THANKSGIVING

 

THE BEGINNING INTERACTION BETWEEN GOD AND HIS CREATURES

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.18.59 PM…FATHER, in Genesis, chapter three, is the account of the first human lapse from You and godliness into sin and lostness (ref#56, p13, “The Fall”). Adam and Eve were deceived and sought to decide what was good and evil for themselves disregarding Your direction and in the process determining the destiny of their descendants (ref#56, p13, “The Fall”). But, immediately You, in mercy, altered Eve’s affections away from satan to Yourself (ref#56, p14 [Gen 3:15]). You addressed the snake: “I will put enmity between you and the woman…” (Gen 3:15 ESV).

FATHER, in Your endless mercy You made Eve hate satan and so, I, too, hate satan. Though I sometimes love his ideas, I detest him. It is true that when I find out what I naturally love is provided by satan, I bristle, quickly desiring to be back in fellowship with You (ref#15, [Gen 3:15]). Disliking my enemy and all that he does helps me turn to You. I don’t want him to win. It’s a competition and I hate to lose. Thank You for putting love in me for You, and hate in me for satan.

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CONFESSION

THE BATTLE OF SANCTIFICATION

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.09.00 PM“Believers find within themselves contrary urgings. The Spirit sustains their regenerate desires and purposes, but their fallen instincts (the ‘flesh’ obstruct their path and drag them back. The conflict of these two is sharp. Paul says he is unable to do what is right, and unable to restrain himself from doing what is wrong (Rom 7:14-25). This conflict and frustration will be with Christians as long as they are in the body. Yet by watching and praying against temptation, and cultivating opposite virtues, they may through the Spirit’s help ‘put to death’ particular bad habits (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5)” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1650, “Sanctification: The Spirit and the Flesh”).

FATHER, I learn the severity of my battle from the Apostle Paul in Romans 7. How humble You make me when I realize I can do nothing right and must depend on the SPIRIT to rescue me.

My plight may be pathetic but I can always be rescued. The SPIRIT has the victory as I cling to Him. “The Lord will draw me to himself away from every pernicious work actively opposed to that which is good, and will keep me safe and sound for His kingdom, the heavenly one, to whom be the glory forever and forever…” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p507, [2 Tim 4:18]). Life may seem as if I am tossed too and fro by overpowering waves, but forever under me is Your everlasting arms (Deut 33:27).

Because of Your great rescue, FATHER, I want to be pleasing to Your penetrating gaze. I want to be habitually keeping with solicitous care all Your commands (ref#37, p571, [1 John 3:22]). I don’t want to summons the SPIRIT only when I feel an overwhelming battle coming. Guide me FATHER, to walk continually with the SPIRIT so You can continually keep me (Gal 5:16).

ADORATION

 

COVENANT OF GRACE

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.58.27 PM“…after the story of the fall in Genesis 3 is the story of God working out in history the amazing plan of redemption whereby sinful people could come into fellowship with himself” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p519).

FATHER, as Your first covenant (the “covenant of works”), Your “covenant of grace” promises that You will be my GOD and I will be Yours (Jer 31:33). But, in this covenant You introduce a “mediator”—one needed for me if I’m to uphold my end of the covenant.

JESUS CHRIST fulfills the conditions of the covenant for me; He reconciles me to You, FATHER. It is called, the “covenant of grace” because it is entirely based on Your grace—Your unmerited favor toward me (ref#63, p520).

The “works covenant” of following rules is intended to lead me to faith in CHRIST. In attempting to keep all the works rules, I realize I can’t and thus need a Savior. Even the Old Testament people were not saved by following laws set down by You, they were saved by looking with faith forward the work of JESUS who was to come (ref#63, p519). I am saved by looking back in faith to CHRIST.

From faith to faith, You say the righteous shall live by faith (Rom 1:17). FATHER, I pray You give me such a strong faith that I continue all my life in faith. I want to prove I have faith by following Your direction in accomplishing deeds and actions of obedience to back up my faith (James 1:17). This is the result of You enabling me to keep the second covenant—good works that pour from a changed heart. FATHER, I want no more of the first covenant of works where I continually frustrate myself by trying to please You with my good deeds.

“…I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him….I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God…” (Gal 2:19-20 MSG).

CHRIST is the only one perfect as You are perfect (Matt 5:48). Thank You, FATHER, for sending CHRIST and seeing to it Yourself that I keep Your “covenant of grace.”

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

ALL PRAISE

11/23/08

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.51.49 PMThe darkness and cold—it is as if the night will never end—as if I am imprisoned. It’s so present even without any unpleasant thoughts of the future to push me toward discouragement. Without GOD I would not find escape.

GOD chooses to speak at times not of my choosing. These bleak thoughts came while I was sleeping. And at each move into consciousness I found more of these thoughts. They were not from the enemy as one would expect. They did not discourage me.

I should have written them down, but I thought, “this is nothing that anyone would be interested in.” So, I did not and now I’m thinking of the Sulumate women who hesitated to get up and open the door for her lover.

Even though I have pulled myself out of bed to come to this prayer closet early, the time seems past to record word for word what the LORD was putting in my ear. Now, since I’ve hesitated it may be that “this is nothing that anyone would be interested in.”

This darkness and cold—this living in this world is too difficult for anyone to survive. No one can walk through life down here and survive. Only GOD can keep His loved ones from complete destruction from this world.

Even His SON when He walked on this clay could not keep Himself, but depended on His FATHER. The darkness and cold are too strong for me to overcome. It is GOD who stands beside His chosen and releases them from the world’s grip. If GOD did not, we would go down to the pit.

In the night—when I’m unaware He stands by my bedside and saves me from the darkness and cold—from all that I cannot save myself from.

Always on the LORD’s lips is a “song of the LORD.” He sings constantly. I am so unaware of His saving ways that I think a “song of the LORD” is merited only occasionally. But, no, I should be singing and thanking Him continually, for He preserves me continually. I will sing continually in heaven, when my faith becomes sight and I observe His greatness. There will be nothing more important to do but to look upon His greatness and praise Him.

 

SABBATH

THE SABBATH AND ITS LENGTH

“There is a threefold rest or Sabbath spoken of in Scripture: (1) temporal; (2) spiritual, which is an internal soul-rest in ceasing from sin (Heb 4:3); (3) eternal, celebrated in heaven (Heb 4:9, 11), where the saints rest from their labors. It is the first of these, the weekly Sabbath that is here meant” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“It was designed to meet the physical, moral, spiritual, and social wants of men’ to afford a suitable time for the public moral and religious instruction of the people and the public and private worship of God; and to afford a suitable period of rest from the wear and tear of secular labor” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).

“Our duty with respect to the Sabbath is to keep it holy. God has made it holy, set it apart for holy exercises, and we must keep it holy, spending it in holy exercises” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“The quantity of time to be observed as a Sabbath of rest [is] a day—a whole day of twenty-four hours, and one day in seven….Our Sabbath is held in memory of Christ’s resurrection, and it is certain that Christ rose early in the morning of the first day of the week…the day to be kept holy is one whole day—not a few hours, while the public worship lasts, but a whole day” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“I once heard a man say about the observance of the Lord’s Day. He said he had come to the conclusion that the Lord’s Day, like the Lord Himself, was in danger of dying between two thieves, the two thieves being Saturday night and Monday morning! He said that, increasingly, Saturday night was extended and extended and blended into Sunday, and then people started their Monday morning quite early on Sunday evening. Sunday becomes just a few hours during the morning, and then we think, ‘Well, that is enough now; we have been to church once.’ Thus, our Lord’s Day has been lost between two thieves” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#185).

“Rise early, and let your first thoughts and aspirations be directed to heaven. Meditate much and profoundly on divine things, and endeavor to acquire a degree of spirituality on this day which will abide with you through the whole week” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“My advice to all Christians is to contend earnestly for the whole day against all enemies, both without and within. It is worth a struggle…” J. C. Ryle (ref#178).

SUPPLICATION

GENERAL TRIBULATION

[We all can think of a Christian sister or brother experiencing so much affliction they may not be able to pray for themselves. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

TRIALS REFINE FAITH

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.27.08 PM“Not believing that God has a wise purpose for every event helps conceal our idolatries” John Piper (ref#124, p115). And usually the idolatry is wanting things to be like they were before the tribulation John Piper (ref#124, p115). The idol is ourselves—our agenda—desiring to make ourselves happy.

Just as You humbled the Israelites in the wilderness and let them go hungry, You have created this adverse circumstance to test ____ —to see if ____ has faith enough to trust You (Deut 8:2-3). FATHER, I would never pray You send ____ tribulations, but I do pray You always strengthen (his/her) faith. How else can (he/she) prove to You that (he/she) really trusts Your wisdom, grace and power John Piper (ref#124, p115)?

____ is actually to be envied in situations where You discipline and instruct (him/her). Not only do You test (him/her), but You give (him/her) power to keep (himself/herself) in the midst of the adversity (Ps 94:12-13). Tribulation struggles are much better than no struggles at all.

FATHER, may ____ trust You completely in this trial—to the point of rejoicing in it. Let (him/her) consider it a matter of “…unadulterated joy [without any admixture of sorrow]…” whenever (he/she) “…falls into the midst of variegated trials.” Make ____, FATHER, through the testing of (his/her) faith, be a recipient of “…patience which bears up and does not lose heart under trials” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p539, [James 1:2-3]).

THANKSGIVING

CARRIED THROUGH TRIBULATION

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.22.46 PM“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps 42:11 ESV).

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” (Ps 57:1-3 ESV).

FATHER, when my body reels from fright and I can’t stop the reaction though my thoughts tell me that everything is fine.  I collapse in tears at Your feet.  I know full well that there is nothing in this world to be frightened of with You brooding over every circumstance You give me.

I know I must use my faith to span the gap between how I feel and what I know.  But, I thank You that You make up what is lacking of my faith (Jer 3:22).  You send out Your light and Your truth; You give me a lantern, compass and a map so I can find You (Ps 43:3).  You are the only one who can fulfill Your purpose for me, I can’t.  You must come form heaven and save me (Ps 57:2-3).

And thank You that You do send Your truth and light to me.  You meet me with all I ask You for (Ps 59:10).  You bring me out from under the burdens (Ex 6:6).  You send out Your steadfast love and faithfulness to me and make me praise You again (Ps 57:3).

CONFESSION

 

HOLLERING HELP

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.02.07 PM…FATHER, forgive me for allowing my natural thoughts to ravish my body. I know I can’t successfully navigate my circumstances so I worry, and worry hurts me instead of helps. O LORD, turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am afflicted.

The troubles of my heart are multiplied; bring me out of my distresses (Ps 25:16-17). I need You to lead me toward taking control of my mind; give me the wherewithal to renew it (Rom 12:1,2)—stopping natural thought and turning toward You.

I admit my lack of strength in my present circumstances (Ps 71:9). In the multitude of Your mercy and the abundance of Your loving-kindness, hear me and answer me. Rescue me, do not let me sink, I plead (Ps 69:13-15).

In You, I take refuge. In Your righteousness deliver me and liberate me; incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be to me a shelter to which I may continually come, for You are my fortress (Ps 71:1-3).

My human mind attempts to accomplish its will with brute strength, but LORD, I ask You to strengthen me by Your SPIRIT so that my strength is accomplished with no physical exhaustion but with spiritual strength that is a glorious inner strength (Eph 3:16).

LORD, I know You will not restrain Your mercy from me; Your streafast love and Your faithfulness will ever preserve me (Ps 40:11). You say in Isaiah 41:10 that You will strengthen and harden me to difficulties, yes, You will help me. You will hold me up and retain me with Your victorious right hand. Because You are my help, I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works (Ps 145:5). Help me now set my thoughts on all You have done for me.

All Your deeds, LORD, are awesome. They pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness; they sing aloud of Your righteousness (Ps 145:6-7). What hope and peace Your Words have brought to me. What joy they will always bring, for CHRIST is eternal and my renewed mind is a result of being dead to sin and alive in CHRIST—a position that You graciously and freely give me (Rom 6:9-11).

I will attest with vigor—my peace comes by being alive in CHRIST. I can do all things by being in CHRIST who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

ADORATION

 

COVENANT OF WORKS

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.49.35 AM“Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners….” (Rom 5:19 NLT). “This divinely chosen arrangement whereby Adam determined the destiny of his descendants, has been called the ‘covenant of works,’…” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p13, “The Fall”).

My natural-born condition of wanting to decide for myself what is good or bad is the reason this covenant exists. FATHER, I am prone to establish for myself a collection of activities I consider good and bad and then work to do the good. Left to myself, without Your input, FATHER, it makes sense to me that if I work at being good You will bless me; this is the “covenant of works.” My part is to be as good as I can, Your part is to bless me and invite me into heaven—I hope—if I can just do enough good to satisfy You…

 “…the human heart would much rather offer to God its works, no matter how costly, than humble itself to confess sin. That is the reason why man is always predisposed to go the way of works;…” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#100, p 80).

You, FATHER, established the “covenant of works” with Adam and Eve in the Garden. You were to be their GOD and they were to be Your people; You gave commands and they were to follow them. And You warned them about the consequences if they did not follow Your commands: “…you shall surely die’” (Gen 2:17 ESV).

The “covenant of works” requires obedience (Lev 18:5); perfect obedience leads to life (ref#63, p517). But now, as with Adam, if I break this covenant “the punishment…is still in effect…death” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p517-518).

Since I do not have the ability to obey every one of Your commands, my only choice is to give up directing my own life and put myself under the Lordship of CHRIST. If I trust Him to fulfill all Your covenant requirements for me, then I shall live forever and never die.

For this I am humbled, LORD GOD; JESUS is my escape from the covenant of works that I cannot keep. You are Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider.

“O HEAVENLY FATHER,

Teach me to see…

that Christ does not desire me…

to live in self-confidence in my own strength…”

The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p57).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

REREADING THE JOURNAL

6/16/09

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 3.05.08 PMNote: This is an amazing entry as I reread it today and perceive how close I was to the LORD then and how now I’m not. How encouraging. How I yearn now to be that close again.

***

I awoke disdaining the thought of doing anything in the natural realm with my own strength. I have no more tolerance for human actions. My desire it to look for supernatural activity—like answered prayer.

GOD works in power—that would be in the supernatural realm where I have no affinity. I’m content to not do any more of my usual Christian activities. Instead, I want to sit back and see GOD work. How I’d enjoy just making much of Him.

Could I be a John-the-Baptist? “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples” (Isa 62:10 ESV).

Here in Isa 62 You have defined Your purpose, LORD, that I shall be called by You, “my delight” (Isa 62:4)—a holy one redeemed of the Lord. You shall call me “sought out—not forsaken” (Isa 62:12).

This is Your purpose and with it You have promised to fulfill it. May I, for Zion’s sake not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch (Isa 62:1).

Show me Your striving with me. Bring Your reward. You promised. I will wait for my righteousness so that I will go forth as brightness—as a burning torch.

My arms hang limp. I have no strength. My good deeds are as filthy rags. I admit I distance myself from You by my good works. Only You can make me as bright as a burning torch.

My work is not Your work but my work is preparing Your way. Let me go through, go through the gates; preparing the way for the people; building up, building up the highway; clearing it of stones; lifting up a signal, broadcasting to all the world: “Look! Your Savior comes, ready to do what he said he’d do” (Isa 62:10-11).

I will give the Lord no rest until he completes His work, until He makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth (Isa 62:7). I will give You no rest, I will not be silent. Day and night I’ll keep praying, and calling out and reminding You to remember Your promise.

I wait with no hope until You fulfill Your promise. Make my righteousness goes forth as brightness, and my salvation as a burning torch.