Friday, September 29, 2006

My Rock

Reflections from Psalm 62
5 I wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
11 God has spoken plainly,
and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you;
12 unfailing love, O Lord, is yours. Surely you judge all people
according to what they have done. NLT

Almighty God-
My soul silently waits for You. My rest is in You alone. You are my rock and my salvation. Nothing can ever separate me from You! I run to You for shelter and protection. There, I calmly, quietly, patiently wait for the wicked world to pass.

The world is pursuing me, tempting me to join in the pursuit for power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure. Everywhere I turn, there is another demand for my time, talent, and treasure. The Prince of Darkness fully intends to topple me from my lofty and safe haven with You. All around me, people delight in his lies. They try to lure me by speaking persuasive words that sound good, pleasing and delightful, but in their hearts, they are deceitful. Before getting too excited about new attractive ideas, I will carefully examine the things I hear against Your Word. Please fill me with more knowledge and wisdom so that I can determine if I am hearing the Truth.

The temptation to abandon You can sneak up on me as a whisper of doubt. I will overcome the whisper of temptation by pouring out my heart to You. You will help me as I pray and diligently study Your Word. I will be devoted to You because You are strong, loving and dependable. I will love You with all my heart and soul. I will follow and fear You since You are my hope and my salvation. I will do my best to keep Your commands because I long for the promised reward to those who love and obey You. I believe You when You say, "The Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done."

Instead of chasing the world, I am choosing to pursue You, Jesus, the One and Only. Amen.

Who are you chasing the world or the Lord?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

God's Handiwork

Psalm 8:3-4
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands

O Lord my God, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! The poet who wrote these verses years ago was properly dazzled by the night sky; however, if he could have looked through the Hubble Telescope for a scant ten minutes he would have undoubtedly fainted in wonderment. Even with our biggest and best telescopes directed at the stars that are billions upon trillions of miles away, we still can’t see the outermost edge of the universe. It’s mind-boggling to consider the cosmos as Your handiwork! I stand in reverent awe of Your enormous creativity.

What is man that You care so much for him? Compared to the cosmic galaxies, man is minuscule. Compared to You, we are nothing. If there is anything more stunning than the sheer scale and splendor of the universe, it’s the revelation that in all of Your greatness, we really do matter. It’s bewildering that You made us in Your image, crowning us with glory and honor. Though we’re nothing in contrast to the magnificent magnitude of creation, we’re extraordinarily valuable because we carry the signature of our Heavenly Designer. Because of our great worth in Your sight, You’ve assigned us the awesome responsibility of taking care of Your wonderful works.

Please dear Lord, give me a deeper understanding of who You are as the Divine Artist of the universe. Balance it with a healthy, humble view of myself as Your valued curator. With an accurate perception, I’ll worship You rather than the works of Your hands. Appropriate insight, will make me more cognizant and appreciative of Your gloriously brilliant works of art. Mindful of Your priceless creation, I’ll protect it, display it, and love it in honor of Your holy and majestic name. O Lord, my Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Amen.

To respect God’s majesty we must compare ourselves to His greatness. When we look at creation: the cosmic galaxy, mighty mountains, or titanic ocean we feel small. To feel small is a healthy way to get back to the reality that God is big and people are little. Humility, however, means proper respect for God, along with a healthy image of yourself.

God considers us highly valuable. He has chosen us to be the crown of His creation. He has entrusted us with His fine art. How do you treat God’s creation? Use your resources wisely because He holds you accountable for your stewardship.

Photo copyright Public Domain

To view amazing pictures taken with the Hubble Telescope visit

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Autumn's Glory

Hebrews 1:3
Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 3:18
All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. (MSG)

O Glorious Lord,
Thank You for autumn, the wondrous time of year when You naturally display Your radiant glory. The joyous explosion of color that bursts over the landscape breathes life into my soul. Blazing, multi-colored palettes of fall foliage are a spectacular backdrop for Your jaw-dropping beauty. You are the exact imprint of the stunning vistas that mesmerize me.

As I spend time in Your nature, open the eyes of my heart and enlighten my mind to see the glory of Jesus. Forgive me for the excessive attention I pay to insignificant people and things. Have mercy on me for Christ’s sake. Complete the fascinating design You began in me. Make me a showcase to display the magnificent, splendid, wonderful glory of Your grace.

Shine the light of the Gospel into my heart. Set me ablaze like the fall foliage as I focus clearly on Your glorious face. Transform me into Your brilliant, majestic, beautiful image. My blessed hope is in the day when I'll perfectly radiate Your glory because of Jesus. Amen.

When I ponder autumn’s beauty, I’m acutely aware that it is exceedingly more beautiful than me. I’m deeply moved and humbled. By nature, I do not live beautifully. My heart is too often consumed with concern about my glory rather than God’s. This revelation through God’s gloriously beautiful creation helps me keep things in perspective: God is BIG and beautiful. People are significantly smaller and less attractive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Creative Power

Psalm 33:8-9
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

My Creator King,
Your dramatically designed world compels me to stop and wonder at who You are. Praise supernaturally pours from my heart when I recognize that You are the Maker of EVERYTHING. This is Your world and everything in it belongs to You. Your magnificent creative power far surpasses man’s prowess and imagination.

Man can make spectacularly tall buildings, but they’ll never reach the limitless sky. We can send a man to the moon, but no one can go near the sun. Impressive men can rule and reign over nations, but ultimately they will bow before Your Majesty. You, Almighty God, spoke one word, making the whole world for Your plan, purpose and pleasure. It’s inconceivable to even the most intelligent mind.

You speak, crippling a busy city with a hurricane or snow storm. One strong breath from heaven can create winds that slow our supersonic jets, making us late for important destinations. That same burst of air from Your lips can pick up our sturdy homes, turning them into match sticks. At the sound of Your thunderous voice, heavy rains, lightening and hail force the cancellation of our public events. The high seas command the respect of even the best built ocean liners. Your mouth immobilizes the earth.

I thank You Father, for everything and anything that humbles me before the mystery of life. When my heart is laden with fear and anxiety attacks my soul, help me remember that You’re bigger than anyone or anything. Please keep me from the folly of worshipping people and their inanimate objects. You alone are God and I bless Your holy name. Amen.

Today, consider the greatness of God. In awe of His marvelous power, let go of your fear of people, and worship Him alone by trusting Him to take care of you, His treasured creation.

Reflect on the lyrics to this beautiful old hymn:
This Is My Father’ World
(Copyright Public Domain)

1. This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

2. This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

3. This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Monday, September 25, 2006

God's Majesty

Psalm 104:1
O LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

O Lord, You are incredibly awesome! Wrapped in an elegant garment of brilliant light, You’re dressed in golden splendor and sparkling majesty. You stretch out the skies like an unending tent over the entire universe. You send glimmering rays to heaven to glisten on the water. A blazing Holy Spirit Wildfire ignites hearts and souls with Your glory.

As the brisk breeze blows puffy white clouds, You ride them like Your chariots. The winds are Your messenger. Sometimes they quietly whisper, rustling the colorful autumn leaves. Other times they’re a thunderous roar rebuking raging rivers into the ravines.

You are an amazingly sophisticated artist. You’ve wisely designed day and night, land and sea, plants and animals, man and woman, each with a unique purpose for Your pleasure. The earth is full of Your glorious goodness.

How many are Your works O Lord! Your glory endures forever! When I look on the magnificent high, jagged peaks rising abruptly from the flat valley, I am captivated by Your wonderful creativity. Gazing upon spectacular splashing waves suddenly lifting from the deep sea, I am spellbound by Your splendid beauty. Seeing You as You truly are, my only response is to exalt You in the beauty of Your holiness and sing praises to my Creator King. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea! Amen.

Take a walk through nature and worship God on the ground you walk on. It’s His private property.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Learning to Fear the Lord

Psalm 34: 9, 11
9 Let the LORD's people show him reverence,
for those who honor him will have all they need.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the LORD. NLT

Holy One of Israel,
With all due respect, I come to You, bowing down before Your majesty. Silently, I gaze upon Your mysterious, glorious presence. Approaching Your throne with overwhelming gratitude I‘m certain that You’ll teach me to love and respect You. It's an incredible privilege to sit under Your divine instruction. Please give me a tender heart, a teachable spirit, and a yielded will to learn to properly honor and revere You above every other person or thing that exists.

Admittedly, I’d prefer to learn in a comfortable, pleasant setting, but because of Who You are, I’m willing to attend the classroom of Your choice even if the conditions are rough and harsh. You know the best place to impart wisdom on me. Using the Holy Bible as my textbook, I’ll learn of Your inconceivable love and Your holy anger. I’ll understand that while You’re compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love, You also punish the guilty. Love and justice are both expressions of Your holiness that I need to be familiar with.

O wise and wonderful Teacher, tune my ears to listen amidst all the commotion and confusion going on around me. Help me to remain poised and focused on the importance of each perfectly planned lesson. Empower me to tirelessly study Your Words every day of my life. Write them as notes on my heart so that I’ll remember them through life’s challenging tests. Above all, may I always keep in mind, that You are and have the Only right answer, JESUS. As I grow by grace, in the knowledge of Your holiness, I’ll be eager to do Your will, Your way because I am respectfully Yours. Amen.

Consistent Bible reading is a tough assignment! You may need help with it. Ask someone to pray for you. Get a "study buddy" – a brother or sister you can meet with regularly to share the lessons you’re learning in the classroom of your heart. In doing so, you’ll be praising and honoring your holy God, blessing one another, and inspiring each other to persevere through the difficult tests.

Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church, it includes doing God’s will His

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Life With The King

Leviticus 26:11-13
11I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt so you would no longer be slaves. I have lifted the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk free with your heads held high.

O Holy One,
I’m still mesmerized by Your greatness! Your power has left me speechless. Your love has taken my breath away. I’m awestruck by Your mercy and justice. Though You are preeminent and transcendent beyond my comprehension, I marvel at Your immanency. I’m flabbergasted that someone with Your prominence and power would leave the Celestial City to live with me.

Did I hear You correctly, Holy God who rules the universe? You will not despise me? You will walk with me? You will be my God? I will belong to You? It’s unfathomable that someone in Your eminent position would accept and adopt a beat up, burned out, unkempt ragamuffin like me. Yet, by Your grace, You invited me to live with You. Bringing me in from the dirty, noisy, sinful streets, You placed me right in the middle of Your royal family with everyone else who doesn’t deserve to be there. That’s amazing!

I cherish the distinguished position You’ve given me. Knowing that I’m loved by the greatest King of all time, I no longer have to hang my head in shame. Walking with poise and dignity, I’ll follow You all of my days because I believe Your precious promises. Jesus, You are my King. Amen.

Do you believe the promises from the mouth of God? They’re His gift to you. Write them on the tablet of your heart and remember them! It is imperative to believe the words of the King more than you believe anything else.

“The gospel is only available to people who know they are unclean.” –Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Holiness of God

Psalm 77:13
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?

Isaiah 40:25
To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

Hosea 11:9
I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.

Holy God,
There is none like You! You are vastly different and far greater than Your creatures. Who can grasp Your unlimited wisdom? Who can comprehend the depths of Your love? Your love and justice are above my limited understanding; they are holy.

Your exquisite love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens; Your faithfulness to the skies. You sit enthroned above the earth. You stretch out the heavens like a canvas, making a gigantic tent for Your home. Gazing down on us from Your high and lofty view, we must seem like molecular organisms. Yet in Your vastness, nothing gets lost or goes unnoticed. I can’t possibly appreciate Your astronomical loyalty.

Your supreme power is that of the Almighty; it is incomparable. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains – unattainable, majestic, and beautiful. Your justice and mercy are deeper than the ocean – inaccessible, pristine, and titanic. In Your transcendence, You reduce princes to paupers. I admire Your magnificent holiness.

Please dear Lord, expand my view of Your preeminence. Gasping at Your supremacy, I’ll tremble in Your awesome presence, fearing You and You alone because You alone are the Lord God Almighty, and You alone are holy, holy, holy. All glory, honor and praise belong to You, the One Great God, who rules and reigns over all the earth from heaven above. Hallelujah! Amen.

Take some time alone with God today, meditating on His holiness. Read Psalm 36:5-9 and Isaiah 40:22-26.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Married Without Shame

Isaiah 54:4-5
4 "Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more, 5 for your Creator will be your husband. The Lord Almighty is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.

Holy One of Israel,
My Creator and Redeemer,
Lord Almighty,
God of all the earth,

In reverent awe of who You are, I quietly come to You, just as I am – blind, naked, and poor; dirty, unattractive and lame; exhausted, anxious and embarrassed. I’m unfit to appear before the King of kings and Lord of lords. I come by faith, expecting to receive a miracle makeover.

Graciously, You extend Your compassion and mighty hand to touch me and take away my shame. With a stroke of Your greatness You forgive and forget all that I’ve ever done. My grief is gone because my mistakes no longer define me.

Not only do You take away my indignity, You do the utterly inconceivable – You choose to love and marry me despite my past. United with You in holy Oneness, nothing can separate us. I am eternally Yours. As Your cherished friend, You create an atmosphere of security where I can dwell and flourish. Meditating on the loving promises from Your mouth, my Bible, You change my mundane existence into glorious living color. The sweetness of Your transforming love makes my heart flutter.

I’m delighted that I no longer have to be afraid or ashamed. I’ll never again be disappointed or discouraged as long as I trust You, my Bridegroom, more than anyone else. O Holy One, please give me more faith to believe You because You are the only true Lover of My Soul. Amen.

Does shame define you? Do you live in fear of your reputation? If so I encourage you to meditate on the loving promises from the mouth of God. Do you hear what He’s saying to you in these Scriptures?
From the above Scripture, write down His amazing promises; ponder them until they penetrate your heart. They are His precious gift to you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Blessed Suffering

1 Peter 3:13-15
13Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't be afraid and don't worry. 15Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. NLT

Great God in Heaven,
I rejoice that Jesus is sitting right beside You at this very moment, talking to You on my behalf. He has the last word on everything and everyone. All the angels, authorities and powers submit to Him. Blessed assurance! So, if I know that He is in control of all things and all people, why do I worry and fret about what people will do to me?
With my eyes fixed on You, I’ll be richly blessed by:

  • Being affectionately sensitive and caring to all kinds of people
  • Living harmoniously with everyone
  • Encouraging others and rejoicing in their accomplishments
  • Sympathizing with the needs of the brokenhearted
  • Seeing and loving people as if they were my own brothers and sisters
People will see You in me when I refrain from retaliating against those who say unkind things about me. Rather than lashing out with malicious words of blame, my lips will glorify You by blessing those who seek to damage my reputation.

With my eyes staring straight at You, I’ll see the cross and the suffering You endured even though You were completely blameless. Remembering the great price You paid to restore my friendship with You will behoove me to react and respond mercifully to those who want to destroy my life. As long as I do what’s right, the shells being fired at me may sting, but they’ll be empty and harmless, embarrassing the enemy trying to annihilate me.

O Jesus, please set me apart as holy, ready to do what’s right in all situations and circumstances. With my heart at attention, in adoration and awe of Your extreme authority and power, my words and actions will honor You as Lord of my life and King of my heart, bringing glory to Your sacred name. Amen.

Who is trying to damage your reputation and destroy your life? Do you retaliate and seek revenge? It’s our human nature to want to fight back. However, your attitudes and actions show who you fear.

Rather, than fighting back with vicious words, go to God in prayer. Talk to him about your avenger. Relinquish control of the situation to Him. As you spend time in His Training Camp, Your Bible, He will begin to rule your thoughts and emotions, giving you the right strategy to fend off the stinging attacks. Surround yourself with an army of believers who can support you in the battle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Crossroads

Jeremiah 17:5-8
5 This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

My Wise and Wonderful King,
You are an amazing word artist. Your illustrations are quite clear. I see a crossroad with two distinct choices: I can fear people or I can fear You.

If I choose to depend on my family and friends to make difficult decisions, and carry me through my dilemmas, I’ll be dry and lifeless like a stunted shrub in the desert. Impoverished and spiritually weak, I won’t have any strength to be productive. My hard work will be in vain and my blessing basket will be empty.

However, if I choose to rely on You, the Divine Gardener, I will flourish like a lush green tree planted by a gaily flowing spring of fresh water. Spending time in Your Word, my Bible, will nourish and strengthen me. When I allow others who are rooted in You to be my support system, I won’t bend and break under the pressure of problems. Drawing deep into the steady Source of Living Water, Your Spirit flowing in and through me, I’ll be exceptionally fruitful in scorching seasons of intense pain. Not only will I have enough vigor to meet my own needs, but I’ll also have energy to meet the needs of others.

Thank You for Your wise instruction. At the crossroads, I want to make the right choice: to follow Your Word and Your wisdom. Please give me a greater desire to dig deeper into Your presence so that I’ll take the way of Your will during tough and troubling times. I want to confidently face challenges, believing that You will bless me with peace, protection, and power in Your holy presence for the honor and glory of Your blessed name. Amen.

The more we allow those who ridicule God to affect our thoughts and attitudes, the more we separate ourselves from the Source of nourishment. Delight in spending time in God’s Word and develop a support system of people who love God and His Word. Then, you will have the strength to stand up under the pressure of difficult people, problems and pain. You will be blessed with the delicious juicy fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. When the sweetness of God’s Spirit pours out of you, your countenance will be happy even when your heart is sad.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Turn to the King

Psalm 27:1-5
The LORD is my light and my salvation--
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD protects me from danger--
so why should I tremble?

When evil people come to destroy me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will know no fear.
Even if they attack me,
I remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the LORD--
the thing I seek most--
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD's perfections
and meditating in his Temple.

For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock. NLT

High King of Heaven,
Your Holy Word, the Bible, clearly illuminates the way for me. In the light of it, I never have to be afraid. In the dark, things appear distorted and misconstrued. I’m disillusioned, perceiving people and problems as bigger and more threatening than they really are.

Please dear Lord, may I live in the security of Your holy house every day of my life? Looking deep into Your blazing holy eyes, with my Bible open, I’ll contemplate Your powerful promises in the temple of my heart. Teach me in Your presence, to remain cool, calm and collect under pressure. At home with You, I’ll be safe from the vicious attacks of those seeking to destroy me.

O Lord, my God, I desire nothing more than to live happily in the tranquility of Your presence for the rest of my life. Please give me more faith to confidently and consistently rely on You, believing that as my beloved Father You will go the extra mile to protect and conceal me for the honor of Your high and holy name. Amen.

David encountered many frightening people and situations, but wasn't provoked by a sinful fear of man. When you're afraid, do as David did, turn to your King. Open your Bible and enter into the holy presence of our great, big God. Your perception will change when you seek His power, peace and protection. What scary person or situation do you need to trust in God for today?

If you can read this Psalm and say that it expresses the desire of your heart, then your fear is not a sinful fear of man. –Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Intimidating Giants

Numbers 13:28, 31, 33
But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. …"We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" …We even saw giants there... We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that's what we looked like to them!" NIV

Merciful Father,
You are compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving our wickedness and rebellion. Your Words remind me repeatedly how much I’m like the Israelites. You’re leading me on the journey of a lifetime. You’ve promised me prosperous blessings and a full life. I’ve witnessed incredible wonders – a drastically transformed life, miraculous healing, release from problems that have plagued me for years, freedom from addictions and much more. Yet, I still listen to and believe the naysayers. Forgive me O God, for not believing You.

I’m surrounded by powerful people who try to prevent me from advancing Your kingdom. They devour me with doubt and discouragement. They attack my abilities and adequacy. Their criticism makes me feel unworthy and unacceptable. They preoccupy me, stealing my time, talent, and treasure. Exaggerating the risk, they tell me the mission is too dangerous or too difficult. Anxiety and apprehension besiege me. Their negative opinions have caused me confusion and chaos, robbing me of my hope and my joy. O God have mercy on me for forgetting who You are, magnifying these individuals and allowing them to control my life.

Please dear Lord, set me free from the devastating control that people have on me. Fill me with more of Your mighty power so that in Your strength I’ll courageously stand up against the opposition. Help me to make right choices based on Your wisdom, not intimidation. When "big" people confront me, please turn my eyes toward You. Gazing at Your awesome majesty, I can’t look at myself or others. Focused on You, I’ll be able to march forward victoriously, claiming blessed new territory for Your kingdom, honor and glory because of Jesus. Amen.

Who must you break free from in order to move forward to the land of blessing God has promised you? Who’s holding you back, casting doubts on your dreams? Will you believe them or turn to God, trusting Him and Him alone to prosper and protect you on the journey?

Did you know that the command, "Do not be afraid" appears 65 times in the NIV Bible?

Being afraid is not wrong in itself. As creatures living in a sinful world we should be afraid at times. The problem is when fear forgets God. – Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fear of Man

John 12:42-43
42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. NIV

Eternal and Righteous God,
Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to see my faults and shortcomings. Have mercy on me! I’m as guilty as the legalist Jewish leaders of the early church. I call myself a Christian in my heart, but am afraid to admit it in front of people. I too, love the praise of man more than praise from You. The truth is, I rarely think of pleasing You.

Frightened of losing my prestigious place in the community, I temporarily hide my faith in the closet where I can conveniently access it during a crisis. People might think I’m a fool, ignoring and criticizing me, if I admit I’m Your follower, so I conceal it. I want to be liked and respected by everyone. A people pleaser, I’m too scared of ridicule to stand out and publicly acknowledge the great distance You went and the exorbitant price You paid to save me. Forgive me, O God for I have disappointed You.

I refuse to speak up, terrorized by the thought that I won’t communicate clearly and will look stupid before my family and friends. I fear being rejected by them more than I fear eternal separation from You. I admit that I’m a coward and plead with You to pardon me for being more concerned with what others will think of me than about disobeying, dishonoring, and disrespecting You.

O Lord, will you kindly change my timid heart? Fill me with fresh power to boldly proclaim the Way, the Truth and the Life right where You’ve placed me even if it means I’ll offend someone. You’re not interested in my popularity; You’re concerned about rescuing dead and decomposing lives buried beneath the rubble of trouble and shame. Whenever I open my mouth to speak, please give me the right words to confidently communicate the message of Your amazing love. O Lord, help me to get my eyes off myself and love others enough to risk my life and reputation to save them for the glory of Your name. Amen.

Are you like me, afraid to share your faith for fear of rejection and ridicule from family and friends? If so, Jesus has some strong words for us: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 NLT

In the biblical sense, what we fear shows our allegiances. It shows were we put our trust. It shows who is big in our lives.

Jesus stood in stark contrast to this Pharisaic concern. He did not show favoritism; instead he reached out to male and female, rich and poor, and all races and ages. His teaching was not done by first taking a poll of what was popular; instead, he spoke truth that was often unpopular but could penetrate the heart. – Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small

Confess your sin of unbelief. Being aware of it is a great blessing and one way to begin to remove the fear of other people.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Gaze of God

Proverbs 29:25
Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but to trust the LORD means safety.

Psalm 33:18
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

Great God Almighty,
You are bigger than my feeble mind can imagine. From Your majestic throne in the lofty skies, You look around at all the people You’ve made, watching over everything we do. You know us personally, deeply and intimately because You shaped each one of us with Your hands. As Your treasured possessions, You’ve promised us a prominent place in Your kingdom where we’ll live safely and happily ever after.

With this heavenly hope, why, O God, am I so consumed with fear of what people will think of or do to me? Forgive me for seeing people as "bigger" than You. Have mercy on me for allowing people to rule over me, giving them the right to tell me what to think, feel and do. Afraid of their thoughts and opinions, fearful that they will see my flaws and failures; I hide behind thick walls built with money, recognition, accomplishments, and busyness. God, deep within my heart, I want to be perceived as great at something!

I’m sorry Lord for fearing the eyes of other people when the gaze I ought to fear is Your holy gaze. O Lord, You know everything about me. You have searched my heart. There’s no hiding anything from You. You know when I stand up or sit, when I come in or go out. I’m never, ever out of the sight of Your penetrating holy gaze. Therefore, I should tremble in fear of You, and Your holy judgment. When Your Word convicts me of wrongdoing and I confess my mistakes, You’ll pardon me generously. Entering the safety of Your presence, You promise to change me, making me holy and unashamed by covering me with the blood of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ.

Please help me stay away from the dangerous trap set by man. O Lord, will You kindly give me a fresh perspective of who You are and who I am in You so that I can confidently live my life authentically before You and others? Please let my heart brim over with contagious joy as I step out from behind the wall of shame to claim the beauty of Your own holy name. Amen.

How is your private life different from your public life? Are you hiding behind a wall of shame; afraid of what other people will see in you? I encourage you to come out in the open, talk to God in the light of His Word, and admit your weaknesses. Entering into the safety of His presence, He will cover all your past, present, and future flaws and failures with blood of His own dear Son.
A clear conscience is a great blessing and one way to begin to root out the fear of other people. – Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small

Friday, September 08, 2006

Building Up

Acts 11:23-24
23When he (Barnabas) arrived (in Antioch) and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

My Loving & Encouraging Father,
Your stories motivate me to action! The characters inspire me to exercise the power of my believing faith. Barnabas challenges me to extinguish those attitudes and opinions that dampen others. From his example, I’m compelled to develop the skills of a fine Carpenter – the ability to build up from the rubble of wrecked lives, helping other believers become the beautiful masterpieces You created them to be.

Please fill me with more of your holy goodness and divine power so that I will demonstrate my strong faith by:

  • Keeping my eyes wide open to see Your light shining in the darkest situations
  • Tuning my ears to attentively listen to the hurts of others
  • Using my hands to gently touch a troubled soul
  • Confidently communicating Your great love and infinite mercy

I ask that You give me a spirit of discernment to clearly see where You are at work in the church. Like Barnabas, I’ll joyfully work with You to urge my Christian brothers and sisters to remain faithful to You with all their hearts. I pray that the positive changes in the people I’m influencing will shine through like a neon light leading multitudes to the Source.

O that I would be known as a Child of Encouragement, a good person, full of the Holy Spirit and faith who led many people to Your glorious kingdom. Please show me how I can be a Barnabas and build up my church family today. I will gladly set aside my own agenda to help others grow in their faith and knowledge of You for the glory and praise of my Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Who has been a Barnabas to you, encouraging you to grow in faith? Send that person an email or write them a letter telling them the difference they've made in your life.

Because that person cared enough to encourage you, will you pass on the support to another believer by building them up in Jesus Christ?
  • Think of someone with a negative perception. Find a way to compliment him or her.
  • Use your eyes to look for the good in a bad situation
  • Tune your ears to listen attentively to someone’s hurts.
  • Touch and heal a broken heart with kindness.
  • Tell someone they are loved and special to not only you, but also, more importantly, to the High King of Heaven, God, our Father.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Changed Hearts

Acts 9:26-27
26When he (Saul/Paul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

My Dear King of Hearts,
I love hearing Your stories of blessed changed souls! They give me hope and light in this dark world swarming with wicked, despicable people. If you could miraculously transform the cold, hard heart of Paul, an executioner of Christians, surely You can change the hideous, hateful hearts of people in my life.

I believe You do break the power of Satan’s strong grip and set his prisoner’s free. Your pure and perfect blood makes the foulest offender clean. You are the King who chooses, cleanses, and changes hearts!

Please dear Lord give me the courage of Barnabas to reach out to a believer with a tarnished reputation. Open my eyes to see beyond their past to their potential. Then, I’ll quietly go into my prayer closet, ask You to remove my fleshly fear, and don a cloak of courage. Full of divine power, I’ll risk my life and reputation to restore them for the glory of Your name. Amen.

Barnabas fearlessly befriended Paul, the most hideous, hateful offender of Christians. After hearing Paul, the former persecutor, prove that Jesus was the Messiah; Barnabas risked his life and reputation to come along side of him. He convinced the apostles that their former enemy was now a vibrant new believer.

Paul went on to write much of the New Testament. Wouldn’t you like to be a Barnabas? He had no idea the impact Paul would have on the church. He simply saw beyond Paul’s past to his potential and befriended him.

Today, I encourage you to look around and find someone with a great big stain on their heart and start encouraging them. You can’t imagine the impact your simple act of kindness could have on the future of the church. That person just might become a 21st century Paul with a powerful life-changing testimony leading many lost souls to Jesus while writing history. Would that not be an amazing blessing? Who will you be a Barnabas to today?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Excessive Giving

This is the first in a multi-part series on one of my favorite superheroes of the Bible, Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement.

Acts 4:36-37
36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

God of Wonders,
Your thrilling story, the Bible, is full of real superheroes – people who possess extraordinary power and abilities, along with a strong moral code including a willingness to risk one’s own safety in the service of good without expecting rewards or recognition. When called to duty, they respond immediately, eagerly and valiantly. One such hero is Barnabas, a quiet man remembered for his feats of courage and nobility. Named Joseph at birth, the apostles gave him a colorful new name to reflect his character – Son of Encouragement. A respected leader in the church, he set out to defeat his archenemy, Satan, using his strong faith, kindness, and

Barnabas is a role model to me. All around me, believers are fighting discouragement, deception and disappointment. The tireless mission of rescuing lost souls in a careless society has burned them out. Draw me like a mighty magnet to them. Full of Your extraordinary power, I will promptly step out in faith to back them up with support.

Help me to be generous in giving to meet the personal, physical, and financial needs of missionaries serving You in my community, country and world. As was the case in the early church, today’s special servants have given up their comfortable way of life and livelihood to follow You. They’re totally dependent on the generosity of the church, of which I’m a vital part, for financial support. Please dear Lord, show me who I can be a Barnabas to today. I will gladly sell some of my possessions, laying the money at their feet for the glorious building of Your kingdom. May my ministry of encouragement be so great that You would call me a Child of Encouragement because of Jesus. Amen.

In America we are blessed with excess. Unfortunately, we often use that surplus to fulfill our own never-ending wish lists, without giving any consideration to Christ’s servants who have given up their comfortable standard of living and financial security in order to serve Him. The Holy Spirit has recently made me acutely aware of servants of God who are required to raise their own financial support.

One such organization that has forever changed my life is Life Action Revival Ministries. If it weren’t for these humble servants of Christ, I would probably not be publishing Prayer Pal today. There are thousands of individuals and organizations worldwide who have committed their lives to serving the Lord and are counting on us for financial support.

From your excess, what can you sell to make a difference for the Kingdom of Heaven? Who can you be a Barnabas to today?

Excessively Contented

For many years, I was (and still am in many ways) a material girl living in a material world. I would only wear ridiculously expensive name brand clothes that I typically purchased at full retail price because I didn’t have time or patience to wait for a sale. I never thought twice about sending $700 - $800 at a time to adorn myself with pretty garments. Not only was I addicted to exquisite clothes, but also I was attracted to fine jewelry. My outward appearance determined my beauty and self-worth.

Fortunately, as I grew in my relationship with the Lord, He replaced my constant craving for food, another excessive habit, with a hunger for more of Him. Eventually, I lost a substantial amount of weight and needed a whole new wardrobe. Convicted of my compulsion, I made a needy co-worker very happy when I gave my entire lovely wardrobe to her. I replaced it with more modestly priced apparel that was equally nice-looking, and haven’t been on an extreme shopping spree in more than three years!

Just last week I had a "30% Off Friends and Family Pass" to shop at another store I revered for years. I walked in, looked at a price tag, and walked out empty handed. With my eyes open to the needs around me, I simply could not justify spending even the discounted price on something so frivolous.

Giving up my obsession for designer fashions has blessed me with the ability to help others financially. I look and feel good in my "ordinary" clothes because God has given me a miracle makeover that fits me perfectly. My self-worth and beauty no longer come from the label in my clothes; it comes from my identity in Christ.

Another one of my former fixations was collecting expensive baskets. Several years ago, the Holy Spirit broke my heart over orphans in Russia. Convicted of my misplaced priorities, I was compelled to sell hundreds (that’s right, hundreds) of my beloved baskets at auction to support an orphanage there. While I still enjoy the beauty of these treasured keepsakes, giving up my passion for them has allowed me to channel my resources to more noble causes. I’ve been blessed 100 times over for giving up my addiction!

I encourage you to take a hard look at where you’re spending your money. Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Having nice things isn’t the problem. Excessively desiring nice things is the issue. Misplaced, self-centered priorities were my hang up. I was hooked on "things". Retail therapy gave me a temporary high. As I began spending more time with God, He shined the light of His Word on my cold, dark heart. In the light of His Word, I could clearly see what mattered most to Him. Daily, I ask Him to replace my wants and wishes with a spirit of contentment so that I can be a Barnabas to others.

I’m far from perfect. God isn’t finished with me yet, but He has brought me a great distance from where I was six years. To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Taking Off Pride

Luke 18:9-14
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

My Father in Heaven,
Holy is Your name. There is no God like You in heaven or earth. I am unworthy to come into Your awesome presence. I come humbly, to the Most Holy Place as a despised and despicable person in need of divine mercy. Unable to face You, I bow down, crying out, "Have mercy on me, a sinner!" I lift my hands to You, Lord, to show my desperate need for grace!

Lord, forgive me for all the times I am full of myself like the Pharisee. I trust in my own abilities. I look down on others with contempt and disrespect. It makes me sick to think of how haughty and proud I can be of my accomplishments and myself. My heart is deceitful above all things. It is beyond cure!

Please give me a gentle and quiet spirit. Keep my heart humble and teachable. With an attitude of gratitude, I will put humility on my mind and wrap the Truth, Your Word around my heart. Covered in gentleness, I will:

  • Ensure that my actions bring glory to You and not me
  • Honor others above myself
  • Refuse to be judgmental
  • Forgive as You have forgiven me
  • Risk failure to conquer unfamiliar territory for You
  • Take You more seriously, and others and myself less seriously
  • Admit my weaknesses to a friend, and seek help, advice and prayer
Please dear Lord, teach me wisdom so that I can honor You with humility. Then, I will experience Your glory. Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but to Your name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness. Justify me through Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Pride gets the best of everyone from time to time. Do you need to take off pride and put on humility? If so, will you do it immediately before you fall?

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Challenging Test of Faith

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

John 21: 15-19
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

18Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

King of Glory!
I adore You because You are a God of second chances! Even when I fail You miserably, You redeem me, like You did Peter. O how I praise You for teaching me exactly how to test my faith.

First, I should ask myself, "Do I love You more than anyone else in my life? More than my family and friends? More than my church and my pastor? More than anyone?" I’ll show You that I love You above everyone else in my life when I take time to sit down and teach little children and new believers the stories and simple truth of the Bible.

Then, I should ask myself, "Do I love You more than anything else? More than my position, power, possessions, portfolio, plans, and pastimes?" You will know that I truly love You when I immediately put everything on hold to take care of Your sheep – those believers who have wandered from the flock and are lost, those who are entangled in the brambles of problems, pain and pressures, sickness, sorrow, and shame.

Next, I should ask, "Do I like You more than myself? More than my beauty and body, security and comfort? Am I willing to risk my life and reputation for You? Are You even my Friend?" Pondering these things makes me squirm, like Peter. Of course, Lord, You know all things and You know that I love You as much as I’m capable of loving You! I’ll demonstrate my love when I feed the starving sheep around me, mature believers, the Bread of Life, Your Word. Gladly, I’ll open my heart and home so that we can graze and grow together.

Finally, You extend to me the ultimate challenge! Am I willing to endure the cross of submissive obedience to do Your will, even if it means suffering and hardship, and things I don’t feel like doing? O Lord, with all of my heart, I desire to seek Your will, Your Way, Your Word and Your wisdom so that I can claim the crown of victory for the glory of Your name!

Thank You, O God for teaching me these things! Now, empower me by the Holy Spirit to put my faith into practice so that in my life, Lord, You’ll be exalted and glorified. Amen.

Jesus was instructing Peter how to guard against neglect. He was saying, in essence, "I want you to forget about your failures and how far you drifted from me. You’ve come back to me now. I’ve forgiven, forgotten and fixed you. So, it’s time to get your focus off your doubts, fears, failures, and problems. And the way to do that is to minister to the needs of my people. As my Father sent me, I’m sending you."

Is there a new believer or child in your life? Take time, sit down and talk to them about Jesus. Tell them the stories and simple truth about the Bible.

Identify one hurting or lost believer in your flock and tend to their needs immediately.

Spend time fellowshipping with other believers, but don’t just go for the grub, share what He’s given you