Wednesday, June 30, 2010

fundamental hope

Job 17-19

We must never forget our eternal destiny in Christ - residence with Him forever!  I pray that the Lord will grow the longing of my heart to see Him and be made entirely pure - spirit, soul, and body:

 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
       and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

 26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
       yet in my flesh I will see God;

 27 I myself will see him
       with my own eyes—I, and not another.
       How my heart yearns within me!

Heavenly Father, please purify the desires of my mind, heart, and will to desire you only.  Lord, please intensify my longing for you and the realization of your eternal Kingdom.  Lord Jesus, I am your servant.  May it be to me according to your Word.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Living Redeemer.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

perception versus reality

Job 14-16

Job felt betrayed, but he really wasn't. As I was reading Job's expression of perceived injustice, I realized how Job's words really apply to Jesus better than Job. Jesus was really betrayed. Jesus was truly beaten "unjustly". He was innocent and pure, yet it was the holiness and justice of God, coupled with the love of God that brought Jesus to suffer and die for the sins of humanity.

16:9 God hates me and angrily tears me apart.
He snaps his teeth at me
and pierces me with his eyes.
10 People jeer and laugh at me.
They slap my cheek in contempt.
A mob gathers against me.
11 God has handed me over to sinners.
He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.
"I was living quietly until he shattered me.
He took me by the neck and broke me in pieces.
Then he set me up as his target,
13 and now his archers surround me.
His arrows pierce me without mercy.
The ground is wet with my blood.
14 Again and again he smashes against me,
charging at me like a warrior.

Oh, how He loves us! As a result of Christ's suffering, I can now join with Job in saying:

16:19 Even now my witness is in heaven.
My advocate is there on high.
20 My friends scorn me,
but I pour out my tears to God.
21 I need someone to mediate between God and me,
as a person mediates between friends.
22 For soon I must go down that road
from which I will never return.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, who suffered your wrath for my sin, and who turned right around and pleads my case to you on the basis of His suffering. Lord, your love is overwhelming! Your grace is amazing. Thank you for your mercy and kindness. May I be faithful to tell others of your kindness and share your wonderful love. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Advocate. Amen.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Job 11-13

Note: if something bad happens to a friend of yours, don't tell them that it happened because they sinned.  Not only is it bad theology, it just makes your friend hurt worse.

But I love these words in chapter 9:

 32 "He is not a man like me that I might answer him,
       that we might confront each other in court.

 33 If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,
       to lay his hand upon us both,

 34 someone to remove God's rod from me,
       so that his terror would frighten me no more.

 35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,
       but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

Heavenly Father, you are righteous and holy, and there is nothing I can do to earn your kindness or mercy.  It is only by the blood of Jesus Christ, God and Man, that I can be removed of guilt and your righteous wrath.  Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me into fellowship with the God of the universe, and that I can speak to Him as a son speaks to his father because He is my Heavenly Father.  I love you, Lord, and I want to know you and love you better.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, June 25, 2010

trash or treasure

Job 3-4

Yesterday in Chicago, on my way back from the McCormick center to O'Hare, a very outspoken homeless man approached me and another guy from the conference that I was walking with.  He was using a fake British accent and medieval-style quotations (such as "m' lady" and "m' lord"), so I don't remember now what he said exactly, but it was something about "helping him in the name of Jesus" or something like that.  Even then, I still tried to weasel out of helping him by telling him that I didn't have any cash (which I didn't), but he suggested that I could buy him some food (which I could afford to do because (1) the Lord has blessed me and my wife with good jobs, and (2) my flight wasn't scheduled to depart for another four hours).  So, I awkwardly said goodbye to the gentleman that I was walking with and told him that I was going to help this guy out. 

He led me around the corner and guided me to an alley to take the "shortcut" to get to the nearest grocery store.  As he paused to relieve himself on the back corner of a building, I was thinking, "What have I gotten myself into."  When we resumed our walk to the grocery store, I told him, "I am going to ask you an honest question, because I think you can handle it.  I am curious, what is the greatest impediment to escaping homelessness?"  Immediately, his demeanor changed.  He dropped the fake accent, and he dropped the "look how bad I've had it, please pity me", song and dance that he had been giving me, and I could tell that he was being honest with me.  He basically told me that he thought it was easier for an immigrant to come from another country and succeed in the States than it was for a homeless person to work their way out of homelessness because of the stigma that our society places on homelessness.  He basically said that the regular loneliness, rejection, and abuse that is common to homelessness is what makes so many of them go crazy.

As we were waiting in queue inside the grocery story, I tried to steer the conversation to a spiritual discussion.  "I have heard you mention the Lord a couple of times ..."  He interrupted me as he said something about Jesus and pulled a small Gideon New Testament out of his fanny pack.  The cover was worn, but the pages looked straight and white.  So, I challenged him, "That's great that you have a copy of the Scriptures, but do you read it?"  He said something else which I couldn't quite understand, but it seemed like he was caught off guard just a bit.  I pressed further.  "What does it mean to follow the Lord."  His response astonished me.  "To suffer.  But to love as you suffer."  Wow.  I don't know how you could understand that but not know the Lord.  He continued, "He suffered way more than me; my suffering is small compared to His.  So, I just love people the way that He did."

After I bought him a fried chicken wing and a fried chicken breast (his choice), he perked up with bright eyes and asked me, "Will you buy me a subway pass?"  "Sure.", I told him.  Holding the seven-day pass that I bought him, he told me with sincere gratitude in his eyes and voice, "This will give me a place to stay."  The previous night, he had slept in the park in the rain.

Job 1:20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Heavenly Father, please help me see people and the world through your eyes.  Please give me your vision for my life, and teach me to follow Christ my Lord.  Father, thank you for taking care of me, but please forgive me for thinking that financial stability is equivalent to your grace.  Grace is so much more than a job to work or money to spend.  May the true treasure of my heart be Jesus Christ, and may your love flow through me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who suffered and proved His love for me.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

encouraging hymn

A Brother shared this hymn with me this afternoon, and it is so encouraging to me as I feel overwhelmed right now with all of these academic responsibilities:
  1. He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
    To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
  1. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
    Our Father's full giving is only begun.

spiritual Jujutsu

Esther 6-8

What Haman intended as evil for Mordecai and the Jews, God turned around and humbled Haman before Mordecai.  What Satan has meant for evil, God can turn around and use for His glory and the exaltation of Christ.  We need not worry or be anxious over the enemy's plans (be aware and beware, yes), we only need to focus on the power of our God and His sovereign control.

This was the "verse of the day" yesterday on biblegateway:

Psalm 91:1
   Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
      will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I trust you with my life.  Lord, I pray that I will seek you first today, and I know that you will let me find you if I seek you with all of my heart.  May your name be praised, and may I experience you shelter and rest.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Esther 3-5

The Lord is mysteriously in control.  It often seems like we can't see Him, but He is near, and He is in control.  The Lord is constantly using us by His grace and our faith to accomplish His will.  Mordecai was a man of integrity, and He trusted that the Lord would protect the Jews.  He was also pragmatic, challenging Esther to be a vessel of God's deliverance.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Every person on earth has been separated from God by sin.  But by faith in Christ, we can be restored to enjoying a close relationship with our Heavenly Father, and we can be used by Christ and the Holy Spirit to lead others to find peace with God and enjoy Him forever.

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are always in control.  Lord, please grow my faith, and use me to help others experience your grace and mercy.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

El Paso reconnaissance

Nehemiah 7-9

The Lord blessed us with a good trip to El Paso.  In just a few days, the Lord warmed our hearts for the land and people.  I had a good research meeting yesterday.  We saw several houses and made an offer on one.  We pray that the Lord will give us wisdom, and that He will protect us and bless us as we seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.

I love these verses from Nehemiah, and I pray that the Lord would bring about such a recovery of those who profess to be followers of Christ (especially in the US):

9:5 Then the leaders of the Levites ... called out to the people: "Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!" Then they prayed:   "May your glorious name be praised! May it be exalted above all blessing and praise!  6 "You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you. 7 "You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans and renamed him Abraham. 8 When he had proved himself faithful, you made a covenant with him to give him and his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites. And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word. ... 16 "But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. 17 They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them, 18 even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, 'This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They committed terrible blasphemies. 19 "But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. 20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are the only true God, Yahweh.  Your faithfulness endures to all generations, and your love has been poured out abundantly in Christ Jesus.  Thank you for taking care of me; may I always remain thankful for your kind and careful attention.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

God is always faithful

Ezra 1-2

1:1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia ...

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you always accomplish your will, through the power of your Word.  Lord, may I trust in you to lead my life according to your will, and may I be faithful to your Word.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


2 Chronicles 34-36

 34:3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. 4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

29 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. 31
The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD -to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book.

 32 Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.

 33 Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their fathers.

Heavenly Father, please give me a passion for your name and a fear of your holiness.  I pray that I will long for Christ to receive the honor that He is due, and that I will live my life today so that Christ's reign is extended in my life and the lives of others, which will simultaneously involve binding and defeating the enemy.  Praise the Lord!  I love you, Lord. Holy Spirit, please sanctify my mind, heart, and will to love you more purely and follow you more wholeheartedly.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

good, bad, and ugly

2 Chronicles 32-33, John 14

For most of his life, King Hezekiah did amazing things to reform the nation of Judah and lead them to walk in the ways of the Lord.  But, sadly, at the end of his life, after he had acquired great wealth and fame:

32:24 ... Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. ... 31 ... when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. 33:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

Now I am totally speculating into the text here, but I wonder if Manasseh grew up while King Hezekiah thought he was a big-shot.  I wonder if King Hezekiah was always too busy to spend time with his son and teach him the ways of the Lord.  Sadly, Hezekiah' family is not the only one ruined by wealth and fame. I am reminded of this passage:

Micah 6:6-8

 6 With what shall I come before the LORD
       and bow down before the exalted God?
       Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
       with calves a year old?

 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
       with ten thousand rivers of oil?
       Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
       the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I have done many things to disgrace your name. Please forgive me, and lead me to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you every single day.  Please be near me, and help me train my son to fear you, love you, and serve you.  I pray that you will use me and my family to advance your Kingdom.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

return to the Lord

2 Chronicles 30-31

Hezekiah led the people to return to the Lord:

30:9 If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him." ... 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD's instruments of praise. ... 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.

The essence of revival is not on our sin and unworthiness to be close to Him, but His worthiness for praise.  And if we worship Him wholeheartedly - celebrating His goodness, praising Him, and thanking Him - then He will purify us from sin:

31:1 When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.

Heavenly Father, please bring revival among your people.  I pray that we will see you clearly, that we will worship you wholeheartedly, and that you will purify us so that we can be close to you and enjoy fellowship with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, June 4, 2010

advice and influence

2 Chronicles 21-22

King Jehoshaphat was a good king, but his son Jehoram was a knucklehead - partially because he married one of King Ahab's daughters.  So the answer to the question, "Was he a knucklehead and then married her, or did she influence him to be a knucklehead?" is probably, "Yes."

So, God took out Jehoram, and Ahaziah (Jehoram's son) became king.  But guess what? His mom influenced him to do wrong.

And just as I was about to get the holier-than-thou attitude with Jehoram and Ahaziah, I realized that apart from God's grace, I too would have already self-destructed my life and drawn others into self-destruction.

I pray for godly counsel and influence for me, my wife, and my son.  The gravity of spiritual degradation is always pulling us down.  But it is never too late to start doing what is right.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.  Thank you for continuing to sustain me and grow me.  Lord, please provide us with godly influence and advice, and steer us away from the wicked desires of our hearts.  Lord, may we give our lives in service to you and to honor your Holy Name.  Lord, please use us to influence others and lead others to experience your wonderful love and light.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

the battle belongs to the Lord

2 Chronicles 19-20

Chapter 20 has to be one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  A vast army comes against Judah, and King Jehoshaphat leads the people to seek the Lord and pray to Him for deliverance.

It is especially encouraging to me as I face a series of responsibilities to finish this summer that seem to me like a vast army advancing to attack me (i.e., dissertation, grant project final report, two technical conferences, drafting three journal papers, etc.).

20:4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: "O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. ...12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. ... 15 [The prophet Jahaziel] said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. ... 17 ... Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

The Lord accomplishes the victory as we go out in simple obedience.  We do not have the power to be victorious, but we get to see Him win the victory!

Heavenly Father, you are the God and Creator of the universe, and I am a sinful human so I have earned wrath from you.  But the Blood of your Son Jesus Christ has washed away my sin, and now I am your adopted son by your grace through faith.  As your son, I know that you will always take care of me.  I know that you do not promise an easy road, in fact you promise a road marked with suffering, but I love you because you have first loved me. And I want to seek your face to know you, not just to get some more blessing from you.  Lord, please purify the desire of my heart to love you and seek you, simply for the sake of knowing you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Portion.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


2 Chronicles 18

King Ahab of Israel was enticed by 400 false prophets to go to war, instead of listening to a single true prophet of Yahweh.  It is easy to listen to evil temptations when your heart desires them.  I find it difficult to be aware of the attitude of your heart.

Similarly, but sort of the opposite case, as I was walking to my building this morning, I was suddenly aware that I had walked up on a slithering snake.  I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings, and I suddenly realized how I need to practice being consciously aware of what is going on around me - both physically and spiritually.

Heavenly Father, please deliver me from the wicked desires of my heart and the subtle traps that the Enemy sets out around me.  Lord, may I live in victory in the person and work of Jesus Christ!  Holy Spirit, please give me discernment to recognize good and evil spirits, and please purify my heart and make my heart's desire to know Christ and to make Him known.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

spiritual dynasty

2 Corinthians 15-17

15:12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. ... 15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.

It is so sad that Asa did not follow the Lord in the end of his life.  I think he became comfortable and complacent, and he forgot all of the things that the Lord had done for him.  This is a challenge for me to be faithful in remembering and thanking God for all of the ways that He has blessed me.

16:3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father's early years and did not worship the images of Baal. 4 He sought his father's God and obeyed his commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel. 5 So the Lord established Jehoshaphat's control over the kingdom of Judah. All the people of Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so he became very wealthy and highly esteemed. 6 He was deeply committed to the ways of the Lord. He removed the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah.

It is my desire to seek the Lord with all of my heart and soul, and to catapult my son to go even farther with the Lord than I have.  I pray that the Lord will give him influence to bring many people into the love and lordship of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for salvation in Jesus Christ.  May I never take your grace for granted.  Lord, thank you for Christian parents who raised me to fear you.  Thank you for the opportunity to get a college education and graduate school education.  Lord, thank you for giving me spiritual gifts to use in your Body, and thank you for the opportunity to exercise those gifts.  Lord, thank you for my sweet and devoted wife and my joyful son.  Thank you for giving me a vocation and a job to fulfill this calling.  Lord, please use me to bring honor to your Name.  May I be a faithful disciple, husband, father, and professional.  And I pray that you will capture my son's heart, draw him close to you, and use him powerfully in your Kingdom.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  I love you.  Amen.