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Archive for the ‘Devotions’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving Eve all!

I was convicted and challenged by Paul Tripp’s meditation on “Complaints or Thanks” this morning.   I pray it would be helpful for you and me in reflecting upon Thanksgiving not just this season, but at all times.

He says, “Every day of your life you’ll find reasons to complain, and every day of your life you’ll have reasons to be thankful. Notice the distinction: you’ll FIND reasons to complain and you’ll HAVEreasons to be thankful.”

Read the rest of the article here, with helpful reflection questions at the end.

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There are many things I pray for regarding local churches.

I was thinking about the people in local churches and praying about them today, and I wanted to journal some thoughts before I forgot them, and to elicit feedback.

Obviously there are many biblical ways to pray for the people in local churches, such as praying that people in local churches would grow in holiness, unity, love, and delight in God above all things.

Yet, I have been thinking about the reality that the Christian life is both individual and corporate, and how to best pray for people in local churches to have a healthy perspective and balance of both of these aspects.  Here are some thoughts and prayers so far:

1) I am praying for less “ME” men and women in local churches.  I suspect that in our American, individualistic culture, I need to pray for this a LOT more.  For many of us, ME is the center of the universe.  We look for churches and ministries that cater to ME.  We make decisions based on ME, what would be best for ME, what happens to fit MY life situation best (whether it is moving to a new area, taking a new job, pursuing a certain vocation or ministry. etc).  We often view Christianity solely in individualistic terms, where the “corporate” church’s role is primarily to affirm and support ME.  For example, many people who think they are “called” to ministry, simply assume that the local church’s role is to “rubber stamp” the ME desire and perspective, where ME makes a decision and simply informs the local church.  In this mindset, ME rules, and the church is more seen as a cheerleader to ME or an afterthought to ME.  So, I am praying for less “ME” men and women in local churches.

2) I am also praying for less “YES” men and women in local churches (using “yes men” as an idiom as is most commonly understood in our American culture at this point in history – we obviously pray for more church members to say yes to many things, like holiness, service, evangelism, missions – but the idiomatic expression of “yes men” refers to people who always say yes without thinking, and the motivation is often people-pleasing)  Sadly, this is often the unbiblical extreme that many church leaders swing to as a response to so many “ME” people in the church.  Many times leaders only want “yes men” to always say yes to whatever they want and desire, and to do it blindly.  And people in the church, especially those  who are prone to people-pleasing, will often become passive, just waiting for the leadership to state a need or a request, for them to blindly and mindlessly fill or follow. In this mindset and culture, Christianity is often solely viewed in corporate terms, where the individual becomes a mindless drone.   And in reality, when this happens, the church is at worst like a cult and at best like an assembly-line factory, none of which are God’s design for the church.   Now, to be clear, the church should be characterized by unity.  But unity is not the same as uniformity.  So, I am praying for less “YES” men and women in local churches.

3) I am praying for more “FAMILY-LOVING, FAMILY BUILDING” men and women in local churches.  Churches need more individuals who think about how their actions or decisions affect not just themselves, but the family of God.  For example, even if the timing is good for an “individual,” but it would be detrimental or not very beneficial at that moment for the family of God, it may not be a good decision.  I am not saying that decisions always need to wait for the “perfect” timing for the family of God because there may never be an “ideal” time to leave, but instead of the family of God being an “afterthought or cheerleader,” I am praying that more individual Christians would recognize they are part of God’s family, and think actively how their actions would affect the family, not just them individually.  Every time Scripture talks about individuals being gifted by the Holy Spirit, they are gifted for the building up of the family of God, the body of Christ.   At the same time, churches and leaders must remember that there are a variety of gifts and different members of the family of God and body of Christ.  Unity is not the same as uniformity.

So, while we want people to be characterized by LOVE regardless of their spiritual gifts, we don’t want people simply to be passive, just waiting for a need to come up so they can fill it in love.  We want people to be characterized by LOVE for the family AND a proactive pursuit of using their gifts to actively build the family and build God’s Kingdom.  We want people with different perspectives and gifts and strengths to ask questions (not just be mindless “yes men”).  We want them to ask question not to be divisive, but because they love the family and they may see or notice something we didn’t.  They may have ideas and suggestions that we never thought of that are better.  We don’t want “yes-men,” we want family-loving, family-building people willing to think and pray and work with us for the good of the family.  We also want people to actively think about and pray about how to exercise all of their variety of gifts from the Spirit for the good of the entire family of God and the spread of the Gospel to all the nations.  I am praying for individual Christians to think less about themselves and more about others and the corporate family of God, desiring to love the family and build the family.  I am also praying for the family of God to recognize, celebrate, and encourage the diversity of gifts given to individual Christians, so that as individual Christians flourish in their gifts for the building up of the family of God, the entire family is benefited.  I am praying for more FAMILY-LOVING, FAMILY BUILDING men and women in local churches.

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For a season, I am trying to unplug from the internet and computer more, particularly in the mornings before I start working and in the evenings.  With that said, I have not and may not be doing online journaling for a season.  I pray this would sweeten my time with my Abba, Heavenly Father to hear from Him and communicate with Him.  I pray for your time as well that whatever may be helpful for your relationship, that you would do.  =)

This link may help you find a helpful Bible reading plan for you.

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Bible Reading in One Year Commitment, Encouragement, and Challenge

January 16 – Genesis 25:12-18; Psalm 16

Observe with some (Interpretation in Parentheses)

  • In Psalm 16, the Psalmist has great confidence in God who is his refuge
  • The Lord is his chosen portion, the best of the best
  • The Lord gives counsel and instruction
  • With the Lord always before him (and us), we shall not be shaken
  • (This doesn’t mean no suffering or trials, but it means that the Lord is with us and will not cause our faith to be shaken to complete unbelief)
  • God will not abandon His people
  • God makes known to us the path of life
  • In God’s presence there is FULLNESS of JOY
  • At God’s right hand there are pleasures forevermore!

How Points to Christ

  • Jesus Christ is the Rock on which we stand where we will never be shaken
  • Jesus Christ is our refuge, the One who holds us securely in our hands, who will not abandon us to death
  • Jesus Christ is God’s gift of life to us
  • Jesus is the way (counsel, instruction, path), the truth, and the life!

Apply

  • Please pray that my heart would be enraptured in delight with the glory of who God is and all that God is for us in Christ
  • Please pray that I would believe and genuinely find fullness of joy at God’s right hand (I need the eyes of faith as a gift from Him)
  • Please pray that I would find my greatest pleasures in the Greatest Treasure, Jesus Christ

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Bible Reading in One Year Commitment, Encouragement, and Challenge

January 14 – Genesis 22-23; Psalm 14

Observe with some (Interpretation in Parentheses)

  • God calls Abraham to do something very difficult in this chapter
  • After giving him the precious son that he so desired and God promised, God now asks him to sacrifice Isaac
  • Abraham obeyed by faith (as Hebrews 11 told us that Abraham believed that God is able to raise the dead)
  • Abraham did not have to complete the sacrifice as God stopped him, provided a substitute sacrifice and reaffirmed His promises of blessing
  • Even though Abraham had other sons, he only had one with his life Sarah, and so God kept calling Isaac Abraham’s son, his only son, whom Abraham did not withhold from God
  • (Through this language, God reveals to us that He does not call His people to sacrifice something or someone whom He has not first sacrificed for us)

How Points to Christ

  • On another mountain many years after Abraham, and 2,000 years prior for us today, God chose to sacrifice His Son, His Only Son, Jesus Christ
  • And this time, there was no voice calling God to stop
  • There was no substitute sacrifice to be offered instead of Jesus
  • Why?
  • Because Jesus, God’s Son, God’s only Son, was the only sufficient, substitute sacrifice for the entire world
  • God did not withhold His only Son, but killed Him on behalf of sinners
  • On the mount of Calvary, God provided atonement for the world, fulfilling His promise to Abraham that through His offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed

Apply

  • I am amazed to give thanks always to God because of His sacrifice for me, an undeserving, wretched sinner
  • Because of His mercy, I now offer my life as a living sacrifice of worship to Him
  • Please pray that I would keep responding to God with “Here am I” – being all God’s
  • Please pray that more and more people would recognize that Jesus is the only sufficient sacrifice for sin, and turn to Jesus Christ alone in repentance and faith alone for salvation

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Bible Reading in One Year Commitment, Encouragement, and Challenge

January 13 – Genesis 20-21; Psalm 13

Observe with some (Interpretation in Parentheses)

  • In chapter 21, the son God promised to Abraham is finally born
  • In chapter 16, we see that after Sarah and Abraham tried having the promised child on their own for 10 years, Sarah proposed the plan to have a child through her servant Hagar
  • In chapter 17, we see that Ishmael, the son that Abraham and Sarah tried to create through Hagar, according to their own human efforts, was already 13 years old
  • Given the normal pregnancy period and many other events occurring between Genesis 12 of God’s promise and Genesis 21 where Isaac is born, it must be at least 25 years
  • 25 years between God’s Promise and God giving the tangible blessings of His Promise
  • (God is faithful)
  • (All of God’s promises will most certainly come to pass)
  • (God is not hasty or in a hurry)
  • (God’s promises may often take longer than we may think or expect)
  • (Yet, a delayed fulfillment of a promise does not mean a forgotten promise or a broken promise)
  • (God will keep all of His promises in His sovereign and infinitely wise timing)

How Points to Christ

  • All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Jesus Christ
  • Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate promised offspring from Abraham through whom all the nations will be blessed
  • At just the right time, God sent Jesus Christ to be the savior of the world through His life, death, and resurrection

Apply

  • God is trustworthy
  • Please pray that I would trust God and all His good promises in His Word rooted in Christ
  • Please pray that I would not be impatient and doubtful during times of delay
  • Please pray that I would be steadfast, unmovable, and persevere in blessings and trials

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Bible Reading in One Year Commitment, Encouragement, and Challenge

January 7 – Genesis 11:27-12:20; Psalm 7

Observe with some (Interpretation in Parentheses)

  • In light of the bulk of Genesis 3-11, Genesis 12 is astounding
  • In the midst of great sin, blatant sin that seeks to go contrary to God’s explicit commands and Word, God is patient and shows mercy
  • There is a line that God chooses to show mercy to, through whom God will bless all the nations of the earth
  • There was nothing special about Abram (the second half of chapter 12 shows his deceit and sinfulness)
  • Abram was chosen simply because God in His sovereignty wanted to choose him and establish a covenant with him

How Points to Christ

  • Jesus Christ is a son of Abraham
  • Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham
  • Jesus Christ is the one who will build the greatest nation in Him, and will be a true, lasting blessing to all the nations as sinners repent and turn to Him in faith

Apply

  • Be amazed and changed by God’s undeserved mercy and grace
  • And, as I am amazed by God’s undeserved grace, I can increasingly show similar mercy and grace to others who likewise may not “deserve” it
  • My sinful heart constantly wants to cry out for “justice” for others who wrong me or wrong others, but how sinful it is for me to want “justice” for everybody else, except me
  • Please pray that mercy and grace would increasingly characterize my life as I am reminded of God’s mercy and grace despite sin

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