All of these devotionals are the result of my own personal reflection on God's word. If you find these devotionals helpful, please subscribe and share them! Thank you for reading!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jonah 3:9

"Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

    I love Jonah for many reasons: Because it reveals God's heart for the city, because Jonah was a terrible prophet whom God still used (gives me hope), and because of this verse 3:9. It gives me much hope as one who barely knows God. If the Assyrians, wicked and detestable as they were, could be spared (if only for a while), then there is hope of repentance for every man. However Jonah's anger is revealing. He wanted punitive justice. He wanted to watch the Assyrians burn. He had condemned them already. But aren't we also quick to condemn, dealing out our own justice to our own destruction (Rom 2:1)?

Does not the right to judge belong to God and God alone? Should we not let God be God and not have to deal with "who is saved" and "who isn't"?

And what does it matter to us who is saved? Do we not love everyone equally so as to preach Christ to both saved and unsaved? A person's salvation is between them and the Lord, to be worked out fearfully with trembling. It should be a relief that such a burdensome decision to condemn a man does not fall on our shoulders. God makes the hard decisions while ours is the lighter yoke: to tell the world of God's love in word and deed. Amen!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

1 Samuel 6:20

"Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?"

    There is no denying that the Lord's presence does powerful things. Those who even dare to approach him boldly or carelessly perish in his presence. To those in Beth Shemesh, 50,070 men perished just from looking into the ark where the Lord's presence dwelled! It is no wonder why they uttered this question in 1 Samuel 6, for indeed who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?

    To what then can we speak of the Lord's presence with us today? The Lord dwells within His temple not built by human hands but by His own. His presence is made known to all those who call upon Him, that through His Son he is known to us and that through the Holy Spirit he dwells within us. You are that Temple who trust in the Lord. That same power which raised Christ and led Moses and his people out of Egypt dwells in those who would receive it. You are the place where Heaven meets Earth.

    It comes as no surprise, then, that the closer one gets to God in Christ, the more one dies inwardly to the flesh and lives eternally in the spirit. God is so holy, that is wholly other, that to receive him all at once would be death. Confronted with our own sin and shame, we again ask "Who can stand?" None other than whomever Christ raises.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Romans 12:2

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

    When someone begins to see through the eyes of Christ, it's like their whole world changes, but actually only their perspective changes. It's like getting glasses for the first time; suddenly everything looks a whole lot clearer than it once did!

    It is from this position that we can even begin to discern God's will just as it is written, "I know my own and my own know me." (John 10:14). But how do we begin to know God's will? Let's go to the text: "By testing you may discern what is the will of God." Prayer and Bible Study are important, yes, but you will never know where God is leading you unless you take a step out in faith, as it is written "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Pro 16:9)

    Peter would have never walked on water had he not taken that leap of faith. Even as he sank, Jesus was there to catch him. Trust in God that he will catch you when you stray off the path. Trust he will bring you back again if you wander off. Step out in faith and God will move mountains for you. Or not. It really depends on what the will of God is.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Romans 11:6

"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."

The most difficult thing to learn as a Christian is how to live by grace.  We all naturally want to do work.  We are taught from an early age that if you work hard, you will get results.  In fact, the curse in Genesis 3 dictates that we work the land for our provision.  Because of Sin, works was the way of the world.

Naturally, we seek to build religions, that is, ways to work our way back up to God.  But can anyone of use what God has given us to repay God?  And so the Law was given to be obeyed but it only proved to show how far off we were from God.  It served only to multiply transgressions so that grace could abound even more.  In fact it was broken before it was even received (Ex 32).

Do not believe in religion, but have faith that God sent his Son to die for our sins and that he raised him up so that we may be raised with him.  Where we could never get to God, God came to us.  Stop trying to be righteous and instead submit to the Righteous One for surely his righteousness is enough for all who call upon His Name.

Brothers and Sisters, you are free from works which bring death so live unto Christ! Do not forfeit grace!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ezra 9:13

"What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this."

Although God always disciplines his children, he has always been merciful and lenient.  Ezra is speaking from a context of post-exile.  The Babylonians came into Jerusalem and conquered the Israelites, but they did not slaughter all of them as would have been custom, rather some were taken to Babylon and served in the High Courts (like Daniel).  Nonetheless, the sheep had been scattered so that the land could sabbath.  When you think of all the ancient kingdoms that used to exist and how no remnant of them even remain, you begin to see God's providence in sustaining his chosen people, the Jews, throughout history.

It's no secret that the Jews have been one of the most persecuted people groups in all of history, and yet they remain because God is faithful, merciful, and just.  And now, because of Jesus Christ, God's promises to the Jews have been extended to all the nations (namely us) because Christ has become the Blessed One through whom all are blessed, the perfect Jew and the seed of Abraham.

God will be faithful to his people who by their faith that God can do what he said he would do (and has done) will enjoy everlasting life and will surely not perish. Do you believe it?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Romans 2:1

"You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."

Morality which superimposes itself on others is no morality at all.

We as followers of the Way, the Truth, and the Life are called to imitate Christ, but by no means were we ever to use that which we've learned from Christ (kindness, patience, generosity, etc.) in order to turn around and condemn those who do not possess such things.  As Christ-like as you become, you will never be God, you will never have authority to judge someone else, else you yourself will be condemned.

Not even Christ, who was God, did these things on Earth (but surely God has now exalted him to the place of power and authority to judge in the end of days), but rather "he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing." (Phil 2:6-7)  Those who boast of their moral superiority have in fact missed the entire Gospel and still cling to the ways of the Law, the way of Death.

Are you a sinner?  If so then you must know you are deserving of death, but God's kindness and mercy on the Cross should lead you to repentance.  I do not preach my morals, but I preach Christ and Christ alone.  It is in his righteousness I boast so that none may brag.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2

"The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor."

The Gospel isn't simply about forgiveness.  Those who believe that the Gospel is that Christ died on a cross in order to forgive sins only understand half of what the Gospel is.  This verse points to so many various things that Jesus did in His ministry in fulfillment of the law and prophets, all of which can be summed up in one word: reconciliation.  Yes, Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins in order that we may live, but more than that, so that we might live unto and through Him in right relationship with God our Father.

Jesus came to bring restoration of this world back to the way it was in the beginning, to rightfully restore us back to a place of dominion over all of the Earth as it's stewards, and to condemn that usurper who took from us our dominion and enslaved us by deceiving us into obeying him rather than God, the prince of this world, Satan.

Do not forget: We are agents, ambassadors for Christ, spreading the ministry of reconciliation which He started and has set in our hearts so that He may continue to work through his body on Earth, the Church.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Galatians 2:20

" I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

It is absolutely absurd as a Christian to insist on living your own life.  It is as absurd as a freed man who continues to live in prisons or a blind man given sight who continues to keep his eyes closed.  So many people are deceived with the notion that they can be a Christian and still be themselves and live out their lives the way they want to.  They do not count the cost and are not able to finish what they have started.

Christianity isn't easy.  When you confess faith in Christ and are baptized, what you in fact are agreeing to is a complete death to self, that is, a signing over of your rights to live as you see fit.  You no longer have that luxury of doing as you please, but you willingly submit yourself to the authority of Christ.  He becomes that power which dictates how you live your life.

We no longer live, but Christ who lives eternally lives in us so that we may have everlasting life to the fullest.  Such grace is worth more than anything we could give but is given freely to all who believe. So be transformed in your resurrection with Christ!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Proverbs 22:6

"If you train a youth according to his own way, even when he grows old he will not turn away from it." (Personal translation)

Most translations of the Bible have "according to the way he should go", however it is stretching the Hebrew to translate it that way.  It doesn't mention anything about the "way he should go", but more literally just means "his own way".  Potentially, this proverb is more of a warning than instruction to parents.  A warning to not spoil your children by letting them have their way.  Proverbs 23:13-14 echo the same sentiment so it would not be out of the question to translate in this way.

But all that to say this:  there's a lot of utter nonsense in people trying to figure out who they are.  People make statements all the time like "That's just who I am" or "I'm just being myself".  Foolishness.  There's a dangerous notion here that our personalities are static.  I know a whole bunch of people (myself included) with a big handful of testimonies of how Christ has transformed them to say that personality is fluid.  You are never going to find out "who you are" when who you are is always changing.

Besides, there is no sense in struggling with your identity when that's not what you want to be in the first place.  We aren't looking to go our own ways, but the Way of Christ. Don't be yourself, be who God is making you to be.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Genesis 2:3

"And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

The Hebrew word qadosh is used so many times in the Scriptures to describe something that is holy, that is set apart for God's purpose.  Do you know what the first thing is to ever be called holy by God? It occurs here in the verse above.  It's not a person or an object, it's time.

God who stands outside of time has set up time in such a way as to make it holy, in a cycle of work and rest.  However, nothing was left untouched by sin's reach, and soon this holy arrangement was broken.  Most people, when asked what they would do with an extra day of the week, said they'd use it to get ahead on work.  The pace of the work week is stressful and our bodies bear the brunt of it because we aren't designed that way. I don't need to tell you how bad stress is for your health.

But how do you use your time?  Do you carve out a day devoted to God? Can you set apart a day as holy for God?  We can be good at taking days of self-indulgence and just slapping the word "Sabbath" on it after the fact.  That's not what I'm talking about.  A day meant to be with God, set apart for Him for your own good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Proverbs 18:22

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD."

Curiously enough, the Hebrew here could also be translated "He who stumbles upon a wife" or even "He who happens to find a wife finds a good thing."  I get a mental image of a man walking along a road stopping to look down at his feet, and behold! A wife is there for him to enjoy.  Whether or not that man was looking for a wife or not, the proverb does not say, however I could almost guarantee you if he is completely focused on trying to find a wife, he isn't paying attention to the road signs.

When you are so wrapped up in accomplishing your own will, you will completely miss God's will for your life and all the wonderful things he has for you.  Remember it is God who gives "favor" (in wife/husband form).  If God has a husband or a wife in store for you, then trust in him and follow him and he will surely lead you the right way.  Focus on doing God's will first and learn to be content.  You are complete in Christ just the way you are.

Do you want an easy marriage/idolatry self test?  Ask yourself this question: If God told you right this second to give up (Fill in Blank:) marriage and to stay single for His kingdom, would you do it?  If you answered no or had to think about it for a second, marriage is your idol.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Psalm 91:14-16

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him;  I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Within these three verses, God promises to do six things all for one reason: "Because he loves me." How wonderfully abundant is God's love for us!  I wish every single one of us could love each other the way Christ loves us all the time.  You don't need to be married to practice this sort of love, although marriage is a perfect opportunity to learn how to love like this (truly you don't marry someone because you're in love, but because you want to love).

And what does our love for God look like?  Right from the text, we see a synonymous structure in verse 14.  We can relate the phrase "because he loves me" with "for he acknowledges my name".  We know what his name is, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.  To know his name is to know his reputation which saves us.  It is his salvation to give to us and his alone for salvation belongs to our God.

When we acknowledge Jesus is Lord, that He has authority in our lives, only then can we say we love Him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1 Timothy 1:15

"It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."

I find it both fascinating and comforting that even after all this time in ministry, Paul still has a profound sense of his own sinfulness.  Paul out of anyone, who is most assuredly guaranteed salvation (and even twice states as much in 2 Cor 1:22 and 5:5), cannot forget his guilt despite the grace he is shown.  In fact, he owns it, but perhaps this is what is proper?

When I remember the sinful woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears, I remember Jesus's statement to those who reviled her.  A parable told to illustrate the point that those who have been forgiven much love much.  Paul has never forgotten who he was or what he has done.  He does not try and hide it nor does he deny it.  However, he also does not beat himself up over it.  No, Paul is a free man, freed through the grace of Jesus Christ.  Paul is a man who loved much.

As one moves closer to the light, they begin to realize more and more what darkness has concealed in them.  Rather than ignoring his sin, Paul is made more and more aware of the ones he has and consequently more and more aware of how much Christ loved him first.  Who could help but fall in love with such a God?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Luke 10:3

"Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves."

This is a very dangerous mission we are called to.  At every moment we are in danger of being devoured if we are not careful.  Jesus gives us careful instructions on what to do lest we find ourselves in some serious trouble.  The life of one called to be an apostle is one that needs to be handled with the utmost care.  When one is in a position to share the Gospel, mistakes cannot be afforded.  This entire mission is life or death as lives hang in the balance.

Your enemy is prowling about like a lion waiting to devour someone who stumbles; Do not give him the chance.  It takes but one thief to break into a house to let the rest in.  Though a single flake of snow may not seem like much, over time and repetition it can amount to a serious problem.  So take heed to yourselves and make sure that you do not falter in this task given to you.

No one in a position of authority can ever commit a small sin.  Those who teach will be judged more harshly.  Far be it that we sin while everyone's eyes are upon us!  For he who causes any of these little ones to stumble, it would be better if he were thrown into the sea with a large millstone around his neck.  It would be worse than if he never served at all.  Do not take God's calling lightly.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Psalm 18:28

"Because you cause my lamp to brighten, O LORD my God, my darkness shines." (My translation)

There are a few other references to lamps in the Old Testament, referring to them as guidance (Ps 119:105) or as a metaphor for life (Job 21:17, 2Sam 21:17).  There is also a curious case in Ps 131:17 which has strong ties to John 5:35 (John the Baptist as the lamp set up for the Anointed, preparing his path).  There are also New Testament references to eyes being the "lamps of the body" (Matt 6:22), but again it ties into the direction metaphor (Your eyes will guide your direction as a lamp).  This is supported by Prov 21:4, which states that "haughty eyes and a proud heart" are the lamp of the wicked.  One other metaphor connects lamps to searching (Prov 20:27, Lk 15:8).  So why this talk about lamps?

It is the LORD who sustains us and guides us.  It is he who is the light of the world to bring us out of our darkness and he who can pierce into our darkness to search us.  The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness can not overcome it but instead retreats to secluded places where the light has not yet touched.  And so we are to be the salt and light of the earth, to sustain it and to illumine it.  Can you feel that light within you?  It is God which shines through you if you open your eyes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Psalms 10:16-18

"The LORD is King forever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.  You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."

It is fascinating to me that the end to this psalm begins with a statement of Christ's Kingship.  It is a confession that Jesus Christ is Lord forever and ever who has all power and authority to establish and tear down kings and kingdoms.  And yet, this is contrasted with a different sort of King, one who "encourages" (the Hebrew reads something like "you repair the hearts of") the afflicted and defends the fatherless and the oppressed from "terrifying men".    Imagine a king who took it personally upon himself to cheer you up when you are downcast, who goes out of his way to bind up your broken heart.  Can you believe this is the King who reigns forever and ever?  It's true.

Jesus Christ is LORD.  While he was on Earth, he did exactly these things and now that God the Father has raised him from the dead and exalted him to His right hand and gave him dominion over all the Earth, he continues to reign with justice and mercy.  God has not promised that we never suffer or have man "terrify" us, he promised to be there for us when we are.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Habakkuk 2:4

"But the righteous shall live by his faith."

Martin Luther, made a life changing discovery involving this verse.  For his entire life as a Catholic monk in a monastery, he was told that "the righteous shall live by faith".  Being fully devout, Luther tried his hardest to live by faith in order that he may be righteous, but try as he might he could never seem to confess enough sins or do enough penance to ever truly feel forgiven.  He confessed so often and so many things, his confessor grew tired of him and told him to "come back when you have something to really confess."

Luther was stuck in the cycle of despair.  No matter how hard he tried to live by faith, he always fell short of righteousness.  Until, that is, he read this verse quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17 in the original Greek.  He realized for the first time that it is not living by faith which makes us righteous, but rather it is faith which makes us righteous so that we will live.  The act of sanctification, though once active to Luther, became passive, that is, the righteousness is already ours if we believe.

Luther went back to the works of his favorite Church Father, Augustine, and it was just as he had hoped.  Suddenly, the burden of being a Christian was lifted from him, perhaps leading to the Reformation. Finally he felt forgiven.  Finally he felt the innumerable joy of grace.  Finally, he was free.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Matthew 19:8

"Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.'"

There are so many things of this world that we live in that were "not this way from the beginning".  There are so many issues that we as the church must face today that Adam and Eve could never imagine:  Abortion, Homosexuality, Poverty, Divorce, Drug/Sexual/Domestic Abuse, War, the list could go on and on.  None of these things used to exist.  None of these things were part of God's good Creation, and yet here they are.  They are with us everyday.  If Adam and Eve knew the cost of taking that one bite, they would've never done it.

And so it is with our sin today.  Can you fully understand the gravity one sin has?  Can you begin to understand the weight of your own sin in the world? Now multiply that weight by the amount of people who have EVER lived on this earth at any time, past present or future.  Can you see now your responsibility for the state this world is in?  It's no wonder why our world today is so much more complicated (and broken) than it ever has been before.

In the beginning was the Word... Oh how desperately we need Him now!
"I'll never know how much it cost... to see my sin upon that cross..."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Luke 15:20

"So he got up and went to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

Can a love like this really exist?  It sounds almost impossible that it could.  In fact, it sounds downright wrong for it to exist.  In face of such a rebellious son, he deserves to be punished.  He knows it, his family knows it, and everyone reading knows it as well.  How uncomfortable this prodigal son must have felt receiving so freely that which he didn't deserve.  It just doesn't feel right.  In fact he wanted to earn his forgiveness from the beginning!

We don't hear much else about this son, about how he chose to live his life afterwards when confronted with such amazing grace, whether deep down inside he could ever forgive himself even though his father so freely forgives.  It begs the question, how can we, when confronted with the righteous love of God, help but feel like the most depraved being?  How in the world can we live with ourselves when what we are is so broken and filthy?  It seems then only natural the closer we get to God, the more we dislike ourselves.

But while we were still a long ways off from the Father, he ran to us because he couldn't wait for us to get to him.

Who is like the LORD?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exodus 4:11-13

"The LORD said to him, 'Who gave man his mouth?  Who makes him deaf and mute?  Who gives him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'  But Moses said, 'O LORD, please send someone else to do it.'"

Moses is running low on excuses.  Despite God's constant reassurance that He will take care of everything, Moses comes up with reason after reason and fear after fear in hopes that he can get out of what God is asking him to do until finally he just outright says it, "O LORD, please send someone else to do it."

God is sovereign in all our lives and has a calling for each and every single one of us, but often we put it off.  "God, I need to get my degree before I can serve you."  "God, I need to save up money first before I can do that."  "God, I am not very good at evangelism!"  Believe me, I'm sure God has heard every single excuse in the book why you aren't doing what he asked of you to do and God asks of us the simplest things!  He even promises to equip us adequately for the mission if we just go, and we sit and make excuses.

Maybe you don't know God's will for your life, but are you trying to figure it out?  Come on: What's your excuse?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jeremiah 32:27

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything to hard for me?"

Do you know what ultimate power is?  It isn't the ability to do whatever it is you want, rather it is the ability to accomplish whatever you set out to do without fail.  This is the Omnipotence of our God, that his will is sovereign over all other wills, powers, and principalities. That is to say, ultimately all wills are made to accomplish God's will.

When God sets out to create for himself mankind in his image, he does so knowing of our inevitable rebellion.  And still he creates us because he is sovereign, because he knew he could do it.  He sent his Son as the express means by which his will would be fulfilled in the world, that namely fully free human beings would come to love their creator God, that from them he would get Glory for himself through his awesome works.  Creation and the fall were just the beginning of God's plan to create for himself a kingdom of believers.

God has promised salvation to all those who love him and has given us his spirit as a deposit and guarantee of what is to come.  It is not our place to question how God chooses to act. Can the clay criticize the potter? We don’t always know how God accomplishes his will but we can be assured of this: As surely as the LORD lives, He will do it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mark 6:31

"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

Ministry with Jesus is exhausting, no doubt about it.  They served non-stop at His side so they couldn't even catch a break for lunch.  The good news is, Jesus provides them an opportunity to rest because he recognized his disciple's needs.  I'm positive his disciples were looking forward to that well earned rest.

But that's not what happens.

Thousands of people follow them to their resting place.  Imagine, if you will, your work following you home to the place where you should be free to rest.  The hour is late, you haven't eaten all day, and in addition you had already spent the entire day working.  "A little annoyed" wouldn't begin to cover it, so they tell Jesus to send them away.

But that's not what happens.

It turns out, before they get to eat they must feed the starving crowd.  Before they can get rest, they must pacify the restless crowds.  Before they could retreat, they must deal with the crowd who ran from all the towns and beat a boat across a lake. But love often is inconvenient.  Sometimes the times when people need us the most are the times we really don't want to deal with them.  However, Jesus as well has gone through the same things as the disciples had just done, and no doubt he is tired and hungry as well, but he sets the example.  So love like Christ loved you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

1 John 5:3-4

"This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."

In the book of Joshua, God gives Joshua a master battle plan for which to conquer the city of Jericho.  His victory is guaranteed as long as he does exactly as God has said.  In the same way are we all victors and overcomers who believe in Christ who overcame sin and death.  Christ is our commander in chief leading the victory march on a war already won.

To be obedient is to walk as Christ who was obedient even unto death.  Because Christ leads by example, so too should we follow out of reverence lest we dishonor the Name of Christ which has been given to us.  Remember that it is Christ who saves you.  Your obedience is simply to show love for the name by which sin and death are defeated, by which all who believe receive grace and salvation, by which God's promise is kept and his reputation restored. Truly it is not burdensome!  It is pure joy to serve Christ and his kingdom.

So to all those in the struggle:  The victory is already yours so have confidence and believe in God's promised!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

1 Corinthians 2:12

"We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."

It is a dangerous thing when people try to use the power of the Bible without the wisdom or knowledge of its understanding that comes only from the Holy Spirit.  Oftentimes, they only end up hurting themselves and others they meet along the way.  Many heresies are quickly spread like wildfire because people everywhere rely on their own wisdom and knowledge to interpret scriptures when it should be God's holy word that informs them of their own life's interpretation.

God's word is not simply an object to dissect and pick apart.  It is not just a book upon which you could do literary analysis.  You do not inform God's word what it says, but you allow it to inform you, to mold you and shape you.  You do not act upon it, but it acts on you.  This is the lost art of Biblical interpretation, lost to the hubris of man.  Like ancient martial arts, it is quick, powerful, graceful, and efficient, but it's truth can only come to those humble enough to submit to it.  Everyone else is trying to sell you something.

Therefore be diligent in your training.  Practice wielding this power responsibly or do everyone a favor and don't practice at all.  The Bible in unskilled hands is a child holding a sword.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Genesis 1:27;31

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them... God saw all that he had made and it was very good."

Did you know that when God made you, he saw that you were good?  Do you realize that God smiles when he sees you? Do you ever just sit and think about what God thinks about?  The short answer is you.  God thinks about you all the time and who could blame him?  He's in love.

He is the hound of heaven, wooing us and courting us until we finally fall in love with him as well.  The Bridegroom is here, but where is the bride?  Patiently he waits at the altar, ever faithful and diligent, steadfast in his love and devotion, for his Bride to come down the aisle.   He waits for her even as she has cold feet or runs off with another man.  He is heartbroken but undeterred, confident his Bride will return.

Why?  Because when he thinks about the day his beautiful Bride will come, he is happy.  You make God happy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Matthew 26:51-52

"With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  'Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who live by the sword will die by the sword."

This scene marks a critical plot twist in the minds of everyone following Jesus.  What was supposed to be the start of a revolutionary uprising to take back Jerusalem and restore David's throne turned into what must've been at the time the worst possible outcome if Israel was ever to be restored.

The account of John identifies the companion as Simon Peter, which makes sense given his proclivity to boldly do the wrong thing.  I can almost hear what was going through Peter's mind , "Now is the time to strike!  The kingdom is at hand!"  It would've been the ear cutting heard 'round the world, forever altering the course of history, but Jesus would have none of it.  He stopped the war before it even began.

Everyone abandoned Jesus that day because he was not what they expected, nay he was not what they wanted him to be.  Jesus didn't fit into their box, but he was far more than anything they could've imagined.  If you've ever been disappointed with Jesus, perhaps your idea of Jesus is too small?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mark 3:4

"What is lawful to do on the sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?"

There comes a time in every man's life when he must decide whether to save life or to kill, to do good or to do evil.  However, sometimes doing the right thing has a higher cost than doing the wrong thing or not doing anything at all.

Jesus' life and ministry exemplified a life of doing the right thing at great cost.  He would touch that which was forbidden to touch and heal when it was forbidden to heal according to the law of the day.   But he did these things anyway because in his heart he knew it was the right thing to do.  To act contrary to what you know to be right is in a word, sin.

Peter felt it's pain after denying Christ three times.  I tell you the truth, the weight of guilt, remorse, and regret is far worse than anything man can do to you.  To do what is right, to save a life, requires self-sacrifice whether it be your time, your money, your freedom, or your life.  To simply do nothing at all for the sake of comfort is to forfeit potential good.  MLK understood this well.  Sometimes one must break all the rules in order to find shalom.

Therefore I say to you, do what is right even if it kills you. There are far worse things than death.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

John 18:11

"Shall I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?"

There is something very specific God has put you on this earth to do.  He has equipped each and every one of us to do a special job for the kingdom.  We are being trained with the skills and tools necessary to accomplish that purpose for which God has fashioned us.

Every trial will strengthen you for the task at hand, and what you have always considered as your weaknesses are actually your greatest assets to accomplish God's mission.  God made no mistake in your life.  Everything you've been through, all the blood, sweat, and tears, are for this moment now.  Do not let it pass you by.  It is for you to decide each and every moment if you love life or fear it.  I tell you the truth, there is no future for the one who doesn't move forward out of fear.

God has not abandoned you to figure out life by yourself.  He is always already guiding those who trust his guidance.  If you are lost and do not know where else to go, if you are stuck or just plain scared of moving forward because of fears from the past, God is with you and has been from the start. You are not forgotten.

The Father has given you a cup.  Will you drink from it?