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August 25

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s devotion.

You must first read Psalm 139 in its totality. Get yourself a good grasp of it.

Yesterday I talked about intimacy.  I wrote this: “There is a bare bones honesty David is yearning for. As Augustine is credited with saying, ‘Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.’ ”

One can’t help but read this psalm and not see David’s heart for God. He is searching for intimacy and in the process is inviting God into the deepest recesses of His heart. In my mind it is like David is throwing open every door to every room in his heart and saying, “Make Yourself at home. There is no room, no place, You cannot enter. There is no room off limits to You.”

That is never a comfortable place to be in. We all have secrets that we are withholding from others. An addiction. A thought. An action. Tragically, like David tried, we can hide it from people but can never hide it from God.

The following thoughts come from the book, The Trail, by Ed Underwood…the book I have been trying to dissect. There are three question followed by three requests.

Q#1- (Verses 1-6)- Do you appreciate my circumstances? Answer: Yes, of course He does. His knowledge of my circumstances couldn’t be more exact. It’s overwhelming.

Q#2- (Verses 7-12)- Are you near? Answer: He’s everywhere. We couldn’t get away from Him if we tried.

Q#3- (Verses 13-18)- Do you understand me? Answer: David let us know that is an absurd question when we consider that God formed us in the womb and He is preoccupied with thoughts of us.

Finally, 3 requests he makes- (Verses 19-24)- Deliver me. Search me. Guide me.

That’s about it for today.  I’ll stop there because that is a lot to think about. My request is that you reread Psalm 139 with the questions and answers in front of you. And then ask, “How do I feel about this? How will I allow it to change me today?  If you care to share your experience in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

August 18

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

When I began my series on The Trail, I said on Day 1 that there might be times I interrupt with some other devotion. Today is one of those times. Jo and I are heading off to Ohio this morning with plans to visit her sister (diagnosed with Alzheimer’s now) tomorrow; spend time with Janna and her friend, Mike, on Friday evening; then watch Braden play JV football on Saturday morning before heading back home for me to preach on Sunday. (You can say a prayer for this old man’s strength on Sunday morning). 🙂

Anyway,  one of the things I said is that I was not going to stop what I normally did in my Encounter Time, which always includes reading Scripture. I am currently in Isaiah and Luke. My goal is to finished both the Old and New Testament before the end of the year.  We will see…

I was reading Isaiah 43 yesterday and debated on using it then or waiting until today when my ability to respond is limited. So…today it is.   Here is what I highlighted…and I hope it “speaks” to your heart as well:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Since you are precious in my sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other people in your place and other nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you.”

There is obviously more, some of which I left out. I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read that whole chapter. Sadly, what started out so great doesn’t end so well. But the truth still remains: God looks at us with love in His eyes. We are His and we are loved by Him. Nothing can or will change that.

May these words from Scripture speak truth to your heart this morning and last you through the day, the weekend and into eternity.

August 9

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture-least you think you have-and not have it register? Then one time you read it and BAM! the light goes on. This morning was one of  those times.

The Scripture in the spotlight: Isaiah 37: 14-20. (Please take a moment  and read it).

Sennacherib (S), the Assyrian king, planned to invade Judah. He sent his lackeys to threaten and badger Hezekiah into surrendering and not trust God. God surely would not save them. Outgunned and out-manned, Hezekiah does something totally unusual: he takes the letter from S, reads it, then heads to the temple and lays it out before God. Then he prays. It was not an “I’m scared spitless and don’t know what to do” kind of prayer. It was simply a prayer that acknowledged God’s power and might, Hezekiah’s weakness against S, and his trust that God would save them.

God answers Hezekiah’s prayer through Isaiah. I like the words Isaiah says in verse 21: “Because you have prayer to me (God) about S…” God is acknowledging Hezekiah’s correct response to the threat.

Now watch the result. Verses 36-38 -> 185,000 Assyrians dead. Not by Hezekiah’s hand or his army. “The angel of the Lord went out and struck…” Hezekiah didn’t lift a finger. S went home in disgrace and was eventually assassinated by his own sons.

Hezekiah averted a disaster by going to God first. What a great lesson! Instead of moving in his own strength (to sure defeat); relying on his own army; or even surrendering to S, he went to God and laid it all out before Him.

There’s gotta be a lesson there! 🙂

“Father, may I not  fret and worry and scheme in my own strength. Let me bring it all before You, lay it all before You, and trust You implicitly. “

August 2

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Control. It’s a matter of control.

For the past 6 Sundays- (this coming Sunday will be #7)- I have been preaching on 7 Cancers, or as they are commonly called, the Seven Deadly Sins. As I reflect on all of them, they come down to one word:

C. O. N. T. R. O. L.

Who controls me? Or what controls me? Whether talking about anger or jealousy, gluttony or lust, pride or greed, or sloth, it all comes down to control.

That came to my mind this morning as I read Isaiah 31:1- “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!” 

That then brought to mind Psalm 20:7- “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” 

That drew me to Ephesians 5:18 where I am told to not allow any outside influence to control me or I could grieve/quench the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life.  The only influence who should have control is the Holy Spirit.

Again, it is a matter of control. Will I allow a substance, a priority, a circumstance, or some outside influence to have control over me?

“Father, may You be who I let control me. May I push away every imposter for the throne of my heart and exalt You and You only as my King.”

August 1

Monday, August 1st, 2022

Two passages I read today are linked…but not in a good way.

The first is Isaiah 29: 19-20. You can also find that same passage echoed by Jesus in Matthew 15: 8-9. “These people honor Me but their lips are far from Me.” (29:13). The implication is that we are good at spouting off stuff but have no heart in it.

The truth of that in practical terms is found in the second passage: Luke 5. The religious leaders “knew” the Law. But their acknowledgment of Jesus and who He was was most definitely skewed. Take, for example, the man healed in Luke 5. (That same story is in Mark 2). His friends bring him to Jesus, find the way blocked due to the crowd, lower him through the roof and Jesus heals him. Instead of rejoicing in the man’s healing, they badger Jesus because He said the man’s sins were forgiven. I’m guessing He didn’t use the right formula?

They knew the OT Scriptures-the Law. But their legalism would not and could not free them to join in the celebration of that man’s healing.

We may not be guilty of that same type of thing, but we sometimes refuse to rejoice because God works outside our boxes. Or we don’t see it in our own lives.  I remember once hearing a pastor tell of how people came up to him after he preached telling about all God was doing in their lives. When it was all over he looked up into the heavens and said, “What about me, God? What about me?”

He had trouble rejoicing at other’s blessings because he saw the lack in his own life. Makes me stop in my tracks and ask, “Have I become so one-sided that I have missed the obvious work of God in my own life?

“Father, help me not to be so one-sided- “this is the way You work”-that I miss your work in other’s lives…and my own.”

July 12

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

First, a prayer request. I go for my first post-op appointment this morning. In fact, by the time many of you read this my appointment will be history. Your prayers for my healing and for me to accept the doc’s words and restrictions would be appreciated.

Now for the devo:

For some reason-maybe because of today’s appointment, maybe because of some lingering discomfort, or some other reason-I woke up thinking about God’s presence. I do not doubt it. To be honest I guess I do wonder why some days He feels closer than others. (Operative word: feel). Some days He is palpable, like I can reach out and touch Him. Others not so. but I still believe His promise.

I believe in a Triune God- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In His last discourse with His disciples, Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit. In John 14: 16-17 He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth…but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” (NASB2020) {Emphasis mine}

When thinking about God’s presence (because He promised it), those two verses are critical. “The Holy Spirit lives in me. And because that Spirit is part of the Trinity-because that Spirit is God-then Jesus is permanently connected to me through His Spirit.” (Quote from At the Table with Jesus by Louis Giglio-p.138)  {Italics in quote mine so I can make it personal).

The Holy Spirit is not some impersonal force. Unseen? Yes. Impersonal? No. He is “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) It is because of this promise that I can rest in the other promise, the one I (and possibly you) need to trust each day: God’s presence is in me in the Person of the Holy Spirit. I will cling to the promise of “He will never leave me nor forsake me.” 

The Holy Spirit was given to me (and you) as a seal of ownership. His presence is always in me. I will trust that promise and know whatever comes, I am not alone or forsaken. Neither are you.

July 6

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Have you ever given much thought to names? For example, my name means “Conqueror” or “Determined Guardian.” But to be honest, I don’t think my parents gave much thought to the meaning of my name. I was named after my dad (but not a Junior). I can truthfully say our daughter’s name, Tamra (Tami), was not chosen because it means “palm tree.” I liked the name and the spelling of her name was mine. After 47 years she has not complained about it. 🙂

At Christmas we talk a lot about the names of Jesus.

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Emmanuel (which means “God with us.”)

How about these names?

  • King of kings
  • Lord of lords
  • God of gods
  • Bright MorningStar

Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End.

Here are 2 more significant ones:

LordRuler. In charge. Boss.

MasterHead over me.

It is important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus as Lord. It is equally important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus is my Master. For that to happen it is more than mere words. It is action. Submission. Awareness of my inferiority and His superiority. A need to acknowledge his greatness and my lowliness.

Jesus is both Lord and Master. He is the Ruler over all creation. He is also the Master over my life. Therefore, all honor and glory goes to Him.

What better name could there be for me than Servant of the Master?

July 5

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

The day after. There are a lot of those. The day after Resurrection Sunday. The day after Thanksgiving. The day after Christmas. The day after New Year’s Eve.

Consider:

  • The day after Resurrection Sunday we encourage people not to forget the new life we have because Jesus is alive.
  • The day after Thanksgiving we encourage people to remember to be thankful, not just one day, but 24/7/365, for all God has given.
  • The day after Christmas we encourage people to remember that the spirit of Christmas doesn’t die at 11:59 p.m. on December 25th.
  • The day after New Year’s Eve (NY Day) we encourage people to start anew, to consider the new year as a new time to start over.

The day after Independence Day. It was a bloody 4th in many places. The most tragic a deadly shooting in Highland Park, IL. Chicago. LA. NYC. Hollywood elites calling for us to cancel the 4th, to cancel America. I can’t even repeat what some said it is so vile.

I have another reason for celebrating the 4th. Two reasons actually. It reminds of the following:

1.The freedom I enjoy as a citizen of this country. America isn’t perfect; nothing is. To the naysayers I say, “Take a hike. Go Where you think you will have the freedom to speak out against what government. See what it gets you. And I won’t be visiting you in prison.”

2. The freedom I have in Christ. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Free from from the power of sin. Free from the chains of sin. Free from the slavery the enemy wants to hold me under.

So my day after today is celebrating my freedom of living in this nation. But my greatest celebration is living in true freedom found only in Jesus Christ.

And you?  What are you celebrating this day after?

June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

June 14

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Today is surgery day for me. Worried? No. I slept well last night until my back said, “Get up.” (2:30). I had planned on getting up at 3:00 anyway so that constitutes a pretty good night of sleep. Weird dreams but… 🙂 I know I am in good hands.

A couple of days ago I listened to a podcast where the lady pastrix (as she is called and I reject) preached recently that Jesus messed up. Messed up is my interpretation of the phrase she used, one I refuse to use because in my mind is sounds so vulgar. She said, “Jesus scr***d up.” Just typing that gives me the whillies.

Say what? Jesus messed up?

Yep, she used the story of the Canaanite woman in Mt. 15: 23-28 to say, “Jesus scr***d up.” Not only that she compounded the blasphemy by saying Jesus called her a (female dog).

How disgusting! She ought to be fired from her pulpit (which she should never be in to start with) and silenced from speaking such blasphemous words. This story does not show what she says but it shows Jesus in a heightened awareness of the need of a woman who acknowledged Him as Lord (verse 27)

My God, my Jesus, does not mess up! He is good, and holy, and righteous, and pure. Mess up (or the equivalent vulgar term) is not in his wheelhouse and is certainly not true.

Does He act and do differently than I want? Sometimes, yes. For sure, He is God and I am not. He can do as He pleases, but He most certainly makes no mistakes. N.O.N.E.

“Father, the Canaanite woman came seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter. She most certainly did not come to be put down and made to feel unclean. She persisted in her approach and showed great faith according to Jesus. May I always trust You as the one who does all things good.”

By the way, if you would like to hear this podcast, you can find it on Spotify (or wherever you might listen to podcasts) or even YouTube. It is Pirated Christian Radio featuring Chris Roseborough.  It is F4F/ELCA Pastrix claims Jesus Screwed (there’s that word again) Up.