Devotional 190: Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:1-10

The Beatitudes

5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The result of earthly devotion to Christ is tagged on each end of His sermon by the same one: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

As servants, we are given gifts and talents by the Master to use to His benefit while He is away from us. In the parable Jesus tells, some are gifted more than others, but all are gifted. The proper use of them brings increase, but not using them, indeed, hiding them, not only results in decrease, but in the Master’s wrath and the loss of position in His service.

Let’s be clear: G-d does not need our money (Haggai 2:8), nor our gifts, for He is the one who imparts them, and we call him Almighty for a reason.

He desires our gifts be put into service to help and bless, coming alongside fellow believers in ministry who are gifted in ways we are not, but all working toward the kingdom’s goals. As we use them, G-d will give the increase, and we will bear fruit for our faith as well as our labor and sacrifice.

The cost comes in trying to live by the spirit in a world of flesh and sin. Paul reminds us this will be a lifelong battle, dividing us within and affecting those around us (2 Cor: 3-11) as we are persecuted for speaking truth to the devil’s power, such as we give him over our lives. The pressure to be silence, and the spirits that work evil around us, can be such that like Paul, we also despair of life.

David, in a show of great strength, even prays for mercy toward his enemies who mock his faith in that they not be slain, just brought down and scattered. (Psalm 59:11)

fIs this a strength, an integrity of spirit, a fast holding to a teaching to love our enemies, that we can honestly say we possess? If struck for the Gospel, or worse, will we count ourselves worthy like Peter and the Apostles? (Acts 5)

Would we have it in us to rejoice for being persecuted in ways that hurt us, interrupted us, incapacitated us, for preaching the Gospel? Or would we renounce Him for comfort, hoping that He will forgive and know our hearts, knowing that He says if we don’t confess and proclaim Him before men, He will not do so before the Father?

As the tides of immorality and turning away from Christ’s teachings unfold around us, under the guises of tolerance and politics, masking sin as rights, freedoms, and patriotism, let more sober minds and holy tempers pray our officials take heed of the words of Zechariah (7:9 -10)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.’

He will turn a deaf ear to our cry of “God bless America” if we do not in turn bless Him as one nation truly under one G-d, while we yet have freedom to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We are living in an empire unraveling, borne of sin, yet prospered and protected by Your hand, for the Father allowed it to flourish in spite of its evils, according to the His will and plan.

We honor You now with cold lips, hard hearts, and unrepentant prideful spirits that You are giving us license to act upon because we say Your Name to sanction that which we do of our own will, and not from a desire to live according to Your teaching, and to the Father’s glory.

Devotional 189: Remove Your Foot From Evil

Proverbs 4:

27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

While the entire proverb warns us and addresses how to walk the Narrow Path to salvation, it is true that for most of us, all things considered, the length of earthly years can make it difficult, and we often find ourselves straddling two states of being: Spiritual and Carnal.

It is the line between corrupting flesh that fights the spirit seeking Christ’s salvation through grace. The Apostle Paul reminds us this is going to be a lifelong battle (Gal 5:17)

We would likely answer, “But Lord, we’re only human….”

The Lord would answer He remembers that (Psalm 103:14)

What is given to us to remember is that we are spiritual beings, souls that will be returning reconciled from sin, under the blood covenant of mercy and grace that we entered into with Jesus, who sealed it with His sacrifice by taking our place and punishment on Himself.

In that, the Son reminds us that we are beholden, and should fear He who is able to cast the soul as well as the body to be consumed in the void. (Matthew 10:28)

Our feet may straddle two worlds for a variety of reasons, such as an immediate way out of bad circumstances, monetary rewards based on your silence, sexual favors for advancing careers….etc.

In those moments, we can waver and compromise, even backslide, in our service like the sleeping disciples of Gethsemane. We can view it as when the Word says Satan left Jesus ‘until a more opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13)

Today, let us repent of the earthly sin that creates such opportune times for demonic spiritual conditions that bring us both drama and tragedy in the world, and rebukes from the Throne of Grace that will one day be the Throne of Judgment.

If we stand with Christ and fellow believers, keeping one foot in the world is a conscious choice we are making to choose curses over blessings, for there is no compromising with sin for our Father. He can’t look at it, and He will never forget it without the blood of His Son covering us.

Such is His heart toward us.

Let us remove our feet from evil, rededicate our hearts, guard our mouths, rethink our choices, and consider the motives of our actions as we return to the Narrow Path to follow the Good Shepherd, who possesses the only Name under heaven by which we can be salvaged, reconciled and blameless, to our Father as we dwell in the presence of His glory forever.

Therefore I pray:

Even now, Father, we may stand in sin before You as You turn away, waiting to hear our confessions, our pleas for Your mercy, help, and judge the sincerity of our hearts towards You.

Before men, You affirmed Your Son, once among a multitude when He was baptized, and once again in the midst of Moses and Elijah, in the presence of His closest disciples.

It is, indeed, good for us to be here with Him as well. Today, we open the door to his knock, and prepare our hearts to receive the Gospel, repenting for the Kingdom of Heaven at hand.

I repent of using grace for license, for procrastinating in blessing others when I have time and resources and means, for compromising in my service like an unprofitable servant. I would not be cast into the outer darkness, weeping. Today, I ask that You not blot my name from the Book of Life, and help me not to corrupt the seal of my sinful spirit to your Holy Spirit.

Today, O Lord, through the power and might of the Name of Jesus, I remove my foot from evil, and turn neither to the right nor left, not looking on wickedness and giving rein to deceitful, perverse lips.

Receive me once again into the fold of Your flock, Father, and deliver me from evil. I remove my foot, and set my face to once more follow Jesus, loving You and Him with all my heart, body, mind, and soul.

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 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 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 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 168: The Years of My Pilgrimage

Genesis 47:5-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Amen.

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.