Righteous Life

Psalm 112: 1 – 6

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment. For he will never be shaken; the righteous will be remembered forever.

Today’s passage shows the characteristics and benefits of a life lived in reverence to the Lord. It describes the life of the person who loves the Lord. Blessing and prosperity adorn his life and he is prosperous in all his ways. It also shows his personality traits, traits which are gained through living enamored with God.

The person who loves God is a righteous person. That does not mean he is holier than thou. It means he is in right standing with God. Our righteous standing with God is part of the miracle and part of the mystery of Jesus’ victory. If I boast in my righteousness it is only because of what Christ has done for me. Though we didn’t earn it, that righteousness entitles us to a benefits package. I think it has a price too. We are to trade our life in the world, and any benefits it may have, for a life in Christ. We give up our place in the world for a life in him. It appears as a sacrifice but once you have transitioned you realize that you gain far more than you give up. I find this is a process. We are beginning to glimpse the great joy and benefit of living in Christ. The more we give up of ourselves, the more we gain. That is just like our Father. His kingdom makes no sense to the worldly mind.

This life in Christ has a transformative impact on our personalities. Now, that will cause some people great consternation. “Do you mean I have to give up who I am to be in Christ?” No, not really, and then, absolutely yes. The laying down of our lives becomes a pleasure, a freedom rather than a sacrifice. And truthfully, you are not giving up who you are but rather the imperfected you in exchange for the glorified you. You will still be you but the 2.0 version, and then 2.1, etc. You are evolving, transforming, coming out of your chrysalis as the beautiful butterfly which was always in your DNA. This transformation is reflected in today’s passage. Please look at this language again, “He is gracious and compassionate and righteous, . . . [he] is gracious and lends.” You can measure your level of transformation by this quote. As the transformation takes place, you will find yourself more generous, compassionate and gracious. It strikes me that graciousness is listed twice. The repetition must have significance.

I was just thinking about how we bless and care for others and Father blesses and cares for us. The blessing must flow downstream. Jesus wants us to live intertwined with him so that he can take care of us and has told us that we are not to have care about our own lives. We are to care about others. Once our minds and spirits are free from worrying about ourselves all the time, and thinking about ourselves, then we are able to hear the Lord communicate with us about the needs of others. It really is a great joy to be used of God to bless someone else. It is an honor to be trusted with even a small fragment of Jesus’ ministry.

Blessed is the person who loves and reveres the Lord. Blessed and to be envied is the one whose life is intertwined in the Christ. May it show in our actions. Let God’s name be lifted up and praised because of the generosity and caring of His children.

Immersed and Intertwined

John 21: 1 – 8

Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

After Jesus died and was resurrected, he appeared, or manifested himself, in the flesh, to his disciples. That is an interesting study in itself, but not where I am going today. What I wish to point out today is the difference in John and Peter. Both are renowned disciples who are two of Jesus’ best friends but their approach to him and to the world is vastly different.

First, let me clarify something which tends to challenge people. In good writing, the author never uses personal pronouns. In other words, they don’t use “I”. The author is not supposed to be writing about himself or herself but rather about a larger context. In truth, this has changed with blogs and social media. It is one of the changes I had to embrace, though hesitantly, in writing a personal devotional. So, John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Okay, proprieties taken care of.

Second, people think this is an arrogant moniker. No, it is just the opposite. John is saying to his readership, and every other person, that his only value in the world is that Jesus loves him. It is a statement, or rather a reference, of great humility. “It’s little old me. I am no one but for the grace of Jesus’ love which is unearned for I am unworthy of his kind intention towards me. It is only by his benevolence that he loves me, nothing of my doing.”

Okay, now you begin to see inside John’s heart. Though he entered the ministry of Jesus as a Son of Thunder, he became the love apostle. He is the apex teacher on the relationship aspect of Christianity, teaching us that our love relationship with the Trinity and, indeed, with each other, marks our faith above all else. When you compare his letters with those of the other writers you will find they are unique. They reveal the integration with Father, Son and Spirit which I write about frequently. I got it from John.

So, John’s heart became tender. He learned to live and walk with Jesus. He learned to engage his heart even above his mind. His spirit became sensitive to the Holy Spirit and he received remarkable revelation out of that intertwined relationship with the Trinity. The whole book of Revelation is one remarkable experience that John enjoyed with the Holy Spirit. So, all this is to show you who this man became. I guess in a few words I would say of him, he became one with the Spirit.

In this story you see the sensitivity of his spirit to the things of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. When Jesus was standing on the shore, it was John whose spirit recognized him. Of all the disciples, it would be John who knew Jesus when others did not.

Now Peter, Peter was a man of action. He was strong willed, perhaps a little hard-headed, and his faith had feet. He did something. He was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14: 29). When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and removed the ear of one of the soldiers (John 18: 10). This story finds Peter jumping out of a boat again. When John said to him, “It is the Lord,” Peter bailed out.

Both men leave us with good examples. John transformed himself into a spiritually sensitive person who could see and hear the Holy Spirit. Though Peter lacked John’s spiritual sensitivity, he was always quick to take action. That action may have at times been rash, but Peter was not going to be found sitting on his hands. If nothing else, he was going fishing.

Two models of faith – both give us insight and hope for who we may become in Christ.

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.”

Private Place

Psalm 25: 14              Passion

There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.

There were several verses I thought of using for today’s selection before I settled on verse fourteen. For example, in verse one, David again, declares his trust in God. I could have written a lot on these words from verse three, “For how could anyone be disgraced when he has entwined his heart with you?” I’ve written quite a bit in the last few years about being intertwined with Jesus. It seems I was not the first person to be convinced on that idea.

Verse fourteen holds such promise and paints such an encouraging picture that it eclipsed even the intertwining. Although . . . isn’t there the inference of intertwined hearts in “lovers of God.” This does not speak of a far away, detached adoration. This “private place” is a love nest where those who love God gather with Him to share our joint passion. That passion is a love for all that God loves. We will gather around His Word and He will share His passion with us. We learn what is important to Him and He reveals the secrets of His promises. His love for us abounds in gifts and the treasures of His heart. He longs to have more people with whom to share them. In this private place with Him, He reveals all. It is His desire to reveal the secrets of the universe and in this private enclave, He can do just that.

The coolest thing about this private chamber is that it is open to whom ever desires to enter in. He does not have a gate keeper whose function is to keep people out. All who love Him, whose heart is intertwined with His, may freely enter and partake of the glories of His Heart. How cool is that? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this earlier. We could have been hanging out in the secret place for years. Now we know and only our own hearts can prevent us from lounging in the private place with God.

Look into your heart. Your passport to the revelation room is right there. Enter in and find the answer to every question you have. Receive the revelation of all His promises. He wants to give you all these revelations so you can enjoy the fruit of all His benefits. Come – hang out with God in the private place of your heart. Come into the garden He has set aside just for people like you where all the secrets of the universe are being revealed daily. Your spot has been reserved.

Radiant Joy

Psalm 19: 7 – 8                    (God’s Word)

The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul. The testimony of the Lord is dependable. It makes gullible people wise. The instructions of the Lord are correct. They make the heart rejoice. The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.

Well, who said we had to proceed to the next psalm today? This is our journey, we can go as we please and there is just too much in Psalm 19 to choose only one verse to share.

I wish for you to do me a favor, though. Re-read the verses, slowly. What do they speak to you? This is really about following our Father’s leading in your day to day life. The first thing I think of when reading that His teachings are perfect is the Bible. His Word gives us life lessons that are so good, so perfect that they restore our beaten down souls. They give us new life. His teachings are renewal to our souls. That is good news. Pick up your Bible, read your Word of the Day and you are ingesting soul reviving wisdom. Are you ever worn out or weary? Here is the boost you need.

What about “The testimony of the Lord is dependable?” The NASB says it is “sure.” God’s recitation of the facts is sure, stable, reliable and dependable. It is something you can stand on. The Passion Translation reads, “His laws lead us to truth.” You can count on His testimony for it will always lead you to absolute truth. I would define His testimony as everything He has ever said whether that is something recorded in the Bible or something He spoke personally to you.

His instructions make our hearts glad. If there was ever a better testimony, a better reason to follow His instructions, I don’t know what it is. Following the Father’s instructions, His directions, pleases our soul making our hearts light, joyful and happy. There is a way out of stress filled lives. There apparently is a way to live with a joyful heart. That way is to inquire of the Lord and follow His instructions. People sometimes think of God as bossy or as a task master, but can’t you see that it is just the opposite. His instruction exists to make your heart light, even care free for He has said to give Him all our cares.

This is the part I really wanted to get to though, “The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.” Doesn’t that sound great, but what does it mean? Radiance is usually associated with light. That sounds like, God’s command is light. It shines upon us lighting our way and rescuing us from darkness. Have you ever had a challenge and said, “I am in the dark about this?” Well, no longer do you need to walk in darkness, confusion or ignorance. His way, His command is light unto your feet lighting your path. His commands lead you in the way you should go. They are radiant sonshine. They make your eyes twinkle with gladness and comfort. The Passion Translation rephrases this better than I can. About His commands it says, “they challenge us to keep close to His heart.” Wow! That is an entire sermon unto itself. Listen, though, what it says about the radiance of His instruction: “The revelation-light of his word makes my spirit shine radiant.”

There is the secret of life right there. Can you take that in? It is so massive that it is elusive. Here is Christianity and Judaism boiled down into a simply stated but intricate and complex idea. Walking in Him, with Him; living our lives intertwined within as we daily seek His wisdom, His ideas and His solutions, is the very essence of a healthy, glowing spirit. You know about health for your body. You may know something about health for you mind. This is spiritual health. His revelation, that revelation we glean by reading His word and by talking with Him is spiritual tonic. It is life and well-being. Your spirit will radiate His love, joy and glory when you intertwine your life with His. And, your light will be seen by others because this kind of radiance cannot be hidden.

Night and Day

Psalm 16: 7 – 8

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I have to dedicate today’s Word of the Day to my friend Dr. Charity Kayembe (https://www.glorywaves.org/) who has taught us to pay attention to the guidance the Lord gives us in the night. God uses dreams to communicate with us at night as Dr. Kayembe explains in her book, Hearing God Through Your Dreams.

I think this shows God’s passion for leading us. He doesn’t leave us out in the cold, on our own, trying to forge our way through life’s blizzards. He wants to make our lives less challenging by directing our footsteps. Jesus lived every day of his life walking in step with the Father. The reason this ministry’s slogan is “Intertwined with Jesus” is because I believe it epitomizes this synergy between our lives and Christ’s. In these two verses, David points to a life which exists, at all times, intermingled with the Holy Presence.

Our beloved is with us day and night. He speaks to us in our waking hours and whispers in words and images in the dreams of our sleeping hours. He is before us continually, at our right hand. We choose to put Him in the frame of every picture of our lives. David says, it is the Father’s presence in his life which makes him unshakeable. The God’s Word translation reads, “When he is by my side, I cannot be moved.” David’s level of resilience came from keeping Yahweh present at all times. It is not a skill everyone developed but you can certainly see the fingerprints of God on the lives of people who have chosen to live in stride with Christ every hour of the day, and night.

Let the Lord be your constant companion. Listen to the still small voice speaking in your ear daily and be attentive to the messages in the night. This I know and can attest to, God is speaking to you. The needful thing is to learn how to listen.

FOOL!!

Psalm 14: 1

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

I remember the first time I heard this verse. It was back in the 80’s and Kenneth Hagin was preaching. Some man said to Hagin that there was no such thing as God. Hagin said something like that he was glad to meet him because he saw him in the Bible. Then Hagin quoted him this verse. I wonder how the guy reacted.

It’s true though and if you believe the Bible is true then you will appreciate that to refuse to acknowledge the existence of God is foolishness. At the time I heard Hagin tell that story I thought it was funny. I still do. There is, however, a great deal of tragedy in those few words. It is a tragedy greater than anything Shakespeare could have ever imagined; the death of a human soul.

I find it remarkable that anyone can, in honesty, can say there is no God. The evidence of God’s hand is everywhere. How can one even see a forest and deny the existence of God? The bigger question I have, though, is what meaning does this verse hold for us? It is simply an evangelical verse, or does it speak into our lives?

I think this verse can speak to us too! Does God exist in your job or business? What role does He play in your family? Does He exist in your day to day life? Is He there when you are taking out the trash or cooking dinner? You see, I think the answer to the question is that we are fools to the degree we do not invite God into every aspect of our lives. I know it is a challenge. It is something I am still learning to do. This is not about recrimination but rather growth. As we grow in our intertwining experience with God, we become less and less foolish. There is absolutely nothing, nothing, that you do in your life that is not fertile ground for time with your Father and God. He would love to be so intricately involved in the affairs of your life that you would miss even a moment of His absence. This is a thing to which we can aspire. It is the hallmark of David’s relationship with God.

So, today, when you go to the grocery store, stop and pump gas, when you fix dinner and wash the clothes, but especially when you tuck your children into bed, leave some room for Dad. Take Him with you. You are going to find that the more you do this, the more joyful your life will be. And we all want you happy! Be blessed!