Friday, August 29, 2008

watchman and countryman

Ezekiel 32:1-33:20, 40:1-27

God is fair.  He holds us accountable to the amount of revelation we've received.  To the one He has revealed Himself and His plan (i.e., the "watchman"), He expects a lot. 

33:7 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

I need to be a better watchman.  I want to learn how to be a watchman like Christ was a watchman. 

To the countryman (by way of the watchman), God's message is Mercy by repentance/faith/obedience.

33:17 "Yet your countrymen say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. 19 And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so. 20 Yet, O house of Israel, you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But I will judge each of you according to his own ways."

Heavenly Father, please give me boldness to be a watchman in my city.  Lord, please help me share the simple message of Faith in Jesus Christ.  Lord, please help me live an attentive, watchful, watchman's life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

heavy hitters

Ezekiel 37-39

Valley of dry bones, two sticks into one stick, Gog and Magog... whew!

Why does God bless the chosen and judge the wicked?

37:26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.

38:21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man's sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and paying the penalty of sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for your mercy.  Thank you for revealing yourself to me and allowing me to know you.  Lord, please help me live in view of your mercy.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

good shepherd

Ezekiel 34-36

Yahweh says He will be the shepherd, and then Jesus says He is the shepherd.  Hmmm.....

Ez 34:15 "I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. ... 30 Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. 31 You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD."

John 10:7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

What is God's motivation for doing stuff?

Ez 35:22 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.

And how does He do that?

24 " 'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for being the good shepherd and taking care of your sheep.  Thank you for sending Jesus Christ who is the Good Shepherd and demonstrated that by laying His life down for us.  Lord, I pray that I will not profane your name, but I pray that you will use my life to glorify your name.  Lord, please help me be humble.  Please sprinkle clean water on my mind, and give me a heart transplant to seek you and love you with all that I am.  I love you, Lord; you are my God.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ezekiel 27-28, 33:21-33

I was particularly intrigued with 28:11-19 for its literal application to the king and kingdom of Tyre, for its figurative application to Satan and the demons, for its figurative application to the fall of Adam and Eve, and for its figurative application to me.  The word "hubris" comes to mind - "overbearing pride; gratuitous insolence". (My friend Eric taught me this word.)

The application point I find is this: we must be vigilant against pride because it is so subtle.  We slip from being "blessed" to being "hubristic" in a heartbeat, and we all know the consequences of pride - separation from God.

Heavenly Father, as Satan slipped from "blessed" to hubristic and was cast from your presence, so we humans have gulped down this same pride.  Father, please forgive me for my proud heart.  Nothing exists apart from you, you are the Creator, you are the giver of life, you are the provider for everything I have, and you created me with all of the gifts and talents I have.  Lord, please help me honor you with my time and my talents, not only in the way that I use them, but in the attitude of my heart as I use them for your Glory.  God, would you please do a work on my heart and teach me how to humble myself before you.  Lord, I confess that I am a proud man, and I need you to save me from myself.  May I come into your presence in true humility, and may I live my life in constant humble recognition of your presence.  Please guide me to true humility.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who was so humble to leave Heaven, become human, and hang on a tree for my sin and the sin of all of humanity.  Amen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

more judgment, more grace

Jeremiah 30-31; Ezekiel 26

Jeremiah 31

 1 "At that time," declares the LORD, "I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people."

 2 This is what the LORD says:
       "The people who survive the sword
       will find favor in the desert;
       I will come to give rest to Israel."

 3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
       "I have loved you with an everlasting love;
       I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

 4 I will build you up again
       and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
       Again you will take up your tambourines
       and go out to dance with the joyful.

 5 Again you will plant vineyards
       on the hills of Samaria;
       the farmers will plant them
       and enjoy their fruit.

 6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
       on the hills of Ephraim,
       'Come, let us go up to Zion,
       to the LORD our God.' "

I am reminded of Romans 5:

20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
 21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your justice - that you are always consistent in your moral integrity.  Lord, thank you for your grace through Jesus Christ.  Thank you for your love that overcomes sin and death.  Lord, please help me live a life of humble obedience - not wandering.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Word of God

Lamentations 5; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40:1-42:22

Tomorrow in our Bible Life group at church, we will be studying the truth that "the Bible is God's Word."  Here in this text is an example of the incredible value of God's Word - a communication of His plan, His heart, His promise.

Political turbulence following the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem incited many to consider moving to Egypt. Before leaving they asked Jeremiah to pray to Yahweh, and they promised that they would obey whatever Yahweh told them.

Ten days later, the Word of the Lord came.  What an amazing treasure - to actually "hear" from God!  Well, we have a collection of His communication with humanity, and most of us (especially Americans) ignore it.

Heavenly Father, you are the most supreme being!  Thank you for communicating to us, your creation.  Lord, please show me the value of your Word.  May your words be my joy and my delight, and may I hide them in my heart that I may live according to your Holy Word.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God.  Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

because of His love

Lamentations 3-4

My wife and I went to a Natalie Grant concert, and I left with two strong conclusions.  First, I need to live every day to change the world, acknowledging that we change the world incrementally.  It starts with turning my heart toward God and pursuing him.  Then it extends to my wife; I need to be more focused and engaged about following the Biblical model  of spiritually leading my wife.  The second point was that we are so stinking materialistic in this society - it's gross!  We are so comfortable, and there are a lot of people in the world who are literally starving and thirsting to death.  Check out these kids from Haiti; they need some help, and my wife and I are going to help support them:

I never really thought about what Jeremiah was lamenting.  He was lamenting the sad state of affairs that the nation of Israel (and the city of Jerusalem, in particular) came to because of their rebellion against Yahweh.  This is a severe reminder that Yahweh is just, He will not be mocked, and the consequence of sin is death.  Tragically, the nation of Israel did not seek God, so He used progressively more and more severe consequences to regain their single-minded focus.

However, compressed inside this lament of God's judgment is the recognition that God is gracious - He is gracious by allowing us to live (biologically) until He changes our heart through repentance and faith so that we may truly live (spiritually).

3:22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.

 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.

 24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
       therefore I will wait for him."

 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
       to the one who seeks him;

 26 it is good to wait quietly
       for the salvation of the LORD. ...

 55 I called on your name, O LORD,
       from the depths of the pit.

 56 You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears
       to my cry for relief."

 57 You came near when I called you,
       and you said, "Do not fear."

 58 O Lord, you took up my case;
       you redeemed my life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace; please don't let me take your grace for granted.  Lord, I pray that I will live "in view of your mercy" today and offer my body as a living sacrifice.  Lord, I am a sinner, and I need you to save me - every day.  Please teach me to call on your name, and I know that you will rescue me and redeem my life.  I ask you to fill me with your Spirit and allow me to walk according to your word.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Compassionate One

Psalm 102, 120, 137; Lamentations 1-2

Who is Yahweh and how do we experience Him?

Psalm 102

 12 But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever;
       your renown endures through all generations.

 13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
       for it is time to show favor to her;
       the appointed time has come.

 14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
       her very dust moves them to pity.

 15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
       all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.

 16 For the LORD will rebuild Zion
       and appear in his glory.

 17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
       he will not despise their plea.

Lamentations 2

 19 Arise, cry out in the night,
       as the watches of the night begin;
       pour out your heart like water
       in the presence of the Lord.
       Lift up your hands to him
       for the lives of your children,
       who faint from hunger
       at the head of every street.

I will cry out to Him because He is life itself; apart from Him we have only death and destruction.  He is the compassionate one who loves us infinitely.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinful man; I am in need of your saving.  My only hope is to cry out to you, My Salvation.  Lord, please give me brokenness for my sin and the sin of my people.  Please bring a revival of life to me and those around me.  Lord, I pray that your glory will fill the earth and that the nations will hear and trust in your name.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the only name by which men are saved. Amen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grace on every page

79:8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers;
       may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
       for we are in desperate need.

 9 Help us, O God our Savior,
       for the glory of your name;
       deliver us and forgive our sins
       for your name's sake.

 10 Why should the nations say,
       "Where is their God?" ...

85:2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
       and covered all their sins.

 3 You set aside all your wrath
       and turned from your fierce anger.

 4 Restore us again, O God our Savior,
       and put away your displeasure toward us.

 5 Will you be angry with us forever?
       Will you prolong your anger through all generations?

 6 Will you not revive us again,
       that your people may rejoice in you?

 7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD,
       and grant us your salvation.

 8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say;
       he promises peace to his people, his saints—
       but let them not return to folly.

 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
       that his glory may dwell in our land.

Some people might think that the Old Testament is full of God's anger, wrath, and judgment, but while I do acknowledge the heavy nature of the Kings through the Prophets, I see Grace on almost every page.  There is similarity in the fact that the Israelites invited God's punishment for their rebellious behavior and the fact that we live knuckleheaded lives that require God's Grace every day.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am so proud; please humble me.  Lord, as the Israelites were distracted by the things of the world, so it is easy for me to become distracted with worldly things.  Please draw me near to you.  I ask that you fill me with your Grace and perfect Love that casts out all fear, and help me share the Good News of Jesus Christ so that your Glory will fill the earth.  Please show me mercy for your namesake.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

judgment and mercy

Jeremiah 34; 2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36:15-21; Jeremiah 39

God is so patient with us.  It is especially tragic when He gives us one opportunity after another to repent and turn to Him, and we stubbornly continue on our own way.  After some time of patience, God demonstrates His character of justice by allowing us to experience the consequences of our sin.

2 C 36:15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.

However, even in the midst of judgment, God is merciful.  He loves us and cares about us, and when we turn our hearts toward Him in faith, He shows us mercy.

J 39:17 But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear. 18 I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.' "

Heavenly Father, you are so amazing that you can be both just and merciful at the same time.  Your character is Holy.  Lord, I turn my heart toward you, and I ask you to show me mercy.  Please save me from destruction, and guide me in paths of righteousness for your namesake.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Ezekiel 31:1-18; Jeremiah 32:1-33:26

After the northern ten tribes of Israel were carted off in captivity to the Assyrians, after the Babylonians had punched Jerusalem in the face and walked off with a whole bunch of folks, and while the Babylonians were assaulting Jerusalem in round two, the prophet Jeremiah prays these words:

32:17 "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the fathers' sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, 19 great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve. 20 You performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, both in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. 21 You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. 22 You gave them this land you had sworn to give their forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster upon them.

Especially in the midst of trials and testing times, we must focus on the character of God, for in Him we find hope.  Not only that, but we find that while He is perfectly just and righteous in all of His decisions, He is also simultaneously infinitely merciful and loving.

32:36 "You are saying about this city, 'By the sword, famine and plague it will be handed over to the king of Babylon'; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 37 I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

There is theme common to all humanity that God promises explicitly through the prophet Jeremiah:

33:2 "This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Heavenly Father, you are the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe; nothing is too hard for you!  Lord, I trust you with my life, and I pray that you will be my God.  Please give me singleness of heart and action to love you only and worship you with my life.  Please teach me to fear you and extend your blessings on me to my family and friends and everyone I come in contact with.  Please fill me with your Holy Spirit that I would be an ambassador of Christ today.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

exalt His name

Ezekiel 17:1-20:29

In chapter 20, God explains how He did all of these things for the people of Israel (choosing them, leading them out of Egypt, giving them His decrees, placing them in a good land), but they still turned to their own way.  How tragic!  And God says several times something like:

9 But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations

It is my goal that the name of Yahweh and the name of Jesus Christ would be exalted among the nations.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you would use me to exalt and glorify your name.  Please lead me away from anything that profanes your name.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

fundamentals (continued)

Ezekiel 14-16

While the majority of these passages is severe judgment, it is critical to see why God judged the Israelites the way He did.  Though we have brought upon ourselves the consequence of death, He speaks life into us according to His Covenant of Grace!

14:5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols. ... 8 ... Then you will know that I am the LORD. ... 11 Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.

15:7 ... And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the LORD.

16:6 " 'Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!" ... 8 ... I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. ... 59 " 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. 60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 6162 So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. 63 Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.' " Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you.

On a sad note, I find a tragic parallel between our modern United States culture and the culture of Sodom that God destroyed:

16:49 " 'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Ouch!  Arrogance, obesity, apathy, selfishness, audaciousness, and lewdness.  I don' t think those characteristics are true of the entire population, but they certainly are true for a large fraction. For proof, simply turn on the television.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us a Covenant of Grace in spite of what we deserve.  Lord, may I live in constant awe of your grace and mercy.  I pray that I will be humble, disciplined, concerned, actively compassionate, meek, and pure before you so that I can grow closer to you.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


What is God's desire for humanity?  God in me and me in God!
11:16 "Therefore, tell the exiles, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17 I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.'  18 "When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. 19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.
What is God's motivation for the way He interacts with us?  What fundamental principle does He want us to understand and demonstrate with our lives?  That He is who He says He is!
12:15 ... they will know that I am the Lord. 16 ... Then they will know that I am the Lord. ... 20 ... Then you will know that I am the Lord.
13:9 ... Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. ... 14 ... Then you will know that I am the Lord. ... 21 ... Then you will know that I am the Lord. 22 ... Then you will know that I am the Lord.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will be my sanctuary, and I pray that I will be a sanctuary for you.  I pray that you will remove every trace of vile images or detestable idols from my mind and life.  Lord, I beg you to give me a singleness of heart - to desire you only, to please you only, to glorify you only.  Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit; may I keep in step with the Spirit.  Please take away my stony, stubborn, prideful, selfish, apathetic heart, and give me a tender, responsive, compassionate, loving heart so that I will obey you with delight.  O God and Father, Christ the Son, and Holy Spirit - please be my God.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for my eternal and present salvation.  You are my Lord and Kind Master.  Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rick Warren interview with Barack Obama and John McCain

I would like to make sure you are aware of this important event:  Pastor Rick Warren will moderate a Civil Forum with presumed Presidential Nominees Barack Obama and John McCain on Saturday, August 16, 5:00-7:00 pm (PST).  The event will broadcast on CNN, and the official website for the event is which includes a link to watch the event live online.

the Purity of Christ vs. the sins of people

Ezekiel 5-9

What an incredible revelation of the person of Christ:

8:1 Then on September 17, during the sixth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, while the leaders of Judah were in my home, the Sovereign Lord took hold of me. 2 I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From the waist up he looked like gleaming amber. 3 He reached out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me to Jerusalem in a vision from God. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the Lord very jealous. 4 Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley.

What a tragic revelation of the Israelites at that time (representative of all of humanity):

8:12 Then the Lord said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, 'The Lord doesn't see us; he has deserted our land!'" 13 Then the Lord added, "Come, and I will show you even more detestable sins than these!"

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will reveal to me your person, that I may be changed and live in obedience to you.  I confess that I am sinful, and I confess that I naturally practice idolatry by putting anything before you.  I pray that your holy fire will burn up anything in me that is not of you - I want to worship you with my whole life.  Lord God, help me set my mind on the Spirit today; please fill me with your Life and Peace.  May I be characterized by your abundant love and joy.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Jeremiah 29:1-32; 2 Kings 24:18-20; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 49:34-39; Jeremiah 50:1-46

My wife and I have been on vacation since Sunday evening, and we have really enjoyed our stay here at the beach.  It has been so relaxing!  Many times we go on vacation, and we run ourselves to death so that we're even more exhausted when we return home - but not this trip.  We've slept at least nine hours every night, and we've had a very relaxed schedule the whole time.

I've really enjoyed reading the Bible with my wife on this trip.  We've each been asking the other insightful questions, and I've really enjoyed the discussion.  This morning's reading included one of my passages in the Bible:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

My wife is so sweet.  It's on trips like these that I get to see what a true sweetheart she is.  I love her so much!  The Lord has blessed us beyond measure.  One of the things we've focused on this trip is to be grateful for all that God has done in our lives: faith, Christian families, college education, health, spiritual gifts, a nice place to live, food to eat, dependable vehicles, ... the list goes on and on.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me so much.  I pray that I would live in constant awe of your mercy and continue to offer my body as a living sacrifice to you - holy and pleasing.  I pray that I will give you my heart wholly undivided, with single-minded obedience.  I love you, Father.  Thank you for the blood of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for me to know you.  I pray in His name.  Amen.

Friday, August 1, 2008

obey the Lord

Jeremiah 7:1-8:3; 11:1-17; 15:10-21; 22:18-23; 35:1-19

7:3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. ... 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. ... 23 ... Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.

15:16 When your words came, I ate them;
       they were my joy and my heart's delight,
       for I bear your name,
       O LORD God Almighty.

35:18 Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.' 19 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.' "

The blessing of obedience is not necessarily physical.  The principle blessing of obedience is closeness with Yahweh - to know Him and love Him and to leave a legacy influencing others to know and obey Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace that leads me to desire you and gives me the ability to obey you.  Lead me on, and I will run after you.  May you permeate my existence, influence others to know you and obey you, and advance your Kingdom among the nations, all for the glory of your holy name, Yahweh.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.