Sunday, May 09, 2010

Do Not Worry – Matthew 6:31-33

Matthew 6:31-33“So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink” or “What shall we wear”. For unbelievers chase after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Thesaurus Fun:
Worry – be anxious, troubled, uneasy, full of fear and anxiety, to lose sleep
Seek – look for, search for, request, take, obtain

Trust God

The world is full of worry. The poor worry about their next meal, the middle class worry about their bills, the rich worry about their stocks and companies. Everyone worries about money – “I need to get more money, everyone’s trying to get my money.” We think that money is the answer to everything – that it’ll buy us pleasures and happiness and stave off disaster. But it has never yet lived up to our expectations. Having more money has never eliminated worry, it only changes it. The only way to live free of worry is to learn to trust God. Anything else we put our confidence in will fail us – only God never fails. If we belong to Him, if we are His children, can we doubt that He will take care of us? Will a father not provide for the child he loves (Matthew 7:11)? He knows better than we do what we need. He made our bodies. He “knit (you) together in (your) mother’s womb.( Psalm 139:13)”. As long as you are here, He will give you everything you need. He has always come through for His people.

God wants us to be free from worry for many reasons. First, He wants us to live every day fully relying on and trusting in Him. When we do this, we highlight God’s faithfulness, His power and sovereignty, and His tender love for us. When we depend on Him, He is able to prove Himself strong on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9 - KJV). Second, when we are free of worry we are able to focus our lives on the only thing that matters – seeking and building God’s kingdom on this earth, first in ourselves and then in others. When our single passion and focus is God’s glory in us and in the world, how will He not take care of us? If all our desires are focused on Him, how will He not fulfill them (Psalm 37:4)? If His kingdom is our reason in all we do, how will He not give us everything that we need? (2 Corinthians 9:8) We know that, “God will supply all (our) needs according to His glorious riches. (Philippians 4:19)”. It’s time we lived like it. The first step, if you’ve never taken it, is to tithe and give. It is not an option if you want God’s blessing in your life. It is the only way to prove that you trust Him to take care of you. Then, determine to live every day for God’s glory, asking for His help by His Spirit who lives in you. Study His Word that you may know His will and draw near to Him in prayer. Then watch your life change.

Point to Ponder

Do you tend to struggle with worry? What things do you worry about most? Have you committed them to God’s care? Once you have committed a worry to God’s care, reject those thoughts of worry that try to come back but instead turn your eyes to God and say, “I trust You to take care of ___.” If the opportunity arises, place yourself in a position where you must rely on Him. Remember that “God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine… (Ephesians 3:20)”.

Let’s pray, “Lord God, our maker and redeemer, we know that You watch over us and take care of us like a shepherd tends his sheep. We are so grateful that You did not abandon us on this earth to try to provide for ourselves but You have promised to clothe us (Luke 12:28) and feed us (Luke 12:24) and carry us on Your shoulders (Luke 15:5). Help us, O Lord, to trust You in everything, to live in dependence on You that You might show Your faithfulness and love. Let us turn all our thoughts and all our hearts to You. May we pursue You and Your kingdom with a single-minded purpose and passion. May You ever be the driving force of our lives. May we glory in You alone and live for You alone in the power of Your Spirit alone. Thank You for Your Word through which You have set forth many and great promises, and shown us who You are. To You, our God, be all glory and honor and power and praise throughout all generations and forever. Amen!”

See these songs: I Will Trust in You, I’m Letting go / Lord, Take it all

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Called by Name - Isaiah 43:1&5-7

Isaiah 43:1&5-7 - “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name – you are Mine. Do not be afraid, for I am with you… I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by My name, whom I made for My glory, whom I formed and made.”

Thesaurus Fun:
Call – summon, invite, beckon, cry out to / label, identify, baptize
Made – created, shaped, prepared, completed

Called by Name

God calls to His own by name, and He calls us His. He says, “I know my sheep and they know Me. My sheep know My voice. I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never die… No one can take them away from Me.” (John 10:14-15&27:29). It is an awesome thing to belong to God in this way! Since God has redeemed us and called us to Himself, there is nothing that we should fear, neither on this earth nor under the earth. For “God is my helper, why should I be afraid? What can a mere mortal do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6). “Do not fear the one who can kill the body, but afterward do nothing else to you, but fear God…” (Matthew 10:28). “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33-34). “There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39-39). We don’t ever need to fear the future, either in this life or the next. For in this life, nothing happens except God allows it and if He allows it, then He will bring good out of it as He has promised (Romans 8:218). And for the next life we have His promise of a home with Him in heaven if we belong to Him, if indeed we are His redeemed. He calls to Himself all who are His, no matter where they are, when they are, or who they are.

He calls us by His Name. He invites us into relationship with Him through His name as “God my Savior” and when we are His we are called, labeled, and identified by His name as those He has saved, as those who are His. He made us with His own hands and created us exactly as He wants us to be for His glory. You are not the result of random chance. You are not the product of your parents or your environment. These things may have been used by God, but He is the One who shapes you according to His design. Scripture says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalms 139:14-16).

Point to Ponder
What fears are you living with? Are you willing to place them in God’s hands?

May all His children pray, “Oh, Lord our God, thank You for making us Yours - for redeeming us by the death of Your Son on the cross. We are amazed at the way You love us and that You would call each of us by name. Help us to never be anxious or afraid, for you have called us to Yourself and nothing can keep us away. No matter where we have been, You draw us to You from the ends of the earth by the power of Your name. Lord, help us to be the people You have made us to be that we would shine for Your glory just as You have made us to. You are amazing, God, and we are humbled by Your mercy. To You be all glory in heaven and on earth, forever and ever more. Amen.”

See these songs: Call to Me, I Tremble at Your Voice

Be Still – Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10“Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be exalted in all the world.”

Thesaurus Fun:
Still – at rest, tranquil, quiet, calm
Know – recognize, realize, be aware, grasp, experience, remember

Be Still

Stillness in an important spiritual discipline that is practiced too little these days. Along with stillness is the discipline of silence, and these two go hand in hand. In our society, we have become obsessed with doing. We fill our lives with activity and noise so that it has become uncomfortable to be still (or worse, to sit in silence). But silence and stillness are still the best ways to hear God’s voice and to know His heart and will. How can you hear Him if you are always surrounded by noise? How will you find Him if you are always chasing after other things? To be still is to cease striving. This means not only resting from the mad dash we call life, but it also means that we are to still our heart and our mind which can be so often busy with worry. This is why God also says, “…and know that I am God.” In the midst of all your worry and anxiety, all your striving and stressing, stop everything and remember that He is God “in all the world” and He has everything in control. Scripture also says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.” (Psalm 37:7). Sometimes the things we think we need to do are really something that God has to do and we must learn to wait for Him to act.

Despite all the things that you think you need to do, (so many of them seeming so urgent) there is one thing more important than them all – spending time being still in God’s presence. Remember the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to visit. Martha was busy in the kitchen but Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complained to Jesus about this He said, “Dear Martha, you concern yourself with so many things but there is one thing that is really important. Mary has chosen it and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42). This does not mean that the things you do don’t need doing, but it does mean that it is not the most important thing you could be doing. When you slow down long enough to take time to focus on God, everything else comes into proper perspective and you will find at the end of the day that what really needed to be done has been done. So honor God by placing Him first in everything including your time and so let God be exalted in your world. Find God’s rest in stillness and silence and there find peace.

Point to Ponder

Are you more like Mary or Martha? Do you spend so much time doing stuff for God and others that you forget to simply be still in God’s presence? Think about everything you have to do today (or tomorrow) and find time (5-15 min.) that you can spend alone in silence waiting on God. Ask Him to just let you feel His presence and to guide you in the rest of your day.

We pray, “Our Father, we thank You for Your word, for it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), it guides our way. Lord, we are so glad that You are the sovereign God in control of everything so that we never need to be afraid of anything but we can rest in Your plan and in Your hands. God, You know how much we rush around every day – all the things that we try to get done. Help us to learn to be still. Help us to rest in You trusting in Your mighty power to accomplish what concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Show us when it is best for us to simply wait on You. Above all, may our lives honor You. May we remember that You are our God and we are the people You take care of, the sheep that You tend (Psalm 95:7). Thank You that You hear us and that You are near to us. Jesus, in the power of Your name we pray. Amen.”

See these songs: Standing Still for You, I Miss You*

Offer Yourself to God – Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you in light of God’s mercy to offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – for this is genuine worship.”

Thesaurus Fun:
Offer – give, present, submit
Worship – adoration, love, reverence, respect, devotion

Be a Living Sacrifice

God has done so much for us. He has removed our sin far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), He has given us a new heart of flesh and blood (Ezekiel 11:19 ), He has given us a new nature (Colossians 3:10), and thereby made us a new creation altogether - in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). He has restored us into a relationship with Him and has given us genuine and lasting life by giving us Himself. How can we respond to such love and mercy and grace? By offering ourselves back to Him – completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly; to be as Scripture says, “a living sacrifice.” Let’s look at two kinds of sacrifice in the old testament. First, there was the sacrifice for sin, which was to be a bull, goat, or lamb with nothing wrong with it (Leviticus 4). It had to be perfect. This sacrifice is representative of Jesus who is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was the only possible sacrifice to truly cleanse us of our sins. We cannot offer ourselves for this, but we must depend entirely on Jesus Christ to cleanse us and make us acceptable to God.

The other kind of sacrifice presented was a fellowship offering. This offering was firstly an animal of the same sort as the sacrifice for sin, but added to it was an offering of leavened and unleavened (without yeast) bread mixed with olive oil (which represents anointing for service and dedication). Throughout Scripture, God’s people are often referred to as wheat or some other grain (Matthew 13:24-30&36-43, Luke 3:17). Jesus is “the bread of Life” (John 6:35&48), so this could represent that we come to God in fellowship through Christ’s sacrifice (as the lamb) and by offering ourselves (the grain or wheat) in and through Christ (the bread). Therefore, we are to offer ourselves in fellowship and service to God out of thanksgiving and as the most genuine kind of worship possible.

These days, we tend to think of worship as certain kinds of songs we sing and certain emotions that we might feel. These things have their place, but if they are not accompanied by true submission to God and an offering of the entire person to be used in God’s service and for His glory, then any other supposed “worship” is empty and therefore is not holy or pleasing to God. As Scripture says, “These people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me. (Isaiah 29:13)”. We must offer ourselves to God out of love and devotion toward God because of His love and mercy toward us. We are to offer ourselves to God out of reverence and respect for God because He is the One true God, almighty and sovereign. In view of these things, how can we do other than give ourselves entirely to God? Any time someone serves or follows God any less than whole heartedly, it is because they do not see God rightly. He deserves all that we can give because of what He does for us (in salvation and other daily mercies, and in the sufficiency of His grace in so many ways that we may not even be aware of) and because of who He is (a God of love and grace, mercy and kindness, justice and power, holy and clothed with majesty and glory.).

Point to Ponder

How much of yourself do you offer to God on a daily basis for His service and glory? Do you realize that you can (and should) be doing this with every part of your life and not simply the “religious” parts? As Scripture says, “do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)”. Are you ready to offer more or even all of your life to God to be used by Him every minute of every day? If not, do you think that it might be that you lack a clear and true vision of who God is and what He does for His children?
Try reading these passages: Romans 5:8, Matthew 1:21, Colossians 1:14, Genesis 1:1&14:2, Isaiah. 4:5, Deuteronomy 7:8

May we pray, “God, our heavenly Father, thank You for Your love, mercy, and grace that You show us. Lord, help us to remember, keep in mind, and see clearly all that You do for us, through us, and in us. Reveal to us Your holiness, glory, and power that we would be in awe of You. As You reveal Yourself to us, move our hearts with worship, adoration, devotion, and reverence. Help us see how right and good it is to offer all of ourselves and our lives to You. Help us to completely surrender to You, holding nothing back. Help us to live only for You and Your glory every day even if we don’t see it at the time. May this be our constant prayer: ‘God, live though me for Your glory every moment of every day for the rest of my life.’. Thus, may everything we do be an act of worship that is holy and pleasing to You. We thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have been reconciled to You (2 Cor. 5:18) – having been cleansed from our sins and having received a new nature – and by whom we now enter into fellowship with You by His sacrifice and by offering ourselves as a sacrifice that lives and yet is fully consecrated and devoted to You. Thank You for being who You are. To You be all glory and honor, dominion and power, now and forever! Amen.”

See these songs: Creator Redeemer, An Offering to You

Live by the Spirit not Human Effort – Galatians 3:3

Galatians 3:3 – “How ridiculous is this?! After starting your Christian lives in and by the Holy Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

Thesaurus Fun:
Effort – exertion, struggle, striving, force, sweat, labor, work, attempt
Ridiculous – ludicrous, absurd, silly, unreasonable, outrageous, foolish, stupid

Live by the Spirit

We all fall into this error at one time or another in some way or other. It may not be as obvious as those believers here addressed who were trying to add the works of the law to their salvation, but we still try to do some things on our own (without God). We start out following the leading of God’s Spirit be it in prayer, study, or any of the disciplines and also in witnessing and positions of leadership. God calls us to something and we begin knowing that we must rely on Him to guide us and to strengthen us for we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). But somewhere along the way, what was new and uncertain becomes routine and we begin to think that we can do it on our own. No longer do we rely on God or ask for His help, we begin to rely on human strength and human wisdom to accomplish what we have been called to. Then sooner or later, our strength runs out and all the human wisdom of the world fails us and we are left disappointed. We find ourselves exerting all our effort and getting nowhere except backwards. So why do we start to rely on our own strength like this knowing that it must be done in His? Perhaps it is that we know that God is unpredictable. He usually leads us out on a limb or tells us to simply wait, and in general we don’t like either option. So we make our own plans and ask God to bless them, no longer genuinely seeking direction from Him. Perhaps, deep down inside us, we want to feel like it is our accomplishment if we succeed (of course if we don’t, then it’s “God’s fault”). There is a certain level of pride living in all of us and once we have traveled a while down the path of God’s calling, we begin to think that we know what’s coming next and we let go of God’s hand saying in effect “I got this” so that we can be doing something “for” God instead of “with” God.

We can recognize this attitude by asking ourselves, “If this works out, who gets the glory? Me or God?” or we could ask, “Am I doing any of this by faith? Or is it by sight?” (2nd Cor. 5:7). If you are exhausting yourself, as you think, in “God’s service”, more than likely, you are trying to do it in your own strength which will never be enough. Think for a moment about what that little word “effort” really means - exertion, struggle, force, labor, sweat, - no wonder you wind up exhausted! It is this that the writer here calls “ridiculous” - absurd, silly, stupid! Why? Because all that effort – all that striving – is not only unnecessary but it is counterproductive! It won’t get you where you want to go and keeps you from what will. “How ridiculous is this?!”

The first step in getting back on track is learning how to wait on God. Scripture says, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31). Waiting is difficult for most of us these days. There is very little patience in modern society, waiting always feels like a waste of time. But time is exactly the point; that is, it’s all about timing. When it comes to doing things God’s way, timing is everything and, of course, God is always busy in the meantime, shaping us and bring things into line. So wait on God, linger in His presence, and let His love fill you with peace and joy and strength.

The second step is to remind yourself that God knows what He’s doing and the best way to do it and has the best ends in mind even if nothing makes sense at the time. Therefore, remembering this, genuinely and consistently seek God’s will in everything you do and then do it, even if it flies in the face of all supposed “human wisdom”.

The last and most important step is this: ask for God’s help. Ask Him to help you learn how to wait on Him. Ask Him to help you truly want His will in your life and to help you follow Him. Ask Him for patience and courage and strength. Ask God for His wisdom and discernment, that you might see when you begin to rely on your own strength again. You can be sure that God will gladly answer such prayers. As Scripture says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to everyone without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5).

Point to Ponder: Can you see any area of your life where you have been doing God's work in your own strength? How is that working for you?

And so we pray, “Sovereign God; our fortress, our rock, and our strength – thank You that we can come to You for all our needs. Thank You for drawing us to You and for putting a call on our life to use us in this world. Lord, You know the society we live in where independence and competence are exalted virtues and pride in one’s own accomplishments is encouraged. But God, we know that our ways are not Your ways nor are our thoughts Your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Therefore, search us and know us, O God, reveal to us the wrong way in which we live and lead us in the right way (Psalm 139:23-24 ). Lord, we confess to You right now that we have tried to do things on our own (whether completely independent of Your will or in trying to follow Your will and call in our life). Help us to set aside human effort and human wisdom, and help us to seek to know and to follow Your will and direction only. Lord, give us patience to wait on You, courage to obey You, and wisdom to know the difference between Your directions and our own ideas. Help us throughout the rest of our lives to recognize when we have begun to rely on our own strength and help us to turn to You again. May we remember that everything is for Your glory and so may we live with that end in sight. We thank You that You hear us and answer us. Our Jesus, may Your name be praised in all the earth! Amen.”

See these songs: I Give Up, I Will Rest (I Come to You), Let it Pour Out

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Delight in God - Psalm 37:4-5

Psalm 37:4-5 NLT -Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit everything to the Lord. Trust Him and He will take care of you.”

To take delight in the Lord is to know Him and to enjoy His presence. This also indicates a life of obedience. When we know and obey God and find joy in His presence, then God will fulfill the desires in our hearts because they will be His desires. When we draw close to God, His desires become our own and He will work in our lives to see those desires accomplished. If we will surrender ourselves and everything we have to God and deny the temptation to try to control everything and trust in Him, we will see that He will take care of us as He, “Causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and have been called by Him. (Romans 8:28)” Our worries, fears, and anxieties are the evidence of a lack of trust in God – either in His power and control, or His goodness and love. When these kinds of doubt begin to come upon you, turn in your heart to God and say to Him, “I trust You. Help me to trust You more.” God deserves to be trusted for He is “the faithful God, keeping His promise of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him. (Deuteronomy 7:9)” and you can trust Him for He is the Lord almighty, sovereign and wise.

To delight in God also implies a personal relationship. We must pursue God for He has pursued us as scripture says, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8)” Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) – and that means us. Not only did He die to save us and display His love for us, but He pursues a relationship with us every day. The psalmist says, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ My heart cries out, ‘Lord, I am coming.’(Psalm 27:8)” Scripture also says, “He has ordained every part of our lives. Where we would live and when we would be born so that we might look for Him, though He is not far from every one of us.( Acts 17:26-27)” May we never forget that He not only calls us “sheep” and “servants”, but also “child”, “friend”, “bride”, and “beloved”. Are we then surprised that He says things like, “you must worship nothing else for God…is passionate about His relationship with you.”(Exodus 34:14 NLT)? Or that the first commandment given and the one that Jesus indicates as most important is this; that we would, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).” If we would truly do this, oh! How it would change everything! Obedience would be a joy and not a burden, prayer would be an amazing privilege and the constant occupation of our hearts, and we would come to Scripture with hunger and passion that we might know and love God better. Then the love, joy, and passion that then marked our lives would make those around us ask, “What do you have, and how can I get it?”. God calls each of us out of our “paddling pool” of religion and into the vast ocean of a love relationship with Him. We know that such a thing is not predictable or safe, but wild and free. In order to have the courage to pursue this kind of love, we must ask the object of that love for His help. Who can doubt that He will answer such a request? The first step in knowing and loving God better is to ask Him to set to work in out hearts and lives.

May this be our constant prayer: “Lord God, help me to trust in You. Take my doubts, fears, and anxieties and remind me that You take care of me. Nothing ever surprises You for in Your sovereignty You know everything and have everything all planned out for my good and to Your glory. Light a flame of passion in my heart for You. Teach me how to purse You and give me the courage to chase after You, even though You are ever pursuing me. Help me to know You and help me to love You. These things can be hard for me to do and understand, but I know that You are always at work in my heart and You desire this for me. Tune my heart to Your desires, that I may ask of You with confidence knowing that You will answer the prayers that You have placed in my heart for me to pray. When the shadows of doubt fall over my heart, remind me of Your word and Your unfailing love. Whisper to me. Help me to hear You. May You be more than first but also the single passion of my existence. You alone are worthy of all that is in my heart. Help me to love You as You desire and deserve – with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. For the sake of Your name and to Your glory I pray. Amen.”

See the songs; All I’m Asking For, Rest in My Arms, Overwhelm Me, Until I Burn

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

#61 The Jealous Love of God – Exodus 34:14

Exodus 34:14 NLT“You must worship on other gods, for the Lord, Whose very name is jealous, is a God Who is passionate about His relationship with you.”

Journal Entry # 61

We tend to think of jealousy as a bad thing, but there is one instance where jealousy is right and even expected. When a couple marries, they promise all of a certain kind of affection exclusively to each other. If one partner gives any of that of affection to another, the faithful spouse is rightfully jealous of that affection. If the faithful spouse did not react with jealousy, then we would question that person’s love for the wayward spouse. It should not surprise us then that God is jealous over us – unwilling to share our hearts with anything else. This does not mean that we have no affection for anything else, however, it does mean that certain kinds of affections (ex. worship, adoration, and the deepest love in our hearts) must be for Him alone. There are many reasons why it is right and good for God to be jealous for us like this. First, God is the one who created us and we are all created through Him and to Him (Romans 11:36) and for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). Therefore, as His special creations, God has the right to be jealous of our worship, for it is rightfully His as our creator God.

Secondly, as Christians, we are now doubly His – not only as His creations but now also as those who have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-20, 1 Corinthians 6:20) and we are no longer our own (1 Corinthians 6:19). In becoming His in this way, we see that God is not only worthy of our worship, but also our praise, adoration, love, trust, and obedience. He deserves to have first place in all these things and He passionately desires to be first – not simply because He deserves it, but also because He loves us so very much. His love is limitless and it demands to be returned as well as we are able. Which one of us has not experienced the pain of love given and not returned – whether that person was a friend, a parent, a relative – whether platonic or romantic in nature – we’ve all been hurt by someone we loved who never really loved us back or even turned on us. Yet how often do we do this to God? Too often we take His grace and profess our love, but our actions say otherwise (Isaiah 29:13, Ezekiel 14:2-3). We spend more time doing other things than being with and getting to know the One who loves us and longs jealously for us more than we can imagine. Anything we might say like, “I just have too much to do.” we know is only an excuse. It shows where our priorities really lie, and whatever we have placed at the top of our list is clearly what we love and worship over God. Don’t you know how jealous you have made Him?

All you who claim to love and worship the Lord – the only true God – come now and pray, “Our merciful God, we come before You in repentance. We see that we have not loved You as we should and not near what You deserve. Help us now to truly love You with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Mark 12:30). May we requite Your love with all that is in us. We desire right now to make You the center of our lives – to desire You over everything. Lord, may You be our one great love and the passion of our souls. Be first in our lives, having the first of everything – our love, our time, our resources. Lord, You are worthy of all our love, praise, adoration, worship, affection, trust, and obedience – may we give to You everything that You deserve. Oh God, we are so amazed at the depth of Your love for us – it is far greater than we can imagine for You pursued us when we were worse than strangers to You (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21). You breathed life into us when we were dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1&5, Colossians 2:13). Lord, help us every day to surrender our selves completely to You. May we desire to be Your just as You desire for us to be Yours. Lord, may all Your desires become our desires. Unite our hearts to Yours. We pray these things in the name of Jesus – He who displayed Your love for all the world to see – and for the sake of Your name and the precious blood of the Lamb which purchased us as Your own forever. Set our hearts on fire for You. Amen."

See the songs Unrequited, Your Alone/Entirely to You, Every Day of Forever, and Forever Isn’t Long Enough.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

#60 Come, Lord Jesus! - Revelation 22:3-4&20

Revelation 22:3-4&20 NIV - 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!!

Journal Entry # 60

We cannot imagine what it will be like to live and enjoy God’s creation without the curse of the fall. No longer must we work hard for food, no longer will we labor in vain. We will never again return to dust, we will no longer suffer in pain (Genesis 3:14-19). The reversal of the curse has already been stated in Revelation 21:4 with the list, “there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain for the old order of things is gone.” Not only will there be no more curse, but God Himself will be with us in a way that He might not have been even when God first made Adam and Eve. We are now “engaged” – unbreakably pledged – to Him, and one day we will be “married” to Him. In the same way that married is far more intimate and constant than even being engaged, so one day He will be with us in a way that is far more intimate and constant than ever before. We will see His face, which will be more than simply the physical face of Jesus, but we will also behold all the glory of God. We will clearly be His, with His “mark” upon us. For His name “written” on us – on our hearts, souls, and lives – is His seal of ownership. He has claimed us as His. And all this will happen soon for, “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here.” (Romans 13:11-12). The Lord says to us, “I am coming soon.” And though these words were written long ago, we must not lose heart for our salvation draws near. Do not doubt His promise for our God is the faithful God keeping His covenant of love to thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9). So as we wait with expectant hearts, let us be about doing the work of the Lord. This does not just mean the obvious “spiritual” activities available but we must learn to “do everything to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)and to do all our work “as for the Lord, if it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) When you spend time in prayer and Bible study and worship seeking the presence of God – do not let it end there. The Lord desires to go with you and be involved in everything you do – your job, your school, your friends and family, in work and play. Let Him rule in every area of your life. Be a light for Him everywhere you go. This is what He asks of all of us. This is how you can serve Him right where you are, no matter where you are or who you are.

All you who are His, let us together pray, “Our Lord, our God – our risen, reigning and returning King – may Your name be exalted in all the earth, for You have made all things. You have made us and saved us for Your glory. Our Father, we long for the new creation free from the taint of sin. We long for our perfection into the image of Christ and the glorification of our bodies. Lord, may Your name be written across our lives and on our hearts. Work in our hearts that we would desire to live our lives for You alone, to serve You with all we are. May every day of our lives bring glory to You and draw us closer to You. Lord, meet with us as wee seek Your presence and go with us out into the world as we go about our work and daily lives. Help us to always remember that You are ever with us, for You live in us by Your Holy Spirit. May we be a light for You in this dark world, Lord, shine through us. Set the captives free, let the blind see. May You find us ready and busy on the day of Your return. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.”*

See the song Amen. Lord Jesus, Come , For You, Starting Right Now, What I’m here for, and Salt and Light on Faithwriters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

#59 God with Us and in Us – Revelation 21:1&3-5

Revelation 21:1&3-5 NIV - 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" …

Journal Entry # 59

How amazing it will be when God will not only live in us as He does now by His Holy Spirit, but He will also live with us. In the old testament, the Israelites carried with them the tent – and later built the temple – in which the immediate presence of God dwelled (Exodus 29:44-45). In this way, He lived with His people as He desired (Exodus 25:8 & 29:46), but He was still inaccessible to them in any intimate sense. They could not enter the holy of holies with very few exceptions (Leviticus 16:2-6). Even when the temple was built, a curtain separated the most holy place from the rest of the temple (Exodus 26:33). There was a barrier that kept God from truly living among His people. And this was for their own protection for the mortal flesh of sinful man cannot endure the full presence of the holy and living God unless God took great care to protect them (Exodus 19:21). But then God became a man and full of grace and truth, He lived among us (John 1:14) in the person of Jesus Christ. Now all who cared to could touch Him, speak to Him face to face. When Christ died, the curtain of the holy of holies tore in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38) as a symbol that God was now immediately and intimately accessible to all who would come through faith in Christ. Now the Spirit of Christ lives in us, but even better things are coming. We cannot really know what it will be like then, for “no eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.(1 Corinthians 2:9)” but we know that it will be “more than we could ask or imagine”(Ephesians 3:20). In the fullest sense possible, God will be with us. The Lord says of His church, “this is my resting place forever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13-14)” We can be sure that this will be more immediate and intimate than we could ever comprehend. For God is a personally relational being who passionately desires a loving and intimate relationship with each of His children. Scripture says, “You must worship nothing else, for the Lord – whose very name is jealous* – is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you. (Exodus 34:14)” He loves us like a husband loves his bride (Ephesians 5:25-27) for the church is the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). When God makes all things new (v5), we will never again have a reason to cry, for all these things – death, mourning, crying, or pain – result from sin and all sin will be gone forever. As scripture says, “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)”, and “nothing impure will ever enter it. (Revelation 21:27)” we need not fear the possibility of another fall for everyone who lives in God’s new creation will have seen the destructiveness of sin for what it is and will have no inclination toward it, being perfect in holiness and righteousness like Christ.

Come, let us pray, “Our great and amazing God, You made heaven and earth and will remake them to be prefect forever, we thank You for the promise that for all eternity You will be with us and in us. Your passionate love for us is so vast and eternal and amazing. We worship You for who You are*. Who is like You, God alone worthy, there is no one like You with justice and mercy.* Lord, simply catching a glimpse of how great is Your love for us that reaches beyond the heavens and faithfulness beyond the clouds (Psalm 36:5), we see how much You are worthy that we should love You with all our heart, soul, mind, strength (Mark 12:30). Lord, help us to love You even half as much as You love us, may we be even half as passionate about You as You are about us. May we desire to give You everything – all we are, all our love, all our lives. Lord, we groan to be fully redeemed in our bodies (Romans 8:23) and for the restoration of all things. May we watch and wait with expectant and joyful hearts for the day when You will take us home to be with You (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and then we will be like Christ, for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). We long for the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! (Philippians 2:10-11) Lord, may You be glorified in Your saints now and forever! (2 Thessalonians 1:10) Amen.”

*See the songs Like No One Else, Who You Are, and Who is Like Thee.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

#58 All Glory to Him Who Keeps You - Jude 1:24-25

Jude 1:24-25 (KJV) - 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Journal Entry # 58

As Christians, we need never fear because our God is all powerful and is more than able to keep us from falling away. As Jesus said about us, “no one is able to snatch them away from the Father’s care.” (John 10:27-30) For what He has begun, He will complete (Philippians 1:6) because He is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24, Deuteronomy 7:9) and nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). One of the many ways He pours out His grace on us is to always draw us closer to Him, to strengthen our hearts to faithfulness by His Holy Spirit living in us. And when this life here is done, He will present us to Himself (Jude verse 24) – having absolutely perfected us into the likeness of Christ and washed us clean in His blood. He does this with fullness of joy over us (v24) – as it is written, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10). He takes joy in us whom He created for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7) and He takes great pleasure in displaying His grace and love through us (2 Timothy 1:9) because He has saved us, cleansed us, and perfected us. Through the enemy tried to mar God’s wonderful creation of man by deceiving man into sin, yet God will save a people for Himself, and restore His perfect image in us.

Therefore shall we pray, “Our all mighty, all knowing, ever present God – You who makes us, saves us, keeps us, perfects us – we thank You, our Father, for keeping us in Your hands and assuring us with Your promise that You will never forsake us or abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). May we always bring joy and pleasure to Your heart as You look upon us and watch over us. You alone are God, the saving and faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 136:2). All glory and majesty come from Your radiance. All dominion and power are Yours forever, for from You and through You and to You were all things made (Romans 11:34-36). And now, may You be Lord of all our lives, may we follow Your will, may we bring You glory, and may we fall in love with You - overflowing in worship and praise to You. For You alone deserve all we have to give. Be magnified through those You have made Yours. Bless us and keep us for we are sealed with Your Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30), who is Your guarantee to us (NIV 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:14). We praise You for we have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You set the number of our days before one came to be (Psalm 139:16), and if we will follow You, You will guide our way (Proverbs 3:5-6). Keep our hearts pure (Psalm 51:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Titus 2:13-14), our minds transformed (Romans 12:1-2), our hands clean (James 4:7-8), our lives surrendered. Make us worthy of the life to which You have called us (2 Thessalonians 1:11). By Your power, Lord, fulfill all our good intentions and faithful deeds that all will give honor to Your name, Lord Jesus, because of our lives and that we too may be honored. We know this is only possible because of Your underserved favor (grace), our God and Lord, Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12). To You be all glory in all the nations throughout all generations (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 3:21, 1 Peter 4:11)! Amen.

*See the songs Every Day of Forever, Make Me.