Friday, February 26, 2010

How do I worship?

Revelation 4:9-11
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being."

Revelation 5:7-14
He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!" 14The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

I recently read this quote from John R.W. Stott's book, The Cross of Christ (pg. 110).

"There is so much shallowness and levity among us. Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us that 'there is no fear of God before their eyes.' In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is ore characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We saunter up to God to claim His patronage and friendship; it does not ocur to us that He might send us away."

Father, teach me to worship You in Your worthiness, not in my confidence. Humble me and teach me to know You and the awesomeness of Your presence. Remove from me my pride, self-confidence and casualness in worship. Help me see You for who You are. Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

He who overcomes...

Revelation 2:7
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Revelation 2:17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Revelation 2:26
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'— just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.

Revelation 3:5
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

Revelation 3:12
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

Revelation 3:21
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

What does it look like to overcome?
According to Revelation 2-3, overcoming is faith in Christ and hope in what is to come giving birth to self control and discipline to resist temptation, sin, worldliness and compromise. Overcoming is remembering our first love and remaining in this love even in the midst of persecution and trial. Overcoming is boldly acknowledging Christ's name in our world so that He might acknowledge our name before the Father. Overcoming is about clothing ourselves with Christ's righteousness, his character; with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col. 3:12) so that we my be clothed in white for eternity.
What does overcoming look like for you today?

Father - give me strength to overcome temptation. Help me overcome in the battles in my mind and heart. Let my thoughts honor You and guide me to righteousness. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Revelation 1:3
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Many have approached the book of Revelation with the intent to understand it or apply it to history, however that is not what God has intended nor what John has recommended. According to this, we are to receive it, obey it and proclaim it (that is, read it aloud so that other may receive and obey it too). The very nature of this blessing and advice demonstrates that the book of Revelation is not a timely, cryptic message to be deciphered, but a timeless, practical book to be obey. Those who seek to decipher and understand the apocalyptic nature of Revelation outside the context of the early church run the risks of pride, arrogance and error. But those who seek to obey and proclaim the practical commands which transcend time and context will be blessed.

Father, give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the heart to obey the commands written in this book. Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tough Love

Jude 22-23 (NKJV)
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Jude 22-23 (NIV)
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

While compassion and mercy are Christian virtues that all Christ-followers ought to pursue, there are times when these gifts and tools are not effective in turning back a brother or sister back who has strayed too close to the fire. There are certain people who, at times, will not learn until they've been burned. We can waste plenty of time, resources and emotion on these people only to watch the continue in their sin and self destruction. To these people, Jude calls us to be discerning and disciplined. To these, we wait, hating yet patiently enduring their sin until a time when we can practice mercy again. This is called tough love.
The secret to tough love must be prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can tell when a person has truly been purged and is repentant, ready to return to God's will.

Father - give me a discerning heart and mind to distinguish between those who demand compassion and those who demand patient mercy. Make me disciplined to patiently wait for your discipline to play out. Help me to hear from Your Holy Spirit and to join You in whatever work you are doing in the lives of those entrusted to my care. Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Proclaiming & listening

1 Kings 22:8
"So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

Speaking and teaching the Word of God can be lonely, if not risky business. At times we are called to say what others do not want to hear. In these times it would be easy to listen to the taunts of others or the chorus of the world (22:13) and simply say what itching ears want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3).
Yet, regardless of the conventional wisdom, the popular opinion, or the sentiment of those to whom we speak and teach, we must proclaim the truth of God. Denying the truth is denying the truth whether we are the one needing to hear it (Ahab) or the one called to speak it (the prophets). Denying the truth of God is no more effective at avoiding the moral consequences of our behavior than denying the sun's existence is at helping us avoid sunburn. Truth must be heard and spoken, received and proclaimed.

God, give me a wise and discerning heart to know Your truth and proclaim it boldly and confidently for the benefit of all who will listen. Amen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Father & Son

Check out this story.

Outside of the amazing inspiration that this story bears, I am forced to consider the analogy that it also bears. Isn't this a beautiful picture of how God the Father works in and through each of His children?
Marred by sin and a broken nature, God fills us with His Spirit and His gifts and does not leave us alone to figure them out... but walks behind us and guides us so that we might be part of His grand plan. How gracious is our Heavenly Father?!

presence... His small still voice

1 Kings 20:11-12
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Far too often we look for God in the miraculous and mighty. We expect Him to heal, move mountains, consume our enemies and prove Himself according to our prayers. But God is more interested in providing us with His presence than His power. His presence is the true treasure and sure answer to our prayers, no matter what they might be.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
We find this to be true throughout the Scriptures: God walked with Adam, visited Abraham, spoke with Moses, hovered over the ark of the covenant, filled His Holy Temple, guarded Daniel, stood with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and even gave His one and only Son to put on flesh and dwell among us. His own name bears witness to this desire of God's heart - Emmanuel, "God with us."
So when I pray, do I ask for miracles and might?... yes. But more so I will ask for His presence and be content to have Him by my side, to whisper in my ear with a small still voice.

Lord - grant me Your presence and peace. Let me know that You are near and let me hear Your small still voice. Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Listen, Obey, Pray

1 Kings 17:22
"Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. "

What does it take for the Lord to hear our voices?
Elijah listened for and to the voice of the Lord (1 Kings 17:1-2). When the Lord spoke, he boldly went before king Ahab, risking his life, and proclaimed the Word of the Lord. Elijah obediently followed all that the lord commanded him to do without regard for his own life, security or safety.

If God is to hear and heed our voice in prayer, we first must hear and heed His voice in His Word.

While this trial and miracle had a profound impact on the widow (v. 22), I don't believe it was done for her sake nor her son's. This miracle was done to teach Elijah this lesson and prepare him for the trial to come, to face king Ahab and the prophets of Baal. By this, Elijah learned to pray and call upon the vary character of God in asking God to honor His own Word and demonstrate His presence (17:21 & 18:36-37). By this, both the widow and the people of Israel would believe that the Lord God of Israel still lives (17:1, 12 & 18:15).

When I face trials I first listen, then obey, then pray. Only then can I pray with confidence, knowing that God hears my prayers.

Proverbs 15:29 "The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous."

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."

1 John 5:14-15 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

Lord, teach me to listen and obey that I may pray with confidence, knowing that You hear me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parents.. watch what you do

1 Kings 15:11
Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done.

1 Kings 15:26
He (Nadab) did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.

1 Kings 16:25
ut Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him.

1 Kings 16:30
Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.

Exodus 20:5-6
for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Asa reigned in Judah, walking in the ways of the Lord, and enjoyed the generational blessing passed down to him from David. During his reign, he watched the curse rip through king after king, son after father, in Israel.

Our children will pick up our habits, priorities, language, values and faith by watching what we do.
Our children will pick up a blessing from God only if we watch what we do.

Father - guard my path and guide my steps that I might walk in Your way and teach my children to walk in Your way. I want to be a blessing for generations. Amen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the human heart

1 Kings 11:1-4
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women.... They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love..... As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

God's warnings were clear concerning foreign marriages (Ex. 34:12-17, Deut. 7:1-3, 2 Cor. 6:14), unequal yokes and polygamy (Gen. 2:24-25 & Deut. 17:17). Yet Solomon in all his wisdom failed to see the danger in dividing his heart and loving that which is of the world (1 John 2:15). The human heart is meant for one love; one God, one marriage, one family, one focus... all for one lifetime.
Ironically, Solomon would at some point pen a proverb that he would have been wiser to follow than to write. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." The converse is true also, an unguarded, unrestrained heart is a wellspring of misery. Jesus too made this principle clear in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." The human heart cannot be divided without consequence.

So where is my heart divided? Where have I given my heart (even in part) to the world? Where have I failed to guard the wellspring of life?

Father - guard my heart and focus my love wholly on You and Your will for my life. Do not let my heart be divided but let it be the wellspring of life for me, my family and those who cross my path in desperate need of the living water that only springs forth from You. Let my heart be one. Amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

rhythm of worship

1 Kings 9:25
Now three times a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he had built for the LORD, and he burned incense with them on the altar that was before the LORD. So he finished the temple.

It was not enough that Solomon built the house of the Lord, the Holy Temple. It wa not enough to adorn it with gold and silver and precious wood and stones. It was not enough to consecrate it before the Lord for the use of His people Israel. The Temple was not complete until Solomon, the king, established a habit and rhythm of worship (Prov. 14:34).
The temptation of most pastors and leaders is to build great ministries and movements but never to be ministered to or moved themselves. Such leaders are so busy building that they miss God's blessing. Pastors can be so busy preparing the Word of God that it never penetrates their own heart through quiet contemplation and meditation. Volunteers can be so busy serving that they can miss the sacred presence of God.

Lord, may I never be so busy building that I miss Your blessing. May I never be so busy preparing Your Word that I fail to let it penetrate my heart. Lord, draw me into Your presence daily that I may sacrifice and worship and invite Your presence and work in my life daily. Let me be found in Your Holy presence. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

God's Temple

1 kings 8:27
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!

Solomon was overwhelmed by God's presence in the Temple (8:10-11). He clearly understood the sinful inclination (8:57-58) and pattern (ch. 8) of the human heart. Yet Holy God honored His promises to Israel (8:23) and blessed His people with His presence.
What is even more profound than God dwelling in a house built by human hands is that He would one day wrap Himself in flesh and dwell as and with humans. It was not enough to inhabit a building, God became incarnate. It was not enough to be the place of sacrifice, Jesus Christ replaced all sacrifice and became the offering for us. What could be more profound than the Temple that is Jesus Christ (John 2:19-21)!?
Yet, it was not enough to dwell with sinful man, God chose to dwell inside of us through the presence of His Holy Spirit. Through this indwelling, He has written His law of love on our hearts and speaks to us personally. Through this indwelling we know His presence daily. Through His indwelling we are empowered to live righteously. Through His indwelling the inclination of our hearts is changed. What an amazing God we serve, that He would dwell in this temple!!!
This should motivate me toward obedience, purity and self discipline in my spiritual rituals. This should drive me to maintain this temple so that God is pleased to dwell in it, so that I may be a witness of His presences and so that others may be drawn to Him as they were drawn to that first temple.

Lord - purify me and cleanse me that You may be pleased to dwell in me. Amen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fit for God's presence

1 Kings 6:7
And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.

This was a magnificent feat of skill and precision. Such accuracy must have been the combination of both human gifting & discipline and divine intervention & provision. This display of perfection and peace was fitting for the Temple of God.
And as this Temple was a symbol and type of future temples to come, so the church (Eph. 2:20-22), our bodies (1 Cor. 3:16) and the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22) are also fit for such perfection and peace.
In His church should be no noise of discord or violence, contention or division. Each stone, each member must come ready to conform to God's will and plan. We must sacrifice our own agenda and conform as He sees fit (1 Cor. 3:1-17).
As living stones in His temple (1 Peter 2:5), our bodies should be proclamations of peace, stillness and constant progress as we are being built together. We should not bring the rough edges of sin and misshapen motives into God's presence. We should not call attention to ourselves, to our process, distracting from the mystery and glory that is sanctification. We must be diligent to chisel off sin, to prepare ourselves for His presence so we are fit for worship and sacrifice both in this life and eternity. For what stone that has not been chiseled and prepared in this life will be fit for Heaven?
Again, this is a process of both human skill & diligence and Divine intervention & provision.
Have I been diligent to chisel off the sin in my life? Have I offered myself before God to be hewed and shaped to conform to His likeness? Have I submitted to the master's chisel or have I hardened my heart and proven to be a stone He cannot use? Do I have such reverence for His Sacred Temple that diligently strive for peace, unity and holiness with other living stones as I come into His presence? Is my mind set on heaven and preparing for the day when I might be fit to be part of His eternal Temple?

Lord - chisel me now and make me fit for Your presence. Amen

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Path of Wisdom

1 Kings 3:5-9
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

6 Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

7 "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, wisdom is the beginning of obedience and obedience is the beginning of blessing.

Solomon's request was noble, profound and humble. It seems that even though he asked for wisdom, he already had quite a bit to begin with. Where did this base level of wisdom come from? It was not from books or teachers or schooling but from watching closely the life of his father David and recognizing the great mercy and grace (undeserved favor) of God. (There is a whole lesson here for Fathers about providing a good example for children... but not now.)
Solomon already had a healthy fear and reverence for God because he observed God's ways with his father David, the king. Later in his life Solomon would acknowledge through the proverbs that the beginning of wisdom was not asking God, but fearing God (Prov. 1:7).
As a servant of God, my most passionate pursuit and lofty goal should not be for security, safety or significance (v. 11) but for a clear view and understanding of God that I might fear Him and therefore walk in His ways.
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, wisdom is the beginning of obedience and obedience is the beginning of blessing.

Father- fill me with reverent fear of You, Your power, Your will and Your commands. Help me recognize Your great mercy and grace and let them lead me to wisdom and obedience that I might be blessed to be a blessing. Amen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The path to blessing

1 Kings 2:2-4
" "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, 3 and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, 4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'

Here is David's charge to his son Solomon as he assumes the thrown over Israel. One might expect to find military strategy for dominance, words of wisdom for judging prudently, diplomatic tips for favor in foreign relations or relational advice for familial blessing. Instead, David's sole focus as his son became king was that he obey and honor the commands of God. In this we discover that obedience is the path to all other blessings, to security and longevity on the thrown. If Solomon is faithful to God, God promised to be faithful to Solomon.

At times when I lack wisdom, favor, strategy or blessing I must ask myself, "Where have I failed to obey and honor the Word of God?" For the wisdom, favor, strategy and blessing of this world are nothing without the hand of God. Above all, I must seek to know His commands and obey them in every area of my life; then He will establish my path.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon would later write,
" Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Lord, give me a hunger and thirst for Your Word. Give me courage, strength and discipline to obey and apply Your Word in every area of my life. May I honor You, that You may be honored in me and that I may be blessed. Amen.