Archive for October 2016

In Suffering

Father, You gave Your precious, only Son to suffer for us sinners.
Self-sacrifice was Your loving will for Him.
It is Your loving will for each of Your children.
It is Your loving will for me.
When I suffer as Your child,
I share more fully in the beautiful work of Christ.
I share more fully in Him.
I share more fully in You.

Father, I crave relief.
I humbly ask You for it and trust You to give it
in Your perfect way,
in Your perfect time.

Until then, I commit myself to Your care
as Christ committed Himself when He suffered.
You are always love,
You are always good, and
You are always with me.
When suffering comes to Your children,
it is always a transition,
never a destination.
Suffering is always temporary.

So, Father, as Your child,
I trust You,
I look to You, and
I wait on You.
Use this to Your glory.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Father, in This Suffering
Printed Music & Lyrics

Constantly, Completely Dependent

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 5:44; 6:26-29

When I read about Jesus in the gospels, it seems that He always knew everything and could do absolutely anything. But then I listen to what He said about Himself:

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does . . . By myself I can do nothing.” (John 5:19, 30, NIV)

“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24, NIV)

Jesus’ wisdom and power, His words and His actions, were not His own. He had emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-7). He was completely, constantly dependent on You, Father, for everything He said and everything He did. He listened. He obeyed. His total dependence on You was His great strength and constant sufficiency. His power was made perfect in His weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jesus was what He was by faith. His strength was not in His own abilities but in His relationship with You, Father. He trusted You. You were His only light, His only source of life, wisdom, power, peace, love, and holiness. Because He was empty of all else, You flowed through Him unhindered. He was constantly full of You.

Father, I cannot be capable, holy, wise, or loving any other way. You were the only source for Jesus. You are the only source for me. Jesus wants to share with me His relationship with You. Father, that is what I want as well.

When I feel a need, I want to eliminate it.
But my neediness is permanent and pervasive.
I can never eliminate it.
Instead, Lord, help me to rest in
my sufficiency in You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Each Moment by Faith
Printed Music & Lyrics

Only to Help and Heal

We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. (Romans 15:1-2, NASB) 

We live as if we’re in competition with each other,
each seeking his or her own good.

The Bible teaches the opposite.
It says we’re all connected.
We’re all members of each other.
Therefore we are wise to seek the good of others,
not just ourselves.

Nowhere is this more important than in
what we say.
We so often tear each other down with our words.

Jesus, help me to only speak
to help and heal.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Always in You
Printed Music & Lyrics

What a Day!

“They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17, NIV)

Imagine the moment of Jesus’ resurrection,
when the power of the Father crushed death—
we will share in it.

Imagine the full splendor of His glory—
we will share in it.

Imagine when all the universe crowns Him
King of Kings and Lord of Lords—
we will share in it.

Imagine the beauty of His life and love,
spreading, blooming, growing everywhere and forever—
we will share in it.

We will share in all He is.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: In That Morning
Printed Music & Lyrics

The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Four times scripture narrates Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper. Please read them all as listed above. As Jesus did this, what was He wanting us to understand? What did He want us to never forget?

  • He Himself is our deliverance, so He redefined how we celebrate our deliverance. The unleavened bread had symbolized the pressured situation in which the Passover deliverance happened. They didn’t have time for the bread to rise. That bread, broken and distributed for their strengthening, was now His own body, broken for them. The wine, with which they celebrated together, was now His own blood, His very life poured out for them.
  • Jesus was acting out the truth He had spoken in John 6: “I am the bread God has sent you from heaven. Eat my flesh and drink my blood, and you will receive eternal life” (see John 6:48-58).
  • The Lord’s Supper symbolized a new covenant. The old covenant demanded our obedience, an obedience we were too weak to give. The new covenant tells us that Christ has bought our redemption and has fulfilled the law. We must simply trust and feast on Him.
  • Remember God’s past deliverance, and it will help you anticipate its completion. You are part of the entire sweep of God’s marvelous work of salvation.
  • Some truths are too important to commit to words alone. In the Lord’s Supper we remember with all our senses. We see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

The scene is made more poignant by remembering its highly personal nature. Jesus was there with His closest friends, with whom He had lived day and night for three years. In Luke’s account, Jesus expresses His frame of mind this way: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15, NASB).

John says this: Jesus knowing that His hour had come…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end [or “to the uttermost”] (John 13:1, NASB).

Jesus had tried to communicate what was about to happen, and they couldn’t grasp it. So He acted it out for them. That first communion was not a formal ceremony. It was friend to friend and face to face.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord, from Your Hand
Printed Music & Lyrics

Earthen Vessels

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NASB) 

There was given me a thorn in the flesh…I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NASB)

Servant of God,
do you want your Lord to use you
heart, soul, mind, and body in His service?
Do you long for Him to glorify Himself through you?

Realize that He will use all of you –
not just your strengths, but your weaknesses,
not just your successes, but your failures,
not just your talents, but your glaring inadequacies,
not just your gains, but your losses,
not just your joys, but your griefs,
not just your health, but your sickness and suffering,
not just your wholeness, but your brokenness,
not just your blessings, but all the injustice and abuse you suffer.

He will show everyone that you are only an earthen vessel
so that the needy glorify,
not you,
but Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics

Give Me the Mind of Christ

John 17:20-23; Philippians 2:1-8

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us.” (John 17:20-21, NASB) 

If there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-5, NASB)

Father, I treasure the word of Christ,
constantly guiding and encouraging.
I treasure the comfort provided by Your love,
ministered through Your children.
I treasure sharing in Your Holy Spirit,
who draws all of us together into You.
I treasure Your mercy and Your compassion, which You pour out richly
to us and through us.

Therefore, Father, flush out all my petty pride, and
replace it with the sweet freedom of humility.
Free me from anxious self-seeking and
turn my heart toward the rich blessings of unity.
Too long I have craved a glory that is meaningless and empty of all reality.
Instead, fill my life with the pleasure of sharing Your love.

O Father, give me the mind of Christ!
Give me His Spirit, His heart, His joy!
He gave up far more than I have or am,
and He chose the pleasure of pleasing You.
Even as He faced a brutal and humiliating death,
His heart eagerly embraced You.

That’s what I want, Father.
Give me His mind.
Grow in me the single-minded trust and wholehearted love
of an obedient Son
for His loving Father.
Unite us completely and forever in Jesus Christ!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Philippians 2:1-8
Printed Music & Lyrics

Our Confidence

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 5:19, 30; 13:20

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 

“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:19, 30, NASB)

“He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 

“He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (John 5:23; 13:20, NASB)

When Jesus faced hostility during His earthly ministry,
His confidence was always this:
He was simply representing the Father who sent Him.
He only said what the Father told Him to say, and
only did what the Father showed Him to do.
He was careful to speak and act
only in the Father’s authority.
Thus as people either
received Jesus or
rejected Him,
they were receiving or rejecting the Father.

As His disciples were about to face a hostile world
without Jesus’ physical presence,
He passed along this same truth to them.
Just as Jesus’ confidence in every situation had been
His trusting, obedient relationship with His Father,
so His disciples’ confidence would be
their relationship with Jesus.
That relationship would be their
adequacy for their mission.
As they said what Jesus gave them to say and
did what Jesus showed them to do,
they could face any opposition and any challenge
with bold confidence.
Their preparation for ministry was this:
their intimate binding to Jesus Christ and
their complete dependence on Him.

The same is true for each of us.
Our preparation for life and for service is
our trust in Jesus,
our obedience to Him,
our dependence on Him, and
our moment-by-moment relationship with Him.

As we go to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we go
in His sovereign authority and
in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
We go in the Spirit of Christ Himself,
with His Word and
for His glory.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord Jesus, Living Presence
Printed Music & Lyrics

Only in You

Not that we are adequate in ourselves…but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate (2 Corinthians 3:5-6, NASB)

Lord, as I face the work You have called me to do,
help me to live by this truth hour by hour.

I have no competence of my own.
Without you,
I am blind.
I am inconsistent.
I lack wisdom.

You said,
“I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB).

All my competence is in You.
I turn to You.
I depend on You, and
I trust You now.

in You and You alone
I am adequate for this task.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Fruitful in You
Printed Music & Lyrics

Daily Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NASB)

Our Father in heaven,…forgive us our debts. (Matthew 6:9, 12, NASB)

Father, You know my heart.
You know that I want to live and breathe as Your child.
I want to be one with You every moment and in every way.
I long to walk in total obedience to Your perfect and loving will.

But You also know how I live day by day.
My responses to You are so sporadic and cool.
I want to live a loving life constantly and completely,
but I shrink back into myself so often and so easily.
As I trust You, You always enable me to live a holy life in Your presence.
You are so faithful!
But how often I fail to trust You as You deserve!
Faith is still a response that is only partially formed in me.

The closer I grow to You, the more I am aware of the
magnitude and constancy of my failures before You.
You deserve so much better than me!

But Your grace is perfect, even though my behavior is not.
Your forgiveness is free for the asking!
Though my shortcomings are a never ending stream,
Your mercies are new every morning.

I count on Your forgiveness, Father,
but help me never take it for granted.
Give me a growing openness with You.
Give me a constant awareness of
who You are and
who I am.
May confession be an ongoing process between us,
a daily healing,
a regular realigning,
a natural part of our unbroken communion.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Daily Confession
Printed Music & Lyrics