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Archive for November, 2010

November 24, 2010

Scripture…it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.  Matthew 18:14

Observation:  Jesus’ math is illogical and counter-intuitive.  The greatest ROI is with the 99, not with the one.  But His heart, and His mission, are with the one.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  He goes to the mission field because He knows that those in the safe place are…safe.  But there is someone out there—alone and vulnerable—and that cannot be.

Application:  Jesus calls His church to be a safe place to gather the lone, vulnerable, broken and hurting “ones” of the world.  That means that we who have been saved already have been so in order to be shaped into the likeness of Jesus and sent in the love of Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, You search for the lonely, lost, least, and last.  You call me (and us) to do the same.  Break my heart with what breaks Yours.  Give me a heart for the “little ones” of the world.  In Your incredible name.

November 22, 2010

ScriptureFrom the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men (and women) take hold of it.  Matthew 11:12

Observation:  The Kingdom is not passive, but active.  It is not about sitting around waiting for the fish to jump in the boat.  It is about casting nets, and going after those they are to catch.  Jesus calls us to assault the gates of Hell; to push back the darkness; to conquer the forces of evil.

Application:  What are we doing that is invading Hell itself?  How are we forcefully taking Beelzebul by the horns and shoving him back into the hole where he belongs?  Where are we helping the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame dance, the captive breathe free, the sick visited, the hungry fed, and the thirsty sated?

Prayer:  Lord, I want to do Kingdom-things.  Now.  Not later.  I want people saying “Yes” to Jesus and no to drugs and alcohol and violence and oppression.  Help us be forceful, not timid, for You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of peace and love and self-discipline.

November 20, 2010

ScriptureYour heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.  Matthew 6:32-33

Observation:  birds don’t worry about tomorrow.  Ants are not preoccupied with stuff.  Beavers don’t seem to give a – well, you know – about housing.  But, humans fret—a lot—about a lot of the things that are allotted to us—or not.  Where will D & B be living in a few weeks?  When will we get our house?  Will we have enough for retirement?  I wonder if the Buick will make it another year.  And the list of people about whom we have great concern is long.

Application:  Do I really believe that God provides?  Really?  How does that show in my actions and attitudes?  Do I feel differently because of my belief?  Do I trust—or worry?  Have faith—or fret?  Am I convinced—or concerned?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You know my name, so You certainly know my needs.  You surely know our wants.  You know.  Help me…not be a pagan about it all.  I want to trust.  Show me solutions.  Offer me grace, I pray.  In Jesus’ name.

November 18, 2010

ScriptureBut I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

Observation:  The figure of Satan lying and Eve believing the lie is a reminder that we, too, can be persuaded to believe and do what we should not—at great cost.  To stray from the truth pulls us from Jesus, and the symptoms of that alienation are clear (2 Corinthians 12:20).

Application:  Is my devotion to Christ sincere and pure?  I don’t think I have exhibited behaviors like those Paul enumerates.  But, I know my devotion is not pure.  Is Christ first in my life?  Would I give up ease, food, family, home for Jesus?  What about salary and pension?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I am not cold toward You; neither am I blazing hot—does that, by definition, make me lukewarm?  I know Your response to ones who are like that.  I want to be fiery hot in heart and spirit—for You.  Come, Holy Spirit, and make my devotion to Jesus pure and sincere.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.

November 14, 2010

ScriptureBe on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.  1 Corinthians 16:13

Observation:  Being a Christ-follower is not an easy thing.  In fact, it is dangerous.  The evil one is prowling in order to devour.  In Corinth, it was more subtle.  The town was bustling and prosperous.  Many in the church had it made by a lot of standards.  But their belief system was screwed up.  And so were many of their lives.  In that arena, one must take a firm stand—for the battle is about to be on.

Application:  The evil one would devour me, too.  He would keep me majoring on minors, straining gnats and swallowing camels, attacking people, not problems.  And I must not be led astray.  Are we seeking the lost, syncing the newcomer, shaping disciples and sending out missionaries?  Are we equipping for the battle, or encouraging members who have privileges?

Prayer:  Lord—Master and Commander—I want to be in the thick of the fray, not on the margins of irrelevance.  I want to serve You, not sit and wait.  I want to contribute to the outcome, not cash it in.  Help me not get off-course, lost on the way to the battle, and then, like the soldiers in one parable who defend their position at all costs, only to discover they are shooting their own troops.  Help me be on guard.  Ground me firmly.  Make me courageous.  Make me strong.  May I do everything for the sake of love—Your love in Jesus, my Lord.  Amen.

November 13, 2010

ScriptureLove always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  1 Corinthians 13:7

Observation:  While the description of love which Paul writes applies to ALL love—including the love of husband and wife, parent and child—it especially applies to the love God wants to see within the Church.  God’s love always protects His church, and the Church protects its members.  The Church always trusts God and one another.  The Church always hopes in God.  The Church always perseveres in following, ministering, preaching.

Application:  Do I always protect God’s Church?  Do I always trust God and the Church?  Do I always place my hope in the God of the Church, revealed in Jesus Christ?  Do I always persevere for the sake of the Gospel and the ministry of the Church?

Prayer:  Lord, I would never claim that I always do these things.  Sometimes I do them really well.  But, I pray I will get better, more consistent, in loving Your Church; in being the servant You call me to be.  Help me love with Your love.  Help me love the Church as Jesus loves the Church.  May I protect always, trust always, hope always, persevere always.  In Jesus’ name.

November 11, 2010

ScriptureWhen I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  1 Corinthians 9:16

Observation:  Paul is clear that, like Jeremiah, there is a fire burning in his bones that cannot be quenched.  He must preach.  He has to deliver the good news of God in Jesus Christ.

Application:  I have what I can only assume must be the same feeling.  I love to preach!  I have to preach!  Not to preach feels like something inside is bursting to come out.

Prayer:  Lord, there is a fire burning in my bones to tell of You and Your great news!  I thank You for that.  May it set me on fire that people may come from miles around to watch me burn.  Fire me up!  Ignite the fire within me.

Breathe on me

Breath of God

Love and life that makes me free

Breathe on me

Breath of God

Fan the flame within me.

(Breathe on Me, Hillsong)

In Jesus’ name, I pray.

November 5, 2010

ScriptureAm I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

Observation:  Paul has people chewing on him to preach and live in a way different from the Gospel he understands and preaches.  Does he do what is popular?  Or, take the easy way out?  Or, remain obedient to the vision God has given him?

Application:  Who do we serve?  That is always the question.  People?  Friends?  Own self-interests?  Money?  Pleasure?  Or, in the words of Bill Bright, “am I a slave of Jesus Christ?”

I feel close to the will of God.  Yet, I know I don’t walk on water.  I seek Christ Jesus and His Holy Spirit to lead me (us); to keep me (us) focused; to live my (our) path.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me separate “Good job, Pastor,” from “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Make me not a people-pleaser, but a God-chaser.  May the farthest thing from my mind be to look good to other people, or to be puffed up in any way.  May I do my best for You and Your Kingdom.  May I accomplish the mission.

November 3, 2010

Scripture…wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told.  Mark 14:9

Observation:  Her name is irrelevant.  Her attitude and action are irreplaceable.  She has done what is foolhardy (in the eyes of some) to show her devotion (to the Lord of all).  She has done a precious thing—and, therefore, a memorable act.

Application:  Does my life—attitude as well as action—honor Jesus?  Do I bring Him glory?  When my deeds and thoughts are displayed on the screen of Eternity—will I sigh with satisfaction, or sob with shame?  The answer is, of course, some of both.  I am saint and sinner.  Simul justus et peccator.  And one day, the gold will remain and the dross will be disposed of.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want my life to honor You.  While it will never do so with the visibility and glory of this unnamed disciple, may it be enough.  May I love You with heart full to overflowing, and pour it all out for You.  In Jesus’ name.

November 2, 2010

ScriptureJesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:43-44

Observation: She is described only as a poor widow.  No name.  No details.  Also, no reserve.  No restraint.  She gave it all.  Contrast that with the Rich Young Man of chapter 10.  He had it all, and threw God away.  She had nothing, and traded it all for her relationship with God.

Application:  What can God do in the life of someone who gives it all?  It may be a little.  It may be a lot.  But, God, whose math is not new, but old, can take 2 coins and multiply them into a rich treasure whose impact still reverberates 2 millennia later.

Prayer:  Lord, I heard Matthew West sing The Motions even while reading this.  And the words resonated through my soul.  I offer them as my prayer.

I don’t wanna go through the motions,

I don’t wanna go one more day

Without Your all-consuming passion inside of me.

I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,

“What if I had given every thing

Instead of going through the motions?”

In Jesus’ name.