Monday, August 31, 2015

Consider Jesus

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus," ~Hebrews 3:1 (emphasis mine)

"For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." ~Hebrews 12:3 (emphasis mine)

Consider Jesus...  

Think about these two words for a moment.  How they completely change our perspective!

When we consider something, we ponder it carefully, weighing each aspect with great detail.  The word used here in Greek means, "to perceive, remark, observe, understand" and "to consider attentively, fix one's eyes or mind upon."

Those who consider something, fix their eyes and mind upon it, seeking to understand with every part of their being.  

And as Christians, we are called to consider Jesus!

We are to fix our eyes upon all that He has done for us, His promises, and His character.  In chapter 3, the author considers one specific aspect of Jesus' character: His faithfulness.  And in the twelfth chapter, we are encouraged to consider the hostility and rejection Jesus endured from His enemies.  But these are only two aspects of Jesus' character; there are countless thousands more!  Even His love is unfathomable:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
~Fred­er­ick Leh­man

There is so much to consider!

And as we consider Him, as we turn our faces toward Him and meditate on who He is, we shall be abundantly blessed and our lives shall be completely transformed.

Considering Jesus gives us a whole new perspective on everything!

In Hebrews 12:3, we learn that considering Jesus gives us a fresh understanding of our suffering so that we might not grow weary and discouraged in our souls.  When we remember how Jesus was bruised and broken for our transgressions, our sufferings seem small by comparison.  When we remember that men spit mud upon the King of kings and blasphemed in His face, any persecution we receive is so small.

When we remember how He endured even through the difficulties, we are reminded to persevere in doing good, because He persevered for us.  He poured out His very life's blood for us, He became sin so that we might become righteousness.  He cloaked Himself with the robes of our sin, took off His own purple robes and laid them upon our shoulders.  Oh, how that must have pained Him to step down from the royalty which He so richly deserved and to undergo greater opposition than any other human on earth.

What have we to complain about?  What have we to be discouraged about.  We should be jumping for joy!  We should be on our faces before the Lord praising up and seeking to please Him because of all that He has done for us.

Do you see how considering Him changed our perspective of our own suffering?

Considering Him is not limited merely to the discouraged soul.  As we ponder the humiliation of Jesus, our pride seems so foolish.  We have nothing to boast of, and everything to praise Him for!

Considering the love of our precious Savior puts our petty love to shame.  It inspires us to be more compassionate and loving with our family members and even our enemies.

I have been learning over theses past weeks that when my mind is turned onto myself, and my problems, and my failures, in creeps despair and unhappiness. Discouragement knocks at the door and begs to be let in.  Weariness and faintheartedness grab a hold of me and refuse to let go.

But when I consider Jesus, all these weights are laid aside.

When I look up and consider JesusHis strength, His Word, and His work–I am encouraged, strengthened, and spurred on to run for Him with all my heart.

Let us look to Him, my dear friends, and He will completely transform our hearts.

The two verses before Hebrews 12:3 perfectly sum up this concept:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

When the weight of this world seems heavy upon our shoulders, let us consider Him, and He supernaturally lifts these weights off us and instead gives us Himself.  Let Him completely change your perspective.  Allow Him to do His work in your life.  Consider Jesus...

Friday, August 28, 2015

He Shall Strengthen My Heart

I sat there with a despondent heart.  I had no reason to be melancholy, but it was as if all the joy had been stolen from my soul.

It was one of those "blah" days.

But on the agenda that afternoon was studying a portion of Scripture in John chapter 5.  I reached for my notebook, a pen, and of course, my precious Bible.  As I began to study the passage, I found my spirits mysteriously lifting.  I focused, not on the things going on around me, but the character of Jesus.  Who He was and what He had done for us.

And I experienced something beautiful.  

The Lord placed a smile on my face; a song of joy in my heart.  I had not approached my time with Him seeking joy, but I had found at His feet the very thing I needed.


A week later, I found myself once again lacking cheerfulness.  I felt far away from my Lord, almost.  I knew this wasn't how I should feel, but nevertheless I did.  I cried out to the Lord to place a supernatural joy and peace within me.  Nothing "immediate" happened, but I went about my business trusting that the Lord would work in His own way and timing.

I approached my daily time of memorizing with the ever-needed prayer of the Spirit's presence and guidance. Then I began to memorize Psalm 19.  I found it impossible to recite the opening verses of the passage without at least a little emphasis and jubilation.  My arms waved over my head as I cried, "The heaven's declare the glory of God; and the firmaments show His handiwork." 

I couldn't help but smile. 

As I began to repeat the other phrases as well, my countenance lifted.  My thoughts wandered to the grandeur and splendor all around me that pointed to our marvelous Creator.  I thought about the beauty and character of the sun as I memorized Psalm 19:4-6.  How absolutely amazing!  My heart leapt for joy just thinking about it.  Even now, as I write this, a smile creeps over my face.


Then, early this morning, I approached the throne of grace in prayer, ready and expecting the Lord to grant me His joy.  I cried out to Him to rebuke the spirit of despondency that had crept into my heart.  I begged Him to fill me with His Spirit and His life.

He brought to my mind a verse I had memorized yesterday: "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).  I clung to the promise that He would strengthen my heart and watched slowly, as He did.

He transformed my heart, replacing the indifference with joy.


In each of these times, when my heart was weary, I turned to the Lord.  Firstly, I looked to Him in Bible reading.  Second, I considered Him through memorization.  Next, I reached to Him in prayer.  And finally, I clung to Him in meditation.

And in each of these ways, the Lord granted me a joy beyond my greatest imaginings.  Sometimes I came to Him trusting Him to do great things, but other times I simply approached Him out of a sense of duty (which I should not have done).  But whether my motives were pure or not, the Lord always answered me.

He gave me a joy inexpressible and full of glory.  He put a smile on my face.

I have learned an important lesson in these past two weeks.  It is best summed up with these two verses:

"The status of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart..." ~Psalms 19:8 (emphasis mine)

"Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." ~Hebrews 12:3 (emphasis mine)

Now, as I continue on my spiritual journey, I will take these truths to heart.  Whenever my life is devoid of joy, I will turn to Him.  I will seek His face, whether that be through the Scriptures, or through prayer.  I will remind myself of Who He is and what He has done for me.  I will stand on the promise that He will strengthen my heart.

I will cling to Him, and He will give me joy.

My Lord is ever faithful.  It is I who walk away from the joy found in His presence and He who quietly woes me back.  It is He who delights in placing His joy within me.

Remember the promise of God:

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
~Psalm 16:11

And I invite you to approach His presence with me.  Let us not settle for mediocrity, but let us allow our gracious Lord to fill us with His joy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Soaking In the Word

"Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!" ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"In reading the Bible, I advise you to chose detached passages, or even one verse a day, rather than whole chapters. Study every word; ponder and pray over it till you have got from it all the truth it contains." ~Stepping Heavenward

I have oftentimes had to remind myself that my goal is not simply to read through the Bible, but rather to learn from it.  Instead of merely reading over a good verse and simply remarking, "Oh, that is very good," let us pause our reading to dig deep into the meaning of that verse. Such precious gems await for the one who is willing to "asoak" himself in a passage of Scripture, as Spurgeon said.

As you read, remember the preciousness of meditating on one passage.  Saturate yourself in it, dive headlong into its words and allow it to completely transform your thinking.

"My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh" (Proverbs 4:22-24).

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rest In God's Presence

"And He said, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest'” (Exodus 33:14).

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish" (Jeremiah 31:25).

"For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3).

Instead of offering a long commentary in my own words today, I want you to think about these verses.  Pause for a moment in all the busyness of your life.  Read them over.  What do they mean?  Where do we find rest?  Where should we turn to in our time of need?

Television will not satisfy; friends will not satisfy; social media will not satisfy.  Only God Himself can satisfy.  And He will satisfy you abundantly.  He gives His beloved rest (Psalm 127:2).

When you're tired and in need of some refilling, instead of turning to coffee or a movie or anything else to "replenish" you, turn to Jesus.  Spend time in His presence.  Come to Him.  He will give you rest. He will satisfy your weary soul and replenish your languishing heart.  Rest in His presence.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pray for the Persecuted Church

As we sit on our couches in cool, air-conditioned homes eating bon-bons and watching television, there are many Christians around the world who suffer horrible persecution in the name of Christ.  Have we left our fellow believers along and without help while we enjoy all the comforts of free living?

Right now 200 million people face persecution for believing in Jesus and 60% of those people are children, according to Christians in Crisis International Ministry, a prayer advocacy ministry for persecuted believers.

1 Timothy 2:1 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

Ephesians 6:18 “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

Hebrews 13:3  “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as - being yourselves also in the body.”

We have been given a royal decree directly from the throne room to get off our lazy-boys and onto our knees.  These men and women have given there very lives for the sake of the gospel, could we not give our measly 30 minutes to interceding for them in prayer?

Although we may seem to make no impact, do not give up hope.  You do.  Remember to claim the promises of prayer from Scripture.

J. Oswald Sanders said: "[Prayer] is fundamental, not supplementary… All progress can be clearly traced back to prevailing prayer."

Although you may not reap the rewards of your prevailing prayer on this side of heaven, when we reach that glory land and meet with those who have suffered bodily persecution in the name of Jesus, we will get to hear their stories and be blessed to know that we have helped to make a difference in their lives.

I feel like when praying for a whole lot of people, my temptation is to become really “general” with my prayer requests, like, “Lord Jesus, please bless those who are persecuted today.”  Although I believe God still hears that prayer, I encourage you to pray boldly and specifically according to Scripture. 

Pray for those who are persecuted by country.  (Voice of the Martyrs has some information about each country that might aid you in praying by country.)  You can also pray for those who are persecuted by name. shares the stories of men and women who need our prayers.  It also features the prayers of others around the world so that you can agree with them in prayer and also learn from their prayers.  It is a great resource.  Open Doors has a monthly prayer calendar with a prayer request for each day:

You can make a difference.  You have been invited to participate in the kingdom’s work.  Let us join in praying for the persecuted church and their captors.  Let us pray for them in the name of Jesus.  May the name of Jesus be proclaimed to the ends of the earth! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Praying Together

I was struggling.  Some of my friends and I were at a government camp and my emotions were slowly getting out of control.  I knew that the Lord was faithful but my flesh kept whispering its lies.  I knew I needed to fix this.  But my mind was such a jumble of thoughts.  I spent some time before the Lord in prayer one night.  He brought to my mind Scriptures that encouraged me.  My flesh had to get out of the way if I was going to make it through this week.  The words of Christ helped some, and they sustained me through the night and into the next morning.  But by the afternoon and evening, I was needing help again.

My flesh was overwhelming my thoughts.  I couldn’t think straight and although I knew the Scriptures, my mind kept crowding them out.

Finally a friend and I escaped out from the rest of the camp for a few minutes of talking.  As dusk fell, we walked around the college campus where we were staying.

We both began to share and talk with one another about some of the things we were going through.  And then we began to pray.  And pray.  And pray.  We probably spent twenty or thirty minutes in fervent prayer.

And as we walked, the wind quietly blowing through our hair, I felt the Spirit of God fill my heart and overwhelm me.  He gave me a peace that surpassed understanding.  As we asked for His help and guidance, He filled us with Himself.

In the stillness surrounding us, I recalled a verse to which the Lord had opened my eyes once again:

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:19-20

We had come before our Father in heaven in prayer, agreeing in prayer, and He had answered us abundantly above all that we could have asked or imagined.

The rest of the week was much better.  Now truth trumped emotions.  The voice of the Lord rang loud and free in my mind and heart.  Through I still faced temptations, they were much easier to overcome with the truth.  I was completely dependent on Him, and that’s how we (God and I) like it.

I learned an important lesson that week.  Praying with someone else is so valuable!  As we share our different concerns, we each bring different perspectives to the issue at hand.  We each pray for different things.  And the Lord meets with us in our place of need as we are united together under His name.

Praying with another person (or a whole group) is such a unique and beautiful experience.  Not only does the Holy Spirit fill the prayer warriors with His presence and fire, but He also meets their needs in a unique and amazing way.

One final note: For us younger people, praying with an older person can yield so many benefits!  They can share wise council and we have a wonderful chance to learn how to pray from hearing their words.

So this Sunday in church, look around.  Who can you pray with/for?  As you talk with friends, listen for prayer requests and opportunities to turn the conversation to prayer.  If you have a prayer request, come right out and ask for prayer about it.  You and everyone around you will be rewarded beyond your greatest dreams!

Monday, August 17, 2015

How To Study A Passage

For many years in the past, I have spent time stuffing verses into my brain.  But I realized that I was know better off, because I didn't know what they said.  Of course, I could ramble them off at 125 miles an hour, but I did not really understand their meaning.  So this summer, as I memorize Scripture for the Bible Bee I take the time time to actually study what I memorize.  As a result, these verses which would have otherwise been empty words have come alive and overwhelm me with the treasures which they stored.  These gems were simply under the pages, waiting for me to excavate them.

So, you may be wondering, how does one study these verses?  There are various methods, but I will share the method I use and pray that it might encourage and equip you in your own personal journey.

I like to use a notebook to record my thoughts on paper.  Writing my observations down actually help them stick in my mind as well.  And I can always review the notes whenever I need to.

I write the passage reference down and begin by giving it a title.  What is the main subject of this passage?  The big picture?

After that, like to write down what passage it references (Note: this is something very specific to the Bible Bee, so I would not recommend this for your own personal memorization.  Instead, try writing down some key words.)

Context usually offers an even greater picture of reason behind the words in a specific passage.  Who wrote/spoke this?  Why?  Who were they talking/writing to?  When did they write/speak this?  What happened before?  After?  Note these things in your journal, and you will find your understanding of the passage deepening. 

Once I finish studying the context around my passage, I dig deep into its every word.  First, I look at what the passage says about God.  After all, Jesus is the WORD.  It's all about Him!  So what can we learn about Him in this passage?  

I call this section "God is..." and have a different section for "Jesus is..." and "The Holy Spirit is..." (as applicable).  This helps us gain a better understanding of who our Lord is.  The more we know about the Lord, the closer we will be drawn in a relationship with Him.

After this, I dig deep into the heart of the text.  What does it say?  What do we learn?  What is it actually saying?  What does it mean?  Oftentimes as I study the verse, I will consult different commentaries to glean from their wisdom as well.  My two favorite (online) resources are Bible Hub and Blue Letter Bible.

Along with this, I often search through different cross-references, comparing Scripture with Scripture.  This is like God's commentary, as another Scripture can add to and expound on the specific passage you are studying.

Finally, looking up the Greek or Hebrew words behind its English translation deepen our understanding of the word and its meaning.  For example, "Keep," in Greek, shamar, [the first one in the picture above] means to keep before your face, to protect, give heed, and guard, in addition to "obey" as we typically define it in this generation.  Looking up the Greek words assist greatly in the study of God's Word.

Finally, after we have observed the Scriptures and interpreted them, it is important for us to apply them to our lives.  Carefully examine the Scripture.  Often I have found that even when an application doesn't seem evident, if I dig hard enough, I can find one.  And that, is a true gem, my friends.

For example, in John 1:1-5 it may seem that there is nothing that we can personally apply to our lives.  However, as I studied it, I was challenged to take these concepts to heart:

  • Jesus had a hand in the creation of every living thing.  Does He have a hand in every event in your life?  Is He your source?
  • In Him is life.  Do you draw your life from Him?  Do you turn to Him for renewed vigor and hope?
  • His life is the light of men.  Is yours?  Does your life radiate with the light of Christ?  Do you turn hearts, minds, and eyes, to the light of the world through what you say and do?
  • He is light.  Do you turn to Him to illuminate your steps and your path? Do you look to Him for answers? Is He the guidepost of your life?  Do you allow Him to shine His light into the dark corners to purify your life? Is He your bright and morning star?
How much we can learn about how to live by digging a little deeper into the passage!

Now it's your turn.  What memorization project are you currently working on it?  Don't allow God's Word to become empty by simply shoving it roughly into your brain.  Rather, take the time to study it and really get to know its meaning.  And you, my beloved friend, will be rewarded.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

People Who Pray

“The great people of the earth today are the people who pray! I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor those who explain prayer; but I mean those who actually take the time to pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. That something else is important, very important and pressing, but still, less important and pressing than prayer. There are people who put prayer first, and group the other items in life's schedule around and after prayer. These are the people today who are doing the most for God in winning souls, in solving problems, in awakening churches, in supplying both men and money for mission posts, in keeping fresh and strong their lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field, where the thickest fighting is going on, and in keeping the old earth sweet a little while longer.” ~S.D. Gordon

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Study of Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”
  ~Psalm 1:1-3

It is important to study the Scriptures to really understand the meaning behind the words so that they might completely transform us into the image of Christ.  If we don’t know what they mean, how will they challenge us?  How can we obey them?  Today, let’s dig a little deeper into Psalm 1:1-3.

This is the very first words of the book of Psalms.  This is on the forefront of David’s mind; the priority of his heart.  As a result, it should be important to our heart as well.  This is a sacred song or hymn of praise to the Lord.  Spurgeon says, “This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists' desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon.”

“Blessed” – Happy; favored.  “To bless” means to consecrate, to cause to prosper, to make happy.

“ the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly” – Who does not seek wisdom or counsel from the world.  This man does not look to mere men to answer his problems or solve his dilemmas.  He could care less about what they think.

“...nor stands in the path of sinners”  – He does not follow after their way or have any relation to them.  He does not follow their paths or imitate them in any way.  He does not take part in their actions.

...nor sits in the seat of the scornful” – He has no fellowship with those who scorn religion.  He is not among those who are proud and haughty.  He does not keep company with such people.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord” – He takes great pleasure in the Scriptures.  He desires to be buried deep within its pages and longs to spend hours soaking up its truths.  He loves it more than anything else.  He values God’s Word as his highest treasure.

“in” – This word is defined as “expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.”  He who is in God’s Word is completely submersed in it and enclosed around it.

“he meditates” What we love, we think about, and this is especially true in the blessed man’s case.  Matthew Henry says, “To meditate in God's word, is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close application of mind and fixedness of thought. We must have constant regard to the word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the spring of our comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no time is amiss.”

day and night” – Continually, habitually, this man meditates on the Scriptures.  He has intentionally developed the habit of meditating on God’s truth, he has disciplined himself in this way.  He fills the intervals of his time with this pursuit.  Whenever his mind is unoccupied with other things, it is on the Word of God.  Whenever he is awakened in the middle of the night, his mind turns to the Scriptures.

Cross References
Proverbs 4:14-15: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Psalms 119:1-2: “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.”

Joshua 1:8: “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 good success.”

Psalm 119:15-16: “I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

We too should take this message to heart.  We must sever our ties to the world and devote ourselves wholly and completely to the words of Christ.  They are to be our constant companion, day and night.  We must walk in the law of the Lord, and not in the paths of the unrighteous and scornful.

Your Turn
Notice how I studied these two verses.  I meditated on them, focusing on each different section.  I studied the context and the big picture.  I turned to the Hebrew meaning of some words.  I looked others up in the dictionary.  I pulled in some commentaries from other theologians.  And I looked at cross-references.  I applied the Scriptures to our life today. This is only the beginning of all the study we could do—only on these two verses.

You have seen how this study can work.  Now, I want you to try it on your own.  What can you learn from the third verse?  What about the rest of this chapter?  Take it verse by verse, word by word, and study it in-depth.  What can you learn?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Too Busy to Pray?

I often feel the call to pray, but don’t because I’m just “too busy.”  Many things demand my time—important things (well, some not so important things slip in there too...).  I can’t just neglect my other tasks, my mind screams.  If I devoted an hour of day to prayer, how would I ever get all my things accomplished? 

But I have found that when I put Christ first, all the other things simply line up.

When the disciples fished all night by themselves, they caught nothing.  However, when Jesus came and stood in their midst the next morning, they caught more than their boat could hold!

When prayer is not the center of our lives and we are caught up with other things, we continually fail and waste time.

But, when we meditate on the words of our Lord and spend time in His presence instead, we shall be like a tree that brings forth much fruit, according to Psalms 1.  When we make this our first priority and sacrifice everything else, the other things work out somehow.  We will find ourselves actually more prosperous and successful than before.  Tasks that used to take us three hours no take us one.  Even though we spend less time on these things and more time meditating on God’s Word and communing with Him in prayer, we find ourselves more successful.

Remember that prayer is a passion of God’s heart.  He delights in the prayers of the righteous.  As we learned yesterday, He longs for us to dine with Him.  Do you not think He will make time for you to do that?  Do you not think that if you give Him some of your precious sleep-time that He will fill in the needed strength?  After all, He is God.  :)  Never doubt Him, my friends.  Be willing to make sacrifices on His behalf, and He will abundantly bless you.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~Matthew 6:33

This is a promise.  One we can count on (remembering that God never lies).  When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, everything else we need will be added to us.  Never doubt that.

Note: This is not an excuse to fiddle around and watch TV all day instead of doing your work.  This is not an excuse to quit your job entirely either because you don’t like it.  This is an equipping for the tasks that God has called us to.  For some, He calls us to thirty minutes of prayer a day. For others, He may be calling you to spend 1-2 hours in prayer.  Others He invites to spend an entire day in prayer.  Look to Him.  What is He asking you to do?  Be obedient to His call, knowing that He will supply all the rest.

The next time you are tempted to choose busyness over time with the Lord, remember that putting Jesus, remember that putting Jesus first is the key to making life work.  Always.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dining at His Table

Our Lord told a convicting parable about making excuses.  He said,

“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”
~Luke 14:16-20

I believe that this story in many ways illustrates our devotional times with the Lord.  Our Savior invites us to dine with Him.  He has prepared a fabulous feast, with all the delicacies the world can imagine.  He desires to fill us with the bread of life.  He has a glass overflowing with living water just waiting for us to put it to our lips.  He doesn’t force us to come, but He longs for us to come.  He invites us out of the deepest longing of His heart.  He wants to dine with us.  He yearns for intimacy with us.  He aches to pour out His manifold blessings upon us.  We have been given the amazing, astounding, thrilling privilege of joining the King of kings daily in His throne of grace for a banquet, to come and partake of all that He is.

Yet how often do we reply, I cannot come!  I have way to many things on my plate today.  There simply isn’t enough time.  May I be excused this time?

Oh, how horrible!  Would we rather eat out of the garbage pail than dine with the King?  We try to feed ourselves with the temporary, discussing food that this world offers instead of the delicate morsels all carefully prepared for us by the King Himself!

What is your excuse?  What is taking up your time?  Is it truly of more value than partaking of the wonders of the Prince of peace?  Note that many of the excuses made by the dinner guests in the story don’t have much merit.  Going to see a new piece of ground.  Going to test five yoke of oxen.  A wife.  Oftentimes the things that keep us from the Lord don’t have much merit either.  Facebook.  TV.  Video games.  Meaningless conversations.  Shopping.  Sports.  Excessive working.  Do these things really matter above the Lord?  When we place a higher priority over the Lord in these areas, we are telling the Lord that we value the Lord above them.  Who do we love more?

Have we forgotten His promise to us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”?  When we seek Him first, not only will we be completely filled and satisfied, He will also provide for the physical needs that we may have been concerned about.

Come to the well.  Drink.  Be refreshed.  Dine upon the healing and satisfying morsels of the King.  Eat at His table.  Dine with Him.  Enjoy the peaceful intimacy of being in His presence.  And watch as He transforms you from the inside out.

Monday, August 3, 2015

We Need the Power of God

"My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh." ~Proverbs 4:20-22

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." ~Isaiah 26:3

"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 good success." ~Joshua 1:8

If you're anything like me, you've grown up hearing these commands and desiring to meditate on Scripture.  But, although we've tried our hardest, it just doesn't seem to work.  We haven't keep our mind continually on the Lord, Jesus Christ.  In fact, the more we've tried, the more we've found out how absolutely impossible it is for us to meditate on Scripture.

We want to be prosperous, we want to dwell in perfect peace, but we simply can't do it.  We do not possess the strength needed to abide in the words of our Lord (just try meditating solely on Scripture for a day).

Does that mean it is impossible?  Absolutely not!  The Lord will not command us to do something that we can't accomplish.  And our Savior will not ask us to meditate continually unless He did it Himself.

But the same Holy Spirit that dwelled in Jesus Christ also dwells in us (if we believe in Jesus and ask for His Spirit to fill us).  And it is this Spirit of wisdom and understanding that aids us in meditating on God's Word.

John 14:26 says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

We find the Scriptures slipping out of our mind as the business of the day overcomes us and other things  crowd our mind.  However, the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance--bring back to our mind--the things that the Son of God has taught us in His Word.  We have power in the name of the Lord Jesus--power that will aid us in our journey of meditating on God's Word day and night (Psalms 1:2).

Remember, "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

No, we don't have the strength to do this, but He does.  And that power can come upon us and transform us if we will only ask in faith.  Let us humble ourselves, admitting that we cannot do it on our own.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul mentioned that he willingly admits his weaknesses, so that the power of God might rest upon him.  When we confess our failures and turn to Him, He will fill us with power through the Holy Spirit so that we might obey His commands. And as we "stay" on the Lord, as we lean upon Him for strength and trust in Him by meditating on His words through the power that He has given us, we will find that our lives are transformed.  Trust in Him and turn to Him, my beloved friends!

Warning: We cannot expect to see immediate results.  I have found in my own personal life, that I am often disappointed if I am not absolutely overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit 24/7.  This is a growth process.  If it happened instantly, we would begin anew to trust in our own strength and forget all about the Lord.  As a result, we will grow little by little closer to our goal of meditation. Continue daily to pray that the Lord might transform your mind through His Word and that the Holy Spirit might bring to your remembrance the words of our Savior.  Even though you might not see a daily improvement, I encourage you to persevere.  Don't give up!  As you continue this for several months, you will look back and find that you have grown closer to the Lord, that you have been meditating more on God's Word.  Persevere my friends, and I can guarantee you will see a reward!  God has promised and He cannot lie.