Friday, December 18, 2009

identity of Christ

John 11, Revelation 22

Jesus is:
  • the Resurrection and the Life
  • the Messiah
  • the Son of God
  • the One who has come into the world from God
  • the Healer
  • the Source of the water of life
  • the Lamb
  • the Light
  • the Judge
  • the Alpha and the Omega
  • the First and the Last
  • the Beginning and the End
  • the root and offspring of David
  • the Bright Morning Star
  • the Lord
He is coming soon!  May we be ready for his return:
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.
Heavenly Father, please prepare me for Christ's return.  I pray that I will live in constant longing expectation for His return.  Holy Spirit, please purify me and wash my robe.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

knowing His voice

John 10, Revelation 21
Jn 10:3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice... 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them... 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16... They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd... 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
It is not enough to know about Him; we must know Him.  We must listen to His voice and follow Him.  I think I was in middle school when I first heard the quote, "Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship."  It is ironic that we say that, but we don't live it.  I feel like I don't know Jesus very well at all.

One day, though... one day, we will be united with Him, and we will enjoy His company forever!
Rev 21:22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.
Heavenly Father, please turn my heart to you.  Lord, please teach me to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.  I want to know you and follow you.  Lord, I am ashamed of how much time and resources I have wasted in searching for my own pastures.  Please draw me near to you, and I trust that you will guide me into green pastures.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Good Shepherd.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Light of the world

John 8, Revelation 19

As we think about Christmas time, I am sickened more every year by the materialism and secularization of Christmas.  A lot of us run around stressed and aggravated trying to spend money that we don't have to buy a bunch of stuff that people really don't need.  What if we focused on Jesus more and Santa less?  What if we spent a fraction of our Christmas budget on orphans and widows?  What if we genuinely showed the love, light, and life of Jesus Christ?
 Jn 8:12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and sending your only Son to ransom us from sin and death!  Lord, I pray that you will receive honor and praise, and that Jesus would be exalted in our hearts and in public during Christmas.  Lord, please shine the light of your Son through me.  Please forgive me for being fearful and anxious.  Please fill me with your joy and peace so that others can see the truth of Jesus Christ lived out in practical, tangible ways in my life.  I love you, Lord.  Please give me the right attitude and focus during Christmas.  Please use me to advance your Kingdom.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.  Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

joy and peace

John 7, Revelation 18

Yesterday, a guest preacher shared from Luke 2.  He briefly reviewed many of the miracles surrounding the birth of Christ.  But what I really appreciated was his focus on what the angels spoke to the shepherds and the application of how the miracle of Christmas changes our lives:
- removing fear
- bringing joy
- bringing peace

If we would simply live in the power of the Spirit - without fear, with great joy, and with His peace - we would not only experience the abundant life that Christ promises, but we wouldn't have a problem explaining the Gospel as a relationship with God by faith in Jesus (as opposed to a system of rules to follow).

Jn 7:37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'"

Heavenly Father, please help me walk in the Victory of Christ Jesus.  Lord, please show me practically how I can live without fear.  I pray that the joy of my salvation will bubble up and overflow rivers of living water.  Lord, thank you for peace with you through Christ, and may I demonstrate your peace with those around me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

tough week

John 4, Revelation 15

Monday I got an email from a Sister who had a family member who had a friend that was planning to have an abortion on Friday (today).  She felt like the Lord was leading her to get involved and be willing to adopt this child.  So, we have been praying for the Lord to work a miracle in this lady's heart to bring her to faith in Jesus Christ and to keep the baby.  I have always believed abortion is wrong, but it is so painful when you know of a particular individual.

Tuesday afternoon one of my Brothers called me and told me that he had been unfaithful to his wife, and he confessed to her that evening.  It's a mess.  I really want to punch him in the face.  But I've been where he is, so I just pray for him a lot.  I pray that the Lord will break him and show him his sin in the light of the Cross - both the pain of God's holy wrath on Christ, and the forgiveness that we have because of it.  I pray that the Lord will get a hold of him like he got hold of me.  For some reason, it wasn't until I had totally screwed everything up that I really cried out for the Lord to rescue me.  This situation has helped me remember the intensity of Brandi's pain and the magnitude of the Lord's work to lead her to forgive me and reconcile our marriage.

Wednesday I got an email from another Brother, and he told me that his thesis adviser told him the thesis committee wasn't going to let him defend his proposal this semester because they didn't think he was ready yet.  I can imagine how crushed I would be.  Even more tragically, his wife, who was several months pregnant in their first pregnancy, miscarried their first the same day.

So my heart has been pretty heavy this week.  I pray Eph. 3:14-21 over these situations.  May my focus always be on you, Lord.

Rev 15:3 And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

   "Great and marvelous are your works,
      O Lord God, the Almighty.
   Just and true are your ways,
      O King of the nations.
 4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
      and glorify your name?
      For you alone are holy.
   All nations will come and worship before you,
      for your righteous deeds have been revealed."

Heavenly Father, I love you.  And I want to love you more.  I want to enjoy you more every day.  Lord, please give me spiritual eyes to see you so that I can be genuinely awestruck by you.  Lord, would you please show your power in these situations.  Lord, please show grace and mercy, and give peace.  I pray that we will drink from the Living Water, and that you will flow through us for your glory.  May your name be praised among the nations.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


John 1, Revelation 12

I really don't understand why my son gets fussy in the evenings.  He has no trouble sleeping all day, but for some reason when Brandi and I want to go to bed about 10, he starts getting fussy.  So, I've been asking the Lord to let him sleep.  I don't understand why He wouldn't want that for Brandi, Beau, and me. I was talking to Ken about it this morning, and he told me that he's been there, too, wondering if he was praying with the wrong motives or attitude. 

I know this is egocentric thinking, but maybe the Lord is letting Beau be fussy to make me more compassionate and patient.

Heavenly Father, please soften my heart toward you.  Lord, I love you.  Thank you for blessing me with a wonderful wife and healthy son.  Lord, please help me have the right attitude and not be frustrated with lack of sleep.  Lord, I pray that I will be a good example for my son.  May the Light of your Son shine through me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

this generation shall not pass away

Luke 21, Revelation 8

Last night at Bible study, we ended up "randomly" talking about the Luke 21 Scripture passage that I read this morning.  Part of our discussion concerned the "this generation shall not pass away" statement in Jesus's prophecy.  I was trying to remember what I had thought of before about this passage, and after consulting some commentaries this morning, I remembered that I think His statement is fulfilled short-term literally and long-term spiritually.  In the short-term, within 40 years of Christ's statement, the city of Jerusalem was literally demolished (so there were still people living from when Jesus made that prophecy).  In the long-term, the Jewish race (which can also be reasonably interpreted from the greek word for "generation") will not pass away before the age of the Gentiles is completed.

Again, it is a sobering reminder to be diligent in our love and pursuit of the Lord Jesus:

25 "And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!"

 29 Then he gave them this illustration: "Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

 34 "Watch out! Don't let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don't let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man."

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your sovereignty.  I trust that you will accomplish all that you have set out to do.  May my heart be guarded against this world and soft toward you.  May I continue to grow and look forward to Christ's return.  I pray that I will be ready on that day to welcome Him and that He will be pleased with my life.  This is only by your grace, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Salvation.  Amen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Luke 20, Revelation 7

My wife is awesome!  She is so devoted and faithful.  Her loyalty is incredible.  She sacrificially loves people, especially her family.  I am amazed at how diligently she works at mothering Beau.  Even though deprived of sleep, she still gladly takes care of Beau.  She feeds him, holds him, and changes his diapers - all with a grateful attitude toward God for blessing us with a son.  She pours her love into Beau.  She is a perfect example of what the Lord meant when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

As I consider how much energy Brandi invests in Beau, I am reminded of the spiritual analogy of the Church taking care of "infant" Believers.  I am saddened by how little "mothering" I have seen in new Believers in the congregations that I have been a part of.  I think the "infant" stage of discipleship requires an enormous investment of time and energy in feeding them the Word and helping them stay clean.

Heavenly Father, thank you for my sweet wife.  I am amazed at how devoted she is to you, me, and Beau.  May you receive honor and glory and praise from her lifestyle.  Lord, please give us a vision of how the Church should care for new Believers.  Help us change our paradigm to see the importance of discipleship, especially in the "infant" stage.  And please help our congregation grow in discipleship.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, for the advancement of your Kingdom and the strengthening of His Body.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Luke 18, Revelation 5

I never noticed before that the rich man that inquired of Jesus about eternal life was a religious leader.  I thought that in the Old Testament, God said that He was the inheritance of the priests and Levites.  So, how did he get rich?  Maybe it is irrelevant, but I think it applies to a lot of Americans.  I am very frustrated with the materialism that plagues me and so many other people in this country.  But this morning, I realize that there is hope.  It is impossible for us to get past our materialism, but God can break through!

Heavenly Father, please deliver us from the materialism that blinds us from seeing you and your Kingdom clearly.  Lord, please be gracious to us and bring salvation in spite of our worldly desires.  Lord Jesus, we praise you for being worthy to open the scroll and break the seals.  May my prayers be pleasing incense to you.  May you receive glory and honor and power.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

eternal purpose

Luke 17, Revelation 4

The end is near:

Lk 17:26 "When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 "And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.30 Yes, it will be 'business as usual' right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Q: And what will the elect be doing for eternity? 
A: We will be celebrating the inexhaustible attributes of the Lord.

Rev 4:8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

   "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
      the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come."

 9 Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

 11 "You are worthy, O Lord our God,
      to receive glory and honor and power.
   For you created all things,
      and they exist because you created what you pleased."

Our eternal purpose is to please His will.

Heavenly Father, you are worthy of praise beyond what I can give.  You are worthy of my exhausting praise.  I can't wait to see you and be overwhelmed in awe.  Lord, please draw me close to you now so that I will live a life of worship.  Please show me how to give you glory, honor, and power.  May you be pleased with my life as you consume my life in the life of your Son, Jesus.  I pray in His name.  Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Luke 10, 1 Peter 5

Lk 10 17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!"

 18 "Yes," he told them, "I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. 20 But don't rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven."

Question:  Does that delegated spiritual authority apply only to the Apostles or to every believer?

1 Jn 5:4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

I don't know exactly what that victory looks like, but I think it is a lot more aggressive against the enemy than our congregation demonstrates.

Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is your Son.  I believe that you are mysteriously one with Christ and the Holy Spirit, in a way that I can't understand.  Lord, I want to trust you with childlike faith.  Please use me, Lord.  Please pour your love and life through me, and show me what an appropriate exercise of Christ's authority looks like.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Victor!  Amen.

Friday, November 20, 2009

living in fellowship

Luke 7, 1 John 2

24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 25 And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us. ... 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. 28 And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.

Do I really know Him, or do I just pretend to talk to Him?  Do I talk with Him, or do I just talk at Him?  Do I enjoy spending time with the Father, Son, and Spirit?  Or, would I rather watch television?  Do I know His heart?  Do I know what He wants and likes?

From these verses it seems like I should have a conversation with God all day long, and all of my life happens in the context of my conversation with Him.

Heavenly Father, you are good and kind, and your love is so amazing that Jesus died to take away the sins of the WHOLE WORLD!  Lord God, I want to fellowship with you today.  I want to live in fellowship.  I want to want to be with you more than anything else in this world.  I want to love you with all of my heart, soul, and spirit.  I want my conversation with you to control my attitude and response to everything that happens today.  Lord, please give me grace to see you and obey you.  May you be honored by my lifestyle; not because of my righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the Righteous.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

global warming

Luke 5, 2 Peter 3

The Lord is perfect in His Justice:

2 Pt. 3:7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. ... 9The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. 11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.

How are we supposed to respond to that?

13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness. 14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 15 And remember, the Lord's patience gives people time to be saved.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your love.  I praise you because you are perfectly righteous.  I am humbled that you have spared me from your holy wrath.  Lord, please show me the things in my life that grieve you, and deliver me from them through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Luke 4, 2 Peter 2

Interesting correlation:

Lk 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. 3 Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

Lk 4:1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. ... 14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

I think there is something to this wilderness business.

Heavenly Father, please help me seek you.  Lord, I want to hear from you, and if that means going out into the wilderness, then so be it.  Holy Spirit, please fill me and use me.  May I teach your truth and demonstrate the authority of Christ, to the glory of God.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Luke 3, 2 Peter 1

I love it when my two chapters pair up like this:

Lk 3:21 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy."

2 Pet. 1:16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." 18We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

What struck me was "his majestic splendor".  I wish I would focus on the majestic splendor of Christ instead of myself and the complications of this world.

I applied for three faculty positions today: Penn State, UT El Paso, and Clemson.  I think I will apply to some others within a month or so.  I pray that the Lord will lead us where He wants us and that we will be obedient to follow Him.

The Lord put me on the bus with Herb this morning.  We had another great conversation about Jesus.  Herb just finished reading Matthew, and he didn't like all of the stuff about judgment.  He said it seemed like Jesus was threatening everyone with hell.  I told him that the default state for all of us is going to hell because we are all sinful.  I told him that the Perfect Justice and Holiness of God is reconciled with His Infinite Mercy in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Herb said that he liked the Old Testament, but he doesn't know what to think about the New Testament.  I suggested that he read the book of Hebrews next because it refers so much to the Old Testament (and because it clearly explains the atonement of Christ!).

Heavenly Father, I praise you.  Lord Jesus, I praise you.  Holy Spirit, I praise you.  You are glorious and majestic, and your love never ends.  Please draw me close to you, speak to me, and lead me to follow you.  Lord, I love you.  Please pour out your love on Herb and bring him to faith in Jesus Christ.  Lord, please continue to give me opportunity to share the love and light of Jesus Christ.  I pray in the majestic name of Christ.  Amen.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Mark 16, 1 Peter 3

The fundamental purpose of all of creation is to worship our creator:

Mk. 1619 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand.

1 Pet. 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. ... 22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

My worship is so shallow and insincere.  I am more focused on my daily/weekly responsibilities than the One who created me and sustains my life.  Should not my every waking thought be meditating on the Lord and His goodness toward me?  Isn't the Resurrection of Jesus Christ sufficiently amazing to preoccupy my conscious for the rest of eternity?  Why then, am I so focused on the temporary things in this brief age?  How do I train my heart and mind to consistently and fervently worship Christ my Creator and Savior?  Then it would be perfectly natural for people to inquire of my obsession with God and His love for us.

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my pathetic worship.  You deserve so much more.  Please forgive me for the idolatry that plagues my daily life.  May you be the one true God in my life.  Dear Lord, please take me to the next level with you.  Jesus, I want to know you, hear your voice, love you, worship you, and obey you.  Holy Spirit, I want to continually walk in your presence, continually bearing your fruit, continually shining your light.  Lord, please soften my heart; make my conscious tender to want you and know you above all else.  Lord, may I genuinely be hungry and thirsty for you.  Please empty me of my self, and fill me with you, Lord.  You are so wonderful and beautiful.  Your kindness is impossible to understand.  Lord, please change my life so that I am clearly worshiping you.  I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Mark 14, 1 Peter 1

1 Pet. 1:15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, "You must be holy because I am holy."

I used to think that "being holy" was all about righteousness.  The goal of living holy lives is not to gain more righteousness, but to be more like Christ - His Character, His Spirit.

Heavenly Father, please make me a holy man.  Lord, please help me raise my son to be a holy man.  May you be honored as you continue to change me from the inside to be a holy man.  I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood purchased my redemption.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

watching for Him

Mark 13, James 5

His return is closer than ever before!

M 13:26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. ... 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. ... 32 "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don't know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

 34 "The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don't know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don't let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!"

J 5:7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Heavenly Father, please help me keep my eyes on Christ.  Lord, I want to walk with you and be in step with the Holy Spirit so that I will celebrate and not groan when I see Christ return.  Lord, may I live to honor you and please you.  I want to be a faithful servant.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the One I am watching for.  Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

first day back

Mark 12, James 4

Well, I've been back at work for about an hour, and it is amazing how much I miss my wife and son already.

The Lord continues to impress on me the significance of these verses:

Mk 12:29 Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: 'Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' 31 The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

The fundamental characteristic of our relationship with God and man is LOVE!

I was also impressed this morning with the need to continually confess and repent from sin:

J 4:6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

   "God opposes the proud
      but favors the humble."

 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The pride of our flesh just keeps growing.  We must continually confess and repent so that the Lord will mow it down.  It doesn't take weeds very long to produce seeds, so you have to keep chopping them down and uprooting them.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the pride that keeps growing inside me.  Lord, please teach me how to regularly humble myself before you so that I can draw close to you because I need you to draw close to me.  I am fragile and empty, and I need you to hold me and fill me with yourself.  Oh Lord, please fill me with your agape love - love for you and love for others.  May others see the joy and peace that you have given me because of the way that I love.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who shows what love really is.  Amen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

looking at Him

Mark 9, James 1

7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him." 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

Last night I was looking at Beau looking at me.  I've heard that they can only see clearly within several inches of his face.  I was thinking of the analogy to our spiritual walk.  Our spiritual vision is often so blurry; we have to get so close to the Lord to see Him.

This morning, I was sitting next to Beau on the floor in the sunshine, and as he was looking at me, he smiled just for a second!  As I was relishing the joy that flooded my heart, the thought occurred to me, "I bet our Heavenly Father receives so much joy when we are pleased and smiling at Him!

Oh, that we would gaze upon Christ, who is the perfect picture of God!  (Heb. 12:2)

Heavenly Father, teach me to delight in you.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Mark 7, Hebrews 12

As I was gazing at my beautiful son today, I wondered, do you think that our Heavenly Father looks at us that way?  Thinking about gazing:

Heb. 12:2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith ...

It is so simple, you know?  Just fix our eyes on Him - loving Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and enjoying His beauty.

Heavenly Father, please turn my heart to you.  Father, I can't imagine your love toward me.  Please fill me with your love.  May I love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Please help me see you, and may I stay gazing in awe of your beauty and majesty.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

going home

Mark 6, Hebrews 11

We brought Beau home to our humble apartment this afternoon about 2:00pm.  As reassuring as it is to be in the care of nurses and physicians, it's kind of pestering after a couple of days.  It is so nice to be home and peacefully celebrating and enjoying our son.  I read the Scriptures to Brandi and Beau this morning in the hospital, and as I sat down to log some thoughts from the day, I noticed a connection with both of the passages we read and our homecoming.

  Mk. 6:1 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, "Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?" 3 Then they scoffed, "He's just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us." They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

 4 Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family." 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn't do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Isn't it ironic that the King of Glory returned to His hometown, and instead of celebrating Him and enjoying Him, they mocked Him and refused to believe in Him.  I've been sitting here on the couch holding my son and thinking about how beautiful he is.  How much more will I enjoy Christ and gaze at His beauty when we are finally Home with Him!

In fact, our hope in experiencing that homecoming should have profound practical implications on the way we live.  The fulfillment of all of God's promises will be complete on that day that we stand in the presence of our loving Father and our Brother and Savior Jesus Christ:

Heb. 11:13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Not that we shouldn't enjoy the temporary blessings that the Lord has given us, but we should leverage everything for the joy of that homecoming day with our Heavenly family.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness in blessing me with a son and the joy of bringing him home.  Lord, thank you for a wonderful wife who loves you and shows your love to me and my son.  Please help me live my life in constant expectation of Christ's return and the joy of being home with you in heaven.  Lord, please continue to grow my faith in you, and may my faith be evidence for others to see you and experience your mercy and grace.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

joy comes in the morning!

Mark 5, Hebrews 10

It is amazing how much more sympathetically I view passages regarding concerned parents, even though I have only been able to hold my son for a couple of days.  I can imagine that if Jairus was fearful of his daughter's critical condition, he would beg the Lord for healing.  It is so reassuring to know that the Lord is compassionate - He is not only able to heal, He desires to heal!

We have experienced the Lord so much through Beau's birth.  The Lord has provided several great nurses.  Heidi was one of our labor and delivery nurses, and she was an integral part of Brandi's successful natural childbirth.  We know that God blessed us through her, and we pray that we were a testimony of Christ's love to her.  We prayed before hand that we would experience and show the love of Christ through the labor and delivery process, and I believe that the Lord was gracious to shine His light through us.  When we transferred to postpartum, Nancy was such a gentle, yet direct, caretaker.  At the end of her shift, she told us that she could tell that we are Believers and that she is also a follower of Christ!

Brandi and I are blown away by the love and compassion of the Body of Christ.  Our biological and spiritual families have supported us tremendously through this experience.  One of the sweetest memories of this weekend was praying over my son with my parents and Brandi's parents about an hour and a half after he was born.  It has also been wonderful to get so many visits, phone calls, and emails.  We have been especially touched by our Bible Life group who has arranged to bring us meals for several weeks, and many of whom have come to pray with us here in the hospital.  We can truly see the love of Jesus Christ through all of this.

I am also amazed at how strong my wife is.  We prayed for the Lord's strength, and He provided.  He is faithful to supply those who call on His name in humility.  I believe that the Lord used Brandi to strengthen me, and He used me to strengthen Brandi.  It is a feedback loop.  The Lord has blessed me with such a strong partner in ministering.  I feel like I have grown so much this weekend already - even more grace!

As I watch my wife feed my son, I am reminded of the analogy of the "motherly" Church with a "newborn" Believer.  My wife has to learn how to feed my son, and there are some techniques that she can employ to make feeding more efficient and effective.  And my son has to learn how to feed, also.  Both are learning and growing.  Similarly, the Church has to continue to learn the skills of training new Believers to be Disciples, and new Believers have to learn how to be Disciples. And as the Church continues to drink from the Living Water, the "milk" is graciously supplied to the Believers who come to the Body to grow.

Heavenly Father, your goodness and kindness to me are overwhelming.  I am humbled by your grace.  Dear Lord, please use me to bring honor and glory to your name.  Please forgive me where I am selfish, and mold me into the selfless servant that Jesus Christ is.  May I experience and share the love, light, and life of Jesus Christ.  I pray in His name.  Amen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's a boy!

The Lord has blessed us with our first child - a son!  William Beau was born at 12:01am this morning (Nov. 1) and weighed in at 3.572 kg (7 lb 14 oz) and 0.501 m (19.75 in).  Brandi and Beau are doing great!  We are so thankful!  Praise the Lord!


Friday, October 30, 2009

breaking out of the mold

Mark 2, Hebrews 7

The Pharisees could not wrap their heads around who Jesus is.  He is the Son of Man who has the authority to forgive sins (which means that HE IS GOD!).  He is the Friend of sinners and the Doctor to the sick.  He is the Bridegroom of the Church, and His Spirit is the new wine.  He is the Lord of the Sabbath - He is our rest.  I don't think the Pharisees understood that He was fulfilling the old covenant and instituting and fulfilling the new covenant:

Mk. 2:22 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins."

The author of Hebrews elaborates:

 Heb. 7:11 So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron?

 12 And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. 13 For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. 14 What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.

 15 This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. 16 Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.  17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied,

   "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek."

 18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19 For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Heavenly Father, you are holy and eternal.  Your Word stands forever.  Your salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, our great High Priest in the line of Melchizedek.  Lord, I don't really understand it, but I know that you are awesome and mighty to save.  May the power of Christ's life be poured into me and through me into the lives of others.  May I serve you and honor you today.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, my High Priest who brings me into fellowship with the One True God.  Amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Mark 1, Psalm 100, Hebrews 6

In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus taught and healed.  Hmmm.... Consistent with Matthew.  Very interesting.

I just made the connection that if Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, then that most likely indicates that Peter was married.

Jesus told the man that He healed of leprosy to go present himself to the priest and offer the sacrifice for those who have been healed of leprosy.  That means that when God gave Moses the Law, He included a description for our appropriate response to His gracious healing.  He has been healing all along!

Yesterday I had lunch with several Brothers, and we were discussing the verses in Hebrews 4 and 5 that I meditated on the past two days.  Mark posed the question, "What is our role in practically approaching the throne of grace?"  The passage of Psalm 100 came to mind, so I read through that again this morning, and I think worship and gladness (v. 2), reverent fear (v. 3), and thanksgiving and praise (v. 4) are how we practically approach Him:

Ps. 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
       come before him with joyful songs.
 3 Know that the LORD is God.
       It is he who made us, and we are his ;
       we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
       and his courts with praise;
       give thanks to him and praise his name.

Heavenly Father, please fill my heart with gladness and lead me to worship you in spirit and in truth.  Lord, please fill me with the joy of salvation through faith in Christ.  God - Father, Son, and Spirit - you are the LORD, Yahweh, my creator, and I am your servant.  Lord, please teach me to fear you and obey you.  Lord, please help me remember your goodness and kindness to me so that I will continually thank you for how you have blessed me.  Lord may I bless you with the words that I say, the prayers that I lift up to you, and the way I live my life so that you will be praised and your name will be made great among the nations.  Halelujah!  I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Matthew 28, Hebrews 5

We should definitely enter the throneroom of grace boldly because of Christ's victory, but we better be reverent, as well:

Heb. 5:7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

OK, if the Father answered Jesus's prayers because of His humility (though Jesus is Himself Holy God), then it seems like humility is a very important factor in our prayers (we being creation, unholy and sinful).

This morning, before I read Hebrews 5, I was frustrated because our dog Sam suddenly developed intestinal difficulties yesterday evening for some unknown reason.  Of course, in the middle of the night, he made a mess on the floor and stunk up our apartment.  (Needless to say, Brandi and I are pretty frustrated with him.)  So, I made sure I took him out several times this morning before leaving for work - hoping that he would be able to hold it until Brandi gets home this afternoon.  As I was standing outside waiting on Same to do his business, and remembering the passage from Heb. 4 yesterday, I asked the Lord to heal Sam's digestive issues.  And in a frustrated and disrespectful attitude, I told him that it seemed like a pretty trivial task for Him to take care of.  I quickly appologized to the Lord for my lack of reverence, but I'm still ashamed that I spoke to the Lord disrespectfully just because of my dog's loose bowels; it's pretty embarrasing.

So verse 7 cut to the heart as I read it on the bus.

The Lord gave me an analogy/metephore this morning.  The doorway to fellowship with God was wide-open when Adam and Eve were in the Garden - they could fellowship with Him freely.  But because of sin, the door was closed.  But since Jesus is both the Perfect High Priest and the Complete Sacrifice, His blood is applied to the closed door.  Christ's Victory is analagous to sawing the bottom two-feet of the doorway off.  The opportunity to fellowship with God is now restored, and we can go into His presence boldly anytime, but only by humbly crawling on our knees by faith in Christ's Victory.  If we just walked into God's Holy Presence without humility, we would invoke His instant judgement against our pride and sin.  But when we humbly and boldly approach Him through faith in Christ, then He welcomes us in, and He picks us up and gives us the privilege of standing in His Holy Presence as His Children - Brothers and Sisters with Christ Himself.  So we experience a similar process as Christ - humbling ourselves before Him, and then He mercifully and graciously exalts us to standing with Him.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my lack of reverence.  I confess that I am a sinful human, in no way deserving your mercy, love, grace, and kindness.  Please forgive me for my pride.  Dear God, I want to approach you humbly on my knees.  Father, please grow my fear of you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Perfect High Priest and Complete Sacrifice.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Matthew 27, Hebrews 4

When I consider the brutality of the torture that Jesus endured before and during His crucifixion, it makes these verses super-rich:

Heb. 4:14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

These verses are in the context of rest.  Recently, I am realizing that rest is more important than I previously thought - physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The truth is that rest is a practical life function - we need it.  And God gives it - to those who believe.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sacrificing your own Son, Jesus, to defeat sin.  Lord, I believe in you, I trust you, and I want to know you more today.  Lord, please teach me to rest.  Lord, please help me lead my wife and son to rest in you.  Help us live a balanced life of physical, mental, and spiritual rest so that we will share the refreshment that we've received with others - for your glory and the advancement of your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Matthew 26, Hebrews 3

Mt. 26:73 A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, "You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent." 74 Peter swore, "A curse on me if I'm lying—I don't know the man!" And immediately the rooster crowed.

Peter denied knowing Christ because of fear.  He allowed his fear of what would happen to undermine his faith.  Fundamentally, fear is unbelief.

Heb. 3:7 That is why the Holy Spirit says,

   "Today when you hear his voice,
    8 don't harden your hearts
   as Israel did when they rebelled,
      when they tested me in the wilderness.
 9 There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
      even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
 10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
   'Their hearts always turn away from me.
      They refuse to do what I tell them.'
 11 So in my anger I took an oath:
      'They will never enter my place of rest.'"

 12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. ... 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn't it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.

Fundamentally, disobedience is unbelief.

Heb. 3:6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. ... 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my fear and disobedience, which are really unbelief.  Lord, I believe in you.  Jesus, I trust you for salvation - today and forever.  It is by your grace, Lord, that I can go on with you.  Lord, please turn my heart to you so that I will see you, hear you, trust you, and obey you.  I love you, Lord.  May your name be praised.  I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Matthew 23, Philemon

Philemon 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

At the first reading, this sounds like a really nice verse.  But after meditating on it for a little while, I struggle to understand it.

grace - unmerited favor, benevolence, blessing
the Lord Jesus Christ - God and man, the Son of God, the Perfect Man, the Messiah, the Lamb Who was slain for the sins of the world, King of Kings and Lord of Lords
spirit - the core aspect of our being, co-residing with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit of God

all together - To have all of who Jesus is and has accomplished inside the core of who we are

Heavenly Father, please fill me with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Grace!  Lord, please set my mind on the Spirit and not on the flesh.  I want to experience you and express you, for your glory and the advancement of your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

as fundamental as it gets

Matthew 22, Titus 3

A summary of the central aspect of human living by Christ (God and Man):

36 "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"

 37 Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

Love God and love others.  God is Love, so to live love is to experience God flowing through you.

What does it look like to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength?  I think it looks like you want to know Him and serve Him and be with the rest of His Body.  What does it look like to love your neighbor as yourself?  I think it is very different from the way we live as middle-class Americans.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me because I mostly live like I love myself.  Please turn my heart toward you, and may I love you genuinely and completely.  Lord, please teach me to love others as myself.  Father, you demonstrated what that looks like with Jesus Christ on the Cross.  Lord, please help me.  I have such a long way to go; I need your grace.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

more than a prophet

Matthew 21, Titus 2

I just can't get over this.  It seems like wherever Jesus went, He taught them about the Kingdom, and He healed people:

Mt 21:12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!"

 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David."

Jesus clearly explained on multiple occasions that He is the Son of God; here is one example:

37 "Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, 'Surely they will respect my son.'

 38 "But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' 39 So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.

Heavenly Father, I trust the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  I want to experience your power through me.  Please use me to teach people about your Kingdom, and please use me to minister to people's needs.  May the Truth be demonstrated in my life, for your glory.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

worker in the vineyard

Matthew 20, Titus 1

Mt. 20:1 "For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

Yesterday after work, JR and I went over to visit with a couple whose son is in NICU.  He was born about four and a half months early, but the Lord has sustained his life.  (JR found out about the situation through a person he was working with on a construction site.)  We stopped by to visit them about a month ago and got to visit with Caleb, the boy's dad, and we have been praying for them since then.  Yesterday we had a brief visit with Katrina, the boy's mom.  We offered for our Bible Life group to bring them meals in a few weeks when they get to bring their boy home from the hospital.  And we invited them to hang out with us sometime at one of our Bible studies or worship services.  As I reflected on the parable this morning, I realized that as workers in His vineyard, we are (1) helping graft branches into the Vine and (2) helping the branches grow and produce fruit:

T 1:1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.

I really hope that our Bible Life group will reach out and minister to this family so that they can see God's love and connect to Him through faith in Christ. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for chosing me to be a worker in your vineyard.  Lord, I am just a slave because you bought me with the Blood of Christ, so it is amazing that you bless me with eternal life and anything else.  Lord, it is such a joy to work in your vineyard.  Lord, please help me be faithful to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to disciple the Believers to live godly lives.  Please purify me and grow me so that I can be an example for others to follow.  Please grow me to be an elder in the body, for the advancement of your Church.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Matthew 19, 2 Timothy 4

Faithfulness has applications within multiple relationships.  The most fundamental is our faithfulness to Christ, which necessitates that EVERYTHING ELSE in our life follows Christ's Lordship:

Mt. 19:27 Then Peter said to him, "We've given up everything to follow you. What will we get?" ... 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.

2 Tim. 4:6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

The next most obvious application of faithfulness is with your spouse:

Mt. 19:8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful."

Brandi and I were so blessed by the youth of our congregation that pledged themselves to sexual purity last night.  We will continue praying for them.

And, since we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we should be faithful to other disciples of Christ:

2 Tim. 4:9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.

Of course, the Lord is always faithful!

2 Tim. 4:16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. 18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

Heavenly Father, you are always faithful.  Lord, your faithfulness stretches to the sky.  Lord, please help me be a faithful man.  May people see you in me because I am faithful to Christ, faithful to my wife and children, and faithful to my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  Thank you for growing me; please use me today for your glory.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, October 16, 2009

laying hands

Matthew 16, 2 Timothy 1

Last night at Bible study, we talked a little about the Church at Antioch laying hands on Barnabas and Paul as they were commissioned for their first missionary journey.  I was thinking that it is a unification of the spirit, soul, and body of each member of the church.  There is something very significant about the combination of prayer, fasting, and laying hands.  And it is not just for the person on whom hands are laid, it changes everyone involved:

2 Tim. 1:5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So, I don't think I should view "laying hands" on someone as some magical incantation, but I shouldn't minimize its significance, either.  As I think about it, I remember quite a few passages throughout the Bible involving "laying hands".

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me and revealing the Lord Jesus Christ to me.  Lord, may my hands be used in your service.  Lord, I offer my hands as part of the living sacrifice that I want to be.  Lord, please take my hands and use them as your own; may they be used as the hands of Jesus Christ.  For I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  Thank you.  Hallelujah!  May you receive glory and honor today.  I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose hands healed thousands and whose hands bled for me.  Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

maybe I'm just hypersensitive to it

Matthew 15, 1 Timothy 6

Or maybe Matthew was hypersensitive to it.  Or maybe it was just a regular part of Jesus's ministry:

Mt 15:29 Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. 30 A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn't speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all. 31 The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn't been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.

Switching topics, I am convicted by these verses:

1 Tim 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. ... 17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

I feel like my Eternity Treasure Box is pretty small.  The Lord has blessed us with a lot of material resources, but are we leveraging them for the Kingdom, or are we simply using them for our temporary comfort.

Heavenly Father, please convict me of sin, especially with regard to financial stewardship.  Lord, I want us to honor you with the resources that you have entrusted to us and make sure that we are using every ounce of our lives to advance the Kingdom.  May the Lord Jesus Christ be praised and worshiped, because He is worthy.  It is in His name that I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

more healing

Matthew 14, 1 Timothy 5

It wouldn't be that big of a deal to me if we weren't continually challenged throughout the New Testament to live, think, and act like Jesus.  And I would just leave it alone if (in addition to the Old Testament Prophets) Jesus was the only man who ever performed miracles.  But it seems to me like healing people was not an insignificant characteristic of Christ's ministry:

Mt 14:32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed. 34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

Heavenly Father, I am ignorant, especially with regard to these matters of miracles and healings.  Your Word promises that if I ask you for wisdom, you will give generously. So please give me wisdom concerning these things.  I know that Jesus Christ is my model, and I want to be conformed to Him, and I want our congregation to be conformed to Him corporately, and I want the whole Body of Christ to be conformed to Him Corporately.  I feel like the congregations I have been a part of have taught your Word but not seen you show your power.  Maybe we are guilty of preaching doctrine and not really knowing you.  Please forgive us.  I know that you are not going to heal everyone all the time, and I know that at some point, you have appointed the end of each person's life.  But will you please stir our hearts and spirits to beg you to show your greatness and your power.  Holy Spirit, will you please prompt those whom you have blessed with the Gift of Healing to obey you in faith in exercising their gift for your glory.  Lord, I'm tired of preaching about your power and greatness but not seeing it displayed in our congregation.  Lord, please stir us seek you, to know you, and to ask you to do great things for the glory of your Name and the advancement of your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Master.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

produce fruit!

Matthew 13, 1 Timothy 4

When I have previously read the parable of the farmer scattering seed, I saw the hard soil as unbelievers, and the rocky, thorny, and good soils as different types of Believers.  But this time, I wonder if the hard, rocky, and thorny soils are all unbelievers, because when you consider Scripture as a whole, it seems like only the genuine Believers produce fruit (cf. Matthew 3:8-10, Matthew 7:15-20, Matthew 12:33, Matthew 21:43, Luke 3:8-9, Luke 6:43-44, Luke 13:6-9, John 15:1-17, Romans 7:4, Galatians 5:22-25, Ephesians 5:8-11, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:3-12, James 3:17, Jude 1:12). 

Mt 13:23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

This realization is sobering; I must produce fruit in keeping with repentance!  The challenge is that I (in and of myself) can not produce fruit - it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is a supernatural result of faith and obedience.  And, I think it is related to how Paul was encouraging Timothy:

1 Tim 4:6 If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. 7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come." 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. 11 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. 12Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

These verses are encouraging to me - especially verse 12.  He is talking about producing spiritual fruit!  I think one of the people that I "shouldn't let think less of me because I am young" is me.  I need to continue to step up and be a leader with my wife and son and in the leadership I have in our congregation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me faith in Jesus Christ.  Please forgive me for all of the stinky fruit of the flesh that I have produced.  Holy Spirit, please make me a 100-fold producer of Good Fruit!  Please produce in me a crop of fruit that honors you and leads others to produce fruit.  Lord, please take the seeds that are inside the fruit that you produce in me, and plant them in other people.  Father, may your love flow through me, and may the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly in my heart and face.  Please help me lead my wife and son to worship you and serve you faithfully, and please help me lead the Brothers and Sisters in my Bible study group to walk with you more closely and produce fruit.  Holy Spirit, please convict the hearts of those who think they are Believers but are only deceived, and please lead them to genuine faith and obedience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Lord, may you be pleased and honored.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

spiritual authority

Matthew 12, 1 Timothy 3

Yesterday we studied the beginning of Barnabas and Paul's first missionary journey in their first recorded showdown with Elymas and Governor Sergius Paulus in Acts 13.  Paul exercised the authority of Christ Jesus to squelch Elymas's evil control over Serius Paulus so that he could hear the Gospel and trust the Lord for salvation.  In Matthew 12, Jesus demonstrates that He is Lord of the Sabbath and the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of God's Chosen Servant.  One of the aspects of Christ's ministry was miraculous healings and casting-out demons.  Of course the knuckle-headed Pharisees accused Jesus of being empowered by Satan, to which Jesus responded,

Mt 12:25 ... "Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29 For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

Question: does the authority of Christ over evil forces extend to every Believer in Christ (e.g., are we Believers all Deputies of The Sheriff?), or was that authority limited to Christ and His Apostles?  If we do posess that authority, which it seems to me at this point that we do, then why isn't an older Brother teaching me what it looks like to exercise that authority in accordance with the Holy Spirit?

Heavenly Father, I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!  He is Lord of the Sabbath.  He is Lord over Creation.  He is Lord of the Church.  And He is stronger than the Enemy who He is driving out of the world by His Church.  Lord, please teach me what it means for me to exercise your authority for the glory of your name.  I pray that you will give me discernment to see spiritual oposition for what it is and not be proud or fearful as I face spiritual battles in the power of the Holy Spirit and the armor of Christ.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

what are we doing?

Matthew 10, 1 Timothy 1

If I had to summarize Jesus's earthly ministry with only two characteristics, here is what I would say:

Mt 9:35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
  1. Preaching the Gospel and teaching about the Kingdom
  2. Healing disease and illness
What did Jesus command His disciples and give them authority to do?

Mt 10:5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: ... 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

Hmmm... that's interesting.  Christ's ministry... the Disciples' ministry... perhaps these two characteristics should describe the work of the Church today?

Then why are so many American churches just bent on teaching doctrine instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom?  And why are experiences of miraculous healings limited to missionaries and a few "charismatic" churches?  It is embarrassing, really.  The truth is that we are focused on ourselves and not on the Lord and His work.

Tragically, it is not a new phenomenon:

1 Ti 1:3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don't let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don't help people live a life of faith in God. 5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don't know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.

Heavenly Father, please help us get in the game!  Lord, I am ashamed of the condition of our congregations.  Please forgive us of our paralizing selfishness, and deliver us from materialism.  Holy Spirit, please stir our hearts for knowing the Lord and walking with you as you accomplish your mission.  Lord, please give us boldness to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ.  And please give us faith to pray for you to do mighty miracles among us and demonstrate your loving power!  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom.  Amen.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Matthew 9, 2 Thessalonians 3

I love this weather!  The summer draws to a close, and the harvest is near!

Mt 9:35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37He said to his disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."

2 Th 3:1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord's message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. 2 Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer. 3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you. 5 May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

Jesus demonstrated His authority in forgiving people of sin, healing people, and raising people from the dead.  Our mission as His disciples is to study Him, know His will, and obey Him in continuing His mission of redeeming humanity.  May we be faithful to Him!

Heavenly Father, please turn my heart to you today.  Lord, please draw me to you.  Lord Jesus, I want to be a real disciple - I want to study you, know you, and follow you.  Lord, please give me grace to believe you and obey you.  Lord, your heart is for the nations to know the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; may I be devoted and faithful to your mission.  Lord, I want to seek first your Kingdom and Righteousness.  May you be honored, and may the message of Jesus Christ spread rapidly as your saints are faithful to preach the Gospel!  Hosanna!  Hallelujah!  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Master Teacher and Lord of the Harvest.  Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

healer and judge

Matthew 8, 2 Thessalonians 2

Interesting... I titled my blog entry "healer and judge" for Mark 2 and Romans 2 on 30-JUL-09.

Anyway, it seems to me like there is almost a dichotomy of character in Christ: merciful and just.  But I suppose these two opposites are characteristic of the Lord throughout all of Scripture (Old and New testaments), so I shouldn't be surprised that we see these in Christ.  As for His mercy:

Mt 8:2 Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. "Lord," the man said, "if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean." 3 Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared. ... 16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."

As for His justice:

2 Th 2:7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.

Heavenly Father, it is your kindness, Lord, that brings us to repentance.  Lord, thank you for healing me and continuing to heal me.  Lord, please give me a strong grip on the Truth, and help me obey you in faith with a sober perspective of your holiness and justice.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Healer of the Nations and the Righteous Judge.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

even more on prayer

Matthew 7, 2 Thessalonians 2

 3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. ... [God is just, and He will sovereignly use our suffering for His glory and our good] ... 11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are several themes repeated from the Model Prayer in Matt. 5:  thankfulness, persistence in asking, God accomplishing His good work through us, glory to God in Christ, and GRACE!

Heavenly Father, thank you for encouraging me a leading me along in my walk with you.  Lord, please draw me near to you - I want to hear your voice and obey your Holy Spirit.  Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing me into fellowship with the Father and the Spirit.  Please guide me to live a life worthy of your call; I confess that I am weak, and I can only walk by your grace.  I want to honor you Lord.  I ask for grace and mercy in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

more on prayer

Matthew 7, 2 Thessalonians 1

I listened to a sermon on prayer last night by Matt Chandler at the Village.  He basically makes the point that God is totally sovereign and is working out His will, so why pray?  The reality is that God works through His people's prayers to accomplish His will.  So, when we look at these verses,

 M 7:7 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

we realize that we are to continually ask for His will, and He delights in answering our prayers by giving good gifts - because He is Good!

Heavenly Father, forgive me for my perspective of prayer as listing chores for you to do.  Lord, I confess that I am so selfish, even in prayer; please forgive me.  Lord, may your will be done, and may I continually and fervently beg to know you, experience you, and cooperate with you as you accomplish your good will.  May you receive the glory and honor, because you are worthy.  Here I am, Lord, use me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

the will of God

Matthew 6, 1 Thessalonians 5

My Brother JJ noticed that several of my recent meditations have centered on the practice of prayer.  Sure enough, the Lord made another connection this morning through a classic passage:

M 6:9 Pray like this:   Our Father in heaven,
      may your name be kept holy.
   10 May your Kingdom come soon.
   May your will be done on earth,
      as it is in heaven.

At Brandi's cousin's wedding this past Friday, I had a great conversation with her Uncle David (who is a Spirit-led man) about prayer.  He told me that we are so weak in prayer, just like the Disciples with Christ in the Garden.  We usually just thank God for the day and then start rambling off a bunch of things that we need/want.  Uncle David said that we need to train ourselves to be devoted in praising and thanking Him, and then confession and supplication flow out of that.  I think this is consistent with with what we see in Matthew 6.  When we just give God a list of stuff to do, then it is us who is bossing God around our kingdom (and we are usually pretty whiny, too).  But when we adore Him, praise Him, and thank Him for an EXTENDED period of time, then our focus changes to HIS KINGDOM, and we realize that we are HIS SERVANTS to cooperate with Him in fulfilling His will.  So, what does His will look like, anyway?

1 Th. 5:16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

I think it is the attitude of Christ, replicated in us, that is the essential demonstration of His Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, you are so good and kind.  Your love and your mercy are infinite, and you proved that with Christ on the Cross.  Father, please help me focus on you.  I am so weak, and my focus so quickly shifts to myself and the world.  Lord, if I could just keep my eyes fixed on you, and if I could see you clearly, then I would overflow with joy and thankfulness.  May your will be accomplished in my life, and may I be used as an agent of bringing others to cooperate with you.  I love you, and I need you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.