Monday, May 31, 2010


2 Chronicles 13-14

Yesterday, Dr. Stephen Smith preached a very practical sermon from Ephesians 5, emphasizing verses 15-17.  One of his points was basically to stop wasting time and be productive.  This was convicting to me to not just stay busy, but to make sure that I am productive.  Every day, I need to be productive spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will live a lifestyle of integrity.  I pray that you will give me grace to be productive, and deliver me from the many ways that Satan seeks to distract me from living out your Will.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Temple construction

2 Chronicles 1-3

I am beginning to appreciate some of the distinctions between the Samuels and Kings compared to the Chronicles.  Samuels and Kings records many of the Jewish failures, but Chronicles mostly communicates the Jewish history from a hopeful, redemptive perspective.

2:6 But who can really build him a worthy home? Not even the highest heavens can contain him! So who am I to consider building a Temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices to him? ... 3:1 So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected.

Two points.  First, God does not dwell in a building.  He did for a while for the Jews, but Jesus let Him out of the box and into the hearts of men, which He had designed as His dwelling.  Second, the redemptive typology of Christ is rich:  our sin caused a plague of death, but it was stopped at Calvary, which is the location of the Apostles (the foundation) of the Church.

Heavenly Father, as my friend John would say, the cinematography that you have woven into history is incredible!  Lord, please clean up my life so that you will be pleased with dwelling in me.  And, please use me to expand your Church, which is where your presences is realized.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

giving to the Lord

1 Chronicles 28-29

29:3 Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple ... 6 Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king's work gave willingly. 7 They gave toward the work on the temple of God ... 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. ...

10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
       "Praise be to you, O LORD,
       God of our father Israel,
       from everlasting to everlasting.

 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
       and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
       for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
       Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
       you are exalted as head over all.

 12 Wealth and honor come from you;
       you are the ruler of all things.
       In your hands are strength and power
       to exalt and give strength to all.

 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
       and praise your glorious name.

Of course it involves financial giving!  Stop thinking that it is "your" money, anyway, because it is not! And NO, NO, NO!!! It is not about building a physical structure that is only going to burn in the Judgment!!! 

It is so much deeper than that!  This is all about building the Kingdom of God and His true Temple - THE CHURCH!!!  It is about giving your WHOLE LIFE to Him and His Kingdom!  Look at how King David responds:

 14 "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

He gives us life, breath, and everything else so that we can seek Him and cooperate with Him as He redeems and restores people to relationship with their Creator!  This is what will give us eternal joy - to spend our lives and all of our resources pursuing this ultimate goal!

Heavenly Father, please take control of my life and use every aspect of me and my family for your good plan.  I pray that I will faithfully and sacrificially invest in your Kingdom - The Church.  May I never consider ownership of the resources that you have placed in my charge, but may I always be a faithful steward to invest in your Kingdom.   I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Treasure!  Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


1 Chronicles 25-27

1 Chron. 9:17 The gatekeepers:
       Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman and their brothers, Shallum their chief 18 being stationed at the King's Gate on the east, up to the present time. These were the gatekeepers belonging to the camp of the Levites. 19 Shallum son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his fellow gatekeepers from his family (the Korahites) were responsible for guarding the thresholds of the Tent just as their fathers had been responsible for guarding the entrance to the dwelling of the LORD. 20 In earlier times Phinehas son of Eleazar was in charge of the gatekeepers, and the LORD was with him. 21 Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was the gatekeeper at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

1 Chron. 26:1 The divisions of the gatekeepers:
       From the Korahites: ...

As I was reading about all of King David's appointments for service in and around the Lord's Temple that Solomon would build, I was reminded of one of the psalms (actually written by the descendants of Korah, which makes it even sweeter!):

Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in your courts
       than a thousand elsewhere;
       I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

What does it mean to be a "gatekeeper" in the Church?  I don't think it means keeping certain people out!  Rather, we should be showing people the way and inviting people to come in and dine with the King!

Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting me into your presence through the person and work of Christ.  Lord Jesus, please purify my heart, mind, and will to please you.  Holy Spirit, please give me opportunities and boldness to share the Good News about Jesus - The Gate to the Father!  You are so good and kind!  Lord, please use me to share your goodness and blessing with the nations that they may know how wonderful you are.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, The Gate.  Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

building His temple

1 Chronicles 22-25

22:11 "Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. 12 May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. ... 19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD." ... 23:13 ... Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the LORD, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever.

1 Cor. 6:19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Individually and corporately, the Church is the Body of Christ, which is the Temple of God.  So, we should be devoted to the construction of His Eternal Temple - the Church.  As we devote ourselves to seeking the Lord, then He purifies us and uses in the ministry of His Body.

Heavenly Father, please give me clean hands and a pure heart so that I can be close to you.  Lord, I want to be used by you.  Please use me to build your Church and advance your Kingdom.  Lord Jesus, please reign in my heart, mind, and will today so that you will be honored and pleased.  May I be a servant in your Temple, and may I live according to your Word.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

celebrating the Lord and His kindness

1 Chronicles 13-15

As a result of Saul's knuckleheaded reign and disaster of Israel, the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant.  But God's presence in the land of the Philistines invoked His wrath on them, so they sent it back, and it ended up at Abinadab's house.  King David tried to bring it back on a new cart in a big parade, but Uzzah was killed instantly when he tried to stabilize the Ark on the bumpy cart.  So, it remained at Obed-Edom's house for three months.  Then King David realized that he had not arranged for the Ark to be transported the way God had commanded:

15:13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way." 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.

And I love the description of their celebration of the Lord, His presence, and His goodness:

15:25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. 26 Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. 27 Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.

Shouldn't this typify our daily behavior?  Rom. 12:1-2, 1 Cor. 6:19-20

Today I will participate in the Engineering Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin to commemorate the completion of my doctoral studies.  As I initially thought about it, I didn't want to "walk", but I agreed to after the prodding of my wife.  As I have been thinking about it this morning, I realize that instead of celebrating my accomplishments (which I think would be inappropriate according to Luke 17:10), this is an opportunity to celebrate the Lord's kindness to me.  Indeed, I am very thankful for the Lord blessing me with the opportunity to study and get a great education, but I am even more thankful for the spiritual growth that He has given me and my family these past four years.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your generous love through Christ.  May the words of my mouth and the attitude of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Yahweh, my Rock and my Redeemer.  May you receive all of the praise and honor for what you have done in my life.  May your Name be praised among the nations, and may your light shine through me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spiritual Warrior

1 Chronicles 10-12, John 6
David's Mighty Men
 1 Chron. 11:10 These were the chiefs of David's mighty men—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised ... 22 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 23 And he struck down an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver's rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. ...

12:8 Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains. ... 14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. ... 32 men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; 33 men of Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty-50,000; ... 36 men of Asher, experienced soldiers prepared for battle-40,000; 37 and from east of the Jordan, men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, armed with every type of weapon-120,000. 38 All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.

King David was a type of King Jesus.  Pharaoh was a type of Satan, and Egyptians were a type of the evil forces against us.  I want to be a Spiritual Warrior in Christ's Church; I want to fight to advance His Kingdom.

Eph. 6:10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

2 Cor. 10:3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

Heavenly Father, I confess allegiance to Jesus Christ, my Savior, my God, and my King.  And today, I commit to be a spiritual warrior in your Kingdom.  Lord, I know that this will necessarily involve conflict with the enemy, but by the Grace of Jesus Christ and His Victory over sin and death, you have made me an Overcomer in Christ.  I praise you, Lord.  May my life be in service to you, and may I train my son to be a spiritual warrior in your Kingdom.   I am your servant, may it be to me according to your Word.  May you receive all of the glory, and may your Name be praised among the nations because you are so kind to let us join you in your Victory over evil.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prophet, Priest, and King

1 Chronicles 7-9

As I have been reading the genealogies for the past several days, it occurred to me that these are important because of two important lineage-based offices: priesthood and kingship.  Jesus's lineage is obviously through Judah, because that is why He was born in Bethlehem.  But, He is also cousins with John the Baptist, the son of a priest.  And of course, Jesus's life demonstrates that He is a prophet.  So, indeed, He is The Prophet, the The Priest, and The King!

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your masterfully woven plan!  You are amazing and kind to bring salvation through Jesus Christ,  your Son.  I put my faith, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ alone!  Holy Spirit, please give me power as I testify to the Risen Savior.  I love you, Lord.  And I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

pain vs. suffering

1 Chronicles 4-6

The Lord has definitely expanded my territory recently with the professorship at UTEP, so I pondered this comparison this morning:

4:9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.


Phil. 3:7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I am not saying that they are incompatible or contradictory; I'm just trying to figure out how they fit together.  It seems like "expanding my territory" is fine as long as it is leveraged for expanding His Kingdom.  But, I suppose this is the principle challenge: to avoid becoming thorny soil.  Either we can use the resources to increase the Lordship of Christ, or we will place ourselves in bondage to the resources.

I'm still chewing on the "pain vs. suffering" concept, but it seems like true suffering results in joy.

Heavenly Father, you are beautiful and the only worthy desire.  Please forgive me for my attachment to the things of this world.  I want to love you more and more and the world less and less.  Please help me crucify the desires of the flesh; Lord, please deliver me from worldliness, lust, and pride.  Lord, I pray that my desire will be for you and your eternal Kingdom.  May I only see the resources and opportunities that you have given me as tools to bless you and expand your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sovereignly chosen names: a message

1 Chronicles 1-3

1:1 Adam, Seth, Enosh, 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.

As I read these verses, I was reminded of something I heard several years ago from Chuck Missler. Taking the meaning of each Hebrew name, it reads:

"Man appointed mortal sorrow; the Blessed God shall come down teaching; His death shall bring (the) despairing comfort."

What a nice summary of the Gospel!

Heavenly Father, I praise you for the story of Jesus, who was slain from the foundation of the world.  Lord, you are so kind.  Thank you for salvation in Jesus Christ!  May my life be devoted to You, and may your will be done.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

idolatry and captivity

2 Kings 19-21

Another Old Testament proof of God's heart for the nations through global missions:

19:17 "It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 18 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God."

And sometimes, God just makes the problem go away, as in the case of King Sennacherib.

It is sad that after King Hezekiah prayed for the Lord to deliver him and he was delivered, and after King Hezekiah prayed for the Lord to extend his life and his life was extended, I guess he grew proud and showed off a little to the Babylonians.  And then he got busted for it.

How could a king like Hezekiah raise a son like Manasseh?  I just don't get it. 

I was thinking about all of the idolatry and how the Lord allowed Israel and Judah to be subjected to foreign captivity.  I think I experienced that in my own life with the idolatry of lust and the "captivity" of marital turbulence.  But the Lord was so kind to me to allow me to be broken over my sin, to bring me out of captivity, and to rebuild my marriage and my life.  I pray that I am part of the greater recovery now.

Heavenly Father, you have been so kind to me.  Lord, may I be humble before you and trust you to protect me, as Hezekiah did in his early years.  And Lord, please don't let me get proud or think for a second that any of your blessings are because of me, because they are not.  They are only because you are kind and generous.  Lord, please bless my son, and give me wisdom to train him to fear you and love you.  Please turn his heart toward you.  I pray that he will be like David, Hezekiah, and Josiah.  Lord, please us me and my family to share the Gospel with the nations, so that the whole earth will know that Yahweh is the one true God, and that grace and mercy are extended through faith in Jesus Christ.  Lord, by your grace, I believe, and I pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

the enemy's deception

2 Kings 17-18

As I consider the large volume of text in the Old Testament that is devoted to the downfall of Israel (and Judah, for that matter), perhaps Yahweh intends to impress and make very clear His hatred for idolatry.  He is the one true God, and there is no other!  He alone is worthy of worship and praise!  Why then are our lives, like the nation of Israel, plagued with idolatry?  Let us repent and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him!

I was also impressed with the subtle deception that Sennacherib king of Assyria spoke to Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem: that he was sent by the LORD, that he would take care of them if they submitted to him ("Choose life and not death!"), and that even the LORD could not save them from his military strength.  It smells like the Devil's deception to me.  But for some reason, when we are in the middle of the situation, our sniffers are busted.

Heavenly Father, I praise you, and I want to worship you with my life.  Thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ and His mercy and grace.  Thank you for spiritual life and power through the Holy Spirit.  Please help me be attentive to spiritual warfare around me, and please give me the discernment to spot deception a mile away.  Lord, you are in control, you are the source of true Life, and it is a joy to know you and serve you.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just teach your son to fear the Lord!

2 Kings 15-16

Azariah (aka "Uzziah") king of Judah and his son, King Jotham "did what was right in the eyes of the LORD".  But Ahaz son of Jotham "did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD".  Now, I know that a father isn't 100% responsible for his son's behavior, but I wonder if Jotham was intentional with Ahaz about teaching him to love and fear the Lord.  I wonder if Ahaz was a spoiled child.

It is so critical that we teach our children to love and fear the Lord and to stay away from idols (both physical and virtual).

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me with my son Beau.  Lord, it will only be by your grace that you will use me to train Beau to seek you and love you with all of his heart.  Lord, may my life be an example to him of how to seek you, so please deliver me of any idolatry in my life.  I pray that he will see you through me.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

resurrection life

2 Kings 13-14, John 2

21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

Maybe this is stretching it too far, but Jesus compared John the Baptist to Elijah, and Elisha came after Elijah performing many similar miracles as Jesus. So I was thinking about how we can experience Christ's death as we are baptized and choose to die to our fleshly desires and experience His resurrection life (e.g., Luke 9:23-24, Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 5:22-25, Phil. 3:7-14, etc.).

Heavenly Father, please empower me by your Holy Spirit to crucify the flesh and experience Christ's resurrection.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

many blessings

2 Kings 10-12, John 1

From yesterday's reading:

Luke 24:44He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

 50When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

I love how Christ pulled everything together - the Law, Prophets, and Psalms.  Jesus is in it all, and we are in it with Him.  I would have loved to have heard that conversation!

It's amazing how simple our objective is: preach the fulfillment of the Scriptures in Christ so that people can repent and receive forgiveness.  Then, you move forward to receive the power of the Holy Spirit so that you can, in turn, go and preach the truth - eventually to all nations.  And, we pretty much live the rest of our lives getting blessed by Christ as we worship and praise God.

Yesterday, it was a blessing to dedicate our son to the Lord on Mother's day.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife who is a devoted mother to Beau.  I am amazed at how the Lord has blessed me: a beautiful wife and precious son, Christian family, salvation in Christ and spiritual gifts to be used in the Church, education and vocation to minister Christ to this world... He is so kind.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for being so kind to me.  Lord, I pray that I will leverage the resources you have given me to advance your Kingdom and make your Name great among the nations.  Only you can do this, so please use me as a vessel to pour out your Spirit for your glory.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, May 7, 2010

healing and providing water

2 Kings 1-3

 2:19One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. "We have a problem, my lord," they told him. "This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive." 20Elisha said, "Bring me a new bowl with salt in it." So they brought it to him. 21Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, "This is what the Lord says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility." 22And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said.

3:9The king of Edom and his troops joined [the king of Israel and the king of Judah], and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals. ... 15... While the harp was being played, the power of the Lord came upon Elisha, 16and he said, "This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab!

There are two major problems with water in this world: quality and quantity.  Here we see the Lord solve both issues.  It is my prayer that the Lord will use me to heal and provide water so that people can live healthy, productive lives.

Also, as I consider the tasks at hand (i.e., finishing my dissertation and taking a new professorship), I am intimidated by the magnitude of effort required.  But here I see that the Lord will provide, and He will give me the victory.

Heavenly Father, you are so kind and faithful.  Lord, please deliver my heart from greed and pride, and may I be pure in your sight so that I can draw near to you.  Lord, thank you for providing a job for me, and I pray that you will use me to bless people with clean, abundant water so that they can live to know the love and grace of Jesus Christ.  May I go forward in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Living Water.  Amen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

word study: persecute

1 Kings 21-22

The name of our Bible Life group at church is "Pursuit", which we took from 2 Timothy 2:22:

22So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

A brother shared with me yesterday that the word "pursue" in 2 Timothy 2:22 is essentially the same as the word "persecute" (Strong's G1377) in Acts 9:4-5:

4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" 5And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

pursue - relentlessly chase, earnestly endeavor to acquire

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will pursue the Lord Jesus Christ with fervency and determination.  I pray that I will be His disciple and lead others to pursue Him in love.  May your Name be praised in all the earth.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who pursued me all the way to the Cross.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

I think the context in parallel passages is helpful (Matt. 12:22-37, Mark 3:20-35, Luke 11:14-28, 12:1-10). 

The Pharisees were staring straight at Jesus (the Messiah, the Incarnate Word) who performed miracles confirming His Identity by the power of the Holy Spirit.  They stared straight at him, and as the Holy Spirit was convicting them of sin, they obstinately and maliciously refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ.  Instead of repenting and believing, they blasphemed the Holy Spirit (that is, they attributed his power to the devil). 

The issue is much deeper than just a one-time sin, which is forgivable.  Any sin is forgivable.  But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the perpetual, white-knuckle, grit-your-teeth-until-you-die refusal to believe in Jesus and submit your life to His Lordship.  If you never humble yourself before the Holy Spirit, admit your sins, believe in the Lord Jesus, and commit your life to His Lordship, then your sins will stand against you on judgment day.

Jesus continues by pointing out that a tree is recognized by its fruit.  A good tree will produce good fruit that confirms the identity of the tree, and a bad tree will produce bad fruit that confirms the identity of the tree.  A person who rejects the Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit's conviction will generally continue to become more and more selfish and destructive.  But a believer in Jesus Christ will, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, grow in producing the Fruit of the Spirit.

I think the essence is captured in Luke 12:8-10, which parallels with John 3:16-21 and Romans 10:9-13.  This is the Gospel which we live and preach.  Do not harden your heart to the call of the Holy Spirit, but humble yourself and obey His gentle instruction - today and every day.

part of a larger operation

1 Kings 19-20

19:11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
      Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
      Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

 14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

 15 The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert ... 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

OK, so I know that you are supposed to be careful about reading personal events into Scripture, but I thought this one was pretty good considering "El Paso" means "the pass", and it is in the Desert.  But the deeper truth here is that I am simply a part of a larger operation; God is leading us to El Paso, and we will be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And the Lord has many other witnesses.  We should neither feel depressed and insignificant, nor proud and significant.  We should simply see ourselves as branches in the Vine, bearing fruit together as we each fulfill the roles He has designed for us.

Heavenly Father, may you be exalted in the nations, and may I be a faithful and obedient servant in your Kingdom.  Lord Jesus, may I be a faithful witness to your earthly life, death, burial, resurrection, and eternal life.  Holy Spirit, may I go forward in your power, keeping in step with you every moment.  I love you, Lord.  May you be blessed by my life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

making a scene

1 Kings 16-18

18:36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself."

 38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, "The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!"

One of the things I learned this morning was that the Baal was supposedly a god of the weather, so this showdown was a direct negative- and positive-proof for Baal and Yahweh, respectively.  I wonder what "Baals" we worship today without even realizing it.  What do we put so much time, effort, and money in, thinking that it will bring us some sort of satisfaction?

I wish the Lord would do something amazing in our congregation or Bible Life group to get our attention.  For instance, there are several people in our congregation who are chronically ill; what if He miraculously healed them?  What if people in our congregation actually got together in corporate prayer and begged the Lord to interrupt our hamster-wheel lives with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit?

Heavenly Father, you are the one true God!  You are Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But, I confess that my flesh worships things of this world.  Please forgive me.  May my mind be set clearly on your Word and your Spirit.  I want to follow you wholeheartedly, and I want to lead others to follow you only.  Lord, may my life be overflowing with your Word, and may your power be evident in my life so that others will see you, believe in your Son Jesus, and live the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

ways and acts

1 Kings 14-15

It was so encouraging to meet with Brother Tom this morning for prayer.  He is a dear Brother, and the Lord has used him so much already to grow me in my faith.  In addition to validating my desire for our congregation to have regular corporate prayer services, he shared the following verse from a recent personal devotion:

Ps. 103:7He made known His ways to Moses,
         His acts to the sons of Israel.

He elaborated that the Israelites were able to see the acts of God, but it was through the intimacy that Moses had with the Lord that allowed Moses to know the ways of the Lord.

Heavenly Father, I want to be close to you so that I can know your ways - your heart, will, and purposes.  Father, I please cleanse me with the blood of Jesus Christ so that I can be close to you.  Please give me humility so that I can draw near to you.  Lord, do not let me be like the kings of Israel and Judah who slipped away from you so quickly.  Lord, please deliver me from idolatry.  I pray that I will have clean hands and a pure heart and that I will not lift up my soul to another.  I ask according to the Will of the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

the snowball of sin

1 Kings 10-11

10:23 So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. 24 People from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. 25Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules. 26 Solomon built up a huge force of chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities and some near him in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah. ...
11:1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh's daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, 'You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.' Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord4 In Solomon's old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

Wait a minute, I thought I remembered reading something in Deuteronomy about this:

17:14 "You are about to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you take it over and settle there, you may think, 'We should select a king to rule over us like the other nations around us.' 15 If this happens, be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses. You must appoint a fellow Israelite; he may not be a foreigner.

 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.' 17The 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.

Oh yeah, that was it.  Too bad King David and Solomon didn't obey!  It seems so simple.  David slipped up a little - he only had a few wives; but generational sin can propagate exponentially!  Just think, if King David had only had one wife, I wonder if all of this other stuff would have happened.  It is so important that we obey the Lord in all of the details, especially so that our children will be raised fearing and loving the Lord better than we do.

Heavenly Father, I am a sinful man, and my flesh desires the things of this world.  Lord, please set my mind on the Spirit and not the flesh.  Lord, help me obey you, and help me lead my son to obey you.  I want to honor you, Lord.  Please bless me in this.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.