Devotional 204: What to Do

Grace and divine love does not mean we are not to make an effort to please the Father.

John Preaches to the People (Luke 3: 7-15)

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”

11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The baptism ‘unto repentance for the remission of sins’ implies that it’s easier for the work of the Atonement to cover less than more. To clarify: it’s not that the blood is incapable of covering any and all sin through faith in Jesus, just that the walk goes quicker and smoother for us when there’s not so much sin to cover.

And just like putting a disease into remission, there must also be action on the part of the believer to eradicate sin from their life and do our part to heal.

John’s prophesy and proclamation of Christ’s coming gives the people listening to him an opportunity to get their hearts right. The Spirit’s anointing of the message was convicting and different people from all walks of life stepped forward to be baptized and asked an important question: “What must we do?”

In his response, John isn’t lofty. He gives them such practical advice that it seems like it should have been common sense, but at the essence of it was this: Do better.

The advice was in their realms of expertise, and spoke to the troublesome hearts of men. Stop being corrupt. Stop being violent and intimidating unnecessarily. We are not to become better versions of ourselves, we are to become more like Jesus.

In order to do that, He commands us: Come to me.

In the performance of His miracles, there was effort: “Arise, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:29)

In the giving of grace, there is effort: “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Today, believer, as you rise to give thanks and praise, and count your blessings, and walk to victory through your trials, remember to seek His guidance. Remember also, have faith in the silence, remembering you are in His hands.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We give You thanks for the covenant of grace through the agony of Calvary, and the grafting in of the unchosen and unworthy. We are reminded of Your words that those who do the Father’s will are the ones who will enter His rest, and that the strictest standards are for those who are called out of the world.

Let us be mindful that faith without works is dead (James 2:26), and works without faith will not stand the refining fires of the harvest (1 Cor 3: 12-15)

Thank You for the purification, reconciliation, and deliverance of our souls back to the Father, that we may live in a new earth purged of evil, praising in the presence of the Father’s light, in His kingdom ruled by the Son.

Every day, let those of us You chose to reveal to the Father reflect You more, and like John the Baptist, be ever aware that we must decrease.

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

Amen.

Devotional 203: The King’s Standard

Two definitions of the word ‘standard’:

  1. a level of quality or attainment.

2. (of a tree or shrub) growing on an erect stem of full height.
(of a shrub) grafted on an erect stem and trained in tree form.

Indeed, our Father the King has set new standards for us by having the Son call us out of the world as He was revealed to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

They are His standards for entering into His Kingdom. While they seem intolerably high to us, for G-d, they are normal for fellowship with the Israelites in the Old Testament. As He said to Isaiah, (55:8-10):

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

In the New Testament, we as Gentile vines have been grafted into Israel’s tree of life through Jesus. Let us be reminded they were a people G-d had to keep pruning in order for them to claim the Kingdom of Heaven through the promised Messiah, but when G-d delivered the Promise, just as their fathers did with the land G-d said He’d already given them, they did not believe.

Consequently, the land was taken back from them, and when they relented and tried to get G-d back on their side at their convenience, He took His hand from them, and they were defeated.

In the same fashion, Jesus warns those of Israel who don’t believe that they won’t see the kingdom either. (Matthew 21:31)

To be grafted in under the covenant of grace should then give us great comfort in being assured of the life and age to come. As we have been grafted, so too, must we be trained to form. We are different, yes, but we are all equal and loved in the sight of G-d, as we follow Christ.

Think of it this way: like the grafted branch you were selected, removed, and placed in better circumstances (though it may not seem that way at the moment).

When Jesus tells the disciples He is the Vine and they are the branches, they are admonished in their flesh to stay close to Him, as they depended on Him to impart to them the power to work miracles through faith and the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms does He remind them that apart from Him, they can do nothing. (John 15:5)

So today, believers, let us examine ourselves, knowing we’ve been grafted, and are in training, to receive the standard of divine reclamation through Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary, abiding in the power of the Vine.

Are we attracting the pleased attention of our King?

Let us be ever mindful to work to achieve His standards, knowing that as long as His mercy and grace preside over our time, they are given to us that we will not die in our sins.

Let us also be reminded, however, that all things end in tested works and judged lives, irrevocably. He will bring those who’ve met the standards of His sovereign will into His rest, and purge the rest from His sight and kingdom to the consequences of their unbelief for eternity, despite their cries for mercy and grace.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, as the Earth and everything in it is yours, you are sovereign in deciding who is part of the Kingdom, and what they will do as their service, to Your glory, the highest and best of all standards.

Bind our wandering souls with the power of Your Holy Spirit to Your Branch of Jesse, lest we fall in our own arrogance to die in our sins.

Forgive us, this day, our sins and rebellion, both in the past and in the days to come.

Today, help us to raise the standards of our meager service to yours, reminding us that blessings and cursing should not come from the same source. Convict us as the seed of disobedience seeks to germinate and graft us to a withering vine destined for burning. Find none in us not covered by Your blood, for sin can have no place in our salvation, as You possess none.

Let steadfast, faithful, fruitful service be our standard legacy.

May Your words be sealed to our spirits, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 201: Promises to the Faithful

Luke 2:25-32

Simeon Sees God’s Salvation

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Other than this story, which is impactful enough as it stands, we know nothing of Simeon outside of this passage. As with some others, nowhere does it say ‘This was the same man who…’ We are told he was just and devout. We are not told he was without sin, or flaws, or what his walk with G-d was like.

What we can piece together from here is that G-d certainly knew who he was, and that sometime in his life he felt Israel’s persecution so keenly, perhaps even suffered some himself, that he asked to know the promises he heard in his youth of Israel’s Consolation were true.

And the Father not only honored his request, but he was among the first to hold His Son, and to deliver a powerful prophesy over him, no doubt bewildering to Jesus’ earthly parents.

Do you ever wonder, believer, if Mary recalled these words, if all that Simeon said came together for her as she watched her son suffer and die, with spiritual demons mocking and cavorting around Him as His holy blood covered our souls to blot out the evil in them from His Father’s sight.

Have you ever wondered if, with all that Jesus suffered, the Father removing him from His sight as he took the penalty of our sins, was more painful than the nails and thorns?

Have you prayed in your own youth, wondered if G-d heard, and later in life saw that He delivered the desire of your heart into your hands?

From this passage we’re told that Simeon held on to that promise, but that the Holy Spirit was sent to assure him, and after it was fulfilled, Simeon was at peace with leaving this world.

That same Holy Spirit was sent to us after we accepted G-d’s Son as our Friend, Brother, Shepherd Lord, Savior, King, and Judge.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

There are none righteous here on the earth that You should deliver us from sin’s hold. We are only worthy of the destruction of the world, as in the times of Noah.

But in Your love, mercy, and grace, remembering we are clay as we live, and the dust of clay when we perish, You would yet see our souls reconciled to You, to see us rejoice in the rewards of our faith in Your promises You have spoken through Your Son, Jesus, as yes and amen.

As we stumble, fall, backslide, run off, disobey, and return to our personal Egypts, remind us through the Holy Spirit that the promise of redemption is sealed to us, for as You sent the Spirit to Simeon, so did Jesus tell His disciples the Spirit would come to them, and give to them more of the revelation and strength of the Christ.

May we blot from our sight the ways of this world, repent, and live such a life of faith before You as we hold on to the promise of eternal life, and bless the Son as we hold on to the reassurances he gave us in Your Word, that You may remember us, as You remembered Simeon in the appointed hour.

Grant to us also that we never waver in our belief we will one day meet Simeon and rejoice with him forever, in the presence of our Consolation along with Your people Israel, grafted into the Branch by Your covenants of mercy and grace.

Today, we humbly, gratefully, reverently, fearfully thank You for sealing Your promises to us through the power, counsel and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and that no matter how much time passes, You will keep them all.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name, believing we’ve already received.

Amen.

Devotional 194: A G-d of Totality

Isaiah 49:6

Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth
.’ ”

Our Father is partial to us who believe in His Son. In nothing else does He show partiality. If we claim to love Him, we must fully commit to Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:36 – 38)

His wrath abides on all others, and He can’t, and won’t, compromise with sinners if He holds His Word higher than His Name.

He who created the whole universe, and the whole world, and had us replace His rebellious angels, one of whom was made to worship Him and named for light itself.

Like them, He gave us free will to obey Him, and love Him, and keep His commandments, but Adam and Eve were likewise easily deceived, and rebelled against His commandments at the prompting of the one who used to be light, but whose pride made him darkness.

And so we joined the rebellious, the sinful, the outcasts, and the hell-bound. Our wills superseded His, and our pride in our own achievements replaced the fact that our next breath comes from Him, in His mercy.

Yet He provided a way out, first for His chosen of Israel, then in His mercy, for the rest of us.

It’s written, “The Father has given all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22)

It’s written, “All nations will be gathered before Him.” (Matthew 25:32)

It’s written, “All that the Father gives to me shall come to me, and he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

It’s written, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

We would be wise to choose to be committed; we are not permitted to straddle spiritual fences. He knows we will weaken and fail, but we must get back up again, and restore our fellowship. In time, the sins may be different in one’s age than in one’s youth, but sin is ever constant.

Paul says it’s a battle we’ll fight to the grave. (Romans 8:5-39)

Let us then, today, even now, confess, repent, restore our fellowship with the One Name under Heaven by which we all shall be saved.

Therefore I pray,

King Jesus,

I give You thanks for your sacrifice on my behalf, that all of my sins are forgiven, and I’m spared from all the debt and wrath incurred by doing them.

Like Paul, I sin when I want to do right, and like Peter, I’m impulsive and backsliding and mocking. But also, like both of them, I feel safe and secure in Your hand when I repent, our fellowship is restored, and the enemy leaves me in Your peace.

My journey back to the Father is only completed by modeling my walk not after theirs, but Yours. I am not sinless, but the Father, in His wisdom, who deals with whole things, has given You as a light to my darkness. As one who is outside of His chosen, Your light shines the greater in my darkness.

I would live in such a way that the enemies of G-d dare not ask to sift me as wheat.

I open my ears and heart today to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who You told us will give to us what is Yours, ignite our gifts and callings, convict of us of our sins, and guide us back to the Gospel’s truth. He does so that we may be redeemed and delivered from the light that became darkness of his own accord.

In this new year, and this new season, let me be whole.

Heal me of all affliction, physical and spiritual, that I may bear good fruit and be a light and a blessing, not a hiss and a byword.

In faith, I know that whatever challenges You allow to reach me, You will give me the weapons to fight and be victorious, for as Your child, I know that You, and You alone, are All-mighty G-d.

Help me to walk in faith and obedience, keep Your commandments, and do my Father’s will.

Amen.

Devotional 188: So the People of Nineveh Believed G-d.

Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah Preaches at Nineveh

3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, [a]a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

The People of Nineveh Believe

So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

As believers we must not mistake mercy and grace for permission. The reluctant, rebellious prophet who went in the opposite of G-d’s direction, even in his disobedience, was made to point people to the Father.

The mariners, to their credit, did not immediately wish to throw Jonah overboard. Surely in such seas, as far as they knew, Jonah was going to drown.

Still, Jonah’s rebellion was so strong that it forced them to find out through pagan means why their voyage was placed in holy peril. Fortunately, G-d was merciful to them in their innocence of Jonah’s crime.

When they did as Jonah requested, and the sea began to calm down, the power of G-d was seen in the natural to the point where the sailors took oaths and made a sacrifice; whether they maintained those oaths is not known, but in the moment, they knew who the true ruler of the seas was, despite whatever other gods they sought in their native prayers. The power of the G-d was revealed to them in the natural world.

In Nineveh, which dealt violently with the prophets of its day, Jonah’s prophecy was short, but it says that he cried out. There was no meeting or gathering for him to preach to an assembly as such.

He cried out, and the important distinction here is that they did not spurn Jonah, but they believed G-d. How did a land so sinful come so quickly to a collective mode of repentance, from the greatest to the least, and even among the animals?

G-d imbued the words with the power of His Spirit, so that it penetrated every heart. Given the short time the Ninevites had, there was no time for a process, or for anyone to think about whether or not they wanted to repent; the power of G-d’s Word proclaimed by Jonah was such that none could refute it. The power of the Spirit-filled word had to pierce hearts and unstop ears that before had been resistant to the Father’s mercy. A disobedient rebel was used to convert the hearts and minds of disobedient rebels, and put a right spirit within them.

Jesus told His disciples such: (Luke 12:11)

11 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

And although Nineveh eventually fell because they failed to pass along the values of faith, repentance, and obedience, we have an example of the Father withholding his punishment for those who willing to do His will and live under His covenant of grace, including Jonah, who was actually angry that G-d followed His word and did not destroy the land.

Let’s note then, that although the prophet still desired in his heart to see the city destroyed despite his prophecy, the Lord provided for him until he could see mercy manifested on people he believed the worst of sinners.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

As You have revealed Yourself to us by the power of the blood of Your Son, and called us to also minister to a faithless, mocking, wicked, and adulterous generation while dealing with our own doubt, reluctance, and rebellion, we ask that You also imbue our words and deeds with the power of the Spirit, so that You are revealed to those we tell about you.

May it be so in the natural, as it was with the pagan mariners, and in the spiritual, as it was with the Ninevites.

We ask also for the Spirit’s discernment, that we not cover Your truth in the veil of our politics and self-righteousness, for all fall short of Your glory, and none are blameless before the throne save through the power of Calvary’s atoning work. Forgive us if we have done so, and bring it to mind if we backslide the next time we speak of the goodness of Your Name among those we have been called to prophesy and evangelize.

We thank You also, Father, for protecting and providing for us, that we may see Your mercy manifested among the worst of sinners so that they glorify You and bear more of salvation’s fruit in Jesus’ name.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 166: Uneducated and Untrained

Acts 4:13-17  The Name of Jesus Forbidden

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

The Word of G-d is full of story after story about how the attempts at oppression, in all of its forms of ugliness, tries to keep the words of the Gospel, the Atonement, and the Resurrection from spreading,  but Jesus has already told us that His words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35) and that He speaks that which the Father has told Him to say (John 7:16).

Let us be reminded, particularly, of the story of Bartimaeus, who cried out all the more when the crowd tried to stop him. He was so loud that he actually got Jesus’ attention, and was healed on the spot. (Mark 10:46-52).

In this hour of wretchedness and disease, the human need to control things, combined with faithlessness and false worship, has stirred the hearts of men to frustration, fear, despair, anger, hate, defiance, and rebellion.

Their faith has been placed in those who haven’t the knowledge, skill, or motivation to seek wisdom in counsel to plan or lead. Their hearts are made weak and their minds fearful by agenda driven programming, and in the meantime the crisis at hand continues to exact its price among them.

Let those of us who claim to hold fast to faith now manifest it, let those of us who have heard and received the Word in faith now go forward and do the work it has called us to do, for we are told faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)

Let us be as the sower of seeds, in truth, boldness, and faith. For those who can, let us be in the makeshift pulpits of our surroundings, at our keyboards or on stage, and sow that into the fields to let the Holy Spirit bring to the Father those He has called out of the world.

For those who have no such training, ask G-d for boldness to be a light on a  hill where you are to those around you having restless, fearful, and angry spirits. Cry out all the more when they come against you, and having done all you can, stand in faith on the promises of the living G-d (Ephesians 6:13) Bring to mind, should you see yourself a grasshopper in your own eyes, these Apostles, uneducated and untrained, taught by a Rabbi who never studied, yet astounded them with His teaching.

It is He who will give you a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:15)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

In this, the hour of our visitation, let us be stirred to be one of accord, rejoicing in faith and not fear that You have given us this opportunity to be sowers of the seed of Your salvation, that we might be reconciled to the Father before His restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.

Before the throne, we humbly ask to speak the Word with boldness before a wicked, adulterous, perverse generation that mocks, scorns, and falls away. Let us follow fast our Shepherd, that we will not be stand in the presence of the ungodly, scornful sinners. 

Today, we seek Your presence Lord, that we might fellowship with You in a time of refreshing. The path to the other side of a dark hour is emerging, but is not finished yet. 

We are but flesh, seeing what we want to see, hearing what we want to hear, believing what we want to believe, but You have told us the Father’s Word is truth. We are not only to hear it,  not only obey it, but manifest it in love among ourselves and to a dying world.

But we too, are sometimes frail of heart, timid of will, and shouted down. Help our unbelief, Lord, and strengthen us. Stretch out  Your hand to save us from the distractions and destroyers of our faith that allows us to step out and come to You in the midst of the storm.

It is good that we are uneducated, untrained, and unfruitful, so that when Your power is manifested through us, we can’t boast of our own strength and wisdom. Our legacies of ministry, however humble, however obscure, belong to You. They will be the only works that withstand the power of the testing fire in the day of judgement.

Until then, we abide here, witnessing the coming of a new age, watching Your prophecies begin to come to pass, and we pray that we are counted worthy to be profitable servants in whatever way You would have us share the message of salvation, that we might enter into our Father’s rest.

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

Amen.