Saturday, May 31, 2008

He's not slow; I'm the rate limiting step.

Proverbs 14-15

First of all, it is encouraging to know that God is pleased by the prayers of the righteous, and He hears the prayers of the righteous:

15:8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
       but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
 9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked
       but he loves those who pursue righteousness. ...
26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked,
       but those of the pure are pleasing to him. ...

29 The LORD is far from the wicked
       but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

So, the natural question is: How do I become righteous?  Of course, it begins with faith in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation and giving Him complete control of your life.  It's the daily process of seeking Him, finding Him, learning Him, and applying Him through which He produces righteousness in your life and makes you righteous.  I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (verse 21 is one of the most astounding verses in the whole Bible!):

14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Second, I am really blessed to have family and friends that pray for me and encourage me.  I was so encouraged by the comments from my wife, mom and dad, Nate, Mike, Houser, and others in response to my expression of frustration in my blog yesterday.  There were several relevant points that addressed my frustration, but I thing the most fundamental point was this:  I am the limiting factor on my growth.

Q: What is the point of life? 
A: To glorify God.

Q: How is God glorified?
A: By expressing Himself through His creation.  In particular, He made humans in a semi-infinite way that we can have a relationship with Him; He can live in us and accomplish His will through us.

Q: Why doesn't God do that faster?
A: Because there is still a lot of junk in my life (most of which I am not even aware of) that, to be honest, my self desires more than God.  He is patiently revealing those "idols" to me and leading me to forsake each one so that I can love and enjoy Him more.  He could just smash all of the "idols" in my life so that He is the only thing left in my life that I desire, but He is gentle and patient - He does not operate that way.

Mike gave the analogy that this time on earth is Christ's "courtship" with the Church, and one day we will be "married" and celebrate the marriage feast forever.  We are in a process of learning Him and learning to love and obey Him.

Houser gave an interesting analogy along the same lines.  He said, "I could start teaching my son how to drive, and when He is three years old, he might possibly be able to drive a vehicle.  But, you know, it might be better for Him to play in the sandbox."  Now, Houser was not suggesting that we shouldn't pursue learning and growing in Christ, he was simply saying that we should enjoy where God has us and seek His will above our own.  It's not about doing a bunch of stuff so that we can "help God out", it is about cooperating with God according to His agenda and timetable.  It is about enjoying Christ in the midst of our life experiences.

To refer back to the chemistry example, I realize that sanctification really is more like redox reactions than acid-base reactions.  It's like my mind is a chunk of solid iron, and God is rusting away the hardness of wickedness (i.e., iron) that is in me.  It is such a slow process that it takes decades for Him to accomplish.

Another way of looking at it is the mass-transport of contaminants out of air (which represents me, because Scripture says we are like a breath, a vapor) by bubbling it through clean water (that is Christ, the Living Water).  In this example, the mass-transport is clearly limited by the gas-phase transport - how fast I will give up the contaminants in my life.  There are several factors that might aid the transport:  gas temperature (which is why God allows us to go through the hot crucible of trials and testing), gas/liquid contact time (how much time I spend reading the Scriptures, praying, and worshiping Him), and bubble size (smaller bubbles have a greater surface area to volume ratio, which is analogous to how much I open myself up to be "treated" by the Living Water as I'm reading my Bible and fellowshipping with other Believers).

So, here's my plan:
  1. Enjoy Christ now, in every aspect of my life.  I will enjoy Christ with my wife, enjoy Christ as I study my Bible, enjoy Christ as I teach Bible Study, enjoy Christ as I work at school, and enjoy Christ as I spend time with friends.
  2. Ask Him to show me what "idol" I need to get rid of next.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for speaking to me through your Word and through fellow Believers.  Thank you for answering my sincere prayer yesterday and humbling me by revealing to me that I need to change,.that I am the rate-limiting step, and that you have a plan and a schedule for my life.  Father, I realize that I don't really even know what it means to pursue you or to love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I realize that I don't really even know what it means when I ask you to grow me, but I do know that I want it.  I want to want you more.  I want to pursue righteousness.  Father, I confess that I am shallow and fickle, and that as soon as you lead me into a trial or test to grow me, I will probably begin to complain, but God would you do it anyway.  Please be patient with me.  I am so immature, and I have such a long way to go - an infinite distance to travel - to "become your righteousness".  Father, please show me what idol I need to get rid of next.  Father, I know that you will accomplish your plan in me.  Thank you.  Please lead me to be satisfied with you only.  Please teach me to be satisfied in you.  May I enjoy you always.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Why is God so slow?

Granted, He is eternal, slow to anger, patient in His longsuffering, etc. for which I am genuinely thankful.  What I don't understand is why He is so slow to change me once I do believe?  Why does He take SO LONG to sanctify me, even when I beg Him to do so?  I even ask Him to accelerate my sanctification!  Why is it taking so long?  Since He has called me to be holy as He is holy, then why would He take so long in making me holy?
I acknowledge that the following logical implication is false (because the Holy Scriptures testify otherwise), but it feels like since God has all the time in the world, He will take FOREVER to sanctify me.  It feels like He has no sense of urgency, which leads me to feel like He is not really that interested in me.  It's like redox reaction kinetics instead of acid-base reaction kinetics.  I think that since there is an "infinite thermodynamic driving force" for this reaction (i.e., metamorphosis into holiness) to occur, that the kinetics should be extremely fast - like acid-base reactions.  However, it feels to me like God is so slow like the oxidation of iron metal (i.e., rust) which takes decades to complete in a thick piece of iron.
I'm just frustrated because I pray for God to clean me up and make me Holy (which is something that His Word says He wants), and I pray for my marriage to be a demonstration of Christ and the Church (which is something that His Word says He wants), and I pray for God to work through me to bring my family, friends, and coworkers to faith in Christ (which is something that His Word says He wants), and I pray for God to work through me to share the Gospel around the world, especially to those who have not yet heard (which is something that His Word says He wants), and I pray for God to defeat Satan in my life and make me an overcomer who experiences the Victorious Life of Christ (which is something that His Word says He wants), SO WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?!!!  Why doesn't He just do it?!  It feels like He doesn't want to.
Heavenly Father, I'm frustrated because I feel like I'm trying to seek you, which your Word says you will not deny; in fact, your Word says you will answer those who seek you with all of their heart.  Will you please help me seek you with all of my heart so I can experience you?  I sincerely ask you to accelerate my sanctification.  I'm tired of living a marginal life.  Will you please explode in my life?  Will you please erupt with mighty works that bring you glory?  Will you please pour out your Spirit upon me and through me so that you will recieve praise and honor?  Will you please change me to be a husband that operates like Christ?  Will you please do something amazing in my life?  Will you please lead me to share the Gospel around the world, to lead others to lifestyle evangelism, to be a part of the Body of Christ where you would have me be, to train others to be a part of the Body, to be an overcomer, and to train others to be overcomers?  Will you please lead me to the Victorious Life in Christ.  I ask you this in the name of Jesus Christ, which your Word says you will honor. Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I love Proverbs 8 - I never get tired of it.  I know, I know, it's a Sunday School answer, but it really is all about Jesus!
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
       for my lips detest wickedness.
 8 All the words of my mouth are just;
       none of them is crooked or perverse.
Who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life"?
 15 By me kings reign
       and rulers make laws that are just;
 16 by me princes govern,
       and all nobles who rule on earth.
Who is the "King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords"?
 17 I love those who love me,
       and those who seek me find me.
Does John 3:16 ring a bell?
 22 "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, 
       before his deeds of old;
 23 I was appointed from eternity,
       from the beginning, before the world began.
 24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
       when there were no springs abounding with water;
 25 before the mountains were settled in place,
       before the hills, I was given birth,
 26 before he made the earth or its fields
       or any of the dust of the world.
Hello?  It's all about Jesus!
My Brother Mike was explaining to me yesterday about how Jesus is both the "only begotten son" and the "firstborn son."  I think John 3:16 and the verses listed above speak of his "only begotten" Sonship that is timeless because He is deity.  However, in Acts 13:30-33 and Romans 8:28-30, we see the "firstborn" concept associated with His humanity (and the Resurrection, in particular):
30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
    "'You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you.'
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to me through your Word.  Thank you for showing me Jesus and calling me to be your son.  Lord, help me love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I want to seek first your Kingdom and your Righteousness.  I pray that you will give me the Wisdom of Christ and that I will express you today.  Lord, please purify me, and conform me to the image of Jesus.  I ask this in His Holy name.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

personal holiness

I used to think that this was one of those hush-hush concepts that Believers were just supposed to know without talking about it.  Unfortunately, I think it is part of the Devil's strategy to prevent us from discussing it (especially in accountability groups), but the Enemy assaults us with attacks through the media and popular fashion.
So, my resolve is to be equivalently bold about sharing the truth and challenging Believers (especially men) to commit to holiness.  King Solomon warns against the snares of sexual temptation:
5:3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
       and her speech is smoother than oil;
 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
       sharp as a double-edged sword.
 5 Her feet go down to death;
       her steps lead straight to the grave. ...
8 Keep to a path far from her,
       do not go near the door of her house ...
 7:21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
       she seduced him with her smooth talk.
 22 All at once he followed her
       like an ox going to the slaughter,
       like a deer stepping into a noose 
 23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
       like a bird darting into a snare,
       little knowing it will cost him his life.
God cares about every moment of every day of your life.  He is saddened when we are distracted and injured with sinful things, and He desires that we experience the richness of His divine Life, as we live lives of holiness with Him.  Part of the blessing of that life is the joy of a marriage centered on Christ:
5:18 May your fountain be blessed,
       and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer— 
       may you ever be captivated by her love.
Thus, I will not watch television shows with compromising material; I will not watch commercials or movies with anything provocative - nothing that provokes the sinful nature lurking within me.  I will starve, and I will choke, to death, the sinful flesh that desires wickedness.  I will not give it so much as a taste or one fleeting breath to survive.  I will strike down every compromising glance and every wicked thought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ as He transforms me by the renewing of my mind.  I will enjoy my wife, my sweet wife who is a blessing from the Lord.
Heavenly Father, my desire is to honor you with every moment, every word, every thought, every glance.  I desire to glorify you with the holiness you are developing inside me.  I pray that you will continue to use me to challenge others to walk in your light - no shadow of darkness.  I pray that you will raise up your Church to stand boldly holy in this wicked age, as we hold out the light of the Gospel.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Flawless One. Amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

commit your work to Yahweh

I'm starting to get pretty stressed out about my presentation in Atlanta in two weeks.  My laboratory experimentation is semi-developed, but I'm not sure how to proceed.  I know I need to make some changes, but I'm not exactly sure how or when.  I also know I need to read a lot more literature on this subject before my presentation.  I shared this with the Brothers at prayer breakfast this morning, and Mitch prayed that I would cast all of my cares upon Him.  Ken gave me a lift to the bus stop, and he shared with me how he commits his workday to the Lord every morning because he knows that he can't get everything done that is on his work agenda. 
I took this to heart, and as I was sitting there waiting for the bus, I simply poured out my heart to the Lord about the seemingly insurmountable work looming ahead of me.  I felt some resolve, and as I sat down on the bus and began to eat my Spiritual Breakfast (i.e., my daily Scripture reading), I ran across these verses that cemented my Brothers' words of wisdom:
3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;
 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will direct your paths.
 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
       fear the LORD and shun evil.
4:18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
       shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
 I realize that my life is a work in progress.  I probably will always be short of where I think I should be (certainly where the world thinks I should be), but I need to be at peace with where the Lord has me.  As long as I am trusting Him and working for the Lord and not for men, then I must take refuge in not leaning on my understanding but acknowledging Him and fearing Yahweh.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Brothers who pray for me and encourage me.  Thank you for speaking through them.  Thank you for speaking through your Word and addressing the needs that are pressing on my mind and heart.  I pray that you will shape my attitude so that it glorifies you and gives a testimony of holiness.  I pray that I will be faithful to forsake my own selfish way of doing things and fear and acknowledge you.  I pray that you will make me brighter and brighter until the day I meet you face to face.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who shines brighter than the sun.  Amen.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Observation -  King Solomon was a botanist and a zoologist:
4:33 He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.
What is the purpose of Proverbs?  Why should we devote ourselves to study?  Why should we pursue Wisdom?
 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
 2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
       for understanding words of insight;
 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
       doing what is right and just and fair;
 4 for giving prudence to the simple,
       knowledge and discretion to the young-
 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
       and let the discerning get guidance-
 6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
       the sayings and riddles of the wise.
 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
       but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The application of wisdom to your lifestyle - that is what it is for!  God allows us to grow in wisdom so that we may fear Him and live holy lives.
Heavenly Father, I praise you that you are the source of all knowledge and wisdom.  Lord, I ask you to teach me to fear you that I would desire to know you and live my life according to your desire.  Please give me prudence and discipline.  I pray that my life will be an example of a wise person.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Wisdom.  Amen.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

temple, part 4

The concept of a temple is interesting - not only the principle of people designating a physical location to perform ritual ceremonies to worship a spiritual entity, but especially the audacious thought (as in the case of the Israelites) that Deity would "reside" in that location.  Yahweh is so gracious that He not only revealed Himself to us, but He desires to live and work inside us!
I really like King Solomon's prayers at the dedication of the temple; I think it is applicable to the Believer and the concept of the Holy Spirit of Yahweh living inside us:
37 "When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple- 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers. 41 "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name- 42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. ... 56 "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61 But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time."
Heavenly Father, I see from your Scripture that you desire all peoples of the earth to know that you are God and that there is no other.  I want to be fully committed to you and live by your decrees for my whole life.  I pray that you will use me to glorify your Name.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2008

temple, part 3

A few observations from 1 Kings 8:15-21:
  1. King Solomon gives credit to Yahweh for constructing His temple, which is analogous to the fact that it is God who builds the Church.
  2. Yahweh received praise for the constructing His temple, which is analogous to God receiving praise from the construction of the Church.
  3. King David was commended by Yahweh for desiring to build Him a temple, which is analogous to each Believer having a heart to serve and build the Church.
  4. Yahweh inhabited the temple with His presence, which is analogous to Him filling the Church with His Holy Spirit.
According to 2 Chronicles 5:13, we will give praise and thanks to Yahweh, and we will for eternity sing:
"He is good;
  his love endures forever."
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your good plan and your good work.  I desire to be a part of your good work; please use me as you construct your Church.  May I be shapeable, pliable, and useful to you as you glorify yourself in the construction of the Church.  I pray that you will purify me and open my eyes to see where you are working.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

temple, part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, I think the construction of the temple is symbolic of the constitution of a human being and symbolic for the construction of the church.  I believe Man has three parts (body, soul/mind, and spirit) that are analogous to the portico, main hall, and inner sanctuary (Holy of Holies) of the temple (which was similar in construction to the tabernacle).  The spirit is where the Holy Spirit of God resides (at justification), and He operates inside us to regenerate our soul/mind (through sanctification), and finally, our body is regenerated (glorification).
The construction of the temple is also symbolic of the construction of the Church.  God will be glorified at the completion of the Church.  From Psalm 127:
 1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
       its builders labor in vain.
       Unless the LORD watches over the city,
       the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will build me into the temple you want.  I pray that you will construct and demolish according to your plan for my life; I want to be exactly what you want me to be.  I pray that you will use me as you build your Church.  Please use me to advance the Kingdom; I want to seek first your Kingdom and your righteousness.   Please guide me to work according to your will.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Solomon was considering the construction of the Temple of Yahweh when he thought about God living inside an earthly building:
 2:5 "The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?
The temple would not contain God!  God designed for His Spirit to reside in each of us.  I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Romans 12:1-2:
6:19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
12:1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
When King Solomon asked Hiram king of Tyre for logs from Lebanon, 
 2:11 Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon:
       "Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you their king." 
 12 And Hiram added:
       "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself.
It is interesting that when King Solomon started doing what he was called to do, people outside of Israel honored the authority of Yahweh and acknowledged Him as the Creator of heaven and earth.
Heavenly Father, I praise you that you are so far beyond this Creation that nothing can contain you.  I praise you that you created us with the ability to experience the presence of your Holy Spirit inside us.  Father, may I be a temple of sacrifice and praise to your Holy Name.  I pray that you will be glorified as I live, that you will transform me by renewing my mind, and that I will be a living sacrifice.  I pray that people will come to recognize you as the Creator and Yahweh, the one true God as I follow your calling on my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the foundation of this temple.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Christ and the Church

Psalm 50, Song of Solomon 1-4

I read this verse as I was enjoying the sunrise this morning:

 50:1 The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
       speaks and summons the earth
       from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
 2 From Zion, perfect in beauty,
       God shines forth.

The Song of Solomon is a story of Solomon and his bride, which is a poetic structure of the Husband and the Wife, which is a type of Yahweh with Israel and Christ with the Church.  Here we find clear pictures of Christ:

 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon,
       a lily of the valleys.
 2 Like a lily among thorns
       is my darling among the maidens.
 4 He has taken me to the banquet hall,
       and his banner over me is love.

As I was considering this parallel to Christ, I thought of Christ's justifying work at Calvary and the subsequent sanctification and glorification of the church:

4:6 Until the day breaks
       and the shadows flee,
       I will go to the mountain of myrrh
       and to the hill of incense.
 7 All beautiful you are, my darling;
       there is no flaw in you.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your infinite love.  Thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ who loves me without end, who gave up His own life for me that I could be reconciled to you and have a relationship with you.  I pray that I will be drawn to a closer walk with you, and that my devotion to you will honor you.  I pray that you will sanctify me and work through me as you sanctify the Church.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Beloved, whose banner over me is love.  Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2008


1 Kings 2:13-3:28; 2 Chronicles 1:1-13; Psalm 72


  1. The first thing King Solomon did when he took over was tidy up the place - morally.  There were several people responsible for egregious injustices, and since the king is responsible for overseeing justice, justice was served.  I think this extends to the Believer; there are aspects of my kingdom (i.e., my life) that need to be executed because they are wicked outcrops of the flesh.  In order to honor Yahweh, I must put them to death.
  2. Solomon offered 1000 sacrifices to Yahweh, and then Yahweh appeared to him in a dream.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I think Yahweh would reveal Himself more to me if I sacrificed more.  I think His personal revelation is somewhat proportional to my sacrifice.  I think this connection is implicit in Romans 12:1-2.
  3. There are a whole bunch of analogies with King David representing Christ and King Solomon representing the Believer.  For instance, King David's heart was that King Solomon build a temple to Yahweh.  Helloo!!!  Christ desires that we be built on His foundation into a temple of the Living God!!!
  4. This analogy is also apparent throughout Psalm 72, which is prophetic to King Solomon, Christ Himself, and the Believer.  The conclusion of the Psalm resonates our fundamental purpose:
17 May his name endure forever;
       may it continue as long as the sun.
       All nations will be blessed through him,
       and they will call him blessed.

 18 Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
       who alone does marvelous deeds.

 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;
       may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
       Amen and Amen.


Heavenly Father, I praise you for the incredible works of your hands.  Your creation is a testimony of your greatness.  Thank you for the redemptive work of Christ that empowers us to return to your objective with us in Creation.  I pray that I will be a holy King of Justice, allowing your Spirit to control me and honor you.  I pray that my life will demonstrate genuine sacrifice that honors you, and I ask you to reveal yourself to me.  May your Name be exalted among the nations, may you receive praise and honor, and may the whole earth be filled with your glory.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Whew!  That's a lot of names.
Last night I went to help an older lady move some stuff from her storage garage to her new apartment, and the Lord used that situation to make me aware of a few things.  First, I am so blessed to have Christian parents who taught me the Scriptures from an early age and led me to a knowledge of a person and work of Jesus Christ.  Consequently, I am extremely fortunate to have trusted Christ with my life at such an early age.  Naturally then, it makes sense that I should be a leader in the church - I've had a while for the Lord to grow my faith and obedience.  Not everyone has that opportunity to learn about Christ as the grow up.
I was also reminded of how simple obedience and service can make such a big difference in someone's life.  You don't have to be a preacher or an evangelist to have an impact on people for the Kingdom, you just have to obey God.  When He gives you an opportunity to serve people, if you do it in a spirit of Christ's love, then He will make an impact on them through you.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide me to a closer walk with you.  Thank you for the wonderful heritage I have in Christ through my family and my wife's family.  Lord, I pray that you will help me continue to grow and pursue you.  Please turn my heart toward you and give me a right attitude before you.  I pray that my life will glorify you.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

serving the LORD

Whew!  That's a lot of names.  Something that I think is cool is that they were appointed by Yahweh to serve in the tabernacle/temple.  They cast lots and trusted that God was in control of the decision.  People dedicated their entire professional life to Yahweh based on the "roll of dice", which they did not see as random, but rather, ordained by Yahweh.  That's faith.
23:24 These were the descendants of Levi by their families—the heads of families as they were registered under their names and counted individually, that is, the workers twenty years old or more who served in the temple of the LORD. ... 28 The duty of the Levites was to help Aaron's descendants in the service of the temple of the LORD : to be in charge of the courtyards, the side rooms, the purification of all sacred things and the performance of other duties at the house of God. 29 They were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the flour for the grain offerings, the unleavened wafers, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size. 30 They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening 31 and whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them. 32 And so the Levites carried out their responsibilities for the Tent of Meeting, for the Holy Place and, under their brothers the descendants of Aaron, for the service of the temple of the LORD.
I want to commit my entire existence to His service; whether it is teaching Bible study, reading my Bible, helping a lady in our church move some stuff, washing the dishes at my apartment, processing research data from my laboratory experiments, or talking to a friend on the phone.  I want to have a heart for Him.  I want to live my whole life as a sacrifice of praise.  I certainly don't feel like that right now.  I pray that He turns my heart toward Him and that I will find the joy of serving Him precisely how He has called me.
Heavenly Father, I want to stand every morning and evening to thank and praise you, Yahweh.  I pray that my life will be a burnt offering before you, and that my life will be a festival of celebrating the redemptive and creative work of Christ in my life.  May you be glorified.  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  amen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

poop on the floor

When I went into the living room to let my dog out this morning, I was greeted by a certain unmistakable fragrance.  It didn't take long to find a certain deposit located by the front door (at least he made it to the tile instead of the carpet).  As my wife and I approached to clean it up, I gagged strongly, and I almost made an even nastier mess. Fortunately for me, my wife has a tough stomach, so after teasing me a little, she finished cleaning up that horribly smelling mess.  Of course, I wouldn't share this without tying it in to my Bible reading, because that would just be gratuitous.
Joab cooperated when King David tried to cover up his mess with Bathsheba, and Joab wasn't the same after that (or maybe that's why King David asked him to do it in the first place).  Then when King David explicitly told Joab not to hurt Absolom, but as soon as Joab got the chance, he ran Absolom through with several javelins.  Then King David appointed Amasa in charge of his army, and Joab sliced Amasa's belly open and spilled his guts out. 
This progression with Joab is like poop on the floor. It's disgusting.  It stinks.  The more you think about it, the worse it gets.  You just can't get that penetrating scent out of your nostrils.  Unfortunately for Joab, he started "puking" after smelling the poop and making the mess even worse. 
What's the difference between Joab and King David?  King David begged God to break out the Clorox bleach and clean him up.  King David called in someone who could handle the mess to clean it up so that life could resume and you could walk through the front door without smearing poop all over the place.  The mess is gone, the smell is gone, and all that remains is the memory.  This drives us to humble gratefulness.
As I consider how God has cleaned up my life, how He has almost taken the smell away, I am humbled by His grace.  He has been so kind.  The pure blood of Jesus Christ has washed away my sin and left me spotless, as white as snow.  His Holy Spirit has been working inside my heart to turn me toward Him.  My attitude is similar to King David's expression in Psalm 30:
 1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
       for you lifted me out of the depths
       and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
 2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
       and you healed me.
 3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
       you spared me from going down into the pit.
 4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
       praise his holy name. ...
 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
       O LORD, be my help."
 11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
       you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
       O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
And as King David instructed his son Solomon, so I will strive:
22:19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD."
Heavenly Father, thank you for the incredible mercy and grace you have shown me.  Thank you for cleaning up all of the messes I've made and leading me to a closer walk with you.  I want to glorify and honor you.  I want to bring praise to your Holy Name, Yahweh.  I devote my heart and soul to seeking you, my God.  I pray that you will continue to build me into a pure and holy sanctuary for you that your presence will fill me and operate through me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Joab killed Absolom, who had attempted a coup d'etat, so King David returned to the palace from his hiding.  One of the people that greeted him on his return was Shimei son of Gera, who had cursed King David as he was feeling from Absolom (of course, Shimei's attitude had changed considerably):
19:18 ... When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, "May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king."  21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD's anointed."  22 David replied, "What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?" 23 So the king said to Shimei, "You shall not die." And the king promised him on oath.
Shimei is a type of humanity. We have each cursed the King, Yahweh's anointed, that is, Jesus Christ.  Indeed, we should each be put to death, as Shimei should have been, but the King is merciful.  The day we fall at his feet and ask for mercy is the day we become friends instead of objects of wrath.  He promises us life, on His oath.  When we consider our offenses and the wrath we have been spared, we will have an attitude like King David:
84:9 Look upon our shield, O God;
       look with favor on your anointed one.
 10 Better is one day in your courts
       than a thousand elsewhere;
       I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
       the LORD bestows favor and honor;
       no good thing does he withhold
       from those whose walk is blameless.
 12 O LORD Almighty,
       blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the mercy you have shown me.  May I live in response to the grace I have received.  May I never forget your infinite love; may I never take your love for granted.  I pray that you will rescue me from the Enemy that seeks to destroy me.  May you give me victory over the Enemy, and may I live a holy life before you.  Father, please clean my hands so that I may lift them up to you; please clean my heart so that I may be a vessel for your Holy Spirit to flow through.  May the words of my mouth and the attitude of my heart be pleasing in your sight, my God.  I pray that you will set my mind on the Spirit today - that I may enjoy your Zoe life and your perfect peace.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yahweh is my refuge

I have a professional presentation coming up in about a month, and I am beginning to grow quite nervous.  I need to perform much literature review and many laboratory experiments.  I have a final exam tomorrow for a rigorous course.  I confess that I have become anxious about these things, which is unbiblical.  Rather, my heart should echo the Psalmist's attitude:
55:16 But I call to God,
       and the LORD saves me. 
 17 Evening, morning and noon
       I cry out in distress,
       and he hears my voice. 
 18 He ransoms me unharmed
       from the battle waged against me,
       even though many oppose me.
 22 Cast your cares on the LORD
       and he will sustain you;
       he will never let the righteous fall.
61:1 Hear my cry, O God;
       listen to my prayer. 
 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
       I call as my heart grows faint;
       lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
 3 For you have been my refuge,
       a strong tower against the foe. 
 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
       and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
 5 For you have heard my vows, O God;
       you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
       my salvation comes from him. 
 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
63:1 O God, you are my God,
       earnestly I seek you;
       my soul thirsts for you,
       my body longs for you,
       in a dry and weary land
       where there is no water. 
 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
       and beheld your power and your glory. 
 3 Because your love is better than life,
       my lips will glorify you.
I will meditate on these prayers and make them my own.
Heavenly Father, I confess my anxiousness.  Please forgive me for being worried about the scholastic and professional challenges that are coming up.  Lord, I give you my life, and I give you my time.  I pray that you will give me balance and discernment.  Lord, I pray that you will honor yourself as you guide me.  May I be obedient to your leadership.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

seeking Yahweh

Psalm 37, 9, 10; 2 Samuel 15:37, 16:15; Psalm 27

I think the theme of today's reading goes well with our Bible study topic tomorrow (Elijah running from Jezebel).  I really tried to pray these Psalms as if they were from my own heart.  I have recently begun to try to pray through the Scripture every morning instead of only reading; I have observed that praying Scripture is so much more substantial of an experience.

Here are a few of my favorites this morning:

37:1 Do not fret because of evil men
       or be envious of those who do wrong;

 2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
       like green plants they will soon die away.

 3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
       dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

 4 Delight yourself in the LORD
       and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 5 Commit your way to the LORD;
       trust in him and he will do this:

 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
       the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
       do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
       when they carry out their wicked schemes.

 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
       do not fret—it leads only to evil.

 9 For evil men will be cut off,
       but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

9:1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
       I will tell of all your wonders.

 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
       I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—

       whom shall I fear?
       The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
       of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD,

       this is what I seek:
       that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
       all the days of my life,
       to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
       and to seek him in his temple.

My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
       Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will reveal yourself to me.  Lord, please let me be in harmony with your will.  I want to seek you with all of my heart.  Please mold my attitude, even now, to be consistent with who you are.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

knowing Yahweh

Psalm 3, 4, 11, 12, 23, 26, 36; 2 Samuel 16:1-14

Thirty four times.  I counted King David invoking the name of Yahweh thirty four times in the passages I read today.  Do you think David knew Who He Is?  Do you think, just maybe, that King David had a heart-to-heart relationship with Yahweh?

From David's confession in Psalm 36 of his experience with Yahweh:

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
       your faithfulness to the skies.

 6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
       your justice like the great deep.
       O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.

 7 How priceless is your unfailing love!
       Both high and low among men
       find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

 8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
       you give them drink from your river of delights.

 9 For with you is the fountain of life;
       in your light we see light.

 10 Continue your love to those who know you,
       your righteousness to the upright in heart.


Heavenly Father, your love is infinite. Your holiness and perfection are infinite.  The value of your love and compassion is infinite.  You are the source of life.  Lord, I pray that you will fill me with your Zoe life; may I see and walk by your light.  Please continue to reveal yourself to me and fill me with your righteousness.  "Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Yahweh."  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

sin and sacrifice

2 Samuel 24:1-25, 1 Chronicles 21:1-30, 2 Samuel 15:7-36

King David sinned greatly by taking a census of "his" fighting men - basically like "let's see how many soldiers I have so I can feel good about how powerful of a king I am."  Uh-oh!

New plan:  don't do that!

After he counted his men, he realized he had messed up big time.  God sent King David's adviser Gad to give him these three options: 
  1. three years of famine
  2. three months of war with neighboring armies
  3. three days of plague from the Lord
Here's how David responded (1 Chronicles 21):

13 "I'm in a desperate situation!" David replied to Gad. "But let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great. Do not let me fall into human hands."

David recognized that even though Yahweh is just, He is also miraculously merciful. 

God halted the plague at the threshing floor of Araunah, and King David asked Araunah if he could purchase the property and build an alter to the Lord.  Arauna offered to give it to King David, but David paid him 50 shekels of silver for the oxen and 600 shekels of gold for the property (1 Chronicles 21):

24 But King David replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!"

Observed truths:  The consequence of sin is death, but Yahweh is merciful.  Sacrifice means what it means because of what it costs.  Yahweh wants my whole life; He wants me  to be a "living sacrifice" (an oxymoron).

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will show me how to be a living sacrifice.  God, I pray that I would give up everything in pursuit of You.  O Father, I pray that you will be the one thing I seek with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I want to love you with all of who I am.  I ask that you will humble me and prevent me from "taking a census" of my life.  May I boast only of the majesty of your Name.  May I be an example of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  It is in His name that I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


King David's son Absolom was banished from his presence because the Absolom had killed his brother Amnon.  A wise woman spoke on behalf of King David's military leader Joab, and at the end of her request, we find this verse in 2 Samuel 14.  It gripped my soul when I read it this morning:
14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
What a powerful analogy!  The irreversible consequence of sin is death (Genesis 2:16-17, Romans 3:23, 6:23).  However, instead of sending all of us to hell, He created a way for us to be reconciled to Him - by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8, 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-9).  Jesus Christ is the quintessential identity of our redemption! (Ephesians 1:7, John 14:6)
Application:  I will marvel at the reconciling work of the Father through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  I will cooperate with His Holy Spirit as He leads me to share this wonderful story of how we "may not remain estranged from Him".  I will boldly proclaim His love to those around me.
Heavenly Father, you are faithful and righteous.  Your Word is true.  I have sinned, and I must die.  But by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal death penalty of my sin has been paid by the shedding of the innocent blood of Jesus Christ.  Thank you, Father, for allowing me to come into your presence because you have washed me in His blood.  May I live in response of the grace I have received.  May my life be devoted to sharing the Good News of reconciliation through Jesus Christ, and may the light of your truth shine in the darkness.  I pray that you will set the captives free from the dark dungeons of sin and death.  May your Holy Spirit guide me in Zoe life today as you defeat the Enemy against us.  I praise your Holy Name.  You are Yahweh - Father, Son, and Spirit.  I praise you.  May your name be exalted among the nations.  I pray according to your Word and your Perfect Will, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

the Name of Yahweh

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David invokes the Name of Yahweh seven times in the eight verses of Psalm 138.  That seems to me like David knew the person he was talking to; he had a personal relationship with Yahweh.  Consequently, these passages in Psalms are loaded down with theological statements:
138:1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
       before the "gods" I will sing your praise. 
 2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
       and will praise your name
       for your love and your faithfulness,
       for you have exalted above all things
       your name and your word.
 8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
       your love, O LORD, endures forever—
       do not abandon the works of your hands.
139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.
145: 1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
       I will praise your name for ever and ever. 
 2 Every day I will praise you
       and extol your name for ever and ever.
 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
       Let every creature praise his holy name
       for ever and ever.
8:1 O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
       You have set your glory
       above the heavens.
You can't just come up with stuff like that.  David said those things out of an overflow of his heart, and his heart was changed because he knew who Yahweh is.  What did he know about Yahweh?
145:8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
       slow to anger and rich in love
 9 The LORD is good to all;
       he has compassion on all he has made.
 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
       and your dominion endures through all generations.
       The LORD is faithful to all his promises
       and loving toward all he has made.
 14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
       and lifts up all who are bowed down.
 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
       and loving toward all he has made. 
 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
       to all who call on him in truth. 
 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
       he hears their cry and saves them. 
 20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
       but all the wicked he will destroy.
Wow, that is RICH!  I want to know Yahweh!  I want to know Him so well that I can say these things about Him from personal, first-hand knowledge.  And if this wasn't enough gold for today, I love this passage in 2 Samuel 9 where King David invites Jonathan's son Mephibosheth to dine with him every day at the King's table.  Mephibosheth, who was crippled at childhood, responds with such humility.  
 6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
      David said, "Mephibosheth!"
      "Your servant," he replied. 
 7 "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table." 
 8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" 
 9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master's grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table." (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
The symbolism is so sweet!  The King of the Universe has invited us humans crippled by sin to dine with Him every day at His table.  In addition to restoring our broken fellowship according to the preexisting covenant, He gives us an inheritance and puts us in charge of carrying on the Master's business.  The fields are ripe for the harvest, and we are called to be workers in His good economy. 
Oh, how amazing is His love, that He would pay my debt and invite a sinner like me to dine with Him!  How incredible is His mercy that He would give me the opportunity to cooperate with Him in His amazing work of redeeming mankind and defeating the enemy!  Praise Yahweh!  How great is His Name!
Heavenly Father, I am humbled that you would call me to sonship and share in the eternal inheritance of your Kingdom.  I pray that my life will glorify your name.  I confess that I am crippled by sin, and I need you to save me and heal me.  I pray that you will sanctify me into the image of Christ.  Please cleanse and wash my mind; conform my motives and attitudes to be identical to yours.  I pray that your will would be done in my life, and I pray that you will use me to glorify yourself.  I want to know you, Yahweh.  I want to honor you through sincere obedience.  I pray that I will abide in Christ, that I may be in harmony with you.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

warrior / blessings

Benaiah was a hoss!  He was one of David's most famous Thirty.  2 Samuel 23:20-21 explains how he was a "valiant warrior".  Just hearing those few verses makes me want to go into battle!  I think the two Moabite champions, the lion, and Egyptian champion that he defeated are types of Satan.  I think Benaiah's heart was similar to King David when he faced Goliath.  He was focused on the greatness of Yahweh, not on the strength of the enemy.  It seems silly when you compare the strength of the enemy (finite) to the strength of Yahweh (infinite).  I am allied with the Creator of the universe, and He desires me to be victorious over the enemy!  Not that it won't require a fight on my part, but I know who will be victorious.
When my wife and I went to visit New York City two summers ago, we went to church at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  Pastor Cymbala preached on 1 Chronicles 17, and his sermon was so powerful.  Basically, he said that David's heart was for God's name to be lifted up, so God was pleased with David.  Then God said, "So, you want to build me a house, huh?  Well, how about I build you a 'house'!  I will sustain your house forever!"
This principle is so true.  As we turn our hearts toward Him, Yahweh blesses us.  It's so backwards.  You would think we should have to work and work and work to try to pay off the debt we owe, but instead He shows us grace and mercy by forgiving our sins, and then He blesses us on top of that!
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will give me the spirit of a warrior.  Lord, I pray that you will raise me up to fight like Benaiah!  I want to not only defend myself and my wife, but Lord, I pray that you will enable me, in humble obedience according to your grace, to go after the Enemy.  I pray that your Holy Spirit will break the chains of bondage and defeat the Enemy in the lives of those around me; may I be an instrument of your grace used as a living sacrifice for your good Will.  Lord, I thank you for the blessing of eternal life and the Kingdom of Christ that you set up in the line of King David.  I thank you for the promise of everlasting life and the promise of blessing as I am committed to making your name great among the nations.  Father, I pray that you will purify my mind; Lord, please set my mind on the spirit.  I ask for victory in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

tough week

I can really feel the adversity.  In addition to it being the last week of classes this semester, this past week also included a sore throat and mild depression.  I know, I shouldn't be depressed, but you know what, sometimes it happens and it's hard to shake off.  It's like evergreen tree sap, it stinks and you want to get it off, but you just can't get it off your skin.
Like most people, I've done a lot of stupid stuff in my life.  I wish I hadn't.  I am forced to wrestle with consequences from some of those poor choices, even today.
Peering into the life and mind of King David reassures me that Yahweh is good, He is merciful, and He will give me the victory after I have humbly confessed and repented of my sins and sought His will for my life.
The verses that I really meditated on today was:
51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
103:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
       all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
       and forget not all his benefits-

 3 who forgives all your sins
       and heals all your diseases,

 4 who redeems your life from the pit
       and crowns you with love and compassion,

 5 who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Heavenly Father, I am a broken man.  I am sinful and confused.  I have a poor understanding of who I am and who you are.  I don't know where I am going.  I pray that you will clean me up, and show me the road to travel.  Lord, I beg you to wash me whiter than snow and give me pure motives.  I want to serve you with all of my heart, and I can't do that apart from your Grace.  Please be merciful to me, and kindly lead me.  Please save my life from destruction.  I pray that you will be glorified in me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 2, 2008

negative progression

I finally realized why King David didn't go out to war with his soldiers (from the reading in 2 Samuel 21 a few days ago):
15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword , said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David's rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, saying, "Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished."
But here's the thing - God didn't tell King David not to go to war with his soldiers.  In fact, this is a decision based on fear (i.e., minimizing risk).  If King David had reviewed several of his life experiences (e.g., shepherding against lions and bears, fighting Goliath, fleeing from King Saul, etc.), perhaps he would have realized that Yahweh provides salvation.  God made King David with skills of being a leader in battle, so why did he agree to denying what God had made him to do?  Fear.
Where does operating based on fear lead you?  Restlessness. Because you are not enjoying the invigorating experience of living the Dream God has planned for you.  Where does all of that fear, speculation, boredom lead?  Sin.
The beauty of this story is how God convicted David of his sin, David repented, and God forgave him.  Grace.  It's chocked full of grace.  Our life is by grace - grace after grace.
2 Samuel 12:13 - Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."    Nathan replied, "Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin.
David's heartfelt response is so transparent in Psalm 32:
 1 Oh, what joy for those
      whose disobedience is forgiven,
      whose sin is put out of sight!
 2 Yes, what joy for those
      whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
      whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
      and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
   I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord."
      And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
 6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
      that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
 7 For you are my hiding place;
      you protect me from trouble.
      You surround me with songs of victory.
 8 The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
      I will advise you and watch over you.
 11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
      Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are good.  You are always good.  Your love never fails.  It is because of your great love that we are not consumed; your mercies are new every morning.  Sadly, I fail you every single day.  I confess that I am a broken man; I need you to save me!  I live by grace alone.  You have given me grace upon grace.  May I live the life you have called me to according to your grace.  I pray this in the name of the one who paid my debt, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

God and man

There are a few reflective questions that help me digest the Scriptures.  Here are two of them:
  1. What do we learn about God from this passage?  (perhaps the most important question we could possibly ask and answer)
  2. What do we learn about mankind/myself from this passage?
I think we find a great case study in 1 Chronicles 19:6-13 of how Christian leaders should operate (i.e., a specific application of the second question above):
(... two armies formed against the Israelites outside of an Ammonite city ...)
10 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, "If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight."
  1. Realize that we are fighting battles on multiple fronts
  2. Team up with other leaders who you can trust with your life
  3. Delegate responsibility so that one person is not trying to do it all
  4. "Be strong and fight bravely" for His Kingdom
  5. Trust the victory to Yahweh
Wow!  As a Bible Life group teacher/leader, this is directly applicable to me.  I pray that I will follow this model and watch Yahweh win the victory!
And to answer the first question listed above, here is some rich (and I mean RICH!) language from Psalm 33 that tells us who God is:
 4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
       he is faithful in all he does. 
 5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
       the earth is full of his unfailing love. 
 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
       their starry host by the breath of his mouth. ...
 10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
       he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
       the purposes of his heart through all generations. ...
 20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
       he is our help and our shield. 
 21 In him our hearts rejoice,
       for we trust in his holy name. 
 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
       even as we put our hope in you.
Heavenly Father, your Word is right and true; you are always faithful.  You love righteousness and justice, and the world is full of your love.  You created everything that exists; you are the definition of existence.  You frustrate the ways of the wicked, but your good plan will be accomplished!  I will wait in hope for you to rescue me.  I will trust your timing and your means.  I recognize that your ways are so far above my ways that I can't even begin to try to understand you.  I humbly submit to your will for my life.  I trust in your Holy Name, Yahweh.  May your never-ending love rest upon us, O Yahweh; I put my hope in you alone.  It is for your glory that I live this day, and it is only by your grace that you will be glorified because I am a broken man.  I need your Holy Spirit to teach me your way and lead me in your path of righteousness.  Wash my mind, cleanse my heart.  Make me pure in your sight.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.