Friday, January 29, 2010


Exodus 21-22, Matthew 19

In addition to the ten commandments (which are pretty clear), the Lord gave Moses quite a few additional laws.  As I was reading them, I pondered, "What does this reveal about the Lord?  Why would He specify all of this stuff?"  I think it is because the Lord is Holy and just.  He loves justice and righteousness.

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are Holy.  You are perfect and complete; you are righteous and just.  Lord, please help me live in a way that honors you.  May my life be an example of your love, and the righteousness that is by faith.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Exodus 19-20

When you read about the Ten Commandments, it is tempting to think that the goal of our interaction with the Lord is to avoid sinning against Him, since 80% of the commandments start with "Thou shalt not ...".  And while "20:20" vision is great,

20:20 "Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!"

we need to see the fundamental principle of our life as worshiping and loving the Lord:

 20:2 "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
 3 "You must not have any other god but me.
24 ... Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you.

Heavenly Father, please help me focus on worshiping you and loving you with every aspect of my life.  I pray that there will be a simplicity in my faithfulness to you, and that I will be genuine and spontaneous in following you - not burdened by religion.  Lord, I pray that I will fear you, and that you will turn my heart toward you and away from the things of this world so that you will be blessed by my lifestyle.  Lord, may I be faithful to build altars to you, so that your name will be praised among the nations.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Names of God

Exodus 16-18, Matthew 18:1-20

I ran across another name of God this morning, and it occurred to me that I should really meditate on the names of God in the Scriptures, because they are lenses into the person of God - His names describe His character.  I think there are two types of names - those ascribed to Him by humans, and those given to us by Himself.  But either way, the Name reveals something about God.  So here is a review of some of His names:

Gen 16:13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, "You are the God who sees me." (El-roi) She also said, "Have I truly seen the One who sees me?"

Gen 22:14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means "the Lord will provide"). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."

Gen 33:20 And there he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel (which means "God, the God of Israel").

Ex 3:13 But Moses protested, "If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' they will ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what should I tell them?"

 14 God replied to Moses, "I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you." 15 God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

   This is my eternal name,
      my name to remember for all generations.

 16 "Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, 'The Lord, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me.

Ex 6:2 And God said to Moses, "I am Yahweh—'the Lord.' 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—'God Almighty'—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. 4 And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. ...

Ex 17:15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means "the Lord is my banner").

I talked to my Brother JJ on the phone last night, and we both want to grow in our fear of the Lord.  We agreed that if we could just see Him, if He were gracious enough to allow us in His presence without immediately dying, we would be instantly fear Him because of His awesome glory - and we would be permanently changed!  The thing that gets me is that in Christ, we may approach the throne of Grace with boldness - we can be in his presence because of Christ!  His mercy, grace, and love are too much!

Ex 16:9 Then Moses said to Aaron, "Announce this to the entire community of Israel: 'Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.'" 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for revealing yourself to me.  Thank you for your Word which reveals yourself to me.  I pray that I will continue to know you and grow closer to you.  Lord, please humble me and teach me to fear you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

so many types!

Exodus 15, Matthew 17

Pharaoh and his armies are types of Satan and his forces.  The Red Sea and Passover are types of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.  The dark of night and the morning dawn are types of this brief life and eternity to come.  But my favorite this morning is Moses and the Israelites as types of Christ and His Church:

 1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord:   "I will sing to the Lord,
      for he has triumphed gloriously;
   he has hurled both horse and rider
      into the sea.
 2 The Lord is my strength and my song;
      he has given me victory.
   This is my God, and I will praise him—
      my father's God, and I will exalt him!
 3 The Lord is a warrior;
      Yahweh is his name!

 11 "Who is like you among the gods, O Lord
      glorious in holiness,
   awesome in splendor,
      performing great wonders?


 13 "With your unfailing love you lead
      the people you have redeemed.
   In your might, you guide them
      to your sacred home.
 17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain—
      the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling,
      the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
 18 The Lord will reign forever and ever!"

Heavenly Father, please help me focus on you, Lord!  Help me see you at work.  I praise you because you are holy, and there is none like you.  Lord, thank you for saving me; please use me to advance your Kingdom.  Lord, you are mighty to save!  May your name be praised among the nations.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Exodus 12-14
12:21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, "Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. 22 Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.
I am reminded of the concept that we Believers are the Lord's building, and the Blood of the Lamb applied to us is our Salvation.  As I think about the Lord's Supper in the context of the Passover, I was thinking about this (potentially heretical) analogy:  as we drink the wine (which represents the Lord's blood), we are "sprinkling" our bodies (which are Temples of the Holy Spirit) with the Lord's blood.  There is such a rich picture of salvation in the context of the Israelites fleeing Egypt.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the Blood of Jesus Christ, which covers me from your righteous judgment of death and destruction and saves me to Life with you.  Lord Jesus, thank you for being the perfect, spotless Lamb Sacrifice.  Lord Jesus, thank you for being the High Priest who intercedes for me.  Holy Spirit, I pray that I will rest in your comfort today.  Please fill me with your love, peace, and joy.  May your fruit grow in my life today.  Please use me to bring honor to yourself.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

tough cookies

Exodus 1-3, Matthew 13:31-14:21

Having a son of my own, this verse just turns my guts into knots:

Ex. 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live."

Why would God allow such terrible evil to occur?  Then I got to thinking, why does God allow so much abortion and human trafficking today?

All I can think of is what Stephen Smith has been saying the past several sermons, (paraphrased) "Do not confuse God's patience with sinful humanity with ignorance of our sin.  He is fully prepared to judge and execute righteously, 'but because of His great love, we are not consumed'."

Perhaps, as we see the Lord conquering evil through us, we learn Who He Is:

Ex 3:14 God replied to Moses, "I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you." 15 God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

   This is my eternal name,
      my name to remember for all generations.

Heavenly Father, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I worship you.  I praise you because you are "I AM".  I don't even really understand what that means, but I praise you.  Yahweh, thank you for interrupting corrupt humanity with your goodness and love.  Thank you for accomplishing your good will in spite of us and through us.  May your name be praised among all nations for all generations.  Lord, please send me to people that need to be freed from the bondage of sin.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Names of God

Genesis 49-50, Matthew 13:1-30

As I read the Scriptures this year, I am trying to focus on (1) Who God Is, (2) His purposes and promises, and (3) how people pray to Him, based on (1) and (2).

Before he died, Jacob blessed his sons, and Joseph's blessing is rich:

 Gen 49:23 Archers attacked him savagely;
      they shot at him and harassed him.
 24 But his bow remained taut,
      and his arms were strengthened
   by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
      by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
 25 May the God of your father help you;
      May the Almighty bless you
   with the blessings of the heavens above,
      and blessings of the watery depths below,
      and blessings of the breasts and womb.

God is the Mighty One of Jacob.  He is the Shepherd.  He is the Rock of Israel.  These are three very personal names - personal to Jacob.

Another note, I think Joseph probably learned this humility in the prison before He was governor of Egypt:

Gen 50:15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers became fearful. "Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him," they said. ... 19 But Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.

Heavenly Father, I want to know you like Jacob did.  Lord, I want to wrestle with you.  I want to know your name.  I want to know you personally.  Jesus, please be my Shepherd.  Holy Spirit, may I be sensitive to your voice.  Lord, please give me a humble heart like Joseph.  I pray that I will very clearly understand my purpose in this brief life and never confuse my role with yours.  May you be honored in my life today.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

expecting the Lord

Genesis 46-48, Matthew 12:22-50

On Sunday, we studied 1 Thes. 4:13-18 regarding the Lord's return and our resurrection.  I was challenged by Jesus's analogy in Luke 12:
42And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
I pray that I will constantly live in expectation of Christ's return - like He could show up at any moment.  I pray that I will be a faithful servant with whom He is pleased.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of your Son's return.  I pray that my life will honor you, and I pray that my love for Christ will continue to grow and motivate me to prepare for His return.  May you be pleased with my life, as it is only by your grace that I remain faithful.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Q & A

Genesis 33-35, Matthew 9:18-38

Devotional:  Our prayer life flows out of the purpose that the Lord has for us.  The fundamental purposes are: (1) to worship Him (i.e., love the Lord, and love others), (2) to fill the earth and subdue it, and (3) make Disciples of Jesus Christ.  Everything we pray for should flow out of these purposes.

Genesis 32
24And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." 29Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Genesis 33
9God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name." So he called his name Israel. 11And God said to him, "I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.

I had a good discussion with some Brothers about Jacob wrestling with the Lord.  In our experience, we are just like Jacob - tricksters and deceivers, always trying to get ahead.  The Lord wants to gain us, but because of our flesh we wrestle against Him, and he allows us to prevail for a time.  But through some circumstance, the Lord will touch us, and our walk will never be the same.

I feel like the Lord touched me yesterday and last night with patience for my son.  I have been frustrated that He has not been sleeping very well.  The Lord has used these exhausting nights to expose my lack of patience.  But when Beau woke up at 4am this morning and wouldn't go back to sleep, I felt a joy and peace from the Lord as I paced around the apartment with Beau in my arms.  I feel like the Lord has gained more of me.

Heavenly Father, thank you for answering my prayers.  Thank you for using my son to grow me in Christ.  Lord, thank you for patiently wrestling with me; I pray that you will always prevail over me.  Lord, please grow my love for you and my love for people.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Genesis 28-29, Matthew 8:18-34

God revealed his covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12 and confirmed it in Genesis 15.  What I love is that the Lord appeared to Isaac and confirmed His covenant in Genesis 26, and He appeared to Jacob and confirmed it again in Genesis 28.

I want to see the Lord!  I want to see Him and know Him!  I want to know His will and obey Him. 

Heavenly Father, may your will be done.  You are kind and gracious to reveal yourself and make promises to us.  Lord, I want to know you and your promises.  Please draw me close to you, Lord.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Isaac and Rebekah

Genesis 23-25, Matthew 7

Devotional:  Prayer is two-fold: communing and cooperating with the Lord.

Book:  Simple Prayer is genuinely, authentically, unpretentiously discussing the matters of our heart with the Lord.

Bible:  Abraham wanted Isaac to marry a good woman, and I prayed that the Lord would lead his servant to the correct one.  His servant prayed a specific prayer for the Lord to show him which woman was to be the wife of Isaac, and the Lord answered, even as he was praying.  And the testimony of the Lord answering his prayer caused others to believe in the Lord's plan for Isaac.  In Matthew 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.
Experience:  This morning, I asked the Lord to give me some confirmation that I am truly serving Him through teaching.  I just want to make sure that the Lord is producing real fruit and that I am not just entertaining people on Sunday mornings.  Real fruit is changed lives; I want to help lead the Bride to the Groom.  Travis and Scotland each genuinely expressed their appreciation after the Bible study, and I feel like this was a direct answer to my prayer this morning.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and grace to me.  May your name be praised, and will you continue to be gracious to use me.  May I continue to grow as a true disciple of Jesus Christ, and may I be used to lead others to walk with Him.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Abraham's prayer

I just realized the prayer!
 Gen. 19:29 But God had listened to Abraham's request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your patient mercy and your faithfulness to our prayers.  You are so gracious to hear us and allow us to cooperate with you.  May your name be praised.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

the LORD is merciful

Genesis 19, Matthew 6:1-18

I was impressed by how patient and merciful the LORD is with us.
Gen 19:15As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city." 16But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
I think we are often attached to the things of this world, and we don't realize the imminent destruction of it all, but the LORD is merciful and gracious to yank us up out of the mess and keep us safely with Him.

The devotional reminded me this morning that we were created to reign over the earth in constant fellowship with the Lord.  As He rules over the unseen, spiritual domain, He has placed us in creative dominion over the earth.  Consequently, we are in conflict with the Devil and other evil spirits.  But, as the Lord taught us, we pray for the Lord to extend His Kingdom and reign to the earth (which happens through His Church):
Matt. 6:9 ... "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Heavenly Father, may your name be Holy.  May the nations praise your name, and my my life glorify your name.  I pray that the Kingdom and authority of Christ Jesus will advance among the nations and that your eternal, good, pleasing will is accomplished in me, my family, my congregation, and the nations.  Lord, may our lives be characterized by the love and forgiveness that we have received.  Lord, please deliver us from evil, and may we walk daily with you, trusting you to provide.  I love you, Lord, and I long to hear your voice.  I long to see your face.  I am your servant, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Brother.  Amen.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Genesis 16-18, Matthew 5:27-48

The Lord created us in His image and gave us authority to rule over the creation.  He gave us free-will to obey Him creatively.

The challenge is when the Lord has promised you something or given you some direction, and then He delays fulfilling that promise.  For example, the Lord promised Abram and Sarai a son, but when it didn't happen the next month, or the next year, or the next ten years, they took matters into their own hands.  We have to learn to hold out for God's fulfillment.

Heavenly Father, please teach me to obey you and live in the authority and dominion that you have given me in Christ Jesus.  May I be an overcomer, and may I lead my family to be overcomers.  Please help me lead others around me to be devoted disciples of Christ and overcomers in His grace.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the Word of God

Genesis 13-15, Matthew 5

Before a couple of days ago, it has been a while since I read the Old Testament.  Man, it is good to be back.

I love how Abram and Sarai coming out of Egypt in Gen 12 are types of Moses and Israel.  I love how Melchizedek offers bread and wine to Abram.  I love how God promises to bless Abram, and Abram complains that he doesn't have a son.  I love how God reassures Abram by showing him the stars, and Abram trusted the Lord.  I love how Abram asked God for proof, and God used a cultural ceremony to demonstrate His unilateral covenant with Abram.

The devotional this morning focused on the fundamental truth that we are made in the image of God - created to demonstrate His moral character and spirit.  And even though the Lord is the Sovereign Creator and we are humble creation, He still desires a relationship with us - the relationship between a Father and His children.

Heavenly Father, your love is too much.  You are so kind and so patient with us.  Lord, please forgive my complacency and selfishness.  Lord, please deliver me from laziness.  I want to be your servant.  Lord, you are my prize, and I am seeking you.  Please reveal yourself to me, and let me fellowship with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

God's purposes

Genesis 10-12, Matthew 4

The devotional emphasis this morning was God's eternal purposes, which ultimately please Him:

 Isa. 46:9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
       I am God, and there is no other;
       I am God, and there is none like me.

 10 I make known the end from the beginning,
       from ancient times, what is still to come.
       I say: My purpose will stand,
       and I will do all that I please.

 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
       from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
       What I have said, that will I bring about;
       what I have planned, that will I do.

As I read God's covenant with Abram, I think it is a progressive revelation of His plan:

Gen. 12:3 ... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Of course, this promise is fulfilled through Christ and His Church.

Heavenly Father, please teach me to pray according to your eternal purpose, which always pleases you.  Please help me praise you and pray for your coming Kingdom.  Lord Jesus, please reign in me today.  Holy Spirit, may I be attentive to your prompting, and may I be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit.  I am your Servant, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

spiritual goals

Genesis 6-9, Matthew 3

My spiritual goals and objectives for this year are:
  • read the whole Bible
  • grow in prayer (quality and quantity)
  • seek the Lord faithfully to discern His will for my vocation after graduating in May
  • grow in spiritually leading my family
  • develop a balanced diet and exercise routine
My parents gave me a read-the-Bible-in-a-year devotional that is focused on prayer, so this will aid in the first four goals.  The first several days in this devotional have been very encouraging.  I have arranged to meet occasionally with Brother Tom from my congregation to learn from him by simply praying with him.  I have also arranged to meet with my Brother Neill every few weeks to pray together and discuss a book about prayer that he recommended.  I would also like to be more diligent about leading our Bible Life group and small groups to pray together.  I plan to continue fasting on Tuesdays to pray for the Lord's direction in completing my research here and hearing from Him about future vision and direction.

With my wife and son, I want to develop a habit of reading a spiritual devotion every evening around dinner, praying together, and going for a walk together.  I would also like to eat better foods and make it to the gym a couple of times per week.  I think this will help me sleep better and give me a clear mind.

The pastor of my inlaw's church challenged us that this year we will be the Lord's servants and live according to His word:

Luke 1:37For nothing will be impossible with God." 38And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." ...

Heavenly Father,  I want to walk with you like Enoch and Noah.  Lord, I want to fellowship with you and know you.  Lord, please turn my heart to you and give me the desire to know you more deeply.  I pray that you will genuinely be the prize that I seek and that every morning when I wake, I will be filled with joy in knowing you, seeking you, and obeying you.  I am your servant; may it be to me according to your Word.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.