Thursday, April 30, 2015
Matt. 17:24 When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” 26 When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27 However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”
Historically the Jews had paid a temple tax which had been established by Moses. This was for redemption of the soul and the body. Jesus must have already gained a reputation for being unconventional because it’s assumed he’s not paid, or isn’t intending to pay the annual temple tax. Interestingly the officials don’t come directly to Jesus to ask for this money, but instead find his disciples and ask them. By now Jesus has performed many miracles and his reputation is well know and one can only imagine that the tax collectors were a bit uncomfortable confronting him.
The temple tax had been a foreshadowing of the price that the Messiah would pay for the redemption of his people. It was for the redemption of the soul and the body which is why it seemed such a curious thing for Jesus to pay this! His entire life was lived around redeeming the souls and the bodies of the people. The tax was “intended” to do so while Jesus was “really” doing it!
One can only imagine that it was the religious leaders who were prodding the tax collectors to make sure that Jesus had paid his fair share! They couldn’t see the true intent of the taxes, and therefore were blinded to what Jesus was providing for them.
They were hung up on taxes and missed the miraculous salvation story unfolding before them.
To satisfy the short-term needs of those religious officials Jesus told Peter where he could find the funds for the tax. Sadly, they got their “two-cents worth” but missed all the riches of the kingdom.
This is where the danger lies for you and for me. We can become hung up on the little details and miss what God is doing in our midst. We can become hung up on the “taxes.”
They may not be literal “taxes” but what might the issues be in the life of a believer? It’s easy to become hung up on the ways in which we have always done things. We become so obsessed with the details that we miss out on the big picture.
Think of the ridiculousness of this story. Jesus was healing the sick and setting people free spiritually. That was the intent of the temple tax. The temple tax was not accomplishing the goal, but Jesus was.
Spiritually our goal is Christ himself. We are to be united with him, transformed into God’s holy children living and serving the kingdom here on earth. There is a big picture involved in this transformation story and we are invited to participate in this work. If, however, we are hung up on the details of the way we have always done church, whether in the local community or even at the denominational level, then we will be satisfied with what the two-cents can accomplish. We will never experience the miracles that are already occurring within the kingdom.
Lord, thank you for the freedom of the kingdom. Amen.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
David prays a very honest prayer before God. He seriously desires to know and understand his own motivations and therefore asks for God to search out his heart. If he had not desired to know these things about himself, he would not have asked!
David also understood that God could not be fooled. God can see through all of our personal disguises and knows who we truly are. That’s why he was honest before God.
Finally, he wanted to discover, with God’s help, the areas in which he needed Divine correction. He was willing to change the things in his life which may need correction.
Would I be willing to pray such an honest prayer?
Having our motivations checked out by God is serious business. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to just keep on going, day in and day out, trying to look good on the outside and possibly disguising what we really think on the inside. This isn’t good enough for the follower of Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit fills us we are transformed, but only to the extent that we make space for that transformation. The Holy Spirit needs to be invited into the cracks and crevices of our lives — to search our hearts!
What would be found in the recesses of our lives? Do we want God to see what we are doing in our free time? Do we want God to know what we are watching on TV, or what books we are reading now? Do we want God to overhear our conversations with others (or about others)? Do we want God to convict us about what we say behind other peoples’ backs — or even write about them in social media?
The goal of life is Christ himself. Every passion and desire in life should lead us in the direction of knowing Christ and becoming more like him. That’s why we need honest prayer. On a daily basis we should invite God to search our hearts and to fill every inch of our being. As much as we hate being told that we have done something wrong, we must be willing to allow God to point out those things which are not right in our lives — and then, be willing to change!
Honest prayer is what God wants from you and from me. It leads to honest personal reflection and a desire to change. It comes from God in us so that God can work through us.
Lord, may my prayers be honest before you. Amen.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Matt. 15: 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
The religious leaders were concerned about Jesus’ disciples breaking certain traditions, including that of hand-washing before they ate. It was a ritual that cared for the external body but Jesus was more concerned about the internal. Washing hands might take care of the physical but it did nothing to cleanse the leaders of what was going on in their hearts and minds.
Standing to the side and being critical of those who didn’t do everything “right” was easy. The religious leaders' mouths were filled with condemnation and arguments — but they did still wash their hands. Jesus knew that their hypocrisy. Their words had become destructive, revealing a torrent of evil intentions. What did they mean by what they said? They meant to murder Jesus with their words! And they did, for ultimately got their way.
It was the words of the religious folks which defiled them, and not their acts. Their words became deadly as they were used to destroy the reputation and character of the Messiah.
Words have always been powerful and we are warned of this time and again in the Scripture. It’s hard to imagine how quickly rumors spread in Jesus’ day. They didn’t have phones on which to text, nor did they have Facebook or Twitter. And yet, words were powerful and yes, even dangerous. How much more so today when a simple comment can set off a fire-storm of controversy. It doesn’t even have to be true but you can never get the words back again.
What do you mean by what you say, post or tweet? What is really coming from your heart?
Sometimes it’s hard not to get sucked into the vortex of conversation on social media but I believe the word speaks to us — even today — about the dangers! It’s not the things that we “do” in the name of Jesus that reveal who we really are — it’s what comes out of us.
What do you mean by what you say? You are telling the whole world is what is in your heart and you are revealing the way in which your heart judges others.
Lord, may your Spirit shape my heart. Amen.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Matt. 14: 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
The masses of crowds continued to follow Jesus and he was tired and worn out. He simply wanted to get some rest and yet, the needs just never went away. He would have to excuse himself from time to time to go off by himself and rest and spend time in prayer. No sooner would he find that space, then people would follow him.
His disciples were probably tempted to send the people away, but not Jesus. Jesus “had compassion for them” and continued reaching out and ministering to them. As overwhelming as it all seemed, he never gave up and he continued to utilize the disciples to minister to the peoples’ needs. The disciples became living and active participants in the compassionate and miracle working hand of God, intervening in the midst of human disaster.
Tornados and earthquakes. These are todays’ headlines. The disaster in Nepal seems almost too great to organize a response. A friend of mine, Fletcher Tink finds himself there in the midst of it all and speaks of the people wandering around aimlessly, not sure what to do as they await another aftershock. The pictures of the piles of rubble are overwhelming and the body count seems to go up by the hour. International relief efforts are beginning but in many ways it all seems daunting.
We give to one disaster after another and it feels like compassion fatigue can become a very real thing.
But then we read about Jesus. He never gave up. He didn’t allow that fatigue to keep him from ministering.
Yes, but he was God — you say! But he was also very human and he got tired and worn out on a regular basis. He knew that he had to spend time alone, in solitude and prayer with the Father but then, he didn’t give up on those with needs.
Jesus knew how to bring the disciples into partnership with him. They became participants in his healing and miraculous work. We are invited to do the same. The world needs compassion and if we think we can take care of all the needs on our own and in our own ability we are sorely mistaken. However, if we partner together with God and allow him to be our strength and guide, then he can help us push through the compassion fatigue, inspired and empowered by the working of God’s Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will guide and lead us to the place of need. We are to follow the Master and allow his power to work in and through us. The disciples didn’t have any idea how to feed the 5000, but Jesus did! He worked in and through them and at the end of the day one of the greatest miracles the world had ever seen was completed.
Feeling overwhelmed by all the news? Find a quiet place, seek the Lord, and then go with compassion, ministering in and through his wisdom and strength.
Lord, give us your wisdom for service today. Amen.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Matt. 13:31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Jesus wanted his followers to understand about the kingdom of heaven. It was difficult for them because they wanted to see an earthly kingdom. Power within earthly kingdoms was measured by the number of followers, size of armies and stockpiles of weapons. Jesus wanted them to understand about his kingdom which may be as small as a mustard seed, and yet it would be powerful. Under pressure and persecution it would persevere and grow. This smallest of seeds would become a large tree. Therefore they were not to worry about the attack that might come, or the fact that the kingdom may look small and tiny, for it would continue to grow under God’s power and become more than they could ever imagine.
It feels as if the kingdom is under attack. People are being killed for their Christian faith in many parts of the world. Even in the U.S., being a Christian is not seen as something positive.
Every day I wear a little lapel pin which identifies me with Nazarene Theological Seminary. This pin has a cross on it, as we celebrate the centrality of Christ on the cross to our understanding of holiness. I also spend a lot of time in airplanes. I’ve noticed how people look at my lapel pin and the cross these days. It’s a bit of disdain, or maybe fear that I’m going to talk to them about the Lord. It feels as if the world has written off Christians — especially “evangelical” Christians as being somewhat suspect. The kingdom is under attack.
Yet, we should not succumb to the temptation of discouragement. The kingdom is God’s — not ours. The kingdom is of heaven — not earth. The kingdom is much more powerful than that which we can see.
We may be falling into the temptation of the early Christians, looking around and wanting to see the power and might of the Church. We may be discouraged by a church in decline — and yet, are we comprehending the kingdom? The kingdom may be as small as a mustard seed, barely visible to the naked eye, and yet it can and will grow into more than we can imagine.
Little, truly is much, when God is in it. God has not given up on his kingdom and even when oppressive forces try to take the kingdom hostage, God has a plan.
Today God will work through a people worshiping in the midst of the rubble of an earthquake.
God will replace a martyred preacher with 100 ready to take his place.
God will visit the small, shrinking church in North America and remind us that the kingdom may look like a mustard seed.
The tiny kingdom may look as if it’s under attack but God is at work. Take heart and be courageous, caring for the mustard seed as faithful witnesses to the kingdom.
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve in your kingdom. Amen.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Matthew 12:40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!
As Jesus speaks of his impending death on the cross those listening fail to understand. The sign of Jonah will be theirs. Jesus will be consumed by the darkness of this world for three days but will then rise again.
The people of Nineveh heard the good news and repented. There would those who would hear the good news about Jesus and would repent as well. These would not be the religious folks, but it would be those who would come from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon — and the Church would be born.
Just as the Ninevites heard and responded, so would those who would come from far and wide — but the religious folks would not listen and their hearts were hardened, not responding. They would stand condemned.
Over and over again as I read these Scriptures I am frustrated by the religious folks, but then I have to search my own heart and see if I find myself there. The “wicked” folks of Nineveh listened to the word and responded. The people from the ends of the earth were moved on the day of Pentecost and they responded. The people who thought they knew everything there was to know about the Scriptures refused to respond. They died as stubborn, angry, critical and frustrated individuals.
Where am I in this story?
The people who heard and repented were the unlikely folks. They weren’t too proud and they didn’t try to defend themselves.
I have to be willing to honestly examine myself and where I stand before God. My pride can’t get in the way of God speaking to me and pointing out my weaknesses and great need for him. I want to find myself somewhere in the midst of those coming and seeking for wisdom, being willing to admit my failures. Not fighting for my own “rightness” but seeking his “righteousness.”
The sign of Jonah remains for us today. Somewhere we find ourselves in Nineveh, among the religious leaders, or the throngs of people who humbly came to know God and his wisdom.
Lord, may I be willing to stand before you in humility. Amen.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Psa. 141:0 A Psalm of David.
1 I call upon you, O LORD; come quickly to me;
give ear to my voice when I call to you.
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.
Psa. 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
David found himself in a very difficult place. Psalm 140 is filled with his angst over those who would accuse and speak evil of him. Now, in Psalm 141 he pours out his heart to God. He realizes the place of prayer in the midst of difficulties — and maybe not just the place or prayer, but the vocation of prayer. He recognized that prayer had to become a part of his very being and calling.
Too much was happening in his life that was beyond his control and his temptation was to respond with his own words. Instead we discover in verse three that his prayer includes a request that the LORD would “keep watch over the door of my lips.” For pure prayer that is aimed toward God “must be matched by controlled speech manward.” (New Bible Commentary) His relationship with the LORD superseded anything else that was happening in his life and he was determined that his life and prayers would continue to be an offering before the LORD.
I’m afraid that we may have lost the true understanding of prayer. We write it off as if it were something trite because I’m not sure that we expect God to take action — or, could it be that we are afraid that if we do pray God may intervene and it may not be in the way that we would desire! All of this points to the fact that we may not understand the vocation of prayer. “The Christian vocation is to be in prayer, in the Spirit, at the place where the world is in pain, and as we embrace that vocation, we discover it to be the way of following Christ, shaped according to his messianic vocation to the cross, with arms outstretched, holding on simultaneously to the pain of the world and to the love of God.” (Wright, N. T. (2014-01-14). The Challenge of Jesus (Kindle Locations 2515-2517). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.)
Oswald Chambers reminds us: “Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, ‘I am of no use where I am,’ because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him.” (Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest, Oct. 17)
When we get into that place of prayer with the LORD our hearts break together with his as we experience the world through his perspective. “Learn new ways of praying with and from the pain, the brokenness, of that crucial part of the world where God has placed you. And out of that prayer discover the ways of being peacemakers, of taking the risk of hearing both sides, of running the risk of being shot at from both sides.” (Wright, Kindle Locations 2539-2541)
David knew what it was like to be shot at from both sides. Those for whom he had fought were the ones who eventually sought his demise. He became homeless, a man on the run with no place to lay his head and yet, he called upon the LORD, desiring peace. He chose to live into the vocation or prayer while he guarded his mouth and ultimately God intervened and was given the glory.
Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Matt. 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
The religious leaders weren’t necessarily pleased with Jesus’ activities. They were extremely critical about the company which he kept. He challenged them by quoting from the prophet Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Sacrifice was the central feature of their worship and this was why they struggled with Jesus. The central feature of his life was hanging out with and ministering to sinners, and this was exactly what Jesus wanted them to understand. Acts of mercy among those who need to know God reveals the greatest act of mercy — leading people to repentance.
Using the excuse of being religious, the leaders made sure that they were engaged in the formal trappings of worship. What they missed out on was ministering to the needy.
We can become consumed with sacrifice which may look like the deeply religious person. We go to church on Sundays (or at least 2 or 3 times a month). We are good givers and supporters of God’s work through our tithes and offerings. We may even volunteer from time to time to help in the children’s department! All of this is a genuine sacrifice of your time, energy and resources…but it’s not enough.
Acts of mercy take us outside the walls of the church and into the lives of sinners. This is why the officials were critical of Jesus — he hung out with sinners. But where else would he get to know those who needed salvation? Mercy took him to the needy.
Acts of mercy will take us out of our comfort zone, away from the security of the church building, and into our communities. Acts of mercy are what Christ challenges us to consider.
Lord, may I be engaged today in acts of mercy. Amen.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Matthew 8: 27 They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
It’s one of those stories we’ve heard or read since childhood. Jesus has been busy preaching and healing people and finally he gets in the boat with his disciples as they begin to cross the sea. Jesus is so exhausted that he falls asleep and continues sleeping so soundly that he does not wake up when a terrible storm stirs up around the boat. The disciples are terrified and they wake him up saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” Jesus had performed miracles for others, surely he would do something to save all of them.
Jesus gets up and rebukes the wind and there is dead calm. It doesn’t just slow down a little, it all stops! At this moment the disciples are stunned. They cried out to Jesus -- but what did they expect? Maybe just a slight calming of the storm but complete control over the weather — that was beyond their imagination. In their amazement they cry out, “What sort of man is this?” The word used here is one that question the origins of this man…where is he from…what is he made of…he’s not like the rest of us!
It’s in this boat that we see the true nature of Christ revealed to us. He is fully human! Jesus is exhausted from all the work and the journey. He falls fast asleep for his human body can take no more. But when he is awakened and he cries out to the wind and the sea, his deity is revealed. The question is an appropriate one for there never has been and never again will be a “man” like Jesus who was fully God and fully man. This truth is being revealed to his followers little by little for they were simply following a rabbi without comprehending his true nature. It is the question which begs an answer that reveals the unique nature of Christ and his ability to set people free.
You and I must come to the place where we are willing to cry out, “What sort of man is this?” It is in the experiential that we are challenged to ask this question. However, we must be willing to follow Christ, just as the disciples. They didn’t necessarily know where this journey was going to lead. Neither do we! We have to step out on faith, following Christ and there comes a moment when we discover that we are in the boat with him. We have traveled this far by faith and are enjoying the journey — until the storm comes.
What will we do in the midst of the storm? Maybe we ought to follow the pattern of the disciples and cry out to the Lord. He has the power to calm to the storm and as we put our faith and trust in him, he is revealed to us. We are called to follow the Son of God! This Jesus in whom we put our faith and trust is not just an ordinary, good man. Being a Christian is not about a lifestyle or certain particular practices, it is about a personal relationship with God incarnate that is transformational.
When the disciples began to understand, little by little, who Jesus really was, they were never the same again. When we really begin to catch of glimpse of what sort of man Jesus is — we will never be the same! This Jesus who calms the storms and was raised from the dead is drawing us into a personal relationship with him — one that is transformational in ways that we can’t even begin to understand.
Lord, please help me to follow you into the boat and on the journey where I experience the sort of man you are. Amen.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
The Sermon which Jesus preached on the Mount was profound and reaches to the very fiber of everyday life. Jesus was calling for a radical change in behavior which was to be found in a personal relationship with God. This last chapter of the sermon covers a variety of topics including judging others, profaning the holy, asking —seeking—knocking, the golden rule, the narrow gate, bearing fruit, self-deception and being doers rather than hearers. It all points to moving from talk to action.
The religious leaders were masters of talk. Jesus wanted them to realize that their actions spoke much louder than their words and that’s why in the middle of this whole chapter is sandwiched the “golden rule.” At the heart of it all, think about how you would want to be treated! Then, behave in that way toward others. Then Jesus has the audacity to say, “for this is the law and the prophets.” In other words, this sums up all those laws that you know how to quote! Stop talking — and start doing. That is the golden rule.
From a very young age I can remember my mother quoting this verse to me. She wanted her children to know the golden rule and that the way in which we behaved mattered! Especially in the attitude that we had toward other people. My parents have always been great examples — especially my mom. That’s probably because my mom was home more than my dad and I could observe her more but I have little clips of memories from my childhood.
There was the poor man who came and rang the door at dinnertime when we lived in Germany. Mom stopped everything she was doing and made him a sandwich.
There was the young couple who lived in the small run-down house next door and mom went over to become friends. She made them a batch of her homemade cinnamon rolls, knocked on the front door and was invited in. Not only did she become friends, but the family was led to the Lord. Yes, they were led to the Lord, but mom also spent time with the woman teaching her how to care for a home, be a wife and mother. Their lives were transformed and some forty years later mom ran into the woman again — at church. She told my mom how God had changed absolutely everything.
My mother lived and breathed (and at 91 continues to do so) the golden rule. She and my dad have not “hung up” their ministry because they are retired. Their lives are a ministry where everyday they seek to help others.
The religious leaders were proud of their words. We can become proud of our words and our ability to use them but if they have no acts of kindness behind them, they are empty and hollow. Remember — do to others as you would want them to do to you!
Lord, may my words and actions be to others what they need today. Amen.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Matt. 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus teaches us about dependence upon him. He goes through a list of things that we can worry about - food, drink, clothing, tomorrow, etc. But in verse 33 he brings home the truth and the focus for our lives. Strive for the kingdom of God and don’t worry about the other things. Worrying only serves to change our focus from the work of the kingdom to ourselves. So don’t think or worry about what may happen tomorrow, but today — live and work in the kingdom.
I will confess that I’m one of those people who likes to think and plan out into the future and imagine all of the possible scenarios that can occur — from good to bad. I like to think that way so that I can imagine the possible responses to all the possible scenarios. This can be good when it comes to strategic planning, but it can be bad when it comes to worrying because I can begin to worry about things that, more than likely, will never happen. I think that’s why this Scripture speaks so clearly to me.
I need to be reminded to think about today and be in — and live in this day. We are challenged to live in the kingdom today and reach out, minister to and touch those around us. Our responsibility is to seek first the kingdom — seek to get to know the Lord — and then live as reflections of Christ in the world. We are to be the Lord’s servants and he will take care of our personal needs. Not our wants — but our needs.
Trust the Lord today.
Seek to live in the kingdom.
Lord, please help me to live in a place of trust every day. Amen.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
David had times in life when things were not going right. His biggest enemy was his father-in-law who was terribly jealous of him. To avoid the turmoil of that relationship on a daily basis he left, leaving behind his dearest friend, Jonathan. It was a very difficult and painful, and yet, he continued to praise the Lord.
He blessed and praised God, because his focus was on the Lord and not on himself. Yes, things were difficult, but he sang songs of praise to God in the midst of his difficult moments.
When the focus of our lives is on all the earthbound issues we are facing we will lose balance. Turning our attention on the Lord, praising and worshiping him will bring the needed peace in the midst of the storm.
David encourages us to bless the Lord at all times — in all things — in the midst of all circumstances. Praise for God must be on our lips.
Any boasting should be in the Lord, and in him alone! God is our strength, he is our refuge! Stop looking for other people to solve your problems. Stop expecting others to be your strength and your refuge. Realizing that God is the only provider brings about great humility, for we are dependent upon him in all things!
Let’s join with David today, magnifying the Lord and exalting his name together. Praising God — it’s good for what ails you!
Lord, may my life be one of praise and worship of you today in my heart and in my life. Amen.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Matthew 3:8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
People were coming out in droves, excited by the preaching of this wild man, John the Baptist. Even religious leaders were making their way to the countryside, enticed by his charisma. John, however, knew that they were still very self-absorbed. Their faith was far too wrapped up in traditions and in their own personal lineage. The inheritance which they received was of huge importance and for them was really their salvation.
John was challenging them to something new — something deeper. Now their repentance had to mean something — they were to be different! Their lives were to bear the fruit of one who had truly repented. No matter what their inheritance or heritage may have been, that would not be good enough. Society may have thought it was worth something, but it was not worth anything in the eyes of God.
Repentance meant a new life that was evangelical by nature, sharing the good news with others, and thus bearing fruit. We become part of an “evangelical society that exists ‘in newness of life.’” (Cyril of Alexandria, Fragment 20) It was John's challenge to the religious leaders. What would their lives really reveal?
The true inheritance is what we receive by way of Christ. That which we receive from our parents, or from the world is not a pedigree that will bring us eternal life. What we receive by way of Christ is new life. As we are baptized into this life we are made new — regenerated as his children. That’s why the things of the world do not matter! What matters is being in him and living as a part of God’s family.
As a member of God’s family we want to share what we have with others. Why wouldn’t we? We are invited into a deeply personal relationship — to become children of God. We are united with him throughout all of eternity and the song of the old hymn becomes so clear — “The things of this world will grow strangely dim.” The pedigree we may have, the things we may have obtained — they will all grow strangely dim in light of God! And wouldn’t we want others around us to experience this as well? If we are not sharing this with others, aren’t we being exceedingly selfish?
“Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”
The work of Christ makes regeneration possible. Repentance on our part leads us into the new life which is made a reality because of Christ’s work, but we must bear fruit. No excuses. We are a blessed people. If we don’t share what we have we may just shrivel up and die because we have been reborn to bear fruit. Our true inheritance — Christ. The challenge is huge! Live worthy of him!
Lord, please help me be aware of opportunities you provide. Amen.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
I Samuel 17:47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and he will give you into our hand.”
A young boy, David, was about to do battle with Goliath. Everyone around him wanted him to do battle using the typical weapons created by humans. He tried on the King’s armor and it nearly suffocated him! Now, he was ready to face the giant with the talents that God had given him, and that he was willing to submit to the LORD.
By submitting himself entirely to God the battle became God’s. It wasn’t a human fight of power and strength, but it was a quiet battle of God at work. When God worked the results were different than any had imagined. The one little boy with one rock empowered by God calmed the storm.
Theodore of Cyr says that “we need only the Lord’s goodness to stay the storm.” (Letter 16) The goodness of the LORD is what saved David. It is the goodness of the LORD who brings about victory — and why? David had clearly stated in verse 46, “so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
The battle wasn’t about David or Goliath winning, it was about the LORD being lifted up as the God of Israel.
A number of years ago we were purchasing an apartment in Russia and we had a deadline for making payments. The building was not yet even built but we had to make three initial lump sum payments, in good faith, so that we could have our flat. We had asked for a routing number so the money could be wired in and wouldn’t have to be brought in cash. The money was wired but landed in the Russian Central Bank where they would not move it any further because the apartment company had given us the wrong numbers. We worked for days to get the numbers fixed but the company didn’t seem to know how to fix their own problem. Finally we had the money wired back to the original office outside the country and we sent someone to pick it up in cash. He arrived and we paid them the money a day later than the deadline. All of this because they were unable to give us the right information. Then, they fined us 15% for delivering the money late. I was not happy!
I was ready to do battle with the apartment company. I tried everything I knew to get that fine removed. I called people and we wrote letters but to no avail. It wasn’t going to make a difference. Either we pay the fine or we lose the apartment. When we were in the office of the apartment company signing papers I shared my frustration with the agent. She had no power nor authority to do anything about the problem and she shared my concern. I asked her if I could sign the paper but write at the bottom that this fine had been unjustly imposed because it was the fault of the company that the funds came in late. She allowed me to do this and somehow I felt better.
I went away thinking about this very scripture. I’m not sure what battle I thought I was fighting. I never got to reach the people who were responsible for this “fine.” I also realized that I was the Lord’s representative in all those meetings. Was I being a jerk? Would I be the only Christian some of them ever met? What impression would they have of a Christ-follower?
I learned a lesson that day. We need to allow God to work in the midst of our battles. Victory is for the purpose of revealing God for who he is to the people.
We are challenged to live our lives and fight our battles so that the world may see that there is a God among his people. The battles are not ours — they are his.
Lord, may I remember to release the battles into your hands. Amen.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”
The angel came and spoke a few simple words to Joseph, but they were profound. The son which Mary would bear should be named Jesus. This is the name that people would call him and the one that would be recognized through the centuries.
However, his actions would speak louder than a name given him and people would name him — Emmanual, for by his actions they would recognize, “God is with us.”
Actions speak louder than words.
That’s something our moms told us growing up. But it’s the truth. The ways in which we act on a daily basis reveal who we really are.
Jesus’ actions revealed that God was among his people. His name became superseded by what people named him.
What would people say about us? When our actions speak louder than our words — Who are we beyond on our name?
Lord, may our lives reveal you today. Amen.
Monday, April 13, 2015
2Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!
We are encouraged to manage our physical health and have regular check-ups. The same is true for our spiritual lives. We must take time out and examine ourselves from a spiritual perspective. We are to test ourselves and this relates to Christ living in us. Does Christ actually live in us, or is Christ being reflecting in our actions/reactions/comments? Unless Christ is reflected in the ways in which we do things, then we fail to meet the test.
The Jesus test. That’s a hard one at times because there are times when we don’t want to act and/or react in the same way that Christ would have responded! The emotions of the moment can sweep us away and suddenly we end up in a place that we had not intended. I think Paul understood that and that’s why we find this verse.
Stop — examine what’s happening. How are you acting and/or reacting to what is happening around you? Stop looking at others for a few moments, and examine yourself. Can Christ still be seen in you? That’s what Paul is saying to the Corinthians.
And then the subtle warning — Christ is in you, unless you fail the test. When Christ is not reflected in your behavior and/or actions, then you fail and it’s time to make readjustments.
Christ in us — this is our hope. Christ — he is our focus. Being like Christ — this is our goal. Examine yourself today and see how you do on the test.
Lord, please help me be like you today. Amen.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
2Cor. 12:19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up.
Paul’s concern was not for himself, but for these whom he had led to Christ. There were others who had come around and were very charismatic and persuasive with their speech. They were influencing the people and by their very “super apostle” status, drawing people away from Christ. Sometimes Paul came across as being a bit hard on the Corinthians as he wanted them to be a discerning people. He wanted them to know without a doubt that his concern was not about building himself up or defending himself before them. Instead, everything that he was doing was for their good. He wanted to make sure that they were built up.
He feared that if they listened to the voices of these others there would be great dissension among the people of God. He goes on to describe what he might find:
20 For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
So that this will not occur, Paul continues to point the Corinthians toward Christ. Everything that he does, even when it is misunderstood, comes from a heart and motivation of building others up. He does not tear them down, but points them again and again in the direction of knowing Christ — and the power of his resurrection! This is building up.
How easy it is to tear people down when we ourselves feel threatened. What would happen if we took Paul’s approach of doing everything to build others up. He is personally humbled by his situation and is willing to be the servant of these, if only it will build them up. His passion is for the Corinthian church to be a healthy group of individuals who wholeheartedly love God. He wants to point them in that direction.
Distractions in life keep us from building one another up. We can forget about the goal - of building others up to become more like Christ! Instead, we become pretty good at tearing one another down. Let’s stop and think about the end goal when that begins to happen. Christ is not lifted up. The bride of Christ is sullied. And there are wounded individuals both as the result of direct hits and collateral damage.
I feel challenged by Paul’s words today. What if we faced every day with the challenge of building others up and pointing them in the direction of Christ? Every person that we meet, every encounter along the way, viewed as a divine encounter of building others up.
Paul said that everything he did for his beloved, was to build them up.
Lord, may my life be one of building others up both today and always. Amen.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
2Cor. 11:28 And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.
Paul had dedicated himself to the birthing of numerous churches. Now, the weight of “parenting” those churches weighed heavily on him. He had a sense of “anxiety” on a daily basis for those fledgling congregations. Not only would they have been young, small and struggling, but they would also have been under pressure from government authorities. The persecutions would begin and his “beloved children” constantly under pressure. Until the very end Paul did not give up his responsibility and lovingly guided and prayed for them on a daily basis.
We all carry burdens in our lives. We may have birthed children, churches, relationships, or organizations. Paul understood both physical and emotional pressure. He had suffered both of them.
His incredible love for the churches under his care came with an emotional burden. It was one that drove him to the place of prayer on a daily basis. Not only did he pray, but he sought out ways to support them financially, help them out in crisis, give them counsel when things weren’t going the way they should, or simply share their pain in persecution. He never stopped being their beloved father.
Everything about who we are should exist to the very core of our being. When we are Christ followers — we are transformed through and through! We cannot help but carry a heavy burden for the things of Christ. His burdens become our burdens because we are united with him and that does not always make things easy. If we don’t have this sense of burden — then we must ask ourselves about our relationship with Christ!
Loving with Christ’s love brings with it a heavy burden for Christ bears a heavy burden for us. When we step into that relationship and are united with him we are forever transformed and we bear his likeness to the world around us. When he is saddened by the bride of Christ, the church, we are as well and we become like Paul…under daily pressure because for our anxiety for the church.
We carry a heavy burden!
Lord, may your love compel us to be heavily burdened with you. Amen.
Friday, April 10, 2015
2Cor. 10:12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense.
The temptation in Paul’s day, and in ours, is to compare ourselves with others. Paul had his short-comings and there seemed to be those who were quite ready to point those out to him. He learned to see himself in light of God’s calling in his life.
Comparing yourself to another Paul said, does “not show good sense.” Trying hard to look good in the eyes of others and commending yourself, should not be necessary. We are to be servants of God and we are to boast in one thing alone — God! This is his business and we are simply his servants.
I think that one of the ploys of the enemy is to distract us from the work that God has placed before us. All too soon we begin to think that what we’re doing is about us, and not about him! Every one of us is challenged to take up God’s work and to be faithful to do that for his glory, and not for ours. When we begin to think it’s about us, we forget that it’s his. Comparing ourselves to others is not humility — it is a lack of dependence upon God. Paul says it pretty clearly, “they do not show good sense.”
When the temptation comes to glance over at others and wonder where we fit in the picture, turn your eyes to Jesus who suffered on the cross and follow him!
Lord, thank you for the joy of service in your kingdom. Amen.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
The word Ebenezer means “stone of help,” and Samuel wanted the people to remember that it was the hand of God that helped them against the Philistines. This was a new day in the life of the Israelites and was ushering in a period of Samuel’s leadership in which they would not be overrun by the enemy. He was acknowledging that it was God who was their helper.
Jerome reminds us of the Christ, the cornerstone. Christ, our helper, and the stone whom we have rejected. Augustine speaks of Mizpah meaning “aim” and that we must “passover the old Mizpah to the new, that is, from the aim which looked for material bliss—a false bliss, in a material kingdom — to the aim which looks for spiritual bliss, the really true bliss, in the kingdom of heaven.” (City of God)
The Ebenezer was a marker and reminder of what God had done in their midst. Christ, the Cornerstone, is the living stone who is with us in the Spirit -- a daily reminder to the presence of God — and his helping power at work in our lives.
Have I forgotten about my Ebenezer today?
The old stone may have been easy to overlook. With age the vegetation may have grown up around it and the people went on with their lives.
We may have had a moment where we remember the way in which God worked and intervened in our lives. It was that “Ebenezer” moment and we want to put up a memorial to that event. But then we may fail to go back to that place. We forget.
Jesus — our living Ebenezer is with us right now. He is present and yet we overlook him. He desires to help us if only we will call on him but we become too busy and we put him away in the corner just like any rock or memorial.
The place for my Ebenezer is in the very heart of my life every single day. The Lord is my help and strength for anything that I may face this day, if only I don’t overlook him. This is my personal Ebenezer, the resurrected Lord who sent us his Spirit. He is living and breathing and active in and through my life every day — a living stone — my Ebenezer.
Lord, I am grateful for you — my Ebenezer. May I trust you in today and every day. Amen.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Psalm 77:11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
This is a Psalm of prayer where God’s people cry out to him. In the midst of difficulty and trouble we cry out to God. There is a pattern to the prayer which begins by calling upon God. Then it goes into an affirmation of God’s work in the individual’s personal life and moves on to a remembrance of God’s powerful deeds. Eventually the Psalmist lists details related to the Exodus from Egypt.
There are times when we get in a funk and we struggle with what we are facing. This Psalm serves as a reminder about the ministry of remembrance. When in the midst of trouble, it may be helpful to remember the things that God has done for us in the past. Think on them, pray over them and thank God for all he has done.
It’s too easy to get tunnel vision and only see what lies directly in front of us. It may appear to be terribly dark and then we begin to remember. As we “call to mind the deeds of the Lord” then we discover the ministry of these memories. God uses them to touch the deepest recesses of our soul and breathe life into a dark time. God has been with us. God is with us. God will be with us!
Maybe we need to “call to mind the deeds of the Lord” today and let those memories minister to us.
Lord, thank you for all the things you have done for us. Amen.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
2Cor. 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.
Paul was concerned about the ways in which the Corinthians were living their daily lives. There was much pagan worship which occurred in that city and the influence among the believers was very great. God, however, promised that the Holy Spirit would provide for transformation in the lives of those who followed Christ. This transformation was not just in the Spirit, or in the Spiritual life but was to be witnessed in the body or the “fleshly” life as well. Holiness is not just about a spiritual condition, it is about wholeness and the daily life of an individual completely devoted to becoming God’s holy child.
The expectation is for God’s holy people to be transformed in the fleshliness of our daily lives as we are empowered by the Spirit. There should never be a separation or distinction between our spiritual lives and the ways in which we live. Holiness is to be visible in how we behave day in and day out.
For the Corinthians holiness meant that they no longer engaged in pagan worship practices. They were to abstain from sexual immorality and were to make holiness the aim of their lives.
God’s plan is for us to be his holy people — this is the expectation. Holiness is not an optional part of the Christian life, it is the Christian life. As followers of Christ the Corinthians seemed to try and see how close to the edge of the world they could live and yet be called Christ followers. If that’s the focus of our lives, we have it all wrong. The center of our lives must be Christ and becoming more and more like him. The more I am like him, the more his holiness is reflected in and through me.
You and I are to be God’s holy children living in this world. That is the expectation for all of us. We are to bear the family resemblance and that is the promise. We are adopted as children and brought into the holy family. Live like it! Act like it! It’s our inheritance and expectation.
Lord, please lead me to you today in all things. Amen.
Monday, April 6, 2015
12 and, through the children that the LORD will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
The story of Ruth is very familiar. Boaz is willing to become her kinsman redeemer, and take her as his wife. Following the details of the legal transaction the witnesses pronounce a blessing upon him and this includes the prayer for his family to be like the house of Perez. This may be an unusual prayer when we think about the story of Tamar and how Perez came into this world. She had to take the initiative and deceive her father-in-law, Judah, to fulfill the responsibility of kinsman redeemer. While her deception seems odd, she is praised, for the people of Bethlehem are descendants of Judah and many could trace their family roots back directly to Perez.
Tamar was not remembered for being deceitful, but for being faithful. God had blessed the child, Perez, and now these were his people. The prayer was for God’s blessing to be fulfilled in Ruth and Boaz’s life in the same unusual way it was through Tamar.
For both Tamar and Ruth life had taken unexpected twists and turns. There was much sadness and loss involved but ultimately there was also joy and blessing. These two women remained faithful to all that God had intended. They did not sit idly by and wait for things to happen but became active participants in God’s activity. These two women are remembered by Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. That’s an unexpected blessing.
Life can take numerous twists and turns and we will have periods of disappointment. It is in the low times that we need to persevere in an attitude of humble faithfulness. At the same time we may need to take the initiative, to participate together with God in his work.
During times of discouragement we must keep our eyes on God. It would have been easy for both Ruth and Tamar to have been frustrated and angry with God. Neither responded in this way but continued to seeks ways in which to be faithful.
Faithfulness reaches beyond ourselves and to those who will come after. Unexpected blessings are a part of God’s plan and are often much bigger than anything we could have imagined.
Lord, thank you for your faithfulness in the unexpected. Amen.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
2Cor. 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
The day between Good Friday and Easter is that Silent Saturday, and while Paul was not writing about this specific context, he understood what it meant to lose heart. There are moments in life where things can simply become overwhelming and we can become discouraged. Our outer nature, our physical bodies are in a process of wasting away. Little by little they no longer function the way they did in the past. Joints begin to ache and the mind just doesn’t work as quickly as it did. Vision may fade and hearing become more dull. But this doesn’t need to be a Silent Saturday, for while the outer nature may be slowing, the inner nature is “renewed day by day.”
This slight momentary affliction or day— this Silent Saturday is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” The disciples could never have understood the ramifications of Sunday! They were living in the affliction of Silent Saturday.
Paul encourages us to look beyond Silent Saturday, beyond the current afflictions, and onto that which “cannot be seen.” The sealed up tomb was what they saw on Silent Saturday. What they could not see was the eternal work being accomplished in Christ Jesus and what they had not experienced was resurrection power. There was more happening on Silent Saturday than any could have ever comprehended and so we are encouraged by the words of Paul and, “we do not lose heart.”
We may be living in Silent Saturday for a prolonged period of time but Sunday is coming! This is our hope, the hope of what is unseen and the eternal.
Lord, we wait in patience through our Silent Saturday. Amen.
Friday, April 3, 2015
2 Cor. 3:9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10 Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; 11 for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory!
When Christ died on the cross a new era was ushered in for all of humanity. The old glory gave way to the greater glory; the Law would give way to the Spirit.
Ambrosiaster explains, “The difference between the face of Moses and the glory of Christ is the difference between the picture and the person it portrays.” (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles) The old glory was seen reflected in the face of Moses, but that, with time, faded. The greater glory now pointed directly toward Christ. He is, indeed, the greater glory.
On this Good Friday we remember what Christ did for us on the cross. It was through his sacrifice that the ministry of condemnation was replaced with the ministry of justification. The focus on the negative was turned to the positive. The glory of the temporal became the eternal.
Thanks be to God!
Lord, we thank you for your suffering and death. Amen.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
2 Cor. 2:10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. 11 And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
There is one who has sinned and been less than faithful to God. In his earlier letter Paul had addressed this situation and told the church to take action. That action had been taken and now this one is showing signs of remorse and repentance. The church community doesn’t seem to know how to respond and Paul is giving them direction. The man is to be forgiven and invited back into the fellowship.
The designs of the enemy are to create division within the body of believers. A united fellowship, serving God together is something for the enemy to fear! There is strength in this united community — but if the community can be divided — that is the enemy’s design. Wesley commented, “for the loss of one soul is a common loss.” The entire body of Christ suffers over the loss of one individual.
Jesus had said that the world would know his children by the way that they love one another. Anytime there is a distraction that keeps God’s children from loving one another, the enemy has his way. Satan is working hard to outwit God’s children. His design is to create division within the body of Christ.
I believe the enemy is working overtime to bring division to the body of Christ. The more that we can be fragmented, the less effective we become.
What was to define the body of Christ? The overflow of God’s nature through his people — holy love! You and I, we are all called to be God’s holy children, a reflection of Christ in this world.
There are wounded among the family of God. Paul knew it was important to reach out and restore the one who had fallen. Too often we think that restoration is about the person who has sinned, when restoration really may have to do with the remaining body of Christ. It may be that the lack of a forgiving spirit toward an individual creates such division within the body that the church cannot truly be the church.
The design of the enemy is to splinter Christianity. Let’s not be fooled! We need to have a generous and loving spirit within the body of Christ to be united in service to him.
Lord, may we not give in to the temptation to bring division to your body. Amen.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Psalm 50:14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The Psalmist has discovered two vital aspects in our relationship with God. Loving God involves thanksgiving and praise to God. First and foremost God must be worshipped in a place of priority. Our lives are to be filled with words and deeds of Thanksgiving to God on high. The ways in which we live, day in and day out, are to be holy unto God, that we ourselves are living sacrifices or worship to Him.
When our lives becomes worship, then we are able to call upon him when we are in trouble. We call upon the Lord and he delivers! But deliverance is done for the glorification and edification of God.
What will we give to God today? We can give him nothing short of everything! Our lives are to be living sacrifices of thanksgiving before him.
Living sacrifices are evidenced by our daily lives. Every single day the priority of our lives should be to worship God with thanksgiving.
We thank God for life.
We thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ.
We thank God for the opportunities to be engaged in relationships at work and at home that can be a sacrifice of thanksgiving before God.
We thank God for the difficulties so that in their midst we can pray!
We thank God for the opportunity to get to know him even more.
We thank God for his overwhelming love.
…and we give every moment of every day into God’s hands and we seek his leading and guidance in all that we say and do.
Our lives are to be God-directed in all things. That’s what this Psalm is really about. A life that is lived as a living sacrifice before God is glorifying to God. This is a life in which the very nature of God is revealed and which draws people into the direction of God. God will be glorified in the good and the bad because he has become the focus of all things.
What will we give to God today? If we’re hanging on and fighting too many battles on our own — we will lose! Every passion and every desire must come under the submission and control of the Holy Spirit and only in this way will God be glorified.
Lord, thank you so much for your love and goodness in my life. May my life be a sacrifice of thanksgiving before you. Amen.