Thursday, November 26, 2009

John 21:15

"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?'..."

What a moment. The Master Teacher asking a seemingly-simple question, in order to gently but convictingly reveal Peter's heart to himself.

[The world urges that each one of us should 'know thyself.' However, the Scriptures are clear that the heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Taking God seriously, then, involves distrusting our heart's inclinations in living by feelings, and instead acting on His Word by faith.]

The Lord was testing Peter's commitment, his depth of love for fishing compared to the love he professed to have for his Master. Repeating the probing grieved Peter, for it seemed to reflect dissatisfaction with his response. Memories of his recent denials of the Lord were still fresh, adding to his insecurity. Nervous or not, Peter's faith once declared so boldly (Mt. 16:16) needed to be regained, motivated at its core by the self-denying love the Lord Jesus gives and requires.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Judges 16:20

"She said, 'The Philistines are upon you, Samson!' And he awoke from his sleep and said, 'I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him."

Over time and through many opportunities to repent, Samson had slowly but surely slipped into a spiritual stupor. With each link in this chain of sin welded by his sensuality, he had gradually become so unusable that he forfeited the Lord's blessing and empowering. Long before he would lose his eyes physically, he had lost his spiritual sight, his sensitivity to the Lord's activity, his usability in His kingdom work.

There is great warning here. Let him who thinks he stands, take heed that he does not fall (I Cor. 10:12). No one, however spiritually mature, is incapable of falling as did Samson. To think otherwise is to act the fool.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Prayerful Contemplations

"Blessed Father,
Grant grace that I may muse upon You as You are worthy, for a few choice moments here in the cool of the day. I plea Your Spirit's filling work, softening this heart so easily hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Too, may the blood of Your sinless Son do a cleansing work, restoring our broken fellowship and healing my defiled conscience, I pray.

Enormous is the need I sense for repentance, that faithful confrontation Your blessed Spirit initiates just when needed the most...forcing the wayward believer to face the fact that drifting has occurred.
Such discipline is sorrowful, even as Heb. 12:11 declares, yet well worth the peaceful fruit of righteousness after Your chastening is done.
Praise to Your Name, Father, for Your faithful love and holy dealings with Your children!
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

II Chronicles 20:12

"O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You."

In the face of a massed enemy army and its imminent attack, Jehoshaphat was afraid (v. 3). Yet he refused to give in to it, turning his attention to seek the LORD and proclaiming a fast throughout the land. Principle: When things are dire, reduce distractions & focus on Him.

By his own admission, neither Jehoshaphat nor his people knew what to do... but as spiritual leader he knew Who did! With a rare humility for one in kingly robes, he acknowledged publicly in prayer their utter dependence upon the LORD. And God glorified His Name by granting Judah a victory accomplished solely by His doing. The result? Surrounding nations heard of it, and feared the God of Israel (v.29).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I John 2:15--17

"Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; But the one who does the will of God abides forever."

Satan, the one empowering the world system, the hater of God & deceiver of men, has a two-fold purpose: to steal God's worship, and to hinder our knowledge of Him. The three tools he has at his disposal (by the Father's sovereign permission) are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

John the apostle here exposes one of the enemy's strongest strategies to keep blinded men from understanding the truth: make the world system seem permanent.

Through the continual shouting at his senses, the relentless fear of death and the unknown, as well as the prideful rationalization of his supposed basic goodness, the devil lulls the lost one into believing that what he sees is all there is, and will last forever. Ironically, although there is physical sight, he is actually spiritually blind (II Corinthians 4:3,4).

Yet it is not to the blinded unbeliever that John is writing (!). No, his words of warning are to those who are "not to be ignorant of his (the devil's) schemes" (II Cor. 2:11). That the Holy Spirit of God should even compel the apostle to pen these lines implies that the power the world system wields is formidable. As Peter also warns, we must be continually vigilant, soberly alert, lest we be devoured by this lion-like foe (I Peter 5:8,9).

O Father,
Greater are You in me than he who is in the world! Praise to Your Name he is a defeated foe, crushed at the cross, and I rejoice in the victory the Lord Jesus won there as He took my place on the tree. Teach me afresh, Father, to walk in this truth, stand in it, immovable, refusing to impugn the character of my blessed Savior by yielding to Satan's intimidation. By Your blessed Holy Spirit, Father, teach me the wearing of the armor, that I may be usable for Your glory in the spiritual warfare that never ceases.
I ask in the Lord Jesus' Name,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

John 6:63--66

" 'It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.' As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore."

On the heels of miraculous ministries where food was multiplied, healings were causing great excitement, and His fame spread like wildfire, the Lord Jesus reveals His utter resistance to the deceitful lure of popularity.

He always and only cared for the will of His Father, period. His was an unnerving lack of concern for so much that everyone else valued so dearly. He alone understood perfectly that the flesh profits nothing, and so He lived with nothing to lose, with a fearless spiritual boldness. In the face of intensifying hatred from the religious leaders, and increasing disappointment from the multitudes, He unflinchingly spoke every word the Father gave Him to deliver (John 17:8).

Interesting that, when the disciples withdrew and walked with Him no more, there is no record of His following after them, pleading for them to return. As far as we know, He let them go. He would not "water down" the message to increase its appeal.
Neither should we.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Prayerful Longings

A deep yearning abides, for a restored awareness of who You are,
a sensing again Your nearness, Your enabling presence;
Yes, Your blessed presence, so very reassuring, as You speak peace to this troubled heart.

How gentle, yet insistent, is Your Spirit of holiness, knowing my frame, mindful that I am but dust; Your perfect, thorough searching of this drifting heart, revealing the sin You hate in such a way that makes me hate it, too.

Lead on to repentance, faithful Urger,
refusing anything less than Your rightful place of preeminence in my soul,
enthroned without peer, in a love-ravished heart of holiness You've restored!"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For AYoung Married Couple Just Starting Out

"Father, Your Name be praised for engineering circumstances in bringing them together, in revealing Your will that they marry, and showing such grace and favor to sustain them to this day (Prov. 27:1). Thank You, too, for the privilege of seeking Your face on their behalf, for Your blessed Spirit's transcendance of distance in accomplishing Your will. For, who can stay Your hand, or thwart Your sovereign movement high King of Heaven? Praise to Your holy Name!

From this the beginning of their marital days, Father, cause them to determine to have You first in their every decision, Your Word determining their course and priorities. As deep as is their love for each other, Father, may it pale compared to their love for You and Your truth. May they settle it now to obey Your Word through whatever life may bring, in order to bring honor to You.

Through Your Word, Father, speak powerfully to his heart, convicting and convincing him to be a man after Your own heart. May he be a man of steel and velvet, walking daily filled by and with Your Spirit, sensitive to Your still, small voice, eager to act upon what he hears. May Your Word and wisdom sink roots deep into the soil of his soul, that he may not drift away from You in the trying times to come. May You always be his first love, that she may rest securely as his second.

Speak to her heart as well, Father, that, as enraptured as she is with him, You will always be her soul's preeminent desire, wisely aware that only You can fulfill her strongest longings, meeting her deepest needs. May You continually whet her appetite for Your Word by the sweet stirring work of Your blessed Spirit, that her life may be a fragrant aroma of the knowledge of You in every place. And should You grant them children, gracious Father, may they be nurtured and admonished by Your faithful Word, according to Your perfect will, as Your Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus in all His saving power.

May theirs be a winsome home of consistent witness to Your goodness & grace. Be pleased to honor Your Name through their daily habits, furnishings, lifestyle, conversations, attitudes, and laughter. Be their distinctive, O Father, that all will see Jesus in them, and be drawn to Him. May they be ever teachable, in humility always ready to acknowledge fault to one another, graciously forgiving when wronged, being more & more conformed to the image of Your dear Son.

And when it comes time to bid this life farewell, may they have no regrets, nothing of which to be ashamed, nothing undone, eager to see You in all Your glory! All praise and credit to You, great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for bringing to pass the joining of these two in matrimony for a brief time before eternity... may Your smile be upon them to the uttermost!

In the Lord Jesus' Name I pray,


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hebrews 4:13 ; Proverb 5:21

"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths."

He is living, His knowledge is absolute, and there is no place His gaze does not penetrate.

"Oh Father, You know, and You see, and You are not mocked. No one sins without consequences, without loss. The most "hidden" (though there is no such thing with You) of sins still mean fellowship with You is broken, and conscience is defiled. Joy evaporates with the loss of Your smile. When Your blessed Spirit is grieved, days are tasteless and nights seem unending.
How deeply needed is Your work of grace and restoration! So comforting to know You know this redeemed heart, fickle though it often behaves. You see, and through the Lord Jesus promise hope. Praise to Your Name, such hope is never misplaced, when set upon Your precious promises.
In Your Son's Name I rejoice,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Isaiah 55:2

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance."

What a question our Lord poses to His people! Is it not a haunting thing that He asks it not to a money-squandering world, but to the people who are called by His own Name (!)? We who should know better, we whose priorities should reflect His change upon our hearts-- yet how often we still spend for that which may bring happiness, but does not satisfy.
Since money is more a matter of emotion than finance (Matt. 6:21), often we don't want to hear what the Father would say about something we are wanting to buy. In such a state, it is imperative that we ask Him for the grace to "play it either way," willing to do with or without it. He will honor such a posture. He delights to do so, giving us a testimony to His faithful provision-- more than we expected.

To Your Name, and Yours alone, Father, be the praise, honor, and glory for times without number that You have fulfilled Your promises perfectly! Not one need of any of Your children has ever failed to be met, according to the riches of Your grace in Christ Jesus. Be pleased to deepen our desire to listen for Your still, small voice when the impatience of the flesh is the strongest. May the things we buy reflect well on You who sent Your Son to purchase us at such great cost at the cross!
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ephesians 5:20

Incessantly thankful, Father? Gratitude, regardless? Not only "in all things," but "for" them, as well? Yes, for so You have commanded, sovereign Love, knowing the needed and encouraging changes thanksgiving works in this sin-scarred heart of mine. For, when I thank You: *faith is exercised that You are good, and do good, regardless of what I'm experiencing. *my thoughts are taken from myself, and placed where they belong... upon You. *You are obeyed,and the Holy Spirit within me is pleased. *my attitude is transformed, thereby encouraging other believers to do likewise. *a lost and watching world sees the distinctive difference You make in a believer's life. *life is put in proper perspective...under Your sovereign supervision!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Frequently-Needed Memory

I left the chapel service seeking a place to weep. The speaker's story of his own seminary days had touched me deeply. With less than half an hour after chapel ended before his next class would begin, daily he would race over to his dorm, running up the flights of stairs, burst through his door and slide on his knees to his prayer spot --- all in order to spend a few choice moments in his Savior's presence.
Such eager zeal flew in the face of my drifting walk with the Master... especially since I, too, had known such intensity in time past. Yet, gradually, cherishing time with Him, more than anyone else (or doing anything else), had eased out of my heart.
Now repentance, restoration, and resolve were needed. Most of all, to fall in love with my Lord afresh... and thereby regain the joy of being in His presence supremely.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Lord's Answered Prayer

Amid Charles Haddon Spurgeon's Morning & Evening devotionals, I found this one especially edifying, based on John 17:24--

O DEATH! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightst be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? Oh, stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer—“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say ‘Father, I will that Thy saints be with me where I am;’ Christ says, ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.’” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from His throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another; which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but Thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction—“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” Lord, Thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Regrets: hauntings of guilt wistfully mixed with wondering "what might have been." Second guessings slip so easily into self-pity, pleasing self and the flesh, taking sides against God's sovereignty. Strengthened by complaining, self-pity bleeds into bitterness, urging anger on in its relentless rebellion. Allowed time to linger, and sinking roots deep into the soul's soil, bitterness produces fruit most devastating: a seared conscience, broken fellowship, and spiritual blight.

"Grant grace, Father, to heighten our sensitivity to sin's subtlety, to our enemy's strategies of erosion. Strengthen our resolve to walk in Your Spirit, to hide Your Word in our heart that we may not sin against You, and to put on the armor You've so graciously provided. Restore our awareness of the warfare, and what is at stake, eternally. Be pleased to deepen our love for You, to cherish You, to please You in all things.
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Isaiah 41:10

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

At the core of cowardice is unbelief, the refusal to faith God. Fear focuses on self and circumstances, rather than looking to our Lord and His unfailing sufficiency.

Why so many commands in Scripture to refuse fear?

My loving Lord knows how powerfully the enemy wields this weapon against my soul. Through His multiple admonitions He is calling Satan's bluff, revealing time and again the truth that He in me is INDEED greater than he who is in the world! (I John 4:4)

Ephesians 2:8b,9

"that (salvation) [is] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

Before salvation, man worships at the altar of himself, deciding what is good or bad, true or false by his own sense of right and wrong. However consistently he may or may not live up to his own standard, there is yet the desperate hope that God will accept his attempts at goodness as sufficient for entrance into heaven in the end.
After all, he reasons, nobody's perfect. And God's in the forgiving business. Besides, everyone will eventually get to heaven anyway, right?
What is missed in this vain thinking is the eternal seriousness of sin's consequences in the light of God's absolute holiness.
Not comprehending (much less experiencing) God's perfect holiness, man simply ignores it, preferring to focus on a warped perception of His love, for hope. But this is whistling in the wind. For God is not mocked; neither does His holiness change.
Whatever man may wish, prefer, hope, or speculate, there is salvation in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, satisfied by His sinless life and atoning death the righteous requirement of God's holiness affronted. No human deeds, however noble, could possibly earn or deserve the salvation provided freely by the Lord Jesus. To even try is to insult His grace.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Isaiah 49:15,16

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me."

Thank You, Father, for this needed Word. Regardless of feelings of being forsaken, of times when life just seems long, and when You seem distant, You have not forgotten.

My soul's enemy stresses my insignificance... You remind me that You remember.

The world cynically snears, and implies in a thousand ways that worth is wrapped up in power and paper... You know eternally better, that to be remembered by You is of infinitely more value than anything creaturely.

Praise to Your holy Name, my gracious Father! Who can truly express adequate gratitude for being remembered kindly by the omnipotent Creator of the universe? And possible only through the salvation given by Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, praise to His Name!