Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Holy Spirit

Luke 1:15 - "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb." - John the Baptist
Luke 1:35 - "And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." - Mary
Luke 1:41 - "And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." - Elizabeth
Luke 1:67 - "Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied," - Zacharias

There is so much I do not understand about the Holy Spirit and how He fits into and works out God's will and plan. It's probably a good thing I do not understand, even a little bit - if I did I might be tempted to try to manipulate God (Acts 8:18). Besides, who wants a Holy Spirit that is perceivable by the human mind? I would never submit to or fer an authority that I viewed as my equal or one that was predictable.
That being said, I wish I understood more about the Holy Spirit. I wish I had a relationship with Him the way that Jesus did (Luke 4:1, 4:14, 4:18, 10:21). I wish I heard His voice more often and more clearly. I wish I felt His filling and presence more powerfully. I wish I demonstrated His power and joy more faithfully. I wish I knew His filling and His calling moment by moment so that I might also do His work.

Holy Spirit - fill me with Your presence and speak to me. Guide me to do your work and to point others to Jesus Christ. Let me know and display Your power and joy to those I encounter today and each day. Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Salvation, Rightousness & Judgment

Psalm 98:7-9
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

One would have to be very confident in his own righteousness to sing such a psalm. The writer of Psalm 98 notes at the beginning, "the Lord has made known His salvation, His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations" (98:2) It is no mystery that God chose Israel through and to whom He would reveal His power and salvation. By the law and the prophets God has spoken of His redeemer, His righteous One who would judge righteously and bring salvation (Rom. 10:1-4). In Christ, the righteousness of God has been made known. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:21-23). To him who believes, who has seen and received the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ - to him the day of judgment is a day of celebration. The day of judgment is a day to celebrate God's final triumph, the full redemption of His creation and recreation (2 cor. 5:17-18).
Am I confident of this truth? Is my confidence in His righteousness applied to my life or have I misplaced my confidence in my self, my works or my efforts?

Father, make me confident in Your righteousness alone. Teach me to long for your judgment, the final day of Your salvation and redemption of all that is Yours. Amen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Beauty of Holiness

Psalm 96:9
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.

My righteous living is a beautiful offering of worship before God. My fear and reverence of Him, of His majesty and power, is praise to His name. This reminds me of Romans 12:1-2 which encourages us to "offer (our) bodies as living sacrifices, Holy and pleasing to God - this is (our) spiritual act of worship," not to be "conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of (our) minds."
When I sacrifice the desires of my flesh, when I give up my thinking patterns and embrace a fear of His name, a reverence for His holiness - God is greatly praised. As it says in 1 Samuel 15:22, "to obey is better than sacrifice." My greatest offering before God before a Holy God is my own holiness. For this God is most pleased. My ability to please God is this way is founded on my view of Him, on my fear and reverence for who I know Him to be - HOLY. As the Lord says in Leviticus 19:2, "Be Holy because I the Lord your God, I AM Holy."
To see Him, to know Him is to worship Him in holiness.

Lord let my life be marked by holiness. Let me offer to You a daily sacrifice of obedience. Teach me to fear Your name, to know Your holiness and to walk each day in humble worship of You. May my life please you. Amen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Delight in Anxiety

Psalm 94:19
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Anxiety and worry are a part of life. Relationship issues, conflict, confusion, sin and its effects are all part of our daily struggles and plague our thoughts. The psalm writer boldly acknowledges this and does not paint over it with Christian piety or minimize it with religious posturing. Instead, in honesty and vulnerability he reveals his struggle and sets it in contract not to his own strength or courage but to God's comforts. What are God's comforts?... Justice (1-7), Understanding (8-11), Instruction (12), Rest, (13), Presence (14), Defense (16&22), help (17), Mercy (18). In the multitude of anxiety, God's comforts are multiplied and produce delight... not just comfort. I can have joy in the midst of many trials and troubles. I can delight in God. What a joy!

God - teach me to focus on Your comforts in the midst of my troubles and help me find delight in You. Amen

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

God's Work, God's Glory, my children...

Psalm 90:16-17
Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90 is a psalm of Moses. His words here remind me of God appearing to him on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19-34) and Moses request in Exodus 33:18, "Please show me Your glory." When God revealed His mighty work to Moses and showed him His glory, Moses' face shone brightly for the people, a testimony of God's glory (Exodus 34:30).
Our children will see the glory of God when we seek the Lord's face, to see Him face to face, and reflect His beauty in all we do. Our work in the Lord will then be established and even our children will say along with Moses, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations" (Psa. 90:1). However we must first seek Him, pursue Him on His holy mountain, receive His Word, and fall in love with the beauty of His face. We must first be changed if our children are to know Him and His glory.

Father - change me. Reveal to me Your mighty works, let my face reflect Your glory. Let my children know Your beauty and be confident that You have established Your work in our home. Amen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Presence of God

Psalm 89:14-15
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.

I am so blessed to enter into the presence of the Lord, the throne room of the almighty creator each day. Each day I open my Bible I hear the joyful shouts of praise, the royal trumpets proclaiming the sovereign rule of the King of creation. Each day I pray I gaze upon His face and meditate on His nature. In the light of His countenance I find mercy and truth applied to my life. At His throne I find strength to line in righteousness and demonstrate justice. These go with me all day long and sustain me in my trials and temptations.
I am blessed to know the presence of the Lord!
How then could I choose sleep over prayer? How could I choose the news over the good news? How could I choose breakfast over the Bread of Life? How could I choose work over letting God work on me? How could I pass up the opportunity to enter into the throne room of the Almighty God?
I am so blessed to know the joyful sound of entering into His presence.

Father - thank You for your mercy and grace that allow a sinner like me to enter into Your presence and meditate on Your face. Draw me into Your presence more and more each day and let me face each and every day in the joy of Your blessing. Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

To Fear Him

Psalm 86:11
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

What does it mean to "fear" the Lord? I know I am supposed to respect and revere Him but it seems like so much more. His works are amazing and powerful. His judgment is true and right. His justice is swift and complete. I should literally fear such a God whom I am so unlike. To know Him is to fear Him. To be united to the Lord, to know Him intimately, will produce in me a healthy and righteous fear that will cause me to walk in His truth. Apart from this fear, I am prone to wander into lies, to walk in my own way, to offend my terrible God. It is this fear that leads me back to His ways, to His truth, to His mercy and grace, to His peace (Psa 85:10).
To know Him is to fear Him; to fear Him is to obey Him.
To not obey Him is to not fear Him; to not fear Him is to not know Him.
This alone is a fearful thought.

Father - teach me to fear You. Teach me to know You in such a way that I will walk in Your truth and obey You in all ways. Let my conduct reflect an intimate knowledge of You and display Your truth. Keep me from lies and teach me to fear You. Amen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pursue God, in His Temple

Psalm 84:5
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

Psalm 84 is about the joy found in the temple of God.
vs 1 - "How lovely is your tabernacle."
vs 4 - "Blessed are those who dwell in Your house."
vs 10 - "A day in Your courts is better that a thousand... in the tents of the wicked."
The man who sets his heart on communing with God will be blessed. Even though the pilgrimage was long, difficult and dangerous, those whose joy was found in YHWH would also find strength in Him for the journey. His promise is to sustain those who pursue Him (84:11).
As believers, we are His Holy Temple. The Holy Spirit dwells in me! (1 Cor. 6:9). The journey is not long, difficult nor dangerous - yet we tend to act as though it is. We can make the saddest excuses not to pursue or commune with God; "I'm too busy, too tired, too guilt-ridden, not sure where to start, too confused...." Yet spending time with God in prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, listening and worship is the answer to all these excuses. We find strength, protection, grace, blessing, trust, rest, joy and so much more when we set our hearts on communing with God.

Father - make me hungry and thirsty for You and Your Word each day of my life. Keep my heart set on this journey every day and let me dwell in Your presence always. Amen.


Psalm 82:1-4
God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.

This Psalm seems so appropriate for our country. God is judging the wicked and the mighty ones (the authorities). Wealthy and powerful people are being found out, oppressive and irresponsible companies are falling, corruption is being uncovered and yet, the poor seem to suffer more. God is accomplishing the first half of this passage but not the second... yet. However, God is faithful. We can be confident that He will accomplish justice also for the poor and needy. He will defend the afflicted and be the father to the fatherless (Psa 68:5). Until that day, we must join Him in caring for the poor, needy, afflicted and fatherless. We must pray for them and defend them as the Lord would - and will. We are His church, His people, His partners, His tools to accomplish justice and proclaim His freedom. If we are to stand with God, we must also stand (in this manner) with the poor.

God, use me to bring justice to the afflicted. Use me to defend the needy and deliver the poor. Use me to proclaim Your freedom to those who are bound. Accomplish Your Word O God through me. Amen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Generation to Generation; Testimony and Law

Psalm 78:5-8
For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not set its heart aright,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

We have a testimony, a story of God's faithfulness, to pass along to the next generation. We have a law, a way to live right, to teach to the next generation. By our testimony they will know God, His character, His nature, His commitment to His people. By His law, they will learn to obey Him and walk in His blessing. Or message should be simple and clear; because this is who God is (testimony), this is how we should live (law). We must proclaim a lifestyle rooted in the character of God rather than one rooted in religiosity, humanistic morality or societal expectations. We cannot be expedient and focus on just the law. We cannot be timid and proclaim only His testimony. The testimony and the law to hand-in-hand to bring the next generation to full faith, obedience and blessing.

God, make my message clear. Give me wisdom and words to proclaim Your testimony and Your law to the children entrusted to me that they may know You and obey You. Help me avoid expedience and timidity. Give me boldness and vision to proclaim both who You are and how we should live. Bless this next generation to know You and experience Your presence. Raise up children who will teach children to teach children of Your faithfulness and Your way. Redeem the next generation from the captivity we have passed onto them and bring them into Your kingdom. Amen

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Psalm 77:1-3
I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.

There are times when I feel so selfish, cheated and angry that I can't sleep. I can't get the thoughts out of my head and I can't justify them with the God that I know. I seek comfort but I myself torment myself with my own attitude. God cannot comfort me when I only seek to be comforted by selfishness. Why can't I just give up?! Why is it so hard to die to self!? I have nobody to blame but myself and yet I search for someone else, anyone else to point to. But I can't escape myself. My sin is always before me (Psalm 51). My only answer is to meditate on God and dwell on His sacrifice for me until all I see is Christ. To remember His suffering is to lose sight of mine. To seek the Lord is to lose sight of myself.

God - take away my selfish indignation and self-centeredness. Make me lose sight of me and see only You. Forgive me. Make me new again. Amen

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blindness to sin

Psalm 69:5-6
O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.
Let not those who wait for You, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.

My sin is not hidden from God and most often it is not hidden from others. Ironically, the only one who often cannot see my sin is me. And my blind sin and foolishness has a profound and sad effect on those around me. To the believer my in brings shame, sadness and discouragement. My sin may lead those who wait on the Lord to stop waiting. Those who seek the Lord will be confused and cynical because of my sin. Those who seek the Lord may stop seeking Him altogether. Until I see and know and acknowledge my sin, I cannot control the effects of my own behavior. Until I uncover my sin, others will continue to be drawn away on account of me. Every aspect of my life my be consistent and intentional, my message must be clear. Until then and even still, my prayer must be for God to preserve and protect those around me from my own foolishness and sin.

God - help me to see my sin. Make me bold to confess it and courageous enough to change. Preserve and protect those around me; let not my foolishness draw them away from you. Amen

Friday, February 6, 2009

Psalm 68:5-6a
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity"

What a comforting and timely passage. Today is my daddy's birthday. It's been 2 years since he died and I think about him and miss him every day. In his absence, God has proven Himself to be my Heavenly Father, my comfort, my guide. Today, our foster daughter Andrea decided to get up with me for my quiet time. Last night we talked about her losing her mom and that soon she will be an orphan again. These verses are perfect for her to hold onto now. She smiled so big when we began to read and explain this. God our Heavenly Father will not leave her alone but will step in and care for her and even provide her with an earthly family to love her. I hope Andrea allows us to be that earthly family. God's word is so good and timely. We don't have to worry about anything - God our Father will provide for and care for His kids.

Heavenly Father - I praise You for being my Heavenly Father who cares for and provides for me. Thank You for tending to my family and guiding as as we grow. Thank You for bringing us Andrea and Vanessa. Thank You for letting us take part in this passage. Use us Father to provide and care for the fatherless that Your name may be known and that You may be seen in our family. Amen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

See God's Doings

Psalm 66:5
Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.

I am so grateful to serve a God whose works can be seen. I do not know my God by philosophy or ethereal notions - I can see His works. He is not known only by His being, but also by His doing. This is so significant to my faith. In witnessing His deeds my faith is not founded in darkness or mystery but in the practical, tangible and visible. When my faith is challenged or I struggle to recognize the awesome doings of God I can look to Scripture to illuminate and validate what I see. Through the lens of Scripture God's work can be seen in nature, life, relationships, systems, provision, protection, circumstances and so much more. Not only is Scripture my lens, it is also my compass that points me where to look. Furthermore, Scripture is my interpreter to process where and what I see. My faith is founded in the real, visible, valid and awesome work of God. My faith is not blind nor am I - I can see the very work of God.

God - open my eyes to your mighty works and help me recognize your doings around me. Amen.

side-thought - God is not a being... God is a Doing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Provider

Psalm 65:9-10
You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

(When you read this passage, emphasize the You in each line. This really drive home the point David is making. God is our provider.)

In a time of economic struggle and global concern, we must never forget who cares for and tends to the earth. God will sustain that which He has made. He will provide for that which He has created for His glory. I do not have to worry. If God provides for the earth, how much more so will He provide for those whom He has created in His image. How much more so will He provide for and sustain those whom He has called and caused to approach Him (vs. 65:4)!? God is in full control and can be trusted with every aspect of my life.

I praise You Father for Your constant provision and care for me. You are Good and worthy of praise. You alone and worthy. You alone are my provider. I will praise You alone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Psalm 62:1-2&5-7
1 Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

5 My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be * moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Throughout this Psalm David claims God and His nature for himself 12 times!... my salvation, my rock, my defense, my expectation, my strength, my glory, my refuge. And as David claims and proclaims God's character for himself his faith and confidence in God is strengthened. In verse 2 David claims he will not be "greatly" moved. However by verse 6 David is not moved at all!
This habit of recalling the character of God, meditating on His nature, claiming for ourselves and proclaiming out loud the goodness of God is critical to maintaining a strong and growing faith. God has granted me so much, His grace and mercy are so great that I lack nothing at any time. I need only to remember and claim His blessing in my life. He is not just a refuge or a rock or a strength or our salvation (generically speaking)... He is MY REFUGE, MY ROCK, MY STRENGTH and MY SALVATION! Daily I must claim the Truth of His nature and proclaim His Goodness out loud as a reminder of who He is and who I am because of Him.

God You are MY SONG, MY JOY, MY PEACE, MY DELIGHT... in You alone I am blessed. Keep this song on my lips and these words on my heart. Draw me close to You each morning and let me claim and proclaim Your goodness each day. Amen.

Monday, February 2, 2009

to sing of His mercy each morning

Psalm 59:16-17
But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

To walk with God and to walk like Jesus is no easy task. Sin, temptation, fleshly desires, carelessness and the Devil himself are always waiting to throw us off. Doubt, guilt, shame, apathy; these are the results of not walking with God and force us farther from His steps.
For this reason I will begin each day - with joy - singing of God's great mercy and power over my life. I will remember His provision for me, the price He paid on the cross and the deposit of His Holy Spirit within me each day. This daily reminder is my strength to walk and my defense against doubt, guilt, shame and apathy. I will claim and proclaim His mercy before any other thought or feeling creeps in. I will claim and proclaim His mercy each morning so that I can walk with and like Christ all day long. He will be my strength and His mercy my song.

I praise you God for Your great mercy to me. Keep me mindful of Your mercy all day long. Let Your mercy be the song I can't get out of my head and may I walk with You and in Your steps all day long. Amen.