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October 4, 2012

 

Luke 17:15-16 (NLT)
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” [16] He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Observation:  10 were healed. 10 received their lives back. 10 were certainly excited. Were 9 of them Jews, with one lone Samaritan? Was he the lowest of the low? Among the dregs of society, was he the least of the caste members? Hard to know. But, only this man was truly grateful. Only this man recognized the source of his blessing, and acknowledged and thanked that One.
Application:  Am I one of them? Or, am I the one? 10 are blessed, but only one gives back thanks. Which one am I?
Prayer:  Lord, thank you. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for blessing me.  Thank you for calling and using me in your service.  May my thanks be more than lip service. May my life and actions and heart and attitude be the fruit of a grateful heart, deeply blessed and profoundly changed. Help me honor you with loyal friendship and faithful service, Lord, I pray.

October 2, 2012

 

Psalm 147:10-11 (NLT)
He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. [11] No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Observation:  We humans stand in awe of beauty and strength and money and power. God is delighted with those who are in awe of him, who trust in him, who love him. We chase after what glitters, or pleasures us, unaware (?) or uncaring of the damage it will do to our spirits.
Application:  I can look at the beauty, speed, strength, and majesty of an incredible like a horse, but miss the beauty, power, and majesty of God and his amazing love. I can be awestruck in the presence of a person of power by human stds, but nonchalant, or even flippant, in the presence of God. I can talk about yesterday’s Gators game in the sanctuary of Almighty God.
Prayer:  Lord, how often am I disrespectul of you? How often do I approach worship with my mind and heart on other things? Even in your sanctuary, I am so self-centered when I should be, need to be, centered on you. Why do I make it all about me when it is not about me? I want to be awed by you. I want to stand amazed in your presence. I want to fall on my knees in worship. But, I am so distracted, so scattered, so unfocused. Help me! Nudge me. Whisper to me. Get my attention. Help me fall on my knees before you on Sunday, and Tuesday, and Thursday, and….
In the strong and powerful name of Jesus.

October 1, 2012

 

Scripture: Luke 14:16-20 (NLT)
Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. [17] When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ [18] But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ [19] Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ [20] Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’

Observation:  The story seems to imply that these people have already said they would come to the party, but are now backing out. What would have been legit reasons to not come are now lies of convenience for motives known only to them.
Application:  I have said yes to Jesus’ party. But, how often do I back out, make excuses, lie for convenience to avoid the hard actions of discipleship? It is easier to sleep in than to rise early for prayer and study. It is easier to avoid dealing with messy conflict, so I don’t make the phone call or see the person to have the conversation. I FB first rather than read that chapter, write that letter, post that blog.
Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I have become way too good at putting you off, making excellent excuses (the skin of a reason wrapped around a lie), re-arranging the priorities on my to-do list. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to miss your party. Remind me just how wonderful, how life-giving, how beautiful the party is. Help me keep nothing of lesser importance from getting in the way (and it is ALL of lesser import) of time spent with you and your Kingdom’s cause. No more excuses. Just do it. Help me, in the strong and loving name of Jesus.
September 28, 2012
Scripture:  Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, [6] ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ [7] And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ [8] But I tell you this-though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

Observations:  I can’t read this and not come away with the sense that I am to “pray long.” If I just am obnoxious and annoying and demanding and never, ever quit, God will finally do what I want. Is that what this means? Prayer is simply annoying the hell out of God (so to speak)?
Application:  I suspect not. Prayer is more like exercise, where long-term action produces amazing results, while being a weekend warrior may be fun but sometimes painful. Eugene Peterson uses the phrase, “long obedience in the same direction.” Doing the right thing over and over and over again must produce positive results. So, prayer changes me, at the very least. Something about the knocking and asking and shameless persistence makes me more like Jesus.
     Yet, it also produces bread. God is the friend who answers and gives in response to our request for help. Why does he wait? Why do some answers take so long? Why do some answers (at least the ones I want) never come? In part, our world is broken by sin and some things will never work right until God finally makes all things new. At the same time, some things are shrouded in the mystery of God’s ultimate will. (see my post on The Will of God which I haven’t written yet, but will.  Soon.) while I can’t claim to be completely comfortable with that, I turn to see Jesus at the stern of the boat, even while it rocks in the violent storm, and I know that it is in Him that my trust lies.
Prayer:  Lord, I am not completely comfortable with what I see – my little boat rocking violently in the storm, while you lie asleep in the stern. But, I know that my trust lies in you. You, who stilled the storm before, will, I trust, do it again. Help me knock on your door when midnight comes. Help me knock long and hard, for I need Bread. In the name of Jesus I pray.

Duty

September 26, 2012

 

Luke 9:60 (NLT)
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Observation:  Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He is on his way to death. Could that be the reason these are all hesitant to immediately leave their lives, and follow him? Career, family, custom, manners all dictate to do what is right by the standards of the world. Jesus has a different standard, a divine standard, and it is not to be put off, not to be ignored, not to be fought against.
Application:  In a way, this is an issue of core values. Like SouthWest Airline’s focus on their anchor values, to the point of declaring “We will miss you” to a customer who doesn’t agree with them, Jesus calls me to put the proclamation of God’s kingdom above everything else. No moderate radical here. It is full on, all out, extreme commitment to the Cause and the Leader of the Cause. But, family and pride and status and comfort and laziness all creep in. Different ones at different times, but they sneak in and attach their tentacles to my soul, and begin to squeeze. And, once again, I need a Savior.
Prayer:  Lord, I need your reminder, your call, to radical commitment to you and your kingdom. I hear your voice saying “Seek first the Kingdom of God and then (and only then) all these things will be added to you.” But like the call of the Sirens, other voices lure me away, tempt me to my own destruction. I want to know you. I need to hear your voice so I don’t stray. Keep always before me that my duty is to preach your kingdom by word and deed, and to call others to do the same. Help me, I pray in Jesus’ loving and powerful name.

September 24, 2012

 

Luke 7:44-46 (NLT)
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. [46] You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

Observation:  The contrast between Simon and the anonymous woman is clear. Simon neglects Jesus, while she adores him. Simon doesn’t even show basic courtesy expected and demanded in that day, but she worships and attends Jesus. Simon won’t anoint Jesus’ head, but she anoints his feet. Simon’s disrespect, contempt, and attitude are overwhelming, while her love, gratitude, and reverence are beautiful.
Application:  Am I more like the Pharisee, or Perfume Lady? Do I sit in defiance, or kneel in reverence? Do I exude contempt or gratitude? Are my actions the consequences of judging or being forgiven? Am I the look-down-the-nose-guy with the Master’s Degree, or the once-upon-a-time drugged up guy at Emmaus who shouts his praise with enthusiasm, volume, and total disregard for what anyone else thinks?
Prayer:  Lord, when I am honest, I am a strange mix of both of these people who come to know you. I am not contemptuous of you in my heart, but my actions are not those of someone who has fully surrendered himself to you either. Perhaps I do not judge you. But neither am I as grateful and adoring as you deserve. Sometimes I am just distracted. Sometimes I am worried. Sometimes I am just self-centered. Help me to keep your love always before me. Help me to always remember the price you paid for love of me. I love you. Help me love you more. In the powerful and loving name of Jesus.

September 17, 2012

 

Revelation 22:10-11 (NLT)

“…the time is near. [11] Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”
Observation:  The closer history gets to the end of days, the more locked in we become to the patterns and behaviors we have cultivated in life. Nations, people groups, and religions will more and more act in ways consistent with the lives they have been living. Only repentance, regeneration, and the renewing and restraining influence of the Holy Spirit can change that.
Application:  Debbie and I have had this theory for years: whatever you are when you are younger, you will become more so as you get older. Cranky young adults get positively curmudgeonly as they age. Kind and loving young people become increasingly gracious. The habits and patterns I practice soon enough become so much a part of me that I become what they cause me to do. We are human beings, but we can be human doings who alter the course of our lives. What I do will change who I am.
Prayer:  Lord, I want to love you by obeying your commands until I love you in yourself. I want to live righteously so I might be holy as you are holy. Help me develop and practice those patterns and habits which make me more like Jesus. Help me to study, pray, praise, thank, give, edify, and fast, so I am who you desire me to be. In the strong and loving name of Jesus I pray.
Revelation 14:7 (NLT)
“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

Observation:  The angel goes throughout the earth proclaiming the Good News. In the midst of the battle, the question is who is in charge? Who will win the day? How will he rule?
The angel gives the answer regarding the way things are supposed to be, and will one day be, in God’s timing.
Applic:  Who do I fear, reverence, respect, adore? To whom do I give glory, honor, blessing, praise? Is it the one who judges? Is it the one who made heaven and earth? Sometimes. And at other times I am self-centered, lustful, greedy, doubting, fearful, lazy. In other words, I show myself loyal to the enemy of God by my sinful actions.
Prayer:  Lord, I want to want to be in awe of you. But, I too often do what I wish I would not do, and don’t do what I wish I did. I want to want to give you glory, but I don’t. Help me to be faithful to you and you alone. Help me to honor you in word and deed. Help me to be self-controlled. I give you my life this day. May I be Spirit-led. In the name of Jesus.
Revelation 12:7 (NLT)
Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.

Observation:  I think back from time to time to a comment made that this is not a playground, but a battleground. We fight not against flesh and blood, although there is quite enough of that, but against principalities and powers. There are powers in realms we cannot see, lthough the effects of their violence are clear…rage, dissension, sexual immorality, idolatry, greed, arrogance, selfishness, laziness, and more.
Application:  The army of God is at war. This means there will be attacks. The enemy will come after me to steal, kill, destroy. I am not exempt. What am I to do? First, trust in Jesus. Second, train my mind and spirit and body for battle. Scripture, prayer, godly counsel, a band of brothers. .
Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want to follow you. That will lead me into battle, just like Peter in the garden. But our weapons are not made of steel, but of spirit. Make me dangerous to the gates of hell. Make me a force to be reckoned with. I can’t do this. Only you can. Train me. Equip me. Teach me. Empower me. I ask it in the strong and loving name of Jesus.
August 27, 2012
Psalm 143:1-12 (NLT)
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
[2] Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you.
[3] My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
[4] I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.
[5] I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done. [6] I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude
[7] Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
[8] Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
[9] Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.
[10] Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
[11] For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
[12] In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.