Thursday, October 28, 2010

sanctification of the heart

Jeremiah 15-17

Last night I attended the UNO U meeting on campus, and Mike spoke about envidia (envy).  I think envy is so closely connected to pride, and pride is buried so deep in the heart.  I want so badly for my heart to purely desire the Lord, and for everything else to be an outflow of His love through me.

17:7 "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
      and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
      with roots that reach deep into the water.
   Such trees are not bothered by the heat
      or worried by long months of drought.
   Their leaves stay green,
      and they never stop producing fruit.

 9 "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
      and desperately wicked.

      Who really knows how bad it is?
 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
      and examine secret motives.

   I give all people their due rewards,
      according to what their actions deserve."

Heavenly Father, I want to know you, and I want you to search my heart.  I know that it is humbling to see what is really inside my heart, but I need you to clean me and purify my heart so that you will be pleased with me as you transform me into the image of Christ.  And I will enjoy you more and more as you purify my heart to desire you and nothing evil.  Please Lord; I need you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who died so that I could be saved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Jeremiah 9-11, 1 Corinthians 9-11

It seems to me that one of the greatest challenges in life is to discern between our own selfish desires and our God-given desires, so that we may sacrifice our selfish desires in pursuit of knowing, enjoying, and honoring the Lord through His unfolding will for our lives.

 10:23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
      We are not able to plan our own course.
 24 So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
      Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.

Heavenly Father, you have bought my life with the precious blood of Christ.  I am not my own.  Lord, please lead me along the path that you have for me.  May I be faithful to "do the work" knowing that you are with me and guiding me.  May I be diligent to cooperate with you as you establish your Kingdom.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Monday, October 25, 2010

our sin grieves the Lord

Jeremiah 6-8, 1 Cor. 6-8

 J 7:8 "'Don't be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It's a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, "We are safe!"—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don't you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! ...  30 "The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes," says the Lord. "They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it.

 8:4 "Jeremiah, say to the people, 'This is what the Lord says:   "'When people fall down, don't they get up again?
      When they discover they're on the wrong road, don't they turn back?
 5 Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?
      Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back?
   They cling tightly to their lies
      and will not turn around. ...
21 I hurt with the hurt of my people.
      I mourn and am overcome with grief.

Heavenly Father, I am sorry for hurting you with my selfishness and sin.  Lord, please forgive me of pride, lust, and apathy, and lead me to walk faithfully with you.  Lord, I want to honor you.  I pray that my life will demonstrate the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His character.  I pray in His name.  Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Isaiah 65-66, 1 Corinthians 16

 16:1 Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God's people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. 2 On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.

Do you think Paul was asking the Corinthian church for their tithe, or do you think he was asking for an offering?  Do you think he asked them to give weekly because there is something special about giving every seven days, or do you think the people typically got paid their wages daily or weekly?

It seems to me that we are expected to give far beyond a tithe.  And it seems to me that we should give a tithe and offerings to various ministries as soon as we get paid.

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me with a paid vocation.  I pray that we will be a good steward with all of the resources that you have given us, especially our financial resources.  Lord, please grow our hearts to be cheerful, generous givers.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Isaiah 56-58

As I was waking up and getting ready this morning, I told the Lord that I didn't know how to fast and I asked Him to teach me.  Then in my devotional reading, I read Isaiah 58 - pretty much a direct answer to my prayer a few minutes earlier.

I think the point is that fasting is about your attitudes and actions 24/7.  Am I seeking the Lord and obeying Him all the time, all week long, every week? Or am I just pretending to seek Him when I am not eating and asking Him for a bunch of stuff and calling that fasting?  I guess the thing that I hadn't connected before is that the significance of fasting is not in the meals that I give up, but in the lifestyle that I live the rest of the week.  If I am truly seeking Him all week long, then He is pleased with my "fasting", and He does hear my prayers.

Heavenly Father, I want to love you more.  Lord, thank you for your Word this morning.  Lord, please mold my character into the mind and attitudes of Christ.  Lord, please bring me to a better practice of fasting.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

another farming analogy

Isaiah 53-55

 55:10 "The rain and snow come down from the heavens
      and stay on the ground to water the earth.
   They cause the grain to grow,
      producing seed for the farmer
      and bread for the hungry.
 11 It is the same with my word.
      I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
   It will accomplish all I want it to,
      and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Heavenly Father, please plant your Word in my heart and mind, and please use me to plant your Word in the hearts and minds of the people around me.  Lord, please wash me with your Word.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Only true God

Isaiah 43-44, 1 Cor. 6

43:7 Bring all who claim me as their God,
      for I have made them for my glory.
      It was I who created them.'" ...
10 "But you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the Lord.
      "You are my servant.
   You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
      and understand that I alone am God.
   There is no other God—
      there never has been, and there never will be.
 11 I, yes I, am the Lord,
      and there is no other Savior.
 12 First I predicted your rescue,
      then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
   No foreign god has ever done this.
      You are witnesses that I am the only God,"
      says the Lord.
 13 "From eternity to eternity I am God.
      No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
      No one can undo what I have done."

 44:6 This is what the Lord says—Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven's Armies:

   "I am the First and the Last;
      there is no other God.
 7 Who is like me?
      Let him step forward and prove to you his power.
   Let him do as I have done since ancient times
      when I established a people and explained its future.
 8 Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
      Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
   You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
      No! There is no other Rock—not one!"

 24 This is what the Lord says—
      your Redeemer and Creator:
   "I am the Lord, who made all things.
      I alone stretched out the heavens.
   Who was with me
      when I made the earth?

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are the one and only true God.  You are the Creator.  You are the only Savior.  You are the only Rock.  You are the LORD - Yahweh.  Lord, I want to know you and serve you.  I want to honor you and love you.  Please use me to bring glory to yourself.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Isaiah 41-42

I talked to my dad a little about discipleship the other day, and I've been thinking about it the last few days.  It seems like in many congregations in the States, much attention is given to the weekly corporate gatherings ("Sunday worship services").  While I do think these meetings are important and should have a balance between organizational structure and freedom to the Spirit's leadership, it is becoming more and more impressive to me that one-on-one discipleship is the essence of Christianity.  If you consider the Gospel accounts, how many of the stories are about Jesus in a "worship service" with his disciples, and how many of the stories are about Jesus spending quality time with his Disciples?  If you consider the Apostles' Acts and Letters, how much of their content is focused on community living and discipleship, and how much is focused on "worship services"? 

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you make disciples of all nations?  One disciple at a time.

The practical point is that I need to connect with a more mature Brother to challenge me to go deeper in my walk with Christ, and I need to be investing in some younger Brothers to challenge them to go to the next level in their discipleship.

Heavenly Father, I am a disciple of Christ, and I need to go to the next level.  I need to be engaged.  Lord, please arrange relationships and connections for me to be under another Brother's guidance and at the same time lead some other Brothers deeper with you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ and for His Kingdom.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Isaiah 39-40

How easy it is to be distracted and drawn toward any thing other than the Lord!  Nothing even compares to Him, so how is it so easy to be distracted from pursuing Him?

 40:18 To whom, then, will you compare God?
       What image will you compare him to?  ...
 25 "To whom will you compare me?
       Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.  ...
 28 Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

Heavenly Father, I am sorry that I am so easily distracted from you.  Lord, please help me focus on you and pursue you.  Lord, deliver me from the business of my life and all of the things that I think I need to accomplish.  Lord, please let me simply put my faith, hope, and love in you and trust you to carry me.  Lord, may my life be spent as a pleasing offering to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Isaiah 32-33, Romans 14

As Brandi and I were hiking a trail in the Franklin Mountain State Park this morning, I was reminded of some spiritual analogies between hiking and our walk with Christ:
  • He is our guide, and
    • we need to watch Him closely and follow close behind Him.
    • we need to listen carefully to Him as He tells us where the trustworthy footholds and handgrips are.
    • as we are going along, we need to learn His character, not just His directional instructions.
  • We make the ascent with a team, and
    • we help others along.
    • we let others help us.
    • we take care of each other.
    • we enjoy each others' company.
  • The trail is challenging, and
    • the safe path is narrow.
    • we need to know the climber's manual for safe climbing principles.
    • we need to take rest breaks along the way.
    • we need to pause and look beyond the trail to see the scenery around us.
    • we need to enjoy the journey, because the quintessence of the journey is to know Christ, not just to get to the destination.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to walk with Christ into eternity.  Lord, thank you for a wonderful wife who is such a great climbing partner.  Lord, please draw us to you, and I pray that we will help others in our walk together.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

a little folding of the hands

Isaiah 28-29

I still haven't figured this one out:

 Isa 28:12 God has told his people,
   "Here is a place of rest;
      let the weary rest here.
   This is a place of quiet rest."

Matt 11:28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."

Practically, how do you balance these two passages with the following?

Col 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men ...

Prov 6:9
How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
       When will you get up from your sleep?

 10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
       a little folding of the hands to rest-

 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
       and scarcity like an armed man.

How do I know when I am not working hard enough to honor the Lord, and how do I know when I am a slacker?  How do you know how much work you should invest in the startup of a new job?  I feel like I am working way too much, but at the same time I am falling further and further behind at work.  How do I reconcile these?

Heavenly Father, please give me clear wisdom and discernment to correctly see my vocation through your perspective.  Lord, I want to work for you with all my heart.  And I don't want to be a slacker, but Lord, I need some rest.  I know that you will carry me; please show me how to live a balanced, sustainable life.  I love you, Lord, and I want my life to count for eternity.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

hope in Christ and the Resurrection

Isaiah 26-27

 19 But those who die in the Lord will live;
      their bodies will rise again!
   Those who sleep in the earth
      will rise up and sing for joy!
   For your life-giving light will fall like dew
      on your people in the place of the dead!

I can see why the Apostle Paul was confident that Christ's resurrection was a fulfillment of this Scripture and a guarantee of the bodily resurrection of everyone at the end of time. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope that I have to spend eternity with you, and the knowledge that you will completely resolve all justice, conflict, and impurity.  Lord, please help me live expectantly for Christ's return.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

business and focus

Isaiah 23-25

I feel like it is kind of foggy in my brain.  I have so many things to do at work (preparing for lectures, meeting people, developing a research plan, and a never-ending influx of emails).  And I want to be a good father and husband and spend quality time with my family.  I am praying for balance and focus on the correct priorities.

 25:9 In that day the people will proclaim,
   "This is our God!
      We trusted in him, and he saved us!
   This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
      Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!"

I want to live for That Day (which coul be today), but sometimes it is difficult to sort out what will have eternal consequences and what won't.  I want to live by walking with the spirit instead of accomplishing a list of tasks.

Heavenly Father, I need your salvation.  Practical salvation.  I need you to rescue me from emails and my to-do list.  Lord, I need you to focus my heart's desire on loving you and loving others.  Lord, please help me view my vocation through the lens of a walk with you through which you accomplish ministry, evangelism, and discipleship.  I love you, Lord.  Please help me.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.