Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
O: Why did Peter say this? Was he nervous? Was he not understanding fully what was happening? It seems silly for him to think that Jesus would be concerned about shelters. But Peter was human and I think Peter's reaction illustrates how far we can be from God's reality and God's priorities. I can only suppose that Peter was thinking of earthly things--comfort, seeking favor by making himself useful--but God interrupts while he is speaking to Jesus and tells him what is important--"Listen to him!"
A: I often get caught, like Peter, in tasks for my own design. These tasks may be of value, but their true purpose is to make me feel useful to God. What God really desires and deserves is that I simply listen to him. Part of the listening is having a daily devotion, but that happens early in my day and often gets forgotten during the tasks of the day. How can I make sure I'm listening the rest of the day? some ideas
- write my SOAP verse on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket
- read over my journal entries during my lunch break
- use my P&W card as a bookmark in whatever book I am currently reading
- put the P&W prayer someplace visible in my car so that I am reminded to pray when I get in (some of my best prayer time seems to come when I'm driving---don't know why)
P: Father God, thank you for the example of Peter. I ask for forgiveness for the many times that my priorities are not the same as yours. Help me to remember that what matters most is people finding you. Help me see and hear your will and give me the courage to obey. Amen
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
No such fortune as he turned directly away from my location and began to walk away. A little nudge in my spirit encouraged me to say something. . . I blurted a shocking voice in the still morning. . . "Good morning!" with his name to let him know I remember who he is.
And with a surprised spin and turn came a quiet reply . . . "O, hi. . .".
"Have a good day!" I said and waved. He waved back. . . I got in my car and prayed for my neighbor.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Our 30 Day Love Blog comes to a close.
What did we gain by venturing into this together? As we began this experiment I did not know what to expect.
We as a community of faith took time to ‘socialize’ around the Word together. We got to hear what Christ through His Word was saying specifically to others as we also sought to hear what He is saying to us personally.
It has been so refreshing to hear so many people share the reality of their honest struggles and their fresh encounters with God. This dialogue enabled us to hear His Spirit in assuring, comforting, encouraging, and even challenging ways.
The early disciples must have done this as they interacted with Christ and each other day in and day out, they grew to know and love Jesus, each other, and others outside of their little group. They were challenged by His example and teachings to minister in LOVE to those they interacted with each day.
I personally have been challenged, encouraged to, “Do everything in love.”
Thank you for all who posted, commented, honestly shared your interactions with God and others, and took risks to share His Love!
Thanks to all who read faithfully. . .
MRCC you guys are awesome, thank you for making it a joy to be part of this incredible community.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
O: The thing that jumps out at me here is the issue of humility. Paul (with Timothy) openly states that they are not responsible for their own skill but that it comes from God. It turns out that this is a very easy thing to say out loud, but a hard thing to mean all the time. Pride can be buried within so that it’s not exposed to others, but God knows our inmost thoughts. It reminds me of Jesus’ paraphrase of Isaiah in Matthew 15:8: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
A: The takeaway for me here is to be aware of what I’m thinking and when I’m taking pride in myself and to repent and ask for forgiveness.
P: Father, thank you for the gifts that you have blessed me with. Remind me daily that everything I have is a gift from you and not something I can pride myself in. And thank you for your most important gift, the gift of your Son Jesus.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Observation: Anyone that's seen a movie or read a fable can guess what happens next: Jephthah will have to sacrifice whatever he treasures most. And indeed that's what happens. His daughter, his only child, is the one to come through the door, and he is made "miserable and wretched" (v. 35) because he has to sacrifice her.
Jephthah's vow is foolish on so many levels. What did he expect to come out of the door of his house? It was bound to be some person—didn't he know how God felt about human sacrifices? And didn't Jephthah understand that God was already with him (v. 29)? Why did he think anything he could promise to God would change what God was going to do?
Application: I hope that my own foolishness is not exposed in such a catastrophic way, but I know that sometimes I treat God exactly as Jephthah did. "If only you'll get me through this situation, Lord, I promise I'll do X, Y, and Z." God doesn't need my promises. He merely asks for my faith, and for me to trust that his will is greater than my own.
Prayer: Lord, I know that I am prone to focus on my own will rather than on yours. When I do that, I'm likely to just make a mess of things. So I pray what your son taught us to pray: thy will be done. Let it be your purposes that guide my life.
Is there any area of your life that you're trying to exert your will ahead of God's?
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. (New American Standard Bible)
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. (New International Version)
Considering these blog postings were part of a 30 day “love dare” it seemed fitting to focus on 1 Cor. 16:14 today. J However, I also wanted to take a look at the preceding verse.
One of the things that stands out to me as I read scripture, and particularly when reading in Greek, is when the writer or speaker in the text communicates a command. In linguistics that’s called an “imperative”. I like that word “imperative” particularly as it relates to scripture, because it means that it is imperative that you do what is being commanded!
In verse 13 we have four commands:
- The first command here is from the Greek word, grēgoreo, which you might think would be where we get the word “gregarious” from, but you’d be wrong. J It’s where we get the name Gregory from. It literally means “be watchful”, or simply “Watch!” I think the New American Standard Bible (NASB) captures this a little better than the New International Version (NIV), which comes off more like “watch out”.
- The second command here is “stand in the faith!” Do it!
- The third is captured well in the NASB again – “be manly!”
- The fourth is actually not captured well by either translation. It’s more like “be strengthened”, or “become strong”.
So Paul is saying something like:
Keep your eyes open! Stand in the faith! Be manly! Get stronger!
But he follows in verse 14 with (loosely translated):
Let everything of you be in love! (again an imperative)
Not easy to translate – there is no “doing” verb in this verse in the Greek text. The Greek perhaps implies not just doing, but all we experience in being, existing, experiencing, reacting, feeling, responding, *and* doing.
Two very short verses, with very far reaching application.
As a believer I need to:
- be awake and alive to what is going on around me
- remain firmly rooted in my faith
- be brave and courageous in applying my faith
- become stronger so that I am less liable to be distracted by temptation or discouraged by trials
- let my entire life be permeated, saturated, and overflowing with love.
O God, Glorify Yourself in me, Not for my will, but Yours I plea.
O God, Transform my life anew, draw me ever more to You.
In all I want, in all I dream, in all I think, in all I say, in all I do - Give me your love and strength anew.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
O: In this psalm, King David's soul is downcast, disturbed, and dry. Though he once lead people to the house of God with joy and thanksgiving, he is now being oppressed and is unable to meet with God. Yet despite the dry state of his soul, he praises the Lord.
A: There are times--perhaps days, months, even years--when we experience a dry phase in our spiritual life. We long to hear from God--we thirst for him--yet he seems to have forgotten us, and like King David we ask, "When can I go and meet with God?"
The past few days have been a dry spell for me. Even now, I am having trouble coming up with an Application. Why does God allow us to become dry? Perhaps it is to remind us how much we need him, or to teach us something, or to reveal a sin in our life that we need to turn from (see John 4:13-18.) I'm still in the process of figuring it out, and as I do, like King David I will praise God for all he has done for me in the past, knowing he will not leave me thirsty.
P: Lord God, I praise you for all you have done in my life and ask for you to guide me during this dry phase I am going through.
How do you get through your dry phases?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14: 12)
O - I have always believed that God gives spiritual gifts to all believers. But here I see it saying that you need to eagerly desire them (seek them out) and see how God has gifted you. They don't always just fall in your lap. It is also saying that some gifts don't build up the church. I always naturally assumed that spiritual gifts were spiritual gifts & everyone gets what they get - and they were all equal. It seems like Paul is saying that ones that build the church - other believers - up are to be more highly desired. But, then couldn't many of the gifts be used in such a way that they do build others up?
A - Today, I will reflect on how I use the spiritual gifts that God has given me to build others in the church up. I haven't found my gifts to change much over the past 15 years. But I do find it good to review them & remind myself of how I serve God with them and things I need to remember to be careful of.
P - Dear God,
Thank you for how you have given me spiritual gifts and continued to grow me in using them for your glory. I ask for your forgiveness for when I haven't recognized you as the source of my abilities. I pray that you would continue to use me and develop in me the spiritual gifts that you have given me and that they would be used to build others up in love and in their relationship with you.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
What are your spiritual gifts?
Sunday, March 28, 2010
O-bservation: The emphasis here in this chapter is LOVE, of course. Our words mean nothing, our actions mean nothing, even our faith means nothing if we don't have or show love to others. God wants every aspect of our lives to be filled with love.
A-pplication: In today's reading plan, there was a verse from Psalm 39 that struck me, after reading I Corin. 13. In Psalm 39:1 it says, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence." While I initially agreed, it is better to "not say anything, if you can't say something nice." However, I don't think God wants me to be silent all the time, which is what I naturally tend to do when I am around people I don't feel comfortable with, people who are unkind, or people who obviously don't love God. I felt God telling me, "Stop letting people bug you...stop closing up when you are around them!" Instead, I felt reminded that if I'm closing up that probably means I'm not being very loving with the people around me. So, I will need to pray more diligently about that, so I can display God's more genuinely....and not just fake being loving or kind, or else I risk sounding like a gong or cymbal....and who wants to be that?
P-rayer: Father God, I'm sorry for withdrawing from the world when I don't feel loving. Please fill my cup with your Spirit, so that when I do speak, You are present in my words and actions.
Thanking You for speaking with me today through your almighty word. And, help me to be more loving with my neighbors, both the nice ones and the not so nice ones...help me to display your love to the ones You want me to build better relationships with or who need to feel your presence or who need to be introduced to You! I am committed to serving you and fulfilling your will. Amen.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
O. This passage jumped out at me. The main thing is the cause and effect relationship. The new generation didn’t know the Lord or what He had done for them, and as a result, they cared nothing for Him and worshiped other gods. The older generation failed to do their job of passing along the history and love of God to their children, and as a result, there was a falling-out. It’s important that as a parent I pass on to my child(ren someday) a love of God and an understanding of who He is and what He has done for every one of us.
A. My daughter is still too young to understand much, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how I can lead her in her relationship with God. I want her to be able to look at my life and what I’ve told her and not to see huge disparities.
P. God, I want my life to reflect your love for us, and my love for my family to reflect your love for them. Guide me in the decisions that I make and help me to lead my children to a relationship with you.
What do you do with your children to help lead them toward Christ?
Friday, March 26, 2010
S-cripture: So be very careful to love the LORD your God. (Joshua 23:11)
O-bservation: What struck me about this passage is the use of the word “careful.” Joshua is speaking to his people and reminds them in vs. 6-9 to be strong, and to be “careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses”, to remain separate from other nations not worshipping any other gods they might come across and reminding them that their military successes up to this point have been because of Him.
A-pplication: Today I feel challenged by Joshua to love God “carefully.” This means to love God in obedience to His Word. Reminds me of what Jesus said, (John 14:21) Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.” Entering into my ‘day off’ the focus is often for me to think about what brings me pleasure and refreshment and not being ‘careful to love God.’ While there is nothing wrong with God given pleasure and refreshment I am reminded today again that I need to keep my focus on loving God as my highest priority.
P-rayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for so many times that I am not careful to love You. Where I find myself not strong and I am captivated by other things to bring joy, peace, or security that only You really can bring. Thank you for the reminder today that You are the one that has protected and driven out my enemies. That You are the one who has rescued, saved, and blessed me. Lord help me today to walk in obedience to Your Word –being careful to love You. And please use my life today to show Your love to others.
How can you be ‘careful’ to love God today?
Thursday, March 25, 2010
O: Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about a variety of issues that are troubling. This church is really struggling. I like verses 11-12 (& 6) because the general theme is learning from the past. Not to judge others' pasts, but to see the past (of people you know and yourself) with genuine self-awareness. The awareness that must lead to the realization that human nature is sinful and self-serving, and it is only through God's power that we can overcome this nature.
A: I've written applications during my SOAPs about praising God for my many blessings and even done the exercise of writing them in my journal, so that I can come back to them at later times. Today my application is to spend time writing in my journal about times that I was not walking with God, whether I knew it at the time or not, and spend time in repentance, reflection, and thankfulness for God's loving grace. I'll confess that I'm not sure how this fits into the Love Dare, but I will trust God to reveal it to me. Perhaps this self-examination will make me more loving?
P: Father God, I thank you for your grace; the forgiveness that you give freely and lovingly. Help me, Father, to be able to look at myself truthfully. Help me not to shut out the reality of times that I was not in obedience to you and the consequences my disobedience brought, but to truly repent and learn from those times. I pray to become the woman that you want me to be. Amen
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Paul seems to be saying to consider what you admire about successful people. The successful athlete works hard to stay at the top of his game. Your friend might work hard with her diet to eat right and shed pounds. You might even be working hard to save money to go on a vacation. All these things are very important in Redmond. All these things take work and perseverance. All these things are fleeting.
On the other hand, there's one thing we as Christians profess to be more important than all this. We will sing on Sunday that we put God above all other things, then jump right back into our lives. It sure would be fun to go to Hawaii. I'd sure like to lose some weight. I wish I were in better shape.
Paul is saying not to live an aimless life chasing the fancies of the day. Remember that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We shouldn't get preoccupied with the entitlements of this world and remember to fulfill our duty to God.
I had a very hard time coming up with an application, and I believe that is because my observation was incomplete. This is not a simple "practice what you preach" message. This is a "question your motives" message. It asks us to question if we do things in the name of God to bring glory to God and expand His kingdom, or do we do them as part of our own earthly empire building? It is this second point that I struggle with, as the first point can be mitigated by not preaching much. It is this second point makes me question the doctrine of other self-professed Christians. It is this second point that makes me a bit hypocritical.
I think a lot of this can be solved by what I think of as the Christian litmus test; how does it hold up to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?
Therefore, my application is not necessarily to deny myself life’s pleasures, but to look for opportunities to serve God in them. Go on vacations and enjoy them, but attend the local church there and be open to opportunities to listen to people and hear opportunities to serve. At the gym, or at work, or wherever I find myself, be mindful that God might have put me there so that I might be made aware of an opportunity to serve Him and obey.
Dear Lord, please help me to tear down the walls that compartmentalize my life and make it easy to forget my obligation to You when I’m in certain compartments of daily life. Please keep my mind open so that I may hear people’s needs and be compelled to help them in the name of Christ.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Observation: Joshua 12 lists all the kings that God delivered over to the Isrealites. It is a revisitation of what God has done for the Isrealites.
Application: Many years ago, Merrilee and I started making a paper chain. On each link of the paper chain we wrote down something God has done to provide for us, or bring us through a difficult time. Periodically, we will get that chain out, read each of the links and sometimes add new links to it. I've recently had a difficult time with my work situation and I think that this is a nudge that I need to get that chain out and look at it again.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the reminders you give us, how much you do help us, or maybe more accurately, carry us through our trials and tribulations. Help me to look back and remember more frequently. Amen.
What ways do you use to revisit what God has done for you?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
(O) After Paul reminds the church about how the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God and how our bodies were not meant for sexual immorality, he then reminds us that our bodies are not our own! We are not only to equip ourselves daily to avoid all sin, we are to treat our human bodies as a temple for the Holy Spirit. God sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the ultimate price for our sins. The least, the very least, we can do is maintain our bodies as a temple for the Holy Spirit.
(A) I often use the phrase, "I owe you" or "I owe you big time!" whenever someone does me a huge favor. We so often try to reciprocate favors with a good deed of equal value or at least maintain an "indebted" feeling towards that person who helped us out. How much more then can we be indebted to Christ? We can't! He died for us! So, the least I can do is: maintain a lifestyle devoted to God; have a heart and soul committed to serving Him and doing His will; purge all sin and sinful thoughts from my body on a regular basis; and to make it a priority to do everything possible to allow the Holy Spirit to live in me freely, at peace, and without hesitation.
(P) Father, Please cleanse my heart of all anger, frustration, and sin I might have felt this past week. I want to please you while I'm here on Earth, but I also want to honor You by living in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in me (His temple) freely and comfortably. I don't ever want You or Your Spirit to feel second in my life or ousted by my sin. Help me to always remember that my body is not my own, that you paid the price for my sins, and that I maintain my human body as a temple for You to reside in. Thank you for loving me and for sending us your precious Son. I love you! Amen.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
O: In this psalm David expresses his struggle with being unjustly pursued and ridiculed by his enemies. He also admitted to his own folly and wrongs (v.5). He spends most of the psalm wrestling in prayer through his feelings of oppression until he finally gets to a place where he decides to praise God with a song. He doesn't decide to simply offer another animal sacrifice - something that can be done without trusting in God - but rather a song that reflects thanksgiving in the midst of oppression.... a song that revives his heart.... a song that gladdens those who are oppressed and needy.
A: We have an enemy who pursues us relentlessly. An enemy as fierce as a roaring lion. How does he seek to steal the song from our hearts? In all sorts of crafty ways - big ways and little ways. Watch out especially for the "little" ways (cf. "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards" Song of Solomon 2:15) that spoil things. I was tripped up last night in my spirit because I couldn't find something - a notebook that I used to log some important information. Where was it?! Who took it?! The kids? My wife? Why does she always put things where I can't find it? Is she trying to torture me?! :) Seems funny as I write this, but I was really upset by this little incident. Of course we eventually found it, but I felt defeated (because I was defeated). I prayed this morning and owned up to my folly and wrongdoing in this incident, but God also wants me to know that there is an enemy who seeks to steal the song from my heart... a song that God loves to hear over and over again. A song of praise and thanksgiving to Him. A song that invites the oppressed & needy to join in and praise God together.
P: Dear Father,
You desire more than just sacrificing things or doing religious works. You want a heart of singing from your children. Songs of praise and thanksgiving. Yet we too often find ourselves in a place where there is no song and no gratitude. Draw us to pray to you and express the emotions we are struggling with. Bring us to a place of renewed trust and awareness. Deliver us from the evil one and his crafty tactics. Put a new song in our hearts that not only frees us from our oppression, but invites others into this life of praise and thanks to You our Creator.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Scripture: Joshua 5:13-14a
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up ans saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."
1 Cor. 4:7-10
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings - and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise! We are weak, but you are so strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored!
Wow. Lots of things to observe in these chapters of Joshua and 1 Cor. 4.
These verses in Joshua particularly struck me today. God was leading Joshua and Israel into the Promised Land. You would have assumed that God was on Joshua and Israel's side - that He was *for* them and against Jericho. Perhaps the implied question to Joshua was, "Whose side are you on, Joshua?"
Something different to observe is sometimes the manner in which a message is being communicated. In 1 Cor. 4:10-14, I was struck more by the tone of the message. It's pretty sarcastic! Paul follows it in vs. 15, saying that he does not say those things to shame them (well maybe a little :)), but to warn them. Reminds me of some of Jesus' sharp statements to the Pharisees.
Whose side am I on? Am I more concerned about getting my way (no matter how righteous I may think it is) - getting God on my side, or am I more concerned about me being on God's side - submitting to His purposes and plans?
Am I able to hear God's messages? Am I able to hear God through others? Am I on Paul's or Apollo's side? Or am I on God's side, whomever that is manifested through?
I need to hear God's voice through all of His messengers and choose to follow Him. Can I lay down my own agenda?
Lord, help me to hear Your words - even in the strong corrections of others and to remember it's all about You.
John 3:30 He must become greater, I must become lesser.
Observation- Joshua is now taking on the leadership of the Israelites after Moses with a series of miracles that shadow the miracles that happened under Moses. At first thought it seems that this is happening to legitimize Joshua leadership in the eyes of the people and perhaps this is one of the reasons, but for Joshua- he is very clear on why these miracles occur. To help lead 'all peoples of the earth' to know God's powerful hand and have reverence for Him.
Application- Today remember God's heart in performing miracles to let others know of Him.
Prayer- Lord, so many times I pray for miracles for my needs, comfort, or wants and not at all embracing Your heart to reach others. Please help me today to pray for miracles with Your heart so that others can see You and experience Your great love.
How have you seen God's hand as powerful so that others could see His love?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
1 Corinthians 3:5-9
O-We all have tasks to do, but God makes it a success.
A-Do what God asks you to do. Reach out to those around you, who you are in contact with day to day, and trust God to grow the seed planted in them. Do not stress about what you can not affect.
P-Lord help me to be diligent and to give my best to what you have set my hand to do today. Help me to be loving to those around me and I choose to trust that You will change their hearts towards Yourself.
Posted by Bill Vanderwaal