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December 11

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

It is typical-and maybe a little easy-to devalue or overlook sin. “It’s not that bad.” “I’m only going to do this once and then I’m done.” And more. But sin is more than a little slip up. It’s more than a slight mistake. It’s more than a temporary lapse of judgment. It’s also common to think of sin as being not too bad. “It could have been worse. At least I didn’t do such-and-such.”

When it comes to sin-and Tripp’s devotion-three truths stand out to me:

  1. It’s a matter of the heart. Sin is more than acting on something. According to Jesus, “If a man thinks in his heart…”
  2. Sin breaks a relationship with God. I don’t sin because a broken relationship; the relationship is broken because I sin. Sin separates. Every sin I commit further harms the relationship.
  3. Sin is personal and relational, even if I do it without realizing it. My sin is first and foremost against God.  David certainly realized that in Psalm 51: “Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”

Sin puts so many factors into play.  Distrust. Questioning God. His love. Goodness. Faithfulness. Sovereignty. I’m even questioning God’s right to rule my life. “I know best and your place is second…behind me.”

“Father, sin is real. Sin is serious. Help me to see and know its place in my life. Help me to be more aware of its influence in me. Help me to not kid myself about sin but to lean on You. Help me to see sin needs your control and I need your grace.”

December 10

Monday, December 10th, 2018

I painfully agree with Tripp this morning:

It is a grace to be willing to listen to and consider criticism. It takes grace to quiet the mind and settle the heart to hear.

It has taken me quite a few years to accept criticism with grace. First, I was pretty arrogant and thought, “Who are they and what gives them the right to criticize me anyway?” That didn’t work very well in church life. Second, as I got older, I realized others had a different viewpoint I needed to listen to. I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t God’s answer to the church (Never was but sure thought so). It was hard for me to admit that I wasn’t “all that and more” and needed to listen to both good and corrective criticism. I needed to weed out the hurtful, devastating and evil criticism. I needed to be less resistant to changing my attitude and more surrendered to the Father’s desire. A huge-and I mean a huge piece of humble pie was in order. Tripp was right:

Confession is not intuitive for sinners. Humility is not my natural first response. Love of God more than love of self is not a first instinct. The glory of God isn’t naturally the core motivator of what I do and say.

“Father, help me to be humble. Help me to listen. Help me to hear well. Help me not to be so closed off I don’t hear what could be coming from You. Give me grace to hear.”

December 9

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

If I was asked to pick the words that bring more hurt and loss to life it would probably be “He is alone.” Alone. Loneliness. Desolate words. Words which seem to suck the life out of individuals. Even Christ-followers sometimes face this emotion.

But we don’t have to. There is NO WAY God will ever abandon us. God went to such great lengths to bring about my redemption. How in the world can I feel he would abandon me? It makes no sense whatsoever.

  • It makes no sense that He would turn his back on me now.
  • It makes not sense that He would turn his back on me in my very hour of need.

Since he paid the ultimate price, I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will stand by me. Battle for me and beside me. Defend me. I love the story from 2 Kings 6 where his servant is filled with fear but Elisha prays for his eyes to be opened and he sees the hosts of heaven surrounding them. God does that for me.

“Father, when the enemy whispers in my ear, help me to turn a deaf ear. Teach me and help me not to hear, believe or give in to the negative garbage he wants to feed me. With your presence in my life, I have an ally, an unseen ally, who surrounds me and protects me. Unleash your power in me to battle the enemy. You are greater. You are stronger. And I KNOW you will not abandon me in my time of need.”

December 8

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

I have been given Christ, and in being given Christ, I have been given life.

  • I don’t need to search for meaning and purpose.
  • I don’t need to search for identity.
  • I don’t need to look for something to give me inner well-being.
  • I don’t have to wonder if I’ll be loved.
  • I don’t have to wonder if I’ll have what I need to face life today or tomorrow.
  • I don’t have to worry about the future.
  • I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt I won’t be left alone.
  • I don’t have to worry if I will be forgiven.

The reason all of those are true is because I have Jesus. I don’t have to chase after  empty things. I don’t have to crave those things that won’t last. In the OT it talks about the empty wells and broken cisterns in describing what the people of Israel were pursuing and what their lives were like. While we/I may enjoy things on this earth-a relationship, an event, a place-it will never bring me the satisfaction I crave. That is only found in Jesus.

“Father, may I seek you and only you. Help me to realize that all my cravings here, all my strivings and significance, all my desires for meaning in life-can only be satisfied in You. I have been given Jesus. He is enough for me to have life.”

December 7

Friday, December 7th, 2018

What does the alcoholic, the junkie, the ex-con, the abused man/woman, the sex trafficking girl, the molested boy/girl and others have in common? They all have the opportunity to use their experience to help someone else, to minister to someone else. They have experienced life in a way I have not and their experience should not be wasted. That’s why today’s devotion is so important.

No one knows me more deeply and fully than my Savior, so no one offers me help formfitted for my deepest needs like He does.

Jesus coming to earth is more than a baby in manger story. It is even more than a death, burial and resurrection story. It is a story of God becoming man. It is a story of God putting Himself in our place as a human; taking on all the weaknesses we experience; being tempted like we are yet he didn’t sin; to die a death we deserved; and to raise to life. He put Himself into a unique place of experiencing all we experience so it could be said, “He had to made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest.”

“Father, to know you understand in comforting. To know you don’t laugh off, ignore, condemn or are impatient with my struggles and prayers is a big shot in the “faith” arm. Thanks for your grace in understanding all I’m experiencing. Help me never to doubt your unconditional love.”

December 6

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

What am I really like? The follow up question is Do I really want to know? 🙂  But then there are more follow up questions to that follow up question. 🙂 🙂

  • Do I really want to know I’m worse than I think I am?
  • Do I really want to know I’m not who I think I am?
  • Do I really want to know that when the chips are down I often become as faithless and fearful as I say not to be?
  • Do I really want to know I find other gods to capture my attention?
  • Do I really want to know I’m as weak as any other man (to quote Samson)?
  • Do I really want to know I’m fickle-a man of faith one minute and a man of doubt the next?

No. No I don’t. But I am. And it’s essential that I do because that means the work of the Holy Spirit (HS) is not being stifled. I don’t want to get to the point of deadness-of dead air so to speak. Dead air is that point on radio where there is nothing. Bad news for a radio DJ or a host. Bad news for a Christ-follower who must rely on the HS. When I stop having the conviction of the HS I’m in trouble. That means sin has, in some way, moved in. The voice of the HS is deadened. Not quenched. But stifled.

“Father, that is a dangerous place to be. Been there done that still doing it. Not intentionally. I don’t set out to silence the conviction of the Spirit, but unless my eyes are open it will happen. Please keep my heart soft and tender toward you. Give me reminders if you see me drifting or shutting you out.”

December 5

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

This is not the typical “needs vs greeds” devotion. This is more about pursuit (in my mind anyway). Pursuit of “I can’t live without” and its importance and impact upon my life.

I can’t live to meet all my needs and live to serve Jesus at the same time. Live as his disciple; he’s got the true needs covered.

As I look around at my life there are things I have said I can’t live without. I have put an emphasis on things, people, and events that I now see were not worth it. I’m not saying my marriage was not important. I’m not saying that new car or truck was not important (probably not as much as I thought though). I’m not saying taking care of my health was not important. I’m not saying my girls were not important. But when they became or become more important than my pursuit of God, they stepped into the wrong category.

But this “I gotta have” was/is never more true that in the physical realm. I flippantly quoted “I can do all things through Christ” but found myself not so strong. Worry easily took over-“Will the money be there?” “Will I have what it takes?”  Silly questions in the grand scheme of things, especially when:

  1. God will give me the strength I need to face life
  2. God is actively committed to meeting everyone of my needs.

“Father, I sometimes still find I get my priorities out of whack. I forget about your provision. I forget about your loving concern for me. Forgive me when I get things messed up. Help me to be convinced you will strengthen me and to believe you are actively committed to meeting everyone of my true needs.”

December 4

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

I must be honest. I love to hear praises. As much as I say it and don’t know how to handle it, I do like to hear good words. I like to receive pats-on-the-back. I like to hear “well done.” It’s not that I live for that. If that were the case, I’d be in hot water. I’d be in bad shape because living for accolades is an empty pursuit. For several reasons, but the biggest being I should be living for God’s glory not mine. To take what is and should be His and to accept it as my own is robbing Him of what is rightfully His. As Tripp says:

I was designed for it. I have missed the point without it. What is it? Living every day for the glory of the Father.

When I seek the approval of men; when I accept the accolades of men; when men’s applause motivates me, I have stolen that which belongs to God alone. Psalm 145 is filled with “Bless the Lord.” “Great is the Lord.” “The Lord is…” The only solution to my arrogance, to my ascendancy, to my puffiness is to acknowledge God gets the glory not me. My purpose is to give glory to Him and not take credit for myself. My purpose is to exalt Him not myself.

“Father, you and you alone are to be honored and glorified. You and you alone are to be lifted up and exalted. Forgive me when I become a glory hound.  Forgive me when I take credit for your work in and through me. Each time I pray I close with ‘May you be given all the praise, glory and honor.’ Let them be more than mere words I finish a prayer with. May they be heartfelt and ‘lived out’ words.”

December 3

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

The importance of corporate worship has been a recurring theme throughout this year’s time in NMM.  This is a good “cap” to it. I’m going to focus on why worship is not about me. What does it mean when I say life is not about me:

  • It’s not about my wants, needs, and feelings.
  • It’s not about my comfort, pleasure and ease.
  • It’s not about getting my personal definition of happiness answered.
  • It’s not about my satisfaction and contentment.
  • It’s not about how many of my dreams I get to experience.
  • It’s not about my successes and achievements.
  • It’s not about how I successfully avoid difficulty and suffering.
  • It’s not about how well my relationships are working.

That sort of puts corporate worship into perspective. IMHO much of what passes for worship today is about making me feel good; getting me hyped up; how all this benefits me. Much of my life is concerned about the same types of things: my personal happiness, contentment, and well-being. But worship like life, and life like worship, is so much more. It is not based on want I want or feel or need; it should be based on what can I give to God. It is not me as the focus; it is God as the focus. It is not my needs and wants; it is what can I give Him.

“Father, Paul wrote, ‘Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of Go!…For from him and through him and to him are all things.’ I echo those words. You are so much more than a magic genie. You are God!! Worthy of my praise. Worthy of my focus. May today be the start of something revolutionary with you. Let me whole focus be on You and not me.”

December 2

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

As I’ve gotten older in my faith, I fight a constant battle. It’s sometimes a subtle one but a battle nonetheless. It’s a battle of “I know this” vs “I ought to know better.” I also fight a battle between “I’ve read this (been there done that) vs “How come I keep stumbling?” In a sense, the “I ought to know better” and the “How can I keep stumbling?” is good. It shows me I have not arrived. There should no feeling of satisfaction that creeps in. What should be there is the belief, the reality, that I’m still under construction. God is still working on me and in me. To borrow Tripp’s words:

I serve a dissatisfied Redeemer.

God never wants me to feel satisfied. Not in contentment with Him but in “I’ve arrived.” God will not be satisfied until I’m molded (or is that remolded?) into His image. His desire is that I pursue Him. That I not chase other lovers.

I’ll never arrive here on earth. I’ll never come to the point of complete sanctification. No matter what some of the other church groups say, perfectionism (no sin) is not attainable. Until the day it happens (my last breath or heaven), I must pursue God with passion.

“Father, may passion mark my pursuit of you. The point of perfection, the point of complete sanctification, will never happen here. Pursuing other lovers is not the answer. There’s an old song that said, ‘I only have eyes for you.’ True, it was a love song.  But may the words to that love song be words which fall from my lips for you.”