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Just Because

Just because I came to Christ does not mean that my trials did end, no quite the contrary thats when my real trials just began. I found there were days when the enemy attacked with a fierceness I did not know, there were times of tempting I thought I could not bear, and moments of shame that grieved my soul. Through every trial, and every temptation, and every grieving moment too was my Savior there with me because that’s what The Lord Jesus does do. He doesn’t always take away the circumstances that hinder my walk but when I’m going through them he often helps me along the way. Today I’m thankful for the Jesus that I have grown to know, for the testings and trials, that bring me to a deeper fuller faith in his faithfulness. I pray you will know this Jesus too. Amen.

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Missing the Attraction

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.
Psalm 86:11-12
Asking for directions is not always the natural inclination of the heart, sometimes we are prone to wander. Like an over caffeinated squirrel with ADD we make our way through life jumping from one point of interest to another, never really anticipating our destination. The Psalmist here wants to learn something important, God’s way. Now it would seem unimportant to know God’s way if you didn’t plan on walking in it, but I have a question; how many are the things I have found myself learning that I never intend on using? We all go through ambitious stages in our lives where we think oh wouldn’t it be cool to learn “guitar” for instance. The problem is we want to be able to play a few songs the first moment we pick it up – the learning part is not what we really want to do; it’s tedious, frustrating, boring, and painful in the learning stage. Let’s face learning is not always easy and I think that’s one reason we struggle with the process (learning is a process). Another reason we struggle with learning is distraction. Distraction is the enemies plan to keep us from attaining our attraction. The saddest thing about being distracted is that the things that distract us tend to fill our time and steal away from what is our real attraction. Like junk food, it will fill you but it doesn’t nourish you, so when it comes time for the real deal you’re not really as hungry as you ought to be so you miss out on the best stuff. “Unite my heart to fear Your name” – It seems that the Psalmist even in a world that had far less distractions to contend with than ours, needed the Lord’s help to get his heart unified on the matter of reverencing the name of the LORD. Seems a little silly after reading this to think you and I could conquer the task without asking for help from the Lord in this matter. What I like about these verses is the Psalmist has a plan for what he will do – he will walk in the way he has learned – he will praise God with all his heart – and he glorify Him forevermore. Oh that we as a people of these United States would remove the distractions from our lives and worship our LORD as we should – with a hunger not satisfied by the things of this world – and a commitment to learn His ways. If we ever do a revival the likes the world has not known will roll over us like a tidal wave and crush us in His magnificent glory. I pray we may know that day and very soon. AMEN

Spoken Word

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. Psalm 37:30-31

Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if but only those who stood in the righteousness of Christ Jesus would speak wisdom? I don’t know if we can even begin to understand the fullness of power we have been given by the words we utter. God created everything by speaking it into being and in creating us with the ability and authority to follow likewise. We too can create or destroy based on the words we choose to use. There is great power in the binding and loosing by speaking thus and so. We who are in Christ, having the Holy Spirit,are also endued with authority in the spirit realm that often goes without ever being tapped into because we are so absorbed in matters of the flesh.

Oh that we could trust the words of those we know personally, those who serve in governmental authority, those who own and operate businesses, those who serve alongside us in ministry, if only those who proclaimed Jesus as Lord would speak wisdom and justice our world be so much more relevant to the King of Kings and so much more pleasant a place for us to live too. I love this word just because it speaks of our discernment – you cannot speak justly if you don’t judge correctly. This gives credence for the need to know a perfect standard by which to judge. The LAW of God needs to be inscribed on our hearts in order for us to be able to judge justly. The fact that the law is in our hearts shows our admiration and determination to hold to the standard that never fails. What I love about the Word is that it was never intended to only be memorized and kept but memorized and lived. It is the application of God’s word that will cause our pathways to be lit and afford us a life’s walk without slipping.

Lord I pray today that we who are called by Your Name would speak faith filled words of wisdom and justice over this nation. That we would use Your standard as our measure to govern our personal lives and to judge those things of which we speak. Keep us Lord from slipping any further than what we already have as a nation of people and hold us to the path of righteousness for You namesake. Amen

Be Doers of the Word

There is a pattern in scripture that points to the application of God’s Word in our lives…Jesus said his mother and brothers were those who done what he commanded…also blessed are they who not only hear the word but do it…James says be doers of the word not hearers only…Paul says much the same. The pattern is clear that the word of God is to be more than just a set of memorized scriptures, that we have learned in the Hebrew and Greek translations.

There seems to be a division that shows a sharp contrast between the hearing of and the doing of God’s word. Let me be clear, it is not enough to hear only. What if you told your child “do your homework” only to come back an hour later to hear your child say “I memorized what you said, you said do your homework”. Obviously the child heard what you said but your demand was not to memorize your words but it was to accomplish a task. Now don’t get me wrong here we need to have God’s word hidden in our heart but just not so deeply that it never appears in our actions.

When I stand before God, draped in the robe of righteousness that was bought by the blood of Jesus – forgiven – cleansed – His grace glistening off every aspect of the salvation I am perfected in,; I want to have a confidence that says the seed He sowed in my life was to His glory. I want to be able to say because you loved me enough to die for me, I did my best to live for you. I really believe with every fiber of my being that what we learn from God’s word should translate into our living.

Let me encourage you today, be Jesus to someone…speak words of life into someone’s heart, pull someone out of the pit where they have fallen, change a flat, feed a hunger, contribute to a cause, find a need and meet it with the love you have been shown. Yes being Jesus is sacrificial, it will cost you time, money, and maybe even emotional transference. The rewards however of following Jesus are magnificent and eternal. I am often taken aback when I read scripture at how few people actually followed Jesus after they considered the cost. I wonder are you a follower or just a fan?

Reckless Abandon

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:3-4

We can all relate to the understanding of something being better than something else. I like jelly filled donuts better than plain donuts, I like hot coffee better than cold coffee, I like chocolate milk better than hot cocoa, I like steak better than veggies, I like hand held razors better than electric shavers, I like Toyota better than Chevy and this could go on all day. I think the idea of liking something better translates very easily most of the time, but to like something better than life? It is a theme that can be seen throughout the Bible in the lives of those who knew the real Life Giver. Based on the love that God has for humanity is it any wonder that life would be considerably less valuable apart from Him?
Paul understood this probably as good as anyone, when he penned the line “to live is Christ and to die is gain”. He had written to the Philippians with the hope that they would grasp the gravity of knowing the relationship with Christ is better than life itself. One thing I want to point out here though, is that there must be a heavy emphasis placed on knowing Christ in the here and now, otherwise to die is not gain.
The psalmist too places a heavy emphasis on the relationship and his experience of the God who loves. Here we see that a life lived in the love of God is one that is reflective of that love. The psalmist glorifies God with his lips – we can presume that means that he sings praises but let’s not exclude the thought that he guards his mouth to say only those things that would bring God glory. It doesn’t stop with praise in words either, this psalmist says it carries over into a physical adoration by the raising of his hands in praise of the name as well. That word “name” sticks in my craw because it declares that the psalmist is personal in his worship – he acknowledges the name of God.
I enjoy my faith because there is a great freedom in the ability to run headlong to the One that loves me and embrace Him in worship. This a a concept that cannot be grasped by those that live in the confines of rules taught by men, or people afraid of what others might think of their reckless abandonment of those rules. There is nothing forced and there is not a comfort zone that cannot be dismantled in the process of a worshipper meeting with their LORD. If you have found the love of God then you know it is better than life itself and no amount of words in my vocabulary can make it any clearer. May we all praise His Name and enjoy our doing so all our days of life. Amen

Acceptable Hearing

The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9

There is a wonderful confidence that comes from knowing that the LORD you so dearly love, is not very far removed from the cries of His people. It is important for us to note that there would be little point in crying out time and again if in fact our prayers went unheard, but this line is actually a repeated line by the psalmist; it is not as if he is marvelled by the fact that he has been heard but more that he is relishing that the LORD hears him. The LORD has heard and the LORD accepts the prayers of His people. Accepting is more than just hearing it is acting upon what has been heard. For the psalmist and for us too, we ought to be able to ascribe glory to the LORD for the answers we have received. I have found great benefit in praying specifically and deliberately; for the LORD does answer specific and deliberate. The word cry in this passage speaks of specific concern that demands definite attention. Who really cries out for something they do not desperately desire? God is faithful to answer – my wife and I have for many years kept journals of the prayers we prayed specifically – we do this for two reasons – first our faith is increased as we are able to highlight answers we have received and second – there will be a day our children will have access to those logs and their faith too will be increased.
Father today we pray to You, because we know that You hear and You accept the prayers we pray. We ask for our hearts to be burdened not simply by those things that would improve our lives but instead the things that would make us favorable in your sight. We ask, that You would bring us back, as a nation of peoples, to a deep longing desire to serve Your purpose in our living, giving, and honoring You. Amen.

Lockstep

Few if any are those things that hold us in lockstep with the Heavenly Father. It’s not that those things have not been provided just that we fail to take advantage of them. We are such creatures that desire to satisfy the cravings of our carnal man that disciplined life that remains selfless is impossible for us to imagine, let alone live. Jesus however, gave clear example as he proclaimed he could only do what he saw his Father do or heard his Father say…Jesus was in lockstep with the Father even to the point of going to the cross. His example was shown in the times he sought solitude for the purpose of crying out to the Father. Even on the very night he was to be betrayed we find him alone in prayer. Prayer was the master key that unlocked the Divine will of the Heavenly Father. If Jesus the Son of God did pray what then does the Holy Spirit do to stay in lockstep with the Father? Ephesians 6:18 reminds us to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers. Romans 8:26 says it is the Spirit that helps us in our weakness when we do not know what to pray. The Spirit intercedes on our behalf. So you see, it is true also of the Holy Spirit even as it is of the Son that prayer is the master key to unlocking God’s will. If we are ever to obtain a life that is indeed one considered to be in lockstep with the Father, it will be a life submissive in prayer. The hard discipline of prayer is a work that the carnal man detests and is seldom as consistent as it should be even when we know its vital importance to our lives. Prayer is a work that requires careful diligence to insure that it is given priority. Separation from the distractions that would move us from the quiet waiting is never easy to obtain but it is always worth the effort. It has been my experience that we allow our our hearts and minds to wander, to stray away in the very moment when God begins to speak. 

If only we could gain discipline without effort would not our prayers be more frequent?
Lord I submit this flesh of mine is weak, yet the Spirit is willing, teach me to pray rightly. Amen.