Tuesday, November 29, 2011

sharing His divine nature

2 Peter 1

4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.  (NLT)

4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (NASB)

4By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. (AMP)

Sounds like heresy to me.  But it's not.  The truth is, by faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives us all of our sins, and the Holy Spirit brings life and presence to our human spirits.  We are able to experience eternal life because God assimilates us into His family through the work of Christ.  We have the opportunity, daily, to be in relational harmony and fellowship with God by worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.

Heavenly Father, I want to maintain good fellowship with you so that I can share in your divine nature.  Please help me stay pure in mind and heart so that I can be close to you.  Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Please help me keep in step with you.  I love you, and I want to know you and honor you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 28, 2011


1 Peter 5

 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

We had a great Thanksgiving holiday with both of our families.

I am thankful for grace and mercy through Christ.  I am thankful for the hope of restoration and recovery; I am thankful that it is Christ who is the author and perfecter of my faith, not me.  I am thankful for a sweet and patient wife who loves the Lord. She is such a sincere and genuine person, and she is a devoted wife and mother.  I am thankful for two healthy sons who have joyful and peaceful attitudes.  I am thankful for loving and supportive families (both mine and Brandi's).  I am thankful for a great church body to be a part of with dear Brothers and Sisters.  I am thankful for a great job with friendly coworkers and dedicated students.  I am thankful for a warm house in the winter, food to eat, and clean water to drink.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithful love, and thank you for your kindness.  Thank you for taking care of us.  Lord, we can not live apart from you, and we need you every day to carry us.  We love you, and we want to walk with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

wandering or focused?

James 5

I was sad when I read Hebrews 6:4-6:

 4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

But I am glad that James 5:19-20 follows:

 19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

So, how do we interpret Heb. 6:4-6 in light of James 5:19-20?  Well, my Brother RF says that the Hebrew culture back in Jesus's day regularly used hyperboles (an extremely exaggerated statement) to illustrate points (e.g., It is impossible for a rich man to enter heaven; it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich guy to go to Heaven). 

These two verses also stood out to me this morning:

 7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

I want to be consciously aware that Jesus could return at any moment.  And if His return was near two thousand years ago, then I can imagine that we are right on the cusp of His return.

Heavenly Father, I love you.  Thank you for your Word and your Truth.  Lord Jesus, I love you.  Thank you for your sacrifice and love.  I want to be ready for you to return at any moment; I want to be expecting your arrival.  Holy Spirit, I love you.  Please help me keep in step with you.  I want to honor you and obey you.  Please help me be humble and submissive to your will.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 21, 2011

wisdom and peace

James 3

6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. ... 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

I have a long way to go in terms of controlling my tongue.  I have a long way to go in terms of growing in wisdom and understanding, too.

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. ... 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I have a long way to go.

But, thinking about one step at a time, what can I do today to grow just a little more.  It seems like a recurring theme in Chapter 3 is peace and gentleness. 

Heavenly Father, please help me be a peaceful person and a peace maker.  Lord Jesus, you brought us peace with God and peace with men; please help me be an agent of your peace today.  Lord, please help me be focused on you and your character; Lord, I need you to live your life through me.  I love you, and I want to be your servant today.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 18, 2011

thankfulness, holiness, and praise

Hebrews 13

On Wednesday night, we discussed Phil. 4:4-7 and I Thes. 5:16-18, and it seems to me that thankfulness is an antidote to anxiousness:

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As I read Hebrews 12 yesterday, I was impressed by God's holiness and how He wants us to be holy.  Perseverance is the word that comes to mind:

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ...  3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; ... 10 For [our earthly parents] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but [Our Heavenly Father]
disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

And this morning, I am impressed that I need to be consistent in praising God:

 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Heavenly Father, thank you for all that you have done for me.  I praise you for who you are.  I want to know you and walk with you; I want you to be pleased with the righteousness that you grow in me.  Lord, I want my life to honor you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

faith is seeking

Hebrews 11

1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ... 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. ... 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

I am familiar with verses 1 and 6, but verse 27b jumped out at me this morning (and I think it is connected with 6b).

Faith is fundamentally connected with seeking God.  Not only believing that He exists, but also seeking Him.  Keeping our eyes on Him, even though we can't see Him.

Heavenly Father, please reveal yourself to me.  Please help me believe you and seek you!  I want to know you and walk with you.  Please take control of my crazy life.  I want to know that I am walking in your path and cooperating with you in what you want to accomplish.  Please help me stay faithful to you.  I love you, Lord, and I need you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Hebrews 9

Saturday, we had a birthday party for Beau in Plains.  I am thankful for his life and the blessing that God has given us in him.  He is an amazing person, and I pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to raise him.

Sunday, the pastor preached about parenting.  I felt convicted that I need to spend more face-to-face time with Beau - not just being in the same room together or watching him play, but actually playing with him.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a father that reflects your character.  Please help me be a good father, and please give us wisdom to know how to interact with our children so that they will know you and love you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

learning obedience from suffering

Hebrews 5

These are some of the most profound verses to me, especially when I think about Jesus as the prototype for all of God's children:

7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

Man, I wish there was an easier way.  Deep reverence - that's not bad; I can handle deep reverence.  Learning obedience through suffering?  How about learning obedience through jigsaw puzzles or arithmetic.  Even algebra or calculus.  But suffering?

I suppose that is REAL obedience.  No fooling anybody when obedience hurts.

Heavenly Father, I know that you are good and kind and just.  You are loving and merciful.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Thank you for the example of Christ for me to follow.  Lord Jesus, you are my example; please give me your mind - humble and not proud.  Lord, please help me be faithful to you, even through suffering.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Hebrews 2

I pray with a Brother over the phone on Monday mornings, and this morning, we both shared how we don't really know what to do in situations with our children.  His daughter is having a difficult time with school and family, and my oldest son is going through the "terrible twos".  We concluded that perhaps God is more concerned with how we go through these challenging situations than us figuring out exactly what we are supposed to do.  That is, He wants us to have the character of Christ.

 16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Well, Jesus wasn't an earthly father, but He is called the Everlasting Father (http://bible.cc/isaiah/9-6.htm), so I am sure that He understands parenting principles.  And the verse 18 quoted above indicates that he is familiar with our experience of suffering, so he can help us.

Heavenly Father, I know that you love us, and you care about the details of our lives.  Thank you for pouring out your love for us with Christ on the cross.  Thank you for restoring my relationship with you.  Lord, thank you for the opportunities to grow in the character of Christ.  Lord, please help me focus my mind on the spirit and not the flesh.  Lord, please give me peace and rest knowing that you are in control and taking care of me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

church leadership

Titus 1

(1) The apostolic mission:

1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.

"sent to proclaim faith ... and to teach ... godly lives"   (Note: eternal life could not be "promised [to us] before the world began" unless

(2) A pastoral role - appointing elders:

5 I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.

(3) The lifestyle of an elder:

6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don't have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. 8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

1 This is a trustworthy saying: "If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position." 2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. ...

As I think about what it means to be an elder, it is a sobering responsibility, but I think it involves a more invested participation in making disciples of Christ.

Heavenly Father, please use me as you see fit.  I want to serve your purpose.  Please help me continue growing in Christ and leading others to be disciples of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.