Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My drug of choice...

Jonah 4:19
Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?"
And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!"

James 1:20
"for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Man's anger brings about death. As the saying goes, "anger is a poison that one drinks in the hopes that someone else will die."

So why is it that I feel so justified, like Jonah, to be angry? I get so bent out of shape when someone or something does not go my way. My pleasure, comfort and met expectations are undeserved blessings from God born out of His great mercy and grace. Were it not for His great love for me, I would know nothing but the suffering of sin and the decay of this world. So why do I indignantly expect such favor?

For starters, I don't value the things that God values. I place my selfish desires above other people. Like Jonah, I'd rather see someone else suffer than miss out on what I feel I deserve.
I also have a tendency to neglect gratefulness. I am so blessed that I've grown calloused to God's provision in my life. What are luxuries and privileges have become like an addictive drug that I cannot do without. I'll lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and fight just to hold onto the buzz of my comfortable life. The only way to overcome this addiction is with gratitude and a right recognition that these things are really undeserved blessings.

Father - reorder my values around what you value. Break my addiction to comfort and my own pleasure and make me to be grateful in all things.

Colossians 2:4 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fear the Lord

Jonah 1:9
So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

Like Jonah, our sin causes us to run from God. All those around us may see the shipwreck coming but we could be fast asleep and numb to God. This sinful conditions does not change who we are - Jonah was still a Hebrew and we are still Christians. However this does change our relationships with God drastically. We move from a reverent fear of God to a terrifying fear of God. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," (Hebrews 10:31). In this fearful moment, Jonah acknowledges that he has nowhere to run. God is God in heaven, on sea and on dry ground. As David wrote in Psalm 139:7-12,
"7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
And yet God was gracious in saving Jonah from the stormy shipwreck, the raging sea and even the whales teeth and digestive track! Doesn't this reveal something amazing?
Our great fears are most realized not when a sinner turns back to God, but when he or she refuses to! Guilt and shame are small prices to pay for the gracious restoration of the sinner who repents - and even these God graciously cleanses away. "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water," (Heb. 10:22). What an awesome God we serve.

Father - wake me up and help me realize my sin. Fill me with a reverence for You and turn my fears to repentance. Show me Your mercy and let me once again proclaim Your grace. Amen.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Philippians 4:11-12
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Contentment like Paul's is rare. This quality of contentment is not measured by stuff or comfort or status or health or peace - but by the fullness of Christ. We have all met discontent people with much, with comfortable lives, great health, and favor as well as those with none of these. As is written in Proverbs 27:20, "death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of a man." Paul on the other hand learned to take his eyes off the things of this world and place them solely on Christ. He learned to be satisfied and filled with the Spirit of Christ rather than his own righteousness or any other worldly pursuit. For Paul, even his righteousness and pious pursuits were considered rubbish compared to knowing Christ and even identifying with His death and suffering (Phil. 3:8). Paul changed the measure of contentment in his life. (I like to think of Paul saying something like, "if at first you don't succeed... change the game!) By simply changing the measurement of contentment Paul came to realize that he could "do all things through Christ" who gave him strength (Phil. 4:13).
So the question I am faced with today is "am I content"... but instead, "am I filled with Christ?" Am I focused on my relationship with Him over all else? What am I doing to be filled with His Spirit and His strength?

Father - fill me with Your Spirit and let me know Your strength. Teach me to live and rest in Your presence. Make me content in You alone. Amen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anticipation of conformation

Philippians 3:20-21
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

As I struggle in this life to overcome sin and my flesh, I can live in anticipation of the day when Christ calls me home and grants me a glorified body, free from sin and temptation. While I am unable to subdue myself, He is fully able to subdue all things, even me! Furthermore, I will be free to fully serve and praise Him unhindered by my own flesh. My offering to Him will be pure, my motives will be pure.
Just the thought of this makes my heart sing!
What a glorious and fulfilling day it will be to stand before my savior unhindered by this flesh - free to love Him as I ought!

Father, help me to live in anticipation of this glorious day. May this thought drive me to purity and obedience as I seek to love you as I ought in this life. Amen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

to both work and will...

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Isn't free will really just an illusion?
According to this passage I am not only unable to do as will, but I am unable to even will what I may. (I'm sure there is some sort of philosophical problem with that sentence but I don't have the will to correct it.)
God not only empowers me to do His work, but also to want to do it! On my own I would not choose good nor find the capacity to do it (Rom. 3:12). But by His Spirit in me I am able to obey and desire obedience.
Thank God that He has chosen to change my will. I'm grateul that He didn't just extend to me a balance of choices. I know that I have the sort of will and appetite that struggles to do good. I know I need this degree of intervention. This truth leads me to praise God for His wisdom and grace in going to such lengths to not only ensure my salvation but also my sanctification. Christ has certainly and thoroughly done it all for me. I have nothing to boast in. He is the only author and perfecter of my faith (Heb. 12:2).

I praise You Father for Your sovereign and gracious work in my life. Thank You for moving in me to will and to work for Your glory. Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Suffering for His sake

Philippians 1:29
"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,"

There are few words that better describe the life and ministry of Jesus than suffering. Simply living in the flesh must have been uncomfortable at best. To dwell with sinful man must have been agonizing. To take our penalty and suffer the Father's wrath must have been incomparably excruciating. And it has been granted to me not only to believe in Him but also to suffer along with Him. Why is this such a privilege and gift?
Through suffering I personally and publicly identify with the person and work of Jesus Christ. In suffering His Spirit comes alive in me and His strength is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9). Suffering is the tool God uses to mold me into His image, to conform to His nature and ways. Suffering is the confirmation that I am truly living contrary to the world (Jn. 15:18-19). Suffering is the sign that I am living a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have no ability to identify with or understand this type of suffering. I suffer what is common in life, but I have little idea of what it is like to suffer for the sake of Christ. The closest that I come is sacrificing luxuries or comforts like a new car, a bigger TV, meals out or leisure time. I may occasionally risk my reputation or a relationship by holding out the Word of God or calling someone to a higher standard. I may give sacrificially within my budget if I truly feel led. However, these rarely provoke suffering and what suffering they may present pales in comparison to Christ or the martyrs around the world; so much so that it would be unfair to call this suffering.
what would I need to do or change in my life to more fully realize and experience the privilege of suffering for the sake of Christ? I would need to be more bold in proclaiming God's Word and His Gospel. I would need to give more sacrificially, more deeply according to need and not supply. I would need to strengthen my faith in God's provision, protection and plan for my life. If I truly believed that His grace was sufficient for me, I would be more likely to step out in faith and take a risk.
And yet, to follow Him in faith is no risk at all. The real risk is found in remaining the same, staying comfortable, keeping silent. The real risk is believing and not knowing intimately the reality of His presence and ministry in my life. What a tragedy it would be to believe in Him and yet not know Him or identify with Him in this way!? What an empty faith this would be!?
I want to know Him. I want to identify with Hi suffering. I want to fully participate in His nature withing me. I want to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Father - make me more faithful, more bold, more sacrificial. Bless me to not only believe, but also to suffer along with Your saints, to be counted worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Being strong in power & might

Ephesians 6:10
"Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."

How does one become strong in the Lord and in His mighty power?
It feel like I can be faithful, obedient and diligent... but strong and mighty seems a bit more ethereal. I've tried to muster up spiritual strength and I've often asked for God to display His power but the results are less than reliable. Feeling strong in the Lord is a much more spontaneous experience dependent on the Holy Spirit. At times I just sense His presence and feel Him work instead of me. All I can do is to prepare myself for when He chooses to work... oh... (Eph. 6:10-18) and put on the full armor of God, wielding the Word and dedicated to prayer. When I put on the full armor of God then I am more ready and likely to experience His strength and power. After all, what type of a king would He be lending an unarmed and armorless soldier His power to fight? He won't send me into battle unprotected and unless I'm prepared for battle, I don't need His strength or power. I guess this strength and power thing is not quite as ethereal as I first thought!

Father - dress me fully in Your armor and prepare me for the spiritual battle around me. Make me worthy and fit for your strength and power to be displayed in and through me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

my revealing walk...

Ephesians 5:8-10
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[a]is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Isn't it funny how we pray and ask God to reveal to us His will? How often have I sat and waited for God to show me what to do or move me to where He wants me to be? This is the farthest thing from what Paul teaches here in Ephesians 5. Here, Paul commands us to go and walk as children of light regardless of what we know or how we feel. Then somewhere in the journey, God's will is revealed in and through us. When we walk faithfully, we will know the will of God and we will make in known. Another way of saying this is that the best way to discover God's will is to be obediently doing what we already know to do! We ought to be walking in love (vs 2) and demonstrating sacrificial love in all we do. We ought to be avoiding sin (vs. 3) and demonstrating to the world what a true believer looks like (vs. 11-13). When we simply obey and follow in the small things, God reveals to us all things.

Father - make me to walk as light, revealing Your will in all I do. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Grieving the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

When Paul writes about grieving the Holy Spirit he uses the Greek word "Lupeo" which is generally associated with deep loss or death. This is the same word used to describe Jesus' sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane when He literally sweat blood (Mt. 26:37). Paul is not suggesting here that my sin simply frustrates or hinders or irritates the Holy Spirit - it sends Him into deep sorrow as if I were dead! He cannot avoid this reality since He is the seal by which my salvation has been secured. As blood is to flesh and marrow to bone, so is the Holy Spirit to each believer. He cannot simply turn His back or step away as I do my thing, my sin is His painful reality. And while I'd rather think this reaction is reserved for greater sin, all sins are equal and equally grievous to the Holy (without sin) Spirit. It makes me wonder how much of my life is spent grieving the Holy Spirit?

Father, give me the spiritual eyes to recognize my sin and realize where I have been grieving Your Holy Spirit. Make me keenly aware of when my actions, words, thoughts and motives do not honor You. Keep me from grieving Your Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday, December 12, 2008

to make known His mystery

Ephesians 3:10
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

We have been saved by God not so that we may know the mysteries and wisdom of God but that we may make them known. Event the angels long to see and know what we do (1 Peter 1:12). We are the fulfillment and revelation of God's great plan of redemption for all of creation, humanity, angels and nature (Rom. 8:20-22). We are the stewards of this great story for the blessing of all creation. The implications for this are huge! I am not simply another person who stumbled into God's grace life one finding a dollar on the ground. I am a chosen tool for accomplishing God's plan of redemption. I have no small part in the drama of life, I am His story dramatically unfolding before everyone and everything around me. All of creation is counting on His church to finish telling this story of redemption. The question I am faced with now is why I keep the knowledge and wisdom of this mystery to myself rather than sharing it and living it openly? Is it fear? Laziness? Business? Doubt? Selfishness?
All of creation is counting on God's children.

God - burden my heart to reveal Your mystery to everyone and everything I cross paths with. Give me the words to say and the passion to speak them. Let all creation be blessed as Your story unfolds in my life. Amen

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Ephesians 2:14a, 17
For he himself is our peace....
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

By the righteous life and substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross the wrath of God toward my sin has been appeased. I am no longer His enemy but His son, His friend, His servant. Because He died in my place I have peace to live each day free from the terror of offending my Holy Creator. I have confidence in His forgiveness and courage to approach His throne in prayer. Jesus along is that peace, all else is foolishness.
This is the truth behind the Christmas claim of "peace on earth." This is what the angels proclaimed that first Christmas (luke 2:14) and what is to be our proclamation still today. It wasn't enough for Jesus to simply "be" our peace, but to be and to preach peace to all who are far off and those who are so close. We must be His proclamation of peace, His ambassadors of this good news. It is not enough for us to carry with us Christmas cheer, we must also preach peace to those we meet.
So, what will my Christmas proclamation be?

God - give me the wisdom and courage to share Your peace, real peace, this Christmas. Give me the right words to share this good news and Your peace this Christmas. Amen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the prayer of my faith

Ephesians 1:17-19
"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power"

What an amazing prayer to offer on behalf of another believer; knowledge, wisdom, hope, inheritance, power and mighty works of God... wow! What if all these things came alive in me? What if I dedicated myself to right doctrine and study of the Word of God, to let it come alive in me in wisdom and conduct, focused on the glorious hope that awaits and the unsurpassed inheritance of heaven, unhindered by this world but empowered by His Spirit for mighty works?! Sounds too good to be true... which is why this is such an amazing (and necessary) prayer. This type of life only comes by the Spirit of God through the prayers of His saints. We have been adopted as His sons (vs. 5) and must live like one. We cannot settle for ordinary or sufficient spirituality. We cannot get stuck in the rut of religion. Our hearts must burst with the light of His truth. That we have been made children of God and granted every spiritual blessing that comes with sonship... what motivation! This is the prayer of my faith; that I might know intimately (not academically or by pious faith) the reality of my identity in Christ and that it would lead me to see and participate in the works of His mighty power for the salvation of this world.

Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart and make me to know who I am in you. Fill me with the hope of Your glory and use me for Your kingdom. Amen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not mine...

Joshua 24:13
I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’

How foolish am I to live in the illusion that I somehow have earned or deserve the blessings around me? I work hard each day but God blesses my labor, without Him I'm not blessed, I'm just busy. As it says in Psalm 127:1, "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vein who build it." Even by labor is a gift from God, each day, each breath... all gifts. And somehow I still take pride in my position. How foolish! If this truth truly sunk into my head and my heart, what would my life look like?
I would praise Him more. I would be more careful to obey Him. I would be more generous, less selfish, more peaceful, less ambitious. I'd be more grateful for sure.

Father, make me more grateful for all You have given me. Help me to recognize all Your blessings, big and small. Teach me to be humble and to give You praise.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Careful Obedience

Joshua 22:5
"But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

This warning comes after god granted Israel victory in Canaan and peace in the promised land. Comfort has a way of leading to complacency. When there is no longer a pressing enemy or urgent need, we have a tendency to relax. This is why Joshua tells them to "take careful heed." Without trouble to prompt us, we have to be even more careful to seek the Lord and guard our steps. This warning also makes is perfectly, redundantly clear that it's not a heart or head devotion, but a devotion of action and obedience. Three times the word "command" is used. We must obey and follow all the commandments of the Lord. Warm fuzzies will not do, they will not sustain us. We must be religious about our devotion to following Him.

Father, make me more aware of my steps and obedient in all my devotion. Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Unfailing promises of God

Joshua 21:45
Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

What a faithful God we serve.
Not a word failed. Every promise was fulfilled, completely.
What a faithful God we serve.

Father, make me more faithful to follow You. Amen

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Control vs. Conquer

Joshua 17:13
And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

Joshua 3:10
This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.

Numbers 33:51, 52, 55
"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.
55 " 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.

God promised to drive out and destroy all the inhabitants of the promised land for Israel (Josh 3:10). He also warned them what would happen if they did not follow through and utterly destroy them (Num 33:51-55). And yet, Israel failed to drive out all the inhabitants of the land on at least three occasions in Joshua alone. These tribes chose to attempt to control the remaining sin rather than conquer it completely. When we think we can let sin and temptation remain in our lives instead of removing them completely we open ourselves up to certain harassment and failure. Sin is no slave and temptation no servant - these are only cruel masters. This is why Jesus said to gouge out and eye and cut off a hand that causes sin (Matt. 5:29-30). We cannot afford to let sin and temptation remain in our land or our lives.
So where have I made space for sin? Where have I made concessions for temptation? Where am I attempting control rather than complete conquest?

Father - remove the sin and temptation from my life. Give me the courage to completely remove these masters from my home and my mind and my relationships. Let my life be pure and honor You completely. Amen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give me mountains

Joshua 14:12
"Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.”

Any worth while goal in life is not easy. And God-sized goals are even more challenging. The environment is often hostile and rough, the opponents are giant-sized, the prize is fortified... but the Lord will be with us.
Any "me-sized" goal is not worth chasing. If I have the ability to attain any goal within myself it will not require God's intervention or my faith... and the Lord will not be with me.
So like Caleb, give me the hill country. Give me the mountain.
Make me believe and exercise faith. Make me rely on my God.
Let my helplessness point only to His greatness.
Make me stand on the promised of God given long ago and passionately pursue them today. Let me claim His promises, presence and blessing with confidence.
Give me mountains.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My battles & God's battles

Joshua 10:42
All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

If I count correctly, Joshua conquered eight kings and eight cities in one day. On that day, they traveled a long way just to begin the battle and even further in pursuit to finish it as God made the sun to stand still to prolong their conquest.
At times I limit just how much God can do through me. I expect His intervention but not that much, not eight cities and eight kings in one day! I expect miracles, but not ones that cannot be explained or reasoned, not the sun standing still. To be honest, I think this comes from my poor view of what God wants to do with me. This me and God thing is not a partnership. He does not need me. I don't fight His battles, He fights His battles. The only things I bring to the battlefield are faith and purity (Josh 7:13). These are my battles. God could and would do so much more if I let Him fight His battles and I fought mine.

God - give me the strength and favor to fight my battles of faith and purity. Give me victor and higher ground that I might see you win Your battles and expand Your kingdom. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Joshua 7:13(NIV)
"Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

There are two important steps in consecration as illustrated by Israel regarding the sin of Achan. First, we must give ourselves fully over to God, calling on Him to sanctify us and the process as we invite Him back into the process and a new relationship. However when God reengages with with Israel, it is not for fellowship or to commune but to consume their sin. I think this is why so many of us are unwilling to enter into confession or turn to God when we have strayed - internally we bear the expectation of judgment. However, for consecration to be complete, we must allow God to do this second step of removing sin. God not only removed Achan and the accursed things, but also everything they touched; family, livestock, home, possessions. We too must ruthlessly remove sin both public and private. God know what I harbor. These are the things that stand between me and the full blessing of God.
How often have I begged the Lord's blessing while still harboring sin? I'm prove to invite God into my life, but resistant to letting Him root out the sin in my tent. I like the first step of consecration, but not the second. But to be fully consecrated to God, He must consume all that does not honor Him. His blessing demands my purity. He is worth my purity.
God, ruthlessly remove sin from my life. Uncover my hidden faults and sanctify my life and family to fully honor You. Amen.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.