Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Colossians 3

I need to learn how to meditate.  It's not like there aren't any good passages to meditate on; I just get so busy during the day that I forget.  Somehow I need to learn how to reflect on a passage multiple times per day - all day - so that it will really soak in and water this wimpy tree so I can produce some Fruit!  Here's some good stuff:

 1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. ...  14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

You could soak on that for a week!  But I am much too OCD to do that; I have to stick to my reading schedule!

Heavenly Father, please help me soak on your Word.  Lord, I want to be obsessed with Christ and His message of love, grace, hope, and peace.  Lord Jesus, please pour into me so that I will overflow with singing about how good you are.  Holy Spirit, please produce your fruit in me!  Please help me be a thankful person.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Colossians 2

I have been impressed recently by the need to be constantly abiding in Christ and growing in Him.  It is so stinking easy to focus on the actions of praying, singing, reading, fellowshipping, but these are means, not ends.

 6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Heavenly Father, thank you for making my heart good soil for the Gospel to be planted.  Lord, thank you for grafting me into Christ; please help me abide in Him.  Holy Spirit, please produce your fruit in me.  Lord Jesus, I want to know you more and enjoy you.  Father, thank you for nourishing and cultivating my growth.  Please continue to take me deeper into you through your Word and prayer.  May I overflow with thankfulness so that people will see your goodness and experience you for themselves.  I love you, Lord, and I want to honor you today.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

the secret

Colossians 1

I never read the book The Secret, but I read the synopsis on Amazon, and it seems like the core idea is New Age mind-over-matter stuff.  Well, here is the Real Secret:

 19 For God in all his fullness
      was pleased to live in Christ,
 20 and through him God reconciled
      everything to himself.
   He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
      by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

 21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. ...

25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.  28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me.

It really is amazing: we sinned against God and deserved to be killed, but He killed Himself instead of us, but His Life defeated death, and now He infuses His Life into those who Believe and makes them as holy as He is.

Heavenly Father, how could you love us so much that you would spill Christ's blood for us?  It is amazing love.  We were worth nothing and deserved only wrath, but because of Christ's sacrifice, we are now your treasure.  Dear God, how is this still a secret?  This is so amazing!  Lord, please break us over our sin and the magnitude of Christ's redemption.  Lord, please use me to serve the church and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  May I work diligently to advance your Kingdom today.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, September 25, 2009

more joy

John 19, Philippians 2

I sat next to a guy named Alex on the bus this morning.  I sat next to him a few days ago, but he told me today that he didn't want to interrupt me the other day because I was reading the Bible.  We had a great conversation about how God has blessed us in knowing Him and serving him.  He shared about how he put his faith in Christ as a young boy, rebelled as a teenager, and repented later.  It was so encouraging to hear from another Brother who is conscious of the spiritual battle around us and sincerely devoted to following Christ and leading others to know and follow Him.

Paul explains that there is such a joy in our corporate cooperation with the Lord:

P 2:14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the sacrificial death of Christ, and for faith to trust Him for salvation.  Thank you for the joy of working with you.  The victory is in Jesus Christ!  Lord, please pour your victorious power through me, and may others see the joy of true life with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus - the name that is above every name.  Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

stick to your guns

John 18, Philippians 1

Jesus was double-betrayed.  Judas sold out, and Peter chickened out.

Conversely, Paul toughed it out.  And he challenges us to keep fighting:

P 1:9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. ... 20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. ...  27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don't be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

This struggle is not tactical machine warfare; it is hand-to-hand combat.

Heavenly Father, your Word promises that you began a good work in me, and you will carry it on to completion.  Lord, please give me grace to walk in a way that will never bring shame to you.  And please give me grace to keep on fighting the evil forces against us. I trust Jesus for the victory, and it is in his name that I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

feedback loop

John 17, Ephesians 6

I think an expansion of "abiding in Christ" from chapter 15 is given here; notice the reverberation of glory, unity, and love in Christ's prayer:

J 17:1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. ... 20 "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22 "I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! 25 "O righteous Father, the world doesn't know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them."

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me to Christ.  Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing me to the Father.  Lord, I want to abide in your Spirit - to be united with you in function so that you will be glorified as your love pours through me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

birth pains

John 16, Ephesians 5

Brandi and I were able to have dinner at Brother David's home with some missionary friends from our congregation who have served in Africa and are returning soon.  We pray for them regularly, so it was great to be able to visit with them and hear about their ministry opportunities and specific prayer requests. 

During the conversation they asked us about Beau and his arrival, and we explained that our main goal is that God will be honored by our thankful and joyful attitude through the entire labor and delivery process.  So, I was intrigued this morning by the parallel that Christ gave:

J 16:19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, "Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won't see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23 At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

I think some of Paul's encouragement is related:

E 5:15 So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with a son.  Lord, we want to honor you in how we raise him to love you and fear you.  Lord, please give us right attitudes through all of the preparations for bringing him home.  And please bless us with a smooth labor and delivery so that your name will be praised, and people will see how wonderful you are.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009


John 15, Ephesians 4

The inefficiency of Mondays (because of all of the menial beginning-of-the-week tasks) drives me crazy.  Brandi noticed that something was wrong this morning and called me on it.  It's just so hard for me to be abiding in Christ and full of joy when I feel like such a large fraction of my week (especially Mondays) is consumed by fruitless activities (e.g., laundry, dishes, haircut, shaving, etc.).  That, coupled with chronic sleep deprivation makes it very challenging to focus on Christ.  As I was considering John 15, I was challenged by verse 11:

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

Of course, the whole context up to verse 11 is abiding in Christ.  So as I was walking Sam this morning, I confessed to the Lord this morning that I had a bad attitude and asked Him to fix it.  As I was walking from my pickup to the bus, the question I came to is, "Am I bogged down with stuff that doesn't matter, and I need to change my lifestyle? Or is this simply what it means to be a "living sacrifice" so I just need to learn how to be joyful.

Heavenly Father, please help me.  I am so tired, and I am frustrated by business.  I want to abide in Christ, and I want to know that you are producing fruit in me because I sure don't want to be removed from the vine!  Lord, please be gracious with me and lead me to walk with you in an overflow of joy.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my life-supply.  Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

fundamental practices

John 12, Ephesians 1

J 12:1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus' feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
The essence of a life of Faith in Christ is to be connected with Him - communing with Him and enjoying fellowship with Him.  My Brother Mike shared with me some time ago that there are several fundamental Christian practices, typified by those with Christ: 
  1. Lazarus was simply dining with Christ - communing with Him and enjoying Him.  Lazarus's very life was a testimony of the Lordship and Resurrection power of Jesus Christ.  Lazarus was enjoying Christ and testifying about Christ. 
  2. Martha was serving Jesus.  She was employing the opportunities and personal gifts that God had given her to serve Christ and His Church.  She was obedient to the Lordship of Christ.
  3. Perhaps most fundamentally, Mary was worshiping and praising Jesus.  She gave Him everything of value to her, and she adored Christ.  And the whole house was reminded of the Lordship of Christ by the intensity of her worship.
Heavenly Father, thank you for calling me to faith in Jesus Christ.  Lord, you are so good, and your love is amazing.  Lord, you purchased me with the blood of Christ.  I am yours.  I want to worship you, enjoy you, testify of you, and serve you with my life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the Cross of Christ

John 10, Galatians 6

J 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ... 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

G 6:8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. ... 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. ...14But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ... 17From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Heavenly Father, thank you for releasing your ZOE life to me through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Lord, thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit the instant that I first Believed, but Lord, I beg you to anoint me and fill me with the Holy Spirit to obey the law of Christ.  Holy Spirit, please lead me to crucify my sinful nature with its passions and desires and keep in step with you.  Lord God, I love you, and I want to serve you, even today.  Please use me for your glory; may I proclaim the beauty and love of the Cross of Christ.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

freedom to love

John 11, Galatians 5

According to my schedule, I was supposed to read John 10, but I goofed.  But here are a couple of observations anyway:
  • Jesus didn't say that Lazarus wasn't going to die; He said the situation wasn't going to end in death.  We have to be patient to see the Lord fulfill His promises, and generally, the magnitude of future glory is proportional to the intensity of temporary suffering.
  • Man, I wish I had the heart of Thomas.  "OK guys, let's go die with Him."  I expect that's the level of loyalty you see on the battlefield.  Oh, wait; we are on a battlefield.
The concept that stuck out from Galatians 5 was love:

G 5:6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ... 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ...  22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Love is the quintessential communication of God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving the world and giving your one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not die but experience your love.  Lord, please use me to express your love to my wife, son, family, and friends.  Holy Spirit, I want to keep in step with you today - to hear your voice and obey.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

sight and freedom

John 9, Galatians 4

I asked my Brother David this morning about the disciples asking Jesus about the man being born blind (because of his sin or his parents' sin) was acknowledgment of a person being born sinful.  He responded that he didn't think it was wise to build theology (one way or the other) on the questions that people asked Jesus.  It is more appropriate to construct our theology on Christ's response to those questions.

Because of a recent conversation with my friend Herb, I noticed the demonstration of the deity of Christ in this story:

J 9:31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. ... 38 "Yes, Lord, I believe!" the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Ergo, Jesus is God.

The simplicity of the response of the seeing-man-born-blind challenges me every time I read it:

J:925 ... "But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!"

All we have to do is be a witness of the change that He has accomplished in our lives.  And if there isn't a notable change to speak of, then one should question whether he/she has truly encountered the Holy and Almighty Living God.

This passage amazes me:

G 4:4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." 7
Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Heavenly Father, I am a sinful man that you have saved by your grace and mercy.  Lord, thank you for purchasing my freedom with the death of Christ, and for giving me sight to see Him and faith to believe in Him.  Lord, please teach me what it means to be your heir.  And may I be faithful to be a witness of the sight you have given me.  Praise the Lord because He is good.  His love endures forever.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

children of Abraham

John 8, Galatians 3

By faith in Jesus Christ, our sin-debt of death is paid by Christ, and we receive the Holy Spirit.  By faith in Jesus Christ, we are children of Abraham and children of God.  If you are not a child of Abraham, then you are a child of the world.  And if you are not a child of God, then you are a child of the Devil.

G 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. ... 23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

J 8:31
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."33They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"  34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father." 39They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are doing the works your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God." 42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires.

I am fascinated by the escalation of the religious Jews' claims:  1) we are offspring of Abraham, 2) Abraham is our father, and 3) God is our father.  Tragically, they were mistaken, because faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be a child of God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me grace through Jesus Christ.  Lord, thank you for loving me and paying the debt that I owed so that I can be free in Christ.  Thank you for making me a son of Abraham and a son of God and giving me your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for baptizing me into Christ and His Church.  Lord, I want to obey you and listen to your word.  I love you, and I want to serve you.  Please draw me closer to you and use me to bring others to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, September 11, 2009


John 5, 2 Corinthians 13

Jesus healed a guy that was lame for 38 years on the Sabbath.  If the Jewish leaders had been in tune with God and thinking about any of the key verses in the prophets (e.g., Isaiah 43 or 61, Hosea 6:6, or Micah 6:6-8) then they would have been overjoyed at Christ's miracles.  Instead, they were upset with Jesus for breaking the "rules" and claiming to be equal with God.  Jesus confronted them about their lifeless legality:

J 5:39 "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

The church in Corinth had some similar issues.  Paul challenged them with this:

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

The test is in our living.  Do we have the life of Jesus Christ at work in us?  Do we see the Fruit of His Spirit?

I am reading Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, and Jim Cymbala says that preaching sound doctrine is not enough.  We need the filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit, and that follows humble prayer.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for getting caught in the ritual of religious routine.  I want to know Christ and see the Holy Spirit at work in my life.  Lord, will you please draw me closer to you and help me lead others to know you and obey you.  Lord, please fill me with your spirit and ignite our congregation to serve you in love.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


John 4, 2 Corinthians 12

Jesus always escalates the conversation; He did with Nicodemus in John 3, and He did with the Samaritan woman in John 4.  They say something, and He could reply with something nice and confirming, but He always takes it to the next level.  Perhaps I should be more bold in conversations with people. Of course it is going to bring friction, which will be awkward (especially in the U.S.), but I bet the Holy Spirit will lead me through it.

The first part of Jesus's discussion with the Samaritan woman (v. 7-15) was about helping her identify her spiritual emptiness (i.e., thirst for living water).  Then Jesus (rather abruptly) shifted the conversation to sin (v. 16-18).  I think we tend to get it backwards.  We think, "That person is sinning, so they need Jesus to fix their sin."  That is sort of true, but I think it is better to realize that we are all empty apart from Jesus, and sin is the consequence of that emptiness.  As I heard somewhere, "We aren't sinners because we sin.  We sin because we are sinners."

Then the conversation transitioned to worship and Christ (v. 19-26).  Here again is demonstration of the exclusivity of true worship through faith and obedience in Jesus Christ.

So she went to her village and gave everyone a three point outline of the theological points that she learned from Jesus.  No!  She shared her experience with Christ.  And the result:

3:39Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!" 40When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world."

Other people believed in Jesus simply because she told them her experience with Christ.  There's a novel idea!  Hmmm... I wonder what would happen if we simply shared with people around us what Jesus has done in our lives.  Maybe that is scary for some people because they realize that they've been so caught up in the world and playing the church-game that they don't have any experience with Jesus.

As a farmboy, I love the analogy that Jesus gives for a person sharing the Gospel:

3:36 ... But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, 'One plants and another harvests.' And it's true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn't plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest."

Heavenly Father, please help me wake up and join you in the Harvest.  There are so many empty souls around me that need to be connected with Jesus.  Lord, help me see the reality of how I have been saved from Hell and saved for your Glory, so that I will be authentic and genuine in sharing what Jesus has done in my life.  Lord, help me sensitive to the Holy Spirit to be bold in conversation about Christ.  I love you, Lord.  You have been so kind to me.  Please help me worship you in spirit and in truth.  I pray in the name of Jesus, the Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


John 3, 2 Corinthians 11

Note:  One of the Brothers that I meet with regularly has suggested that John 3:5 shows the necessity of baptism.  However, in studying the context, it seems to me like there is a parallelism in the preceding and following verses:  the first birth is in the flesh (or "water") and the second birth is in the spirit.

In our Bible Life Group on Sunday mornings, we have been studying the book of Acts, and several of the recent lessons have been about the persecution of the Church.  First of all, I think we in the U.S. generally don't have a clue about persecution.  Even after reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, I still only appreciated it empathetically.  Perhaps one of the ways we can "suffer" in the U.S. is by giving sacrificially with our finances to support the global Church.  I recently have been drawn to support these two ministries because of their strategic operation in fronteir nations:

 - Voice of the Martyrs: Pastor Support Program  (
 - Voice of the Martyrs: Bibles Unbound (

When I think about what Paul and other Saints have given for the Gospel, I am reminded that Grace is Costly:

11:23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

Heavenly Father, thank you for paying the Cost of Redemption with Christ on the Cross.  Lord, may I live in response to this incredible payment.  Lord, it's not like I want to suffer for the sake of suffering, but if suffering is what it takes to gain Christ and be found in Him, then lead me by your grace through it.  Father, please show me the work you have for me.  Lord, please help me be faithful and obedient.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

holy temple warfare

John 2, 2 Corinthians 10

J 2:13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers' coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!"

I was thinking about our Lord's passion for the holiness of the temple of God because it is the center of worship.  Of course, our Lord explains that the real temple is the body, soul, and spirit of each Believer:

J 2:19 ... Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

I am reminded of
reiterations of this truth by Stephen in Acts 7 and Paul in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 6. 

Q:  How have I turned His temple (myself) into a marketplace? 
A:  Whenever I allow worldy things to be my focus, I am not wholly dedicated to worshiping the Lord.

An even more challenging point is that maintaining a holy temple is not a passive responsibility.  It is an active spiritual battle of the heart and mind that continues until we die:

2 Cor 10:3 We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. 4 We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The focus here is not on the destruction of evil, but on the glorification and lordship of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Lord, please search me and expose the worldliness and corrupted aspects of my life so that I can repent and give myself even more to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Lord, I want to worship you in spirit and in truth, and I want you to be pleased.  Lord, you are so good and kind; please continue to be patient with me and help me see the importance of holiness.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, September 4, 2009

spiritual weaponry

Luke 22, 2 Corinthians 6

2 Cor 6:7 We faithfully preach the truth. God's power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.

From Ephesians 6, we can see the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) in the right hand and the Shield of Faith in the left.  We are not individual warriors, we are indwelled by His Spirit - a situation which requires holy living:

6:16 For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

   "I will live in them
      and walk among them.
   I will be their God,
      and they will be my people.
 17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
      and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
   Don't touch their filthy things,
      and I will welcome you.
 18 And I will be your Father,
      and you will be my sons and daughters,
      says the Lord Almighty."

7:1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Heavenly father, please help me see the spiritual battle that rages around me, and help me fight honorably.  Holy Spirit, please fill me and anoint me, and lead me in righteousness and holiness.  Please purify me body, soul, and spirit.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Luke 21, 2 Corinthians 5

The Widow gave everything she had.  She trusted that the Lord is her provider, and He is faithful to His promises.  This is a type of the early church; Brothers and Sisters sold their possessions and gave the money to the Church, for the Kingdom.  It is when we have abandoned ourselves to be helpless at the mercy of God that we experience the fullness of His provision.  Sarah brought up that point last Sunday morning in our discussion.  It's too bad so few of us ever get there.

We must walk faithfully, especially through the persecution that will occur before Christ's return.  We will be judged according to our works, so let us remain sober minded and diligently working for the Lord.  Along those lines, Pastor Mark spoke to us this morning at Men's First Thursday breakfast about entrusting our faith to other Brothers.  This encouraged me to continue pouring out my life into others because that is practically how the Kingdom advances.  It also parallels the Widow's offering.  What a wonderful ministry the Lord has given us:

2 Cor 5:10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. ... 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. ... 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving your Son Jesus Christ to pay our death-debt of disobedience.  Lord, thank you for calling us into life with you and for giving us the promise of your presence and eternity with you.  Lord, please give me faith to trust you with everything, and may I be a good steward with the relationships you have given me.  Please help me to take care of my wife and son.  Lord, may I entrust the faith you have given me to Beau.  And Lord, please help me be faithful to invest in the Brothers and Sisters in our Bible study group.  What a joy it is to serve you!  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

increasing glory

Luke 20, 2 Corinthians 4

I had a great conversation with Herb on the bus on Monday evening.  He is still reading through the Old Testament; he is in Daniel right now.  He shared some of the most wonderful insights from Ezekiel and the Old Testament in general.  He told me that his biggest problem is with the idea that Jesus is God in a Trinitarian way.  I sent him an email with a list of Scriptures that explain the deity of Christ, and many of them suggest a Trinitarian perspective, but perhaps it would be helpful if I supplied some Scriptures that support the concept of the Trinity.  As I read 2 Corinthians 4 this morning, several of these verses reinforced this topic of the person of Christ and my relationship with Herb:

2 Cor 4:3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 5You see, we don't go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

I pray for several friends regularly that the Lord will give spiritual sight to see Jesus clearly and trust Him as Savior and Lord, for the glory of God:

15 ... And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Those last couple of verses remind me of a few lines in David Crowder's song that I quoted a couple of days ago:

When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Heavenly Father, your love for us is amazing.  Your work through us is amazing.  Lord, please use me, an ordinary clay pot, to shine the light of Jesus Christ and bring others to know you.  Lord, please deliver my friends from spiritual blindness, and put faith in their hearts so that they will believe and experience the life of Christ at work through them, also.  Lord, I know that you will receive glory as you do this.  Please give me strength to be faithful during times of testing as I realize that these troubles are minor and temporary compared to your Eternal Rightousness.  May your name be praised among the nations.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

repentance and glory

Luke 19, 2 Corinthians 3

When someone is truly repentant, they are not only sorry for what they did wrong, but there is a desire to respond with action:

 L 19:8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"

I think when I am confronted with something I did wrong, I am usually sorry for it, but generally lazy about responding with action.  I pray that the Lord will teach me to walk in godly repentance.

Continuing with the recent theme, redemption is not the end-point of our salvation, it is the beginning:

2 Cor 3:17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

It is the Lord's good will to mold us into the image of Christ and show off how good He is.

Heavenly Father, you are good and kind.  Jesus, you are glorious.  Holy Spirit, teach me to walk in true repentance and to draw close to you in spirit so that you will shine your light through me into the world.  May the nations see your glory and seek you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  amen.