Wednesday, March 31, 2010
ישׁפט יהוה - Yahweh Shaphat - The LORD is Judge
12:27 Therefore, I have not sinned against you. Rather, you have wronged me by attacking me. Let the Lord, who is judge, decide today which of us is right—Israel or Ammon."
Heavenly Father, you are the ultimate Judge, and I do not need to defend myself for obeying you. I do not need to justify why my actions of following you are contrary to the world. You will Judge, and I pray that I will live fearfully of your Judgment so that I will always obey you. Lord, I pray that my obedience to you will help others see your goodness and the blessing of living according to your Word. May your name be praised among the nations. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The story of Gideon is humbling. The Lord called Gideon to a position of leadership when Gideon was in a place of fear and hiding. The Lord was patient with Gideon as he asked for confirmation of the Lord's calling and direction. The Lord even decreased the "strength" of Gideon's army so that only the Lord would receive the honor from the victory. And Gideon was faithful to give the Lord credit for the victory as he refused the people's offer for kingship.
But, ultimately, success still went to His head, and he, his family, his town, and the nation of Israel suffered because he allowed pride to creep up on him.
Yesterday, I made a commitment to spend a dedicated chunk of time in prayer with the Lord every day. The Lord has been gracious to grow in me a discipline of reading His Word every day for the past couple of years, but I have realized that my sanctification and utility in the Kingdom will be significantly accelerated by growth in daily prayer. So, I am starting with a commitment to at least 15 minutes of devoted prayer each morning, and as I write this, I am embarrassed at how small this commitment is, but I guess you have to start somewhere. My goal is to have genuine, fresh, loving conversation with the Lord every day, and for this time to grow to at least one hour each morning by the end of the summer. And, I need accountability to hold me to this commitment as well as to prevent me from being legalistic and proud about it.
Heavenly Father, I love you, and I want to know you better. Lord, I know that you are calling me to grow in you, and my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to live the life of Christ - especially His devotion to daily, personal conversation with the Father. I want to know your will and do it. I want to know what breaks your heart, and I pray that the same things will break my heart. I want to know what brings you joy, and I pray that these things will bring me joy. May I be integrated into you and your work as I abide in the vine through prayer. I need you Lord, and I commit to you today to seek you daily, every morning, in prayer. But it is only by your grace that I may know you and walk in your way. I believe that this is your will for me, so I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Amen.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Here are a couple of verses that highlight the theme of the entire Bible:
22:5 But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul." ...
23:14 "... Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! ...
24:14 "So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 ... But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
Of course, we are not able to serve the Lord - apart from the love of the Father, the work of Christ, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I love you, and I want to walk in your ways. Lord, please teach me to obey your commands, and may I hold firmly to you for the rest of my life. I pray that I will serve you with all of my heart and my soul so that I can grow closer and closer to you for all of eternity. May your name be blessed and praised because you are always faithful to your promises. Please teach me how to depend on you based on your promises, not on my limited understanding of who I think you are. Dear Lord, may I lead my wife and children to fear you and love you. Please use us to bless the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I ask in His name. Amen.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
First, I finished the Gospel of Mark a couple of days ago, and the concluding paragraphs seem to summarize the essence of the life and ministry of individual Believers, congregations, and The Church:
I don't think the snakes and poison is necessary, but it seems like the rest of it should be typical of genuine ministry.
Mark 16:15 And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed."
19 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. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
Second, I just returned last night from the ACS meeting in San Francisco, and I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am more of an engineer than a scientist. And I got another glimpse of how deep pride is rooted in my self. There is a great research group from Yale that does really cool stuff, and as I listened to several of their presentations, I realized that I was so jealous (or, more precisely, covetous) of their intellectual and academic resources. I subsequently realized that my covetousness was actually just an outcropping of pride. I wanted the admiration and prestige that they had, which is wrong. Well, I confessed it to the Lord, and He showed me that instead of coveting their research progress, I need to be glad for them for it, and even more so if there is a way that I can implement their research somehow to help people get clean water. But dang, I'm proud.
Third, I read a couple of chapters in the Prayer book on the plane, and it was confirmed that I need to be disciplined in setting aside a dedicated block of time each day to spend with my Heavenly Father. So, I am going to implement some accountability with some Brothers for that.
Fourth, after a long list of property and towns for each tribe, there is a great summary at the end of Joshua 21:
43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.The prayer devotional that I am reading instructs us to pray based on God's promises, which is great, because He is faithful to His promises. Always. But I'm having difficulty implementing this in a very practical case: Brandi has been lovingly and patiently caring for Beau, who has been waking up at least a couple of times each night since he was born several months ago. The past few days, Brandi and Beau have both been fighting some kind of cold or sinus junk, and I have prayed that the Lord will heal them, but He has not. I continue to ask God to give Brandi and Beau good health, for Beau to sleep through the night, and for Brandi to have rest and strength, but I don't know what to think about this, because the New Testament promise for Disciples of Christ is suffering, not health or prosperity. Of course, I hesitate to ask the Lord to give my wife more suffering.
Note: I originally titled this blog "a couple of things" but changed it to "several things" because of my dad's careful distinction between "a couple" (which means "only two") and "several" (which means "more than two").
Heavenly Father, I know that you are good and faithful. I know that my flesh is corrupt and wicked, but that you have and are saving me through the work of Christ. Holy Spirit, please give me peace and understanding regarding your will, please convict me of sin, and please lead me to Christ. Lord Jesus, may I be crucified so that you may live in me. Heavenly Father, may you be honored and pleased with the Life of your Son Jesus, expressed through me. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, March 22, 2010
As I read about the Israelite warriors utterly destroying the kingdoms in Canaan, I wrestle with the character of God. How could God allow all of those people to be punished so brutally, even children.
I am reminded that, because of sin, we are all deserving of death, and His holiness demands justice. It would be entirely appropriate for us to die instantly from sin, but according to His patience, He allows us time to repent.
Heavenly Father, you are holy, and you are righteous in all of your works. I praise you for your patience and mercy. Thank you for your enormous love, which you proved by allowing to be done to Christ your Son what should have been done to me. May your name be praised among the nations. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
If you just read these chapters in a vacuum, you might think that the Lord is pretty harsh. But when you consider the holiness of God and the fact that we should all be dead because of our sin, He is gracious to make a covenant with us.
Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are holy. Lord, you are so kind to make a covenant of blessing. It is only by your grace that I can experience your blessing. Thank you, Lord. I love you. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, March 15, 2010
It seems like this might be OT precedence for supporting full-time ministers and evangelical/humanitarian ministries:
26:12 "Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. 13 Then you must declare in the presence of the Lord your God, 'I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands.Heavenly Father, please lead me to give generously in honor of the gift of your Son Jesus. I pray that I will give my life away for you and your Kingdom. May I be a good steward of the many resources you have given me. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I love this passage in chapter 17:
First of all, don't get caught up in the things of this world (Egypt). And I don't know how King Solomon got around verse 17. How could he have been so wise, and yet directly disobeyed both stipulations in verse 17?
16 "The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, 'You must never return to Egypt.' 17 The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.
18 "When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. 20 This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.
Second, you reading, writing, and quoting Scriptures EVERY DAY is how you learn to fear the Lord and obey Him. In this way, you are daily humbling yourself and submitting to the authority of God and His Word.
Third, it allows you to be a leader of others following the Lord and enjoying His goodness.
Dear Heavenly Father, you are so kind to give us your Word. Lord Jesus, you are the incarnate Word of God, and I trust you and praise you. Lord, I willingly submit myself to your authority. Holy Spirit, please reveal to me, teach me, and let me experience the deep mysteries of Christ in the Word. Lord, please cleanse me from the things of the world and the desires of the flesh, and please teach me to fear you and obey you. Lord, may I lead others to follow you and love you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Giving to the Lord and giving to people is supposed to be about celebrating the Lord's goodness and honoring His character. Having a generous and kind heart as you give to the poor is what God really wants.
Heavenly Father, please give me a right attitude. Lord, please help me set my mind on the spirit today, and not on the flesh. Lord Jesus, thank you for your infinite gift of love and mercy. Please help me see how I am blessed to be a blessing. Lord, please help me honor you in taking care of the orphan, widow, and foreigner. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I was very fearful and anxious on Saturday and Sunday, and the Lord used this situation to expose how weak my faith is. I have apologized to the Lord for being so fearful of men instead of Him. This was a great experience to teach me to rely on Him instead of myself (e.g., Prov. 3:5-6). I appreciated all of the prayers, emails, and text messages of encouragement. One particular instance was especially meaningful: my Brother Mitch came over to me after the corporate service Sunday morning to pray with me; that meant a lot to me. He later sent me a text with 1 Peter 5:6-7,
Well, the Lord definitely allowed me to be humbled. On Monday, I wore some suit pants that I had packed without remembering that I had washed them in the washing machine; they were "dry clean only", so they looked rumpled and fuzzy. Yesterday, the soles of my black dress shoes started coming off and flopping as I walked (which I temporarily fixed with several pieces of chewing gum). And the whole trip I had some digestive issues which made me feel weak and wimpy. But, the Lord held me together the whole time.
While I was there, I read through a few of my favorite chapters in the Bible: Deuteronomy 6, 8, and 10. The challenge is simply to love, fear, obey, and cling to the LORD.
Heavenly Father, thank you for kindness to me. Lord, you have faithfully provided for me at every step of my life, and I trust you to lead us wherever you want us to go. May we love you wholeheartedly and obey you joyfully. I pray that you will receive praise, thanks, and honor from my life. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
As I was reading this morning, I realized that, while the context doesn't apply, the principle of these verses really does apply to my interview with UTEP on Monday and Tuesday:
1:29 "But I said to you, 'Don't be shocked or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.'I know that He has brought me to where I am, and He is going ahead of me, so I simply need to walk by faith - trusting His will to be accomplished.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this opportunity for me to learn to trust you and grow my faith. Lord, please give me peace as I trust you and try to honor you. I pray that you will use this situation for me to gain more of Christ, and I pray that this will be profitable for your Kingdom. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Nate led the devotional this morning at men's prayer breakfast, and he focused on the passage in Mark 5 where the woman touched Jesus's robe. He posed the question, "Are we, like the crowd, content to only watch Jesus, or are we desperate to approach Him in faith and touch Him for healing in our lives?" I shared with the Brothers at my table that my son has not been sleeping through the night, and while I am tired, my wife is flat exhausted. I feel like she is dangerously exhausted. I told them that I have been praying that the Lord will let him sleep through the night so Brandi can get some rest, but I just don't know why He won't answer my prayers. I feel like I am desperate for the Lord to bring rest for my wife.
Heavenly Father, you are holy and good, and you don't owe me anything. You have been merciful and gracious to save me by the Blood of Jesus Christ, and I am thankful for my salvation. Thank you for my sweet wife and healthy son. Lord, thank you for providing for us and taking care of us. Lord, I don't know how to touch you, but I need you to touch my wife and son so that Brandi can rest. Lord, will you please take care of her. I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ, please pour out your grace on her by giving her rest and strength. And Lord, if there is something that you are trying to teach me that I am not getting which is holding up the progress here, please open my heart and mind to learn so that Brandi can get some rest and healing. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, March 1, 2010
I met with Brother Tom from my congregation this morning for prayer. It was such a good meeting! He shared with me two concepts that were very helpful. First, he related a marketplace example that when they purchase rice, for instance, you agree to purchase a certain volume/mass (e.g., a bushel) for a certain price. After the price is agreed, it is customary to ask the seller to add some more rice (e.g., a few cups). Brother Tom related this experience to seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. The Kingdom is the bushel - it is what we are really buying! The rest of the details of our lives are additions! The thing is, the Lord is so kind that He is generous with His additions! Praise the Lord!
I just missed a bus by two minutes. Not to worry; I'll just read my Bible here at the bus stop while I wait for the next one. Well, the Lord put me on the same bus as Herb! We had a good conversation about Christian charitable giving. He had read a citation of Ezekiel 16:49 about Jerusalem: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Does that sound like the USA, or what? I also told him that I had for him a DVD copy of the God Story sermon series that Dr. Steven Smith preached at our church. He came up to my office with me to pick it up, and he was very grateful for it. I pray that the Lord will use it to help him see and understand the Gospel message more clearly.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness to me. Lord, I praise you because you are holy and good. May my life be spent for your Kingdom and Righteousness. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.