Saturday, March 31, 2007


I have always been intrigued by the story of Jesus healing a man's hand on the Sabbath in Mark 3:1-6.  It fascinates me that Jesus provoked the conflict.  What really jumped out at me today was His perception of the Pharisees' hard hearts.  Jesus looked around and saw not only the people but the spiritual condition of their hearts.
I think this is an example of how we Christians should see the people around us.  Of course, we should be aware of what is going on physically, but we are also called to look deeper and consider how we may encourage each person around us to a better understanding and closer walk with Christ.
Heavenly Father, please help me be conscious of people around me, and please give me spiritual discernment to know how I can help them know You better.  Please help me take the many opportunities each day to encourage and lead others to a saving understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It's in His name that I pray.  Amen.

Friday, March 30, 2007

coincidental thoughts on 1 Cor. 15

In a Bible study I attend on Friday's at lunch, we are going through the book of Romans.  Today we will be discussing Romans 5:12-20 (Adam and Christ are contrasted).  Interestingly enough, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 "coincidentally" address that very topic.
Also, at the Bible study I attend on Tuesday evenings, we are going through an introduction to systematic theology.  This past Tuesday, we discussed the doctrine of the Trinity.  Needless to say, that was a mind blowing discussion.  Well, sure enough, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 address that very doctrine.
It's fascinating to me that God orchestrates my learning as I seek Him.  He is true to His promise that He will reveal Himself to us when we seek Him with all of our heart.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to me.  Thank you for helping me understand your Word by illuminating my mind to the systematic connections that are self-explanatory throughout Scripture.  Please help me study diligently so that you would approve of me.  I pray in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Mark 1 begins with John the Baptist's preaching and the beginning of Jesus's ministry.  I am moved by the compassion with which Jesus healed the sick and demon possessed among the crowds that gathered as he travelled.  I am especially impressed with verses 40-41:
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean," he said.   41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!" 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.
I can just see this man coming with Faith that Jesus could heal him and Hope that Jesus would heal him.  I can't imagine the joy of seeing your hand and arm that had been previously decomposing suddenly restored to perfect condition!  I bet that feeling is something like realizing that the wicked and decomposing heart of stone I previously had was suddenly replaced by a soft and tender heart when I placed my Faith and Hope of eternal salvation in the One, True Messiah - Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living Covenant-God!  Without His Redeeming Work, I was doomed to destruction, but by His Grace and Mercy, He has enabled me to seek Life in Him!
Now that I have been adopted into the family by the Father, I am called by Christ to show His perfect Love to others.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3 explains the significance of Love:
1 If I could speak in any language in heaven or earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or clanging cymbal.  2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be?  And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountainand make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody.  3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describe what love looks like:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love is eternal, because God is the source of Love: 
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for showing us what Love is through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Please use me to love those around me - showing compassion to the hurt and wounded.  Help me see the significance of Love instead of what this world thinks is important.  I pray in Jesus's Name.  Amen

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Here are a few verses that I really enjoyed from Proverbs 28:
 - 1 The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,
      but the godly are as bold as lions.
 - 4 To reject the law is to praise the wicked;
      to obey the law is to fight them.
 - 13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
      but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. 
 - 14 Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,
      but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
Prov. 28:13 reminds me of 1 John 1:9 as I said on Feb. 28.
My wife and I have recently been challenged to consider making Matthew 28:19-20 a lifestyle.  We think the Lord may be calling us to be full-time missionaries.
Heavenly Father, please lead me along the path you have planned for me.  Please help me be as bold as a lion as I obey the law.  Lord, I confess that I am a proud, arrogant, sinful man in need of forgiveness.  I repent, and I ask you to be merciful and turn my heart towards you.  Please help me obey your command to make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in Your Name, and teaching them to obey everything you have commanded.  I pray in Jesus' Name.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Matthew 27:26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.   27 Some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, "Hail! King of the Jews!" 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Why was that necessary?  Wasn't it enough that Jesus (i.e., the Creator) came to earth as a human (i.e., the creation), lived a perfect life, and died for our sins?  Why did he have to suffer by being mocked and beaten?
What does this imply about Christians (i.e., little Christs, adopted Sons and Daughters of God) being persecuted by this world as we obey the will of the Father?
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to die for my sins.  I don't really understand why it was necessary that he was so badly mistreated, but I accept that it was part of your perfect plan that I can not fully understand.  I pray that you will lead me into complete obedience to your will, even if that means I will experience persecution and hatred from the world.  I pray in Jesus' Name.  Amen.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

am I prepared?

Proverbs 25, Matthew 25, 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 6

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells two parables that really speak to me. First, there are ten bridesmaids, and five of them do not prepare for the bridegroom being late. They attempt to make amends, but it is too late. The first question is, am I prepared to meet the bridegroom at all? ( i.e., Have I placed my faith in Christ Jesus alone?) The second question is, am I staying awake, eagerly awaiting His return?

The second parable is about a rich man that divides 5, 2, and 1 bags among 3 servants. The first two servants double their master's money, but the third buries it. The verse that cuts me to the heart is Matthew 25:29:

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Heavenly Father, please help me be ready for your coming. Please help me be focused on doing your will. Please help me honor you with the resources you have placed in my stewardship. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jesus's commands and eschatology

The president of the IMB spoke at our church last night, and he preached about the commands of Jesus.
 - Look at the fields that are ripe for harvest, pray that the Lord will send out workers.
 - Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself
 - Live out the great commission, as you are going, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey
I was very impressed this morning with the warnings and signs Jesus details in Matthew 24.  Here are some of the things Jesus points out:
 - many will come pretending to be the Messiah
 - wars, famines, earthquakes will be the beginning
 - Believers will be arrested, persecuted, and killed; many will turn away from Christ
   (which, by the way, seems to be immanently feasible with the recent religious conflicts around the world)
 - there will be false prophets and sin will be rampant everywhere
   (which, by the way, is not hard to imagine with the progression of wicked content in radio, TV, and Internet -
   there seems to be an acceleration of societal moral degradation around the world)
 - the Good News will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations will hear it
 - there will be a sacrilegious object that causes desecration
 - the great tribulation will occur
 - Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory
 - at the trumpet blast, angels will gather together God's chosen people
Heavenly Father, please help me see the many people who don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Please send out Believers that love You with their whole identity to share the Good News and make disciples of all nations.  Here am I, Lord. Send me.  May I be a voice that is shouting, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."  Lord, give us discernment as we near the end, that we will not be deceived by the enemy.  Help us walk in the Spirit.  I pray in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Friday, March 23, 2007


There is a common theme of wisdom among these scriptures.  Here is a sampling from Proverbs:
Prov. 23:12, 15, 19, 23, 26 -
12 Commit yourself to instruction;
      listen carefully to words of knowledge.
15 My child, if your heart is wise,
      my own heart will rejoice!
19 My child, listen and be wise:
      Keep your heart on the right course.
23 Get the truth and never sell it;
      also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
26 O my son, give me your heart.
      May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
The first two chapters of Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth comment significantly on wisdom.  I think 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and all of 1 Corinthians 2 help us understand the significance of the book of Proverbs.  For instance, I think 1 Corinthians 1:24 and 30 sum it up nicely:
 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing your wisdom to me and calling me to salvation.  Thank you for continuing to speak to me through the Holy Spirit's presence in my life.  Please help me walk in the Spirit by obeying the Truth and exercising Wisdom, discipline, and discernment.  Heavenly Father, I give you my heart, and my eyes delight in following your ways.  I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

focus and the will of God

I met two Brothers for lunch yesterday, and we discussed the significance of focus.  For instance, when Satan originally messed up, he was looking at himself and how "great" he was.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they were looking at how appealing the fruit was.  I was searching the OT for something else and ran across the following verses in Deut. 7 where Moses is instructing the Israelites before they go in to take possession of the Promised Land:
24 He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. 25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
Contrast that one with Hebrews 12:1-2 (one of my favorites):
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The critical point is your FOCUS.  What are you focusing your thoughts, physical vision, and time on?  Make sure it's Jesus first and doing his will.
We had a guest preacher at our church last night for a Missions emphasis week.  His sermon was on the topic of God's Will for your life, personally.  The text from which he preached was Acts 21:1-16, where Paul would not be dissuaded from God's Will for him to go to Jerusalem, even though it was clear there would be trouble.  The pastor's points were:
- The Will of the Lord can lead to Difficult Partings
- The Will of the Lord can lead to Determined Priority
- The Will of the Lord can cost a Dear Price
- The Will of the Lord can lead others into Devoted Purpose
My "yes" is on the table.  I'm just waiting for God to fill in the details.
Heavenly Father, please help me focus on you first, above all else.  Please help me keep my eyes of myself and anything distracting.  I want to do your Will.  I know that you have a good plan for me, so please work it out in my life.  I want you to use my life to glorify Yourself and help others know Who You Are.  I pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

simplicity of the Christian life

Proverbs 21:3 - The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:21 - Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Romans 12:1-2
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 13:11-14
11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Romans 14:8-9, 17-19
8 If we live, it's to honor the Lord. And if we die, it's to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.
17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
Heavenly Father, please help me live to please you by doing what is right and just.  I want to give you my life as a living sacrifice that pleases you.  Lord, please change the way I think to match the way you think (as much as that is possible).  Please help me be focused on living so that others might see your glory and turn from their selfish ways by Faith in Christ Jesus.  Help me live a life of goodness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit and lead others to do the same.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


In my personal prayer time, I try to implement the ACTS prayer system:
But for some reason, I have always struggled with the Adoration part.  There was a lady that taught at my former church that had a wispy voice and would get breathy and emotional talking about something she learned about God.  I'm just not as touchy-feely as David was in Psalms, so it is very difficult for me to get warm-and-fuzzy about attributes of God.
Last weekend, my cousin stressed the importance of focusing on what scriptures reveal to us about God.  This has changed my perspective on the Adoration of God.  I realize that it is not necessarily an emotional event.  More precisely, it is simply a study of the character of God that He has revealed to us through Scripture.  This morning as I read Proverbs, I asked myself, "What does this tell us about God?" after each proverb.  I was amazed at how much more easily I was able to Adore God this morning in my prayer time because I had focused on Who He Is.  I have heard this referred to as "theology proper," and I have become quite engrossed with the study thereof.  For instance, just this morning I concentrated on how God is patient, persistent, loyal, honest, true, righteous, kind, merciful, just, etc. 
How easy it is to see God if I just redirect my lens from an introspective to a theocentric focus.  He has revealed Himself to us through the Scriptures.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to us through the Scriptures because you are so far above us that there is no way we could discover or observe you on our own.  Lord, please help me stay focused on Who You Are, which will lead me to live appropriately.  Thank you for helping me adore you.  Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Building on previous blog posts:
According to Proverbs 19:5, 9, 22, and 29, we see that God is just, and there will be judgement of sin.  We also observe that God particularly disgusts dishonesty.  Perhaps this is because Jesus is the "Way, Truth, and Life" and Satan is the "Father of Lies".
5 A false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape.
9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed.
22 Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest.
Punishment is made for mockers, and the backs of fools are made to be beaten.
According to Proverbs 19:16 and 19:23, we see that the righteous way is life, and the disobedient way is death.
16 Keep the commandments and keep your life; despising them leads to death.
23 Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.
In Romans 9 and 10, Paul reiterates the principle that being a physical descendant of Abraham does not make you a true Jew.  A True Jew is a "child of the Promise" when he/she places his/her Faith in Jesus Christ.  Romans 10:8-15 is one of my favorite passages because it explains the simplicity of Faith in Christ and evangelism:
8 In fact, it says,

   "The message is very close at hand;
      it is on your lips and in your heart."

   And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"


Heavenly Father, I praise you for being just.  I praise you for always being honest.  Thank you for showing me mercy through Faith in Christ Jesus.  Thank you for the missionaries who are sent to preach the Good News.  Please bless and protect the missionaries that share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Lord, please send more workers to the plentiful harvest. Amen.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Over lunch, my wife and I discussed several verses from Proverbs 18 regarding speech. 
What dainty morsels, rumors are.  It's not like you have to say a lot for it to be a rumor.  It only has to be a "dainty" little statement.  It's so tasty - to hear and to tell.
If you talk a lot, you will experience the consequences: if you are encouraging and optimistic, then you will see life blossom around you; if you are hurtful and negative then you will see deteriation and death.
Heavenly Father, please help me be aware of my speech.  Please help me only say things that glorify and honor you.  Please help me encourage others and see life flourish.  Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Proverbs 17:24 says, "Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth."
This reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. "
Romans 5 and 6 are so encouraging because they explain the joy of the Gospel of Christ.  We were enemies of God, and Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  Through Faith in Christ, we have eternal life and salvation from the death penalty we inherited from Adam's sin.  Praise the Lord for His wonderful mercy!
Romans 6:12-14 ties in with the Proverbs and Hebrews passages:  12 Do not let sin control the way you live;[ a] do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the wonderful gift of mercy, eternal life, and fellowship with you through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Please help me keep my eyes fixed on Christ, Who is the embodiment of wisdom.  Lord, please help me give myself completely to you.  Please glorify yourself through my life.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I went to lunch with my cousin today, and one of the things he told me God was teaching him is that we need to approach scripture from a perspective of "What does this scripture explain about who God is?"  Out of this perspective, then we can more appropriately ask, "How does this apply to me?"  Otherwise, we fool ourselves by coming to scripture with biases and introspectively ask, "What can this scripture do for me?"
I think this ties in well with Proverbs 16:2 and 25:
2 People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
25 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
See, the problem is, our flesh is broken to start with, and there is no way we can learn about God or know Him unless He reveals Himself to us.
Heavenly Father, please teach me to search for you in scripture instead of just approaching it selfishly.  Please teach me to want to know you above all else, and please continue to reveal yourself to me.  Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I was impressed today by the emphasis of gentleness and patience in association with righteousness and life.  By contrast, death is associated with hastiness, foolishness, and short-tempers.
As I was meditating on gentle words, patience, seeking advice, accepting criticism, demonstrating humility, etc., I was reminded of Matthew 11:28-30, Galatians 5:22-24, and Ephesians 4:1-3.
I really appreciate the bold, logical definition of righteousness in Romans 1 and 2.  Righteousness is keeping the terms of the relationship.  God's terms of the relationship originally were simply, "Don't eat the fruit from that tree."  Well, we couldn't keep those relationship terms, and now we certainly can't keep the relationship terms of the Law of Moses.  We know the Law, and the Law stands against us because we aren't completely obedient.  However, there is one person, Jesus Christ, that is completely obedient to the Father, and by Faith in Him, we may be pardoned of our disobedience and restored to a right relationship with the Father.
Heavenly Father, please teach me to speak gentle words of truth and love.  Lord, please help me be an example of Christ by the way I speak to others.  Please help me control my tongue and only use it for good.  Please help me lift up my wife with my words.  Lord, please teach me to show the Good News of Christ through my words and actions.  Help me bear your Fruit that remains.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

relax and enjoy the ride

The first part of Proverbs 14:30 says, "A relaxed attitude lengthens life..."  Most people who know me might describe me as "wound tight."  My grandmother gave me a bookmark at Christmas that is embroidered, "Relax."  I really do need to relax (it would probably help lower my blood pressure, too.)  Just like so many other theological tensions, here I must be careful to work hard and diligently serve the Lord without becomeing anxious or tense.  I must committ to do my best and trust the Lord.
Matthew 14 records Jesus feeding the 5000 men and Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a storm.  Acts 27 records Paul being shipwrecked, and 28 records Paul not dying from a poisonous snake bite.  Here I find the "enjoy the ride" part.  As we walk with Christ, we will undoubtedly experience some crazy situations (my brother is a prime example.)  But it is so thrilling to be a part of something great - to know that the Sovereign Creator God is going to lead us through an exciting journey of life that glorifies His Name.
Heavenly Father, please help me be still and know that you are God.  Help me have the appropriate balance between relaxing and trusting your Sovereignty while also working diligently on the tasks you have called me to.  Please help me enjoy this wonderful life you have blessed me with.  Please help me honor you as I go through life so that others will see the sweet love and thrilling experience I find in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

speech and criticism

Proverbs 13, Matthew 13, Acts 25, Acts 26

As I read Proverbs 13 with my wife this morning, we were drawn to focus on the verses emphasizing the substance of your speech and how you take advice and criticism. According to Christ's teaching, your words are an indication (an overflow) of your heart. As I think about this, I realize that I am usually very critical, probably because I am an engineer by trade. However, as a Believer in Christ, I must allow Him to speak encouraging things through me instead of being so pessimistic and critical. I need to be less concerned with giving criticism and more concerned with taking criticism.

Accepting advice and criticism is only possible when demonstrating humility. As we know, the Lord gives grace to the humble, but He stiff-arms the proud (He holds them at a distance.) Accepting criticism is acknowledging that you don't know everything and that you need help. This is the attitude God wants us to have.

Heavenly Father, thank you for opening my eyes to my critical and sometimes negative speech. I confess that this is not what you want from my heart. Please change me from the inside so that I will honor and glorify you in all I say. Please help me listen to wise advisers and accept criticism so that I can grow into the man you want me to be. Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Proverbs 11, Matthew 11, Acts 21, Acts 22

In Acts 21, Paul is in the Temple in Jerusalem, and some rascal Jews stir up a riot by accusing him of all sorts of falsities. As the Roman guard his hauling Paul away from the riot, he asks to speak to the crowd. They listen to him as he recounts his personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, but as soon as he says God told him to go share the Good News to the Gentiles, the crowed erupted with shouting, "Kill him! He isn't fit to live!"

Now, this baffles me. It seems like the Jews were more offended by the notion that Salvation was for Gentiles than they were that Jesus is the only way of Salvation. It seems like they were so religious that they missed the point.

Heavenly Father, don't let me become focused on religion. Please help me only have the religion that you want me to. Help me keep my eyes focused on Jesus so that everything else is in its proper perspective. Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

the world's true intentions

Proverbs 10, Matthew 10, Acts 19, Acts 20

Proverbs 10 lists several worldy things that are worthless (riches, pride, laziness, too much talking, etc.) Matthew 10 records Jesus saying that the world hates him and is an enemy of the Believers. Acts 19 records the City of Ephesus rioting in defense of their god Artemis because Paul is preaching the truth of Jesus Christ.

The world hates God. The world hates Christ. The world hates Christians. The world lies and believes lies. The world want's to kill Christians, just like it killed Christ.

Be on guard! We are in a spiritual war. Be prepared. Know the scriptures. Pray continuously. Encourage the Believers.

Heavenly Father, open my eyes to this battlefield around me. Give me discernment to be aware of the the spiritual battles waged around me. Guard me with your Armor. Let me only be rooted in you, because you are my Strong Fortress. Teach me to stand for the Truth and defend the Faith. Amen.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Life or Death

Proverbs 9, Matthew 9, Acts 17, Acts 18

Proverbs 9:6,10 - 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding. ... 10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Matthew 9:5-6, 37-38 - 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." ... 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Acts 18:5, 9, 28 - 5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. ... 9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. ... 28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

The ways of this world lead to death, but there is life in Christ Jesus. We have the opportunity to have abundant life as we serve the Lord.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the deception of this world so that I can see the death around me. Teach me to fear you and serve you, that I may experience abundant life in you and share this wonderful Grace with others. Amen.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

spiritual warfare

Proverbs 8, Matthew 8, Acts 15, Acts 16

Matthew 8 records an instance where Jesus cast out demons from two strong men in a cemetery. Acts 16 records and instance where Paul cast out a demon from a fortune-telling girl. Was this power over demonic forces exclusive to Jesus and His disciples? Or are we just chickens to stand firm in Christ's authority (Eph. 6)?

Consequently, Paul and Silas are imprisoned for casting out the demon from the girl. As they were locked up in the stocks in prison, they were "praying and singing hymns to God." What a beautiful testimony of being content in Christ. They weren't focused on the circumstances; they were focused on the Person of God. Circumstances change frequently, but the Person of God never changes. That is why it is wonderful to place your faith, hope, and trust in Him, because He will never disappoint, never forsake, never change.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for being the definition of perfect consistency - You never change because You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. I pray that you will teach me to find my identity in you, not in my circumstances. Teach me to meditate on your unchanging attributes so that I will be content in knowing You. Amen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Faith and obedience

Proverbs 7, Matthew 7, Acts 13, Acts 14

There has been much discussion about the purpose and/or effect of works, especially in regard to salvation. I think it is helpful to view this issue through the trilogy of salvation: justification, sanctification, glorification. I believe Scripture clearly states that justification is by Grace through Faith in Christ, and not by works (Eph. 2, Rom. 8). However, sanctification appears to involve suffering in obedience as a mechanism to make us holy (Phil. 3, Heb. 10, John 15). Jesus explains in Matthew 7:19-21 -

19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
True Disciples 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

This concept is also seen in the life of King David, as Paul cites in Acts 13:22

22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

Heavenly Father, please produce the Fruit of the Spirit in my life. Please let my life be characterized by Your Person. Train me to be a man after your own heart as I seek to obey you. Amen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Proverbs 6, Matthew 6, Acts 11, Acts 12

Jesus gives quite a bit of insight on prayer at the beginning of Matthew 6, and it is extremely significant that Jesus makes an ultimatum about forgiveness after the model prayer. I see these major points:
1. Don't pray so that you will get attention. In fact, do the opposite. He knows what you do in private and will reward you accordingly.
2. You don't have to catch God up on everything going on; He is more aware of your circumstances than you are.
3. Pray in such a way that you:
a) give God Glory
b) ask for God's Will to be executed
c) ask for your needs to be met
d) ask for forgiveness
e) ask for strength against the enemy's attacks
4. Forgive others so that you will be forgiven by the Father
5. Don't fast so that you will get attention. In fact, do the opposite. He knows what you do in private and will reward you accordingly.

Jesus sort of sums it up with Matthew 6:33: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

In Acts 12, we get to see the results of effective prayer: King Herod Agrippa imprisoned Peter, but the night before his trial an angel led him out of jail as the believers were gathered and praying for Peter's safety.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for being omniscient. I praise you for knowing all of my needs and wanting to take care of me. I praise you for knowing what I pray for in private and answering my prayers. I thank you for the confidence it gives me to be a Child of the King. Lord, help me forgive others as you have forgiven me. Teach me to pray. May your will be done. Amen.

Monday, March 5, 2007

sweet wife

Proverbs 5, Matthew 5, Acts 9, Acts 10

I have been married about 4.5 years, so we've had our share of honeymoon/newlywed times and our rocky times. Over the past year and a half, the Lord has really changed my heart and worked on me in many ways, especially in my relationship with my wife. I have come to appreciate her very much, and I have become more impressed with how the Lord has blessed me. So while this meditation may not be very theologically "deep," I find it significant nonetheless. These verses in Proverbs 5 have really become truth in my life:

18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe... May you always be captivated by her love.

As I consider the wonderful ways the Lord has blessed me through my wife, I desire to love her and bless her all the more, which reminds of the mysterious metaphor between earthly marriage versus the love of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). This is a practical/experiential component of the Christian life. As we grow in our fear, knowledge, intimacy with Christ, we are able to have a truer relationship with Believers, and especially Believing spouses, in this life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the many blessings you have given me in and through my wife. Please help me honor her and encourage her. Help me cherish her and love her. Help me love her in a way that glorifies your name. Thank you for the sweet experience of knowing her in my relationship with you. Amen.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Son of Salvation

Proverbs 4, Matthew 4, Acts 7, Acts 8

I thought of an interesting parallel to Proverbs 4:18:

18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

Take the sun as an image of the Son (Jesus). Before the dawn (e.g., before a person believes), you can observe evidence of the sun's brightness (e.g., you can tell that Jesus is at work in his/her heart).

At the first gleam of dawn (e.g., Justification - when a person puts his/her Faith in Christ), you can see the sun clearly (e.g., you can see Jesus clearly in his/her life according to II Cor. 5:17).

As the sun continues to come over the horizon, you can see more and more of the sun (e.g., Sanctification - you can see more and more of Jesus in the way he/she lives according to Romans 8:28-29, II Cor. 3:18, and Hebrews 10:14).

Then there comes a point, when the whole sun is seen (e.g., Glorification - we stand face to face with our creator and Savior according to I Cor. 13:11-13 and Rev. 22:3-5)!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful plan of redemption. Please make me brighter and brighter as the light of your Son shines through me as a testimony of your holiness! Amen.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Christlike suffering

Proverbs 3, Matthew 3, Acts 5, Acts 6

The latter part of Acts 5 describes the Apostles' run-in with the "law." The Sadducees instructed them not to talk about Jesus, but they did it anyway, so they threw them in jail. An angel let them out, and told them to go back to teaching about Jesus. So, at the next meeting with the officials, the Apostles were flogged and sent away, and here was their response:
41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them
worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day, in the Temple
and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus
is the Messiah.”
Acts 6 records a situation where Stephen was debating with some egotistical smartypants that falsely accused him of evil things because they couldn't refute his wisdom. Thus, Stephen was arrested (soon to be martyred) for his obedience to the Lord.

How similar these situations are to the example of Christ: he was falsely accused, wrongly punished and beaten, killed for our sin. We look like Christ when we suffer injustice from this world as we faithfully obey the Father.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for the suffering of Christ. I ask you to give me strength as you lead me to suffer according to Christ's holy example. May you be glorified. Amen.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Living by the Spirit

Proverbs 2, Matthew 2, Acts 3, Acts 4

Theme of today's reading: it is not by our own power that we obey the Father, but it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that He enables us to obey Himself.

In Matthew 2, the three wise men obey the Spirit's leading by not going back to see Herod, and Joseph and Mary obey the Spirit by going to Egypt and then to Nazareth (which fulfilled prophecy, of course).

In Acts 1, Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will come upon them with POWER and that they will be His witnesses to the immediate region and ultimately, the whole world. In Acts 2-4, Peter and John obey the Spirit by preaching and healing, and more preaching. Remember how fickle Peter was with Christ and contrast that with how he behaves in Acts; this is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit!

And what is it, exactly, that Peter preaches that is so profound? The beautiful, Good News of Jesus Christ:

Acts 3:16-20 (New Living Translation)

16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how
crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very
17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to
Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had
foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of
your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of
refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you
Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
Acts 4:10-12 (New Living Translation)

10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”


Heavenly Father, please help me walk in Truth according to your Word. Help me listen to the Holy Spirit and obey! Help me seek your will above all else. Please glorify Yourself through my life. Amen

Thursday, March 1, 2007

simplicity of the Gospel

Proverbs 1, Matthew 1, Acts 1, Acts 2

I was encouraged much by the succinct message of the Gospel that Peter shares at Pentecost:

36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

It's that easy. We preach the truth of sin and Christ's victory, and then God will bring in those whom He has called through the Holy Spirit's work.

Heavenly Father, give me boldness to proclaim the good news through Jesus Christ. Give me opportunity and spiritual discernment. I ask that your Holy Spirit work through me in the lives of those around me. Please bless me by allowing me to participate in your good work by sharing your redemptive plan. Amen.