Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Being with God

Exodus 34:28-30
"Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him."

When people are afraid to come near me it's usually because I have not been talking with God. It's amazing how clearly my attitude and countenance change when I am spending lots of quality time in God's Word and prayer. No longer do I walk around laying claim on my rites or what I feel I deserve. In God's presence I am able to fast from even my strongest hungers. When seeking God's face I can deny my flesh. Yet when I skip out of being face to face with God, I become selfish, self righteous, bitter and harsh. People are afraid to be around me.
I wonder what it would be like to walk with God so intensely that others were somewhat afraid - not knowing what amazing or crazy thing God was about to do through me next?
I know a guy named Bill who won't spend a minute with you unless he can pray for 30 seconds of it. He scares me. He scares me for no other reason than his intense love for God and commitment to prayer intimidate me, they overwhelm me. Now I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable... but I guess that just might be the bi product of seeing God face to face. I'll take it... and deal with it.
Perhaps that's why Moses veiled his face?

God, let Your Glory shine in my life so intensely that others know that You are up to something. Give me a boldness of love and grace and mercy that shines so intensely that others are... uncomfortable (in a good way). Drive me to seek your face daily. Amen.

"We must never seek the hand of God unless we first seek the face of God."

Shidanke Johnson
Pastor, church planter &
Shining face of God
in Sierra Leone, Africa

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bearing Burdens

Exodus 28:9-12
“Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10 six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall set them in settings of gold. 12 And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders as a memorial.

Exodus 28:29
“So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the LORD continually.

What a beautiful picture of priesthood. in every way, spiritually, and physically, literally and symbolically, Aaron bore the burdens of his people continually. These practices were a memorial to both Aaron and the people. To Aaron, these were a constant reminder of prayer and intercession on behalf of God's people. To the people, this was a constant reminder of their need for a priest and intercessor to make reconciliation between them and God. Ultimately, these symbols pointed to Jesus, out Great High Priest who bore our sins and the judgement of God as well as became our intermediary between us and God. He bore our cross on His shoulders and our names on His heart. This is the role of the priest. So I ask myself, how have I figuratively and literally, physically and spiritually bore the burdens of those God has entrusted to me? What memorial can be seen in my life that bears others burdens and points them to Jesus and His amazing work on the cross?

Father, make me Holy. Make me worthy to come before you in prayer and bear the burdens of those under my care. Let Your work be seen in me continually and may it point to You, our Great High Priest. Amen

Friday, April 25, 2008

His Sanctuary

Exodus 25:8-9
"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you."

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

When I read chapters 25 - 31 I am amazed at the detail described and demanded for God's dwelling. So many times it is recorded that This tabernacle was to be a replica of God's throne room in heaven. This earthly dwelling was to mirror and reflect the glory of his heavenly dwelling. Turning to the NT, I wonder how much detail we miss when we consider His new temple, our bodies. Am I conscious or concerned about what i place inside or how I dress or how I position myself? Not to be legalistic, but to ensure that I mirror and reflect what is in heaven - His glory? Have I made His temple a place where He is honored to dwell?

Father make me attentive to the details of Your temple. Keep me pure and holy and a place where you are honored to dwell. Amen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Belong to Him

Exodus 20:5b-6
For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Romans 8:28)

God is just when He becomes jealous of my life, because I rightfully belong to Him. I am not by own, for He both created me and bought me with the price of His Son; I belong to Him. An all that I have has been given by Him under His mastership of my life; it all belongs to Him (ch. 21). He desires and demands all of me - and rightfully so; I belong to Him. And why should I withhold anything from Him? As with the children of the Exodus, He has proven Himself faithful. And His will for me is not burdensome but a blessing for thousands of generations (Mt. 11:29-30). So why hold back? Why reserve my praise or limit my tithe or guard my time or ration my talents? Why not ask, "What more can I offer to my faithful master that He may be blessed and let His blessing rest on me and my family for generations?"

God, show me what & where I am holding back from you.
Pry my selfish fingers off my life and take from me whatever you want.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Exodus 18:19-22
"Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you."

I'm not sure if I ever really caught this part of Jethro's advice to Moses. He didn't advise Moses to select trustworthy and capable men to judge and listen to Israel's troubles so that Moses didn't have to... Jethro was calling Moses out to intercede on behalf of Israel for all their troubles! What an amazing challenge and picture of what a pastor is called to be and do. Too often I put myself in the position to solve the problems that those in my ministry set before me. Instead I must set before God those in my ministry that have problems. The strength of my ministry and the amount of God's moving will be due to my wisdom, intelligence, strategies or even hard work... but in my dedication to be a pastor of prayer and to intercede on behalf of those God has entrusted to me.

Lord - Make me a pastor of prayer. Make me a man of prayer. Drive me to my knees daily so that You may move and have Your way around me. Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For my Children

Exodus 13:14
"So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him,'..."

Three times during the passover story God reminds Moses that this remembrance is for generations - to be lived out before their children so thy never forget the mighty hand or work of God.
What types of traditions and habits do I live openly before my kids so that they ask and see and hear about the mighty things God has done for us? What can I do as a father that would lead my kids to ask, "Dad, what's the meaning of this?" and allow me to answer with amazing stories of all that God has done for our family?
Special meals, special moments, trips, signs or decorations, clothing or jewelry... all of this was found at passover. How can I celebrate this gift daily before my children?

God - let my children see Jesus always, consistently in our home and in my life.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Exodus 6:2
God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD."
Exodus 6:6
"Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
Exodus 6:7
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
Exodus 6:8
And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' "
Exodus 6:29
he said to him, "I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you."

Exodus 6:12
And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, “The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”
Exodus 6:30
But Moses said before the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?”

I AM. What a wonderful name for Almighty God! He does not change. He is. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is constant. He is mighty enough to speak into existence all that was made and mighty enough to sustain it. He has demonstrated His power through creation so that men are without excuse who doubt His power at work today. He does not change. The God who intervened for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still intervenes for Moses and His people and still intervenes today. He is and He does not change.

And although I know this, like Moses, I still focus on who I am rather than I AM. How often have I gotten discouraged by my inadequacies or opposition and missed out on seeing the mighty hand of I AM at work? How often have I said, "I don't have the money... the time... the energy... the words... the favor... the courage...."

Five times in this chapter alone God reminds Moses of His power and provision through His mighty name, I AM. And yet Moses still has the nerve to utter the phrase, "I am of uncircumcised lips."

God - remind me daily of Your name. Help me see your sufficiency and sovereignty every day. Keep me humble and in a place where I need your power and provision constantly. Speak to my heart when I get fixated on who I am or who I am not. Remind me of Your Name. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tool of Justice

Exodus 3:9-10
Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

So often we look at injustice and question God. We demand to know why He has allowed such suffering and demand that He intervene. The reality we see in the story of Moses and the oppression of Israel is that God is writing a story of His glory for our own good. The story of Exodus becomes the inspiration for Israel for over 1000 years and points perfectly to the work of redemption in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God's intervention most often comes through His work in the hearts of His people - not our circumstances. We are the tools of God's justice - the pen God uses to complete His story. What an honor it is to be invited by God to be used by Him! May we never make excuses like Moses and allow this blessing and the answer to injustice slip past us. May we not be guilty of greater injustice due to our lack of faith and confidence in God to work through us.

God use me today as a tool of Your justice. Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor have entered into the heart of man
the things which God has prepared
for those who love Him.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Simplicity in good

Romans 16:19
"For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil."

It's a good thing when we develop a reputation for doing good and being faithful. However when we become more enamored and fixed on maintaining our reputation that simply doing good - life can become confusing and complex. We can tangle ourselves in relationships of convenience and pursuits of status and lose sight of what is good. At best we get busy, most often about our own business rather than the business of God. And we find ourselves in danger of being like those named in verse 18 who serve their own bellies and interests. But the wise will stay simple and stick to doing good regardless of the buzz and hype.

God, keep me mindful of pride. Keep me devoted to doing good for the sake of Your people and Your kingdom. Keep me simple and innocent of evil. Amen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Receiving One Another

Romans 15:7
"Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the Glory of God."

I must confess that I am not really good at this. I am judgemental, impatient, unmerciful and harsh. Many times I even have a difficult time receiving myself. I have a difficult time getting past the things I see and experience - they just stick in my head and I dwell on them.
God - forgive me for not receiving others as You do.

I recently read this quote,
"Jesus saw the best in us so that He could receive the worst of us." Amen.

But what exactly id He see and how has He received us? Since He received us while we were still sinners, still enemies with God (Romans 5:10), what He saw must have had little to do with us. I believe what He saw was His image, stained and bent, yet redeemable. He saw potential - a confident hope in the work of the Holy Spirit (vs 13). In order for me to receive someone still at odds with God and myself; I must first chose to see them as Christ does - through the eyes of Hope. I must look deep past their sin to the Image of God - knowing that the Holy Spirit can do the same work in them as He has done in me. By doing this I bring Glory to God, I reveal His work of redemption and point others to Christ.

God help me see past the weaknesses of others to Your image in them. Give me greater hope in the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work. Be glorified in my behavior toward others. Amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Strength of Faith

Romans 14:17
"For the kingdom of God is not drinking and eating, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

The Christian life is not about rules and rituals. I am not a Christian because of my habit and patterns or lack of them. The strength of my walk is not about the movies I avoid, the drinks I refuse or words I don't use. My faith is based on His righteousness imputed to me by Christ's work on the cross. My strength is found in a peace with God - knowing that I am no longer His enemy because of sin. The evidence for others is expressed in the joy I receive through the Holy Spirit. None of this comes from me but is clearly evident when I focus my heart and mind daily on Him. Where Christ and His righteousness (not mine) is the focus - there is peace and joy. This is true obedience - to love God with all one's heart, mind, soul and strength.

Father - may the substance of my faith be You and Your righteousness and not my own. Keep my heart and mind centered on You. Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Provisions for the flesh

Romans 13:14
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh."

What provisions have I made for my flesh? What excuses, justifications, rationale or even plans have I constructed in my mind to allow for temptation to grant victory to my flesh. Where have I been lazy in my thinking and disciplines to take every thought captive to Christ? (2 Cor. 10:5) Where have I failed to wrap myself in Christ's righteousness... to be clothed with Him? I must choose daily to make provisions for my spirit and Christ within me. As deliberately as I choose my clothing each day I must clothe myself in Him - through Scripture reading, prayer, stillness, worship, service. I must so thoroughly, daily clothe myself in Christ that there is no room left, no provision made for sin. Sin, temptation and the evil one take no day off... why do I? I must make no provision for my flesh.

God - draw me to You daily and wrap me so completely in Christ that no provision is left for my flesh. Amen.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1b
"present your bodies a living sacrifice, Holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

While no burnt offering or animal sacrifice ever pleased or appeased God - never made anyone Holy to God - neither will our living sacrifice. Faith alone by the grace of God is the only way of salvation. However here, Paul compares and contrasts the dead sacrifices of the old covenant with the living sacrifices of the new covenant. Since we have been made alive in Christ (that is our spirit) we must daily sacrifice and die in the flesh. Our living sacrifice is therefor not a means of salvation but a means of living out and enjoying the fullness of life found in identifying with the sacrifice of Christ! We are not holy because of our sacrifice but because of His - and His gifts and callings are irrevocable! I am made holy and acceptable by the blood of Christ and therefore to daily die to self, to sacrifice my flesh, is the only reasonable response. To die is to live.

Father, renew my mind each day by Your word and Spirit that I may sacrifice my flesh and live for You. Amen.

God's Irrevocable Gifts

Romans 11:29
"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."
Romans 11:33
"Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out!"

Of all the gifts given by God, I am most grateful for His Son and His Holy Spirit within me. The reason His calling is irrevocable is because it is rooted in these two unchanging gifts. "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus," (Phil. 1:6). Because I could never afford salvation on my own, it has been purchase for me on my behalf. And because I cannot even afford to keep or maintain it on my own, I have been given a deposit, the Holy Spirit, to seal and secure the gift. Oh what wisdom!

Father - teach me to love and cherish these gifts. Teach me to rely fully on Your sufficiency and not my own. Make me to marvel at and adore your provisions. Let me see my limitations and give you praise today.

My righteousness vs. God's Righteousness

Romans 10:3-4
"For they (Israel) being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

Where is my righteousness found? Have I built my confidence in fleshly things, in status or ritual or behaviors? Is my confidence in daily Bible study, extended times of prayer, service, evangelism piety or any other religious pattern? Is my righteousness from obedience to a set of modern Christian "do's and don'ts"?... don't drink, don't smoke, don't cuss, don't see "R" rated movies. Or does my life reflect a confidence in Christ alone? I am righteous not by my works or will but by His! And yet I still judge others and justify myself by my own law of righteousness. Like Israel, I have established my own criteria that I may not admit out loud but that shouts through my mind and choices and even my behavior. And so, I must boast all the more in Christ, crucified and risen - amen!

Father - teach me to boast in Christ and Christ alone. Humble me and teach me to exalt You in mind and heart and deed. Amen.

God's Sovereignty

Romans 9:20
"But indeed O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?"

It is only natural to wonder why things happen in our lives. It is reasonable to seek answers for the trails we face. However too often when we ask it is not out of humble curiosity or a noble search for the truth of God's will, but because we thing we know better -we have a better plan. But we do not know (nor can we possibly know) the fullness of God's will for us. The valley may not seem so long and dark when viewed from the top of the next hill of blessing. Similarly, the hill of blessing never looks attainable from the bottom of a valley. It is only by God's Grace and strength and through the Holy Spirit's work that we are given the right perspective. So in our momentary gaps of faith in the promises of God, we must pray not for release or a new path - but for God's eyes and perspective to know why He has made us this way - why He has chosen this path.

God - give me Your eyes and let me see what You are making of my life through my trials. Conform me to the image of your Son. Mold me into what you will.

Spirit vs. Flesh

Romans 8:5-6
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be Spiritually minded is life and peace."

If I do not bring death to my flesh, my flesh will bring death to me. If I do not put to death my carnal mind - it will put me to death. However if I bring life to the Spirit in me - the Spirit will bring me to life! This is a daily, even momentary discipline of starving the flesh of all temptation and opportunity while feeding the Spirit with Scripture, prayer, stillness, fellowship, service and sacrifice. The result is true life and peace from the internal war that Paul describes in chapter 7 wages within each of us. Oh God - to only win that war and live in peace within myself!

God, give me strength to resist my selfish flesh. Give me only ears for Your Spirit. Grant me life and peace within myself today. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Romans 7:18
"For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find."

In my flesh - nothing good dwells. As long as my flesh lives - it will chose what is contrary to the Spirit. However, when through the law, my sin is revealed and my spirit made alive in Christ (it was previously dead in sin) my flesh is crucified with Christ and it must die. To allow my flesh to live any longer with my spirit is to allow a war to wage in my body and life - a war between flesh and spirit. What makes this most dangerous is that in this war my flesh has nothing to lose! Conversely, the Spirit has everything to offer. An enemy with nothing to lose is most ruthless. The secret is in learning to listen to the Spirit by focusing on all that He has given and has offered. These promises and provisions give us the strength to crucify the flesh daily. These are not within us naturally but have been given so that we may discover how to perform what is good.
Praise God for His wise plan - that I might win this war! Praise God for His Spirit dwelling within me!

God - let Your Holy Spirit shout loud in me. Strengthen me and give me victory over my flesh.


Romans 6:16
"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slave to obey, whether of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?"

While I know that my faith in Jesus Christ through God's grace has saved me - and my works no longer condemn me, these works of sin still bring me death. Each time I chose to obey my flesh and sin, a part of me dies; my heart grows cold, my mind weakens, my flesh gets calloused, my faith is diluted and my sensitivity to God's Spirit within me is dulled and numbed. Sin and death always run their course when we submit to them as master. To think that I can escape their consequences is lunacy. Sin is a cruel and harsh and loud master that demands all - all the time. Obedience to Christ is more difficult because He is a soft, gentle master; full of Grace and second chances. To hear His voice and follow Him I must stay close - pay close attention to His Word and set His righteousness before me all the time - my prize.

Master - draw me close to hear Your voice and see Your face each moment of each day. Discipline my heart and mind to obey You and You alone, my master and my reward.

Trials & Hope

Romans 5:3-5
"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hop. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

What are these tribulations that Paul writes of here? Are they merely life's little trials?... a car wreck, a budget crunch, a busy schedule, stress? Or is Paul thinking much beyond this to spiritual attacks, persecutions for faith and taunting of the evil one? Have I really ever faced true tribulations? Will the minor struggles I face regularly really lead to perseverance, character and hope? Is my fire hot enough to refine me? Then again, perhaps this process is not based on the trial I'm in but on the Holy Spirit that is in me. After all, the hottest trial will not produce hope apart from His work. Which means that my transformation comes when I focus not on my trials (no matter the size) but on the love of God poured out through His Holy Spirit and the work He is doing in me.

Father - speak to me loud in the midst of my struggles and make me hear your Holy Spirit. Refine me today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Righteousness Imputed

Romans 4:5-6
"But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works." (Psalm 32)

How amazing is it that when I stand before God - He does not see me as a guilty sinner forgiven, but as a righteous child of God, clothed in Christ's righteousness! How wonderful is it that I don't have to depend on my woefully inadequate works to earn this favor - but only believe in the wholly sufficient work of Christ on the cross. Christ has earned the favor of God and has chosen to pass it on to me through the gift of faith (Eph. 2:8-9) - apart from all works so that my only boast is in His work on my behalf. So why do I still feel so sheepishly guilty when I come before God? Has He not imputed to me righteousness and also cleansed me from a guilty conscience? (Hebrews 10:22) I should then approach the throne of Grace with confidence - not in me but in Christ's righteousness imparted to me. What power!!! I can stand before the throne of God in confidence - knowing that He sees me as He sees His Son Jesus Christ - fully robed in righteousness! What privilege!!! This is so much greater than anything man could have devised. This is the wisdom of God! It would have been enough for any of us to merely be forgiven - guilty but forgiven. But in God's infinite wisdom this was not enough. He has chosen - even required us to be fully righteous. Praise God.

Father - thank You for your righteousness - for Your gift of Christ and His work on the Cross. I praise You for Your wisdom and Your plan. Your ways are so much higher than ours. God teach me and move me to live my life clothed in Your righteousness. Make me walk worthy of this gift and bring glory and honor and joy to You. Amen.

Righteousness Revealed

Romans 3:5
"But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?"

God's glory and my behavior are a lot like the stock market - one can make money on both an up market and a down market; bull or bear. But how much more glory does God receive and reveal through my righteousness! When by faith, my obedience points to the power of God - He is seen, not me. Obedience brings God glory now - it reveals Him in the present. Unrighteousness reveals God's nature and bring Him glory in the future - on the day of judgement. Glory in the present has redemptive possibilities because unbelievers see it and can be saved. God's glory through unrighteousness comes much too late for redemption of others. How much greater is God glorified through my righteousness?!!

God - cause me to walk in Your righteousness. Bring about Your glory now, through my obedience. Let other see You through my behavior and be Glorified by their faith. Amen.

The Righteousness of God

Romans 1:17-18
"The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written 'the just shall live by faith.' For the wrath of God is revealed... against... all who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."

Faith reveals faith. Righteous living produces a clear view of God and His Gospel. Unrighteousness reveals wrath and suppresses the truth of God - making it impossible to see God. Three times in Romans 1 Paul says that these people "God gave over" to their sin and it's dark consequences. There is only two ways to live - by faith or by one's own self. If I am struggling to see God in my darkness (sin) it is not His fault, it is mine. Righteousness clears up my spiritual vision - I must change my behavior if I want to clearly see God - if I want Him to show up in my life. If I want to see God, I must ruthlessly remove unrighteousness from my life.

Father God - show me my unrighteousness and open my eyes to see the path of faith in every moment of every day; I want to see You.