Which Path to Follow in 2016?

Fork-In-Forest-darkerOne of the biggest questions asked is, “What is God’s will for my life?”  This question is even more popular at this time of year when we have entered a new year full of possibilities.  No one wants to miss God’s will for their life.  If you love Jesus, there is no where you would rather be.  So how do you know which path to follow in 2016?  God’s Word is not silent on the subject… Continue reading

Shadows of Redemption

cross-shadowGod’s story begins with the creation of all things.  God completes His work in six days found in chapter 1 of Genesis and chapter 2 is marked by God resting from His work and finally creating woman as a helper suitable for the man.  All is well.

If you’re familiar with the story, you know how quickly this changes because the next chapter brings “the serpent” and his temptation into the story.  Satan came to wreck the beautiful creation God had made, and he succeeded.  As a result, God’s perfect fellowship with His creation was lost, and His perfect rescue plan was put in motion. It is in these first chapters of God’s Word that we get our first shadow of redemption. Continue reading

Hope in the Storms

The saying rings true for all of us.  You are either in the middle of a storm in your life, you are coming out of a storm in your life, or you are about to enter into a storm in your life.  With so much turmoil swirling around us, where do we find hope and peace?  I believe King David gives us several examples of hope in the storms. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – February 20 – Jesus touched the “unclean”

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 13-15

How does reading Leviticus heighten our appreciation for Jesus and His calling on our lives to reach the outcast?  Today’s entry should help answer this question.

This is the time of year during the Chronological Bible Reading Plan that can be a real struggle.  We’re right smack in the middle of the some of the most exciting passages in scripture…Levitical Law.  Instructions about washing and blood and oil and sacrifice don’t often provide much when it comes to devotional reading.  However, in the middle of today’s reading comes the instructions for the cleansing of women who have a discharge of blood.  This section outlines the pattern a woman would observe each month following her menstrual cycle.  She would be considered unclean for seven days following the end of her discharge of blood and then on the eighth day she would present an offering to the priests who would offer it on her behalf in order to complete her cleansing. Continue reading

Affection Builders

When it comes to having a heart for God, there are certain things that He has uniquely created us to enjoy that stir our affections for Him.  There are certain things we experience with our senses that cause us to whisper deep within our souls, “thank you God!”  Flowing from this gratitude is a heart more in touch with the love that comes naturally between a child and their Father.

We were made for this.  God has hard-wired us to love.  Unfortunately, sin has perverted this natural bent and uses it to lead to addictions and idolatry.  Sin leads us to seek satisfaction and fulfillment in things instead of our Creator.  However, when we are born again by repenting of sin and putting our faith in Jesus Christ, God in His grace, creates something inside us that helps us understand that He is the One worthy of all our affection.  He is our ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment.  God in His grace and mercy has surrounded us with reminders of His love for us.

For some, their love for God is built by an early morning before the sun comes up with an open Bible and hot coffee.  For some it’s walks on the beach.  For some it’s hiking in the woods.  All of us, who know Christ, have things in our lives that stir us to a deeper love and affection for God.  These things cause spontaneous worship.

For me, one of my BIG affection builders is my girls.  In fact, it is my girls that led me to sit down and start writing this.  When I see their faces, there is almost an instant “thank you Lord” that flows from my lips.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other times when their behavior or craziness causes me to lose my mind in a negative way. But, for example, tonight I walked past a little picture of the three of us from a recent “daddy/daughter date night” and my heart was full to overflowing, and I literally whispered, “thank you God.”  As I sit here and type this, I have a full heart, not only with love for my children, but deep loe for the gracious God who gave them to me.

So what is it in your life that builds your affection for God?  Obviously, there are the affection builders that are common to all followers of Christ. (i.e. Bible reading, prayer, worship). But what are the unique things that God has wired you to enjoy so that they point you to Him and cause your love for Him to grow.  Whether its sunrises/sunsets, beaches, mountains, or just sitting in the quiet with your Bible open, figure out what causes your heart to swell with love for Him, and do those things often.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – February 14 – Our Tent of Meeting

Today’s Reading: Exodus 30-38

The Tent of Meeting

I am almost certain that I write about this passage every year as I come to it.  It is so rich with truth for us that we must be reminded regularly of the lessons learned from Moses’ Tent of Meeting.

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting… – Exodus 33:7a (NASB)

Thus the Lord used to speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.  When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. – Exodus 33:11 (NASB)

What an incredible reality that the God of all Creation can and will speak to us and we can meet with Him and speak to Him as a man speaks with his friend.  This meeting was very limited in the Old Testament.  However, through Jesus Christ, all have access to God through faith.

How often we neglect so great a privilege.  In light of this reality, when we stop and consider the things we allow to keep us from meeting with God on a regular basis, we should be ashamed.  However, when we come to our senses and return to meet with Him, His grace means we will not face condemnation from Him.  His love for us never fails. He is always waiting for us to come to our senses and answer His call to us to meet with Him.  May we never get over the reality that we can meet and fellowship intimately with the Sovereign God of the Universe.

Ponder this truth and examine where you are in your commitment to Him.  Where you see deficiency, repent and find the grace given through Jesus Christ that strengthens you to return to a place of close fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

Moses’ Pattern for Prayer

Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight… – Exodus 33:13 (NASB)

The (Moses) said to (God), “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. – Exodus 33:15 (NASB)

What a model for prayer we see with Moses as he meets with God.  The cry of his prayer is two-fold:

  1. Let me know You.
  2. Lead me by Your presence.

This should be a pattern and part of our prayer life on a daily basis.  To know God is our heart’s cry.  To be led by Him results in a life well lived for His Kingdom purposes.  It is in knowing Him that we find the strength to walk the path He sets before us.  The beauty is that the Christian life is not powered only by a distant encounter with God from our past, but by the moment-by-moment reality of His presence and power at work in and through us by His Spirit.  This reality exists because of the Gospel.  It is because of what Jesus has done and the grace that is given through faith in Him that we know our great God and walk with Him.

May this truth fill our hearts, and stir us to enjoy the intimate fellowship with Him that Jesus came to provide.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – January 27 – A Pattern of Faithfulness

Today’s Reading: Genesis 37-39

As we read about the life of Joseph, we are going to see the common pattern of faithfulness in his life.  Through all the injustice and betrayal, Joseph remains true.  He approaches justice/faithfulness differently than most.  For many people, faithfulness is connected to life, job, and other circumstances.  For some, as long as life is “good” their faithfulness is strong.  For others, it is only when life is tough that they acknowledge God.  In Joseph’s life, we see faithfulness regardless of life circumstances. Continue reading

Chronological Bible Reading – January 10 – My Redeemer Lives!

Today’s Reading: Job 19-21

The pattern we have seen in Job continues in these chapters. Job’s “friends” continue to place the blame for his calamity squarely upon Job’s shoulders.  In response, Job continues to lament his life.  Job 19 contains a powerful declaration from Job.  In the midst of the pain and suffering, questions and persecution from friends, Job declares,

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take his stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job 19:25-27(NASB)

What an amazing statement in the midst of acknowledging his pain and confusion, Job declares his faith that his Redeemer lives.  It is the same for us. No matter how hard this life becomes circumstantially, we must remember we have a Savior who is alive and well. Jesus is our HOPE!

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Chronological Bible Reading – January 7 – The Umpire of the Gospel

Today’s Reading: Job 8-10

Hidden within the verses of these three chapters is a beautiful Old Testament picture of Jesus and our need for the Gospel.  It is found in Job 9:30-33.

If I should wash myself with snow
And cleanse my hands with lye,
Yet You would plunge me into the pit,
And my own clothes would abhor me.
For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him,
That we may go to court together.
There is no umpire between us,
Who may lay his hand upon us both.

–Job 9:30-33 (NASB)

The Word of God makes it clear that we cannot clean ourselves.  Like Job, it doesn’t matter the amount of soap or scrubbing we do with our good works or feeble attempts to “be good.” We remain sinful before a Holy God on our own merits.  Something must be done on our behalf in order for the stain of sin to be removed.  Praise God, the stain can be removed by Jesus Christ and what He did for us.

Come now, and let us reason together,
Says the Lord,
Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
–Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)

In the immediate context of Job, this “umpire” mentioned in 9:33 would serve as one to judge between Job and God to determine who was right and who was wrong in the middle of all of this turmoil.  Job correctly reasons that such an umpire cannot exist since God possesses the ultimate authority and serves as the ultimate judge of what is good and just.  Though the immediate context points to this truth, it brought to my mind the reality that the “umpire” that stands between us and God does so, not to pass judgement, but to serve as a mediator.  The Gospel tells us the mediator I elude to is Jesus Christ.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. –1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

The Gospel declares that a great chasm exists between God and man due to or sinfulness.  However, this chasm was bridged and our relationship with God was restored because of the completed work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the umpire that stands between us and God.  Though on our own, God would see nothing in us but sin and rebellion, because of Jesus standing between us, God sees us as righteous and redeemed.

This type of redemption is what Job and other Old Testament saints longed to see.  They looked forward to the day when redemption would be available to all men.  Today, we know that the Redeemer has come.  Jesus Christ has made a way for our sins to be washed as white as snow and for us to stand before God without spot or wrinkle.  Through faith in Jesus, our sins can be forgiven and our relationship with our Heavenly Father can be restored.

As a former profession baseball player, umpires weren’t my favorite group of people.  But in light of today’s reading I say, “Praise God for THE Umpire!”

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

Living Water and Broken Cisterns

Jeremiah 2:13 – For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me–the fountain of living water.  And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! (NLT)

When you read about the exchange the people of God made when they chose to abandon God and turn to worshipping false gods, it almost seems too foolish to believe.  In this verse, God compares this decision with abandoning a fresh fountain of pure living water in exchange for broken cisterns that won’t even hold water.

A cistern is basically a hole in the ground that is normally carved in stone to hold rain water.  However, if the cistern is broken, it simply allows this impure rain water to seep out and be lost.  In reality, it is useless.  God compares this “broken cistern” to Israel’s vain pursuit of false gods.  They have absolutely nothing to provide because they are formed by human hands and minds.  They are worthless idols that will never satisfy the longings of their souls. Continue reading