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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Psalm 46:10

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted  among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

You may have heard this verse many times applied in this way, "Stop being so busy and take time just to be with God." or "Settle down and meditate on God and His Word."  It doesn't make sense, though.  Psalm 46 isn't about reflecting on God's attributes like some other Psalms nor is it about being quiet or less busy.  The verse when applied in this way seems out of place for a Psalm mainly concerned about war, violence, uproars, shattering spears, burning shields, and how throughout it all God remains an ever-present help in times of trouble.

This isn't to say "have a quiet time with God" at all.  Why would God be exalted in that?  God isn't actually doing anything here, rather it is you doing something.

This verse is to say "Stand back and watch me work!"  The army is poised to fight, but God has told them to do nothing except watch Him work, to see his desolations he has brought upon the earth.

"Be still and know that I am God!" is His battle cry.  Watch him gain for himself glory, you need not do a thing.  Watch Him defeat every foe! It is a wondrous sight to behold!  How can we help but exalt his victories?  He is our mighty fortress, our protector and our strength, a genuine war hero.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Genesis 11:6-7

"The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

It seems God had made us too well. He made us too perfectly so that when we worked together (like at the tower of Babel) nothing was impossible for us. Imagine what man would be capable of if we were not so limited by cultural barriers?

However, collective omnipotence (defined as the ability to do anything you set out to do) is not something that fallen man can handle.  God has formed us and set us a little below God himself, made in his image.  Whereas God is bound by his very nature (Good, loving, just, righteous, etc.), we have proven ourselves not bound to it.  Some of us serve one master, the Serpent, and those who are redeemed serve the Risen Lord.

Indeed, we were banished from the garden for the same reason:  that we might not become more powerful and more like God by eating from the tree of life. If we became gods, we would not need God or worship God, which indeed is the entire point of our creation.  So God is using the very thing he used to drive us apart so that together we might rely on God to do the impossible and change this world for good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Matthew 10:24

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master."

Do you consider yourself greater than Jesus? Now your gut reaction is to say no (or at least I hope it is), but it might not be that obvious. If Jesus is your Lord and Master, then you must expect to be treated in the same way he was treated. Don't be surprised if the world throws back in your face your good intentions and your speaking the truth in love. You might as well be just as surprised that the enemy across the battlefield shot at you when you tried to deliver them tea and cookies.

Neither should you think yourself not bound to the same things Jesus was bound to. His life is filled with examples of love and obedience. He healed the sick and dying, those otherwise untouched by Jewish society due to purity regulations. He came to serve others, not to be served. If you think this life of servitude and obedience was only good for Jesus and the same rules don't apply to you, then truly you consider yourself greater than He was.

If you want to be a disciple, you must do the things he did and teach and obey the things he taught. It's the very definition of what a disciple is. Now there are stories of disciples "surpassing" their masters by going beyond what their masters taught, but do you hope to do it better than Jesus did it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

1 Kings 19:10

"Zelo Zelatus Sum Pro Domino Deo Exercituum"
(With great zeal I have been zealous for the LORD God Almighty)

The prophet Elijah has was one of the most powerful prophets in the Old Testament.  His miracles even rival those of Christ in terms of their grandeur and sheer awesomeness. Though of course no one can match Christ, Elijah comes very close.  After having performed the miracle at Mt. Carmel in front of all the prophets of Baal and Ashera, proving to them once and for all the LORD is God, Elijah flees for his life.  It's is strange to see a man so full of faith in God run for his life because of a woman named Jezebel (whose reputation precedes her).

But Elijah, more than anything, desires the LORD God almighty.  He tells God that he is the only one left from amongst all of the Lord's prophets that have not turned or were killed by Jezebel.  Elijah was alone, except for God.  This is why Elijah so strongly desired the Lord, for he had no one else.  Elijah also wanted to die as well, having had enough of life. (v4)  It was in that moment God took care of Elijah, when everything seemed lost.

It is this phrase that embodied Elijah's life.  When Elijah was all alone and clearly depressed, God gave him a new purpose and a disciple to take his place, Elisha.  Depression didn't define Elijah, but it was his zeal for God.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mark 6:48

"And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them..."

Jesus saw his disciples struggling in the middle of the sea, and yet intended to just simply walk past them casually.  Ironically enough, Jesus was the one who sent the disciples on ahead of him while he stayed back and prayed on a mountainside, and yet this same Jesus was about to surpass his disciples even though they had a head start and were in a boat.

This is not a story about Jesus being able to "calm the winds of your life". This is a story to say that at one point in history there existed a man who could walk on water and do so effortlessly.  If you've ever been out on a windy lake, the water isn't exactly calm to walk on.  You contrast the disciples struggling and being tossed about in their little boat in the pitch black of night before dawn, and Jesus who waltzes right past them and you start to understand how amazing this God of ours is.

This isn't a story to highlight Jesus's compassion, but rather his sovereignty.  Everything obeys Jesus's command, even the laws of Physics themselves (after all, he wrote the laws).  When you start to grasp that then you start to realize just who is this king of glory.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Psalms 104:24

"How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have made them all;
The earth is full of your creatures."

How amazing is the Earth and all of God's creation?  Everything has been designed to work together in harmony.  We can consider the mighty rivers that flow from the mountains or how the grass of the field grows to feed the cattle.  We live on a planet that overflows with life of all sorts, all of it amazing and beautiful.  And it is God who makes it all move.  God does not create lifeless beings as we create, but rather everything that the Lord touches is alive!

But do you see it?  When you walk around on Earth, do you take the time to appreciate a leaf or marvel at the intricacies of an insect?  Do you take for granted every perfect sunset painted by the Creator, or simply tread upon the flowers in His fields?  In all these things God has displayed the magnitude of his splendor, yet these very things are unacknowledged in favor of our own devices which do not live.  No one can create like our God.

But above it all lies God's prized creation.  Above all things has God valued this one thing.  That thing is you.  Us.  All of humanity was been made in the image of God himself, both male and female.  To God, you are much more beautiful than any sunset on any beach and much more valued than any forest or mountain.  God has redeemed you so that he can once again enjoy you.  That's how precious you are to Him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Job 32:8

"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding."

Elihu is one of those heroes of the Bible you really don't hear much about. When no one else could show Job his error (and yet condemned him anyway), Elihu spoke wisdom according to the spirit given to him from God.  Scripture says the Elihu was angry with Job for trying to justify himself instead of God.  Instead of trusting in God's righteousness, Job questions God's very motives.  Who can form a case against God?  What accusations can they use?  Truly if not for the lies of the Pharisees, Jesus would not have died for even Pilate found no fault with him.

Elihu is an inspiration to young people like me that we too can speak the Lord's wisdom.  There is no wisdom that we could possess that doesn't come from God. Elihu speaks brilliantly concerning the Problem of Evil and the entire story is theodicy, that is a defense of God's good name in face of the problem of evil.  However, some use this exact story to condemn God for what He did to Job and they make the same mistake.  This is what can happen when you do not know the whole story.

If there is anything you should read in Job, it would be what Elihu has to say to Job.  Had I more words to write I would write them for you, but alas the wisdom of the Bible surpasses the constraints of this blog.  If you lack wisdom, you have no farther to look than the Word of God, the very breath of life that sustains us all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Job 40:8

"Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?"

This is the Lord speaking to Job, but these words were not written just for Job but for us as well.  The proud are people who love to justify themselves.  "I'm a good person because..."  "That person had it coming..." "I did what anyone would do..."  No one ever realizes they are doing the wrong thing until after they've done it, if they realize it at all.  For them, God can make mistakes but they are never wrong.

It is not until we learn to readily admit we are wrong that we can receive grace.  Those who are stubborn and those who must always be right will forever stubbornly refuse the grace that could have been theirs.  Humility is the key to the kingdom of God.  As Paul writes, "Let God be true and every man a liar".  In short, let God be God. If God is not righteous, salvation is not worthless.  Those who condemn God only condemn themselves.

When it comes to arguments among Believers, the same principle applies.  Would you rather be right or happy? Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6, "The very fact that you have lawsuits amongst yourselves means you have been completely defeated already.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?" Not every hill is worth dying on so for the sake of your relationships pick and choose your battles carefully.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mark 10:21

"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'"

Jesus wasn't kidding.  He wasn't testing him or trying to turn him into an object lesson.  This wasn't even the first time Jesus had said, "Come, follow me.", however it is the first time the phrase isn't followed by "And immediately they got up and left everything and followed him." in Mark's account.  What made him so different?

The reason Jesus calls us all to leave everything behind and then follow him is so that we have nothing to turn back to.  When you follow Jesus, you quickly realize just as Peter did when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."  Think well before you commit your life to Christ and count the cost.  How foolish does a Christian look who falls from the faith!  He started to build what he could not finish.

In truth, no one who claims to follow Jesus and yet hangs onto material wealth is actually a disciple.  You cannot serve both God and Money.  If you do not consider all things as rubbish when compared to the value of knowing the Lord then you do not realize His value in your life.  He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what is eternal.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Romans 6:16

"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

Every sin, though it may take many forms, is the same sin.  Because of this, breaking just one breaks them all in God's eyes for there is only one sin:  giving control of your life to anything other than God.

Adam and Eve did it when they obeyed the Serpent.  The Israelites did it when they worshiped a Golden calf.  Moses did it when he gave into his wrath and murdered an Egyptian.  David did it when he gave into his lust for Bathsheba.  Peter did it when he gave into his fear and denied Christ.  In every circumstance, when we place control of our lives into something other than God, whether it is other Gods or our own desires, we sin.  When we do not obey God's will in our lives and instead obey our other masters (greed, lust, pride, wrath, envy, hunger, laziness), we sin and sin greatly against God.  This is the one thing God cannot stand because he is a jealous god, just as a jealous husband cannot stand a wife who sleeps around.

It is not wrong, however, to desire things like marriage for example.  However when our desire consumes us, we know we are in error and are no longer obeying God's will for in the end we are all slaves to something whether it brings life or death.  The only question is, "Which will you choose?"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Psalms 71:14

"But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more."

What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, or so the saying goes, but what do you do when the very thing that is killing you is life?  Life never gets any easier to live and burdens are just as burdensome.  The rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous.  What reason can you have for hope?

It turns out, God doesn't make you any stronger to bear hardship and endure struggles.  Every death is painful, every broken relationship hurts, and every persecution is insufferable.  These things are very real and do not disappear with faith.  So what reason can you have for hope?

It is because in our weakness God shows up.  He does not prevent pain's sting, but he bears it for us.  God becomes strength for us.  The weaker we are, the more God lifts us up and bears for our sake.  If we were to collapse under the weight, God would bear us up as well.  God's glory shines when our own glory diminishes so that everyone might say "The Lord has done it!"

So this is the reason for the hope that we have:  that God has come alongside us to deliver us from the weight we carry, not that he prevents us from carrying weight. And we will praise him more and more for what doesn't kill you only brings you closer to God, our strength.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

John 14:27; 16:33

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid... I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble, but take heart!  I have overcome the world."

To be able to have peace when the entire world around you in is chaos is completely profound.  With the disasters in Japan and the uprisings in Africa, the entire world seems to be in turmoil.  And yet, it's always been like this since the Fall of Man.  There was no peace in the land for we were enemies of God and the only fleeting periods of peace occurred when there was only one dominant power in the world (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, etc) and even then peace only followed conquest.

And that is what the Lord did.  He conquered the world (and with it sin and death) in order to establish his eternal reign and he did it through non-violence, through humbling himself unto death on a cross.  Jesus is Lord and through him we enjoy peace for he is the Prince of Peace.  Whereas peace was temporary and suffering was eternal, now suffering is but fleeting and peace is forever. So do not seek enmity with God, but be reconciled through the blood of Jesus. It's completely free.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Romans 12:18

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

We are not guaranteed to be friendly with everyone.  They are going to be people who will not forgive you even if you apologize as well as those who know how to hold a grudge for a lifetime.  There are some who will also never treat you they way you want to be treated and people who will discriminate against you.  Especially for the Christian, there will be people who downright hate you for trying to speak the truth in love to them for Christ's sake.

There is only so much you can do to pursue reconciliation and forgiveness on your end because it is a two way street, however it is worth doing.  Paul is asking us to do whatever is necessary to be at peace, and if peace is not possible, do everything you can.  That's really all Jesus ever really asked of you:  Do the best that you can.  In this way you live without regret.

So don't beat yourself up if people don't like you.  There will always be people who don't like you and if you are doing anything worthwhile, having haters is a good sign.  Love your haters and don't get mad at them because they do what is only natural to them.  Take care of their needs and let God handle the rest.  Try and make amends, but if they refuse, then just do what you can.

Friday, March 18, 2011

John 2:10

"Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best until now."

Jesus has never been one to disappoint nor has he ever been someone to follow normal social conventions of his time.  All Jesus needed to do was get some cheap wine to serve the guests and thus avoid the shame and embarrassment of having run out.  But that wasn't enough for Jesus.  He didn't settle for cheap wine.  He didn't do just the bare minimum required, but rather when he does a miracle he does it with the best of his ability.

Not only that, but he made 120-180 gallons of wine.  That's anywhere from 605-907 bottles of wine.  Jesus sure knew how to party!  But more than that, when Jesus provides, he provides in abundance more than we asked for.

Jesus has a habit of always saving the best for last. Just when we think we have Jesus figured out, he goes and does something even more amazing and we are again astounded.  Who is this man?  He is none other than the Lord God Almighty who is in the business of pulling out miracles even in the most dire of situations often at the last minute.  So do not despair!  When Jesus is around, things cannot help but get better.  Whatever your situation and no matter how bad it looks, Jesus is on the job.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

John 15:19

"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you."

Jesus has not made it a secret what we must do but has revealed everything necessary and sufficient for our salvation.  Actually, it isn't a question of "What must we do?" but rather "Who must we know?".  But who can know the Father except those to whom the Father has revealed himself? Those who do not belong to him do not see him, but his sheep recognize his voice.

Not everyone will be saved on that great and terrible day and we have no time to waste.  Jesus had three years to complete his mission and never once is he seen begging and pleading with people to believe.  They either did or they did not believe.  He didn't have time to waste when there were others who were willing to listen who have not heard.  It's a hard reality, but unless we can accept that some will perish, we will never get around to reaching everyone else.

The ship is sinking and this world is passing away.  God has given us lifeboats, but if no one believes our message that the ship is sinking but there's a way out, how can they be saved?  So we press on to find those who will believe our message and pray those who do not believe come to their senses before it's too late.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Proverbs 12:1

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."

The hardest sin to correct is in fact pride.  A prideful man hates to be criticized.  A prideful man does not believe what others say to him nor will he allow himself to be humbled by those he deems "inferior" as if their status could negate the truth.  A prideful man is a foolish man who believes he is beyond reproach.  Moreover, pride is subversive.  A prideful man does not know he is prideful, nor can you tell him.  Can you see why God cannot tolerate a haughty spirit?  It is because they blaspheme the Holy Spirit else they would turn an be forgiven, and mark my words no man has ever been forgiven by God without first turning in humble repentance.

But to those who love discipline have been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Because they have humbled themselves and do not think of themselves any more highly than they ought, God has extended them divine grace and mercy in the form of discipline.  That's right, discipline is a form of mercy when compared to God's other option for correction:  death.  God disciplines those that he loves as a father would discipline his Sons, so today if you hear God's voice do not harden your hearts, for God will exalt those in the lower places and humble those who are high.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

James 2:17

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

The old joke goes that James is a Catholic Epistle because it just makes you feel guilty reading it. But there is some truth to it.

Faith in many respects can be imagined as a tree.  If your heart is ready to receive the seed of God's word, God will grow it in you to maturity.  How he does this is a mystery, but because it is His eternal life which animates our faith tree, we too share in it.  But if the tree bears no fruits or works, it must be a dead tree good only for the fire.  If the tree is dead, so is the person for God is not in it.  Neither can we hope to make fruit without the tree.  Such things aren't fruit but only made of sticks and mud.

So often can we divorce faith and action.  We are more than happy to pray for people, but it's a different matter altogether to sit with someone and enter into their pain.  If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we just want to pray for people to get them to stop crying since it's making us uncomfortable.  The Bible teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. (Rom 12:15) Indeed a Christian life should be marked with the highest of joys and the profoundness of sorrows.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jeremiah 9:23-24

"Thus says the LORD
'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, 
let not the mighty man boast in his might, 
let not the rich man boast in his riches, 
but let him who boasts boast in this,
 that he understands and knows me, 
that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, 
justice, and righteousness in the earth. 
For in these things I delight' declares the LORD."

Who is like the Lord?  To what can we compare Him for there is no one like Him in all the Earth.  Indeed to say that you could fathom the mysteries of God himself is indeed a thing to boast about.

And boast we can.

God has revealed himself apart from the Scriptures (but to which they testify) in the living incarnation of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  All who have seen him have seen the Father so that no one may be without excuse.  God has made himself known so that all who come to the Father through the Son may be made known to him.  Jesus Christ is the embodiment of steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in whom the Father is "well pleased". (Mark 1:11)

So we boast in Jesus Christ, the giver of all good things and the maker of heaven and earth, who died and rose again to give us glory in the Father's court.  We know who we worship and he knows us. Hallelujah!  Jesus Christ is Lord!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Matthew 25:15

"To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability."

Sometimes we get disappointed with our own ministries because we try to spend five talents when we've only been given one.  We can easily stretch ourselves too thin, trying to do everything but being effective at nothing.  Sometimes we even try to do too much at a time and we end up exhausted with a pile of things all over the floor.

God has indeed gifted some more than he's gifted others, each according to their ability, but there is no reason to be jealous and to try and act as if we are more capable than we are.  God has given us only what we can handle!  This is a blessing to delight in, not a reason to covet the blessedness of others.  So what if you cannot physically do as much as others or you cannot speak as well as others, God has only ever asked of you to do the best with what you have been given.  You can still be an encourager, a prayer warrior, a companion to the poor and destitute, and a friend of sinners.

Remember that no one owns the talents they work with, all of it is a gift from God, so keep watch as he might return at any day.  Remember that the worst thing you can do is not to do anything.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mark 11:22

"'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered."

It seems it is not the amount of faith that matters to Jesus nor even the quality of faith.  It seems not to matter if you have strong faith or weak faith, unwavering faith or doubter's faith.  Jesus does not say have unquestioning faith nor does he mention anything about the kind of faith.  However, the only thing that is important is the object of that faith, God.

Jesus says that even if you had faith as tiny as a mustard seed (that is not much faith at all), you could command mountains to be hurled into the sea.  Nothing would be impossible for you.  But why?  It is because of faith's object, God, who is able and mighty to act, for whom nothing is impossible, that faith is so powerful, no matter the amount or the quality.  Even he who has minuscule faith is secure because he stands on the Solid Rock of Ages.  It does you no good to have strong faith that you will not fall if it is based on that which cannot last.  Such a person is insecure despite believing they are secure.  Weak faith in God is better than strong faith in the World.

Even if you are unsure if God is really there, he is the only one who is Eternal.  Even if your confidence is wavering, trust in Him who does not waver and whose constant mercies are made new everyday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Isaiah 26:12

"O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works."

"It is finished" were his dying words, still fresh on his lips as he breathed his last.  He wasn't talking about his life, no not at all, but rather what he did for us.  Where we could not bear the full burden of the Law, He fulfilled the law, where we could not produce for ourselves fruit, he became fruit for us.  Where we had no works to show, He has done for us all our works that we too might become righteous before the eyes of God.

No longer must we live in  fear of damnation and condemnation for our wickedness, but because of Christ we might enjoy peace with God!  He has become for us a seat of atonement that we might come to for the forgiveness of sins, that he might wash us and cleanse us from all impurity and clothe us with all righteousness that we might be able to enjoy the fullness of the banquet with joy and not anxiety.

So let us rejoice, he's done everything for us!  No longer must we work, but now is the time to celebrate!  Invite all your friends for He has done it!  It is finished, Hallelujah!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Psalms 51:1

"Have mercy on me, O God, 
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion, 
blot out my transgressions."

To what good work can we appeal to?  To what righteousness do we have to stand before God justified and able to defend ourselves?  Are we not hypocrites and liars?  Murderers and thieves?  What amount of good works can we say will be enough to atone for one act of selfishness?  Has not the damage been done?  Who can say to the shattered mirror, "Be repaired!" or "Put yourself back together!", expecting the word would bring restoration and atonement?  What amount of good works can fix a broken life damaged by sin?  Sin done cannot be undone by any earthly power and the penalty of sin is death.

But Jesus is Lord.

It is his righteousness that we appeal to.  By his goodness can we ask for mercy.  Because of his unfailing love do we stand to hold victory before the Lord in judgment.  Forgiveness is that divine power to save us from death, forgiveness only possible because God is God and Jesus is Lord.  Because God is righteous, he will restore that which we have broken.  Because God is righteous, he will keep account of sin to act with justice.  Because God is righteous, we can trust he is able to save us and he alone and we can trust his judgment is correct.  Thank God God is God!  He is who He says He is!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mark 4:27

"Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how."

As much as we work the land and sow seeds, there is a limit to what we can do.  Can we make a seed grow?  We may be able to provide the conditions that make it highly probable that the seed will grow, but some things can only be done by God, the actual act of growing and giving life.  Most plants grow on their own without our help, whether we are sleeping or awake. God is always working to grow something.

And the whole process is a complete mystery.  Science can observe its growth up close and tell us about things like mitosis and DNA, but such close scrutiny only tells us what this growth looks like, the actual mechanics of growth, not how it grows or why.  God does that work, He who freely gives life.

So we partner with God, both harvester and grower, to obtain the crop at the designated time.  We reap the life that God has grown night and day.  We soften the hearts and sow the seed in them and pray God causes them to grow.  In this way we can share in the joy of the harvest, together rejoicing over the life that the land has brought forth.  What a wonderful God who allows us to delight with him in every new believer come to fruition!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mark 8:31

"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."

Not even God's own Son could avoid suffering in this life, rather suffering must have been endured if sins were ever to be forgiven and God justified.  What hope have we to avoid suffering and what right do we have to pretend we do not suffer?  Surely as we were baptized into Christ's death and raised with him into eternal life, so too do we take part in the same sufferings that Christ suffered on our behalf.

We are not promised lives free of suffering, but we are promised the presence of the Eternal One who bears us up and comforts us when we suffer.  So often is it said of God, "Why does this good God allow suffering?", but this same God brings grace to those who are unrighteous and compassion on those who deserve none.  If God was unrighteous, then there is no salvation, but his righteousness has been revealed in Christ for all those who believe.  If God could not justify the wicked, which we were, how then could he justify our existence?

For if not for God's forbearance and graciousness on us, we would have been wiped out at Eden.  So why does God allow suffering?  The same reason he allowed sinners (you and me) to exist, so that they might be able to come to repentance through his Son Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Psalm 68:19

"Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation."

Daily we need his mercies and strength to carry on.  We come to him with our weakness and so he is made strong in us.  Each and every day is a new day and each day has troubles of it's own so there is no sense worrying about tomorrow's troubles in addition to todays!  God will bear you up daily but not before it is time.

God is our salvation.  There is no one like him and salvation is found nowhere apart from God (for God is salvation).  To be in God's presence is to be safe and secure from whatever might do you harm. God is our resting place.

With the weight of the world bearing down on us, God lifts our burdens so that we might find rest.  There is no sense living in the future for the future is not yet here and no sense living in the past for those moments are gone.  We can only live in the present, in the now for that's all we really can bear.

When you've had about all that you can bear, find rest in God.  After all, even God rested on the seventh Day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Psalm 143:5

"I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands."

Today I turn 24 years old and I can hardly believe it.  So much has happened in those 24 years that I could spend all day reflecting on it, but even though I've been alive for 24 years, I've only been living for 3.

It all means nothing without Jesus.

In the 3 years that I've known Him, I've learned and grown more than the previous 21 years combined.  When I consider the work he's done in me, how through everything he has lead me to this point, I am amazed. In a certain sense I believe in free will, but I also believe in destiny.  Everything that's happened in my life has happened so that I might know Christ.  The same is true for everyone.

Now every new day is an adventure.  Everyday there is something new to learn or discover or experience and I am just happy to be able to enjoy it while I last.  Truly if not for Christ's suffering I would have no freedom to live and love life.

So here I am free to do whatever I love, but the only thing I could ever want to do is love Christ.  How could I not?  He has never betrayed me!

So here's to one more year serving in Christ!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jeremiah 2:29

"'Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,' declares the LORD."

    When we pray, have we any right to ask God for the things we desire? Have not each one of us gone astray? Have we all not "played the harlot", as Jeremiah 2 so potently describes? It is as if a man caught cheating returns and asks her for favors. Would not the last person on Earth you would want to see be your cheating ex? Indeed we have no right to complain, or ask, let alone even to talk to God after what we've done.

    But God isn't bitter nor is his love fickle. He has loved us with an undying love that nothing in this world could break, not even sin, which was defeated on the Cross by Christ. Love accepts us, but justice transforms us. They cannot exist apart from the other. God is no fool, but righteous. Thus love requires justice to be love. He listens to the prayer of those who obey for "the prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective" and righteousness is by faith.

    So when we pray, we do so humbly, knowing we deserve nothing but relying on God's own goodness and righteousness to care for us. We do so in faith knowing that He is willing and able to do it. How wonderful it is to be able to talk to God and how overlooked is its value! Prayer is our privilege.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Psalms 68:6 revisted

"God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

Are you alone?  Do you feel abandoned, forgotten, or empty?  Waiting on that special someone to knock on your door and take you away?  No surprise there, you were not made to be alone (Gen 1:18).  You were made to be in a relationship and in community, both with yourself and with God, else why would he give you a mouth to speak and ears to hear?  By your very nature you were made to interact.

However it is God who sets the lonely in families.  It is God who is the only cure for that empty feeling you feel.  People are mortal and friendships may come and go, but God is the Eternal One, unchanging and unyielding in steadfast love.  We know that whoever has given up "home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields" for Christ's sake and for the gospel "will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age" (Mk 10:29-30)

Do you seek to satisfy these needs God has placed in you alone?  Do you rob God of a chance to bless you?  Do you forfeit the grace you could have had?  Seek out God and he will provide for you the rest.  God alone knows if you need to be married, and if he knows your needs he will fill them, but seek God first!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

James 1:22

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."

Do I take seriously God's word?  That's the question.  If by these instructions I might find abundant life, would I not be careful to follow them exactly?  If in fact I were holding a treasure map that indicated the location of a treasure in a field, would I not heed it's instruction?

Obedience is not required for salvation.  It can never be through works of the law that we could choose to be righteous for if we choose it would not be by God's choice and it would not be grace.  However obedience flows naturally out of faith like water out of a faucet.  If the water did not flow, then it wouldn't be a very good faucet.  How can anyone be obedient to Christ if they do not first believe in Christ?  Truly we are all disobedient who do not know Christ.

And who can know Christ except to whom He reveals himself?  So then faith which gives birth to obedience and leads to salvation is in fact a gift of God's grace.  The entire salvific process is done by God, through God, and in God so that it can never fail, unlike religion made by men.

So be doers of the will of God: to believe in the one whom he has sent. Those that have ears to hear, let them hear!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Luke 17:10

"So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

Whoever thinks that they can gain favor with God through works of the Law is a fool.  So too is the man who expects praise for what he was supposed to be doing anyways.  Can anyone expect praise for doing only the bare minimum of what is required?  When the world comes to me with praises and compliments as if to puff me up, saying such things like "Oh what a good person you are!", the only honest response I could give is "I have only done what is required and no more."

If you were really honest with yourself, how much time do you waste every day?  I can't help but think that back when Christians were being persecuted for their faith it was a whole lot easier to be a Christian because we didn't distract ourselves from actually living full and meaningful lives with meaningless media entertainment.  We sacrifice lives for entertainment.  My guilt hangs heavy on my heart.  O Lord help us!

But imagine the world if we spent 15 minutes less on the internet and 15 more in prayer, an hour less on TV and an hour more reading our Bibles.  I know a bit more intimately now what it means to be saved by grace, wretched and lazy servant that I am. O Sovereign Lord, save us from ourselves!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ezekiel 37:14

"I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD."

    God's promises to us are as good as done. Because of the nature of Hebrew language, the same verse could be translated as "I have spoken and I have done it". God's track record on his promises has been impeccable and his word is powerful. With only a word ("Let there be…") he spoke everything into existence. With only a word, He healed the centurion's servant (Matthew 8:15-24).

    And we know that in the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1). And we also know of this Word made flesh who dwelt among us, the same Word with power and authority to act, to call what is nonexistent as it existed. (Rom 4:17)

    And it is this same Word which dwells within us that we might live. This same Word that brings life where there once was only death. The Word that makes these dry bones live again. All this so that the entire world may know that He is the LORD of Hosts, creator of all that is seen and unseen. This is the Word God has spoken and surely has done. We have his Word on it.