Sacrifice

Hosea 6: 6

For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

I have been thinking about Lent a lot this year. Often, we think about what we might give up for Lent. Some people give up a particular food. For others it might be giving up a sport or recreational activity or even television for a time. Those sacrifices are about moving things out of the way which may interfere with devotion.

In the same vein, but perhaps the other side of the coin, I have been thinking about what we might pick up rather than what we lay down. I very much believe this is the wind of the Holy Spirit and the calling He is issuing to us. I have had several people speak or write to me about their Lent experience for this year and it is exactly what I have been thinking about. So, let’s think about what we can pick up for Lent this year.

The first thing many of us will think about is an increase in prayer. Prayer not only changes circumstances, it changes us, and I very much believe it is an extremely healthy activity.

Second, maybe in your time with the Lord you feel Him leading you to spend more time in the Word. Oh, hallelujah! You know I love that. I know that when you spend meditative time with the Word, it grows you. Problems receive answers. In fact, you might even find answers to problems you didn’t even know how to pray about. The Word is restorative and invigorating.

Third, speaking of meditative time, I hope you will consider spending some quiet, meditative time with the Lord every day. It is how you hear from the Lord. It is how I find out what to write about and what to write. When you give time to hearing the Lord, it is amazing how loquacious He can be.

How about singing or writing. Journal what you hear the Lord speaking or write to Him your thoughts. It is very fun to record your dialogue. When you begin to write your thoughts, He chimes in and directs those ruminations. Write that down! Sing a song to Him. Did you know that Dad and I have a song? Do you remember when you were young and falling in love? Most couples have a song that became important to them during the courtship. Imagine my surprise when one day Dad told me to sing “our” song. I said, “I didn’t know we had a song.” Immediately a song came to my mind and my response was, “Oh.” If you and Dad don’t have a song together, get one. Which one do you want to sing to Him?

I am sure you can find other ways to pick up something for Lent that will serve your relationship with the Father. As you see from today’s verse, He really is not looking for sacrifice but rather relationship. He wants you to get to know Him better and better so that you can trust Him fully. That is what we can take away from Lent this year.

Healed

Psalm 107: 20

He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

There is so much nuance and richness in this verse that it is a bit like eating a very rich food. Let’s begin with “word”. To get the richness from this verse, you need to connect this verse to John 1: 1 & 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God sent Jesus to us as the great healer. He is the divine physician and heals all who come to him, but how does he heal?

This may be where we trip up at times because, though we accept Jesus as the healer, we don’t understand how he heals. We, therefore, cannot come to him in the fullness of his office of healer. Some of us believe in divine healing. This is when a prayer of faith is offered and renders one completely healed. One prayer, perhaps with the laying on of hands and even anointing with oil as seen in James 5: 14, will “restore the one who is sick,” (James 5: 15). We see this many times in the Bible, especially in Jesus’ ministry. This type of healing still works today, and people are getting healed by the prayer offered in faith all over the world. That is not God’s only method of healing, though, and not the only method Jesus brought with him. However, this first avenue of healing ministry should not be ignored. Read James 5, verses 14 through 16 and do what it says. Seek out someone to pray for you, “for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!” (V. 6 TPT).

When the scripture says God sent His word and healed them, it has a double meaning. Jesus is the Word and Jesus’ healing ministry is what I discussed in the paragraph above. There is, however, Jesus as the living Word. Soaking in the Word of God has healing virtue. Not only is our faith fed by ingesting the verses on healing, but the whole of the Word has healing power in it. Living in the Word; reading it, meditating on in and thinking about it brings creative, healing power to every cell of your body. Because God is the creator and Jesus the healer, every moment spent consuming the Word brings creation and healing energy to your body. The Word has power to heal every situation, every hurt, every sickness. So, meditate on the Word and let its restorative quality saturate your body.

Tomorrow, I will share some other ways God heals.

Abiding Freedom

John 8: 31 – 32

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I wish to draw your attention to the two statements Jesus makes in this one sentence. Although there are two thoughts, he tied them together in one sentence. That is because He wanted us to understand that the two ideas are tied together.

First, if you want truly to be a disciple of Christ, then you must abide in his word. Now abiding is not a casual once in a while visit to his word. To abide in his word means to take residence in, to remain. Another definition is to submit to. If you want to be his disciple, then you are going to have to take up his word and live in it.

Secondly, if you are his disciple, then you will know the truth. Now, how do you suppose you are going to come to know the truth? Through his word, of course. The Lord will lead you to the truth and wisdom you need through his word. Then you will be set free because you will have the truth as it relates to your particular situation.

So, since these are causal statements let us look at this backwards going from the effect backwards to the cause. The end effect is that you will be free. Do you want to be free? Free from the burdens that have tormented you? Freedom comes from knowing the truth. Truth comes by being his disciple. You are his disciple if you abide in his word. Therefore, the beginning of your freedom is HIS WORD. It all begins and ends there because he is the living word.

Milk

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.

Alive

John 1: 1, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

The reason I send you a scripture each day is because I believe the Word of God has the power to improve your life. The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is not just a collection of writings by a bunch of dead guys. The Word is Christ. He was the Word and was with God and He still is the Word. He is life and power.

You see, too many people think the Bible is just a book. But to Christians it is so much more. We can understand it at great depths depending on our own level of development. As we grow, we understand it to be a “how to” manual on how to live in this earth, a book of promises, our covenant, and it is the sword of the Spirit. The more we grow and learn the more we recognize it as vibrant and animated. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4: 12a). The sword of the Spirit is not some dead thing. How much good would that do us? It is alive and viable even to the separating of joints and marrow (Hebrews 4:12b).

To those who believe the Bible is just a dead book they will only be able to get theology and philosophy from it. But, for those who understand that it is alive and that it is part of the trinity in the person of Jesus Christ, then it is life and hope and power and salvation. It is the light in dark places and deliverance in the storm. It is the answer to life’s problems and the herald of the new life.

Do not let yourself be deceived into devaluing the potency of the Word of God and the power that it can have in your life today. Grab hold of it in Spirit and truth and let God’s Holy Spirit lead you into all truth and into victory. Live your life on the Word of God and let it breathe life into every area of your life. It is not just a book. It is the life, the light and the way.

Show Me

John 14: 23

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.

I don’t know where I first heard it said but this statement has always stayed with me, “Don’t just tell me you love me, show me.” That is what I hear when I read today’s verse from Jesus. Don’t just tell me you love me, show me by keeping my word.

Many people identify themselves as Christians but then there are some who are actually trying to live the Word. Now, that is an entirely different matter. Keeping Jesus’ Word means that first you need to read it. Okay, we lost a few there. You guys read the WORD of the Day every day. You are doing something that we can’t get a lot of “Christians” to do. That is to partake of the Word every day. This is a first step. One cannot keep Christ’s Word if they don’t first take it.

By “keeping” his Word, Jesus meant that we should do what his Word says. If he says, “Fear not” then we must learn to trust in him. When the Word says, “Pray without ceasing,” we have to become people who pray, and often. We are told to roll our cares over to Him which must mean that we should not “take” care. Do not judge and forgive your enemies aren’t suggestions but rather requirements of love.

“If you love me, he says, “you will keep my word.” So, we must challenge ourselves to learn what his word says and then do it. I am not trying to convince you it is easy to follow the word but we have him to help us and all things are possible with him.

In Him

Psalm 19: 11        Passion

For they warn us, his servants, and keep us from following the wicked way, giving a lifetime guarantee: great success to every obedient soul!

We all want great success, don’t we? In this, the eleventh verse, King David points out that all that he has written in the previous ten verses comes to a head here. In verse ten we learned that nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking God’s living words. Why? Because they warn us, keep us, bring us success with a lifetime guarantee. Do you see how this flows together?

God’s living words, understandably, have life in them. That life, which actually is Jesus (John 14: 6), has success and prosperity built in. Look at Jesus’ life. Do you remember how he recruited his team? He said, “Follow me.” And they did. How is that for charisma? That is success. He didn’t strive or fret. Success was built in and guaranteed for life.

I find that sometimes we balk at language such as “the wicked way.” Can I just say that we can reframe that as we read it to prevent our stumbling? The wicked way isn’t just about sinning and no one, including Yahweh, thinks you practice sinning. His words, His living words lead us in the “right” way. Remember verse nine from yesterday which said that every command from the Lord is right? So, His commands, His words lead us in the right way. Now follow this chain one step further – they lead us in righteousness. Okay, don’t stumble here either. Righteousness is not the same as holiness. We are talking about being in the right place with God, being in your right place. When you follow God’s words, instructions and commands, you end up in the right place. That is how simple righteousness is. You have heard me quote this scripture many times, “He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5: 21 Tree of Life Version). This means that we have become the righteousness of God, right? That is what is says. It says something else too, though. We are the righteousness of God in him. In whom? In Jesus. Our righteousness is in Christ Jesus. So, if we are not in him, are we the righteousness of God? No. It is only in Jesus that we are righteous. Going one step further in the logic today. Who is Jesus but the Word? Therefore, we are right back to this verse from King David. God’s living Word keeps us righteous. We are in the right place when we are in Jesus. We are kept from the wicked way and preserved.

All it takes is an obedient soul. We must actively involve ourselves with the Living Word who is the Christ our saving grace. It is so simple a child can do it but incredibly complex in the mechanics of the miracle God has wrought for us in Jesus. Let’s keep it simple though. Seek the Lord. Seek the living words of God’s Living Word. He is the miracle of our guaranteed success. There is no striving, no stress, no worry. There is only Christ and him crucified. In Him you have all you need, all you desire. In Him – those are words to live by. Amen.