do best?

Do it for God.

Those things you are good at, even if they don’t seem to be “churchy,” offer them up to God as an offering.  

“Lord, I offer this up to You.  I love You so much, and I’m so grateful for everything.”

I’m not talking about anything sinful, of course, but I am talking about the host of things that people are good at besides preaching or teaching or singing or whatever else is on the short list of obvious Christian ministries.

What if you are good at computer coding? 

What if you’re good at auto mechanics?

What if you’re good at sewing?

What are you good at?

Do it for God.

First Corinthians 10:31 says whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 says whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father.

Colossians 3:23 says whatever we do, we should do it with all of our heart, and do it for the Lord.

Romans 12:11 says never be lazy, never be lacking in zeal, work hard, keep your spiritual fervor, and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

So what do you do best?

Do it for God.

Are you gifted in certain ways?  You’re better at some things than others, right?  Where did those aptitudes come from?

James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.

If you have a good gift, God gave it to you, and the best thing to do is to offer it back to Him as an offering, as a sacrifice of praise, using it for His glory, growing it for His glory, blessing other people with it, for His glory.

That seems obvious with the more churchy gifts, but it’s less obvious with the rest.

When my kids were in a Christian elementary school, the parents all pitched in, and one job I took was cleaning the bathrooms every Tuesday and Thursday night.  I figured it was a disgusting job (it was) and that one gift God had given me was that I don’t mind doing disgusting jobs.  

So I did it, I did it well, and I offered it up to God as an offering.  I prayed for the kids and the school while I cleaned.  And I especially remember one night when God’s presence just overwhelmed me.  I was cleaning a toilet, and tears of joy rolled down my face.  I felt so full in my soul.  God did it, and I think He did it because I was offering my best to Him, even in a humble, non-church situation.

What do you do best?

Do it for God.

Offer it up to Him as a sacrifice of praise.

Busy with small children, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, doing laundry?  Do your best.  Do it as unto the Lord.  Do it for Him and watch Him fill your soul.

If you don’t know what you do best, ask around.  Ask your family, your friends, anyone who knows you, and soon enough you’ll get the picture.  

Then take that and grow it, work it, expand it, make it great, and all the while offer it up to Him, back to Him, with thanksgiving and praise.

So I’ll leave you with this question to ponder, one more time.  

What do you do best?

Then do it…for God.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Christians Should Stop Saying This

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Cringey statements.

We’ve all made them.  We’ve all heard them.

Cringey statements are those things we say that make other people cringe, and they often make US cringe when we think about them later.

Here is a statement I hear Christians say sometimes.

“I love them…but I don’t like them.”

I get the point.  You’re talking about a person who says or does things you don’t like, but as a Christian, we’re supposed to love them, so what do we say?  “I love them, but I don’t like them.”

But you know what?  No one is feeling the love here.  “You love me, but you don’t like me?”  I’m not feeling it.

“Well Doug, how can I like someone who is so unlikeable?”

Look.  As Christians we don’t divide the world into the likeable and the unlikeable.  That would be terrible.

God wants us to love people, all people, every single person.  We can walk down the street and in our mind say, “I love that guy and that guy and that guy.  I love her and her and her…all of them…likeable and unlikeable…agreeable and disagreeable…every single person.”

That is God’s calling and His desire for us…to love one another, to love our neighbor, to even love our enemy.

Love is the natural state for God’s people, but we pile on so much baggage that it almost becomes unrecognizable.

Like when we talk about “liking” someone.  This isn’t the first grade playground.  “I don’t like Joey because he’s mean.”

As grown up Christians, we’re supposed to love people, even mean people, and God has put inside of us all the love in the universe in the form of His Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love.  

So do we just ignore all the mean things people do?

No, but we need to separate their actions from their being.  We can dislike, even hate their actions.  And yes, there comes a time when we can’t be around someone, when they are so corrupt that they will suck us into their vortex if we get too close.

So we abhor those actions, but the person is someone made in the image of God, whom God loves, whom Jesus died for, and the Holy Spirit inside of us wants to love them through us.

So we stop making the cringey statement, “I love them, but I don’t like them.”  No one’s feeling it.  If there’s any love there at all, it is nearly unrecognizable.

But here is something we can say instead, and it really is a powerful, biblical, positive and loving statement.  

Instead of saying, “I love you, but I don’t like you,” we can say this.

“I love you, and I want God’s best for you.”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What Am I Denying Myself?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Do you want to be a follower of Jesus?

If so, He gives a prerequisite.

Jesus said if we want to follow Him, we must deny ourselves.  

So the question is, what am I denying myself?

It’s almost un-American to deny ourselves anything.

King Solomon denied himself nothing at all, and it wrecked his kingdom.

I approach this in a childlike way.  I just say, “God, I am denying myself this because I’m so hungry for You.”

Deny myself what?

It’s been many things over the years, and it’s always something.  Yesterday a friend said, “Would you like a muffin?  Or are you fasting muffins now?  I can’t keep track of what you are fasting.”

Well, right now I’m fasting candy and cookies and frozen dairy treats.  I’ve actually been fasting candy and cookies for three years now.

I pray, “Father, I’m denying myself these things that are pleasant in this world because I’m so hungry for the things of the Kingdom of God.”

I’m currently fasting all beverages except what I call the front-line soldier beverages of water and black coffee.

I pray, “Father, I’m fasting all drinks besides water and black coffee because I’m so thirsty for You.  As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after Thee.”

I don’t really know exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Deny yourself,” but I’m pretty sure that if I’m denying myself nothing, I’m not meeting the standard.

So like I said, I approach it like a child.  I just pick some things and deny them to myself.  I fast from them.  I do it out of a heart and a passion to follow Jesus.

He is the Good Shepherd.  I want to be a sheep that follows closely.  I’m desperately hungry for that, to follow as closely as I possibly can.

And He said that if I want to follow Him, then I must deny myself, so that is what I’m doing, in my own humble, child-like, sheep-like way.  

And I hope you consider doing the same.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Honor All People

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

So you want to have a radio program.  We have a few rules, and here’s one of them:  no bashing on other people.

Yes, you can talk about what is true.  You can talk about what is being done wrong.  You can even talk about people who are doing wrong, but the rule stands:  no bashing on other people.*

“But Doug, what about their politics?  What about their lifestyle?  What about their bad doctrine?  What about their evil ways, their deceptions, their cunning, conniving, crafty, criminal lives?”

I don’t care what they’ve done.  I don’t care what they’ve said or what they’re promoting.  If they are out of bounds you can point that out, but you don’t trash them in the process.

Why not?  Where does that come from?  Is it even possible?

In First Peter chapter 2 verse 17 we encounter three of the most powerful words you will ever read in all of the Scriptures.  It says, “Honor all people…”

Honor all people.

Now why would that be in the Bible when there are clearly people and actions and ideas that are dishonorable?

It’s because God, as always, is setting for us the very highest standard.  

Do you want to live at the very highest standard?  Are you ready to rise above the fray, to live at a new level in your walk with God?

Then honor all people.

And what about their dishonorable attributes?  Do we ignore them?  Skip over them?  Make light of them?

Of course not, but we approach every single person on the planet with honor.  

Why?

Because they are people, creations of God, created in His image, and thus they are worthy of honor.

Listen.  Every single human being is an image bearer of God, and that alone makes them worthy of honor.  

And then to whatever degree each of us is living outside of God’s boundaries of what is truly honorable, then that is where God’s redemption must come in and do its work.

And if we really want to open the door for the good news, the glad tidings of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ, we have to realize that it won’t happen by bashing on people.  

Romans 2:4 says that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.

Is there anyone on the planet whom you disrespect, even despise, and you would rejoice at their downfall?

Then stop it.  There’s a better way.  There’s a higher way.  Are you ready to live at the very highest level of Christianity?

Then here’s the thing to do, and it’s found in these three simple words in First Peter chapter 2 verse 17.

Honor all people.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


* We speak the truth in love.  We let our speech always be with grace, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  

One side note:  Peter wrote this at the time when Nero was living his abominable life as the emperor of Rome, and that included doing terrible things to Christians, and yet the last three words of that same verse say, “…honor the king.”  Wow.


Thursday, February 04, 2021

Seed-Bearing Fruit

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Here is a Bible phrase that I am fascinated with:  seed-bearing fruit.

We take it for granted, but it is one of the most remarkable things in all of God’s creation:  seed-bearing fruit.

You bite into a delicious apple and what do you find?  Apple seeds!

So the apple tree not only produces fruit that tastes good and smells good and looks good and is good for us to eat.  It produces seeds inside the fruit that will grow more apples.

It is astounding!  And God gets all the glory.

Except from some people who give all the credit to…evolution.

I was reading a website article designed for children and proclaiming their “academic rigor.”  The author had the academic pedigree, and was answering a question from six-year-old Alice, “Where did the seed first come from?”

The answer to Alice was, “Seeds came together bit-by-bit over a really long time, as plants evolved.”

Now if you believe in evolution like this, then you already take this for granted without a second thought.  Seeds just developed as plants worked out better ways to replicate themselves over millions of years.  End of discussion.

Oh, and not just one plant came up with the idea of a seed.  This same “evolution” occurred in this plant and that plant and plant after plant…aaaalmost like there was a design to it.

Well, that’s because there was a design to it, and a Designer.  God did it, and I thank Him and glorify Him for His amazing creation!

Genesis 1:11-12 says, “Then God said, ‘Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.’ And that is what happened.  The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.” (NLT)

My reaction to that is like what it says in Psalm 52:9, “I will praise Thee forever, because Thou hast done it…”

So like I said, I love this phrase “seed-bearing fruit.”

And that applies to our spiritual life.  Jesus said in John 15:8, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit…”

Verse 16 says “…that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…”

So my prayer is that my life will bear good eternal fruit, and then I add this to my prayer, “Lord, I want to bear good seed-bearing fruit.”

See, it’s one thing to produce fruit, and it’s another thing to produce seed-bearing fruit.

For example, seedless grapes.  Sure, the grapes are delicious, but that’s the end of the line.

But seed-bearing grapes, that’s another story.  They can produce generations of good fruit.

And that’s what I want for my life.  I want to bear good fruit, and I want it to be seed-bearing fruit, the kind that doesn’t end with me, but will continue producing good fruit for generations to come.

“Lord, please let me bear good, eternal, seed-bearing fruit, in Jesus’ name I pray.”

Amen.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, February 01, 2021

The Same Spot Every Day for a Year

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

As I write this, I am fresh off of watching the documentary called My Octopus Teacher.

It’s about a man who came across a small octopus in the waters off of South Africa.  The octopus caught his interest, and even seemed, for an octopus anyway, somewhat friendly.

So he made a decision.  What would happen if he came back to that same spot every day for a year?  Could he win the trust of an octopus?  What would he learn and discover in the process?  So he did it, and filmed it, and now it’s a popular documentary.

But it got me thinking about our relationship with God.  God also is very mysterious and different, full of wonders.

What would happen if we decided to go meet with God in the same spot every day for a year?

I mean, a man did it for an octopus, one of God’s incredible creations, surely we could do it for the Creator Himself, right?

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

James 4:8 says that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

Isaiah 55:6 tells us to seek the Lord while He may be found.

And listen closely to Psalm 14:2.  It says that the Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if anyone is seeking Him.

Am I seeking Him?  Are you?

This man sought to form a relationship with an octopus by going to the same spot every day for a year and seeing what would happen.

What if we sought to form a relationship with God by going to meet Him in the same spot every day for a year?

One thing I know for sure.  If we commit ourselves to draw near to God like that…He will draw near to us.  And the results will be amazing.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Glad Tidings of the Kingdom

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire.  (Luke 24:32)

Here is one of my all-time favorite Bible verses, and it’s probably not one you would think of.  Actually, it’s probably one you would skip over in a rush to get to something more “meaty.”

If my wife and I watch a movie, I often tell her to enjoy the opening shots, even while the credits are rolling, because these are often some of the most beautiful camera shots in the whole world.  A lot of times it’s panoramic, flying over mountains or over a city, or it’s fascinating views of nature or of people all over the world.

And they are almost always happy!  Even if the movie takes a darker turn, it usually starts out happy and joyful.

And that brings us to the opening scene in Luke chapter 8.  In verse one it says that Jesus went through “every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”

I can hear the children shouting for joy!  I can see the crowds gathering with excitement.  Someone begins making music.  Someone is clapping.  Someone has a tambourine.  Some don’t even know what’s going on, but they get excited, too, because enthusiasm is contagious!

And at the center of it all is Jesus.  Jesus is coming!  

And He’s not alone.  Luke 8 says the twelve are with Him, His disciples, and it’s not just the crusty fishermen, but women are with Him as well, and some prominent women at that.  I mean, it’s basically a fun, happy, exciting road show out on tour, and they are coming to your town!

For some reason I hear Jesus quieting the crowd at some point, calling to them, “Friends!  Friends!  I have some good news!”

And the crowd settles in, and Luke 8:1 says that Jesus preaches and brings them the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.

But then, there seems to be a gap.  I mean, the Son of God, the Christ, the Anointed One is speaking and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God…what exactly did He say?

Oh, I want to know what He said!  What were these glad tidings of the kingdom?

Fortunately we have many of the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible, and we can glean from them the glad tidings of the kingdom.

Truly one of the most powerful glad tidings of the kingdom is that it is not based on money or class or lineage.  The world has always had rich people and entitled people, but Jesus said, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

What?  That’s not how the world works.  But guess what?  That’s how the kingdom works!  Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Those are glad tidings!  No matter your class, your race, your income, your education, your gender, your age, or even your appearance…the kingdom of God is for you!

Another glad tiding of the kingdom is that it is a kingdom of love.  Jesus taught us that God loves us!  And He taught us that we should love one another.  

In Luke 6:35 Jesus said, “…love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.  For He is kind...”

Another glad tiding of the kingdom is forgiveness.  God offers us forgiveness, and He calls us to forgive others.  Forgiveness is a hallmark of the kingdom of God.  In the Bible we read over and over again, Jesus saying these words, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Now those are glad tidings!

Another thing Jesus said was things like, “Go in peace,” and, “Peace be with you.”  In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace.”  Luke 1:79 says, “…to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Living at peace with God and peace with each other, this is a cornerstone of the kingdom!

Hope.  Joy.  Kindness.  Gentleness.  Patience.  Faithfulness.  I could go on and on, but I encourage you to open the Bible for yourself.  Read those red words of Jesus, and read them for what they were:  the glad tidings of the kingdom of God!

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.