Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28, 2011 … God’s Glory in Christ

Passage of the Day: John 1: 14The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

My Journal for Today: Still focusing on God’s glory and His character for today this final day of February, the beloved Apostle, John, declared in today’s verse, Jesus Christ was (and still is) the personification of God’s glory (see also Hebrews 1: 3 below).

SCRIPTURE: Heb. 1: 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

God has made His glory manifest and visible for all mankind to witness and follow in the incarnation and personhood of Jesus Christ and then by giving His church His canonized word. The God-Man walked on this earth, and as chronicled in the New Testament, Jesus was, of course, a man; but even then, three of His inner circle of Disciples were witness to the glorified Christ on the “Mount of Transfiguration.” (read of it in Luke 9: 28 – 36 - linked here for your review) However, they also experienced and wrote about Christ’s personhood as The Son of Man.

When Christ comes again, it will be in His full glory (Matt. 24: 30), the whole remaining earth will see what Peter, James, and John were privileged to see in that mountaintop spiritual experience. Everyone will see the glorified Christ (as in the account of Numbers 24: 21).

SCRIPTURE: Numbers 14: 21a …, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, …

So, as we now have relationship with the glorified Christ, what should be our response to the glory of God which we find in our Lord? Well, the first, of course is adoration and praise [see Luke 2: 14]; and our lives should be our worship of living sacrifice, as Paul wrote about in Rom. 12: 1. Only then, in obedience to God’s word, can we attain but a reflection of God’s glory (see 2nd Cor. 3: 18). For in walking in obedient worthiness to God’s glory, we become a living refection of His light, shining righteousness into a darkened world, ultimately reflecting His glory in the process (see Phil. 2: 15 and Matt. 5: 16).

My Prayer Today: Yes, again I say, Lord … shine Your light through me. Amen

Blogger’s Note: It’s been a good month with those who’ve come along with me. In March, if you come along with me, I’ll continue using John MacArthur’s devotional, Strength for Today, to take an in-depth look at the one spiritual quality, modeled by Jesus, which we need to capture and utilize God’s sanctifying, enabling, empowering, enlightening, encouraging grace; and that quality is HUMILITY. Come along with me and let’s all grow together. … wrb

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27, 2011 … God’s Glory

Passage of the Day: Psalm 19: 1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

My Journal for Today: John MacArthur in Strength for Today writes for this date, “God’s glory is the radiance of all He is.” And reflecting on God’s attributes and character, as I have been this month, one would certainly be remiss if we ignored His glory.

However, like the radiance of the sun, we cannot look directly upon God’s glory, … only at its afterglow or reflection. Moses prayed to see God’s face (i.e., His glory), and God would let Moses only see His back (see Exodus 33: 18 – 20). But God has put – and still does put – reflections of glory into the lives of His children to let us see glimpses of the afterglow. Consider these passages in the Old Testament, illustrating God’s glory revealed to His people …

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 13: 21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 40: 34 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
SCRIPTURE: 1st Kings 8: 10-11 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

God simply will not give His glory directly to us – except in the Person of His Son and the indwelling presence of His Spirit … as God spoke through the Prophet, Isaiah …

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 42: 8 …"I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not give my glory to another or My praise to idols.”

We must be satisfied, as the Psalmist declares in today’s verse, to receive, what I call, “glimpses of glory.” Perhaps this comes through His creation, as I was privileged to see by a lake in Kentucky one morning when I was about to give a talk to a group with a sermon entitled, “God’s Love Through His Creation.” As I sat there on a bench with the sun rising across the lake, two doves flew down and lit about 6 - 8 feet from where I was sitting. They nuzzled one another and cooed for at least 2 – 3 minutes and then flew off TOGETHER. It was as if God was saying to me, “… Bill, let Me give you a glimpse of my love through My creation.” To me, it was a definite “glimpse of glory” from my God.

Perhaps we get glimpses of God’s glory in the unselfish relationship of a forgiving and loving Christian who does something you know to be quite beyond what you might’ve expected from that person. Have you ever been forgiven when you didn’t deserve it? Have you ever extended your love or caring to someone where it was difficult-to-impossible to do so and way beyond what would be “normal” for you? Such acts of humanity are not “natural.” It’s way beyond the natural. That, dear one, is a glimpse of God’s glory being extended in Christ-like manner through another or through you, yourself.

Perhaps you’ve read a passage of scripture which you’ve read many times before; and suddenly you were enveloped by a warmth of understanding and discernment that you’ve never had when you read that passage in the past. It was as if God was shining a light of truth on you through His word. That is definitely a “glimpse of God’s glory.”

And for these special insights into the Glory of God, we must declare, as did the Psalmist [in Ps. 86: 12], …“I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your Name forever.”

My Prayer Today:
May all that I am, Lord, be a reflection of your Glory. Amen

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26, 2011 … God Is Faithful To Keep Us

Passage of the Day: 1st Thessalonians 5: 23 – 24 [see bold/underlined in context] … 23 May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.

My Journal for Today: Talk about faithfulness! Yesterday we saw that God is faithful to PROVIDE for us and to PROTECT us. But it gets better! Yes, even when we blow it – and we most certainly do! – God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us (I’ll bet you know 1st John 1: 9 – if not, check it out; … maybe even memorize it!). And even beyond this, God promises to selectively “forget” our sins (see Jeremiah 31: 34 below as the prophet speaks for God)…

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 31: 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

And yes, there’s even more from God’s faithfulness! His promises continue to mount as He is faithful to perfect believers (i.e., sanctify or complete us) into Christ’s image, which He predestined for us (do a study of today’s verse plus Philippians 1: 6 and Romans 8: 29).

Now that’s faithfulness!!

I love the story that John MacArthur writes in Strength for Today on this date to illustrate God’s wondrous faithfulness. He writes about a dad who tells his young boy to wait in front of a dime store window for him while the father must run an errand (this was in a day when such things were safe). On the way to complete the errand, the car breaks down and five hours elapse until the frantic father can get back to his son, whom he finds waiting and looking longingly into the store window – just as the dad had charged him to do. The dad asks, “Weren’t you worried?” And the boy replied, “No, Dad, I knew you were coming. You said you would.”

And that is God’s faithfulness, especially to obedient children who know, by faith, that He’s going to return, … even for the disobedient children who somehow, at some time in their lives, come to develop the faith of that little child so that repentant child of God will be received into God’s family - forever! And personally, having come from a life of so much disobedience and having been cleansed and redeemed from that sinful life by God’s faithfulness, how could I not cling to the faithfulness of God’s grace to allow me to wait on Him until He returns?

I pray, my dear one, that we’re both like that little child, waiting at the store window, for our Abba Father to come get us, … just as He has promised He would.

My Prayer Today: Until You come for me, Lord; I’m here waiting. Amen

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011 … God Is Faithful To Care For Us

Passage of the Day: 1st Corinthians 1: 9 [see bold/underlined in context] … God, Who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

My Journal for Today: If you are reading this, I think you’d agree with me that our world and life is riddled with unfaithfulness. Think of the companies here in the 21st century, such as Enron, who have defrauded their employees. We have a divorce rate well over 50%, indicating that relational distrust in marriage is at an all time high in our country. And this involves Christian couples as well as marriages of unbelievers. Who reading this has not been “damaged” in some way by someone who was not faithful to our trust or expectations? Who among us has not been unfaithful to another person in some way, even to those with whom we’re close?

So Paul’s simple declarative, “God … is faithful” stands as a stark contrast to the world’s human record on faithfulness. God’s faithfulness is touted again and again in the Old Testament (see Deut. 7: 9; Lam. 3: 23; and Ps. 36: 5); and the New Testament teaches about the benefits of God’s faithfulness in two primary areas: PROVISION and PROTECTION. Note Peter’s words in 1st Peter 4: 19 below …

SCRIPTURE: 1st Peter 4: 19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

According to MacArthur in Strength for Today, that term “commit” (or “entrust” in other translations) in Peter’s declaration above is a term with a banking origin from the Greek (the word is “paratithami” – Strong 3908), which refers to a safe or trustworthy deposit. In other words, in more modern language, we might say that we can take our trust in God’s faithfulness, in both areas of provision and protection, “to the bank” as we turn our lives over to Him in “living sacrifice.” (see an oft-sited [by me], trustworthy scripture in Rom. 12: 1) God’s PROVISION, this first area of God’s faithfulness, tells us that all things or all circumstances are provided faithfully by God in all ways for our well being (see Phil. 4: 19 and Rom. 8: 28). And the Greek word for “all” means “ALL!” God’s provision, even when we don’t particularly like what is provided, is ALWAYS faithful.

BUT, I fully admit, it’s really tough to see God’s faithfulness in His PROVISION when things are not going well in our human circumstances. By that I mean, when things are not going the way of our own plans or desires – especially when these circumstances are painful, it’s hard for us to see our God as a “faithful” provider. 1st Cor. 10 : 13 and Hebrews 13: 5, however, tell us that God is always faithful, and He will never abandon us – even when the trials of life test our faith. Now, … we either believe God’s word and live accordingly; … or we live in constant doubt that God is faithful.

But moving on, … the second area summarized by MacArthur in his devotional about God’s faithfulness, is the area of PROTECTION. No truly believing Christian can cop-out and claim that our temporal or worldly circumstances, even the trials and tribulations, are just too much for us. No, … we can’t claim that because God promise is to FAITHFULLY help us deal with any/all such circumstances (again I cite 1st Cor. 10: 13, which, if you’re following me, you probably have memorized by now from the frequency of its citation in my devotional journal entries). And in all of our life situations, God promises from His word to give us strength and protection to deal with life – and even with the devil himself (research Phil. 4: 13; 2nd Cor. 12: 9; and 1st Thes. 3: 3).

My brothers/sisters, … again I say, “We either believe in God and His faithfulness; or we don’t!” Personally, I choose to believe … and to know that I’m covered in life – no matter how bad things get! … Now will I say that tomorrow if I I’m engulfed in painful circumstances? I hope so – no, I pray so – that I will!

My Prayer Today: You are truly faithful, O Lord! Amen

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24, 2011 … God Is True

Passage of the Day: John 3: 33 [see bold/underlined in context] … 31 "The One who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what He has seen and heard, but no one accepts His testimony.33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”

My Journal for Today: I present the focus verse (John 3: 33) today in the context of Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus (and all believers), where He declares that for one to believe in Jesus as the Son of God also accepts His word as the word of God [i.e., God’s truth]. And I personally do not believe that one can call himself/herself “Christian” and question the authenticity of God’s word (i.e., the Bible). But there are a lot of people claiming to be “Christian” out there who are doing just that.

If one cannot believe in the truth of God’s word in 2nd Tim. 3: 16, … that “all scripture is inspired by God,” then any writings from the Bible could be brought into question as unreliable – and the only judge as to the authority of scripture would be an individual’s interpretation as his/her own standard, not an absolute truth from God’s word. Balaam, though not a righteous man himself and one whom some scholars label as an apostate, spoke in Lam. 23: 19, “God is not a man that He should lie…;” and the Apostle Paul even more firmly declared, “God … does not lie.” (see Rom. 3: 4 and Titus 1: 2). And several times in the “upper room discourse,” Jesus taught that God’s Spirit was/is Truth (see John 14: 16 - 17; 15: 26; 16: 13).

SCRIPTURE: John 14: 16 [Jesus] … “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.”
SCRIPTURE: John 15: 26 [again, Jesus] … " When the Counselor comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth Who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.”
SCRIPTURE: John 16: 13 [once more, Jesus] … " But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

And so, because God is truth, by extension, His word, inspired by God, the Holy Spirit, becomes His living truth [again 2nd Tim. 3: 16]. We read the Psalmist say [in Ps. 119: 160], The sum of Your word is truth,” which was echoed by Jesus in John 17: 17 … [from the prayer of Jesus for His disciples] “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

Well, you may have heard a non-believer, perhaps a declared “atheist,” deny the reality of God and/or disclaim the truth of the Bible, labeling it as interesting literature or an outright fable. However, in doing so, these “devil’s advocates” label themselves according to God’s very own truth, where it says [in Ps. 14: 1 or 53: 1), “… the fool has said, ‘There no God.’ "

Hey, … I know about such foolishness; … I used to be one of them! However, now I know, in faith, experience, and testimony, that in our speaking and living as Christians, we, who know God’s truth (in the Bible) must become witnesses of THE Living Truth, … Who, of course is Jesus (see John 14: 6b). And in living the truth in our lives, we become living torches for The Truth, glorifying God (see Matt. 5: 16) in a very dark, and ever darkening, world.

My Prayer Today: May everything I do and say, Lord, shine Your light of truth! Amen

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011 … God’s Wrath

Passage of the Day: Romans 1: 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, …

My Journal for Today: These words of truth are strong concerning God’s wrath; and I agree with John MacArthur, who in Strength for Today on this date, posits that Evangelical Christians tend to think of God in terms of love/grace, rather than about God’s wrath. Often it is thought that God’s wrath is Old Covenant theology and God’s grace is New Covenant doctrine. It’s understandable that we humans would want to sweep the truth about God’s wrath under the carpet and ignore it; but … it’s wrong to do so because God’s wrath is just as much a part of the character of God in the New Testament as is His love for His children under the Old Covenant.

God hasn’t changed (see Hebrews 13: 8)! And today’s New Testament verse focuses on the same quality of God that was seen evident at the time of the great flood (Genesis, Chapters 6 and 7) as well as when God brought His wrath down upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis, Chapters 17 and 18).

Make no mistake. Jesus spoke clearly of God’s wrath in the context of salvation in the same Bible passage where we read the description of the extent of His love (i.e., John 3: 16). Check out John 3: 36

SCRIPTURE: John 3: 36 [Jesus] … “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Therefore, we New Covenant [i.e., New Testament] believers must remember that God’s wrath, which, in the Greek of today’s verse, is “orge,” … is theologically defined as “the settled, determined indignation and hatred which God has for sin” … Old or New Testament. And without the balanced qualities of mercy/grace, which I’ve been reviewing the past few days in my devotional journal entries, we would be doomed by God’s wrath. However, being able to receive God’s saving grace from the covering of blood provided by the Lamb of God, i.e., Christ on the cross, any believer can and will escape the horrible wrath that God holds for anyone who is unholy. And I reflect with horror on all those years in which I mocked and “spit-in-the-face” of the grace-filled God Whom I now worship and serve. To think that I ignored God’s wrath for sin for all those younger adult years of my life is scary, especially now knowing about and recognizing just how much God’s wrath hates any kind of sin, … especially the chronic intentional and habitual sin to which I was bound for all those years of pleasure seeking. >>> How grateful can a sinner-turned-saint be? Well, look no further than yours truly to find one.

My fellow believer, KNOW that Jesus is going to return to deal out His wrath upon unrepentant sinners who reject Him (see 2nd Thes. 1: 8 or 2nd Pet. 2: 4 -10 - both linked). But the other side of this balanced theological coin is the truth that God’s love/mercy/grace is offered to any or all who believe and receive salvation in the Person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10: 9 – 13). And for any or all who read here who’ve “sealed the deal” and have received God’s free grace of salvation through your faith, we will share heaven together [!] because of God’s love.

Can I hear a resounding ” HALLELUJAH!!; or at least, a sincere … “PRAISE THE LORD?”

My Prayer Today: Lord, Your wrath is very real; but Your love and mercy are mine in Christ. Amen

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011 … Being Merciful

Passage of the Day: Luke 6: 36 … [Jesus] Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

My Journal for Today: If you are a saved Christian reading this, I would assume, like myself, you aspire to Christlikeness. Well, most certainly, when it comes to the quality of mercy, Christ, the God-Man, was our model of mercy; and in today’s verse, He flat-out commands His followers to be merciful like His Father was/is merciful.

Yes, being merciful was Christ’s “M.O.,” for sure. Often, in the gospel accounts, we read of Him healing those who came to Him (for example - see Matt. 20: 30, 34). And The Messiah also showed spiritual mercy by forgiving sins (see Luke 5: 18 – 25), which drove the Pharisees wild because, to them, only God could forgive sins; and they simply could not see that Jesus, proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, was truly God being merciful to save sinners. And of course, one of the clearest examples of Christ’s mercy came on the cross as He forgave those who put him to death, which, of course was you and me (see Luke 23: 34).

So, with Christ both modeling God’s mercy and commanding us to be merciful, we should reach out physically, emotionally, and spiritually when we see others in need and be merciful (see John’s exhortation in 1st John 3: 18

SCRIPTURE: 1st John 3: 18 Dear children [i.e., followers of Christ], let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

And one of the most merciful acts we can offer – especially to the lost – would be to witness and share our faith with them. Think about it! If we have an acquaintance, friend, or loved one whom we perceive is headed to hell, the most merciful thing we can do is to share the Gospel truth with our testimony; and God promises that we will have Spirit-given power in doing so (see Acts 1: 8). The lost must choose Christ; but we must MERCIFULLY share Him with them in love with the love of God (see Matt. 28: 19 - 20, the Great Commission).

And if we see a Christian who is clearly involved in a pattern of sin, blocking or damaging that one’s relationship with Christ, we are commanded to help restore him, mercifully and lovingly, to a healthy and growing relationship with his/her Savior (see Gal. 6: 1). It is God’s mercy, being doled out to others, Christian or non-Christian, which demonstrates the reality of Christ’s Spirit working in and through a true, born-again believer. Certainly, it’s easier for one to extend mercy when that one has the Spiritual gift of mercy; but as we read in today’s command from Jesus, it is the responsibility of ALL His followers to be merciful, especially as we are transformed into Christlikeness.

So, TODAY, will you join me in a pledge to be as sensitive as we can be to those who need God’s mercy, especially to the lost or those who are drifting away from Christ? Join me in a commitment to reach out and to be Christ, TODAY, to that person. Let’s pray, as I will do so below, for a divine appointment TODAY to show mercy from God, through us, TODAY. And perhaps that one whom God may bring into our path will find God’s mercy TODAY as we are enabled and empowered to share the Lord’s mercy TODAY.

My Prayer Today: Lord, I humbly pray that You would help me, and anyone reading here with me, to show Your mercy to someone this very day. Amen

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011 … God’s Merciful Grace

Passage of the Day: 1st Peter 1: 3 [note bold/underlined portion] … Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …

My Journal for Today: For the last two days I’ve focused on God’s amazing grace. Now, from today’s passage, the Apostle Peter helps us see God’s wondrous mercy which is imparted through His grace; and both God’s mercy and grace are qualities which spring from God’s infinite love for His children, … yes, even for His created children who, like myself for many years, become pitiful creatures bonded to sin. God has seen our pathetic condition as sinners; and He has lovingly and faithfully crafted a plan, not only to save us but to take us from the death of sin to the eternal life of sainthood. And that is not only in Heaven … but in this life as well. Now that’s mercy!

But as I just said, God’s mercy does not end with salvation. It means that God’s Spirit will sanctify us from gory into glory … God reshaping his broken children [yes, that’s you and me!] into the image of our Savior. That’s what Paul wrote about to the church (and to us) in Ephesians 2: 1- 5 and Titus 3: 4 - 5

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2: 1-5As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.
SCRIPTURE: Titus 3: 4-5But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, …

And according the Old Testament truth of Lamentations 3: 22 – 23, these grace-offered mercies are “new every morning” from the faithfulness of God. It is His mercy which provides continual cleansing from our sin, repented in humility (1st John 1: 9). And as the writer of Hebrews attests, we can forever draw near to God’s throne of grace with confidence to receive God’s mercy and to find His grace in our time of need (see Hebrews 4: 16).

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 4: 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Think of it! Every day – nay, every moment … any of us, who know Christ as Savior and Lord, can draw nigh and have all of God’s mercy we can receive. Wow [!], … how special is that?!

My Prayer Today:
I come, Lord … humbled to receive your grace and mercy today. Amen

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011 … The Measure of Grace

Passage of the Day: Romans 5: 20 – 21 … [note bold/underlined portion] … 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My Journal for Today: Yesterday, we looked at the “Meaning of Grace,” defining and discussing three forms of God’s grace; and it’s important for all of us to realize that God’s grace, being a gift from God, can only be captured and used if it’s received by a believer who is humble enough to reach out and make it his own. We’re all sinners (believing the truth of Rom. 3: 23). And today’s verse is one of the most hopeful in the Bible for a sinner like me [or you … if I’m presumptuous enough to think that someone else might read this].

In my journaling for today, Dr. MacArthur helps me recognize that the Apostle Paul lays out a wondrous truth in Rom. 5: 20b (underlined above) … that God’s grace is greater than any sin committed by any sinner. If you’ve read Paul’s story in Acts 9: 1 – 19 [linked here for your study], it has to give you great encouragement. If God will extend His grace to a scoundrel like Saul of Tarsus, then our Lord can and will do so for one like me (or you).

Think about how difficult it must have been for God’s prevenient grace to pursue a proud Sanhedrin Pharisee like Saul of Tarsus, one who had been such an anti-Christ for so many years [see 1st Tim. 1: 12-17 - also linked]. But pursue Saul, God did! And on that road to Damascus, Saul, who became “Paul” in conversion, received Christ’s amazing saving grace [see 1stTim. 1: 16] Following this, the Pauline Epistles become the documentation of the enabling grace of our Lord to sanctify and reshape this former Christ-hater into the preeminent preacher/teacher/evangelist of the New Testament; and that is the measure of God’s grace in action, … for sure !!

As John MacArthur in Strength for Today writes, “God is not stingy with His grace,” as we can read below in Eph. 1: 6 – 8 … and Paul goes on in 2nd Cor. 9: 8

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1: 6-8 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
SCRIPTURE: 2nd Cor. 9: 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

And as Romans 5: 20 attests [above] today, great sins or big-time sinners require great grace; and God is always there for the truly repentant sinner, providing all he/she would ever need to be salvaged, saved, or sustained to live as a Christian - eternally. And to that truth, I am both ample testimony and witness.

My Prayer Today: Lord, I seek Your abundant grace; and may my life be a testimony to it! Amen

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 2011 … The Meaning of Grace

Blogger’s Note: Get your bible out, pilgrim. I make reference to a lot of scriptures below, some of which you may not know by heart. I hope that I don’t seem to be pounding home a Christianity 101 lesson about God’s grace here, especially for you well initiated Bible students/scholars. But I certainly benefitted today from John MacArthur’s lesson on the basics of God’s amazing grace. If you’re with me here today, I hope you are edified as well.

Passage of the Day: Exodus 34: 6 [note bold, underlined portion] … 6 And He [The Lord, Jehovah] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

My Journal for Today: Out of God’s infinite and unconditional love springs His grace … to quote those famous lyrics by John Newton … “amazing grace, … which saved a wretch like me.” Exodus 34: 6, today’s highlight passage, is repeated several times by a number of Old Testament authors (e.g., Nehemiah 9: 17, 31; as well as in Psalms 86: 15; 103: 8: 145: 8). In the New Testament, both Paul and John declare the same thing (see 1st Tim. 1: 14 and John 1: 16). And think of how God’s grace, i.e., His unmerited favor, worked in the lives of all of these authors … for Moses, setting God’s people free from Pharaoh … for Nehemiah, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem … for David, the adulterer/murderer, who was “the man after God’s own heart … for Saul of Tarsus, the Sanhedrin hit-man, who became the Apostle Paul; … and for John, the simple fisherman, who was given mental entrance to see Heaven. Could God’s love and grace be more evident than for these men?

As we look at God’s grace, freely offered to any believer who receives it, we find that it comes to us in three forms; and the first of these is God’s PREVENIENT GRACE, … the grace that “comes before” (the meaning of “prevenient”). This is the grace offered to any sinner whom God foreknows is destined to be His child forever as well as the grace which draws a born-again child of God back when that one has strayed from God. And I can speak from testimony as to how God’s prevenient grace Shepherded me through the circumstances of my life, seeking me out, hunting me down, and drawing me into God’s eternal flock. This grace that goes before (see Deut. 31: 8) brought me to a place where I could finally receive the second form of God’s grace, … His saving grace.

And to discuss this second form of grace, which is God’s SAVING GRACE, the Apostle Paul’s Spirit-led writings abound with the truth that God saves any believer who freely, without any works to earn it, comes to God in humility to receive His salvation (see Eph. 2: 8, 2nd Tim. 1: 9, and Titus 3: 5). And God, through Paul, further wrote that where sin abounds, so much more does God’s saving grace abound (Romans 5: 10). Christ died and now lives so that anyone who comes to Him might be saved by His amazing saving grace.

Finally, there is God’s ENABLING GRACE [sometimes referred to as “sanctifying grace”] the grace that sustains me and gives me the power to overcome my weaknesses from my sin nature, just as Paul testified personally in 2nd Cor. 12: 7, 9 and Phil. 4: 13. And oh, how I identify with these passages. We’re all weak; but God’s enabling grace allows us to deal with any of life’s challenges (see 1st Cor. 10: 13 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9).

Truly God’s grace is sufficient to draw the sinner to Himself (prevenient grace), to save any wretched sinner (saving grace), and to lift up that sinner (enabling grace), shaping him or her into God’s own image. Are you not humbled, as am I, that God would choose us (see Exodus 33: 19) to be His own children, and not only that, but heirs to His Throne? And so it is God’s grace that lifts me and drives me to apply it in my life, … becoming the workmanship which Paul wrote about in Eph. 2: 8 – 10.

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 2: 8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So …

My Prayer Today: To God be the glory, … by His grace. Amen

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18, 2011 … God’s Sacrificial Love

Passage of the Day: John 3: 16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

My Journal for Today: In John MacArthur’s exposition of God’s character this month in Strength for Today, he has been looking at God’s character of love in the past few days. Yesterday we saw that Godly love is unconditional, yet confrontational (as to our sin). Today, in this very familiar verse spoken by Jesus, which you probably know by heart, we see that God’s love is sacrificial.

In the Old Testament, we read from Isaiah’s prophesy about the Messiah, how our Lord would carry the grief of the world as He sacrificed for all mankind (see Is. 53: 4 [linked]). And the Apostle Paul carried this theme of sacrificial love into his teachings about how we, as Christians, must live and love for others before self (see Gal. 6: 2), thereby fulfilling God’s law of love.

SCRIPTURE: Galatians 6: 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Every time I read this verse I’m convicted about how lacking in sacrifice my love for others is offered at times and how conditional it can become with my expectations for recompense as I offer to help others. Praise God for His mercy in the face of my self-driven “love!”

Sacrificial love, of course, was always the teaching of Jesus; and He modeled it so convincingly and perfectly for all mankind. He commanded ALL His disciples, not just the original twelve, to love one another, even including our enemies (see Luke 6: 35). And His command of love becomes infinitely tougher when He said to believers that we’re to expect nothing in return. However, in the greatest sacrifice of all, for anyone who receives the free-offering of God’s cross-bearing love, God is willing to give nothing less than the greatest reward of all … Heaven.

Is that not the deal of a lifetime?

I believe that those who really “get this” and demonstrate lives of “living sacrifice” (as Paul wrote about in Rom 12: 1); … to these, I believe, God will bestowed the greatest rewards in Heaven. As Jesus taught, the least shall be the greatest [Matt. 23: 11-12]. So, I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to my love quotient … to choose to be humbled as a servant as I show God’s love to others … prayerfully more today than yesterday and even more tomorrow than today.

My Prayer Today: And so, I pray, Lord that You help me grow in Your love as I choose to love others before self. Amen

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17, 2011 … God’s Unfailing Love

Passage of the Day: 1st John 4: 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

My Journal for Today: It is utterly true, as the Apostle declared in today’s highlight text, that God is love.” And I hope we all know that it is God’s very nature to be loving. However, we cannot take this in a one dimensional context, saying that because God’s love is unconditional, God will accept our sin nature, and especially our sinful behaviore, in His sight. We must always remember that God ALWAYS loves the sinner; but He also ALWAYS hates sin.

So, God’s nature, being love, has two dimensions; and the first of these is the UNCONDITIONAL nature of His Fatherly love. Romans 5: 8, probably as well as any other scripture, spells out God’s unconditional love in the face of our sin nature …

SCRIPTURE: Romans 5: 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You probably know John 3: 16 by heart, which along with Rom. 5: 8 above, states that God was willing to sacrifice and die on a cross s0 that you and me, as sinners, may live eternally. Jesus taught about the extending of God’s unconditional love in Luke 6: 32 – 36

SCRIPTURE: Luke 6: 32-36 … [the teaching of Jesus] If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

It’s easy to show our love, even our human, brotherly love (Greek = “philadelphia”) to the lovable. But to the unlovable, we begin to see how God’s unconditional love (Greek = “agape”) is not easy to produce in our human will. In fact, I believe that one, especially a non-believer, cannot possibly extend “agape” to another through the natural will. It takes a supernatural surrender of one’s will to God, so that GOD can extend His hand of love through the believer to the unlovable, … yes, even to our enemies, … as Jesus described (above in Luke 6: 35). Now that’s real-deal “tough love” … God’s type of love.

And we must also never forget the second attribute of Godly love; and that is its ever present confrontation with sin. Note the instruction of love involved in Hebrews 12: 5 - 6, where the author quotes from Prov. 3: 11, 12

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12: 5-6 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son." [Prov. 3: 11,12]

If any of you, reading here with me, are parents, you know how tough it is to confront ungodly, wrongful behavior in your child. But the confrontation with evil must take place; and it takes place in the context of the love that drives the confrontation. As John MacArthur puts it in Strength for Today, … “True love doesn’t indulge unrighteousness; it confronts it.”

God’s love, through His Spirit, indwelling the hearts of believers, ever confronts our sin; and we feel it in the form of conviction of conscience and healthy, revealing guilt. That is God confronting our sin nature by His love and our loving, Heavenly Father drawing us, through His prevenient grace, to Himself.

So, as we look at God’s nature of love further in the next few days, we need to ask ourselves whether the love we choose to offer (and love is always a choice – not a feeling) is unconditional and whether it is appropriately confrontational. If so, God is in our love and He will be glorified as it is offered to others in His Name.

My Prayer Today: Lord, let my love, offered to others, be Your love. Amen

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16, 2011 … The Comfort of God’s Omniscience

Passage of the Day: John 21: 17The third time He [Jesus] said to him [Peter], "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love Me?" He said, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you."

My Journal for Today: Like the impetuous Apostle, Peter, in my past I’ve been a stumbler … yes, even in denial of Christ. I’ve done things that exhibit my mockery of God. But today’s verse shows that Peter was restored of confidence in His Savior and Lord … in God’s omniscience. And we all can share in that confidence that God knows everything about each and every one of us.

It may seem at times that we are lost in insignificance, especially when we are isolating ourselves in sin or disobedience from God or unGodly habits. But as God declared through Malachi to His people, God knows His children AND He will save them … see Malachi 3: 17

SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3: 17 "They will be Mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.”

David wrote of his remorse over his sin, desiring that God spare him [see Psalm 56:8] …

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 56: 8 Record my lament; list my tears on Your scroll — are they not in Your record?

But Jesus declares (in John 6: 37) that He will never let any in His flock be lost …

SCRIPTURE: John 6: 37 “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

So, as a formerly lost and now found child of God, my Good Shepherd, even knowing my deceitful heart (see Jer. 17: 9) will never cast me out of His flock; and He will never leave me, nor forsake me [see Heb. 13: 5]. And it is greatly comforting knowing, in my heart of hearts, that my God is all knowing and that there is nothing about be of which He does not know … and yet, He still loves me!

Therefore, just like Peter [in today’s verse], I can declare with assurance, “Lord, You know all things; and so, You know I love You.”

My Prayer Today: I love You, Lord! Amen

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011 … God Knows Everything

Passage of the Day: Psalm 147: 5Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.

My Journal for Today: Today, again with the help of John MacArthur’s Strength for Today, we focus on God’s omniscience; and in today’s verse, the Psalmist declares that God’s “… understanding has no limit (i.e., is infinite).” Translation for personal application: GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING! And we either believe, as did Isaiah, that no one knows more than God (see Is. 40: 13 – 14], or we don’t. In that passage, Isaiah asks … Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him? 14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?

And the answer to Isaiah’s inquiry, of course, is NO ONE!

This, of course means [to me] that God knows my every thought (see Is. 66: 18a); and nothing is darkness to my God (see Ps. 139: 12). It means that there is no place for me to hide from God’s omniscience (see Ps. 139: 7). Hopefully, - and prayerfully – this truth can and will be a deterrent to sin in my life. And, in fact, the more I come to know my Lord, mostly through His word, I am more and more aware that, even though Christ paid the penalty for my sin, God still judges sin (see below Eccl. 12: 14), and because of His love for me, He will convict or discipline me for any sin I commit (see below Heb. 12: 5 – 11).

SCRIPTURE: Eccl. 12: 14 God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
SCRIPTURE: Heb. 12: 5-11 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." [ quote taken from Prov.3:11-12] 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, I would hope that anyone who reads my journal today, as I express this from my heart, … we all can agree that our hope lies in the power of God (see John 6: 40 below), Who’s all-knowing Spirit will raise me (us) one day just as God, the Father, did for His Son, our Savior, to eternal life and our position as co-heir to His throne.

SCRIPTURE: John 6: 40 Jesus Speaking “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Again, I declare with the younger generation of believers … “Is this not just too cool!!!”

My Prayer Today
: Lord, You know my every sin. Help me to know clearly when I do it … so that I won’t repeat it! Amen

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011 … Our Response To God’s Power

Passage of the Day: Isaiah 40: 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

My Journal for Today: Today’s verse is one of the classic scriptures documenting the strength that can be available to the believer who has complete trust and hope in an all-powerful, omnipotent God. So, if we desire to …“soar on [His] wings like eagles …,” what must be our (my) response to an omnipotent God? And I’m going to list the factors of pursuit which my devotional Shepherd, Dr. MacArthur, lists; … and if you’re following along, get your Bibles out – or maybe your PC or smart phone with a Bible App - and be ready to seek out the biblical support for each point.

>>> Well, in MacArthur’s devotional for this date in Strength for Today, the first element in my capturing God’s power is to recognize that I am God’s workmanship and that I live for His glory (see Eph. 2: 10).
>>> Next, I must place ALL my hope in the One Who can do far more than I could ever imagine to shape me into a reflection of Christlikeness (see Eph. 3: 20 and Phil. 1: 6).
>>> Thirdly, I must recognize that I am only strong in Christ (see Phil. 4: 13), not in myself; and He makes me strong even when I am weak because of the grace I have available to me in Christ (you guessed it – I hope! … 2nd Cor. 12: 9).
>>> Next, I should rest assured in the comfort of God’s power (see Ps. 121: 1 – 2) and be uplifted by His glory (as in today’s verse).
>>> Fifthly, I must be surrendered to recognize that I have found victory over my flesh (see Eph. 6: 10), over sin through His Word (see Ps. 119: 9), and over the world with a power in my heart that is greater than my spiritual enemies (see 1st John 4: 4).
>>> And finally, being humbled by God’s majesty and holiness (see Prov. 3: 34), I must know that I’m nothing without my God (John 15: 5); … but with Him, I am everything that is declared in today’s verse.

And so, I hope you either know all those biblical support references by heart or you’ve looked them up to check me out; and having meditated on these truths, you’ve been lifted up to capture God’s strength and power for your life. It is a wondrous thing for the believer, humbled and surrendered to God, to realize, as my salvation verse (i.e., Phil. 4: 13) proclaims, that I truly can do all things in Christ, Who gives me His strength. And then, realizing that power is in me, I can let God’s power be the wind beneath my wings.

And this morning, in an attempt to be lifted up by God’s strength in my spirit, I was led – by God’s Spirit, I believe – to remember a song, performed by one of my favorite singers, Josh Groban, which expresses most, if not all, of what I’m trying to share today. Therefore, to close out my time with God, having gone to this song on my Ipod, let me link you to a You Tube version (by clicking on this link). I hope (and pray) that you’ll be lifted high enough, by God’s Spirit and this song at this time, to soar like eagles above the wind and storms of circumstances, given the power of God’s wind beneath your wings.

My Prayer Today: Lord, with YOUR POWER I am an eagle soaring in the heavens. Amen

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13, 2011 … Evidence of God’s Power

Passage of the Day: Ephesians 1: 18 – 19 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

My Journal for Today: How does one grasp the awesome power of God? In an abstract way, my mind will never be able to fully comprehend God’s omnipotence. However, in a personal way I can build an appreciation for God’s power into my faith.

First there is creation. I just look around and will always marvel at what God spoke into reality with no effort … merely a word (see Psalm 33: 6) …

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 33: 6 By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.

Further, I think of how God, the Son, has preserved all that He created; and all He created is for the glory of His Father. [Hebrews 1: 3] …

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 1: 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.

Then my appreciation for God’s wondrous power gets very personal as I contemplate the Cross, where all mankind, including yours truly, were redeemed for eternity, … where sin/death were defeated, and where the Gospel becomes the power of God to salvation for all who believe in Christ’s omnipotent power to save. (see Romans 1: 16look this one up for yourself and meditate on it … and, if convicted, memorize it!)

This is God’s power, which I have experienced personally; so, I know it’s real … the power to bring me from my old bondage in sin to a new life when His power allows me to walk more and more in His likeness.

Not too long ago, in an online blog, I was challenged by a rather cynical atheist to prove there was a "god" by giving him evidence. I related to him that the only evidence I needed to KNOW that there was a very personal God was my own life and the change which God has wrought in my life. So, I gave him my testimony. ... I didn’t really think my witness was going to convince this hardened non-believer; and it didn’t. But the important thing – for me – was that I am convinced. I pray that you are too.

Read and meditate on 2nd Cor. 5: 17 and Phil. 1: 6; and you should know that God’s power is awesome … and that He can take one such as I was (before my conversion) and bring me to the place where I am as I write this.

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Cor. 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
SCRIPTURE: Phil. 1: 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The very power that God used to speak the universe into existence, … the very power He used to sustain it all for His glory, … the very power that God’s Son loosed in love to save mankind on the cross, … the very power that raised our Lord from His grave, … is the power which, when applied to my life, has brought about a total transformation of my soul and henceforth, my choices, habits, and living. So, with that realized and said, I declare that I have no trouble believing in and worshipping the awesome, omnipotent power of my God. And to think … all that power I have in my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ.

My Prayer Today: All power is mine in You, Lord. Amen

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011 … God Has Unlimited Power

Passage of the Day: 1st Chronicles 29: 11 … [David’s prayer] … Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.

My Journal for Today: Have you ever heard anyone ask, “Why would God do that?” Well, I’ve thought it, even if I can’t remember saying it to someone; and I have certainly heard it said. Today, King David, in a prayer psalm, makes a declaration that we must honor as truth; … or we declare ourselves to be non-believers.

Why? Because David’s prayer is true! God is OMNIPOTENT; and David’s declaration is in God’s word; and His word is truth. all of it; not just some of it. Therefore, If we can’t believe the truth of 2nd Tim. 3: 16a, then we can’t believe any of the assertions of the Bible; and our faith crumbles.

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Tim. 3: 16a All Scripture [i.e., Old and New Testaments] is inspired by God … [NASB]

The God to whom David is praying is “El Shaddai,” which, from the Hebrew, is translated “God Almighty!” And our God is either almighty [i.e., omnipotent and all powerful and in total control]; or He is not. Therefore, anyone who asks, “Why God [?],” when circumstances make God’s actions incredulous, is basically saying that God doesn’t have the right to be in control; … or he’s saying that God’s control is not just or loving. Or, finally, he could be saying, “God is not in control.”

What about you? What is your opinion about God’s control?

Ps. 115: 3 says, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” And we must accept that El Shaddai would never allow anything to happen or do anything that was not totally in accord with all of His attributes as well as His own will.; and omnipotence is one of those attributes.

Therefore, when Paul writes (in Rom. 8: 28), “… all things work together for the good for those who love God ...;” we must accept, by faith, that bad circumstances don’t mean that God is out of control or has lost His edge of power or that He’s quit loving us. We either believe Ps. 145: 17 or we do not, which says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.” The Apostle Paul again, as he did in Rom. 8: 28, challenges believers to get on board with their faith. Read Rom. 9: 20 – 21 where Paul quotes questions by quoting from Isaiah …

SCRIPTURE: Rom. 9: 20-21 ... 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "[IS. 29: 16; 45: 9] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Yes, when we see over 150,000 people die in a horrible tsunami; and we see the city of New Orleans engulfed and almost destroyed by a hurricane, we are tempted to say, “Why, God?!” But we must not! Rather, we must be asking god, “What must we do to understand You, Lord?” It’s time for all of us, who call ourselves Christian, to recognize that God is in control. We need to put up (our faith) AND shut up (our doubts). We need to do what Christ has commanded us to do in Luke 9: 23to deny self, to take up [His] cross daily and to follow [Him].

My Prayer Today: You are in control, Lord; and I’m am blessed by Your power in my life. Amen

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011 … God Is Always With Us

Passage of the Day: Psalm 145: 18 … The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

My Journal for Today: Yesterday we saw the tremendous encouraging impact of the truth involved in God’s omnipresence. Today’s verse, plus the promise of Hebrews 13: 5, which was quoted yesterday, and repeated below for emphasis, assures me – and any believer – that God will FOREVER be near the Christian who is willing to call on Him in Spirit and in truth.

SCRIPTURE: Heb. 13: 5 God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." [quoted from Deut. 31: 6]

And perhaps it would be helpful here to reiterate the words of Christ, Himself, in His Great Commission [especially Matt. 28, verse 20] …

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28: 19-20 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Yes, this is an incredibly challenging command to every believer and to Christ’s Church; but again, note the tag line, underlined in bold above in verse 20, which assures all believers and the church that Christ’s (i.e., God’s) presence is rock solid as we venture forth as witnesses in His Name, especially witnessing in very challenging, if not dire, circumstances.

And so, as we walk the walk of faith, we can be assured, not only of God’s PRESENCE, but we can also be uplifted by the promise of God’s POWER. Yesterday, I made reference to 1st Cor. 10: 13, which is one of the verses from God’s truth which shores me up in times of trial or temptation. But other passages, which I’ve cast to memory, help me to know that in my weakness, as a believer, I now have God’s power and grace to be with me as I am His witness. I’ve referred to them or quoted these verses many times in my devotionals; but let’s read and meditate upon Acts 1: 8 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9 … both from the words of Jesus Himself …

SCRIPTURE: Acts 1: 8 … “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
SCRIPTURE: 2nd Cor. 12: 9 But He [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in [your] weakness."

So, as you meditate on those words from our Lord, doesn’t it lift you up? When I call on my Lord “in truth” (see today’s verse – which refers to calling on Him with belief in His word), I can KNOW, with confidence, that He will be there; …AND … He will not allow me to handle anything I cannot handle WITH HIM, … AND … He will give me His power, through His grace, when I need it in my weakness. I repeat, in the words of young people today, “Is that not cool, or what?!

So God’s omnipresence allows me to pursue His PURPOSE, with His PRESENCE, and in His POWER. It motivates me toward holiness, which, in my sin nature, I cannot attain without His Spirit. It’s like a magnet, drawing me toward God’s plan and away from selfish desires. And as I do seek Him, God is always there to watch over me. As I trust Him, He gives me His direction. And I’ll bet you know Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 [linked]. If not, check it out – and then memorize it!

My Prayer Today: How grateful I am, Lord, for your ever present Spirit to give me strength and direction. Amen

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011 … God Is Everywhere

Passage of the Day: 1st Kings 8: 27 … [From Solomon’s prayer] … “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! ”

My Journal for Today: As I explore the attributes of God this month, one that is most reassuring to me as a Christian is the characteristic of God being OMNIPRESENT. No, there is no way that I can totally get my mind around that quality completely. But when I think of the reality of God being infinitely present everywhere and always, it goes “hand-in-glove” with the proclamation of Hebrews 13: 5

SCRIPTURE: Heb. 13: 5 God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." [quoted from Deut. 31: 6]

And when God’s word, and especially when Jesus, commands us to do something, even something enormous like the Great Commission (see Matt. 18: 19-20), we can know that He’s always there WITH us and FOR us. That’s also the promise of 1st Cor. 10: 13 … a verse which I memorized a long time ago to help me in times of testing, trial, and/or temptation …

SCRIPTURE: 1st Cor. 10: 13 No temptation [which can also be translated “test, trial, trouble, or tribulation”] has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

It’s God’s infinitely caring omnipresence that makes such a promise possible, affirming for believers that God is ALWAYS faithful and will ALWAYS be there, ANYWHERE and in ANY SITUATION, to provide the way for us when were being tried, tested, or tempted. Now is that cool, or what?!!!

And so, I believe the reality of God’s omnipresence should not seem like a God who’s constantly tracking us, … like some all powerful private eye. No, rather it should motivate us towards holiness because of God’s omnipresent love, mercy, and grace, which is always there to lift us up when we need it (see Isaiah 41: 10). Certainly, there is no where we can go to hide our sin from God (see Ps. 139: 1-12). But God’s omnipresence is much more positively seen in His promise of everlasting cleansing from sin (1st John 1: 9), allowing us to move on toward a life of Christlikeness (see Gal. 2: 20).

[Blogger’s Note: Other than the highlight verse for the day from 1st Kings and possibly the longer passage from Ps. 139, I think any reader should be motivated to memorize all of the other verses quoted in the exposition of today’s devotional entry. They are all verses which can useful for encouragement when circumstances are challenging. And who of us couldn’t use that?!]

My Prayer Today: Thanks for being everywhere with me, Lord. Amen

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

February 9, 2011 … God Doesn’t Change

Passage of the Day: Psalm 102: 26 – 2726 They [the created heavens and earth] will perish, but You [God] remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing, You will change them and they will be discarded. 27 But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.

My Journal for Today: If you’ve been reading along with me in my devotional journal entries, this month I’m being led by John Macarthur’s devotional, Strength For Today, in a study trying to get to know our God more intimately. Today’s verse proclaims and exposes God’s character quality of immutability or His unchanging nature. Other passages support this, such as Malachi 3: 6 or James 1: 17

SCRIPTURE: Mal. 3: 6 "I, the LORD, do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”
SCRIPTURE: James 1: 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

Yes, there are some, claiming to be Christian, like the “Open Theists,” who claim that God changes, pointing to passages like Amos 7: 3, 6 or Jonah 3: 10, where God appears to “change His mind.” However, in those instances, God didn’t change. He remained absolutely true to His love, merciful character, allowing His children to live when, in fact, they changed.

Think about it. We could never trust a God Who changed in His character. But we don’t have to worry about that. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. [see Hebrews 13: 8] When one comes to know God, primarily through the revelation and understanding of His word, that believer knows how God will respond in a certain set of circumstances. God doesn’t lie (see Numbers 23: 19). When God’s word says, “the wages of sin is death,” [see Rom. 6:23] God means it! Count on it! It’s a done deal!

For the unbeliever this means eternal death (again see Romans 6: 23 and also Ezekiel 18: 20]; … for the believer it means eternal life (I’ll bet you know John 3: 16!). And God’s unalterable promises mean that I can (and do) KNOW that God will always supply my needs (see Philippians 4: 19) … that He will always love me in spite of my sinfulness (Jeremiah 31: 3) … that He will always forgive my sins and cleanse me (1st John 1: 9) … that He’ll never forsake me [Hebrews 13: 5] … and I could go on and on and on and on.

So, that’s why we need to get to know our God … really know Himdeeply know Him. We need to get to know His word because it is unchanging truth from an unchanging God. And the more we abide in our immutable God and His unchanging truths, we’ll learn that He will be there with and for us ALWAYS … that He’ll ALWAYS be the same … and we will come to know a God that can be trusted even when the circumstances are not going the way we might like for them to go.

My Prayer Today: Lord, I thank You for Your unchanging promises and Your ever present, immutable Spirit. Amen

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

February 8, 2011 … Becoming Holy

Passage of the Day: 1st Peter 1: 15-1615 But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." [Note: quotation taken from Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7]

My Journal for Today: Besides the reality of God’s holiness and our unholiness, as well as the admonishment of today’s declaration from Peter, which is repeated from the Old Covenant in Leviticus, there are many in today’s culture who would not want to deal with yet another mirror of truth offered by the Apostle Peter (in 2nd Peter 2: 4 – 10). But I’m going to give it to you anyway, since I’m having to deal with it now, having just studied this passage.

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Peter 2: 4-10 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if He did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Ouch!!! In plain, Southern vernacular, “Them is harsh words [!],” especially since we’re all sinners deserving of eternal damnation for our sins (see Rom. 3: 23). And I believe one must see himself or herself as being unholy in the sight of a Holy God, in total need of a Redeemer and Savior, before it can be possible for God to give His free gift of salvation offered by the death and resurrection of The Christ as well as the completion ministered to justified souls by God’s Spirit.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to righteousness and for our sin account to be paid in full, allowing for God’s Spirit to mold us into the image of Christ (see 2nd Cor. 5: 21 and 1st Cor. 6: 11)

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Cor. 5: 21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
SCRIPTURE: 1st Cor. 6: 11 1Cor. 6: 11And that is what some of you [sinners] were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

But as we can see [again] from 1st Cor. 6: 11, those of us sinners, who by faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, have received the grace of salvation, surrendering to His Lordship, have become provisionally and positionally holy … a sinner becoming a sanctified saint by faith in Christ [look this one up on your own … 2nd Tim. 2: 19].

In today’s verse [above], we Christians are commanded to “be holy” just as God is Holy. And God’s word would never command a believer to do anything that was not possible – with His help [see 1st Cor. 10: 13 and Rom. 8: 31]. 2nd Cor. 12: 9 tells us that even though we are weak in our humanity to be holy, God’s grace is sufficient to provide us with God’s power to be perfected in God’s holiness (see also 2nd Tim. 1: 7). And God doesn’t lie (see Num. 23: 19); so, we can expect that God’s Spirit will minister direction and conviction to lead us to holiness and the peace we will only find as we grow in Christlikeness [Hebrews 12: 11] …

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12: 11 No discipline [from God’s Spirit] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

And when I live holy, i.e., disciplined by righteous choices and reformed by righteous habits, I can sleep in peace, knowing that my life, though challenged by the enemy and the world, and even my own sinner’s heart (see Jer. 17: 9), is being lived in accord with God’s Spirit. And that produces the peace of God (see Isaiah 26:3 and Phil. 4: 6 - 7).

My Prayer Today: Lord, help me to be Holy. Amen

Blogger’s PS: I know that I’ve given any reader here a lot of Scriptures [some provided and others charged], all on which I had to meditate this morning as God brought me this devotional from John MacArthur. However, if you’re willing to take the time, as I did, to take in God’s word concerning His holiness in this entry, … certainly much more so than the thoughts I’ve shared, … perhaps you will come away with the peace of God to add to your positional and practical righteousness in Christ. … I certainly did this morning. I pray you will too. … wrb

Monday, February 07, 2011

February 7, 2011 … God’s Holiness Revealed

Passage of the Day: Psalm 145: 17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.

My Journal for Today: Today again we look at God’s primary over-encompassing attribute of HOLINESS. John MacArthur wrote this: “God’s holiness is evident in everything He does, particularly in creation, the law, His judgment, and through salvation.” In fact, all of the Old Testament proclaims God’s holiness, which was first made apparent in CREATION (see Genesis 1: 31), which reflected His perfect creative character. And then GOD’S LAW communicated His moral perfection to His people. So, we might say that God’s holiness and righteousness has been painted on the canvass of creation and codified and communicated in His Law.

But ultimately God’s holiness is manifest in the righteousness of His JUDGMENT against sin; and it becomes so readily apparent - in reverse - by the unholiness of His created and fallen creatures, both angels and men. As MacArthur puts it, “God’s holiness is so infinite, and our unholiness so great, that only the sacrifice of the God-Man could pay for the enormity of our sin.” And it was the provision of God’s Son, Who became the spotless, HOLY Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, dying on a cross to satisfy God’s perfect holiness, which most clearly depicts God’s holiness to mankind.

Jesus was, and is, the Holy and righteous One (see Acts 3: 14 below) and we, the unrighteous ones, disowned him in disobedience. Only Christ could have been that perfect sacrifice to take away the sins of mankind (Heb. 9: 26); and He did so in mercy and grace, though we certainly deserved Him not.

SCRIPTURE: Acts 3: 14 You [God’s sinful people] disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 9: 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Miracle of miracles … blessing of blessings! Our sins are washed clean; and we become sanctified to the position of holiness when we accept, in humility, God’s saving grace, … truly repenting of our sinfulness and receiving the salvation of Christ’s atonement … FOREVER! What a deal!

Holy is our God; and we are saved by His Holy desire that we be one with Him forever. We deserved nothing but Hell; yet, in my choice of receiving His grace, I, like Paul, a sinner of sinners, become Holy in the eyes of God. It is incomprehensible … but true! … HALLELUJAH!!

My Prayer Today: To be and become holy is my desire, Lord, as You shape me into Your image. Amen

Sunday, February 06, 2011

February 6, 2011 … God Is Holy

Passage of the Day: 1st Samuel 2: 2 … [see highlighted verse, bold/underlined] 1 Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in Your deliverance. 2 There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.

My Journal for Today: Today’s passage is the prayer of Hannah, who has just dedicated her newly born son to the God, in Whom she placed all her trust. In this prayer she declares, “There is no one Holy like the Lord.”

There are many scholars, like John MacArthur in my devotional, Strength for Today, who feel that HOLINESS is God’s most significant attribute. In Isaiah 6: 3 and Rev. 4: 8, we read of visions of Angels crying out to God, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Moses sang of God’s holiness (see Exodus 15: 11). With a little study on the matter, it is my understanding that the Hebrew word for “Holy” comes from the concept of “separation;” and God’s holiness certainly separates His character from all other created beings. We certainly know that angels can be less than holy, because Satan was a created angel; and he took one-third of the angels into the eternal separation of unholiness with him. Mankind was created holy; but we certainly are less than holy in our humanity now.

In my humble estimation, God’s holiness is the characteristic which most separates Him from our human frailties, making God, especially in the Person of Christ and His holiness, the anti-sin standard. As MacArthur puts it, “[God] does not conform to a Holy standard; … He IS the standard!”

MacArthur, in today’s Strength for Today segment, goes on to discuss how God’s holiness becomes what we see in His righteousness. In other words, holiness is the attribute (i.e., God’s standard) and righteousness becomes the manifestation of that attribute. David wrote of how we perceive God’s righteousness in Psalm 71: 19 – NIV).

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 71: 18 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You Who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You?

Unfortunately, however, many Christians have either ignored or humanized God’s holiness and His standard of righteousness, using the world or our own fleshly aspirations as our mark of achievement, rather than God’s holiness as The Mark, … personified in Christ. Hence, we see Christians with the same divorce rate as non-Christians; and closely related to my life and ministry, we see so many Christian men, even Clergy and church leaders, “falling,” by choice, into sexual sin. Let’s face it! If we truly knew, believed, and felt how a Holy God despises sin, we would confess it, forsake it, and seek desperately to walk worthy of a Holy God (again read and meditate on Eph. 4: 1, which was the focus of my devotionals in January).

Today, as I’ve meditated on this [as I pray that you have], and I’m deeply convicted of where I stand, … separated as I am from God’s standard of holiness. But I will not wane from my aspiration toward righteousness, recognizing the truth of 2nd Cor. 12: 9 … that God’s grace is sufficient … and His enabling grace allows His strength to be mine as I move in my own desire for His holiness and righteousness.

My Prayer Today: O, my Lord, You are so Holy; and only through Your grace can I achieve Your standard of righteousness. Amen

Saturday, February 05, 2011

February 5, 2011 … God Is Three

Passage of the Day: 2nd Cor. 13: 14May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

My Journal for Today: Yesterday I journaled about God being ONE. Today He is also THREE; and John MacArthur is right, from his devotional book Strength for Today, when he says that the mystery of the Trinity [shortened from “tri-unity”] must be something we, as Christians, accept in faith. There is simply no explanation from human logic to explain the Trinity; nor is there any word picture adequate to help clarify the concept. For me, it is the greatest of theological mysteries.

Yet, God’s word, both Old and New Testaments, is clear in declaring the wondrous tri-unity of the God-head. In the Old Testament, in Genesis 1: 1, we read, “In the beginning, God …;” and the term for “God,” in this verse, is the Hebrew , “Elohim,” a plural noun. In Isaiah 42: 1, we read of God, The Father, speaking of “The Messiah” in Whom He places His Spirit; or in Isaiah 48: 16, The Messiah speaks of His Father’s Spirit sending Him to be the focus of God, the Father’s plan of redemption.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 42: 1 - …[God, the Father speaks of Messiah and His Spirit] "Here is my Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen One in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations.”
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 48: 16 - [Messiah speaking] “ Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD [i.e., “Adonai Jehovah” in Hebrew] and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

In the New Testament, Scripture records God, The Father, declaring from Heaven His favor upon His Son and sending His Spirit, like a dove, upon Messiah (see below in Matthew 3: 17). Jesus, Himself, declares, in the Upper Room Discourse, to His disciples that He will ask His Father to send His Spirit to be their Helper (also below, John 14: 16-17). And Paul, in today’s verse of blessing [above], clearly expressed the grace, love, and fellowship from our God, Who is three in One.

SCRIPTURE: Matt 3: 17 … [God, the Father declares from heaven]"And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."
SCRIPTURE: John 14: 16-17 [Jesus speaking to His inner disciples] … And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - 17 the Spirit of truth.

So, to pursue a personal and intimate knowledge of God is to pursue, in faith, through biblical logic, a relationship with the One true God, Who is expressed in three Persons, … in our Triune God, … the wondrous and mysterious “Elohim.”

So, I ask myself (and you) today: “How well have I gotten to know, and how well do I relate, to the three Persons of the Trinity?” >>> Personally, I need to know Him/Them much more deeply, going from confusion to clarification and then to commitment. But in this pursuit I know that it is The Father’s will that I know His Son intimately; and I have the ultimate Mentor in God’s Spirit to pursue knowing all Three in One.

My Prayer Today: Holy Father, Lord Jesus, precious Holy Spirit, You are my Elohim. Amen

Friday, February 04, 2011

February 4, 2011 … God is One

Passage of the Day: Deut. 6: 4 – 54 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

My Journal for Today: God’s word declares it in today’s passage found in both the Old and New Testaments as well as in God’s Law (see Exodus: 20: 3) … that “…you shall have no other gods before Me (the one true God, Jehovah)!” The Old Testament is replete with God’s warnings to His people to this effect; and yet repeatedly they ignored their God, becoming recalcitrant, disobedient, and even outright defiant. And then came Jesus with the New Covenant, which likely confused most Jews, as this man who performed miracles claimed to be God in the flesh, yet telling the people they must worship the one and only true God in heaven (see Mark 12: 29-30 – NIV) …

SCRIPTURE: Mark 12: 29-30 - "The most important one [command]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

And then when Jesus stated [e.g., in John 10:30], “I and the Father are One …;” many Jews, especially the Pharisees, felt that He had stepped over the line into blasphemy. They had been taught, by tradition from God’s Law, that there was only ONE God; and He was “Jehovah,” the un-namable, unspeakable Sprit-God. And when they could not grasp their Messiah in the humanity and person of Jesus, they could not abide His claims of deity.

But now that we, in this age of grace, have seen God’s plan unfold in the Person of Christ and we have God’s word canonized for our edification, we must see, as Paul taught in 1Cor. 8: 4 - 6 (below), that when we worship God, the Father, in the Personhood of His Son, Jesus Christ, we do, by God’s grace, imparted by God, the Holy Spirit, worship the One True God just as God commanded Israel in today’s verse.

SCRIPTURE: 1st Cor. 8: 4-6 - 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

And in our worship, we cannot let any worldly, fleshly, or spiritual idols separate us from becoming a living sacrifice to our God, the One and only God. (see Romans 12: 1-2 - linked here for your study/meditation)

My Prayer Today: Lord God, may my life be a worship to You and You only! Amen

Thursday, February 03, 2011

February 3, 2011 … God IS Spirit

Passage of the Day: John 4: 24 … [Jesus speaking] “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

My Journal for Today: John MacArthur in Strength for Today for this month helps us to focus on some of the essential attributes of God as a Spirit and as a Person. And first we see that God is not some impersonal “force” as the movie Star Wars might have implied. No, God is personal; and we were created in the personal, interactive image of the Trinity – His triune being [see Gen. 1: 27]. And so, God, being a Person in the Godhead, thinks, feel, speaks, and acts. God is not an “IT;” … HE is a person; and in the Bible we see that God has revealed Himself in many forms to mankind, even as Jesus, the God-Man. However, in His fullness our Trinitarian God is Spirit (see today’s verse). See 1 Tim. 1: 17) …

SCRIPTURE: 1st Tim. 1: 17 - Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.

Yes, it is true that God’s word has many instances of anthropomorphisms – i.e., appearances of God into human or animal forms; and there is the incarnation of Christ into the perfected God-Man. However, these should not confuse us about the spirit nature of God. They merely serve to help us figuratively, or in historical reality, to understand God’s personhood or His character.

For example, when we read that we can be sheltered under God’s wings (see Ps. 91: 4), we should know that that God is not a bird. Rather, in this word picture we see that God watches over and shelters His little ones (you/me) just like a mother bird would do for her chicks. This and other biblical pictures help us to know our God, Who is both Spirit and Person.

God’s word is the primary source for us to get to know the character, personality, and reality of God in spirit and in truth. Therefore, we all need to respond to the question, “How well do I really know the personhood of God?” And if, like me, you would answer, “Not well enough;” then it would behoove all of us to join the pursuit of the believer who authored Psalm 119, who took it upon himself to delve into God’s word and to get God’s word imprinted on his heart so that he could more intimately know his God.

I charge any who read this devotion to read through and meditate on Psalm 119 in its entirety; and then take it upon yourself to use the word of God to get to know our Lord more deeply than ever before. Below I’m going to submit a few statements of commitment [below in red] which I have made to God and to selected accountability partners. They are all submitted so that I can get to know my God in Spirit and in truth. I wonder how many who read this will be convicted or directed by God’s Spirit to join me in commitments like this, … commitments to action which will deepen your relationship with the Living Lord in His Personhood as a Spirit.

>>> I will delve into God’s word on a daily basis, devoting the first fruits of my time so that I may get to know God more intimately and personally.
>>> I will study the context of each verse or passage I’m led to read - historically, ecclesiastically, and personally - to more fully understand God’s truth and apply it to my life.
>>> I will journal the thoughts and/or ideas which I believe God is giving me from His word for me to know Him and re-shape me into His image … #1 – so that I will be accountable to God and others … and #2 - to prayerfully impact others who might read what I’ve been led to write, now or in the future.

My Prayer Today: O, again my Lord, how I plea to know You through Your word. Amen