Devotional 52: All the People Stood Up

Nehemiah 8:5-6

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.

Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Purification takes place through fire or water. As the sins of man were washed away symbolically by water and blood, the Lord promises fire for the next time.

It has always interested me that the Lord will use what we view as opposites to achieve the same purpose: our works tested by fire, and the unbelieving, unrepentant souls cast into it along with the unfruitful servants, in contrast to the Great Flood.

But putting that aside, let’s consider the fact that when the work we do for the Lord is of the Lord, we get a deeper sense of connection to Him, joy in Him, and a sense of reverence and holy fear.

The Holy Spirit moved on the gathering the day Ezra had come to rededicate the hearts of the people and strengthen Nehemiah. The Spirit exposed their hearts in the midst of rebuilding the wall that they were still prone to greed and lust through the acquisition of foreign wives and their fortunes.

By the time Ezra gave the reading, their hearts were ripe, and the Spirit gave them the strength to stand all day as He worked. With broken hearts and contrite spirits they could not look toward Heaven, worshipping with tears and their faces to the ground.

In such assemblies, there was always preaching by the leader, then dissemination and exposition by those of understanding who went out among the crowd to answer questions and explain passages, as Phillip did with the Ethiopian, and as the Apostles did after Pentecost.

Reassured that G-d was pleased with their rededication to obey the Law and honor the Lord, it became a time of rejoicing. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Opposites achieving the same end: rededication to our G-d.

So from the Water Gate we have tears of sorrow, then of joy as the children of Israel returned to the Father.

Will we, as believers, stand up for the Word in unity and purpose, tearing down strongholds as we rebuild the walls of our spirits and put back the boundary stones on our faith, so that we don’t come down to the enemy. Let’s rededicate ourselves in the Covenant of Grace and place ourselves back in the hands of the Living G-d.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

Daily we are prodigal at some point; a stray thought, a random flash of anger, a harsh word, a grumbling against something You haven’t brought to pass yet. Since judgment is not swift in coming, the boundaries of our faith begin to crumble, the walls of our sanctuaries become curtains, and we get a random peek at the opulence of a sick and dying world, reveling in its hedonism as it says You are a product of ancient history, and a figment of our imagination.

Hourly we are tested by those closest to us, who have their own thoughts and opinions, their own ways of relating to the world that are not ours, and we are commanded to love, forgive, and if possible, restore them.

Clothed in mortal flesh, we fight against moral urges. We are admonished to crucify it, deny its desires for ease and comfort, and to count the cost, walk the talk, and fight the fight.

We are admonished to limit the rudders of our eager tongues to lash, to speak love and not judge.

And we are told by Your Son that with man it is impossible, but all things are possible through You.

So Father, we beseech You for strength in rebuilding these things, in setting up guards around them, in establishing partnerships that will reinforce them when we forget to turn to You. We ask for Nathans in our lives to deliver warnings, Ezras to remind us of Your Word, Davids to put songs in our hearts, and Christ above all, to strengthen the work of our hands as we strive to live by His example.

Let us also be mindful to heed the Spirit, whether it comes as a mighty wind, a still, small voice, or a bird flying in the direction we should go.

We thank You, Father, for people of understanding You’ve sent across our paths to guide us out of the dark places. Let us always be mindful of that You’ve said Your Word is higher than Your Name, and if Yours is the Name above all Names, the pinnacle cannot be attained under our own power.

But having done all we can, when we bring Your Word to mind, let us remember to stand up.

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 43: You Shall Recover All

1 Samuel 30:1-8

David’s Conflict with the Amalekites

30 Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”

And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.

Losses come in two forms: the first is through attrition and time, when we lose our ancestors, and the loss is felt more keenly the more we know and love them. This is why great-grandparents hold such esteem among us, and is considered a title and age to be honored by their descendants.

The second is through the nature of man: greed and the love of money, jealousy, hatred, and we don’t understand why, if we’re good people our Lord will not always shield us from such.

But Jesus tells us the world hates us because it hated Him first, and it hates Him because He testifies that its work are evil.

Yet the plan of the Father is redemption, and so was here with David, and so it shall be with us. The one thing that was consistent with David was that whenever he was victorious, he sought the Lord first. Coming home to find all you’ve loved, worked and fought for taken from you by an enemy is a crushing thing, and David, flaws and all, was as human as the lowliest soldier in his army.

David returns home after being rejected by the Philistines to find the city burned and everything stolen. He weeps with his people, and when that’s over, his people talk of killing him because he led the men from home and they weren’t there to protect their own.

He was the king, and he’d left their gates open to the enemy. Like true thieves, the Amalekites came when no strong man was there, they captured the weak, and took what  belonged to the king and his people.

This was an indictment against David, who had a reputation of being strong and might, feared, and a brilliant strategist. If ever there was a moment for a man to despair, this was it, but David knew where his help came from.

v6 But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Do we believe God is control of our circumstances, even if we suffer loss? Do we believe he reins in what Satan is allowed to do to us? Consider, this is the only time we’re told that there was a raid with no slaughter, just thievery. Everyone they lost was still alive. Who kept them all safe, that David would recover all?

How odd that an Egyptian would fall sick and be left behind, and in the countryside, just happens to come across the king looking for the men who attacked his home, and this man just so happens to know where the troops are…

When we seek G-d first for answers, He honors our faith.

When we are told to pursue, we get what He’s set aside for us to have; it has been preserved for us, but we must take action. G-d did not put a change of heart in the Amalekites to suddenly come back with everyone and drop them off. David still had to go, though he was sad, tired, and angry.

When we too are done shaking our fist, grinding our teeth, and rending our garments in times and moments we don’t understand, surrounded by people who are out to destroy us from within and without, we must still go.

And the Father promises, we shall surely recover all, with increase for our faith. David took back what belonged to Him, and the Amalekites. Moses led the Hebrews out with increase after all those years of slavery.

Nothing will ever be missing, or dead, when we recover all.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, if I am to pursue according to Your word, give me the strength to pursue. As your servant David said, ‘I am poor and needy,’ and I am of little faith. 

You are the G-d of eternity who redeems our times when we’ve gone astray, and You keep and preserve all that You have for us until we are found ready to receive, or worthy of the prize. 

When my works are tested, I will weep at the loss of reward for I know that among them is stubble, good for nothing, and times of fruitlessness where I was cursed. I know that I have not only grieved Your Spirit, but I’ve broken the heart of the Son, and made You turn Your eyes, for You cannot look on sin.

Yet You see the end of my days, and my future is a memory to You. So I ask that You walk with me as I pursue, and help me to perceive the signposts, my Egyptians, my markers of stone, my altars, my pillars of cloud and fire, that I may finish the work You’ve called me to do.

And in so doing, I shall recover all that was mine and the enemy’s by the power of Your right hand.

In the Name of Jesus I ask it, believing I’ve received.

Amen.

 

Devotional 33: I Was No Prophet

Amos 7:10-16

 Amaziah’s Complaint

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said:

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From their own land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos:

“Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.
13 But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it is the king’s sanctuary,
And it is the royal residence.”

14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:

“I was no prophet,
Nor was I a son of a prophet,
But I was a sheepbreeder[a]
And a tender of sycamore fruit.
15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,
And the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’
16 Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord:
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’

The one thing I love about the Father is his consistency.

Time and again he pulls from the rag pile and sends out the most unlikely people to do the work he requires, knowing they will obey, telling them not to be afraid, shoring them up with the power of the Holy Spirit and righteous indignation.

Amos is about as unlikely a prophet as they come, but we know he’s a prophet of G-d, because the prophets of G-d never failed to get the attention of kings and rulers, from Moses to Micah.

The reactions of said kings and rulers also seldom deviated, usually prompted by their right-hand men. In the case of Amos, it’s Amaziah, used to the intrigues of court and dealing with men of wealth, power and influence, as well as having the king’s ear.

He summarily dismisses, banishes and threatens Amos in the same breath, and cites the fact that the prophet stands in the king’s sanctuary and residence.

But as read in Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and those who dwell therein.”

Amos, being obedient to the Father’s call despite his lack of clerical credentials, answers Amaziah with even more boldness, after reciting his credentials as a sheepherder and caretaker of fruit. By all measures of earthly success, but for the call of G-d on his life, he would have died in obscurity as a simple sheepherder and fruit picker, perhaps well-liked by his employer and fellow servants, but otherwise unknown to the world today.

“I was no prophet,
Nor was I a son of a prophet,
But I was a sheepbreeder[a]
And a tender of sycamore fruit.
15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,
And the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

As believers, at some point we’ve heard the Call, and suddenly found ourselves at a fork in the road that says ‘Obey’ and ‘Disobey.’ We read only of the prophets who answered the call (Jonah refused to go to Nineveh because he knew G-d would forgive them, but it was not because he doubted what G-d said).

It’s a frightening thing, and I myself have experienced it. Nothing as earth-shattering as the overrunning of a nation by a powerful enemy, but I’ve told people they had positions, and things they were looking for would be in certain places, and they’ve come to pass.

I don’t count myself a prophet by any means, but I knew when I heard from the Lord; there was a certainty that what I was saying was not coming from a place of emotion, or trying to do good in the flesh, or to impress anyone. It was simply: “Tell them____”. and I obeyed.

G-d sends out His Word, and says it will not return void:  Jonah gave the shortest sermon in recorded history, and a whole nation repented, sparing itself. But the people of Nineveh did not pass down the legacy, and eventually it was destroyed.

As the saying goes, “G-d has no grandchildren.”

In this day and age of relativism, modernism, feminism, atheism, sexual immorality and gender identity confusion, would you be obedient if the Father said, “Go into their midst and prophesy?” Would you be willing to suffer the consequences, and possibly see the fruit, as Jonah did, or would you quail at the challenge to your credentials among the learned clergy. The Pharisees were always asking Jesus, another man of humble, dubious beginnings who seemingly had no other credentials, and didn’t even practice his trade of carpentry, “By whose authority do you do these things?”

You’re in good company.

Prophesy in faith, not in yourself, but in He who sent you.

Psalm 81:10  “If you open your mouth, I will fill it.”

He did it for Moses, and Amos, and He’ll do it for you. For us.

Amaziah was appalled that this commoner spoke so rashly, and probably felt justified in thinking Amos would quail in fear when Amaziah told him where he was, but G-d responded with a harsh punishment for Amaziah instead.

Yes, we are commanded to come boldly before the throne with the torn veil, but we are also called to go out from it just as boldly, speaking Truth in love

Therefore I pray:

Let my feet hasten to where You would have me go, Father, but it will have to be You. Like Jonah, I don’t understand unconditional love and forgiveness. Nineveh staked prophets out in the unrelenting desert sun, and was known as city of every vice, and yet, the words of Your prophet changed a nation.

So too, Amos, the shepherd and fruit attendant, who spoke against King Jeroboam, who’d become a tyrant.  He also spoke against those cities who aided the vice and turned a blind to it in the name of profit.

Whatever the words you’d have me speak, whether to change a nation or a single heart, fill me with Your words, Your power, and increase my faith, that I might obey and speak boldly.

Let me not boast of that which you gave me to say, as if I did a grand thing in my own strength. I know where my help comes from.

I would be a fisher of men, and a seed-planter, and a sheaf-bringer, or a shepherd, or a fruit attendant. As Your most learned apostle said, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” (1st Cor: 9:22), taking the same fire and zeal he used to persecute the church to advance it.

Help us to know, that we too, must suffer for your Name, and to count the cost, take up our crosses, and follow.

In the Name of Your Holy Son, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask it.

Amen.

Devotional 15: We Hear What We Want

1st Kings: 7:12-19

The Revolt Against Rehoboam

12 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it(he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt ), that they sent and called him. Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,“Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”

So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?”

And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”

10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”[a]

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” 13 Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders had given him; 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!”[b]15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the Lord, that He might fulfill His word, which the Lord had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying:

“What share have we in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
To your tents, O Israel!
Now, see to your own house, O David!”

So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.

18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

The son of Solomon did not inherit his wisdom, nor did he ask God for anything regarding the rule of His people. As Solomon’s heart turned to flesh instead of God, so too, did his son’s heart turn to flattery by his peers.

Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders his father knew, and chose instead the advice of youth who, like him, were wealthy simply by virtue of being their fathers’ sons. In their flattering, they hoped to profit from his cruelty.

They told a cruel man to act even more so, a greedy man to be even more so, and an arrogant man to be even more so, and ignore the pleadings for mercy from those he ruled.

The elders had advised ‘servant leadership’ in order to win the hearts of the people; the kingdom wasn’t financially insolvent, so they wouldn’t have advised it if it wasn’t possible.

And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

His own father taught people from around the world: 1st Kings 4:34

 

34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

We see this type of leadership all through the ministry of Jesus, but He actually remarked upon it to the disciples. From the Gospel of John 13 we read:

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

While Rehoboam didn’t have this example to turn to specifically, he nevertheless had a choice in how he would rule, but in reinforcing through bad advice what he already had in his heart to do, he forgot that God is sovereign.

We read in Psalm 75: 4- 7:

“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.
Do not lift up your horn on high;
Do not speak with a stiff neck.’”

For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.

 

Therefore Rehoboam was forced to flee the land he would’ve ruled, for he drove them to rebellion, and gave up the crown.

In our seeking after the will of God, we must align ourselves with those doing likewise, even as we minister to those who are not, either by example or personally.

Our integrity in such things matters to God, especially if we’re in positions of power and influence. Let us be ever mindful, when we are tempted, that God is sovereign, and will hand over what you would rule to someone who will seek after Him, and you will be forced to flee.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, pluck from me all that wants praises from man, while disregarding Yours, which is all that matters.

Help me to heed the still, small voice of caution and not the chorus of insincere encouragement. Let me abide by the statutes of Your will, especially when it goes against my fallen nature.

I would not have that which You bestowed on me with honor removed from me in rebellious shame.

Let me always heed the teaching of my Lord, who showed the world what it is to serve, and love, and bless from a position of power and influence given by You. Let me always follow His example in serving those He called, and calls today, to accomplish Your work for the Eternal Kingdom.

Let me always walk uprightly before You in those times.

In the Name of Your Most Holy Son, and my Teacher and Lord, Jesus Christ, I ask in faith, believing I have already received.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Devotional 7: He is not the God of the Dead, but the God of the Living (Mark 11:27)

26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?[a] 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

This rebuke of the ignorance of Scripture, and the power of God, had to have ruffled the Sadducees’ feathers, though we are not told their reaction.

Smug in their disposition, thinking there was safety in numbers and knowledge, they thought to trap the Teacher who taught with so much authority that the people marveled at Him.

His rebuke sounds stern enough, yet not angry, and even a bit downcast at their lack of knowledge, and their willingness to refute the very fruit of Jesus’ sacrifice: eternal life spent in the Presence of God, under the Power of God, in the Light of God, where we worship without ceasing, and the wicked and faithless are no more.

As David said, “Who will praise You from the grave?” (Psalm 6:5)

Yet, as a culture, we celebrate things dead that we bestow with a wretched immortality, unclean things that are rotting and turning into unholy creatures before our eyes.

We celebrate the night of All Hallow’s with abandon, and forget about the morning portion.

The enemy has tricked us into believing being immortally ‘undead,’ (which is not the same as eternally living in the Father’s presence) is fun, harmless, and inoffensive, when it is, in fact, a stench in God’s nostrils.

We believe and embrace the concept of the dead rising to cause us harm, indeed, to join them in their tormented eternity, but we balk at the idea of the dead rising in transformed glory, spotless under the Holy Blood of the Lamb who paid it all, so that when His enemies are made His footstool by the power of God, we remain guiltless and unscathed; we don’t believe because our hearts are hardened to service, receptive to all manner of sin disguised as pleasure, and faithlessness disguised as reason.

We would rather have Mother Nature than Father God and Lord Jesus.

We would rather have ghosts and sacrificial rituals than the Holy Spirit.

We would rather have a Day of the Dead than a National Day of Prayer.

And satan smiles at the mounting success of his many deceptions.

Did not our Lord say, “He who perseveres to the end shall be saved.”?

Did He also not say, “The girl is not dead, but sleeping.”? (Her spirit returned to her, and He took her by the hand…)

Did He not return the widow’s son to her, though no one asked Him?

And in the presence of His astonished friends: “Lazarus, come forth… Loose his graveclothes, and let him go.”

No one stayed dead in the presence of Jesus, and no one left unchanged.

Galatians 6:7 admonishes us:

Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

Therefore, I pray:

Lord Jesus, remove the lying spirits from before us, and cast them into pigs. They dress in bright colors, and caper ’round Your flock with sweet words and pleasures for the carnal senses, as the serpent tempted your handmaiden Eve to pride and disobedience, and Adam, your son, who renounced his headship and gave over his dominion.

Lord, help us to crucify our flesh, as Yours was, that we may find it resurrected in glory with You on the last day, as Yours was.

Refresh the faithful with a touch from You, and strengthen our spirits in these last days, that we may not be deceived, that we listen for the voice we know, that we might follow it without hesitation, and go out with great joy, carrying our harvest sheaves, that we may receive our crowns to cast at Your feet.

In Your Holy Name, and by the Power of your precious Blood, we ask, believing we have already received by Your Hand, and through Your will, which is the Father’s.

Amen.

Devotional 5: Neither do I condemn you…

From the Gospel of John, Chapter 8:

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[e] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,[f] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[g] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[h] Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[i] sin no more.

**********************************

This is the familiar story of the adulteress caught in the act by the religious leaders, and brought before Jesus in order to trap Him. It’s used as a supplement to the verse “Judge not, lest you be judged, and with whatever measure you do it, it will be done to you.”

It’s also used as an example of Jesus’ covenant of grace toward us, but no one ever really talks about the conclusion of the passage.

The fact is, (if God’s Word is inerrant, and John’s witness is true) she was an adulteress, loving on the husband of another woman, and as Jesus convicted the Pharisees with his scorching reply, he did not hold the woman guiltless of her sin, and told her to leave from there and NOT do it again.

She had to go back to this man she had feelings for, and tell him they could no longer be, tell him to return and rejoice in the wife of his youth, in order to purify her own soul before the Lord.

We are not told whether or not she did, for that was not the point of the story. The point of the story, as far as I’m concerned, is that everyone left there with some work to do on themselves in terms of forgiveness, purity, and repentance.

We are under grace, but we will not be held guiltless for sinning under its covenant. Vigilance, keeping watch over our own souls, our words, our thoughts, our actions, is inconsistent at best, and non-existent at worse, taking grace for granted.

In Hebrews 10: 26- 29 it states:

The Just Live by Faith (bold letters added for emphasis)

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

and again in 10:31: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Therefore, I pray:

Lord Jesus, Your sacrifice tore the veil, that I may approach the Father’s Presence under the covering of Your blood, that His mercy may be extended toward me in my final hour, and that I escape the fires of hell by accepting your sacrifice as the only thing that redeems me in the Father’s sight.

Grant that I may approach the throne boldly, but reverently, with fear and trembling, rejoicing and giving thanks in faith that I have received what I will ask, and over and above what I’ve petitioned my King to do for me.

Let me be ever mindful of grieving the Spirit of grace, Who reveals all Truth in Your Word to me.

Thank You for the sacrifice of the covenant of grace, proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s favor, and grafting me in, who was not called ‘His people.’

Lord Jesus, I repent, and return to You; receive Your prodigal once again, and wrap his unworthy soul in the folds of Your mercy..

Let me be ever mindful that the pain you felt was real, that the revulsion You felt toward my sins crept into Your very being, and grieved Your human heart, yet did not deplete Your divine love.

Daily, I contribute nails and thorns, but they no longer touch You, for the Work is finished. Burn them, Lord Jesus, and purify me in their fire, that I may stand on the last day, and enter into my Father’s kingdom, to praise Him forevermore, and rejoice in holy fellowship with You and all the saints.

In Your Name, and by the Power of Your Blood, I ask, in faith believing, that I have already received.

Amen.

Devotional 3: Do You Believe That I Can Do This?

Two Blind Men Healed

Matthew 9:27 – 31

27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you. 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying,“See that no one knows it.” 31 But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.

The question Jesus asks these men, and us, is critical, for on it hangs our eternity.

Our Lord says He will raise us up to be with Him on the last day (John 6:40)

Do we believe that He is able to do this?

For all our focus on the cross, which is to present us spotless before the Father, there is the matter of our own resurrection. Paul writes of Christ as the first fruits of those that sleep (1 Corinthians, 15:20)

Matthew 2:52 speaks of the graves opening after the temple veil was torn, but no one came out of them until Jesus did, and that they appeared to many, most likely reuniting with loved ones who thought them long dead, and treasured them in memory.

On their faces, these stories are fantastical, yet, Jesus’ question underlines them all:

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

Do we?

Therefore,  pray:

Lord Jesus, my faith is in your power, the power endued to you from on high by the Father, the power to raise up your people who remained in faith of your mercy and grace, hoping to see their salvation in your glorious appearance. Bless us with a touch of Heaven today Lord, and renew our hope, our fire. Let us, indeed, being as spiritually blind as these men were physically, have your healing hands restore our spiritual sight. 

Give us the Spirit of God again, Lord, that the Father’s Word be revealed to us, that our souls be refreshed in us, that our sins be purged out of us, so that as we fall as one dead in the presence of Your holiness, you bid us to rise, and take Your nail-scarred hands, and walk with you through the gates of our eternal salvation, to be with you forevermore, in the Father’s light and goodness.

Yes, Lord, I believe that You can do this, and it is not too difficult for You. 

By the power of Your holy blood, I ask you to receive my sight again.

In Your Name, and by Your stripes, I claim my healing.

Amen.

Devotional 2: Spiritual Peaks and Valleys

From the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 16: v 13-19 and 16: 21-23

When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus told Him that flesh and blood did not reveal it, but His Father in Heaven.

Jesus then went on to bless him and change his name to Peter; from verse 18 we read:

“And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

IMAGINE the power Peter now held in his spirit!

What would we do if Christ Himself spoke those words to us? How could you doubt anymore that God was real, Heaven existed, and all the words of Jesus were true? I honestly couldn’t say what my reaction would be, and we’re not told Peter’s, but here perhaps is why that is:

In verse 21, after Jesus tells his disciples (again) that He must be delivered up to be killed and raised, the newly named Peter goes back into spiritual blindness, in a big way, in verse 22:

“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23) But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Hold on a second! Was this not the man to whom He just gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and the power to bind and loose? How is it then, that he became blind again so quickly, and forgot the things of God?

Again, we are not told Peter’s reaction, but I’m sure these words wounded as much as the others lifted. We are told, later, that Satan specifically asked for Peter to be turned over for ‘sifting.’ Jesus tells him this too.

I’m not sure, to be honest, I would have kept walking with the Lord after that. If you’re really honest with yourself, would you?

I’d be confused, hurt, upset, and frightened, having seen so much and been told so often how small my faith was, how limited my understanding. I’m not sure I would not have thrown up my hands and asked, “Then WHY did You pick me?”

The truth is, we strive to be like Christ, but we’re a lot more like Peter. There are days we have enough faith to get out of the boat, even if we lose our focus later, and there are days we go into the tomb just to check and see if He’s really gone, and what that really means for us.

Where are you on the spectrum of  Peter’s faith today? Where will you be tomorrow? And the day after?

Therefore, let’s pray:

Lord, if mustard seed faith is enough to move mountains, what would mountain sized faith in You accomplish? My faith is as a boat without oars in a storm, powerless to resist the winds and currents of the times and seasons, the fads and protests, the bombardment of the world’s knuckles at the door of my heart.

There are days, Lord Jesus, where I feel that I too, have the keys to the kingdom, that I understand all, that the mysteries are solved, and my times of trial in my spirit are over. I will doubt and sin no more, because I understand what’s required of me.

And there are days I’m an offense to You, as reprehensible as Satan, with my words as well as my actions; days where if I told someone I was a follower of Yours, they would smile and say to someone else,

“See? I told you; they’re no different.”

My faith is not unwavering, Lord, and I confess this to my shame. I need Your grace and mercy, but I need Your strength as well. I ask for discernment, revelation, times of refreshing, knowledge, and wisdom that when You say, “I tell you the truth,” it is a truth I can rely on when my last breath is taken, my spirit departs, and my body returns to the dust until the last day, when You will raise it, glorified in Your holy presence.

Reach out Your hand, Lord Jesus, and save me from the towering waves of faithlessness, of turning away, of doubting Your promises, and the promises of Our Father. Be ever with me, Lord, and burn with a holy fire the obstacles in the way of the Spirit, who reveals to me Your Truth, and my sin.

By the Power of Your Holy Name, I pray.

Amen, and amen.

Devotional 1: You Must Become as Little Children

From the Gospel of Matthew 18:2

Then Jesus called a little child to him and set him in the midst of them, and said

“Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives Me.”

Jesus wasn’t telling the disciples to behave in a childlike manner, he was telling them to adopt the mindset of a child regarding a good father.

Children believe the promises of good things made to them will be made manifest by a father who claims to love them and look out for them.

Children believe their father will be kind to them, and protect them.

Children believe their father rejoices and shares in their happiness and sorrows.

Children are not afraid to go to their father with their concerns, and let him take care of it, whether by word, deed, or both.

Children believe their father with no reservations or doubt, and for their part, children should have a healthy fear of and want to please their father.

Therefore, I pray:

Lord Jesus, I want to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Help my unbelief, and help me to believe in the unconditional love my father bears toward me.

 Help me to remember His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments.

 Help me to fear Him, even as I come boldly before the throne of grace.

 Help me to pray for what I need, and give thanks as if I’ve already received.

 Help me to remember in holy fear that He will judge the work of my hands, and bring every secret thing to light.

 Help me to stay faithful to his precepts.

 Let me rejoice in His pleasure, and find peace in the song He sings over me.

I don’t hope to hear You say,“Well done, good and faithful servant,” because I haven’t been. I only ask that You dry my tears after I suffer the loss of reward for burned works.

 But let me receive You anew each day in my heart, soul, and mind, that I may hear You say “Enter into Your Father’s rest.”

Lord Jesus, hear my prayer.

Amen.