Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick to listen, slow to speak and anger

S - James 1:19-20 (NASB)
 But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 
O-   This is an interesting passage from James whom I believe was Jesus' brother and whom became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He was not one of the original 12 Apostles but he did have much influence on the early church.  He speaks of authority and experience in walking out the new faith in Christ and leading a life according to the new testament.  In chapter 1 we find him laying out principles of growing in strength and character as a Christian.  Then he reveals this simple and penetrating truth on what we must do to continue to grow.  We must be great listeners, thoughtful speakers, and not let anger over ride our actions and the righteousness of God.

A -  This verse is for me a needed constant reminder to change the pace at which I do things instinctively.  I must allow myself to listen longer, to understand the meaning and intent of what is being said.  I must pause and process, to ensure in the context of the situation, the context of God's word, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I must speak truth in love, and this will all slow my anger and ensure my response is one that seeks to achieve God's righteousness.

P -  Dear heavenly Father,thank you for the things you are doing in my life.  Thank you for this refreshing season of restoration, and relief. Thank you for helping me endure the season of trial and come out on this side, still available to continue my path of seeking your will for my life.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Free myself from the temptation of control and money

S - Hebrews 13:5-6 (NASB)
5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert younor will I ever forsakeyou,"
6so that we confidently say,
"The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?"

O -  The message from the author is that we are not to get drawn back into the world, now that we have be saved and found a new place of contentment, peace, and provision.  But the world will tempt us again,  but if we trust in God's promises we never have to fear the changing sands of this world.

A -  The application for me is real and relevant today, and forever more.  Today I face the wind storms of doubt, and opinion, and conjecture and fear regarding my career.  Today I seek the opinions of others, those I trust, some in authority, and finally of my God who leads me.  I reminded gracefully that there is only one who can lead me through this season.  It is my Father who is heaven sitting on the throne; His son, who intercedes for me, and made a way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and guide my every step.

P  -  Lord I surrender all, today, now, and forever.  The path that wanders from you and is full of self reliance, and worldly distraction is one full of fear and doubt.  I seek to now to follow you and  your ways.  I pray Lord for peace and confidence to act in accordance with your will and to correct my behavior to that of peace and love for those you put in my life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Elders response and responsibility

1 tim 5:17-20 (NASB)
17The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning

O - In context Paul is giving guidance to Timothy who is leading a church that Paul and Timothy had helped found.  He has been giving Timothy guidance on the qualities and qualifications of Elders and members of the church, and help govern a Christ honoring local church.   Should an elder meet all the criteria of service and then let him serve and do not allow his service be interrupted by quarrelsome issues.  Paul speaks of how to handle quarrels against an elder, and similar to the gospel by Matthew he warns that two or three should be the basis of an accusation against an elder, so as to prevent distraction but maintain an accountability. 

A - I think of my own Pastors, Wayne Cordeiro and Rod Shimabukuro,  they are worthy of double honor and are working hard at preaching and teaching.  They should be afforded whatever provision the congregation wishes to bestow on them, and should be sheltered from the chatter of individual complaints, but rather be subject to accusation of two or three honorable elders.    For me I must seek to not be disqualified as an elder through my own behavior at work and at home.  I must continue to seek God and his truth for my life, and participate in the good work He is doing in my local church, at my work, and at home.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this gift you have given me of an opportunity to redeem my life for your purpose.  I pray during this stressful time that you would guard my heart and mind, and tame my tongue to ensure I don't lose the opportunity to serve you.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

God's abundance grace and mercy

S -  1 TIM 1:13-14 (NASB)
Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

O - Paul here confesses his past, even as a Pharisee' he sinned against God, and fought against God's plan.   Confessing his own unbelief and ignorance of the truth he helps us all understand just how great and abundant God's grace and love are. 

A -  The application for me is to recognize just how fortunate I am to have had God's grace.   I like Paul was confident in my beliefs and convictions when I was young and did not know Christ.  But now today I realize even more each year how short I fall.   I am both convicted and victorious at the same time today.  Victorious over what I could never win, convicted because I exceedingly want to please and obey Christ in me. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for continuing to do a good work in me , during this season of change and growth.  I pray for a cleansing of my old ways that lead me to sin against my fellow man and not witness your love and grace.  I pray that you would help me lead my wife and daughters well in this season.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Think of Excellence and Truth

S - Phil 4:8-9 (NASB)

8Finally, brethren, 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 worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

O -  Paul's exhortation in Philipians 4 is not only "be anxious for nothing"  but to do this through prayer and trust in God, and by focusing on Excellence and Truth.   The trials of this world, and specifically those trying to lead a life in Christ, has both resolution (Christ's completed work) and means to the end.  

A - I am thankful for these words of reminder to focus on what is excellent.  I throughout my life have fallen into deep pits of being anxious, and had God remind me to pray through them and trust in Him.   The second lesson I usually need to be reminded of is that I need to focus on truth and excellence.  When anxiousness takes over me,  I can often only see that which is not excellent in my life, and am very susceptible to untruth's perceived or received.   I am even reminded that when it is not me going through the anxiousness I must encourage other, especially my wife, to focus on the truth and the excellence in who she is.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would continue to speak truth and excellence into my life.  I thank you for the gift of grace, and forgiveness, I pray that you help me lead and guide my wife in this season well.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Feed your enemies

S - 

ROMANS 12: 9-21 (NASB) 9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20"But if your enemy is hungryfeed himand if he is thirstygive him a drinkfor in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
O - I know this letter is to the church at Rome, and therefore its audience is a group of Christians that Paul is exhorting to behave in a manner that honors and follows Christ example.   He is giving all of us a broader guidance to how we are to live the Christian life and behave in our local church, as well as interact with non-believers.   In summary this verse says behave the opposite of what your flesh and sin are prompting you to do,  in some cases, opposite of what you grew up thinking was right.  If your enemy is hungry - feed him.   That is the biggest paradox one can imagine -  an army at war with another whose supply lines are cut off and the opposing army is becoming weak with hunger.   What to do, feed them.   

A -  For the application we must understand the wisdom and uniqueness to God's solution to our behavior.  We must believe that first off He is smarter than us and that by feeding our enemy we somehow solve a problem that battling our enemy somehow would not.  The previous example when played out might look like this - your enemy is weak and aware of their circumstances - they likely will retreat and come to fight another day when stronger, or perhaps will feel trapped and desperate and therefore fight with ferver knowing they have nothing to lose.  This is our hungry, fearful enemy.  But should we decide to feed our enemies,    they may start to think, hey why am I fighting this foe of mine, when they have showed such kindness, and even if battle continues the ferocity of the battle will likely be tempered by the kindness.   I think this is the same for me, while I like to battle my enemies , it only seems to feed the fire at times that burns inside them,  but when I simply listen, or in rare occasions try and help, it always diffuses the situation allowing for  a partnership to occur that once was not there.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that your spirit would guide me to feed my enemies vice fan the flames of discourse and discontent.    I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Restoring God to the Lord of my life.

S - Romans 1:24-25 (NASB)
24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. 

O -  This passage in Romans speaks of the old testament of God's people whom which he favored, and gave promises, and laws to live by.  None of these proved capable of overcoming the sin within the human heart.   Each generation had an up and down of faithfulness to God, and extreme wandering away from His ways.   God never gave up on His people, however He did give them over to the lust of their heart. The said part of this is revealed in verse 25 , the core of the problem is our sin causes us to worship and serve the created (creatures and possessions of the land) and not the Creator himself.  

A -  The application is a fresh reminder that I too am very susceptible and certainly guilty of beginning to worship, or put my heart, mind, and soul, behind the things of this world,  instead of worshiping God.   It is so easy to do, as I either try to become God myself and make provision for the things of my hearts desire, through my hard work; or I put someone else in a position in my life to be the one whose approval I seek, or whose decision and guidance I use to guide my life.    I must recommit today to trust in God to give me the desires that will go into my heart, to be my protector and provider, and to be my wise counselor.

P - Lord thank you for this timely message, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord for an unrooting of any unrighteous desires that reside in my heart, and reminder of your provision, and a clear replacement of people I have placed above you , with you as my Chief Counselor.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2014


S - Mathew 18:21-22 (NASB)
 21Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

O -  Jesus is teaching the disciples all about the church on earth, and as it is in heaven.   He is teaching kingdom of God principles, to be lived in the new church, and many of the principles the disciples are beginning to get but still yet not fully fathom the Kingdom of God.  Here Peter shows that he is beginning to grasp the concept of forgiveness, as much of Jesus' earthly ministry he went around forgiving sins and healing people.  So Peter likely thinking he understood, but yet still questioning God's level of commitment to forgiveness ask the question how many times shall I forgive the same person.   Jesus answer the question in a way that reveals God's infinite grace, and our ultimate fallen nature.   Jesus says not seven but seventy times seven.  This is how much God loves us that he has given us forgiveness through Christ, and not through our own works, because we will always stumble.

A - The application for me is to recognize that I will never earn God's forgiveness and that I will continue to fall short of perfect obedience.   I am so grateful to have Jesus to come to and confess my sin, and receive comfort and forgiveness.   I do not use this as an excuse to sin, but just the opposite, as a reason to be faithful and righteous to follow and grow in the kingdom principles God has taught be through His word,  His Holy Spirit, and His son.

P - Dear heavenly Father thank you today for your blessings on my life.  I pray now for relief from the tensions and problems in my daily life that cause me to react poorly and sin.  Help me to represent your love well.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wisdom of God

S JOB 12:12 NASB

"Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.

O  -  It is interesting to hear this Proverb coming from Job's mouth in the middle of his trials.  Job is so complete in describing his suffering and experience when being tested by the devil, that we get to experience his spiritual, emotional, and physical journey.  On this day it looks like Job in having discourse with his so called friends who are trying to tell him he or his family must have some sort of sin and need to repent to God, they go as far as implying Job is foolish.  Likely these same friends had been living in the shadow of Job's prosperity for many years, and to see Job in this sorrowful state gave them an opportunity to criticize rather than support him while in need of comfort.    Job's reply was likely to them who would give him poor advice on what he should do.  He simply stated, I have been walking with God for many years, and my wisdom and understanding guide me today, and I will go with what I know of God, and from God in deciding my response, not of men that have little wisdom and understanding.

A -  The application for me is to understand that in order to claim wisdom and understanding, I must spend years walking with God, and not when the time comes, avoid the tendency to listen to unwise advice. I too easily can get caught up in what other think and say, and internal reacting to their thoughts and opinions.  As I have grown older and more experienced I am gaining a confidence in my relationship with God, his Word in my life, and the sum of my experiences.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for the years of speaking into my life, and shaping my wisdom and understanding.  Lord I pray that I would humbly process this idea of being wise, and boldly follow your wisdom, and would filter those who would speak distracting thoughts and ideas.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Waiting patiently on the Lord

S ACT 1:6-8 NASB
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

O - Jesus is spending His last moments on earth with His disciples after His resurrection but before His ascension.  The disciples who know exactly who Jesus is, and have seen him first hand do so many things, seem to ask these simple but naive questions.  Likely naive because they didn't have the benefit of years of study of the new testament (my own mental model).   In this case they asked, is it now Lord you are restoring the kingdom of God to Israel.  This was the prophesy of what the Messiah would do, and having seen Jesus, not lead a revolution and take over the Nation of Israel and kick out the Romans, but instead die unjustly on the cross.   Jesus reply is one that we all can learn from in How God works :  "it is not for you to know the times...which the Father has fixed by His own authority".  In other words,  don't focus on When but what His promise is.

A -  The application for me is to recognize that I must grow comfortable and confident on God's promises to me;  promises received through His word and through His Holy spirit.  I can still remember asking God what His plans for me are and Him responding - "I could tell you but I can not trust you to try and take control."    

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being a faithful God , who has a plan for my life.  I surrender to your will and your plan for me life and pray for the patience and strength to wait on you and your plan.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.    

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Disciplining sin

S LUK 17:3-4 NASB
Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."

O -  Jesus, thank you for your word and commandment.  You have high standards,  and great grace.  God is a god of righteousness and one of forgiveness.   Jesus is speaking to his disciples who are about to start the first church, and Jesus knows even though we are saved from eternal death through His sacrifice, we are not spared from living a life of excellence.  Excellence in loving God, and loving others.   We love God when we obey him.  We make mistakes,  others will make mistake in our life, if they are repentant we are to forgive them.  If they are not, we are to rebuke them.

A - The application is timely, as I am facing many disciplinary actions at my work place.   Ones in which I am accountable to decide is the person guilty of sin,  repentant of that sin, and given the facts what discipline or grace am I to show.  Today I am convinced to follow God's word in these decision.  I must obey the just and righteous laws that are passed and with a humbleness be ready to forgive.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank  you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Serve the God of the universe, not the god of wealth

S LUK 16:10-13 NASB
"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

O - It is never too many times I need to be reminded that I am here to serve God and not strive for wealth.  The paradox of course that Jesus delivers is that being faithful more than working hard  with a little is what allows God to entrust you with more of His wealth to steward.  The commandment to to serve the one true God and  to put no other god before Him is one that challenges even those called out by God to lead His people.   This was the case of the Pharisees, the nation of Israel, and of course at time me.

A - The application for me is to be humbled by the truth of my weaknesses, and to be thankful for the saving Grace of Christ.  I know turn my eyes, hands, and heart toward the Lord.

P - Dear heavenly Father thank  you for today's lesson, message, and conviction, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Serving my wife without expectation

S LUK 14:12-14 NASB
And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.  But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

 O -  Jesus was doing some good preachin when he spoke these words.  They were primarily to his disciples as he tried to get them to think differently than the current culture.    He had just finished explaining to them to not sit in the place of honor when arriving at a place you are invited, but rather sit at the low place for it is much better to be asked to move up, than move back.   Now he turns and explains how to be a good host.   Do not invite those who will repay you with good deeds for that is what they will do and you will not receive the blessing of giving to those who cannot repay you. These are kingdom principles, first and foremost that we cannot repay God for the sacrifice His son made on our behalf, we can simply be thankful, and out of a thankful heart, love God.  Second we are called to serve, and the very act of service is full of joy when it is done without expected repayment.

A - The application for me is broad across my life, but I feel the spirit of God speaking today into my marriage, that my acts of service to serve my wife cannot be done with the expectations of repayment or quid pro quo.  It can only be done out of love, with no expectations of repayment.  When I later get frustrated that my good deeds are not acknowledge or what I feel is reciprocated,  I become embittered and defensive, create cracks of separation.  Today I am exhorted by this word of God to continue to serve my wife how Jesus served us, without expectation of repayment, but only to provide a closer relationship.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your willingness to help me disect your word, so that you may disect my heart.  I pray that you continue to speak life into my life and my marriage to Abby.  I pray that you would protect our marriage from external influences, and continue to build ourselves closer to each other, for your glory.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The seed that bears kingdom fruit.

LUK 13:7-9, 18-21 NASB
And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?'  And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;  and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'"    
So He was saying, "What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the  air nested in its  branches ."    And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

O -  I find these two passages being great parables of how God views us here on earth, as well as a view of the kingdom of heaven (on earth as it is heaven).    Jesus is speaking to the people of Jerusalem and likely particularly at the Pharisees and religious leaders and saying, God has planted you here is to lead His people but year after year there is no fruit coming from this group leading God's people.  Time and again he has sent folks to dig around and fertilize the tree of Israel and time and again they become fruitless.   The Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, because it is the true beginning of the kingdom of heaven, it grows large and becomes a tree and many will be affected by this small seed.  Where there is no Mustard , grows a weed, whose seed is not of heaven.

A - The application for me is to recognize that God has plowed, and fertilized me, cultivated me to produce fruit.  Because of this, and because the kingdom of heaven now resides in my heart,  I am called to produce fruit. I am called to grow and bear fruit of and for the kingdom of heaven.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would continue to prune, and cultivate me to bear much fruit.  In  Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Store up treasures in Heaven

S LUK 12:15 NASB
Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

O - Jesus is teaching a rich man the paradigm shift he is going to have to face in order to inherit the kingdom of God, and not simply build up a kingdom on Earth.  We all will face this daily decision that leads to an eternal decision.  Jesus goes on to tell the story of the farmer who tears down his barns to build bigger ones and store up grain , so he can eventually just relax and kick back enjoy his spoil.  Jesus then ends by telling the rich man to sell everything and follow him.  And there it is the paradox of give up everything and serve others, so that you may have everything you need from the one who provides all.

A - The application for me is to correct back to the heart of Christ.  To not get wrapped up in the wants and perceived riches of this world, but to continue to look for those Jesus wants me to serve.  I must trust in his provision and be like Paul, learning to find confidence, joy, and peace in both times of plenty and time of trial.  Today I am blessed to build the house of the lords provision, to provide for my family, but I must not slow in my service of the Lord while I build.   

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank  you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord for a correction of my spirit and attitude that is enjoy the riches of this world, causing me to store up here on earth and not investing more in the kingdom of God.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The daily ask

S LUK 11:8-11 NASB
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.    "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.  Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?

O - I know context is important in scripture.  The context of this scripture in Luke , is that Jesus is speaking to his disciples and answering the question "teach us to pray" (like you do Jesus).   After teaching them how to pray for their daily sustenance, and delivering themselves from evil, he must of sensed something like,  "Jesus that prayer is to easy , it must be harder than that simple prayer"  So then he tells the parable of the the man who has a visitor who is his friend but comes at an inconvenient time.   He explains that a persistent friend who asks will receive.   If more so in the case of a son or daughter, a father will give what is asked for and needed.   This all of course is to describe the character of God, our friend and Father, but also to remind to us to be persistent friends, sons, and daughters.

A - The application for me is a quick reminder to not abandon my prayer life.   I tend to fade away in a few situations.  When things are  going good.  In long seasons of challenge.   I need to remember that daily communion with the father, through His word and through prayer,  through listening and through asking is needed to be in alignment with God's plan in and around my life.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this revelation through your word to revive my prayer life, specifically the asking and the listening.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Faith it!

S LUK 1:5, 18-20, 34-38 NASB
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

   Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

O - In two cases,  Gabriel, and angel from the Lord came to deliver God's prophesy and truth.  In the first case, Zacharias responded with doubt, demand for certain how this could be that his old barren wife would have a child.   Now Zacharias was acting High Priest at the time, was in service of the temple to enter the Holy of Holies, and therefore had sufficient training and understanding to know who God was and how he operates.   On the second case a young teenage virgin girl, is visited by the same Angel with a similar proclamation and her response is one wonder, amazement and submittal to the truth of the word.    In one case Zacharias is muted for his unbelief. In Mary's case it testifies to why God has chosen her for her faith in the Lord.

A -  The application for me is to recognize that my own faith can grow.  In fact my own faith may be like the tide, come and go,  but God remains the same in who He is.   The key for me to understand is when God speaks to me through His spirit that is in me,  doubt only seperates me from Him, and faith draws me closer.   So as my friend Rod Shimabukuro might say,  if I have doubts I should just "Faith it"  when it comes to following God.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for your words, and your promises, and your truth.  I pray for a growing faith.  I pray my doubts and fears would be muted in comparison to my trust in you.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

God's present and perfect provision

S- REV 22:1-3 NASB
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

O -  I was just reflecting how this last chapter in the last book in the bible compares to the first few chapters in the bible.   In the garden of Eden , Adam and Eve lived, in the presence of God, with His perfect provision.  Here in the end,  we see God on Earth, as it is in heaven,  the curse from the fall is lifted, and humanity is once again fully restored. 

A - The application for me is to understand how much of a still fallen, under a curse world I live in.  In good times and bad, God is on His throne.  What I am reminded of though is that even in good times here now, in my daily life, God's provision, while more than sufficient for me to live and serve Him, falls far short of His perfect provision in the end.   I need to live in service and satisfaction of God, but in the promise of things to yet come.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the reminder of how temporary my circumstances today are, and help me regain perspective on my life,  and your provision today, and your promise for tomorrow.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2014

On earth, as it is in heaven

S - REV 20:4-6 NASB
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

O - There is an order, even in heaven.   For some reason I think we (me) all tend to think of heaven is the perfect place where we are all equal.    Revelations reveals this is not so.  In heaven we are all forgiven and loved,  and have a restored relationship with the Father. But here in revelations we see the first resurrection is that of those who in the last days did not receive the mark of the beast (the last shall be first) and those beheaded fro their testimony of Jesus and the word of God.   I believe the Apostles sat on the thrones in judgement in end times as well.

A -  So what application could there be , besides get beheaded in the name of Christ to be in the first resurrection.  No, quite simply my take away is that our rewards in heaven, is one of service to God and His kingdom.  The level of responsibility and authority we get will be our responses and actions here on earth.  Because "to whom much is given, much is expected".  If on earth we a have done much with our salvation in serving God, then much responsibility in heaven will be given to us.

P - Dear Lord, I pray that you would help me to steward my salvation well.   Show me, and give me courage to serve you at work, at home, and at New Hope.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Correcting back to the One True God

S - EZK 37:3-10 NASB
He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God , You know." Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the L ord .' Thus says the Lord G od to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord .'"   So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God , "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

O - Ezekial is prophesying of the restoration of the exiled nation and tribes of Israel.   After many words of justice and consequences being prophesied,  the Lord shows his character of Grace, and trustworthiness in His promise.    God's people have a tendency to forget over time He is the Lord of lords.  They begin leaning on there own understanding, and adopting false gods and listening to false prophets, vice seeking the Lord.    So the Lord through this prophesy is about to show them he is Lord over even these dry bones, and with His word and His breadth he can restore and give life.

A - The application for me personally is to recognize my own tendency to slowly wander away from the Lord and to begin to put my ideas before His plans, and begin to dedicate my efforts to lesser things (my personal gods) and not focused on His Kingdom things.   I need to self reflect on my current situation and correct back to a daily thought and decision life which is not based on my feelings, emotions, fears, and accolades, but on the very word of God and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's devotion.  Thank you for answered prayer, that I might restore and reconnect my engagment with your word and with your Holy Spirit.  I pray for a correction back to your ways, and your things for my life. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Receiving and responding to God's Vision

S HAB 2:1-3 NASB
I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said, "Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

O - Habakkuk was a prophet , who was just before Israel was to be exiled to Babylon and during this time he began seeing who God was and what his intent was for the people.  Here in this passage he waits for the Lord to speak to him about this vision he has had of Israel being exiled and the Lord tells him a few profound things.   1.  Record the vision - for the one who is willing to read it may run.  2.  Wait for the appointed time -  there is no reason to preemptively cause it to occur, just let it run the course and timing God has designed.    Though this somewhat an ominous vision with large consequences to people's lives,  I think there is an more universal truth about God given us visions and his expected response from us.  God often gives us vision but not so that we may take control and make the vision happen.  He is God and is in control, we are not to worry how God will make it happen, just wait for it, and be ready to respond when it does occur.

A - The application for me is different this time.     In the past I have loved this passage because it says write down and vision so that a person may run (which I interpreted as run with the vision).   Today I understand that when God gives me a vision it is not so I can take control of it.  I think the real purpose God gives us vision like Habakkuk got was because he loves us and doesn't want us to worry or be in the wrong place in the vision.   His future is not necessarily for our benefit but always for His glory.  So I must not get caught up in how to benefit from God's vision,  but rather take action to be were God wants me to be in His vision, and all else will be well with my soul.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for you guidance, love, and vision through your spirit and through your word.  I so treasure these daily times in your word, and repent for any slothfulness  that has kept me from doing so.  I pray that you would help me see more of your vision for your Glory in and around my life and help me Lord to take part but not try and take over.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Receive teaching from God

S JHN 7:16-18 NASB
So Jesus answered them and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

O - This statement by Jesus came after the people whom Jesus was teaching at the temple where questioning him on where he got his education from, because they knew he didn't grow up a pharisee.  His response was unique to the people but likely resonated as true in that he simply that his teaching came from  God, the inspiration of all scripture and the One whom the learned teachers were supposed to be studying.  Then He revealed a second truth that those willing to do God's will are able to to receive the truth from Him.

A -  The application for me is to understand that God is speaking to me through His son and through his word.   Man is still fallible, even pastors and teachers in the church, so I am to discern and receive God's truth from God, from Jesus, from the Holy Spirit, and from those who are willing to do God's will.  

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Correction and Restoration back to God

S  - 2 Chron 34:31-32 (NASB)
31Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. 32Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him.

John 6:28 (NASB)
28Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" 29Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." 

O -  The passage from Chronicles share the history of King Josiah who had after many disappointing Kings done right in the sight of the Lord.  He rid the region of all of the false God's and began restoring the temple.  During the restoration his priests found the book of the Law and Josiah was convicted by it and truly began leading the people of Israel as God had laid out to Moses.   He recognized God's truth when he saw it, repented and began walking and leading in God's ways.   In the second passage Jesus is speaking to his followers who were just really beginning to understand that He was the son of God and had eternal life for all that followed Him.   For Josiah he had the Law to follow to try and be right with God.   The people now wanted to know what work was left for them, and Jesus reveals the powerful message - to do the work of God is all they need, and the work of God is faith - in Jesus being their Lord and Savior.

A -  The application for me is one being reminded that I am no different than the people of Israel who can wander from God's ways and need periodic course corrections. I choose to be like Josiah, and upon recognition that I have wandered to quickly repent and come back to God.   The second recognition is that come back to God is no work at all it means to simply come back to Christ, to be led by, to follow , to be restored through Jesus whom God has sent on my behalf to restore this broken relationship.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this wonderful morning reminder who you are.  I pray that the lessons of it would be sealed to my heart.  I pray this in Jesus Christ name, Amen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good works with the good news

S James 1:22-25 NLT

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

O   -   I find it only interesting the book of James follows the book of Hebrews in the Bible.  This is because Paul, in Hebrews, spent a good amount of time , reminding the Jewish converts that they are under a new covenant and things are now much different now that we have a perfect priest in Christ, interceding for us at the right hand of God.  However,  James comes in and says don't depart from the perfect things that God has  already written in His word.  Instead listen to the word, and let it reflect in you and on you, not forgetting what it has shown you.

A -  I know the book of James can cause some to be confused as if it is the Gospel of works , instead of the Gospel of Grace.  I believe James just realized that after receiving God's grace we are to grow in relationship to him.  Who God is , is written in God's word, old and new testament.    We must choose to allow His word to change our heart and mind, so that one day we will be able to share with others who God is, and speak truth by what we know and how we live.

P - Dear heavenly father, thank you for Designing me, and your kingdom perfectly.  I pray that I would have continued opportunities to display what I have learned and cemented to my heart.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.