Personal Devotions: Warning – And Recommitment

I started out this morning by reading Psalm 51, which is David’s confession and repentance of sin after adultery and murder.  I wanted to comment about it, but really it speaks for itself….

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ;
you teach [b] me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are [c] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

After reading that, the Lord led me to this Scripture – Hebrews 10:26-31

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[b]31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

So that warning hit me straight between the eyes.  How many times have I ‘trampled the Son of God under foot’?  How many times have I ‘treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant’ and ‘insulted the Spirit of grace’ by ‘deliberately continuing to sin’?  How many times have you?

On this, the last day of 2009, let me first encourage you all to reflect over your year and repent, as I have been doing, from the things that God has revealed to you.  Let us (taking a queue from the writer of the Hebrews, who uses ‘let us’ a lot)  focus on entering this new year recommitted to the Lord, free from the ties that bind ‘and the sin that so easily entangles’ (Hebrews 12:1)  If you are willing, you can place your recommitment prayers here and let us all join together in re-dedicating our lives to the Lord for a new start in the New Year.


How Prepared Does the Church Make People for Marriage?

Another pondering question –  (The concept taken from a friend’s blog) – how prepared does the church make people for marriage?  Thinking about the fact that people say that the statistics about Christian marriages ending in divorce rivals or equals those about marriages among people who do not profess faith.  I started to think about that.  Why is that?  Is it because – like sex – divorce is not mentioned and taught about?  Is it because people feel  a pressure to marry because they don’t want to fall to sexual sin?  Some people are told to ‘marry Jesus’ until the ‘right person comes along.’   Some people don’t have adequate marital counselling.

What are your thoughts on divorce and marriage – does the church prepare people adequately?  For those who wish to – do you think you were adequately prepared for marriage?

Question: Why do you blog?

Got into a heated discussion with someone who suggested I stop blogging because I have too much of my life on public display. I disagreed.

I blog for social reasons as well as to testify to God’s goodness to me.  I blog because I have gotten major support from the blogosphere as I go through my struggles.  I have gotten the major part of my support from people I met through my blog.   I ministered through my blog as well, but that is on hiatus for the moment – right now it is to give and receive encouragement and have connection with other parts of the Body of Christ.  If someone has gone through what I have and can relate, so much the better – we might have a great conversation.  If not, it at least it might be a good read, right? Right now,  God has encouraged me to blog my devotions so that I can get more consistent with it – make the devotion fun by mixing it with something I enjoy doing, you know?

However, this argument made me start to think.  If you blog, why do you?

Personal Devotions: RESURRECTION!

I have been meditating and praying since yesterday’s blog post on the theme of resurrection.  Today I have been reading John 11:1-44 – the death and resurrection of Lazarus.

Now most of us know the story – Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, and it says that this Mary is the same one who fell before Jesus’ feet and anointed them with perfume and wiped them with her hair (verse 2).  Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, but yet waited two more days before he set off.  When his disciples didn’t understand what he said about Lazarus he spoke plainly (“14So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”)  Why did he wait? So we may believe….

So Jesus goes and comforts the sisters, who both confront him – “If you were here our brother wouldn’t have died.”   He says to Martha (vs 25-26)

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

That struck me  – “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Do I believe this?????  Oh yes.

When he saw Mary grieving he was moved to compassion, and he too wept.  Did he weep while others were grieving for me? Did he grieve as the others were agonizing over my inability to see while blinded by my own sins and fleshly lusts?

But he did not only grieve.  Jesus ACTED.

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

He was moved by compassion and went to the tomb.  I have told others that I have realized that whenever Jesus is moved with compassion – miracles happen! The tomb represented death – and the fact that Lazarus was in the tomb already four days and had started to decay.  I see that in my own situation, those who grieved for me must have thought I was probably too far gone.  I certainly thought certain things were too far gone – my at-home relationships, my desires; even now I see that certain things have been more deeply impacted than I thought by my actions.  Maybe some of  my relationships have started to stink, too….  but Jesus is moved with compassion for me!

40Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Many who have believed have seen the Glory of God through my change of heart, and I also believe that what Jesus said earlier in this passage ( “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (v4)) will hold true for the things that seem dead or dying because of being so long in proximity to the stench of sin.  I believe.

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.

Those who have been praying and seeking God have been asking for the blinders to be taken off my eyes, so that I can see the depravity of sin that I have fallen into.  Before the dead man can be resurrected, the boulder has to be removed – the thing blocking him in must be heaved out of the way.  The word says that the god of this age has blinded those who are still in sin; the blocks which make the inside dark must be removed for the Light to be let in.

43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The declaration of Jesus!  The Word declared into a dead situation released the resurrection!  I am like Lazarus, having life again after a period of death.  I have been declaring resurrection into my dead and dying situations ever since yesterday.  I call life to every dead and or dying situation as it has been affected by the sin I was in.  I speak life to every relationship, every physical area, my emotional and spiritual life!

44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.   Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Not only am I a living testimony of being myself resurrected from the death grip of sin, but I am also in the process of having the grave clothes taken off.  But I’m alive!  Praise GOD!

Personal Devotions – Acts, Call to Repentance and Prophetic Words

Today I spent about an hour reading a couple chapters in the Acts of the Apostles – just being swamped with how Paul and the others were directed by the Holy Spirit, protected and sustained by Him and were able to proclaim the Message of the Way to the Gentiles.   I thought of my own ministry, and realized that – in my current state – I couldn’t even raise my head far less be bold about God’s message!

I had shut the Bible and suddenly opened it up again on a whim – and my eyes fell on this:

2 Corinthians 12:19-21

19Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

The last two verses hit me between the eyes – I thought of all those who would be ‘grieved’ over my recent actions …. and I repented right there before God.  I can’t let them, myself, or God down any more.  I want to live right.  I want to pursue righeousness…. no – as an act of my will … I AM pursuing righteousness as of right now, God helping me!

A friend of mine sent me this – she is the recipient of prophetic words through this sister Marsha Burns, and this quote was really applicable to my situation:

SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by Marsha Burns — Dec. 22, 2009:

Beloved, I have already brought warnings to you to guard your heart with all diligence. Be aware that the enemy is roaring around, looking for those who will get in his most dangerous territory through allowing their emotions to run wildGuard your thoughts and emotions, and refuse to allow the devil to bring discouragement, disappointment and depression. Rise up and embrace My joy, says the Lord, and be strengthened in your inner man. Draw near to me, and place your hope in My love for you. Resist the devil, for there is no temptation too great for you to overcome.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

The part that is  underlined really struck out to my friend – and stuck out to me as well.  We both know of situations in our lives where we have let our emotions run wild and that Satan is roaring around in our lives. The Scripture in 1 Cor 10:13 also spoke to both of us – no temptation has befallen us beyond our capacity to handle it! God has always provided a way of escape!

We were discussing that as it relates to our own situations and encouraging ourselves to take Christ at his word and not continue in a life of sin and compromise.

And then – another prophetic word – this time from MY email.  Kim Clement – one of the prophetic voices that I follow by reading their newsletters – said in his last publication:  “Betrayal has been the order of the day and yet I see a noose with betrayal hanging on it. What am I sensing? RESURRECTION!”

He continues to say, in part –

A few weeks ago, while under one of the most unusual anointings I’ve ever experienced, I was “taken” for a few moments to the tomb of Christ. I literally saw His resurrection through the eyes of Mary. It was one of the most impacting moments of my ministry life, but it was far more than just an experience, it was a message. I have no doubt that Jesus rose from the dead; it’s a historical fact, but that night, I believed it from the perspective of someone who was physically there in the moment and who saw it with their own eyes. It’s difficult to explain, but everything changed for me after that. For days and even weeks now, I would suddenly find myself deeply moved to tears and saying, “He has risen.” I went to prayer this morning and spoke to God about this. Why am I so emotional about this all of a sudden? What is the message? I heard Him so simply say, “Resurrection.” Then it dawned on me; Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under Heaven; A time to be born and a time to die…a time to PLANT and a time to reap…”

He senses a season of resurrection!  (That’s great – I felt like I was in the valley of the shadow of death just recently….)  He continues –

I was reminded of the prophet Elisha who had died and was buried in a tomb. During that time, Israel was constantly being raided by Moabites and while the Israelites were busy burying a man, they suddenly saw a band of raiders, so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet. Can you imagine that? God spoke to me about the season we are entering and simply said, “Resurrection.”

So … I’m holding on to THOSE WORDS WITH BOTH HANDS.  I crave for the season of not just restoration but of resurrection! I am calling for it now, with the faith of the desperate, the cry of one at the point of death…. JESUS…. RESURRECT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: I am posting the link of one of my friends’ websites to a very appropriate poem – may we call call on God’s Mercy! (Thanks, Jonie!)

Personal Devotions Series: Test of Faith

Continuing with my personal devotions series, here we have Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Issac.  The passage is taken from Genesis 22:1-19.

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

How many of us would be as quick to say “Here I am,” to the voice of God?  You may not think God speaks to you, but he does.  Are you willing to obey if you do realize he’s speaking?

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Ok…. do you still want to obey God?  Even when God says something this harsh? Personally, I know I’d be like, “Yeah, that can’t be God.  He wouldn’t tell me to do something like that, would he?”  (Mighty prophet of God, huh? ha!)  I feel like I’m sorta in that place right now, actually.  What I’m having to walk through … I have to lay down a lot of things that I held dear to me. I just realized that I have to make the same choice – obey, or not.  Not easy…. then again, this must not have been an easy choice for Abraham, either.

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

I don’t know if Abraham agonized over this, but he decided to obey.  The next morning speaks to me of immediacy.  He set out the next morning.  Creflo Dollar has said that ‘delayed obedience is disobedience; partial obedience is disobedience.’  So he obeyed – totally and immediately.  WOW.  Lord, help me to be like that….

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

What a statement of faith. “God himself will provide the lamb…..”  I’ve heard somewhere that in this story Issac wasn’t a little boy, but a man;  nowhere in the text does it say, either way. But was Issac worried?  I think he trusted his father implicitly, even as Abraham trusted God – his Father – just as implicitly.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

He’s able to hear God even in the midst of his obedience to God – in the very act of raising the knife he could hear God say his name – and again, his immediate action is to listen and obey.  How many of us can say that we are able to hear God, even when in the middle of obeying what God has previously said?  Me? I feel I have ‘tunnel vision’ and I’d be like, “Not now, God, I’m in the middle of obeying you. When I’ve finished let me hear what you’re saying….”

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Now, I know me.  I would have probably been like, “God what was all that about?  Man what are you doing?”  (Yeah, I know… I need to learn respect 😆 – but trust me, God knows I’m like that; he hasn’t ever bowled me over for being honest in my feelings before…)  Personally, I don’t like tests.  But I’m challenged by his ability to hear God even while he’s obeying him – like, with split second timing he’s able to hear God and say, “Yes Lord?”  I want to be like that too…

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram [a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

Now, I have also heard that this story is prophetic in its symbolism as well – Mount Moriah here is said to be the same mountain Jesus died on in the New Testament.  Talk about God’s planning…. Jesus really was the Lamb given for sacrifice….

15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,18 and through your offspring [b] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

So God honoured Abraham’s obedience.  And blessings immeasurable (descendants as numerous as sand on a seashore…) will follow him.  WOW.  Stirring me as I meditate on it.

Father God, I have not been very good at obedience lately. Help me to have greater faith and greater trust in you, and help me to be like Abraham, able to hear and obey the voice of the Lord, on a dime!  I ask that you help me to be inspired by this story and may it transform my mind into the image of Christ’s, who obeyed you TOTALLY, without sin.  I ask that you will continue to be my light in the dark.  Help me as I trust you.  In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Personal Devotions Series: Psalm 91:9-12

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—

even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

(Psalm 91:9-12)

May only be a ‘little’ thing, but it just hit me what was wrong with the Tempter’s use of Scripture in Jesus’ temptation.  He was  taking it out of context and claiming the promise without meeting the condition – and maybe even claiming the promise in a wrong way, too.  Jump off a building and expect angels to catch you so that you float smoothly to the ground???? That’s foolhardy, at least.  The law of gravity supersedes rash actions.  That’s why Jesus retorts with, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”