The One Thing

Psalm 51: 11 – 12

Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.

I really had a hard time choosing which verse to send today. This psalm is good right from the beginning. You would really be blessed to read the psalm in its entirety. How could I not choose these two verses, though, especially verse eleven where David writes explicitly about the Holy Spirit.

There are many things which distinguish David from other Biblical personalities, but David’s most unique characteristic is that he knew about the Holy Spirit. There just isn’t much about the Spirit in the Old Testament and those who had a concept still had little experience. Of all the Old Testament writers David stands out for his walk in and with the Spirit. In fact, often I think he is a good example to us of walking with the Spirit.

We see from this passage that David was well aware of God’s presence with Him. He enjoyed an intimate fellowship with the Lord. Consider then the context of this psalm. It was written from a contrite heart seeking forgiveness for what others may have thought unpardonable. This psalm follows upon the heels of David’s affair with Bathsheba and all that entailed. Yet if you read the entire psalm, though contrite, there is evidence of David’s confidence in the Lord’s lovingkindness and His immense capacity for forgiveness. David may have thought his behavior warranted God casting David from His presence but his song and prayer indicate that he understood God’s mercy to be greater than any sin.

David didn’t have Paul to teach him about God’s grace. He didn’t hear Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Where did he learn these deep concepts? I surmise that David learned directly from the Holy Spirit. Though the Spirit had not yet been poured out, he was in the earth. We find in the Old Testament examples of the Spirit alighting on individuals with resultant power and ability manifested in their life. Then the Spirit would, apparently, lift and they would return to their normal abilities. When the Spirit would settle upon an individual they would perform extraordinarily.

David experienced this extraordinary empowerment too but what scintillates about David is the daily walk he enjoyed with the Spirit. There are at least several messages hovering here. I will suggest two, you choose what to ponder today.

The first message is obvious, I think. If people from the Old Testament were supernaturally empowered by the visitation of the Holy Spirit, how much more divine power have we with the Spirit living in us rather than just settling on us from time to time? The second idea is the evidence in this psalm that David had a working relationship with the Spirit of God. While others had little appreciable understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit, David was engrossed in a daily partnership with him. David importuned the Father to restrain from removing the Holy Spirit’s presence with him.

David’s hope was in living in the presence of the Father with the support of the Holy Spirit. Joy and sustenance were in those two elements. It’s really quite beautiful when you think about it. Likewise, for us joy, hope, sustained life and power are found in the presence of divinity. In the world, we strive, powerless against the sin wrought turmoil. In the Spirit, we have life abundantly. David found something, the very something our innermost being seeks. Our search ends in the presence of the Holy Spirit. David said, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple,” (Psalm 27: 4), and he dedicated his life to doing just that. Let us adopt a similar purpose. Let us say with commitment, “One thing I ask, this I shall seek, to live all my days intertwined with the Holy Spirit.”

Building Blocks

Hebrews 11: 1          (KJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is the substance of those things you are praying for. Faith is something real. It is substantive. It is not just an idea or a concept. It isn’t just theology or a feeling. It is the substance, the actual matter, that becomes your answered prayer.

My dictionary defines substance as: the real or essential part or element of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter. You see faith isn’t ethereal. It is real even though it is not tangible. A thought is real, as is a word. You cannot reach out and touch them with your fingers, but they still are real and have real world consequences. Some have said that we are the sum of our thoughts. That is a powerful statement whether or not it is true. Certainly, our thoughts greatly influence our lives. And by now we all know that our words have power. And although they are not palpable, they undoubtedly affect the substance of our lives. So it is with faith. Although we cannot bottle it, it is a crucial element in our answered prayers.

Faith is the very essence of the things you want or need. And although you will not find it listed in the periodic table it is the element which God uses to form your answers. Cast your mind back to High School Chemistry and imagine, if you will, a periodic table of spiritual elements rather than physical elements. Faith would be right up there. Maybe its symbol is Fa. Looking at the table we find that faith is the key building block for all things spiritual just as the physical elements are to the things of the physical realm. In order for us to operate in the spiritual realm we must first grasp this concept that faith is substance. It is something real. It is something perceptible, if not tangible.

The next premise we must understand is that faith is the substance, the essential building block of the things we are hoping for. So, stop right here. What are you hoping for? For what are you praying? Now picture a child’s building blocks. Instead of the letters of the alphabet these blocks have their spiritual symbols on them. You look there on the rug where are scattered all the building blocks and you see a block with Fa on it. You grab it. Perhaps you can find more Fa upon them. You collect all that you can muster and you build the first level of your edifice. As you look you see other blocks there with symbols on them. Maybe there is P. You reason, “That has got to be prayer.” Another one has Co for confession, another W for the Word. As you look you see more and more essential spiritual elements, the building blocks of a spiritual reality. You gather them, stacking them one atop the others until you have constructed something magnificent. Then you realize that it was all rather easy and fun once you realized the blocks were there and that they were for you. It is though the building blocks were in your toy chest all along, but you didn’t know they were there or you didn’t realize what they were for. Now you know, though, and armed with new information you can begin to build anything you need or want.

There is one more premise you need to understand though. Everything that exists in the physical realm first came into being in the spiritual realm. Everything you can see, touch, taste, etc. first existed in the realm of the spirit. Before the earth existed, before even the sun or the moon, God had an idea, a thought, a vision. He then created in the physical that which existed first in His spirit. Every creation of humankind was first birthed in the spirit of a person. The spiritual realm is the realm of creation. The physical realm is the realm of fabrication. Therefore, before you manifest anything in the physical realm, you must first perceive and create it in the spiritual realm. Now that you have your spiritual building blocks this will be child’s play for you.

So, we have today, opened the toy chest and let the wonder of God’s creation flow out. Perhaps you will identify some other spiritual building blocks other than the ones I mentioned and can write me telling me their spiritual symbols. As you begin construction, though, remember that Fa (faith) is the essence of those dreams you are building. It is a crucial element and must be included in every construction project. Without it, you are building a house of cards. Faith is the substance; it is the raw material of your hopes and dreams. Dream big dreams. Live large but begin with faith.

Prayer Power

Luke 1:10

And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer.

Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States. For those of us who live here, we should first offer up a prayer of thanksgiving that we can have a National Day of Prayer. Let’s also pray for all those around the world who cannot openly pray to Yahweh. For all of you who read this devotional and live outside the United States, will you consider this your personal invitation to join with us for a day of prayer? There is no time or space in the Spirit because we are united in the Spirit.

Maybe you will pray with me that we will become a people known for prayer. I think we don’t pray as often as we might because we have lost confidence that our prayers are effective. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” or so Brother James would have us believe (James 5: 16). Maybe we doubt our righteousness, or maybe we just don’t think we have enough spiritual “oomph” to make a difference. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like our prayers are going to impact a situation. We talk about the power of prayer and we’ve even seen how prayers have turned a situation around, but the confidence leaks out of us when it comes to our prayers. Well, there is help for that. It is called unity. As we unite in prayer, we become stronger. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” (Ecclesiastes 4: 12 NIV). Together we can do amazing things! Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 18: 19).

The spiritual realm has power. However, we are not well versed in operations within spiritual sphere. When you speak words, they actually have energy. Researchers have already shown that thoughts create an energy signature. They aren’t just wisps that float off into Neverland. Likewise, there is spiritual substance in our words and thus, in our prayers. Even if you feel like you don’t move a lot of spiritual weight, in our combined strength we really can move mountains. And, don’t forget that it is really our heavenly Father doing the heavy lifting, but we have our part as well. He takes our prayers and the spiritual energy they create and molds them into the answers we seek. The long and short of it is that when we combine our energy, we are a powerful team. So, even if you feel like your prayer is weak, in its combination with other prayers the power is enormous. It only took a few men in Wales, devout in their prayers, to bring about a revival.

So today, I invite you, no implore you, to join millions of other people in prayer. Pray all day. Every time you have a minute break, offer up one more prayer. Pray for the people at your place of employment, at your church, at your children’s school. Pray for the leaders of those institutions as well as for the leaders of your country. Pray for the people in the media who deliver news, movies, and music. Ask the Lord of the harvest to touch hearts, bless and heal. Pray for the clerk behind the cash register and the teller at the bank. There is no limit to the number of prayers or the number of people who need prayer. Pray for me.

May God, our Lord and Love, bless your every prayer and may he bless and touch every person and institution for which you pray today. May the blessing return to you a hundredfold for every prayer you offer. And, may His blessed grace unfold itself upon all people that all may see that Jesus is Lord and the savior of our souls. Let the love of our beloved God and Father be seen and demonstrated. I pray that God bless you and keep you in the folds of His embrace.

Gracefully Saved

2 Corinthians 6: 21

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We have become the righteousness of God in Christ because Jesus took our sin onto himself. There is a song that, although pretty, kind of bugs me because it fails to reflect this great thing that Jesus did for us. The singer says in the chorus that he is just an old sinner saved by grace. Well, which is it? Are you an old sinner or are you saved by grace? You cannot be both. Now the song is trying to make a point about God’s grace saving us from our sins, but we need to be very clear on this point in our own minds. You cannot be both a sinner and saved by the grace of God. Jesus took your sin onto himself so that when God looks at you, he sees the righteousness of Christ. Jesus took away our sin. That’s what killed him. It wasn’t Roman soldiers. The wage of sin is death (Romans 6: 23). The sin of the world hit Jesus while he was hanging on that cross. It caused a separation between him and God because God cannot be in the presence of sin. That is why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46). For the first time in his life, he was without the presence of God. But Jesus endured that, even becoming our sin so that we might become his righteousness. That is why I don’t like the chorus of that song. Even though I know that the author meant to glorify God and has the very best intentions, it just does not represent the true nature of God’s grace and that is that we are fully and completely washed clean of our sin through the forgiveness of sin.

Don’t go around wearing your sin like some old garment. Throw it out with the rest of the rubbish. To do less makes Jesus’ sacrifice of lesser effect. It is like putting him back up on the cross every day. He died once for all; for all people, for all sin. You are not an old sinner anymore if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior. His blood has washed you clean, and you are a new person in him, the old having completely passed away (2 Corinthians 5: 17). You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. That is what the Bible says. That is what God sees when He looks at you. You have been washed clean by the shed blood of Jesus the Christ. Glorify God in what Christ has done for you.

Priestly Compassion

Hebrews 4: 15

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize without weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Two ideas strike me about this verse: Jesus’ compassion and his sinlessness. The two work together for our good. Jesus was in all manner tempted just as we are and yet did not sin. He knows the temptation of sin and is compassionate towards us. He knows exactly what we go through. Yet he was able to face those temptations and turn away. His success should bring you hope rather than condemnation because if he did it (and he did) then he is able to help you withstand the pressures of temptation.

When you talk to Jesus about some habit or challenge you are facing, he is able to understand completely. But do not stop there. Go on to ask his help in overcoming the problem. He overcame so you also can overcome. Tap into his strength and wisdom. Don’t stop at his compassion. Move on to his power. Even though we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our struggles, that does not mean we are supposed to fall to them. Our high priest is an overcomer and intends to lead you into overcoming as well. Let Jesus show you the path to your victory over temptation and every other challenge of life.

Come, Gather

Psalm 50: 5

Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”

By now, most Christians have embraced the idea that God called us to Him so that we might be in relationship with Him. That relationship is one of kinship, it is a bond that is sacred to God. He seeks those who have covenanted with Him through sacrifice, forged a bond through sacrifice and He gathers those to Himself.

When we read the word “sacrifice” in the Old Testament, we usually think of lambs and bulls and goats offered on the altar. In verse fourteen we find that the sacrifice God was looking for was not the blood of animals but rather a sacrifice of Thanksgiving. In the Old Testament, there were prescribed offerings, but it isn’t the meat or the unleavened cake that God spoke about in this verse. He was looking at the thankfulness with which a person brought the sacrifice to the altar. The sacrifice is an offering of being grateful and expressing that thankfulness. In the Old Testament, that offering was not words alone but an actual offering that was taken to the temple and laid upon the altar. I personally like the outward expression. In other words, “Father I will tell you how thankful I am for what you have done for me but let me show you as well.” A sacrifice without an accompanying sentiment is empty. It is dead works. However, words can be empty too. I like an act being tied to our words and our sentiment of thankfulness. In modern times our offerings tend to be money. There are other ways to make a thanksgiving offering. If we gave something else of value, that would be a memorial before God too. The key is that it is an offering that means something to us.

There is a New Testament idea that we can drape over this covenant by sacrifice concept. It might be that when you hear the word “covenant” you think of the term “blood covenant.” A blood covenant is forged in blood and shows the serious intent of the parties as well as its immutable nature. It is a blood covenant that New Testament believers share with the Father, a bond so strong that it cannot be broken. The lamb was slain upon the altar and the blood from that unblemished, innocent lamb binds the Father to us in tethers which no one, not even God Himself, can sever. That sacrificial lamb, his flesh, his blood binds God to those who receive it as their thanksgiving offering.

If you think about it, the debate about who killed Jesus is resolved here. I sacrificed him; you did too. We are the ones who shed the blood of the innocent lamb and through him made a blood covenant with the Father. We are the ones who come to the altar and reap the reward of the thanksgiving offering. We are the ones who claim that blood. We put him on the altar as our thanksgiving that the Father loves us and was willing to slay the lamb in a joint act in order to forge that imperishable covenant bond between us. The blood of the lamb isn’t only a sin offering and a guilt offering. That perfect lamb is the thanksgiving offering of a grateful people. God gave us the perfect lamb so that we could come into spotless, unblemished union with Him, so that we would enter and enduring covenant with the Holy One.

Now, daily, the Father gathers His beloved to Him. He calls to those who, through sacrifice, have made a covenant with Him. So, there are two ideas I would leave you with. Gather to the Father. Hear His call to you for fellowship and togetherness. Second, don’t forsake the act of giving a thanksgiving offering. I think you will find it fulfilling. You can always give one just to memorialize the perfect sacrifice made for us, but you may also like to send Father a special thanksgiving offering just to express your thanks when something has gone well for you. I think it will touch the Father’s heart but just as importantly, it will boost your heart so that you will answer the bell which is ringing, calling us all to gather around Him.


1 Peter 2: 2 – 3

Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Yesterday, we looked at the foundational scriptures John 1: 1 & 14. They are bedrock, that upon which we build. Today’s passage is one of the bricks which is laid upon the foundation. Now that we know that Jesus is the Word and that the Word is living and powerful, we are instructed to desire it like babies crave milk. It is our sustenance. It is that which gives us life and causes us to grow. I also like the Passion Translation version of this passage. It reads, “In the same way that nursing infants cry for milk, you must intensely crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. For this “milk” will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life— especially now that you have had a taste of the goodness of the Lord Jehovah and have experienced his kindness.”

Has the Passion Translation hit upon a goal of yours? Do you desire to “grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life?” I hope your response is “Yes,” and I believe it is, otherwise you would not read a devotional daily. One thing I personally like about this devotional is that it is based on the Word. To me that means the even if you don’t read the part I write, you get a bit of Word every day. You have a verse that comes right to your inbox each morning and you can spend the rest of the day pondering it and finding what it means to you. That is really the key piece. Every day I seek God on what verse He would have me send and what He would have me write but then we get the bonus track. That is the part He conveys to you directly. The Word of the Day may be your jumping off point to a whole day of communing with Him. I love that, and I am always interested in hearing what the Lord has said to you.

When God gave me this to do back in 2006, He had His reasons for beginning it with His Word. I like to think of it as receiving two words from the Lord each day; the first one is His written Word and the second is what He gives me to write. I hope, pray and expect the part that I write to be a rhema word every day. Often it is an idea or nuance which is new to me and that is always exciting. I have journaled verses before just between me and Father and received revelation on it but then when I used that same verse for the Word of the Day it came out completely differently. That tells me that He is on the job writing and supervising.

You can take the verse I send you and journal it with Dad. He will tell you things He did not tell me or sometimes He will expound on what I sent. He has more to show you and more to say and every Word we receive from Him helps us grow and mature. That should be a goal each of us desires. The only way to gain that maturity is the sup on the milk of the Word. So, get as much milk as you can. Crave it like newborns crave milk.