Archive for Devotional with Hymn

Anticipation

Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”
And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you…”.
But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”(Exodus 33:18-20, NASB)

In my office is a poster of a large whale’s tail. The tail alone is seen above the water’s surface, with the other 99% of the whale being out of sight.

I’ve enjoyed this poster for years. I’ve owned it since before I had a good place to hang it.

What draws me to it, I believe, is its promise. What I see is impressive. But what I don’t see intrigues me more. The whale’s tale suggests a bigger being, a completely different type of being, a deeper life, a greater realm. What I see is a promise of what I don’t see, and it fuels my longing to see and know more.

It reminds me of God. What I know of Him is spectacular, but everything I learn promises even more that I have not yet seen or experienced, that I cannot yet fully grasp. Hear God’s promise through Paul:

Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, NASB)

God has poured out Himself, His own breath, His own life force, on all of us who simply trust Him. He has lavished on us His power, wisdom, and love, through the Holy Spirit of His glorious Son. But as great as this Gift is, it is only a down-payment, a deposit, a promise of His full gift of Himself to His people:

Having also believed, you were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NASB. See also 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5)

Consider the greatness of God’s gift of His Spirit. Right here and now He can be more and wants to be more than you have let Him be. But also, let this great gift fuel your anticipation for the greater gift that is yet to come: our complete and constant union with God.

Like children,
we don’t appreciate
our Father’s greatest gifts because
they are so far beyond our tiny experience.
He blesses us
in ways and
in realms that are
higher than we can dream.
We think “today”.
He gives forever.
We think “this physical life”.
He enriches our eternal reality.

Hymn: Longing for Home

Holy and Faithful

To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ. (Colossians 1:2, NIV)

It’s easy to get distracted by the human side of the church and its people. We sometimes grow impatient with each other’s weaknesses and immaturities.

But notice Paul’s letters. The Christians in his day were surely as flawed and human as today. But he gives a different view of them. He always writes with such joy and deep affection for them.

Just read the openings to the letters. My favorite is the Colossians 1:2, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ.

I wonder: if I had known those people, would I have described them this way?

As I think of those around me, do I focus on their human failings and limitations, or do I appreciate them for the persons they are becoming in Christ?

Even now, in their imperfections, our holy and faithful brothers and sisters strengthen us in ways we take for granted. Their testimonies, their struggles, their failures and victories—even their mere presence with us—bolster our faith and keep pointing us week by week toward Christ. Through their lives, we see God in action.

Remember that those around us are destined to become kings and priests and honored children of God. If you want an exciting thought, picture your Christian friends as fulfilled in Christ. Imagine them without their fears, insecurities, emotional scars, and human weaknesses. See them as having become all God’s love designed them to be and all His transforming power is able to make them. Rather moving, isn’t it? This will soon be reality. We have God’s Word on it.

Value your brothers and sisters now. Bear with them now. Encourage them, lift them up, forgive, and be patient with them. Love them the way Christ loves you.

Father, if we would look
beyond and through
all the people who have blessed our lives,
we would see You.
Every good gift comes from You.
Thank You, Father!

Hymn: I Thank the Lord for You

Filled to All the Fullness of God

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-17, 19, NIV)

Ephesians 3:14-19 is a beautiful passage of scripture that has long intrigued me, especially that last phrase. The concept is grand, but what does it really mean to be filled with “all the fullness of God”?

In Christ, all the fullness of God dwells bodily, and you have been made full and complete in Him. (Colossians 2:9-10, para.)

What could it mean to me—to you—in practical, daily terms to be completely filled with God himself? We know that He is always present, not only with us, but in us, in an intimate and holy way.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you…?(1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV)

You have experienced that presence. What if we learned to look to Him, to trust Him more simply and constantly, to realize His presence and rest in it completely and always?

Imagine the wonder of hearing Him speak to you in wisdom and love. Imagine the wonder of knowing His will.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21, NIV)

When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.(John 16:13, NIV)

Imagine Him speaking His words from your lips.

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11, NIV)

Imagine dreaming His dreams, envisioning what He has planned for His people.

I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28, NIV)

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.(1 Corinthians 2:9-10, NIV)

Imagine being sufficient for every challenge, empowered by God’s own strength.

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.(Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)

Imagine the pleasure of having His own character growing and developing within you, naturally, daily.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

Consider what it would be like to be free forever from the bondage of your sin.

Now that you have been set free from sin…the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22, NIV)

And imagine being wrapped in His perfect peace.

The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6, NIV)

These blessings are not someday and far away. They are all in Christ, and He is present. These blessings are not vague and abstract. They are practical and life-oriented. They are for talking, thinking, reacting, and doing.

They are not by struggle or superior intellect, not reserved for the elite, not beyond anyone’s grasp. They are available for all who will daily, simply trust the God who is with us right now.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us…with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3, NIV)

Almighty Holy Father,
You do not abandon us to
our puny self-improvement schemes and
our stumbling efforts.
Your gift to each of us and
all of us is
the mighty life of Jesus Christ,
accessible by simple faith.

Hymn: Holy in Me

I Press Ahead toward Christ

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14, NASB)

Success and failure are just words,
spoken from our small-minded ignorance.
Money and respect are simply mediums of human exchange.
They can only give what other humans have to give,
creatures who share our own deep neediness.
Glory and gold are too shallow to provide
what we truly need and crave.
Physical comfort is an imposter,
pretending to be lasting peace.
In the end, death shows them all for what they are:
empty delusions.

Jesus Christ is the eternal, holy, glorious God
made fully human.
In Him, my Father, I can
know You and
love You and
become like You.
In Him all my goals,
all my expectations,
all life’s possibilities are raised and reset.
In Him I am becoming more than I ever dreamed I could be.
Jesus Christ is my desire.
I trust HIM.
I press ahead toward HIM.

For in Him, Father,
I become one with You
completely and forever,
in all Your holiness and love.

The prize held out before us is
not material blessings—
not in this world and
not in the next.
The prize God offers is
Himself,
with all the
life and
love
that are in Him.

Hymn: The Upward Call

I Want to Know You

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Colossians 3:8, NASB)

My life is crowded with so many desires.
But, Jesus, I truly want only one thing:
I want to know You.

All my ambitions,
all my goals and dreams of glory,
I give them to You.
I release them and cut the cord.
Nothing else is worth holding onto.
I want to know You.

I look to the future,
and I know more storms will come.
But what does it matter?
Each trouble will help me know You better.
Each will give me a faith that
sees You more constantly and clearly.
I want to know You.

My heart leaps at the thought of being found
always and entirely in You,
with the baggage of self-interest gone forever.
Praise to You!
You are doing it,
and You always finish what You start.
I know You now, Jesus, and
then I will know You fully, even as I am fully known.

Thank You, Lord!
Fill my heart now with the desire
that will delight me throughout eternity:
I want to know You, Lord.
I want to know You.

Father, You are
the only desire worth nurturing,
the only goal worth pursuing,
the only eternal destination.

Hymn: Lord, Life Becomes More Simple

All You Made Me to Be

This is the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. The glorious riches of the mystery are this: Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27, para.)

Father, You are all-in-all,
all life,
all love,
all beauty,
all blessedness.
You are the boundless ocean of
a thousand magnificent blessings still
nameless and
undiscovered.

As I trust You with the simplicity of a child,
I am in You, and
You, the Great All-in-all, are in me.

Because You are in me,
I am far more than this corrupted, physical creature.
You are life, and
I am truly, eternally alive.
You are love, and
I begin to love as You love.
You are wonderful, and
already Your wonders peek out through me.

But because You are the Gardener,
forever growing magnificent wonders,
who I am becoming is infinitely more wonderful than who I am.
For I am in Christ, and
I am growing in Christ.
And when He appears, I will be like Him,
because I will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2, NASB, adapted)

When I am perfectly like
Your perfectly pleasing Son,
I will be perfectly pleasing to You,
my Creator,
my Redeemer,
my loving Father.
You will rejoice that
I am all You made me to be.

Realize who you are.
You are not your occupation or
your abilities.
You are not your
gender,
race, or
social status.
You are not your past.
You trusted Christ, and
now you are becoming like Him.
Look to Him—
He is your present and
your future.
With Him,
you are a beloved child of Almighty God,
your Papa,
your Father.
You are His heir and
His treasure.

Hymn: Now in Christ

The Life of God

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.

(John 3:8; 7:37-39, NASB)

As uncontrollable as the wind,
as refreshing as a spring,
as mighty as a great river,
the Life of God
blows,
rises, and
flows
all around us and within us,
purifying,
transforming,
enlightening, and
empowering anyone who will simply trust in Jesus Christ.

God gives us Himself.
Should we complain about anything else
He gives or withholds?

Hymn: Life of God

Hindered by Unbelief

[Jesus] came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son?”…And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:54-55, 58, NASB)

Jesus, how often have You longed to do wonderful things among us,
but You were not able because of our unbelief?

How often have we, Your own people,
hindered You by our lack of faith?

Lord, what wonderful works would You do in my life
if I were only willing to trust You more simply and constantly,
in the face of each concern?

Jesus, You are my Lord.
You are Messiah.
You are Mighty God.
You are my Savior,
my Redeemer,
my Holiness,
my Rock,
my Life.

Help me to trust You step-by-step.
Work Your beautiful, loving, perfect will in me.

Faith, not reason,
is God’s chosen pathway to
relationship with Himself.
He is not seeking people
smart enough to perceive Him.
He is seeking people
humble enough to trust Him.

Hymn: Beyond Myself

Empty Glory

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

The original word translated above as “vain conceit” literally means “empty glory.” It contrasts with God’s glory, which is the glow of His presence — God showing himself in all of His beauty, power, and goodness. The Scriptures teach that we share in His glory through His Spirit in us.

We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV)

This is our true glory: Christ living in us, showing the glow of His presence, His beauty, power, and goodness through us.

But Satan will tempt us to settle for “empty glory.” According to the Greek lexicon, it is “empty” in the sense of being “without content, without basis, without truth; without profit; foolish, senseless.” That’s an accurate description of the self-centered glory we tend to seek. It’s an accurate description of selfish pride.

Pride comes in a variety of styles and colors; you can find one to fit your own personality. My personal choice is humble pride. It is soft-spoken, tastefully adorned in understatement. It does not boast or even posture. It just meditates on self. It dreams about self. Like all forms of pride, the inner vision that drives it is not God or truth, but self-glorification.

Selfish pride is like lust: in the dark privacy of our hearts, it can stimulate and energize. But when it is brought to the light and exposed in public, it is easily seen as a ridiculous lie. What had puffed us up now makes us hide and choke in shame. Its glory is empty glory — without content, without basis in truth, foolish, senseless.

When Satan tempts you to savor this empty glory, see it as the cheap imitation it is. Turn away from it and embrace your true glory, the presence of God himself with you and in you.

When I turn away from myself and look to God, it’s as if someone has opened the windows of my mind and heart. Now the sun is shining, and the air is fresh. Other people float into my heart on the breeze. I pray for them and love them, and in the process I love and worship Christ all the more.

Prayer and praise shed the light of truth on who we are. They keep life in perspective. They liberate us from the smallness of pride into the wide-open wonder of God’s love.

He is with you now and always. Don’t let Satan distract you from Him. Discover and enjoy the wonder of the Living Christ.

Father,
though I am nothing in myself,
in You I am
eternal,
holy, and
glorious.
I rejoice in the wonder of
living in You!

Hymn: Knowing the Father in the Son

Miracles?

“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.” (John 5:19, NASB)

Some find Jesus’ miracles hard to believe. To them, the Gospel accounts sound like fantasy or myth, or at least superstitious exaggeration.

But look at the incredible natural wonders all around you. Our world overflows with miracles we would never believe if we didn’t see them for ourselves, or if scientists didn’t assure us they were so. Couldn’t the Being who created all this also easily do the miracles of Jesus?

Jesus turned six large jars of water into wine (John 2:1-11). But the Creator does that on the vine every day.

Jesus healed many people sick with various illnesses and conditions. But that’s a small thing to the Creator. He designed each of our bodies to continually heal themselves. Right now your body is healing and restoring itself in thousands of ways without you even being conscious of it.

Jesus calmed a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). But picture our globe from the Creator’s point of view, with storms stirring and subsiding constantly around the world. To calm one storm is nothing for Him.

Perhaps the hardest miracle for us to accept is raising the dead. Jesus raised a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11-16), a twelve-year-old girl (Luke 8:41-56), and His friend Lazarus after he had been dead four days (John 11:1-45). Finally Jesus himself was raised from the dead.

All myths?

The Creator brought human life into being from the “dust of the earth”, that is, from the natural elements found on this planet. Now that’s a miracle! Could not such a One also resuscitate life whenever He chooses?

Look at a garden on a bitter day in winter. If we knew nothing of seasons, would we ever believe that same garden just a few weeks later, in the full bloom of spring?

Look at what rain can do to a desert that seems utterly barren. It is transformed to a garden of life – life unimagined just hours before.

Tiny seeds, seemingly dry and hardened, will blossom to life when conditions are right. In Japan, a single seed was excavated from an ancient settlement about two thousand years old. The seed was planted, watered, and brought to life. Further, it apparently proved to be a type of magnolia thought to be extinct for a thousand years.

Look around. Is it logical to believe that the One who created all this could not have done what Jesus did? Is it logical to impose human limitations on a Being who can speak a universe out of nothing?

The more we learn of our world, the more we recognize in Jesus the same power, the same astonishing wisdom, the same tender, intimate love.

That is what amazes me most about Jesus’ miracles – not what He did, but how He did it. He didn’t heal as we might expect a “god” to heal. He didn’t heal from a distance. He wasn’t detached or “professional” or condescending. He was moved with compassion. He gave of himself in deep love. He healed face-to-face, not just with absolute power but with a personal touch and a gentle word.

He loves us. The God of all the universe loves us. That is the miracle.

The disciples discovered that
limited resources and
the forces of nature
were no challenge for their Master.
Which of your challenges are
no challenge for Him?

Hymn: See the Father Walk among Us