Friday, October 31, 2008
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.
Somewhat ironic and fitting on Halloween. :-)
The reality behind this is God's design in gender. He has created us in His image as male and female to reflect His nature and glory in specific roles and character. When we fail to reflect His nature by act, attitude and appearance, we dishonor His very nature. Living into God's nature in regards to gender means recognizing and embracing roles of leadership, accountability, submission, sacrifice, strength, tenderness and the like. We are to be clothed with the vary nature and character of God in all that we do (Col. 3).
Father, clothe me with your character and empower me to be the man You have designed me to be. Teach me to be humble and strong, wise and gracious, resourceful and generous, and to look like You in all that I do and say. Amen
Thursday, October 30, 2008
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3
8 Then the officers shall add, "Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too."
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God," (Psalm 20:8). In battle it's not about the size of the army, the number of weapons or the depth of resources - it's about faith in God. Without His blessing and our faith, no amount of well equipped warriors will ever prevail. Conversely, no army, no matter how small and humble, who believes in the God who fights for them, will ever fail. Since the battle belongs to the Lord, men without faith are no help at all. As we battle in our churches for the salvation of the lost, do we believe that the battle is God's or are we more focused on budgets, numbers of volunteers and facilities? If we have our faith focused on God, we have no excuse and no need for one - the battle already belongs to the Lord.
God, strengthen my trust in You and help me keep my eyes on You rather than on the tools and resources you have given me. Grant Your church the battle for the lost and may Your name be blessed. Amen.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.
I am always struck by the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus. At times I think we overlook His role as Prophet. Jesus spoke God's words, not His own - the Father's words, not his. He gave signs and confirmations about what was to come and what was required of both Israel and the Gentile world. His words were true and undeniably wise... yet simple and accessible. If we study His words we find abundant life, light, security, confidence, joy, meaning, purpose, direction, hope and so much more. And we must study the words of this Prophet; they are like none other because they are not only from the Father, but of the Son. They are powerful beyond all other words for they are the declarative words of God.
Father - help me to know and remember the words of Your Prophet Jesus. Help me to Hide Your Word in my heart that I may not sin and that I may know abundant life. Amen.
Friday, October 24, 2008
“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.
What a fitting reminder to all leaders. The king, president or head of any people, should be a man personally and intimately acquainted with the Word of God. How wise that the king should himself copy for himself the laws and statutes of the Lord. At this time of election in our country I can only pray that the man who will occupy the White House will become a man of this book.
Lord - may our leaders and presidents be men of this book. Drive them to know Your ways and live into Your law. Amen.
“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God."
Sacrifice that is not whole hearted and pure is not sacrifice at all. our minds are not challenged, our faith not tested, out hearts not strengthened when we offer up that which is not of utmost priority in our lives. Anyone can give from the change under the car seat or a few random minutes while waiting (or avoiding another dreaded priority). True sacrifice is to five of the deep reservoirs we have saved up and treasured - savings accounts, vacation time, me-time, etc. Sacrifice must cost us what we otherwise thought we could not give... or else it will cost us what we never thought to measure.
God - give me a heart of sacrifice and surrender. Drive me to give from my deep treasures. May my mind be on You and my faith strengthened by my sacrifice. Amen.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
God's heart is certainly for the poor. We, those who are blessed, are God's tools for meeting the needs of the poor. It's not about fairness or right or quantity or measure - it's a heart thing. Hard hearts disobediently hoard while healthy hearts generously give from open hands.
And when our hearts are right and healthy with God, we do not give according to what we have to lend, but according to what is needed. God calls us to give sufficiently to the need, not adequately according to our resources. God knows what we have and what we will have at all times. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and can use each one as He chooses. I can be certain that He will care for me as I care for the poor.
God - soften my heart to those in need and give me open hands. Help me to give according to needs, not resources. Amen.
You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known."
How good it is that we serve a God of both blessing and curse. It would be just and fair to simply remove His hand of blessing when we do not follow, but instead He chooses to actively push us back to Him. He chooses to show us by Word and experience when we have wandered from His ways. How good it is to know that we serve a God who goes to such lengths to demonstrate His presence and will to those He has chosen. He is not silent; in obedience or disobedience.
God - help me to know Your blessing and recognize your correction. Make me honor and follow you always. Amen.
Friday, October 17, 2008
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
To "fear" Him is to understand who He is and who I am in relation to Him; to have the right mind regarding the Lord.
To "walk" in all His ways is to give Him my body and all that I do as a perpetual act of worship.
To "love" Him is to give Him my heart and full commitment.
To "serve" Him is to offer up my time, talents and treasures in ministry to Him and for His kingdom.
To "keep" all His commands is to make a public habit of demonstrating my allegiance to Him in full obedience; to show the world that God is alive and living within me. To keep His commands is to openly display the grace of God before a world desperate for His grace.
This is for my own good that I may conform to the fullness of the image of God in me and fully enjoy His presence forever.
Father - help me remember my calling and follow this call today, and each day, that I may know Your goodness. Amen.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
God humbles us and uses things like hunger to teach us life's most important lessons. He uses need to show us His provision. He uses weakness to demonstrate His power. He uses foolishness to display His wisdom. He may let us starve physically so that we may not starve spiritually. When we refuse to be humbled we refuse the lesson and blessing of God. When we embrace the physical condition God has placed us in, then and only then can we fully attain the spiritual condition God has in mind for us.
God - humble me. Give me peace and faith to not struggle against my humble position. Help me to open my ears and eyes to You and receive Your lessons and blessings. Amen.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
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, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
God's mercy is infinitely greater than His wrath. This is not to say that He is easy on sin or would not punish the sinner - only that His desire is for mercy rather than wrath. For God disciplines those He loves, (Heb. 12:6). God's mercy can be seen in so many ways; patience, forgiveness, discipline, revelation, answered prayer, comfort, consequences, etc. Punishment only comes in degrees of wrath until the day of final judgment. Through mercy God is more glorified (Rom. 5:20-21); for this He is jealous. His desire is for His glory through His infinite mercy. We are the means by which He is glorified. We are a critical step in His glorification.
Father - make me a means for Your glory and the subject of Your infinite mercy. Teach me to love and obey You above all things. May love and obedience be the marks of my family for generations and may Your mercy abide with us forever. Amen.
Monday, October 13, 2008
But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’
Moses job was to empower Joshua to lead others where he could not go. Moses was given the vision but Joshua was given the blessing. as a pastor and leader my job is to empower people to advance the kingdom into places I cannot go; schools, municipalities, the market place, neighborhoods. Moses did this by commanding them to obey, encouraging them in faith and strengthening them for the battle. the plan is not different for me. As I lead, I must emphasize obedience, faith and mission. If these values are solidly ingrained in all I do as a leader and pastor, I can have confidence that the vision will become reality. I can be certain that God will accomplish His plan through us. The question I must consistently ask is "how can I better command, encourage and strengthen those entrusted to my care?"
Father, guide me in obedience, faith and mission that those who follow me may find Your will and experience Your presence and possess Your blessing. Teach me to be a better pastor and leader. Amen.
Friday, October 10, 2008
They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought back word to us, saying, ‘It is a good land which the LORD our God is giving us.’
26 “Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; 27 and you complained in your tents, and said, ‘Because the LORD hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
How often have I identified God's blessing or His potential blessing in my life but refused to pay the price? Here Israel weighted what they thought would be the price of obedience against the promised blessing of God. There is always a cost. However the cost of obedience is never as high as the cost of disobedience, regardless of the promised blessing. This is not to say that obedience does not cost us. At times the cost will be very great. And yet God has the ability and desire to fight for us and carry us as we obey (vs. 1:30). So instead of asking if it's worth the cost to obey, I should ask if it's worth the cost to disobey - to miss the blessing of God and arouse the anger of my gracious God.
Father - may I never weigh the cost of obedience. Give me faith to know Your provision and follow Your promises. Grant me a willing and firm heart to pay the price of obedience always. Amen
Thursday, October 9, 2008
For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you , because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
Paul was not in chains for breaking the law. On the contrary, his chains were voluntary. Paul invited the physical chains because he had already bound himself in spiritual chains to the Gospel for the sake of Israel, his brethren. He was a spiritual slave to God and embraced no less physically in order to reach his brethren in Rome.
How often have I embraced a spiritual truth, confessing it to be true but doing everything in my power to avoid it tangibly? I know God will care for me in want and need but I cheat Him financially and with my time to avoid poverty and make ends meet. I know He will bless my boldness when speaking His Word yet I avoid confrontation, favoring comfort or favor with my neighbors. I know He answers prayer yet I prefer to work things out myself rather than demonstrate publicly my dependence on God and risk my prayers going unanswered. To truly follow Christ, my spiritual chains must become physical.
God - make my faith tangible. Bind me to You in all ways that I may follow You... the hope of all men. Amen.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”
What a bold statement. While the bit about the chains was a joke, Paul was 100% serious about others following his example altogether in every way. Paul was proud of and confident in his obedience to Christ. Even under such scrutiny before king Agrippa and Felix and Festus, Paul knew there was nothing to hold against him but full obedience to both God and the prophets (vs. 22).
I want to like this life. I want to know this confidence. I want others to be almost and altogether persuaded by my life and obedience to Jesus.
Father- make me more consistent in my walk with You. Give me self control and discipline to obey in all circumstances. Make me and example to others in obedience and faithfulness. Amen.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
Paul's strive was not favor nor peace. His aim was a clear conscience. The offense he avoided was not hurt feelings or differing opinions or intolerance. Paul was purposeful not to offend either God or man by sinning. His aim was purity not popularity, faithfulness, not favor. And while he attempted to be received by all men, his obedience clearly offended his fellow Jews. As Peter wrote quoting Isaiah 8:14, Jesus would be the "stone that makes man stumble and a rock that makes them fall" (1 Peter 2:7-9). This stone the builders rejected had become the capstone, putting great pressure on the stones laid before. The weight of the claims of Christ, and Paul's obedience to them, were too much for the rulers to bear - even while Paul professed to be all things to all men (even Jews) in order to win them to Christ (1 Cor. 9:19-20). Paul's offense was not in his behavior but in his obedience to a way contrary to the hearts and minds of sinful men. Do I seek to be accepted or favored or to not offend? I should seek obedience first and accept whatever follows by the grace of God.
Lord - may my offense be found in my obedience alone, not my attitude. Amen.
Monday, October 6, 2008
But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
Here in Jerusalem, Paul was beaten, imprisoned, betrayed and cheated... and God's response is "be of good cheer"... more is coming. Paul's cheer and joy came in knowing that the Gospel was being preached and that God was using him in such an audience as Jerusalem and Rome. Paul was glad to be found worthy of such suffering - such pressure for the sake of the Gospel.
Where do I find my joy and gladness? Is my joy in comfort or personal advancement or popularity or relationships or status?... too often the answer is yes.
I wonder what it would be like to be found worthy to suffer for the Gospel? What would I have to do or change to be called into such a ministry? I guess Paul didn't wait for such a ministry to arise but instead pursued Jerusalem and all the suffering that he was warned about.
God, give me the courage to pursue the most challenging of ministries for Your sake, for the sake of Your Gospel. Let my joy be found in You alone. Amen.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
What a calling! How clear, how direct, how exciting would it be for God to make known to each of us His will for our lives!
He has. Each believer is no different than Paul in that we have all been called to be His spokespersons for all that He has done for and in us. Each of us is called to the Great Commission - to follow Christ into ministry daily and call others to follow along. There is no doubt about this calling. I am at all times an evangelist calling others to know and hear and see the Word of God unto salvation.
Anything less that this is disobedience.
Father - compel me to share my story and Your Truth with everyone I meet. Amen