Category Archives: Journal

The Death of HIS Saints

Scripture

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15

Observation/Application

We will miss them.   For many, they were always around.  They might be a family member, close friend, or role model.

For me, a recent passing of one of His saints struck quite close.  He was a point of reference to look back on when I would lose my focus.  He was a great comfort and source of counsel.  He was the one that remained calm even when provoked so far as to become angry.

Somehow, I always knew he would be there.  But now he is not.  And though, time and distance has seen us grow apart, there was always that bond that would draw us together.  When we would have an opportunity, he would make time just to have lunch with me.

Now he has passed on to the glorious presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And it is He alone that made our friendship in this world possible.  To me, he was the embodiment of what it means to be Christ-like.  I ask myself, “what good did his passing accomplish if I am so sad?”  Just this…

As I saw Christ in him, I want people to see Christ in me.

Prayer

Lord, Thank you for the life shared with me that was a dear saint to You.  Help me to rejoice with You.  Help me to be Christ-like as he was Christ-like.  In Your Name I pray…

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The Race

Scripture

…[L]et us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NKJV)

Observation/Application

The idea of a race to illustrate “life” is very familiar to many.  It represents struggle, grief, tragedy, training, winning/losing, suffering, agony, celebration, accomplishment, and so on.  In fact, it is the Greek word “agon,” as in “agony.”  The author of Hebrews (maybe Paul but I don’t get dogmatic about that) gets right to the point — we need endurance and that comes by Jesus.

Our race is not a sprint.  Our race is long distance race.  Our prize at the end of the race to which we look for is Jesus.  The promise of eternally being in the presence of Christ our Lord, God the Father, the Holy Spirit is what keeps us going in life.  And what did Jesus do for us that we have should have the endurance to run this race?

He endured the cross, despised it’s shame, and lived to sit at the right hand of the throne of God!  It was joy for Him!  It was joy because He gave His life for a sinner such as I that I may live.  He took the punishment I deserved and earned and gave me salvation and mercy that I neither neither deserved nor earned.  He laid in the grave where I should be rotting.  And on the third day  — HE AROSE!  He lives!  He defeated death and brought life (2 Timothy 1:10).

By looking to Jesus and His gospel I will endure.

 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NKJV)

Prayer

Lord, thank You for enduring what I could not.  I look to You as the Author and Finisher of my faith.  You died for the sins I could not pay for.  You live that I may have new life.  I look to You.

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Be Very Courageous

Scripture

Therefore be very courageous to keep and do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.  Joshua 23:6

Observation

Joshua gives his farewell speech to Israel before he dies.  He tells them to uphold what the LORD has instructed.  It’s written down so it should be easy.  He challenges them to be courageous.  That’s the nice way  of telling them, “Don’t be a coward.  Don’t do whatever you want.”

Application

It’s cowardly not to obey God.  I may ask why I should follow the Law of Moses.  Simple…Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17).  That means  by obeying and following Him that the world will hate me, persecution is likely, and I will have a cross to bear daily.  In general, I will need to “be very courageous.”   Or, I can do whatever is easier, live the “good”life,  disobey God, and be a coward.

Prayer

Lord, it is difficult to be courageous.  Help me to be brave.  Thank You.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Joshua 24:15b

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Worship

Scripture

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, what does my Lord say to His servant?  Joshua 5:14b

Observation

The Lord, Jesus pre-incarnate, appears to Joshua at Jericho.  Joshua worships Him.  Joshua humbles himself.  His place is as a servant.  Joshua asks, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”  It is important to note that Joshua sought to serve and not be served.  He did not seek the “warm fuzzies.”

Application

When I worship the Lord, it should be as Joshua — seeking what He means for me to do.  I should worship Him and not worship the goosebumps.  I worship Him, not as a favor, but because He has saved me and shown me mercy.

Prayer

Lord, what does my Lord say to His servant?…

 

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It’s That Simple

Scripture

Christ [sent me]…to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.  1 Corinthians 1:17

We preach Christ crucified.  1 Corinthians 1:23

Observation

Paul’s approach was direct.  It is the same as Peter’s in Acts 4:33.  It confounded the wise.  It is the godly precursor to Occam’s Razor (the simplest solution is the best) and it’s pop-culture equivalent, the K.I.S.S principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Application

Christianity has, culturally speaking, gotten complex.  Books are written on how to do every conceivable thing from prayer to evangelism to baking cookies the Christian way.  Sermons are so complex that they often have a sermon just to set up the sermon.  I long to have a simpler Christianity were Christ and Him crucified are preached, where the resurrection gives power, and expectation of God’s Spirit moving is happening.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for the cross.  Help me to remain simple in my life that i will better proclaim Your Name…

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Crucified

Scripture

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires.  Galatians 5:24

Observation

Works of the flesh are evident (v. 19-21).  The list is twice as long as the fruit of the Spirit (v. 22-23).  To crucify means a long tortuous process.  It will be agonizing.  It will be painful.  And my spirit will die.  But God…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4,5).

Application

My passions and desires are dead.  Christ’s live in me now.  Sometimes the “zombie” version of my passions and desires try to come out.  That is why I must repent daily.  It is not I that lives but rather it is Christ.  By his resurrection He has conquered death that I may live.  His resurrection is my hope and assurance.  And with great power [I will give] witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33a).

Prayer

Lord, Thank your for crucifying my flesh.  Help me to walk in the Spirit (v.26)…

 

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The Centurion

Scripture

So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39 (NKJV)

Observation

The centurion saw and heard what Jesus said and did on the cross.  He heard Jesus welcome the repentant thief into paradise.  He heard Jesus lamenting to God.  He saw Him refuse wine that would dull his senses.  He heard and felt the earth quake when Jesus died.  He saw the sky darken.  He heard Jesus say, “Father, into you hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46)  He confessed that Jesus was the Son of God.  He was the first to  “preach Christ crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1:23)

Application

I forget, ashamedly, what happened on the cross.  I get too engrossed on systematizing the theology instead of letting that very theology grow organically in me.  The centurion marveled!  I need to marvel.

Prayer

Lord, truly You are the Son of God…

 

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Help My Unbelief

Scripture

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Observation

The man’s child had a demon. He asked Jesus what Jesus could do.  He addressed Him as Teacher.  With all the Pharisees and scribes around, he may have come to challenge Jesus on their behalf.  But Jesus explained, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Then all the doubt left the man and now he calls Jesus “Lord.”  He declared his belief and cries out, “Help my unbelief!”

Application

This man went from addressing Jesus as “teacher” to crying out to Jesus, “Lord!”  He thought there was a limit to what Jesus could do and that he would find that limit.  I have to admit, I am more like this man that I care to admit.  I bring a prayer request to Him and dare Him to do something.  I should come to Him in total submission and cry out, “Lord!”

Prayer

Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief!

Good Soil

Scripture

The sower sows the word…but these are the ones sown on good ground.  Those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit…  Mark 4:14, 20a

Observation

Good soil has to be prepared by it’s Owner.  He removes thorns.  He removes stones.  He doe not trample it down with a path.  Good soil is planned and thought out beforehand.  It does not make itself good.  When the sower comes he throws the seed out by hand on the good soil.  But, coincidentally, some falls in places beside the good soil — thorns, stony soil, and paths — not prepared to receive the seed.

Application

It’s not about what type of soil I am.  It is rather that I am a sower and the seed is the Word.  By hand, I sow the Word of God.  Some of that will fall on unprepared hearts.  Most will fall on hearts already prepared to receive it.

Prayer

Lord, use me as a sower of Your Word.  May it become a bountiful harvest in the good soil you have prepared.

The Will of God

Scripture

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Observation

Paul, in his first letter to the church of Thessalonica, closes with instructions.  This particular passage teaches a constant rejoicing, prayerful, and thankful attitude.  But, while the readers would benefit, it was not so they would have warm fuzzies.  It is because it is the will of God.

Application

What is the will of God?  Can I know it?  Well, yes.  Do I know the will of God for my life?  Well, yes.  For decades I have sought God’s will.  I’ve read books on theology, prayer, bible study.  I’ve gone to cell groups, life groups, accountability groups, retreats, and Alaska.  I’ve read through the Bible umpteen times.  Never could I discern the will of God — until now when I read this passage again for the first time.  God’s will is for me to rejoice — not complain.  God’s will for me is to pray continuously — not to learn to pray but rather just do it.  God’s will for me is to be thankful in everything — not to be sorrowful.  God’s will for me is to do all these things — rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks — in Christ Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, I rejoice in the salvation through Christ Jesus.  May my prayers always glorify You.  Thanks for accepting my worship through Jesus.  Thy will be done.