Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rescue the Lost

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. (Pr 24:11)

This verse made me think of the lost and how often I simply ignore and do nothing to try to share the Gospel with people. If I could really engage with what it means that they are lost, and thought about the terrible fate that awaits them, maybe I’d be a little less concerned about embarrassing or inconveniencing myself for their sakes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Take Heart!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

If ever there was anyone about whom it could be said, “In this world you will have trouble,” it would certainly be true of the disciples. Tradition tells us they were all martyred, except John who was exiled. By comparison, few among us will lead troubled lives. How much more can we then have confidence in Jesus’ statement, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I have often given in too easily to sadness and fear as I contemplate the future, especially when I begin to worry about those who are dear to me. But Jesus spoke as one who knows the future. Even more, he is sovereign in the future just as he is sovereign in the present. When Jesus tells us to take heart, it is in full knowledge that “we will have trouble” – but that will not be the end of the story. Is 46:10 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Everything Give Thanks

Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Th 5:17-18 KJV)

This verse was cited in this week’s study on saturating your life with prayer. I can’t remember thinking much about this verse for a long time. I have not been consciously practicing giving thanks in all things. I want to begin to include this in my daily prayer life. Lord, I thank you in the midst of troubles and uncertainties because I know you are sovereign and you love me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

God Will Prevail

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. (Pr 21:30)

Our enemies seem to be multiplying these days. Islamic jihadists, radical Hindus, newly aggressive atheists and others add to the familiar ranks of the enemies of the Gospel. But this verse reminds us that no matter how many enemies of God there are, and how strong they might appear to be, God is sovereign and he will prevail – completely, decisively and permanently. The outcome is never in doubt. When as individual believers we feel pressed, we have only to remember, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Pr 18:10)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Measure of Love

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. (Jn 14:21)

By this measure my love for Jesus is a poor, half-hearted thing. John makes the connection between love and obedience so clear, and yet we tend to overlook it. But isn’t it wonderful that our salvation does not depend on obedience? We are not obeying to save our souls. We obey solely as an expression of our love for God. Lord, increase my love for you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Investing for Eternity

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (Jn 12:24-25)

Our life in this world is the kernel of wheat that dies, producing many seeds. Jesus gave his earthly life to achieve an eternal end. In a similar way, we give over to him our life on this earth, to achieve an eternal end. We tend to think this life is what is important, but it’s only important in the way that a seed which is planted is important. The ultimate point is what we achieve in this life for eternity. We invest our earthly life for an eternal dividend. Though we suffer today it is to achieve God’s eternal purpose. We must not expect or seek a life free from trouble. Though there is great joy in obedience, it will often be in the midst of pain.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Take Off the Grave Clothes!

Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out…Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (Jn 11:43-44)

What power there is in the voice of God! It gives me goose bumps to think about the voice of Jesus calling, “Lazarus, come out!” The authority and power, the confidence of command. It is just the same miraculous power by which we have gone from death to life, made new in Christ. God works this same miracle of resurrection every time a sinner receives salvation. And then he turns to us and says, in the same voice of command, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” When we are first reborn we still carry about on our person the trappings of death. The process of removing these is the process of sanctification. And our role in this as fellow believers is disciple-making. God never intended that solitary new believers go home to be sanctified in isolation. Too often, when the Body of Christ falls down on the job, sanctification never happens in the life of a believer. We must obey the Lord’s command to “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

For the Increase of His Glory

When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." (Jn 11:4)

Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick; he even knew that he was going to die. And when he heard the request of Mary and Martha to come, he still stayed two more days. He allowed Lazarus to get sick and die, and appeared to ignore the supplications of Mary and Martha. All this was so that God would be glorified. As we pray for the lost, that God would rescue them from the path of destruction, we cannot know if perhaps God delays his answer for the increase of his glory. He allowed Mary and Martha and Lazarus to suffer for a season, knowing that their joy would be greater in the end and that he would receive greater glory.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boldly Proclaiming the Truth

Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him? (Jn 10:20)

Jesus always boldly proclaimed the truth even when those around him didn’t receive it. They said he was “demon-possessed and raving mad.” I censor my own speech so often because I am afraid of what people will think of me. I want them to think well of me – not scornfully or condescendingly as one who is weak (to depend on religion as a crutch) or na├»ve (hasn’t thought it through) or stupid (isn’t smart enough to understand). Jesus was willing to clearly speak truth even when he knew others would consider him mad. He counted the cost and pressed forward anyway, out of loving obedience to the Father. I choose my words carefully, wanting others to love me. Jesus chose his words carefully, wanting others to love the Father. Lord, forgive me for my selfishness.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Not Too Late

The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. (Pro 10:27)

I shouldn’t worry that I’m too old to really become a true disciple. I’m 53 and a poor steward so far of my life and health. But if I become a true follower today and a good steward, I may well have 25-30 years of ministry left in this life. I can still impact this generation, and the next, for Christ.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Truth That Sets Us Free

If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. (Jn 8:31-32)

This reminds me of what I wrote the other day on Jn 7:17. We often quote v32 out of context. We’re not really his disciples unless we hold to his teaching. “Hold to” is also translated “abide” (NKJV) and “obey” (GNT). If we remain in, dwell in, continue in his Word, then we will truly be his disciples and only then will we truly know the truth. And we will not just know it; we will have been set free by it. (Free from sin!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Called Out

If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (Jn 7:17)

I feel like Jesus is "calling me out" in this passage! You say you believe; start living it and you will really find out whether it is true or not. Put your money where your mouth is. I remember the Plexiglas floor in the CN tower in Toronto. A clear plastic floor and underneath it’s 1400 feet straight down. Although intellectually I believed that it was strong enough to hold me (engineering judgment, building codes, even seeing others step out) I could not bring myself to step to the middle of that panel. Similarly, I need to overcome my instinct for self-preservation and step out in faith to be obedient to God in ministry, evangelism and personal lifestyle. Then I will truly know that his Word is true, and not just "believe" it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Is Serious

You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! (Pr 5:12)
He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Pr 5:23)

I am too tempted to spurn discipline, especially self-discipline! These verses show it is a serious matter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Bread That Gives Life

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (Jn 6:33)

Jesus is the true bread from heaven that gives life to the world. Just like bread nourishes our bodies and sustains life, Jesus nourishes our spirits and sustains spiritual life. The life we received from him is eternal life. Although salvation was accomplished once for all time, there is an ongoing quality to eternal life, and also to the giving of it. He continually gives and we continually receive as we feast on the true bread of life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wisdom from the Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. (Pr 4:23-25)

After a whole chapter that speaks of wisdom helping us prosper and generally seeming to focus on an external “life choices” kind of wisdom, we finally come to v24, “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” And even more, v25, “Put away perversity from your mouth…” and v26, “let your eyes look straight ahead…” We see now that the core of wisdom, “above all else,” is a matter of the heart. It is what I choose to hold in my heart – what I love, what I think about, what I choose to speak about – that matters most. From these, the good life decisions will follow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Give What You've Got

Andrew…spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves…” (Jn 6:8)

I’ve always wondered why Andrew would have brought this boy forward. Were they canvassing the crowd to see how much food people had brought? Today the wonderful thought occurred to me that the little boy might have brought it forward on his own to offer it to Jesus!

Friday, February 12, 2010

We're Not As Smart As We Think

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight
. (Pr 3:5-6)

A great and famous passage and rightly so. I want to focus on “lean not on your own understanding.” This is a continual temptation for me, Lord. Help me always to remember that your thoughts are so high and your understanding so vast it is folly for me to rely on my own intellect to guide me. I want to use the gifts you have given me, but always with a heart that is devoted to you and ears tuned to hear your voice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Complacency of Fools

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. (Pr 1:30-32)

The stakes are really high in the decision we each make about whether to heed the Lord’s wisdom. It’s not just a matter of “well it would be better if you…” but “the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spiritual Food

My food is to do the will of him who sent me. (Jn 4:34)

I derive satisfaction from so many things, but I want to derive true satisfaction from doing the Lord’s will and completing his work. If there is a spiritual version of Maslow’s hierarchy I have it turned around. I put all sorts of things ahead of my most basic need: the spiritual sustenance of walking in his will.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Living Water

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." (Jn 4:13-14)

The living water of God’s Spirit cleanses and fills us. Lord, I want your Spirit to cleanse me, fill me, and empower me to do your will. May it be a spring welling up in me to eternal life, not just for me but for many who will come to Christ in part due to my obedience to your commands.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Perfection of God's Law

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. (Ps 119:160)

These are not just man-made laws. They share the same timeless perfection that God himself exhibits. He speaks from His nature and his words are perfectly good, complete and unchanging.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cry out to God

I call out… and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. (Ps 119:145-147)

David knew that he desperately needed you – not just for salvation but simply to make it through the day. Lord, help me to see how desperately I need you each day, then help me to cling to you. May I put all my hope in your Word. Give me the strength and resolve to obey, even when the temptation to take the easy road is strong.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Promises That Work

Your promises have been thoroughly tested. (Ps 119:140)

If your promises have been thoroughly tested, Lord, I’m afraid I haven’t been the one doing most of the testing. Lord, I need to live like I really believe that your ways are perfect, a delight to me (v143) and that they really work. Not just in the abstract, but that they will work for me; that I can trust them fully.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Wonder of God's Word

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
        it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
        as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
(Ps 119:129-136)

There are so many wonderful images here that illuminate how God’s Word upholds us:
v130 – it’s like the light that dawns in our understanding;
v131 – it’s like oxygen to one who is out of breath;
v133 – it’s like a guide who leads us to our destination.

“Let no sin rule over me” (v133)
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law but under grace. (Rom 6:14)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Power of His Resurrection

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] (Phil 3:10 AMP)

I’ve been thinking about “the power that outflows from His resurrection.” What power is that? What does it do in my life? I decided it is the power that transforms and enables. I want to be different than I am, and I want to do the work of his Kingdom. By the redeeming power of his death and resurrection the Holy Spirit comes into me, renews (recreates) me, and works through me to accomplish his will and fulfill his plan. As I surrender (which must necessarily include repentance), he performs.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hating Sin

Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. (Ps 119:127-128)

I want to hate sin the way God does. Instead, there are too many sins that I am too comfortable with, even attached to. Lord, help me to hate them the way you do.

Ad Gloriam Dei

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

Day by Day,
Day by Day,
Oh Dear Lord,
Three things I pray.
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly.
Day by Day.

Lyrics from the musical Godspell
Based on a prayer by Richard, Bishop of Chichester (1197-1253)

These words capture perfectly the heart message of One on One with God. As I embark on these meditations it is my guiding purpose to know him, to love him and to serve him better and better with each passing day. So I have inscribed them here, at the beginning of my journal, to remind me every day of what I am about. And now I am offering them to you, dear reader, to urge upon you the same life purpose. Some of the meditations I post here will be short and some long, some trivial and some profound, but in each one I am animated by this desire: to know him, to love him and to serve him.