Friday, May 31, 2013

Wk 1 Day 4 - 2 Samuel 12:1-3a

So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet
to tell David this story:
"There were two men in a certain town.
One was rich, and one was poor.
The rich man owned many sheep ...
The poor man owned nothing but
a little lamb he had worked hard to buy.
2 Samuel 12:1-3a

Question three in 50 Days of Prayer (pg 9) ponders how Nathan knew that he was to go to David with the story about the rich man and the poor man’s sheep. David Chotka’s conclusion: We don’t know.

“Wait!” I can hear you say, “I thought this story was about finding out how God speaks. If we don’t know how God spoke to the prophet, then how will we know how God speaks to us?”

Here’s what you need to know …

This is not a story about Nathan, the prophet. This is the story about David, a human being who allowed himself to descend into a dark place.

Which of the two am I more like? If you’re like me, prophecy is not your primary spiritual gift. Therefore, I’m more like David. I’m the guy who occasionally descends into dark places.

Since I’m not a prophet, I need to spend my time pondering today how God spoke to David – rather than to the Prophet Nathan.

The way in which God spoke to David was through his encounter with a godly person.

Am I surrounding myself with Godly people? Am I surrounding myself with people who are willing to speak the truth to me in love (Eph 4:15). Indeed, do I have a “prophet” in my life, instead of a dozen “yes-men.”

Am I humble enough to listen to their godly guidance, rather than proudly defending my actions.

One of the ways that God speaks to us is through the godly counsel of godly friends. Maybe it’s time to upgrade the quality and character of your friends.

And I say this advisedly. We all need to look like a sheep from the front and a shepherd from behind.
  • The sheep-part-of-us needs a strong Christian mentor to follow. Those are the only people we should ever seek advice from. Therefore, who are your Christian mentors?
  • The shepherd-part-of-us needs to be leading other sheep, including outcasts and sinners. We don’t seek advice from sheep, though! Rather, our time with shepherds helps us put on the armor, so we can help sheep in the valley of wolves.


In Christ’s Love,
a guy who is hard-headed …
I tend to defend myself first
whenever a shepherd or prophet speaks
… but I’m eventually humble enough
to let true truth sink in
(I just wish I weren’t so proud and hard initially)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wk 1 Day 3 - 50 Days of Prayer - 2 Samuel 11:13

Then David invited [Uriah]
to dinner and got him drunk.
2 Samuel 11:13

I heard it said again just recently, “In Washington, the cover-up is always worse than the crime.”

Today in 50 Days of Prayer, David Chotka asks us to consider what would happen if our modern press uncovered a scandal like King David’s affair with Monica Lewinsky (oops … er … I mean … Bathsheba).

I think we can answer that with two quick words: “Scandal sells.”

(And by the way, we’re all voyeurs to one degree or another. We all to one degree or another slow down to see the car wreck that caused the traffic jam, and we all are fascinated by the train wrecks in people’s lives. Yes, scandal sells.)

That’s not what I want to focus on, however, in this story. It’s the cover-up.

A pretty high percentage of us haven’t had an affair, and yet most of us – at one time or another … and for one reason or another … and for one issue or another – have had a divided heart.

The question is … What have you covered up? … Wait … here’s a better question: What are you covering up right now?

If the axiom in Washington is, the cover-up is worse than the crime, how is this true right now for you?

In general, a crime is a dark act. A cover-up buries the crime in further darkness. It heaps darkness upon darkness until the light is snuffed out gradually, but thoroughly and completely.

Sin you’ve heard me say, is like a vampire. It thrives in the darkness. But what happens when you bring a vampire into the light? It loses its power (sometimes even its very life).

Confession – rather than cover-up – brings the darkness into the light.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you out and tell your wife about every little darkness that’s ever lingered in any corner of your heart. But I am suggesting is that you …
  • Find one very trusted person to share your struggles with (perhaps a pastor).
  • Bring God into it. (Don’t just talk about, share your struggles with someone who will pray with you. You want spiritual healing.)
  • Resolve to live from this time forward in the light (I said, you may not need to tell your wife about every past transgression, but what if you shared with her a general weakness, and told her that you wanted to grow closer with her by fighting any future struggles together? No you have an additional accountability partner, and this vulnerability might just bless your marriage and bring you closer.) 


In Christ’s Love,
a guy who is writing this
on a hot afternoon porch
and can’t imagine wanting to
cover anything up …
especially with a blanket


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wk 1 Day 2 - 50 Days of Prayer - 2 Samuel 11:1-2

The following spring,
the time of year when kings go to war,
David sent Joab and the Israelite army
to destroy the Ammonites. …
But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Late one afternoon David got out of bed …
and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace.
As he looked out over the city,
he noticed a woman of unusual beauty
taking a bath.
2 Samuel 11:1-2

For Day Two of the study, we have been invited to read 2 Samuel 11. It is the story of how King David quit discerning and how the prophet Nathan had to step in and speak a word of truth to the king.

Do you remember the story?
  • King David saw a woman taking a bath.
  • He wanted her.
  • He “had her.”
  • She got pregnant.
  • Since both the king and the bathing beauty were already married to other people, he tried to cover it up.
  • And when the woman’s husband turned out to be more honorable than the supposedly honorable king, David had him killed.
  • David thought he got away with it, that the cover-up worked.
  • That was until God – through Nathan – confronted David (using, indeed, a clever story that resonated with the former shepherd’s heart – a rich man stole a poor man’s sheep.)
  • And Psalm 51 (“create in me a clean heart, O God”) is David’s passionate confession after his fa├žade cracks and he finally comprehends his sin.

Months could be devoted to studying this rich story. But I want to make just one quick point …

Look at our verse for today.
  • What time of year was it? Spring.
  • Where were kings supposed to be? Out in the field, defending the country.
  • Where was David? At home being lazy – indeed, sleeping all afternoon. 

When we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, we’re vulnerable. AA has a warning to its members. HALT means: “Never let yourself get …”
  • H – Too Hungry (too needy for some physical sensation)
  • A – Too Angry (too ruled by any negative emotion)
  • L – Too Lonely (too isolated, and without the encouragement and accountability to trustworthy friends)
  • T – Too Tired (too exhausted, yes, but also too lazy, which is exhaustion’s overwhelmed overcompensation. When we can’t do everything, we sometimes do nothing at all).

Those letters spell King David’s downfall …
  • L – Kings are normally lonely and isolated. They have no peers or equals. No one around them that doesn’t want something from them. No one, generally, who will tell them the truth anymore.
  • T – David had also spent years building a kingdom. Which meant he was also very tired. 
  • H – This king didn’t necessarily go looking for trouble, but he nevertheless encountered a sight that stirred a physical sensation stirred within him (lust).  We can’t help occasionally encountering some sights. Indeed, the first accidental glance is generally not a sin. It was the second glance – it was entertaining that sight – that began to destroy David.
  • A – That physical reaction, kept stirring in David until it produce a negative emotion and destructive desire. It was action and reaction without regard to consequences. 

Yesterday was a call for less busyness and less noise. What do you need to HALT? Indeed, mentally fill in these blanks regarding your own life. Asking where you might be in danger of settling for worldly desires instead of spiritual blessings:
  • H – In what ways are you Too Hungry? Too needy for some physical sensation? _____ ______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
  • A – In what ways are you Too Angry … or really, too ruled by any negative emotion? _____ ______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
  • L – In what ways are Too Lonely? In fact, what behaviors tend to keep you too isolated, and without the encouragement and accountability to trustworthy friends?  _____ ______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
  • T – In what ways are you Too Tired? Too exhausted, yes, but also too lazy, which is exhaustion’s overwhelmed overcompensation. When we can’t do everything, we sometimes do nothing at all). _____ ______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who’s grandually learned
to generally spell my life
without too big of an H or A or L
… but the T kills me all the time

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wk 1, Day 1 - 50 Days of Prayer - John 5:30

Jesus said,
I can do nothing of my own initiative. …
Therefore, I do not seek my own will,
but the will of him who sent me.
John 5:30

Welcome to 50 Days of Prayer. For the next several weeks, my devotions will be based on the next step recommended to Spirit of Joy by our friend, Pastor David Chotka. You can find the resource by clicking here. Today we’re reading pages 4-9. The rest of the week we’ll reflect daily on one of the questions.

There is one thing more to do before getting started – Pick one thing to pray about! 50 Days of Prayer is a prayer resource written to a denomination that a year ago was choosing a new president. Therefore, when you see, “Pray for God to reveal our new president,” replace it with “God, open a door for a new job” or “Father, protect my wayward child” or “Lord, heal my marriage.” You probably have ten things on your prayer list. But pick just one! Why? We’re learning to focus, because focus can bring clarity.

Most of us would like to learn how to “hear God’s voice” – or “discern God’s voice,” which is Pastor David’s preferred term.

He starts today’s reading with the story of attending a prayer conference. A prayer partner, enthusiastic about discerning the voice of God, came up to him and said “prophetically,” “You’re a draftsman. You’re unemployed. And you’re depressed.” He said, “I’m a pastor. I have a job. And I’m joyfully content.” He says, “I think I ruined her day.”

The Bible talks about clarity, however, in discerning God’s voice. Jesus, in fact, should be our model. Though Jesus was God, Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that Jesus emptied himself of his divine nature – including his divine “knowing” – when he came to earth in human form.

And yet, HE DID KNOW! How?

In John 5:30 Jesus says, “I can do nothing of my own initiative. … Therefore, I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

How does Jesus hear and how does Jesus know? He aligns himself totally with God. How? One, he is grounded thoroughly in God’s word (look back, for example, to how he responded to the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness.) Second, he grounds himself through prayer. To Jesus, prayer is essential. And he listens and listens and listens … and then listens some more.

I’m glad it’s summer.

For many of us, the routines change. For right now, that’s a positive and powerful opportunity! Covenant with yourself and with God to craft a new routine for the next fifty days (and throughout summer).

There are three things more than any other that keep us from better and more listening prayer:

  1. BUSYNESS: As your summer routine takes shape, say “no” to a few good (and worldly) things, and say yes to more in quietness before God.
  2. NOISE: Most of us in this modern world can’t hear because it’s never quiet. Turn something off.
  3. COMMITMENT: It takes a couple of weeks to make a habit. Be purposeful and passionate in claiming time with God.


In Christ’s Love,
a guy who is covenanting
in a new and purposeful way
to turn off the noise
(we’ve already cut cable TV), and
and do less of the good so I can
focus more on God

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24 - John 4:29

"Come and see a man
who told me everything
I have ever done!
He cannot be the Messiah,
can he?"
John 4:29

Traveling through Samaria, Jesus was tired and sat down by a well.

Then he did two things that good Jewish men never did – 1) he talked to a Samarian, 2) he talked to a women who was a stranger. (Aren’t you glad we have a Savior who cares more about people than cultural barriers.)

Jesus and the woman talked first about water – wet, physical, H2O. Then they talked about something deeper – living water.

Then after Jesus prophesied – sharing with her some secrets in her life – the woman rushed away from the encounter brimming with wonderment. She told everyone she could find: "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?"

Last week, at the 8:30 service, Pastor David Chotka taught us this principle: “You can’t grow, til you say what you know.”

Who have you told about your faith, your prayers, your hope, your peace … or even this week’s conference?

Jesus filled this woman at the well with living water. But what happens when water sits stagnant? Pond scum! But this was living water. And it couldn’t help but spill out!

So here’s the question … if you can’t grow, till you say what you know … then who have you been telling!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who want to grow
as tall as a redwood

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23 - Luke 19:46

"It is written,
"My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers."
Luke 19:46

We just had a week of prayer.

Wow! (Thanks, David Chotka.)

If you had a chance to pray – especially Tuesday night – it was a gift from God.

We don’t want that gift to end!

Here is the link for 50 Days of Prayer (http://www.alliancepray.ca/pdf/50DaysofPrayerBooklet.pdf). Pastor David recommended this as a next step for the church. I’m recommending this as a next step for the church. Indeed, I’m recommending this as the next step for you … and me too! I want to grow in prayer.

Here’s how we’ll do it … We’ll gather on Sundays at the Sunday School hour. We’ll work through some of the material on Sunday.

Why only “some”? Because …
  • Because Sundays between services aren’t time enough to do it all.
  • Because we don’t want just head knowledge. If we’re going learn to pray, we need to spend time praying.
  • And because I can use these devotionals to cover the rest of the material … and hold it in front of us on a daily basis.

Now let’s get specific … “50 Days of Prayer” was a guide for praying for Pastor David’s denomination – Christian and Missionary Alliance (of Canada) – to choose a new denominational president. Thus, a few questions reference that.

Here’s what I want you to do instead! Pick one issue you want to pray through in your life. And every time you hear “choose a new president” replace it with something like “choose whether to take the new job” or “choose whether to buy a new car” or “choose which activities are God-honoring as my family sets our schedule for next fall.” On Sundays, I will also give you congregational issues for us as a group to pray through. Indeed, let’s be purposeful.

If you’d like for us to print you a copy, let me know. You can have it for free, of course (but if you’ve got five extra bucks in your pocket, let’s not blow the copier budget!).

I look forward to fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (56:7) and Jesus (Lk 19:46). May Spirit of Joy – more and more and more – be called a House of Prayer!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy signing up
for 50 days



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Last Night! How to Hear! -- plus, Recap

So far Pastor David Chotka has covered
the first two steps to “Hearing God’s Voice.”
People, even from other churches,
are coming to him to pray!


Recap …

Day 1: The first step to knowing and hearing God is the Word of Christ. And Pastor David called all of us to repent of our lack of passion for God’s Word. It is a clear speaking and teaching, available every day.

Last Night, Day 2:

When most of us say “we want to hear God,” we mean that we want audible, discernible words to be spoken to us. So Pastor David’s first key point was to remind us that words are a secondary form of communication in every mind. Words are merely expressions of a deeper language – pictures, feelings, and impressions.

To prove this he said, “Try not to think of an elephant.”

Did anyone immediately call to mind the letters E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T? No. We all saw a picture of a big gray animal in our mind. That’s our primary communication language!

Then he said something like, “Try not to think of an elephant in love with cactus.” Immediately we saw pictures in our head AND we could FEEL as little bit of the poor elephant’s unrequited and rather prickly love. Every culture may use different words, but we ALL have a common picture in our head for elephants and common feelings in our heart for love. That’s our primary language.

So if our primary language is pictures, feelings, and impressions, then how does God – our creator – generally speak?! (Ahhh! We’ve been listening for the wrong thing!)

With that, Pastor David began focusing then on how God speaks through the Witness of Spirit.

His key verse was Colossians 3:15 -- let the peace of Christ be the “referee” within your hearts. When we are faced with a decision, we should “weigh our options,” by taking it to the Lord in prayer. As we contemplate these options, one should begin to bring us peace, while with the other options we should feel the peace begin to diminish. That’s the Holy Spirit! The peace is refereeing! It is showing us God’s will.

It’s as simple as that!

But here’s the complication … We’re sinful. We want what we want. We often “hear” what we want to hear. We can easily lie to ourselves.

That’s where Day 1 and tonight’s Day 3 come in.
  • The first check, discussed on the first night, is whether our peace is in line with the Word of God? (Indeed, the more we saturate our lives with the Word of Life, we’re less likely to find peace in ungodly options anyway! 

  • Tonight we will cover some of the finally checks, including accountability through faithful friends who are Christians. Pastor David says, “Who should you check your feelings with? Faithful followers with a sweet, sweet spirit!” 

These are practical suggestions – saturated in scripture and told through lots of real life examples. 


May 21 - Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the
broken-hearted and saves
the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

I’m writing this a few days in advance of our Deeper Life Conference. But remembering last year’s conference, I’m anticipating God drawing near to broken-hearted.

I’m anticipating … a measure of healing … an assurance of forgiveness … an outpouring of hope … a lifting of the weights that crush our spirits.

And this is supposed to be normal. As our verse today assures us, this is who God is. This is how God acts. This is how God wants our daily relationship to be.

Part of the Deeper Life Conference is bringing someone inspirational in to remind us of this fact.  

But it doesn’t take a big conference or motivational preacher to have the Lord draw “near.” What it takes is …
  • getting rid of some of the noise
  • cutting out some of the busyness and distraction
  • submitting our will to his will to be done
  • confessing, honestly confessing, our sins
  • wanting a change
  • forgiving the other people who are causing us stress
  • disciplining yourself to read scripture
  • taking time to pray and pray and listen and pray

Wait, none of those are easy. And yet it’s the way that life was designed to be lived.

What’s causing you to be crushed? What’s the lever you need to use to lift that weight?

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who sees it mostly
but knows the last few levers



 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tonight's the Night - How to Hear God!


Pastor David Chotka discussed:
How to hear the wonderful,
mysterious “voice of God.”
“Except it’s not mysterious,” he says.
“It should be normal!”

Recap …

Last Night – Before we can “hear the voice of God,” last night we learned about the necessary precondition to hearing. Pointing out a huge problem in every western church, Pastor David called us as individuals to repent of not spending enough time in the word.
8:30 Sunday Sermon – “You can’t grow, Til you say what you know.” Along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), two disciples did not know of Easter yet. All they could speak about was what they knew – which included crucifixion, questions, worries, and doubt. But when they “said what they knew” – even imperfectly – Jesus met them there.
Too many of us shy away from speaking, fearing we’ll say something wrong (or fearing that our questions may not seem holy enough). This story encourages us to speak honestly – for example, “I fight intentionally every day to believe … in spite of my grief.” Say it, he says, and watch the level of faith rise (in you and those you tell it to).

Sunday School – There’s a pattern, he said: 1) a few small disagreements, 2) then an economic stress (maybe something breaks, causing a big bill), 3) then there’s an illness, 4) then bigger conflicts erupt (often among leaders).
Have you seen this? Pastor David told repeated stories of this pattern and gave three hints to fighting this spiritual warfare:
  1. Name your faith, claiming and re-claiming the Blood of the Lamb!
  2. Start testifying to the ways God’s worked (retelling past victories produce new victories in the present),
  3. Be willing to give up everything – even to die – to achieve God’s will (The enemy makes us defensive and defenseless by causing fear. When we’re willing to give up everything – even to die – he’s lost all his weapons!)

11:00 Sunday Sermon – In Isaiah 6, when the prophet encountered the living God, the angels were singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” In Hebrew and in the Bible, if you said something once, “It was the intended plan of action” – it was a warning, for example. If you said it twice, it was set in stone. If you said it three times – which only happened a few times in all of scripture – you couldn’t say it any more clearly.
While it was important to introduce us God – as holy, Holy, HOLY – Pastor David’s main point (unfolded more clearly on Sunday evening) is that God “changed his mind” about a hundred times in scripture. Wait! God never changed his mind on the BIG things – would he send his Son, the Messiah (these are the things repeated again and again and again). God never changes his mind on the things repeated twice and set in stone. But often God would say something once – and conditionally. For example, “Forty days more and Ninevah will be overthrown.” It was a warning. In the days of Jonah, Ninevah repented and God “changed his mind” and relented.
Pastor David’s call, therefore, was to pray and pray and pray and pray … until we hear a clear “yes” or a clear “no.” And then pray some more, until is confirmed with a second “yes” or “no” and clearly. Indeed, today’s circumstance – even if it lingers for years – may be a temporary condition rather than an eternal plan set in stone. Our prayer, therefore, can truly change the way things are.

May 20 - Nehemiah 9:33

You have been just
in all that has come upon us,
for you have dealt faithfully and
we have acted wickedly.
Nehemiah 9:33

The old joke among prison guards is that, “There is no one guilty in prison.”

Yes, every convict has been convicted of something. But 95% seem to have an excuse as to why they were wrongly convicted. (They were set-up. Their lawyer wasn’t any good. The police are corrupt. It was a mistaken identity. Some blame their parents or the system.)

In Nehemiah 9, the people stood before God … the judge.

Ezra the priest spoke on their behalf.
  • He said, “We’re part of the 5% who really are guilty.”
  • All of Israel was saying, “We have acted wickedly.”
  • Israel proclaimed, “You, our judge, have dealt fairly.”
  • “We deserve all that has come upon us.”

The first step to health in life is being honest.

Have you heard the phrase “Honest to God”? That’s the first step. When we are honest to God, that’s the beginning of healing. It’s the re-beginning of relationship, through restoration of relationship. It’s peace with God. It’s true and freedom and victory.

You’ve heard me say many times, “Some of my favorite people are recovering alcoholics.” Why? Because they’re the only ones of us who have to be honest; the rest of us pretend. But honesty sets – and keeps – them free.

What do you need to be honest to God about today?

In Christ’s Love,
a thankful guy who deserves
to be incarcerated
…  except someone paid
my penalty for me

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18,19 - Psalm 116:12

What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
Psalm 116:12

I used to work in advertising. Do you know what the point of advertising is? To make us dwell on what we don’t have (and thereby, buy more).
  • The pervasiveness of this attitude – the myth of scarcity and the inflaming of unnecessary wants – makes it difficult for us to focus on God’s bounty (upon all that God has bountifully and generously given to us).

  • Depression makes it difficult to focus on God’s bounty. I’ve experienced this one myself. It’s hard to be thankful for the light when we can’t even see much light.

  • Grief makes it hard to focus on God’s bounty too. 

  • Materialism makes it hard to focus on God’s bountiful generosity.

  • A pride which says, “I earned all this myself,” is another barrier.

We can’t get to the point of ever “return[ing] to the Lord” unless and until we begin to see how generous God has been.

Our very life is a bountiful gift. The beauty of the earth is God’s generous offering to us. The promise of forgiveness is wonderful and freeing. An eternity of no more mourning or crying or pain is the ultimate treasure.

Can you see God’s bounty? And once you can, then Psalm 116 prompts us to ask, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?”
  • The starting point is thanksgiving.

  • An equal piece is love and worship and adoration.

  • If the first and greatest command is to love God, the next thing we can give him is loving and serving our neighbors. After all, we bless him when we tend to the people he loves.

  • Generosity and stewardship are another piece “returning to the Lord.” He gives us everything, and not only does our stewardship help his church, but it enriches our soul because through it we grow our trust in him. And that’s a form of worship and adoration too. 

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who is overwhelmed
by God’s generosity










Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17 - Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul
Psalm 23:1-3

I often go to hospital rooms before a big surgery. When I’m there, I generally pray for three things:
  1. Peace before the surgery.
  2. Healing through the surgery (restoration).
  3. And patience through the days (and weeks) of recovery.

A friend is having surgery this week. This person lives in another state. Since I cannot be there to comfort them in person, I sent along the following prayers.

I thought you might like to look in … and perhaps learn a new piece of vocabulary for your prayers …

Lord, you are our shepherd. We shall not want. You maketh us to lie down in green pastures, you lead us beside still waters, you restoreth our soul!

Gracious heavenly Father, you are in the restoring business. Therefore, we pray to you in confidence. Heal this friend! Lord, she is your child – and my friend for whom I give thanks. Heal her. Use the ordinary miracles of doctors and nurses and medicines. But apply to her healing your supernatural miracles too – the things that can only come from heaven, the marvelous interventions that we may not know until that great and glorious day in the future.

As my friend prepares for this surgery, maketh her to lie down in your green pastures. Give her peace and calm and assurance as she awaits the surgery – with thankfully little nervousness! And yet the unknown always makes us think a little extra. So calm those nerves with the comfort of your green pastures.

And as she recuperates – a process which can never seem to go quickly enough – lead her beside your still waters. As the days of healing are inevitably slow, let her drink in your nearer presence and hear new whispers of your still small voice.

Loving Lord, I give you thanks for my friend. Heal her. Protect her. Encourage her. And let her be a light to doctors, nurses, maids, and techs, and all who come in contact with her.

Amen!!

By the way … I often pray this way for you too.   

In Christ’s Love,
a shepherd
(indeed, an under-shepherd)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16 - 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you
that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you
be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation
he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Which do you like the first … the good news or the bad news?

The bad news is, you’re not the most creative person in history.

The good news, therefore, is that you’ve not created a new way to sin! Indeed, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to [others].”

Wait! Why is that good news? Because that truth can break a chain.

Satan likes to lie to us. He whispers, “You can’t tell anyone your sin. No one would understand.” Therefore, we hide our sins and weaknesses. Have you ever done that? What’s the effect? It isolates us. It robs us from help and support.

Sin is like a vampire. It lives in the dark. But what happens to a vampire when it’s brought into the light? It dies.

Vampire-like, sin lives in the dark and secret corners of our heart. But when we confess our sins – bring them into the light – sin loses its grip on us.

Paul comforts us with this verse. Our temptations are not unique. People will understand. (Indeed, your pastor will understand. Trust me … I’ve seen and heard it all.)

Confession accomplishes three beautiful goals …
  1. Confession kills the vampire … and the ongoing stranglehold of temptation.
  2. Confession literally brings forgiveness. Remember 1 John 1? “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  3. Confession also brings deeper faith. When we confess – and comprehend God’s forgiveness – we’re more likely to trust God again and again. And when we’re trusting God more and more, we begin to see the escape routes that this verse promises. Indeed, God’s “way of escape” is precisely how he keeps us from “be[ing] tempted beyond [our] ability.” Faith is the way of escape. God can be stronger than any temptation. (Actually God is definitely stronger than any temptation, but he’s only as strong as we let him be. But when we let him, through faith, God is our way of escape.


In Christ’s Love,
a convict who’s been freed
through confession and faith