X & O Devotionals

X&O Index

Have A Heart for the Hurting
A Guide For Confused Days
Making Ends Meet
Care and Share
Keep An Open Mind
The Flat Days
Stay Cool!
A Dumb Ox
Name Calling is Inexcusable
Choose Good Advisors
Big Head, Small Soul
Be A Friend
Fighting Our Monsters
Holy Warfare
Be Sincere, Not Sly
You Aren't A Clothes Hanger
The Right Shape
At Your Best
A Costly Ministry
Indolence Is Taboo
Running for Life
The Crown Awaits
Be A Barnabas
Fallen Angels
Take Hindrances in Stride
Negatives? Si! Positives? Si, Si!
Enduring the Unknown
What Do You Spell?
Don't Make a Case for Wrong
Don't Put A Pricetag on Friendship
Companions, not Competitors
With the Bad for Good Reasons
Humor, a Dangerous Asset
You Can Help Others
Self-contained Is Self-destructive
Differences, Not Divisions
Stand Tall, Christian!
Christ Makes Us Whole
Break Jail!
Rescue Comes From the Outside
Brace Others
A Long Time
Stand By Your Friends
Loved and Loving
Chosen and Unchosen
A Costly Virtue
Love Is Courageous
Tell the Truth
Centered In God
Do What You Can
Anger Isn't Cute
Service or Sacrifice
Popularity Is Perilous
An Inside View
Adversity Conquered
Be Smart, not Smart-Alecky
Don't Debate with God
Keep In Touch with God
Good Reason for Bad Company
Encourage Someone Today
Someone To Swallow Whole
Christ Has No Secrets
Laughter Can Be Dangerous
Monkey Around a Little
Union for Christ's Sake
Hopping Mad People
A Moment of Sin, A Lifetime of Sorrow
Look Deep or Be Fooled
Pretense Can't Last Forever
Stay Teachable
Not All There - a Common Failing
The Popular, a Dangerous Hook
Neither Kicker or Kickee Be
Like and Unlike
Our Ultimate Honor
Ancestor Worship Is Vain Exercise
Obvious Turnabouts
Be Led, Not Driven
Fight or Flight?
The Noblest Sacrifice
Forbidden Judgment
Radical Change
A Mighty Defender
Multiplied Influence
Living Flexibly
Limitations and Encouragements
Christ Shares the Heat
Your Accent Identifies You
We Need to Be Needed


Big Head, Small Soul

The big-headed are small-souled. The proud, the arrogant, the self-satisfied are an empty and sorry lot when closely examined.

Bud Robinson used to say that pride was the only disease that made everyone sick but the person who had it. We are never comfortable around people with bloated egos.

Paul urged Christians, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought" (Romans 12:3). We need to value ourselves highly enough to forsake low living. But whatever gifts we have are from God, bestowed graciously for service to others.

Even those who seem to have the most are flawed somewhere. People praise the beauty of butterflies. If you look past the gorgeous wings, however, you find a repulsive body, no more attractive than the wingless caterpillar it once was. Don't be big-headed, bull-headed, or bone-headed. Be a sincere and modest follower of Him who said, "I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:29). You will then be more likeable and more helpful.

Be a Friend

The longer you know some people the less you like them. Familiarity
does breed contempt if people are contemptible.

The longer you know some people the more you like them. They become lifelong friends, cherished from school days until death. Especially blessed are married couples who remain best friends and only lovers across the years.

Being a friend is more important than having a friend. By the grace of God we can treat others right even when they wrong us. Jesus was like that and we can be like Him. Those whom He called "friends" (John 15:15) "deserted him and fled" (Matthew 26:56) when He was arrested. Nevertheless, He sought them out immediately after His resurrection.

He who knows us best loves us most. He is a friend who "loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). His friendship should inspire and shape ours. The first Christians knew one another as "the friends" (3 John 14). They learned this from Jesus. Have we?

Fighting Our Monsters

Who isn't threatened by some real or imagined monster? There's a Big Foot hoping to tread upon all of us. "Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Those who ignore this warning are in serious danger of becoming devil's food people.

The wisest use of adrenaline is often flight, not fight. Paul counseled Timothy, "fight the good fight of the faith," but in the same breath he urged him to "flee" materialism. In another instance he tells his protégé to "flee the evil desires of youth" (1 Timothy 6:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:22). Showing your heels to sin is sound strategy for moral victory.

There are times, however, when our strategy must be "stand" and "resist." We are told, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). He doesn't like to hang around the man or woman who resolutely submits to God.

The Lord lets us know when to fight and when to flee. Two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30) when the Lord is with them!

Holy Warfare

The careless Christian is in danger of being stomped and flattened. Joshua's captains placed their feet upon the necks of captured kings, an act symbolic of total victory. Unless we obey the Lord, the enemy may soon be stepping on our necks and shoving our noses into the dust of shameful defeat.

The Christian life is holy warfare. Like Paul we can have victory with a margin, being "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Trouble…hardship...persecution...famine...nakedness...danger...sword"--and even "death" cannot separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39).

Circumstances cannot defeat us. Satan cannot defeat us. The world cannot defeat us. We can only defeat ourselves by refusing God's armor and strategy. We are not exempt from conflict but we are assured of victory.

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20). The wicked stomper will become the stomped.

Be Sincere, not Sly

The fox has a reputation for slyness. To call one "a sly old fox" is to compliment his ability to exploit others. A sly move is usually a sneaky attempt to gain personal gratification.

Jesus called Herod a fox (Luke 3:32). The wicked king, his hands already stained with the blood of John the Baptizer, wanted to kill Jesus. His plotting failed because Jesus knew what was in his heart and planned countermoves.

Wisdom is corrupted when used to deprive or hurt others. Indeed, the Bible warns us that the one who digs a pit for another will fall into it himself (Proverbs 26:27). The ultimate victim of deception and exploitation is the clever person himself.

Paul exhorts, "do what is right in the eyes of everybody" (Romans 12:17). Even more forceful is the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31). The simple practice of radical honesty and love would take the "fox" out of us all. Sincerity is a virtue, slyness a vice.

You Aren't a Clothes Hanger

"The body," Jesus said, "is more important than clothes" (Matthew 6:25). Your body is more than a clothes hanger. It should be the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and the instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:13).

I have an advantage over many people. Since I am short, round shouldered, pot bellied, bow legged, and flat bottomed, nothing looks good on me. I'm not tempted to purchase high dollar, top quality suits or shirts. They would not eliminate the scarecrow appearance.

An old man complained, "All my life I was concerned about fine food and high fashion. Now I'm old and sick. Nothing I eat agrees with me, and nothing I wear looks good on me."

Three principles should govern Christian dress--simplicity, economy, and modesty. God's last name is not Dior and He awards no points for the latest rage from Paris. The body is His temple. Adorn it accordingly and free your mind for things that really matter. 

The Right Shape

Clever is the man who can convince his wife that every dress with a price tag over fifty dollars makes her look fat. Wise is the fat person who doesn't try to look thinner by struggling into tighter clothes. That has the opposite effect.

If you are fat, you will look fat whatever you wear. If you are skinny, you will look skinny whatever you wear. People are optical illusions only to themselves. Kidding ourselves is no laughing matter.

Your weight can be a serious problem if it's a symptom or cause of emotional or physical disorders. We do need to exercise a decisive discipline over our appetites and habits.

However, the shape of the life is vastly more important than the shape of the person. Many of the so-called "beautiful people" lead ugly lives. Many overweight or underweight persons lead handsome lives. They present their bodies "as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God" (Romans 12:1). They live to please Him and to serve others. Their beauty is heart deep and perfumes the lives of all who know them.

At Your Best

Of course O can't do it literally, being footless. We seldom use the phrase literally. It's a way of saying, "Be on your best behavior" or "make a good impression." As a lad I heard it when company was coming.

It's good advice for Christians, for we represent our Lord. Others can be attracted to Him or repelled from Him by our behavior. Never under-estimate the power of a Jesus-like response.

Such responses won't guarantee acceptance or popularity. In this world you may put your best foot forward and get it stomped. The opposition of Jesus to religious hypocrisy in high places brought Him to the cross.

On the other hand, His compassion, patience, love, and promptness to forgive were magnetic. Masses flocked to His ministry.

John wrote, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6). Jesus walked as a man committed to God's will and concerned for sin's victims. Those qualities should mark the daily lives of His followers.

A Costly Ministry

"Blessed are the peacemakers," taught Jesus (Matthew 5:9). But peace making is fraught with danger. Timing and technique are crucial, for warring parties often become a common enemy of the person who tries to reconcile them. There's probably a veiled wisdom in the fact that "Blessed are the peacemakers..." is followed by "Blessed are those who are persecuted..."

I once tried to make peace between a district superintendent and a pastor who was strongly and vocally opposed to him. I told the superintendent that he could bend without breaking, and told the pastor that he could cooperate without compromising. They never reconciled and both of them gave me a good letting alone.

A certain Colt revolver was called "Peacemaker." Peace is made by sacrificing oneself, not by shooting others! Jesus made peace through His cross (Ephesians 2:14-18), not with a sword (Matthew 26:50-54). Go and do likewise!

Indolence Is Taboo

Indolence gets short shrift in Scripture. The sluggard is warned that indolence begets poverty: "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit (Proverbs 6:6-11).

On the other hand, sleep is God's love-gift to His weary people (Psalm 127:2).

Some catch too many Zs. Others should catch more. The right amount of sleep is vital to health, strength, and efficiency. Too much or too little can be destructive of them. Some of my college students used to stay up all night--with the help of stimulants--cramming for a final exam. Then they came to the exam too tired and dull-witted to perform well. If you work hard, sleep hard. The Bible's quarrel is with laziness, not with sleep.

There is a spiritual indolence as destructive as physical indolence. Indeed, the two are often companions. Fruitful Christian living calls for the energetic use of the means of grace. For the believer, !!!s are better than ZZZs. The Lord demands and deserves our wholehearted, energetic service.