THANKSGIVING

ETERNAL BLESSINGS

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 4.10.20 PMYou have called me according to Your purpose, and predestined me to be conformed to the image of CHRIST JESUS (Rom 8:28-29). Your words do not return to You void (Isa 55:11). No matter how You infuse Your goodness into me, it cannot be snatched away.

When misunderstandings come in relationships and I am deeply hurt by trusted friends who have been a great conduit for Your mercy to me, Your mercy remains even if the relationship is destroyed. Ultimately the relationships You work through to conform me into the image of CHRIST is of no lasting consequence —only the conforming matters. My earthly relationships will always be tainted with sin, misunderstandings will abound, but Your Word that comes to me through those relationships will remain forever (1 Pet 1:25).

FATHER, my life here is fluid—forever changing. I ebb and flow as Your great seas. But You are my foundation—never changing, never. Anything that is spiritually attested is eternal. As You subject me to fluctuating circumstances of this earth, I thank You for protecting the Christlikeness You have already poured into me and the Christlikeness You will continue to pour into me.

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CONFESSION

PANIC

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 4.03.06 PM …if…you will not do all my commandments…then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic…” (Lev 26:14-16 ESV).

FATHER, as naturally and surely as Your lightening starts forest fires and hurricanes produce devastation, disobedience brings panic. The cause will always yield the same results. Whether I am presumptions or naive about disobeying the result will be panic.

FATHER, it is frightfully easy to move myself from Your rule back to operating under my rule. Not paying attention is enough to do it. Problems start when I go days not realizing I’m hearing nothing from You to obey. When I’m not in Your Word, or in accountable fellowship, or in honest prayer, I am not exposed to Your commands and thus, not obedient to them. But, ignorance of the law is no excuse whether it’s civil law or Your law. Forgive me for walking away from You.

Whenever I deduce I can’t handle a present or upcoming circumstance, FATHER, remind me that it is because I have drifted away from Your care and power over my life. Call me back, blanket me in Your presence, cause me to delight again in obedience. Only You can dissipate panic.

ADORATION

 

I AM A PLANT IN HIS GARDEN

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 10.23.16 AM…FATHER, CHRIST, as the Son of GOD, did absolutely everything for Your sake, but as the Son of Man, He did absolutely everything for my sake. For my sake He took my nature upon Himself (1 Tim 3:16). “He took on…a life of prayers, tears, fears” and suffering like me but unlike me He took on all this in perfect obedience “with cheerfulness and delight” (Heb 10:7-8) (ref#35, p249).

For my sake He was obedient to death. He dedicated Himself as a sacrifice—to be killed (John 17:19). What a fearful cup he tasted so I might never have to taste it (Matt 26:39). FATHER, it was a cup full of the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), Your wrath (1 Thes 1:10), and most of all the loss of Your presence (Ps 22:1). He left “his glory, his riches, his ease,” His very life, “to undergo loss, shame, wrath, curse,” and death for me (ref#35, p250). For me!

His interest is that I should be His—that I become a partaker of His glory (1 Pet 5:1). And now He proves His love by His continual care in all my deliverances and afflictions—in all my conditions of sinning and suffering. I am “the apple of his eye, his jewel, his diadem, his crown” John Owen (ref#35, p250).

I am a plant in His garden while the unbelieving world is wilderness. Even if I am “the meanest, debased, weakest and poorest believer on earth,” CHRIST prizes me more than all the rest of the world (ref#35, p251).

“Lord, unto Thee from my full heart my prayers ascend;

To thee will I sing praise….

And for Thy loving grace and truth which hath no end

Will thank Thee all my days” Arthur S. Way (ref#38, p468, [Ps 138:1-2]).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

ASKING AGAIN FOR THE SPIRIT

4/27/2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 2.42.08 PMAm reading notes about the Sabbath again and realizing that I have slipped in my determination to keep it holy. It’s a little discouraging. It certainly tells me that I cannot order my days in any spiritually productive way.

As with most everything, I must drop to my knees to tell GOD once again that I have failed—failed to be led by His HOLY SPIRIT. Once again He proves to me that there are too many opportunities in earthly living for me to choose what is good for me and glorifying to Him.

I may establish a righteous pattern but it never is set in concrete. Autopilot kicks in without my notice and before I realize the righteous pattern has morphed. Life is too fluid for me. So GOD spends a lot of time calling me back to Himself.

Reviewing, rehearsing, remembering is so necessary. But even knowing and striving to accomplish spiritual renewing is impossible. May I never accept personal pride in all my routines of renewing myself, for such does not keep me in my FATHER’s will.

Nothing keeps me in my FATHER’s will but my FATHER. His HOLY SPIRIT knows the way I should go. Not only do I need help from Him for my inadequacies I know, but for all I can never think of.

SPIRIT, I thank You for Your surprising words in my life. You tell me remarkable secrets I do not know (Jer 33:3). So, how long has it been since I asked for the FATHER for the SPIRIT (Luke 11:13)?

As far as keeping the Sabbath goes, it is not that I have forgotten about keeping it holy; I review what I know the dawn of each Sunday. The problem is that I’ve forgotten some things and the things I do remember I have ceased purposeful preparation. The slide into disobedience is so slow I don’t notice—I don’t notice until I am reminded again.

FATHER, thank You for reminding me today. I sat at the table and spread out my gathered notes with the goal of organizing them so I might write out more blog posts on the Sabbath. You have allowed me to organize but also You have been kind enough to dispatch Your SPIRIT to remind me of my slipping.

What a great GOD You are! It’s all-praise. How the culmination of all events leads to all-praise. The keys of the piano are not the only place I can praise You. The keys of this computer can draw me to it, too.

SABBATH

BE HOLY AS GOD IS HOLY

“…keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezek 20:20 ESV).

How serious is GOD about His image-bearing creatures keeping His Sabbath?  We are reminded again and again of GOD’s holiness in the Old Testament law books and how He commanded His chosen people to be holy as He is holy.

“You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Lev 20:26 ESV).

“Holiness…refers first and foremost to the essential nature of God. The term holy means ‘set apart, unique, and distinct,’ and holiness in humans ordinarily refers to their being set apart for service to God…Human holiness is the imitation of God, i.e., becoming and acting like Him” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p242, [Lev 19:1-4]).

Starting with the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 all the way to the end of Deuteronomy the Holy GOD lays out, at length, commands for His set-apart people to follow. He is very serious about His people keeping His commands. This included keeping the Sabbath. So how serious is He?

“While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day….And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses” (Num 15:32,36 ESV). “The mode of his execution underlines the importance of observing the Sabbath” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p290, [Num 15:32-36]).

Is the New Testament as serious about keeping the Sabbath? CHRIST is called holy. And GOD continues to call Christians to holiness:

“…in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy…” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV).

“…it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16 ESV).

How set-apart, unique and distinct are we? On Sunday are we seen as different than the worldly people around us? How can the worldly ones tell we are holy?

“So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God” (Num 15:40 ESV).

SUPPLICATION

CHRISTIAN

[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST.  Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves.  Fill the name in the blanks.]

BREAD OF LIFE

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.55.10 PM“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35 ESV).

FATHER, not only does Your Son take away ____’s sin, and become (his/her) righteousness, but He continues to be active in (his/her) life. CHRIST must daily feed (him/her) (John 6:56). ____ must live off Him. You were the bread of life to JESUS, as JESUS must be the bread of life to ____ (John 6:57).

SPIRIT, awaken ____ to understand how to wait for Your instructions. Satisfy (his/her) desire to possess the planted-firm faith that JESUS had and not panic with thoughts of situations present and future. Empower ____ with a cool head void of (his/her) own planning and empower (him/her) with ears that wait for Your directions. You, SPIRIT, will supply the bread from JESUS to (him/her). Quicken ____ to open wide and let JESUS feed (him/her) (Ps 81:10).

THANKSGIVING

PRAISE NEVER CEASES

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.50.30 PMThe only thing I can possess that lasts eternally is praise to the Triune GOD. I feebly praise here on earth and it encourages my soul magnificently but in this world I am side-tracked and burdened with so many things…

But when You, FATHER come to take me out of this world, I will lose these burdens and be glorified to a state where I think only of praising You. Even now I realize that a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:10). What joy it will be to be continually serving You as the sons of Levi served in Your earthly house (1 Chron 23:32).

King David assigned 6,000 Levites to have charge of the work in the house—to be officers and judges. He also assigned 4,000 gatekeepers and 4,000 to offer praises (1 Chron 23:4-5). I would love to minister night and day to You…

You are able to fill me with joy on this earth by satisfying me with the ability to embrace short spurts of praise to You—for this I am exceedingly thankful. But, what greater joy will I experience when I am able to think of nothing else but serving You!

CONFESSION

 

NO MORE GUILTY CONSCIENCE

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.41.06 PM…MY COMPASSIONATE SOVEREIGN, I easily discourage myself by believing I am sin because I am the one who is doing the sinning. But to the contrary, it is sin that uses the member’s of my body to work through (Rom 7:17).

CHRIST dwells in me (Gal 2:20) as well as my sinful nature (Rom 7:17,20) (ref#56, p1624, [Rom 7:14-25]). Help me LORD, to never forget that You have made me a saint yet because I’m a mortal creature I still am susceptible to sin. I am a saint who still has a sinful nature that indwells me. So, regarding sin, “…no longer is it I who do it, but the sinful nature which indwells me;…” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p363, [Rom 7:17]).

Remind me that possessing the nature of CHRIST I am no longer willingly habitually disobedient. It is I, in CHRIST, who makes me desire very much to be obedient even when I’m knowingly sinning (Rom 7:14-25).

And, even as I’m sinning the blood of JESUS cleanses all guilt from my conscience (Heb 10:22). So I should never feel guilty for sinning! You say, “…THEIR ERRORS AND THEIR BREACHES OF THE LAW WILL I SURELY NOT REMEMBER ANY MORE’” Arthur S. Way (ref#38, p242, [Heb 10:17]). There is absolute forgiveness of sins (Heb 10:18). I have been washed clean with pure water (Heb 10:22). Help me remind myself of that often, FATHER, for satan loves to bring my failures to remembrance.

When sin entangles me (Heb 12:1) and uses me for its evil purposes—when You, LORD, witness me aiding and abetting evil—when I’m caught in the crime of offending You—how exceedingly sorrowful I am for my participation in assaulting You. Sorrowful yes, but my faith in CHRIST eliminates guilt.

Again, it’s not I who sin but the sinful nature that still indwells me. Help me always make my confession thorough and quick so I may have the freedom again to praise You. I am always in CHRIST and clean (Heb 10:22). Do not let me wallow in self-pity because I find myself involved in sin. Keep me always from a guilty conscience. And encourage me with the fact that while sin still accompanies my new identity eventually my “new identity will result in the final triumph over indwelling sin (Rom 6:2-14)” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1624, [Rom 7:15]).

 

ADORATION

GRATEFUL WORSHIP

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 10.44.07 AM…FATHER, it must have seemed like a dream, too good to be true, to the exiles given permission to return to Zion (Ps 126:1). Or when the angel woke Peter in prison and his chains fell off. He thought he was seeing a vision it was so unreal to him (Acts 12:7,9).

With the work You’ve done in my life, FATHER, I should have the same reaction.   As I remember Your holy activity toward me, I should feel like I need to pinch myself.

Do not thoughts of You set my hearts vibrating? Is there not a sound of song in the distance? If I ponder long enough, doesn’t the music grow louder?

Nehemiah dedicated the wall around Jerusalem with gladness, with thanksgivings, with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres (Neh 12:27). The people gathered offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for GOD had made them rejoice with great joy (Neh 12:43). Doesn’t GOD make me rejoice because of all He’s done?

FATHER, stir me to rejoice; rivet my attention to the rising music in my soul which is the response to Your blessings to me. Lift my eyes to You—You, Who did all for me. Oh soul, rejoice in the LORD, again I say, rejoice (Phil 4:4). Shout for joy (Ps 66:1). In grateful worship, break forth into joy oh my soul!

“Break forth into joy o my soul. Break forth into joy o my soul,

In the presence of the LORD there is joy forevermore,

Break forth, break forth, into joy, o my soul” Composer Unknown.

And LORD, continue to do great works in me. I need Your rain in my drought-stricken life (Ps 126:4). I am like Isaiah looking at You high and lifted up (Isa 6:1). Realizing I am Yours, yet unclean (Isa 6:5). I weep because of my sin, I cry under Your discipline. I plant my crops in sin’s entanglement and despair but in the end I’ll shout hurrahs at the harvest (Ps 126:5).

With pleas for mercy I shall come, and You will lead me back to You (Jer 31:9). So my heavy soul will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. (Ps 126:6). For all this, LORD, I shout again for joy in grateful worship to You,

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

A CHEERLEADER FOR THE SABBATH

3/1/2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.22.17 PMAnother Sabbath came and went with nothing to report. All is quiet on the Sabbath front—not even a lone chipmunk running across the dry landscape. Seems I’ve just begun making my Sabbath holy and now everything is dried up. The path forward has evaporated.

I’m wandering. I identified it this morning. Taking my mind back through recent history, I see I’ve been moving away from my daily routine.

I could blame the start of drifting on no longer lighting a candle in the prayer closet. (My closet scent is no longer manufactured and I haven’t decided on a new fragrance.) I no longer get up ½ hour before the start of my day to spend it with the LORD. Since my daily “work” is with the LORD, I have rationalized closet time not a must-do.

But, my “work” has lately been too much replaced with other obligations making me a little nervous about my approaching blogging deadlines. I’m even allowing myself to entertain the stressful thought of not having anything to post about the Sabbath.

I keep saying to myself I’ve got to get back organized but just as the day ends and I’m too tired to do my exercises, I find I’m still not keeping up with my “work.”

But then there is GOD—the One Who surprises me and I react in irrepressible joy.  So He started with me today.

I had not met Him in the prayer closet but was, out of habit, reading Scripture while eating breakfast. (There is something to say about habits. For me, more often than not, Scripture over breakfast is the door He comes through to meet me.)

So there was Joshua, the Old Testament leader of Israel after the death of Moses. He knew he was GOD’s chosen:

“And the LORD commissioned Joshua…’Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you’” (Deut 31:23 ESV).

With the LORD’s words fresh in his ears, he led the people across the Jordon River and into their first battle victory over Jericho by specifically following the LORD’s commands. Then Joshua sent men to spy out the next town, Ai. He anticipated another battle victory as the spies came back with an optimistic estimate of the challenge.

Not. They were soundly defeated (Josh 7:4). Why? “…there was…the apparent negligence of Joshua…in failing to seek divine direction for the Ai campaign…” (ref#125, p404, [Josh 7:10-12]).

I thought, “how quickly he forgets.” But then I have forgotten GOD, too, by moving away from my daily routine.

Before I finished breakfast I received a text from my friend. Periodically she will text me saying she is praying for me. Today I text back a prayer request about my retreat from the LORD. So now I have made myself accountable therefore I am spurred to address my drifting. I smile as I understand the LORD’s orchestration of my situations.

***

Now it’s 4:30PM. I have just come from my prayer closet. Wondering why it is I ever resist the morning time with my FATHER. I have emerged totally psyched—totally refreshed—enough to get me through the rest of the week, I’m sure. I had no idea I was so spiritually cracked and dry until my DADDY recharged me. He has given me enough strength and faith and reason to get back on schedule. Boy, do I feel better—and I didn’t even know I felt bad!

And, moreover, I know that rejuvenation is one of the very important reasons GOD initiated the Sabbath. Indeed, because of His leading today I can again be a cheerleader for keeping the Sabbath.

“…The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 NASB).