we know that we are of God

 

You don’t have to spend much time reading the newspaper or watching the news to know that evil is on the rise.

Tragedies mark every headline. You can hardly get away from the barrage of bad news. I mean it really takes effort these days to find uplifting stories to garner some hope in humanity.

 

We need Jesus. And we need protection from the evil one.

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He included a prayer of protection from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13) Jesus knows that the enemy lies in wait. He schemes and connives his way into people’s lives everyday. He’s been doing it for thousands of years. We must have a heightened awareness of his tactics by devoting ourselves to prayer and the study of God’s word so that we will not be lured into his traps.


 

Father, I come to You today, bowing in my heart, asking for protection from the evil one. Lord, we are assailed moment by moment with images on television, the internet, books and newspapers that leave us vulnerable to sin of every kind. Surround us with Your divine hedge of protection. Encompass us round about with Your strength and Your might. Let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy. And may You shelter us, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)

 

Lord, I ask that You protect our minds. Father, the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) O God, set our minds on You. Let us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what Your will is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) Help us by the power of Your Spirit to think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let our minds dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

Strengthen us in the power of Your might, O God. Dress us in Your armor so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. We know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.(Ephesians 6:10-12)

 

You are our keeper, O Lord, the shade on our right hand. Protect us from all evil and keep our soul. Guard our going out and our coming in. From this time and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

so shall my word be

I’m afraid that a pall has fallen. A veil is covering the eyes, the ears and the hearts of many. It’s a false sense that they are okay in their walk with God.

They pray. They go to church. Perhaps they tithe. And serve in some capacity. They go about their routine and feel just fine about their faith.

And yet. They haven’t read the Bible in months. Maybe years. Bible study is something they don’t have time for. Perhaps they question its relevance for their daily lives.

In an article in Biola Magazine, Kenneth Berding, Professor of New Testament at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, quotes New Testament scholar David Nienhuis who summarizes his understanding of the situation in an article titled “The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy: A View from the Classroom”:

 

For well over twenty years now, Christian leaders have been lamenting the loss of general biblical literacy in America. … Some among us may be tempted to seek odd solace in the recognition that our culture is increasingly post-Christian. … Much to our embarrassment, however, it has become increasingly clear that the situation is really no better among confessing Christians, even those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard.

God made it very clear about how we are to engage scripture when He spoke to Joshua after Moses had died.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

 

The time is short. We must get back to the Bible so that we can discern the truth from the lies.  The enemy is afoot and Jesus said in the last days, false prophets will “show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”(Matthew 24:24)


 

 

Father, I come to You today thanking and praising You for giving us Your word. Thank You that You have not left us as orphans but have given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) Father, we know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) Protect us from his schemes. Let us not be lead astray and do not let us be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.(Colossians 2:8)

 

Lord, You tell us in Your word that your people go into exile for lack of knowledge, and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13) Stir the hearts of Your people to turn back to You with a hunger for Your word. Do not let us reject Your law and despise Your word, O God. (Isaiah 5:24) Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Stir us, Lord. Quicken our hearts to run to the Fountain of Living Waters and drink. To seek You while You may be found. To call upon You while You are near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to You and You will have compassion on him. For You will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

O God, Your thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways Your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways, and Your thoughts than our thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth,and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall Your word be which goes forth from Your mouth. It shall not return to You empty, without accomplishing that which You desire and without succeeding in the matter for which You sent it. (Isaiah 55:9-11)

 

Plant it deep in us, O God. Move in the hearts of Your people to feed and live on Your Word. In the name of the Word made flesh, Jesus, Amen.

the Lord is near

 

I know this one by heart. I’ve been here more times than I can count.  And every single time it seemed that I would not recover.  I felt like I would just bleed out from the pain.  From the crushing.

There’s just so much in this world. Everyday there is this crushing.  And it seems that the whole earth is crying out.

We are a world in need of the heart of a Father who understands the depth and magnitude of our hurt.  And He is there.  Waiting for us to cry to Him.

He is not a God who is far off.  He is near.


Father, You are near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) And You heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3) I lift up all those who are hurting to You today. Lord, hold them close. Embrace them in Your tremendous grace.

 

For those who are grieving the loss of loved one, for the sick, for those feeling unloved, unwanted, uncared for, for the lonely, for those who have lost their job or their house or their marriage, for those who are afraid, depressed, anxious, for those who are contemplating suicide, for those who have lost hope for their children, for those who don’t think they can last another day, Lord, I lift them up to You. You who count the number of stars and give names to them all. You are great, O Lord, abundant in strength and infinite in understanding. You support the afflicted and bring down the wicked. You, O Lord, cover the heavens with clouds, provide rain for the earth and make the grass to grow on the mountains. (Psalm 147:4-8) There is nothing beyond Your reach.

 

Have mercy, O Lord, remind all those who are crushed in spirit that You are near. Remind them that You are the strength of their heart and their portion forever.(Psalm 73:26) O God, You are the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by You. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Comfort us today, I pray.

 

Father, You are great and greatly to be praised. I thank You that You hear us and that You are near. In the precious and holy name of Jesus, Amen.

the lamp of the body

 

It is the tenth commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai. “Thou shalt not covet …” (Exodus 20:17) Webster’s dictionary defines coveting as desiring what belongs to another.

This one is sneaky. Different than the other commandments because it is primarily concerned with motivation. Desires of the heart.

Perhaps all the commandments are matters of the heart. When Jesus talked about them in Matthew 5:21-30, He made it clear that the thoughts preceding the action are just as dark and dangerous as the action itself.

I didn’t think I struggled with coveting until a few years ago while going through a particularly hard time. It was a time I felt like I was swimming upstream in every area of my life. And most of my friends’ lives looked easy. And better. And prettier. You know?

I developed this longing for something else. It was this thing in the pit of my stomach that ached. I fantasized about the green grass over there. I didn’t want the brown patch where I was standing. It made me sour.

God woke me up one day through His word and showed me the cure – new eyes. I began to surrender my desires to Him through prayer and asked Him to show me the grace that He pours out on me everyday. I then thanked Him for all these blessings. Through this process, he gave me a different perspective. His.


Father, I come to You needing a renovation of my heart. You created me.You chose me before the foundation of the world that I should be holy and blameless before You.(Ephesians 1:4) Lord, You know my longings and desires. I place them at Your feet. Set me free from those that are destructive to me. Untie any of them that are contrary to Your will for me.

I ask that the eyes of my heart be enlightened so that I may know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of Your power toward me. (Ephesians 1:18-19) Father, I know that if I see with spiritual eyes then I won’t be bogged down by the physical limitations and problems that surround me. Give me a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear all that You have poured out from Your storehouse of blessings, Lord.

Father, I know that the lamp of the body is the eye and if my eye is clear, my whole body will be clear. (Matthew 6:22) Purify my desires and dreams. Help me to look on and dwell on the things of eternal value. Keep me trained on Your purpose for I am Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) Let me run with perseverance this race set before me.

Lord, there is so much I cannot see. This world is too much with me. But by faith, I thank You and praise You for the fulness I have received and grace upon grace. (John 1:16) In the name of the Word made flesh, Jesus, Amen.

let your speech

Have you ever been talked about? And later found out about it? It’s painful stuff.

I’ve been the victim and I’ve also been the perpetrator.

God’s word is very clear about what He thinks about gossip and slander. He calls it sin. And tells us to put it away from us.

 

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away form you, along with all malice.
Ephesians 4:29-31

Paul takes it a step farther and says that our words should be timely and profitable for the moment. Our words should impart grace. Not malice.

The real kicker is the original Greek word used for slander. Are you ready? It’s blasphemia which is where we get our English word “blasphemy”. Strong’s Lexical Aids to the New Testament defines it as abuse against someone and denotes wounding one’s reputation by evil reports.

In these verses, Paul is drawing stark contrasts between our new nature in Christ and the old nature characterized by darkness. And he encourages us to walk in light of the new nature purchased for us by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

I know firsthand how frighteningly easy it is to slip into this. Not even fifteen minutes ago, I slipped.


Father, this is all fresh in my mind and heart. I just maligned someone with my words. They tumbled out of my mouth so effortlessly that they must be embedded in my heart. For Jesus said, “out of the mouth the heart speaks”(Luke 6:45) Lord, my heart needs cleansing. Forgive my mean words, Lord. Create in me a clean heart. O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

 

Father, You say that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? But You search the heart and test the mind.(Jeremiah 17:9) Search my heart, Lord. Obviously there is junk there that I’m not even aware of. Lord, there’s hurt there too. Often the hurt is what causes me to seek revenge through my words – maligning the person that hurt me. It’s like a kind of retribution. Forgive me, Lord. Vengeance is Yours, O God. (Deuteronomy 32:35) I release this person to You. Remove any root of bitterness that I might be harboring so that I don’t fall into gossip again.

 

Father, I pray that no unwholesome word would proceed from my mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. I pray that I would be tender-hearted, forgiving others just as You, O God, in Christ have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

and such were some of you

I taught Bible Study last night. We’re studying Ephesians and how Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to know in the very fiber of their being who they were in Christ and what they had inherited from God because they were in Christ.

As I stared at the white board with the list I had made of what I formerly was and who I am now in Christ, I was overcome with emotion. You see, I know my own depravity. The darkness of my own heart. I know the pits I have dwelt in. I remember how I felt utterly helpless to change. And I know how it happened. I cracked the door open to immorality and the enemy blew it wide open.

There’s a saying that “sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go, require a cost you never wanted to pay and keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.”

It’s been years since I’ve thought about that season of my life, but the memory of it still stings. The amazing thing is that I am no longer there! Praise God, I am no longer stuck. I am no longer dead in my trespasses and sins. He has made me new – washed, sanctified, justified and glorified. What a tremendous gift!


 

Father, I thank You for opening my eyes. I thank You for pulling me out of the dark into Your marvelous light. Thank You for rescuing me from the dominion of darkness and transferring me into the kingdom of Your beloved Son in whom I have redemption , the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

 

Lord, I pray that You would bestow on me real knowledge and all discernment, so that I may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10) Do not let me be deceived by the enemy’s schemes, but I pray that my mind would be girded for action, keeping sober in spirit, fixing my hope completely on the grace to be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)

 

I pray that I would walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desire of my flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. O God, help me live and also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-17, 24-25)

 

Father, thank You for washing me, sanctifying me and justifying me in the name of the Jesus and it’s in His name I pray, Amen.

humble yourselves under the mighty hand of Go

 

 

Yesterday, we prayed about running the race of life in Christ with endurance and shaking off the things that hinder us, weigh us down and trip us up. Is there anything that trips you up? Do you have an achilles heel? Perhaps a bad temper. Maybe a shopping problem. How about gossip?

Mine is worry. Actually, I have two. Worry and fear. Pretty sure the fear fuels the worry. Anyway, not sure which one is worse, but I have to wage war against these monsters daily. Worry and fear rob me of peace and joy, and distract me from serving God and others. The enemy uses these to prevent me from walking and running this race that God has purposed for me. Worry and fear are like vines wrapped around my knees and ankles and they can keep me from moving forward. Stuck. Unless I fight with the spiritual weapons of God’s word, prayer and rehearsing His faithfulness.

Today, I will use all three of these as I pray about worry. I will pray God’s word back to Him and go over the many ways God has been faithful to me in my life. Let’s pray.


 

Father, I come to You today and lay before You my struggle with worry. Lord, You know my tendency to fret. My mind and body seem to be wired for this knee-jerk reaction. Father, I know that this is not Your design because You tell us in Your word over and over not to be anxious. Not about food or drink or clothing. (Matthew 6:25) And not about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. (Matthew 6:34) We are to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make our requests known to You and Your peace which surpasses all comprehension shall guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

Father, forgive my lack of faith. For when I give in to fear or worry, I’m not trusting in You. Lord, You are faithful. You have pulled me out of so many troubles. You have provided for me and my family for generations. You have rescued me from enemies both large and small. And You have held me through many storms in my life. I have seen Your goodness and Your faithfulness with my own eyes. O God, remind me of all of this when my knees get weak. When my circumstances look dark, open my eyes and let me see things from Your viewpoint. The enemy will try to convince me that You won’t show up again. He is a liar and the father of lies. Remind me, Lord. Thwart the plans of the enemy.

 

Lord, transform me by the renewing of my mind. (Romans 12:2) Help me dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is of good repute. (Philippians 4:8) Help me to remember that You will supply my needs according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:19)
Help me to trust You and feed on Your faithfulness(Psalm 37:3), for You are trustworthy and faithful.

 

Father, free me from these entanglements so that I may run with endurance the race You have set before me. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

 

let us also lay aside

Our walk with Christ is like two parallel tracks. One track is what Christ has already done and continues to do. The other track is what is ours to do.

When we come to Christ, He gives us a new nature. We who were formerly in darkness are ushered into His kingdom of light. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and begins to sanctify us from moment to moment until one day when we will be with the Lord in glory!

While we’re here, we have work to do. The writer of Hebrews describes it as a race that is set before us. But we’re going to need to throw off some bad habits that will weigh us down as we go.  And we have an enemy. He has watched us and knows our patterns. Our bent. He knows what trips us up. And he is intent on making sure we stumble and fall.

This week we’re going to explore some of the possible “sins that entangle” us. But today, let’s pray that God would show us anything that is hindering us and ask for help as we run this race.


Father, thank You that You justified me by faith and now I have peace with You through Jesus. Thank You that I now have obtained an introduction by faith into this grace in which I now stand. (Romans 5:1-2) I thank You that I can rest in knowing that You know me. When I sit. When I rise. You know my thoughts from afar. My path. My lying down. And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Lord, before a word is even on my tongue, You know it all. Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me in Your everlasting way. (Psalm 139:1-4,23-24)

 

Establish my footsteps in Your word and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psalm 119:133) Also keep me from presumptuous sins, let them not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and I will be acquitted of great transgression. Let the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:13-14)

 

Father, do not let sin reign in my body. Keep me from presenting my body and my mind to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but help me by the power of Your Spirit to present myself to You as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:12-13) Father, remove anything that would keep me. hinder me or entangle me as I run this race which You have ordained for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

from the rising of the sun

 

 

What, then is the Church in the world? It is God’s institute of praise, God’s institute of prayer, and God’s institute of prophecy. The whole Church is first of all, an institute created to praise God… The Christian Church exists to reveal God and to utter forth His praise, to make God known to men who know Him not…Our first business is that of praising Him, praising Him with lip and with life, in the actual songs we sing, in the hallelujahs we lift; praising Him by all the habits of our life, by the perpetual testimony of our ways as they announce the fact of His being, the fact of His love.

~ G. Campbell Morgan
from “The Holy Spirit through Christ, in the Church, for the World”


Father, we praise You today. With hearts full of gratitude,we give You thanks as we utter these words of praise and thanksgiving.
Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting ,the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?(Psalm 113:1-6)

 

How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh, sing for joy to the living God. How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house! They are ever praising Thee. How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the highways to Zion! O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Thine anointed. For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside; I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in Thee! In the name Jesus,amen and amen.
(Psalm 84:1-2,4-5,8-12)

you may have peace

I find it interesting that in John 16:32-33, Jesus is talking to the disciples about His impending crucifixion and in the next breath says that He is telling them these things “that they may have peace”. Seems kind of odd don’t you think?

And yet, I believe the very key to peace lies in these verses. First, He tells them that they will be scattered and He will be left alone. And yet, not alone. He says the Father is with Him. There’s the first important point. For those of us in Christ, God is with us through thick and thin. Rain or shine.

Secondly, He tells them that they will have trouble. It’s a done deal. A sure thing. But… He has overcome the world so don’t be afraid.

There’s an apparent dichotomy here. Trouble exists, on a very large scale in this case, but peace is possible.

I’m not going to lie, I struggle with this. I would love life to be one big Hallmark moment. I have the notion that if God will just tie up all my loose ends and fix all my problems (and the world’s problems) I, then, can have peace. But it’s the impossible dream. This world is a carousel of difficulty and brokenness. A giant mess. That’s the bad news. But in the midst of this bad news there is good news. The good news is for those of us in Christ, we have Him. And in Him we have peace. It’s finished. It’s not whether you feel it or not. It’s a fact.

So how do we access it? I don’t want to oversimplify what I believe to be the answer. But I think it boils down to this: we need a right view of God, a right view of ourselves and we also need intimacy with Him before we will experience His peace.

In Luke 6, there is the story of the disciples and Jesus in a boat out on the water. While Jesus is asleep, a bad storm descends upon the lake. The boat starts taking on water and the disciples become terrified. They wake up Jesus in a panic. Jesus speaks to the storm and of course, all is well. Afterward, Jesus questioned them about their faith.

The disciples became frightened of the storm because they didn’t understand Who was in the boat with them. Do I?


 

Father, I am so like the disciples in the boat with Jesus. I see the winds and waves and automatically panic. Forgive my unbelief. Remind me that it is You in the boat with me. Wrap Your arms around me and whisper in my ear that it’s You, the Anchor of my soul!

 

Lord, give me a right view of You. Let me see You like Isaiah did, high and lifted up, with the train of Your robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1) You are holy, Lord, and the whole earth is full of Your glory. You made heaven and earth and You ride the highest heavens which are from ancient times.(Psalm 68:33) Show me Your glory, I pray.

 

Father, when this world overwhelms me, or when my heart is faint, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against my enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever, let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. (Psalm 61:2-4)

 

Father, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on You because he trust in You. (Isaiah 26:3) Bind up all the broken places in me that prevent me from trusting You. All the self stuff – self reliance, self sufficiency, etc… Lord, gird my mind with thoughts of You and hold my gaze, for I know that peace, true shalom, only resides in You. Show me how to recline on to You and rest in Your peace. In the name of the One who commands the wind and the waves, Jesus, Amen.