Thursday, December 22, 2011


“May the Lord be praised!  Day after day He bears our burdens; God is our salvation.  Our God is a God of salvation, and escape from death belongs to the Lord God.” (Psalm 68:19-20)

“On that day you will say: ‘I will praise You, Lord, although You were angry with me.  Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion for me.  Indeed, God is my salvation: I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song.  He has become my salvation’” (Isaiah 12:1-2)

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’  Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)

            “So, what does sal-va-tion mean?”  A child might ask that question, and come to think of it, a lot of adults might want to listen in on the answer.
            People hear the word “salvation,” and various images come to mind.  Some envision a Billy Graham crusade with thousands streaming down the aisles.  Some may see a tent meeting with energetic preaching and folks being “saved.”  Some may see a businessman in a hotel room reading a Gideon Bible and then praying to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
            The whole concept of salvation is fascinating.
            In the Old Testament, the word salvation was often the same as “rescue.”  Most of the time, when people were praying for salvation or thinking about it, they were looking for a rescue, a deliverance from dire circumstances that threatened them or their family.  They were looking for some concrete action from God that would save them.
            In the New Testament, the cross of Jesus was that concrete action.  The dire circumstances people faced was their sin and its consequences – hell.  The concept in the New Testament was more of a spiritual deliverance, and the nature of that salvation was a personal relationship with God, established by a personal faith decision in Jesus Christ.  We should understand, though, that this was still a “rescue.”
            So, what does salvation mean to you, and what does God want you to do to express the results of your salvation?

Lord, We give thanks that You have delivered us from the power and penalty of sin, so that we might live eternally with You.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Firm Faith

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9b)

            Ahaz, king of Judah – not exactly a bastion of faith.  He had some basic aspects of faith.  It seems that he believed in the Lord, at least to some degree.  He had a level of respect for the Lord.  But, trust the Lord with your life when it’s on the line?  No, he wasn’t there.  Circumstances were about to shake him up.
            The testing of Ahaz arrived unceremoniously with an invasion from the north.  The Israelites from the northern kingdom teamed up with the Arameans (Syrians) to attack Judah and Jerusalem.  They had a stranglehold on Jerusalem.  So, God sent Isaiah with a message that the attacks would not achieve the goal, but the real test that faced Ahaz was whether, in the face of these ferocious threats, he would trust God.  The test was whether or not he would stand firm in faith.
            For us the challenge is the same.  We may not be a king whose capitol is surrounded by an invading army, but we do sometimes face personal or family challenges when the real and fundamental challenge is whether or not we will stand firm in our faith.  The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)  And note again the verse above, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” 
            We need to be perceptive enough to realize what the real challenge is.  Then, we need to rise to the occasion and stand firm in our faith.  God will enable us to do this when we decide that we are going to trust Him no matter what happens.

Lord, As we move through this day, may we face each challenge by standing firm in our faith, but trusting You.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Real Love

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

            The burdens people bear emerge from a variety of sources, some of them surprising.  For the psalmist it came from the betrayal of a friend.  They had gone to the house of the Lord together.  They had worshiped together.  They had enjoyed close fellowship together.  What happened, we do not know, but whatever it was, it was deeply significant.  In context, it involved “evil and horror,” and it resulted in a relational rift.
            There is probably no greater joy on this earth than the joy of genuine friendship.  The bond of trust creates peace and security.  Since that is true, there is also no greater burden than the betrayal of a friend who was once trusted.  Such burdens can weigh heavily on the heart and hurt deeply.
            We experience burdens from other sources as well, but the truth the Lord wants us to see today is that whatever the source and whatever the burden, we can cast our burdens on Him, and He will sustain us.  Peter reminded his readers to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He might exalt them in due time, “casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
            So, what burden are you carrying today?  Know that you do not have to bear it alone.  You can cast it on the Lord, so He can sustain you.  That’s real love.

Lord, We thank You for your faithful love toward us and Your power to sustain us in the midst of burdens we face.  Your grace is sufficient, and Your strength is enough.  Amen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Forever Praise

“I will praise You forever for what You have done.” (Psalm 52:9)

            God is worthy of our praise because of who He is.  We praise Him because His presence inspires awe in us.  His majesty, His holiness, His sovereignty, righteousness, grace, mercy, love, power and glory overwhelm us and bring for instantaneous and spontaneous praise, much like light produces instantaneous sight.
            We also praise God for what He has done.  In Psalm 52 the writer celebrates God’s judgment on the arrogant who love evil instead of good and even boast of their evil.  He also rejoices in the fact of God’s blessings on those who plant their lives in His presence.  Thus he says, “I will praise You forever for what You have done.”
            This takes us to a gripping truth:  Who God is produces what God does.  His actions are the expression of His “Personhood,” for lack of a better term. What He has done thus takes us to who He is and brings forth praise.
            Let these thoughts take you now to the cross of Jesus.  There we see what God has done.  As horrible and heart-rending as that image in our minds may be, we also look beyond to His majesty, holiness, sovereignty, righteousness, grace, mercy, love, power and glory.  We think of the cross, and we then bow in praise.  And we give thanks.

Father, In Jesus and in the cross we see You and who You are.  We will praise You forever for what You have done.  Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cause for Boasting

“But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us – our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

            The Corinthian church prided themselves on their pride.  Or so it seems.  They were plagued with pride at the time Paul dictated this letter.  They were actually dealing with multiple problems, but most of them were simply manifestations of pride.  So Paul began this paragraph by challenging them to consider their “calling.”  He reminded them of how far they had come from where they once were in life.  Not many of them had been noble, or wise, or strong.  In fact, they came from backgrounds of weakness.  “God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong,” said Paul in verse 27. 
            Paul reminded the Corinthians that it is because God had called them into Christ that they had any wisdom, because Christ Himself is their wisdom.  It is all from Him, and none of it from them.  Therefore, they have no cause for boasting in themselves.  Their only cause for boasting is what Christ was doing in them.
            Any wisdom that is in us is from Him.  Any righteousness that is in us is from Him.  Any sanctification (holiness) in us is from Him.  Any redemption we have is from Him.  It is all about Him, and not about us.
            We all need such reminders from time to time.  Christ in us is the only true hope of glory there is.

Lord, We turn from pride and humble ourselves before You, in the confidence that all that is good in us is from You.  May that truth in us bring glory to You today.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Accurate Representation

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

            If you were the only Christian an unbeliever were to be exposed to in his or her lifetime, what sort of judgment would he or she make about your Christ?  If he or she were to have one opportunity only to meet a Christian, and would then come to a conclusion about what Christians are like based on that encounter with you, what conclusions do you think he or she might reach?
            Some of us who are part of a church and who are regularly around other Christians cannot imagine that we would be the only Christian someone might meet.  But, let’s be reminded that there are literally billions of people in our world who have never heard even the name of Jesus even once.  Some of them actually are in our country.  So, this is not as impossible as it might seem.  Thus, the question remains.
            Jesus tells us how to be sure that we represent Him accurately to our world:  we are to love one another as He has loved us.  This is a love we are to feel toward one another, a love we are to demonstrate toward one another through our actions, and a love we are to practice toward one another habitually.  It is not a love we can generate ourselves but is a love that is possible only when the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.  This is God’s kind of love.  Loving one another with His kind of love is what will represent Jesus accurately to our world.

Lord, Your Spirit within us is the only hope we have for accurately representing You to our world. Fill us with Your Spirit.  Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Greater Life

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

            Let’s unpack this verse.
            First, our God – the only One there is – is the God of hope.  His love, His grace, His mercy, and His compassion toward us point toward the truth that He is Himself our hope, and that He instills hope in us by virtue of His presence.
            Second, our God is capable of filling us with joy and peace.  We can know a life of joy and peace, but there is a condition:  we must believe.  We must commit to Him in a decision of believing before He will commit to us His joy and peace.  Faith is the key.  Anything else is a cheap imitation that has no eternal substance.
            Third, the power of the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent to dwell in our hearts in a spiritual union, is what causes us to overflow with hope.  The Holy Spirit has the ability to change (or grow) us and to sustain us.  When He dwells within us, it is like a spring of water continually gushing and pouring out its life-giving waters.  
            So, this is the life God gives to us when we respond to His grace with faith.  This is a life that overflows with hope, with the certainty that He will keep His word eternally.  There is no greater life than this!

Lord, You are the Author of this life, and You are worthy of our praise and our thanksgiving.  Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Foundational Reliance

“For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is trustworthy; He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:4-5)

            The word of the Lord and the work of the Lord are conjoined.  Each depends on the other.  Where one goes, the other goes by necessity.
            The Lord speaks, and all creation comes into being.  He spoke into existence the heavens, the stars, the waters, and humanity with all other life.  The Lord speaks and reveals also His heart for us to see:  righteousness, justice, love, and His desire that we respond with hope and faith in Him and love toward Him.  This response He seeks is expressed by waiting on Him in trust for deliverance and strength.
            We tend, however, toward self-reliance.  We practice it, and we teach it to our children.  Our first response to difficulty is to “figure it out” and take action to resolve it.  In normal, everyday situations this is as it ought to be, and, in fact, this is good.  The problem comes, though, when we let this tendency rule every area of life.  Sooner or later we all face life situations that are beyond our control, problems we cannot “figure out.”
            What we need to understand and apply is that, while God does expect us to practice a routine sort of self-reliance for day to day situations, He also calls us to practice a much broader and larger reliance on Him in the heavier matters of life.  Relying on Him, waiting on Him, trusting in Him is to be our foundation for everything, because His word is right, and His work is trustworthy.  Any self-reliance must be built on the foundation of God-reliance.

Lord, There is no other Foundation.  You’re it. Help us to build our confidence on You as our Foundation of life.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ultimate Significance

“I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself.  But if it dies, it produces a large crop.  The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  (John 12:24-25)  “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7-9)

            The paradox of life says that it is only in dying that life is discovered.  So many spend lifetimes and fortunes trying to find life and peace and significance only to discover that the more the reach for it, the more elusive it becomes.  Their frustration can take them to cynicism. Those who actually do find life and peace and significance, however, find it only as a by-product, a result of a dying to self, self-centeredness, and self-interest.  They discover that the more they give of themselves, the more fulfilled they become, the more alive they are.
            This is a life principle paradox, but the concept itself does not produce ultimate significance, defined as “eternal life.”  That comes only when the principle is practiced with regard to a personal faith walk with the Lord in the context of His grace.  His grace toward us provides eternal life when we respond with personal faith, which may be described as a dying to self-effort.  The deeper we move into this faith walk of giving our lives away, we begin only then to explore the depths of the meaning of eternal life.

Lord, May we die to self today and each day, and live unto You.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Limitation of Perception

“But some of them said, ‘Couldn’t He who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?’” (John 11:37)

            Martha was the first to verbalize this negative sentiment:  “Lord, if You had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.”  Later, Mary reinforced it:  “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Some who came to support them in their grief aimed the same feeling toward Jesus in the question above. 
            Understand this as a criticism of Jesus.  That’s what it was.  The real thought being expressed but not actually stated is:  “So, why weren’t You here when we needed You?  Why didn’t You come when we sent word, when You had the chance to save Him?  Now, it’s too late.  You should have and could have done something about this, but You chose to delay.  We thought You were his friend.”  See the anger and hurt in their eyes.
            Think a moment about perceptions.  Martha saw Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God.  Mary no doubt did too.  Whether others around them did or not is not clear.  But the typical understanding of Messiah in that time did not see the Messiah as necessarily divine but as a warrior son of David, anointed by God to restore Israel.  In their view, the Messiah would be endowed by God with great power and authority.  So now, some of the people are doubting Him.  The real problem they were dealing with was their perception:  they did not see beyond what they were seeing.  Their perception of Him was limited, governed by their surface understanding.  Their perception would soon be challenged as Jesus began to walk toward the tomb of Lazarus.  In fact, their entire understanding of Jesus would be stunned with the raising of Lazarus.
            We sometimes think we have a complete understanding of who Jesus is, of who God is.  To be sure, the Bible provides us with a clear and in-depth understanding of the Lord, but it is tailored to our capabilities of perception.  We can build a solid theology of God and of Christ, but we still must recognize that who God is goes beyond our perceptions.  That is why we have faith.  The first question Jesus asked Martha was, “Do you believe…?”  Faith is what carries us beyond the limitation of our perceptions.

Lord, We see, but we don’t see all.  We understand, but we don’t understand all.  For that which is beyond our perceptions, we turn to You in faith and trust You.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


“Even zeal is not good without knowledge; and the one who acts hastily sins.” (Proverbs 19:2)  “I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

            Paul bared his heart in Romans 10 as he expressed his deep desire for the salvation of Israel.  When we read these words we feel the anguish of his soul, probably because we also know folks who are not saved, people we would dearly love to be saved.  In Israel’s case, Paul noted that they certainly have a great zeal for God, but they do not have knowledge.  What does that mean?  It means they had a “head” knowledge of the Scriptures and of God, but they did not have a heart understanding of how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures.  They did not have a personal knowing of the Lord by faith.  It seems that Paul, in part at least, drew on this concept from Proverbs.
            Zeal is a good thing.  Nothing wrong with zeal.  But zeal uninformed is a wild horse:  beautiful but untamed and not really useful. For zeal to hit its mark, it must serve the purposes of God.  It has to be bridled and hitched by knowledge and understanding that are derived from a personal walk with God in faith.  When truth is brought to fruition through personal understanding impacted by a personal faith relationship with the Lord, zeal gets hitched or bridled or saddled, and that is when it moves toward fulfilling the purposes of God.
            By all means, may we be a people of zeal, but let’s be certain that our zeal is informed by the Scriptures and by our personal faith walk with God, so that our zeal will not “miss the mark.”

Lord, Today please help us to let Your Spirit in us develop the kind of zeal that will bless You and fulfill Your purposes.  Amen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THE Door

“So Jesus said again, ‘I assure you: I am the door of the sheep.’” (John 10:7a)

            Our word “door” has multiple meanings.  The most obvious is the physical one.  All houses have them.  But there is also the metaphorical meaning.  “Door” can refer to a means to an end, or to an opportunity.
            In addition to meanings, doors have uses.  They are entry points to another place.  They are also used for exclusion, that is, to limit who may enter.  Sometimes we even lock them to further limit entrance.
            When Jesus said, “I am the door,” He was speaking metaphorically.  He was communicating to His listeners that He is the entrance to the kingdom of God, that He is our opportunity for entering eternal life, that He is the means to our salvation, and that only those who enter the kingdom through Him are valid, and there is no other door.
            In a society where religious pluralism appears to be the acceptable norm and even a core value, the idea that Jesus is THE door (and the only one) often meets with rejection, resistance, or skepticism.  The Bible is very clear, though.  We who follow the teachings and derive our beliefs from the Bible must hold the line and remain faithful to the truth, whether or not it is socially and culturally acceptable.  The Bible teaches us that Jesus and only Jesus is the door through which we may enter the kingdom of heaven for eternity, and with that truth we are to take our stand.

Father, We recognize that many in this nation do not accept this exclusiveness, but we recognize it as the truth because of who Jesus is and because of what He has done.  Thank You for allowing us to enter through Him.  Amen.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cheer Up Someone

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

            Every human being on this planet who is beyond childhood innocence knows experientially what anxiety is.  Anxiety is an emotional response to stress that causes us to feel a burden, and it comes from multiple sources:  financial stress, relational stress, personal insecurity, future uncertainty, health instability.  Its impact is cumulative.  Some anxieties resolve themselves, but much of it lingers like floodwaters.  Anxiety that comes to rest in the heart weighs it down.  It hurts, and it hampers.
            A good word, spoken to one whose heart is weighed down with anxiety, however, can cheer up that person.  It helps them feel less alone, less weak, because they know that someone else knows and understands.  It’s like they are carrying a heavy load they’re about to drop, and someone comes along and adds his or her strength by helping to carry it.
            Today, maybe you can be the person who gives someone with a heavy heart a good word.  It may be a verse you quote from Scripture. It may be a word of personal encouragement.  Look for an opportunity to give someone a good word today.  Ask God to show you the opportunities, and then cheer someone up.

Lord, Help each of us today to be a source for encouragement and cheer, and help us not to add to anyone’s anxiety today.  Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Book and Its Cover

“Others said, ‘This is the Messiah!’  But some said, ‘Surely, the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does He?  Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?’… ‘You aren’t from Galilee, too, are you?’ they replied. ‘Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.’” (John 4:41-42, 52)

            Have you ever come to a conclusion about someone based on incomplete or inaccurate information?  Has someone ever come to a conclusion about you (and you found out about it later) based on incomplete or inaccurate information?  Most of us can answer yes to both questions.  It seems to be a common human experience to reach a conclusion about people because we are convinced we have complete information, while in truth we may not, and it seems that pride is the fuel that drives this.
            The folks who heard Jesus, who saw Him, who interacted with Him knew Him as a Galilean.  He dressed like a Galilean.  He spoke with a Galilean accent.  Some thus concluded that He could not possibly be the Messiah, because in their understanding of prophecy no prophet could come from Galilee.  But their information was incomplete and inaccurate.  Jesus only grew up in Galilee.  They did not know the Christmas story, that He was born in Bethlehem, David’s home town, and that both Joseph and Mary were direct descendants of David.  Proverbially, they were “judging a book by its cover.”
            The next time you find yourself reaching a conclusion about someone because of some surface feature of their lives, stop a moment and remember this story about Jesus, and then hold up on your conclusion until some greater clarity comes.  Following this approach might just help you discover an unexpected blessing.

Lord, We recognize that we do not always understand the full picture the way You do, so we ask You to help us approach others with open minds and hearts, so that Your Spirit may lead us in ministering to them.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


“So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)

            When Paul wrote, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires,” he means that you don’t have to let sin reign in your life.  You can choose NOT to obey sin’s desires or claims on your life.  At one time you could not do this because sin claimed you as its own.
            Sin can lay several legal claims against people: 1) you can never meet God’s legal expectations of you, and you are therefore bound by those legal structures like a fly in a spider web, so that you are not free to do what you know is right, 2) you do not have it in your heart to do consistently what is right, and you therefore live under the dominion of sin, 3) since sin is the ruler over your life dominion, you have no real choice but to obey its desires, and 4) since you will fail at right living consistently because sin is the dominant force in your life, you have no choices and you are not as free as you think you are.  These are the “legal” claims of sin against people.  Downright depressing, isn’t it?
            That’s the bad news.  Here’s the good news:  Jesus Christ did something for us that made it possible to free us from the dominion of sin, to cancel all of sin’s “legal” claims against us.  He accepted the full penalty of our sins, and all of our sins died with Him on the cross.  He was then raised from the dead, but sin was not.  It stayed dead.  All legal claims are now dismissed.  Grace rules.  We are acquitted.  Now, He offers us this life in the free world of grace, and we need only accept it by faith.
            When we accept this offer by faith, our old sin life dies, and He raises us up spiritually to a new life that is free.  We died to sin, and sin therefore has no more claim on us.  Now, we are alive to God and therefore free to live and to choose.  So, choose to live.

Lord, We have made our choice in faith, and You have now ushered us into life through forgiveness and out of the death that came from sin.  Thank You for leading us to this life.  Help us to share it with others today.  Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2011

No Compromise

“From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:66)

            Jesus had more than the 12 disciples.  He called the 12 disciples “apostles,” but there were many other disciples. Judging from the crowds that attended His teaching and healing events, the number of disciples was significant.  A significant number of these decided that they would no longer follow Him when they heard His statements about being the bread of life, superior to manna, and about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  They obviously did not comprehend what He was talking about.  He also said that no one could come to Him unless granted by the Father.
            Here’s what we learn from this verse:  Jesus was unwilling to compromise the truth.  As much as He wanted to reach people and gain disciples, He absolutely refused to compromise truth.  He was even willing to let them go away rather than compromise the truth.
            Those who are committed to Jesus as His disciples definitely want to reach people with the gospel.  The eternity of the lost depends on it.  There is, however, a line of truth beyond which we must not go.  The practice of “accommodation” of the truth should not be followed.  Explanation, yes, and clarification, yes, but the practice of accommodation communicates that the truth is not that important, that it is just relative and not absolute.  We must by all means reach the lost with the gospel, but not by compromising truth.

Father, the truth is Yours, and You are the truth.  Help us to love others and share Your truth with others, and help us also not to compromise Your truth in the least.  Amen.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

            When someone tells you that a loved one “passed,” they usually mean that the person died.  Some folks just don’t like to use the word “die,” so they use the word “passed” as a euphemism.  So, in this sense passed means passing from this life to death and beyond.
            Notice the way Jesus used the word “passed.”  He used it differently, in conjunction with faith to mean passing from death to life.  He says that anyone who hears His word and believes the One who sent Him has eternal life.  He has passed from death to life.  That suggests that being in this life apart from God is death.  Not knowing the Lord in a personal, faith relationship is death.  But knowing Him by faith ushers us from death into life.  We have passed.
            Today, if you know the Lord, you need to celebrate your passing – to life!

Father, We thank You for bringing us out of death and into the life of promise.  We thank You for our passing.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good Food

“’My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,’ Jesus told them.” (John 4:34)

            Food is a life necessity.  It sustains us by providing fuel for energy.  It is one of the main motivations and objectives for the work we do, and it’s a cycle.  We work for food, and we eat food so we can have the energy to work, though the ultimate objective is to sustain life.  We cannot live very long without food, and after prolonged periods without it we will do almost anything to get it.  The necessity of food nearly approaches something of a human passion.
            The disciples of Jesus went into a nearby Samaritan village to buy some food while Jesus, weary from the journey, hung back and sat down by a well.  But that was not the only reason He remained behind.  Someone would be coming to the well soon, and Jesus had a divine appointment with her, though she was not aware of it at the time.
            Sometime later the disciples returned to the well with food in hand and urged Jesus to eat something.  Soon He would, but He pointed out to them that there is more than one kind of food.  There is also a “spiritual” food that is every bit as necessary as physical food.  This food is missions related – “doing the will of Him who sent Me.”
            Missions is thus the spiritual food we need, a passion for reaching the lost, for bringing them to the Lord.  Like food, missions sustains and energizes us, so that we can carry out the work of missions, with life lived well and finished well as the ultimate objective.

Lord, We thank You for the physical food that sustains us daily and for the spiritual food that energizes us daily to share You with a world that does not know You.  Amen.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wisdom Source

“He said to mankind, ‘The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom.  And to turn from evil is understanding.’” (Job 35:28)

            The question in Job’s mind was:  Where does wisdom come from?  Where is understanding, and how can people find it?
            Job thought of a miner and the work a miner would do to find silver, gold, iron, copper, sapphire, and other treasures.  Given the details of Job’s description of the work of mining, we might wonder if he had done some mining himself at one time in his life.
            Then comes his question:  But what about wisdom?  How can someone get wisdom?  Is it like a mining operation where you search and dig and explore until ultimately you find what you’re looking for?  Does this wisdom thing have a location, or an address?  Can you find it on a map?
            Job concluded that wisdom and understanding are nothing at all like this.  You cannot mine for it.  You cannot reach out your hand and take hold of it.  Wisdom and understanding come only from one source.  Wisdom is produced only when people fear the Lord.  And understanding is found only when people turn from evil.  When people open their eyes spiritually and catch a vision of how awesome and holy God is, and when they respond by turning away from the destructiveness of sin, wisdom and understanding are then given birth in their hearts.

Lord, May it be so in our hearts.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The View from Hope

“But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last.  Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.” (John 19:25-26)

            Suffering, sorrow, loss and pain – both physical and emotional – afflicted Job, and yet in this verse above his faith and hope rise decisively to the surface to declare their resolve.  Job knows the Lord, his Redeemer, and he knows that his Redeemer lives and will one day stand on the earth.  He is convinced that his eyes will see his Redeemer even after the destruction of his own body.  He is talking about the resurrection of the body.
            Interesting, isn’t it, that Job is talking about faith and hope, but he is expressing it in terms of “knowing.”  This is the way of faith.  A seed germinates, and as the tiny plant begins to send its roots into the earth it simultaneously sprouts and begins its climb toward the sun.  In a similar way, faith and hope deepen our walk with God while at the same time grow stronger and stronger until it takes us eventually into the arena of certainty.  We begin in faith and hope.  We move continually toward knowing.
            A man named John looked up one day and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  Looks like Job was right.  Our living Redeemer came and stood on the earth, just as Job said He would.  Faith became sight.  And one day, we also will see Him as He is, as our faith becomes sight.

Thank You, Father, for the faith and hope that will one day be sight.  Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


“He doesn’t let me catch my breath but soaks me with bitter experiences.” (Job 9:18)

            Some folks very much identify with the feeling Job expressed:  soaked with bitter experiences.  Soaking in something bitter is one way to describe the process that produces pickles.  Folks who are going through a bitter experience in fact may sometimes say, “I’m in a real pickle!”
            That was Job’s world for a time.  He felt pickled.  From his view, his circumstances had come from God.  The story indicates no awareness that Satan was involved.  In fact, it does not appear that he knew that there is a Satan.  Like many of his day, he thought that one’s life circumstances emanated from the Almighty.  He was at least partly correct in the sense that God allowed him to go through these experiences.
            Job’s thinking became clouded by his bitterness and by the pain of his sores.  Physical pain and emotional pain prevented him from recognizing any purposes God had in what he was going through.  Pain does have a way of demanding our focus.  But this does not mean that God was not carrying out His purposes.  In fact, He was.
            If God is allowing us to go through bitter experiences, He has a purpose.  And He will fulfill that purpose, just as He did with Job.  We just need to be patient and faithful through it and endure.  One day it will all be clear, just as it was with Job.

Lord, We have to admit that sometimes we just do not understand why You allow Your people to walk through bitter experiences, but we trust that You do have a purpose.  And we trust You in that purpose.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When Negatives Abound

“’You speak as a foolish woman,’ he told her. ‘Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?’ Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:10)

Two dynamics are at work in Job’s statement above. The first is an incomplete picture. Job did not have the complete picture of God in his understanding. He saw God as the source of his affliction. Ultimately, God was the source but only in that He allowed Job’s afflictions. Satan was the one who actually afflicted Job, not God. God could have stopped it, but He did not because of His higher purposes for Job: to strengthen his faith.

The second dynamic is a picture of integrity. Integrity bonded with faith led Job to say, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” It’s far more common for people to rail against God when adversity comes, but Job trusted God’s purposes for his life. As painful and horrible as his circumstances were, his trust in God prevailed.

It’s easy to trust God’s purposes when the positive blessings flow. It’s not so easy when the negatives abound. And yet, that is exactly what He is seeking in us. God is looking for commitment regardless. He is looking to produce that in us, and He seeks to strengthen it in us.

Whether we have an incomplete picture, or whether we are a picture of integrity, may we trust God and His purposes, both when life sails calm waters or when the storms of live arise suddenly.

Father, In all the circumstances we face in this life, both when the positives flow or the negatives abound, may we turn to You in trust as You guide us through them. Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Night Crew

“Now praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand in the Lord’s house at night! Lift up your hands in the holy place and praise the Lord!” (Psalm 134:1-2)

The temple doors closed at dusk as usual. The day’s worshipers were all gone along with the hustle and bustle. Quiet settled in again in the holy place, but the stillness was soon broken by the night sounds, the sounds of the night shift coming to work. All the oil lamps had to filled to keep them burning all night. The incense burner had to be replenished and stoked, and the bread on the table had to be removed and replaced with warm, fresh bread. Now, not just sound but smell! Floors had to be swept and dust wiped away. The few of the night crew thus carried on with their tasks, but then one of them noticed – the Presence of the Lord the Almighty was only a few feet away. The Almighty One! The Holy One. The Awesome One. He was suddenly overcome with awe as tears welled up in his eyes, and he lifted his hands and was compelled from within to say, “Hallelujah, for the Lord God Almighty reigns! The Holy One of Israel rules! Praise the Lord!” After those few holy moments, the night crew finished their duties and then left rejoicing, until the next night.

The next time you wonder if anyone notices the little things you do in serving the Lord, pause for a moment, and remember whose you are and who you serve. Lift up your hands in that very holy moment in that holy place and praise the Lord.

Thank You, Father, for those who quietly carry out their service to You, just because it needs to be done and because they love You. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unholy Alliances

“That very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Previously, they had been hostile toward each other.” (Luke 23:12)

In the world of social interactions there are alliances, enemies, and neutralities. The neutralities are relationships which have no impact on values, objectives, goals, and friendships, so we tend to ignore those interactions mostly, unless they venture across a perceived line. Enemies represent the competition whose goals are in conflict, producing hostility. Alliances are the networks that work toward common goals and produce friendship and camaraderie.

Herod and Pilate were not friends. They were prideful competitors in the world of politics and intrigue. Even though both served the Roman Empire, each saw the other more in terms of “enemy.” Distrust ruled their interactions. At least, until Jesus entered their world, that was the case. When Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him to Herod who had jurisdiction over Galilee. Herod treated Jesus with content and sent Him back to Pilate who ultimately crucified Him.

That day, Pilate and Herod became friends. How nice. Two former enemies were now friends. Their friendship was built on a newfound mutual respect for the right of the other to handle legal matters related to their respective jurisdictions, and it all came about because of a case of religious blasphemy toward a circuit-riding preacher from Galilee who claimed to be a king!

How pointless! Herod and Pilate were both clueless with regard to Who was before them. This was the Son of God, and they missed it. They were possessed by the political, cultural, social, and pagan world. In their worldview, Jesus was a nobody. Only Rome matters. Their alliance was built on thinking they were right, when, in reality, they were truly clueless.

Oddly enough, not much has changed since then. There are organizations and individuals in our day which build friendships and alliances on prideful goals intended to debunk and derail anything that is spiritual. Some of them have Christianity in their cross-hairs.

Jesus once told His disciples that no servant is above their master, and if their master is treated badly, they should expect at least the same. We thus need to be reminded today that we have a citizenship that is in heaven more than it is in any other place. As much as we may appreciate our citizenship in a nation of this world, we should remember that we have an eternal citizenship with the Lord in heaven, and that is a citizenship that will see us through anything.

Lord, We thank You that we belong to You. We thank You that we can participate in life with You, knowing that the day will come when You recall us to our true home country. Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Great Benefits

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12)

Two incredible benefits are defined in the verses above: unlimited love and infinite forgiveness. So who receives these benefits? Answer: Those who fear Him.

On this side of the cross and this far past it, some might recoil at the idea of fearing the Lord, particularly when they recall John’s statements that “there is no fear in love” and “God is love.” Even so, we must accept that what the psalmist says is true, and if true we need to consider how to reconcile these thoughts. It’s actually simple.

The fear of the Lord, as expressed here, is not the kind where someone cowers in a corner terrified by some kind of “monster.” This kind of fear is better described by the word “awe.” Awe is what Jacob felt when he woke up one morning from a dream in which he saw angels descending and ascending from heaven and then knew he was in a holy place. An awesome fear is what Moses felt before a burning bush that burned without being consumed. Awe is what Thomas expressed when he said, “My Lord, and my God.” Awe is what Saul of Tarsus felt when blinded on the Damascus Road where he met Jesus.

The fear of the Lord is thus the recognition of awesome power, sovereignty, love, goodness, and the holiness of God. We experience this as we walk with God in faith and humility. This kind of fear is what brings unlimited love and infinite forgiveness into clear focus and leads us in joy to say, “Thank You.”

Lord, Truly we give thanks to You for Your faithful love and complete forgiveness. We thank You for the privilege of walking with You. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Bad Day

“He went away and discussed with the chief priests and temple police how he could hand Him over to them.” (Luke 22:4)

“He went away.” What a sad statement! The one who went away was Judas Iscariot, of course, and his story we know well. We cannot comprehend it all because we cannot know all the dynamics involved, but we do understand the bottom line – he went away.

At the personal level, we all know people who “went away” from Jesus, maybe not so much in a Judas kind of betrayal, but more in a “relational drift” sort of way. The truth is: we may ourselves be among those who, at times, may have gone away from Jesus. Some who went away may be acquaintances. Some are close friends. Some are family members. We see folks move away from the Lord, and it pains us to watch it happen, especially when, in spite of our attempts to lead them back to the Lord, they intentionally just keep moving away. The creates a place of hurt in us, a place of sorrow and even mourning at times.

So, what can we do when something like this happens? For one thing, we have to accept the fact that God created all of us with the capacity for making choices. He gave us the freedom to decide. For another thing, we have to maintain our own commitments, our own walk with God, in the hope that something in our faithfulness to the Lord will speak to them somehow. Third, we have to pray for those who move away. Fourth, we never give up hope. We maintain the hope that the power of God’s redemption will continually work on their hearts and ultimately lead them to a change of heart that will lead them home.

Lord, We confess that we are not always very comfortable with an approach like this, especially when we feel like we should be “doing something.” But help us to just be faithful and to trust You to lead those we care about back to Yourself. Amen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joy Walk

“For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, ‘Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.’” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

The re-building of Jerusalem’s wall was complete. The returned exiles were settling in. Seven months later Nehemiah called for a national celebration in Jerusalem, so the people came from all over. Ezra the priest was asked to read from the Book of the Law, and after he did so he led the people in worship. Fourteen of the Levites, along with Ezra and Nehemiah, translated for those whose Hebrew language ability was not yet sufficient, and they explained the meaning to them. As the people listened to all this they began weeping. They wept because they knew that they and their ancestors had failed and had broken Israel’s covenant with God.

Nehemiah’s leadership then rose to the surface. He led the people to move on through their mourning and lay it aside. He called on them to move more toward the joy of this occasion. The wall was rebuilt, and now their walk with God needed some work. They needed to understand that this walk with God is characterized by joy. They needed to see in fact that the joy of knowing, relating to, and walking with the Lord is their true stronghold, far more so than any city wall.

Truly, the joy of knowing and walking with God, even in the midst of difficulty, discouragement, sorrow, or despair is our place of strength. When we purposely go to our place of joy in such times, we discover that it’s true. The joy of the Lord is our stronghold.

Lord, We thank You than You Yourself are our stronghold, our place of safety and strength and peace and joy. We thank You that we can abide in You. Amen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Matter of Coordination

“They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.” (Nehemiah 7:68-69)

Nehemiah chapter 7 is one of those “genealogical” chapters, where there are long lists of names and numbers. Folks often come to those chapters in their Bible reading and move on to the next chapter without a list. These couple of verses above seem to have little spiritual importance, given that they just number the animals the exiles brought back with them to Jerusalem, so what might be there that merits our time and attention?

Consider Mark 11:7, “They brought the donkey to Jesus and threw their robes on it, and He sat on it.”

The time had drawn near for Jesus to be crucified. The centuries old prophecies of Zechariah had to be fulfilled that their King would come to them, riding on a donkey. Jesus sent two of His disciples to the village ahead with an instruction. Upon entering the village they would find a donkey tied to a post. They were to untie it and bring it. If anyone questioned them, they were to respond, “The Lord needs it and will send it back right away.” It happened just that way, so they brought the donkey to Jesus. He rode it into Jerusalem in the event we call “the triumphant entry.”

From the 6,720 donkeys that returned to Jerusalem with the exiles descended the donkey that was appointed for the Messiah to ride into Jerusalem. That donkey had to be in that village, tied up, and ready to go at just the precise time it was needed in order to fulfill the prophecy. It was not coincidental. It was planned by God and coordinated by God from ages past.

That is what we Christians call “sovereign.” It was a simple little donkey, but God had to coordinate an infinite number of variables to fulfill that prophecy of Zechariah. Only a sovereign God can do that. And a God who is capable of doing this certainly has no problem knowing everything going on in your life and mine. He has no problem bringing His purposes for us to fruition as long as we submit ourselves to those purposes. Today, would you reaffirm your commitment to God’s purposes for your life?

Lord, We bow before You and reaffirm our commitment to Your purposes for us, and we thank You that You are fully capable of carrying out those purposes. Amen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Have You Received the Holy Spirit?

“and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’” (Acts 19:2)

Third missionary journey. Ephesus. Paul found a dozen “disciples” there, apparently established by a man named Apollos who by that time had gone on to Corinth. Paul had left Priscilla and Acquila in Ephesus, and they came across Apollos who was more of a disciple of John the Baptist and taught a baptism of repentance. He taught what he knew about Jesus, but he knew nothing of the Holy Spirit. So, they helped him navigate to the fuller view, and from there he went on to Corinth where he genuinely strengthened the church.

By the time Paul arrived back in Ephesus, Priscilla and Acquila had departed, and most likely they returned to Rome. So Paul searched until he found this group of disciples who knew only John’s baptism. It is not totally clear, but it seems that they believed they needed to be baptized. It does not seem that they believed fully in Jesus. They were more like the disciples of Jesus before the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost. Paul told them that John told the people they should believe in “the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” (verse 19:4) So, they believed in Jesus and were then baptized in His name. Then Paul asked them about the Holy Spirit. They had never even heard there was a Holy Spirit. So, he laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them as He did on the Day of Pentecost. They spoke in other languages and prophesied.

Paul expected that if these men had believed in Jesus that they received the Holy Spirit, because that is when believers receive the Spirit. When they seemed puzzled by his question, he then laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit then confirmed His presence through the sign that was given, both for their benefit and for Paul’s.

So, have you received the Holy Spirit? If you have believed in Jesus Christ, if you have united with Him and committed your life to Him, that you have already received the Holy Spirit. He dwells in you. The confirmation of the Spirit’s presence will be seen in the responses you then give to His truth.

Lord, We thank You for placing Your Holy Spirit within us, to guide us, teach us, strengthen us, and enable us to walk with You. In these moments today, please confirm the Presence of Your Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rich in Faithful Love

”For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.” (Psalm 86:5)

David was called “a man after God’s own heart.” In fact, God is One who described him with that designation. A related description is that David also understood God’s heart. He understood as no one else of his generation did.

The pantheon of so-called “gods” of David’s day that people worshiped were mean, ruthless, self-centered, demanding, and vengeful. People were in terror of them. They were gods that had to be appeased. Some folks saw the Lord as just another god of that same genre. But not David. He expresses the truth about who God really is: “For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.”

Sometimes we need to be reminded that the Lord is kind and ready to forgive. Certainly God hates sin, because it offends His holiness, but the grace nature of God impacts us with kindness, such that in spite of our sin He is ready to forgive when we come before Him in confession and repentance. When we do so, we discover that our God is, indeed, rich in faithful love.

Lord, We thank You for Your lovingkindness. We thank You for the freedom that comes with Your forgiveness. Amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wall Building

“Then I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: ‘The work is enormous and spread out, and we are separated far from one another along the wall. Whenever you hear the trumpet sound, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us!’ So we continued the work, while half of the men were holding spears from daybreak until the stars came out.” (Nehemiah 4:19-21)

The monumental task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem dominated the daily life of the returned exiles after Nehemiah arrived on the scene. The work was back-breaking. The locals harassed and attacked to try to stop it from happening. At the risk of life and limb they continued the work. So, what’s the big deal with this wall? After all, it was just a wall wasn’t it?

The Jerusalem wall represented safety and life on the surface, but its meaning went far deeper for the people. It approached the spiritual and existential level where it represented the protection of the Almighty. Rebuilding the wall was a God-given task, a mission, and Nehemiah led the effort with strong determination in order to realize God’s protection from the enemy.

One of the applications we might see from this experience relates to what some call “spiritual warfare.” We can decipher several principles from the experience of the exiles in this regard: 1) all participate, 2) all share in the task, 3) we work where needed, 4) we trust God, and 5) we stay alert. In the spiritual battles we go through, may we all trust God, staying alert, to participate in the shared task of gospel advance, serving where needed.

Lord, Thank You for including us in Your plans for advancing the gospel. Amen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Don’t Fear, Keep Speaking

“Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, ‘Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.’” (Acts 18:9-10)

Note these two verses above in your mind, and then think back. At this point Paul was several years into his missionary work. He had traveled extensively, visiting numerous cities, and he had started churches in most of these cities. He was once stoned and left for dead. He had been beaten and imprisoned. He had been run out of town more than once. He had been laughed out of the Athenian areopagus (market place). Now, here he was in Corinth, afraid. The significance of his fear and hesitation is seen in the fact that it took a vision from the Lord to move him beyond it.

Even veteran missionaries with years of experience, toughened by adversity, can still experience fear and hesitation. Certainly fear can hinder those less experienced and toughened much more easily. It is a tool of Satan. But we have Paul’s vision of the Lord recorded for us, and it provides us with the same truth it provided Paul: the Lord and His strength is with us and is sufficient. He gives us the reassurance of His presence, His love, His power, and His activity. And He invites us not to be afraid, to keep on speaking, and not be silent. He invites us to move with Him beyond fear into obedience and trust.

Father, Help us to move beyond our hesitations and beyond its causes and speak with courage in Your name. Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Obstacles and Tasks

“Give your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:11b)

These words at the conclusion of Nehemiah’s much longer prayer suggest that something in Nehemiah’s mind, something unstated, constituted success.

Here’s the situation. Nehemiah, a trusted advisor and cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, received a report from the exiles in Judah. They were suffering because the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down. They had no place of safety. Nehemiah responded by weeping, mourning, fasting, and praying for several days before lifting his prayer of confession and supplication to the Lord. At the very end of his prayer, he asked for success in the king’s presence that day. Success in what? Clearly, he had something in mind.

We do not know for certain because it is unstated, but we might safely surmise that God was calling Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to lead the effort in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But Nehemiah faced what everyone faces who has been given a mission: obstacles. For Nehemiah, his obstacles included his position in the king’s service, his responsibilities, the lack of authority and freedom to make the decision, and a lack of resources to complete the task. Formidable obstacles all. His only chance for success was for the Lord Himself to intervene and give success.

Anytime God gives us a task or a mission, we will experience obstacles, and only with His help will we find the resolutions and the resources. Thus, our foundational task is to first go to Him, to seek His face, and in that context then seek His hand.

Lord, We trust You to provide us with the resolutions and resources to carry out Your tasks and Your mission, and we, therefore, turn to You. Amen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Change

“’Today salvation has come to this house,’ Jesus told him, ‘because he too is a son of Abraham.’” (Luke 19:9)

The story is about Zacchaeus, up until then a mean-spirited, conniving traitor, hated by all except other tax collectors. This is the man Jesus called down from his sycamore tree perch, so He could go to his home and eat with him. That encounter with Jesus changed Zacchaeus. He did “a 180” with his life, and Jesus pronounced him “saved” and “a son of Abraham.”

Interesting. Zacchaeus already was “a son of Abraham.” He was a blood descendant of Abraham. Not a very good one, but still a son. So, why did Jesus say, “He too is a son of Abraham”? What constitutes being a son of Abraham. Clearly, in Jesus’ thinking it was not just a matter of genetics.

A son of Abraham is anyone whose heart and whose life direction is changed by an encounter with the Lord and His truth, leading them into faith and a faith-based relationship with the Lord. This “change” is not simply a feel good thing, but is rather an action demonstrated thing. Certainly there is a feel good aspect to this change through the forgiveness of sins, but the real change is in the way we live. As Jesus said earlier to Nicodemus, it’s like being born all over again – total newness of life.

So, God’s expectation is thus that we will live out this change in ways that reflect what has happened in our hearts. For each of us, may this day be one in which the ways we live will demonstrate to others the power of God to change a life.

Lord, Truly may this day reveal to others, as part of our witness to them, the changes You have wrought in our hearts and lives. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Tension of Trust

“I am afflicted and needy; hurry to help me, God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.”

When we come before the Lord in a crisis beyond our control and seek His help and His resolution to the issues we are facing, whether we say it or not our feeling is: Lord, please do not delay! A crisis hurts. We are in a state of disequilibrium. The order of our lives has been torpedoed, and we have this gaping hole where we’re “taking on water.” No delays, we pray! We’re going down, God! Hurry! In our American culture, that feeling is intensified by our demand and expectation of instant gratification. So, we find ourselves in a world of hurt, and we know that only the Lord can resolve our affliction.

What puzzles us is that sometimes even when our sense of urgency feels like we’ve been plugged into an electric socket God seems to delay His response. Removed from the crisis or somehow transported out of it, our minds can reason that God’s timing is always perfect and always according to His purposes, but during a crisis we cannot escape from we want resolution from the affliction. Yet, there is this delay that we cannot understand.

The impact of this is that in a crisis that has spun out of control, until we see a resolution from God, we may just have to live with the tension of trust. That is not a state of comfort. But it is where we sometimes find ourselves. Trust is more than just a noble ideal. For some folks that’s about all it is until they find themselves in the white hot crucible of crisis, and that’s when they learn all the ins and outs of the tension of trust. Trusting God simply produces a tension that we sometimes have to live with, as we wait for God’s resolution.

Lord, We confess to You that trusting You is sometimes one of our greatest tensions in life, but we trust You anyway because we know You are trustworthy, and that You will respond to what we see as our crises as You see best for us. So we trust You, and we commit to living with the tension that goes with that. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thin Prayers

“May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me.” (Psalm 66:20)

Some folks feel like their prayers are a little on the thin side and just evaporate into the air like our breath on a winter’s day. They feel nothing comes of them. Maybe it isn’t just “some” folks; maybe it’s more than meets the eye.

Sometimes we pray and pray, and yet it seems that nothing is happening, as if maybe God just isn’t listening. But this verse above stands tall, like an Ebenezer stone before us to remind us that our prayers always register with God.

God always listens intently, and He does so because, like a father who loves his children, He loves us dearly and listens out of a heart of love. And yet, He also knows what is best for us, according to the direction and plan He has for us. We simply have to trust Him and His purposes for us, and keep praying.

Lord, Help us to pray and never give up. Amen.