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Archive for June, 2010

June 21, 2010

Scripture2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you….  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

Observation:  A vast army of Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites marches on Judah and King Jehoshaphat.  Judah is powerless, and Jehoshaphat knows this.  He prays.  God answers, through the prophet Jahaziel: The battle is not yours, but God’s.  God then sends them out, not as warriors, but as witnesses.  They will see that He does indeed answer prayer.

Application:  It is not our battle, but the Lord’s.  My job is to bear witness that He who did it before can and will do it again.  I can watch as God blesses through me (and others), teaches through me (among others), loves or leads through me.  And, like Jehoshaphat, I direct the people to prayer, and to God—then we stand and watch as God routs the enemy.

Prayer:  May I have the foresight of a Jehoshaphat to turn to You, knowing it is Your battle, not mine.  Help me to never be afraid or discouraged.  Because You are with me, I can go out and face them.  In Jesus’ name.

A Gentle Whisper

June 16, 2010

Scripture1 Kings 19:12  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Observation:  Elijah witnesses and experiences awesome displays of power—a terrible tornado and an enormous earthquake.  But, they are not from God.  At least, His word is not in them.  But, when all grows quiet, he hears the voice of God—small, but sure.  It is like the softest of whispers, yet the strongest impression is left that God is speaking.  And Elijah must listen—and obey.

Application:  I have had no thunderclaps (like Saul).  I have not had a run-in with talking jackasses (like Balaam)—all obvious jokes aside.   There has been no handwriting on the wall (like King Belshazzar).  There have been no angel visitants (well, maybe that one on Bradenton Beach 17 years ago this coming August).  No opening skies.  But, a few times, I could sense the message, although I could not ‘hear’ the words.

In the last year, there came such a moment.  The question was asked by a friend.  I know of no other way to describe it except to say, “My heart leapt.”  The voice was not the voice of God (unless God is a native of Palatka).  Still, the strongest of impressions was made on my heart.

Prayer:  Lord, perhaps You speak more forcefully to some than You have to me.  Yet, I have heard Your words.  Open the ‘ears of my heart,’ Lord, that I may hear and go, listen and do.  In the strong and loving name of Jesus.


June 11, 2010

ScripturePhilippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Observation:  Paul has already said he is a servant of Christ Jesus (1:1).  He is in chains for Christ, and the result is that more have spoken the word of God more boldly.

Application:  what the world needs is a witness which backs up his or her words with actions.  They need to see grace and forgiveness lived out.  They need to encounter people with a passionate love for Christ as the foundation for actions to change the world.    I am called – as is every Christian – to live in a manner consistent with following Jesus.  But, I am not consistent.  I get distracted; off-track; too worried about the things of life.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, You were always consistent.  You were always on-track with God’s will and Your purpose.  Help me to live with the goals of Your Kingdom always before me.  Help me to never forget, never get distracted, never derailed.  In Your precious name, I pray.


June 12, 2010

ScripturePhilippians 2:2 …make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Observation:  Certainly Paul had to deal with people with different passions and points of view.  Republicans or Democrats?  Maybe not.  Legalism and licentiousness?  Sure enough.  Paul-followers v. Apollo-followers.  Most likely.  But, there was only one ultimate cause—Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Application:  We have tea-partiers and Obama-maniacs.  There are those who are for abortion, and those opposed.  Some favor homosexuality while others are convinced that the practice of it is sin.  Pro-war; anti-war.  Does all that matter?  Yes, it absolutely does.  Yet, most important of all is the Gospel.  Do we know Jesus?  Are we following Him?  Are we becoming like Christ?  Are we sharing Him, His love, His gospel?

Am I following Jesus?  Am I becoming more like Him?  Am I sharing Him, and His love?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me keep the main thing the main thing.  Other things are important, but, they are, at best, penultimate.  Help me love You, follow You, serve You, share You.

June 9, 2010

Scripture:  Ephesians 5: 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Observation:  The author of Ephesians has finished chapter 4 with words on forgiveness, kindness and compassion.  Then he speaks of living a life of love—imitating God in Christ.  The world, he writes, is bitter, angry, rage-filled, violent, slanderous, and malicious.  We, however, who follow Christ, are to live by a different standard—the standard of Christ, who gave up everything, even gave up himself to death on a cross, for us.

Application:  I grew up imitating.  I imitated my dad and played firefighter.  I imitated Roy Rogers and played cowboy.  I imitated Tarzan, and Johnny Bench, and Ricky Nelson….  Yet, sooner or later, I put the toys and accoutrements of that person away, and went back to being me.

Now, I confess, I imitate Christ.  The sad thing is that too often I put away those accessories (in my heart) and take up the old me of anger, bitterness, rage, etc.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may I imitate You until it becomes who I am.  May I live a life of love so that all see Jesus.  Transform the very core of my being, all that is unloving, until I love as Jesus loves.  For His sake, and in His name, I pray.

June 7, 2010

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 5: 1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.

3 As a dream comes when there are many cares,
so the speech of a fool when there are many words.

4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.

Observation:  The Teacher certainly appears to be pointing out that it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.  The “sacrifice of fools” seems to be to speak too much, too soon, too often – in the presence of God, at least (and probably elsewhere, too?).

Application:  This is just too close to home.  My job is to talk for a living.  But, if I do my job right, I begin with my mouth shut and my heart open to the voice of God.  Then, and only then, after I have listened to God, might I dare to speak.

How often have I put that cart before God’s horse?  How often have I gone looking for scripture to shore up my opinion and thoughts?  God is not really all that interested in my opinion, or how I think He ought to run things.  (No one else probably should be, either.)

Prayer:  Lord, let my words be few.  May anything I have to say be sifted and fall away like chaff, and let Your word be primary.  In the name of the One who is the Word and has been from the beginning.

June 4, 2010

Psalm 60

1 You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry-now restore us!  2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is shaking.  3 You have shown your people desperate times;  you have given us wine that makes us stagger.  4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner  to be unfurled against the bow.

June 2, 2010

Scripture: Romans 14:7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Observation: Some people say, “I am a rock.”  But even if that were true regarding people (and I doubt that it is), it is not true in regards to God.  He is the vine; we are the branches, dependent on Him for everything.  Still, almost everyone lives in community in some form.  Our decisions, actions, attitudes affect others.  This is especially true in the Church.

Application: I follow Jesus.  I am aware that every action, word, thought, choice, attitude is done before an audience of One.  “God, who knows the secrets of every heart…,” knows mine.  Every sin.  Every righteous thought or deed.  When I deny Him, He sees.  When I am faithful, He knows.  I walk through life a little like I drive, IF I am being followed by Law Enforcement—careful of what I do and say-except I do it for His sake.

Prayer: Lord, I want to live for You, not out of fear of retribution, but in a desire to please You. I want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray.

June 1, 2010

Scripture: Romans 13: 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Observation: Paul has written about our behavior – we are not to take part in immorality, drunkenness, dissension or jealousy.  The negative admonitions from Proverbs would apply well.  He then says, in essence, doff those sinful behaviors, and don Jesus.  This is not just putting on a “Jesus suit” (think “Edgar suit” from Men in Black), all the while filled with rottenness inside.  It is to be cleansed from the inside out.  This is not just to look like Him.  It is to become like Him.

Application:  This calls me to do more than “behave decently.”  That is a start.  But, I want to live so I love like Jesus loved.  I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to foment revolutions in hearts, in families, in cities, in government officials, in businesses.  I want the love of Jesus to overflow from me, and have anyone around me get their shoes wet with that love.

Prayer:  Lord, I can’t do that.  Only You can.  Make me love like Jesus loved.  Make me love with a life-changing love.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.