Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday 11-29-10

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

I stand before God the Father as if I had never sinned. As if the sinful nature had not been passed down from me by Adam. As if I had never lied, stolen, lusted, been prideful or deceptive. As if I had never dishonored my parents or blasphemed His name. This does not mean that God simply does not remember my sin anymore, how can a omniscient God simply forget the horrific abominations I have committed against Him? That is impossible! But rather God the Father chooses in His perfect sovereignty to look rather upon Jesus' blood poured out at Calvary rather than my insufficiency to be holy as He is holy. It is there that God the Father can pardon me, it is because of Christ's death that I have eternal life. Let me not think that my sin is "a little thing" for it took the blood of an infinitely holy, pure and righteous God to justify or redeem me. 

Now I do not think I've reached some spiritual state of holiness where I cease to sin (oh wouldn't that be nice!). Rather I am attempting to combat sin in my own life with right thinking. If I know who I am in Jesus than I have clearly drawn the battle lines with sin, because sin is in direct opposition to who I am in Christ. I cannot serve to masters, that is impossible. While I do not claim to be sinless or perfect (far from it!) I cling to the promise in 1 John 3:2 that "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday 10-19-10

"Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD'S house." 2 Chronicles 7:1-2

What an awesome verse number two is. The glory of God was so heavy, so thick, so... glorious! That, the priests the men who were to minister to the Lord in His house could not even come close to His house. I honestly got excited as I read that. I serve a living God, the only living God. A God so glorious that men cannot stand before His glory. A God so passionate for His own glory that He would become a man and die to redeem mankind back to Himself. My God is so loving and slow to anger that while I was still dead in my trespasses and sins Christ died for me.

And this awesome God who's glory is so great that men could not stand near it. Has redeemed me unto Himself that for all of eternity I will explore and find joy in the glory of God. May my response be to the glory of God as the Israelites was in verse three: "All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting." May my heart bow before the Lord, and may my tongue sing forth His grace, love and goodness.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday 9-29-10

"He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death." 2 Kings 15:3-5

As I read this it struck me that Azariah could be so blind to his sin. In chapter 12 and 14 we see two other Kings of Judah do the same thing. They lived right before God, only they did not remove the high places. And as I pondered how either blinded he must have been, or he didn't truly care. I was convicted, how many times has and does God show me my sin and yet I continue in it. It seems to very well coincide with what I was reading in Proverbs 29 today, it says: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." God is so merciful, it honestly boggles my mind that time and time again I sin against Him, and I right now the wrath of God is not bearing down upon me. Even more than that, Christ took the wrath of God for me, I sinned I deserved God's wrath, Jesus died and took that wrath and punishment for me! But let me not "presume" upon grace, for Romans 6:2 says that we who are dead to sin are not to continue therein any longer.

I will be the first to admit, I've been deceived by sin, by my own lusts. In fact the natural man is nothing but deceived, because his mind is set on the flesh and not God. Satan is called the deceiver of the world in Revelation 12. We are not called to complacency or conformity with this world but rather to the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), that we might have that mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). We are also called to encourage, exhort and even reprove other brothers (and sisters as the case may be) in Christ, that we would become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13). However if we attempt to not be deceived in our own strength and have the mind of Christ by our own doing, it will fail. We see in Jude 1:24 that it is only Jesus who can keep us from stumbling and present us spotless and without blame before the Father. And ultimately it will be worth it all because one day we "we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday 9-26-10

"Thus Jehu eradicated Baal out of Israel." 2 King 10:28

"But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart" 2 Kings 10:31

As I read the store of Jehu this evening it was a tragic one. Here he did a mighty work to rid the land of Baal and the prophets of Baal and the priests of Baal, and the worshipers of Baal. He was quite cunning in the way he did so. He deceived the many followers of Baal into believing that he was the devoutest follower of Baal and he assembled many of the followers of Baal into one place. He had before hand stationed a band of solider's outside the assembly, and at the appointed time they proceeded to slay all the prophet's, priests and worshipers of Baal. They took out the alters and asheriam and destroyed them. He did a great and mighty thing in eradicating Baal out of Israel.

But, he was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, with all his heart. What a tragedy! He was used so mightily of the Lord, yet he did not truly know God. He was used of God, but did not pursue God with his all. See, it is not simply enough to rid our lives of our "Baal" or as the case may be our "Baal" could be friendships, pornography, our self-exaltation.. anything which we would allow to capture our devotion and affections. And it is not enough to simply rid our lives of such, because if we could do so without knowing Jesus than what is the point? We set ourselves up for failure if our focus is simply removing the "Baal" from our lives, and not upon knowing and treasuring Jesus. Don't get me wrong, it is crucial that the "Baal" be removed, but if our hearts affections are removed from one "Baal" and not placed fully upon Jesus than it will only be a matter of time before another "Baal" captures our hearts.

Secondly, there can be no room for "second place.'" When it comes to loving Jesus. A much more godly man than I compared it to he and his wife. He told me "If I was to tell my wife, 'Honey you're number one in my life... but I'm going to go get a girlfriend. Now you're still my first importance, but there is going to be a number two.'" He chuckled and said "Samuel, how do you think that would go over with my wife?" That example has really struck home. Because if I am to love Jesus, than there must be no room for second place. He must be my all, my everything. I must find satisfaction and joy in him alone. I must love Him with all my heart, soul and mind.. He must be my all, my everything.. there must be no room for 'second place.'

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday 9-17-10

"Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. "Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you." However, the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing."  2 Samuel 22-24 (emphasis mine)

David had sinned, he had taken a census of the people, when God had commanded him not to. God had promised to being a severe pestilence among the nation of Israel because of it. As the pestilence swept through the land, David realized that it was his sin which was causing this great tragedy to fall among the people. David besought God that they might be delivered, God speaks through a man in Gad. Through this prophet God instructs David to erect an alter on the threshing floor where the angle of the Lord stopped the pestilence. The man who owned the threshing floor offered all he had to King David to offer to the Lord. He was ready and willing to freely give of his land, possessions and livestock for the sacrifice to the Lord.

David refuses the gift's which Araunah offered him. He told him flat out the he was not going to give God something which cost him nothing. So different than how we think, how I think.. much to often. It is a battle within myself many times to read His word, or to truly read His word. It is much to easy to read without comprehending, read without meditating, read without there be an ongoing heart change. It is so easy to do "blanket" prayers, to not be earnest and fervent in prayers. It is easy to let fellowship with other believers be upon 'surface' things, and not spiritual matters. It's easy to live a life in which all we give to God cost us nothing. 

I am convicted. I do not spend the time like I should with God in the mornings. Sure I spend 30 minutes praying than 20-30 minutes reading Proverbs before work begins. But that is nothing, how dare I say that Jesus is the most precious thing to me, when my actions portray something different? I need to spend those first waking hours with my Savior. Humbled at His feet, begging for the grace to walk in His ways. Oh God, may my life truly be a living sacrifice. May my actions bring you glory, may the words that I speak be truth and edify, may the very thoughts of my heart be pleasing in your sight. Are you giving God, that which has cost you nothing?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday 9-11-10

"As the LORD lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight; for I have not found evil in you from the day of your coming to me to this day." 1 Samuel 29:6

"But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God." 1 Samuel 30:6

Two different verses, in two different chapters. But I believe that they are very much related, let us take a look. David had a reputation, a godly reputation. It was very apparent to those who lived around and with David, that he was upright in his dealings. It was said of David that from the very day that they first met him, until this day (almost two years later) that they found no evil in him! What a tremendous testimony to the work of God!

If our families, co-workers, friends had to give an honest account of our lives. What would that account look like? Would it be said of Samuel Joel Dye that from the very day they met him, up until now no evil was found in him? When others speak of me, would they magnify the name of Jesus for the work He has done and is doing in my life? What would be the account that is give of my life?

Secondly in 1 Sam 30:6 we see David's source of strength. It lies with the Lord his God. Here David and his band of men come back to their home city, to find it ransacked and their women, children and livestock have been taken by the enemy. David's life was being threatened, for their were numerous men who were devising plans to stone him. And here we see David, rather that attempting to defend himself, rather than complaining, rather than giving in. He strengthens himself in the Lord.

The parallel I see in these passages is that David had the godly reputation he did, not because he was someone great. But rather because he strengthened himself in a great God! If I am to live a life pleasing onto the one who choose me to be His child, than I must not find strength or satisfaction in any other but the Lord my God. He alone is my strength and my shield, the very help in the present time of need.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday 8-25-10

"If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Joshua had seen God's word come true, he had experienced first hand the crossing of the Red Sea. He had traveled with the Israelites around the backside of the desert for 40 years. He had seen God's provision in making a way through the sea, and God's power in destroying the Egyptian army. Joshua had seen God's mercy poured out as He provided the Israelites with manna, water and clothes that did not wear out. Joshua had seen God's fury when a man and his family was swallowed whole by the earth. Joshua had seen God's patience with the Israelites when the forsook Him, and made a golden calf to worship. Joshua had seen God's faithfulness, as the pillar of smoke by day, and pillar of fire by night led the Israelites for many many years. 

There was no room for doubt in Joshua's statement, he did not allow for "excuses" or "special circumstances" in which he would not follow God. Far from it, Joshua challenges the people with the commitment he had made. Just prior to this, he had reminded them of the many things God had done for them, the uncountable ways God had blessed them. Joshua then declares that he and his household were going to follow after the Lord God and none other. 

The question I am left with is: have I completely and totally without reserve decided to follow God, and make Him my Lord of all? That said, I know that without His grace, and choosing of me based upon His grace and glory and not upon anything I have done or could offer Him, such a "choosing of Him" would not be possible. Because it was He who first loved me and choose me, not the other way around. By His grace, and only based upon His grace I can stand firm that I have decided to follow my Lord God with all that I am or ever will be. I do not trust in my steadfastness to be able to accomplish this, but I instead rest firm upon His grace and power to seek and desire Him above all else.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday 8-24-10

"But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day." Joshua 23:8

"So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God. "For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you." Joshua 23:11-13

There were only two options for the Israelites: cling to the Lord their God or cling to the rest of those nations. There was no middle ground, no serving of both. It was one or the other: the Lord God or gods made with hands. Likewise, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. For he will either love the one and hate the other or cling to one and despise the other. So, knowing this... why do I attempt to reap the benefits of serving God while seeking to enjoy the temporal pleasures of sin?

I need my faith increased, I need more of His word. Here God tells the Israelites that either they cling to Him, and He will drive the nations out before them. Or if they reject Him and cling to the nations, that He would not continue to drive them out. And if they were not driven out, He also said that they would be a snare and trap to them, and a thorn to their eyes. This so closely mirrors sin, either I cling to Jesus and forsake my sin. Or I forsake Jesus and hold fast to my sin. There is no room for middle ground, it is simply one or the other. 

I am so thankful for Jesus' work on the cross. Because no longer am I reliant upon my own ability (more like inability) to keep God's commands. My relationship with God is not some list of rules I must keep in order to obtain eternal life. No I have eternal life, through Jesus Christ! But now, I am not free to sin. I have been bought with a price, I am not my own. I am neither enslaved to sin, nor do I have the right to sin, for I am dead to sin. I am alive to God through Christ's work on the cross, I am to live to Him and dead to sin. I need to diligently hold fast to obeying Joshua 23:11 "So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God."

Monday 8-23-10

"And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." Joshua 21:44-45

These verse really excited me as I read them. "And no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand." The Lord promised that He would give the Israelites the land, and that he would drive out their enemies before them. Here is the promise coming true! Why is this exciting? Well I've been reading in Romans 6 and there it says that those who are buried with Christ into death, are dead to sin. This is a promise, this is true. This is exciting because no longer am I slave to sin, I am dead to sin, I do not walk as the 'natural' or 'fleshly' man does. I now have the amazing privilege of serving the only risen and living Savior that has ever been, or will ever be. 

These verses are exciting, because God proves that His word is true. We serve a living God, a god not made with hands, a god not made of stone, wood or gold. The Lord God of heaven and earth, is a trustworthy. Therefore when I read in Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." I have peace in that fact, that as I walk with my Savior I will become more and more like Him, and begin to look nothing like this world! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thusday 8-19-10

Reading through Joshua this evening, several verses stuck out at me.

 "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?" Joshua 7:9

Joshua the new leader of Israel, had much to be concerned about, here in the midst of God declaring that He will destroy the Israelites, Joshua's first concern here is undeniably God's glory. As a leader, in ministry, in marriage, in anything. My focus must remain on God's glory, my desire must be to see Him made much of through everything in my life, I must seek to make much of Him in all things! It is so easy to become preoccupied with tasks, people and such, and these are important I should be diligent in my work. But if my motivation for working or serving God, is anything short of His glory, than all that I do will not be done for His glory.

"Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones." Joshua 7:25

Here Achan had taken some items from under the ban and hidden them under his tent. God had expressly forbidden anyone to take the items, for they were to be set apart for the Lord's sanctuary. Never-the-less Achan had taken them, and because of that thirty-six Israelites died in battle against the men of Ai. God clearly revealed to Joshua that it was because of Achan's sin that the men died, and when Achan admitted to stealing those items which were to be completely  for the Lord. Joshua did not delay in rightly dealing with Achan's sin. In my own life, I need to first obey God; sin never pays in the end, and never once have I found it to be worth it. Also when God brings to my attention and convicts me of any sin I need to not delay in confessing and repenting of the sin. I need to by God's grace and power take drastic steps to remove anything that was leading to sin. Ultimately I need to walk according to the Spirit that I would not obey the lusts of the flesh.

"So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD." Joshua 9:14

What folly! Granted it seemed to be the smart option, but that was without fully investigating the matter, and more importantly seeking God's face concerning the matter. They went on what they "felt" rather than what God called them to. As I walk and grow in Christ, I should not be basing my decisions of what I "feel" or "think" I need to fervently seek the Lord for counsel!

Wednesday 8-18-10

"The LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. "You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days." Joshua 6:2-3

Real briefly, God has been teaching me about my position in regards to sin because of the Cross. Yes, I "know" that I am not enslaved to pride, lying, selfishness, lust, disrespect, rebellion, ect. I "know" that Jesus' death on the cross set me free from sin's hold. But "knowing" that, and living a life that represents that, are two totally and completely different things. It is very easy to simply have knowledge about being dead to sin. And it is another thing to live a life that is dead to sin.

Now what does this have to do with Joshua 6:2-3? As I read this evening, it seemed to have everything to do with it. Here God flat out told Joshua that He had given Jericho over to the Israelites, yet the walls were still standing. Joshua could have become discouraged and disheartened, in that Jericho was not yet conquered. Yet instead he obeyed God, and marched around the city. No doubt it was not easy at times, for sure there was opposition from both sides at times. Yet Joshua took God at His word and obeyed believing God's word to to be true.

Likewise I read Romans, and it it filled with wonderful verses which speak of being dead to sin. And how the believer is made dead to sin through Christ's death on the Cross. Sometimes I look at my life, I see that I am not perfect (far from it..) but I believe that God is faithful when in Galatians 5:16 He says that "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." God is not weak or insufficient to overcome sin, no, far from it. In fact sin and death were completely overcome on the Cross. Therefore I believe and rest firm upon the fact that as I walk according to the Spirit, as I grow in Christ and become more conformed to the image of His son. That sins draw and attraction will grow dim, and that I will not care out the desire (or lusts) or the flesh.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday 8-13-10

"10 'Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.' And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God; 11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household." Deuteronomy 26:10-11

As I read this passage of how God wanted the Israelites to bring forth the first fruit's offering, I realized how crazy it was. Not that the amount they were to give was crazy, nor the way they were to offer it was crazy. But rather what was crazy was realizing how little they were offering! God had blessed them, just imagine how much land, and not just any land but some of the most fertile land in the world. There is no doubt that they did not lack food or crops at all. I have no doubt that they had an overabundance of crops, from wheat to grapes to corn to you name it they had it. Yet in verse ten all that they were to bring was "the first of the produce." If I remember correctly the first of the produce was supposed to be some of the best of the crop, and here God commands that part of the first produce be given as an offering. Why? Because He is worthy. That is enough of a reason, but I think it also served (and still does serve) as a reminder, a reminder of His provision, a reminder of His goodness, a reminder of our need for Him. 

As I read this I am convicted, I do not spend the time with God in the mornings that I need. Sure I get to read some of His word on the way to work, and I pray all throughout the day. But there is something about giving the first part of my day to Him, that brings out how much I need Him, that brings out His goodness, that brings out His provision. I need to spend the time in the mornings, on my knees in some focused and serious prayer. I need to dig into His word in the mornings, and have my heart set upon the things of God. I need more of Him each day and much less of me!

One last thing verse eleven, "and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household." God has been good to the Israelites, He has brought them out from Egypt, He has given them a land unrivaled by any other. He has blessed them beyond belief, and He commands them to " the Lord." They had no reason to complain, worry or be anxious, God had provided and blessed in so many ways. Likewise I am blessed I deserved God's wrath being poured out on me for eternity, I deserved punishment and scorn. But thanks be to my Lord Jesus Christ! And God my Saviour, who spared no expense in sending His son in my place to die that I might live. I should not be complaining, or worrying, I should be trusting God and rejoicing in Him!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday 7-26-10

Numbers 13-15

This text is so rich, and as I read it, it seemed that verse after verse was speaking volumes to me. From the spies various reports, to the peoples rebellion and wanting to go back to Egypt, my heart was convicted and stirred in numerous ways. Never the less I want to look at what I believe are three key character traits and values any leader needs, well any Christian leader that is.

First in Numbers 14 we see that God was going to destroy the Israelites and work through Moses to bring about His promises. But Moses speaks with God and reminds God of what He has already done to bring the Israelites this far. Moses keeps God's glory the center of his reason for serving and leading. It is central for any Christian leader to have a passion for God's glory in order to be able to truly and freely serve God.

Secondly, Moses believed God for what He said. When the various reports of the land, and the verdict came back that yes, it was a good land, but, no, the Israelites could not take the land. Moses faith in that God's promise did not waver, he remained steadfast that they should go in and take the land. It is crucial for a Christian leader to believe God, and stand fast upon God's word even when other contradict or discourage.

Thirdly, even when God made it clear to Moses that he would not be allowed to enter the promised land with Joshua and Caleb. Moses did not give up, or throw in the towel, because Moses wasn't just "in the ministry" (if I may use that term) for himself. It was not about making much of Moses, or seeing what all he could get out of it. Likewise it must be crucial for a leader to be one who has and does serve, to be one who is sold out for the kingdom of God.

May our lives make much of Him, and not ourselves!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday 7-21-10

"Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death." Leviticus 24:16

As I read this, it occurred to me just how serious sin is to God. To often I have esteemed sin as "not a big deal" or "covered by grace." Now while the later is true, I so often seem to underappreciate that my sin is covered by grace because I don't have a right view of sin. When I became saved my "position" changed from being an enemy of God to being a child of God. Likewise my "position" with sin definitely changed in one aspect, that is it is no longer my task master. But in another it is not fully changed, it is changing by God's grace and that is that I am coming to be at odds with my sin. 

The other thing I see quite clearly is that God takes His name seriously. It is not a little thing to blaspheme or take His name lightly. Yet every time I sin, that is precisely what I do.. oh how I need Him more and more. I need His grace and His power, I do not want my life to take His name and run it through the muck. May my life exalt Him and magnify Him!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday 7-19-10

"'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." Leviticus 17:11

Before I comment on this verse, and share what God showed me through it. I just wanted to share what a blessing reading through the Old Testament has been to me. So many only read from Psalms and Proverbs when it comes to the Old Testament. I for one, have only grow in appreciation for the New Testament by reading the Old. To be able to walk with men like Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah and so many more, to see their struggles, their success and failures. I have learned so much from reading about these men, and reading what these men wrote. My theology has been deeply shaped by the Old Testament, such as God's passion for God's glory.. no where can this be seen greater than through the history of the Israelites. The necessity of walking with a pure heart before God, as we see that David did. To glean the timeless wisdom and biblical principles left for me in Proverbs. How can we forget the Old Testament? How can so many modern Christians throw away the very foundation of our faith? Lord make me one who studies and preaches the whole counsel of your Word.

Now onto Leviticus 17:11, here is a very rich verse, and one which could so easily be overlooked. Through this verse is a very foundational answer to a question which many seem to have no answer for. The question being "Why, did Jesus' blood have to shed for the remission of sins?" Very simply put, the punishment for sin is the eternal wrath of God being poured out forever. The only way out from bearing the wrath of God for eternity is to have a sacrifice which is perfect, because anything less could not bring us into right standing with God. And since the life of the flesh is in the blood, the blood of a perfect being would have to be spilled in order to fulfill the requirement for salvation. Jesus Christ was and is the only such sacrifice that ever could have been. So here in Leviticus 17:11 we see that there had to be death of one to result in the life of another. And we know from Hebrews 10, that the blood of bulls and goats could not save us. So really Leviticus 17:11, is pointing to the Cross!! Because life must be taken and blood must be spilled in order to atone for a soul. Thank you Jesus for coming to die, and atone for my soul and redeem me unto yourself. Thank you for shedding your blood, for none other could have for me.

Saturday 7-17-10

There was not so much a specific verse or passage, but rather I was reading in Leviticus (12-16). It became quite clear to me, that God did not give the law of the Old Testament to make anyone's life miserable. It was not as if God was attempting to suck all the joy and happiness out of the Israelites lives. Far from it, rather He gave the law that we might see and savor Christ Jesus. It is not as if God gave the law so that the Israelites could keep it, and so that the cross would not be needed. For the law was given to be our school teacher, to bring us to the cross. Yet so many are quick to throw away the law, once they come to the cross. 

In fact in so many, the law is looked down upon as if it was something bad. God doesn't give us commands like "flee fornication" or "treat the young women as sisters, in all purity," to make our lives miserable. God knows (for He created us as such), that the only thing which can satisfy us and bring us true joy is Himself. It is loving for Him to tell me to "flee fornication," because He knows that my wicked and deceitful heart is easily deceived.  I guess what I am getting at is that it is loving for God to want me to be 100% infatuated and completely sold out for Him. Because sexual immorality, money, cars, computers, entertainment, friends, anything and everything that this world has to offer, cannot and I say again cannot satisfy me. Only God can, and Father may I look only to you for joy and satisfaction. May all that I have and am be yours and be used for your glory.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday 7-04-10

"Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." - Exodus 20:1-6

As I read these verses this afternoon, I saw them in a much different light. No longer was God trying to make the lives of the Israelites miserable, no longer were these just pointless rules that we are to follow. These laws were given that we might see Jesus as our ultimate treasure, as the most desirable treasure that ever has, does or will exist. But the law cannot make us perfect, and the law in and of it'self could never make us NOT "fall short of the glory of God." But Romans 7 says that the law is not sin, in fact it says that the law is a good thing. Why? Because God is passionate for His glory, and He wants us join with Him in that passion for His glory. The law was given, to point to grace, and through grace we come to see and savor Christ. We come to know what true satisfaction and joy is like, and we only come to know such things through the cross. 

And if God has drawn us out of sin, and we no longer serve the flesh. (Romans 6) Then we should find great joy through Christ our Savior. Sin only holds an attraction to us, because we do not have a proper view of Jesus. 1 Corinthians says that we see "through a glass dimly," so if we want to see and savor Jesus. We should be as the man described in Psalm 1, who does not "walk with the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the the scoffers." But rather this man is one whose delight is in the law of the Lord and he "meditates [on it (the law)] day and night." 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday 5-10-10

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

Before the earth and time even existed. God was. God still is. God will forever be. I love the first four words of the bible, "In the beginning God." How powerful, how truth revealing, how true! Note those four words very carefully, it does not say "In the beginning the big bang," it does not say "In the begging amino acids," it does not say "In the beginning a fish sprouted legs." No it says, "In the beginning God."

Reading those four words ought to evoke in us fear, reverence, love and awe. Why? Because God is our creator (Genesis 1:26-27), our redeemer (Hebrews 10:10-12), and sustainer (John 15:16). We did nothing to create ourselves and according to Genesis 2:19 we are but dust, and will one day return to dust (our bodies that is). Just as we have done nothing to add to our existence, likewise we have done nothing to save ourselves in fact Romans 3:11 says "THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD." And lastly it is simply by the grace and power of God that we are set free from sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). 

"In the beginning God," speaks volumes to me. Because in that one phrase rests the whole entirety of scripture, for if God is either, a liar, and did not create the world, or, He does not exist. Then the whole foundation of redemption, salvation and glorifying God by enjoying Him forever is stripped away, and false. So the very beginning of scripture is just as precious and real as the deepest depths in Romans or Hebrews. We cannot simply look to build upon our knowledge and faith by reading the New Testament, for it is the Old Testament which our whole basis for understanding and believing the New Testament rests. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday 4-22-10

Jude 24-25 "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."

Wow, what awesome and uplifting verses! God our Saviour is He whom is able to keep us from falling into temptation and sin. It is Jesus Christ alone who is able to present us faultless before God the Father's presence. It is Jesus' joy to present me without spot or wrinkle to the Father whole and complete. 

What a relief that I need not rely upon my own strength, power or ability to keep myself unspotted from the world. For truly if it was my power or strength that was being relied upon I would fail time and time again. In fact I have attempted to rely upon my ability to keep from sin, and I can give testament to the fact that I couldn't remain pure for my Savior. So these verses lift a great amount of anxiety that would press hard upon me, if it were not for God's provision for keeping me in Himself. 

As I read verse 25 the thought of "Why would all glory be unto God our Savior?" crossed my mind. Well honestly why shouldn't all glory be unto God? For God is infinitely worthy of all glory, honor and praise! I believe that God loves, redeems, regenerates, rejuvenates, and keeps us for His glory. Some ask a valid questions "Why?" The answer is quite simple I believe, it is: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Some have a problem with this statement, I believe that is because we do not see Jesus Christ as our ultimate treasure, they think that there is something beyond that. I plead the case that Jesus Christ is all that there can be, otherwise we will time and time again fall short of reflecting and being vessels which bring God glory. 

One last thought, some do not believe that God can or does preserve those whom he regenerates. I cannot help but laugh honestly, for if the God of heaven and earth can rescue sinners from hell but not the bondage of sin then what kind of God is He really? Seriously, cannot God keep those whom He redeems for Himself? I believe He can, and fully embrace that my Lord God, Savior, Redeemer and Friend has all power in heaven and earth. And furthermore I believe that God truly does sanctify those whom He justifies, for His glory!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday 4-21-10

3 John 9 "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not."

3 John 12 "Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true."

These verses are very interesting, as I have read through first, second and third John in the past several days. You see as I have read each one, I see an element of God willing and working all things for His glory. Particularly as it speaks of God's love, and how His love changes the way we treat others and love them. It has greatly challenged me to review the way and reason I love. 

It has also more given me a more concrete vision for who God is, and why he loves me, and others. As I have read these passages many questions have flooded my mind. Why does God love me? Is my love for others truly from God? Why am I loving this person(s)? Am I fully relying on God's grace and love to love this person(s)? Am I loving this person(s) for God's glory? if not why? 

As I asked myself those questions and meditated over God's word, it has been like a light turned on in a dark room. 1 John 2:27  has proved it's self time and time again in my life this week. So no surprise when this evening as I read 3 John, God pricks my heart and teaches me more about His glory.

So unto 3 John verses 9 & 12. Basically the thought is very short and sweet, the man Diotrephes steals God's glory and seeks to assert himself as the authority, while Demetrius bears good report of the truth. Two men who were both in church, the context leads me to believe that both were leaders in their respective churches. Yet there was a fundamental difference between the two. Diotrephes loved men's applause, he loved to have the feeling of "power" and he wickedly used the church for such. While on the other hand we have less information about Demetrius, I think we can interpret several things about him. I believe Demetrius was humble and sought God's glory and not his own, I believe he lived out the gospel in that he was not self-seeking or hypocritical, and I also believe that Demetrius was a tested and trusted example, because John has no qualms about pointing to him as an example of righteousness. 

I am afraid that there are too many Diotrephes in the church today. Too many pastors and leaders whose hearts are not right before God. I do not want to be as such but rather as Demetrius who "hath a good report of all men,  and of the truth itself."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday 3-30-10

Galatians 1:23-24

"23  But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24  And they glorified God in me."

God did a mighty work in Paul's life through saving and sanctifying him. When men looked at Paul according to verse twenty-four they glorified God. I believe that this is the reason why God saves us and sanctifies us. There is nothing special or wonderful about me that God should have saved me. It is simply because of his mercy and that he seeks to be glorified through me life. I do not believe it is egotistical for God to seek his own glory, because if I love him and glorify him (which all men fall short of). Then I am fulfilled and happy when God is glorified, that is my joy is made complete in God being brought glory. 

May my life be as Paul's in that as men look at me and see what I was before God's work. Then they see the work that God has wrought in my heart and life may the glorify God


Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday 3-29-10

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

"9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

Just previous to this verse Paul mentions his "thorn in the flesh", and states that he had asked God to remove it at least three times. God tells Paul that His grace is enough for Paul and that His power and grace is made "perfect" through Paul's deficiencies. How Paul responds just is very convicting. Paul says that he "takes pleasure" in being feeble or frail, in rebukes or disapproval's, in daily menial tasks, in being tortured for Christ, in difficult times. 

Just having been reading through some of what Paul went through in the previous chapter his attitude is a great example to me. I'm sure he struggled at times no doubt but his selfless attitude of "if my being puny, or being whipped, or made fun of brings Christ glory.. then bring it on." This attitude and really mindset was no doubt not developed overnight. But I really believe it came from Paul being completely and totally satisfied in God, he didn't need comfort, fame, men's praise.. Christ and Christ alone was who/what I believe Paul longed for. Hence in the face of distressing things he is able to say "therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Please remember in prayer David Velke and his family, they left on a short term missions trip for 6 months with his family this past weekend. They are settling down in their house there and will be getting hands-on-mission-training.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday 3-25-10

1 Corinthians 3:7  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

As I read this I thought of years back one particular summer my family did a garden. Months before summer we fertilized it, limed it, tilled it.. tilled it again, fertilized it, limed it, tilled it again. We cut branches off trees that would block out sunlight, we set up schedules for weeding/watering/ect., we put down news papers around the plants so the weeds would be choked back. We got good quality seeds, planted them at the right time, the right depth. We watered them, weeded the garden, there was a lot of work that went into it. But there was almost no crop what-so-ever that year, so much hard work and very little to show for it. Now there were other years in which we got tons of fresh produce but that year wasn't one of them.

I thought of that summer and how it relates to spiritual battles. We can plan out, sacrifice for, work towards a goal such as a church plant or soul to be won. But that is all we can do is labor, I cannot save anyone, I cannot make anyone repent of a sin, I cannot cause anyone to grow in the Lord, I can do nothing but obey God. I need to make sure all my laboring is done as unto the Lord, if I become self-reliant and think I can achieve this or accomplish that on my own strength and not by God's grace I am greatly mistaken. May whatever God calls me to do, may I obey completely and remain totally dependent on his grace and power to accomplish the task he gives me to do. 

May the grace of God be with you,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday 3-24-10

Romans 8:28-31 

"28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"

I cannot begin to express how these verses and really Romans chapter eight and nine in general impacted me this morning. I do not even know how to begin, so I will leave it at this if anyone wants to deny God's absolute sovereignty they will have to remove Romans chapters eight and nine from their bible. 

From Him, for Him and unto Him,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday 3-22-10

Romans 1:14-15 

"14  I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
15  So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."

As I read this I really began to think of what my life would look like if,  I was indebted out of joy to the gospel and to lost souls. What would my money be spent on? What would my time be invested in? What would my desires be? What would my goals be? How would my life change?

I do believe our lives would change if we realized the horror of our sin, we realized the love of God, we realized the passion that Christ has for us. I do not want to waste my life, I do not want to waste any part of my life. I have a burning desire to be used of Him and for Him. Nothing held back, nothing to regret. I have been called crazy for removing some things from my life that weren't sin but were sucking my time away from the Lord. I do not believe it is crazy or irradcal to give up the temporal pleasures of this world, and instead invest my time, energies, and resources into Kingdom growth. In fact I believe the opposite to be true. How can one who claims to be bought by the blood of Christ put the temporal trinkets ahead of eternal treasures like souls? 

Please pray for David Gates and his family. Mrs. Beth gave birth to a healthy baby girl. However there are some health issues with Mrs. Beth the extent of them unknown to me. But please join me in prayer for them, they are close to my heart, and have of late weighed heavy on my heart. 

Because of Him, and for Him..

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday 3-21-10

Acts 17:6  And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

These men had a reputation for living for Christ and doing great things for Him and by His grace. They were not just preaching it up Sunday then not living it out Monday. Their lives had been changed and where preaching, living and discipling others in such a way that others lives where being darasticly changed! I get excited as I read this and think about it. I am also saddened because I can think upon so many (including myself in the past) who wasted and are wasting their lives. 

I do not know how to put into words the burning desire and burden I have to see God's children act like them. Why do we hang onto the things of this world whether it be money, possessions, entertainment; why do we walk in sin loving pornography, men's praise, earthly goods. I want my life to be nothing short of one that is spent up wholly for Christ. I want my time, energy, effort, thoughts, passions, and desires to be set in Christ Jesus. May my life be worth living not because of who I am or what I have done but rather may my life be worth living because of who I am in Christ Jesus and what he has done in me!

Unto Him be all glory, honor and praise,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday 3-20-10

Acts 4:20  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Acts 9:20  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

As I was reading today it really hit me how the gospel changes a life. I mean it seems like such a basic thing to note, but these scriptures and others really brought out the changes that were going on in the early Christian's lives. This changing or transforming from the old to the new should be evident in every person who claims to be a Christian. We should daily be transformed by the Word of God, we cannot grow content to be mediocre Christians, to do so would spell doom on our lives and how they should be lived for Christ. 

In Acts chapter four verse twenty Peter and John are speaking to the Jewish leaders. They basically say "We cannot help but preach the gospel." Why? I believe it was because they were truly repentant of sin, truly grateful for salvation, truly seeking to be Christ-like, their lives were transformed because of the gospel. Likewise in Acts chapter nine verse twenty Paul almost immediately after being converted goes and begins to preach in the 
synagogues. Why? Because the gospel transforms lives. We were not saved so we could grow comfortable in this world, but rather to die-to-self each morning on our knees abandon all else but Christ and pick up our cross and follow Him. I cannot express in words the burning desire I have in my heart to see Christians be just what that word means: Christ-like. I want my life to count, no being filled up with this world, no conforming to the status quo, I want my life to be nothing less than reckless pursuit after my Creator, Savior, and Sustainer!

Please pray the various pastors/missionaries/teachers who will be proclaiming forth the word of God tomorrow. Ask God for his grace and power to be upon their lives, and that He would receive much glory from his people.

In Christ alone our hope is firm,

Friday 3-19-20

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Just a really short thought but powerful one (at least to me). As I read this just the necessity of preaching the gospel and sending others to preach was shown quite vividly. These are some of the last words Jesus speaks unto the Christians gathered there as he ascended into heaven. Jesus' doesn't ask who will go, they don't pick straws to see who is going to have to witness. Jesus says very bluntly "ye shall receive power" and then "ye shall be witnesses unto me". I do not believe he leaves room for debate or second guessing like most American Christians act like. May wherever I go may my life be spent knowing and showing Jesus Christ!

In Christ,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday 3-15-10

Luke 22:63-65

"63 ¶  And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
64  And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?
65  And many other things blasphemously spake they against him."

What kind of gospel do I preach? When persecution comes what kind of gospel will I preach? Jesus was mocked for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was spit upon for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was beat for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was lied about for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was slapped and humiliated for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was brutally tortured for living and preaching the gospel. Jesus was horrifically murdered for living and preaching the gospel. 

I by no means seek persecution for faith in Jesus Christ. But I do expect it to come, Jesus warns us about it in Matthew 5. He says we are blessed when others revile us, persecute us, and say all manner of evil against us. I honestly do not get why most Christians are content to live nominal lives and never proclaim an offensive gospel. May I never grow content with a "peace-time" mentality and not pick up my cross and follow hard after Jesus Christ. But wherever I go, may I live a life which there is no explanation for except that I be a follower of Jesus Christ. May by God's grace I stand firm the face of persecution, not relenting or recanting, but rather boldly proclaiming Christ's death and love. May I be one who can die for Christ, because I live daily for him!

May grace be with you,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday 3-14-10

Luke 12:21  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:31  But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What a fatal error that we could become so busy with this life that we would not be rich toward God. As I look forward in the next month or so to getting a job to support myself as I serve God this summer here at home and at my churches. As I begin for the first time to draw a regular paycheck I want to the basis of why I am working, what I spend my money on and just how I think about money and worldly possessions in general to be based off of Luke 12:21 and 31. 

God is the author of my salvation, the finisher of my faith. God is the source of my joy and fulfiller of all my desires. His glory is the purpose of my existence. May worldly possessions, vainglory, and all the empty promises of sin fade at the beauty of Christ Jesus and his love for me. May my life not be spent laying up treasure for myself here on earth, but rather at crowns which I will cast at my saviors feet!

May we truly be living sacrifices,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday 3-13-10

Luke 5:11  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Previous to this verse Peter, James and John had just made the catch of their lives. They had so many fish that their boat was fixing to sink.. I cannot imagine how many thousands of fish they had. I do imagine that what they just caught would have paid a very handsome sum. Yet they walked away from it, to follow Jesus! I think of the Israelites when God rescued them from Egypt, they literally walked out of Egypt with the treasures of Egypt. Yet they took what God gave them and made idols of the material possessions. 

How I have been like unto the Israelites; I've taken the possessions that God has given me and used them for my selfish desires and wicked practices. I thank God for working in my heart and convicting me, and rescuing me from sin. It is only by his grace and power that such a feat could be done. As I read this evening it really convicted me to check where my desires where, to make sure that they are set in Christ and not worldly possessions. The words to a old hymn come to mind "My richest gain I count but loss". How true the best thing the world offers cannot begin to compare to what I have in Christ Jesus! 

May you have a blessed Lord's day,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday 3-12-10

Mark 10:43-45

"43  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Over the past several days through The Word, God has shown me my wrong attitude towards serving. Well particularly serving at home, I find great joy in being used of God to help and minister to others outside of my family. Yet when "rubber meets the road" here at home I often grip and complain, and do my best to keep from serving. How hypocritical! As I read this the Holy Spirit convicted me and I had to repent. I know that it was God's work in my heart that made me grimace at the thought of how stinking selfish and prideful I've been. 

As I read verse 45 my heart just grew heavy at the thought of all that Jesus did to minister unto me.  How he bore insults and false accusations, how he was spit upon and slapped. How the thorns were shoved down upon his skull, and scourging (ie. Roman half-death) he took - some say no doubt that his organs would hang down because his back was ripped open so badly - for me! We have not gone into detail of the agony of the cross or much less the spiritual burden that was placed upon him because of my pride, lusts, lies, hate, and rebellion... Yet whenever there is a small task which needs to be done at home, well it's to much of an inconvenience, or I don't feel like it. Oh may God work mightily in my heart and grant me a true, humble servants heart!

Be in prayer for the various pastors/teachers/missionaries who will be proclaiming the word of God on Sunday. 

Blessings in the name of Christ Jesus,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday 3-11-10

James 1:22-24

"22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."

As I was working on memorizing James 1 this morning these verses really convicted me. Here's some observations I had: 1. If anyone just hears (or reads) God's word but doesn't apply it to their lives they are deceiving their own selves. 2. The person who is a "hearer" is like the guy who takes a quick glance at the mirror then goes on his way. 3. The person who just take a quick glance at God's word but doesn't apply it, doesn't dwell on it, ect. is only going to forget what the word said.

Likewise if I am not in God's word throughout the day I have a tendency to forget what manner of man am I. So about two months ago I switched to reading a three chapters, three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening). While this has helped greatly in having more time in God's word (and coming to love God's word more and more), it also means that I tend to become distracted with what I need to do after I finish my bible reading. Which can lead to once again just "taking a glance" at God's word without any deep convictions or changes taking place in my heart.  May I "pull out the mirror" throughout the day, studying it and seeing how my heart, desires and affections need to be shaped and changed accordingly. And may God grant me the grace to live out Matthew 16:24 in denying myself, taking up my cross and following unreservedly Jesus Christ.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday 3-10-10

Matthew 15:8  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Goes hand in hand with the verse(s) I was memorizing today James 1: 22 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Definitely convicting.. how easy it is to fall into rendering only "lip service" to God, or to just hear (read) his word and not apply it to my life. It is a dangerous trap to fall into only serving God outwardly. I thank God for rescuing me from going through the motions of serving him, while my heart was set in sin. May he keep my heart set on him, may I draw near to him with my heart and my life bring him much honor. 

Please pray for Japan in 2009 the number of suicides exceeded 30,000 for the twelfth year straight. Please pray that God will raise up laborers to go!

Blessings in the name of Jesus,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday 3-9-10

Quickly some observations surrounding Jesus being tempted.

Matthew 4:2-3 "2  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3  And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

My heart (which Jeremiah 17 says is deceitful and desperately wicked) knows exactly when I am weakest and will attack full fledged there. Just like Satan knew that Jesus would be no doubt weak and famished after fasting for 40 days. I need to be on the alert for where and how I will be tempted.

Matthew 4:5-7 "5  Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6  And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7  Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

Another tactic of Satan/flesh is to tell me that I can indulge in sin because I will have forgiveness, or that this one time isn't going to hurt. I love Jesus' response, because if I know something is wrong and I do it anyway, am I not in a manner of speaking "tempting God". Who is to say that I will not die in the sin. I think what really hit me about this was that Jesus in essence was saying don't mess with sin. I think of Ananias and Saphira, who deceived the apostles and were struck dead instantly for lying to Peter.

Matthew 4:8-9 "8  Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

How Satan promised glorious things to Jesus yet they could not compare to the the glory He would receive through dying on the cross. Likewise Satan offers pleasures in sin, yet they cannot even begin to compare to the pleasures found in Christ. These are not just words, I have searched for water in broken cisterns and have found that only living and satisfying water is found Christ Jesus.

Unto him who is able to do above what we ask or think,

Monday 3-8-10

Malachi 1:7-8

"7  Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
8  And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts."

Real quickly just a couple observations. The children of Israel were offering these sacrifices that were obviously not the best. Let's take a look: "Ye offer polluted bread", "ye offer the blind", "ye offer the lame and sick". These "sacrifices" weren't sacrifices at all, they were what was left over, not even second place they were horrible animals. In fact God knows just how bad they are and he calls them evil.. he tells them to offer them to their governor. Why? I believe it was to make them think, because they knew that what they were "offering" to the Lord was so bad that even the government wouldn't want it. 

What struck me wasn't what I head a bunch of my life about "giving your best to Jesus". It wasn't about whether or not you wear a suit on Sunday. In the years past all I attributed to "giving your best to Jesus" was how someone dressed and if they knew bible lingo. It's not about that, God couldn't care less if I went to church with bluejeans or a three-piece suit. What God does care about is the heart, He wants all my desires and affection to be upon Him, He wants me to flee sin and be pure for him. How does this fit in to the passage? Well my dress right, talk right, act right isn't not what God desires, that is like offering him a lame and sick sacrifice, which verse 8 says is evil. According to John 15 if I abide in Christ and He in me then my joy will be made full, and I believe that that is what God wants.. for me to be completely satisfied in him, so that he would receive glory through my life.

Please pray for bro Tony Howeth and Mrs. Stacey Howeth. They are currently traveling to Ireland for 10 days if I remember their schedule right. Please pray that God's grace and power would be upon brother Tony as he preaches. Also that he would keep them safe in their various travels.

In Christ,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday 3-7-10

Proverbs 1:7-9 
"7 ¶  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
9  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."

While I did my normal bible reading today (through Zephaniah), this proverb (which I read this morning) really struck me more than the passage in Zephaniah. Just going to be completely honest with this my flesh screamed out in horror as I read this. It hated the very idea of what these verses had to say, and so much more my desire to see them implemented in my life. To be brief (as I am attempting to be more disciplined in my getting up each morning), the instruction, counsel, wisdom that dad gives, shares with me should be something I delight in. The old man hates to submit, hates to be humbled, he loves to rebel, to always be right, to boast himself. I thank God that the old man no longer is who I am, for in Christs' death I gained a new identity, sin longer has a hold on me for it was crucified with Christ on the cross. So now I am free to fear God, to honor my parents, to walk in wisdom and instruction and not foolishness and sin. May God grant to grace to my that is needed to listen to the commands, and instruction of my parents. May I honor my mom and dad, and may God receive glory through that relationship.

Please pray for a young missionary couple (in training): Chris Waye and his family. They just arrived in Peru for 6 months of hands on training and practice. Please ask God to use this time to grow them, and use them for his glory. 

Unto the author and finisher of our faith,

Saturday 3-6-10

Micah 6:6-8 

"6  Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 
7  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

As I read this the reality of "What do I have to offer God", struck home again and again. So often I like to think or act like I bring something to the table in my relationship with God. According to the word of God all I have to offer is equal to rags that have been used to clean a filthy toilet. I think well if I do this, or do that God will bless me more, or love me more. No these  things could not be further from the truth. God's perfect love is made evident in that nothing I do can make him love me any more or any less. 

Three things God says he desires, each of these things I am dependent on him to enable me to do. To do justly or turn from my sin, to longer walk wickedly. To love mercy, just as God pours out new mercies on me, so should I love mercy. To walk humbly with God, or as Jesus said to "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except itabide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4)

May you have a blessed Lord's day,

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday 3-4-10

Obadiah 1:3-4

"3  The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
4  Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD."

One of those passages that that I read hating it and loving it at the same time. I know that this is a warning that I need, but in my pride I don't want to admit it. I to often get boastful and prideful and like to "lift myself up" above others and even God. I love men's praise and revel in the moment that I receive it, but it is passages like these which make utter horror and fear grip my heart as I begin to move my confidence and trust from God's trust to my own self-reliance. I will not pretend to act as if I have pride near conquered, or even know how to conquer it aside from complete dependence on God. For if I look anywhere else other than the cross as my means of overcoming pride then I lift myself above the cross. For in the cross alone is found victory over pride and all sin. May God drive me to my knees before him in utter dependence on his grace and humility because of his grace which he so freely bestows upon me.

I have a praise and a prayer request; today is brother Tony Howeth's birthday. Words and time would fail me to say how much my God has used him in my life, I thank God for him daily, he is such a blessing! I also encourage you to pray for him and his family, as there is continuing to mount bills from the various medical expenses. 

In Christ,

Wednesday 3-3-10

Joel 2:12-13

"12 ¶  Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."

Some great verses reminding me of what God wants. I thought it was so well put in the beginning of verse 13 "rend your heart, and not your garments". God is looking for a true change of heart, not just our emotions or feelings. He desires to see repentance, true repentance not just a temporary I am sorry.. never going to do that again.. rend my garment.. type deal. I've been guilty of not turning to God will all my heart, many times have I "repented" but not really, because then I would have to give up my sin. God is good, gracious and merciful he has forgiven me of all people! The least deserving hypocrite of all to be saved from sin and hell.. God's mercies, love and grace are truly overwhelming!

Please pray for the Tolson family. They are a young missionary couple finishing up deputation before heading to China. Mrs. Natasha is pregnant, however the baby has what is called "body stalk anomaly", basically the baby has very little chance of going full term. And if it is born alive it will only live a few minutes. Please pray for God's grace and comfort during this time.

Love through Christ alone,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday 3-2-10

Hosea 7:2 "And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness:"

Wow! What a statement!

As I read this, all I could think is how grateful I am of the cross! What Jesus did upon that cruel cross was totally and completely for me, there is no longer remembered any wickedness that I have committed. By Christ Jesus' death I am made righteous, not by any merit of my own, but rather Christ's blood makes me holy. As I read this the weight of what is being said just struck me, that this is what it is like to live without the blood of Christ applied to one's life. That is the kind of condemnation that I deserve! 

How little I take my salvation to be sometimes. Father I repent of not being thankful for my eternal salvation from sin and eternal torment and destruction. May God use this to increase my love for him, and my burden for seeing souls saved from eternal damnation. 


Sunday 2-28-10

Daniel:8 "¶  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank:"

As I read this verse I thought of why Daniel purposed in his heart. It was not some out of the blue, "Hey let's do a really noble thing and not drink wine and eat the king's meat". That is not where this decision to boldly obey God came from, rather I believe it came from a real personal daily relationship that Daniel had with God Almighty. As I read this I once again thought of 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." The simple beauty of this verse just becomes more and more clear as I read it. That the only way to endure temptation is to love the Lord. May my life be a testimony to God's grace and power, may he sanctify me, that all of me would be set apart for the masters use.

Saturday 2-27-10

Ezekiel 33:31-32

"31  And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
32  And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not."

These verses so well describe how I was for many years. I saw what I would be apart from the grace of God, a deceiver, a liar, a lover of my sin rather then a lover the only true and living God. While these verses are what I would be without God's grace, these verses could have described me beautifully for many years. I would come to church, bring my bible, sing the songs, know the answers, everything a good young Christian was supposed to be and do. Only one problem, it was fake. Now honestly I did enjoy church well to an extent, I didn't care for the preaching because I would hear God's word but not do it, but other than that I enjoyed it. It made me feel good, I was self-righteous. May the Holy Spirit continue to instill in me a greater love for God, may I never "play church" again, ever in my life.

Please pray that this earthquake in Chile will open more doors and reveal the need for laborers to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Also a praise that Jason Holt's family (wife and three kids) are completely fine and were not hurt at all.

May you have a blessed Lords day,

Friday 2-26-10

Ezekiel 20:43 "And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed."

As I read this I thought "lothe myself"? It's such a strange idea in world that tells us to love ourselves, embellish ourselves in this or that, to treat ourselves to this thing or to do this because we deserve it. Our concept is to love ourselves, not lothe ourselves. While this idea that I am to lothe myself because of the evil I've committed seems foreign, as I thought about it I do it all the time. Well not to myself but to others, I look upon homosexuals, rapists, fornicators, murderers, thieves, liars and condemn them and what they do. Yet I look upon my own heart from which lies, adultery, pride, murder, thefts, rebellion come from, and I commend myself rather then condemn myself? 

How conceited my heart it to look upon other men and lothe them for what they have done. Yet I look upon my own heart and life and love it. May the reality and heaviness of my sin never leave my mind. May when I compare myself beside a loving, holy, pure and righteous God, may I lothe myself for the evils I have committed. 

Please pray for those pastors, missionaries and teachers who will be proclaiming the word of God on Sunday. Ask God to send his grace upon them as they finish studying, and that he would speak through each one to bring himself glory and honor!
Unto Christ be all glory honor and praise,

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,