Thursday, May 31, 2007

wonderful wife

I grew up with a hard-working mom that wasn't timid about getting her hands dirty (in fact, she grew up on a farm, so she grew up with a hard-working mom as well).  I guess I never consciously thought about it before I married, but now (and especially every time I read Proverbs 31) I am so amazed at how God blessed me with such a wonderful wife.
For instance, my wife and I painted the exterior of our house yesterday, and my mother-in-law volunteered to help us!  I am blessed to have a mother-in-law who, by her example and instruction, taught my wife to be a Proverbs 31 woman!  Praise the Lord!
Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me with a wonderful wife who is becoming a Proverbs 31 woman.  Indeed, the scripture is true that such a woman is clearly a gift from you.  Lord, please help me honor her and cherish her as I should.  Please help me love her the way you want me to - as Christ loves the church.  Lord, I pray that you will be honored by my wife's character and our marriage as you continue to grow her into the Proverbs 31 woman.  I pray this in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Phil 4:13

I had a great conversation with my Brother (who is getting married on Saturday) last night about Philippians 4:13. 
13 For I can do everything through the one who gives me strength.
He asked me, "How literally are we to interpret this verse."  I told him that I think the "everything" is obviously bounded by God's preceptive (moral) will, and further constrained by His decretive (providential) will.  God will enable me to do "everything" that He has called me to do, in accordance with His will - so that He will receive glory!
Heavenly Father, please teach me to seek your will above all else and to trust that you will enable me to accomplish the objectives you have planned for me.  I pray that I will have a good attitude and that you will receive glory.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

reflections on completion

Well, I've finished reading through the New Testament again, and I must say that I learned a lot (again).
I recently heard a quote from our pastor:  "You can never coast a day in your walk with Christ."  Thus, while I am pleased that I've made it through the NT again, I know that I can not be proud and I must work hard each day to know Him better.  I think the last verses in John's Gospel really speak to God's infinitude and the asymptotic approach to knowing Him:
John 21:24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.  25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.
This leads me to ask, "How can I know God better today than I did yesterday?"  I think the subsequent question is, "How do I need to obey the Lord today so that I can know Him better?" 
A passage that comes to mind is Jeremiah 29:11-14a:
11 For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you," says the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank you for continually revealing yourself to me as I seek you.  I pray that you will teach me to look for you wholeheartedly, and teach me to obey each and every command.  I ask this in the name of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

forgiveness of sins

John 20:23  "If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld."
Now, at first glance, this might sound like Jesus was giving them authority to justify, but Mark 2:7 and Luke 5:21 clearly identify Who justifies.  John 20:23 is consistent with Matthew 16:19.
Heavenly Father, thank you for using Believers to preach the Gospel message of repentance, faith, and justification in Christ Jesus alone.  I pray that you will give me boldness to preach this message in an attitude of humility and love.  Lord, please make me a decisive man with a desire to follow you, dedicated and determined.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

deliberate determination

As I was reading John 19 today, I was very impressed with how purposeful Jesus's words and actions were towards precisely accomplishing God's Will.  He was so intent on obeying every last command so that each and every prophecy would be fulfilled.  As He was hanging on the cross, almost entirely spent, He said that He was thirsty so that the prophecies would be completely fulfilled.  That is so amazing because it is just another example of how Jesus was who He said He was, and His purpose was not of Himself but from the Father.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Christ's perfect example of complete obedience to redeem and extend righteousness to all mankind.  Lord, may I have deliberate determination as I seek to obey you completely, even down to the smallest detail.  May I honor you by being purposefully proactive about living faithfully.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2007

conflict and resolve

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus makes it clear that people only recognize Him as the Messiah if the Father has revealed it to them, but in John 17:25-26, Jesus makes a different statement as He prays:
25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
So, I kind of see it like this: upon profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Father has revealed the identity of the Son, and the individual is justified; and through sanctification, the Holy Spirit guides the individual into all truth as Jesus continuously reveals the Father to the individual.
In John 18, the switch occurs where Jesus allows Himself to be subjected to the hard-hearted wickedness of the Jewish leaders.  It always drives me nuts when I read this part of scripture because so many injustices occur.
One of the really fascinating "coincidences" of today's reading was Jesus's identity statements in John 18:5 and Revelation 22:13 and 16.
John 18:5 - "I AM" (clearly a direct reference to God's Old Testament Name.
Revelation 22:13 - Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End
Revelation 22:16 - Root and offspring of David, Bright Morning Star
Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing the identity of the Son.  Jesus, thank you for continuously showing me more of Who the Father Is.  Jesus, I thank you for following the Father's plan and submitting to the wickedness of man.  Jesus, I praise you for being "very God," Creator and Completer, and my Bright Morning Star.  How I eagerly hope for the day when I will see you face to face, and I will drink the water of life.  "Amen.  Come Lord Jesus."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

He is the LORD

I love it when a couple of the passages I read really connect!  On Tuesday evenings, our men's small group Bible study is going through Salvation belongs to the LORD - an introduction to systematic theology by John Frame.  As we have been going through his book, I have come to a stronger appreciation for the LORDship of God, and I am now more biased to see as I read the Scriptures (of course, it is hard to miss at the end of Revelation!).
John 16:31-33
31 Jesus asked, "Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it's here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. "
Revelation 19:11-16
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for having the perfect plan and for having the ability to accomplish your plan.  Jesus, I praise you for being the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  I praise you that you are holy, just, and righteous.  I praise you that you are Faithful and true.  I know that you are the LORD of all, but I ask you especially to be LORD of my heart.  Thank you for the peace I have in You, and may you give me grace to pass through the refining trials and sorrows here on earth.  May I glorify you and bring honor to your Name.  I pray in Jesus's holy name.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

fruit that will last

I had always associated the "fruit that will last" in John 15:16 with the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). But I was fellowshipping with a Brother yesterday, and he pointed out that the context of the statement is embedded in this notion of "abiding in the vine" and loving each other.  So, he pointed out that "fruit that will remain" is simply building up the Brothers in Christ.  This seems consistent with Paul's ambitions to present Believers to Christ as mature disciples (fruit that will last).
So, in that light, how am I doing?  Sure, there are several guys with whom I am accountability partners, but how am I actively working to grow other Believers into a more mature disciple of Christ?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your written Word that tells me how to live.  Jesus, I know that you are the author and perfecter of my faith, so I ask you to grow in my life "fruit that will last" and use me to lead others to a closer walk with you.  I pray that you will glorify yourself as I pour my life into the lives of others in a way that encourages them to love you with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, whose death redeemed me, and whose life empowers me.  Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jesus and the Father

I have recently been impressed with the significance of prayer.  I think I generally do not recognize the supernatural power at bay in my life because I don't ask of the Father.  Furthermore, I think I have just discovered an additional component of praying "in Jesus's Name."  It is not strictly that we have access to the throne-room of the Father through the spent blood of Christ, but we also pray "in Jesus's Name" because our true identity is in Christ, and sincere Christians are bent on doing His will (verse 13).
John 14:6-7
6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"
John 14:12-14
12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
John 14:15-17
15 "If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself through your Son.  Jesus, thank you for showing me the way to the Father, and I praise you because you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Lord, please help me obey your commandments to show that I do love you.  Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth and live inside me.  I pray that you will glorify yourself through my life, even today.  I pray this in Jesus's name, because it was His death that redeemed me, and it is His life that is work inside me, for the glory of the Father.  Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

spiritual pursuit

I was very encouraged by a meeting with a Brother today.  We talked about several things, and I realized several things the Lord is teaching me right now.  First, I need to be very careful not to focus on how "good" I'm doing with my own spiritual growth.  It is easy to become prideful about the religious things I'm doing (reading my Bible, memorizing scripture, going to church, discipling other men, etc.).  It is in the subtle pride that Satan gains influence.  I must be very careful to consistently pray that the Lord will humble me.  In the same way that we may never take a day off in our spiritual growth, we must seek more humility in every experience.  "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6)
The second thing I really appreciate from our discussion is that God's Word is true, so I must rest in the comfort of God's sovereignty.  Proverbs 3:5-6 has really impressed me recently.  I am still unsure what I should be specifically researching regarding my PhD dissertation, and I don't really know where God is going to lead us after I graduate (several years away), but today I really focused on trusting God's promise that He will direct my path as I trust Him with all my heart.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the promises in your Word.  Lord, please continue to humble me; show me my pride, and show me my sin so that I can repent.  I want to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  Please help me run with perseverance the race marked out for me.  Lord, I want to seek you with all my heart.  Please give me specific guidance.  Please help me be the man you want me to be.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

another opportunity to believe

Proverbs 18, John 11, Revelation 8, Revelation 9

Jesus purposefully waited for Lazarus to die "for the glory of God." (John 11:4) Also, it was another opportunity for the disciples to grow in their faith.

14 So he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe. Come, let's go see him."

In that context, what especially fascinated me this morning was the dialogue between Jesus and Martha.

20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask." 23 Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 "Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day." 25 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him. "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God."

Here is yet another illustration where God allows troubling things to happen in order to provoke more faith. The Scriptures are full of these situations. The question is, how will I respond in the trials God leads me through? Will I seek Him, to know Him more deeply?

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for showing through your Scriptures that you care more about my spiritual health than my physical comfort. Jesus, please help me focus on who you are - the Resurrection and the Life! Lord, I believe in you, and I ask you to grow my faith. I know that this will lead me through valleys and deserts, but I want to know you, and I am willing to sacrifice my physical comfort to walk with you more closely. Please give me your grace and power to enable me to follow wherever you lead. I pray in Jesus's name. Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

end of semester

The Lord carried me through the stressful end of the semester!  Praise the Lord!  He is so good to me, and He is so graceful and merciful to me.  One interesting story:  I knew that many people were praying for me for my final exams, which was very encouraging.  After I took my last final exam, I called my mom and told her that it was a very challenging exam, and I wasn't sure how well I did, but "I felt like I got the method right."  My mom was blown away because she said that morning when she and my dad prayed for me, she thought it was a peculiar thing for my dad to pray that I would "get the method right."
I spoke at the academic banquet at my high school; it went well.  I talked about the three stages of Satisfaction (success, self-sufficiency, and significance), and at the end of the speech I told them that you can only find true significance in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
God has carried me through so many collegiate semesters now (17 to be precise), and I am amazed at how He has led me along.  I pray that I will continue to demonstrate Proverbs 3:5-6:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
      do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
      and he will show you which path to take.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for being so kind and generous to me.  First of all, you have given me eternal salvation through the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Lord, I pray that I will trust in you with all my heart and not be proud.  I pray that I will will seek your will in all I do, and I know that you will direct my paths.  Father, please glorify yourself, and may Jesus Christ receive honor and praise through my life.  Lord, please help me run with perseverance along the race you have marked out for me.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2007

final exams

It is amazing how God gives you the words you need!  Through the action of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to my heart with precisely the message of encouragment I needed this morning!  I have a final exam this afternoon (very intimidating), and a final exam tomorrow morning (likely to be very challenging).  God spoke through several Scriptures:
Proverbs 14:26-27
26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
       and for his children it will be a refuge. 
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
       turning a man from the snares of death.
John 7:37-39
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
Jude 1:20-25
20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  ... 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Revelation 1:8
8"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
(Revelation 1:4-6)
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

   To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Jesus drew a huge crowd from all His miracles, especially after He fed the 5000.  But He knew that it was not because of His spiritual teaching, but mainly because He fed them.  So He challenged their strictly literal thinking brains to consider the following points (recorded in John 6):
26 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval." ... "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent."  
30 They answered, "Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, 'Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
32 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, Moses didn't give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." ... 35 Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. ... 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. ... 40 For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day."
47 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life!
63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me the identity of your Son, Jesus.  Lord, please help me not be so concerned about perishable things, but rather, please help me focus on eternal things.  Jesus, I believe that You are the Bread of Life, and I know that you will raise me up on the last day.  Holy Spirit, please speak to me and teach me to walk in the Light of Life.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gospel message in 1 John

The Gospel message is so clearly stated in 1 John 4 and 5.  It is spelled out so simply:
1 John 4:9-10
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 4:15-16
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
1 John 5:1-5
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God's children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:11-13
11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life. 13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
1 John 5:20-21
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing to me the identity of your Son, Jesus, who is the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  Lord, I put my trust in you, and I pray that you will teach me to obey your commandments as I demonstrate my love for you.  Lord, I know that you are the only true God, and that you are eternal life.  Lord, teach me to run from anything that will distract me from knowing you.  I pray in the powerful name of Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Prov. 11John 4I John 2I John 3

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that He was the Messiah and that true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. (It is interesting that the Holy Spirit lives inside us, and Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.)

1 John 2:3-6 clarifies this statement:
3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

This is a simple statement, which is parallelled in John 15:9-10:
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

It is fascinating that Jesus talks about giving living water as they are standing at the well. I am studying desalination because I want to use this opportunity of supplying people's physical need for water and telling them about the living water.

It is also amazing that Jesus tells His disciples that there are vast fields that are ready for harvest. I want to be one of those harvesters. Sign me up!

Heavenly Father, I want to worship you in spirit and in truth. I want to obey your commands. Lord, I want to know you and prove that I know you by walking like Jesus. Lord, teach me to remain in your love as I obey your commands. Jesus, please be the LORD of my life. Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jesus Teacher

Nicodemus thought he was complimenting Jesus when he told Him that they knew He was a good teacher by the miracles He performed.  Jesus responded by saying, "You must be born again."  Basically, Jesus threw a rock in Nicodemus's spiritual pond by implying, "That's not good enough.  I am more than just a good teacher - I AM THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD!"
2 Peter 3:9, 15 - The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. ... 15 And remember, the Lord's patience gives people time to be saved.
1 John 1:5-9
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Grace and forgiveness come through FAITH in Christ as Messiah and LORD!
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me that Jesus is the Messiah who takes away the sin of the world.  Thank you for forgiving me and changing me.  Please continue to cleanse me from all wickedness, that I would look like Christ Jesus.  Thank you for your patience with mankind; please use me to boldly proclaim the Good News of forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


2 Peter 1:2 - May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:5-8
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We finished our last night of visitation at our church tonight, and we met two people that said they would come to church this Sunday.  It is exciting to have an impact on others - not that they attend our church, but that they grow in their relationship with Christ.
Heavenly Father, please help me be effective and useful for the kingdom.  Lord, please grow me.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

random thoughts

There is so much good stuff in these passages.  I am amazed that I actually get excited about reading the Bible.  I used to just do it out of duty (and sometimes that is still the case), but now it seems like every morning as I read, the pages come alive and God stirs my heart.  I truly think this is part of the abundant life Jesus spoke of.  I certainly don't have it all figured out - not by a long shot.  But I am excited about growing in Christ.  Perhaps for the first time in my life I really feel that not only am I on the team, but I'm actually in the game.  I am actively pursuing Christ instead of just drifting.  I suppose now I am figuring out how much work and discipline it takes to grow in Christ - it sure is easy to backslide.
Last night I was up late working on a school project, and I had prayed yesterday morning that God would help me have a good attitude about it because I knew it was going to be a lot of grueling work.  Well, I ended up having a great spiritual discussion with my project partner, and I hope that I showed him the love of Christ.
From the scriptures:  Proverbs 8: Wisdom (Christ) is calling out for me to listen and obey.  John 1: Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah, Christ, Lamb of God, very God, Light of the World, and Life.  1 Peter 4 and 5: When I am ready to suffer with Christ, then I have turned my back on sin.
Tonight at Bible study, we talked about God giving the elect to Christ (Eph. 1:4-5).  How humbling it is that God chooses us, justifies us, sanctifies us, does Good Works through us, glorifies us, and then rewards us for the things He did through us.  It's just amazing.
Heavenly Father, thank you for choosing me.  I can't even begin to comprehend all of the complexity of your Perfect Will, but I sure am glad you chose me.  Jesus, I want you to be LORD of my life; I really want you to call the shots.  I want to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you where ever you lead.  Lord, change my heart: take all that black, moldy, crusty stuff out of me and write your Law and Word on my heart. Turn my heart toward you, I beg you.  Deliver me from my sinful nature that does not obey.  Lord, please help me live a righteous life, only by your grace, and only for your glory.  I pray in the Powerful name of Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, May 7, 2007

path of enlightenment

Luke 24:28-32
28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, "Stay the night with us, since it is getting late." So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! 32 They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?"
It is fascinating to me that it was along the road that the men came to understand Jesus and the Scriptures, and it was in a personal encounter when they recognized Him as Lord.  I recognized Christ as Lord of my life when I was 7 years old.  Since then, I have come to understand Him and the Scriptures as I live my life.  Christ is present with us as we travel the road of life, and He explains Himself and the Scriptures to us during our life experiences.  He especially reveals Himself to us during our struggles, for it is when we recognize our deficit of ability that we sincerely seek Him.  Also, we are examples of Christ to others when we suffer.
1 Peter 3:21 - For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[ k] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
1 Peter 1:6-9
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.  8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing to me the identity of your Son, Jesus.  Lord, help me walk the path of enlightenment, that road that is full of twists and turns, bumps and pits.  For I know that you will be with me, and as I trust you with all my heart and do not rely on my own intuition, I know you will guide my steps.  Jesus, I pray that you will teach me who you are and explain the scriptures to me along my path, and I know you will use the pressures and struggles of this life to make me teachable and listen to you.  Lord, I want to know you and the power of your resurrection, so I am willing to die to myself, so that in You I may live.  I pray in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

farmer's patience & great exchange

The great exchange:  I should have been on that cross.  Barrabas represents me, an insurrectionist against God!
Luke 23:23-25
23But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
I love it when the Bible talks about farmers!  (I grew up on a farm, as my blog name suggests).
7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. (James 5:7-8)
Heavenly Father, thank you for making a way for me.  Jesus, thank you for taking my place on the cross. You were innocent, but you took the punishment that I deserved so that I have freedom and eternal life.  Lord, help me stand firm and preach the nearness of Christ's return.  I pray in Jesus's name.  Amen.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


God is in the desalination business!
Luke 6:43-45
43"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
James 3:2-12
2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.   3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring.
So we see that this desalination is also known as sanctification whereby God is reducing the salt content of my heart so that I will be pure and holy like Christ, and out of me will flow streams of living water!
Practically, this is accomplished by daily walking closer to God, by the power of the Holy Spirit within me.
James 4:6-8
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   "God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble." 
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Heavenly Father, thank you for not letting me stay the same.  Lord, thank you for cleansing my heart so that I can know you better and do what you want.  Lord, I pray that you will humble me so that I may resist the devil and come nearer to you.  Lord, please help me control my tongue, for your glory.  Lord, give me grace.  I ask these things in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Friday, May 4, 2007

giving Him my all

I had a great conversation with a Brother last night.  He genuinely wants to grow in his relationship with Christ, and just visiting with him really humbled me about my own personal growth.  The truth is, I will never be at the point where I should be.  It is like the kinetics of chemical reaction - the greater the "distance" the current solution is from equilibrium, the faster that solution will progress toward equilibrium.  Of course, as I am faithful to follow the Christ's lordship in my life, He will reveal the good things I need to implement and the bad things I need to shed (sanctification) so that I can ultimately be in equilibrium with Him (glorification).  This resounds with 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.
The story of the widow's offering at the beginning of Luke really cuts me to the heart.  I want to demonstrate the faith that she did by giving her all to Jesus.  Do I really trust Him with my all ?  Would I be willing to be earthly destitute so that I could be full of faith in Christ? ("Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God." Matt. 5:3)
Luke 21 was also particularly interesting this morning.  Every time I read escatalogical scripture, I get the feeling that we are not so far away as many people imagine.  I know we can run away with stretching and bending the scripture to fit current events (like using a hammer to "solve" a jig-saw puzzle), but I really sense we are drawing near.  The end may come in the next 10 years, or maybe the next 100 years, but I sincerely think, from the perspective of all of history, we are on the cusp of the "birth pains" of the end.
James is one of my favorite books because of how he just comes right out and tells you how it is (well, I guess the whole Bible is really like this, but I especially like the way it is in James).  James 1:21-27 ties back in to what I was discussing with my Brother yesterday evening:
21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.  22 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking through your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and to lead us to obedient lives.  Lord, I want to give you all of me and trust you to do whatever you want with my life for your glory.  God I pray that you will be Lord of my marriage, family, work, friends, recreation, finances, goals, decisions, physical health, and everything else.  I thank you for tearing out my heart of stone and replacing it with a soft heart that is sensitive to your Lordship, and I pray that you will regenerate my mind through the washing of your Word.  May I live a changed life that is noticeably different from the world, and may I be bold about sharing with others the powerful and life-changing Gospel message of Christ Jesus.  It is in His name I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

home stretch

Here I am nearing the end of the semester and growing weary of homework, projects, and exams.  I am completing my third year of graduate school, and my perspective of education is subject to change.  So, set in the context of finishing this semester (my 20th year in school), today's scripture reading was very encouraging.  The Lord knows exactly what I need to hear, and I am so thankful that he speaks through His written word and the Holy Spirit to move my heart.
Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
      do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
      and he will show you which path to take.
Hebrews 12:1-2
1 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. 2 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.
Hebrews 12:10-14, 28-29
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.  14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. ... 28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.
Hebrews 13:8, 15-16
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ... 15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:20-21
20 Now may the God of peace—
      who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
   the great Shepherd of the sheep,
      and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
      for doing his will.
   May he produce in you,
      through the power of Jesus Christ,
   every good thing that is pleasing to him.
      All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Heavenly Father, please help me trust and love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Lord, I want to seek you with all my heart; please show me the hindrances I must discard to run the race.  I lift my eyes up to Jesus, because I know where my help comes from.  Lord, I know you are leading me along a path of discipline, and I thank you for loving me and shaping me into the image of Jesus.  I pray that you will give me a clear mind, a strong grip, and renewed strength in my legs as I wait upon you.  Lord, I humbly ask that you would allow me the opportunity to help lead others along this path of righteousness.  Jesus, I praise you that you are never changing, always reliable, and forever trustworthy; may I bless you with my sacrifice of praise as I try to emulate you.  Father, I beg you to equip me to do your will and produce in me, through your perfect power, ever good thing that pleases you.  All glory and praise and honor to you - forever and ever! Amen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

salvation and faith

Justification occurs when you believe (God throws the gavel and declares that you are in right standing with Him because of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ).  Sanctification is the life-long process of God refining us look like Christ.
Hebrews 10:10, 14
10 For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
Because of Christ's obedience, we are able to approach God.
Hebrews 10:19, 21-22
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Faith is the unseen yet critical factor that distinguishes the living from the dead.
Hebrews 10:39 - 11:1
39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.  1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom you grant to enter your holy place because of Christ's sacrifice.  Lord, I praise you for considering me perfect and working to make me holy.  Thank you for initiating faith in my heart; thank you for the validity of your promises.  Lord, help me live faithfully.  I pray in Jesus's Name.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Christ - the Sacrifice, High Priest, and Advocate

A few comments, and then some heavy duty scripture:
First, I have helped several people over the last week, and the question has been raised - How much do I help people before it becomes wrong?  Christ gave his life away, and He calls me to do likewise; so when should I answer someone that I won't help them?  When did Christ say he wouldn't help someone, and what was His motivation for doing it? 
Second, I "randomly" crossed paths with a gentleman today that doesn't believe.  In the middle of explaining his perspective on the absence of morality, he said something like, "... you don't need someone to tell you what's right.  You can know what is good just from being in tune with nature..."  Now, if you ask me, that sounds a lot like the ubiquitous sense of morality that C.S. Lewis describes in Mere Christianity.
Hebrews 8:10
10 But this is the new covenant I will make
      with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
   I will put my laws in their minds,
      and I will write them on their hearts.
   I will be their God,
      and they will be my people.
Hebrews 9:11-15, 24-28
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. 13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.   27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of eternal life.  Jesus, thank you for your shed blood that washes away my sins.  Lord, may you use me to lead others to a saving knowledge of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.