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Showing posts from 2015

Heaven, Hell, & A Baby in a Manger

“Heaven doesn’t want me and hell is afraid I am going to take over”. Deep words for a Monday morning at McDonald’s over sweet tea, yet these are the very words one man recently told me have been a logical explanation for all the problems he’s had in life. Although most people wouldn’t articulate it in quite the same terms, I think many have a hard time understanding why life has turned out for them the way it has. “Why did that parent die unexpectedly? Why did my spouse leave me? Why was my child born with a disability? Why does everyone else seem to have it easy, except me? Why can’t I find a job after all this time?” When we allow questions like these to consume our lives, they can lead us to question whether or not God is good at all. But the Christmas season always brings a fresh reminder of God’s goodness to mankind. If God did not care about us or had no control over the circumstances of our lives, why would he send his only Son into this cruel world to be born of the virgin Ma…

The Glory of Jesus

Scripture: Proverbs 23-24, John 2.

Gospel summary:  In his earthly life, Jesus revealed to us his true glory as God in human form. Even in our most valiant efforts at being religious, we are still sinners in desperate need of Jesus. All our glory is dark, but Jesus shines alone.
Prayer:  Father, help me to be utterly astounded every time I consider the glory of your Son Jesus. Fill my heart, mind, and soul with an awareness of Jesus' majesty, so that I may not try to foolishly live by my own merit. Thank you that in Jesus you have brought a whole new thing: a new temple...access to God is now mine to enjoy because of his resurrection from the dead. I don't have to try to purify myself through religious effort, because Jesus alone is my source of righteousness before God. Help me to see the world from your eyes Jesus and to share with the lost your gospel, trusting you to open their eyes to see its beauty. May your glory fill the earth as waters cover the sea, Jesus. Amen.
Key …

The Miracle of Loving God

Scripture: Proverbs 12-13, Mark 12.

Gospel summary: Our hearts are bound up with a foolish hatred of God and his commands and it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love and worship him wholeheartedly. Aheart that loves God is a work of divine grace and is the fulfillment of all God's commands.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you alone are most worthy of all worship and I'd be a fool to not render all things unto you. Thank you for opening my eyes to your glory and filling me with love to you. Help me to color everything I say and do with an adoration of you. From the way I use money to the way I live in the home to the way I work in the world; let it all be motivated by pure love unto you. I know the Pharisees wanted to kill you because they didn't love God and I know my hatred for you is what nailed Jesus to the cross too. O gracious God who gives his only Son for such enemies, this stirs me to love you all the more. Help me see unbelievers with compassion as …

Clinging to Christ Leads to Life

Scripture: Proverbs 6-7, Mark 9.

Gospel summary: We cannot hope to please God relying upon our own self-effort, for we are too weak and too prone to pride. Jesus marched his way to the cross to give us an Advocate with the Father, filling us with his righteousness and absorbing the just condembation we deserved for our sins. We must relinquish all self-trust and cling with whole-hearted desperation to Jesus if we wish to endure in this demon-haunted and snare-filled world.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you alone are my source of strength in this world. Teach me the folly of relying on my own power to live the Christian life and help me find true power in the dust at the foot of the cross. Give me grace to humble myself each day and cling to the all-powerful Son of God. Left to myself, I would proudly march to my own destruction, but clinging to Christ will lead me to eternal life. For the glory of Christ I pray, amen.

Key verse: "All things are possible for one who believes" (M…

He Bore a Cross for My Good; May I Bear One for His Glory

Scripture: Proverbs 4-5, Mark 8.

Gospel summary: To "follow after" Jesus and be his disciple involves dying to ourselves and valuing him beyond all this world could offer us. Once we understand the great sacrifice Jesus made to save sinners like us, we can then joyfully sacrifice our earthly enjoyments to follow him.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for sending Jesus to this world to live in my place and die in my place. Christ, thank you for making the greatest sacrifice on my behalf and calling me to follow you. Spirit, thank you for drawing me to believe in Jesus and raising me from a spiritual grave to be his disciple unto death. God, help me die to myself each day and live valuing Jesus more than everything. I confess that I too often consider my selfish desires than I do the cross you bore and the one you call me to bear. When following Jesus means embracing persecution, help me to be faithful still. Show me what things I need to lay at your feet so that I may bear…

The Folly of Man's "Wisdom"

Scripture: Proverbs 2-3, Mark 7.

Gospel summary: Left to ourselves we would all follow the foolish paths of sin and consider ourselves wise, but true wisdom is found in a healthy fear of God and reverence for him. God has come in Christ to display his wisdom by means of the cross. Only the all-wise God could have thought up the wisdom of the gospel. We must come to see the folly of listening to ourselves and humbly submit to God's wisdom for true life.

Prayer: All-wise God, you and you alone have unsearchable and infinite understanding. I am of dust and all my cleverness is folly before you. Help me to listen less to myself and more to you. May your word be my leader and teacher so that I may follow the path to true life. Thank you for giving me eyes to see the wisdom of the cross even though the world counts it folly. Help me live out my days with the gospel burned upon the eyes of my heart so that my every step my be in the good path of wisdom. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

The One Demons Dread

Scripture: Psalms 148-149, Mark 5.

Gospel summary: Jesus, as God's Son, has authority over the demonic realm, and he releases us from bondage to them by means of a spoken word.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you alone are infinitely worthy because you have power over even the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. I praise you for coming in Christ to destroy the work of the devil by means of the shedding of your own blood. Thank you for releasing me from Satan's tight grip and placing me safely in your protective and loving arms. Give me eyes to see unbelievers with compassion and to share Christ's gospel with them so they too can be delivered. As I go forth as a husband, father, pastor, and child of God, teach me how to lead as one who has come to grasp redeeming love. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Key verse: "so he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep …

God of the Stars, Storms, Seas, and Yes, Souls Too

Scripture: Psalms 146-147, Mark 4.

Gospel summary: The God of all creation, who names the stars and sends the snow to earth by his spoken word has come in Jesus to redeem his people by means of his own suffering on the cross.

Prayer: God of all creation, I am in awe as I stop to ponder all that you have made, but what leaves me in breathless wonder more than all this is that you have come in Christ to this earth to save rebellious sinners like me. Glory be to your great name O God! Give me eyes to see your majesty, power, and steadfast love written in the clouds, stars, moon, and thunder all around me. This world is a theater for your glory as one of your servants has put it, so help me to give you all the glory with my time, energy, and resources. I thank you that Christ, who sends the storms and rain has come to earth and displayed his power to rule them for the good of his people. I thank you for putting a storm of wonder in my heart that led me to ask who this Jesus is, and thank…

Delivered from All That Would Destroy Us

Scripture: Psalms 144-145, Mark 3.

Gospel summary: God is our great deliverer who comes to the rescue of his children. He has personally come in Jesus of Nazareth to release us from bondage to Satan, reverse the effects of the fall, cleanse us from all sin, and call us to be his own special people who carry his gospel to the world.

Prayer: Father in heaven, praise be to your glorious name. You are so worthy, for you alone have come to my rescue and delivered my soul from sin, Satan, and all suffering. Thank you that you didn't sit up in the heavens and expect me to deliver myself, but that you came to deliver me yourself in the person of Jesus. God, I am such a rebel against your will and do not have the power to live for Christ, but I give you glory for saving me, and at great cost to yourself...the shame and suffering of the Son of God at the hands of your enemies. I thank you that Jesus is the stronger Man who binds up Satan the strong man and before whom even the demons tremb…

Jesus, Our Refuge

Scripture: Psalms 142-143, Mark 2.

Gospel summary: We have a refuge in this barren, sin-cursed world in Jesus. Jesus proved he was none other than Yahweh, the great I Am, in his power to heal sickness and forgive all our sins, so he is the great Refuge for sinners in a world that proves dangerous for believers.

Prayer: Father in heaven, this world is a hard place to be your child. Enemies abound, persecutions increase, the devil prowls, the world allures, and my old sin nature calls at every turn. I have literally no escape and no refuge in this world, but you are a refuge for my weary soul. Thank you for Jesus, who has proven to be my soul's anchor and refuge. Thank you that I can find strength to endure, grace to empower, and truth to enrich my soul in the precious gospel of Christ. Thank you that Jesus secured an everlasting refuge for my soul in his death and resurrection, and thank you that I can enjoy this peace both now and into eternity. Help me to never grow comfortable …

The Wonder of Birth and New Birth

Scripture: Psalms 138-139, Mark 1.

Gospel summary: When we were still babies in the womb, and before we were a thought in our parent's minds, God was knitting us together with intricate skill and detail. Then, at the perfect time, God sent forth his Son to make atonement for all the sins we would ever commit against God and secure for us a perfect righteousness that only he could achieve.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for creating me with such amazing care. I sit now waiting the arrival of my son Elias Jude and am reminded of the way you "wove me together in my mother's womb". Thank you that before I was even born into this sin-cursed world, you had already accomplished my salvation thousands of years before at the cross of Christ. Thank you that you applied the work of redemption to my heart by the Holy Spirit when you decided to give me new life and I was born all over again. Give me eyes to see the people of this world as those once born in God's image,…

Selfless Jesus

Scripture: Psalms 134-135, Romans 15.

Gospel summary: Christ Jesus not only died to cleanse his people from all sin, but his life was a model for them of selfless love.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I am prone to be totally self-centered and bent on pleasing only myself. Thank you for showing me true selfless love in Christ by his servant life and servant death. Help me to die to my selfishness and give of myself for the good of others by the power of your Holy Spirit. Show me ways to express the selfless love of Christ today and give others a window into a heart changed by this love so that they might be changed by it too. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Key verse: "For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me."" (Rom. 15:3).

Hymn: "Living for Jesus" by Thomas O. Chisholm.

Submission to Authority

Scripture: Psalms 130-131, Romans 13.

Gospel summary: We are to submit to the authorities over us in submission to the ultimate Authority over us, but never when those authorities demand disobedience to divine Authority.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I rejoice that you are the ultimate sovereign, for I could wish no other to take your place. Help me to focus on submitting humbly to your authority and live under my human authorities well by living under you well. You know how those over me are often unbelievers and demand I sin against you and violate my conscience. Give me the graceto be as submissive as I can under them while being as submissive as I can to you. Thank you for Jesus' trusting submission even unto the agony of the cross. Help me now to give Christ glory in my daily life and never to question your position or motives because you have proven your goodness to me in Jesus. In Christ's name, amen.

Key verse: "O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not rais…

God All-wise

Scripture: Psalms 126-127, Romans 11.

Gospel summary: God's sovereign grace will prove effectual to save sinners from Jews and non-Jews. God is to be praised for his infinite wisdom in the plan of redemption he thought up.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise your awesome name for the wisdom of your redeeming plan. Keep my heart in a state of constant amazement at your sovereign ways and let me overflow in worship as I ponder you. Spare me from a cold, calculated understanding of your sovereignty and fill my heart with the awestruck wonder and worship that is fitting for a small creature like me contemplating such a great God as you. For the everlasting glory of Jesus I pray, amen.

Memory verse: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36)

Hymn: "Abba Father, We Approach Thee" by James Deck.

Salvation Full and Free!

Scripture: Psalms 124-125, Romans 10

Gospel summary: In his astounding grace, God has not handed us over to the justice our sins demand, but has given us a free and full salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ. All who call on the name of Jesus and trust alone in his shed blood to atone for their sins are truly saved.

Prayer: Father in heaven, the salvation you give seems too good to be true, but I delightfully enjoy it. Thank you for sparing me the justice my sins deserve and for giving your innocent Son that justice. Thank you for choosing to save me solely by faith in Christ and not demanding me to keep your perfect law, for then I could never have attained your righteousness. Since the only way sinners will be converted to Christ is by hearing his gospel and believing it, give me boldness to declare it to all, that you may receive glory for many more. In Jesus' saving name I pray, amen.

Memory verse: "so faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of…

No Condemnation

Scripture: Psalm 120-121, Romans 8.

Gospel summary: Although we were condemned as sinners under God's holy law and deserved his divine judgment, he condemned his only Son in our place and credited to us all of Jesus' perfect righteousness. The Spirit of God now indwells us and enables us to live by God's law in anticipation of the final redemption of our bodies and this world.

Prayer: Father in heaven, glory be to your great name for designing the marvelous plan of redemption. Thank you for redeeming my soul at the cost of your Son's life. Help me to eagerly await the redemption of my body at the return of your Son. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to teach and empower me. Grant me the grace to live by the Spirit each day and to kill my old, sinful desires when they creep back in.

Hymn: "For Thy Gift of God the Spirit" by E. Margaret Clarkson

Doing What I Don't Desire

Scripture: Psalm 119:121-176, Romans 7.

Gospel summary: God's redeemed children have been released from the bondage of their sin and freed from it's penalty to delight in God's word by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but sin still dwells within them and wages war with the Spirit until the day they die.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the good news that even my own temptations to sin cannot truly destroy my soul if my true delight is found in obeying you. God, I despise my sinful desires and long to be wholly yours. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit fight and resist and war against myself, so that Christ may win the victory over my sin.

Hymn: "Accepted in the Beloved" by Civilla D. Martin

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Scripture: Psalm 119:81-120, Romans 6.

Gospel summary: My old, sinful, disobedient self has been crucified with Christ and a new, righteous, obedient self has been raised with Christ, so I now have the power to resist temptations to sin and to live a godly life unto the Lord. The power of sin has been broken over me and the power to obey God's holy law has been granted to me, though I must lean in daily dependence upon God's strength to obey.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you that when Christ died, I died; when Christ was buried, I was buried; and when Christ arose to never-ending life, I arose also to never-ending life. Thank you for uniting me to Christ and conquering my sinful bent. Help me to live in dependence upon your Spirit continually, always aware that this new life is a work of your grace in me and not a result of my own effort. Help me also to not assume that since I'm forgiven, I can live however I want now. Help me to live out the holiness you are working …

Once "in Adam", Now "in Christ"

Scripture: Psalm 119:49-80, Romans 5.

Gospel summary: We are all born "in Adam" and slaves of sin, but when the Holy Spirit gives us new life we are born again "in Christ" to be slaves of righteousness. God's law which once gave us no interest, is now our sweetest delight and greatest treasure because of the gift of Christ's righteousness to us by faith.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I thank you for not leaving me in my sin, but choosing to send your Son to save me by dying in my place and rising again. To be in Christ Jesus is so much better than being in Adam. This new life you have given me within allows me to find joy even in my suffering, whereas I once could not find joy even in my sinful pleasures. Thank you that Jesus has redeemed me even farther than my sin had condemned me. Spare me today from choosing to live as though I were still a son of Adam and not a son of God, knowing that sin's power is finally broken over me. In Christ alone I pray, ame…

God Met His Own Demands for Those Who Couldn't

Scripture: Psalms 116-117, Romans 2.

Gospel Summary: God gave us his law, a reflection of his holy character, to expose our inherent sinfulness, then seeing we could not neet its demands, came in Christ to meet them on our behalf and attributes this righteousness to all who come in faith to Jesus.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for fulfilling your law's demands on my behalf in Christ. Thank you for applying your Son's righteousness to my heart by the Holy Spirit. I know that if I did have the power to keep your law without your aide it would make me arrogant and cause me to look down at others who weren't as good as me. Instead you have saved me in such a way that I am deeply humbled by your grace and have a deep compassion for others to experience the gift-righteousness of Christ too. Help me to live in overwhelming shock and joy at your saving of sinners and to reach others with this life-giving news. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Hymn: "A Debtor to Mercy A…

Glory to God for the Gospel

Scripture: Psalms 114-115, Romans 1.

Gospel summary: The gospel is the good news that God has fulfilled all righteousness for us and we receive it by faith in Christ alone, thus giving him all the glory for our salvation.

Prayer: O God, I was desperately wicked and bound up in my sin before you acted in Christ to redeem my soul. I spent years thinking the righteousness you required was up to me, but now I see that you performed it for me in Christ and I receive it by faith. Thank you for living the perfect life I could never live in ten trillion years and crediting it all to my account. Give me boldness to share this gift righteousness with unbelievers because I know the power to save belongs to you alone. May you receive all the glory for saving sinners and help me to joyfully give you all the glory you deserve, never foolishly taking any glory that is rightfully due you. For the glory of Christ I pray, amen.

Hymn: "Glory to the Lamb" by L.M. Rouse

The Patience of God's People

Scripture: Psalms 112-113, James 5.

Gospel summary: God's redeemed people live completely different lives of holiness from unbelievers as they patiently wait for Christ to come again as Judge.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for setting me apart from the way of the world by your grace. I know this new lifestyle is owing to nothing in me, but is all a work of your grace, so help me never to think otherwise. Help me to patiently endure the suffering that the world throws at me with a strong confidence that Christ Jesus will make all things right when he returns. Give me a stronger faith in the promise of your return, so that my hardest days may be opportunities for greater reliance on Christ. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Hymn: "Christ Returneth" by James McGranahan.

Daily Devotion

Scripture: Psalm 110-111, James 4.

Gospel summary: God accepted Jesus' cross-work to atone for our sins and now Jesus sits in accomplished victory in heaven, always interceding on behalf of his redeemed.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for the cross. Thank you for finally dealing with my sin problem at the cost of your only Son. Thank you also that there will never come a day when Jesus does not intercede on my behalf in heaven and that I can always come confessing and repenting of my sins and be accepted in your presence because of what Jesus has done. Help me never to take any of this lightly, but to only come in broken-hearted and grateful repentance before your holy throne, joyfully accepting the good news of the gospel. Thank you that you promise to defeat every enemy of your redeemed and may you make many of your enemies into your children before that Day. In Jesus' name, amen.

Hymn: "Jesus, Thou Art Heaven's Dayspring" by Peter Davis.

The Blessed Man: A Devotion for Father's Day

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; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” –Psalm 1
“You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps”. I don’t know where I first heard this saying, but it is so true. By taking a good look at the way a person lives their life and the kind of people they surround themselves with, it is easy to see their true character. The psalmist here opens the door for us to the entire Psalter by teaching us the difference b…

Nine Ways to Worship on the Treadmill

One of my most worshipful moments throughout each week other than in private prayer, the study of God's Word, and fellowship with the body of Christ, has been running on the treadmill. I know what you're thinking, but let me explain. It has been on the treadmill at the gym that I have been ushered into the very presence of God and the wonder of the gospel in a powerful way. At times I have wanted to raise my hands and shout for the victory that is mine, while at other times I have been deeply humbled by God's grace to a sinful rebel like me in Christ and felt myself ready to shed a tear. And no, it wasn't the lack of sleep or the discomfort of running. How, you ask? If you'd rather eat dirt that run, I hope this post helps you see how it can be used to bring you joy in Christ. If you're an avid runner who finds delight in running a 5K everyday, I hope this post encourages you to think on heavenly truths while you run and make the most of your time on the tread…

Ten Reasons Why I Got Teary-Eyed Over Deuteronomy

The title of this blog may seem a little surprising. When most people think of reading Deuteronomy they probably picture it being as moving as watching the grass grow, but for those people I feel very sorry. Relatively recently in my Christian walk I have discovered the treasure of reading through books of the Bible in one sitting; usually those books I've read through in one sitting have been New Testament books which consist of only 2-3 pages. A friend of mine created a Bible reading plan that allows you to fall behind a little and still stay on track with reading the Bible through in a year; the catch is that he has you read certain OT books in one sitting. I was intrigued by the idea of reading through an OT book in one sitting, but knew the challenge that it would involve. Today, I read through this quarter's OT book of Deuteronomy in one sitting. It took me about and hour and forty-five minutes, and my eyes were a little red afterwards; but let me just say, my eyes were…

"Pursuing Jesus: The Pathway to Ever-Increasing Joy"

I was struck recently in my Bible devotions with a few verses in Psalm 16. I have always found Psalm 16 to be a source of sweet encouragement to my faith, but something stood out to me in it that I hadn't seen clearly before. David contrasts the ever-increasing sorrow of unbelievers with the ever-increasing joy of believers.
With the recent suicide of the famous comedian Robin Williams, the recent drug overdose of famous actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the recent admission of famous NFL quarterback Tom Brady that "there has to be more than this", it seems abundantly clear that the pathway to ever-increasing joy is not the pathway to ever-increasing fame, power, and wealth in this world. Fallen society presents us with plenty of influential people that we are expected to idolize and follow with our lives who are anything but joy-filled and the overwhelming assumption given is that fame, power, and wealth is the way to find fullness of joy.
So if we "wake up and s…