Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A love that is warm and inviting, not noisy and distant

S -  1 Cor 13
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

O - The Lord just whispered this verse into my heart in regard to my speaking to my wife and even my children.   Paul speaks of this to the Corinthian people out of the teaching and correction of the congregation that he helped grow that was growing with some of the challenges all growing churches, families, and people have.   Out of the love they enter a relationship, but out of time and circumstances their behavior degrades into something less that true love.   Out of routine they may use the same words, but the same words without the truth of the heart behind them sound noisy and cold and distant, instead of soft, warm, and inviting. 

A - The application for me is to understand that as I try to foster my love relationship with my wife,  and grow my children up to love God and love others, I must example the kind of love that Paul writes of.  Not one that uses all the write Christian words at the right time, but has no heart or love behind them, because the girls can read through that and they do not receive this Agape love that Paul writes of.  I know for me I have to press in and show them the warm, inviting, love,

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would help me to transform my love for my wife and daughters into your Agape love.  I pray all this in Jesus Christ name, Amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jesus' strategic and yet tactically excellent ministry

Jesus' strategic and yet tactically excellent ministry
S - Mark 5:39-43 (NASB)
“Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He *took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and *entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl got up andbegan to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

O - I believe at all times Jesus knew exactly what he was doing and for what purpose.  His 3 year mission was strategic at all points, as He was led by God the Father to minister to the people.  So why did in this case Jesus choose to stop  and heal the synagogue leaders dead daughter, and then command the parents to let no one know about it.  It is often commented on that the reason Jesus asked people not to tell anyone is because it was not the final time for him yet, and that if the both the crowd following him, and the people coming against him grew to rapidly it, would not enable him to accomplish all that He needed to before His sacrifice on the cross.   But that doesn't quite answer why he healed the girl in this case.  The answer I believe is because he had to be true to who he was,  compassionate to the genuinely faithful.  That part of His character he could not deny, so those that came to him with genuine faith in who he was and what he could do he humbly served.   The humble servant model that he examples is one of willingness to serve despite great risk and potential distraction from the mission at at.  At the same time Jesus knew he needed to example to James, John, and Peter, the fullness of the ministry that they would one day carry out themselves, and that the stories that would be written and shared long after Jesus's death and resurrection would be what fuels the faith and purpose of the new covenant church.  So in summary Jesus was both extremely strategic in his long term vision for the church, but also excellently tactical in his ministry of love and compassion.

A - The application for me is to follow the example of the greatest leader to ever live, Jesus Christ.   I am to lead like Jesus, with a long term strategic goal in mind, but with an immediate love and compassion for God and His people.   The humble, yet powerful ministry of Christ is one that we can all example, as we desire to see major impacts on people's lives, but desire not fame or glory to be attributed to ourselves, but to all point to the glory of God, and for the purposes of restoring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's devotion, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you help me to see the opportunities to see and serve your people in ways that glorify your name, and move your people closer to the kingdom of God.  I pray that that you would continue to train and equip me in your kingdom ways.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Psalms of praise for Him

Psalms of praise for Him
S - Psalm 49
 1 Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, 
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; 
Worship the LORD in holy array.
10 The LORD sat as King at the flood; 
Yes, the LORD sits as King forever. 
11 The LORD will give strength to His people; 
The LORD will bless His people with peace.

O -  We set our hope on the Lord.    We give credit to and connection to all our strength in his name.  We worship Him in a variety of ways.   He rules all that is good and bad in our life.  He gives us strength to live through both.   He gives us peace.  The Lord is the consistent one, we are the inconsistent ones.    We are to remain confident in His steadiness , not our circumstantial steadiness.  

A - The application for me this morning was to simply take this moment to praise God through this psalm, through my observation, and through allowing the Holy Spirit to come and transform my perspective.  Though at times I am down, I know He is not.  Though at times my spirit flags, or my mind wanders and worries,  He is the same.  I can count on Him.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to reflect on who you are and give you this praise, because you are definitely worthy of all praise.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sin and God's response

Sin and God's response
S -  Num 14
 1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.
18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guiltyvisiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourthgenerations.’ 
... Numb 16
LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. 46 Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” 47 Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people.48 He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.

O - Oh what a great intercessor we have in Jesus Christ, who stands at his post on the right hand of the Father,  acting as the perfect and ever present priest, and perfect sacrifice.  We see here in the continuing story of the freed Israelites, upon whom God gave freedom from slavery, that they rebel against God's commandments, not only rejecting the promise land but later violated many of the commandments out of rebellion and not just omission.   So we see Moses and Aaron repeatedly need to intercede, and make amends, and from there we can see a model of what Jesus must now do perfectly for all of those who follow Him.   You see Moses and Aaron while good where not able to pay the penalty for the sin, they where able to give prayers and offerings, and often times in delayed ceremonies long after the sin is committed.  Jesus however has paid the price already,  and because we maintain a constant communion with Him, and the Holy Spirit, He is able to intercede for us from Heaven, even while we sin.  

A -  The application for me is to recognize that I have an eternal Priest who resides in Heaven, interceding on my behalf all the time.   I must continue to come to him daily, repenting of my sins,  asking forgiveness, and guidance.  The warning for me is that I can't carry sin on my own, and need to continually be bringing it to Jesus, and laying it down.  My tendenacies are much like the Israelites to slowly fade away to the truth that God has spoken into my life.  But like Moses I must fall on my face and repent and ask for forgiveness and guidance to be free from my own sins.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  Lord I repent of any hidden and not hidden sin that remains in my life.  I repent for my lack of trust in your perfect plan for me and my family here in Monterey,  I pray that you guide me and give me strength to follow you in trust and confidence.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Called as disciples to a new convenant

Called as disciples to a new covenant

S - Mark 2
14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He *said to him, Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
 15 And it *happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. (new disciples) 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.(new disciples)

O -  So why did Jesus choose Mathew, a tax collector, and Peter a fisherman, and the likes to be His disciples.  The answer lies in verse 21, that Jesus new that it would take someone from the average common people who were in need of a savior and worn by these circumstances, so that they may patch up the rest of the people.  You see a tax collector can minister to a tax collector, and a fisherman to a fisherman.   Asking a Pharisee to be relate-able to a tax collector, or even worse to serve a tax collector (for salvation sake) was not in the culture. That is why Jesus says it another way.  You don't put new wine (or this new covenant of grace ) in the old wine skins (the Pharisaical like) but they cannot contain this new wine. So Jesus chose a different set of disciples to follow him.

A - The application for me is to recognize I am a new wineskin, whom Jesus has poured out his forgiveness and grace.   I have lived a common life, tossed about by the ways of the world, anqd influenced by my sinful nature.  I am now called to minister to those who have lived a life like I have.  For me this is Naval officers,  professional men and women. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would help me to see those who you are calling me to minister to .    I pray for boldness of spirit, and wisdom of words, that would lead your people back to you Lord.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on the Lord, whom shall I fear

Waiting on the Lord,  whom shall I fear
 S - Psalm 27
 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
Whom shall I fear? 
4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: 
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
To behold the beauty of the LORD 
And to meditate in His temple. 
 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, 
And be gracious to me and answer me. 
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, 
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.” 
9 Do not hide Your face from me, 
Do not turn Your servant away in anger; 
You have been my help; 
Do not abandon me nor forsake me, 
O God of my salvation! 
 11 Teach me Your way, O LORD, 
And lead me in a level path 
14 Wait for the LORD; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; 
Yes, wait for the LORD.

O - There is so much to learn from David's psalms about our posture and communication with the Lord.  David expresses well his feelings, but with hope and confidence in the Lord.  For example the first verse indicates that fear is a part of David's life, but he positively proposes the Lord is his light, and salvation so who should he fear.   It is almost a statement of faith.   David goes on to seek the Lord, his house, his wisdom, and His guidance.  In verse seven, despite its truth, David knows there will be desperate times when we cry out to the Lord, He prays simply that the Lord would answer him, and not abandon him.  In verse 14 David expresses uneasyness by almost exhorting himself that he needs to wait on the Lord despite fearful and perilous circumstances that seem to surround him,  he tells his heart to take courage, and just wait on the Lord because whom shall he fear, if he dwells with the Lord in his temple, and seeks his face, the Lord will be faithful to answer his prayers with light (direction), and salvation (strength).

A - The application for me is to seek to follow David's path for preparing himself to stay close and follow God through the journey He may have ahead of him.  I can relate to this in this unexpectedly uncomfortable season of rest I am experiencing.  I know the word is "wait on the Lord", but the feeling of uneasiness still rests on my heart.   I shall follow David's example and wait on the Lord,  seeking to spend time with Him,  taking courage in him,  seeking guidance and salvation for the days ahead.   

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would help me live as David did, with the heart that pours out my fears and devotions, and trust to you and your ways.  I pray Lord for peace in this time of waiting, and I pray for guidance for the days ahead, and salvation from those things that might distract me from your ways.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guided by the spirit, strengthened by the spirit in ministry

S - Acts 28:7-8, 28-31 (NASB)

... stranded on the island of Malta
7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. 10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.

... finally in Rome, teaching to the Jewish leaders

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” 29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]
 30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.

O -  It is inspiring to be able to watch Paul's ministry.   Who would have ever planned on using shipwrecked, and imprisoned journey to Rome, to stand trial before Caesar as a means to spending two years in the most influential city in the world at the time, teaching,  for the most part freely and unencumbered.  The key for Paul lay in his clear receipt of direction from the holy spirit.  Before heading to Jerusalem, even with a prophet foretelling of his imprisonment, he knew by the spirit that he was to go to Jerusalem.   During his trip to Rome, while in certain peril the spirit gave him a clear vision of their safe arrival and certain fate and he walked by faith in that, ministering right then and there to the fearful sailors and inmates; when shipwrecked he ministered to the people of Malta, and when finally arriving in Rome he preached to the Jews as well as the gentiles.  

A - The application for me is this,  I must be ready to follow Paul's footsteps in my own personal ministry.  I have been called,  to lead and develop leaders in the next generation.  I need to follow Paul's example of Holy Spirit discernment, as well as boldly teaching truth to all who will listen.  This requires a increasing understanding and relationship of the Holy Spirit, a good knowledge of the truth, and a confident yet humble exhortation of truth to all whom will listen. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would be a beacon unto my path in the ministry you are calling me to.  I pray that you would equip me with your truth, grant me the peace and boldness to proclaim your truth, and give me the humbleness to  ensure others know and glorify you, and not me.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Season's being shepherded by God

S - Psalm 23 (NASB)

The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
    A Psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my shepherd,
shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

O - I just noticed the seasonal flow of David's shepherd psalm.  It is a flow from a pure provision of the Lord, provider of all our needs, but then somewhat chronologically we can see the Lord shepherding us through a season of rest and restoration, restoring our soul's from whatever previous seasons we may have faced.  The next season the Lord shepherds us through once our batteries are fully charged is a valley season, where we see the Lord carefully guides our every step and that direct guidance of the rod and staff brings comfort in an uncertain time.  Coming out of the valley we are to face our enemies on our way to the mountain top experience.  The lord sets our table, and provides all that we need to defeat the enemy, and He does it in front of our enemies so the enemy see's it is God on our side, and not our own strength.  And the last season is of mountain top, where God anoints our head with oil, this symbolizing taking care of our wounds or infirmities, and our cup over runs with abundance and joy, and we recognize God is with us in every season and his provision is more than sufficient to sustain us through it all.

A -  The application for me is to recognize that I am a sheep of the good shepherd, and the season I currently am in is one of laying down in green pastures, near still waters.   Perhaps the last 9 years of my walk in Hawaii were the valley, the battles and the mountain top experiences.  For this season he has me learning to still my self rest and recharge.  Honestly I was excited at the thought of it, but find myself uncomfortable in this season, but after reading this psalm I recognize it is God's plan for shepherding me and my family.  The lesson is not that I am in retirement, never to be used again, but rather in a season of restoration and preparation .   God knows of the valley moments ahead, he knows of the enemy's I will face, and He knows of the mountains he wishes me to climb and this current season will be perfectly planned and provided for in recognition of the season's past and the season's in the future.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord for wisdom and comfort in living this season of lying down next to still waters, and in green pastures.   Help me Lord not to miss you next season, by homesteading in the season of rest.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Effective evangelism, Paul's example

Effective evangelism, Paul's example
S - Acts 24:22-25 (NASB)

 22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.
 24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 

O - Felix who was a governor of sorts had a great opportunity to hear Paul's expert testimony of the Way.   In Paul's persecution in Jerusalem, it becomes obvious that on his road to Rome.   Paul wisely testified to Felix of his innocence, but at the same time did more to teach Felix who was likely influenced by his Jewess wife. 

A - The application for me is to try and understand God's design and purpose for me to witness in this time that he has me.  I feel exhorted and encouraged by Paul to testify to all that I am led by Christ, but it has not been in my personality to be so outgoing and vocal.   I know God is growing me in this area, and that my fear of sharing too boldly as I did in my first years of freedom as a Christian,  where I may have done more damage than good.  So my heart felt desire is to grow in skill and obedience as Paul had over his season on earth.  

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.   I pray Lord that you would help me to understand and grow in your ways,  to grow my heart and spirit for evangelism, your way.  I pray all this in Jesus Christ name, Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The community we are called to testify to

The community we are called to testify to
S - Acts 23:6-10 (NASB)
 6 But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” 7 As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.

O - My observation is just how we as men have a tendency after long periods of religious analysis to divide ourselves in such significant ways.  We see that in Paul's time the Jewish leadership was pretty well split on a significant topic of resurrection, spirit, and angels.  This despite, some clear foundational scriptures and testimonies from the founding fathers.  Paul used this known dissension to his advantage to escape persecution which was for kingdom purposes since ultimately he was being called by Jesus to testify in Rome. 

A - The application for me is to recognize 2000 years later, we are doing the same thing with Christianity.   We have it split into so many sects that we have Christians amongst themselves not able to reconcile truth.   Catholics and Protestants differ on priesthood requirements.   Baptist and Evangelicals differ on sufficiency for salvation and eternal life.   Sects like Jehovah's witness, and Mormonism,  have added to the base and taken on additional beliefs.  So what are we to do.  I believe we are to follow Paul's example, and testify to those God has associated with.  We are not to worry about all, only those He is calling us to.  Paul was raised a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee.  He encountered and was called by Jesus, and when given a chance to testify to the Jewish council, he appealed to those he knew, in a way they could understand, but it was based on revelation from Christ.  I am called to those who didn't grow up in a church, but may have come from a family who had a small religious association.  I am called to testify to those who feel they have a purpose but are not sure where it comes from, who have an inate sense of righteousness but don't yet know the one who is righteous. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you continue to equip and shape my life more and more, so I may serve you more and more.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.