Thursday, June 25, 2009


2 Timothy 4:8
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

The crown of righteousness is reserved for all who have endured suffering, lived righteously and diligently served God's kingdom anticipating His immanent return. This means that ministry must take on a sense of urgency, as if this race could end around any corner and especially the next one. Imagine a race in which the runners bend the last curve to reveal the white tape and rather than burst into an all out sprint to win the race, each one begins to stroll casually. Ridiculous! Yet many believers run the race of faith in such a manner. They have grown content with the kingdom as it is and have no sense of urgency about its coming. Their walk and ministry is marked by convenience and comfort as they patiently wait for opportunities to arrive. It's almost as if their storing up something for after the finish line! We cannot run this way. We must run the race with perseverance and urgency, pursuing the prize of righteousness, disciplining our body, mind and spirit to push past opposition and obstacles and to honor His kingdom (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Without this sense of urgency, the race marked out before us is nothing more than a stroll in the park, lacking path, purpose and prize.
Do I live with such urgency? Do I serve when it's not convenient? Do I give and sacrifice when I'm already spent? Do I create opportunities when all obvious paths are blocked? Am I living like the end is right around the next corner?

God, grant me a sense of urgency about my life, ministry and relationships. Let me leave nothing on the track of life but reach the finish line fully spent with no regrets and nothing left but the victors' crown of righteousness. Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Empty faith...

2 Timothy 3:1,5
(1)But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: (2) For men will be... (5)having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Godliness can take on many forms; religion, ritual, piety, appearance, membership, participation, tradition, speech and language, symbolism, even religious positions of authority. However, godliness without the power of God is empty, vein and pointless. True godliness comes with tremendous power.
Does my form of godliness contain great power? Do I deny or believe that God will answer my prayers in miraculous ways? Does He? Do I deny or proclaim His Word, the Gospel of Truth with boldness expecting others to come to repentance and salvation? Do they? Do I deny or claim the power of the Holy Spirit within me to life a private and public life of purity that is above reproach? Do I? Do I deny or reflect the image of God within me, displaying His ongoing work of sanctification through servanthood and sacrifice so that others are blessed? Are they?
If my prayers, proclamation, personal purity and provisions for others do not obviously drip with the power of God resulting in changed lives I must question my form of godliness. If my world doesn't change, if my family doesn't grow, if my church doesn't thrive, if my influence doesn't expand if my suffering doesn't deepen (2 Timothy 3:12)... if my life lacks obvious power, I must question God's presence within it.

Father, fill me with Your presence and power that I may know Your Spirit is within me and others may experience You power through me. Let my form of Godliness match what You desire to fill. Amen.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amazing Creation

About a month ago I purchased a new toy; the Nikon D60.

It's a digital SLR camera with a ton of amazing features. I can adjust the shutter speed, aperture, focus, lighting, flash, picture quality and about a dozen other things before I even snap a picture. As I prepare to take the picture, it will tell me whether my settings are off or need to be adjusted for better picture. It has a number of automatic settings on it so that when I want to be lazy it does all the work for me and takes great pictures. And if, for some odd reason, I don't like the picture I took, I can open edit it right on the camera! I can adjust the lighting contrast, size, color cast and a dozen other options. The final shot is sure to be breathtaking.

However, while taking these pictures I noticed something I consider pretty amazing. With all the amazing technology, features and flexibility of this camera, it still could not begin to capture all the depth, color, light, contrast, focus and panorama of my unaided eye. How could anyone possible deny the existence of a creator God with the wisdom, brilliance, creativity and intentionality found in the human eye?

What an amazing creation; what an amazing creator.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Loving, sharing, enduring...

2 Timothy 2:10
"Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

Paul endured chains, prison, beatings, stoning and so much more all for the sake of Christ's elect (2 Cor. 9:23-28). What do I endure? What am I willing to endure?
I'm often dissuaded by tiredness, awkwardness, cynicism, cultural etiquette, my busy schedule and my own comfort. I know this is wrong. If I truly loved my neighbor as myself I would push past my shallow, pathetic, self-centered excuses and share with them the greatest news of eternal glory. This is what drove Paul's passion for sharing the Gospel; love for Christ's elect. Since there is no way of knowing who is and who is not God's elect this side of heaven, Paul loved and served everyone whose path he crossed (1 Cor. 9:19-22). I ind that I am more in love with my own comfort or reputation than with those who are dying and in jeopardy of eternal suffering or those who may be God's own children. This is why Jesus instructed His disciples that anyone who desires to follow him must "deny himself, take up his cross DAILY and follow Him" (Matthew 16:24). If I am not denying myself daily, am I really following Jesus? If I do not love my neighbor enough to share the Gospel, do I really love Jesus?

God - help me develop a deeper love for the lost. Teach me to deny myself and follow You. Change my heart so that I am willing to endure all things for the sake of Your elect. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


2 Timothy 1:12b & 14
"Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."
"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."

This is a rarely taught yet profound and comforting truth. When we come to Christ, He is not entrusting Himself to us but we are entrusting ourselves to Him. In other words, I am not adding God to my life but instead adding my life to God, my whole life. I am not capable to be trusted with Him on my own. Therefore, what God has entrusted to me (the Gospel, Truth, love, faith) He keeps by the power of His Spirit within me. "For God did not give us spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind," (2 Timothy 1:7). I don't have to live in fear of judgment, condemnation or weakness because by His Spirit, power and love I am kept secure by the Father. I will not be tempted beyond what I can handle (1 Cor. 10:13) and I cannot be touche by the evil one (1 John 5:18). By His Spirit and the deposit of faith in me, I have victory over the world (1 John 5:4-5). My deposit in God has paid an overwhelming dividend in me that is guaranteed until He returns (Phil. 1:6 too). For I am convinced that He is able to do all this and more for me, His child, His friend, His servant, His own. Praise God! Amen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


1 Timothy 6:6
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Hebrews 13:5
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Philippians 4:11 & 19
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:....
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Contentment is so underrated. I'm not certain but I don't think I've ever heard a sermon on contentment. I have heard it used as a side note or sub-point for something seemingly more important; materialism, greed, worry, etc, but never as the main idea.
However it seems that contentment might just be one of the most important Christian virtues upon which many others are built. Contentment promotes gratitude, patience, generosity, faith, peace, joy, goodness, and so much more. Contentment defeats greed, materialism, pride, ambition, complaining, quarreling, selfishness, etc.
So what is the secret to contentment? How do I learn, "in whatever state I am, to be content?" Contentment begins with the promises of God: "I will never leave you nor forsake you," "my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus," and so many more. Upon this foundation we lay trust. Trust, not only in what is to come, but also on what has come and is, that it is from God. He is sovereign and gives to His own what is necessary for His will and our benefit (Luke 12:22-28). Upon this foundation we also lay hope and train our minds to focus on what is greater; the kingdom of God (Luke 12:29-34). We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; refusing to be distracted by the cares of this life. We have been granted an eternity of blessing and goodness. Contentment is to live in light of this for a short season called life.

Father - solidify Your promises in my mind and life that I might be content in all circumstances, trusting in You and living each day in the hope of Your kingdom. Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

evident... eventually

1 Timothy 5:24-25
Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

Both sin and good deeds are hard to hide for too long. Eventually sin and goodness both seep into our character and contaminate our reputation. Unless one is clearly evident and lasting in one's life, we should not be quick to judge. God will reveal all things in time.
This is a good and trustworthy warning also for leaders and teachers in the church who are to be judged more harshly for their role (Js. 3:1). I cannot harbor hidden sin. What I hope to keep hidden will eventually be brought into the light (Jn. 3:20-21). Some deeds will be revealed in this life and some in the life to come. Those revealed here will be shown some mercy, however those revealed later (at the judgment) will not. Reward received now will be light, reward received later will be great. It is in my best interest to have my sin revealed now and my goodness hidden until later. To get these reversed would be a very bad thing.
Am I now living in a manner, both publicly and privately, that is prepared to receive the light of God's judgment?

1 Corinthians 3:12-13
"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work."

God - purify my heart and reveal to me my hidden sins. Let my goodness be evident and my errors revealed. Forgive my sin. Prepare my life and conduct for Your light that I might not only be justified but also that I might please You. Amen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

God's people deserve a growing pastor.

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Sometimes as a pastor it's easy to be more concerned about the conduct and doctrine of others than my own. As the shepherd, my attention could easily be on my sheep at all times and it would feel right and fulfilling and even justified. As the defender of doctrine in my ministry, it would be easy to get sucked into empty debates and profane arguments about every new belief that sprouts up. However Paul says that my effectiveness as a pastor/shepherd is more about my own conduct and doctrine that others'. The health of my ministry will reflect my own spiritual health, consistency and sanctification. And I must "take heed" and be daily aware of my own spiritual condition. I cannot take for granted my position, my influence or my gifts (vs. 14). I must be growing daily and my progress should be evident and inspiring to those around me (vs. 15). If I (let alone my sheep) do not see the growth in me that God desires, I must evaluate my spiritual training and change my exercise regimen (vs. 7-8). God's people deserve a growing pastor.
Am I growing daily in my own faith and conduct?

Father sharpen my sense and ability for self awareness. Help me to boldly and ruthlessly evaluate myself that I might discipline myself for daily spiritual growth. Let my faith, doctrine, conduct and progress be inspiring to those whom You have entrusted to me. Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Title vs. Lifestyle

1 Timothy 3:1
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

The position of bishop or elder or "episkopos" is not a title to obtain but a lifestyle to live. It's not about what one will do but instead about what what one has been and is doing. To attain the status of elder is to live in such a manner that all those around (inside and outside the church) recognize in unity the godliness of the one called bishop. Therefore the job interview is long; lifelong, and complex. There are no standard or easy answers, only a lifestyle of obedience, humility, self control and spiritual fruit to witness. And once obtained, this title does not change the man. His life is already marked with consistency and steadiness. Instead, the man called bishop changes the tasks laid before him, transforming them into a testimony of God.
Have I been living such a lifestyle? Do I live a life worthy of the title I've been given?

God - draw me into Your holiness, to conform to Your image and walk worthy of this title. Let my life be a testimony of Your grace and goodness and Your Spirit living within me. Amen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Gospel

1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

It is amazing and breathtaking to consider that God, the almighty creator of all things, took on flesh and became the sacrifice required from sinful man. Even more profound is that this one man was able to, by his eternal perfection, pay the penalty for the sins of all. Any man could pay for the sins of one many, but only this one Man could pay the penalty for the sins of any and every man. He along could stand in mediation between the Sovereign Father and sinful humanity to bridge the chasm created by sin. And in due time, His sacrifice will be validated and proved by His people, His church and His eventual return. This is the Gospel.

Praise God for His amazing, awesome, breathtakingly profound plan that brought about the redemption of sinful man. Praise God for His humble sacrifice and his selfless redemption. Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Defending the Gospel

1 Timothy 1:5
"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith"

Paul charged Timothy to be the guardian of good doctrine in his church and community; to charge others with what is right and what to avoid. Such a task could easily produce anger, resentment and even division in the church if not done properly; in love. As guardians of sound doctrine, we must love the Truth of God's Word and His people in a way that builds up and strengthens the church. The way to do this begins with a pure heart or the right motive. We must be motivated by love rather than fearful control, selfish manipulation or prideful posturing. Second, we must guard the truth in love with a good conscience concerning our own behavior and especially our methods of defense or promotion. We must avoid anger, deception, manipulation, empty arguments, condescension and legalism. Our method must be filled with characteristics like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Finally, our defense and promotion of sound doctrine must come from sincere faith and dependence on our model; Jesus Christ. Our lives; actions and words, must reflect His love. If we truly want to love as Jesus loved we must also walk as Jesus walked. He is our model for gently but boldly promoting sound doctrine in love.
My defense of the Gospel is directly tied to my adherence to the right motive, methods and model. As a steward of the great Truth of God, I must measure myself regularly to ensure that my defense is God honoring and edifying to His church.

God - grant me a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith that I may be a faithful steward of Your Gospel. Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

true offering

2 Samuel 24:24
Then the king (David) said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

What does it take to make an offering genuine and true? What does it take to make worship true and genuine? What I bring before the Lord in offering or worship must cost me something. Without cost there is no sacrifice, only convenience.
When I lay my offering before the Lord, it must cost me something. I must be more that willing to sacrifice, I must forfeit my treasures and lay them down before my God. When I bring my offering of praise and worship I must allow the words and spirit to change my heart and conform me to the image of Christ. If I am not convicted or conformed it my offering true? Is it genuine?

Lord - teach me to value my offering and develop in me a desire for genuine sacrifice. Let me be changed by my worship and moved by my offering. Let me be a man of sacrifice, more than willing, disciplined in what I bring. amen.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reflection of God...

2 Samuel 22:26-27
“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.

How do I desire to know God? If I desire a God of mercy, I must be merciful. If I desire a God of righteousness, I must be righteous. If I desire a faithful God, I must be faithful. If I desire a God of purity and love, I must be pure and loving.

If I decide to be shrewd or harsh or devious I will find my God to be the same.

What type of God do I desire?

Father, Humble me and make me a man of mercy, righteousness, love and faith. Show me your mercy, righteousness, love and faithfulness. Amen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trust & Self Control

2 Samuel 16:12
It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

David didn't let opposition or offense dissuade him from doing what was right or seeking the Lord's will over his own. Instead, David reasoned that the Lord would do what is good and right and that God's intervention would vindicate him. If David wandered from the will or the Lord, this man's curse was a warning that must be heeded and respected. Either way, God was sovereign and in control of David's situation and could be trusted to do was was good and right. David trusted God. This was the foundation for David's humility and self control.

Do I have a similar trust and understanding when I face opposition or offense? Do I have a depth of trust that produces humility and self control? Can I do nothing so that the Lord can do something?

God - deepen my trust in You, Your will and Your provision. Let my trust produce in me a humility and self control that gives me the strength and discipline to honor You with all that I do and all that I do not do. Amen.