Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I love Psalms!

I prayed these verses from Psalm 65 specifically for my dad's crops this morning:
 8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
       where morning dawns and evening fades
       you call forth songs of joy.
 9 You care for the land and water it;
       you enrich it abundantly.
       The streams of God are filled with water
       to provide the people with grain,
       for so you have ordained it.
 10 You drench its furrows
       and level its ridges;
       you soften it with showers
       and bless its crops.
 11 You crown the year with your bounty,
       and your carts overflow with abundance.
 12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
       the hills are clothed with gladness.
 13 The meadows are covered with flocks       
       and the valleys are mantled with grain;
       they shout for joy and sing.
A concise summary of the Gospel from Psalm 68:
 19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
       who daily bears our burdens.
 20 Our God is a God who saves;
       from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
These verses from Psalm 19 resonated within me this morning:
 7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
       reviving the soul.
       The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple. 
 8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
       The commands of the LORD are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes. 
 9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
       enduring forever.
       The ordinances of the LORD are sure
       and altogether righteous.
 12 Who can discern his errors?
       Forgive my hidden faults. 
 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
       may they not rule over me.
       Then will I be blameless,
       innocent of great transgression. 
 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this beautiful morning!  Thank you for your Scripture that changes who I am and refines me to be what you want.  Lord, I pray that I will ingest your Holy Word.  Dear Father, I genuinely pray that you will make the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart pleasing to you, O Yahweh, my Rock and my Redeemer.  I pray  this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Obedient Son.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I've been running on low sleep for about two months, and I think I'm about to crash if I don't get some good sleep.  It's easy for that physical exhaustion to start creeping in on my spiritual health.  I thought about sleeping in this morning, but I decided not to because I didn't want to miss our men's prayer breakfast.  One of the guys prayed for me this morning, and as he prayed that God would give me strength and energy, I genuinely felt uplifted.
As I read about David dancing before the Lord as the Ark was returned,  I realized a couple of things.
  1. I need to dance and sing before the Lord.  It's one thing to sing at church with other Believers, but it's another thing to praise and celebrate Him individually.  I realize that I need to do that - humbly and genuinely praising Him, even if I look silly to other people: unashamedly worshiping my Savior.
  2. The Enemy will use people to accuse us, and he will try to incite jealousy and spite, especially in the marriage relationship (e.g., Michal despising David for dancing before the Lord like a common man).
The song that David gave in 1 Chronicles 16 and Psalm 15 really spoke to me this morning.  I will meditate on these passages today.  I can feel them feeding my spirit and shaping my soul.
Heavenly Father, thank you for ministering to me this morning.  Thank you for caring about me and giving me your Word which is always true and relevant to my life.  Thank you for Christian Brothers who will pray for me.  Thank you for my understanding and compassionate wife who loves me and cares about me.  Lord, I want to honor you like David did.  I want to love you and praise you so much that I don't care what other people think.  Lord, I pray that you will protect my marriage from Satan's attacks; may we be united in our faith and obedience to you.  Lord God, I pray that you will make me a holy man, a pure man that is in close fellowship with you.  I want to know what you think and feel; I want to obey you.  I want to have a clear picture of who I am and how I fit into your will.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer.  Amen.

Monday, April 28, 2008

consulting the Lord for direction

Psalm 16, 2 Samuel 5:6-10, 1 Chronicles 11:4-9, 2 Samuel 5:17-21, 1 Chronicles 14:8-12, 2 Samuel 23:13-17, 1 Chronicles 11:15-19, 2 Samuel 5:22-25, 1 Chronicles 14:13-17, 2 Samuel 5:11-12, 1 Chronicles 14:1-2, 1 Chronicles 13:1-14, 2 Samuel 6:1-11, Psalm 101

Twice in these passages, David consults the Lord before making a military decision.  It is encouraging to see someone believe that God cares about him, wants to hear from him, will answer him, and knows what is best for him.

I previously read about the Ark of the Lord being captured by the Philistines, and all who were around it suffered ailments and other bad consequences.  But in this passage, when the Ark stayed a few months in the Israelite family of Obed-Edom, the received blessing.  This demonstrates the principle that for the elect/chosen, God's presence is a blessing, but for those who do not Believe, God's presence incites judgment.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide me like you did King David.  I pray that I will consult you regarding all decisions in my life and that you will turn my heart where you want it to go, like a stream of water.  Lord, I pray that I will experience the joy and blessing of your presence.  I want to know who you are, how you think, what you want so that my life can be about the Father's business.  I want to seek first your Kingdom and your Righteousness.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, April 25, 2008


1 Samuel 30:1-31:13, 1 Chronicles 10:1-14, 2 Samuel 4:4, 2 Samuel 1:1-27

Some neighboring peoples raided David's camp while he and his army were away...

30:6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 7 Then he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring me the ephod!" So Abiathar brought it. 8 Then David asked the Lord, "Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?"   And the Lord told him, "Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!"

  1. David experienced difficulty.  True.  I can identify.  The Lord allows us to experience difficulty to drive us to seek Him.
  2. David found strength in Yahweh his God. 
  3. He had a personal relationship with Yahweh, and Yahweh was in charge of his life.
  4. He consulted Yahweh about his predicament.
  5. Yahweh answered him.
  6. Yahweh delivered and blessed him.
  7. Yahweh cares about us and desires us to have close fellowship with Him so that we will obey Him according to His good plan.
Application:  It is the end of the semester - lots of work to do.  I will find strength in Yahweh my God.  I will not sacrifice my personal time with Him because it is out of that relationship that I am enabled to live.  He fills me with ZOE - His divine life.  I will ask Him for guidance and obey His direction.

Heavenly Father, I humbly submit to your will.  I acknowledge that my plans are evil because the flesh inside me desires wickedness.  I don't want to live an empty life; I want you to fill me with your ZOE life and guide me to glorify you.  Lord, I want to honor you all day; I want to think about you all day long.  I want to meditate on your Word, that I may experience the application of your LOGOS as RAMAH.  I pray this in the name of the Word, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


69:30 I will praise God's name in song
       and glorify him with thanksgiving. 
 31 This will please the LORD more than an ox,
       more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.
86:3 Have mercy on me, O Lord,
       for I call to you all day long. 
 4 Bring joy to your servant,
       for to you, O Lord,
       I lift up my soul.
 11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
       and I will walk in your truth;
       give me an undivided heart,
       that I may fear your name. 
 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
       I will glorify your name forever. 
 13 For great is your love toward me;
       you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
In the trials and temptations we experience in life, it is important for us to focus on the identity of who God is and His incredible expression of love towards us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In the pressing stress of that moment, it is important for us to keep our eyes fixed on Him and not ourselves.
As I took my dog out this morning, I was praying that now that the Lord has lead me to a consistent discipline of reading the Scriptures daily, I want to learn to think about Him and talk to Him all day long.  I want to seek Him with all of my heart, but I know that I can not.  It is Christ that must live within me.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for the incredible person that you are.  I praise you for being infinitely loving and kind, compassionate and caring.  Lord, I pray that you will lead me to crucify the flesh and allow your Holy Spirit to reign in my life.  Please take my whole heart as your own.  May I look to you always and know the comfort and rest in a fellowship of unity.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

saving harmony

 Psalm 31
 1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
       let me never be put to shame;
       deliver me in your righteousness. 
 2 Turn your ear to me,
       come quickly to my rescue;
       be my rock of refuge,
       a strong fortress to save me. 
 3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
       for the sake of your name lead and guide me. 
 4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
       for you are my refuge. 
 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
       redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
 16 Let your face shine on your servant;
       save me in your unfailing love.
 23 Love the LORD, all his saints!
       The LORD preserves the faithful,
       but the proud he pays back in full. 
 24 Be strong and take heart,
       all you who hope in the LORD.
Psalm 40
 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
       he turned to me and heard my cry. 
 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
       out of the mud and mire; 
       he set my feet on a rock
       and gave me a firm place to stand. 
 3 He put a new song in my mouth,
       a hymn of praise to our God.
       Many will see and fear
       and put their trust in the LORD.
 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
       but my ears you have pierced;
       burnt offerings and sin offerings
       you did not require. 
 7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—
       it is written about me in the scroll.
 8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
       your law is within my heart."
 It is a matter of the heart.  It always has been.  I think David's request in 40:6 is referring to the ceremony of a servant who has the opportunity to go free, but who willingly chooses to remain a slave because the master is so good to him.  As I look at David's statements of praise to God, I asked the question, "Was there a particular quality/attribute of God that He was most impressed with in these Psalms?"  I think he was particularly grateful for Yahweh's ability to save David spiritually and physically.  I think he was impressed that it is God's desire for us to be saved, He gets glory out of saving us.  It is part of His perfect will.
Heavenly Father, thank you for caring about me.  Thank you for watching over me and not wanting me to fall in a trap.  Thank you for protecting me, even beyond what I can see.  Lord, I pray that you will receive glory from saving me.  Out of the thankfulness and love that you have poured into my life, I want to do your will.  You are my God; you are my master.  You are such a good master that I want to be your servant forever.  Lord, pierce me and make me your own.  I pray that you will pour your Spirit of Life into me.  I want to know your heart and be united in fellowship with you.  I desire that my body, soul, and spirit would be in harmony with the operation of the Triunity God of all Creation.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

lostness and patience

2 Samuel 22 is almost identical to Psalm 18, so it was refreshing to read it "again".  It really encourages me to live all out for Christ - hold nothing back.  I am thinking that I am going to "kick it up a notch" in our Bible Life group; I am going to be honest with our group about how I want to pursue the Lord with all I have, and if anyone wants that, they are welcome to join me, but I will hold them accountable.  Accountable not to a bunch of worthless works, but to an attitude of the heart - to seek Him with all I am.  The natural result of which is the Holy Spirit producing fruit in me - a consequence of abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ.
From Psalm 53:
 1 The fool says in his heart,
       "There is no God."
       They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
       there is no one who does good.
 2 God looks down from heaven
       on the sons of men
       to see if there are any who understand,
       any who seek God.
 3 Everyone has turned away,
       they have together become corrupt;
       there is no one who does good,
       not even one.
It is by His mercy and grace that He imputes the righteousness of His Son so that we may no longer be enemies of the Holy One, but instead sons and daughters.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace; thank you for sparing me the death penalty and giving me life in Jesus Christ.  Lord, I pray that I would give you my life in loving gratitude.  Lord, I want to abide in you, that you will produce your fruit in this branch, that you would give the victory over my enemy Satan who wishes to destroy me.  I beg you to defeat him in my life.  Lord, keep me from falling.  I trust in you with my whole life.  I ask you to redeem me from destruction.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, April 21, 2008

victorious life!

1 Samuel 25, Psalm 18

Yesterday morning we talked about David and Bathsheba in our Bible Life group, and Pastor Lewis preached on Romans 7 about the carnal flesh inside.  Last night, Pastor preached from John 15 about abiding in Christ.  I think David's words in Psalm 18 come from his abiding in the Lord and seeing God take care of him:

 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
       he drew me out of deep waters.

 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
       from my foes, who were too strong for me.

 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
       but the LORD was my support.

 19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
       he rescued me because he delighted in me.

 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
       to the blameless you show yourself blameless,

 26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
       but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

 27 You save the humble
       but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

 28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
       my God turns my darkness into light.

 29 With your help I can advance against a troop;
       with my God I can scale a wall.

 30 As for God, his way is perfect;
       the word of the LORD is flawless.
       He is a shield
       for all who take refuge in him.

 31 For who is God besides the LORD?
       And who is the Rock except our God?

 32 It is God who arms me with strength
       and makes my way perfect.

 33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
       he enables me to stand on the heights.

 34 He trains my hands for battle;
       my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

 35 You give me your shield of victory,
       and your right hand sustains me;
       you stoop down to make me great.

 36 You broaden the path beneath me,
       so that my ankles do not turn.


 46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
       Exalted be God my Savior!

 47 He is the God who avenges me,
       who subdues nations under me,

 48 who saves me from my enemies.
       You exalted me above my foes;
       from violent men you rescued me.

 49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;
       I will sing praises to your name.

 50 He gives his king great victories;
       he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
       to David and his descendants forever.

This is the Victory in Christ Jesus!  Satan will be tread under our feet as we humbly obey Yahweh and abide in Jesus Christ as we worship in Spirit and Truth.

Heavenly Father, thank you for pulling me up out of defeat against the enemy.  You rescued me from despair and death.  Lord, you have saved me to victory in Jesus Christ.  May I abide in you today.  Lord, I want to call on your name all day long, because I know that salvation comes to those who call on your name.  May I keep in step with the Spirit, and may the attitudes of my heart be pleasing to you, my God and King.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

type of Christ

David's running from King Saul.  Ahimelech (priest) helps him out.  A dirt bag shepherd named Doeg tells Saul about it.  King Saul had Doeg kill Ahimelech's father's whole family (priesthood), except for Ahimelech's son Abiathar.  Abiathar runs to tell David what happened, and this is what David said:
22:23 Stay here with me, and don't be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both."
David is a type of Christ in a lot of ways, but this one is pretty sweet.  We can find refuge from Satan in the life of Christ.  Indeed, Jesus spilled his blood - He gave up His own life - so that we are protected from sin, death, and the Devil!  Praise the Lord!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the shed blood of Jesus Christ which washes away my sin and renders Satan powerless.  Jesus Christ protects me from the enemy, and in Him we have Victory!  Praise you Jesus. May my life be devoted to sharing this truth with others.  I pray in the Matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

relationship with God through Christ

In all of these Psalms, David spoke of Yahweh (LORD) as if he knew Him personally.  The one I appreciated the most was Psalm 59:5(a):
O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel ...
(Yahweh Elohim Sabaot Elohim Israel)
It means, "the Self-existing covenant-maker, ruler of everything, ruler of the one who wrestles with God."
Along this same line of knowing God personally, I sat next to a Brother on the bus this morning that reads his Bible every morning (there are several of us). 
I asked him, "Todd, what does it mean to be a Christian?" 
He answered, "To have a relationship with God through Christ." 
I asked, "How does someone cultivate that relationship?" 
He answered, "Just like any relationship, we grow closer through communication.  God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer."
He seemed kind of curious why I would ask these questions, so I explained that I just started teaching Bible Life Group a few months ago, and since that time, I have been challenged to not only communicate the truth of the lesson each Sunday but also a passion for pursuing Christ autonomously. He told me that he teaches the teen class at his church, and he agreed that it is quite a challenge.  He said this, "I guess you just have to show them by example."  This is a truth that another Brother shared with me about a month ago.  Having studied and practiced the concept of discipleship for several months, he said, "Discipleship takes time.  You have to let people into your life.  You have to bring people into your life.  You have to share life with each other so that you can teach them how to love Christ."
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will show me how to be a disciple maker.  Lord, I pray that you will use me in my Bible Life Group to lead others to a closer relationship with you and that they would be inspired to seek you autonomously and passionately.  Lord, I pray that you will reveal yourself to me and that I will be so blown away by who you are that I am overjoyed to share you with others.  Lord, I pray that you would break the chains of the Enemy in my life and those around me today.  Lord, I pray that you will give me victory in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Michal (King Saul's daughter, David's wife) lied to Saul's men when they asked about David.  Then she lied when she said that David was going to kill her if she didn't help him escape.
David and Jonathan conspired a lie to tell Saul to test his desire to kill David.
What's the deal with all of this lying?  I realize that it might be harder to tell the truth, but wouldn't God get more glory that way?  Wouldn't He be more pleased with honesty than someone's attempt to "help" Him?
What about the story of Abraham lying about his relationship with Sarah to save his neck?  What about the Israelite midwives lying to the Egyptians to protect the baby boys from death?  What about Rahab lying to protect the spies?  What would have happened in each of these situations if the individuals had the guts to tell the truth, or at least address the heart of the issue instead of skirting conflict with deception.
It seems to me that, generally, dishonesty/deception is associated with Satan (aka, the father of lies), and honesty/truth is associated with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Hmm... interesting.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will make me an honest man of integrity.  I pray that you will give me discernment in difficult situations to know what the real issue is and how to address that in a way that completely honors you.  I pray that you will humble me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Christ is our Champion

It occurred to me this morning that David and Goliath are types of Christ and Satan, respectively.  Goliath (Satan) stands in defiance against the chosen people of Yahweh and shouts insults and accusations.  But look!  Here comes the humble shepherd, servant of Yahweh, David (Christ) carrying a stick (the Cross of Calvary)!  He defeats the enemy through faith and obedience in Yahweh!
I believe the Lord cares about all of the conflict in my life, large and small.  I trust that He will lead me to victory because Christ has already defeated the Enemy of our Souls!
Heavenly Father, please give me strength and boldness to follow in the wake of Christ's victory.  Lord, your word says that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!  I praise you for your kindness to deliver me from the clutches of the enemy and empower me with your very Spirit.  Lord, help me walk in victory today.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

praise report

Yesterday was incredible!  A couple in our Bible Life group had planned to join our church yesterday, so they invited some of their family to join them for church.  "Coincidentally", we had a guest evangelist speak yesterday, and his brother, sister, and aunt all responded to the preaching with professions of faith!  Praise the Lord!  We are so excited about what God is doing in their lives!
We talked about David and Goliath in Bible Life yesterday, so I appreciate this verse from the reading this morning:
20 They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted in him. ...
Observation #1:  There will be battles.
Observation #2:  God will deliver us when we cry out to Him and trust in Him.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for the work you are doing in our Bible Life group and their families.  I pray that you will continue to work miracles, save souls, and change lives - for the glory of your Name.  Lord, I pray that you will be near me during my battles.  God help me; save me from myself.  Lord, please humble me and deliver me from my enemy.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, April 11, 2008

presence of God

When the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant, the people in their towns experienced trouble in the form of death, destruction, tumors, etc.  But for the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant represented the Lord's favor.  It is interesting that those inside the Covenant experience blessing from the presence of the Lord when their fellowship is pure, but those outside the Covenant experience wrath associated with the presence of the Lord.
Our God is Holy, and this holiness is not to be taken lightly:
6:19 But the Lord killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Lord. And the people mourned greatly because of what the Lord had done. 20 "Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?" they cried out.
Application - I will humble myself before God and appreciate the gravity of His presence.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your holiness.  How incredible is your Name!  You are sovereign and beautiful.  Lord, I want to honor you.  I desire your fellowship.  Lord, I pray that you will continue to reveal yourself to me.  Lord, give me a passion for your holiness.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The Lord called Samuel three times before Eli realized what was going on and told Samuel how to respond:
3:8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."  Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"  Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
How incredible would it be for Yahweh to come stand in the same room and speak to you?!  That would overload my circuits.  As if just talking to Him wasn't amazing enough, the Lord revealed to Samuel His judgement against Eli's family, and He employed Samuel as a prophet to Eli.  Man, would that be tough!  But here we find demonstration of God's age old process of involving mankind in His operations:
  1. He reveals Himself to an individual
  2. He explains part of His plan
  3. He employs that person to share the message
  4. The faith of that individual grows when he/she obeys the Lord
God used this opportunity to grow Samuel and prepare him for future ministry:
3:19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. 4:1 And Samuel's word came to all Israel.
Application - The Lord has revealed Himself to me, He has revealed His plan of objective and subjective salvation through Jesus Christ, and He has employed me (and every other Christian) to share that message of hope with everyone in the world.  My faith will grow as I am obedient to share that message and allow His presence to fill my life.  I have several friends in my research group who need to hear the message.  I must be faithful to share, even though it will bring friction to our relationship (as Samuel's prophecy brought friction to Eli).
Heavenly Father, give me great boldness to share your message of hope.  I pray that you will make me unashamed of the Gospel, because it is Your very power at work - saving people from sin and death.  Lord God, please use me as a prophet.  May I be faithful and obedient.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

objective and subjective

2:1 ... "My heart rejoices in the Lord!
      The Lord has made me strong.
   Now I have an answer for my enemies;
      I rejoice because you rescued me.
 2 No one is holy like the Lord!
      There is no one besides you;
      there is no Rock like our God.
113:1 Praise the Lord
      Yes, give praise, O servants of the Lord.
      Praise the name of the Lord!
 2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
      now and forever.
These verses really impacted me this morning.  I desire to praise Him, but I don't really know what that means.  Sure, I can say, "Praise the Lord.  Hallelujah!" or "Praise Jesus!", but is that really praising Him?
I want to love Him more.  I asked a Brother yesterday, "How do I love Him more?"  He replied, "To love Him, you must know Him, and you get to know Him by reading His Word."  That is one aspect.  The other aspect is through experience.  Once we know Who He is and sort of have an idea of what He wants, then we are able to interact with Him through Faith.
14:19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. ...
That's what I want!  I want to know Him by reading His Word - that objective truth of reality.  But how about the subjective nature of experience. Yes, I also want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to accomplish His good plan!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that teaches me truth and reveals Who you are.  Lord, I pray that by faith in Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit will come upon me in power and operate through me to glorify yourself.  Lord, I pray that you will give me the victory today because I ask in faith in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

picture of Christ and the Church

Ruth 3-4, I Chronicles 2:3-16, 1 Samuel 1
4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and
the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said
to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a
kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your
life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you
and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."
Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women
living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father
of Jesse, the father of David.

Boaz is a picture of Christ. He is the kinsman redeemer, and his name means "strength" or "quickness". Jesus is our Redeemer, and His Name is Salvation.

Ruth is a picture of the Church (i.e., the bride of Christ). Her name means "friend". Indeed, Jesus no longer calls us enemies or slaves, but friends of God. By the way, Mahlon (Ruth's first husband's name) means "sick". I think that is interesting. Ruth used to be married to "sick" and lived in the land of the enemy.

Furthermore, their child was Obed, whose name means "servant" or "worshipping", and his son was named Jesse, which means "gift". So, I think the analogy is that the consequence of an abiding relationship with Christ, the Church worships in a gift of service. (I know it's a stretch, but it's not inconsistent with the teachings of the New Testament.)

Heavenly Father, thank you for rescuing me from the sick land of the enemy and saving me to a life with my Redeemer. Lord, I pray that I would offer you a sacrifice of praise; I pray that my life will be pleasing to you. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer. Amen.

Monday, April 7, 2008

God's purpose

I was thinking about all the trouble that Naomi and Ruth experienced, and I realized that the Lord allowed it all to happen according to His plan and purpose.  He allowed the famine to send Elimelech's family to Moab; He allowed Elimelech and his two sons Mahlon and Kilion to die; He restored the agriculture in Israel so that Naomi would return; and He put the desire in Ruth's heart to follow Naomi.  He was in control of it all.
Application - As crazy as my life seems right now with marriage, coursework, research, teaching Bible study, ... I know that God is in control.  I trust that the difficulties He is leading me through are in preparation for me being used according to His purpose.
Heavenly Father, I trust you with my life.  Lord, I pray that you will lead me through whatever it takes for me to be a part of your good plan and purpose.  May I humbly submit to your perfect will.  I pray that you will glorify yourself in my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

graphic violence

Wow!  This passage is rough!  A Levite went to retrieve his runaway concubine, and on their return trip they were solicited by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites).  The concubine was raped to death, so the Levite cut her body up into twelve pieces and sent one piece to each tribe of Israel.  You can imagine the outrage!  A huge army turned out from Israel and fought against the Benjamites.  After several days of battle, 40,000 of the 400,000 Israelites were killed, and 25,000 of the 26,000 Benjamites were killed.
Bottom line - "The wages of sin is death."  Sin is ugly.  "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy." 
Application - I must be diligent in this quest of the mortification of sin, because it hurts me and everyone around me.  I am reminded of Romans 6:12-13 -
12 Do not let sin control the way you live; 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.
Heavenly Father, I am sorry for my sinful ways.  Lord, I beg you to rescue me from my wicked soul; purify me and make me holy from the inside out.  Father, please sanctify me - spirit, soul, and body.  May I live a holy life as I keep my eyes fixed on you.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

more of the same

Wow.  This tragic cycle is repeated over and over and over.  I can see how Yahweh would get tired of that.
10:9...The Israelites were in great distress. 10 Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help, saying, "We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal."  11 The Lord replied, "Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you. 13 Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!"  15 But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said, "We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies." 16 Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery.
You can really see the emotional side of God's love in this passage.  I can relate this to my own life.  Several years ago, I battled an addiction and lost, over and over and over.  I can see from this passage how much that grieved the Lord.  I couldn't save myself; I needed Him to deliver me.  A few years ago, He delivered me from my addiction.  That is how I know that Yahweh is my salvation; deliverance is through Jesus Christ alone.  That is why I am so passionate about helping others experience the abundant life in Christ Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for delivering me from the vicious cycle of defeat and addiction.  Lord, I praise your name because you are holy.  I praise you because you are full of compassionate love.  Father, I want to live in response to the grace and mercy you have shown me.  I want to lead others to experience not only the eternal salvation through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but I pray that you will use me to lead others to live holy lives of single minded obedience in victory over sin and death.  It is only in the name of Jesus by which I pray.  Amen.

Friday, April 4, 2008

theological observations

I spoke with my Pastor on Wednesday about one particular story in Judges, and he helped me appreciate that story more.  Then I spoke with my Brother Nick over the phone yesterday, and he challenged me to consider the significance of the book of Judges as a whole.  "What insights do we gain from the book of Judges?" he asked.
I see two major points straight away.  First, as my Pastor pointed out, Judges highlights the depravity of man.  As the Israelites are repeating the cycle of tradgedy I outlined before, God raises up a judge to lead their deliverance.  No sooner does the judge die than the Israelites go to pot.  This reiterates the point, we are disfunctional beings because we are fundamentally wicked.
The second major point is that God is so gracious.  He is faithful to deliver us whenever we call to Him for salvation.  No matter how bad we've been, no matter how far we've deviated from His perfect plan, He is faithful to forgive and restore when we humbly demonstrate faith.  This is powerful!  After reading one of my previous blogs this week, my mom refered me to Isaiah 30:18-19, 23.
Almost contrasting, the particular theme of today's reading was justice, especially in spite of the wickedness of men.  The Lord worked through wicked men to bring justice.  Another demonstration of His total sovergeinty.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for being patient with me and forgiving me over and over and over.  Lord, I do not want to abuse your grace; I want to live a life of holiness in response to the grace you've shown in saving me from destruction.  Lord, I pray that you will help me walk with you today.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

mighty hero

The angel of the LORD shows up and tells Gideon (who is threshing wheat in the bottom of a winepress because he's a chicken) that he's a mighty hero.  Hah!
No, really.  Even though it didn't seem like it presently, God knew how He would guide Gideon to lead an army into battle against the Midianites.
I think about my own life and how I'm just a kid from a farm in west Texas.  I'm nobody special, but I feel a special call on my life.  My friend Nate and I had a great conversation last night about service, and then Pastor taught about service this morning at Prayer Breakfast.  I feel like the LORD is developing me to be a spiritual leader.  Maybe He will make me a "mighty hero" like Gideon.
Heavenly Father, I humbly lay my life before you.  I ask you to examine me; remove anything that you don't want, and add anything you do want.  Father, mold me and make me into the man you want me to be.  God, I pray that you would make me a spiritual leader of my family, local church, work, and beyond.  Father, empower me to be an ambassador for Christ.  I ask you this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Well, it's really lame that the Israelites go through this tragic cycle of
  1. prosperity,
  2. apathy,
  3. rebellion,
  4. pain,
  5. remorse/repentance,
  6. deliverance,
but it is so true to my own life (and we get some fantastic stories of bold judges). 
What does it take to prevent digressing from Stage 1 to Stage 2?  The answer is... Stage 4.  I think that's why the LORD allows us to experience trials and tribulations of many kinds, so that our faith will grow.  It's a bittersweet - bitter for the flesh, sweet for the spirit.
The goal is not to ride the violent prosperity/pain roller coaster (vomiting from the oscillating acceleration/deceleration), but rather to stay in a constant state of spiritual flux - a dynamic equilibrium between humble submission to testing and jubilant celebration of the LORD's sovereign salvation.
Heavenly Father, please help me follow you closely.  Lord, I do not want to oscillate between abiding and denying; I just want to abide.  Lord, please bless me and give me strength to endure the testing.  I trust you to bring me through anything by your grace.  Lead me to a closer walk with you; I want to experience your presence in my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

from obedience to disobedience

Mankind is so fickle.  We're tossed back and forth by the waves.  One minute we're praising God and following His plan, and the next minute we're irritated because someone cut us off in traffic.
At the end of Joshua, all of the Israelites are saying, "We love Yahweh, and we're committed to whatever He wants.  We will obey."  Yeah, sure.  I've heard this story before. Over and over and over.  Only two chapters later, what do we see?  The Israelites failed to drive out the native pagans, and they became a snare to the Israelites.  Soon the Israelites were intermarrying and even worshipping idols.  How does it go to pot so quickly?
Moral entropy.  Sinful nature.  Perfect continuous obedience to Christ is like the ideal thermodynamic reversible process; it's even sort of like a perpetual motion machine.  When we have faith, that leads us to obedience.  Obedience grows our faith, and the cycle continues.  However, sin is the moral equivalent of thermodynamic irreversibility.  Once you've wasted that energy - it's gone, never to be recovered.
The amazing thing is that God is gracious.  In Him we find the paradox of simultaneous perfect justice and infinite mercy.  Even though we are almost constantly losing spiritual "energy and momentum" due to spiritual "friction", God is like an external power source that keeps filling us with His love and grace.
Here's the deal - we've got to be on our guard against the slow, subtle attacks of the enemy.  Otherwise, we'll end up like the Israelites in a state of lawlessness - reaping the consequences of sowing disobedience.  This is another reason why it is imperative that we pray and read the Scriptures daily; we've got to stay connected to the source of infinite spiritual power.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will help me stay committed to you.  Please forgive me for not obeying you completely in all of the little details throughout the day.  Lord, please guide me and be near me.  You are my salvation; in you I am rescued.  I pray that you will help me keep momentum in this quest of sanctification.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.