Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday 2-25-10

Ezekiel 14:4-5

"4  Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;
5  That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols."

As I read this the one thing that really jumped out at me was this that he men of Israel set up idols in their heart. It's not a concept that is foreign but to be able to read it and compare it to my life, and see how that was true is amazing. By time they ever erected a physical stone, or wood idol they had long forsaken God. While I've never bowed down to an idol physically, time and time again in the past have I done it in my heart. God is not interested in just outside obedience, he is interested in the heart. In verse five he says that is going to take Israel in their own heart, because the heart is the real issue. By God's grace I've been memorizing James, today's verse seem to tie in really well I thought with what I read in Ezekiel.

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

At first reading this verse the reason or motivation for enduring temptation seems to be receiving a crown of life. However as I read it again it became clear that the motivation or reason behind enduring temptation is loving God. Either ones heart will love God and endure temptation, or they will forsake God and erect idols in their heart. May the Holy Spirit instill in me a real passionate love for God, a love that makes me loath my sin, a love that drives me to obey, a love that makes me cry out to him each day, a love that drives me to read and seek his word. 

Unto him who is worthy of more than I could offer,

Wednesday 2-24-10

Ezekiel 6:10 "And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them."

Here in chapter 6 we see time and time again God saying that "they/ye shall know that I am the Lord." As I read this I kept thinking that God definitely wanted to be known, and as I read and dwelt upon that passage it became rather clear that God wanted to be known for he is the ultimate source of salvation, joy, and satisfaction. It is not egocentric for God to want people to know him, for in him is life and joy.

This brings me back to a verse in Jeremiah which said that Israel had committed two evils against God. They had forsaken him the source of living water, and had made for themselves broken cisterns that could hold no water. God's mercy is shown in that he wants to be known, for he is the source of eternal life. My prayer is that if I fall into sin that God would chastise me back to himself, and that his chastising would not be in vain, that I would know that he is Lord. 

Please pray for Haiti, I know it has been a while since the earthquake and most people have seemed to forgotten the people there. I believe it could be a excellent time for the gospel to be shared, heard, and received. Please pray that God would use the missionaries and Christians there in Haiti to boldly proclaim the gospel.

Because he lives,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday 2-23-10

Jeremiah 50:33-34

"33  All that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.
34  Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name:"

These verses are beautiful in the light of God breaking my heart over my sin. As I saw and looked at sin from God's perspective, how it grieves and angers him, how it is completely opposite his nature. These verses become very precious and real. While these verses deal with Israel and the nations that captured them, it does parallel quite beautifully I believe into sin and it's grasp it can have over ones life. Then we see that our Redeemer is strong, he is stronger than sin for he overcame sin and death upon the cross.

While I might live in a constant state of brokenness over sin, I do not live in a state of captivity to sin. This is why these verses are so beautiful in the light of God breaking my heart over my sin. You see Jesus Christ's death on the cross has overcome sin, so sin no longer has a hold upon my life. Jesus lived the life I couldn't not live, and died the death I should have died, and he did that... for me! So while sin is a grievous and horrific thing, I praise God for he is my Redeemer that is strong and has set me free from having to live in captivity to sin!

May you find the great pleasure in him who died for you,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday 2-21-10

Jeremiah 32:29-30, and 32

 "29  And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger.
30  For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD."

"32  Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done toprovoke me to anger,"

As I read this chapter these "provoke(d) me to anger" repeats really jumped out at me. As you read in chapter 32 of Jeremiah you see that it is the children of Israel that were provoking God to anger, and it was their disobedience, prideful spirit, unrepentant hearts that provoked God to anger. As I read this it really began to show me my sin, that my sin is completely foreign to who God is. In James chapter 4 it says that those who love their sin are enemies of God! God hates sin! It's not as if I didn't know this before, but as over the past several weeks I've been asking God to break me over my sin, that I would be grieved over my sin, that I would hate my sin. It is completely and utterly different to know God hates sin in general, then to realize that God hates my sin, and that it was my lusting, my lying, my pride, my rebellion, my thefts, my tearing down of others that nailed Jesus to the cross. God gets angry over sin, for he must.. he is a just and righteous God! 

My heart was heavy as I thought of the past few years I lived in and loved my sin. And as I continued to read I come across these two verses:

Jeremiah 32:37&42

"37  Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:"

"42  For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them."

As I read these verse God's love became more real than it has ever been. Here was Israel who had forsaken God and had been serving Ba'al, God was angry (rightfully so.. for he is just and righteous) and was going to bring the consequences of their sin upon them. Yet in the middle of it all, God says yes I am angry at their sin, and they are going to be punished for it, however I love them so much and I am going to bring them back to the land and bless them and they will dwell in safety here! So yes this chapter is heartbreaking at the fact that my sin goes against and angers my God died for me. Yet at the same time burden lifting for God loves me and draws me to himself.

Fight the good fight of faith,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday 2-20-10

Jeremiah 13:9-10 "9  Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

10  This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing."

God had commanded Jeremiah to take a girdle and wear it, Jeremiah did so. Then God commanded him to take this girdle and bury it, and after many days God again commanded Jeremiah and he dug up the girdle, the girdle was ruined. So God is now comparing Israel to this girdle. As I read this my heart is heavy that my pride, love of sin, rebellion could one day make me worthless. Even so it is humbling right now to come before God realizing he has seen all my sin, none of it has been hidden from him. And what is humbling is that even though I am vile and gross sinner, God can still use me! Not only does it humble me but it makes me love God all the more for dying for me, for saving me out of sin, for convicting me and drawing me out from sin. Lord God may each day you show me just how utterly worthless I am without.. may my heart be in a continual broken state over my sin.

Please pray for Mauritania. It is a country in Africa, located on the west cost, just beside Western Sahara, and below Morocco. The country is 99% Islamic.. that 1% is 85% Catholic.. The Lord has been burdening my heart for the souls of Mauritania, please pray for God to raise up a labors to go to Mauritania!

Unto the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday 2-19-10

Jeremiah 7:22-24
"22  For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
23  But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
24  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward."

As I read this I saw how it still very much applies to my life. God is not interested in my "sacrifices" or my going through the motions of serving him. He does want me to obey him. He wants me to love him and for him to be my only God. He wants me to walk in his commands. Those who simply "go through the motions" do not listen to God's direction or calling, they will not obey him but rather seek after evil. May I be among those who go forward and not backward!

Jeremiah 9:23-24
"23 ¶  Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."

These verse just once again brought out how God wants me to glory in him, to delight in him. Here he says not to glory in wisdom, or might, or riches, all these things will one day pass, and all these things will never ultimately satisfy. He wants me to glory in what will last forever: understanding and knowing the Lord God! It is not egotistical for God to want his children to glory in him, for he knows that the greatest pleasure, or delight a Christian could have is to be satisfied in God and to glorify him. So really God has my best interests at heart when he says to glory (or boast) in the fact I know him. My hearts cry is that I would be completely satisfied in God, for if God will not satisfy... what can?

Please pray for Gordon. He is a young man who was saved last year, and God is at work in his heart. All his other "friends" who had gotten 'saved' at the same time are back in the world. It must be difficult for him, seeing them fall back into sin. Please pray that God would continue to work in Gordon, and that Gordon would stand strong in Christ Jesus, that he would continue to grow in Christ each day.

May grace and peace be with you,

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday 2-18-10

Jeremiah 2:13  "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

Just a short thought from what God was showing me today. In the early chapters of Jeremiah it shows how God's chosen people Israel forsook him and lusted and followed after their own desires and gods. I thought verse thought verse thirteen did a wonderful job of painting the picture of what was really going on. 

 As I read this I thought of how it applied to my life. When I sin I commit two evils, I forsake the living water that Jesus offers and what my Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross to pardon and redeem me. And I attempt to find pleasure in "broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Oh that my heart would be broken at this verse. For how can I one who is redeemed, blood-bought, spotless child of God forsake him who drew me out of the bondage of sin? Oh Father may I see my sin as you a righteous and holy God sees it. May my heart be broken and my spirit contrite before you. May I not seek the temporary never-fulfilling pleasures of sin, but rather may I delight myself in you at all times.

May he find you spotless and clean when he comes for you,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday 2-17-10

As I was reading today several scriptures really showed me just how 'nothing' I really am. I mean God has really been using these past few days to show me his superiority and greatness. I knew before that God was a great and awesome God, however as I look at my puny, sin-filled life, God's greatness in simply saving me is brought forth so beautifully. I wanted to share some scriptures that God has used to start to humble me. My desire is that I would be so overwhelmed at God's greatness and magnificence that my pride would be choked out, and I would be humbled at the feet of my creator.

Isaiah 43:25  "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

God is the one blotting out transgressions.. my transgressions that is. In times past I would read verses like this and think of how I could use it to teach or witness. There is nothing wrong with thinking of how one can use a verse, however I would miss the beauty of what Christ has done for me. I read this now and think how great and loving is my God that he would blot out my transgressions and not remember my sins. My pride, lust (adultery), selfishness, rebellion, lying, hate (murder), thefts, deception.. my heart grows heavy at the weight of my sin, yet praise to God that there is now no condemnation since I am in Christ Jesus!

Isaiah 53:5-6
"5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

He was wounded for my transgressions? He was bruised for my iniquities? He took my chastisement so that I might have peace? He received stripes that I might be healed? I have gone astray to my own way, and yet Jesus took on himself my iniquity? Who am I that my creator.. and my Lord die for me? These are to great me for me to comprehend!

Isaiah 55:11  "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

God sends his word out and promises it shall not return void, he says it shall accomplish what he wants it to, and it will prosper where he sends it. This verse was a great reminder of God's complete and absolute sovereignty! I know when I witness I want to see results right away, and if I don't I feel like a failure. However that is not the way God works, his (as we see in verses 8-9 in chap 55) ways and thoughts are high than mine. God is the one who works in hearts to convict and draw to himself, that is not and will never by my responsibility. I have the duty and yes, privilege of proclaiming to a lost and dying world the good news of Jesus Christ!

Love through Christ Jesus,

Tuesday 2-16-10

Isaiah  40:29-31

"29  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Earlier in chapter forty the parallel is made between man and grass. It showed just how insignificant, and short lived man really is. Then in later verses it showed just how great, mighty, powerful, and wonderful God is. Then we come to the end of the chapter and here we see the relationship between insignificant man and almighty and powerful God. Man is week and God is the sustainer, Man faints and God is the renewer of strength.

I can see so beautifully my condition without relying on God's strength and power, and also I can see my condition when I do rely on God for strength and power. I remember when I would try to do ministry, to serve, to do those things I knew I should, yet I did them in my own power. Sometimes I could do them, and even on occasion do them half-way-decently. Yet I could not persevere, I would become weary in doing good, I would become faint in obeying God. The reasons for why I would fail were two-fold I believe: first I was doing them for my glory, I was doing them so that I would be noticed; secondly because I was attempting to do those things by/in my own strength. My pride kept me from being used for God.

However, praise be to God! For he convicted me of my prideful behavior, and my self-reliance. I now seek to bring him glory in obeying him, and I truly have found strength when I wait on him. 

Please pray for Mark and Natasha Tolson. Here is an excerpt from their blog: "Our baby has what is known as “Body Stalk Anomaly.” Basically, all the organs from the mid-chest down have developed outside the body and have attached themselves to the wall of the placenta. This condition makes the baby incapable of living outside the womb." This must be extremely difficult for them, and most definitely need much prayer and support at this time.

God Bless,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday 2-15-10

Isaiah 26:13-14

"13  O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
14  They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish."

As I read verse thirteen I thought of Romans 6:12 which says "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." In the past years I had disobeyed God by letting sin reign or have dominion in my body. So while reading verse thirteen I can definitely agree with them that I have let "other lords beside thee have" dominion over me. However as we continue reading on we see that that these people were only going to make mention of God's name, that is they were only going to praise and lift up the true and only God of heaven. Likewise while sin has had dominion over me I am only going to praise and worship God. 

Verse fourteen is where it really gets exciting. It says six different times that these "lords" who have had dominion over them before "are dead", "shall not live", "are deceased", "shall not rise", "thou has destroyed them", and "made their memory to perish". This verse makes so perfectly clear that those "lords who had dominion" are nothing but a memory that is quickly fading. So applying this to my life then, sin is dead, sin shall not live, sin is deceased, sin shall not rise, God has destroyed sin, and God has made sins memory to perish! In other words if God is my Lord then sin is conquered by Christ's death on the cross (Romans 6:8-11)! 

Please pray for David Gates and his family. God laid them on my heart this morning, and throughout the day. They are currently finishing deputation and getting ready to leave for Egypt sometime this year. I know Mrs. Beth is pregnant and had been getting sick while they were traveling. Also whenever brother Gates sends me prayer requests he always asks me to pray for Joshua that he would get saved at a young age and that his life would be spent loving and serving God. Thank you for praying with me!

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday 2-14-10

Isaiah 17:10 "Thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength"

As I read this verse this afternoon it flat out scared me! I mean it just floored me to think that I could forget the God of my salvation, that I would not be mindful of the rock of my strength. It is not my nature to think nothing of myself, for I am a pride-entrenched human being. But in all honesty I am nothing, I'm not just saying that, it's reality.. I have no merit, no power, no strength, no salvation, no hope, nothing on my own. I am truly nothing, and it scares me to think that I could forget the God of my salvation. The loving a merciful God who poured out his love on me, who saved me, who keeps me, who forgives me, who redeemed me, whom I will spend eternity with. It gripped me that I could become like a Demos who loved the present world and it's temporary trinkets rather then stand steadfast and endure and rely on God through hardship.

I do not want to be as a Demos who even though was discipled under one of the greatest Apostles, he did not finish well. He started out well, he was in the right place to receive training, he no doubt had all the marks of being a great man of God. Yet he forsook the rock of his strength he forgot the God of his salvation, he pursued this fleeting world. I want to be one who takes refuge in the rock of my strength, I want to be joyous about the God of my salvation, I want to finish well!

May grace and peace be upon you,

Saturday 2-13-10

Isaiah 10:15  "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood."

Just moments before reading this verse I began to think about how when I teach from the bible or I proclaim God's word in any way. I am not just proclaiming something from a ordinary book, I'm not giving my opinion on something, I am proclaiming THE WORD of God. I stopped and thought about that for a second.. "The Word of God" What a claim to make, that the bible is "The word of God". Yet it is true, and how blessed I am to have it in my own language, in so many versions (most of which I wouldn't care to read.. but still), and in so many formats (printed, electronic, audio, ect.). 

As I read this verse humility really jumped out at me. My eyes were opened to look at humility in a new light. Humility is something that should flow from my life, for what power does an ax have if it lays on the ground and no one uses it to chop? or what good is a staff unless one picks it up? Likewise what use is my life unless God works in me and uses me? I have no power to overcome sin on my own, I have no power to read God's word, I have no power to pray, I have no power to serve, I have and am nothing without Christ Jesus. 

So you see humility should not have to be "squeezed" from my life, it should flow freely. For like an ax which is of no use, unless one wieldeth it, so am I of no use with God working in me and using me. It brings to mind what John the Baptist said "He (Jesus Christ) must increase, I must decrease." 

Please pray for David Velke and his family, they've been on my heart this week allot. They will be going to spend six months in Peru and as part of their training missionary training. I am not sure when they are hoping to leave, however there is no doubt some financial need as their family will have to be supported for six months. Please pray that God would provide, guide and protect them.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,