Carrots

I am tired of the world’s empty promises,
for it cares nothing for me.
It promises satisfaction.
It promises fulfillment.
It dangles its promises before me as a carrot before a horse,
and I can never quite obtain it,
always falling short –
lacking,
hungry,
unfulfilled.
But You have promised me Your heart, oh God.
No empty promise.
No dangling carrot,
rather You lovingly feed me the carrot and I am filled.
Now it’s You I long for,
but You long for me more.
I desire You,
but You desire me more.
I strive to know You,
but You know me –
more.
And yet, You still feed me carrots?
No strings attached?
No empty promises?
I am fulfilled.
Oh God, please feed me more
carrots.

Faces

Psalm 27:7–8 (ESV) ~ Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of a political leader in hopes they will acquiesce to your demands to remake this world into your image?

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of success in hopes you can build a nest egg in order to gain a sense of peace in this life?

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of a false prophet who refuses to hold scripture to a high standard and thus waters it down to make it easier for you to accept?

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of laziness so you can blindly ride the shirt-tails of cheap grace in order to enjoy the labors of others.

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of busyness in an effort to justify yourself before others and God.

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of a worldly fortress so as to secure rest, peace and comfort for your weary body and soul.

Whose face do you seek? Is it the face of affirmation so you can feel better about your life.

But…

These faces care nothing about you. They only look at you with disdain, apathy and disinterest. They make promises and they look good for a while, but eventually these faces become disfigured; sending you on another search for a new face.

But there is a face out there waiting for you. A face that shines brighter than the sun. A face of love. A face of grace. A face of truth. That face is Jesus. He doesn’t promise you the easy life, but he does promise you Life. Don’t be fooled. The faces of this world falsely promise you an easy life, but can go no farther. Only Jesus cares enough for you to give his life for the forgiveness of your sins that you may see God face to face someday. Don’t settle for anything less. Seek HIS face and truly be at peace.

Silence

Silence can be loud.

My wife and kids are driving back to the Midwest. I will join them on Thanksgiving Day after a nice little red eye flight. In the meantime, I’m in this quietly loud house by myself. It is so loud that my ears are ringing from the silence. My wife suggested that I turn the T.V. on for some background noise, but I’m not going to do that. This loud silence is calming. Strange, but it is.

You see, silence is a premium in our world. There’s always some noise. Here…it is so quiet that the typing sounds of my keyboard is almost too loud. And now my house is creaking. I don’t think I have ever heard those noises before. And now, standing here in my kitchen…

(yes, I am standing in my kitchen typing this because, well, I can)

…I can hear my neighbor working in his garage. I don’t think I have ever heard him before like this. Wow, that fish tank is loud. Hmm, my refrigerator sounds like that? Amazing what silence can do; what it can reveal.

Can you see…ummm…I mean, hear where I am going with this?

In this deafening silence I am hearing how much I am missing. No, not my neighbor working in his garage or that loud fish tank, but God. My kids go to bed and I turn on my T.V. or peruse social media. I have to have noise of some sort. Rarely do I just sit in silence because it almost feels like wasting time. I have to accomplish something, especially with the kids sleeping (or gone), right?

I miss so much…

[Silence]

I’m back. I was enjoying the silence again.

I need to find more times like this.
I need to soak in silence.
I need to listen to the still, small voice of God…more often.
I need to focus.
I need silence.

Silence is not scary.
Silence is not a waste of time.
Silence is not non-productive time.

Silence is a gift. Embrace it. Cling to it. Listen…

[Silence]

 

The Pastor -|—

 

To Begin My Day…

To You, oh Lord,
I place my trust.
To You, oh Lord,
I cast my eyes.
Hold me tight in the midst of the storm;
In the midst of enemies who claim victory.
Wield Your sword to defend me;
Your mighty arm is powerful.
Hedge me in on all sides;
Oh Lord, You are my fortress.
May I not fall into despair;
May I always see You.
To You, oh Lord,
I place my trust.
To You, oh Lord,
I give my praise.

The Pastor -|—

The Morning

The scene
A quiet house
The sound of chirping birds drifting in through an open window
The words of Scripture marinating in my soul
And a good cup of coffee to top it off

God’s blessings to start the day
God’s presence to renew my soul

The prayer
Oh God,
Your mercies are new everyday
Your blessings abound
Your love is wide and deep
Your grace is unending

Your Son, Jesus, is Lord of all
My Savior, Jesus, died for me

Renew my faith this day
Embolden my witness
Bless my words
Guide my decisions

May Your mercies and blessings;
Your love and grace
Be evident to all

Glory and honor be unto
You
Oh God
This day and always

Amen

The Pastor -|—

Now what? (Psalm 119:14-16)

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. [Psalm 119:14-16]

Last night I made my appeal to God for forgiveness; something we all need to do on a daily basis and then some. I appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus Christ and then threw myself at his feet. And then in the words of Romans 5:10-11 I heard that I am reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.

Praise be to God, but now what?

After we have made our confession; after we have appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus; after we have thrown ourselves at God’s feet, what next? Of course we will hear a word of forgiveness, but after THAT; after the absolution of our sins? We certainly shouldn’t go away unchanged or unfazed. There must be something next.

And there is…

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Take delight in learning God’s ways.
Take delight in knowing what God desires.
Take delight in following God in all things.

Take delight in God’s law, for in God’s law we see a holy wisdom that is far above anything of human understanding. God’s ways and thoughts are indeed above our ways and thoughts, so desire God more than all the riches ever known in the world and will ever be known.

I will meditate on your precepts
Don’t just read and study God’s law, but meditate on them. Think about them. Ponder them. Reflect on them. May they not be a passing thought. May reading God’s law never be cursory. May God’s law sink in and take up residence in your heart.

and fix my eyes on your ways.
And as you are walking with God; as you are meditating on God’s ways; fix your eyes on the object of your desire. When I take my wife out to eat, I am not staring and gawking at other women. That would be rude and unfaithful. My desire is for my wife and so I fix my eyes and attention on her. In the same way and much more, fix your eyes on God and His ways. Don’t be unfaithful.

I will delight in your statutes;
Delighting in God’s statues will only come through diligent study and appreciation of who God is through faith Jesus Christ. If your faith and trust is not in God through Jesus, then you are never going to truly delight in God’s ways. It’s only through understanding what God has done for you that you can appreciate what God is up to and wants for you and desires for you and commands you to do.

I will not forget your word.
Make your meditation of God and His ways a daily habit that you will not forget. Even one day off can cause our simple and weak minds to go astray. You may think you are smart and have a good memory, but when it comes to God we have the attention span of a flea. Mediate often and seek God continually.

But what if I fail?

You will fail.
You will fall short.
You will turn away from God.

Just don’t accept this sin condition of yours but rather keep running to God, for God’s mercy is great. His faithfulness is endless. His love is all encompassing. His grace is amazing.

Keep running to God and appealing to his mercy through faith in Jesus Christ, and start all over again; desiring to truly learn and desire God’s ways more than anything. Don’t take advantage of God’s faithfulness but desire God’s faithfulness with all your heart and being.

May God be praised in your learning and meditation of His holy Law.

The Pastor -|—

Martyrs ~ A Prayer

Next week, Feb 23-27, 2015, I am schedule to broadcast devotions on our local radio station (KKOJ/KRAQ). And as I thought about what to do, I felt moved to write and lead the listeners in prayer over a number of topics. The following prayer is the one I wrote for Monday, Feb 23.

Scripture inspiration:
[9] When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. [10] They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” [11] Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
[Revelation 6:9-11]

Let us pray…

O Sovereign Lord, our hearts are still heavy with grief over the slaying of those Egyptian Christians at the hands of terrorists. We can’t help but weep over the brutality that was shown those Christians. There are many around the world who are fearful, angry, confused, discouraged and inflamed. Oh Sovereign Lord, may we not sin in our response to this tragedy. But I as remember those 21 individuals I give you thanks for their faithful witness. They stood strong to the end; showing many that faith in Jesus Christ does not mean eternal death but everlasting life. They met a cruel end but saw a glorious beginning. And so I ask for your Holy Spirit to move among us here in this country and in Christians all over the world. May you inflame our faith to stand strong and to cling to you, Oh Sovereign God. May we see in you the way to eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. May we see hope that is sure and certain. May we know a peace that is beyond all understanding.

Oh Sovereign Lord, I also humbly ask that you may bless the leaders of this land and the leaders around the world as they consider the next steps in this war on terror. I don’t know the answer and therefore I don’t have specific petitions to lift up to you in this regard. So I will simply raise my eyes to heaven and with a heavy sigh utter, “May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. And as you accomplish your will, may we have the faith to say, “Amen” and “Come, Lord Jesus”. And so with heavy hearts we fall into your loving arms and seek a consolation that only you can give. And in the end, may you be glorified throughout all your creation. Oh Sovereign Lord, we worship your holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor (with a heavy heart) -|—