Friday, March 29, 2013

Psalm 22



Yet You are holy…, 22:3a

From the anguish of despair and crucifixion to victory and praise, Psalm 22 stands with Isaiah 53 as a pillar bearing testimony to the love of God in Christ manifested in the Cross and Resurrection. They are double rainbows, beginning in the lives of David and Isaiah, arching upward into the prophetic heavens and reaching downward atop a hill outside Jerusalem known as Calvary and Golgotha, into the earth on Good Friday and out of the earth on Easter morning.

Psalm 22 begins: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy…

In the midst of apparent abandonment King David worships Yahweh; in the midst of the mystery of the Cross Jesus Christ worships His Father, He worships our God.

We have not only been called to contemplate Christ’s sufferings, we have been called to share His sufferings, and in that calling we have been called to worship our Father. Participation in the sufferings of Christ is a key theme throughout the New Testament, yet it is a theme we ignore and gloss over.

If we look at the Cross afar off on this Good Friday we will live lives of safety; but Christ bids us embrace the Cross, to follow Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, to joyfully and in worship lay down our lives for Him and others, to know His sufferings as a way of life in order that we might be transformed into His image and be broken bread and poured out wine for others.

Paul writes in Philippians Chapter 3: That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship [communion] of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…

Yet You are holy…

Monday, March 25, 2013

His “To-Do List”



Here's another piece from Bill's Prayer Journal. As I prepared to upload the piece I thought, "I think I'd better put a prayer journal in my car". What do you think?


God turned one of my “Honey-Do Lists” into a “God-Do List” and I’d like to share how that happened.

My first “to-do” stop was to fill up my daughter’s car with gas before her return to college.  While filling her car I started a casual conversation with a lady on the other side of the pump.  “Something” told me to ask her if she had a need that I could put in my prayer journal.  When I asked her, you could see that something was weighing heavy on her heart.  She gave me her name and asked me to pray for her son.  I told her I would pray for him and their family and she thanked me.

My second stop was at a retail store.  There was an employee at the exit who was upbeat and smiling and telling everyone to “have a blessed day”.  On my way out of the store I thanked her for brightening up my day.  I also told her that I had a prayer journal and that if she had a prayer need I would pray for her.  She went from being very upbeat to someone who had a great burden.  She asked me to please pray for her grandson who had gotten himself into a lot of trouble.  She gave me her name and her grandson’s name and thanked me.

Next I went to another store to find items I had been unable to find at the previous one.  I asked one of the employees for help and she took me to find what I needed.  Since one of the items did not have a price she asked me to wait while she checked so I would know which of the choices was the better deal.  When she returned with the pricing I thanked her for her help.  I then told her about my prayer journal and asked if I could put her name in my journal and pray for any specific needs that she had.  The next thing she told me made my heart ache.  She said there was no need for her to give me her name because there was no reason for her to pray anymore.  She told me her daughter was hit by a car and killed while she was crossing the street and then several months ago her husband did not get up for work; when she went to check on him he was dead.  I told her I was so sorry and she looked at me and walked away.  But then something awesome happened…she called back to me and told me her name!

God had three individuals on His “To-Do List” for me that day.  He knew these people needed someone to reach out to them and share His Love.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Psalm 21



For the king trusts in Yahweh, and through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. Your right hand will find out all your enemies…their offspring You will destroy from the earth…Be exalted, O Yahweh, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your power.

The first 7 verses of this 13 verse psalm focus on Yahweh and the king, the following 5 verses focus on Yahweh and those who hate Him, the final verse mirrors the opening verse with an acknowledgment of God’s strength and power.

Psalm 21 reminds us of Psalm 2 in that we see Yahweh, we see those who hate Yahweh and plot against Him, and we see Yahweh’s king, the One upon whom Yahweh bestows His blessings. The victory of Yahweh and His King over their enemies is also portrayed in both psalms. Also consider these words of the preceding psalm, “Now I know that Yahweh saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven…” 20:6.

The following psalm, Psalm 22, pictures God’s faithful One in the deepest depths when all appears lost and ends with affirmation of victory and praise. Psalm 23 follows with 6 verses that encapsulate our pilgrimage as no other piece of literature has ever done, and Psalm 24 trumpets a crescendo echoed from the Throne Room to earth and back again to the Throne Room. Do we see the ebb and flow of Psalms? Do we see Yahweh and His King? Do we see ourselves as those who follow the King, who are indeed joint-heirs with Him? Do we see the conflict between the Kingdom of God and the forces of the enemy? Do we see that life is not a group hug?

We can trust in the lovingkindness of the Most High, knowing that in Him we will not be shaken to the point of collapse; we can see the end from the beginning and we can trust in a secure and eternal future in our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. The promises to the king of Psalm 21 are promises that we inherit with the King (Romans 8:14ff) as joint-heirs with Him; and yes, we are indeed called to suffer with Him, but that is that we may be glorified together with Him (Romans 8:17). 

Take the time to read and mediate on Psalm 21, to compare it to Psalm 2, and to see the flow of Psalms 20 - 24.

Be exalted O Yahweh, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your power, (21:13).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meditations on 1 John: XX




And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be put to shame before Him at His coming. [I John 2:28].

Continuing our reflection on the word “abide” in John’s first letter:

John writes the above while transitioning from a section on warning against loving the world and against the teaching of antichrists, to a focus on who we are in Christ and the coming of Christ. Verse 27 ends with “abide in Him”; verse 28 continues the exhortation to “abide in Him”. In verse 27 John writes that the anointing “abides in you” and that you are to “abide in Him”. We abide in the Trinity and the Trinity abides in us – if we are to take anything away from John’s letter then perhaps it is that this cannot be stated too often: We abide in the Trinity and the Trinity abides in us. The dwelling of God with men and in men, in Christ, is the motif and trajectory of the New Testament (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Revelation 21:3).

In 1 John 2:28 we are to abide in Him so that when He is manifested we will not be put to shame before Him (in His Presence) at His coming. If we are abiding in Him now and He appears in His fullness now (a theme taken up in Chapter 3) then we have a seamless, if you will, transition. If however, on the other hand, we are not living lives of intimacy with Him, if we are loving the world, if we are entertaining teachings of antichrists, if we are lying and living lives of half-truths, then the transition is akin to awaking in a pitch-black room and having bright lights suddenly turned on – the light will blind us and we will initially shrink from it.

Note the word “shame” in verse 28. We are accountable for how we live. Also notice the construction of the words, “put to shame”, while not all English translations show the force of this action upon those who are not abiding in Him at His coming, the thought is clearly that shame is something that happens to those who are not abiding in Him when He appears.

If we are abiding in Him then we may have confidence in His Presence today and tomorrow and when He appears in His fullness.

In Philippians Chapter 4, while Paul is exhorting his readers to harmony, and rejoicing, and gentleness, and thanksgiving, and pure thought lives he interjects, “the Lord is near”. Living in an awareness of His Presence is our calling; Jesus says, “I am with you always…” Matthew 28:20. The ascension of Jesus Christ did not mean a diminution of His Presence, rather it meant an increase of His Presence (John Chapters 14 – 17; Acts Chapter 2). We live as if He is far away when in fact He is in every beat of our hearts for He lives within us.

But 1 John 2:28 is not only an “already – not yet” proposition; that is we ought not to look at His appearing and His Presence as only futuristic, for just as His Presence is with us today so is His appearing – the question is whether we see His appearing today or whether we relegate His appearing exclusively to the future. If His appearing today finds us not abiding in Him then we can respond to the shame we feel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in repentance, or we can seek to justify ourselves and harden our hearts.

We are called to abide in Him, to live in Him, to enjoy intimacy with Him – our Lord Jesus Christ; this is life today, it is life tomorrow, and it is life for eternity.

And now, little children, abide in Him…

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Psalm 20



May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion!

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of Yahweh, our God.

What were the Apostle John’s thoughts and emotions as he penned the words of Jesus to the Seven Churches of Revelation chapters two and three? Were there highs and lows? Were there fears and sorrows? Was there a trial of hope?

Sandwiched between the letters to the churches and the unfolding cosmic visions of chapters six through eighteen are the Sanctuary – Throne scenes of chapters four and five. Immediately after the seventh church letter, the letter to the lukewarm church of Laodicea, John hears a voice telling him to, “Come up here”. John writes, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne…” In the Throne Room are worship, the Father, the Lamb, and the decrees of the Almighty – in the Sanctuary John sees (as he will continue to see throughout Revelation) that “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind” (Daniel 4:25) and that He will bring His people through their pilgrimage on this earth to their eternal destiny of koinonia with Him forever and forever (Revelation chapters 19 – 22).   

Our help comes from the sanctuary and to the sanctuary we may go for help. We may draw near to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16) where our High Priest Jesus Christ awaits us; we have an anchor of the soul, a hope which is sure and immoveable, a hope that is in this Throne Room – Sanctuary, it is there because Jesus is there (Hebrews 6:20); and He beckons us to draw near to God in the confidence that He is ever interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Though we walk on the earth we do not draw our life from the earth; though our physical bodies breathe the air of this planet we do not live by the air of this planet for we sit in the heavens in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6) and our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We do not look to the things of earth, the modern equivalents of horses and chariots, for our strength and deliverance, for we are sons and daughters of the Eternal One and we know that true strength is not by earthly might or earthly power but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6).

Psalm 20 is a prayer that we can pray for others as well as a truth that we can rest in ourselves. On whose behalf can you appropriate Psalm 20 today? Pray this Psalm for your family, your church, your coworkers – pray that those who know Him will know Him deeper and deeper, and pray that those who don’t yet know Jesus will come to know the reality of this Psalm. There is a Sanctuary that surpasses earthly security, there is a Strength that exceeds all that man has devised, there is a Security that will endure forever.

Monday, March 4, 2013

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”



The following is an excerpt from my friend Bill's Prayer Journal. I wonder how many people I walk by on a daily basis that I could have spoken to and prayed with?


I was walking around the pond near my house and noticed a young man sitting on a bench by himself.  As I walked by he looked lost and sad.  It was a half-mile walk around the pond; when I came around for the second time he was still sitting there just staring down at the ground.  When I came by the third time there was a young woman sitting with him and I saw that they had been crying.  After I finished my walk I got into my car to leave.  God said to me, “What are you doing?  You walked by them three times and you never reached out to them.  Go to them and ask if you can pray with them.”

I got out of my car and went over to them and asked if I could sit down and share something with them.  They said “Yes” and so I explained what had happened and that God wanted me to reach out and pray for them.  I asked if there was a need that I could lift up in prayer.

The young woman told me that her boyfriend was going to jail for a crime he had committed.  He was also struggling with the fact that he was a drug addict.  With all that was going on in his life he did not see any hope.  I shared my testimony with him, showing him that there is always hope in Jesus. 

He said he had been raised in a faith other than Christianity and was not ready to ask Jesus to come into his life.  I asked him if we could pray together before I left and he said, “Yes”.  The three of us held hands and asked God to please guide him and protect him and his family during this time of need.

I have since found out that through his girlfriend’s minister that he agreed to enter a Christian rehab facility.  At first he wanted no part of the program and wanted out but finally agreed to stay.  Through the process of learning more about Jesus and how He could give him the hope he needed in his life, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  It is important to know that he gained Jesus as his Savior but lost his mom and dad.  They were very upset that he had gone against their traditional faith and wanted nothing to do with him.

Through the years I have lost contact with him but I pray daily for him and for his family.  He is now in God’s Hands. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Meditations on 1 John: XIX



“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth…As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him,” 1 John 2:20-21, 27.

Continuing our reflection on the word “abide” in John’s first letter:

2:27: Here we see the Anointing abiding in us and us abiding in God; just as or even as is a theme in John’s writing, we are to love as Jesus loves, walk as Jesus walks, be in unity as the Trinity is in unity; we are to abide in Him as He abides in us – our lives are to be lived in union with God.

The context of verse 27 is the contrast between truth and deception, indeed a theme of the letter is the contest between light and darkness, truth and lies, love and hate, antichrist and Christ – the gyroscope, the stabilizer, for the believer in the midst of deception is abiding in Jesus Christ. So long as we abide in Christ we will be safe from the myriad counterfeits produced by the enemy, so long as we abide in Christ we will be delivered from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. As the Father lives in the Son so the Father and Son and Holy Spirit live in the believer, keeping the follower of Christ in the secret place of the Most High (Psalm 91).

Is it too much for us to consider that the Holy Spirit lives in us and acts upon us in order to teach us to abide in Christ? When we begin each day the Holy Spirit greets us and hovers over us in order to partner with us in our abiding in Christ. If we will but allow the Holy Spirit to lead us around the dance floor He will lead us into all truth, deeper and deeper into Jesus. But when we back lead we break the experiential connection and insist on our own way rather than the Way, when we back lead we assert our will over and above His will.

Everyday the Holy Spirit beckons us into renewed koinonia with Christ, every moment the Holy Spirit desires to unfold the glory of our Father to us and in us, every heartbeat the Holy Spirit yearns for us to be vessels showing forth the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Abiding in Christ is to be transformed from an idea to a reality, transformed from a momentary experience to a way of life; rather than a sense of abiding in Christ being something unusual, the heart’s desire of our Father is that the unusual should be when we are out of step with Jesus – the unusual should be when our abiding is disturbed.

Impossible? If such things are impossible then the words of Jesus are unrealistic; if such a life is impossible then John Chapters 13 – 17 are a cruel tease to the hungry heart. If such a life is beyond our grasp then Romans Chapter 8 are the words of a man drunk on delusion.

But abiding in Christ is assuredly possible when He abides in us, when He is our all in all (1 Cor. 1:30-31). When we look to Jesus as our source of all then we can approach each day as a day of renewed abiding in Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Col. 2:1-3; Heb. 12:1-3). What we think is the exception God desires to be the norm – what tragedy that it is not.

However, take heart and be encouraged for if you will but trust Him and submit to Him and believe Him, Jesus will draw you into intimate and sweet relationship with Himself and with His Father; the Holy Spirit will be your faithful guide into all truth and into a life of abiding in Christ. Mediate on John’s words to Christians of centuries ago for those words are as alive today as they were then, for hearts and minds are the same today as they were two millennia ago, and more importantly the passionate love of God for mankind is as bright and fervent today as it was when He sent His Son to live and die and rise again for you – the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you (Gal. 2:20). Receive His love, let Him teach you to abide in Him.