Thursday, July 31, 2008

knowing Yahweh

Jeremiah 8:4-9:15, 9:22-10:16, 26:1-24

9:23 This is what the LORD says:
       "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
       or the strong man boast of his strength
       or the rich man boast of his riches,
24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
       that he understands and knows me,
       that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
       justice and righteousness on earth,
       for in these I delight,"
       declares the LORD.

10:10 But the LORD is the true God;
       he is the living God, the eternal King.
       When he is angry, the earth trembles;
       the nations cannot endure his wrath.
12 But God made the earth by his power;
       he founded the world by his wisdom
       and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
       he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
       He sends lightning with the rain
       and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Q:  What is the only thing worth doing in this life?
A:  Knowing Yahweh.

Q:  Who is Yahweh?
A:   He is the true God, the living God, the eternal King, powerful,and able to accomplish His Good Will.  He exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness because these please Him.

Q:  How do we respond to this truth?
A:  We would do well to believe this truth, confess it with our lips, and exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness in the way we live.

Heavenly Father, I believe that you are the one true God; there is no other!  I confess that I am a sinner, and I put my faith and hope in the Resurrected Jesus Christ who died to pay my penalty for sin.  I want to live out those attributes that please you.  Please help me exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness so that you may be pleased and glorified.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

but the righteous live by FAITH

Jeremiah 22:1-17; 2 Kings 23:31-37; 2 Chronicles 36:2-5; Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

The following selected verses paint a picture of a life by FAITH:

Jeremiah 22
3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. ...
15 "Does it make you a king
       to have more and more cedar?
       Did not your father have food and drink?
       He did what was right and just,
       so all went well with him.
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
       and so all went well.
       Is that not what it means to know me?"
       declares the LORD.

1:12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting?
       My God, my Holy One, we will not die.
3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud
       and there are no grapes on the vines,
       though the olive crop fails
       and the fields produce no food,
       though there are no sheep in the pen
       and no cattle in the stalls,
 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
       I will be joyful in God my Savior.
 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
       he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
       he enables me to go on the heights.

When I was in high school, these last few verses of chapter 3 were my youth minister's favorite verses in the Bible.  It is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world: a big fancy house, your professional life, money in the bank, etc.  But knowing God is simple, and delighting in Him is not only emotionally stabilizing, it changes us from who we were into: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Out of that AGAPE flows tangible actions that demonstrate the AGAPE of God (e.g., compassion for the needy).

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will not get bogged down in the things of this world, or even the "good" things in this life.  I pray that my focus will always remain steadfast on your identity and the incredible love and mercy you have demonstrated through Jesus Christ.  I pray that you will continue to grow my faith and lead me to pursue you more and know you more so that I will behave like you - demonstrating your Agape love. Yahweh, you are my strength, and you enable me to go on.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Josiah - "You're killin' me, Smalls"

Psalm 81; Jeremiah 47-48; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:1

Josiah pursued God like a stud, and then he made a knuckleheaded move to end his life (2 Chron. 35):

20 After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you."

 22 Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God's command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

 23 Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, "Take me away; I am badly wounded." 24 So they took him out of his chariot, put him in the other chariot he had and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.

The king of Egypt attacked a (pagan) Hittite city, and it appears that Josiah rashly jumped in the middle of it - against strong warning, and to his demise - to which I respond, "You're killin' me, Smalls."  (i.e., "You should know better.")

Heavenly Father, thank you for the righteous example of Josiah and how he pursued you in obedience and led the people in revival.  I pray that I will learn from Josiah's mistake and not jump into a situation where you have not called me.  I want to do your will and not my own.  I pray that you will guide me and lead me along your path of righteousness.  I ask in the name of your Obedient Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Josiah was a hoss!

Nahum 1-3; 2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 35

This is the mnemonic device that I will use to remember the content of the book of Nahum:  Nahum prophesied against Nineveh.

Josiah went around and tore down all of the "high places" and any altar other than the one to Yahweh at the temple in Jerusalem.  He led the people in a re-dedication to the Covenant with Yahweh, and he led the people in a Passover celebration like no other king in history.  I think 2 Kings 23:25 is the key:

25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

It all goes back to the condition of the heart.  The consequence of a pursuing heart is right living and leading others to the same.  This is what I want to be the core of my life, beginning with myself, then my wife, then my children, then my family and friends, then the nations.

Heavenly Father, please turn my heart to you this morning and every morning.  I pray that I will be devoted in seeking you - not turning to the right or to the left.  Father, I pray that I will seek you and lead others to pursuit and right living like King Josiah.  Thank you for his example; I ask you to use me like you used him - for your glory!  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Good Master.  Amen.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Jeremiah 2-4

This passage is pretty rough.  God calls out the Israelites as being "dirty," if you know what I mean.   Reading through this, I was reminded of my former lifestyle and how much I hurt God by my actions; I behaved similarly to the Israelites.  But praise be to the Lord, who got a hold of me and cleaned me up!  Not that I'm perfect - I've still got a long way to go - but at least I'm not doing that wicked stuff anymore.  Now it's on to the more subtle sins like pride (it's hard to see, let alone to fight).  Here are a couple of challenges from the Scriptures this morning:

2:13 "My people have committed two sins:
       They have forsaken me,
       the spring of living water,
       and have dug their own cisterns,
       broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
4:3 This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem:
       "Break up your unplowed ground
       and do not sow among thorns.  
   4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
       circumcise your hearts,
       you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, ...
   14 O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
       How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?

Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me from a life of destruction.  Thank you for disciplining me as a child of the Holy One to save me out of the mess I was in and set me on a path to know you more.  Lord God, please reveal yourself to me and change me more into your image today.  I pray that I will soften my heart toward you and wash the evil from my heart.  I pray that you will transform my mind and cleanse me to make me holy like you.  I love you, Lord.  May I love you more.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

humility and purpose

Z 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
       you who do what he commands.
       Seek righteousness, seek humility;
       perhaps you will be sheltered
       on the day of the LORD's anger.

Z 3:12 But I will leave within you
       the meek and humble,
       who trust in the name of the LORD. ...
   17 The LORD your God is with you,
       he is mighty to save.
       He will take great delight in you,
       he will quiet you with his love,
       he will rejoice over you with singing."

J 1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
     5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
       before you were born I set you apart;
       I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

You have to be careful about plucking a verse out of context, interpreting, and inappropriately applying it to yourself or someone else.  So, in the light of the whole Bible, I think Jeremiah 1:4 can be applied to every believer (through Christ we are prophets, priests, and kings).  From Zephaniah, we see that humility in us is desired by God.

Heavenly Father, I ask that you give me humility.  Father, I know that you are the giver of every good thing, that I am only capable of evil, but that your Holy Spirit is working through me to accomplish your good will through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Father, I beg you to give me clear direction on how you will use me to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I pray in His precious Name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

man's response to Yahweh

Isaiah 66:1-24; 2 Kings 21:1-22:2; 2 Chronicles 33:1-34:3; Psalm 82:1-8

I studied the beautiful sunrise this morning as I waited for the bus.  It was amazing with brilliant orange and saturated pink on a background of soft blue and white.  I prayed, "Lord, you are even more beautiful than this sunrise which is only an infinitesimal reflection of your glory."  Then I opened my Bible and began reading in Isaiah 66:

 1 This is what the LORD says:
       "Heaven is my throne,
       and the earth is my footstool.
       Where is the house you will build for me?
       Where will my resting place be?
 2 Has not my hand made all these things,
       and so they came into being?"
       declares the LORD.
       "This is the one I esteem:
       he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
       and trembles at my word.

King Hezekiah - good then blessed then proud
King Manasseh - wicked then repentant and humble
King Amon - wicked
King Josiah - young and ignorant then good then gooder

Heavenly Father, you are beautiful and glorious.  Thank you for revealing yourself through the sunrise and your Scriptures.  I pray that I would be humble and repentant like Manasseh at the end of his life, and I pray that I will seek you like Josiah and lead others to seek you wholeheartedly.  I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be pleasing in your sight, O Yahweh, my Rock and my Redeemer!  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

to be like Christ

Isaiah 61-65

61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
      for the Lord has anointed me
      to bring good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
      and to proclaim that captives will be released
      and prisoners will be freed.
 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
      that the time of the Lord's favor has come,
      and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.
 3 To all who mourn in Israel,
      he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
   a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
      festive praise instead of despair.
   In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
      that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

I believe that this Messianic passage also extends to the believer.  Nate and I had some email correspondence yesterday about spiritual growth, and I agree with him that spiritual growth is growth in Agape love and the consequence is a change in lifestyle.  That lifestyle change includes internal and external changes, and eventually, it leads to changing other people.  As we cooperate with God to accomplish His will, His Holy Spirit will anoint us to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, to lead others out of bondage to slavery by the power of the Gospel, and to defeat the enemy as we demonstrate righteousness - for which Yahweh will receive all of the glory.

The practical application is to seek and love Him wholeheartedly and look for opportunities to share the Gospel and minister to people around us.

Heavenly Father, thank you for authoring faith in my heart and setting me free from the bondage of sin.  Lord, I ask you to open my eyes to how I can be used by you in the likeness of Christ to set others free from sin and enjoy the wonderful Zoe life with you.  May we be characterized by Agape love - overflowing with your perfect character.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

long week

Isaiah 56-60

I attended a conference in Florida from Sunday through Thursday, and then Friday through yesterday we attended a family reunion at my grandparents' house.  The conference was very helpful to me professionally (technical insight and business contacts).  The reunion was nice; it was great to see my family.

I've been thinking recently about what it means to love the Lord with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  In one of the books I am reading, the author encouraged Christians to grow and be disciplined in each of these four aspects (as Christ grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man): intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social.  I think these match with the aspects of our love toward God. 

At the conference this past week, one of the men I met didn't eat his dessert, and when I asked him about it, he said simply, "You don't have to eat everything available to you; nor should you."  He then went on to say that as we age and our metabolism slows, we need to consistently eat less and less so that we can stay fit.  Indeed, I need to be disciplined about exercising regularly (i.e., multiple times per week) and being strategic about what I eat.  I simply cant eat like I could in high school.  I think this will help me grow physically.

At the reunion, I was talking to my cousin's husband (who also teaches Bible study), and I posed this question, "Does it make any difference for me to pray that God will solve world thirst and world hunger?"  He replied, "God certainly cares about those people who don't have water and food, but perhaps a more specific prayer would be, 'God, please use me to help a certain people group gain reliable drinking water and sustainable food supply.  Please lead me to them and give me the opportunity to help them.' "  So, that's what I'm going to start praying.  I think this will help me grow socially.

Of course, reading my Bible every day helps me grow spiritually, and I love some of the verses from my reading this morning:

56:1 This is what the Lord says:
   "Be just and fair to all.
      Do what is right and good,
   for I am coming soon to rescue you
      and to display my righteousness among you.
 2 Blessed are all those
      who are careful to do this.
   Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest
      and keep themselves from doing wrong.

57:15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
      the Holy One, says this:
   "I live in the high and holy place
      with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
   I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
      and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

58:6 "No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
   Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
      lighten the burden of those who work for you.
   Let the oppressed go free,
      and remove the chains that bind people.
 7 Share your food with the hungry,
      and give shelter to the homeless.
   Give clothes to those who need them,
      and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
 8 "Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
      and your wounds will quickly heal.
   Your godliness will lead you forward,
      and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
 9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
      'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply.

60:1 "Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
      For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. ...
 19 "No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
      nor the moon to give its light by night,
   for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light,
      and your God will be your glory.
 20 Your sun will never set;
      your moon will not go down.

Heavenly Father, thank you for growing me.  Lord, I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Please help me be physically disciplined that I would honor you.  Lord, please use me to minister to a people group that lacks clean drinking water.  Father, please help rise and shine and reflect your glory.  I give you this day, and I ask you to accomplish your will.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Psalm 87:1-7, Psalm 125:1-5, Isaiah 1:1-4:6

I love this classic passage of true worship and repentance from Isaiah:

1:11 "The multitude of your sacrifices—
       what are they to me?" says the LORD.
       "I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
       of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
       I have no pleasure
       in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

 12 When you come to appear before me,
       who has asked this of you,
       this trampling of my courts?

 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
       Your incense is detestable to me.
       New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
       I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
       my soul hates.
       They have become a burden to me;
       I am weary of bearing them.

 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
       I will hide my eyes from you;
       even if you offer many prayers,
       I will not listen.
       Your hands are full of blood;

 16 wash and make yourselves clean.
       Take your evil deeds
       out of my sight!
       Stop doing wrong,

 17 learn to do right!
       Seek justice,
       encourage the oppressed.
       Defend the cause of the fatherless,
       plead the case of the widow.

 18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
       says the LORD.
       "Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool.

Isaiah also prophesied about what is to come:

2:2 In the last days
       the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established
       as chief among the mountains;
       it will be raised above the hills,
       and all nations will stream to it.  

Many peoples will come and say,

       "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
       to the house of the God of Jacob.
       He will teach us his ways,
       so that we may walk in his paths."
       The law will go out from Zion,
       the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy that, as I come to you in the name of Jesus, you forgive me and wash me as white as snow.  Lord, may I be eager to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ that peoples of all nations will come to you by faith in Jesus and learn your ways that we all may experience the joy and satisfaction of Life with you.  Lord of the Harvest, I pray that you will send out more workers.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

relationship with Yahweh

75:1 We give thanks to you, O God,
       we give thanks, for your Name is near;
       men tell of your wonderful deeds.  ...
  9 As for me, I will declare this forever;
       I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.
77:1 I cried out to God for help;
       I cried out to God to hear me....
 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
       yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 
 12 I will meditate on all your works
       and consider all your mighty deeds. 
 13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
       What god is so great as our God? 
 14 You are the God who performs miracles;
       you display your power among the peoples.
80:3 Restore us, O God;
       make your face shine upon us,
       that we may be saved.  ...
  7 Restore us, O God Almighty;
       make your face shine upon us,
       that we may be saved. ...
 17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
       the son of man you have raised up for yourself. 
 18 Then we will not turn away from you;
       revive us, and we will call on your name. 
 19 Restore us, O LORD God Almighty;
       make your face shine upon us,
       that we may be saved.
 Yahweh is so compassionate to us.  His love for us is never ending.  He set us up in the beginning in a perfect spot and we messed it up.  But He forgives us.  And He cooperates with us to restore us.
Heavenly Father, I beg you, the Self-Existing Covenant Maker, Master of everything, to restore me to what you want me to be - holy like you.  O Father, I ask you to shine the light of your face, the light of the Lord Jesus Christ upon me.  You are my salvation.  I turn to no other.  It is by your grace that I am saved.  I praise you and worship you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

cry out to Yahweh

2 Kings 18:13-19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-23

The king of Assyria (Sennacherib) came waltzing up to Jerusalem talking smack because he had annihilated much of the surrounding countries.  The worst part of it was that he started talking smack against Yahweh saying that Yahweh was just like any of the other "gods" of the surrounding pagan countries.  Uh-oh!  Now, if Hezekiah had tried to defeat the Sennacherib on his own strength, Sennacherib would have beat the snot out of him.  But instead, Hezekiah CRIED OUT TO YAHWEH!

19:14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD : "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God. 17 "It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men's hands. 19 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God."

First, he acknowledged the true, Creator, Sovereign identity of God - independent of the way he was feeling.  Second, he shared the conflict that was on his heart.  Third, he asked God to deliver him so that all kingdoms on earth may know that Yahweh alone is God.  The result:

19:35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

Heavenly Father, you are the God of Israel, sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth that you created.  O Lord, I ask you to pour your Spirit upon me and work through me so that people from all nations may know that you alone, Yahweh, are God, that you have delivered us from sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we find purpose and satisfaction in a relationship with you.  I pray that you will be glorified in my life today.  I pray that I will worship you with my life.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Micah 4:1-7:20

There are three chunks of Scripture from today's reading that really demonstrate the simplicity of a relationship with God.  Like Sunday's messages that "the righteous will live by faith" and to "offer your bodies as a living sacrifices", these passages conceptualize our life in Christ:

6:6 With what shall I come before the LORD
       and bow down before the exalted God?
       Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
       with calves a year old?
 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
       with ten thousand rivers of oil?
       Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
       the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

7:7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
       I wait for God my Savior;
       my God will hear me.
 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
       Though I have fallen, I will rise.
       Though I sit in darkness,
       the LORD will be my light.
 9 Because I have sinned against him,
       I will bear the LORD's wrath,
       until he pleads my case
       and establishes my right.
       He will bring me out into the light;
       I will see his righteousness.
 18 Who is a God like you,
       who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
       of the remnant of his inheritance?
       You do not stay angry forever
       but delight to show mercy.
 19 You will again have compassion on us;
       you will tread our sins underfoot
       and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
 20 You will be true to Jacob,
       and show mercy to Abraham,
       as you pledged on oath to our fathers
       in days long ago.

I am sinful and deserving of wrath, but He is merciful.  In Christ, He has hurled all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.  He is faithful and true to His promises.

Heavenly Father, please shine on me the light of your righteousness.  Please cleanse me of pride, selfishness, and lust.  Father, I desire to be holy like you are holy - to honor you.  Lord, I want to offer my body as a sacrifice.  Please show me how.  I want to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you, but I can't do that on my own.  My natural self desires sin.  Oh Jesus, I need you to live your perfect, obedient life through me.  May I be crucified with Christ today that I may die to myself and Christ may live in my place.  I ask this in the name of the one who tread my sins underfoot and conquered the enemy.  His name is Jesus Christ, and He is my master and friend!  Amen.

Monday, July 7, 2008

practice what you teach

Isaiah 22:1-23:18; 2 Kings 18:7-8; Micah 1:8-3:12

Yesterday morning I taught in our young married Bible study on the book of Habakkuk about how we need to trust God when life seems unfair.  Pastor preached on Romans 12:1-2 about being a living sacrifice and what it means to worship God with your life.

About 2:00am this morning, our dog woke us up whining because he had to go outside to do his business.  It is amazing how easily frustrated I am, especially when it involves sleep deprival.  As I was standing there outside with my dog, I was about to get angry, but I remembered the subject matter of Sunday's studies, and I prayed silently to God, "God, I will glorify you in all circumstances because you are worthy of praise regardless of how I feel."

It took me a while to go back to sleep, and then when the alarm sounded, I certainly did not feel good.  So, I went about my morning preparations in a melancholy state.  As it was about time for me to depart, I realized that I could allow these simple things to annoy me and lead me to a bad attitude and evil actions, or I could consciously choose to serve the Lord with a glad heart.

It is my desire to demonstrate love and compassion, even when I feel mistreated or hurt.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will give me your agape love that is supernatural and independent of my emotional or mental state.  Father, I want to show your love and compassion with a genuine heart even when I don't feel like it.  Please humble me and lead me away from pride.  I ask that I would honor you today, and I ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, July 4, 2008

morning star

Here are some verses that remind me of the character of Lucifer (i.e., Satan, the Devil, the Enemy of our Souls, the Great Dragon, the Serpent, etc.)
14:12 How you have fallen from heaven,
       O morning star, son of the dawn!
       You have been cast down to the earth,
       you who once laid low the nations!
 13 You said in your heart,
       "I will ascend to heaven;
       I will raise my throne
       above the stars of God;
       I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
       on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
       I will make myself like the Most High."
I read a commentary about these verses that pointed out that there is a difference between our desire to be like God in the sense that He has commanded us to be holy as He is holy versus the desire to receive glory and praise.
I think pride is perhaps the most difficult sin to deal with because it is so subtle and it jades the lenses through which we perceive everything - it may even be behind the lenses.  It's worse than a virus on the operating system - it's a virus on the motherboard.
Heavenly Father, I sincerely ask you to show me how I am proud.  I want to humble myself, but I simply don't know how.  Please guide me, show me from your Word, and lead me by your Holy Spirit to change my proud, arrogant heart into a humble and thankful heart.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


2 Kings 17:3-23, 18:9-12, 17:24-41; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2 Kings 16:19-20; 2 Chronicles 28:26-27; 2 Kings 18:1-2; 2 Chronicles 29:1; 1 Chronicles 4:34-43

The general theme of this morning's reading is that the consequence of sin is death.  Death is bad for two reasons.  First, it hurts us (we, the people who sin, which includes every human except Christ), but that is a lame reason why Death is bad compared to the second reason why Death is bad.  Sin is very bad because death separates us from God who is life.  The meaning of God's name "LORD" or "YAHWEH" includes the concept of "Self-Existing One" or "Author of everything that is living because He is Life itself".

So, when the Israelites drifted away from God, the consequence was that they got smashed by brutal neighboring pagan empires.  Bummer.  That hurts.  But what hurts worse is how they were separated from the source of life.  They exchanged True Abundant Life with Yahweh for fake defeated existence with idols.  How tragic.

Of course, Scripture teaches us that the Israelites are a warning to us.  So the application is to figure out how I'm trading the opportunity of abundant life with Christ for worthless existence that is sinful and results in death (separation from God, who is Life).

The ladies in our Bible Life group at church have a book study on Wednesday mornings during the summer focused on how to be a Mary in a Martha world.  I think this is similar to something that I struggle with.  I want to do so much, and I want to accomplish things, but in a way I am trading abundant Christ-Centered worship and Life (like Mary) for a bunch of business that makes me tired, frustrated, and defeated (like Martha).  Oh that I may shift my focus off of my self (flesh) and onto Christ (Spirit).

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that speaks truth.  Thank you for the picture of the Israelites and the warning not to loose the priority of my relationship with you above all else.  Lord, I want my heart to be completely and totally devoted to you only - no others.  I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I know it is weak when I say this, but I love you.  I want to love you more.  Please grow my love for you.  May I love you so much that my perspective of every other aspect of my life is according to your Holy perspective.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

soft heart

Recently I was thinking about what it means (practically) to turn my heart to God or to love Him with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  A Brother referred me to Christ's parable about the four different types of soil that represent four different types of hearts.  I think His parable ties in well with this verse from Hosea:
10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness,
       reap the fruit of unfailing love,
       and break up your unplowed ground;
       for it is time to seek the LORD,
       until he comes
       and showers righteousness on you.
So then the question is, how do I practically "plow" the hard ground of my heart? 
Of course, this only comes with a repentant heart:
14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
       Your sins have been your downfall! 
 2 Take words with you
       and return to the LORD.
       Say to him:
       "Forgive all our sins
       and receive us graciously,
       that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a proud person.  Lord, please humble my pride.  I pray that you will save me from myself.  Lord, please lead me to walk in the Spirit today.  I pray that you will help me set my mind on the Spirit and not on the flesh.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
       and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
 Jesus busted the Pharisees with this one.  We get so stinking religious - so caught up in what we think is right.  We get so comfortable with our little network of friends, our routine of pretending to interact with God.  Like Travis said at prayer breakfast, "We do all of this religious stuff and we essentially think that we control God because of the stuff we do for Him."  That's what self-righteous religion does, it makes us think we are in control.  There's that dang pride again - it just keeps coming back. It's so pervasive.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
So, what was God's response to the Israelites (and Judah later)?  He let them go through tough times to get their focus off of themselves.  He is willing for us to suffer for the sake of us truly knowing Him.  He will discipline us like children to lead us to a proper understanding of His desire for us to have a humble relationship with Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will expose my pride to me.  Lead me to repentance.  I know that I am prideful, but I don't know how bad it is.  Please help me be humble so that I can know you.  Lord, I don't want to be religious!  Please help me love you and seek you above all else and enjoy the abundant life that you've given me through Christ.  I pray that I will demonstrate pure religion by loving others as myself, by caring for those in distress and keeping myself pure for you - to honor your holiness.   I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.