Archive for August, 2010


August 27, 2010

ScriptureIt was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.  Jeremiah 52:3

Observation:  Israel (Judah) has forsaken God so many times that He has finally had enough.  There is no attempt on their part to change, no desire to repent, not even any longer an ability to blush.  But, is there not a point when God says, “Enough!?  I have warned you repeatedly.  Yet, you continue to want to get away with murder, and pervert justice, and follow gods that are no gods.  The end of softness and turning a blind eye has come.”  Is this tough love on God’s part?  Really, really tough?  Are they merely reaping the consequences of their own actions?  Forsake God, and the fabric of the nation rots.

Application:  I am far more comfortable with a God of grace than a God of wrath.  I want mercy and forgiveness and love.  I don’t want punishment and discipline and defeat.  But the Bible says that God disciplines the one He loves.  He says “No” to my sin, in order to mold me into the person He has created me to be.

Prayer:  Lord, I fear for our nation and Your church when I remember that You are just.  Must there not come a day of reckoning?  How long will You ignore the murder of children, the worshiping of false gods?   When will You bring us up short to rein in our evil ways and sinfulness?  Forgive us when we rebel.  Forgive me when I stray.  Show me Your mercy.  Teach me to do Your will.  In Jesus’ strong and loving name.

August 26, 2010

ScriptureThey have told the church about your love..  3 John 6

Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone.  3 John 12

…but Diotrephes…  3 John 9

Observation:  John mentions several people by name – Gaius and Demetrius with obvious praise for how they live out their faith, and Diotrephes is mentioned as one with ‘issues’ of gossiping maliciously.  Nearly 2,000 years later, their actions and lives of faith are remembered – 2 for the good they had done, and 1 for the ill.

Application:  What is my reputation like?  Every word spoken, act committed, kindness offered, unkindness done will add to the reputation I build.  If I walk as Jesus did, I build one kind of reputation.  If I stumble in the darkness, I build another.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want my reputation to be one that honors You and draws people to want to know, love, and serve You.  Help me never to miss a good opportunity to shut up; to speak a good word in season; to offer a cup of cold water or a plate of food in Your name; to be patient, not irritable; kind, not rude; humble, not arrogant.  Take captive every thought until my thoughts are Your thoughts.  And may every word I speak carry Your truth in love.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray.

August 25, 2010

ScriptureAnd this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.  …His command is that you walk in love.  2 John 6

Observation:  John’s theme is love.  “Love one another.”  “Live in love.”  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.”  “We love because he first loved us.”  He is not being very subtle.  This love of God requires something of all who have received it, for it is costly.  There is no cheap grace* here.

Application:  I love Jesus.  I don’t always do as well with His children (they are an unruly bunch at times!).  I am sometimes rude, sometimes self-seeking, sometimes easily angered (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5).  I don’t always protect, trust, hope, or persevere.  Yet, God’s call is to love Him with heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love my neighbor as I love myself.

Prayer:  I have a long way to go, O God of Love.  You loved me (and the world) so much that You sent Your only Son.  He loved me (us) so much that He chose the Cross over the status quo of sin, death, and despair.  I cannot thank You enough. Still, I thank You anyway.  I praise You and love You.  Help me to love as You have loved.  In the precious name of Jesus.

* Cheap grace is an English translation of a term Dietrich Bonhoeffer used.  He used it to remind the church that while God’s grace is free, it is not cheap.  It cost Christ everything.  And it demands us to follow Christ, even when the cost is high.  Grace is not God grading on the curve (“I may not be perfect, but at least I’m better than…”).  It is God offering us all of the abundance and richness of His love with the understanding that it means we are to be obedient to His Son.

August 24, 2010

ScriptureHe who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  1 John 5:12

Observation:  Jesus said in Luke’s biography, “I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”  He certainly means more than mere length of life here on earth.  And He isn’t talking about a life of ease and comfort.  He is pointing out that having a heart that is at peace with God; a sense of significance; an adventure to dare; a cause to win; and a band of brothers (and sisters).

Application:  I am not promised a life of ease and jet skis, nor wealth and status, nor fame.  Those are the world’s measuring sticks.  God’s measuring rods have to do with faithfulness, significance, treasures in Heaven (not gold), and the satisfaction of a job well done (good and faithful servant).  That is not a settled-for lifestyle, except in the eyes of the world.  As Jim Elliott wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Prayer:  Lord, I don’t want to be a fool.  I want You.  I want to serve You.  I want to do my part in the advance of Your kingdom.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  You freely offer life and salvation.  Thank You.  May I serve You with honor and courage.  In Jesus’ name.

I have to admit up front that I am a Bonhoeffer junkie.  I first read The Cost of Discipleship as a freshman in college, when I received it as a gift from some wonderful Christian friends.  As I came to know Bonhoeffer’s story, I fell in love with the man God created and used “for such a time as this.”

Eric Metaxas gives us the story of who Dietrich Bonhoeffer was, and how he got there, in this very readable and moving biography of a man who was one of the foremost theological opponents of National Socialism, as well as a martyr for the Cause of Christ.  Through the reflections of those who knew Bonhoeffer, as well as relevant quotes from the man himself, Metaxas paints a portrait of a man of great intellect, unyielding integrity, deep compassion, and a profound desire to follow Jesus Christ, no matter the cost.

Bonhoeffer studied in the very place where the ghost of the great liberal theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher still roamed, and under the renowned Adolf von Harnack.  Yet, it was the influence of a man he would later meet and come to know and love, Karl Barth, which had the greatest impact on Bonhoeffer’s theology, discipleship and practice of his faith.  Bonhoeffer came to reject the premise of liberal theology, convinced that God spoke to human beings, revealing Himself in the pages of scripture and devotional practice, to those who would take seriously the task of listening for God’s word.  In ways which are beyond human understanding, God speaks, fresh and alive, to those who would choose to listen.  That mystery informed the young theologian’s comprehension of God’s desire to work in human life, as much as God had chosen to work in the lives of those whose stories were told in the pages of Scripture.  The conviction that God still spoke and called people today, would lead Bonhoeffer to active resistance against the regime of Adolf Hitler, and to plan for a replacement government which would take over upon Hitler’s death.

August 21, 2010

ScriptureWhoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  1 John 2:6

Observation:  2 verses earlier, John writes that if you say “I know him” but don’t do as He commands, you are a liar.  It seems to me that many honestly try to live a life consistent with their faith in Jesus, but struggle, and fall short.  Are they living a lie?  Not in the strictest sense, I suppose, of intentionally deceiving.  But their lives don’t measure up to their ideals.

Application:  My life doesn’t measure up to my Ideal – Jesus the Christ.  I love Him and wan to follow Him.  But, sometimes I am afraid.  Sometimes, I am weak.  Sometimes, I am willful.  Sometimes, I am self-centered.  But, like Peter who denied Jesus (out of fear?), and who stepped out of the boat and onto the waves, then sank (self-centered?), Jesus is at work in me as He was in Peter.  There is mercy and there is power and there is guidance.

Prayer:  Lord, I want to walk as You walked – with purpose and courage and commitment and love.  I have so far to go.  By Your grace, I have come far.  Live in me.  Guide me.  Transform me.  Father, do you see Jesus in my eyes?  Does my wife?  Do my children?  Do other disciples?  Do strangers?  Shape me to walk as You walk, Lord; in Jesus’ name I pray.

August 18, 2010

ScriptureAnd with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:22

Observation:  I cannot read this and not picture Genesis, with God kneeling beside the still, lifeless form of the last and best of His creatures.  Something about this one is unique – special – marvelous.  This one is made in the image of God Himself.  While all the other creatures are alive, this one is living in some qualitatively different fashion.

Application:   Just like Adam, I am a living being.  Could it be that what died when Adam said ‘yes’ to the serpent and ‘no’ to God; that what was taken away when he was thrown out the gate of the garden, was resurrected and restored the moment Jesus does what He saw His Father do – breathe on them, and give them the breath of life, God’s Holy and life-giving Spirit?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, breathe on me once again (I leak).  Give me Your life-giving Spirit again.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

August 15, 2010

ScriptureLike clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.    Jeremiah 18:6

Observation:  When the clay is not right, or the shape has begun to lean, the potter can take that lump of clay and re-form it until it is once again just a lump, and start from scratch.  So, God says, will He do with Israel, who has become marred.

Application:   God can do the same with me.  Not my physical being (although 6’2” and 6-pack abs would be awesome!), but my soul.  Re-forming, re-molding, re-shaping me until I am made in the image of Jesus – a replica of His love and mercy and faithfulness.  When I sign on to follow Jesus, I renounce control over what I will be, what I want, where I will go, how I will serve.  I give Him the right to determine what kind of vessel I will be; where He will place me; how I may best serve.  He will not shape me into a Billy Graham, or a Bill Hybels, or an Andy Stanley, or a Rick Warren.  He will make me into His image – filtered through the lens of MiklColt.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, have Thine own way, Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still.

August 13, 2010

Scripture(The linen belt) was ruined and completely useless.  Jeremiah 13:7

(My Father) cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 15:2

Observation:  Israel had abandoned the Lord and gone whoring after other gods without shame, or even with the ability to blush.  And they had not done it once, but over and over again.  God would act.  Israel would be abandoned, left to the elements, until it was ruined and useless.  In a not totally dissimilar way, the Father will cut off branches that are fruitless.  If we are not seeking God, following Him, we make ourselves worthless for His purposes.

Application:   What happens when I (we) abandon the Lord for false gods and worthless idols?  When I (we) put any person or philosophy or party or plan above the God revealed in Jesus Christ, God will cease to bless (cf. Jeremiah 16:5); God will expose us to the consequences of our own, disastrous choices; God will arrive at the point of no more tolerance.

Prayer:  Almighty God, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Make my eyes clear to focus on You; keep my heart hungering for You, O Pearl of Great Price; may I always hear Your voice, know Your voice, and heed Your voice.  May I follow Jesus – heart, soul, mind and strength.  In His precious name.

August 12, 2010

ScriptureI know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for a man to direct his steps..   Jeremiah 10:23

Observation:  Jeremiah is a man under authority.  As such, he may have desires of his own, but all that he is, all that he has, belongs to God.  Part of the reason that he gets this is that he understands what it is to have a king, to be subject to one with great power.  Jesus, too, understood that.  He knew that He belonged to God, would one day go back to God, and at that time would account for how He spent His time, and what He had accomplished.  He, also, understood that He was a man under authority.

Application:   I am an American.  I have never had a king, and rejoice in that fact.  Therefore, I think I am independent.  I think I can do what I want.  Yet, even though I have been granted certain unalienable rights by God, all is superseded by God’s claim on my life.  My life is not my own.  Not understanding what it is to have a king makes it hard for me to ‘get’ what it is to be under authority.

Prayer:  Lord, if You are under authority, then certainly I am.  Or, at least I am supposed to be.  But, far more often I am in charge of my life.  I think I make my own decisions.  I believe I am independent.  Call me to serve in Your army.  Help me learn to be a man under authority.  May I do Your bidding, my King and my Captain.  In the strong and obedient name of Jesus.