Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Galatians 3:13-14
(13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"--
(14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

A few verses earlier we learn that everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law is under a curse. Think about that. By default we were under a curse from God. It's one thing to have someone get mad at us and curse us. But I don't want to be under a curse from God.

Yet Christ solved that problem. He hung on the cross to redeem us from that curse. There are so many images used to picture redemption. The bottom line is that because of His sacrifice we are no longer under a curse. He bore the penalty for our sins.

Do you believe that? Are you finding joy in that? Does this fill you with hope for dealing with today? I sure hope so. If not, consider what this means in your relationship with God. Are you under a curse or have you been set free?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reading about Reading

Psalms 1:1-6
(1) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
(2) but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(3) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
(4) The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
(5) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
(6) for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Now that I finished Isaiah I'm taking a little time to read through some of the articles in my ESV Study Bible. I read two articles about reading this morning. One was an article about reading the Bible for personal worship and the other was about reading for personal application. Great stuff.

As I think about what I read I am convicted on a couple of fronts:

  • My prayer life is not particularly vibrant. This would be helped by taking the time to pray through Scripture.
  • My reading is often too heady.
Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that some spiritual discipline substitutes for prayerful time spent in the Word. What I realize more and more is that nothing substitutes for it. For example, memorizing and reciting Scripture is a great discipline. However, if I'm never pausing on anything I've memorized then what is the point? Doesn't it seem a little strange that I can recite this in about 20 seconds every week without really dwelling on it:

Ephesians 1:3-10
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
(4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
(5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
(6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
(7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
(8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
(9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
(10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

This speaks of how the God of the universe chose me before the beginning of time to be part of His master plan. How can I not dwell on that?

Sorry to get away from the usual journaling here. This is on my heart this morning and I ask for your prayers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Broken Spokes

Isaiah 66:3-4
(3) "He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;
(4) I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight."

In our "tolerant" culture a lot of people seem to think that there are many valid paths to God. They look at God as the center of a wheel with many spokes coming to it. The problem is that you have to chuck the Bible if you're going to believe that. This isn't a problem for many, but if you do call yourself Bible-believing and you have universalist tendencies you might want to look at this passage.

Here God is condemning the practices of His people. What's interesting is that these are the very practices that He set up. What He is telling them is that there will come a day when those sacrifices are actually abominable to Him. They are as bad as those who would offer sacrifices while ritually unclean. To a Jewish reader this comparison would be very obvious.

I believe that we are to understand that God sent His Son so that we would no longer have to go through all this stuff to get closer to Him. In fact, there is nothing we can do to get ourselves closer to God. Jesus is the final, once-for-all sacrifice for sins. He is the ultimate offering. I hope that this brings joy to your heart. It certainly does for mine.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In His Time

Isaiah 65:1
(1) I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name.

I wasn't asking for God, were you? I was not seeking Him. Yet He was there and He was ready to take me. He presented Himself to me and then I became His. Of course, as we've gone over before, this was not some kind of "wooing," but it was a process where He transformed my heart.

Think about where this stands in Scripture. We're nearly at the end of Isaiah. We've seen how the nation of Israel messed up their side of the covenant that God made with them. We've seen how God has promised to restore a remnant to Himself.

But here we see the promise that He will take those who haven't been seeking Him at all. The "nation" refers to the Gentiles. As we stand 2000 years after the cross this doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it certainly would have been when this was written. The idea of the Gentiles coming to God was unthinkable. And here I am as one of God's children.

Do not lose sight of this if you are His! The fact that He called you and saved you is amazing by itself, but even more so if you consider that you were not part of the first stage of the plan. We've always been part of God's eternal plan, but we could not have seen this at the time of Isaiah. Rejoice to be part of the chosen!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Afflicting God

Isaiah 63:9
(9) In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

The note in my ESV Study Bible got me thinking about this. The affliction of God's people afflicted Him. This is true despite the fact that their sin led to their affliction. Plus, God brought their discipline upon them. Yet in their affliction He was afflicted.

There's an old control tactic with kids in church to say, "that makes Jesus sad" to get them to stop doing something. While there is truth to that and it's actually a good reason not to do something, it also sounds a bit trite. Yet I think that is what this verse tells us. Our sin afflicts Him. It certainly afflicted Him at the cross.

Does that ever factor into your decisions? I know that there are times when I sin and the thoughts of how it affects God are furthest from my mind. Frankly, I think they have to be. If I really let the weight of this sink in I'm pretty sure I would sin a lot less. I would certainly commit much fewer of the "little" sins that don't seem to have much effect on anything that I can easily see.

It's a dangerous prayer to ask God for more perspective on how my sin affects Him. However, as I type this I think that is what I want.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pursuing His Love

Isaiah 62:12
(12) And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

One of the failings of English is the word "you." The biblical languages as well as lots of modern languages make a clear distinction between male and female as well as singular and plural. Here in the South we might say, "y'all," but even that can sometimes be used in the singular. It's pretty ambiguous.

Here in the Hebrew the "you" is feminine. That means it refers to Zion. In other words, the Lord will seek out Zion. He will not forsake them, though they will go through times of testing and trouble.

As a Gentile grafted into Israel I am sure glad for this promise. God wouldn't go to the trouble of pursuing me and saving me if He had no plans to keep me. This is of course not a license to sin, but it is very reassuring that my hope is on Christ's righteousness and not my own.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Lord's Timing

Isaiah 60:22
(22) The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it.

Something in my ESV Study Bible note really struck me about this. The Lord is not waiting for things to line up just so. He is not limited by people. Things will happen when He wills for them to happen.

I find this both liberating and a bit puzzling. For example, I know that I am to share the gospel with people. I know that I am to pray for them. However, I also know that they will or won't be saved based on the Lord's timing. I can't argue someone into the kingdom.

John Piper puts it well. A nail does not just get driven into a board. It requires a hammer. How does prayer work with a sovereign God? That is the hammer that drives the nail.

It reminds me that I need to step up my prayers for those who do not know the Lord. I pray for God's sovereign hand to work in their hearts and quicken them to salvation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wanting it Both Ways

Isaiah 58:2
(2) Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.

This reminds me a lot of our New Age culture. Apparently a majority of Americans identify themselves as "Christians." Yet the practice of most self-identifying Christians would not stand up very well to scrutiny from the Word. So what does it mean?

I would maintain that there is a hunger to know God. However, we tend to want Him on our terms. We want to fashion Him in a way that is palatable to our tastes. We don't like this business of repenting and changing our lives. We certainly don't want to sacrifice for Him. Yet we say that we want Him.

Israel was no different in Isaiah's day. Read this verse in context of the whole chapter and you will see how the people wanted to know God, but they wanted Him on their terms.

I think it's very dangerous to approach God this way. It also makes me wonder in what ways I do the same thing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't Fear the Reaper

Galatians 6:7-9
(7) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
(8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(9) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

This is a passage that has a lot to say about reaping and sowing. I think it helps to dispel any idea that what we do in this world has no meaning. There is a sense here that our eternal rewards will have to do with what we sow in this life.

Put another way, I look forward to heaven because of Christ's righteousness, but it seems to me that there is a sense of rewards in heaven based on how I live. This passage also seems to speak to this idea:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15
(11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--
(13) each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
(14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
(15) If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

The point is that sometimes Christians are accused of accepting a cheap grace where we punch our ticket for heaven and then go about abusing grace. I don't think it's supposed to work that way. Not only are we to live in such a way that God is glorified, but as we do these good works there are rewards waiting for us in heaven, provided that our works stand the test of fire.

The key is the foundation. What is yours?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Antidote to Temptation

Isaiah 52:14-15
(14) As many were astonished at you-- his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind--
(15) so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.

Do you follow Christ? If so, think about this verse. Many of us have seen "The Passion of the Christ," and we likely winced a little bit when Jesus was beaten. Think about what you saw and compare it to this passage. I think Gibson went kind of light on the beating.

I met with someone yesterday who is in the early stages of trying to put his life back together after a longtime enslavement to pornography. We talked about what I did when I was pursuing freedom. I mentioned how I would think on Christ's passion when I was tempted to sin. I would remember what He did on the cross for my sins. That reminder would adjust my thinking back to devotion for the one who was so devoted for me.

What are you thinking about? How much time are you spending on vain trivialities? Of course, there is a place for recreation, but there is also a time for serious reflection on what happened at Calvary. Are you going to the cross when tempted?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proper Fear

Isaiah 51:7-8
(7) "Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.
(8) For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations."

I think just about all of our sin problems boil down to one of three things:
  1. Pride of Life
  2. Lust of the Eyes
  3. Fear of Man
Pride is a pretty simple one, though it has been called the root of all sin. Our pride is ultimately what stops us from having a right relationship with God and others.

Lust of the eyes goes beyond just lust in the sense of pornography. It also describes materialism and envy. Gluttony would fall into this too. It is how we get ourselves into all kinds of trouble.

I think this passage speaks to the last one. Who ultimately gets the place of honor in your life? Is it God or man? It's easy to say that it's God, but when the chips are down do you really honor Him? Do you always give a clear witness for Him or do you sometimes let the opinion of others slow you down? Does the opinion of others sometimes influence how you act even to the point of committing some sin so that you might look better in their eyes?

I know that I certainly fall into this trap from time to time. This passage reminds me that God is ultimately in charge and He is the only one to whom we will ultimately have to give an account. We don't have to fear any man. Let's start living this way!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Turning the Tables

Isaiah 49:22-23
(22) Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
(23) Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."

I'm not sure that we can really imagine this properly. Think of the President of the United States shining your shoes. Imagine a Middle Eastern dictator bowing at your feet and getting you drinks while you lounge at the pool. It's hard to comprehend, isn't it?

What a metaphor for the riches that we have waiting for us at the end! I don't think that any of my examples will become literally true, but the point is that what seems powerful in the world now will seem very insignificant one day. At that time we will be certain who the Lord of the universe really is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Keep Reading

Isaiah 46:8-11
(8) "Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,
(9) remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
(10) declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
(11) calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

There are some folks who don't spend much time in the Old Testament. I would maintain that goes against this command. There is value in remembering what God did for His covenant people Israel. It reminds us of His ultimate goodness and His sovereignty.

Personally, when I read Exodus I am encouraged that the same God who freed Israel from Egypt also freed me from bondage to my sins. I am encouraged that the God who used David can use me for His purposes. I am encouraged that God is powerful enough to use Cyrus ("bird of prey from the east") to ultimately restore His people after they sin. If He can do that He can also restore me from mine.

God is indeed an awesome God. There is no one like Him. Spend time reading about all He has done for His people and be encouraged.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An Unlikely Tool

Isaiah 45:1-6
(1) Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:
(2) "I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,
(3) I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
(4) For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
(5) I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,
(6) that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Think about this for a minute. Cyrus was not going to be a Jew. In fact, he would be king of the nation that took the Jews into captivity. Yet here is described as God's "anointed." This has a couple of implications.

First, it shows that God is indeed sovereign. This was written before Cyrus came into power and yet it predicted exactly how things would go. Cyrus would be instrumental to the rebuilding of the temple.

Second, it shows that God works in ways that we often do not comprehend. I'm pretty sure it would be tough for a Jew to think of Cyrus as someone that God calls His own. Yet here it is in black and white.

What do we do with this? I think that it makes us take a moment to look with awe at the amazing sovereign power of our God. It also should keep us from putting Him in a box regarding how He operates. I consistently pray for the salvation of many people that seem like hopeless cases. But if God could use Cyrus He can find ways to save these folks. He saved me after all.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A God With Power

Isaiah 44:19-22
(19) No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"
(20) He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
(21) Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
(22) I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

This is a repeated theme in the prophets. Men make gods from their own hands out of wood, and yet they use other parts of the same tree to cook dinner. Why should we fall down before something that we have made?

On the other hand, God made us. He also made the wood that these men worship. He made everything and then He went to all the trouble of redeeming us. Man cannot deliver himself, but he needs God to do it.

Don't get too literal with this passage either. We all have idols even if we're not necessarily carving them from a tree. The point here is not to worship created things that have no real lasting power. Personally, I'd really like an iPhone or an iPod Touch. I don't need one, but it would be cool to have one. It can easily become an idol to me. I have a friend who recently acquired a van for his family. They desperately needed one. It's fun to get a new vehicle. But he is wisely on guard against making it into an idol.

I am not advocating asceticism here. I just want to make sure that we are all steering clear of idols. There's a reason why 1 John ends the way it does. Idolatry is the root of all our troubles.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prepare for Destruction

Isaiah 43:25-28
(25) "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
(26) Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
(27) Your first father sinned, and your mediators transgressed against me.
(28) Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary, and deliver Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling.

It's hard to pick just one passage out of this incredible chapter. I like this one because it really explains how God saves us.

First, He blots out our transgressions for His sake. It's not all about us, despite what many appeals to salvation may sound like. It is for His sake. That is why He saved Israel. I believe that is also why He saves us. Of course, we should enjoy the blessings that come from salvation, but ultimately it is for His glory.

The rest of this passage shows us our complete inability to save ourselves. Israel's first father sinned. The ESV Study Bible thinks this is either Abraham or Jacob. My initial reading is to take this as Adam, but I can see where they're coming from. This passage certainly does address Israel head-on.

Israel's sin led to their destruction. Our sin leads to our own personal destruction. The good news is that, like Israel, we are to get rebuilt after that destruction. There can be no salvation without personal spiritual destruction. I've had to go through that with habitual sins in my life and I feel like I'm going through some of that now with how I've treated my wife. It's not a lot of fun to go through, but at least there is hope on the other side!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who Did This?

Isaiah 42:24-25
(24) Who gave up Jacob to the looter, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law they would not obey?
(25) So he poured on him the heat of his anger and the might of battle; it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand; it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart.

It seems to me that American evangelicalism likes to have the good without the bad. We like to look at God as the one who saves sinners. That is true. However, He is also the one who brings sinners low so that they could repent and believe.

It's not fun to consider this side of God. As I look back on my life I am glad for the times when He has brought me low. I know that I need them to be broken of my own self-reliance. These aren't easy to embrace, but this passage reminds me that I need to.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bring it On

Isaiah 41:21
(21) Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.

This is a direct challenge to all the idolaters in the region. Basically, it is an invitation to show what their gods were made of. Would they stand the challenge of debate? The passage goes on to challenge them to prophesy. Obviously they would fail at these challenges.

I think that our tendency is to shrink away from guys like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. They come with their hubris and refined accents. It's only natural for American Christians to be a bit intimidated. However, if we are following the true God of the universe we have nothing to fear from them. We have nothing to fear from atheists, liberals, or anyone else who would challenge our faith. We can stand on the solid rock of the Logos.

Of course, we still need to learn apologetics. We need to be ready to obey the command of 1 Peter 3:15-16. We can do so with the confidence that we are speaking from a position of real authority if what we say is grounded in the truth of Scripture. Don't let anyone scare you. Bring it on! What better way to get to give a clear gospel presentation?

Monday, June 08, 2009

He is Sovereign

Isaiah 40:13-15
(13) Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?
(14) Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?
(15) Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

I feel very encouraged when I read this as part of my morning reading. God is in charge. No one can contain Him. He is perfectly wise and needs no counsel from anyone. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles like nations at war are nothing to Him. He calls me His son so I don't have to worry.

That sounds great as part of a morning devotional. The problem is that I don't really believe that. I give it mental assent, but the way I live often shows that I don't really buy this. I think that it is my job to work things out. I think that problems are too big for me to handle. I lose sight of the fact that God holds the whole world in His hands.

I'm not sure who is reading this, but I suspect that you can relate. I suspect that you have times where your faith falters a little bit. I want to encourage you to remember this passage. Spend time in the Word to be reminded of just how great and powerful God truly is. Repent of your sins and follow after Christ. He alone will guide us to victory.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Looking Out for Number One

Isaiah 39:8
(8) Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good." For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my days."

Hezekiah was one of the better kings of Judah. Nevertheless, he still blew it in the end. He was told that he would die shortly, but God gave him another 15 years to live. What did he do with those extra years? One thing he did was show off all the riches of Judah to the Babylonians. Because of this God used Isaiah to tell him that all those riches would end up in Babylon, but it wouldn't be until after he was dead. The verse above is his response.

Sometimes I wonder if we are being that short-sighted with how our government is trying to fix our economy. I also wonder if I have that kind of focus in my day-to-day living. It's so much easier to accept a consequence that will happen in the future. And it is extremely easy to accept a consequence that you will never personally experience.

That's not the kind of legacy I want to leave for my children. I want to live in such a way that they will not have to deal with the repercussions of my actions. I think that is just good stewardship. What do you think?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Watch for Subtlety

Isaiah 36:7
(7) But if you say to me, "We trust in the LORD our God," is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, "You shall worship before this altar"?

You've got to be careful when reading dialog in the Bible. After all, not everything everyone says is true. Take this for example. The Rabshakeh tells the people that Hezekiah took down the high places of the Lord. Of course, those weren't the way He designed worship. Hezekiah was right to tell people that worship had to be at the temple.

This also warns us not to believe everything we hear or read. This is especially true with the internet. There is a ton of junk out there. We need to be discerning in what we take in. Are we reading opinions or facts? How are we forming our worldview as a result of what we are taking in?

I think most people like to think that the Bible is their guide. Can you honestly say that? Can I honestly say that? Do I know what it says enough to filter the world through it? Am I committed enough to it that I will let it change my worldview? I fear that I am becoming somewhat cemented. In many cases, that is a good thing. However, I also know that there must be some areas where God wants to change me. Am I teachable?

I realize that I've used this text as a springboard and gone off on it. However, I do think that these are some things to consider.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Finding Real Joy

Isaiah 35:10
(10) And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This is something I needed to be reminded of. It's so easy for me to pursue other things for joy. I think that mindless time online will bring me joy. I sometimes look at things (well, people) I have no business looking at because I'm not married to them. I sometimes think that just the right thing will bring me joy.

Everlasting joy comes from the Lord. Why can't I remember that? How is it that I can spend time memorizing Scripture and 5 minutes later find myself drifting off into sin? Why am I so fickle?

I know that I am not alone in this and that is some comfort. I think of the great words of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

That is my prayer. Is it yours?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What do You Love?

Isaiah 33:15-16
(15) He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
(16) he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

The study note in my ESV Study Bible got me thinking about how this verse applies directly to me today. Certainly I should not tolerate corruption in society. I should despise the gain of oppressions and I should not seek the hearing of bloodshed nor should I want to look on evil.

However, in our society I think that this perhaps has even more application. What kinds of movies am I watching? What do I look for in the news? Do I sanction movies that glorify violence and evil? This is why I've stopped watching James Bond movies. They're fun with the gadgets, the one-liners, and the exotic locales. However, they also glorify sex and violence. As a Christian should I be entertained by that? Probably not.

I've noticed that my pants are getting a little small. They're tighter than they've been in about 6 years. This concerns me because it tells me that I've been letting myself go a little too much. It's a reminder that I need to repent of letting little sins into my life. It seems like the fight against sexual sin is sort of my touchstone. It's when I became serious about the overall pursuit of holiness. This verse reminds me that I need to get serious in all aspects of my life. It's far too easy to slide!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Loving My Wife

Ephesians 5:25-33
(25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
(26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
(27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
(28) In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
(29) For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
(30) because we are members of his body.
(31) "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
(32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
(33) However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I have often said that this passage and James 4:17 are what govern my marriage. For the most part, I do a pretty good job. However, I also realize that I could do much better. The problem is that I do the things that I think are important to Amanda. I'm great about running errands and getting the kids out of her hair. She appreciates that, but what she wants more than anything is tenderness and affection.

I'm not a real affectionate guy. In fact, I'm pretty dispassionate about a lot of things. Sadly, that often includes my wife. I'm all for sexual intimacy, but I'm not so much for giving her non-sexual affection. This is something that I've been praying about lately.

I have rationalized this in the past by recognizing that Amanda is often pretty crabby in the evenings. This is by her own admission. Noah is wearing her out and if Lily pulls any of her antics it makes things very difficult for her. How do I show affection to someone that is hard to be affectionate toward at the time?

The answer hit me when I was running yesterday. I am to love her as Christ loves the church. Is the church always easy to love? Is it always easy to show grace toward the church? I don't think so. Christ loves us no matter how much we try to push Him away. That needs to be my example to follow. It's not just about service, but it's also about genuine kindness and affection no matter what.

Men, how are you doing with this? I sure hope you're better at it than I am!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Mercy and Justice

Isaiah 29:17-21
(17) Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
(18) In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
(19) The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
(20) For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
(21) who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.

This passage is another one that gives me great hope for the future. First, I see myself in verse 18. I know that I was blind and deaf, but the Lord chose to open my eyes and ears to the truth of His Word. That doesn't mean I always live it perfectly, but it is now my standard for living.

Verse 19 is like a punch in the stomach sometimes. Am I meek? Do I realize my spiritual poverty? Do I see the need for grace in my life? Or am I more like the ruthless and scoffer of verse 20? Frankly, I'm more like that than I want to admit.

On many levels my life is cruising right now. My class is going well. Everyone is healthy. The weather is beautiful. Work is going well. However, I also know that things could be better. I don't treat my wife and children the way I should all the time. I am not particularly tender or affectionate. I am painfully aware of how selfish I am at my core. I still desperately need grace.

Where are you today? Do you realize your poverty of spirit? If so, what are you doing about it? I pray that all who read this would call out to Christ for the grace needed to live a life that glorifies Him.