Psalm 51: 10

Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I have been taken by Psalm 51 this week. It seems every word is speaking to me. Today’s verse, taken in context is about restoration from a fall. David sinned and the guilt of it weighed upon him. He seemed to think He needed God to create a new, clean heart within him.

I think we can also view this passage more broadly and that is the way it has affected me. What I hear in this, rather than a washing because of sin, is a remaking in His image. I feel like we all encounter those days when we sense the need for a reworking of our hearts. That doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong with us but rather that our desire to commune with the Lord has increased and that increase is beyond our current boundaries. Our hearts call us forward. They sometimes launch us out into the deep where we are at once overwhelmed but then almost immediately comforted by His presence. It is the being in over our heads which is often the most comfortable place to be because we are fully reliant on Him. There is no illusion that we are able to care for ourselves or to do what He has called us to do. While that may initially be alarming, ultimately it is the place of greatest ease. It is where our hearts long to be.

In our heart of hearts, the deep place of our being, we long to be in over our heads with God. Our spirits ride on the waves of His support. While this can be frightening to our worldly self, our spirits crave the adventure. We want to run and jump into the water which is far over our heads. Then we marvel as the Lord holds our hand and leads us, walking on the water, to the far shore.

Renew us Father, so that the desire for you is all encompassing. Revive the zeal within us which once sustained us. Show us your glory and be with us all.

Life in the Shallows

Matthew 13: 5 – 6            NIV

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Last week I wrote to you about venturing out into the deep water. This was a metaphor I used to encourage you into a deeper life with Christ. I said that the reason why it is important to encourage believers into the deep water is because so many are suffering and failing. This passage shows this truth dynamically.

Today’s verse selection is from Jesus’ parable of the sower. Jesus said this is the foundational parable. It shows us the impact of the seed on various types of soil. The seed is the Word of God; the soil is our hearts. We have the opportunity to prepare our soil ourselves. The condition of our soil determines how successful the seed will be. If we have no value for the Word of God, we are like seed which was sown along the path. It does not take root (v. 4). If we are shallow, if we don’t launch out into the deep things with God or place a high value on the things of God, then we experience lack and loss. Today’s verse reveals that we wither and die.

I wish this was all metaphorical but I see these truths manifested in real life every day. Do you see that shallow Christians are living in more peril than those who are going deeper? In the parable above, because the soil was shallow, the plant had no root. When plants or trees have shallow roots, then they are more easily toppled in the storms. This is what Jesus was trying to teach us about life. if we live a shallow faith, we won’t have strong roots either. When the storms of life hit, we are easily felled. 

Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” (v. 9). There is a reason why I and other ministers are beckoning believers to come in deeper. There is safety, security, success and peace in the deeper water and much more besides. Shallow Christians are in a better place than non-believers but the more immersed we are in the Word and in God, the better our lives will be. We want your life to be anointed and blessed; we want to see you protected from the storms. It is not for ourselves that we call to you. It is for your sake. 

As a final thought consider this – when a hurricane or other strong storm threatens, large ships head out to sea, out to the deep water, rather than remaining in the harbor. They are safer in deep water than they are at shore. Mmm . . . there may be something there. He who has ears, hear.

Running Mates

John 15: 13 – 15

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Yesterday I wrote to you about being a deep-water devotee. There are few pleasures in this earth that satisfy like finding a deep-water running mate. I once felt so alone, like few people wanted to dedicate their lives and our conversation to the pursuit of Jesus, our Christ. I am here to say today that I am blessed. I have friends, people who want to run in the fast lane of Christian quest. 

I believe Jesus shows us a model for friendship in this passage. First of all, he calls us into friendship with him. Wow, just wow! Then he shows us the dedication he gives to friendship; that he was willing to lay down his life for his friends, i.e. you and me. However, I see another key factor in this friendship equation. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” I am not suggesting that a friend should be obedient to you. I do recognize, though, that we must be of like mind and spirit. In other words, Jesus points out to us that our way should be his way. We should run his path. We cannot really be friends with someone who is running a different path than we are. Sometimes that is sad. Every now and again you lose someone along the way. I grieve those losses but there is joy in the morning when you find a true running mate. When you find someone who is willing to delve into the deep things of Christ with you, who will respect your opinions and questions and call you in even deeper, then it truly is like finding a gold mine.

I dedicate this Word of the Day to my Deep Water friends. You know who you are and I appreciate you. I also wish to extend an invitation to others who wish to jump in the deep water. There is plenty of room in the ocean for you. Come on in, the water is fine and your new friends await you. 

Deep Water

Matthew 14: 29

And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

What is it that makes this story so captivating? Verse 30 reads, “But seeing the wind, he became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” We understand, don’t we, that Peter is in over his head? He is in the deep water. That is what makes this story interesting. What happens if Peter is in three feet of water? There is no impact, no meaning.

I believe this is a precise metaphor for life. All the important work of life is done out there where you are in over your head. This is a focus area of this ministry. In fact, I have thought about naming the Word of the Day the Deep Water Devotional. Why? There are ministries whose purpose is more centralized on evangelism. Their mission is to take the saving word of the gospel to non-Christians and help those people take the first step in becoming a disciple of Christ. Ivey Ministries is a second step ministry. Our focus is to take those folks and people who have been Christians for a long time and lead them into deeper water.

We want to give people what they need in order to grow in the Lord. I, personally, want to encourage and aid people in going deeper. Many of us have spent some portion of our Christian lives as little more than pew sitters. Or like me, you may have called yourself a Christian, believed Christian doctrine and believed in Christ but those beliefs didn’t affect you on a daily basis. I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. My grandmothers taught me about Christ when I was a toddler, for which I am extremely grateful, by the way. Nonetheless, while those beliefs were always important to me, I didn’t always live daily in the deep water. Jesus couldn’t call me to come out to the deep even because I wasn’t listening well. In San Diego, though, I ran up on some folks that challenged me to go deeper and I will ever be grateful to them. Now, I am most happy when I am way out in the deep water. I like to be in over my head. And really, isn’t this the only way to live? When I am in the deep water I have to keep my eyes on Jesus otherwise I will sink. If I am in the shallows then what do I really need Jesus for? Besides, I have found that life is soooo much better in the deep. There is more of everything out here, including grace, blessing, revelation, glory, etc.

So, my unadulterated, unequivocal purpose in sending you these Word of the Day devotionals is to coax you a little further into the deep. I know there is a cost to you. I too have to pay a cost. There is the minister that sends me looong partner letters, the occasional long sermon which we all have to sit through, and there is the occasional long Word of the Day which costs us both time. 

I want to let you know that we timed the longest Word of the Day thus far and found that most people read it in less than five minutes. Now, sometimes you may feel that you don’t have five minutes. I get that but perhaps you should read the Word of the Day on busyness. Do what is important first and you will find yourself better equipped to do the rest. Second, that is only 25 minutes a week if all of them take five minutes to read. When I break it down like this for myself I find that I decide I can do it.

I have a passion for this and I want to share this deep passion with you. I am revealing to you what the Father is showing me. We are in our last days if not THE last days and we just need more of Jesus. Look around you. Christians are falling on their faces all over. The times are challenging. We can’t skate by on a small dose of Jesus. These are deep water times. So, jump in! The water is fine. Moreover, Jesus is here to take your hand.