Devotional 177: In the World, Of the Spirit

John 18:15-18 Peter Denies Jesus

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high prbiest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

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Acts 9:36-43 Dorcas Restored to Life

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

There is much in this that is parallel to Jesus’ own story. (Mark 5:35-41)

What a roller coaster of a disciple! He cursed when he promised the Lord he would die by his side, then he was found warming himself with the servants on a cold night as a sham of a trial went on for Jesus.

Later we see him boldly working a miracle on Dorcas in much the same way that Jesus put out the mourners and scoffers. Here Peter does the same as Christ did with the little girl whose parents were grieving, putting out the mourners who were showing him things she’d made for them.

There can be no distractions now, no scoffers. No deniers of those who say it’s impossible. No one who puts heavenly matters into earthly things.

For a time, Peter enjoyed the simple heat of a worldly fire, safe in deceit for the moment, denying who he was in Christ as Jesus was undergoing unholy humiliation, beginning the process of taking on our sins.

When Peter raises Dorcas from death, through faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is in full glory as the restored Apostle, the one who walked on water to his Lord’s side until He grew afraid and looked at his circumstances in the world, needing to know in that brief moment how Jesus must have felt being able to do it Himself.

When he raises Dorcas, he becomes the spiritual rock to whom Jesus gives the keys to Heaven, and the power to bind or loose, because the power flowing through him continued to circle back to glorify the Father.

If we have lived any length of time, there are dead things in the upper rooms of our days: dreams, plans, hopes that we tried to make fit but were not our calling, or were laid aside because we no longer sacrificed to achieve them.

Some we buried in silence and shame. Others because those who said they believed in us and would be with us no matter what, fled when the time came and betrayed us denying us and breaking their vow.

But there is a G-d in Heaven, and His Word does not return to Him void. What He has spoken, sang, and rejoiced over in you He will bring to fruition.

In these times, like Peter, let us bring a strong, bold, faith-filled witness that cuts to the heart. Let us stand in our rightful place to teach, speak boldly, and count the persecution as part of the cost when Jesus tells us the world can’t hate us because it hated Him first, testifying that its’ works are evil. (John 7:7)

Are we, as believers, ready to stand up in the midst of the assembly, and be voices crying in the wilderness? May He count us among the worthy.

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Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Your servants, on their best days, are weary, scared, and doubtful as the enemy grows increasingly loud and busy, as the world is becoming all You prophesied.

Help us to keep our eyes focused on You as our treasure, then our hearts will be there also. Help us not to look at the circumstances surrounding us, so that our hearts don’t grow faint and we fall, submerging ourselves in sin, and sighing in our spirits as we go back to the life we used to live before placing our faith in You.

Give us wisdom to discern the meanings of the times we’re in, and know what to do.

Be with us in the midst as we pray to You in one accord for our nation, our leaders, our fellow citizens, and our purposes to make You, Father, the center of all things once more.

And if we are still stiff-necked enough not to repent and receive a bounteous healing, we ask that You put aside all scoffers and raise us from the dead, alive in You, and grateful for it as we glorify G-d, now and forever.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

Devotional 176: The Return of Understanding

34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.

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If indeed the only inevitable thing is the working out of G-d’s plan, there is not much to say about the current circumstances facing the nations. The sparks of trouble are surely flying upward, and brother rises against brother to curse and not bless.

The rudderless tongue pushes words on the patterns of the wind, which blows without discretion or selection, leaving behind damaged people in sorrowful circumstances.

Guns, fires, racial slurs, murder, intimidation, harassment, brutality, protests, signs, slogans, and a restless, chaotic current have gripped the souls of men and blocked their view of heaven. They turn deaf ears to the Word, hiding the veil of politics behind it like the Pharisees, forgetting there is a G-d in Heaven from whom there are secrets, and for whom a thousand years is as a day to man.

We proclaim ‘G-d bless America!’ but we have not blessed G-d, and He does not accept the honor of the lips only, when the heart is far from Him.

In our humanity, there are people we don’t like, and in our worldview, there are things about the governing of nations we have issues with. It has always been that way because the Gospel is not preached, lived, or these days, possibly, even believed among the leaders.

As believers, we are told to fear G-d, and honor the king. He is watching to see if we do so, even if the king is mad and in need of humbling.

That which we call ‘time’ is indeed fleeting, and getting further away from us as we continue to insist on enjoying ourselves in the midst of a plague. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t become a priority.

Let us rest in the knowledge that the Father has already seen the end result of all this strife, and if He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and revere the Son, and submit to the voice and power of the His Spirit, He has promised He will heal the broken heart and avenge the innocent.

Let us leave the divine justice to the only One who can judge rightly, for He is worthy, and the Father has put all into his hands.

Like Nebuchadnezzar had to be humiliated before He gave G-d glory, let us pray together, unceasingly, that we don’t have to do that here in the US. or anywhere else in the world. Let us give our offering for anything we have against each other, go before the Throne and place it on the altar, and be reconciled in this hour while His hand is yet still.

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Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We cry out to you once again, having lost our way.  Our leaders have assumed the mantels of proud kings, so as a nation we have now become blind to Your will, deaf to Your Word, and bereft of power in ourselves to bring good from evil.

Return our reason to us, Father, and let us stand once again in Your light, under the loving hand of our Lord Jesus who leads us to the path of reconciliation, and the power of Your Spirit, convicting us of sin and guiding us into all Truth.

Let us give You glory and honor among us once again, kneeling not in protest, but subjugation to Your loving will, and reverence for the King of all Creation, as we repent of our sins, our bloodlust, our hate, fear, anger, and rebellion against You.

Grant us mercy, Father, for behaving like beasts of the field and submitting to Legion, who gratifies our emotions and flesh, and robs of us discretion, discernment, and wisdom.

Your servants stand in the gap, Father, interceding before the hour strikes when You smite us for our prideful ways, our fearful arts, our wild emotions, and our evil thoughts.

Let our understanding return to us as we raise our eyes to You, repenting with godly sorrow, that excellent majesty reflecting Your power, might, and glory, be restored to us once more as we enjoy the covenant of grace in one accord, one nation, indeed under G-d for the time remaining to us.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

 

*art by Daniel Blake

Devotional 174: Wells of Salvation

A Hymn of Praise

12 And in that day you will say:

“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.

     The wells of the day were not within easy reach; if they weren’t up in the hills, they were some distance that required strength and endurance to access. The wells were mostly located in territories that were considered hostile, or at least off limits, to the Jewish people.

Yet this mighty prophet’s hymn of praise speaks to a well that doesn’t hold physical drink, but one with far greater power beyond slaking the thirst of a physical traveler, but the spiritual needs of sinners seeking forgiveness and redemption from G-d.

We see this in king David’s plea:

Do not cast me away from Your presence,

And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Having achieved getting there, if one was not an outcast one could rest, drink, socialize and refresh before returning to hand out that which would give life to the towns and villages.

It’s in the Father’s nature, and it is his will to see us reconciled through faith in Christ, who spoke of Himself as living water to the Samaritan woman. (John 4:9-15)

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

Jesus broke all tradition here in dealing with a Samaritan, and a woman, having a conversation with her and ministering to her even as she though she was, in fact, an outcast in her village. Even so, when she evangelized about meeting Him, such was her faith that they actually did go back with her, and were blessed for about two weeks by His presence.

But while it’s the Father’s nature to want us reconciled to Him, it is also His nature that he can’t look on sin, no matter how small or large to suit our justifications for it. He may use the Israelites as His chosen vessel, but it’s also His desire that we tell the world, calling no man unclean.

It seems we have a choice to make, when in fact it’s not choice at all:  The kingdom or the campaigns.

We can pray the will of the Kingdom over the campaigns, and pray this nation live up to its stated goals for everyone, not just a select few.

Let’s gather together around these holy wells, and pray.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

As You have blessed men and women whose hearts were set on You, hear our prayer to let Your Holy Spirit heal this land, and bring godly sorrow and repentance, rebuking the tools of the devil that plague our land in this day.

Help us to remain steadfast, focused, loving, and bold as we stand in the gap for the faithless and the innocent. Now more than ever, set up divine appointments and guide our hands and feet, that we might not be found idle in the harvest field.

We were once a nation under G-d, but we have turned our backs and reduced Your omnipotence to political goals that will enrich us after November, but that is not Your will. It is to pray for all humanity, in all its colors and traditions, languages and customs, that their eyes may be opened, and we experience the wonder of seeing someone accept the Son for the first time, and open their heart to work alongside us.

Today, we gather around our wells wherever they may be, however deep, and we draw from it to give to those who thirst for You in this hour. Help us to do it in love, but not to compromise.

Let us speak truth without judgment, and let our light shine to reveal Your presence in us, that they may see, believe, and repent.

Let us minister in love to the hurting and the angry.

Let us comfort the fearful.

And let Your peace, passing all understanding, abide in us as we abide in the Son, doing Your will until You call us to Your side, working in faith believing all things are possible through You, and Your will, we can do nothing apart from Him that You sent to us.

Let us rejoice that we have been chosen to serve our G-d and King, dwell with our Savior, and be guided by Your Spirit.

In righteousness, peace, and joy we honor You.

Amen.

Devotional 173: The Pride of Your Heart

Obadiah 1:2-4

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
You shall be greatly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
You who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
Whose habitation is high;
You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’
Though you ascend as high as the eagle,
And though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord.

 

The fall of a nation is better remembered than its glory and achievements, especially if the reasons for its collapse come from within. The prophecy of Obadiah over the kingdom of Edom should serve as a cautionary tale, as G-d will often send prophets to warn of the wrath to come, and the reasons for it. It is no accident that the eagle is mentioned, and no guessing as to what G-d’s intention is to nations who think they are as high and lofty.

Above all, the Biblical maxim remains true: “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) But it seems we have lost sight of the Lord and taken pride in the land that belongs to Him, claiming dominion over things with no sense of stewardship.

We are now a proud nation for all the wrong reasons, and the Accuser feasts on the spiritual rot, nourishing the heart with false pride over things we had no hand in creating in and of ourselves: looks, skin, how we pray, how we feel, how we act, and how we relate to the world around us, and to the Creator Himself.

Seeking that which G-d desires for all humanity: “And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) 

To hoard those things and dispense them unfairly, inconsistently, and on whims of the heart’s deceitful vices and the mind’s equivocating tricks, will bring the day of judgement closer much faster, if we remain on the current path we’re on, refusing to see the damage we cause for what it is. The prophets of the day seem to be either mute, or politically aligned with worldly desires, or in pursuit of the world’s material comfort and the approval of man.

We would do well to heed our Lord and Savior in this hour when He tells us that we see without seeing, and that we hear, but don’t understand. (Matthew 13:13)

This is a nation that holds itself up as a bastion of freedom, but oppresses and silences those who see flaws in its systems, sin in its practices, greed in its wealth, and pride in the hearts of oppressors. We can no longer keep wiping off the pustules of ignorance and hate, unheeding and unrepentant,  but rather cut away down to the wounds that have caused them, clean it out with the love of the Father, and be made whole, reconciled to one another and to G-d.

The choice is ours, and while there is yet time to make it, let us do so. Will we add our voices to the assembly of saints telling the demons to go, or look on the day of our brother’s calamity, and wash our hands of his blood?

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, 

We have shown ourselves weak in Your sight. We have no strength left to fight, because the armor of Your Word has been broken, twisted, dented, and bent to suit the kingdoms of world. 

Even so, even now, the Devourer consumes us, speaking vile things with his mouth full. He has given the pride of his heart free reign to curse, spit, revile, belittle, and strike those in his path that testify to him that his works are evil.

He has infiltrated our institutions of power as well as our streets, our souls as well as our flesh, our minds as well as our hearts, and because we have turned from You we can no longer resist him.

We have become proud and boastful, wicked and adulterous, fools that speak words having a hint of truth, but in fact, lead the hearer astray.

As we witness the prophecies of Christ unfolding, let us hold fast to all that is good in You, and each other, as we are yet called to be Your servants, priests, ministers, and prophets. Let the wheat be separated from the chaff among these, that hearts may be turned, ears opened, minds changed, and spirits renewed, refreshed, and rejoicing.

We know by faith that You will answer prayers that seek Your best will for us. and equip us to go where we are needed, speaking the Truth of Your Word to power boldly, as You give us what to say, so that none are refuted or can find fault in us or our words. Do not make this nation a byword, that when the world looks on its ruins says among themselves, “How great was its fall,” and marvel at our folly.

You uphold us by the strength of Your right arm, nor let our words fall to the ground as we give You the honor and glory due Your majesty, remembering that we are but dust and only inherit eternal life through Your mercy and grace.

Deliver us from this hour, Father, and restore our hearts as we repent, humbled hearts and contrite spirits, that You may make us new.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

Father’s Day 2020: He Ran to His Son

Luke 15: 17-32

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Let us be encouraged today that the Father’s heart is for us. He is patiently waiting for us to return to our senses and realize He grieves when we go our own way, ignoring Him as we go about the wielding the slings and arrows of our daily lives, condensed in mortal habits and routines that distract us from knowing He loves us.

“Father, give me….”  We ask before we should receive, out of order, impertinent and prideful. ‘If we are sons and daughters of an almighty King, why should He not grant our request to pour out the blessings of His storehouse. Yet how many stories do we see of broke lottery winners, and people falling for scams, buying in excess, flashing the cash, reveling in possessions and satisfying lustful desires.

But the Word, which does not return void, says in Proverbs that sudden riches bring ruin. (Proverbs 15:27)  The son had no plan, and just went to out to live a hedonistic life with no authority to guide Him.  Left to his own, he winds up in a defiling circumstance, and the story adds for emphasis, “…. and no one gave him anything.”

“Father, make me…” And if we’re indeed favored, the end of our fortunes dovetails with the end of our days. We will return to ourselves as we return to our Father. What will we tell him? Something along the lines of repentance in our unworthiness, our laziness, and our desires to indulge ourselves without consequences and still say we’re serving the kingdom’s interests.

There is no compromise on sin, but there is mercy, justice, and love from our Father, who sees us from far off. There is rejoicing at our restoration, our reconnecting with the source of our lives who delights in granting us the desires of our hearts.

Today, let those hearts be toward Him, and our children’s hearts be for us as we do for them what our Father in Heaven does for us. And let us be thankful he granted us the gift to mentor and guide the servants that will take our place even as the undertake their own journeys, follow their callings, and love Him more.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven.

We thank You for it all: the joys and sorrows, the pride and wonder that we feel fleeting time we get to tend to our children and train them in the way they should go.

As we fulfill our duties to our families, grant us Your guidance and protection. Impart to us Your ability to love them in their rebellion, indulging in the feasts of the eyes, forgetting Your grief over us as we willfully squander and waste the blessings very blessing  we asked of You. You gave us Your Son to blot out our sins in the Book of Life.

Bring to mind the desolate state we fall into when we don’t fulfill our duties as fathers, and make us into the men You need us to be to minister to those You’ve called to be under our care.

We are thankful You rejoice over us in our returning, and for running toward us as we grow weary on the road. Today, as fathers, we receive Your embrace, and rest in Your anointing, looking to Your own Son, who loves You above all things.

Today, O Lord, we bless Your holy Name, and ask that You bless us with the best of You, that we might impart it to our households for as long as we possess them, and love those within them according to Your will.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You. 

Amen.

Devotional 172: Be Strong

1 Chronicles 19:10-13

10 When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. 11 And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in battle array against the people of Ammon. 12 Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

Joab finds himself in battle because David did an act of kindness, but the ruler to whom he extended the kindness listened to his council, and shamed David’s emissaries culturally to the point where they couldn’t return from their mission. David would not see them shamed for their own sake; he told them to stay elsewhere until their beards grew back, so they had to live apart from their homes and families until they could be restored. No doubt they endured the scorn of the people of the city until that time.

Now we are here.  It has been a tumultuous year, and the normally tranquil passing of winter into spring has become like the pot of the three witches of Macbeth, adding all manner of foul things to it in order to deceive those prone to temptation and pride, destroying everything good around them to capture a moment in time for their own greed and glory. By giving in, they lose the very thing they sought, and are brought down to great sin and shame.

It will be hard for any believer worth the title to deny that in this time of pandemic, international chaos, and filial hatred, we are in the midst of a battle. As believers called out of the world to minister the Gospel to it, this is not a time to hide. Jesus tells us no one who starts to plow and looks back is fit for kingdom service. (Luke 9:62)

In order to be effective, and see what the harvest would yield, we must be strong not just for our sakes, but for the places where we live, work, and play. We must be strong for those around us having a difficult time keeping it together. We must set aside differences, knowing that the kingdom will be made up of all nations. More importantly, we are not to try to display such strength in our own might. The church, if it does not act in this hour, insulating itself and calling for earthly, flawed, and sinful men to lead us out of that which they helped create, will be found wanting and judged accordingly.

So like Joab, we prepare for battle and go out. We must be prepared to fortify one another wherever needed or we face certain defeat. We are still to do acts of kindness in the midst of the fight if and when we can, even if we are shamed for it. If we believe we suffer ill for the kingdom, the Lord assures us it will be to our credit as profitable servants. (Matthew 5:11)

Our enemy is not weak. He is busy, prolific, and makes those who give in to him defile their flesh as he devours their souls. (1 Peter 5:8)

So let us stand together and pray, above all, that the Lord do what is good in His sight.

If He is good, faithful, just, righteous, and true, then when we call on His Name and seek His hand to deliver us, He will respond. The earth is His, after all, and everything that dwells on it. He will respond to contrite hearts and upright spirits. (Psalm 51:17) He will respond to those who earnestly seek Him in the midst of their despair. (Luke 18:15) He has set before us blessings and curses, and told us to choose. We are, in our freedom, bound by His commandments, statutes, and conditions. We are ultimately subject to His will, whether we deny, qualify, or believe in His very existence.

So let us not fight in our own strength, but pray His will upon the battle. Let us not be wise in our own eyes, lest we shamed. Let us fortify each other and go where we are needed to seek and save the lost, our works shining before men that they may see and we can point them to G-d, that they too might come to glorify Him through the Son, and save their souls through faith in Him.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

Forgive us, for we have been a wicked and adulterous nation, serving money and pride as we honored You with our lips, but not our hearts. Our love grew cold and covered over as we corrupted Your Word to suit our purposes, that we might pursue the pleasures of flesh under the guise of heavenly servitude.

But You, Father, see as clearly in the darkest night as You do in the noonday sun.

Our hearts were hard soil, and our ears would not hear.

You have again scattered Your church as You did after Pentecost when those who walked with Jesus became complacent ministering among their own, and enjoying the time, but t were not in the field sowing. And so You struck them with persecutions to make them flee and go where You needed them.

It is no different now, and we must heed the call as the prophecies of Christ unfold. But let us glean wisdom from Your Word, and help us to set aside that which would keep us from working together to prepare once more the way of the Lion of Judah, and not the lamb of G-d. We must move swiftly, for lions are faster than lambs.

As Joab prepared his warriors, let us prepare. As he exhorted them, so let us exhort one another. And as he surrendered the battle to Your sovereign will, let us do likewise.

We place our times in Your hand as we go out to make war, to do work, to guard the supplies, to tend the animals in our care, and minister to the children and elders under our watch that You gave into our hands, whether they be of our blood or not.

And above all, Father, we pray that in the midst of this fight, as seek Your face, as we ask, trust, and believe no matter how it looks to us, You will gather the saved  from the harvest fields, and do what is good in Your sight.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

Devotional 171: My Times are in Your Hand

Psalm 31:12-15

12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.

 

The Pastor with who brought me to the Lord for safekeeping used to have a phrase for his sermon’s application: “This is where the rubber of your faith meets the road of reality.” It was a play on the saying, Where the rubber meets the road…’ as the surface of tires contacts the road.

But what happens when that happens? The tire is strong, but the road is stronger. The tire itself must be made well in order to withstand the resistance pushing back on it, and still move freely to go the distances required of it. The tire is vulnerable to whatever might be on the road that could damage it.

It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure to take care of the and keep it out of harm’s way if possible. The difference between the driver and G-d is that sometimes that’s not possible, but in as much as the driver can prepare the tire and keep it from harm, they should do all they can. Prevention is always better than repair.

As our Lord is allowing Satan and his minions to frolic and play, the wound of racism is being cleansed. When cleaning a wound, the ugliness surrounding it has to be cleared away for the caretaker to see.

So as believers, what should our response be in this hour:

If we are to be like Christ, we must do what Christ did in these times: He walked the roads among the people, and listened to them. He asked them questions that revealed the conditions of their spirits, the desires of their hearts, and how far they were willing to go to change their lives forever. To do likewise we must be prepared in our spirits, armed in the Word, and willing to answer the call Who will go for us? (Isaiah 6:8)

Go where you are called, and if it’s not to the center of the fray, sow in the hearts of those closest to you. Do what Christ did, and minister in love without compromise. Speak from the Word and the Lord will fill your mouth with what to say (Luke 21:15)

Pray that the eyes of those who will not see are opened, their ears unstopped, their lives changed, and their spirits reconciled, even if you just plant a seed. It may be the birds come to pluck it, or it may be that another waters the seed. Pray that G-d keeps them, and gives the increase to His glory.

Our nation is hurting, and we are called to go out into it. Let us prepare the tires of our faith, and be caretakers at the nearest scenes of spiritual disasters taking place around us. Let us help clean the wounds of our brothers and sisters, withstanding the stench and ugliness, as Christ did for us on the cross. Let us ask for grace and mercy so that we might emerge from Satan’s work a better nation, a better people, and prove worthy to be counted a profitable servant to the Lord, worthy to send and prepare our people and ourselves for the roads to come. As the tire’s care is in the hands of the driver, and the wound in the hands of the caretaker, so too are our times in the hands of G-d.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

In this hour we pray for strength, patience, understanding, and compassion. 

You have struck the nation, Lord, as we have turned away to idols that replace You, and fill us with a serpent’s pride that they could do in our lives what You refused to do.  We have abandoned Your Word for man’s wisdom, which is foolishness, and out of it came the fertile soil which the enemy is now reaping.

To our shame we have been silent, fearful, and seeing ourselves as grasshoppers to those who oppose us. As we go to our prayer closets today, Lord, wherever they may be, or gather together in unison, let us earnestly seek Your face with open and sincere hearts, contrite spirits, and a willingness to do what You will call our hands to do.

Let us be as the sons of Issachar, discerning the signs of the times. Help our unbelief and increase our faith. Enlarge our territories and let us do no harm. Give us boldness and wisdom to speak to the weak of heart and the rebellious of spirit. Let us encourage those who would reach out to one another in understanding, and seek Your blessing on it that they find You and Jesus in the midst of them, One in will and purpose. 

Let us emerge from this not a united states but a united people, working together for the common good so that no one is in need, everyone has their fill, and there is justice and compassion in the land.

Let the healing bring rejoicing, that You may be glorified through the works of Your servants who point to You always, in all things giving thanks for the good, and standing in the gap to intercede and bind the plans of this world’s prince as we go before our King, preparing His way.

Bless us, Lord, in this time, and preserve us as we call minister to those whom our Savior would bring to You, for no one comes to You but through Him. (John 14:6)

Our times are in Your hands, and into them we commit our spirits.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You. 

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 170: Well-Driven Nails

Ecclesiastes 12:11 

11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.

Often, our Father’s work through the Holy Spirits spoke to the people of the times in language they could understand along cultural lines, teaching them by using the things they used in their daily lives. This work by Solomon is among those deemed to be worthy among the surviving books, so G-d has preserved it for us.

But this line in particular is striking in its contrast:  “…well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd”  What does a shepherd know of nails? Maybe they’d helped to repair fences in their duties, but that wouldn’t take much in the way of words beyond the conversation needed to repair the fence.

A nail well-driven is the sign of knowledge and skill, and in the case of a carpenter, craftsmanship. A well-driven nail by a shepherd means the repair to the broken part of the fence is complete, and will hold fast all that remains inside of it, and withstand what comes against it.

Don’t miss the imagery of the implied prophecy: A Shepherd’s words are like well-driven nails. What did the words of Jesus do, and how are they like nails? Let’s consider:

They were painful to the hearts of the wicked and sinful, and when something causes you pain, you aren’t interested in anything but removing the source of it so that your life is comfortable again. The source of our spiritual pain is sin, and it’s only removed through repentance. Resistance and denial can also remove it, but it won’t cure the condition.

They were strong and drove through the blockage of whatever was hindering the work  until Jesus spoke. Sickness, demons, nature, and death bowed to His will, and obeyed His commands.

They were enduringbecause the use of cheap and ill-prepared materials meant the work would eventually fall apart. In that case a better, more lasting repair would need to be done, and cost more to the one in need of it.

They come at a cost because they must be purchased from the one who makes them. The Father gave the nails to the Son, but demanded a price from Him for using them for our salvation and redemption. And though He was given a seemingly impossible job to do, He loved us enough to buy them.

They are eternal because they will not pass away when we do. Neither will they pass away when He returns to see how well we’ve used the nails he’s given us to secure the hearts of mankind to His cross and resurrection.

Today let’s tell those we encounter about the Shepherd of unusual talents: the One who removes our sins, repairs our hearts, and refreshes our spirits, and redeems our souls.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

Today this nation suffers with high emotions and heavy hearts. Our thoughts are fertile soil for the prince of this world to sow, and he is busy.

In the midst of the chaos and hate, let us drive words of healing, love, and peace through the hearts of those who are hurting, who have lost so much, and suffered through the departure of loved ones through no fault of their own.

Let us rise up in this hour to meet our divine appointments as shepherds to lead secure the disheartened within our compassion, driving off the fear and sadness of the times.

Reveal to us the task that lies nearest at hand, and give us the boldness and wisdom to do it, that we may be ministers in the healing work to come.

Keep us free from sin, and blameless of unrighteousness. 

Keep us in Your sight as we seek to walk uprightly in a time of pain and rage.

Today, as we rise according to Your mercy, rejoicing in the day You have made, we pray for this nation and all who dwell within it so that Your mercy and grace may yet abide on us. We ask for another chance to get it right, to establish the justice and freedom we so claim to love for everyone that dwells in the land you have so richly blessed and prospered.

By Your mercy restore our peace, and help us to discern the signs of the times, that we might address the needs of this age, being counted fruitful and profitable servants deserving of entering Your kingdom in the age to come where no sin exists, every tear is dry, and every heart is healed.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devotional 169: I Feared the People

1 Samuel 15:20-24

20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 So Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

In the military there are chains of command that must be adhered to if there’s to be order in the camp. If one is to move up in the ranks apart from his peers, one must be prepared to take the criticism and be able to handle the one who will eventually rebel, either out of jealousy, pride, or genuine dislike.

In battle, those same qualities must be displayed if there is to be victory.

G-d placed on Saul a mission of genocide to be done with the Amalekites troubling Israel and being an unfruitful branch of His creation. Saul’s problem was the he loved the adoration of the people, and was unable to say ‘no’ to them even when he was commanded by the Lord to do something that involved standing against his own.

Christ himself warned us of such displays when He told the disciples to beware of doing good things and making an outward show of piety to receive the praises of men.

 “They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2)

A look at any modern day trend of pop culture reflects the fickle shallowness of the human heart.

The politics of the day also reflect this trend: the voice of ‘the people’ based on all manner of things can cower a leader into fearful compromises that please the few but are not in the best interests of all, and as long as that continues to be the case, the figurative shepherd is being pastured by the flock.

We are commanded, then, to pray for our leaders, that they don’t succumb to this temptation. In that, however, we ourselves are tempted to pray for the leaders we agree with, that they might contend with the ones we don’t. That isn’t the solution.

G-d is not small, and if we pray in faith, we must ask for what would seem to be an impossible change in having our leaders work in their gifts, but be of one accord: to serve and make a difference for those under their leadership, to give respect and honor to each other, and glory for all good things to G-d.

The land needs healing, revival, and fellowship under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth and convicts us when we go astray and are tempted to backslide.

In these times, common ground is not only possible to find, but necessary. So is being of one accord. If we are obedient to do this, G-d will give the increase. (1 Corinthians 3: 1-10) 

Today, let us look for ways to start over, make an impact, and be the faithful but uncompromising servants of the Lord according to our callings.

Let us start from where we are and begin, not fearing the people, but our Father in Heaven, with reverence and holy obedience to do that which He has commanded of us: to love one another, as He loves us.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We consider it no small, light thing to be called by You to lead. Mankind’s Deliverer was Himself hated and despised for it, but endured all that was prophesied of Him so that we might be reconciled to You.

You are unrelenting regarding us walking in two worlds: to obey is better than sacrifice, we cannot serve You and money, and we are not to be lukewarm in our faith in Christ and the way of Your salvation, that we might be reconciled to You in the age to come.

But the voices of the people are many, loud, and shrill, and breath out murderous threats against those who would testify that their works are evil, and will not receive the truth in love.

We embrace the barriers and run to the spiritual strongholds that bind us as the prince of this world battles the Lord of the Universe. Give us fresh eyes, clean hearts, and right spirits to destroy those barriers. Let our works shine before men so they glorify You, and You only.

We would be fruitful harvesters, smart investors of our talents, and good servants that we might enter into our Father’s rest, the prodigal sons and daughters that are the works of Your hands.

Comfort us today, O G-d, that we are remembered in the Book of Life, and that we are to pray for our enemies, heaping coals on them.

Remind us to give, pray, and fast in secret, be angry and not sin against ourselves and each other as we rejoice openly with those who rejoice, and grieve with those who grieve.

We thank You, Father, in spite of our circumstances whether good or bad, for every good thing. We rest in Your promise of deliverance from the bad, and rescue from the evil sent to do us harm.

Placing our faith and love in the Son, we look to the hills for our help in this time, being still, knowing that You are G-d, and that we are well loved by You so that we need not fear, and we are not ashamed of the Gospel.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

 

 

 

Devotional 168: The Years of My Pilgrimage

Genesis 47:5-10

Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”

Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” 10 So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

Here’s a short definition of pilgrimage: “A trip to a sacred place for religious reasons.”

The Earth was once sacred, but dominion was handed over to its enemy by Adam, and we came under the Lord’s rebuke, our days now few and evil. But the Lord redeemed sinner Jacob, and changed his name, for nothing can remain the same under the hand of G-d.

We await the arrival of the new earth we are to dwell in, by the light of G-d, under the Savior’s rule, for eternity.

Today, with all that’s going on globally, with all the losses of the sureties we came to rely on, we are reminded with a heavenly certainty that those things were in fact, never sure at all, and that we are here for a time and then no more. A life that’s a vapor.

Our relationships within our homes, and in our communities, and spreading out to the world newly consider our relationship with the Word: the commandments, the conditions, (If you do this…), all of Christ’s prophecies, and all of the Father’s promises.

This plague, which ravaged us without even reaching the point of plagues past, should make us reflect on our most important relationship, the one we have with the One who will judge our works, hold us to account for all that we’ve done and said, and welcome us into the kingdom or cast us out.

In the midst of our enemy using all the vices of the flesh that corrupt the human spirit, we are to be mindful to not walk in fear, but to not be wise in our own eyes. There is a saying:

 “Call on G-d, but row away from the rocks.”

We are given the oars and the boat because we can’t walk on water, stop its flow, or calm it down.

Today, in your pilgrimages, wherever they may take you, bless those within it when you enter and when you leave, as Jacob did Pharaoh.

Our days are few and evil, and likely will not attain even to Jacob’s years, but the Lord our G-d will advance us to where that we may finish the work He called us to, if we are faithful and patient to keep possession of our souls.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

          We come before Your throne today under the covering of Christ’s blood, to thank You for giving us the strength to make it through the past few weeks as the plague that came upon us cut its path through Your creation, and is still at work.

        The daily routines of our lives were shattered, and while the faithless rail and panic, and the false invoke You as they threaten harm, we use this time to pray and draw closer to You not in hiding, but in rejoicing that You are Jehovah-jireh, our Provider.

       We place the blood of Your Son over our hearts, and pray healing for the afflicted, salvation for those taken in His name, mercy for those who died in their sins, and unity in the Gospel amid a lost and dying culture.

      Impart to us the mercy and grace of the Son’s new covenant once more where we have failed to live up to His image, and to give You glory.

     We are reminded today that the Earth, and everything in it, is Yours, and You knew all of all Your work before its creation. (Psalm 24:1, Acts 15:18)

     Bring us through this time to emerge on the other side as better than we were, closer to You, and one another. Purify us, Father, and keep us by the power of Your Spirit, doing greater works that reveal deeper truths as we move from glory to glory, sanctified and justified, spotless and blameless, on our pilgrimage to redemption.

   In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

   Amen.