Monthly Archives: July 2012

Me, Adorned with Holiness!

Reading: Psalm 93

Tags: holiness

Scripture

Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord. Psalm 93:5 (NIV)

Observations

To adorn: To make more beautiful or attractive.

There is great beauty in holiness. At the time this psalm was written, the temple was God's house, the place where he dwelt. It was characterised and made more beautiful not by its ornate design or intricate craftsmanship, but by holiness, and this by virtue of the fact that God dwelt there.

Because God is holy, any place where he dwells is also made holy. I too have been made holy: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10 Since God's Spirit of Holiness is living in me, I have effectively become God's house.

So if I am God's house, Psalm 93:5 takes on new meaning! “Holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord.” I have been adorned with holiness! I have been made “beautiful and attractive” through the sacrifice Jesus made for me. He has “…bestowed on [me] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. I will be called [an] oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.” Isaiah 61:3-4

Application

Guilt and shame have no place in my life any more! I have been made holy! My sins are forgotten, and God's perfect law is in my heart and written on my mind. I can walk in freedom and with great joy, lead by the Spirit and living a life characterised by goodness and fruitfulness. And “since I have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,” I can every day “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” Hebrews 10:19, 22a Yippee!!!

Prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus that because of your sacrifice, I have been made perfect forever. I choose to live a life of holiness! Holy Spirit please fill me and lead me, and may my life be forever devoted to the display of your splendour.

 

Ready or Not, I’m Stepping Out!

Reading: Mark 11

Scripture

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24 (NIV)

Observations

Once again, I am unmasked by the astonishing words of Jesus. Despite what I want to believe, one of those five letter words at times weighs heavier than the other. Why is it that Doubt always wants to put the brakes on Faith? Only one of those two conditions is eternal: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13a. Doubt isn't on the list. So why would I want to hold onto it? One day, my doubts will all pass away, yet Jesus clearly wishes me to walk in faith NOW.

Application

My faith needs more exercise. Lounging about in doubt is such a waste of my time. I hate the idea of not truly living the life that Jesus has called me to simply because I didn't put one foot in front of the other to exercise faith. I am a child of God and an ambassador for Christ. “God did not give (me) a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 1Tim 1:7. And Jesus' encouragement to me is absolutely clear: “Have faith in God.”

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for making so very clear what you expect for me. I ask for opportunities to exercise my faith, and the gumption to ignore the voice of doubt that holds me back. I want so much to live fully as you intend, and not be held back by doubt, fear or lack of confidence. Take me by the hand, Lord Jesus, and lead me forward. Ready or not, I'm stepping out!

 

Willing and Moved

Reading: Exodus 35:1 – 36:7

Scripture

…and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. Exodus 35:21 (NIV)

Observations

The Tent of Meeting was constructed and kitted out by skilled people prepared to offer their services, using offerings made by “everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him.” It seems there was no shortage of craftsmen and craftswomen to help, and the people made so many freewill offerings, the craftsmen had to say, “Stop giving, we have enough!”

In addition, God had gifted and prepared people for specific tasks by filling them “…with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.” Exodus 35:35

Application

What has God gifted me for? And more than that, what is he moving my heart to do? These two questions could really help me as I weigh up decisions about where to invest my time and energy. Potentially, there are lots of things I could turn my hand to, and I need to be willing to do whatever God would call me to. I belong to him, and to serve him is my life's calling.

But what is God moving my heart to do? What's really grabbing my attention and compelling me to act? God has promised me in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can't do everything, but if I really have submitted myself to God, and am looking to him to satisfy the desires of my heart, I'll know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. And perhaps also when God is giving me the option to choose!

Prayer

Thank you Father for making me just as I am. My heart is yours, along with the gifts and talents you have given to me. Holy Spirit, move me as you will – I am in your hands. Please renew my mind and my heart Lord, so that all of my desires lead to the same end, that you would be glorified. As I delight in you, I thank you that you also delight in me.

 

Your Very Presence

Reading: Exodus 33

Scripture

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:14-16 (NIV)

Observations

The thing that distinguished the people of Israel from all the other people on the face of the earth was that God was with them. “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The same is true of me, and of God's people today. His Presence is with me. I am not a lone man crying out to a distant God. I live in his Presence. His Presence lives in me. His goodness and mercy is with me every single day of my life. And having come in to the very Presence of God, the thought of his absence makes me absolutely desperate to stay in this wonderful place in which I find myself.

Application

After going to the tent of meeting, “Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” I don't want to leave either. Can I just stay here, Lord? “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” Holy Spirit, I long for you to be constantly present in my conscious thoughts. I want to stay in that place of obedience, with heart wide open, enjoying the closeness of spirit that comes when everything that is within me is laid wide open before you.

Prayer

Take me deeper Father into your presence. Please allow me to know your goodness and your holiness and majesty more than I have known before. I want to draw nearer to you, and be able to just stay in that wonderfully privileged place – your very Presence.

 

First Things First

Reading: Exodus 13:1-16

Scripture

The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.” Exodus 13:1-2

This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. Exodus 13:9 (NIV)

Observations

At the very beginning of their epic journey of liberation, God sets in place a raft of measures to help his people remember to put him first. He knows that they will forget. Festivals are an annual reminder of what God has done, and a reminder that the Law of the Lord is to be on their lips. In other words, it is to be familiar – so familiar that it naturally overflows from their hearts and spills out into their conversation. As time goes by, our best intentions wane, and our enthusiasm tends to dwindle. So God would remind us, and have us remind ourselves, lest we forget.

The key to maintaining our relationship with God is to put him first in everything. Especially the things we love and value the most.

Application

“First things first”. This needs to become my catch cry. If I have three things to do, my time with God comes first. If I have money to spend, first I see if God has a better idea for it. As I make plans, I need to ask, “Lord, what would you have me do?”

“First things first” also applies at work when distractions would threaten to sidetrack me from more pressing tasks. I can honour God by getting my jobs done in a timely fashion, and being vigilant about maintaining a habit of excellence in my work.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for this reminder to have your Word always on my lips and in my heart, and to put first things first. Holy Spirit, please help me with self discipline, and stir the fire in my heart for God.

 

To Him Who Overcomes…

Reading: Revelation 21-22

Scripture

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21:6-7

Observations

The word “overcome” features often in the book of Revelation, as well as in John's gospel and in his 1st letter. In Revelation, in the letters to the seven churches, the phrase, “To him who overcomes” occurs seven times, each time preceding a promise. In the final of these, in Revelation 3:21, Jesus promises, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Overcome: To get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat; to prevail over (opposition, temptation, a debility, etc); to gain the victory, win or conquer. Some verses:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:3-5

Application

Life is not going to be easy. I might as well get used to the idea that the great struggle between good and evil features me. In my own everyday life, I will be challenged to overcome evil with good, to prevail over temptation and opposition, and to “conquer the world” by holding true to my faith. There is no room for giving up or being pathetic. But the strength and mental toughness I require to overcome evil with good comes not from being “hard”, or from my own great virtue or valour. Rather, it is founded on those intangible but eternal qualities of faith, hope and love. By these alone will I overcome and receive the very great rewards Jesus has promised to me, and to all who overcome.

Prayer

Jesus, I want be an overcomer, to walk in your footsteps and see evil being overcome by good. Your kingdom come, Lord Jesus. Please strengthen me for the challenges I face, and strengthen all your children who face opposition around the world. Grant them your favour, strengthen their faith, and fill them with the joy that comes from serving you.

 

Wake Up and Listen…

Reading: Isaiah 49-50

Scripture

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. Isaiah 50:4-6 (NIV)

Observations

This is a wonderful insight from Jesus talking in first person about the process of listening and obeying. Jesus is woken each morning not by his alarm clock but by the voice of his father calling him. His ear is awakened to listen. Day by day, in other words, every day begins by waiting on God and listening.

What is covered in this time of listening? Perhaps they're things I need to know concerning the day ahead. Perhaps things concerning the future, or my general calling. Perhaps a word that I can share to encourage someone else. Or maybe something that God really wants me to know.

But of greatest importance is how I respond to what I hear. Ultimately, I listen so that I can know, understand, and obey. As Jesus says, “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” And when the rubber meets the road, how much easier is it to obey when I have actually spent time with God, heard his voice, and determined in my heart that I will trust him and obey.

Application

Aside from my normal quiet time, I need to set aside 5-10 minutes each morning, before anything else, to just listen to God. I can start as soon as I wake as I lay in my bed. Perhaps a short walk to escape distractions would help too. And like Daniel, spending a few minutes during the day would also be a great help.

Prayer

Help me Jesus to follow your example and become a dedicated listener. And father, I pray that just as you woke Jesus morning by morning, you would awaken me, and awaken my ears to hear your voice. Please speak, your servant is listening.

One great way to listen to God is to read the Bible and apply SOAP. You can learn more about this helpful technique here: What is SOAP?

God is My Home




Reading: Psalm 87-90

Scripture

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV)

Observation

God is my home. His Presence is the place where I live, my residence and refuge. In him my affections are centred, and my sense of identity and belonging are founded. More than to any physical place or to any people group on planet earth, I belong to God. And God is no temporary shelter, no place to rest my head just for the time being. He is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting. Before every other home came into being, and long after they will cease to be, he is God and he is my home.

Application

“Home is where the heart is,” as the saying goes. It is good to remember that this earth and the treasures it holds will one day pass away. May I hold lightly to those things, and instead put my heart and soul into seeking the Kingdom of God, and to satisfying the desires of my heart in him.

Prayer

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Psalm 61:1-6

Breathe and Be Breathed Upon

Reading: Exodus 23-24

Scripture

“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12 (NIV)

Observation

God is concerned with our well-being, and so he commanded the Israelites to have rest and refreshment. This was to be for everyone, even animals, and even the ground. In addition to a weekly rest, three times a year there were festivals which had the dual role of focusing the people on God and giving them a holiday. The sabbaths and the festivals therefore provided for physical, mental and spiritual refreshment.

Refresh; to breathe; passively, to be breathed upon, i.e. (figuratively) refreshed (as if by a current of air)

Application

Refreshment should be a natural part of my life, a cycle, like a clock consisting of many cogs, some small, some large, and a very few larger still. As time ticks by, each cog goes through its cycle, pausing for a second to rest between each movement, or for a minute, or maybe for an hour. This is the way God plans for me to work and rest. Every part of me needs to be regularly refreshed – the physical, the mental and the spiritual. For true refreshment, all three need my disciplined attention.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to rest. Thank you for the refreshment that comes from your Word, and the opportunity to pause and enjoy spending time with you. Here I am Lord, to unwind, to worship and to drink from your spring of living water. To breathe, and be breathed upon.

Jesus Wants Me to Ask!

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Reading: Mark 10:35-52

Scripture

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.Mark 10:49-52 (NIV)

Observation

“What do you want me to do for you?” This is Jesus' response to blind Bartimaeus' cries for mercy, and is exactly the same response as the one he makes to John and James in the story immediately before. But something about their attitude was different: Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”What they wanted was a position of importance, to be seated at the right and left of Jesus in glory. And yet despite their forwardness and the inappropriateness of their request, Jesus doesn't rebuke them for asking. He simply explains to them why he can't grant that request, and takes the opportunity to teach them about what it means to be great in the kingdom of God.

Application

Jesus expects me to ask him for things – things I need, and things I'd like him to do. In Matthew 7:7-8, he tells me, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”It's possible that at times I might ask for something inappropriately, but Jesus won't mind. It's an opportunity for him to teach me. On the other hand, to not ask at all – that would be a great shame. What blessing might I miss out on for lack of boldness in asking, or from simply not understanding that the God I serve delights to show his love and kindness to me.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for these two stories. I want to be an “asker”, and to enjoy the riches of your kindness to me. I don't want to miss out on anything you have for me because of my own lack of faith or understanding. Please give me faith, and open my eyes to see you as you really are, and to know your love which surpasses all understanding.

 

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