Friday, October 31, 2008

I wish we'd all been ready

Mark 13:24:31, Luke 21:25-38, Mark 13:32-37, Matthew 24:36-51, Matthew 25:1-30, Luke 19:11-27

Luke 21:27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. ... 34Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

Matthew 24:44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I am working to prepare myself for Christ's return (which could be any moment from the looks of things).  One aspect by which our faithfulness will be evaluated is financial responsibility.  Matthew 25:14-30 has some very strong implications for how we should manage the financial resources that God has placed in our care:

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

I'm don't know if the third "servant" was really a believer or not, but I do know that bad stuff happened, and it was associated with his fiscal responsibility.  I know I sure don't want to bury any treasure that God has placed me in charge of;  I need to use all to advance His Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, I pray that my mind and motives will be sobered by the reality of Christ's eminent return.  I pray that I will be a faithful steward who will give you an abundant return on the resources that you have put me in charge of.  I pray that you will gain Lordship over every action; I pray that I will joyfully submit to your will.  I pray that I will worship you today with my life - not my life, but yours.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

living with the end in mind

Matthew 23:37-39, Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4, Mark 13:1-23, Matthew 24:1-28, Luke 21:5-24

This upcoming Sunday we are going to study financial stewardship.  Here we find example of what stewardship looks like when Christ is Lord:

Luke 21:1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3"I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

Faith in Christ to provide and sustain - faith with the totality of our security.  Most Americans give out of wealth, but Christ calls us to give out of sacrifice.  At what point will we trust Christ and desire Him and His Kingdom more than the American Dream?

Christ prophesied that the end will be messy.  The Lord will sovereignly use these troubling times to reveal true discipleship - He will use persecution as a platform for preaching the Gospel and as a process for refining His disciples:

Luke 21:12"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm you will gain life.

Heavenly Father, please help me treasure Christ above all!  I pray that I will love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength today.  I pray that I will crucify my flesh today so that the power of the Holy Spirit may resurrect the life of Jesus Christ.  I pray that you will truly be Lord of my life so that I will honor you as a good steward of the resources you've placed in my care - especially cash.  I pray that I will trust you with all of me, that I will find no security in money.  I pray that you will give me grace for refining trials; please give me opportunities to share the Gospel and please use these trials to destroy my flesh and raise up Jesus Christ inside me.  I pray this in His Holy Name. Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40, Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40, Luke 10:25-37, Mark 12:35-37, Matthew 22:41-46, Luke 20:41-44, Matthew 23:1-36, Mark 12:37-40, Luke 20:45-47


Life is not about what you do, it is about the attitude, motive, and intention of your heart.  My desire is to worship God with every action, every thought, every moment, every breath of my life.  Consequently, I will naturally be the neighbor to the one who is in need (Luke 10:29-37, the good Samaritan). 
Tragically, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were especially heinous in their hypocrisy:

Matthew 23:23"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24"You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (NASB)

There are a lot of modern-day Pharisees in our "churches" in America; I hope I am not one of them.


Heavenly Father, I pray that I will live a genuine Spirit-filled life.  I pray that the centrality and totality of my existence will be worshiping you passionately.  I pray that I will never profess to know you but deny you by the way I live.  Rather, I pray that my actions will cement your presence in my life and others around me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Mark 11:27-33, Matthew 21:23-27, Luke 20:1-8, Matthew 21:28-32, Mark 12:1-12, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19, Matthew 22:1-14, Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26

Yesterday I had a great visit with one of the pastors of our church. I shared with him my frustration with time management and trying to find the balance in how much I invest towards the various relationships and responsibilities in my life. He challenged me to a deeper level of discipleship - not simply investing in other people to help them grow in Christ, but to invest in others with the goal that they will in turn invest in others. This is the concept of discipleship expressed in Paul's second letter to Timothy (chapter 2):
1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
And this really falls in line with the heart of one of the other pastors at our church.

Ultimately, my objectives in in discipleship are: 1) replicate Christ within myself through fellowship with the Body, and 2) replicate Christ within other Brothers and Sisters in such a way that they will ingest these objectives so that, 3) the Body of Christ will be made whole and holy, with each member exercising his/her gifts according to the Holy Spirit, 4) to the glory of God.

Thinking of discipleship in this context is not draining, it is energizing and empowering! A sense of eternal significance gives meaning and motivation to my daily activities and helps me discern how I may live this day in a way that is profitable for the Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you for encouragement that comes through members of the body of Christ. Thank you for pastors who care about discipleship and maturing individuals and community into Christ. Lord, will you please empower us with your Holy Spirit; lead us away from unproductive activities, and lead us into profitable stewardship of time, money, and relationships. May we bring all under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I pray this in His name, the name of the Son.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Luke 19:1-10, Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19, Mark 11:12-25

Jesus is the Messiah, and as he rolled into town in a low-rider, the people cheered Messianic exclamations:

12The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
   "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
   "Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
 15"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
      see, your king is coming,
      seated on a donkey's colt."

How do you suppose the religious leaders responded?  Surely the Pharisees would see all of the prophecies being fulfilled!  Surely the Pharisees would be the first and most sincere in their worship of the Creator who became Man, the Messiah who is the Lamb!

17Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

And if that weren't bad enough, the religious leaders had set up all sorts of extra religious requirements and turned the Temple of Yahweh into a marketplace.  Jesus is quite passionate about the identity and function of the Temple, and the religious leaders are quite passionate about their religion:

15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
   'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers'. "
18The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

How I wish this weren't the case today.  A few weeks ago, a young married couple visited our Sunday morning corporate worship service, and they had a flat tire when they got back to the car after the service.  Not a single person stopped to check on them or offer assistance.  Even in my own Bible study group on Sunday mornings we see complacency: a visitor will come in and very few people will notice and go talk to them to make sure they feel welcome and extend the love of Christ.  Why is it so hard for people (myself included) to get out of our comfort zone and invest energy in building up others?  Sadly, I think the spiritual condition of the majority of our US "churches" are like the archetypal US physique: lazy obese sluggards.

My wife and I were saddened to observe another instance last night at a reception after our evening service.  There is a physically disabled man in our congregation who is a dear Brother in Christ.  It is difficult to understand him, but he is a very intelligent man (two master's degrees).  One of his caretakers came to our service with him last night and commented, "I'm don't like this church.  People at my church talk to me."

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will give me the Spirit of Christ.  I confess that I am naturally a religious man, and I need you to save me from my sinful, lazy, selfish self.  Please give me your compassion for everyone, and may I be humble and loving as Christ was to everyone he came in contact with.  Help me share your love with those who are despised and rejected by the world.  Please bring revival to my Bible study group and my congregation so that you may be expressed in our community, city, and world.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who was despised and rejected.

Friday, October 24, 2008


John 9:35-10:21, Mark 10:2-12, Matthew 19:3-12, Luke 16:18, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-17, Mark 10:17-22, Matthew 19:16-22, Luke 18:18-23

Last night we had our first small group meeting, and I am so excited about our weekly meeting.  It was so encouraging to fellowship and share a meal.  We had a great discussion of Acts 1, and through the discussion, several people made insightful comments that really helped me understand this chapter much better.  The main point that I walked away with was, if Jesus is really alive in me, then the power of His Holy Spirit will be operating in me and through me.  As I am faithful to be open and transparent with the people around me, God will work through me to testify to the life of Christ.  I can't argue people into believing in Christ like some academic philosophy; I simply show people how the love, life, and light of God are in me.  I want to be fully desiring Christ and only satisfied in Him.

John 10:7 ... I am the door of the sheep. ... 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. ... 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

O, that I would know the voice of the Good Shepherd!  He is the great I AM!  He promises to give us His Divine Life abundantly!  I want to look for opportunities today to share with others the love of Christ Jesus.

Heavenly Father, please tune my ear to the voice of Jesus Christ.  I pray that you will squelch the world from my mind, and that Christ will be all I desire.  I pray that as I throw myself toward you, that you will draw me close to you and lead me to follow you more earnestly.  Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit and show your supernatural goodness and love.  Please produce your Fruit in my life - for your glory and so that others might glorify you also.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Great I AM.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

blind man

John 7:53-9:34

Jesus goes through this back and forth banter with the Pharisees about where He's from, where they're from, who's my daddy, who's your daddy, ...  Well, just in case there was any confusion, Jesus is the Son of God (the Father), and Jesus is "I AM".

8:54 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." 57"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" 58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

And just in case you think Jesus is just talking bunch of smack, He proves who He is by healing (on the Sabbath, no less) a man that was blind from birth:

9:24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner."  25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"  26Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"  27He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"  28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."  30The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

I certainly don't claim to understand how God works, but as the healed blind man demonstrated, "It's not about what I know, it's about Who I know."

Heavenly Father, I trust that Jesus Christ is your Only Begotten Son and that He is I AM as You Are.  God, please help me not get so caught up in what people think, fancy arguments, and rebuttals.  Please help me simply show people that I was once spiritually blind, but now I see.  I was once lost, but now I am found.  May other see in me the joy, hope, peace, light, life, and love of the One True God.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

man of truth

Luke 17:20-18:14, John 7:1-52

John 5:18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

It is my hope that I will not work for myself but for Christ.  This goal requires that everything that I say or do represents Christ perfectly.  I've got a long way to go.

Heavenly Father, instead of seeking honor for myself, I pray that you will empower me to humble myself before you and seek only to honor you and to honor you only.  I pray that I will be an ambassador for Christ as Christ was an ambassador for you.  Lord, please make me a man of integrity, a man of truth, a man without anything false.  I desire to have your character - perfect truth.  Please destroy my selfish flesh as you raise up Jesus Christ (who is Truth itself) through my spirit.  It is in his name that I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

shrewd manager

Luke 14:25-17:19

I never understood the parable of the "shrewd" manager in Luke 16.  I couldn't figure out what aspect Jesus was complimenting about an accountant who wasn't doing what he was supposed to in the first place, and then he went through and inappropriately cut people's debts when he found out he was going to loose his job - hoping that someone would give him a job when he lost this one.  So, I read a commentary on this passage:
I see two things:
  1. We must be faithful with the resources that God has placed in our care.  The truth is that I don't own a single thing, not even my "own" body!
  2. Considering that we are ministers of reconciliation, it is actually appropriate for us to help people see that their debt with God has not been lessened, it has been ELIMINATED through CHRIST!
Heavenly Father, I confess that I own nothing.  You have blessed me with the opportunity to use the breath, body, gifts, talents, mind, strength, financial resources, relationships, and every other aspect/resource of my life (all which you gave me) for the glory of your Name and for the advancement of your Kingdom.  May I be continually working to bring you glory and fame - motivated by my expectation of my Savior's return.  May I share with others your love, life, and light - that they may experience your Goodness, Wisdom, Power, and Presence.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

are you ready?

Luke 12:22-13:17, 13:22-14:24

This is one of the most challenging passages that I have read recently:  Luke 12:31-48 - verses 35-36 and 48 in particular.

What does it mean to "be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning"?  What does it mean to open the door for Christ when He returns?  Am I living a life of integrity?  Am I being a good steward of every breath, every second, every penny?

With respect to "being dressed", I am reminded of Romans 13:14 and Ephesians 6:10-18.  With respect to "being ready for service", I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:15.  With respect to "keeping your lamps burning", I am reminded of Philippians 2:14-16.

I have been given much - much much.  And I know that much is expected of me.  But it is not me that produces the Fruit that remains; it is Christ through His Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I want to be ready and eagerly awaiting Christ's return.  Please help me live honorably today.  I want to bless you with my life, but I know that the only way that is possible is if the Life of Christ is raised up in my life which must be coincident with the death of my self.  I pray that I will be baptized into the Life of Christ today - my selfish flesh crucified so that the Life of Christ may be resurrected in me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, for whom I am waiting expectantly.  Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

salty fire

Mark 9:49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." (ESV)

Everyone will experience fire; either you will pass through the fire, coming out on the other side with all of the junk of this world being consumed by the fire (Believers) or you will spend the remainder of eternity in the fire because Christ was not in you.

Heavenly Father, please make me salty.  Lord, I don't want to be caught up in this world.  Please help me mortify the flesh now so that I may experience more of your resurrection power.  I pray that your Holy Spirit will salt me with Christ.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

dear Brothers

Mark 9:2-13, Matthew 17:1-13, Luke 9:28-36, Mark 9:14-32, Matthew 17:14-23, Luke 9:37-45, Mark 9:33-37, Matthew 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48

Jesus took a few of His close disciples up the hill and went supernova on 'em (Matt. 17:1-8)  Peter impulsively says, "This is awesome!  We can stay here forever!"  Sadly, that's the perspective of a lot of "churches" today - "Let's just stay inside our supernice buildings and sing our praise songs and God will be here and everyone will want to come here and it will be so good and anytime we want to experience God we can just come to this building and ..."  What a bunch of garbage!  God wants to express himself through us into the remainder of humanity!  Christ will be Lord of all!

This morning I got to fellowship with a Brother that I went to college with.  Then for lunch we got to visit with a dear couple that just got back from full-time collegiate missions in Russia.  It means so much to me to be able to share Christ with dear Brothers and Sisters; the Love of Christ is so clearly shown in the sweetness of that blessed fellowship.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the encouraging opportunities to fellowship with Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Lord, I pray that you will continue to gain me and use me as an instrument of change to bring more Brothers and Sisters into the Lordship of Christ.  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

who is Jesus, and what should I do about it?

Mark 8:11-13, Matthew 16:1-4, Mark 8:14-21, Matthew 16:5-12, Mark 8:22-30, Matthew 16:13-20, Luke 9:18-21, John 6:60-71, Mark 8:31-9:1, Matthew 16:21-28, Luke 9:22-27

The Pharisees were jealous because Jesus was gaining popularity, and Jesus certainly didn't fit their cookie cutter mold of religious hypocrisy, so they interrogated him:

Mark 8:11...To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it."

My question is, what about all of the miracles Jesus had already performed in front of them (e.g., the guy with the crippled hand on the Sabbath)?

Jesus asked his disciples,

Matthew 16:15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

After some tough teaching, a lot of followers of Jesus left, so Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked,

John 6:67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

After Jesus rebuked Peter for scolding Jesus about His "crazy" plan to die,

Luke 9:23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Love Dare - lust is a lie, it's a counterfeit for love, it is a parasite.

Heavenly Father, I confess that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah; He is the Christ.  I know that Christ has saved me from eternal damnation to an everlasting life, and I want Jesus Christ to be my Lord, my Master, at this very moment and every moment that follows.  Lord, I want to come after Christ; please help me deny the lustful flesh within me, to take up completely the death of me, and to keep on following Christ every day.  I pray this in the name of Jesus who is the Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

where is my heart?

Mark  7:1-23, Matthew 15:1-20, Mark 7:24-30, Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:31-37, Matthew 15:29-31, Mark 8:1-10, Matthew 15:32-39

Mark 7:6He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
   " 'These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.
 7They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." ... 18 ... "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.") 20He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

How tragic to think that I have exchanged the commands of God for the traditions of men!  It is not the acts of wickedness that are the problem; they are simply consequences of the deeper problem - the condition of the heart.  I know that my heart is evil and deceitful; I need Christ to save me from myself!

On a lighter note, I'm glad to see that Jesus declared all foods 'clean' because I sure do enjoy bacon.

Love Dare - love protects, proactively guards, keeps watch against the enemy ...

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will illuminate my mind and reveal the wickedness of my heart.  O Father, would you please perform heart surgery and give me a clean and pure heart that loves and seeks you and no other?  Lord, I need  your grace; I need the grace of Calvary applied to my heart condition.  Father please deliver me from the wicked flesh within me.  Please illuminate my "worship" and point out anything that is vain or religious.  I pray that you will empower me with wisdom and discernment to guard my marriage, tooth and nail.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

more where that came from

Mark 6:45-56, Matthew 14:22-36, John 6:16-59

Mark 6:54As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

A few observations:
  1. If the Church today looked like Christ, people would see Him and recognize His presence (v. 54).
  2. When people find a sense of hope, they will come searching for answers and healing (v. 55).  Our church should be a lighthouse to the community (and to the whole world).
  3. Friends bring friends when they know something is the real deal - when they know people can find answers and healing (v. 56).
  4. Jesus loves to heal physically and spiritually (v. 56).  We as His Body should emulate His operation.
Love Dare - true love is faithful; faithful love only comes from God through Christ Jesus.

Heavenly Father, I desire to be used by you.  Please flow your Holy Spirit through me to heal people around me.  I pray that your healing love, life, and light will flow through me.  I pray that people will recognize you within me, that people will be drawn to you, and that you will heal people through me.  I want to experience your good love and express your good person.  Overflow me with your goodness! May Jesus become greater in me, and may I become less in me.  I pray that the faithfulness of your love will be evident in my marriage.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

why don't our churches look like this today?

Mark 6:14-29, Matthew 14:1-12, Luke 9:7-9, Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:6, Mark 6:30-44, Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15

Luke 9:6 - So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

If we really have the Holy Spirit of Christ at work within us (individually and corporately), then why is the above not said of our churches?  If twelve jokers can run around with the authority of Christ and shake up the world with the Gospel and power of Christ, then why can't we?

Love Dare - let God alone be your constant source of satisfaction.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will pour out your Holy Spirit through me.  Change me into the person of Christ; I pray that my character, my will, my mind, and my heart will be transformed into the person of Christ.  Lord, please use me to share the Gospel and I pray that your power will heal those around me as I am faithfully drawing nearer to you.  May you be my sole satisfaction, and I pray that you will fill me and flow through me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jesus asleep at the wheel

Mark 4:30-34, Matthew 13:31-35, Luke 13:18-21, Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-52, Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25, Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-39

Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the boat and a violent storm appeared out of nowhere.  When the boat started taking on water, the disciples woke Jesus and asked him, "Don't you care that we are going to drown?"

It's sad that it doesn't take much turbulence for us to feel like Jesus is asleep at the wheel; we exclaim, "Jesus, don't you even care that I'm going to DIE?!"  The truth is, Jesus is nearest to us when it is most difficult to stand.  The truth is, Jesus is not capricious; nor is He negligent.  The truth is, Jesus is fully aware of our circumstances, and everything that we are experiencing is measured/limited in His love for us.  The truth is, He is in the boat with us the whole time.  The truth is, He allows us to experience turbulence so that we may more fully appreciate His Lordship.  As John Frame would propose, in that boat with the disciples, Christ demonstrated His three principal Lordship attributes:
  1. Power - Christ's omnipotent ability
  2. Authority - Christ's universal and absolute sovereignty
  3. Presence - Christ's simultaneous local and omnipresent closeness
Consequently, when He authors faith in our hearts, we discover in Him true satisfaction, and we are willing to give up everything to gain Him - like the man who found a great treasure in a field and then sold all he had to buy that field.

Heavenly Father, please help me seek you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; may I give up my selfish life to gain the ZOE life of Christ.  Lord, please help me trust you in the midst of the storm - knowing that you are in control, that you do care, that you are with me the whole while, and that the purpose of the storm is to grow my faith and give me opportunity to know you more deeply.  Father, please give me grace.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the farmer and the seed

Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21, Mark 4:1-20, Matthew 13:1-23, Luke 8:4-18, Mark 4:21-29

There are four types of soil (hearts) in Christ's parable of the farmer and the seed:
  1. hard path - Satan steals away the Word before it sprouts
  2. rocky soil - the Word may sprout, but the heart is too hard for it to take root and grow
  3. weedy soil - the Word sprouts, the plant grows, but it is in competition with worldly things so it never produces fruit
  4. fertile soil - the Word sprouts, the heart is watered, cultivated, and receives plenty of "Son-light" so that the Life of Christ grows an abundant yield of the Fruit of the Spirit is produced!
Several observations from Christ's parable of the farmer and the seed:
  1. I need to be scattering seed (i.e., sharing the Word of God) every day.  "How can they believe in whom they have not heard?"
  2. I am not responsible for the type of soil that the seed lands on, but the Lord will use me to water, cultivate, and kill weeds.
  3. I think that a lot of people in The Church have hearts of the third type - choked by the cares of this life, riches, etc.
  4. I want to be the fourth type - 100 fold producer.  Practically, it takes a lot of water, nutrients, and energy to yield such an abundant fruit.  The plant must be very efficient in allocating material and energy resources in root, stalk, leaves, and fruit production; an imbalance renders the plant ineffective.
So, what is in my life that makes me type 3 soil?  What does it take for me to be type 4 soil?

Heavenly Father, thank you for planting your Word in my heart, and thank you for growing the Life of Christ in me.  I pray that you will give me boldness to share the Gospel so that your Word and Life may grow in others.  I pray that you will use me to water, cultivate, and kill weeds in other people's lives.  Lord, please do not let me be distracted by the things of this world; please show me anything that is competing for resources.  Father, please produce the Fruit of the Spirit in my life - a hundred fold!  I ask you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

forgiveness requires a sacrifice

Luke 7:18-35, Matthew 11:1-19, Luke 7:36-8:3, Mark 3:20-30, Matthew 12:22-45, Luke 11:14-26

After the sinful woman washed Jesus's feet, He told her "Your sins are forgiven."

Luke 7:49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

It finally dawned on me that the reason Christ's statement was so provocative was because when a person has sinned against God, forgiveness requires a sacrifice.  How could this Jesus guy skip the whole sacrifice ordeal?  Christ's statement necessitates at least two realities: 
  1. Jesus Christ was fully God, which gave Him the authority to forgive sins
  2. Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross was sufficient for forgiveness (past, present, and future)
Love dare - seek to understand your spouse at the deepest level possible.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ.  Thank you for the forgiveness of sins.  Thank you for taking hold of me.  I pray that I will be focused on you and you alone, that I will deny my self, take up my cross, and follow Christ.  Please help me seek to understand my wife.  I pray that you and you alone will be my heart's desire.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the only name by which men are saved.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

supernatural healing power

Luke 6:17-49, Luke 7:1-10, Matthew 8:5-13, John 4:46-54, Luke 7:11-17

The supernatural power of God was flowing through Christ and healing people.  If I am a Christian ("little-Christ") then, do people around me experience the supernatural power of God at work in their lives?

Luke 6:17He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, 19and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Love Dare - promote emotional intimacy.  It's really simple when you think about it.  My stupid flesh gets in the way, though.

Heavenly Father, thank you for this beautiful day!  The sunrise reminds me of one day when Christ will be coming on the clouds!  Holy Father, please draw me close to you and mold me into the image of your Son so that you can pour your Holy Spirit through me and into the lives of those around me.  Please pour your healing power through me; may I be a pure vessel that you can use to glorify yourself.  I pray that you will help me culture intimacy with my wife; help me not be a mechanical husband - help me be a husband that demonstrates the fullness of your αγαπη love.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Matthew 5:21-7:29

I used to think that Jesus's Sermon on the Mount was kind of short, but now I realize that while it might not be that long, it's packed so deep that it will take me the rest of my life to understand it.

The one that jumped out at me the most this morning was:

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

A couple of months ago, I told a Brother that I thought some of the things he had said were inappropriate.  Man, was that a case study for this verse.  I'm sure I say inappropriate stuff, too, I'm just not as sensitive to it.  Fortunately, this was to a more mature Brother, so he showed me grace when I apologized.  I'm really thankful that I didn't make this mistake with another one of the Brothers that I am in accountability with - it was hurtful the way I went about it.  I have a lot to learn about getting my own stuff straight and then speaking the truth IN LOVE!

Love Dare - pray for your spouse.  Wow, how simple is that, yet how many times to I take her for granted instead of investing time in prayer for her?

Heavenly Father, thank you for the teachings of Christ that instruct me on practical living.  Lord, please help me be a humble man; I am so selfish and conceited.  I need to know you better so that I won't think so highly of myself.  Please help me put other people before me.  Help me know what to pray for my wife.  Lord, I pray that your will be accomplished in my life today.  I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

too much to do

John 4:27-42, Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 4:12-17, Luke 4:14-15, John 4:43-46, Luke 4:16-30, Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37, Mark 1:29-39, Matthew 8:14-17, Luke 4:38-44, Mark 1:40-45, Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 5:12-16

I have been wrestling for some time about how to deal with all of the stuff I have going on.  I oscillate between thinking I am doing too much versus thinking that God is leading me through a challenging season.  I don't know which is the case - perhaps both.  On the one hand, I see that my relationships with my wife and friends are stressed because I'm stressed, but at the same time "to whom much is given, much is expected."  I certainly don't think I'm wasting time on anything worthless, except for what little time I spend watching TV each week.  So, it is interesting to observe the life of Christ and see how He lived; here are a few things I noticed:

Everything He did was prompted by the Spirit:
Luke 4:14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
I don't know if everything I'm doing is prompted by the Spirit.  I need to evaluate what is of the Spirit and what is not.  I don't know how to do that.

He served in three principal functions - preaching the Gospel, discipling, and healing:
Mark 1:39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
I am currently involved in several Gospel and discipling opportunities, and I suppose a few "healing" ministries, but perhaps it's too much.

He was systemically connected to the Father through prayer:
Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
I need to grow a lot in prayer.  I do not pray systematically as I should, nor is my prayer as consistent as breathing (spiritual-physical analogy).

Heavenly Father, please help me know what to do.  Thank you that I can always come to you.  I know that you love me and that you have a good plan for me.  Please help me find the balance according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  I pray that I will be consistent in prayer as you pour your love, life, and light into and through me into the lives of those around me.  I pray that my teaching/discipling service would honor you and that you will use me to heal others as Christ did.  Father, please help me honor my wife. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my model for living.  Amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Living Water

John 2:1-4:26

What are the two verses immediately preceding the most famous verse in the Bible?  In his explanation of what it means to be "born again", Jesus Christ recaps one of the most obvious pictures of the Sacrificial Messiah:

3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.  16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

What should my attitude be when I consider the significance of Christ's sacrifice?  Echoing the words of John the Baptist:

3:30 [Christ] must become greater; I must become less.

And just in case the Gospel message in John 3:14-17 is not clear enough, John the Baptist reiterates:

3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.

As a specialist in drinking water treatment, I really enjoy Christ's words to the Samaritan woman at the well:

4:10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." ... 13Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Heavenly Father, thank you for your words of truth.  Thank you that Christ is the Living Water; O Lord, may I drink deep every morning.  I ask that you would overflow me with Living Water into the lives of people around me.  I pray that I would be a conduit of Living Water to my wife.  Lord, please humble me - that Christ would be exalted, and my identity would be found in Christ alone.  Refine me today.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Living Water.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I want to want

Mark 1:9-11, Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34, Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, John 1:35-51, Mark 1:16-20, Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 5:1-11

I had a great conversation this morning with a guy I met on the bus sometime ago.  He told me that he has decided to purchase a new car.  As we were packed standing-room-only on the bus, he began to relate to me that he has been having some conversations with Jehovah's Witnesses, and that he is suspicious that their world-view is a little skewed.  While I am certainly not an expert on the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I found this link that seems to detail quite a few misconceptions:  I thank God that he trusts me enough to discuss this with me, and I am amazed that this trust has been established over the last year and a half in 5-10 minute conversations walking from the bus stop to our buildings.  I need to pray diligently that he will not be lead astray, and that the Lord will use this situation to draw him to a better understanding of the true Gospel.

My heart echos the prayer that is the benediction to the first chapter of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer:

"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing, I thirst to be made thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen."