Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A couple of verses in Hebrews 3 jumped out at me today:
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God's messenger and High Priest. 2 For he was faithful to God, who appointed him ... 12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving , turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. ... 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn't it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
First of all, I simply like the concept of "thinking carefully about this Jesus."  I mean, He is the centrality of our faith, so we should be obsessed with Him.  And why should we dote on Him?  Because "He was faithful to God," - "single minded obedience" as Bonhoeffer put it.  Indeed, we should be careful to disallow evil and unbelief to turn us away from the living God because Satan's schemes are sneaky.  It is to the obedient believers that God will award the inheritance of Christ; the unbelievers will not experience True Rest from the Lord of the Sabbath.
Heavenly Father, help me think carefully about Jesus.  Lord, I want to understand Him and love Him even more.  Jesus, thank you for being both High Priest and sacrifice for me.  Give me strength to obey you and help me be aware of Satan's schemes so that I may remain faithful, obedient, and believing.  I pray that you will glorify yourself through my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2007


My wife has not been feeling well (sinus infection?, allergies?, anxiety?) for several weeks.  We have been to the doctor three times and even had bloodwork done, but we are still unsure about the cause (and hence, the remedy) to her illness.  More recently, this prolonged sickness and uncertainty has begun to take it's toll on my wife's mental and spiritual health as she wrestles with worry.
With acute instances of worry, sometimes it is enough simply to reprimand, "Don't worry about it.  Everything will be OK."  However, with chronic worry, a reprimand only aggravates the situation (I learned this first-hand in the car on the ride home).  Something more is required - something that doesn't necessarily solve the physical problem but that does solve the worry problem.  And what is that problem?  'Tis a focus on the self and the ailment.
So, what is the solution to the problem of worry?  Well, at some point in the not too distant past, my mom gave me some wise advice when I was very worried about something.  She pointed me to the following Scripture:
Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Here is the simple yet powerful solution:  pour your heart out to God - both in petition and thanksgiving.  He cares that we are troubled, and He wants us to find refuge in His infinitude.  So, it is in the act of thanksgiving that we realize how blessed we are, how He is presently and actively involved in our lives, and how He has solved our problems in the past.  The solution, then, is thus:  it is a focus on God and His grace instead of ourselves and our depravity.  Perhaps the most "excellent or praiseworthy" thing to think about is the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  This principle of shifting our self-centered focus to a God-centered focus is echoed in Romans 8:6 (NASB):
6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Well, we exercised this principle last night when she couldn't go to sleep because she was so worried about not feeling well.  It's a catch-22: she feels bad and worries about it so much that she can't get to sleep, which makes her feel worse and worry even more.  I prayed a simple prayer asking the LORD to heal her, and I began to verbalize all of the things we had to be grateful for.  Her breathing became more relaxed, and as I began to remind her about the grateness of God and His wonderful act of self-sacrifice through the life of Jesus Christ, she drifted to sleep - peacefully. 
This is grace - peace with God eternally, and peace from God presently!
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your compassion and never-ending mercy.  Lord, I thank you for your Word that provides practical solutions to real-world problems.  Lord, thank you for caring about me and the details of my life.  Thank you for listening to me and answering my prayers.  Father, I pray that you, the Great Physician, will heal my wife and cure her illness.  Lord, I pray especially that you will teach us to focus on You, the eternal solution, and not on our immediate problems.  Lord, I ask this in faith and in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

greatest influencing factors

Some great quotes from 2 Timothy:
2:15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. ... 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.  22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
3:14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
I've heard that the two greatest influencing factors in a person's life over the next several years will be the people close to them and the books they read.  Well, here it is in scripture.  That's why we need to be close to GROWING Christians and continue to read, memorize, and meditate on Scripture.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that teaches us the truth and what you want.  Lord, please help me stay close to actively growing Christians and lead others to a closer walk with Christ.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

good Samaritan

In Jesus's parable in Luke 10, the good Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii for tending to the injured Jewish man.  A denarius was the full day's wage of a laborer.  Now, let's suppose this story was contemporary, and let's assume that a laborer makes $26,000 per year - that's $500 per week, or $100 per workday.  So, basically, the contemporary good Samaritan gave $200 to take care of this man.
Application: it will cost me something to be a good neighbor.  God expects me to give and sacrifice "my" resources for others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving your precious Son for me.  Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life as a ransom for mine.  I pray that I will be generous with the resources you have placed in my care.  I pray that I will have a proper perspective of humanity without cultural predjudices - people made in the image of the Holy God.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Proverbs 22 Luke 9 1 Timothy 4 1 Timothy 5

Yesterday I helped my dad and my brother harvest cotton!  The LORD has blessed the crops so abundantly this year - more than any year before!  The dry-land is producing more than our irrigated usually does!  My brother and I have been praying a lot this year for the LORD to bless the fields, and my dad has been praying for over 25 years!  This is indeed an answer to our prayers.  The LORD is so kind and gracious! 

This Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for: salvation through Jesus Christ, my sweet and beautiful wife, growing up in a Christian home, health and safety, peace and freedom, a warm house, food on the table, the opportunity of higher education, the physical and spiritual gifts the LORD has given me, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, friends, clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and my heartbeat that the LORD sustains.

I really love this scripture passage; it encourages me to continue forging ahead in my walk with Christ:

1 Tim. 4:10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.  11 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. 12 Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.  14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. 15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.


Heavenly Father, thank you for your many blessings!  Thank you for the things I am ignorant of because your faithfulness and grace is beyond my comprehension.  Lord, I pray that you will lead me in a faithful life of obedience to you.  I pray that you will use me to demonstrate your love, faith, and purity.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

soil types

Luke 8:5 "A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!"
... 11 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God's word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God's word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
I used to think that the four soil types refers to three unbelieving conditions and only one believing condition, but now I think it refers to only one unbelieving condition and three believing conditions.  This suggests that we should allow the LORD to cultivate our hearts into good soil that will receive the LORD's word and produce a great harvest that will glorify Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will cultivate my heart to be tender and responsive to your Holy Word.  Lord, I pray that you will produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life in a way that glorifies your great name.  I pray this in the name of the one who paid my penalty of sin, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


One of the major principles that I've been learning recently is that we are to always be engaged to grow in Christ.  We don't get a day off.  We need to be deliberate about pursuing the LORD - continually.   It is imperative that we maintain continuity in our walk with Christ.  The following Scriptures really resonated this morning with this truth:
2 Thess. 3:1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord's message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. 2 Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer. 3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you. 5 May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
1 Tim. 1:5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.
Heavenly Father, I pray that your message will spread rapidly and be honored around the world, especially with Christian missionaries.  Lord, save us from wicked and evil people and deliver us from the enemy.  Guard our minds and hearts with your love and peace.  Help me be faithful to your commandments and plan for my life.  Jesus, help me know you fully so that I may demonstrate your love and faithfulness for your glory.  I pray that you will purify my heart, renew my mind, and grow my faith.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

sorrow and comfort

Yesterday we studied Genesis 29 in BibleLife, and the focus was on Jacob and Laban, but afterward we were speculating about why God chose to route the lineage of Christ through Leah instead of Rachel.  Perhaps one of the reasons is that Rachel was sort of mixed up in the idolatry of her pagan father, Laban, but Leah seems to have more of a relationship with the LORD.  Also, there is this concept of "sorrow."  The scripture says that God saw Leah's sorrow and opened her womb.  This ties in with what I read this morning in Luke:
The Beatitudes
 20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
   "God blesses you who are poor,
      for the Kingdom of God is yours.
   21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
      for you will be satisfied.
   God blesses you who weep now,
      for in due time you will laugh.
 22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
Sorrows Foretold
   24 "What sorrow awaits you who are rich,
      for you have your only happiness now.
   25 What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,
      for a time of awful hunger awaits you.
   What sorrow awaits you who laugh now,
      for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.
   26 What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
      for their ancestors also praised false prophets.
It's like we get a choice:  we can be "sorrowful" now and happy later, or we can be "happy" now and sorrowful later.  On that note, Paul indicates a similar concept in regard to suffering (hmmm.... very interesting):
7 And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don't know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. ... 11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that illuminates reality.  Father, I pray that I will seek to live according to your plan.  Lord, I pray that I will have appropriate sorrow here in this life so that I will experience the joys of obedience in the life to come.  Jesus, thank you for the sorrow and suffering you demonstrated on my behalf.  I pray that I will return glory to you by humbly obeying your Word.  I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I was really convicted by the following verses from Colossians 4:
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
I pray a couple of times per day, but it's not systematic like it should be.  I really need to get on board with my wife and have "devoted" prayer time.  I can see that this is one of the major steps towards growth in Christ in my life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that teaches me how to live.  Lord, please help me become a consistent and systematic prayer.  Lord, I want to ask for your will to be done in the lives of my wife, friends, family, and me.  Lord, please help me cooperate with you to accomplish your will for my life, and please grow me according to your good plan.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

suffering again

My wife and I had a great discussion about suffering this morning.  I think suffering is God's primary instrument for spiritual growth.  It's not until we're in pain that we really seek God - I mean REALLY seek God.  Pain (whether physical, emotional, or mental) is one of God's most effective tools for engaging us to want to know Him.  So, I think there is a correlation between spiritual maturity and a persons resistance to opposing suffering.  That is, the mature Christian does not sadistically pursue pain, but he/she possesses a willingness to work through a time of suffering because he/she knows that God is growing His church and glorifying Himself.  This is because, when faced with suffering, a Christian must answer this question with his/her behavior:  Which do I want more - to cling to Christ and know Him more, or to relent and alleviate this pain?  Of course, the most extreme case is the decision of a martyr:  I want to know Christ and be identified with Him above all else, even more this physical life.
Phil 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Heavenly Father, thank you for growing me.  Lord, I pray that you will continue to sanctify me and teach me to want you more than anything in this world.  Lord, please give me the proper perspective of suffering and the faith to follow you through any circumstance.  Lord, I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who suffered for me.  Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Mark 15:15 So to pacify the crowd, 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.  16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor's headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, "Hail! King of the Jews!" 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Gal. 6:17 ... For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.
Phil. 1:29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.
When I read that verse from Philippians this morning, a small fear and a small urge battled inside me.  After reading what Christ went through to purchase my Freedom, I know that He is calling me to suffer with Him, so that I may experience the Resurrection life!  So, this morning, as I sat there on the bus, gripped with the sobering reality of giving up my life (Gal. 2:20, Luke 9:23-24), I whispered this simple and genuine prayer that I know He will honor:  "Lord Jesus, let me suffer for you.  Let me bear scars on my body to show who I serve.  May I be counted worthy of your grace."
Heavenly Father, thank you for the precious sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ.  Lord Jesus, thank you for spending your life for mine; thank you for enduring the suffering and shame of this wicked world.  Lord, help me deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow you.  Holy Spirit, wash me in the Word and purify me.  Use me as you please.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who purchased my life.  Amen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

answer to carpet calling question

Two days ago, I asked about what a maturing Christian is supposed to do when he/she discovers that another Believer is distracted with things of this world.  Well, here's my answer from Galatians 6:
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Mark 12 was really cool today.  In Mark 11, Jesus marches into Jerusalem in the middle of a parade, and people are really beginning to catch on to this Messiah idea.  What does Jesus do, well He rolls into the temple, looks around, and then heads out to a bungalow in the country for the evening!  How anticlimactic!  The next day He shows up with a whip and raises ruckus in the temple.  Then He gets into a theological showdown with Pharisees and Sadducees, and it ends with Him giving a backhanded compliment to Mr. Smartypants and throwing a rock in their theological pond about how the Messiah is both David's son and Lord.  But, what I love most is how the chapter concludes:
41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on."
You see, Jesus just had a bout in the ring with the theological heavyweights, but what was He most concerned about?  This lady had given God her ALL!  She demonstrated her faith in giving Him everything - down to the last penny!
On that note, I echo Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1, first for myself and my wife, for my Believing friends and family, and especially for my dear friends who have not yet placed their faith in Jesus Christ:
16 ... I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.  19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him.
Heavenly Father, I want to love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I want to love you with all that I am and all that you've given me.  Lord, I pray that you will teach me to love my neighbor as myself.  Jesus, I give you my ALL, and I pray that you will use me to lead others to do the same.  I pray this in the wonderful and matchless name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I was really struck by this scripture this morning from Mark 11:
19 That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.  20 The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. 21 Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, "Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!"  
22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too."
It's amazing that Jesus starts off talking about physical stuff, but it's dependent on the spiritual.  So, I see this chain of dependency:
  1. forgive others
  2. believe you've received it
  3. request for physical intervention
Wow!  It seems like forgiveness is God's top priority!  I wonder why.  Oh, maybe only because He sent His one and only Son to die and pay the price for our sins so He could forgive us!!!  If He has forgiven us of an infinite debt, then we certainly should turn around and forgive others of finite debts.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that speaks so clearly.  Lord, I pray that you will show me where I have not forgiven someone in my heart, and I pray that you will lead me in a lifestyle of forgiveness - in honor of your eternal work of redemption.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

carpet calling

Acts 10 records Peter's vision from the Lord and Peter's visit to Cornelius, a Gentile.  Peter then defends his actions against critical Jewish Christians and explains that the Holy Spirit has been given to the Gentiles.  This is all particularly fascinating when you consider Galatians 2:11-21 where Paul calls Peter on the carpet for having no problem associating with Gentiles for a while, but then he ostracizes them when some Jewish friends of James show up.  My question is, how do you know when it is appropriate to rebuke a Christian publicly for hypocrisy versus when you should encourage them privately?  Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical question; I have a Brother in Christ who has slipped back into alcoholism and a Sister in Christ who is struggling with sexual purity.  How do I know how I am supposed to address each situation?  I see three possible choices (ordered by increasing friction):
  1. pray
  2. pray and encourage
  3. pray and confront (rebuke)
First of all, I recognize that probably one of Paul's spiritual gifts is prophecy.  Does that mean that only someone with the gift of prophecy should rebuke a hypocritical Christian?  Is there any Scripture that states conclusively that I must confront the person since I am aware of the situation?  Is there any Scripture that explains that under certain circumstances it is most appropriate for me to not confront the person and only pray for them?  Secondly, Peter's actions were leading others into hypocrisy.  So, was Paul's method of public rebuke with Peter associated with Peter's position of leadership in the church?
If God's Word says that He will answer any prayers that are offered in faith and in the Name of Christ, then why hasn't He given these two a wake-up call or a body-check yet?  Surely at least a few of the many people who are praying for them really have faith (because I know we have the "... in Jesus' Name" part down).  Does God answer prayers in proportion to the sum of the faith of all the praying believers, or does He answer prayers in proportion to the harmonic average (biased towards the smallest contributor)?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that teaches us how to live.  Father, I pray for the two Believers that are distracted from holy living, and I pray that you will lead them to repentance and righteous behavior.  Lord, I pray that you will answer our prayers for these two, and show me how I am supposed to respond or intervene.  I pray this with faith and in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

proof of concept

As a follow up to yesterday's thoughts, here is proof that what I'm doing is right (from 2 Cor. 13):
3 I will give you all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me. Christ is not weak when he deals with you; he is powerful among you. 4 Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God's power.
 5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 6 As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.
 7 We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won't need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. 8 For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. 9 We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.
And I love the concluding statement Paul makes at the end of this letter:
 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will show Christ through me.  Lord, I pray that I will fellowship in the Holy Spirit.  Lord, please make me strong and mature - full of Christ Jesus.  I pray this in His name.  Amen.

Monday, November 5, 2007

spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare is real.  We have an enemy who wants to devour us.  That liar and deceiver seeks to kill, steal, and destroy, and he's sneaky:
2 Cor. 11:14 ... Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
But take heart, Christ has overcome the world, and He defeated the Devil at the Cross of Calvary.  As I cling to Christ and His merciful grace, I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to stand against this aged foe - victoriously!
2 Cor. 10:3 We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. 4 We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
What are these "mighty weapons" of God?  Well, Ephesians 6:10-18 explains:
  • Belt of Truth
  • Bodyarmor of Righteousness
  • Boots of Gospel Peace
  • Shield of Faith
  • Salvation Helmet
  • Sword of the Spirit (Scripture)
  • Prayer and Fasting
So, how does this impact my life today?  Well, there are several situations in friends and family that come to mind straight away, and I'm sure there are others that I need to be sensitive to.  I need to fast and pray for my own life and the lives of my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your power.  I trust that you are sovereign.  Lord, I know that you have allowed Satan to exist for some reason that I can't understand, but I trust that you will lead me and my wife to overcome that disgusting enemy.  Lord, I pray that you will knock down the Devil's strongholds in my life and the lives of my family and friends.  Lord, I pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will flow through me and that you will defeat the enemy of my soul, for your glory.  I pray that you will protect me from Satan's attacks and help me be aware of his trickery.  Lord, transform me by renewing my mind, and may I take on the spiritual armor listed in Ephesians 6.  Lord, may I cling to you as you sanctify me and purify me from all unrighteousness.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Victorious Warrior who has redeemed my life from destruction.  Amen.

Friday, November 2, 2007


As I said last time I read these passages, this is RICH! 
As I was walking from the bus to my office this morning, I prayed that these passages would be true of me.  I want to be Christ's ambassador, and I want to live my life like the beginning of chapter 6.  One of the cool things is that I feel like the Lord has made an incremental improvement in me since the last time I read this passage.  It is amazing to know that He is growing me.
Heavenly Father, thank you for growing me.  Thank you for teaching me your truth and making it come alive in me.  Lord, I pray that you will continue to accelerate my sanctification that I may look more and more like Christ.  Lord, help me live a holy life in fear and wisdom.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, in whom all things are possible.  Amen.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

sanctification and "glorification"

This morning we had a prayer breakfast up at church that was led by our pastor.  We are studying the life of Simon Peter in a series called "The Man God Uses" on the first Thursday of each month.  Today we focused on the continual transformation that occurs as Christ works on us to change us into His image.  I really appreciated the emphasis of sanctification from our pastor, and it was great to see him open up to us and be real and transparent about being a man, husband, and father.
Interestingly enough, the two chapters from 2 Corinthians this morning go hand-in-hand with the prayer breakfast topic.  I discovered a different connotation of the word, "glorification" this morning, and it goes right along with sanctification.  Now, most of the time, when we say, "glorification," we refer to the completion of sanctification - the point at which we are made perfect in Heaven.  However, here I use the word to describe the process by which the Holy Spirit glows inside us like a light bulb coming on - brighter and brighter.  As we are transformed into His likeness, then we reflect His glory better and better so that, in a way, we are experiencing "glorification."
3:7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses' face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn't we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! ... 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Application - I'm going to live my life like a light bulb, shining Christ's light everywhere.  I'm going to be joyful and peaceful and loving, not because of me but because of God's grace working through me as a result of what Christ did on the cross.  The Holy Spirit is changing me more and more so that over the period of a couple of months, you will see a change in me.  He is renewing me and regenerating me - He is using spiritual Windex to make this mirror of my life reflect God's glory better and better.
Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing me exactly the way I am and loving me in spite of my wickedness.  I praise you for being loving and compassionate.  Jesus, thank you for your perfect and infinite work on the cross.  Holy Spirit, I pray that you will transform me into the image of Christ - glory unto glory.  Lord, please use me to lead others along this path of transformation also.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.