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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do Not Pray

"I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer ..." "Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you."
~ Jeremiah 7:13,16

Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart ...
~ Luke 18:1

Pray without ceasing.

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Jesus said to pray always and not lose heart. Paul said to pray without ceasing. I've seen some mighty answers to prayer myself and am committed to it.

But there is also a time for "do not pray." Not because we ever cease from praying, but because there is a time to move on from prayer and respond to what God's already told us. When Jeremiah delivered a command to repent which went unheeded, God wasn't ready to receive any more petitions. Why should He receive more prayers if His previous answers were ignored?

One of the best ways to know the Spirit's soft voice is to not only listen for it, but to heed it.

Father, You are good and faithful as You hear and answer our prayers. We are all too often unfaithful to heed You. Please give us not only the answers we need, but please lead us by the hand to walk in Your ways and heed Your voice. Please put in us the strength we need to do right.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Covetousness: Deceit and Idolatry

"For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land," says the LORD.
"Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely."
~ Jeremiah 6:12-13

I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.
~ Romans 7:7-8

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief ... hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
~ Hebrews 3:12-13

Lest any among Jeremiah's audience thought themselves innocent of sin, he brings covetousness into the picture, to convict everyone, from least to greatest.

Covetousness led King Ahab to murder. Righteous David succumbed to adultery and murder because he first coveted. Even the Pharisee Saul—who scrupulously obeyed the commandments—would one day be forced to see himself as a sinner when confronted with the commandment, "You shall not covet."

Covetousness may be of another's goods or spouse, of another's attributes or advantage. It requires us to deal falsely with our neighbor, either to conceal our covetousness, or to perhaps gain what we covet. We also deceive ourselves as well if we believe sin does not occur before thought becomes action.

Worst of all, covetousness deceives us to believe that God has not granted to us all we need or deserve—that He isn't as good as He should be. And thus our hearts become hardened and idolatrous.

The Bible's comforting words are pleasant. The Bible's harsh words are necessary, showing us how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He makes us ever more Christlike.

Oh YHWH our Righteousness, apart from You we are utterly evil, no matter how good we look on the outside. Please wash us with the water of the Word. If necessary, scorch us with the Spirit's fire. Make us good and holy and pleasing in Your sight.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Freelance: FAMILY

Most days “family” means the people of my household who couldn’t be any closer—the husband with whom I'm one flesh and the five children birthed from my flesh. They make my life sweet, these six people with whom I share a home, who get the first and best of me.

Right now I’m visiting my very colorful birth family in Colorado. We love the Lord and we love one another and we’re in-your-face about both. Back in Michigan I’m often the just a little-too-enthusiastic (except on drama team) lady who works hard not to offend with it. Here among family I fit right in. I’m accepted.

The acceptance among family members stems in part from knowing each other so well. I have a quote back in Michigan that says something about there isn’t anyone we wouldn’t love if we knew their whole story. [Even Darth Vader evokes some sympathy when you watch him go through childhood and personal trauma.] My brothers and sisters know my story and share it. They know how to tell me when I’m out of line because they understand how I got this way.

“Family” isn’t always defined by natural blood ties. Military and public safety personnel share death and danger on a regular basis and consider themselves brothers. Five years spent as a cop got into my own blood. I’ve handled with composure many situations where someone died or might have. But when I helped carry an officer wounded by a shotgun blast into my patrol car, and held him as we rushed to a nearby hospital, the life bleeding out of him felt like my own.

Though I haven’t worn a badge in nearly twenty years, I’m still tied to everyone in that thin blue line. I understand what it is to have everyone continually stare at you in public. I comprehend the rage which boils up when arresting someone who’s just exhibited flagrant disregard for life. I know what it is to carry the memories of things no person should see because of that disregard.

These days I’m part of another vocational family—a family of Christian writers. We have an consuming drive within us which can’t not write. We carry thoughts and ideas and stories which strain at the reins of our minds until we release them. We long to have our words read and affirmed and published. We experience rejection phone solicitors might understand. But with us the rejection is very personal. We struggle to remember that we’re not rejected as people when the words we’ve birthed from our souls are not deemed worthy of another’s investment.

Via the blogsphere these writers affirm and encourage one another even as we try to reach people outside our circle. Many of us share little more than a nodding acquaintance. A good many become fast friends. A few of us discover a bond which defies reason. We understand things about each other even our spouses may not grasp because they don’t share this inexplicable and unrelenting drive. If you’re among the writers I’ve connected with, please know my deep affection and gratitude for you. And because you’re Christians, you really are my family. We share eternal blood ties through Christ’s blood.

All Christians should see one another as brothers and sisters because of this blood tie. We should be willing to accept family members because we share the common experience of forgiveness from degrading sin—there’s no room to point fingers. We share the same Father.

And for all eternity we’ll be happily gathered into the same home, sweetly united as one.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wise to Do Evil

"For My people are foolish,
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge."
~ Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
~ Matthew 18:3-4 (NKJV)

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
~ Titus 1:15 (NKJV)

Any parent can appreciate a small child who emerges from a bath and runs through the house stark naked, innocently reveling in the freedom from clothing. All too soon, we acquire knowledge of good and evil, and such freedom is lost to us.

Our human nature inclines us to be continually sinful. We are wise to do evil without effort or training. We can point a finger at the world and say it has corrupted us. It is humans who first corrupted the world.

Jesus came to set us free from this burden of sin. Alone, we will continue to swerve toward evil—to be filled with pride, lust, anger. As we walk closely with the Lord, He continually cleanses our hearts and sanctifies us so that all things might become pure to us.

He converts us to again become as little children, innocently enjoying His good gifts.

Good Father, You shower us with good gifts. How many are lost to us because our hearts still gravitate toward evil? Please do whatever it takes to make us so humble and pure that nothing must be restrained from us. Incline us to hate everything that is evil, to love all that is good.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


"Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying,
'Thus says the LORD:
"I remember you,
The kindness of your youth,
The love of your betrothal ...
What injustice have your fathers found in Me,
That they have gone far from Me,
Have followed idols,
And have become idolaters? ...
For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—
Broken cisterns that can hold no water.
...You lay down, playing the harlot." ' "
~ Jeremiah 2:2,5,13,20 (NKJV)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?
~ James 4:4-5 (NKJV)

The Bible uses an vivid image to portray idolatry: adultery.

Does anything else in human experience ignite wrath like finding a spouse in bed with someone else? Human jealousy needs no explanation.

The Lord views idolatry with the same jealousy. We see ourselves as far too sophisticated to bow before a piece of metal, wood or stone. We forget that seeking satisfaction from the world is the New Testament’s definition of idolatry, and is also called adultery.

The Lord offers abundant living waters. To show preference for offerings from the dry and broken cistern of this world rightly ignites the jealousy of the Spirit who dwells within us.

Beloved Bridegroom, You paid a great price to make available the living waters of Your Spirit. You satisfy as nothing else. Please give us discernment between the godless, the goodly and the godly. Please powerfully woo our hearts so we'll both seek Your face and woo You with our own love.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Be Still

“Sit [tarry] in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.”
~ Luke 24:49 (MKJV)

"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." ... Then they returned to Jerusalem ... These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.
~ Acts 1:8,12,14 (NKJV)

"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
~ Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

I value efficient use of time. If forced to wait (through kids’ piano lessons, etc.), I bring work with me. Life is short and I intend to cram as much as possible into my years.

I’m beginning to understand the folly in this. “Efficiency” is not on the Fruit of the Spirit list. How many simple pleasures and conversations and opportunities to express love am I missing?

Once Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples might have been tempted to run, or preach, or do anything rather than simply sit. Yet they obeyed Jesus’ direction to be still, waiting and praying for ten days. Had they gone out on their own, they’d have accomplished nothing. Once clothed with power from on high, they were ready to take Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth for Christ.

How much more might the Lord accomplish through us if we spend less time doing and take more time to be still?

Lord, You know our impatient and immature hearts. In a society constantly on the run, we struggle to be still for long enough to hear You. Please open our eyes to the value of being still not only in those times set aside for You, but also during available moments our hectic days.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember Me

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him ... But the other ... said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
~ Luke 23:39-43 (NKJV)

"When the LORD has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel ... then remember your maidservant." Then David said to Abigail: "Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And ... blessed are you."
~ 1 Samuel 25:30-33 (NKJV)

At the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
~ Philippians 2:10-11 (GW)

Abigail, a woman of wealth and stature, bowed before David, a homeless and hungry fugitive. She expressed faith in the Lord’s will that David would be king, summed up in the petition, "Remember me." Her reward was to become the wife of a king.

The criminal crucified with Jesus, the Son of David, likewise saw beyond Jesus’ immediate circumstances with the same request: "Remember me." What kind of faith speaks of Jesus as King and asks to be remembered while both men are dying?

This is the same faith asked of us. We must see beyond present circumstances of suffering and death and look to the One who promises us a kingdom not yet visible. Everyone will one day see Jesus as King and bow the knee to Him. He will remember those who believed in Him in these days when He is despised.

Our God and King, we earnestly wait with confidence for the day when Your kingdom on earth shall be visible. Please give us hearts to see eternal things even while the temporal vies for our attention. Please inspire us to keep our hearts humbly bowed before You as our Lord.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wash One Another’s Feet

"For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves."
~ Luke 22:27 (NKJV)

"You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."
~ John 13:13-15 (NKJV)

"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "
~ Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

Though Luke’s Gospel doesn’t include Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, it records the disciples disputing yet again who shall be greatest and Jesus’ reply. John’s Gospel omits the dispute, and simply relates that at supper’s end (when the disciples were surely relaxed with wine and full stomachs), Jesus the Master becomes the One who serves in the most menial capacity.

Jesus left behind a profound image as a last act of service before His death. He strips off the elite robe for which his mockers will soon cast lots. He washes from feet the street mire and dung into which His face will soon be pressed. He bows down before the men sitting at the table as if they are greater than Himself—men about to deny, betray and abandon Him.

We’ll be tempted to see some task as beneath us—to see ourselves as better than the man or woman who does it. There are some people we can’t imagine bowing before in menial service. Jesus asks us to put not ourselves in their place, but to put Him there, and recalculate the measurement we use for one who serves.

O Lord, we’re ever inclined to think too much of ourselves. Please give us a bigger view of Yourself. Enable us to exalt You in our lives so highly that after we’ve praised You on Sunday morning, we live throughout the week in Your example of One who serves.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pearl of Great Price

"By your perseverance acquire your souls."
~ Luke 21:19 (author)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
~ Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

Then Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You."
~ Luke 18:28 (NKJV)

And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
~ Psalms 119:45 (NKJV)

The Pearl of Great Price parable is interpreted two ways. One says Jesus' kingdom is the pearl and we forfeit all to gain it. The other says His church—His bride—is the pearl of great price Jesus gave all to attain.

I see it both ways. What more could Jesus have given to purchase us? He asks all from us in return. Not to pay Him back. Not to earn salvation. We give all we are to Him because a man's soul defines all that he is, and Jesus purchased our souls.

In typical kingdom irony, God entrusts our forfeited souls back to us more fully than we ever had them to begin with. We once lived by commandments we could not keep, and were in bondage to sin. When Jesus' blood sets us free through repentance of sin, God grants for our souls to walk at liberty because we use our freedom to seek His ways.

Lord, what more could we possibly expect from You? You gave Your life to obtain our lives and make them everything You created them to be in the time before sin. Please permit us to better know You and trust You so we have no hindrance to obey. Please empower us by Your Holy Spirit to release to You whatever You're waiting to make whole.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Freelance: FEAR

I'm generally pretty fearless—much to my husband's dismay. I believe that if one fears God, one need fear nothing else. This certainly doesn't justify foolishness (though it is said that fools rush in where angels fear to tread).

Anyway, this principle wasn't in mind when I recently led a prayer. Before I go further, please allow an explanation about some principles I do keep in mind when asking God for something.

First of all, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." When approaching God in prayer, praising and thanking Him for what He's already done helps give one the proper perspective while asking for something else.

Second of all, pray according to the will of God. Like I tell my kids, "You don't ask for brownies before dinner because you already know my will in the matter. If you mention to me that you ate your dinner (including the stuff you don't care for) and finished after-dinner chores, and then you request brownies, you're far more likely to receive an okay."

Third, if it's possible, pray in a manner that answered prayer is evident. Answered prayers are opportunity to praise and thank God (see first principle, above). God rightly seeks glory, so it makes sense to pray in a manner that provides an opportunity to later give Him glory.

When it comes to giving God glory, He's particularly sensitive about His name. No less than 32 Bible verses mention something occurring for the sake of God's name. A number of times, God even did something for His name's sake when He indicated He was otherwise not inclined to do so.

Anyway, a situation once occurred which greatly burdened my heart for the way God's name was being dishonored. I fervently asked Him for something for no other reason than His name's sake. That prayer was answered in a big way. So in this other instance of His name being dishonored, I again asked Him to answer prayer for His name's sake.

This year I was asked to lead prayer on behalf of government at a National Day of Prayer event. If you're inclined to read it, the entire two-minute prayer appears below. This is how the prayer ended:

Everlasting God, the United States is known in the world as a Christian nation. We are unworthy to bear Your great name, and yet Your name is upon us. And so we do not ask these things for our own sake, but for the sake of Your name, by which we are called.

It occurred to me in recent days that when we prayed (dozens others said "amen" and "yes, Lord" while I led) and corporately owned up to our nation's sin on May 1st, we did more than give our Father the admission He waits for. We also reminded Him that His name is being smeared by our actions.

If confession is followed by an attitude of genuine repentance, it will surely receive mercy. If not, the Lord may be compelled to act with even stronger measures, if only for His name's sake—especially now that we brought it up.

My hope was to move the arm of God. I now fear which direction our prayer could move it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our Father God Almighty, we come before Your throne in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We praise You for the liberty we have through His blood.

Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth, we bless You for Your goodness to the United States of America. Thank You for blessing us with freedoms of religion, and speech, and peaceful assembly, by which we gather here this morning. Thank You for blessing with wisdom those rulers who have led our country to fear God. Thank You that even in the midst of economic distress, You still grant to us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the most prosperous society the world has known.

Great and awesome God, who is faithful to Your covenant with Your people, we humble ourselves and confess to You that we have sinned. Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord our God. But to us belongs shame of face for all our evil. Shame belongs to our president, to our governor, and to our local leaders; shame belongs to our senators and legislators; shame belongs to our justices and judges. Shame belongs to each one of us because of our nation’s wickedness.

Most High God, we seek Your face on behalf of our nation. Please revive fear of God in our people. Please provide godly counsel and wisdom to our government officials as they lead us through perilous times. Please turn the hearts of our rulers to act in accordance with Your will, and purge corruption from them. Please encourage and strengthen those who rule according to Your righteousness.

Lord of Hosts, when You allow us to take up arms, please lead us in paths of righteousness. Please show us how and when to lay down our arms. Please guide and protect our soldiers, our police officers, and all those who put their lives at risk for our security. Do not permit their enemies to prevail against them.

Everlasting God, the United States is known in the world as a Christian nation. We are unworthy to bear Your great name, and yet Your name is upon us. And so we do not ask these things for our own sake, but for the sake of Your name, by which we are called.


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Him We Live

"He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him."
~ Luke 20:38 (NKJV)

"In Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' "
~ Acts 17:28 (NKJV)

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
~ Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

I wonder some days if I should take death more seriously, if only for the sake of others.

My problem (if it's a problem) is I take to heart the words that I no longer live. Self tries to rise up a thousand times a day, but Self no longer lives. In autumn 1988 I came alive to Christ. He now lives in me. I see death as the natural means by which we fully enter the kingdom into which we've been born again.

I've given birth five times, three times at home. (Once was by accident, and it was no big deal after that.) Something about giving birth in the comfortable environment of home with a nice fire going makes it seem completely natural for a baby to transition into arms from womb's confinement. Death is likewise the natural point at which we're no longer confined by earth and reach the arms of God.

Everyone who is in Christ is already living eternal life. In Him we died. In Him we live. Death can no longer touch us.

Lord Jesus, You are the resurrection and the life. You increasingly fill us with Your life and we love You for it. Please fill us with Your Spirit ever more fully while we walk the earth, so that we will do what You did when You were here. Please let all of us see death with the perspective You desire us to have.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

He Came to Seek

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich... And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house."
~ Luke 19:1-2,5 (NKJV)

And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
~ Luke 19:9-10 (ESV)

"If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?"
~ Matthew 18:12 (NKJV)

For nearly a day I've been mulling over the circuitous route to Jerusalem Jesus took from Galilee through both Samaria and Jericho. The stop at Jericho was well out of His way, and required both a deep descent into the Jordan Valley and a return steep uphill climb to Jerusalem.

Jesus' final journey to Jerusalem took a detour through the mountains to look for lost sheep. Two were blind beggars. One was a wealthy tax collector. Though He journeyed to the cross, and had so very much of His own pain to face, The Son of Man came to seek out those last few lost sheep before He died.

Did you come straight to Jesus? Or did you travel a long and circuitous route before Jesus found you? I was seeking for so long that I rejoiced to finally stumble upon Him. All the while, He was seeking me.

I knew this already. But I smile at God's many ways to remind me of it.

Good Shepherd, some days I think I'm still wandering. We walk such a very long and circuitous route through life. How much better the journey is at Your side! Before You again return to Jerusalem, Lord, please keep calling to those last few lost sheep. Please use us to find them.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seek Me and Find Me

Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging... And he cried out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
~ Luke 18:35,38 (NKJV)

"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
~ Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV)

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."
~ Matthew 16:15-17 (NIV)

Other than the day entire crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with palm branches, the only people Scripture records calling upon Jesus as "Son of David" (the title of the Messiah) are blind men and a Gentile woman. Men such as the Pharisees were expected to see but did not recognize Him at all.

My practice when I read the Bible is to ask God to show me something new. No matter how many times I read God's Word, I continually discover something which seems so obvious that I'm absolutely amazed I didn't already catch it.

Until the day the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we are blind to any truth God does not please to reveal. But to those willing to search for Him with all our heart, God promises, "Seek Me and find Me."

I continually pray for readers to be drawn to this blog to find truth and be edified by it. More than that, I pray you are draw to God's Word to search out truth for yourselves.

Lord named Truth, El Emeth, You prove Your love for us by making Yourself known to each of us personally. Your Holy Spirit is our first and most perfect Teacher. Your Word is more valuable than gold and sweeter than honey. Draw us to Your Word frequently and passionately.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Increase Our Faith

And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed ... "
~ Luke 17:5-6 (NKJV)

"When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "
~ Luke 17:10 (NKJV)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
~ Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

The apostles asked the Lord Jesus "Increase our faith" in the context of Jesus directing the difficult act of forgiveness. In the same context, Jesus goes on to discuss obedience not as a feat worthy of commendation, but as our duty—a duty fulfilled through faith.

Faith is so much more than believing of God (as even demons do). It is believing IN Him. It is trusting Him to be so good, so wise, so omniscient, so powerful, and so loving that the only logical course of action is to do as He says and walk in His ways.

1 John 5:3 says, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." (NKJV) If the commandments seem burdensome, we need more faith. If faith comes by the Word of God, we cannot read the Bible too much.

Lord, You are indeed the epitome of love, wisdom, knowledge, power, and goodness. it all sounds so very reasonable to obey You in the moment when no challenge lies before us. In the hour of temptation, please remind us of this. In the hours before temptation, please draw us to Your Word.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Unrighteous Mammon

"And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home... Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?"
~ Luke 16:9,11 (NKJV)

All things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own ... "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." ... Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-24,26,31 (NKJV)

Life on earth is a test of heaven's citizens. Will I choose to look at God with my heart when the world fills my eyes? Will I listen to the Spirit or Self to find satisfaction? Do I serve God or Mammon, god of materialism, when entrusted with the unrighteous mammon of this foreign land?

I long for heaven's purity when Creator and created ones are united without such distractions.

Last night we worshiped the Lord in Spirit and Truth with abandon. People of my church used music of this world and our flesh and even the devil (one actor's dubious distinction) as we danced and ran and clapped and spoke our parts. In just a few moments I'll again be at church, to sing with my mouth of flesh, pray and listen amid the devil's distractions, and offer unrighteous mammon of this world in the plate.

The Lord entrusts me with unrighteous mammon to be used by flesh in a world of sin. By His Spirit I find a way to use it for the glory of God and make friends for Him with whom I'll live in an everlasting home upon the final failure of my flesh.

Lord, God of the angel-armies, who is mighty like You, O Yah? From every angle we see Your faithfulness. All You create is good—so very good. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who sanctifies all He touches and creates a new heart in Your people of flesh, that we might have the privilege to worship and love and serve You.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

In Need

"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need."
(Luke 15:13-14 NIV)

And the children of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
(Judges 10:15-16 NKJV)

Has any nation ever possessed greater riches than the USA?

If there's a far country to which we've traveled with our wealth, it's the place of relativism (no absolute truth), atheism (no God), and humanism (man is God). We were founded in faith, and have received prosperity beyond anything our forefathers might have imagined. Yet we've engaged in prodigal living and recklessly squandered both material and spiritual wealth.

Like the prodigal son, we now sit in need, amid economic hardship, but have yet to come to ourselves and humbly return to our Father.

Corporate repentance begins with individual repentance. The world turns a deaf ear to Christians who preach repentance but don't set an example of it wherever sin lies in our own lives. Whatever our sins are, we must repent!

If there's anything that softens the Lord to relent from allowing us to suffer hardship, it's a heart turned back to Him in repentance.

God Almighty, El Shaddai who provides all, You have been more generous and patient with us than we deserve. Please reveal to each of us the sin from which we should repent. Please move us to come to ourselves and receive the blessings You wait to shower upon us.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Freelance: FECKLESS

feck·less \ˈfek-ləs\ adj 1: WEAK, INEFFECTIVE

My four-year old drools in his sleep.

Some mornings, there's no damp pillow or cheek. Yet moms know. I'll cuddle him to wake up and catch a whiff of the telltale smell on his sweet face—and I hardly intend to quit cuddling to wash. Later, an older sister may hold him and say, "Daniel smells funny." At some point, he will get a bath to take care of all the funny smells which cling to four-year olds.

He's learned self-control where nighttime bladder issues are concerned. But when it comes to keeping his mouth closed during sleep, I can't help but like the word feckless.

"There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that
will not be known." (Luke 12:2 NKJV)

I recently read a compelling line from The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge: "Unsettled, we turn and walk quickly away, like a woman who feels more than she wants to when her eyes meet those of a man not her husband."


I'd only noticed men who give women a slightly too appreciative glance before looking away. Are the secrets hidden in a woman's heart just as easily laid bare?

Men have the reputation for lust. I don't see their lust for sex much different from women's lust for romance, whether in frequency of thought or in the danger for compromise.

I've heard, "Feelings aren't right or wrong—they're just feelings." This lie from the pit of hell is the devil's tool to convince us that lust, wrath, pride, and an entire host of other emotions are justified. We think them our own secrets, which hurt no one. We see our hearts somewhat like our cars. We pass through the midst of hundreds of other cars but think of our space as private—while it's surrounded by glass.

Like the invisible dried spittle on my son's cheek, we unwittingly reveal our hearts and the evil emotions in them. We may dwell on such emotions and feed them, and eventually act upon them. If forced to confront those emotions, we justify them as no more than human.

The Creator indeed allows us anger, which can motivate us to defeat unrighteousness as it did David against Goliath. The Lord allows us enough pride to care about how we're perceived, so we'll work toward displaying the love, joy and peace He puts inside of us. God gives us sexual desire to unite ourselves with our spouses—body and soul—and to reveal more clearly divine union with us which is His desire.

Satan and flesh would use these good emotions for evil.

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do,
that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who
do it, but sin that dwells in me... O wretched man that I am!
Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—
through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:19-20,24-25 NKJV)

It's said sinful emotions are like birds: you can't prevent them from flying overhead, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.

We must indeed battle sinful emotions every day that we live on this side of heaven. We must remain aware of the dire consequences which follow if we fail to fight.

And we must remember to draw near to our loving Father, whose will is to continually wash us of sin's odor even as He looks affectionately upon our humanity which renders us feckless.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Having Children

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
~ Luke 14:26 (NKJV)

And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God's law. But a woman will be saved [preserved whole] through having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
~ 1 Timothy 2:15 (GNB, amplified by author)

"Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."
~ Matthew 18:3-5 (NKJV)

I thought today's post would be about great love for God willing to push aside even something as good as children—as if with hatred—for the sake of the divine. Then I read Letting Be, by my friend Billy Coffey, about the importance of allowing ourselves to live life by doing a little more nothing.

Every truth has offsetting truth, to give truth wholeness and balance. I might use God as an excuse to give my spouse and children less than they deserve, because "I love God so much." Truly, my love for God must far exceed love of family. But especially as a woman, I should remember that after Eve sinned, she was preserved whole for the sake of having children.

Feminists are surely screaming. Even Christian women may be wincing. And God does not direct or even allow every woman to have children. But shame on me if I use "serving God" as excuse to neglect motherhood. My friend Denise is just one beautiful example of love for family balanced with love for God. There is more than one way to be fruitful for the kingdom.

Being wife and mother (daughter too) is my first work and ministry. I do well to remember it.

Heavenly Father, I am incredibly blessed to be a wife and mother. Thank You for all the love in my life because of my family. Please help me keep balance—to put You first, family second, and only then service to neighbor. Lord help me learn how to sit still and do nothing just a little bit more.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Judge Not

"Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
~ Luke 13:4-5 (NKJV)

"If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
~ Exodus 15:26 (NKJV)

"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned... For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
~ Luke 6:37-38 (NKJV)

The depravity for which New Orleans is infamous fueled plenty of remarks that Hurricane Katrina was a judgment of God. While I don't dispute a likely connection, I'm also careful to "judge not" lest I also be judged—whether for personal or collective sin.

The Bible makes numerous references to disease, disaster, famine (economic hardship) and violence being God's judgment for sin to provoke repentance. The Bible also gives many examples of suffering which have other purposes, Job being a prominent example.

If we are experiencing hardship, it is prudent to seek the Lord to understand the purpose of our testing—whether repentance-inducing, character-building (augh!), or faith-building. When someone else experiences hardship, we can pray for them and encourage them in numerous ways, while still refraining from the judgment or condemnation we ourselves hope to avoid.

Lord, all Your ways are perfect. We have violated your ways and suffer as a result. We surely never suffer what our many sins deserve. Please give us discernment for how to respond to suffering. Please help us to judge not when another suffers, but to leave all judgment in Your hand.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seek the Kingdom

"But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
~ Luke 12:31-32 (NKJV)

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalms 37:3-4 (NKJV)

I love my life with the Lord.

Before I started walking with him, I was young and single, successful and doing as I pleased. I looked great on the outside but was a complete mess on the inside, operating under the illusion that I had control of my life. I was thoroughly miserable and had no clue why.

Then I gave the Lord my life. I'm now young in heart and married, struggling to succeed at writing and doing as my family pleases. My house is a manageable mess—but I look great inside and out because I am thoroughly loved and know it.

I no longer want control of my life, because God does so much better with it. He gives me an expense account (some years more generous, some years less so) and provides high-cost additional training without me even asking. I love my job—seek His kingdom and delight in Him.

And because my delight is found in Him, it is an easy matter for Him to give me Himself, the desire of my heart.

My Lord and my God, You've not ordained an easy path through this world for us. But You give us Yourself and our needs. How can we desire any more? Please draw us to read Your Word and pray—to better know You, better love You, better trust You, better serve You. In hours of trial, I beg You to lead us to seek the kingdom of God.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Choose Life

"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters."
~ Luke 11:23 (NKJV)

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
~ Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."
~ Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV)

Life and death.
Good and evil.
Wheat and tares.
Sheep and wolves.
Rock and sand.
Narrow gate and wide gate.
Light and darkness.
Blessing and cursing.

The Bible draws sharp distinctions. Its intolerance does not allow for a neutral position, shades of gray, or private religion. One must make an active choice to serve the Lord.

Jesus says you either choose to actively work at His side, or you're destroying His work. You're either for Jesus, or against Him. It's not a one time decision. It's a way of life.

If we do not choose life in every decision, the default position is death.

Light of the World, You stepped down into darkness and demonstrated without a doubt that we can choose life only by choosing You. Your goodness far exceeds all this world could offer. In moments when we turn toward the path You're not walking, please open our eyes to see Your way and give us the strength and desire to choose it.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thine is the Glory

(Note: A week of posts on my personal use of the Lord's Prayer as a prayer outline concludes today.)

For Thine is the kingdom,
And Thine is the power,
And Thine is the glory,
Now and forever.
~ Matthew 6:13 (author)

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.
~ Romans 11:33,36 (NKJV, emphasis author's)

"The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
~ Westminister Shorter Catechism

For Thine is The Kingdom
We have no other Sovereign. YHWH is Creator, Owner, Ruler, Rabbi, Purchaser, King, and Lord. He has dominion over every aspect of our lives.

And Thine is The Power
All power in the heavens and the earth and under the earth is of His hand; all power touching our lives does so only through His permission; all power entrusted to us, to be exercised in thought, feeling, word and action is testimony to God's name, for reproach or for glory.

And Thine is The Glory
If we have favor in His sight, may the Lord grant to us this highest privilege, greatest pleasure, and deepest passion: that we bring glory to Him; and may He shape us as approachable, interesting, effective, and modest ambassadors, that all glory is His alone.

Now and Forever
May any glory we are empowered to bring God be manifest now and endure into an eternal kingdom.

So be it!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Deliver Us From Evil

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil.
~ Matthew 6:13 (LITV)

All kinds of trials come your way ... know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure... If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, "This temptation comes from God." For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But we are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires.
~ James 1:2-3,13-14 (GNB)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
~ Ephesians 6:11-12 (NKJV)

Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation
The words translated tempt, trial and test in the New Testament all come from the same Greek root word, peira, which means to pierce—by which one determines what's on the inside. When the devil tempts us, God allows it in order to test, or try us, and thereby refine (purify) us. When testing comes with which the devil means to tempt us, we pray for our Father to lead us not into it, but around it or through it, and beyond it, making us more holy in the process.

The Greek word for evil, poneros, could refer to "the evil," or "the evil one." I pray it both ways.

But Deliver Us From the Evil [one]
We look to the Holy Spirit as a divine Valet who presents our armor with which to defeat the enemy:
We are girded, held together, with truth, which sets us free from all the enemy's power;
We are clothed with righteous acts;
We have secure footing because we prepare ourselves with the Gospel, a solid rock on which to stand;
We ask for ever increasing faith, by which we are shielded from the enemy's lies and doubt;
Our head covering is the Lordship of Jesus Christ, which is our mark of salvation, ownership, and spiritual authority;
We are trained to wield the Sword of the Spirit, our offensive weapon of God's Word with which we've prepared;
We remain watchful in prayer, which is our continual dependence upon God's power to wage war.

Deliver Us From All Evil
We need deliverance from past evil—our sins, our inheritance of sin, and sins committed against us; from present evil—the pride and lusts of Self, divisions with other believers, unity with the world; from future evil—kept from it, that we may not cause pain to others, ourselves, or our Owner.

YHWH of Hosts, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, and from all evil.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Freelance: FORGIVENESS

"In this manner, therefore, pray ... forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors... For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
~ Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV)

I don't hold grudges.

God has given me some strange, supernatural capability for forgiveness, for which I take absolutely no credit.

Maybe it's His way of countering my fiery temper, which He uses to humble me more often than I care to admit. Maybe it's simply because I've been one of the more flagrant sinners in my younger days, so I don't have any room to see anyone as a worse sinner than me. At the very least, I've come to see that I don't have the right to own an offense in the first place.

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah, he confessed to the Lord, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight." (Psalm 51:4). How could David not think he'd also sinned against Uriah?

Here's how I see it. In the Old Testament, certain penalties were charged if you injured a man's animal or a man's slave. If you caused the death of another man's animal, you compensated the man for his loss. If you caused injury to a slave, you didn't pay damages to the slave but to the man who owns the slave. A slave has no right to own a debt from someone else.

I belong to God. He created me, then He bought me with His blood. I gladly serve Him as my Owner and Lord. As His bondservant—His slave—I don't have the right to own a debt from anyone else. Any damages to me are owed to Him. Since God is Creator and owns everyone, He alone is owed any debt for sin against me.

So then why would Jesus instruct us to forgive, lest our Father not forgive us? Because while God's forgiveness frees us from sin's eternal consequences, it is our own forgiveness which frees our hearts from sin's consequences while we remain on earth. In the act of forgiveness, my heart releases the sin which injures me for as long as I hold onto it. My Father can then begin to heal my heart of its injury.

Make no mistake, forgiveness is different than trust. An unrepentant offender may not be worthy of trust, and our relationship cannot be fully restored without it.

Forgiveness also does not deter righteous accountability. To forgive is to acknowledge that execution of justice belongs only to the Judge of heaven and possibly a judge of earth. Without an example of earthly righteousness, how shall anyone fear heavenly judgment? Yet in the same moment I myself forgive and love my offender, I might testify to my offender's guilt and release to a human court the execution of justice, even the death penalty.

Here is the ultimate love. God declares us worthy of an eternal death penalty for our sin against Him—and then steps into human flesh to take the death penalty upon Himself. Our model for forgiveness is Jesus, who forgave the people in the very act of nailing Him to a cross.

Q: Is any sin too great for my forgiveness?
A: No sin is too great for the blood of Jesus to cleanse and God to forgive, so no sin is too great for me to forgive.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dependence on God

"Give us day by day our daily bread. "
~ Luke 11:3 (NKJV)

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? ... Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." ... Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities ... in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

Give Us Day by Day
I can buy grain in bulk and store it for years. To obtain the grace that can't be purchased, I need to ask for Bread of life each day, mindful of my dependence on God.

Our Daily Bread
For my body—the dwelling place of God on earth—I ask God's provision of healthy food and clean water, hard work and full rest. I ask God's grace to take in no more and no more less than builds up my body with strength. I ask God's grace to accept my weaknesses, which manifest His strength.
For my heart and mind I need protection to take in no more and no less than edifies me, to meditate only on whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, and praiseworthy.
For my soul I need God's leading through detours, to eat adequately of the Bread of Life (read the Bible), and remember to drink enough Living Waters (strength of the Spirit received in prayer), so that I produce spiritual fruit:
sacrificial love (as Abraham)
strength of joy amid suffering (as Paul & Silas)
perfect peace in the face of trial (as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego)
patient longsuffering through even years of waiting (as David and John)
active kindness (as Ruth)
obedient goodness in the face of evil ("as Noah, Daniel & Job")
faithfulness in the face of doubt (as Caleb & Joshua)
meek gentleness in the face of pride and anger (as Abigail)
temperate self-control to overcome all kinds of lust for immediate gratification (as Joseph and Joseph)

Our Father—our Provider and Protector—give us day by day our daily bread.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Your Will Be Done

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
~ Luke 11:2 (NKJV)

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
~ Romans 12:4-5 (NKJV)

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
~ Luke 11:13 (NKJV)

Your Will be Done on Earth
Now that Jesus' blood has cleansed a place for His Holy Spirit to live, we are the means by which God's will is done on earth. Jesus could only be in one place at one time. We are His body—His eyes and ears, mouth and hands, arms and feet, etc—everywhere. We need only lay down will of Self and make room for the Spirit for which we ask. I ask the Father to give us His Spirit's ...
Love, to feel about others the way He does;
Understanding, to be able to think the way He does;
Wisdom, to have His perspective of situations;
Attentiveness, to not miss provided knowledge;
Discernment, between godless, goodly, and godly;
Purity, that my passions and desires are His own;
Humility, so I may serve with Jesus' personality;
Endurance, lest I quit when it gets difficult.

As It is in Heaven
If angels do the Father's will in heaven, their example is how it should be done on earth. They obey immediately, thoroughly, and with fullness of joy—singing as they go.

Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit—our Comforter, Counselor, Keeper—that we may do Your will on earth in the same manner it is done in heaven.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Kingdom of God

"When you pray, say: '... Your kingdom come.' "
~ Luke 11:2 (NKJV)

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, [Jesus] answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation ... For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
~ Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)

"But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.' "
~ Luke 10:10-11 (NKJV)

"I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."
~ Matthew 26:29 (NKJV)

Your Kingdom Come

I ask the kingdom to come inside me in ever greater measure as I'm emptied of Self and continually filled with God's Spirit. I ask the kingdom to come, through me, to the people in every place I go. With yearning for commUnion with Jesus in the kingdom of God yet to come, I plead, "Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus, and come soon!"

I ask the Lord to make the kingdom of God manifest now by uniting His subjects to prevail over the enemy; by moving us to yield to His Spirit and prevail over flesh; by conforming us to His Word to prevail against being conformed to the world.

I ask the Lord what clothing of righteousness He likes to see on His bride, and how I might inspire others in the body of believers to put it on so His own yearning becomes too great to stay away.

King of kings, Lord of lords, Beloved Bridegroom: Your kingdom come.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Teach Us to Pray

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray ..." So He said to them, "When you pray, say:
'Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.' "
~ Luke 11:1-2 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "
~ Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)

My plan for each day is to start it by talking with the Lord and reading His Word, in order to get His perspective on Him and me and life. I use the Lord's Prayer as a prayer outline—though the conversation rarely goes as I expect. As long as I make it through the first line, I get in what's most important.

In the original Greek, the first word is "Father." God is always first. He gets the first of my time, treasure, talent—first place in the tabernacle of mySelf. The privilege to call God Father came by the blood of Jesus, without which I couldn't even enter His presence.

Of Ours
Though my Father's great love makes me feel like His favorite, I'm part of a family in which each child is favorite. My prayer ministry isn't just for me. My love of self must be my love of everybody else.

In Heaven
I acknowledge who is high and lifted up, and who is bowed to the ground. He is God. I am redeemed riff-raff. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing.

Hallowed be Your Name
To fear His name is to depart from iniquity. To love His name is to live surrendered to Him. To worship His name in spirit and truth is to worship Him as He is (not what I want Him to be), and as pleases His Spirit (my pleasure is the delight of worshiping Him).

Father of ours in heaven: hallowed be Your name!

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

At Jesus' Feet

Mary ... sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word... "One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
~ Luke 10:39-42 (NKJV)

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions ... "
~ Acts 2:17

"I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have concealed these things from the wise and sharp and learned, and revealed them to the childlike and unskilled and uneducated. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will and pleasing to You."
~ Luke 10:21 (author, amplified)

Every time Mary of Bethany is mentioned, she is at Jesus' feet. She anoints His feet and uses her hair as a towel for them. She falls at Jesus' feet in worship and weeping. She sits and listens to the Word. A woman in patriarchal society, she found blessing in such lowly position.

God revealed something to Mary others missed—perhaps because she stayed lowly, perhaps because she had childlike ignorance. God takes great pleasure in such servants and rewards them with His choicest blessing—a view of Himself.

Jesus was an uneducated man who shared truth with words the wise and learned failed to understand. I've recently become acquainted with one of Jesus' humble servants to whom God gives both startling insights and the ability to share them with vivid simplicity.

If you're inclined to spend your Sunday looking for a view of God pure and plain, visit Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today. I promise you'll be blessed.

Lord of heaven and earth, You are good to make Yourself known in Your creation, in Your Christ, in Your Counselor. Thank You for loving the most lowly and humble and sinful of us and making us Your servants. Thank You for the ability to see Your face each day. I love You.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

On Our Side

"Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."
~ Luke 9:49-50 (NKJV)

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist... He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him.
~ 2 John 1:7-10 (NKJV)

Whenever possible, I try to write these posts first thing in the morning, after time devoted to the Lord and before time devoted to life and family. Once five children are awake, the day will be peppered (hopefully lightly) with contentions over my time and whatever else they don't like to share.

Contentions most often arise over conflicting perceptions. "He hit me" vs. "I bumped into him." "He's supposed to" vs. "Mom said." The ever popular, "It's not fair." (Masculine pronouns include all five of my darlings.) I try to respond with principles like "treat others the way you want to be treated" and "is this important enough* to argue about?" and "please—love each other!"

Our Father surely grows weary with all the ways we His children complain about family members on our side. Conflicting perceptions distract us from the real enemy. We have real demons to cast out. The spirit of the antichrist roams the earth to deceive saints and unsaved alike.

Our strength against the enemy is in our unity in Christ.

Our Father in heaven, oh what manner of love You've poured out upon us that we should be called the children of God! Please help us see our blood ties in Christ in moments when we are offended. Please alert us to that for which we should contend. Unite Your children in strength.

* Often expressed as, "Do you really want me to get involved in this since you're more wrong than him?"

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Freelance: FULL Part II

Last Friday I shared my journey in a quest for truth, with the desire to feel spiritually Full. I went from being hungry because I'd yet to be fed enough, to finding what's good while still hungering for more of it.

Hunger drives the emergent church. I'm largely ignorant of the emergent church movement and may not change that. But I understand that their followers were left feeling empty and hungry by traditional churches. From what I've learned, emergent churches tend to emphasize those truths which counter past hurts, but do so at the expense of greater truths; they tend to elevate doing good to people above worship of God with truth.

Truth elevates God first. Jesus' curious way of elevating people is indirect, by bringing them low. The last will be first. The least will be the greatest. The one forgiven much knows great love. Jesus seeks out outcasts and makes us His. Our exaltation lies in reconciliation to God through Christ's blood, relationship with God and all its blessings, and the privilege of being counted among His lowly servants—without picking on other servants.

Picking on other servants has been a problem in those traditional churches which say, "We want you here but only because we expect you to become just like us, and if you don't we won't be sorry to see you go." I've seen this, and even got caught up in it for a while. (If I've yet to thoroughly eliminate it, it's not for lack of trying.)

The Bible describes the church as the body of Christ with varied members. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached a message of repentance from sin, not conversion from personality.

Repentance of sin does change the way a person looks—on the inside. Those changes will show up on the outside in as many ways as there are people. A full church will have diversity, and it will always have room for improvement because sin and incomplete knowledge do not cease this side of heaven.

I admit that if I choose to look at them, revealing clothing and body piercings are a distraction. If embroiled in a debate over doctrine, I can choose to see another as a heretic and distance myself. But if I look at someone with love as a vital member of Christ's body, I see a person I don't want to live without.

Last Sunday I shared my heartbreak over the estrangement of my brother John from our family. The void he leaves never goes away. We no longer take a family photo that feels right. We don't have a get together where I don't feel his absence. Without him, our family isn't full.

There are a whole bunch of people who aren't in church because church left them feeling empty. Until we win them back, we won't be full either.

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