Friday, September 26, 2008

Thoughts from the Rest of the Week

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good Morning, Church!

This morning God poses the question: "Do you truly know Me?" How do we know that we know Him? What does it look like to know God? We will explore these questions- and discover another way to worship God- as we dive into the Word.

Today's readings: 1 John 2, 2 Chronicles 35, Psalm 89:38-52

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." -I John 2:3-6

Obedience = worship. We can know that we love God if we obey Him. God will know we love Him if we obey Him. The world will know we love God if we obey Him. I feel redundant here, but I don't think the people of God get this! As we obey God, He is glorified and He gets His work done here on earth. What are His commandments? What is it He is calling us to obey? It wasn't in our readings today, but in Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus gives us the Great Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love God and love others. Sounds simple, right? But you and I know that our human tendency is to love ourselves most of all and God and others come second. So, if we truly know Him, we will put Him first and love others second, and ourselves last. That is so hard- but it isn't something we have to work at. You heard me correctly, we don't work at loving God first, we simply get to know Him, and when we know Him we can't help but put Him first. It is a response! It is worship. And it is cultivated in our time spent with Him.

As you spend time with Him today, ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As we read through the Bible in the coming days, hopefully we will discover new things about God's character that will open our eyes and cause us to fall down in worship. Prepare your heart to meet God in new ways, and He will show up. I am really excited about this journey we are on.

Praying that we would get to know Him more, so that we can love Him better!

** If you would rather not receive these devotions, please feel free to e-mail me. I will take you off the list. Or if you know of someone else who would appreciate these e-mails, feel free to pass them along, or send me their e-mail address.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hello, Church!

Today's readings: 1 John 3, 2 Chronicles 36, Psalm 90

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" - 1 John 3:1

"Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." -Psalm 90:14

"Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of
Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions." -2 Chronicles 36:19

You may wonder how I am going to tie all three of these verses together- but stay with me- its there. Today, I would like us to really focus on the love of God. Nice. That's easy and enjoyable. But as we do this, we will come face to face with our unworthiness and that is never fun.

God has lavished His love upon us- we were once estranged from Him and wallowing in our own sin. Dirty and broken, unlovely and unloveable. Just like the people of God in 2 Chronicles- if you remember, God was pouring out His wrath on them for their sin- but He chose to spare King Josiah because of his humility and repentant heart. So in this chapter of 2 Chronicles, his judgement and wrath are being poured out as He had warned. But, praise the Lord, we do not have to face the same dire consequences for our sin! He has sent His own Son, and extended mercy to us, not punishing us as our sins deserve!

God sent Jesus to bear the full weight of your punishment- so that God could adopt you and call you His own child. How amazing is that? Sit with that truth for awhile.

He loves you. He died for you. All because He loves you and doesn't want to be apart from you. You and I deserve death. We deserve to rot in hell for the ways we have sinned against God- and He is just- it would be reasonable for us to pay for our sin. But out of His great mercy and extravagant grace- He sent Jesus to pay our debt. Wow. That is serious. I believe if we truly took that to heart- if we really owned it- believed it- let it sink down to the very depths of our souls... we would lead changed lives. We would weep as we worshipped Him! We would dance because we are free from death! We would love people out of the abundance of love we have been given! We would never be the same.

But the truth is- we think we're pretty ok people. We don't murder. We don't steal. We don't do drugs. But we have broken God's heart when we have passed by a hurting person and not reached out with the love of God. We have grieved Him when we have withheld our tithes from His church. We have shamed His name when we have gossiped about one of His precious children. We deserve death. But in His mercy He has died in our place.

Repeat this to yourself: GOD loves me. God LOVES me. God loves ME. Let that sink in. Bask in the sweetness of those words. And then pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him how grateful you are. Tell Him where you would be without Him. I can't tell you how to respond... I just know that such great mercy deserves a response!!!

Rejoice and be glad today, for His great mercy has been extended to YOU

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Morning, Church!

This morning we are going to take a look at the question: What is worship? I may seem redundant- but it is intentional. I believe that the worship of God is the central theme of our lives as believers. And I also believe that everyone worships something all the time. Sometimes we worship God, and sometimes we worship ourselves, and sometimes we worship our jobs and sometimes we worship our favorite style of music. I am as guilty of each of those things as the next person- so hear me when I say- we all must figure out how to worship God alone at all times. And I am not going to talk about worship music at all today!

Today's readings: I John 4, Ezra 1-2, Psalm 91

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love... In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." -I John 4:7-8, 10-11

Worship is our response to God. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Loving people is our response to a loving God. It is easy to love Someone who guides and protects, and loves and forgives us- God is great and worthy of love. But at times it doesn't feel like the people around us are worthy of love- despite the fact that that is a lie. We may have a disagreement with a co-worker, or a fight with our spouse, our kids may be getting on our last nerve, or maybe someone is dirty and begging in the streets in downtown Philly... whomever you have a tough time loving is exactly the person God wants you to love. And not for that person's sake- though I don't know anyone who is worse off from being loved. God wants us to love people because He loves us. His love should be filling up and spilling out of our hearts on to everyone we come in contact with. If it isn't- then perhaps you don't know Him as well as you say you do- I know I am not full of His love 24/7!

Here is our challenge today: spend some time in loving prayer with God today- sit still, allow Him to love you- enjoy His presence- bask in His delight over you. And then as His love washes over you, invite Him to bring to mind one person He wants you to show love to today. And then ask for His grace to do it. Perhaps you need to reconcile with someone. Maybe you need to send a nice note. Maybe you just need to call someone up and invite them to coffee. Or perhaps you need to slow down, and smile at that stranger you pass everyday on your way to work. I don't know who God wants you to love today- but I know that He loves YOU and wants you to do something in response to that love.

Praying that your heart would be filled to brim with God's love for you, that you would spend today pouring His love out to others,

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