Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Creation’

The Lamp of the Lord

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.  ~~  Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God’s “let there be light.” it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we’ve hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins – of omission or commission – that we’ve left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God’s love we can see them for what they are – temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we’ve suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we’ve not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God’s light can help us to see the offender through His eyes – as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God’s investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn’t search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First Published 19 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.

The Awesome, Awful Truth

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  ~~  John 8:32  (KJV)

Freedom and truth are highly prized in this day – freedom more than truth, I fear.

But without truth, there is no freedom.

So how do we know the truth? There are some clues.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  ~~  John 14:6 (KJV)

Jesus came as savior and redeemer to give us direct access to a Holy God Who will not look upon sin without righteous anger.

I don’t know about you, but the righteous anger of God scares the pudding out of me.

Yes, God is a God of love. Yes, He loves all His creation. We have ample evidence of that.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

Jesus, Himself, is the evidence of God’s love.  Look at these verses carefully. When it says the world, it means every single person in the world, no exceptions.

The daughter who takes care of frailing parents; the man who lives around the street corner under a bridge; the members of the family in the big house on the hill; the loudmouthed gossip at the coffee shop;  all of them. Each and every one of them. And not just them.

He loves the victims of crime AND the perpetrators of those crimes. The saving grace of Jesus, our Redeemer, is open to them all.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Romans 3:20-26  (KJV)

In the eyes of God, the person who steals a pen from a desk is just as guilty as the one who kills people at random. There is no  degree of sin. Sin is sin, period.

We are not ever going to be “good enough” for God. There is no way for us to earn His favor. Only Jesus Christ can redeem us for eternity with Him.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.   ~~   Luke 13:3  (KJV

So what does it mean to repent?  Is it just being sorry we got caught in something shady? Is it just feeling bad about something we said or did?  Well, not really.  According to Merriam Webster:

Repent means — to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.

This requires a 180 degree change in thinking and behavior.

The other part is believing, believing that Jesus is Who He says He Is; believing that He is the means of our salvation; believing that obedience to His will is paramount in our lives.

Believing that He came for love of us. He loves us – each and every one of us – as if we were His only child.

The awful and awesome truth is that we make the choice. We determine our own eternity. We choose to believe – or we choose to not believe.

Please choose now. Time is running out.

Father, God,

Help us to see ourselves truthfully. Give us the wisdom to acknowledge our sins and the grace to repent of them. Fill us with a hunger to know You and let us empty ourselves of self so that Your Holy Spirit can take full possession.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

Jealous?

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; ~~ Exodus 20: (KJV)

I have always thought it interesting – and a little confusing – that God was called a jealous God. Having been taught that jealousy was a petty emotion, I simply could not reconcile the God I thought I knew with that kind of pettiness.

I was jealous of my best friend because she had siblings – and I didn’t. It wasn’t her fault, nor mine. But I wanted what she had. I didn’t want her not to have her siblings. I just wanted some of my own. I felt inferior.

God is not inferior – cannot feel inferior. How can He be jealous?

Strong’s Concordance helped me a great deal here. The root of the word which we have translated “jealous” actually means “zealous”.

And the dictionary elucidates further:

zealous:  marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal :  filled with or characterized by zeal

zeal:  eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something :  fervor

Aha!  This makes more sense. God is fervently partisan to His people. He desires nothing but the best for them and will guard them jealously from any enemy. Even when that enemy is themselves.

15 (For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day ~~ Deuteronomy 6:15, 24 (KJV) [emphasis mine]

This, then, ties back into the God I thought I knew. We are His creation, His workmanship. He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. Therefore, He will guard our hearts, correcting us when we stray, just as a good parent disciplines a child. His jealousy, His zealousness is for our benefit.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that Your chastisement is for our benefit. Grant that we may take You at Your word, always, and follow Your precepts and the example You gave us in the person of Jesus Christ. Let us see Your zealous protection as our greatest boon.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Back to the Basic

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
    our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
    in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    and the light of your face, for you loved them.
You are my King and my God,
    who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
    you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy,
    and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
    and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance,
    gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
    the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
    the peoples shake their heads at us.
I live in disgrace all day long,
    and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
    because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
All this came upon us,
    though we had not forgotten you;
    we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
    our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
    you covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it,
    since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
    and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust;
    our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
    rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Psalm 44 (NIV)

“Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

The hand of the Lord reaches to His people because of His love, not because of anything we have or have not done. There is none pure enough to stand righteous in the face of God on his own merits.

We are a weak and sinful creation. Left to our own devices, we fall into sin and wantonness. We tend to follow the lust of the flesh rather than the love of God. We satisfy our immediate appetites regardless of the consequences. We behave as if there were no consequences.

This psalm should be our prayer for our nation today. Look at all the things we’ve done.

We’ve allowed prayer to be stripped from our schools.

We have gagged the word of God and removed symbols of our faith from public lands.

We’ve misconstrued our own Constitution and the amendments thereto, twisting them to read that not only can government not interfere with religion (which was the original intent), but religion can have no say in government (which was not true even when the constitution was written).

The Declaration of Independence refers to a Supreme Being three times. Look for these three phrases: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” – “endowed by their Creator” – “the Supreme Judge of the world.”

The foundation of our freedoms lies in our understanding of God and His moral laws. Having flouted those laws and turned our backs on the Author of those laws, we are now reaping the consequences of His disfavor.

Father, God,

Remember our beginnings. In Your unfailing love, draw our nation back to Yourself. Restore us to the values of our roots and cleanse us from our iniquities.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

This was first posted 26 February 2012.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Jesus Prayed For You

Focus verses: John 17:1-26

We were studying the John 17 when the realization hit me. God loved me as much as He loved Jesus! Impossible! After all, Jesus was the son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Who was I? Nothing, nobody, just an average jane.

It was 1970-something. Our large Tuesday evening group was studying scriptures. I was sitting on the floor (we had more people than chairs) against the north wall of Marcella’s living room when I read and understood that twenty-third verse. It felt like my heart would explode. I could barely breathe. The enormity of that realization fell on me like huge weight that turned to gossamer when it touched my shoulders. In that moment, I was forever changed. All the world was different.

This seventeenth chapter of John begins with Jesus’ prayer for Himself. Here He says He was with the Father “before the world began.” Jesus, by His own admission, was present at creation.

Then He prays for the disciples and their future in this world, that God would protect them. Obviously that means in the spiritual sense, because the disciples were physically persecuted, tortured, and executed. But they never succumbed to the evil one. That protection was their unity with Christ, just as Christ is unified with the Father.

Then Jesus prayed for you and me – for all who would believe because of the words of the disciples. The outcome of this prayer is to be our unity with Christ and therefore with the Father.

Jesus prayed that we (all Christians) would be unified – one in the Holy Spirit. Now I don’t believe that means that all our sectarian differences will fade away – that we must all be one amorphous worshiping mass.

We each come to Him as individuals. How you worship might just set my teeth on edge – and vice versa. The point is our love for one another (whether we agree on all the details or not) should be the guiding force in our relationships with one another.

Father, God,

Make us sensitive to the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit which creates the unity between God and man. Help us to respond appropriately to Your unbounded love for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Arrogance Of Intellect

Focus verses: Ezekiel 28:1-10

While the verses in today’s reading are addressed to the King of Tyre, there is a lesson for us. We live in an information age. Knowledge has increased geometrically in the last century. Look at the innovations that have come about in the last 20 years.

We have telescopes that can “see” farther into the universe than ever. But no telescope can give us the vision of God.

We have microscopes that allow us to see smaller and smaller particles. But no microscope can plumb the depths of God’s creation.

Some of us are old enough to remember the telegraph and wire recorders (which predated the reel-to-reel tape recorders).

We remember when the mouthpiece of a telephone was affixed to a box attached to a wall and the receiver hung on a hook. We remember cranking the ringer to get central – the lady who plugged in the wires so that we could talk with another party.

And we remember party lines where you didn’t pick up unless it rang short-short-long because long-short-long was your neighbor’s ring, and you respected their privacy.

Now we are attached (wirelessly) to the world by cell phones that play different tunes depending on which of your friends or family is calling. We have nearly instantaneous access to breaking news – if not via the television, then by our computers.

All of this gives us information. But information is NOT wisdom. Wisdom comes from spending time in the presence of God – not from listening to the cacophony of the secular world around us.

Let us never forget that the first sin pandered to the arrogance of the intellect – the ambition to be as wise as God without seeking the wisdom of God.

Those who seek their own wisdom will be destroyed therein, just like the King of Tyre.

Father, God,

Grant us Your wisdom and the knowledge that all of our being is dependent upon You alone. Keep us from the sin of arrogance, reminding us that our intellect is finite while Yours is infinite.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Lamp of the Lord

Focus verse: Proverbs 20:27

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man;
it searches out his inmost being.

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God’s “let there be light.” it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we’ve hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins – of omission or commission – that we’ve left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God’s love we can see them for what they are – temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we’ve suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we’ve not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God’s light can help us to see the offender through His eyes – as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God’s investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn’t search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.