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December 21

Friday, December 21st, 2018

With the exception of the hymn Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne (which I am not familiar with) this is an important devotion for this time of the year. Tripp begins with this:

Jesus willingly lived without an earthly home so that by grace we wold be guaranteed a place in the Father’s home forever.

The Christmas story is an amazing story, one that gets richer with every telling or reading. Every nugget unearthed mines the truth deeper. Every detail shows the story of Christmas more beautiful. It is an amazing story for sure. The King of kings and Lord of lords leaves the majesty of heaven and His Father’s side to come to a shattered earth to suffer and die for people who do not deserve it. We are rebels and find ourselves at odds with the plan of God. The Messiah is  not born in a palace, but in a stable. He lives his life as a pilgrim with “no place to lay his head” or to call home. That is a luxury even animals are afforded. He is despised and rejected and subject to a bloody, painful and horrible death. And what makes it even more amazing is He did it willingly and intentionally so we (the rebels) can know forgiveness.

While this Christmas is focused on the happenings in the manger, the real happenings will take place BECAUSE of this! A home in eternity.

“Father, I pray the Christmas story will not become “old” to me. I pray I will not lose the picture of majesty come down to earth for a rebel like me.”

I apologize for the brevity of this devotion. I am fighting flu-like symptoms and my mind is somewhat in a fog. But I still hope this Christmas season focuses your attention on the amazing story we can continue to unearth and mine into deeper meaning.

December 20

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Tripp starts his devotion with a list of  “I wish I could say:”

  • Sin always appears horribly ugly and destructive.
  • All the time and in every way I hate what God hates.
  • I always lose to do what’s right.
  • I never think my way is better than God’s way.
  • My heart was forever settled with staying inside God’s boundaries.
  • My war with sin is over.

With each statement He said, “I can’t” or “It’s not” or some form of that. In the margin I wrote, “Yeah. Me 2.” And that’s the crux of the matter. Sin doesn’t always look ugly. Sometimes sin looks really appealing. Really good. Really acceptable. And that’s the problem. It would be easy to turn away from sin if it was horribly ugly, deformed, or the consequences projected in bold on a screen before I gave in. But it’s not. A man doesn’t lust after an ugly woman. A woman doesn’t desire an ugly wardrobe. No person craves worm and roach-encrusted food. No person is lured by foul-tasting liquid death or a drug with no effect. Sin looks good. Incites our cravings.

I need help. So God comes to the rescue in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is not extra help, as though He is a stand-by. No. He is my help. He is my strength. He battles for me. I am not left on my own. Titus 2:11-12 really come into play. He supplies and provides all I need to win by giving me the One who battles for me.

“Father, thank you for the reminder of how sin entices. Thanks you for Your Spirit, the strength within who battles for me. Help me to rely on His strength and not try to win this battle with sin on my own.”

December 19

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Jo (my wife) likes to watch the Hallmark channel during Christmas season. She loves the Christmas movies. They are predictable. They are “romantic.” They are also feel-good because they always end well. Their basic premise is “no matter how much the struggle for 1:45, in the end (the last 10-15 minutes) all will turn out well.”  And yes, she takes some ribbing from me. 🙂 🙂

That is what I need to keep in mind in my daily walk. There is no question it will be filled with struggles. Valleys. Peaks. Ups. Downs. Gravel roads. Pitted roads. Rutted roads. New asphalt, smooth roads. Dodging potholes. Encountering and being swallowed up by potholes. Exhaustion. Exhilaration. That’s life. And that’s life as a Christ-follower.

Its an uncomfortable preparation for a comfortable destination.

There is no doubt I will face hardship of some sort. Little. Medium. Big. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. But for sure S.O.M.E.D.A.Y.  I need to remind myself that this is only temporary. This earth is only temporary; it is not my destination. When I played ball; when I work out; when I cycle, there was/is pain. But I put up with the pain in order to win the game, to feel good, or to complete the miles. All for the satisfaction of “arrival.”

“Father, heaven is my ‘arrival’ place. This is preparation for what’s to come. Help me endure the practice- the training- in order to receive the ultimate prize at the ultimate destination.”

December 18

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

For the Christ-follower, feeling alone is common. Everyone, at one time or another, struggles with that. Especially when getting hammered. The difference is how the hammering is seen. Today’s devotion is one of reassurance that the hammering is going to come, but I am not alone when it does.

I often feel like I’m getting beat up. It’s not a physical thing like followers of Christ in other countries. Mine is more mental. Spiritual. Sometimes I just feel beat up. I get discouraged because of unanswered prayer. I get discouraged because it seems relentless at times. But its not. I certainly don’t face what others do. There’s is much more intense, strong, ongoing. Mine seems minor. But each person’s struggles are unique to them. It’s what the enemy has designed specifically for me. And as I go through the struggles, Tripp says there are 4 things to remember.  Here is my summary:

  1. It’s okay not to pretend all is okay. Faking is bad. God doesn’t want me to pretend. He wants me real.
  2. God’s plan is being implemented. Struggles are not God’s punishment nor are they saying I’m being a failure. God’s plan will be worked out.
  3. I’m NEVER alone. Rinse and Repeat: I. AM. NEVER. ALONE.
  4. I may feel overwhelmed and overcome but I have a Savior who will never be. He is greater.

“Father, what a great reassurance today! Thank you. Thank you that I’m not alone. Thank you that it is true what Tripp says, ‘Troubles don’t determine my destiny; you do!’ Help me not to get discouraged by to live through my struggles experiencing your grace and strength.  Never alone.”

December 17

Monday, December 17th, 2018


  • turns me into a self-appointed sovereign over my own kingdom.
  • makes me self-absorbed and self-focused.
  • causes me to name myself righteous.
  • seduces me into thinking I am somehow smarter than God.
  • causes me to trust in my own wisdom.
  • makes me want to write my own rules.
  • makes me resistant to criticism and change.
  • makes my eyes and heart wander.
  • causes me to crave material things.
  • causes me to want and esteem pleasure more than character.
  • causes me to forget God.
  • causes me to stop over God’s boundaries in thought, desire, word, and action again and again.

That’s what is natural. What is NOT natural is for me to have a hunger to know what is right in God’s eyes; to care about His glory; to submit willingly to His will; to forsake my plan for His; and to find joy in surrendering to His lordship. THAT is unnatural! But it is also my experience with rescuing grace.

“Shall I continue in sin that grace may abound?” “Sin will have no dominion over me, since I am not under law but under grace.” “I have been set free from sin and have become a slave to righteousness.” (Verses from the suggested reading of Romans 6).

“Father, let me be unnatural. let me do the unnatural. Let me think the unnatural. Let my desires be unnatural. Let the unnatural begin. Let me be yours.”

December 16

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

It’s futile to try to establish my own sovereignty. People don’t want me as their king, and God won’t forsake His holy throne.

“Father, twice (and maybe more) you have spared my life. In November of ’16 a hit-n-run driver hit me while riding my bike and left me sprawling on the pavement. In February of ’17 I had a horrendous accident that to this day I don’t know what happened. No helmet = no life. But you  woke me from my spiritual stupor.  Now once again I find myself  in a state of stagnation.

I’m trying to figure out why. I’m still reading NMM. I still reading your Word (even though it’s in the OT). I’m still trying to journal daily. But I’m struggling. I’ve been wondering what it is. Maybe today’s NMM hit the nail on the head.

  • Have I been trying to be the king?
  • Have I been trying to be the sovereign?
  • Have I been trying to take back ownership of my life?
  • Have I been trying to wrestle back control of my life I had so willingly given to you in 2017?
  • Have I been putting up an appearance of godliness and surrender for it to only be that-an appearance, a pretense?

Lord, you have convicted me of my desire for control. Now that you have done that, help me now to surrender that control to you and find rest in you. Help me to let you be my ruler, my sovereign, and to take my hands off my own life and give you control. Amen.”

December 15

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

“I want to be sure. I want to be secure. I want to have hope. I want to live with courage.” (The latter  two sound a little bit like they are out of Wild at Heart). But all of them are true.

But so are these: “I don’t want to be weakened by fear, paralyzed by doubt, or filled with anxiety about what’s next.”

All in all I want to know I matter. I want to know I’m not wasting my time. I want to know that what I do has value. I want to know a settledness within. I don’t want to be a shrinking violet in the face of adversity. I want to stand firm. I don’t want to slink away or be wishy-washy.

I can’t do any of the above on my own; by looking to men; to looking for anything on this earth to satisfy. If I am to ever see the “wants” and the “don’t wants” come to be, I have to look vertically. When I do that:

  • I don’t have to live with regret(s). (And I do have plenty).
  • I don’t have to search for identity, meaning or purpose.
  • I don’t have to worry about the future.
  • I don’t have to fear trouble, difficulty, or suffering.

(The above 4 thoughts were taken from a list Tripp had which were especially meaningful to me). Those take in a lot, if not all, of my wants/don’t wants listed above.

“Father, I look at my list and it seems endless, as well as impossible. Help me to trust, not fret, over being secure in You. None of these are out of your view. None are out of your ability to bring about. I. AM. YOURS. In You I’m secure. I find my rest in You.”

December 14

Friday, December 14th, 2018

It is not uncommon for someone to ask themselves if they are serious about living for Jesus, what does it look like? What does it look like to call myself a Christ-follower? How am I supposed to know I’m representing Jesus rightly and clearly? How do I know I’m reflecting Him? In a way, though, it starts with another question posed by Tripp:

What does it mean to be an ambassador of the King? It means reflecting his message, his methods, and his character wherever He’s placed me.

As I wrote about in yesterday’s devotion, culture-both outside and inside the church-says it is all about me. “I am the I am. I am strong. I am wise. I am bold. etc” Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. To get a proper perspective let’s unpack the quote above:

  1. Representing the king’s message=looking at everything through the lens of the truth of Scripture.
  2. Representing the king’s methods= seeking to be His tool for change and doing it His way, not mine, not the world’s.
  3. Representing the king’s character= Before anything I ask myself that that person needs to see in me.

“Father, I want to be a reflection of you-an accurate reflection. Not one covered with a mask. Not one who wears makeup to cover the defects. But one who is accurate and real and honest in his representation of You.  Let me show your beauty through me.”

December 13`

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Just yesterday I was watching a video about the most popular heretic/false teacher on TV and possibly in the states today. Every week over 52,000 meet to praise a god who is not God. Every week they gather from all over to worship the god of self. The “I am” mantra they recite is not the great “I AM.” All in all, a perfect example of today’s devotion.

Don’t buy the false gospel of self-reliance. If I could make it without help, Jesus would not have needed to come.

The gospel of self-reliance was used in the Garden to deceive Adam and Eve. It was used to deceive Abram and Sarai about having a child= Ishmael. Throughout the OT and into the New and into 2018, the gospel of “I got this” has spread its tentacles.

In direct contrast to the mantra spoken at the beginning of every one of his TV shows/events, the real gospel is one of humility. It is one of dying to self. It is one of recognizing that I am nothing; He is everything. It is one of sacrifice not “I deserve this.” No. The gospel-the true gospel-is not at all about this life; it is about the life to come. It is about the inability to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and total reliance on the Spirit.

“Father, I don’t need to quote an “I am” mantra. You are the great “I AM.” The gospel is all about my need for you, not my own ability to become better. I accept your offer of love and grace, knowing I cannot and will not make it on my own.”

December 12

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Not a day goes by that I don’t come in contact with people and very often wonder what they think of me after I’ve left. That’s human nature. I don’t want to get caught in the trap of acting to gain someone’s acceptance, but I can’t help but wonder what people think. It is a well-accepted truth that not everyone is going to like me ( a fact I truly don’t understand!) 🙂  Or anyone else for that matter. But in the grand scheme of things, what people think of me and how they treat me does not and should not matter.

No matter how people treat me today, if I’m God’s child (Note: which I am), I’m being loved right now by an ever-present, ever-loving Redeemer.

The Scripture in Isaiah 52 & 53 shows what Jesus would go through to show He loved me and how much. I cannot fathom the ugliness depicted here and Jesus’ willingness  to put up with this to fulfill God’s plan for my salvation. He was willing to be despised; to face rejection; to subject Himself to hatred and violence; and ultimately the worst and greatest rejection of all: the rejection of His Father. Why? So that my sins can be atoned for-forgiven-and I can find my way home to the Father and salvation. What greater gift could there be, especially this time of year?

“Father, what a fantastic and immeasurable gift. A gift “so amazing so divine/demands my soul, my life, my all.” That gift of grace seen in forgiveness. No matter what’s going on in my life, I know I’m loved by You. Thank you for that generous love.”