Prayer of Adoration

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Prayer of Adoration

Psalm 66

Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;

sing the glory of his name;

give to him glorious praise.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth worships you;

they sing praises to you,

sing praises to your name.” Selah

Come and see what God has done:

he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.

He turned the sea into dry land;

they passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him,

who rules by his might forever,

whose eyes keep watch on the nations—

let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard,

who has kept us among the living,

and has not let our feet slip.

For you, O God, have tested us;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

You brought us into the net;

you laid burdens on our backs;

you let people ride over our heads;

we went through fire and through water;

yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;

I will pay you my vows,

those that my lips uttered

and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,

with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;

I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

and I will tell what he has done for me.

I cried aloud to him,

and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;

he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me.

When we choose to follow God, He will lead us into places and experiences we never imagine. To be fair, not all of these experiences are pleasant, but they make us step back and realize how vast the world is around us, and how magnificent our God is Who keeps it going.

To be honest, I’m having a rough couple days myself and it is made worse by the fact that there is plenty I should be grateful for. As usual, I’m a mess. Sometimes its a mess I can laugh about. Other times it is not. Today is one of the latter.

I hesitate to share even that much, but after several hours praying for guidance and discernment, this is where I am.

One of the many things o should be feel more in awe of was an opportunity to see several dolphins, pelicans, marlins, and even this osprey today.

Amidst my personal struggles, this was a rare opportunity for me to see the wonder and beauty of creation in ways that, while I may have seen them on television, I never thought to see in person. Oh how much I wish I could say that this brings me hope that I can transfer over to the issues that plague me, but I cannot. One is not the same as the other. The issues are not correlated. But the God of my problems and the God of wonder who created the world is one and the same. The same One Who has heard all my former answered prayers and prayers left u prayed still hears my prayers today as well.

So today I have no answer for the many dilemmas you and I face. Just a witness, that I’m there with you, and that even here, in the mess of trying to be obedient, we still see the almighty power of God, and need to find ways to adore him.

Where do you see the wonder of God today?

Where do you struggle the most to see it?

The Life Journey of Worship

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The Life Journey of Worship

Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

Worship done in spirit and in truth moves us.

David worshipped in the field for most of his life. If you follow the account of 1 Samuel you will see that, for the first half of his adult life, he was hunted by King Saul and forced to live in the wilderness and in foreign countries. He had less access to the temple than most of the people of Israel. Yet this did not prevent him from sharing his own worship in ways that would influence the people of God for over 3000 years.

Psalm 23 is an excellent example of this field worship. This is David’s story that can become our own story as well. YHWH is my shepherd, he writes. He knows this metaphor well from his own days as a shepherd. Because he knows what it takes to be good shepherd and because he knows God so well, he knows he will be provided for… he shall not be in want. The first step of any journey is preparing provision and David found all the provision he needed for his journey in God.

David then describes how God brings that provision. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. Note the directness of that verb. God does not set up a buffet of food options and let us choose. He takes us to the food and makes us stop to eat. The water God leads him, and us to, is not wild rushing water, but smaller springs that we will not drown in. It is there we are provided for and our souls are restored.

Having established the preparation and provision for the journey, David pulls out the map and notes the path we are taking. He leads me in paths of righteousness… Why? For His name’s sake. What does that mean? It means that where we are going and especially how we get there matters. What happens on our journey is going to affect more than just ourselves. We make this journey as a witness of Who God is, not just who we are or hope to become.

Where do these paths of righteousness lead us? Not always to the high mountaintop experiences and comfortable surroundings. These paths of righteousness will also lead us into the valley of the shadow of death itself. That’s right. The path of light and life leads through places of darkness and death. Normally, that would be enough to turn us all away, but then David reminds us (The LORD is my shepherd) so I will fear no evil. The same rod and staff that keep me on the path and in line, are used to protect me from any enemy that would come my way.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our good shepherd leads us straight through the valley of the shadow of death into the the heart of our enemy’s land, and there He proceeds to throw a party. He not only invites but surrounds us by our enemies, and there, in their presence, He anoints our head with oil showing the love He has for us. It is there, in the belly of the beast, not in the green pastures, that David proclaims, “My cup overflows!

If God can bring blessing in the darkest of places like that, as we faithfully follow Him along the path He leads us, what do we have to fear? How can we doubt that His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life? Perhaps it is only in making this journey with God that we come to realize that to dwell in God’s house is not just to be in a place of peace, joy, and love, but to realize that place is wherever we can be with Him.

Does your worship take you along this journey?

Can you take your worship on the road, out into the field, and follow God to wherever your worship of Him will lead you?

7 Godly Sins? – the Gluttony of God

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7 Godly Sins? – the Gluttony of God

If God allows anyone to go hungry unnecessarily but has plenty to eat Himself, is it Gluttony?

Psalm 16

Song of Trust and Security in God

A Miktam of David.

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,

in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

my body also rests secure.

For you do not give me up to Sheol,

or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Before addressing the sin of gluttony pertaining to God, we probably have to back up and ask if God Himself even eats at all. The Bible doesn’t exactly say other than we know Jesus ate while He was here on earth. Much of the promises of a heavenly banquet do not come from images of heaven, either in the prophets or Revelation, but from the parables of Jesus, often initiated with the phrase “the Kingdom of Heaven is like…”. That phrase “is like” signifies the introduction of a simile: a logical comparison between two separate things. Similes typically focus on one main similarity while the other details between the two things may differ entirely. So, when Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding feast, we usually focus on the existence of a bride and groom and celebration of their union…not what kind of food they serve as the uniting factor between the wedding and God’s kingdom.

It is doubtful whether God needs to eat at all, and if He did, the One who spoke creation into existence would not need anyone to cook for Him. So to speak of God as a glutton, someone constantly consuming to fill an empty void inside is to completely misunderstand Who God is. Scripture shows God to be just the opposite. He is the One Who gives. Pagan gods demand sacrifices to consume. Our God gives of Himself and provides for us to eat rather than focusing on Himself. It is Jesus Christ who said,

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”


God does not take food away from the hungry to feed Himself. He gives of Himself to feed the hungry. He teaches His people to do the same. Why are their people starving to death every day? Because we do not follow God’s example. We steal food from the poor every day.

What? Steal food? Surely that is too harsh.

I think not. My small hometown in Illinois has struggled to keep a grocery store over the last few decades. Not only is it difficult to keep people with vehicles from traveling to other cities where bigger stores sell greater variety, the food trucks themselves refuse to even come into town, out of their way, if they are not guaranteed a minimum payment – something that often exceeds what the people are able to purchase. Those who have money simply go elsewhere, but those who cannot afford to drive to the nearest city go without. Imagine that on a global scale where entire nations in Africa would love to purchase beef from Texas, but cannot outbid European or wealthier Asian countries. The availability of the food goes where the money is, and where there is no surplus of wealth, the people go hungry.

The situation might be remedied if everyone worked for free and made sure every other person had food without payment. That kind of global socialism though would mean that you would likely have no choices in what you ate or how much you were given – something that would apall most western-minded people. We want our choices and we want to go back for seconds. That, my friends is the spirit of gluttony at work in us, not in God, who provides land, plants, and animals to the entire world. It is our choices that make some go hungry.

Paul, in writing to the Christians at Colossae encourages them with these commands:

Colossians 4:2-5

Further Instructions

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

For Paul, who knew what it meant to go hungry and to have limited food options, the focus was on gratitude, contentment, and sharing. Words and deeds were opportunities to either reflect the selfless giving of Jesus Christ or the self-centered nature of sin. He commended the early Christians to be examples of the love of God, not examples of gluttony in our world today.

How do you show your gratitude for the life God has given you?

What luxury would be hardest for you to give up?

Who can you bless by giving to or sharing with them today?

Out of Place

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Out of Place

John 20:1-181

The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

What do you do when God is not where you expect Him to be?


  1. (Mt 28:1–10; Mk 16:1–8; Lk 24:1–12)

Cure

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Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.” On that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the sources of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures. On that day the Lord will shave with a razor hired beyond the River—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will take off the beard as well. On that day one will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, and will eat curds because of the abundance of milk that they give; for everyone that is left in the land shall eat curds and honey. On that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns. With bow and arrows one will go there, for all the land will be briers and thorns; and as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread. Isaiah 7:10-25 (NRSV)

Babies grow up so fast. Don’t miss the moments you have with them. You blink and they are ready for their first haircut. You drop out for just a moment and they grow a foot in height and 3 feet worth of attitude. Babies become children in no time at all. That is the point of this prophecy.

King Ahaz was freaking out because the countries around him were gearing up to attack, and had already attacked some of the neighboring communities. He wanted a military solution to something he saw as a military problem.

God however was looking for a little bit of faith. In the same way that Jesus relieved Thomas’s doubts by showing him the wound marks on his body, so God told King Ahaz to simply ask for a sign and God would do it. But unlike Thomas, Ahaz refused to ask, refused to seek, and refused to look for God at all. So God told him what the sign would be: a son shall be born and before he is old enough to know right and wrong, those nations you fear so much today will not even exist.

God was raising up a “razor”, in the form of the King of Assyria who would conquer all the land. God planned to use this foreign king as a cleansing tool on Israel and her neighbors – for razors were not used as much for looking good, but as doctor’s tools, to cut hair from those who had skin diseases and needed a fresh start. Hair and beards were signs of maturity and authority, and God was letting them know they all needed to be as ones who were born again, to the hairless status of infants. The very land itself would go back to the way it was before people farmed it, inhabited only by wild livestock.

Advent reminds us that Christ is coming again, and that when He does, none of our own strength or possessions will save us. Our only hope is Jesus. He changed the lives of all in the Christmas story, and He will change our life as well.

He only asks us to trust him because sometimes the thing that looks like a loss to us is actually the cure that God has created to save us. God put Israel back on track as a nation that witnessed His glory to the world by sending the nations to conquer them. He saved us from sin by sending His Son to die for us. He saves us from death, by inviting us to pick up our crosses daily and follow him.

  • What have you lost this year?
  • What do you hope to find?
  • What is God showing you as a sign of His faithfulness to you?

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

Friday December 9, 2016

Leadership

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For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Tell the innocent how fortunate they are, for they shall eat the fruit of their labors. Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are, for what their hands have done shall be done to them. My people—children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths. The Lord rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. Isaiah 3:8-15 (NRSV)

Those who seek authority find themselves contending with God. There is good reason that we preach that our hope is found in God and not in people. That statement holds both a promise and a warning.

The promise is that God will always be there for us, no matter who we are our where we’ve been. In some ways, it may actually be argued that the lower we find ourselves, the more God watches over us. Those who avoid taking up authority gain no special blessing, as authority and responsibility usually go hand in hand. Dodging responsibility does not put you in God’s good graces. But those who remember that we all will stand in judgment before God one day, regardless of our status today.

That is the warning as well. We will all answer for the leadership we give as lords and ladies, preachers and teachers, mothers and fathers… Every honor we receive brings us closer to the throne of God which brings its own honor and joy, but God expects us to share his own heart for the least, the last, and the lost, the more of them he brings under our care. Christian maturity certainly brings with it honor and wisdom, but the cold-hearted cannot be mistaken for elders of the faith in God’s Kingdom. For God so loved the world… and woe be upon the man or woman who thinks they know better than the love of God, which did not hold back His only begotten Son. No fire burns hotter than the love of God for his people, and that fire will burn right through us to warm if we stand in the way of it bringing warmth to God’s lost children.

  • Whom has God put into your care?
  • How well do you reflect God in your leadership over them?
  • What do you need change today to allow God to lead through you more?

I wanna set the world on fire

Until it’s burning bright for you

It’s everything that I desire

Can I be the one you use?

I wanna feed the hungry children.

And reach across the farthest land

And tell the broken there is healing

And mercy in the Father’s hands.

Friday December 2, 2016

All Hallows Eve

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I found my last bed

in the place of the first

lesser my heartbeat

greater my thirst

only my pain can realize

        the silent fear

        that lingers here

among a dozen wetted eyes

and hearts doubled over

to see yellow skin

my last fleshly covering

a sad soul within

whose mate in tears resides beside

        my rock and love

        my precious dove

in whom I hope my fate abides

yet she refers me

toward other things

with halos of light

and feathery wings

but I cannot see the light from here

        with eyes gone grey

        fading away

and filled with cold and bitter tears

for fear and regret

all these chains that I’ve earned

in those toiling days

whose dreams I burned

with tunnel vision and selfish pride

        my fate I chose

        the thorny rose

whose beauty at last has bled me dry

leaving naught but a shell

that cannot receive

a blessing that’s blocked

by anger and grief

but I may have one final gift

        my heart to give

        to one who lives

long after this soul passes through the rift

may he love her with care

for better, for worse

and learn from my death

lest he fall to the curse

that still lingers here within the air

        with brutal eyes

        on new love lies

and fixes them with unmerciful stare

so my final act

will not be a cry

for mercy or peace

I simply will die

an example to a foolish world

        to which I belong

        a son of its song

        its promises lies

        when everyone dies

but lives like their lives cannot be unfurled

so breathe like it matters

live without regret

and love while you live

and never forget.