Thursday, September 30, 2010

challenges of the Church

Isaiah 9-10, Romans 10

I listened to a sermon series by David Jeremiah last Friday on my drive back to the flatland, and I was reminded of how brief our remaining time might be before Christ returns.  Considering Jesus's commission to make disciples of all nations, it seems to me that we have some big challenges of efficiently and effectively communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ and facilitating growth in faith among: (1) people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus, (2) people who think they have heard the Gospel of Jesus but have really heard a warped or perverted "gospel" (e.g., most of the people in the US that call themselves "christians"), and (3) people among other major religions (e.g., Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.).

Rom 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"

Heavenly Father, please use me to share the Gospel, truth, light, hope, love, faith, and life of Jesus Christ with everyone around me so that people will experience your mercy and grace and the abundant life that Jesus promises.  Lord, please grow my faith, and help me be a disciple maker.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

pay attention

Isaiah 5-6

The Lord was telling the nation of Israel (through the prophet Isaiah) how they had turned away from Him and were just party animals, but it is the last part of this verse that is particularly sobering:

5:12 They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—
      lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—
   but they never think about the Lord
      or notice what he is doing.

It is scary to me, because I think it is easy for me to get busy in my job and taking care of my family.  Not that I shouldn't concentrate on my job and my family, but those efforts should be outflows of my devotion to the Lord.  I need to focus on Him - knowing Him and walking with Him.  I want to think about Him all of the time so that He is poured out into every aspect of my life.

6:1 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. ...

 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?"

   I said, "Here I am. Send me."

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and your mercy.  Lord, you are so patient with me; please help me focus on you.  Lord, I want to see you and hear you.  Lord, may I be a faithful messenger of the Gospel.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the Gospel in Isaiah

Isaiah 3-4, Romans 11

Isa 1:16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
      Get your sins out of my sight.
      Give up your evil ways.
 17 Learn to do good.
      Seek justice.
   Help the oppressed.
      Defend the cause of orphans.
      Fight for the rights of widows.
"Come now, let's settle this,"
      says the Lord.
   "Though your sins are like scarlet,
      I will make them as white as snow.
   Though they are red like crimson,
      I will make them as white as wool.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace.  Lord, please wash me with your Word, and give me faith to obey you.  Lord, please use me to extend the ministry of Christ. May I practice good deeds for your honor.  May I seek justice in my heart, life, and community.  Lord, may I be a champion for the oppressed, orphan, and widow.  Lord, please use me to shine in the darkness.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

¿Cuánto nos ama! (How He loves us!)

Song of Songs 1-3, Romans 9

Last night I attended an on-campus collegiate worship service that is led by a Christian student organization called UNO U.  I have volunteered to be a faculty sponsor for this group.  One of the cool things about this ministry is that the worship service is in the physical sciences building on Wednesday night, and the whole service is in Spanish!  (I only understood about 5% of what was said, but hey, that's a start, right?)  I did recognize one of the songs; it was David Crowder's "Oh, how He loves us", but translated to Spanish.  I was very impressed with the magnitude of God's love, and how His love transcends language and culture - He loved the WHOLE WORLD so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus.

Rom 8:35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ... 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heavenly Father, your love is amazing!  You are so kind and merciful.  Lord, please expand my appreciation of your love, and please grow your love for others in me.  May I continue to grow in knowing and enjoying your eternal love through Christ, and may I be a conduit and expression of your love to others.  Te amo, Señor Jesús!  Muchas gracias por tu amor! ¿Cuánto nos ama! I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Ecclesiastes 10-12, Romans 8

As I have been reading through Romans, I have realized a few principles.  First, it seems to me like Romans 4 indicates that Abraham was justified prior to circumcision.  So, if baptism is the New Covenant replacement of circumcision, then perhaps baptism is not necessary for justification.  Also, taking the example of the life of Christ Jesus, His baptism was the initiation of His public ministry.  Perhaps baptism is the commissioning of each Believer as an ambassador of Christ.

Furthermore, Romans 6 indicates that, through baptism, we are united with Christ's death.  Consequently, Romans 6 and 7 explain that by our unity with Christ, we have died to sin and the law, respectively.

I have also been reading a book about "mindfulness" and meditation, written by a Buddhist.  It is very interesting, and the author has pointed out several truths, especially the selfishness and egotism of our human nature.  From what I understand, the basic concept of "mindfulness" is to be aware of our motives and feelings, both in meditation, and as we act and react throughout each day.  Unfortunately, I don't think a person can actually do that completely; I think we need the Holy Spirit to sanctify our conscience so that we can see the true spiritual reality.  But I do agree that we must actively work to set our minds on the Spirit so that the Lord will grow the character and mind of Christ in us.

Rom 8:5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Heavenly Father, please teach me to set my mind on the Spirit so that I may experience the Life and Peace of Christ.  Lord, please train my thinking to be spiritual instead of carnal.  Lord, please transform my mind so that I view the world through your eternal love, will, and plan.  Father, please show me the next step of your plan for me in my life so that I will be efficiently cooperating with you for your glory and my enjoyment.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

all work and no play

Ecc. 4-6, Romans 5

 5:18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I realize that I've been working too hard.  It is tough to find a balance between working hard at the beginning of a job so that I can get things rolling, but the truth is, I need to make sure that I am operating sustainably.  I need to make sure that I am getting appropriate nutrition, rest, and exercise.  I have stressed myself out the last few weeks.  I need to chill out, trust God to provide, and enjoy the life that the Lord has given me.

Heavenly Father, teach me to number my days.  I love you, and I want to walk with you.  I don't want my ambition to be focused on anything other than knowing Christ and living the life that you want for me.  I want to walk with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

snow in the summer

Proverbs 25-26, Romans 4

25:13 Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer.
      They revive the spirit of their employer.

26:1 Honor is no more associated with fools
      than snow with summer or rain with harvest.

I remember one time it snowed at the end of April my sophomore year in college (it may have even been the beginning of May).  I was in my fifth-floor dorm room working on homework with some buddies, and I looked out the window into the courtyard and thought I must have been imagining things.  But sure enough, it was 70 or 80 degrees outside, and here it was large white snowflakes gently swirling and falling to the ground!  Indeed, it was one of the most refreshing moments.  I smiled about it for the rest of the week.

Heavenly Father, may I be an honest man of integrity.  Lord, I pray that I will be a faithful messenger.  May I never be foolish, and may I honor you because of the character of Christ in me.  I pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

plans and victory

Proverbs 19-21, Romans 3

 19:21 You can make many plans,
      but the Lord's purpose will prevail.

It seems like it is in my best interest to cooperate with the Lord.  If I'm running around doing whatever I want, then I am just wasting a lot of time and energy.  Alternatively, if I get with His program, then I ramp up, do my best, and trust Him for the Victory:

 21:30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan
      can stand against the Lord.

 31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
      but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, please give me faith and endurance.  Lord, please draw me to you.  I want to know you and walk with you.  Lord, I want to cooperate with you; I don't want to waste my life on things that won't count in eternity.  Lord, please give me focus and determination to obey you - singleminded obedience.  I love you, Lord.  Please give me rest in your will.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

joy in vocation

Proverbs 16-18, 1 Cor. 7-8

Last Thursday and Friday, I attended a technical conference in DC.  I learned a lot, but I was very intimidated by how much other people know.  I realized that this type of fear is fundamentally driven by pride.  I need to have faith and trust the Lord to lead me to where he wants me to be.

Yesterday morning, Greg challenged us from Micah 6:8 to know God's heart and act justly.  He challenged us to do something about the injustices around us.  Specifically, I was challenged to financially support evangelical agencies that provide clean water and sanitation.

Yesterday afternoon through this morning, I have been focusing on being joyful and trusting the Lord instead of being anxious and worried about what I'm supposed to be doing.  I think I need to meditate on Prov. 3:5-6 and 16:3 and 9.

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I am sorry that my attention has been focused on my labor instead of my God.  Lord, please forgive me and deliver me from fear and worry to faith and obedience.  I pray that as your joy flows through me, I will be salt and light to the people around me.  May I never forget that my vocation is simply a vehicle to bless others and make disciples.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

seeking wisdom

Proverbs 3-5, Romans 1, 1 Cor 3

My dad taught me these verses when I was a kid:

 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
      do not depend on your own understanding.
 6 Seek his will in all you do,
      and he will show you which path to take.

This has become one of my favorites (I have it on the background of my computer desktop):

 4:18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
      which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

I am traveling to DC today for a research development meeting, and as I continue to ask the Lord to refine the vision that He has for me, I am encouraged by these verses (both spiritually and professionally, if it is possible to distinguish):

 4:25 Look straight ahead,
      and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
      stay on the safe path.
 27 Don't get sidetracked;
      keep your feet from following evil.

Heavenly Father, I am ignorant and foolish.  Lord, please teach me to fear you and seek wisdom.  I want to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I want to be in unity with you and obedient to the vision that you have for me.  Lord, please give me clarity of thought, and may I guard my heart against pride, lust, and laziness.  Lord, I want to honor you and enjoy you.  Please fill me with your love, peace, joy, light, and life.  I pray that you will use me to bless others in the name of Jesus Christ, and it is in His name that I pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Proverbs 1-2, Acts 28, 1 Cor. 2

Prov. 1:1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David's son, king of Israel. 2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. ...  7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

 2:1 My child, listen to what I say,
      and treasure my commands.
 2 Tune your ears to wisdom,
      and concentrate on understanding.
 3 Cry out for insight,
      and ask for understanding.
 4 Search for them as you would for silver;
      seek them like hidden treasures.
 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
      and you will gain knowledge of God.
 6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
      From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ...
 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
      and you will find the right way to go.
 10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
      and knowledge will fill you with joy.
 11 Wise choices will watch over you.
      Understanding will keep you safe.

 1 Cor. 2:6 Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. 7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. ... 12 And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. ... 16... But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your glorious and mysterious plan for Jesus to become human so that your Spirit could enter humanity.  Lord, please grant me wisdom to walk with you.  Lord, I want to know Christ and operate with the mind of Christ.  I want to live in grace and faith, according to the power of your Holy Spirit.  May I be obedient to the Lordship of Christ today.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

holy expectation

Psalm 148-150, Acts 27, 1 Corinthians 1

2 I am writing to God's church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. ... 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ... 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

I want to live a holy life by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I want to be consciously waiting for Christ's return - all the time.  I want to live like I am united with Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for calling me to holiness in Christ.  Thank you, Lord, for salvation in Christ.  Please grow me, Father.  Please purify me and use me as a holy man in your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

pure desire

Psalm 140-142

 142:5 Then I pray to you, O Lord.
      I say, "You are my place of refuge.
      You are all I really want in life.

Heavenly Father, you are my refuge.  Lord Jesus, you are my Savior.  Holy Spirit, you are my comfort and strength.  Lord, please purify my desires!  I want to want you only.  I want you to be the center of my life, and everything else an outflow of your Life, Love, and Light.  Lord Jesus, you are the vine, and and I am a branch; I will just shrivel up and die if I don't abide in you.  Lord, please help me stay connected.  Heavenly Father, please prune me (as painful as that might be) so that I can bear fruit.  Holy Spirit, please produce your fruit in me for your glory.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Purpose and process

Psalm 137-139

The Lord has His purposes for me.  I may not know what they are, but I can be confident that "He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

 137:8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
      for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
      Don't abandon me, for you made me.

139:13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
      and knit me together in my mother's womb.
 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
      Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
      as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 16 You saw me before I was born.
      Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
   Every moment was laid out
      before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[c] O God.
      They cannot be numbered!

And if the Lord is going to take me from where I am to where He wants me to be, then I must participate in His purification process:

 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

I used to think that all of the heinous sins offended God.  Well, of course, they do!  But I am beginning to realize that anything that steals my attention and time from the Lord offends Him, because it is an idol.  Even my desire to do a good job at work is an idol if I am more focused on that than on loving and worshipping Him.

Heavenly Father, I trust you with my life.  I trust that you have designed me with a specific purpose and vision in mind, and I want to follow you and walk with you along this path that you have given me.  Lord, please draw me into you.  Please forgive me of lust, pride, and worry, and show me all of the things in my life that distract me from knowing and loving you.  I love you, and I want to love you more.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

praise and thanks; worship

Psalm 135-136

 135:1 Praise the Lord!

   Praise the name of the Lord!
      Praise him, you who serve the Lord,

 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
         His faithful love endures forever.

Something that the Lord has been dealing with me is what I am working for. Is it really for Him? Or do I deep inside really want the glory for myself? Thinking of Heb 12:1-2, am I striving dutifully to fulfill responsibilities? Or am I joyfully longing to be with Christ? Am I joyfully walking with Him, since He is not only the Prize, but He is the Way. Am I experiencing Him daily, and full of His Spirit?  Am I really loving Him?  Am I really worshipping Him, or am I going through the motions?

Heavenly Father, I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I feel like I am so far from that.  Lord, please let me experience you and love you.  I want to know you, Lord.  I want to walk with you.  I am tired of working.  I want to LIVE!  Fill me with your LIFE!  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.