Devotional 187: The Lord Looked at Peter…

Getting the Lord’s attention leads to conviction, repentance. and eventually, the joy of salvation.

Luke 22:55-62

55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”

57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”

But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 6And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Our earthly goal to model and emulate Jesus looks more like Peter’s walk; full of good intentions, strong words, many stumbles, and on occasion, a heart not up to the task.

It says in G-d’s Word that His eyes roam the earth, looking for remnants of faith, obedience, righteousness, and steadfastness. Indeed, He asks that when He returns, will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)

He says of the Roman Centurion that his faith in Jesus to just speak the words of healing over his servant is unmatched, even in Israel.

Yet Peter was part of the ‘inner circle,’ and we, as His missionaries, have been called out to a higher standard. Jesus came to seek us out, to reveal the Father to us that we might be reconciled through Him.

The only disciple to walk on water, the one whose passion made him cut off a soldier’s ear, the one who repeatedly told Jesus he would stand beside Him when the others fled, the one who stood up in the midst of an assembly and delivered a powerful sermon of deliverance, had, in this moment, realized he only looked to preserve himself; his fighting spirit was as steadfast as jello, and just as quick to dissolve in a moment of persecution.

It is no different with us; Jesus knows we will backslide and transgress. He sees us doing so, over and over, willfully and otherwise. It is then on us to repent, confess, and entreat once more to be under the covenant of grace. He indeed sees our hearts, and knows our thoughts towards Him.

Repentance gets the Lord’s attention as well, as does faith, prayer, and obedience to do the Father’s will, for Jesus Himself does nothing apart from it.

If we are to emulate our Lord, then, we can do no less, and do it with no less devotion and godly focus. And when we have sinned, we must repent with the godly sorrow that leads back to salvation’s narrow road. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

As Jesus then restored Peter, peeling back the layers of his love with the same question asked three times, blotting away each of the denials from Peter’s ledger, so too will He restore us to fellowship with Him.

Let us willingly partake of His sacrifice, count the cost, and carry our crosses to be reconciled once more to the Father’s eternal love, lifting those around us as we go.

Ask yourself today: Am I the centurion, outside of the circle, but recognizing the majesty of who Jesus truly is, or am I Peter, inside the circle, yet denying Him in my spirit knowing full well that I borne witness to the impact of His power in my own life?

Then do what you need to do, in order to be able to say truly in your heart:

“Lord, you know that I love You.”

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

It’s undeniable that when I abide in You, in Your presence, in the Gospel as God’s plan to redeem me, in His Word that will not pass away, I am at my best in every aspect of this earthly life, feeling the best I ever do.

To walk in the Father’s favor is to have the best of everything, but because I don’t stay in fellowship, the enemy slithers up to me at a more opportune time, and consumes me. In that moment, bring to mind that if I never resist him, he will never flee. (James 4:7)

Having been called out of the world, I would not serve two masters. Indeed Lord, You tell me I cannot.

So this day, I once more choose salvation, redemption, forgiveness, and the mercy and grace of the New Covenant, covered by the blood You shed in my place for the remission of my sins. Because of You, though I am one day closer to the dread Day of the Lord, I do not fear it.

As my faith vacillates between that of the foreign centurion who believed, and the fearful rock who denied You, look on me too with love and restore me to Your side once more.

Give me boldness to stand up in the midst of the assembly, humble myself, and point those in my presence to the Father’s throne, and change the world.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, 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 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 178: Spoken Against Everywhere

Paul’s Ministry at Rome

17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

21 Then they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

Matthew 7:28

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Matthew 24:35

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

A new teacher, a new covenant, a new way including new people to join in on the salvation granted to the Jews, the Father’s chosen, whom He protected, loved, rebuked, punished, and restored since the foundation of the world.

He gave to us, through them, the Son of Salvation, and the man who had the largest missionary calling of them all, the one who started with zero faith and one hundred percent hate. The Lord took every skill he’d used to persecute the church and turned it upside down to spread the Father’s message that all mankind was invited to dwell in His kingdom, but only through faith in His Son.

When Simeon had seen Jesus, he said to Mary and Joseph that the child’s life and ministry would reveal the thoughts of many hearts. As Jesus grew to find favor with G-d and man, Simeon’s prophecy was borne out.

We stand in such a moment now, where the thoughts of many hearts have been revealed, and in whom they place their trust; we who count ourselves among the faithful must be vigilant that we not only honor Him with our lips.

We live in the “land of the free,” up to a point.

We live in the “home of the brave,” where unarmed men and women can be shot in the back, brutalized, and summarily executed with no consequences for the offenders.

We say justice is blind, but only the rich and powerful go free.

We say all men are equal, but we love one and hate the other.

Where do our ministries find us in those moments? Where does the Lord find our hearts? Is he filling our mouths with bold words, or are our hearts trembling within us? Are they hearts of flesh, or stone? Are our ears tickled and deaf, or open to a new teaching that changes the course of our history, and heals our land?

Hatred will not result in good fruit. Cruelty will not be justified before the throne. Blindness will not be claimed by those the Lord healed of blindness, both physical and spiritual, yet we now live out the words: “Seeing, they do not see, and hearing, they do not understand.”

The parable of The Wheat and Tares is among us, the harvest is maturing, and soon, the culling will begin. I believe it’s already started, if the West Coast fires are any indication.

Where will the angels’ scythe find you? In the sheaves of wheat being brought in with rejoicing, or the furnace, to be destroyed with no remedy?

“Choose this day…”

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We look to You now, to whom all authority in Heaven and Earth has been given, to guide us into all Truth in this moment through the conviction of our Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

Our spirits grieve within us, our hearts fail, and our boldness grows silent as we flee the blades and bullets of our enemies because we did not seek You to go before us.

We seek you now, from the hiding places, and ask that You forgive us and grant us mercy. We stand now to be fully seen in robes of white, standing in the gap and pleading Your blood to stay the Father’s wrath.

We repent of our cowardice and pride, we repent of our own self-righteousness, we repent of our own self-reliance and sense of importance. We repent of forgetting this is not our home, and that Your words will not pass away. We repent of not speaking with power and authority, speaking truth to power, to sinners, doing both with love and compassion for the lost.

You told us this faith would come at a price, and that if we testify to the world, as You did, that its works are evil, we would be hated, as You were. The question you put before us now is, Will we also turn away?

Strengthen us, Lord. We would not be the disciples of Gethsemane, but the Apostles of the Book of Acts, praying, preaching, and manifesting the Father’s love among the faithless.

We ask that You give us the strength to withstand the onslaughts of the hateful, the sexually confused, the ‘spiritually free’ who are in fact in bondage, and those who place their faith in the sands of science, which will never be fathomed from the infinite mind of G-d.

We speak Your Word to stand against evil, and do not bend to call it good.

We speak Your Word, and let the Spirit call those appointed to receive it.

We speak Your Word, and love without judgment, for judgment is in Your hands.

We speak Your Word, and don’t seek vengeance, because that belongs to the Father.

But we do ask for mercy if we fail in the midst of oppression, for those lapses that come to us when we say, like Peter, “I do not know the Man!” because to share in Your glory, we must share in Your trials.

Seek and restore us, Lord Jesus, when we are lost in darkness. Bring us back to the light of Your grace, and wash us clean in the blood of the New Covenant you’ve bestowed to a people who were not Yours, grafted in by grace.

We would be profitable, fruitful, faithful servants in the darkest hours, and it is night in this nation. You have told us to let our works so shine, that mankind may see them, and glorify the Father, worthy of all praise now and forever. We ask that You search our hearts, and test the work we do, that it may be found worthy of Heaven, and please our Father’s heart.

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

Amen.

Father’s Day 2020: He Ran to His Son

Luke 15: 17-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Devotional 172: Be Strong

1 Chronicles 19:10-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Devotional 171: My Times are in Your Hand

Psalm 31:12-15

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 167: Blessed is She Who Believed (Mother’s Day)

Luke 1:39-45

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Your Mother believes for you, ponders things in her heart about you, thinks and dreams about who you’ll be and what you’ll become, and yes, worries about what happens to you when she leaves this world.

It doesn’t matter if she’s your biological mom, though that would be the best case scenario. We all know that even Jesus said family isn’t always defined by blood, but by those who do the Father’s will.

Whoever she turned out to be for you, whoever she may be that poured into you for all she saw in you that could do well in the world, and be good for the world, remember her.

Honor her memory if she’s no longer here, and be with her in whatever way you can if she’s still here. Treasure the time. It doesn’t come back.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven: 

     Bless the mother’s who believed by faith in Your promises for the children, 

and bless the ones you’ve called to be in the lives of those whose mother’s rejected them.

      Bless their hands, hearts, minds, and grant them rest from worry. 

      Fill them with Your peace, and reassure them with Your presence.

     Bless and sanctify the works of their hands, and the words of wisdom and love they impart to their children.

     Bless them as they stand in the gap, interceding for the wayward, praying for their redemption and return to home, and to You.

     Bless the ones who’ve lost their children, and comfort them especially. Dry their tears, heal their hearts, and strengthen them according to their need.

    Bless the mothers of the nations of the world, that we might know a more tender side to a harsh existence, even though there are spiritual swords that pierce their spiritual souls. 

    Let them be honored the way Christ honored Your chosen one.

   We ask this in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

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

   Amen.