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Friday, September 30, 2016

Behold My Servant (Day 43)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My Elect, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the nations. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He shall not break, and a smoking wick He shall not quench; He shall bring forth judgment to truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged until He has set judgment in the earth; and the coasts shall wait for His Law. (Isaiah 42:1-4)
This is a description of Jesus absolutely. But, as I am being conformed to the same image (Romans 8:29) it is also a pattern for me.

The promises or encouragements at the beginning are amazing;

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My Elect, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the nations.

Surely these are the promises of God; to uphold, to delight and to anoint with His spirit in order to bring forth His righteous judgement to all nations. Truly these things are wonderful, but then I see that the pattern for me is what follows. In the New Living translation, it looks like this;

He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.

As I look at this passage I see a description of what it means to be meek. Apparently a mild and gentle nature maintained by and covering strength. Strength to do God’s will. 

Father in Heaven, Thank you so very much for this beautiful passage that is a wonderful picture of Jesus and a tremendous encouragement to me. Here is a pattern I can look to every day until it becomes a description of me as well. That I might be a reflection of the glory that is in Jesus.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

This Works Better than Demands (day 42)

Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
The first chapter of Daniel tells the story of 4 young Jewish lads who had been taken captive by a foreign king and taken from their home to another country where they didn’t understand the language or the customs. Fortunately for them they were considered valuable captives and were to be treated very well, provided for in every way and even given the same food that the king ate.

Unfortunately, the food that they were offered was mostly things that their law forbade them to eat. What could they do?

They could have stomped around and made a lot of noise about how unjust this was and how the Babylonians were stupid barbarians who were going to be judged by God and destroyed in the end. That probably would not have worked out well.

Instead Daniel asked permission to not eat the food that he believed would be wrong for him to eat. (Daniel 1:8) The servant who attended them was afraid because if they did not remain healthy he would be killed for not doing his duty by them.

So Daniel offered a compromise (Daniel 1:12-13)

  I beg you, try your servants ten days. And let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be seen before you, and the appearance of the boys who eat of the king's food. And as you see, deal with your servants.

At the end of the trial they were found to be stronger and wiser than all the other boys. After 3 years they were brought before the king and these 4 were the wisest of all and they became counselors for the king.

They did not make demands, but rather they made a humble appeal to do what they believed they should do. When that was rejected they made an even more humble appeal for an alternative.

God gave them favor and they prospered in obedience. I believe this is an example of being meek and getting a good reward.

Father in Heaven, please give me grace to learn from this example that I can see in the life of Daniel and his 3 friends. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Look at Moses (day 41)

Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
In Numbers 12 there is a short story about the life of Moses and his brother and his sister. They were complaining about Moses’ foreign wife and were feeling that they were worthy of just as much honor as Moses because God had used them to speak as well. And by the way, God heard their complaining.

Then we can read what follows.

(Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the men on the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:3)

You don’t have to look very far to see advertising statements like, “World Famous” or “The world’s biggest” “best” or “fastest” or whatever. There is a lot of fuss made over hamburgers and balls of string. Here The Word of God says “Moses was meeker than anyone in the world.”

That’s nice. What does it mean?

I looked at this for a while and it finally dawned on me. Moses did not make any effort to defend himself. Is this what it means to be meek? I suspect it may give us an idea of at least part of what that means.

Consider again what Peter says about Jesus in 1 Peter 2:23.

who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him who judges righteously.

If that is what it means to be meek, I have some work to do. I am far too eager to answer back, to defend myself. Also I got a bonus correction here. When it says “And Jehovah heard it.” I saw again but more clearly that God truly does hear when I complain about his ministers.

Father of mercy and compassion, thank you for this word of encouragement to be becoming one who is learning to be done with all defense and answering back. Moses trusted you and you defended him. Jesus trusted you even through death and in the end you glorified him. I can trust you and let you be my defense. Give me grace for this. Also Father please give me grace to be done with all evil speaking. Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tear Up the Temple (day 40)

Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.

This blessing has given me more trouble that any of the others mostly just to understand what it is telling me. But one thing I am pretty sure about is, that it does not involve being weak or timid. Look at what we can read about Jesus in John 2:14-17.

And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers sitting. And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, also the sheep and the oxen. And He poured out the money-changers' money and overthrew the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, Take these things away from here. Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise. And His disciples remembered that it was written, "The zeal of Your house has eaten Me up."

How many times have I read this and thought about going into the church and stirring up all kinds of trouble, because I know they are doing it wrong? Maybe I’m the only one. But when I ask and seek and knock, I hear a different answer from 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.


Can I learn from this? It is not what is pleasant for me to think about, because I have not been so diligent here.

I suspect that to be meek involves being interested in receiving instruction and then living according to that instruction.

Father in Heaven I need grace to hear and obey what your word is teaching me here. Give me grace to see the condition of my heart and then to humble myself, to mourn and then to listen and obey your wonderful instructions for life. In Jesus name and for His glory, Amen. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Meek like Jesus (day 39)

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
What does that mean?

One newer translations uses the word ‘humble’ another ‘gentle’, and when I look up the Greek word the translation gives me ‘mild’. How shall we find out what God desires of us?
Jesus says,
Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For each one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7)
Jesus is our example and our guide. He says to ask and seek and knock. As I look (seek) to find this answer the first thing I think of is Jesus invitation in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
If Jesus shows me what it means to be meek, what can I know about Jesus that might help me know what the word means.

In 1 Peter 2:23, Peter is showing us Jesus as an example and he says:

                        ...who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When 
                       He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him 
                       who judges righteously.

Now there’s something to think about! How quickly do I respond with threats and accusations?

Is this what it means to be meek? I cannot say for sure, but for myself I believe that this might be part of what it means.
Loving Father in Heaven thank you that you do not leave us without a help to understand and to do your will. Thank you for your holy spirit who guides us into all truth. Please give me grace to see my need for your help and guidance and grace to humble myself and listen then obey. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Building one upon the last (day 38)

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted
As I have looked at these virtues over a few years one thing that I have noticed is that each one builds upon the last. Also as I have thought about this I noticed that I have never exhausted any of the virtues. I can always go back and start at the beginning again. When I do I find more and more that God wants to teach me.

John A. Wilson was my preacher growing up. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to visit with him in his home. He was 99 years young and still very sharp. When I told him how valuable I had found the blessings to be, he said, “You’ll never get to the end of them.” I believe he was right.

This is the end of the second week of looking at the blessings. Take a few minutes to look at the 2 we have considered. Look at the virtue required. Consider your own life and how you measure up. Look at the blessings and consider how you have seen God prove himself true in proportion to your faithfulness. He is always far ahead of my faithfulness in providing blessings. Then consider how the second built upon the first. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.

Typing “Amen” on Facebook will not get you any blessings, but working with God’s Word will bring you to all sorts of blessings.

Father of blessings open my eyes to see and my mind to understand more of what you want to do in me so that I can be being changed into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Let me learn faithfulness as I work to cause your word to sink into my heart. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nothing Else is Appropriate (day 37)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
I believe God has put a burden on my heart to promote discipleship wherever and however I can. I desire to be a good and acceptable disciple of Jesus. I believe that means that I am to learn and teach others to observe all the things that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:20). So that we each may be becoming more and more like Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I have a little book of names of people that God has given me to pray for. Some of those people have turned their back on God. Some of those people have never turned to God. Some of those people have done hurtful things to others in that same little book. Some of those people have stumbled in sin and are struggling to get up again. (2 Peter 3:9)

As I see their names, as I am learning to intercede, my only appropriate response before God, is to mourn.

There are others on my little list who seem to be satisfied to be in church, but content with themselves with no thought of being conformed to the image of Jesus.

As I am learning of the amazing things God wants to do in the lives of those who follow Jesus (Ephesians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 2:9). As I look at these other names once again I am led to mourn.

I am led to mourn because this is the command of God. I am led to mourn because the only alternative is to judge and criticize, and that makes me an enemy of God. I am led to mourn because finding myself in agreement with the God of all creation is a great comfort.

Father of mercy, God of compassion I need grace to walk in this way. I thank you that your word tells me that at your throne I can find grace to help in the time of need. Here I am Lord boldly and confidently coming to you for help to live the life I was designed to live. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight oh Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Take your sorrow to God (day 36)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
There are many situations about or in which we are powerless. Often for me those are situations where I am inclined to become angry. Then I make demands that I have no authority to make. I say things like, “They should know better.” Or “They should do this or that. It’s just not right.”

One of the most difficult things that I have experienced is that as my children grow up my authority over them diminishes. I can no longer require them to make right choices (the ones I believe are right), and they make choices I believe are harmful to them. With friends and loved ones, I truly have no authority.

I have been one of those who gives unasked for advice. That doesn’t work so well.

I am finding that if I put these verses together in these situations, there is a better result. In my poverty I take my concern to God. I tell him how worried I am and how I fear for my loved one. Then I see more clearly that He has the same concern for their well being and he has power to help. That is a comfort.

What about where governments are involved? Do I get stirred up emotionally and make outlandish statements about things I cannot change? Here for me are clear instructions. As I have taken these things more seriously I have found comfort.

First of all, then, I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

Blessed Father in Heaven help me to see clearly how poor I am and how little I am able to do by the force of my will. In that poverty give me grace to mourn and trust you for the comfort that will come to those who are lowly in heart. Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy are those who are sad (day 35)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Sometimes the newer translations help me to think about things I hadn’t seen before. A translation that I have on my computer called the Bible in Basic English says this verse this way;

Happy are those who are sad: for they will be comforted.
At first when I saw this I thought, “Now that sounds silly.” But as it cooked a little and probably with some help from the Holy Spirit I thought of other verses in God’s Word that explain why I was having a problem. Consider if you will Isiah 55:8-9;

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
No one wants to be unhappy. But God’s word says that there is something to be desired here. How can that be?  In Isiah 53:3 the prophet speaks of Jesus and says:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
And then the writer of Hebrews says of Jesus;

Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Hebrews 1:9)

Although he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Someone has said, “He was the happiest man that ever lived.”
Jesus chose the way of sorrow and grief that he might have everlasting joy. If I will follow Jesus that is the way I must choose in order to come to the same everlasting joy.

Happy are those who are sad:

Father these words are pretty scary for me at first look. I need grace to obey what I see here. Give me grace to be always looking to Jesus who is the pioneer and perfecter of this way, who for the everlasting joy that was out where it could not be seen, endured the cross and ignored the shame. Please give me grace for this in each situation. Amen. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Do Not Be Arrogant (day 34)

Did you notice that Paul did not say to condemn the one who was sinning? Rather he said;

You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. (1 Corinthians 5:2 NLT)

This speaks to me about me. When I see someone openly sinning, my inclination is to condemn them. I don’t curse them (I’m too self-righteous for that). But I often have a comment. “Did you see that?” “He should know better.” “That kind of people make me angry.” Maybe you have a way of expressing your condemnation.

Paul says, “You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning.”
In all of the condemning and judging things I have said over the years I have never really found comfort. I have never found any satisfaction.

In Romans 6:23 it says that “The wages of sin is death.” That person that I see sinning is working death in their own life. That person is someone that God wants to come to salvation. Isn’t that sad? Shouldn’t I be mourning? This is the mind of Christ and I need to think with this new mind. I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Father in Heaven thank you for this word of salvation. Please father in heaven help me to hold this word in my heart and nourish it until it grows and brings forth fruit that is pleasing to you. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Strong Words Lead to Life (Day 33)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul is writing to the church at Corinth about immorality in the church. In verse 2 he uses some very strong words and says some harsh things to them.

And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, so that he who has done this deed may be taken from your midst.

WOW! “You are puffed up.” New American Standard says “You have become arrogant.”

Can you imagine your pastor speaking to you like that? How quickly would he be looking for a job at Walmart. There is a possibility that he should speak to you like that if he is a true shepherd. But that is another subject. Paul tells them they should have mourned and taken the offender from their midst, in order that though he may suffer in his body, his spirit might be saved. (vs 5)

True, honest, godly mourning often leads to action.

Apparently this church took Paul’s exhortation seriously because in 2 Corinthians 7:1-10 he addresses this same issue. And especially in verse 10 he says;

For the grief according to God works repentance to salvation, not to be regretted, but the grief of the world works out death.

Because Paul spoke harshly to those who needed correction, they learned to mourn in the way that leads to salvation. Some form of the word comfort appears 7 times in this chapter.
This is the law of God. This is the course that creation follows.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed Father in Heaven Thank you for this truth which is life to my spirit and body. Help me to take this word seriously and see how you want to apply it to my life. Give grace I pray to go where your spirit leads. In Jesus name Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What a Comfort (day 32)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

We mourn when someone very close to us dies. It’s natural and right. We will miss our loved one even if we have assurance of their being in Heaven. But Jesus says blessed are they that mourn. Why should we mourn if no one has died close to us?

In Matthew 26: 34 Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Jesus 3 times that night. Peter is adamant that he will never deny Jesus even if he must die. And yet on down in verses 69-74 Peter denies that he knows Jesus, even emphasizing his denial with cursing. But later it says in verse 75 that he went out and wept bitterly.

Have you ever done something that you were unbelievably ashamed of, whether anyone else knew about it or not? I have, more than once. Have you considered that in doing that shameful act, whatever it was, that you denied Jesus? You betrayed Jesus!

Peter wept bitter tears. Have you mourned because of your sin?

After Peter wept and even went back to fishing to try to get his head straight after Jesus was crucified, Jesus came to him with comfort. “…feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.” Peter probably felt worthless, but Jesus said I have something important for you to do. (John 21:15-17)

When I see that I have betrayed Jesus by disobedience to the truth that I know, I feel worthless. But when I humble myself admit my sin and mourn, he says I have something important for you to do.

What a comfort!

Father in Heaven, thank you so very much that although you are completely sufficient in all things, you still desire my help. Even though I will mess up as much or more than I get right, you still want me to help. In your unfathomable love I am not worthless. Beyond my understanding you are working to help me be conformed to the image of Jesus. What a Comfort! Thank you Father in Jesus wonderful name. Amen!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Life is a Journey Through a Jungle (day 31)

Blessed are the poor in Spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

This is the key to everything. Yes, Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no man can come to the Father except by him. But no one will come to Jesus until he is fully convinced that he is destitute of any ability for any kind of true life.

I must have this one thing absolutely burning in my consciousness,

For I am conscious that in me, that is, in my flesh, there is nothing good: I have the mind but not the power to do what is right. (Romans 7:18)

And the moment I drift away from this consciousness is the moment I begin to drift away from Jesus.

If I were to go to a treacherous jungle of every imaginable danger, and I must go through that jungle, I would be very thankful and attentive to a guide who knew the way. For surely if I did not give him my full attention my life would end in ruin.

Life is that treacherous jungle with traps and snares all around. Jesus has gone this way before us and does know the way. He can lead me to the good end that he has planned for me and he can show me how to be free from the snares that already entrap me if I will only listen and behold.

Then I come to the Kingdom of Heaven and it is mine. I have a place there.

Faithful Father in Heaven, thank you so very much that you show me my need, my emptiness of anything that is worthwhile, but you do not leave me hopeless. Instead you have given me a pioneer and guide to show me the way to you. If I will listen and behold, if I will hear and obey you will welcome me into the kingdom and I will have a place there. Thank you that this is your will for me, in Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Walking on Water (day 30)

Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Here is part of a conversation a friend shared that she had with her young son.

Son: Did you know that if you look God in the eye, you can go in the deep end of the pool and you won't drown?
Me: (feeling alarmed): Where did you hear that?!?
Son: Well, Jesus did it. He looked God in the eye and he walked on water. So that's what you do if you want to walk on water.

I’m not sure about the walking on water thing, but I am sure that there is a lot that God would love to do with me if I would just look into his laws and keep them. Consider what Jesus says in John 14.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him. (John 14:21)
Jesus answered and said to him, “If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (vs. 23)

This is surely just a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he said, “For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Paul also expressed it very well in 1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard," nor has it entered into the heart of man, "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

It is good to look at the promises of God, but we must always realize that there are conditions that are imposed on us. The conditions are not punishment but training to help us to become more like Jesus.

Take a few moments to think about these things.

Friday, September 16, 2016

God Knows More than Me (day 29)

Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Being poor in spirit is simply understanding that God knows more than me. Therefore, when an instruction I find in His Word doesn’t line up with my thinking, I am wrong.
For instance, God’s word says;

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; (1 Timothy 2:1-2a)

I would be surprised to find anyone who doesn’t have an opinion about someone. This exhortation from God’s Word tells me that it applies to ALL MEN, even the ones I have an opinion about. Especially the ones I have an opinion about.
When Paul wrote to Titus he gave us this exhortation (Titus 3:1-2a)

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man,

For me it is extremely good to see where I need to work to be conformed to the image of Jesus. This is one of those areas.

Father of blessings, you hold all things for all time before your eyes in the palm of your hand. You see my heart more clearly than I know it myself. You see my opinions and thoughts. Help me Father by your spirit to align my heart with yours, that I might be found suitable for this blessing. In the blessed name of Jesus who went this way before me to show the way. Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Enemy of God (day 28)

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Who does God resist? Who does God oppose? Who has made themselves an enemy of God?

But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.

I have been a Christian for a long time. I went to Bible College to become a preacher. (I flunked out) I have been in several fellowships and been active in most of them. One of my most difficult struggles is being proud and thinking I know more than almost everyone else about the things that matter.

The moment I entertain that thought I make myself the enemy of God and he does resist me. It doesn’t matter if I think I am doing “the Lord’s work” or not.

These six things does the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Notice the thing that heads the list of the things the Lord hates; A proud look. An example of the opposite of this can be found in an admonition from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

I struggle with this command often. Who are others? How far do I go with this mindset? But I always come up against the fact that God did not choose to put any limitations on the others.

This is tremendously serious. I can choose to be blessed by God or I can choose to be his enemy.

Father in Heaven, thank you from the depths of my being for showing me the way to life and showing me clearly where I have gone astray. In my own strength of will I am sure I will fail again and again. Please Dear Father be my help and strengthen me to take the way of humility. In Jesus lovely name; Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choose To Obey (day 27)

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Genesis 3 God shows us how the problem all started. It had very little to do with physical fruit. It had everything to do with self-will and pride. The master salesman (Satan) put in his strongest and most compelling pitch at the end and the woman was hooked. Genesis 3:5 says;

for God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

So many times, I have known what the will of God says, and have chosen to go another way and do what I believed would make me happy, satisfied, comfortable. Then I have had the temerity to argue with God when I was caught, explaining the reasons I chose to go the other way. As though I thought I could reason my way out of the consequences with my side of the story, just like in this story.

Sometimes I manage to apply this blessing to my life. This happens when I see that the thing I am thinking about doing is not in line with the Will of God. When I choose God’s Will over my will, then I have entered into this blessing.

God is much greater than my logic and understanding. His Word and His Will show me the way to true blessings. Many people have prospered and gained earthly power by other means. I want to choose God’s blessings by submitting to His Will to the best of my ability.

How about you?

Father in Heaven, you are the creator of everything. You wrote the laws that govern the universe into every atom. All around I see others who prosper in this world by other means. I need grace, Father, to see the blessings of the kingdom of Heaven. I need grace to choose your will over my own. Help me Father to follow Jesus and say, “Not my will but Your Will oh Lord.” Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Key to Everything (day 26)

Blessed are the poor in spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

This is the key to everything!

I have found no way to proceed in the kingdom of Heaven without starting here.

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
A child is completely dependent upon his parents. As a child of God I must recognize that I am completely dependent upon my Heavenly Father for everything.

In the world, even in the religious world, a person can accomplish quite a bit without looking to God. But buildings and fortunes mean nothing in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus says: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)
God’s Word has absolutes that I need to take seriously. “Nothing” is an absolute. Nothing is sterile. Nothing is completely empty. Jesus says “I can of my own self do NOTHING.”

Father in Heaven, thank you so very much for this clear revelation of how I must think if I am to make any progress in Your Kingdom. Jesus is my example. He has gone THIS way before me. If I desire to follow Him THIS is the way I must go also. Please my Father, burn this word into my heart, set it always in front of my mind. As I learn to follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus. Amen. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Makes Sense to Me (day 25)

Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars. (Proverbs 9:1)

I asked Jesus to be my savior when I was 12 in a Quaker church on McCreight Ave. in Springfield Ohio. About 15 or so years ago a man read this verse in a meeting and asked, “What are the 7 pillars of wisdom?” Then he sat down.

That was a turning point in my life and the thing that has led to my focus on discipleship and this series of devotional thoughts.

I left that meeting with that question unanswered. “What are the 7 pillars of wisdom?” After some serious prayer, thought and asking some that I had confidence in, I came to an answer that has continued to change my life to this day, and I am sure will continue until I step into eternity.

Jesus began the “Sermon on the Mount” with 9 blessings. The first 7 are virtues that I can implant in my heart (Js. 1:21; Psalms 119:11). And I have found that, with regular attention, they will grow and affect every area of my life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

Wonderful Father, Your Word truly is a lamp to keep me from stumbling and a light to show me the way to go. By your word discern the thoughts and intentions of my heart and show me the work I must do there. Thank you so very much that I can expose myself to you, truly I am always exposed to you. Thank you that that knowledge does not need to be a terror to me but a comfort. Thank you that your will is Always and Only for my good. In Jesus lovely name. Amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

According to Design (day 24)

One version of the Bible that I use from time to time gives this translation of Romans 8:29.

Because those of whom he had knowledge before they came into existence, were marked out by him to be made like his Son, so that he might be the first among a band of brothers:

For me this might be the most exciting verse in God’s Word. Since I believe that God knows everything, even things that haven’t happened yet. I believe he knows everybody, even those who haven’t been born, even those whose grandparents haven’t been born. I believe this verse applies to everyone who ever has and ever will live.

Everyone everywhere for ever has been marked out, planned, designed, predestined to be made like his son, Jesus.

I like to think of it by comparison kind of like a flat bladed screw driver. Now the flat bladed screw driver was designed to do one thing, turn flat bladed screws. But I have used them to punch holes, pry lids, chisel wood and clean my fingernails plus maybe some more things. I hope you get the picture. The flat bladed screw driver was designed for 1 thing. People use them for many other things.

We were designed for 1 thing. But because of our own rebellious will we have chosen to try to find satisfaction in many other things. It just won’t work.

We were designed to be the sons and daughters of God. To be like Jesus.

I absolutely believe that this is true for everyone! But each of us has to come to his/her own conclusion about this. That is free will. I also believe that my biggest problem is how I think about things. That is why I need to get my mind renewed, to think correctly. That is a lot of what this is about. 

Holy Father in Heaven, I thank you from the depths of my heart that Your Will for me is only good. Please help me to have my eyes open to see that truth throughout my days. Give me grace to receive your word implanted in my heart so that I might be transformed into the image of Jesus, in His wonderful name I pray. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Put It Into Practice (day 23)

James is a wonderful little book, full of practical instruction for living the life God intends for each of us. I do love this little book. Let’s just take a few minutes to look at 2 verses in the first chapter to see what God has for us there. Verse 21 says;

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and overflowing of evil, receive in meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.

I see so much to write about but let us just look at, “receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save your souls.”

I may read a devotional and think I have done my Christian thing, whatever that means. I may read my Bible in the same way. But have I received it?  Have I allowed the things I read to search my heart? Remember Jesus said “He that has ears to hear let him hear.” As I read or even memorize verses I must let them sink in and be implanted in my heart, in order to grow there and bear fruit for God.

Next let’s take a minute to look at verse 25 in a modern translation.

But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice---you will be blessed by God in what you do.

This tells me how to be blessed by God. This has been key for me in learning how to move forward as a disciple of Jesus. Let these things sink into your heart.

Wonderful Father in Heaven, thank you so much for this word of clear instruction. Thank you for this promise of success if I will simply do what you say. Once again I must admit that I am weak and forgetful, easily distracted. Please be my help and guide as I set out intending to do your will. I need grace to be obedient and faithful. In the wonderful name of Jesus my Savior and guide. Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fill my Heart with God's Word (day 22)

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:9-11)

Yesterday we looked at delighting in the Law of the Lord and briefly about meditating on it day and night. This passage speaks of cleansing our way, hiding Gods word in my heart and avoiding sinning.

“That I might not sin against thee.” Might not sin: Think about that. Does that sound like something you would like to do? Think of the angry words you speak, or of the hateful thoughts you entertain or of the… you name it. Do you have an interest is not sinning? I do.

God’s Word shows me the way. Hide God’s word in my heart. This is more than memorizing Bible verses. But that is the first step. I must memorize verses that come against the sin that I allow into my heart which then comes out of my body, then I have to meditate on that Word of God until it finds a place in my heart. This is how I hide God’s Word in my heart.

As my heart (that place where I like it) begins to fill up with God’s Laws, there is not room for the lusts and desires that cause me sorrow and hurt others. This is how I cleanse my way.

This is not an instant cure. But it is a sure cure.

Father in heaven thank you for showing me the way to come into victory, to stop hurting the ones I love and to begin loving those that you love. This is not going to be easy but your word tells me that this is what you desire for me. Thank you that I can know you will be near to help me as I begin this cleansing work. Thank you for Jesus who pioneered this way for me. Amen.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Find Delight in the Law of the Lord (day 21)

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he does meditate day and night.

For many years I was told to delight myself in the law of the LORD. Ya know what? It is boring. Until I discovered the secret that is in plain sight.

The instructions we can find in God’s Word are directions for successful living. Now I know nothing about financial success, but this is success in life. Remember when we looked at Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

This is the success that Jesus promises. And the instruction for this promise is in Psalms 1, where we have been looking.

I delight in something when my emotions are stirred in a pleasant way. I have never been able to choose to be delighted. I just can’t be delighted with apricots. I don’t care for them, at all. I couldn’t just be delighted with the Law of the Lord. But when I took a Law of God and looked at it and rolled it around in my mind for a time I realized that even though at first it might seem distasteful, later it became very pleasant and I began to become delighted with what God’s Word tells me is the course that creation does follow.

Precious Father in Heaven, help me to take this word seriously. This passage tells me that there are things that I must do, until they become pleasant and a pleasure to me. Once again this is something that I cannot do on my own. On my own I will lose interest or be distracted and come back some time later and then be discouraged. Please be my helper and guide, in the beautiful name of Jesus and for his glory ALWAYS. Amen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Not Conformed but Transformed (day20)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (verse :2.) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
The second verse of this passage takes me to my motives in everything I do. How many areas of my life are conformed to the image or standard of this world? Do I dare to ask that question? Can I give an honest answer?

Think about the clothes you wear, where you live, what you drive, the music you enjoy. How many of these things are primarily the result of what the world says is important, or in style?

How can I break the grip of influence that the world has on my life?

How can I be transformed?

Psalms 1:1-2 has given me a clue to the answer to these terrible questions.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Here is a man who chooses to not fight against the influences all around him. Instead he concentrates on the influence of God’s Word. The law of the Lord is so much more than just the 10 commandments. In “The Pursuit of God”, A. W. Tozer says, “law is but a name for the course which all creation follows.” That course is described for us in the Bible, (God’s Word).

Father in heaven, thank you so much for this glimpse into how to be transformed. Help me to find delight in your word. I have wasted so much of my life in following and delighting in the things of the world that have no value. Help me to take this word seriously and learn what it means. In Jesus name; Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

True Worship (day 19)

Let’s take another look at the verse in Romans 12:1; this time in the Good News Bible.

So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
In the beginning of this verse Paul says, “because of God’s great mercy to us.” Some translations have indicated that this phrase refers us back to the previous verses in chapter 11. Those verses speak specifically about how God has been good and kind to us when we were in rebellion towards him. 

This is always good for me to think about.

In this translation the verse ends with the words, “This is the true worship that you should offer.”

There is a lot of discussion about worship. I have gotten pretty excited about what constitutes a good worship time. Here the question is settled for me. Contemporary or traditional, organ or band; these things mean little in the long run. True worship is giving my whole being to obey and glorify God. This absolutely does not include judging how others are doing that. The question for me is, “Am I offering myself to God as a living sacrifice?”

Father in Heaven, thank you so very much for this clear instruction from heaven. I am so full of other ideas that I often miss this simple application of your word. Please give me wisdom and grace to see where I am holding areas back, and grace to see the reasonableness of offering everything that I am to you at all times. I also need grace to quit all judging of how other people are doing it. I need so much help, thank you that your will for me is to give me the help I need to accomplish your will. Amen!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Just What is Reasonable? (day 18)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Sometimes it helps me to take a passage of God’s Word, that seems a little hard to wrap my mind around, and look at it in as many translations as possible. Then to see if I can write it in more understandable words. This is a result that is helpful for me.

Dear brothers and sisters,
I earnestly plead with you, consider the wonderful kindness that God has shown each of us, in spite of how we have behaved toward him and his son. The only reasonable thing to do, is to give your whole body to him as a sacrifice. Do everything possible to make sure it is holy and acceptable to Him. This only makes sense!
Nearly every time I do this exercise I see, again for the first time, things that I have let slip by, or things that I had not seen just that way before. Or I see a parallel with another section of God’s Word with fresh clarity. Compare this with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
I see clearly that I need to make changes where I have not taken things seriously enough in the past.

Blessed Father in heaven I thank you so very much for the wonder of your word to my heart! I thank you that once again your word has found a place in my heart. Please, I need grace to remove the stones that would keep the root from going down. I need grace to overcome the weeds that would choke your word. Teach me diligence, so this word can do the work that it was intended to do. Plants do not grow in a moment and this will take time and attention. I need your strength and wisdom always that I might be a glory to you. In the precious name of Jesus; Amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Who Will Listen and Behold? (day 17)

Jesus says, “Listen! Behold,” and, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”
After Jesus told this parable the ones who were closest to him asked about the parable. He explained the parable, but before he did he said something that sounds pretty harsh. Read carefully what follows from Mark 4:11-12.

And He said to them,” To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to those outside, all these things are given in parables so that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

These were the ones who were able to receive the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Those who followed and asked questions. In the Sermon on the mount Jesus said;

Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For each one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.  (Matthew 7:7-8)

This passage in Mark is very serious. And if you look at it by itself could be pretty frightening. But let us also look at a verse in 2 Peter 3:9 to help us understand the whole mind of God.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God’s will for all men is the same but the fact remains that not many will, “Listen! And Behold.”  Not many have “ears to hear”. This is not God’s will, but it is the situation. Preaching and fancy programs will not get people to listen and behold. They will only enjoy the programs. Only by being salt in a world that has deadened its ability to taste by gluttony, only by being light in a dark world can we help a few to “Listen and Behold!”

Heavenly Father, I thank you from my heart for the encouragement of your desire for me and for each one. Please help me to take these words seriously, and give grace that I can do my part to prepare my heart for your word to grow and produce fruit that will glorify you. Amen!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Where the good stuff grows (day 16)

And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:8-9)

What is this fruit of which Jesus speaks? The apostle Paul gives us some suggestions that we will do well to honestly consider. Look at Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Some of these words are a little old fashioned for some but I must look at the ones I do understand. And then look at my own life. I can easily see room for improvement in these areas in my life. How about you

The good productive soil is not hard; it receives the Word of God gladly.

The good productive soil is free of rocks that will block the roots from reaching the place of true nourishment.

The good productive soil has the weeds of care and evil desires removed so it can produce fruit.

This is truly God’s will for each of us; that our hearts become fertile productive soil for his word to grow and produce much fruit.

Father of love and mercy, thank you so much for this word of hope. Your will for us is only exceedingly good. And you stand ready to be our guide and help to accomplish this overwhelming task that we could never even imagine without your guidance and aid. All praise and thanks to you always and to your son our forerunner. Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Things Get in the Way (day 15)

And another fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. (Mark 4:7)

Jesus says the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things entering in choke the word and it becomes unfruitful. (vs 10)

Now I’m not absolutely sure but this looks a lot to me like a strong argument for a simple life. Just what that means in each individual is a personal thing between you and God. Someone has said, “Does it have a place in your heart?”

Just recently we were going through some things trying to make some room and we came across a 35mm camera that belonged to my Dad. I thought, I don’t use this and my nephew has expressed an interest in it. When I told Jeannie I thought I would give it to Tim, she said, “Are you ready to let go of it?”

We hold on to many things, ideas and dreams or hopes in our hearts, that have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. Some of these things choke the Word of God and keep it from bearing fruit in our lives. We surely need wisdom and grace to know and do God’s will in these matters. There is a ditch on both sides of this road. One is the ditch of becoming overly sensitive to appearances and give up more that God would desire, simply to look pious. And the other ditch is to not go as far in self-sacrifice as needed to become productive for the kingdom of God. Either way we must have God’s wisdom and grace.

Heavenly Father Thank you so much for showing me this danger. Help me to open my heart to receive your wisdom and grace to become productive in your kingdom. Show me what you would have me let go, and give me grace to do that with a thankful heart. For the glory of Jesus always, Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Watch out for Rocks (day 14)

And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (Mark 4:5-6)

Sometimes someone will come to a meeting of some kind and get really excited. They may come a few times or a few years. They get active and are converted for all appearances. They may even get baptized and have a testimony. But then they disappear and the next time you see them they are almost hostile or outright hostile to you and for sure to the idea of following Jesus.

What happened?

Jesus says “they have no root in themselves.” (vs :17) In John 15 Jesus says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman.” When a branch is grafted to a vine or other plant of any kind, it gets its nourishment from that parent plant. If I am looking at the music or the programs or the personalities for my growth, I am looking at things that cannot give me life. They are like stones that have no nourishment in them for me. I must be connected to Jesus in love and obedience in order to be nourished and to grow. Otherwise there is the danger that I will die away.

Enjoy the music, the programs and the people, but first and always be connected to Jesus and through him to the Father.

I suspect that this has other applications also. Things such as hobbies or possessions or ambitions about success or happiness can also be stones that keep me from being rooted in Jesus.

Father in Heaven thank you for helping me see that things in my life that I look to for gratification or satisfaction can be stones that hinder me from being properly connected to you. I need grace Oh Father to see this danger and to keep all of these other things in their proper place. In my heart. Amen.