Author: Nathan

Tuesday Devotional: Ezra 8:15-36

footsteps

Read Ezra 8:15-36

22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

 Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

How often do you fast? Do you understand fasting? Do you believe in fasting? What is fasting?

How often do you silence the world and yourself in order to hear what God is saying? Before doing are you quick to stop and devote your entire attention and being to being still and knowing the God is God. The living God is a deliberate God driven by purpose and objective. He has ordained your steps and each of those steps has been laid out for a purpose to achieve a particular objective. We must deny our nature to move before we know and speak before we think. Stop. Be still. He has called you into a life with eternal ramifications and consequences. This is a blessing but a responsibility. This is bigger than you. You are a disciple commanded to teach others about Jesus. You are a missionary called to a mission of making Jesus known to the people in your respective mission field. The task upon us is exponentially larger than we could ever imagine. It is God’s grace and mercy that we are not made aware of the entire job tasked to us.

Do you know this? Do you believe this? Are you aware of this?

How then can you accomplish any of what God requires of you without remaining close enough to the living God to hear his voice and see his feet moving just ahead of your own. Be still and know. God is with you and he is making a way right now. He is speaking.

Do you hear him?

The world we live in creates a formidable obstacle between us and the Lord but we are not called to silence the world. Regardless of what we do the world rages on at unbearable volumes we cannot control or contain. No, we are called to silence ourselves. Be still and know. Deny yourself. Fast. Give up that which creates an internal obstacle between you and the Lord. God is making a way but he needs you to hear and understand what comes next. Say no to the flesh and say yes to the Lord. Fasting is a proclamation of faith. It establishes priorities. It is not magic. Nor is it a commandment. However, we are all commanded to communion with the living God and communion requires communication. Prayer is our ongoing dialogue with the living God and fasting is a choice. It is a decision. It is a moment where we can proclaim our heart’s desire to be still and know nothing but God.    

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Chronicles 21:4-20

Praying at sunset

Read 2 Chronicles 21:4-20

7 Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever. 

Grace and the Gospel are inseparable. In light of the promises of God you cannot have one without the other. You cannot divorce the two. In embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ a person is embracing the transformative power of amazing grace. We have not done enough. We can never do enough. We exist in between two realities. Our past behavior does not prove our righteousness and the reality or our fallen nature determines that at no point in the future will we ever be deemed righteous enough to coexist with a perfect and holy God. Apart from Jesus, this diagnosis is hopeless and crushing. Apart from Jesus we are left striving for something we will never attain. But the Gospel of grace is not the proclamation of our goodness. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reality is that you are a sinner. Present tense. You do not make wise decisions as you should. You are tempted by ungodliness. You are not Holy as he is Holy. But the promise of the Gospel was not a promise that at a certain point in time man would become righteous and able to earn his way back into God’s presence. The promise of the Gospel was that in spite of man’s sin and wickedness, by grace, the living God was preserving the house of David to make way for the lamp. The light of the world. Jesus. Although God has bestowed great love and mercy upon his people, his people have never proven that they deserve it. On the contrary, his people, we, have proven that we do not deserve it. However, he has. By grace. God’s love for his people is so great and beyond our comprehension that in not wanting any to perish, he waits. He waits and continues to speak, continues to protect, continues to provide, continues to love. Look upon the cross. See Jesus. Experiencing the grace of God. Let is transform you from the inside out. Let it transform how you see yourself and the world. Self-righteousness will always create a calloused heart unable to love as God created us to love. Submission to the gospel of grace will break your heart, mend it, transform it and then allow you to carry with you the light of the world shining brightly within you proclaiming that Jesus and only Jesus saves. Amen.

Tuesday Devotional: 1 Chronicles 9


bricks

Read 1 Chronicles 9

Restore. Equip. Release. Restore. Equip. Release. This is a relational rhythm and tempo represented in both the Old and New Testament. As a result of sin, God’s people must be restored. There is a debt. There is transgression. There is the weight of sin that destroys God’s original creation that must be acknowledged and restored. Israel needed restoration. WE need restoration.

Romans 3:23-24

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

We cannot begin to equip or consider our release into this world representing the Gospel of Jesus until we have been restored. By the death Jesus died on the cross and by grace we have been restored. But we must accept this restoration. We must believe in this restoration. We must see this restoration as the life-saving act that it was. Without it, there is no life. Without it, there is no hope. Without it, you are dead.

Following God’s restorative act of grace we are not left to bide our time until Jesus’ return. We are called to live. Having been born again we must learn to walk.   We must learn to talk. We are born again, so we must learn to live again. God has a task for you in your new life and in this world. You WILL be used. You ARE desperately needed. Learn. Wait. Listen. Let God reveal his purpose for you in the time you have remaining in this world. Let him train you into your calling. You are a member of Christ’s body and the entire body needs you.

1 Peter 2:2-3

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come into the revelation of your purpose and calling God will not keep you from the world. He will release you into the world. You are his hands and his feet administering healing to the sick and to the oppressed. You are the city of Christ’s light on the hill bringing life-giving light into the darkness. You are the broken vessel containing the bread of life and living water for the hungry and destitute. You were restored to have life and God has raised you up to bring life to the dying. The world we live in is overflowing with empty words and false hope. Jesus, however, is the living word of God and is our eternal hope that will never fail us. The world needs him and the Church is his body. The world needs you.

1 Peter 2:4-6 

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

   a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

   will never be put to shame.”

1 Corinthians 12:27-31 

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Kings 16

direction

Read 2 Kings 16

Don’t panic! Don’t worry. Fear not! The world we live in will try your strength, your patience and your endurance at every turn. You WILL be hard-pressed! At the present you ARE being pushed to your limit. But, fear not! You will be tempted to look to your left and to your right for aid and support. You will be tempted to give your worries and your desperation to someone or something other than the living God. You will be tempted away from looking up, heavenward toward your Father God. The heart of man is forgetful, impatient and unfaithful. This is our nature. In our greatest time of need it is not natural for us to put our security and well being in the hands of a God we cannot touch with our hands or see with our eyes. Sin is actively fighting a battle within all of us to reject the reality of the living God.   Every day we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the weapon of the enemy is to try at every turn to steal your desperate gaze away from God and onto something else. Something temporary, something finite, something completely unlike our Father God. It is in God you will ultimately find the strength you need. It is in Jesus you will ultimately find the hope you need to press on. It is in Jesus that you will find life in a time when death seems imminent. The enemy is active in this world and in your daily life to rob you of this eternal life. You MUST fight! You must have faith that your God is with you and is coming. You must have faith that God is Immanuel and that Jesus will never leave your side. If you find that you cannot believe these truths and that your battle is a battle of faith, ask for faith. Humble yourself in your desperation and cry out to the living God for faith to believe. He WILL speak. He WILL come to you. Help is not on the way, IT IS HERE! It is with you now. In your time of need and in your great desperation, choose life! Choose to cry out to him. Choose to look for him. Choose to plead for mercy. He is with you and in the name of Jesus nothing can separate you from him. Don’t fear! Don’t panic! Don’t worry! He is with you.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday Devotional:1 Kings 9:1-9

joy

Read 1 Kings 9:1-9

God’s desire for us is that we thrive.  God’s desire for us is that we thrive. He wants us to maximize our potential.  He has designed us for a purpose and his desire is that we fulfill that purpose.  We were not created merely to exist.  We were created to be used within the patchwork of God’s holy creation to reveal the glory of our Father in Heaven.  God created us out of love and there is no greater joy for our Father in Heaven than when he sees us thriving in his name and building his kingdom here on Earth.  God knows your passions.  He knows your talents.  He knows your interests.  You have them because he planted the seeds for all of them in the beginning.  His desire is that we submit our lives to King Jesus allowing him to anoint these passions, talents and interests by the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal his glory in this world.  We were created to create.  We were created to achieve.  We were created to succeed.  But all for the glory of the living God.  All for the glory of the name above all names.  The name that will reign forever and ever, Jesus.  Upon meeting Jesus Christ our lives should be renewed by the desire to serve our Father in Heaven and obey his commands and precepts.  However, the colors and details that bring life to the mosaic of obedience and service are bound in the act of creation.  We were given hands and feet to achieve.  We were given a mind to create.  But all for the glory of that holiest of names, Jesus.  His name is stamped on the work of our hands and mind.  It is his beauty and majesty revealed in all of our creations.  We are his finest creation and all of our creations merely reflect the Creator.  It is all about him.  So Christian, Go!  Create!  Achieve!  Succeed!  In the name of Jesus, Move! This is your purpose.  This is why you’re here.  You were created to engage in the act of creation alongside our Father in Heaven and his joy will be yours because the Spirit of his son Jesus is with us to the very end of the age.

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Samuel 21:1-9

bible

Read 2 Samuel 21:1-9

There will be justice. Praise Jesus, there will be justice. Praise Jesus that it is not left for us to avenge only feeding and perpetuating the cycle of death and destruction in this already broken world. The justice of man is flawed. The justice of man is often anything but just. We cannot trust man. We cannot rely on man’s discernment or goodness. Our ability to judge and to execute justice is not nearly good enough. It is not life giving. It is a bandage to a life-threatening condition that requires immediate and invasive surgery. It sustains momentarily only returning us back where we started. Back where we needed justice. Back where we needed healing. Back where we needed hope. The justice of man is not what we ultimately need most. What then? What of all of the injustice and suffering that exists in this world? The only answer and our only hope is, Jesus. He came and he WILL come again. And his return will usher in an era of justice. Heavenly justice. Just as the New Heaven and New Earth will be a return to the shalom of Eden, so will it be so with justice. Justice will once again be as it was intended at its creation. Just. Good. Holy. The return of the King will be mighty in righteousness and justice and it will be just. We will all be measured. We will all be assessed. We will all be held accountable to our actions. Our choices have ramifications and consequences exist. There is nothing that escapes the eye of the Lord and we will all be called to account for the life we led. None will be left any grounds for excuse, debate or argument. The living God will not attempt to prove his case of judgment against you. The living God will show you your life. Not his interpretation, but the truth. He will not explain your sin and unrighteousness to you.   You will see it.

 Romans 14:12

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  

He will not grade you according to the 10 commandments, he will use your own.

Matthew 12:37

For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. 

Praise Jesus there will be justice. The evil in this world will be acknowledged and dealt with accordingly. There is no free pass. There is no free ride. Our lives are precious and God will not waste a moment of them. Every word matters. Every decision has eternal implications and ramifications. Praise Jesus there will be justice and his justice will be holy as he is holy.

It is finished : 1 Samuel 11:1-11

gavel

1 Samuel 11:1-11

“…the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.”

Every generation has been sharpened and refined by scripture in different ways. There are things that force us out of our comfort zone that perhaps others before us were less affected by. We must never fall for the all too tempting trap of restructuring and redefining scripture, the holy and eternal word of God, to fit our current worldview. Worldviews change; we must not cling to worldview as a means to understanding God and his word. We must look at that which is eternal and enduring through every generation, past, present and future. The fall of man is an eternal truth. The promise of a Messiah that will pay the debt of our collective sin with his own blood is an eternal truth. The word becoming flesh in the man of Jesus Christ who fulfilled the messianic prophecies is an eternal truth. The hope of new life in his name and image and confidence to reign victorious over sin and death with him is an eternal truth. These truths must be our lens for reading and understanding scripture. Therefore, we cannot judge God’s righteous anger coming upon Saul to execute justice unless we have been broken to the point of tears over the injustice that fell upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Jesus is not a secondary issue. Jesus is not the conclusion of scripture. He IS scripture. And in him, it is finished.  Do you understand God’s anger? Do you understand his wrath? God’s anger toward sin and evil did not cause him to abandon his creation and start anew. God’s anger led him to preserve the line that would lead to the savior that would make a way where there was no way. God did not cause the Fall. God did not create sin. Sin leads to death. It did then and continues to do so now. However, because of God’s sovereignty and grace, the line of the Messiah was preserved and many more will come to know the presence of the living God as a result. I type this because God made a way and his name is Jesus. You read this because God made a way and his name is Jesus. God was not forced into grace and mercy. He was determined to save us by grace and mercy through Jesus because he loves and his love for us is beyond our comprehension. There is no injustice like that which Jesus suffered. There is no punishment like that which Jesus endured. There is no scripture without Jesus.  And in him, it is finished.  God’s anger toward sin and the wrath of his judgment fell upon Jesus and it is finished.  Our war now is not against flesh and blood but against sin.  We flee from the enemy and the cravings of the flesh. We are called to a new covenant of good news for all mankind, that because of Jesus, death has been swallowed up in victory.  It is finished.

 

The Presence of God : Ruth 1

followingjesusonedayatatime.png

Read Ruth 1

There is an unmistakable and often inexplicable attraction to the presence of the Lord. His presence is not manufactured or conjured. His presence is revealed, unparalleled and unrivaled. There is nothing quite like it and there never will be. We are created to know him and he is there to be known. His presence shakes you to the core. His power and authority terrifies you yet his mercy and love breaks your heart and brings you to tears. The presence of the Lord is not something experienced because of us but in spite of and through us. We don’t deserve to know him but by his grace and love for us, he continues to say, “I am here at the door. I continue to knock.” When people are drawn to the Lord, they are drawn to HIM. We are broken vessels that reveal his glory and power but always through our weakness and need for him. His greatness is not revealed to the world through our greatness. Rather, the presence of the Lord draws people because nothing is as sovereign, as merciful, as powerful or as real as Him. The presence of the Lord has the power to draw you away from anything and anyone causing you to lose all things to have him and him alone. The decision to respond to his calling is not grounded in a rationality that the world can understand, and so the world will often view your decision to lose everything to know Him alone as foolish, childish and even pathetic. However, when our eyes are opened to the experience of his presence and the promises of his word revealed in Jesus Christ there is no option to weigh the opposing side of the scale. There is only Him.  There is not other name but the name above all names.  Jesus.  People will ask, “Why would you choose to give everything up to follow God?” The answer to this question is not one that aims to explain or prove the existence of God. The answer to this question is a testimony coupled with an invitation. The answer to this question is, “Because He is the Lord Almighty. He has been calling me and I have finally heard. I am known by Him and He knows my name. He is my Lord and my God. There is no one like him. Do you know him?”

 

The Voice of God: Judges 6

bible

Read Judges 6

The God of the Bible is a God that speaks. He engages with his creation and desires to do so. He does not hide nor is he passive. The God of the Bible is eternally connected to his creation because he loved it into creation and love is never lost in silence. Love demands expression. Love demands to be heard. In the same way that the deepest and most fulfilling human relationships are based off of positive and consistent communication, the relationship between God and his creation is no different. In our time of need and in times of desperation God is waiting for us to engage with him so he can engage with us. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Some might ask, “How can I hear him?” The Biblical response to this questions is, “What are you willing to give up in order to hear him?” One might say that the ability to hear the voice of the living God is free for all but it is not in its essence free. In order to hear the voice of God speaking truth and authority into our lives we must be willing to listen and therefore we must be willing to give him our undivided attention. Hearing costs. Hearing his voice does not come naturally to us. We must be facing him to see him speak. We must be listening intently in order to hear what he has to say. How can we hear God speak into your life if he is daily being drowned out by your voice or the voices of others instead? He is your God. He is your creator. He is your father. He knows. Why would a person be willing to sell his/her soul to have the world? Why would you be willing to walk nervously along the road of self-doubt/self-discovery when the God of creation is eagerly waiting to speak unshakable truth and life into his/her life? This rationale is not rational but it is natural for sinners like us. The living God is waiting at the door to speak to you! Sell everything to hear his voice. He is reaching out his hand to usher you into his presence where he will speak eternal truths into your life. Take his hand and hear his voice.

Words To Live By: Joshua 8:30-34

Bible2

Read Joshua 8:30-34

How can we know the word of God if we ourselves have not heard it? How can we know the word of God if we ourselves have not seen it? The word is not meant to echo gently over the generations. The word of God must be repeated. It must be reread. It must be passed on and proclaimed. There is a perpetual need for teachers, proclaimers and messengers of the word of God in this world. The sin within us naturally prefers that the word of God fade into the background.  Sin desires a compromise with God’s word.  Comforting words.  Sentimental words.  Advice.  Interesting stories.  But not truth, life, a sword.   The sinful soil of our human hearts must be moved by the Holy Spirit to not only accept the seed of God’s word but then to continue to nurture and cultivate its growth. Our survival depends on this! We must continue to pray that God create in us new hearts that desire the word of God as David did. Who among us can say that we crave the word of God as we crave honey to the tongue? This disposition is not an achievement of an ideal but the return to normality. It is when we begin to look upon the word of God in this way that we realize that we are finally home. From this place we will not seek out comforting and powerful passages in the scriptures but we will be hard-pressed to find any passage in the Bible that does not leave us satisfied and well equipped.  The word of God can be understood as a God’s promises working through different people at different times in history but it cannot be dissected and compartmentalized according to value and importance. The entire word of God is either valuable or it is not. The entire word of God is either important to our living and survival or it is not. The entire word of God is either pointing to Jesus and the salvation of the entire world by his blood on the cross or it is not. It is not left to only the most fanatical Bible students to find worth and value in the entire text. This is not a matter of taste. This is a matter of truth and life. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh and it is in that flesh and the sacrifice of it that we receive answers, contentment and eternal life. The word of God is our collective daily bread and light to our path. The enemy knows the scriptures well but we must strive to know it better. As God spoke from the heavens to Peter, James and John on the mountain, “This is my Son whom I love. Listen to him!” Christian, listen to him!