Devotional 186: He Is Not Here

Matthew 28:6

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

The earthly celebration of the Lord’s rising in victory over sin and death is past, but we are to ever hold these words of comfort in our hearts as we abide until his return: He is not here.

How many times did He say to those He ministered too, and therefore to us, down through the ages, “I tell you the truth…” and “Assuredly, I say to you…”?

Even the angel sitting on the stone confirms Him: “He has risen, as He said.”

So too, He says He will do the same for us who remain in faith (John 6:40)

The faithless mockers would keep Him in the grave, and blaspheme that He is ‘zombie Jesus,’ but they do so because their spirits are attuned to dead things that only appear alive, as Jesus told the Pharisees that the tombstones, though whitened outside, still contained death and corruption within them. (Matthew 23:27)

As our Lord would do, we pray for them, that they come to repentance, faith, and obedience, and if they are within the sound of our voice, we are to speak Truth in love.

We must remember that as He was not of this world, we have also been called out of it, chosen by the Father’s mercy to have the truth of Him revealed to us, grafted in among His people by grace, partaking in the New Covenant given to all nations. We could not come to Him except through the presence of Christ in our lives. (John 14:6)

Having been called out to minister to the lost with our gifts and talents, being called HIs people who were once not His people, let us also declare that where our Lord is not, we are not.

We will not stay on this Earth of sin, but on a new one, purged of all evil. We will not stay in the grave. We will not stay in sin, doubt, pain, and sorrow, no matter our circumstances. He will heal our pain, bind our wounds, and dry our tears.

Certainly there will be times in this life where we will be afflicted, tested, tempted, attacked, and suffering, but let us keep in mind the words of faith in our Heavenly deliverance, even if we don’t experience an earthly one: But if He does not….(Daniel 3:17-19)

In those times, let us proclaim Him all the same, and all the louder, because He’s gone before us to prepare our place, as He will come to meet us, as He went into Galilee to present Himself to His disciples, being revived by the Spirit of the living G-d, which He imparts to us in love, through faith in Him.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Every generation that believes on You and the One who sent You, marvels that You would make such a painful sacrifice, putting right the Father’s plan that seemed so easily replaced, a field of wheat sown with the enemy’s tares.

It is beyond our understanding, but He tells us in His Word, and through You, that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, and only for our good,

The faithless mockers, putting their faith in this world, like Demas, turn and leave You behind in the grave. The sinners and doubters are in need of signs to bring them to faith and bolster it, as those who proclaimed they’d believe if You delivered Yourself from the cross, not bothering to seek G-d to reveal You to them.

We pray for them, as You prayed for us.

If indeed, our hearts and treasures are to be of Heaven, then we must be present where You are, and bring it into the midst of wherever two or more are gathered.

In this life, as You said on the cross, we too will feel the Father has forsaken us and left us to die in a dark place. We ask then, that You send the Comforter to remind us of our times of refreshing, of deliverance when there seemed to be none. We ask that He help our unbelief, and remind us that we are sealed in righteousness, for the seals of the tombs of sin and death, separated and irreconciled to our Creator, have been eternally broken.

We only need to come out of the grave into the light of His presence, by Your command, and to the Father’s glory, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 185: Let Us Die with Him

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

It was a noble sentiment Thomas expressed, in fact, it was seemingly shared by the rest, but not one that he was ultimately committed to following through. From the time of the beginning of His ministry, Jesus referenced ‘my hour’ as impending.

He didn’t say it would be theirs, but His, and His alone, for He was the only one the Father sent to substitute for us, and the only one counted worthy of doing so, withstanding Satan’s temptations to have the bitter cup of our collective sins set aside for another way within the Father’s will.

But it wasn’t within G-d’s will to find another way, and Jesus gave Himself over to it: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42)

Jesus did speak of the sacrifices they would make in ministering to the world, just not alongside Him. (John 21:18)

And in the Lord’s mercy, when Thomas openly declared his lack of belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, though he’d witnessed the rise of Lazarus, his faith was sealed in the recognition of Jesus’ divinity:

John 20:27-28 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

I don’t know how many of us were taught that Thomas did put his hand in Jesus’ side, but the text doesn’t state that. It would have been highly familiar and disrespectful to a King in full manifestation of His heavenly glory, and the mustard seed of faith that was yet buried in Thomas’ spirit checked him from doing it, and responded to the Holy Spirit abiding in Jesus, giving Him his due.

So how are we called to die with Him? The good news is this: We aren’t.

Our sins, doubts, fears, and rebellion are called to die. Our sin natures are called to die. We who are grafted into the Vine are called to live like Christ and to minister to those around us, pointing the way to G-d as His priests, ministers, disciples, servants, friends, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters of the Most High G-d, leading them to the Throne of mercy and grace, that they too, like Thomas, will become believing, and on their knees cry out to Him: “My Lord and My God!”

Come out of the graves of the world, and rejoice that despite your many sins, you are still counted among the chosen to live with Him forever in a world free of evil, counted worthy to live in the light of the presence of the living G-d Almighty without fear of death for all eternity, for the blood of our Savior will forever erase the multitude of our mortal sins.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 184: Who Did the Will of His Father?

Matthew 21:28-32

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to Him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

We live as servants to the Lord in our life’s purpose. Once chosen, called, redeemed, and reconciled to the Father in spite of our many sins and wayward walks, our Lord commands us to tell others so they may also come to repentance, seeing the goodness of G-d in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Jesus admonishes us to be about the work, not about the intentions to work; there is such a thing as too much counsel. There are also those who feel a sense of superiority in the fact that they’ve been chosen, and allow pride to ruin and otherwise sidetrack them from the simple, yet most difficult of commands: Love one another.

Harlots and tax collectors were considered to be the worst kinds of sinners, separated from G-d by their sin, and then John the Baptist came preaching with zeal and passion, telling them that G-d still loved them, and wanted them, but they had to stop what they were doing and come to Him in spirit and truth. Abandoned by the chosen ones whose hands were available to help, but only threw more spiritual stones of condemnation at them, their hearts and spirits responded to the message.

Jesus told them in this parable that if the worst of sinners could respond to the Gospel, what was it in the hearts of the chosen that kept them back when they saw what was happening?

Certainly Paul, the most cynical and prickly of the Apostles, who didn’t even walk with Christ, and persecuted the church, as he says, ‘with zeal,’ knows what he’s saying when he tells us that ‘knowledge puffs up.’ (1 Corinthians 8:1)

In contrast, John, the disciple Jesus loved, tells us that we cannot claim to love G-d whom we haven’t seen, if we hate our brothers and sisters we see all the time. (1 John 4:20)

Jesus Himself tells us that if we are to be with Him in the Father’s presence, we must do the Father’s will. (Matthew 12:50).

Let us reflect today on which of the two sons we truly follow: the one who repents and obeys, or the one who speaks willingness, and leaves his work undone. If we are not among those we deem the worst of sinners, and they’re getting in ahead of us because they receive the message of forgiveness, repentance, and obedience, we will have our answer.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

There are days I feel energized, excited, and fully capable to perform all that the Father asks of me. I am a beacon of light in those times: enthusiastic, excited, happy, and even patient and understanding with those who resist me, forgiving those who stand against me, and in those mountaintop experiences, I praise You with a song of ascent.

My faith feels firm, sealed to my spirit as I go about doing the work I was called to in Your Name, to the Father’s glory, and for awhile I really do believe all things are possible.

There are other days, Lord Jesus, when I feel like the Father should be grateful I’m even speaking to Him. Something or someone has battered my spiritual armor, and got past my guard. They spoke a word, or did a deed, or both, that shook me, angered me, and made me want to call down the Father’s holy fire in such a manner that they would never think to do so again.

You tell me in those moments that I don’t know the type of spirit I’m letting in (Luke 9:55). I get sullen, and prideful, and don’t ask forgiveness. I wonder if the Gospel is nothing but a cosmic hoax sent not by the King and Creator, but merely a divine jester and puppet master. I attribute the behavior of wicked men to a holy G-d, and walk in foolish fearlessness of Him who is able to cast my soul and body into eternal fire, and to wipe it out in an instant.

Today then, I stop, and give heed to the voice of my Father, and ask His forgiveness once again. I regret my rebellion, and remind myself that when I walk in His will, all that He has is mine, and as I fulfill my calling to bring glory and honor to His Name, He will sustain and protect me in all that I do. And I am reminded that Satan has no power over me, save that which in my flesh, I give him, as Adam gave him dominion once he disobeyed the will of his Father by not obeying His command.

Today then, let me be the repentant one who quietly goes and does their Father’s will, that I might be reconciled to Him once more through Christ, who bore my punishment and the Father’s wrath, that I might come to know His eternal love for me when I dwell in His presence forever, praising as I serve.

May Your Word be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 183: The Tithe of Everything

2 Chronicles 31:5-6

As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.

Because the king was strong for G-d and did not hold himself from doing the things he asked of his subjects, the people also grew strong for G-d and pleased Him with their offerings and tithes.

There was no holding back of anything, and no secret attempt to hold onto or set aside any money as with those the Holy Spirit struck down in the presence of Christ’s disciples.

The Israelites brought in the secular as well as the consecrated, for if the Earth is His and everything in it, we have nothing save that which He grants us anyway. (Proverb 24:1-3) He allots to us the portions we receive.

Hezekiah was following the Lord’s example then, in that he gave out of his own portion as king (2 Chronicles 31:3), honoring the Law of G-d. How then, can we do less?

Believers of many things, established in paganism and polytheism, worshiped for eons, found themselves adrift when the one true G-d drove out the many, and their works could not stand save for those who rejected his New Covenant. Yet even so, the nations of men, flooded with deadly, grievous, relentless sin, were still granted grace, that we might come to know Him through the strong work of His Son, who took our rightful fate of damnation, that we might share in His glory before the Father’s presence.

Christ tells that all the nations will be gathered before Him (Matthew 25:32), and everyone will give account (Romans 14: 10-12), every motive judged, and thought revealed (Ecclesiastes 12:14), and everyone will rise to an eternal fate (John 5:16-30).

So while we live, let us give Him with glad hearts the tithe of everything, as it may that this night our very lives will be required of us (Luke 12:20), or if not, see His blessing hand pour out over You all that He wants for you, that you will not be able to contain as he delivers you, and places your feet on the rock of His salvation.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

As a child of faith, unable in my own strength to live by Your words and keep Your commands, unable in my own thoughts and flesh to align my spirit to fully to Your will, I plead the blood of Jesus over my sin, doubt, greed, and backsliding.

Help my unbelief, and grant that I not desire to seek a hiding place in the day Your wrath destroys the wretched and arrogant who question Your very existence, Your ways, and the Truth of Your Word.

Thank You for supplying my needs during this dire time, for sustaining me in the midst of this plague, and blessing me with health and strength in the days to come.

I place my trust in You, Lord, with nothing held back, partially offered with a selfish heart. I do it in reverent fear of You, and in faith and gratitude for the salvation You brought to me when I truly sought You, wanting nothing more to keep me from You, that we might meet, and that Your hand would touch me, and put my lowly name in the Book of Life.

I know the fate I deserve, and know, even now, that You keep it from me when I am in my sins. You rebuke the unclean until I come to myself, and restore our fellowship once again.

So today, Father, I place it all in Your Son’s hand, that He might remove my reproach, that I might dwell in Your house, giving you the tithe, offering, and outpouring of all You require: honor, praise, glory, obedience, thankfulness, righteousness, faith, and joy.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 182: …But Who Are You?

Acts 19:11-20

Miracles Glorify Christ

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

1Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

This is a study in contrasts. Here we see that Paul doesn’t have to speak a word to the demons, but the items he touched and used had enough anointing on them to drive out to heal, and drive out evil spirits, and then we have those who used Paul’s name to invoke Christ, and then the sons of Sceva.

These others who invoked Jesus’ power through Paul were likely honored in their requests for their tertiary faith, whether they had the doctrine of Christ or not: “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

We don’t have a written record of their success rates, but we do have the record of the spectacular failing of Sceva’s sons. They seemingly had the numbers and credentials to do great work as sons of a devout chief priest. Whoever sought them out would have likely taken comfort in such, and while we don’t know the exact reason for their failure, the demon who challenged them did.

One could imagine the chill that went through them as they heard its question: “… but who are you?”

Perhaps it was as Paul says (2 Corinthians, 5:12) 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

What we have to remember is that even as Christ looks at the heart, so too, do his enemies.

Were the sons of Sceva after a reputation, money, or power? Were they prideful or boastful from a successful exorcism? The text doesn’t say, only that they failed, and that it became widely known, which would have been a shame to their father as well. They seemed to have brought nothing of Heaven’s anointing, only themselves, that they were so thoroughly, shamefully put to flight.

Today, during this holiday season unlike any other, be careful to look within and ask if the demon’s challenge is true of us as well. Does he know you as a child of G-d? Is he gone, or will he beset you and put you to flight, abandoning all you know of Him who wrote your name in the Book of Life?

Today, make time to boast in the heart, trust in the Name, and receive the anointing of Christ to speak to your mountains, and drive out your demons.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

In our frailty, this year has been harder than most for a lot of us. With losses on every side of loved ones, finances, help, and fellowship, we ask Your forgiveness for our lapses in faith, and in the Father’s goodness.

As we prepare to transition to a new year, new leaders, and new circumstances, let us hold fast to the hand of our Shepherd, who assures us no one can snatch us from His hand.

Increase our faith, help our unbelief, and gird up our legs that we might stand where we would fall. Renew our hearts, refresh our spirits, and speak to us in the watches of the night, that we might know You are with us and for us.

We thank You for bringing us to this moment in time, as some have gone on to eternity. We pray for our nation, that it be preserved after hearts of sinful men are done with striking it a blow, according to Your will, that we might turn to You and realize that the signs You spoke of about the end of the age are now truly upon us.

We would be redeemed and reconciled to our Father through You, that we might not falter in the days to come. You tell us that night is coming, where no man can work. Let us follow Your light to the narrow path, that we might enter into our Father’s rest. But while we are here, let us do as You did, and go about doing all things well to the Father’s glory, speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, and faithfully speaking all that You tell us to say, that none may refute us.

In this holiday season, so detached from the divine nature it once knew, may we honor You in righteousness, peace, and joy.

Amen.

Devotional 181: The High Places Not Torn Down

2 Kings 15:1-4 Azariah Reigns in Judah

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Then the Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land.

2 Kings 18:4 Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

18 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.

4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.

Most of the high places were tucked away in the shadowed recesses of the mountains, and used by the Canaanites as well for worship to false gods and feasting.

The pattern of man’s willfulness regarding G-d’s word is that no matter how longsuffering, merciful, and giving G-d is, staying His hand as it regards our rightful punishment, we manage to find His commands too restricting and create compromises and loopholes to do that which He says we should not. The high places, as they were used by Israel, were such. They essentially were hedging their faith that Yahweh was the only true G-d, despite all He’d done for them.

In this way, to our shame and peril, we crucify Christ repeatedly.(Hebrews 6:4)

Since the 2000’s began, we have been hard at work maintaining unholy strongholds and building new high places of the heart, even as the hand of G-d strikes the earth with the first wave of His signs, and reigns in our indulgences with a plague.

The high places of the heart are as collective in a nation as they are personally private: racism, injustice, greed, holding onto power that’s ultimately transitory, hoarding wealth at the expense of helping others while forgetting the lessons of charity, compassion, and love that Jesus taught us as we neglect repentance as something for ‘others’ to do.

Examine today in your own spirit where the high places are in your life, and rest assured of two things:

1-They were planted there by your enemy, so even as you may use it as a place of worship, he comes behind you to defile it to the corruption of your soul, for if you keep focused on the mountainside where your high place is, you will not look up to Heaven and the Father’s hand for your blessings.

2-The second thing is that on the day of your judgement, the rocks and shadows will provide no hiding place for the unrepentant, the nonbeliever, and the faithless, heartless, and prideful. (Isaiah 2:19, Rev 6:16)

Today, remove the blasphemous clutter of your high places, wherever and whatever they may be, before the Lord comes to tread on them (Micah 1:3) and find fault in you.

Build an altar to Him, and let Him set them on fire to purify you once again for Kingdom service.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We have walked in the shadows of our high places because we were foolish enough to believe they were loopholes to our obeying Your every word. Indeed, they were a source of comfort and ease, recalling pleasant times in the flesh when we did not know Your wrath was upon us, or if we did, we simply didn’t care.

But the covenant Your Son struck with us through You, and through the holy power of His Name and the spilling of His holy blood, we are now bound fast to Heaven, chosen and set apart, far above the high places we have built, rebuilt, and insist on keeping. We keep them because to let them go means we have no more illusion for the excuse of disobeying You.

“You made me this way” is as poor an excuse as when Adam said, ‘The woman You gave me….” You did not, and You offered me a way out that cost You dearly, and hurt You deeply.

Today then, Father, use whatever is to be my coal to seal this vow to my unclean lips, even as Your finger writes it on my heart: I will tear down the high places of my spirit, my house, my family, so that all may be exposed, for there are no secrets from omnipresence, and Your Spirit surrounds me wherever I go.

I confess that my high places are wood, hay, chaff, tares, and stubble, suitable only for burning, and tasteless salt to be thrown out, before I myself am cast into the outer darkness by Your irrevocable Word, and my soul loses its one chance at redemption to live eternally in the light of Your glory.

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

Amen.

Devotional 179: All Your Meaningless Days

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Surely the Father did not give us a life with no meaning. What would be the purpose of it, and where is the glory in it for Him. Why bother redeeming the junk of a meaningless creation?

If our days appear meaningless and without purpose or direction, having no blessings to speak of, no fellowship, and isolation from family, it is because the covenant of the Tree of Knowledge was broken. The Father’s warning words were superseded, and dominion was passed to G-d’s prideful enemy. Adam, in not rebuking his mate and repenting before the Lord, visited the Father’s wrath on all of his descendants. Indeed, he joined her in the breaking, and blamed the Father for his own fault.

If we find no meaning in life, it is because we have also broken fellowship with Him, surrendering faith in eternal life to the transitory, temporary firmness of a creation doomed to eventual destruction, and perpetual renewal, putting their focus on men and women in their own fallen states.

As Jesus said, if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:4)

This is why studying is important, and finding a Word-centered church with Christ as its center from which everything else flows is essential. There are Christians around the world being persecuted and executed who’ve spent more time in G-d’s presence than some who’ve been attending church from childhood.

As servants of G-d, we should not be politically motivated, culturally isolated, compromising with a hostile world not seeking salvation, but rejecting Jesus’ testimony that its works are evil. (John 7:7)

The Father has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11), promises He’s made to you that only He can keep (Numbers 23:19), works in You that He must bring to completion (Phillipians 1:6), gifts He imparted to You that You offer back to Him, that your works may stand the fires of judgment and purity (Romans 11:29), and most importantly, redeeming grace He imparted to you through the blood of His Son. (Hosea 2:23)

All that is comprised of your soul belongs to Him, and He will even redeem the vessel of dust that contains it. But understand He leaves it up to us to count the cost of sharing in His suffering (Luke 14:25-34), to be steadfast in our faith (Luke 7:9), to love one another (John 13:35), to be bold in our proclaiming His gospel (Luke 12:3), humble in our blessings (Matthew 6:3) and in our bearing (Matthew 23:12), and upright in our words and deeds (Psalm 101:2)

We have proven to Him, and ourselves, time and again that we are unable to achieve His plans for us in our own strength and will, for it always descends into pride and wickedness, and we have no righteousness in ourselves save through our faith in Christ, our only hope of redemption.

Though He remembers we are dust, we will be raised on the last day to spend eternity with our Savior in the light of the Father’s radiance, or to have our flesh punished in flames and the light of our souls snuffed out as if we’d never existed. Such is the way our G-d deals with evil, and our King vanquishes His enemies.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

This land has set itself adrift from Your Word, and has abandoned the very thought of a moral compass.

This land is rudderless, having tongues of bitterness, scorn, and hatred for one another.

This nation honors You with its lips, but genuflects at the altar of money.

With hard hearts and deaf ears. we redefine You to fit that which we want to be true: You will forgive every kind of sin without repentance, and faith in the redemptive, atoning work of the Christ.

We fly flags of pride and hate, and worship the killing weapons we brandish, marking ourselves as ripe for whoever You may deem our modern Assyrians to invade us, for Your angels to exact the price for our multitudes of sin.

We hold others in low regard for words and deeds they spoke in the past that do not reflect our own worldviews, seeking their downfall instead of their salvation.

I would not be among those who find kin with mockers and scorners, Father. I will hold fast to my Savior though the injustices mount, the persecutions increase, or the Angel of Death comes in to deliver my soul and spirit into Your hands.

I pray that You strengthen me not to walk among them, or sit in their seats, or eat at their tables.

You came into my life, and now take the humble place, waiting for me to place You higher. Come now, Lord, that I might see You, and ask for redemption through the power of Your majesty, and the Son of Your love.

Heal our land.

Touch the hearts of our leaders, and set guards over their mouths and hearts as Your Holy Spirit convicts them of their sins. Let them be led to true and godly repentance that cleaves the heart, then forgive them, Father, and establish the works of their hands, that we might be restored rejoicing in Your mercy and grace in the land of the living.

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

Amen.

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.

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

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.