Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Praise the Lord!

1 Corinthians 5:1-7:40

I submitted the first draft of my dissertation proposal last night!  Woohooo!  I could definitely tell that people were praying for me because the Lord really helped me a lot!

I'm headed back to the flatlands for Thanksgiving, and as I sit in the airport, I realize how blessed I am and what a trouble-free life I live.

Heavenly Father, I pray that my life will glorify you.  I pray that I will experience true Thanksgiving, most especially for the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers.  I pray that I will make profitable gain for the Kingdom with the blessings you have given.  I pray that your name will be praised.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


1 Corinthians 1:1-4:21

1:17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. ...  20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. ... 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

2:2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.

4:For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ ... 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Does that sound like my life?  Or, does my life sound like, "I don't want to be a freak, so I'll just blend in and when they see that I'm just like them, they'll want what's different about me."

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will lead me away from esteeming the wisdom of the world.  Lord, please help me focus on Christ, who is Wisdom.  Father, please make me a fool to this world.  I pray that I will preach the Gospel of Christ purely.  Lord, I pray that you will live through me so that I will bless when cursed, endure persecution, and show mercy when offended.  May I be crucified to this world, and may the life of Christ be resurrected in me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008


2 Thessalonians 2:1-3:18, Acts 18:18-19:41

I am trying to finish the first draft of my dissertation proposal by tomorrow evening, so I'm a little stressed right now.  I keep praying, "Lord Jesus, please help me."  I know that He is helping me, but I still feel tired, frazzled, and stressed.  I know that I have been very productive this past week, and I know that it is because people are praying for me and God is answering their prayers.

Here are some encouraging verses (manna) that I need to chew on today:

2:16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

3:5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. ... 16Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. ... 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

I am also reminded of the following passage:

Phil. 4:6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Word that is the manna of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for encouraging me and lifting me up on the eternal rock of your Word.  Thank you for the beautiful morning.  Thank you for good health and a place to live.  Thank you for giving me a reliable job and a great education.  Thank you letting me grow up in a wonderful family that loves me.  Thank you for my sweet wife who loves and respects me.  Thank you for friends who care about me.  Thank you for this intellectual challenge that you have provided.  Thank you for the professional desires that you have placed within me.  Thank you for the gifts and talents that you have blessed me with so that I can bless you and other people.  Thank you for a good adviser and office mate who are very helpful.  Thank you for challenges that force me to rely on you and not on myself.  Lord, please help me honor you with the way I live.  I pray that I will demonstrate a righteous balance between working diligently towards my responsibilities and knowing my limits.  Lord, please keep me pure in mind and devoted to you.  I pray that my life will be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice.  Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Acts 15:1-16:40

Religious people naturally add restrictions, caveats, corollaries, and other rules and regulations to grace.  It is amazing how fast I can slip into the routine of religion.  It's so easy - I just stop investing, and the natural consequence is mindless routine.  The truth is, Grace is Grace.  It comes through Faith in Jesus Christ.

15:5Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." ... 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ... 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

16:13On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.

Paul and Silas's experience in the prison challenges me to be singing praises to God all of the time.  I doubt they spontaneously began singing when they were in the prison; I think it was a regular practice for them, so it didn't matter if they were locked up in the stocks inside a jail cell - they simply praised God.  This is possible because God never changes - He is always good.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace you have shown me through Jesus Christ.  Lord, I pray that you will put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Lord, as you opened up Lydia's heart, I pray that you will open up my heart to trust you more.  I also pray that you will open the hearts of the people I come in contact with that I will be bold in sharing the Gospel, and that the joy of my salvation will be evidence of your reality.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Galatians 4:8-6:18

Freedom is through the person and work of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit!  When set our mind on the Spirit (Romans 8), the Holy Spirit leads our spirit to obey the law of zoe life.

5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ... 16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. ...  22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

6:8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. ... 14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ... 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

My goal is to be a Spirit-spirit man, as was the Lord Jesus Christ.  I can in no way crucify my self, but by drawing near to Christ through His Holy Spirit, the crucifixion of Christ is effective on my own flesh.

Heavenly Father, please fill me with your Holy Spirit and anoint me to do your will.  I pray that I will set my mind on the Spirit and allow you to produce in me the fruit of your life.  Please make me a man after your own heart, to be completely satisfied in you.  I ask for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with my spirit.  May I sow diligently to please the Spirit, and may I never boast of my self but only the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Lord, please deliver me from the enemy, this world, and my own self.  May I enjoy and share the freedom that comes from your life, love, and light.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the poor

Galatians 1:1-4:7

As Paul and Peter were leaving to go preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and the Jews, respectively,

2:10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

I think many churches today have lost this perspective.  Our pastor said it this past Sunday morning, "Social programs from the government would cease to exist if the Church would do what we were supposed to be doing."  (i.e., helping orphans, widows, and foreigners)

What proportion of the average evangelical church budget is spent on helping the poor?  Tragically, I think many churches have shifted to an inward focus instead of a Great Commission focus, which necessarily involves getting outside your comfort zone.  Truth is, I don't do much in the way of helping the poor.

Heavenly Father, your heart is full of love for humanity.  You are moved with compassion towards all of the people that are poor and hurting.  Lord, will you please fill me with your love and compassion, and will you please use me to give physical and spiritual aid to the orphan, widow, and foreigner?  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, who cares for the hurting.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

encouraging conversation

Acts 13:1-14:28

Paul and Barnabas went traveling around:
  1. filled with the Holy Spirit
  2. fasting and praying
  3. preaching the Gospel
  4. healing folks
What a simple and yet powerful challenge to live a substantial life!

I'm a long way from there, but by God's grace, He is growing me into that lifestyle.  Some time ago I sat next to a guy (Herb) on the bus, and he engaged me in conversation about the Bible.  Several times since then, I've had the chance to have spiritual discussion (and share the Gospel) as we walked from the bus stop to our offices, which are in adjacent buildings.  I don't see him as often because I ride a different bus route, but this morning I caught the bus that he was on.  Would you believe it?  He was reading a Bible on the bus!  He told me as we were walking to our offices that he found a Men's Devotional NIV Bible at Halfprice books, and he's simply reading through it; he just finished Genesis!  Hooray!  We had a great conversation about Joseph being a picture of Christ, and I gave him a heads up about some symbols of Christ and our Christian experience in the book of Exodus.  I pray that the Lord will draw his heart to Him and give him understanding!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the encouraging conversation this morning.  I praise you for your goodness and love, and I thank you for involving me in the process.  May I be more willing to cooperate with your redemptive and regenerative plan.  I pray that you will fill Herb with your love, light, and life!  Please open up the Scriptures to come alive inside him.  Lord, may I be filled with your Holy Spirit today.  I pray that you will teach me how to fast and pray.  Please give me opportunities and boldness to preach the Gospel, and I pray that you will heal people through my obedience to you.  Please grow your Church to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Precious Savior.  Amen.

Monday, November 17, 2008


James 4:1-5:20, Acts 11:19-12:25

These are some of my favorite verses:

James 4:4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

I did a little digging and found that the book of James was probably written by James the half-brother of Christ.

Yesterday in our Bible study, we talked about suffering for the name of Jesus Christ (John 12:23-33 and 1 Peter 4).  This morning, I was impressed with how the Lord chose to allow James, the brother of John, to die by the sword for his faith in Christ, yet God delivered Peter from death (Acts 12).

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will use me as you please.  God, I pray that I will hate this evil world and love you.  I pray that my spirit will be in harmony with your Holy Spirit.  Please give me grace; I can't do anything on my own.  Lord, please help me humble myself before you and submit to your will.  Show me how to resist the devil.  I pray that you will teach me how to draw near to you.  Father, please draw near to me.  Lord, please purify me and wash me with your Word.  I am nothing apart from you, please fill me with your ZOE life.  May I not be double-minded; please give me discernment.  I pray this according to your Word and in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

ordination and baptism

Acts 7:54-9:31

I discovered a while ago that the religious bureaucracy of the denomination that my congregation is a part of requires that someone may be baptized only by an "ordained minister."  I just read about ordination of deacons yesterday (Acts 6:1-6), so I'm not knocking the concept of ordination itself, but I think the following two passages of Scripture challenge the validity of the aforementioned baptismal requirement.

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Who was Jesus addressing?  The Apostles.  So, some might argue that since Jesus gave this command to the Church leaders, then church leaders should be the ones to baptize.  But, I think that's dangerous because here baptism is sandwiched between "making disciples of all nations" and "teaching them to obey".  So, if you're going to reserve baptism only for the spiritual elite, then you have to take evangelism and discipleship with it.  If, however, Jesus gave the Great Commission to all believers, then shouldn't all believers have, under authority of Christ, the privilege and responsibility of baptizing?

Acts 8:34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.  36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Who was Philip?  He was one of the seven original deacons.  What were the seven original deacons ordained to do?  The were distributing food daily to widows.  They were SERVING! Wow! There is a concept.  Deacons serving the church - can you imagine what our church would look like if all of the "deacons" were really deacons?  But I digress.  The point is, Philip is just a humble bro, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, preaching the Gospel, and explaining who Jesus is.  So, when the Ethiopian eunuch professed faith in Jesus Christ, the appropriate think to do was for Philip to baptize him.  It's too bad Philip wasn't an "ordained minister"; I guess the eunuch's baptism wasn't legitimate.

Another tough issue around baptism is whether or not we should baptize babies.  If Communion is the New Covenant fulfillment of the Passover type, and baptism is the New Covenant fulfillment of the circumcision type, then maybe we should baptize babies when they are eight days old.  From the following passage, I see two reasons why I don't think it is necessary to baptize infants:

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

  1. "believed ... baptized", "believed ... baptized" - You see this throughout the New Testament.  It seems like the Biblical model is that baptism follows the profession of faith.
  2. v. 12 "they were baptized, both men and women" - Why didn't it say "both men, women, children, and infants"?  Matthew 14:21 records, "The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.", so why are children omitted in Acts 8:12?  Maybe the infants/children weren't baptized until they made a profession of faith.
My goal as I read through Scripture is not to figure out how to support the doctrine that I have been taught, but to compare my doctrine and my lifestyle to the Scriptures.  We are all heretics and hypocrites; we just don't know how bad we are.  I seek the Truth in the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate my mind and life.

Heavenly Father, would you please sanctify me.  Please reveal yourself to me so that I may have a better understanding and experience of who you are.  Holy Spirit, please guide me into all Truth.  I pray that you will lead my congregation and the whole Church to orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  Please break through our religion, idolatry, and preconceived doctrine.  May we be refined by the crucible of suffering in the Name of Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

persecution and suffering

Acts 5:17-7:53

5:17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." ...  40[Gamaliel's] speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

6:8Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. ... 12So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. ... 15All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

  1. Persecution and suffering are natural extensions of living a Spirit-led, Spirit-filled life.
  2. We should rejoice at the opportunity to suffer for the Name of Jesus Christ.
  3. Our perseverance in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in spite of persecution validates to the world that He is real and alive.
  4. Proclaiming the Gospel should occur in public/civic/social settings as well as private community.
  5. It is through persecution and suffering that the Person of God is able to shine through us.
I've been trying to think about how this would look in my practical daily experience.  I know I could be a lot more bold with my friends at school.  I need to pray for opportunities, and seek the Holy Spirit's prompting to share with my friends.  The thing is, it's not about who is better or worse or who is right or wrong.  It's about being forgiven and restored to a relationship with God.  And if God is really that amazing, then why is my life not DRAMATICALLY and RADICALLY different?

Heavenly Father, please fill me with your Life so that I am simply sharing with others out of the abundance of my experience with you.  Lord, please give me boldness and opportunities to share your Love with others.  Please help me walk with you according to the Spirit, crucifying the flesh.  I pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ, for which you lead me to suffer.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Faith in Jesus Christ

Acts 3:1-5:16

Faith like a child, right?  Man, I wish I had faith like a child.  I wish I had faith like Peter and John demonstrated when they told the crippled beggar at the Beautiful gate that they didn't have any money but they could give him healing in the Name of Jesus Christ.  I wish I had faith like Peter when he told the growing crowd, amazed at the healed beggar:

3:19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Of course, the Sadducees got hacked off that Peter was preaching in the resurrection, and Jesus on top of that.  I wish I had the faith to speak in boldness like Peter did, straight to their face:

4:12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

I wish I had the faith to sacrifice my own desires, to give up my rights to my own life and to give my all for the Kingdom, to be used in the Church according to the Holy Spirit:

4:31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

I wish I had faith like that because the result would be God working miraculously through me:

5:12The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

To be honest, that sure doesn't look like anything I've seen in my congregation.  It's probably because we're so buried in the American Dream that we can't see the real Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If I just had faith like a child ... man, would things be different!

Heavenly Father, please give me faith like a child.  Lord, would you please lead me to give up my idols and religions so that I can know you and love you?  Would you please show me that you are really more satisfying than anything in this world?  Father, would you please call me to a life of holy obedience - to give up everything for the Name of Jesus Christ?  Lord, would you please break through the callouses of my heart and revive me?  Please fill me with your Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in boldness, to love people with your agape love, and to worship you in spirit and in truth.  Please take my life and use me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who was obedient, even to the Cross.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bread from Heaven

Mark 16:9-20, Acts 1:1-2:47

I've always been impressed with how Peter knew that they should replace the empty spot left by Judas Iscariot.  The Holy Spirit brought seemingly obscure Scriptures to bear on the situation.  My Brother Ari says, "The language that the Holy Spirit speaks to us is called 'Bible'."  It is the Living Word, alive in the hearts of those who Believe.

I am growing to appreciate the Lord's Supper more and more.  I don't understand it, but I know that it is important.  Sadly, for fear of over-emphasis or religious routine, I think our congregation errs with too little celebration for Communion.  There is something sweet about the celebration of Christ's infinite work in the simplicity of bread and wine.  I think this simplicity is especially important in our society.  It is easy for church members to get lost in the machinery of a myriad of Bible studies and other activities, but we find substance in the organic simplicity of the bread and wine.  This has become evident to me as I read Acts 2:

42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Heavenly Father, thank you for communicating your love to me through your Holy Spirit and your Holy Word, which is Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the shed blood and broken body of Jesus Christ which gives us justification before the Holy Judge and life with the Creator.  Lord, please lead me to a greater appreciation of the celebration of the Lord's Supper.  I pray that I will neither neglect it nor let it be undermined by religion.  I pray that I will always celebrate Communion in a way that honors you and edifies the Body.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Bread from Heaven.  Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

experiencing the resurrected Christ

Matthew 28:11-15, Luke 24:13-43, John 20:19-31, Matthew 28:16-20, John 21:1-25, Luke 24:44-53

While the religious Jews had to lie to themselves and others about Christ's resurrection, there are others whose hearts burn within them as they experience the resurrected Christ.  And how did they recognize him?  In the breaking of bread.  Now tell me again why we don't celebrate the Lord's Supper more often?

When we come to grips with the reality of Christ's death, and the supernatural power of His resurrection, we simply respond like Thomas:

John 20:27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

When we consider the magnitude of our sin and the intensity of the wrath Christ bore on the cross for our sin, when we consider the infinite love of the Father to provide His only begotten Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sin, we will embrace His desire for all peoples to know this amazing love:

Matthew 28:18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus who died on the Cross bearing your wrath for my sin.  Thank you for the promise of resurrection life because Christ was resurrected.  Lord Jesus, I believe in you; please reveal yourself to me like you did to those two on the road to Emmaus.  Please let me experience you each and every day.  Please fill me with your Holy Spirit, and anoint me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do the Father's will.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the One with scars on His hands and feet.

Friday, November 7, 2008

calloused heart

Mark 15:6-15, Matthew 27:15-26, Luke 23:13-25, John 18:39-19:17, Mark 15:16-21, Matthew 27:27-32, Luke 23:26-32

Pilot tried to get out of a jam, but the Jews incited the crowd to demand Pilot to release Barabbas, and Pilot finally gave in to the crowd.  Peer pressure is powerful, especially when it is connected to your job.

As I read of Christ's interrogations before the Pharisees, Pilot, Herod, and Pilot again, I am nearly unmoved.  As I read of Christ being flogged and mocked, I am moved so little.  How can my heart be so hard towards the most incredible display of patience and love?  How can my heart be so calloused that I am not overwhelmed by the magnitude of His love.

Heavenly Father, please break my hard heart for the sin that broke Christ's flesh on the Cross.  May I be captivated and motivated by the pain and suffering He endured, and may I be empowered by His death and resurrection.  Please help me appreciate the reality of Christ's sufferings, not for the sake of emotional sensationalism but for the sake of the Gospel.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, by whose stripes we are healed.  Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

stinking religion

Matthew 27:1-10, Luke 23:1-12, Mark 15:1-5, Matthew 27:11-14, John 18:28-38

Matthew 27:6The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money."

They knew that they had paid to have Jesus killed (which is wrong), but they were so religious that they didn't put the money in the treasury.

John 18:28Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

They didn't want to compromise their religious status by entering the place so they could participate in their religious ceremony.  It is especially tragic that the True Passover Lamb was right there in front of them, but they were so stuck in their religion that they missed the God of the universe.

I heard a preacher say that there are two principal enemies of the Gospel: idolatry and religion.  Both are missing true worship which is simply communicating to God that we love Him and obeying Him to discover in Him our ultimate satisfaction.

Heavenly Father, would you please give me life today?  Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit, and lead me to follow you.  I pray that heart will desire you more than anything in this world.  Lord, please keep me from slipping into empty religious practice without your presence.  I pray that my life will be a sweet song of obedient worship to you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

sad day ...

Mark 14:43-52, Matthew 26:47-56, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-11, Mark 14:53-72, Matthew 26:57-75, Luke 22:54-71, John 18:12-27

How could you be one of the most educated Jews in Jerusalem, be that close to the physical fulfillment of all of those Messianic prophecies, and miss it?

Mark 14:60Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" 61But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
      Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"

 62"I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

 63The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. 64"You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?"  They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.

What is especially sad is that if I were there, I would have done the exact same thing.  I would have punched Christ and spit in His face because I am a sinful, depraved, insolent, proud, and rebellious man.  I need His saving grace.  O how I need His grace to love him more.

Heavenly Father, please give me grace to love you and trust you more.  Jesus Christ is the Messiah!  May I never deny this Truth.  I ask for your grace in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


John 15:18-17:26, Mark 14:32-42, Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46

Christ's desire for us is to be united with Him in the fellowship of the Triune God!  What else could we desire that would compare to such LIFE?

John 17:20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

What?!  You have got to be kidding!

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will accomplish Christ's prayer in my life.  Lord, I ask that I will be united with you - that I will reject all of the junk of this world so that I may run to you and experience the joyous fellowship you desire.  I pray that I will experience unity with my wife - a picture of Christ and the Church.  Lord, I pray that you will bring unity to my Bible study group, to our local congregation, and to the congregations in this city. Lord, I ask you to miraculously unite the splintered denominations that claim to follow Christ - may we truly follow Christ in unity so that we may be the True Church.  Lord, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.  Amen.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Mark 14:22-26, Matthew 26:26-29, Luke 22:15-20, John 13:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Matthew 26:30-35, Luke 22:31-38, John 13:36-15:17

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The Lord gives us so much Grace!  Not only did He give us an infinite measure of Grace on the Cross, but He continues to give us Grace when we, like Simon Peter, profess our loyalty to Him when He knows full well that we will fail.  His patience with us is as infinite as His love.

It is my desire to seek Him, but I am so weak.  It is my desire to know Him, but am so ignorant.  It is my desire to live with Him, but I am so dead.  My only hope is that the Father replicates the Son in me:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What does it mean to abide in Christ.  Thinking about the context of the vine, branches, and vinedresser, to abide in Christ is to be connected with Him in spirit so that His Holy Spirit is filling me with ZOE life and producing the Fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your incredible love, grace, and patience.  I pray that I will be captivated by your love expressed through Christ on Calvary and motivated by your love to share your love with people in my sphere of influence.  Jesus, I pray that I will know you as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Holy Spirit, please keep me connected to Christ so that your essence may flow through me.  Father, please glorify yourself in me today.  I pray that I will live in constant expectation of Christ's return.  May I keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.