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Archive for January, 2011

January 28, 2011

ScriptureWhen they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, the were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Observation:  Peter and John were dealing with professionals. They had memorized the Law. They were bright, powerful, scheming “players.” They knew the book, but not the Author. Meanwhile, these 2 “illiterate idiots” had “been with Jesus.”

That’s all we got. It’s not about being language experts or book restorers or parroting the words. It is about being with Jesus—knowing Him, understanding His will for our lives (including the world), and following Him with adoration and obedience.

Application:  Jesus is all I have. I need to know Him better. I pray to hear Him more clearly. I serve to follow Him more closely. There is no one, and nothing else. I need wisdom, power, direction, if it is ever to be said of me that they were “astonished (because) I had been with Jesus.”

Prayer:  Lord, I want to be with You each and every day of my life. I want to know You, see You, hear You, understand You, love You, follow You. Make these times precious and powerful in shaping me to be like You. In Jesus’ name.

January 22, 2011

Scripture…a dispute arose…as to which of them was considered the greatest. ..the one who rules like the one who serves.  Luke 22:24, 26

Observation:  We watched a movie recently where everyone in the dance company is competing for the role of the Swan Queen.  The jealousy and pettiness were clear. I have seen some ministerial gatherings and heard comments that were not much better.  The comments were aimed at those with a larger church or a more-prestigious position.  People with egos want to be the best.

Application:  I am guilty, too.  What if I were offered a “flagship” church?  I think I could handle it.  Maybe.  Are the pastors there smarter? Maybe. Are they more godly? Perhaps. Are they more gifted? In some areas. Are they better equipped? For some tasks. Moses gave up being Pharaoh’s “son” in order to lead sheep, then people. Each was preparation for the next task, until he ended up where God wanted him. He was the set-up man for the closer, Joshua. Joshua fought the external battles; Moses fought the internal ones. Joshua overcame armies; Moses conquered egos. Joshua faced giants; Moses faced their fears. Each had his own gifts, his own time, his own calling, his own tasks. God wanted, and needed, both.

Prayer:  Lord, I have my own gifts, time, calling, tasks. Use me. Use me to Your fullest purpose. I pray this in Jesus’ name.

January 18, 2011

ScriptureFor everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 18:14

Observation:  One man prays, in essence, “I am sorry.”  The other one prays, They are so sorry.”  One’s attitude is humble; the other is arrogant.  One prays “don’t look at me,” while the other prays “Look at me!”  One looks up to God in hope; the other looks down on others in disgust.  One thinks, “I am unworthy.  Would you have me anyway?”  And the other thinks, “How fortunate for You that I am on Your side.”

Application:  How is my attitude before God?  Am I arrogant or humble?  What about toward other people?  Patronizing or compassionate?  When do I look down?  And, on whom do I look down?  When do I look up?  And, to whom do I look?  Who do I look at?  And who do I look through?  What do I do with praise and compliments?  I am grateful for appreciation.  But, more, I want God’s approbation (“Well done, good and faithful servant.”)

Prayer:  Lord, I think my attitude has been good (I hope so).  But, it can always use an adjustment.  I want to glorify You.  I want all to see You.  I want all to return to You.  Use me. Help me receive praise with proper gratitude. Help me know my place before You, and my posture before others. I pray in Jesus’ name.

January 14, 2011

ScriptureIf anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. .  Luke 14:26

Observation:  Large crowds surround Jesus.  Had it become more of a circus and less of a company of the committed?  “What’s in it for me?” was answered with “free food, miracles and healings, exciting times, and a tinge of rebellion against Roman oppression.”  Is it the hating of one’s life that makes one most likely to pursue a new life?  Like when one is sick and tired of being sick and tired, the individual finally pursues change?

Application:  How much hyperbole is there in Jesus’ words?  None?  Some?  A lot?  Is ‘putting Jesus first’ what He intended when He said ‘hate your life?’  Is ‘not satisfied with this life, this world,’ a ‘divine discontent,’ if you will, what Jesus is referring to?  Well, that’s my final answer.

Prayer:  Lord, I love You.  I truly love You.  But, I want to know You more, love You more, follow You more closely.  I don’t want to be content with a watered-down version of discipleship.  I want the real deal, the extreme version, full-on commitment to You and Your cause.

But, I’m not there.  I still want to please my wife.  I want to see my children happy and my grandchildren grow up.  I want nice things.  But, I want to want to please You more.  Help me, I pray.

January 13, 2011

ScriptureIf it (barren fig tree) bears fruit next year, fine.  If not, then cut it down.  Luke 13:9

Observation:  For three years, the fig tree produces no fruit.  It uses up nutrients that could be used by a fruitful tree, a bearing tree.  It uses up soil; it just takes up space.  The master is willing to cut his losses.  The worker is willing to give the tree one more chance.

Application:  Faithful and fruitful.  It is not enough to merely endure.  The tree had lasted three years against cold and heat, drought and blight.  But, fig trees are to produce figs.  And fishermen fish.  And disciples produce disciples.

Prayer:  Lord, help me bear fruit.  May the ministry You have given me see results—more and better Christians.  More missionaries and servants.  Some times we are to take stock.  At other times, we are to take steps.  Soon, it will be to take risks.  Bless us.  Bless Your church.  Make us fruitful.  In Jesus’ name.

January 11, 2011

ScriptureFor everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Luke 11:10

Observation:  Seek—find.  Knock—opened.  Ask—given.  That’s what Jesus says.  So why do some ask and NOT receive?  This doesn’t tell us who to ask, or how to ask, or what to ask for.  NO restrictions, no explanations.  What’s the truth?  What’s the secret?

Application:  I can explain this away.  But, I am still left with why could Peter pray and people be healed and set free?  I can’t do that (I think).  I end up like Job—never fully comprehending why things happen, but trusting that the Almighty has a plan and a purpose—even when I can’t see or understand it.

Prayer:  Lord, I want to be a man of God.  I want my prayer time to be both intimate and productive.  I want to know that You, O God, are strong and loving.  I want the world to be pain-free; and children to live to a ripe, old age; for there to be no mourning, or violence.  Yet, I know this world is fallen; and some things will never be right until that day comes when You make all things new.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Restore Your creation!  Heal Your creatures.  May I rest in Your arms of love – in prayer – so I may work with Your arms of power – in service.  In Jesus’ name.

January 8, 2011

ScriptureThey believe for awhile, but in the time of testing they fall away.  Luke 8:13

Observation:  There will be tests.  Ask Abraham as he and Isaac trudge up the mountain with fire and wood and knife and rope—but no lamb.  Ask Jesus as He hangs on a cross, feeling the weight of the world’s sin and the emptiness of separation from His father.  Ask Peter, or Paul, from their prison cells.  Ask Wesley, Bonhoeffer, Luther….

Application:  I have been through times of testing.  Things were said, hatred given, threats issued, words spat.  There may be more to come, part of life—illness, deaths, trials, struggles.  I have tried to be faithful…though I cannot claim anything nearing perfection, by any stretch.  I have pressed on.  I pray that I will always press on.

Prayer:  Lord there are pressing matters in my life, and while some have experienced even more pressing matters, I have sought to be faithful in times of testing.  That is what you call us all to do.  I have not quit.  Keep me faithful.  Keep me obedient in the same direction.

January 7, 2011

ScriptureThis man deserves to have you do this.  Luke 7:4, 6, 37

Observation:  The Jews think the centurion deserves for Jesus to heal his servant.  He loves Israel.  He thinks (or at least says) differently.  “I am unworthy.”  Contrast the woman at the Pharisee’s.  A sinful woman.  A shady past.  Uninvited.  Unwanted.  Undeserving.  No one believes she deserves anything from Jesus—except Jesus.

Application:  Grace rains on the just and the unjust; the deserving and the undeserving.  The good man gets his request granted.  The bad woman gets more than she could have ever hoped for, or even imagined.  “While we were yet sinners….”

Jesus came to me—not when I was lovely, or holy, or worthy.  I was, in fact, decidedly un-holy, un-lovely, un-worthy.  He who touched the dead in the casket, and dead men walking (lepers), and those with dead eyes, and dead legs, and dead-beats—touched my dead soul and gave me life—and I became un-dead!

Prayer:  Lord of life, how can I ever thank You enough?  I once was dead….  But, You came to me, reached out to me, and touched me, and loved me back to life.  Thank You!  Those words are so inadequate!  But, thank You.  I love You, and I am grateful.  Amen.

January 5, 2011

ScriptureBecause you say so, I will let down the nets.

…from now on, you will catch men.  Luke 5:5, 10

Observation:  Peter trusts Jesus, and so he obeys.  “I’ll do what You tell me to do, even though I don’t understand, even though it goes against what I have believed to be true.”  He learns that Jesus can be trusted; Jesus is to be followed; Jesus is to be obeyed.  Peter lets down the nets when the fish are in the water, and not in the boat.

Application:  I am called to fish.  The Church is called to fish.  Problem is: we spend more time talking about fishing, cleaning our nets, watching videos on fishing, meditating on the beauty of the lake, or groaning about how dirty fish are these days, or complaining about how too many more fish will keep me from getting my fair share of bait.  Jesus says, Go to where the fish are.  Let down those nets—until the nets are full.

Prayer:  Lord, put me where the fish are.  Keep me letting down nets—until the nets are full.  Keep me swimming with fish—until the nets are full.  Keep me mending nets, casting nets, hauling nets—until the nets are full.

January 3, 2011

ScriptureNoah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.  Genesis 6:9

Observation:  Noah.  Simeon.  Anna.  2 men and a woman of God.  Heroes of the faith who stand out in a world of people whose every inclination of the heart is only evil all the time.  3 shining stars, whose lives point to what God can and will do in the hearts and lives of those who seek Him.

Application:  In a world of famous people, known for their licentious lives, Noah, Simeon, and Anna shine bright as those who took a different (better) way.  I want to be like them—righteous, blameless, holy, devout, worshiping, fasting, praying.

Prayer:  Lord, I can’t do this, except with You.  I, too, am a sinner, were it not for Your grace.  But, my heart’s desire is to be holy in heart and life; and to seek and to save the lost.  Place in me the power You placed in Noah, Simeon, and Anna, I pray.  I would honor You, follow You, worship You, with all my heart.  In Jesus’ name.