Personal Devotions: Sonship


Welcome to the first Personal Devotions post for 2011!

I have started to use Youversion on my Blackberry to get back into reading the Word.  Last year I was interacting with the Scripture using the Daily Audio Bible website and community, but in November I couldn’t keep up the momentum… it petered out.  So although I almost made it, I didn’t finish reading the entire Bible last year.  It was becoming a lot to take in all at once – Brian reads from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms and the Proverbs every single day – as well as gives his own inspired commentary on what was read.  Then he would pray, and there was also be a section where people from the community could call in and ask for prayer, pray for others in the community or give a praise report.

It was  great. But it was a lot to take in as the year progressed and my battle with depression deepened.   So this year, on the advice of a few good friends, I have endeavoured to look for another strategic Bible plan that will ease me back into the reading of the Word.

I had downloaded the Youversion app on my Blackberry for a while, but hadn’t really used it much until I was challenged to read the Word more – specifically the Psalms.  I decided that I would find a short Bible plan using the smartphone.  And this is day two.  I’m reading a Psalm and a Proverb.  that’s’ it.

But today I heard God speak through his word in a way that I have not heard in a while.  I was arrested by Psalm 2:7

I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.

I heard him: YOU ARE MY SON.  I cried out to him, “I have not felt like your son in ages!”  But in spite of what I feel or don’t, his word still rings true to my heart today.

This Scripture naturally makes me think of Romans 8:15 as well

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, Abba,[b] Father.”

And looking at Proverbs 2, I was also arrested by the beginning two words: “My son”  The entire chapter spoke to me, but I am picking out the part that I really feel impressed on my heart right now.

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

I have had so many depressed moods, so much negativity, so much pain – that focusing on the positive was a welcome change.  So here is my devotion for today.

Lord, I have not felt like your son for ages. I can say like the Prodigal, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” But you call me son anyway. Even if I fail.  Even if I fall. Even if I decide that I am still feeling rebellious… all of this time you still call me son, and still seek my heart turning back to you. I ask that you will acknowledge my baby steps, and help me to increase my momentum. Thank you Jesus. AMEN

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Personal Devotions – Going Fishing (John 21)


This post was started on Sept 3rd, this year, but I have had it sitting in my blog’s draft folder because it’s a little (ok, a lot) too close to home for comfort. But I found myself reading John 21 again today, so I thought I’d try to finish it….

John 21

1-3After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

3-4The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” (MSG)

The last time I read the Scriptures (about 2 days ago) I read the account of when Peter announced, “I’m going fishing” to the rest of the disciples after Jesus’ death.  He was going back to his old life – a sense of disappointment and failure dogging him.  He had denied the Lord – after he swore to stay with him to the end… and now Jesus had died. (The fact of the resurrection notwithstanding.)  I feel SO like him right at this moment…..

I’ve had a lot of things going on. A LOT.  I’ve gone quiet on the blog because I didn’t know how much to share. But just know that I’ve been constantly dogged with depression, thoughts of failure and of giving up – probably just like Peter here.

Honestly, I don’t think I can write much on this right now – I just know that Peter seemingly gave up after Christ’s death and went back to his old life – fishing – the life he knew.  Jesus found him and restored him by asking if he loved him.

All I know is…. I do love him.  I might have also turned away and felt disheartened after my own failings, but I do love him.

May I hear him calling me soon.  “Do you love me?”

Yes Lord, I do love you.

Personal Devotions: Fulfilled (Joel 2:19-20)


Dead Sea

Dead Sea (via Wikipedia)

 

As I was replying to a friend’s post this morning I started to comment on her blog.  This is what I said:

I feel fulfilled being used by God to encourage and uplift people, seeing joy as they come through their dark stages of angst and fear and out into the marvelous light of their liberation. I feel fulfilled when my words inspire and bring a sense of “Yes!” to someone’s soul and spirit.

I haven’t been feeling fulfilled or fulfilling lately – and it isn’t for lack of trying.  I have been feeling depressed and burnt out for a little while now, but this comment reminded me of what I feel called to do, who I am called to be.

As I was writing this post, I started to remember a passage that was prophetically given to me by my friend Annie last year.  She was saying to me that God wanted to fulfill me – to satisfy me fully.  This is the passage she used, Joel 2:19 – 20

19 The LORD replied[a] to them:

“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
an object of scorn to the nations.

20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
its smell will rise.”

I remembered crying out to God after reading that passage – “God! Satisfy me!  I need you to satisfy me fully!  I need you to be the centre of my life again!”  I was crying out in such passion and anguish – begging God to save me, that I remember waking my wife up in the next room….

The ‘northern horde’ in verse 20 referred to the demonic oppression around me, Annie explained, and God was promising to deliver me fully from all of it .

As I ponder this verse again, looking back over the past couple months…. I think it’s time for me to cry out to Him in the same manner…

“Deliver me… make me want you again…. fulfill me… I want YOU to satisfy me FULLY… not anything or anyone else….. I can’t do this without you… HELP ME!!!!!!!

I pray that all who read this today are inspired to call out to him on their own, and again reach for fulfillment in HIM.

Personal Devotions – Am I Dead? (Luke 10:30-35)


This is a twist on the “I’m not dead” posts I usually write when I have not written on my blog for a while.

Whenever people ask me how I’m feeling recently, all I can manage with is, “I’m surviving.”  That’s the best I can do at the moment.   I wondered how I could articulate how I was feeling, but I had a personal revelation: I am still working through my lack of passion – I’ve not done the things I have been passionate about for so long I’ve forgotten what they are….

I had a conversation with a friend on Facebook the other night, and he was trying to encourage me to fight the devil off and seek God and pray.  I didn’t want to be rude; I told him that I felt like the guy who got beat up and left for dead in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35)

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.35The next day he took out two silver coins[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

I feel as though I’ve been emotionally beaten up and left for dead. I told my friend when he said that I’m “weak” and need to cry to God for strength, “I’m not weak. I’ve gone past weak.  When I was weak I felt like I lost almost everyone – and I’m not weak anymore. I’m destroyed.”  Now I know  that that’s harsh – but it seems like where I am.

In fact, I came to a realization just today – I guess I’m in the perfect place for God’s resurrection that he has been talking to me about since last December, because I have no fight left in me whatsoever.

In the above story, the man who was beaten up, in my opinion, would have had to have been unconscious.  He looked like a dead man.  That’s what made the other two skirt him.  If I remember correctly, the holy could not touch the dead – this would make them unclean.

I’ve felt that way myself – yes, there have been those who have been around, and I thank God for them – but the ones who separated cut deeper than the sharpest knife ever could.  My friend actually said that he felt partially responsible for my current emotional state, because he felt like he did leave me.  WOW.  I actually had to say that seemed like the first time someone actually admitted to abandoning me.

Now I agree, I did do my own separations. I will not stand and give an, “Oh poor me, everyone’s against me!” speech – at least, not without being fair and admitting my own part to play in it.  I have pulled away from those who I thought were helping me.  I did feel a sense of betrayal and loss, and I decided to close myself off.  Even when I tried to open myself up again I felt let down and pushed away, so I stayed away.

It took ages and ages to start getting away from my bitterness and resentment – and when I started to get over that … let’s just say I still have trust issues, as I expect others have of me.  So yeah, there are reactionary decisions on both sides.

But thank God Jesus hasn’t abandoned me. I may not feel it or want to acknowledge it right now, but he hasn’t.  I know that he’s the ultimate good Samaritan here, and I know that he’s sent others around me.  I’m doing what I can do – and waiting, like the unconscious man in the parable, to be picked up and taken care of.  I am waiting for the resurrection God promised me.

So, if you read this, and you want to help me – please don’t do it by telling me what I should be doing or what I am not doing because I’m just lying here.  My ribs are broken, it hurts to breathe and I’m sure I have other broken bones as well.  I can’t stand.  Come over and offer a hand, some oil and some wine (I like rich wine, not too dry, please.) *wink*  Seriously though – don’t judge me; just pray that the resurrection time comes quickly, and go according to what God says to you.

Devotional Post: Consecration


Reading – DAB 2 Chron 6:13b-8:10, Rom 7:15-8:8 , Ps 18:1-15, Pr 19:24-25
Listen – July 22nd DAB podcast

Listening to this today, a couple of things struck me. This is the latter part of the dedication prayer of Solomon for the Temple of the Lord. Not surprisingly, yesterday, I started the teaching on consecration during my sessions.

The theme of 2 Chron. 6:26-39 is God’s forgiveness after repentance; apt at this time in my life. What struck out to me was this portion:

36″If they sin against you—(R) for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, 37yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 38if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 39then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you.

The concept of being ‘given’ to an enemy, being in captivity and crying out, “We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly” definitely resonates with where I am right now. I am myself praying that prayer with the hope of seeing the same promise fulfilled in my life “…hear from heaven your dwelling place [my] prayer and [my] pleas …. and forgive your people who have sinned against you.”

What also strikes me now (and has done in the past) is God’s response – the Glory of the Lord filling his newly dedicated temple 2 Chron 7:1-2

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer,(AA) fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices,(AB) and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.

May the Glory of the Lord fill MY temple as well. Tying this into Psalm 18, David also wrote about crying out to the Lord for deliverance and having God supernaturally answer:

6(H) In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his(I) temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

He cried out to the Lord …. and the Lord ‘came swiftly on the wings of the wind’ because ‘he was angry’. The rest of the psalm speaks to me about God response to the cry of his servant. ‘Rent the heavens and came down’ it says in another translation.

It goes further – in the Romans passage the writer sounds like he’s talking to me: not doing what I want equals obedience to the Law, doing what I want to do leads to sin. “I cannot understand my own actions!” I understand THAT statement. Several times I have been saying to myself, “Why am I DOING this???? I know SO much better…” He said, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Tell me about it!

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For(G) I delight in the law of God,(H) in my inner being, 23but I see in my members(I) another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from(J) this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

I like the beginning of Romans 8 …

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2For the law of(K) the Spirit of life(L)has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Thank GOD there is no condemnation for those in Christ. Following the law of the Spirit sets me free in Christ from the laws of sin and death.

3For(M) God has done what the law,(N) weakened by the flesh,(O) could not do.(P) By sending his own Son(Q) in the likeness of sinful flesh and(R) for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that(S) the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,(T) who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The concept of the law being WEAKENED by the flesh struck me. The flesh weakened the law, and thus the law could not save. The fact is, my own weakness to sin weakens the power of the law; if I could not break it, then the law itself would be perfect (insofar as it could not be broken, since the law as given is perfect already having come from God.)

5For(U) those who live according to the flesh set their minds on(V) the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on(W) the things of the Spirit. 6For to set(X) the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is(Y) hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law;(Z) indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

At this point I recognize the alignment teaching that I’m going through at the moment: “Walking in the Spirit” = Alignment.

I am going to set my mind on things of the Spirit, since ‘to set the mnd of the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Personal Devotions – Romans 13:8-14


Love, for the Day is Near

8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.[c]

Meditating on this today.

Prayer

Lord you know my struggles, you know my issues.  Please help me to focus on putting on Christ and on awaking from slumber, because the day is almost here.  Thank you for speaking to me through your word today.

AMEN

Personal Devotions – Trusting in the Power of the Resurrection


A couple of days ago I was stuck at this Scripture verse – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11  (MSG)

8-11We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. (emphasis mine)

These verses have struck me ….  I really HAVE felt as though I won’t make it, that it is all over for me …and OH how I’ve felt like a death row inmate over my past indiscretions.  But the concept of the fall out of my actions forcing me to trust God totally – that spoke to me.  There’s nothing else without God.  And he is the God that raises from the dead! He is the God of the resurrection!

This Scripture gives me hope, because God rescued in the past, and he’ll do it again – “… as many times as we need rescuing!”  That is so awesome to me, because I’ve been in a cycle of trying to get out of needing rescue, and then needing it again, for a while.

And “[you] and your prayers are part of the rescue operation.”  I would probably be much further away if I didn’t have so many wonderful people praying and interceding and standing beside me….. I am humbled by the support of so many I have never seen face to face, as well as those I know personally.  “I can see your faces now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of [me]….”  Well, okay, not physically see your faces – yet – but I can see them in the Spirit… and I am grateful for each one of you….  And just like Paul said, I don’t want you in the dark about that, either.  Your prayers HAVE played a crucial part in my life – and I am eternally grateful.

Please continue to pray for me – and for a couple other people who need it:

  • Amy Woodell – suffered a stroke at 24  (more details here)
  • Mandy Thompson – recently finished a blog series on her struggle with infertility –  read her blog series “The Waiting”, and pray!
  • Lost Sheep – My friend who is going through a major set of oppression, and recovering from spiritual abuse.  Read her blog here.
  • Darla – Also going through some internal struggles …. read some more here.
  • Alece – Not only personally, but for her ministry at Thrive Africa – I wrote a post about her and her ministry.  Read it here – and go over and support the Ten Buck Tuesday initiative.
  • And anyone else the Lord lays on your heart today.