Friday, April 30, 2010

Highly Regarded

The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people. (Ex 11:3)

It’s amazing that Moses was highly regarded by the Egyptians. Pharaoh was corrupt with power and saw only a challenge to his authority. But his officials saw Moses’ character. He had true authority, backed by supernatural power, yet he held that authority with humility and integrity. Lord, I want even my enemies to see my good character, even if they can’t abide what I stand for.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thirsty for You

As the dear pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Ps 42:1)

I need these times of refreshing with you, God – even throughout the day. My soul dries up if I go my separate way. You are never far from us, even if we cannot feel your presence. I am “practicing the presence of God” now, and I long to deepen and strengthen my connection to you. I don’t want to slip back into laziness and apathy as I have in times past. Lord, increase my desire for your presence.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Single-Minded Devotion

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)

I want to truly and comprehensively delight myself in the Lord, by which I mean to seek only him, his Kingdom, and his righteousness and to be filled with the joy of his presence at all times.

Seek him  =  know him
Seek his kingdom  =  glorify him
Seek his righteousness  =  be like him

So it’s really all the same thing. This is just what One on One is all about. When the desire of my heart is just to know him, to glorify him, and to be like him, I will surely receive it and be filled with joy. I can’t believe I just said “surely” but it’s true. If I delight myself in the Lord (i.e. make these my life goals) it will happen. I have confidence in God and not myself. I will eat and be satisfied at the table of the Lord.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Under Control

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Ps 34:4)

It is human nature to be afraid, but we have no cause for fear, because God is with us. Whatever it is that we might fear, God is sovereign over it. He is sovereign over all our circumstances. I need not fear that some happenstance will thwart his plan. The Holy Spirit is at work orchestrating every event to bring about his will. If I should think that some small action, or even inaction, on my part will frustrate God’s will I vastly underestimate his abilities. The Lord spoke to Isaiah, “I say: my purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Is 46:10) God will use me, or he will use another. I pray, ultimately, to align myself with God’s will and to make myself available to God’s plan. But no man can thwart God’s will in anything. Amen!

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Higher Goal

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Ps 27:8)

The desire of David’s heart was God himself. He wanted to meet him and to know him. Lord, let this be my singular obsession, to seek your face. May I have no higher goal than to know you. May my heart leap at the thought of being in your presence. This is my determined purpose, Lord, to seek your face.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Clean Hands

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. (Ps 24:3-4)

This is who I want to be. I know I have righteousness imputed to me by Christ, but I want to live it. I picture myself standing on a hilltop with my hands raised to God, in the perfect peace and joy of knowing that my heart is pure and my hands are clean – that God is pleased with my service and devotion and there is no shadow cast on our perfect communion with each other.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Help Jesus

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?...I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Mt 25:35-40)

How often do I do any of these things? Not very often! I am convicted that I do way too little to help people in need in our society. It may be true that Christians as a group are more generous than society at large, but too many of us aren’t doing anything. What if the whole church were truly engaged? Great things could be accomplished! Lord, forgive me for selfishness.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Favored to Win

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps 20:7)

How many times in the Bible did God give his people victory when they were outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered? If you think “the odds” are stacked against you, you are wrong. The very thought rests on the concept that random chance will decide the outcome. But we know that God is sovereign. And he is more powerful than all his adversaries. His strength is invisible, but it is far greater than the strength of our enemies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No Obstacle Too Great

With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. (Ps 18:29)

A great image of how the power of God can enable us to do many things and to overcome great obstacles. It seems to me in my present circumstance my greatest opposition comes from my own sin nature, but that, too, God’s power can overcome. Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No Prosperity Needed

O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children. (Ps 17:14)

If any verse is an antidote to the “prosperity gospel” this would be it. What I hear in this verse is that however much or how little I have, it is enough for those who love God. Sometimes the righteous may not even have enough to eat! And yet God stills their hunger. Literally? I don’t know. But he makes us to see that he is our sufficiency. God forgive me for gluttony and the lust for things. I know my “treasures [are] in heaven, where moth and rust do not consume, and thieves do not break in and steal.” (Mt 6:20) What security and what peace I would have if I could only grasp this. Teach me, Lord, to know that what I have is enough, and that you will “meet all [my] needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Ph 4:19)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Digging Up Your Talent

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will product its fruit. (Mt 21:43)

In this Parable of the Tenants, the wicked tenants kill the master’s son and refuse to give him the master’s share of the fruit. It is clearly very important to God that we who have been entrusted with his kingdom bear fruit. In my timidity, this is the very thing I have not done. I am like the wicked, lazy servant who buried his talent (Mt 25:26). Lord, I don’t want to bury my talent any more. I want to be in the game, getting roughed up sometimes, but bearing fruit for you. Thank you that you have been helping me see how I need to change. Thanks you for your Holy Spirit who will empower me to change and to act on your behalf. Thank you for your great patience with me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Time to Speak Up

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Ps 9:1-2)

I’ve read verses like this for many years, but I don’t think I ever got the idea that I might do this before men. I guess I always pictured myself in my prayer closet praising God and “telling of his wonders.” Funny thing, I never saw how silly it would be to “tell his wonders” in a closet! But now God has been convicting me that I have been too private and too timid. I need to be more transparent. I want God to reign in my heart and in my thoughts, and I want to let that shine through in my speech. I must stop filtering my speech of all spiritual content. For years I have done this. It is a habit I will now break by the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I want to tell of all your wonders. I want to sing your praises to all who will listen! Make me bold!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nothing Is Hard for God

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith.” (Mt 17:19-20a)

It’s not that this demon was any harder to throw out than the others. But its more spectacular manifestations made them doubt that they could. Nothing is hard for God. It’s all the same to him. But when a problem looks big to us we tend to doubt more. I do this a lot. I’m always looking with natural eyes and thinking that something I’m praying for is hard or unlikely to happen. And so I don’t really expect anything to happen. Lord, help me to believe in miracles. Remind me that you are a mighty God. Let my faith be measured by the size of my God and not the size of my problems. Lord, I know that you can redeem any situation. Help me to see that picture in my mind’s eye when I pray and not a defeatist picture of nothing ever changing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stand Up for What's Right

Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked. (Pr 25:26)

It is vital that we stand up for what is right and true. If I sit by timidly and say nothing it is as though I agree with the wrong that is being done or said. We need to speak the truth in love. I must not let my witness become clouded by appearing to approve of things God doesn’t approve of.

Friday, April 16, 2010

High Stakes

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

Every month this verse leaps off the page to convict me. The image is so terrible and so vivid it grabs me and forces me to stop reading. Whether it is literal or figurative doesn’t matter. It forces me to realize that every day people face physical and spiritual death. Every day there are some for whom tomorrow will be too late. I am timid, I am lazy, I am afraid, and what a horrible thing that I can passively watch fellow human beings go down to destruction. Lord, forgive me. Lord, give me the boldness, the energy and the courage to wade into the fight and not hold back, and never give up.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let's Make A Deal

Then Jacob made a vow saying, “If God will be with me and watch over me…then the Lord will be my God…and of all you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Gen 28:20-22)

Clearly Jacob has a ways to go in his understanding and his spiritual maturity. No wonder he had long years of hardship and discontentment ahead of him. It almost made me laugh to read this. Jacob is so obviously bargaining with God and his commitment is so limited and conditional. But I wonder, is my devotion really so complete and unconditional? Intellectually I assent to it, but what am I doing in practice? Are there things in my life I’m not willing to give up? Am I prone to reconsider my commitment to his plan if I don’t like the way things are going? My faith is weak. I always have a plan B. I love that image in the second Indiana Jones movie of the crystal bridge they must step out onto in faith. I want to believe so strongly and be so committed that I would risk everything on absolute obedience to God. Lord, please make me that kind of believer. Holy Spirit, take control of me in that way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

True Sons

So Esau despised his birthright. (Gen 25:34)

We too despise our birthright when we live like we are not sons and daughters of the King. We dishonor God when we don’t reflect his character, when we try to live only in our own strength and when we fail to acknowledge him. Lord, forgive me for despising my birthright. Let me be your servant and your true witness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Good Soil

But the one who received the seed that fell on the good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Mt 13:23)

This is the man I want to be. I don’t want to be the one who lets life’s trials or the cares of the world snatch away what I have in Christ. I marvel that my life is so unproductive. I let timidity and laziness keep me from being obedient to his Word. Lord, transform me from the inside out, by the power of your Holy Spirit. I want to yield a good crop in whatever time I have left.

Monday, April 12, 2010

No Such Thing As Luck

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Pr 16:33)

There’s no such thing as luck. God is sovereign and is capable of influencing human affairs through seemingly random processes. A corollary of this is we need not fear the “random” events of life – accident, disease, natural disasters. All of God’s promises to us are fully operative in such circumstances because he is always in control. When trouble comes we can still have the peace that passes understanding. God Almighty is our shield and our fortress.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Gen 22:14)

The mountain of the Lord is the place of sacrifice. Here where Abraham offered up Isaac is where the Temple would later stand. Here all Israel brought their sacrifices. In the place of sacrifice God will provide. Metaphorically, we must also get to that place before the Lord can provide. If we hold tightly to what he has already given, why should we expect God to give more? It is not until we are willing to lose what we have that God can bless us. If we are stingy with the gifts he has already given we will never know what abundance could be ours. Abraham was willing to do the inconceivable – to sacrifice his only son. No man has ever been asked to surrender more and none has ever been more greatly blessed. Lord, forgive me for holding on to what I have too tightly. Teach me to be willing to abandon all and trust in faith that you will provide.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Do the Wicked Prosper?

Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. (Job 21:7,13)

Job’s counselors, confident of God’s justice, speak about how the wicked will be punished and the righteous blessed. But Job looks at the evidence of his eyes and says, no, the wicked often prosper, at least until death lays them low like all the rest (24:19). In a way they are both right, but they are looking at different parts of the picture. Job asks, “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?” (24:1) But he has. There is one time for judgment, and it is after our life on earth is complete. Job wondered that God did not judge, and his counselors imagined confidently that God judges in this life. They both failed to have God’s eternal perspective. Lord, help me to have your eternal perspective. Let me not be lulled into complacency by the apparent lack of judgment in this life. Help me to always remember that the lost people I speak with every day are bound for eternal punishment without the light of the Gospel which I can share with them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Give Your Life Away

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt 10:39)

We have such a high calling to fulfill! Jesus asks us to give our life away. Not to live it for ourselves but to live it for him and for his Kingdom. It is truly not about us anymore. It’s about him, living for him and living for others. Our reward is in heaven.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crowded Sidelines

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. (Mt 9:37)

Today there are lots of Christians, but still too few workers. Too many of us are sitting on the sidelines, often for the silliest of reasons. My silly reason is that I am timid. Lord, forgive me for such a petty excuse in the face of such great need. Help me overcome my fear of speaking up. Make me bold for you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Yearning Heart

I know that my Redeemer lives…How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25,27)

In the midst of Job’s misery and his anger and frustration at God, he never cursed God (2:9-10). But far more than that, Job’s heart continued to yearn for God. He never lost his faith in God as Redeemer. He was mad at God because he seemed to be acting out of his character, but he never doubted what God’s true character is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead. (Mt 8:22)

There is nothing that is more important than following Christ. We can take any good thing and if we elevate it above our primary calling to follow Christ it becomes evil. In the church today we are so distracted we become powerless to carry out the work of Christ. I put so many things at a higher priority in my life than they deserve. It’s ok to be tired sometimes or hungry, or to miss out on some favorite pastime. I must be about my Father’s business. Lord, help me to count the cost and then willingly pay it to be your true disciple.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blessings of Wisdom

Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
   I have understanding and power.
By me kings reign
   and rulers make laws that are just;
by me princes govern,
   and all nobles who rule on earth.
I love those who love me,
   and those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor,
   enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than fine gold;
   what I yield surpasses choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
   along the paths of justice,
bestowing wealth on those who love me
   and making their treasuries full.
(Pr 8:14-21)

In this passage, the personified voice of Wisdom speaks of the blessings she showers on those who seek her. Godly wisdom leads to great worldly success. Many people fail to achieve their full potential because they lack wisdom. Greed, for instance, can cause someone to lose all their money. The lust for power can cause the mighty to fall. I have often said that the Bible is full of so much wisdom that even one who does not believe in God would do well to study it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Aim High

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:48)

Jesus is clearly using hyperbole at some points in his sermon. (“If your right eye causes you to sin…”) Yet in this command to be perfect I don’t sense any hyperbole. I also don’t think it implies that perfection is humanly possible. But I think Jesus clearly wanted to set a very high standard for us. In the process of sanctification there is no point at which we can say, “Good enough” and stop. It’s like what we teach the teenagers. Don’t ask “how far is too far” – it’s the wrong question. We should not be concerned with what we can get away with but how we can be more like Jesus. Lord, you have set a high standard and I don’t ever want to settle for less. Help me to become more like you. I cannot do it on my own.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Let It Shine

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Mt 5:16)

Lord, I want to be so full of your Spirit that people will see the glow of your light and be drawn to you.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Breaking Free

The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Pr 5:22-23)

Sin is a snare. The more we indulge in it, the more tightly it holds us. It takes discipline to stay out of the snare, and it is even harder to break free once we are in it. I don’t want anything to distract me from God and his calling on my life. Lord, by the power of your Spirit help me to break free of all my besetting sins and walk with you in discipline and righteousness.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Toss the Idols

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his. (2 Chr 16:9)

This was the text of Mark’s sermon today (1/4/2009). He challenged us to live a life wholly devoted to God. A heart that is completely his gets heaven’s attention. These are the kind of people God can get something done with. Mark used King Asa as an example. Like Asa, we have to throw the idols out:
  1. It’s easy to set up an idol 
  2. Good things can become idols 
  3. Getting rid of them can be painful (Mt 5:30) 
  4. But peace comes to your heart when the idols have been removed (Is 26:3-4) 
Getting rid of idols:
  1. Identify them 
  2. Tear them down 
  3. Refocus the energy 
Lord, I want to get moving with this. I want to refocus on you and on being a true disciple and on making disciples. Holy Spirit, strengthen my resolve and my ability to devote myself to you.