Friday, May 29, 2009

Mercy and Forgiveness

2 Samuel 14:14
For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.

In David's mourning for his son Amnon, he lost sight of the forgiveness and mercy of God. No amount of punishment toward Absalom would bring back Amnon and anger only promoted the avenger of blood to spill more blood (2 Samuel 14:11). Yet in remembering the Lord we are reminded that He is patient, forgiving and merciful toward sinners, of whom David was king (2 Samuel 12:13). As God was merciful and forgiving toward David in his grievous sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah, so God called David to be toward Absalom and his vengeance toward Amnon. (How ironic that when weighed, David's sin is far greater than Absalom's yet David cannot respond to this reality.)
Remembering the Lord and His great mercy toward us gives us the self control and strength to extend the same to others. Focusing on the cross of Christ and the great price He paid to redeem His banished ones gives us the ability to put away our anger and devise means to to call our offenders home as well.

Father - help me focus on the cross of Christ and be always mindful of Your mercy and forgiveness. Keep my sin and Your mercy always in mind. Make me a man of mercy and give me the strength to forgive and reconcile others as You have done for me. Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


2 Samuel 12:20
"So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate."

David's response to the tragic loss of his child was worship. His prayers and petitions were turned to praise even when they were met with an undesirable answer.
Is praise and worship my natural response to loss, trial and unanswered prayer?
Can I praise God in loss as well as gain?
I can only imagine that his worship was was led him to the table to eat.
Worship has a way of turning our hearts and heads back to God and into a right place.
Will I allow worship to steer my heart and thoughts?... or will I dwell in my unchangeable circumstances?

God - give me a heart of worship that by it my heart and my head might be aligned with You. Amen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Justice, Mercy & Trust

2 Samuel 10:12
"Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”

Joab was not ambitious or greedy in battle. He did not prepare his men for selfish gain or without cause. His trust in the Lord for the victory was not unfounded. Instead Joab prepared for battle and strengthened his men out of justice, knowing that he and David his king already did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. David chose mercy over ambition regarding the king of Ammon, showing him kindness at the loss of his father. (2 Samuel 10:1-2). However David's kindness and mercy was met with injustice and disgrace. His men, his nation and most importantly his God had been humiliated and shamed. Consequently, on the foundation of mercy and justice for the honor of the name of the Lord and His people, Joab prepares for battle and places his full trust in the Lord to do what is right, what is just in His sight.

Do I live such a life of mercy and justice that I can stand in battle with confidence in God to do what is right and bring me the victory? Do I choose mercy over ambition and justice over gain before the battle lines are drawn? Do I live out of this mercy and justice so as to honor the Lord in all I do?

God - give me a heart of mercy and a mind to know justice. Let me walk humbly before You each day that you might go before me in battle and grant me the victory. Amen.

Micah 6:8-
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

God and His Word

2 Samuel 7:28
“And now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant.

David knew God and he knew His Word, His promises. These two relationships gave David the confidence and courage to march into battle and know for certain that God would give him victory. His knowledge of God was not only academic; stories of old passed down through generations, but intimate; out of which was born hundreds of personal psalms of praise and prayer. David heard the stories of God's faithfulness (2 Sam. 7:22) and responded by drawing near.
David also claimed God's Word and promises for himself. To David, they were not generic words for people in general but personal commands and personal promises which required individual obedience. David claimed the good and the difficult alike; preserving the life of his enemy the king but also claiming the throne and the lifestyle that would be required with it. His decisions about war and alliances were all based on God's promises to establish his throne forever (2 Sam. 8). David was claiming the promises of God and making a name for Him (2 Sam. 7:26). God's Word and promises were his strength.
Is this true of me? Do I make decision out of my own knowledge of life and circumstance and the words of men or is my confidence in knowing God and His Word? Do I live out of a deep, intimate relationship with God and His Word? On what are my decisions based?

Father - draw me closer to You, to know You and Your Word. Establish me as an example to others, as a testimony to Your great name. Bless me that I may be a blessing. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2009


2 Samuel 6:22
22 And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.”

As David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem he danced before the Lord with all his might in a linen Ephod (2 Sam. 6:14). There is no doubt that this behavior was unbecoming of a king however David's identity was not all wrapped up in being king nor was it his primary function. David was a servant of God; totally committed to Him in deed and emotion. If it was royalty God asked for, David was kingly. If it was bravery, David fought. If it was worship, David worshiped. It didn't matter to David who was watching, listening or judging his behavior because it was before and only for the Lord that David performed. His behavior was a free and shameless overflow of his heart for God.

Do I have a similar heart for God and a passion for His glory that is free and unrestrained? Do I dance and sing and proclaim God's glory regardless of who is listening, watching or judging? Am I humble in my own eyes or do I pridefully worry about my reputation and what others think? Where is my heart?

God - help me remove my pride and glorify You at all times. Let praise and worship be like breath in me and let my adoration of You be unrestrained and undignified. You are worthy of this and so much more. Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trusting God's justice

2 Samuel 3:39
And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. The LORD shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.”

David did not take it upon himself to avenge the death of Abner, his ally. Instead he weighted the cost and placed his trust in God to sort things out. Even though as king, David had power and authority to act, he chose to let the Lord repay the evildoer.
Am I ever more concerned about my own self preservation or self promotion that I do not leave room for the justice of God? How often have I taken things into my own hands and out of God's? If God is pleased with my faith and obedience I don't have to worry about myself or my opponents. God is faithful and worthy to be trusted.

God help me to trust You more; to place my life and circumstances in Your hands and let You defend and promote me as You please. Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

faitfhul guardian

2 Thessalonians3:3
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

what a comfort in a world where "out battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). God Himself has and will continue to establish me as His child and His servant that I may express the love and patience of God toward others (2 Thes. 3:5). With the strength and security of knowing that I have a God who guards me from Satan and his demons I can focus on this love and patience for my brothers and sister as well as my neighbor.

Father - help me to trust and claim this word and promise for today, that I may freely and wholly love others. Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Loving the Truth of God

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The contrast between those perishing and those being saved is most clearly evident in how they view truth. Those perishing believe the ling wonders, half truths and distortions of truth promoted by Satan through the world. However those who are being saved have received a love of the truth. I find it interesting and convicting that Paul ads the concept of loving the truth; not just accepting, acknowledging, tolerating or believing it. Those being saved LOVE God's Truth. The word Paul chooses to use here for love is "agape," a strong, sacrificial love.

Do I love the truth of God in this way? Do I have a passion and hunger for God's truth, his Word and His way that goes beyond all other hungers in my life? Do I love God's truth or would I rather believe half truths, distortions and convenient untruths for my own pleasure and benefit? Would it be obvious to the world what I love?

Father - deepen my love for Your Word, Your Truth and Your way. Make my hunger for Your truth stronger than any other desire in my life. Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Worth of His calling

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be counted worthy of God's calling?

What must we do or have done to be counted worthy of this call?

If you reading today I'd love to hear your thoughts on this passage.
Please post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Secret to Ministry

1 Thessalonians 5:14
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

This verse make me think that Paul might of done some youth ministry back in his day. What a perfect verse and reminder for youth workers and volunteers. Nobody is perfect and students especially are learning to walk into maturity and to walk with Jesus; they are going to stumble and even fall. They need us to be there for them; to be firm, encouraging, helpful and patient. While this can be very difficult at times, Paul gives also some strong tips on how to do this well in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the Lords will in Christ Jesus for you." So if I'm struggling with my attitude or interaction with a student I must ask myself, "Have I been rejoicing in their journey, praying for their success and thanking God for the opportunity to influence their walk?" In doing this I find that walking with even the most difficult of students is so much easier.

God - make me the youth pastor You want me to be. Help me be firm, encouraging, helpful and patient with each student You give me. Keep me focused on rejoicing, praying and thanking You for each of their lives and my own as well. Amen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


1 Thessalonians 4:3a & 7
It is God's will that you should be sanctified
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

When we analyze life, seek God's will and ask Him for His direction; the answer is sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we become more like Jesus. Sanctification begins with God's work of regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17), concludes with God's work of glorification (Rom. 8:8) and along the way requires our full cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Sanctification means swallowing our pride, enduring hardship, patiently persevering, quietly serving, always forgiving, radical loving, sacrificial giving, gently sharing, tender listening, constant praying, Spirit dependent living.

God - help me to cooperate with Your Holy Spirit in becoming more like Jesus. Help me to hear from You, see where You are moving and boldly follow Your leading. Amen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Increase in Love, increase in holiness

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

The mark of true faith and discipleship is love (John 13:35, 1 John 4:7-11). Love is also a means to holiness. To love God is to keep his commands (1 John 5:3, John 13:34, John 15:9-14). The greatest commandments are both about love (Matthew 22:37-40) to love God and to love others. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), both the sins of others and my own sins. When love is my goal each day, I will naturally avoid sins. Apart from love I live in the flesh and cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

God - increase my love for others. Help me make loving others (especially tough people) my goal and priority each moment of each day. Make me patient and kind and humble and forgiving and enduring. Establish me in holiness, through this love, that I may be blameless before God and man. Amen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

sacrificial love and affection for the lost

1 Thessalonians 2:8
So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Paul loved the lost as Jesus did - sacrificially, while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) His love was demonstrated in a willingness to give his own life for the opportunity for them to hear the Gospel (1 Thess. 1:6 & 2:2). Paul endured affliction and conflict for them so that he might express his affection and commitment to them. Paul also loved the lost affectionately, longing to be with them in fellowship, sharing life together because they had become dear to him. He didn't hide in a holy huddle and hope the world was watching - he did life with the lost. Paul's Gospel was not in word alone but in sacrificially, affectionately love for those outside the church.
Do I have a similar love for the lost? Am I willing to sacrifice my time, my priorities, my comfort, my safety, my life in order to gain an opportunity to share with them life and the Gospel of God? Have I made it a priority to share life with those outside the church? Who are the lost that have become this dear to me?

Father - grow my heart and affection for lost people. Help me expand my circle of friendship to include many outside the church. Give me a desire to share with the lost life along with the Gospel. Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Whole Gospel

1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

Paul notes four distinct and important values in effectively sharing the Gospel. The Gospel must be shared in word, by nature it is a verbal message. Throughout the New Testament we find the Gospel in dialogue. This means the Gospel is an interactive, verbal message. While a picture is worth 1000 words, we cannot choose which words; 1000 choice words are priceless. Second, the Gospel must be shared in power and authority that only comes by the Word of God - the Scriptures. Paul reasoned with the Thessalonians from the Prophets (Acts 17). God's Word is powerful and effective and will not return void, it will accomplish what it was sent out to do (Isa. 55:11, Heb. 4:12). Our words cannot be our own, they must be the vary words of God which alone have the power to change hearts and minds and lives. Third, it must be shared in the power of the Holy Spirit and His leading within both the sharer and the hearer. Apart from the conviction of the Holy Spirit and His compelling call there is no salvation (John 16:7-15). Finally, the Gospel must be shared in deed - in lives that are consistent with the message we proclaim. By our deeds our message is validated and assurance is found by both the sharer and the listener. The message is strengthened when it is married to good deeds and moral lives that are above reproach. When our proclamation reflects all this we can be sure and secure, knowing that we have done our part. Does the Gospel message I proclaim reflect all this? Do I proclaim in word and Scripture and Spirit and deed?

Father - may the Gospel I proclaim reflect these values and consistently point to You in every way. Make me diligent to make my Gospel message complete. Open my eyes to how and when I may share it each day and make me bold to share. Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Consistent living...

Colossians 4:5-6
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

The world is watching and even whispering about Christ's church. There is curiosity and skepticism about the love we share, the joy we express, the standards we raise, the discipline we exercise, the Truth we proclaim and the lives we live. We must be wise and careful to keep these all consistent and constant. When questioned we must not answer defensively but gracefully. When ridiculed we must not answer in anger but is humility and gentleness. Our speech and lives should be seasoned in such a peculiar way that a critical world notices the difference. We only have so many moments to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, we must redeem each one in every way so those outside looking in may see and encounter Jesus.

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Father - help me notice where my life is inconsistent with the Truth I profess. Give me the strength and courage and discipline to bring my every word and deed in line with Your will for the sake of the lost - that they may see Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Colossians 3:12-13
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

As God's elect, holy and dearly loved, I can easily put on pride, arrogance, cynicism, harshness and impatience. I can let the idea of being chosen and loved by God puff me up if I don't remind myself also why I've been chosen and loved. Nothing in me is worthy of choosing or loving. I did nothing to earn or deserve God's favor. As Paul reminds the Colossians, God forgave me - He overlooked my unworthiness and forgave my sinfulness. I am chosen and loved by God because of what is in Him, not what is in me. Because God chose to forgive me, love me and make me His, I must also humbly accept others in the same way.

Father - humble me and let me extend Your same love and tenderness to others as You have extended to me. Amen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Colossians 2:23
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

There are a lot of good things done in the name of religion and spirituality that seem wise and virtuous and noble and sacrificial. However, in the end, they are worthless act which have no eternal value but instead serve to feed our prideful flesh, to puff us up with false humility and piety and dissuade others from the true substance of faith and spirituality. These practices include serving, giving, fighting injustice, saving the environment and endangered animals, feeding the hungry and championing causes. These are the marks of pop-cultural spirituality or "Oprahanity." In reality, these practices are empty shadows of what is the true substance of faith - Jesus Christ (2:7).
And while it is easy to point out such empty practices in "Oprahanity," we must also courageously scrutinize the practices of Christianity and ask ourselves if we too have placed false confidence in shadows rather than substance. Have we found false security in Christian virtues and values rather than Christ? Am I puffed up by prayer or Bible reading or journaling or serving or working at a church or anything else? Where is my confidence and value?

Father - help me focus on You alone and find my confidence and value in knowing You... or more rightly, in being known by You. Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Colossians 1:9-12
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

What an amazing prayer! I should be praying this prayer daily for those God has entrusted to me. To break it down into manageable parts I would say Paul is praying for: Spirit filling, obedience, worship (fully pleasing Him), sharing the faith effectively (fruitful good works), growth, and strength and power to endure. What would God do in the lives of my brother and sisters in Christ if I did not cease to pray this prayer for them?

God - make me more fervent in prayer. Make me more disciplined to schedule prayer and more sensitive to Your Spirit to spontaneously pray. Let me be known as a man of prayer and let my family, friends and students know the power of these prayers. Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Strengthened in the Lord

1 Samuel 30:6
Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

This passage echoes of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane deeply grieved to the point of death yet finding strength in the Father through prayer to face the trial ahead (Matthew 26/Luke 22).
I wish I could see how David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Was it Scripture? Prayer? Psalms and music? Meditation on the faithfulness of God in the past? Remembering the prophesies of God through Samuel? What brought David's eyes from the loss in his life back to the Lord? What brought David strength?
What turns my eyes from the things of this life back to the Lord? What gets my focus off me and back onto Him? Most often I find that Scripture gets me back to God and changes my thoughts and feelings. Prayer most often clarifies and solidifies the lessons. Journaling makes it memorable.
So why don't I turn to my Bible immediately when I am distressed? Why do I wait til morning? Why not turn to God as all times?

Father - draw me into Your Word at all times. Teach me to depend on You as air in every day circumstances. Let me be strengthened by You, oh Lord my God. Amen.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"From the Lord"

1 Samuel 26:12
So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away; and no man saw or knew it or awoke. For they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.

I am curious about the phrase "from the Lord." It seems that many times God gave to certain people what seems unfit to come from Him.

1 Samuel 16:14
Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

1 Samuel 19:9
But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand.

Exodus 9:12,10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:8
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart...

And yet the words of Romans 9:19-21 come to mind, "One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"

Lord - look upon me with favor and keep me in Your will. Protect me from temptation and from a spirit and heart that would turn away from You. Amen