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Archive for February, 2011

February 10, 2011

ScriptureWhile in Athens, (Paul) was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.  Acts 17:16

Observation:  Paul sees statue after statue of gods that are no gods lining the streets and plazas—reminders of a people who worship stone and wood.  His heart is greatly distressed that people are bowing before rock and wood—out of fear? Because of ignorance?  Or, is it hope against hope?  He just knows that there is a city full of people who are getting more and more lost by the day.

Application:  Our idols?  Sex, cars, gadgets, fun, money, looks, pleasure, youth.  We are addicted to pleasure and afraid of pain.  We will do anything to attain the first and avoid the latter.  And, the Church—are we greatly distressed?  Am I?  Is it more likely that we are largely uninterested?  Unobservant?  Even complacent?  How much do I care?  Do I pledge my life, my money, my energy to tear down idols, and tear veils in two?  The honest answer is “sort of.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, Paul was broken in heart by what he saw and what it meant—lost, hurting, broken people—a city full.  It is true here as it was then and there, but how many of us are broken by it?  How many of us care some?  At all?  Break my heart with what breaks Yours.  Make me about eternal things, not transient, temporal concerns.  And help Your church (1st! Church, our tribe, the churches of our area) to have hearts broken for lost people.

February 9, 2011

Scripture“In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment, the spirit left her.   Acts 16:18

Observation:   The slave girl, with a spirit (evil) which predicted the future, followed the 2 preachers around.  Paul could finally take it no more.  (Was he bothered by her presence?  Or, upset at her spiritual state? I can’t answer that.)  But, he commands the evil spirit to go.  It does.

Application:  Everywhere Paul and Silas go, they upset the order of things spiritually and the forces of darkness don’t like that—so there are riots.  Everywhere I go, on the other hand, there is tea and cookies.  Why don’t I claim the authority and power given the early Church?  Why do I not see people freed?  Healed?  Raised from the dead?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, how much of what You offer us are we leaving on the table, and just walking away from?  How often are we not tapping into the power You make available to us?

Change that in me, I ask.  I want everything You offer me.  I want everyone for whom I pray to be touched with Your grace and healed.  I want every bound child of God loosed from their shackles.  I want Your power to flow through our church, our community.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Heal.  Set free.  Bless.  Restore.

February 6, 2011

Scripture“I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”  Acts 13:22

Observation:  Before David ever becomes king, God describes him in this way. Why?  Twice, he spares Saul’s life (the current king).  So, David will obey the Lord (unlike Saul, who doesn’t obey all that he is told to do).  He is always gracious and honorable to God’s king.  David danced before the Lord with all his might when the ark is brought up to Jerusalem.

Application:  Am I honoring?  Am I loyal?  Am I obedient?  Am I sold out?  David is, at least, these things.  He is a man after God’s own heart.  While I am some of these things some of the time, and act in ways like these some of the time, I am nowhere near the man after God’s own heart that he was.

Prayer:  Lord, David is the gold standard by which all of history is weighed—until Jesus.  Help me learn from the example of King David (both positively and negatively) so I might better love and serve you.  I do not want to be a king—but to honor You as king.  I do not want to be a warrior—but to defend You as I am called to do.  I want to be a man after God’s own heart.  Do that, in me, I pray, in the name of Jesus.

February 4, 2011

ScriptureThe disciples were called Christians first at AntiochActs 11:26

Observation:  Before this, they were called followers of a sect named The Way; or, blasphemers; or troublemakers.  Later, it would be those who have “turned the world upside down.”

Application:  So, am I a Christian?  Yes.  But I hesitate to use that word in the world.  I follow Christ.  One friend calls himself a ‘Christ-chaser.’  Some have used ‘born again’ or even ‘Jesus Freak’ to differentiate between those who are nominal Christians and those who are more deeply committed.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want to be known as one who follows You wherever I go.  I don’t want to be pigeon-holed, or this be considered my ‘gig.’  I want it to be thought, and said, “This guys loves, and lives for, Jesus, follows Jesus, is committed to Jesus.  Help me to know what to say.  In the precious name of Jesus.

February 3, 2011

Scripture:  “Now send…to bring back…Peter.” (God said to Peter) “Do not hesitate to go with them.”  Acts 10:5, 20

Observation:  God does the spade work to put Peter where he can be most fruitful.  He sends an angel to tell Cornelius to bring Peter.  He gives Peter a vision, so he will go. The ‘crowd’ is waiting for Peter when he arrives.  All is arranged by God so those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness will be satisfied.

Application:  God sets divine appointments.  I didn’t miss a comment that was made last night.  My follow-up has the potential to change his life.  I got that one.  But, what appointments have I missed?  I need to be more aware of those moments and encounters with those who are open.  I need to be more bold in speaking the truth whenever an opportunity presents itself.

And so:

Whom can I bless today?

Whom can I encourage today?

Whom can I challenge today?

Whom can I coach today?

Prayer:  Abba, I want to spread Your word of grace and Your Kingdom everywhere I go.  Help me see every person in my path as one whom You have placed there—one I am to bless, encourage, challenge, coach.  Today, put me in the path of those I can help draw close to You.  In the precious name of Jesus.

February 1, 2011

ScriptureCome, make us gods….  Aaron answered them, “(Okay)….” He made the gold into an idol.  …He built an altar in front of the calf…. “I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”  Exodus 32:1, 2, 4, 5, 24

Observation:  Is there anyone more easily swayed than Aaron?  No refusal; no argument; no pleading; no fight. Just, “Okay, I’ll do it.”  Before the ink is dry on the paper (or, the shavings have been blown off the tablets), Aaron breaks the first 3 commands of God: (1) No other gods; (2) No idols; (3) Don’t misuse God’s name.  “We need gods,” they say and he responds with, “Okay.”  He casts a calf (and then lies about it).  And he calls it, ‘Lord.”

Application:  Contrast that to Peter and John, whose lives are on the line, but choose to obey God, even at great risk to themselves.  Am I like Aaron; or more like Peter and John? I confess I am closer to Aaron than I want to admit.  I am too easily swayed. So easily swayed.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, give me, I pray, insight and fortitude to resist evil; to be holy in heart and life.  I want my thoughts and motives, as well as my words and deeds to be consistent with the ways of Jesus.  I want nothing I do or have or desire to come between You and me.  You first.  Your Kingdom foremost.  Your will always.  Help me! I pray in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

January 29, 2011

ScriptureMoses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the 70 elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.  …they saw God, and they ate and drank.  Exodus 24:9

Observation:  God invites the leadership team to a retreat—with Him!  They ate and drank (Methodists, apparently. Who knew?), and saw God.  Only Moses will see God face to face.  But, all 70 see God, and eat and drink together as they do.   In a glimpse of the Messianic Banquet, they eat and drink in the presence of God long before the day comes when all creation will be invited to that feast.

Application:  This is a pale comparison to what we will one day experience.  Theirs was  brief; ours will be forever.  Theirs was on a mountain; ours will be in the Kingdom (restored, with a new heaven and a new earth).  God does not (it seems apparent) speak to them; we will hear and know His voice.

Prayer:  Lord, help me look forward to the day when I will see You, hear Your voice, eat and drink in Your presence, dance and sing and play.  I want to sing and play in Rock and Roll Heaven, ‘cuz it’s got to be “one (Heaven) of a band.”  Help me understand You more and more.  Give me glimpses of eternity with You—whether flashes of insight through this world, or the words of Scripture, or visions, or taking me to Heaven to see for myself. I want to be where I am—until the day You call me Home—and into Your arms.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.