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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:20

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

Every commandment (except for 4 and 5) were in the form of prohibitions (You shall not...), and each of them have their equal but opposite counterparts. In general, the counterpart of all the commandments is "Love God" and "Love your neighbor".  The ten commandments are specifics on how not to love.  Because loving someone is a discipline and varies greatly from situation to situation and person to person, God has chosen for the most part to not list instructions on how to love.  However, certain actions are in no way loving and should be avoided if the commandment is to be kept.  These are not necessarily an all encompassing instruction on how to love, but rather how to not break the commandment to love.

That being said, bearing false testimony against your neighbor certainly isn't loving them.  When the Pharisees brought false testimony against Jesus in order to convict and kill him, they certainly weren't loving him.  Actually, they hated him.  And who is your neighbor?  Those who have mercy on others (Luke 10:36-37) and imitate God.  So do not slander your fellow servants in Christ nor treat them with contempt to try and tear them down out of jealousy or hatred like the Pharisees who hated their fellow Jew, Jesus Christ.  Rather build one another up (1Cor 14:26), speaking in psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs (Eph 5:19).  This is loving your neighbor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:19

"You shall not steal."

  We all steal.  Perhaps we call it borrowing without asking, or we have some other clever name for it, but regardless, taking something which we have no right to take is in fact, stealing.  There are many excuses for stealing, such as "It was just going to waste anyway" or "No one is going to miss it" or even worse "I deserve it because of..."

Stealing is hardly considered a major offense today, but it is included with commandments prohibiting murder and adultery and carries the same consequences.  What's the big deal?  While the damage may be minimal to those you steal from, the self-destructiveness of stealing is catastrophic.  Stealing and dishonesty go hand in hand and those who steal tend also to be liars (in order to cover up their thievery).  Stealing is a gateway sin which leads to many others (covetousness, pride, deceit, greed, etc.)

But "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." (Eph 4:28)  The opposite of stealing is not "not stealing" but rather generosity.  We are called to lives that give of themselves selflessly as a reflection of our generous Lord.  Stealing is a denial of the image of God we were made in and an affront to his glory because we are not able to reflect Him properly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:18

"You shall not commit adultery." 

When we remember that anyone who breaks any of these commandments is subject to death, we can begin to understand the seriousness of adultery.  Why?  Because adultery is a force so powerful and destructive that it can singlehandedly become grounds for divorce (Mt 5:31).  Adultery destroys relationships.  It takes two people who were bonded together and rips them apart, tearing at their hearts and souls and unleashed so much emotional pain and turmoil that it is an affront to God.  No parent can stand to see their children heartbroken, and neither can God.

And yet, Jesus says that the one who looks at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart (same goes for women).  Recognizing the destructive power of adultery, Jesus's solution is graphic:  If your eyes look lustfully, cut them out.  If your hand causes you to sin, (say by touching another person lustfully) cut it off and throw it away.  You know why?  Because it is easier to cut off one's own body parts than to correct a heart that lusts.

With man such correction is impossible.  No matter how hard you try, you will never escape your sinfulness, but thank God he has sent us a savior!  Now even when we sin, we have one who intercedes for us and defends us before the throne of God.  It is Christ living in us that transforms us by the power of the Holy Spirit not to lust for only he can fulfill our every need. With Christ in us, what else is their to lust for?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:17

"You shall not murder."

Those who read the Bible without insight see this commandment as hypocrisy.  God commands us not to murder, but does he not take life?  Does he not also command others to kill? Such people do not understand the spirit of the commandment.

If a man is wicked and unrepentant and causes much suffering while he is alive, God's justice dictates this man be removed from the earth not to punish the wicked man but to protect the innocent.  God is also the one who gave life in the first place to be used not for wickedness but for good.  The life we own is a life borrowed from eternity, entrusted to our care by the creator God.  We are not to do as we please with it, especially depriving another of their gift of life as well.

The spirit of this commandment is one that requires us not only to murder someone in our hands, but in our hearts as well.  Life was not granted to be spent hating each other.  Such hatred is not of God and has no place in God's creation.  God cannot dwell in hearts that are filled with malice (not the same as anger).  He cannot be worshiped by a heart filled with hate.  This is why murder and hatred share the same judgment. (Mt 5:22)

Forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love are from God.  The command not to hate and murder is the same command to love God and your neighbor stated different ways.  Do not hold onto bitterness, but learn to forgive and let go for in the end it will only destroy you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:16

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you."

Honor you mother and father not because they are worth honoring, but because the Lord has commanded it.  Some of us have had great and God fearing parents, but many aren't so fortunate.  Some parents do not deserve respect but we do not honor parents based on what they deserve for God does not honor us that way.  We honor our parents based on God's command so that we might live long and that it might go well with us.  We honor our parents for our sake, not for theirs.

Honor and obedience are neither the same.  One can obey their parents without honoring them.  Give your parents the proper respect and do not treat them with contempt or bitterness.  Submit to them insofar as it is not destructive because Christ first submitted to you.  When you honor your parents, you are not honoring them, but Christ and his words.  Again it matters little what they deserve, but the spirit of submission is the spirit of freedom.

We are to be mutually subordinate out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).  When we submit to others, do not be surprised if they return the favor.  Only in submission are we free at last to love unconditionally and to value others above ourselves.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:12

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you."

The Sabbath is easily one of the most neglected gifts of God.  Our bodies were made to work and to rest.  It is commanded for proper maintenance of our bodily functions.  But the most important reason to take a Sabbath is not that it is good for us to do (which obeying all of God's commandments are), but because God himself does it.

The LORD God, who is always working (Jn 5:17), and does not in anyway need rest since he does not grow tired, rested after 6 days of creation.  God made that seventh day Holy by setting it apart from every other day.  It is a day to sit back and reflect on the goodness of God and of his creation and to do nothing apart from beholding and worshiping God so that we may truly live in his presence.  And believe me, God is so big that you are going to need all the time you can get to behold him!

An entire day written into the cosmos and ordained from the beginning of time for rest, relaxation, peace, joy, and celebration and here we sit thinking of how to get ahead with the extra time.  You'd think people would not need convincing to enjoy the sabbath made for them, but it was so bad God actually had to command us to relax and enjoy life. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:11

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

When things are done in the name of the Lord, they are done for his glory.  If you read acts, you will see an account of miracles and demonstrations of the Spirit's power all done in the name of Jesus.  To use the name of the LORD is to ascribe credit, honor, and glory to him for something done.  His is a powerful name, but with great power comes great responsibility.

To misuse God's name is to slander it.  If you call yourself by God's name and identify yourself as in Christ, but by your actions you prove yourself still captive to sin, you slander the name by which you call yourself.  Do not claim to belong to Christ if you hate your neighbor or practice unforgiveness or judge others lest you attribute to Christ that which dirties his reputation.  God's name is his character and reputation and many atrocities have been committed "in His name" both by the Church and misguided individuals.

Christ certainly has no need for those who will misrepresent Him and distort his name because it is by His name we are saved.  If the world cannot see his name, how then can it be saved?  Those who distort the name of God shut the doors of heaven for all who try to enter in including themselves.  (Matthew 23)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

“You shall not make for yourself an idol ... You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." 

Although idolatry is one of the worst offenses to God because he will not share his glory with another (Is 42:8), what is interesting about this commandment is God's jealousy.  He has chosen us for his own not so that we can give his praise over to lifeless statues.  As a husband is jealous for his wife, and will not share her with another, so also is the Lord jealous for us.

At first glance, God seems mean and vengeful, punishing children for the mistakes of their fathers to the third and fourth generation.  It seems excessive and cruel until you realize the extent of his love.  He shows love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.    Compare three and four generations to a thousand and you will see the abundance of God's mercy. His love goes a lot farther than his justice. For just one person who loves the LORD and obeys all he commands, God will love and bless his children to the thousandth generation!

That one person is Christ and we rejoice in Him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:6-7

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me."

The divine existence of the Holy God requires the choosing of a people to be set apart, a holy people.  God chose Israel to be his own and brought them up out of the land of Egypt and gave to them their own land.  And what reason did he have for doing this?  So that they might worship Him (Ex 4:23).

And so he is the LORD your God because he has chosen to be your God.  He has chosen you and has rescued you out of the bondage of slavery (to sin and death) in order that you might worship Him and him alone.  You were not saved by any other God nor is there any power or created thing that is able to save you in times of trouble.  Call out to your friends, your family, your wealth, or your loved ones, but not a single one of them is able to save you from death.

But the LORD has defeated death and has risen from the grave!  Just as he defeated Pharaoh's armies and cast them into the sea, so to does Satan now stand condemned and death powerless to hold us who are in Christ.  Praise be to the Father for electing us unto eternal life!

Monday, August 22, 2011

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 

 The LORD cares for absolutely everything that bothers you, even if it is small and ridiculous.  He cares for you and how you are doing.  He pops in every now and then just to see how you are.  He is always there to listen to you vent about a stressful day or to calm your fears and worries.  He provides even for the smallest details if you ask him to.

So often we only ask God for big things, but he who is able to handle big issues can certainly take care of smaller ones as well.  Peter says to cast all of your anxieties on Him, not just the ones you don't think you can handle.  Humble yourself and give to him your anxiety and he will give you grace.  Allow yourself to be put under God's complete and total care and he will lift you up.

There is no use pretending to be strong.  What good is choosing to suffer alone for the sake of keeping up appearances?  It is a mark of maturity to know when to ask for help.  It is a sign of humility.  And the strangest thing happens when someone is humble and asks for help:  they receive it from those who care for them.  So cast all your anxieties upon the Lord because he cares for you, and he will give you rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

John 15:26

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."

One of the Holy Spirit's main functions is to testify about the identity of Jesus Christ.  However, he does not testify with persuasive words or clever arguments, but with a demonstration of power so that faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1Cor 2:4)  It is the Holy Spirit which witnesses the world that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and without him we cannot testify.

In the book of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit testify through men such as Peter, John, Stephen, and Paul.  He fills us and enables us to speak the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31)  so that we can be, as Christ commanded, "his witnesses in Jerusalem and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth." (Acts 1:8)

The power of the Holy Spirit is the power to testify through the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  These things are not of this world are are signs that there exists another world which they are from.  This world is filled with rage, pain, selfishness, lewdness, drunkenness, death and immorality but the Holy Spirit testifies there is life to be had outside of this world.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mark 10:15

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

 This is one of the more enigmatic statements of Jesus and one of 11 Amen sayings found in Mark.  With a narrow minded focus, it is not apparent what Jesus means by "like a child", but a closer look reveals that Mark illustrates exactly what Jesus means.  It is no accident that the parable of the Rich young ruler follows this endearing story of Jesus and the little children.  The contrast is clear between the children and the rich young ruler, those who have nothing and those who have everything.

We see this rich man failing to enter into the kingdom of God despite receiving a personal invitation from Christ because he could not receive it like a child.  Jesus makes a synonymous statement in Mark 10:23 "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

The kingdom belongs to those who would give up everything to follow Christ (for some it is more than others).  It belongs to those who are able to follow and submit like little children in obedience to their Father.  Humility is the trait that allows one to submit to a greater authority and be taught by One wiser than yourself.  To be humble is to simply know where you stand in relation to God.  One gets to the kingdom by following the One who knows the way, Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

We have all been given gifts and talents by God and it is no secret that Jesus requires us to use them. (Mt 25:14-30)  Peter was not blessed with wealth, but what he had received from God he gave in the name of Jesus Christ. He gave the beggar something far better than what he asked for.

Peter spent day in and day out next to Jesus and witnessed firsthand the power of his Name to heal.  He received this same gift from Christ who appointed him to be a witness for him not by the power of his own wisdom (for he was an unlearned fisherman) but by the power of the Spirit.  How sad it would have been if Christ gave him the power to heal and he did not use it!

But in the same way, Christ has given us all the power to heal.

It starts only with giving someone your time and attention, your love and care.  Beggars may ask you for money, but if God has given you some spare time and the capacity to love, give them that.  Give them what they truly need:  Their dignity and worth as God's created human beings.  One dollar can open the door to a conversation.  A cup of coffee and 15 minutes of time can be all you need to save a soul.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leviticus 18:5

"Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.  I am the LORD."

What does it mean when God says "I am the LORD" and why is it used as a basis of command?  The LORD is good, kind, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Ex 34:6-7)  On this basis God establishes his authority to command.  Because of his divine character, we can trust in his judgment.  Because of who he is, we can delight in his laws. We know they are for our good because we know who God is by who he has revealed himself as in the person of Jesus Christ (Col 1:15).

And those who obey will live by the commandments. The meaning is twofold: that they will both live in accordance with the Law and that it is obedience to God which brings life.  Jesus completely agrees as well.  The New Testament does not abolish the Law so that we can pretend it no longer applies.  Rather Christ fulfills the Law (Rom 8:3-4) and does away with the curse by becoming a curse for us (Gal 3:13), but we still must obey Christ for the man who obeys will live.

Grace does not do away with the necessity of obedience but rather the curses of disobedience. However, obedience comes only through faith and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who guides us and reminds us of all that Christ taught.  Those who try to obey on their own strength of will are subject to the curses (Gal 3:3-10), but those who are righteous by faith will live. (Rom 1:17)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Isaiah 43:13

"Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

This is true power, that whenever you act it will not be stopped or undone.  God is the Almighty creator of all that is seen and unseen.  No one can destroy what he has created.  We know this from Chemistry and thermodynamics, that mass/energy can neither be created nor destroyed.  All there is in the world is all there will ever be.  Can anyone undo what God did?

Divine omnipotence is not the ability to do anything, as commonly misconceived, but the divine quality that when one acts, it will be accomplished.  Whatever God does he accomplishes.  Whatever he starts, he will finish.  When He acts, who can reverse it?  The Chief priests and elder scribes thought to end the life of Jesus by handing him over to crucifixion.  They thought they had power, but God reversed Christ's death. The Holy One lives and will never see decay.  None can hope to reverse his resurrection for he has shown that not even death could hold him.

Praise be to God that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us who believe in what God has done in order that we too might be raised to eternal life!  Because God has decreed that we be delivered from our sins, who can reverse it?  Thankfully, no one at all, Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John 8:58

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!”

 Such a bold statement demands a response.  There is no option to "wait and see" or to react passively.  When the Jews heard what Jesus said, they picked up rocks to stone him immediately.  The weight and implications of what Jesus said about himself are immense and cannot be ignored.  Jesus claims to be greater than Abraham, the Sovereign I AM, the God of Abraham, Israel, Isaac, and Jacob.

And yet, so many upon hearing that Jesus is God react as if it were no big deal.  Perhaps they do not yet realize the vast implications of it or are jaded and cynical, but whatever the reason they do not react.  They neither pick up rocks nor bow down to worship.  They sit on the sidelines of a battlefield pretending that the war does not affect them.

With this truth claim, you must choose to accept or reject Christ.  There is no middle ground.  There is no "true for you but not for me."  The entire world is caught up in the battle between heaven and hell and all those who do not choose a side will be enemies of both and friends of neither.

Here's a secret:  The battle has already been decided and the war won by Christ, the war fought to save those that were lost, namely you, me, and the rest of mankind.  So now it's time to choose:  Believe Christ or stone him? It's up to you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 8:17-18

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

 All that you are and all that you have are the LORD's.  All that you earn he first created.  All that you ascribe value to were first made by Him.  What is valuable to man is rubbish to God.  Would you bribe him with cash?  Is he impressed by your technology?  Can you match his strength or display such great feats as He?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, the LORD did not kill them and start over.  Rather he clothed them.  Did they need clothes?  Of course not for God made them naked not needing clothes.  But he provided for them what they desired because he is good and provides good gifts for his children.  The LORD does not value clothing or cash.  He values us.

He gives us prosperity not because he values prosperity, but because he loves us and he knows we value it.  He gives us the ability to produce wealth not because he wants us to be wealthy (and thus be in danger of becoming proud and forgetting him), but because he loves us and wants us to turn to him and depend on him, to acknowledge him as they sole provider for our every need.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Isaiah 52:12

"But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard."

One of the best things about following Christ is that even though the future may be uncertain and scary to you, God already knows what is up ahead.  The God who created all things, including time, knows every single thing that will occur.  He can move about freely through time because he is of a higher dimension. He can fast forward, pause, and rewind as he sees fit. He is the author of both time and space.

And all of time is like a single instant to God for to him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. (Psalms 90:4) When God created the universe, he did not create a single moment, but a single story, the difference between snapping a picture and making a movie, however this movie is played out in real time as God is able to step into time and make edits as it plays.

So the LORD, the God of Israel will go before you to prepare your way, so do not worry about the future.  And the LORD will guard your back as you press forward so you need not fear your past either.  You are free to live and free to be as God made you to be, free from fear and just as God stepped into time, he has enabled us to step with him into eternity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

John 14:26

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

 The Bible is unlike any other book in that just can't simply read it and understand it.  Although the words are physical the truths it conveys are spiritual so that to those who read it without faith may be "seeing but never perceiving" and "hearing but never understanding."  This is God's judgment upon them lest they turn and be forgiven.  (Mark 4:12; Isa 6:9.10)

However, they need but just confess their sins and they will receive the Holy Spirit who teaches them all things.  God's judgment is absolute, but he himself in his mercy has allowed it to be circumvented through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  Now God himself has come down to teach us and empower us in the person of the Holy Spirit to obey that law which brings life. (Micah 4:2; Is 2:3)

The Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth (which is Christ) and reminds us of God's Word when we need it most.  Man lives by every Word that comes out of God's mouth (Deut 8:3), and the Holy Spirit is the author of those words.  He has spoken through his people and the result is the Holy Bible.  The Word is Christ (Jn 1:1) and without him we shall surely perish.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:29

"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"

This is the LORD's hope and prayer for us. His one desire here is to see it go well with us and our children forever.  He has given us his divine precepts, the Ten Commandments, in order that we might live healthy and blessed lives.  His intention is not to harm us or to condemn us, but so that we might prolong our days and live.  The Law was meant for our good, but because of sin in us, it has brought about our destruction (cf. Rom 7).

We break the rules and cast aside the law which was put in place for our own protection and benefit.  We believed the lie that it is a restriction on our freedom when it was the very thing that allowed us to enjoy it without fear.  We have thrown ourselves into bondage as slaves to unrighteousness and have brought about our own destruction.  Who will save us?

But God's prayer is not frustrated.  He is the Almighty, able to do anything he sets his will to.  By his strength he has rescued us from sin and caused us to live.  By his grace through faith in His Son Jesus it will go well for us who fear the LORD.  Where the law made us willing, the Spirit now makes us able.  No longer do we live according to our own sinful desire, but we live by God and God alone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Romans 11:36

"For from him and through him and for him are all things.
   To him be the glory forever! Amen."

Everything was made by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, including you.  You were made with Christ in mind.  You were made with a place already carved out into you for him to dwell.  You were made to contain the Almighty God!  You sit and wonder how can such an enormous God fit inside such a tiny person?  He doesn't, but rather he fills you until you overflow with his power, glory, and righteousness.  You were made to be just like Him, made in the image of Christ, to reflect his glory and to sing his praise.  And as Christians we claim to be "little Christs", laying hold of our true identities in Him.

All things belong to Christ and all that we have is grace from God and blessing from on high.  Our very lives are the breath of God which animates us.  All that we hunger for and all that we eat was made by Christ and given to us by his generosity.  He, being completely free and totally independent of anything outside himself, chose to create us and more so chose to be our God.  That is the ultimate grace and its very meaning.  You were made with God in mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Judges 17:9

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit."

The days of Judges were chaos. People killed without mercy for there was no law enforced.  The Law existed as given to Moses, but the people abandoned it and did what was wicked in the LORD's sight.  This is the result of lawbreaking: chaos.  When people start to say to each other "You do want you want and I'll do what I want and we'll all be happy", they simply delude themselves into thinking they have peace.

For when two people both want opposite things, conflict arises and wars break out.  People are hurt and many innocents will be laid waste all for the sake of selfish ambition and personal gain.  When you don't play by the rules, the game ceases to be fun and enjoyable.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not fought over.

That is why God gave us his law in order that we might know what is good.  And this is why he fulfilled the law in Christ in order that we may have peace in him.  By the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to keep the law, he enables us to be at peace and harmony.  No longer are we called enemies, but He calls us friends.  Now Jesus Christ is King forever so that we might have peace forever!  This is why he is called "The Prince of Peace".

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Psalms 13:6

"I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me."

This is the end verse to Psalm 13 and it makes no sense if you actually read Psalm 13.  The Psalmist begins in lines 1 and 2 "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?"  This is a LORD that is good?

But this is what it means to trust in the LORD.  David was clearly depressed and anxious, and yet through thick and thin he trusts in God.  He never gives up hope because he knows who God is.  He trusts in his salvation and his unfailing love, even though it seems his love is failing.  And he nonetheless sings his praises as he reflects on every good thing God has given.

In your depression, remember your blessings.  Jesus, while dying on the cross, also sang the opening lines of Psalm 22, praising God in his distress because of the salvation he trusts in even though he lay dying and knew he would not survive.  And what did God do?  He raised him to life and saved him even from death!  Death is not the end for those who trust in the LORD's salvation and sing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

John 6:37-38

"However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will."

 Everything we saw the Jesus do we know was the will of the Father.  God's will is revealed in Jesus Christ.  He will heal the sick.  He will forgive the sinner.  He will save the lost.  He will calm the storms.  He will never reject those who belong to him.  Whatever we have seen Jesus do we know the Father does for Jesus only does that which his Father wills.  He is the perfect picture of the Father and no one knows the Father except through Jesus Christ.  

Without Jesus, the Father is vastly misunderstood.  People are quick to interpret who God is by what God does instead of letting who God is interpret what God does.  If God chooses to bring calamity on a person, you could forget the context and just conclude that God is cruel and punishing.  It's the Fundamental attribution error at work.  Once you understand that God is loving and just, you will understand why calamity was brought upon the wicked:  So that the righteous might be spared from their schemes.

But if you don't understand who Jesus is, you don't know the Father.  And he wants to be known and has chosen to reveal himself to all he has given to Christ.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mark 4:38

"Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" These are the words of the disciples, unaware that Christ's very presence was an answer to his question.  God does in fact care that we are perishing.  That is why he came down to us in order that we might live.

And yet Jesus was found asleep on the boat as it was tossed and turned by the waves on the open sea. How could Jesus remain so calm when death seemed imminent?  Either he doesn't care or they were not perishing.  Judging that God came down from heaven to save us, the latter must be true.

In the presence of Christ, we will never perish.  If He who is eternal lives in us, how can we die?  And if we who have been baptized died to sin, how then can we die to it once more?  We have been reborn so that the life we have we live to God so if you feel like you are perishing, ask yourself, "Is the LORD with me?" for if He is, you have nothing to fear.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Isaiah 35:4-6

"Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."

 Are these not the things that happened when Christ came upon the Earth?  When our LORD set foot upon this land, were not the eyes of the blind opened?  Did not deaf people hear?  Were cripples and paralytics not leaping and rejoicing?  And were not the mute shouting with joy in praise of their savior?  All these things and more happened when the LORD came with retribution and vengeance, and yet we were spared.

We, who sinned against God and against man, were not paid back an equal measure of divine justice for our wickedness.  No, this God who is swift to bring justice instead exacted this wrath upon Satan by using himself as the bait.  Our sins were placed on Christ as the worm is placed on the hook, and this time it was Satan who was tempted to take a bite.  And so the serpent bit at his heel which in turn crushed his head (Gen 3:15).

So now we have everlasting water so that we may never thirst again.  That even though we walk through the wilderness, our God has already been there.  His path has been made straight as he leads us to Zion.  And we are never alone.  Never again will we be alone.

Friday, August 5, 2011

John 17:26

"I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

 Jesus came to do one thing, namely to reveal just who is the God of Heaven, the creator of all that is seen and unseen.  In fact, he is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the full revelation of the Divine Father.  He and the Father are two persons of one being so all that whoever has seen Christ has seen the Father. (John 14:9)  The strangest thing is, that we do not die when we look upon Jesus, but we live.  Generally, no one can see the LORD and live. (Ex 33:20)

But God made a way so that we could not only see him, but eat with him and dance with him and not be completely destroyed by his holiness.  We can touch him and be healed and not destroyed. It means that God is innately a God with us and a God for us.  He is a God who desires to be known by us and who desires relationship with us.

And not only that, the result of his continuing to make known to us the Father is that we fall deeper in love with him.  And as Christ is in the Father, so we will be in Christ when we look upon him truly as who He is, being transformed into the very image of God.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mark 10:22

"At this the man's face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions."

This man was perfect.  He had it all, wealth, power, youth and an impeccable moral record.  Jesus himself, upon examining him closely, loved him.  Surely he would make a great disciple!  But when the invitation comes straight from Jesus's own mouth, the man goes away sad and all that excitement that was once in his face turned into utter defeat.  Eternal life was not worth more than his possessions.

So this man, whom any of us would want in our own churches, fails to become a disciple of Christ.  He is the first and only man Mark depicts as not immediately leaving everything behind and following Jesus when he says "Come and follow me."  To those whom much has been given much will be demanded.

This is a powerful reminder that a high social status is no ticket into heaven, but rather the ability to be brought low like a child.  It is not what you have that counts, but what you are willing to give up.  In the end, it is not the "righteous"who end up following Jesus, but the sinners and tax collectors, dirty fisherman and prostitutes, drug addicts and thieves, slanderers, sorcerers, and adulterers for all they have to give up is their past lives so that Christ might give them new ones.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Psalms 44:3

"It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them."

We have so many victories in life because of He who causes us to be victorious.  We have a champion who fights for our sake though we esteem him not.  He fights for us regardless of whether or not we praise him for he loves those whom he has made.  By his arm, his strength, and his face (that is, his presence) that our salvation is won.  He has procured it for us.  He has snatched us out of the devil's hand.

What a mistake it would be to turn around and accept credit for things we have not done!  Surely we have victories, but we have victories because of Christ who gives us victory.  The armor of God is his very presence.  As long as we walk in the light darkness will not touch us and evil will not overcome us.  It may attack us but never will it prevail over us.  Those who walk in darkness will not understand us until they step into the light.  But surely without God, we would fall for who then protects us?  Who then fights for us?  But praise be to the One who triumphs for our sake!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deuteronomy 15:9

"Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin."

In the world we live in today, debt is a common occurrence.  Everyone has been in debt at some point.  So pervasive is this debt that even the entire nation is in debt.  Corporations had needed to borrow trillions in loans to stay afloat.  Even now America has had to raise its debt ceiling to avoid economic catastrophe by our defaulting on our bills.

America is caught in a never ending cycle of debt, having to borrow money just to pay back money they already borrowed.  This is nothing new to the LORD.  He foresaw the slavery and captivity being in debt causes and has chosen to set his people free even from debt.  He declared on every 7th year all debts would be canceled, breaking the debt cycle and setting the captives free

But men, in our selfishness, refused to lend money to those who could not pay us back by the time of the 7th year.  So the poor are left to be poorer and the rich become richer at the expense of the poor.  Our economy is sin and based on greed.  Is there any wonder why it is failing?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Psalms 22:3

"Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel."

Psalm 22 starts out with a cry for help.  It is the same cry Jesus called out before he breathed his last on the cross. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  These words have been a mystery to scholars for centuries.  Did God temporarily abandon Christ on the cross?  But if you realize what Jesus was quoting, you realize that his last words were song lyrics.  Reread Psalm 22 as if it were Jesus speaking on the cross and you will understand why he started to recite this song, why he started to sing.

It is because the LORD, the LORD, the holy God of Israel, is enthroned on the praises of his people.  The King James translates that he inhabits the praises of his people.  God is made king by praise and worship.  It is while we are in worship that God is most present to us for he inhabits our praises.  Jesus sang God's praises, and his Father was right there with him as he lay dying.  As Jesus sang, he knew God would deliver him.

And in your times of trouble, praise God all the more.  When you are weak, praise God.  If you are near death, praise God.  No matter what your situation is, praise God, and he will be given all authority in your situation.  He will inhabit your praise and he will be with you until the very end of the age.