Archive for January 2016

A Taste of Heaven

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8, NIV)

If you want a taste of heaven in this world, cultivate a close, humble, loving communion with God. God will be the beauty and peace of heaven. Why wait till then to enjoy Him?

Keep bringing your thoughts back to Him in dependence and praise. If we knew our constant need for His help, we wouldn’t lose sight of Him for a second.

Make your heart a sanctuary where He is always worshiped. Guard your heart, your mind, and your mouth that you don’t do, say, or think anything displeasing to Him.

Remember, His help is always available. He never leaves us to our own strength. We just have to ask.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: My Mind Will Be Your Holy Place
Printed Music & Lyrics

by Brother Lawrence and Ken Bible

Following the Father

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 8:12; Luke 4

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NASB)

Father, I say I want to follow You,
but how easily I am distracted by my own desires.
If I get my eyes off You,
I begin following my agenda,
not Yours.

Because Jesus maintained
His close and constant relationship with You,
He followed You into the harsh wilderness,
conquered temptation, and
was empowered by Your Spirit (Luke 4:1-14).

He obediently spoke the unpopular truth in His hometown (Luke 4:14-30).

He confronted a demon in Capernaum and banished him (Luke 4:31-35).

He spoke with Your authority and wielded Your power over evil (Luke 4:36-37).

He healed all the sick brought to Him (Luke 4:38-41).

Though His schedule was demanding, He rose early to pray (Luke 4:42).

He knew when to ignore popular pressure and move on (Luke 4:42-44).

Father, that’s what I need:
Your enabling for my weakness;
Your wisdom for my ignorance.
Father, give me the Spirit of Christ!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Spirit, Come
Printed Music & Lyrics

Dangling Threads

Father, I bring You all the dangling threads of my life.

I bring you that annoying little task that has me stuck.
I can’t move forward, and
I can’t walk away.

I bring you that matter where all I can do is wait.
I am totally dependent on someone else, and
they are in no hurry.

I bring you that huge project that I’m just beginning.
I feel swamped with unknowns and
in over my head.

I bring You that threat hanging over me
that seeks to steal my peace.

I bring you that unique idea, that deep desire
that has long weighed on my heart.
It keeps calling me,
pulling me.
It has never gone away after all these years.
Father, I believe You have planted it in me.
I believe You have set aside this task for me.
I’m convinced it would glorify You and
draw other people to You.
But every time I try to press ahead,
You seem to check me.
I feel nine-months pregnant,
but I can’t give birth.

And Father, I bring You that person
whom I love with all my heart.
They are so painfully, tragically incomplete.
O Lord, You know.

Father, I bring You all these dangling threads.
They keep my life unsettled.
They daily, hourly make me feel
ill-at-ease and
out of control.

Maybe that’s one reason You allow them to stay.
They keep me turning to You,
depending on You,
crying out to You.
You are the First and the Last,
the Source and the Goal.
You not only see the end from the beginning,
You are the ending.
All things are flowing from You and to You.
All things are complete in You.
At the perfect time and
in the perfect way,
You will beautifully finish everything You have begun.

I am a small-minded,
time-bound creature,
at sea in a world beyond my understanding and control.
You are sovereign, wise, loving, and just.
You always do what is good and right.

Father, I will wait on You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Wait on the Lord
Printed Music & Lyrics

The Uncrossable Gap

God is holy.
We were born into sin.
It is all we have ever known.

God is pure light.
As creatures of the darkness,
we instinctively run from Him.

God is love.
In our selfishness
we are suspicious of Him.

God is Spirit.
To us physical creatures,
He seems unreal.

God is perfect wisdom.
To our ignorance,
He seems foolish.

God is all in all, and He offers Himself to us freely and completely.
In ourselves, we cannot see,
cannot know, and
cannot accept Him.

But now God has crossed all the barriers between Him and us.
The Transcendent One has taken flesh and blood.
Holy God is now and forever
wholly human.
He has come all the way to us in Jesus Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Eternal Light
Printed Music & Lyrics

God with Us: Completed in Jesus

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read John 1:14-18

As God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:8), Jesus came delighting to walk among His people.

As God was to Hagar the “God Who Sees” when He met her needs in the wilderness (Genesis 16:13), Jesus truly saw the needy all around Him, talking with them, touching them, healing them, and feeding them.

As God revealed His presence to the undeserving Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22), Jesus acted out God’s gracious presence and forgiveness to the most undeserving around Him, even those murdering Him (Luke 23:34).

As God came with fire, smoke, and awe-full terror on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19), Jesus came with gentleness and compassion, as one of us. Where the law brought condemnation on our weakness, Jesus brought grace and truth — the unfailing love and absolute dependability of our Heavenly Father (John 1:14-18).

As God tabernacled with His people in the wilderness (Exodus 25 – 40), Jesus tabernacled among us as God made flesh (John 1:14; see the NASB margin).

As the temple was for a time the symbol of God’s presence and rulership among His people (1 Kings 6:12-13), Jesus is the eternal reality of God’s presence and rulership among all who trust Him.

Jesus is
the Child born to us,
the Son given to us,
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father, and
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

He is the virgin’s son, the promise of our soon-coming deliverance. He is, now and forever, in every way, God with us (Isaiah 7:14).

Listen and sing:
Hymn: You Came to Us
Printed Music & Lyrics

An Adventure in Christ

What is your attitude toward the future?
Are you fearful about what might happen?
Remember that God is with you and
is leading You.
Everything that comes to you, comes through Him.

Are you complacent?
Distracted from what is most important?
Realize that right now God is growing you toward Himself.
He is the eternal destiny toward which you are moving.
He is what is most important in life, now and forever.

Look at your life as an adventure in Him.
When we call something an “adventure,” we mean that it has
stresses, demands, dangers, and unknowns,
but it also has excitement and discovery of wonderful new things.
In our stories, adventures always end well.
Think of your life as an adventure in Christ.

Listen to this paraphrase of Philippians 3:12-14.
Make it your prayer:

“I have not yet obtained all God has for me.
I am certainly not perfect.
But I am pressing ahead to take hold of His full purpose for me.
Right now I forget what is behind me and
reach eagerly toward what is ahead.
I am determined to obtain all God has for me in Christ Jesus.”

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lead Me On
Printed Music & Lyrics

Hey, I Know Them!

Tychicus . . . He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. . . . Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother . . . Aristarchus . . . Mark . . . Justus . . . my fellow workers for the kingdom of God . . . they have proved a comfort to me . . . Epaphras . . . a servant of Christ Jesus. (Colossians 4:7, 9-12, NIV)

At the close of Paul’s letters, he often attaches personal greetings to those he knows at the other end, or from those traveling with him. For years I thought of these messages as graffiti, as passing personal scribbles on magnificent, timeless documents.

But recently while finishing the book of Colossians, I began to notice how he referred to his friends, those working with him:

dear brother
faithful minister
fellow servant in the Lord
fellow workers in the kingdom of God
a comfort to me

As I read those phrases, it struck me: Hey, I know them! I was reminded of one Christian friend after another, especially fellow workers. The list got longer and longer. If I were to describe each of them and their relationships to me, I guess I’d have to use the same terms Paul uses.

There are many whom I’ve come to appreciate and trust deeply as fellow servants of Christ. They are an integral part of my life and service, yet I tend to take them for granted.

Right now, think of those brothers and sisters in Christ who are a part of your life. Using only three or four words, how would you label each of them?

When we get to heaven and gain an eternal perspective, I believe we’ll realize that some of the greatest blessings God gave us while here on earth were people – people close to us each day, people that surround us every time we enter God’s house.

Thank the Lord for them. Treat them like precious gifts of God, for that’s exactly what they are!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: I Thank the Lord for You
Printed Music & Lyrics

Greater Than the Temple

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 2:14-22 

“Zeal for Your house will consume me.” (John 2:17, NASB)

Follow Jesus’ relationship with the temple, and you’ll glimpse the relationship of Father and Son with each other and with the people of God.

The temple was a building, designed as a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7). It was a place of joy where people could talk with God, learn of Him, worship Him, and be assured of His care (Isaiah 2:2-5). In a sense, the temple made God’s presence tangible.

Jesus began coming to the temple when He had to be carried (Luke 2:21-39). There His parents presented the infant Jesus to His true Father and dedicated Him to His service.

Virtually all that we know about Jesus’ childhood is His devotion to His Father and to the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Even at age twelve, He thought of the temple as His Father’s house. His desire to be about His Father’s work drew Him there to a degree that confounded even His parents.

As an adult, Jesus continued to think of the temple as His Father’s house. Thus He came to it in a unique capacity, as the Son of God (Matthew 17:24-27). He seemed to come at every opportunity. There He spoke the Father’s words and did the Father’s works. People who came to Jesus in the temple met their God face-to-face. He spent time with them, rubbed shoulders with them, taught them, and healed them.

They also experienced the Son’s all-consuming zeal for His Father’s house. They sensed His passion as, with sovereign authority, He cleansed it of all that distracted from God Himself (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-16; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-22).

Yet Jesus also lifted people’s sights beyond the temple buildings. He taught the Samaritan woman that true worship transcended the temple. Life could be engulfed in worship that flowed directly from our spirits to His, unencumbered by time and place (John 4:20-24). Referring to Himself, He told the Pharisees that “something greater than the temple is here” (Matthew 12:6, NASB). He proclaimed His own body as the true temple of God. The magnificent temple structures, which had taken forty-six years to build, would soon be completely leveled (Matthew 24:2). But when His bodily temple was destroyed, it would rise again in only three days (John 2:19).

The Spirit of Christ drew the early Church to the temple almost continually (Luke 24:52-53; Acts 2:46). Through Paul, the Spirit taught the Church that they themselves were God’s living temple, His holy presence on earth (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 2:19-22). The New Testament closes with the promise that soon, life will be so completely engulfed in God that a temple will be unnecessary (Revelation 21:22).

In Jesus’ zeal for the temple, we glimpse the Son’s deep love for His Father, and the Father’s burning desire to be forever one with His children.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Have Come, God’s Living Temple
Printed Music & Lyrics

God of Endless Abundance

God of endless abundance,
God of glad, unbounded giving,
You have made me
Your child,
Your heir.
I am rich beyond measure
in You.

Father, help me turn my back on everything
that distracts me from You.
Help me flee from
all anxious grasping,
all lust, and
all self-glory.

Instead, help me wholeheartedly embrace
gratitude, and
joyful, self-giving love.

Father, help me release everything else and embrace

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Poor in Spirit
Printed Music & Lyrics

You Call Yourself My Father

Infinite God,
You come to me
from far beyond and
high above my knowing.
You freely show Yourself to me through this world
of which I am a part.
The wisdom, the power,
the beauty, the mystery,
the pattern, the endless parade of individuality,
the love, the connectedness of all this varied life,
the engulfing shower of light,
the vastness, the intimacy,
the eternity, the now-ness –
they all speak and sing of You.
I begin to glimpse You and
wonder at You
through my sense and experience.

Infinite God,
personal God,
You come to me
in skin and fragile flesh and bone.
You come just like me.
You call Yourself my Father.
Holy God,
Loving God,
God of peace and joy and unbridled giving,
You say that I came from You, and
You call me back to You.
You only ask that I come as a child,
as Your child,
honest and trusting.

Infinite God,
personal God,
Father God,
I come.
Make us one again!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: My Loving Father
Printed Music & Lyrics