Friday, June 30, 2017

Just Say No

Today’s Bible Reading:  Amos 7-9; Psalm 104; Titus 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Godly Living

SCRIPTURE:  Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14 NIV)


Paul in context is instructing Titus to teach sound and balanced doctrine—the truth that salvation through Christ Jesus is available to all people; male or female, young or old, slave or free, Jew or Gentile. And as redeemed people awaiting the “appearing” (the second coming of Christ), God’s saving grace teaches us to live godly upright lives “in this present age.” Here and now we are instructed by the Gospel of salvation to say “No” to godless and indulgent lifestyles. 


Jesus Christ doesn’t just offer us eternal life someday after we have shuffled off this mortal coil as Shakespeare put it. It is not that when Jesus comes again at the end of the age that that’s when the good life begins. It is that from the moment we believe in and receive Him new life has begun. Even while we are still in the midst of this corrupt world and surrounded by “ungodliness and worldly passions” tugging at us and luring us and tempting us, we are empowered with the self control to say “No, I will not go there! I choose to live an upright, God-honoring life today and each day as long as I live this earthly life, and then eternity.” If I am preaching a gospel that only emphasizes future salvation and does not change people’s lives now, I am not preaching the whole Gospel of Christ.   


Lord, give me Holy Spirit anointed preaching and teaching that changes lives today—that reveals Your purpose for individual lives—that enables them to say no to worldly shamefulness—that inspires them to live lives that honor You and that bring meaning to them.

For Your glory and our best. Amen.  -AP

Thursday, June 29, 2017

He Answers

Today’s Bible Reading:  Amos 4-6; Psalm 86; Titus 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Prayer

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 86:7

In the day of my trouble I will call on you, for you will answer me.  (Ps 86:7 NIV)


Psalm 86 is a prayer of David, and in verse 7 he states an obvious truth: God hears our prayers… and furthermore, He answers.


On writing this journal entry I am reminded of a conversation I had with a woman just yesterday. Without going into a lot of detail, she is currently having a serious problem with failing eyesight. She told me that in this crisis she has found herself praying a lot. This is unusual for her because she also told me that she doesn’t believe in God. Yet even in her unbelief, her prayers have been comforting to her. She feels that her prayers are being heard and it is making a difference—not a difference in her eyesight, but a difference inside of her heart and mind. I was able to share with her that apparently she is discovering that she really does believe in God and He is revealing himself to her through her prayers. It opened the door to a lovely conversation about God, His love for her and the provision He has made through Christ Jesus for her to have relationship with Him.

God hears and answers prayer—even the prayers of those who think they don’t believe in Him.    


Lord, thank You for the opportunity to represent You to others. I pray for this young woman. It would be a wonderful miracle for her eyesight to be restored, but I pray for the greater miracle of the salvation of her being.

Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Passing the Baton of Leadership

Today’s Bible Reading:  Amos 1-3; Psalm 80; 2 Timothy 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Leadership

SCRIPTURE:  2 Timothy 4:1-5

1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  (2 Tim 4:1-5 NIV)


When this passage was written, the Apostle Paul was nearing the end of his life and he knew it. Paul has finished his race (v. 7), and it was time to pass the baton to the next generation. He therefore gives this charge to his young protégé Timothy—a charge inspired by God to all who will answer the call to leadership in His Church:

  • Preach the Word (other writings or philosophies must always be secondary to God’s Word)
  • Always be prepared (whether it seems to be a good time or not, follow God’s leading to share His Word with others at any time)
  • Lead patiently (be the leader God has called you to be—bringing correction, standing firm for the right, encouraging and building up those you are charged to lead, always with patience and understanding)
  • Teach carefully (be diligent that your instruction is correct, righteous, and for the best benefit of those you teach and to the building of God’s kingdom)

As history draws us nearer and nearer to Christ’s appearing and His coming kingdom (v. 1), people seem to be more and more drawn away from godly teachings and toward philosophies that say what their itching ears want to hear” (v. 3). As a Christian, I must take this charge to heart that I may keep my head in all situations, that I may endure the hardships and abuse the would heaps upon me, that I may do the work He has called me to do, just as Paul and Timothy and countless other leaders have done before me. The baton is now in my hand and I must prepare to pass it on soon.


Lord, give me the strength, wisdom and endurance to fulfill Your calling upon my life. Help me to teach and prepare men and women to whom You have ordained that I pass the baton of leadership to in the near future.
Through Christ and for Your glory. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Believe AND Change

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 25; 2 Timothy 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Repentance

SCRIPTURE:  2 Timothy 3:1-7

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
(2 Tim 3:1-8 NIV)


Verses 1-5 reads a lot like today’s society, and verses 5-6 are an indictment against a feckless, irrelevant and impotent Church. But in my reading of this passage today, it is verse 7 that has particularly drawn my attention. Paul alludes to people who are “always learning,” but it doesn’t seem to make any difference; they don’t take hold of the truth they learn; nothing changes. Essentially that is what repentance means—being changed. Paul laments the foreseeing of these, terrible times in the last days.”


I see so much of this today in the world and in the Church. I see people readily accepting and relying upon God’s grace to save them, but making no effort whatsoever to change their lives. I see “Christian” kids dishonoring their parents by disregarding what they have been taught. Sex outside of marriage has become the norm. I see people in the Church doing what they please with seemingly no conviction or remorse to change—people coming to church, hearing and learning, but not changing, and somehow thinking that’s okay. This is a wake up call to Christ’s Body! We need Holy Spirit empowered preaching and teaching that brings repentance and change in people’s lives!


Lord, help me to teach and preach Your undiluted Gospel with power and results.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.  -AP

Monday, June 26, 2017

Have You Any Right To Be Angry?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Jonah 1-4; 2 Timothy 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Judgment

SCRIPTURE:  Jonah 3:10- 4:4

3:10 When God saw what they (the Ninevites) did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

4 But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
(Jonah 3:10-4:4 NIV)


Most everyone is familiar with the story of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to the wicked city of Ninevah and preach against it. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he ran away. He boarded a ship and headed for Tarshish trying to hide from God. But God knew where he was, God always knows. God caused a terrible storm to violently buffet the ship until the sailors, realizing it was Jonah who was putting them and their ship in danger, tossed him overboard into the sea. Then God sent a giant fish to swallow Jonah whole where he spent three days in the belly of the fish contemplating that running away from God was a bad idea not to mention impossible. When the huge fish finally barfed Jonah up onto the shore covered with putrid fish belly slime, Jonah thought, “Okay God, I’ll go the Ninevah.”

Jonah bore no love for Ninevah or the people who lived there. The message God told him to preach was that in forty days God would destroy them for their wickedness. The thought of Ninevah’s destruction at least made having to go there bearable to Jonah. They were evil and he relished their demise. But then the unthinkable happened; the entire city, from the king on down to the lowest peasant, fasted and repented before God of their evil. That’s when we come to Jonah 3:10. When God saw how they had turned from their evil ways he had compassion on them and relented of their destruction.

This made Jonah livid with anger and he goes into a rant: “I knew it, I knew it! God, You are just too damn loving! These people are awful and they deserve to die! I never wanted to go here in the first place, and if you’re not going to kill them then I want to die!”

The Lord’s reply to Jonah’s tantrum: “Have you any right to be angry?”


As much as Jonah felt he had a right to be angry, the truth of the matter is that all things are in God’s hands. He created the Ninevites just as he created Jonah and the Hebrews. He is the sovereign God who will do as He pleases. That is the truth whether we understand it or not.

How often today are we just like Jonah? Do we long more for the destruction of our enemies than we do for their repentance? Is more of our rhetoric about combating those who oppose us and threaten us, than about loving them and praying for their change of heart? If God spares them, will we become angry rather than rejoicing? Do we really have faith in God even when the results seem contrary to our reasoning?

These are soul-searching questions to be honestly weighed and pondered.


Lord, may I trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. May I have the courage to stand for righteousness and against evil without hatred and judgment, but with the same love that You have.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Keeping a Pure Conscience

Today’s Bible Reading:  Joel 1-3; 2 Timothy 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Christian Walk

SCRIPTURE:  2 Timothy 1:3

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience…  (2 Tim 1:3 NKJV)


This is at the beginning of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his “son in the faith.” On writing this epistle it seems Paul was nearing the end of his earthly life (see 4:6-7):

6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:6-7 NIV)   

I like that Paul was able to state with confidence that his conscience was pure. This of course was not always the case in Paul’s life. He had been the great persecutor of the early Church. He had been lost in sin and darkness. He had seen the Light, accepted Christ and answered to call to ministry and apostleship. Now his conscience is clear. He has been forgiven of his sins and has faithfully served the Lord. 


I am grateful that at this juncture of my life I am able to state likewise. My conscience—my inner thoughts and motivations—is pure. Like Paul, this has not always been the case in my life. There have been times, even though I was serving the Lord, that my conscience was clouded with temporal longings and desires. Yet, I have come to the place of only desiring the Lord and His direction. I do not always perceive that or even do that correctly (my purity of conscience is only due to the perfection of Christ within me), but I can confidently say that my heart’s desire today is first and only toward the Lord.


Lord, thank You for the assurance You have given me in my heart. Keep me from stumbling along the way. Correct me when needed. Grant me the wisdom to recognize Your correction and the courage to receive and follow it. My desire is to worship You alone and to love people on Your behalf.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.  -AP

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life That Is Truly Life

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 11-12; 2 Chronicles 24; 1 Timothy 6

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Life

SCRIPTURE:  1 Timothy 6:17-19

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Tim 6:17-19 NIV)


Paul the Apostle offers instruction to his protégé Timothy about how he should be teaching those under his leadership. People need to realize what real life is—life in the “coming age” and life in the here and now. They are not separate; how we live today affects how we will live in eternity. Whether rich or poor, if all our hope is in pursuit of our own comfort “in this present world,” we will only be living life. But to live “life that is truly life,” we must live today in a way that carries over into the life that is to come. It is easier for poor people who have very little to hope for a better life in the age to come. But those who are blessed with wealth can become so absorbed with the pleasures and comforts of life, that they miss the hope of true life. Paul says to teach them—command them—to put their hope in God; to do good with their wealth; to be generous and share their wealth, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”    


There are so many people who have no concept of life other than this earthly life. Billions of people have been born, lived and died in the history of Earth. The truth is that being born does not mean that one has life. Jesus said, to really have life, one must be born again. To miss out on that step is to become a miscarriage, lost before full gestation has occurred, and to have never known life that is truly life. Dissenters will bemoan God condemning people to death, but to have never accepted the gift of life He offers is to have chosen the opposite of life by default. Because I do care about other human beings gestating on this planet with me, I want to be an influence for making this truth known.


Lord, I pray for my human family. Thank You for the enlightenment of truth that has become known to many of us. Help me and other believers effectively share that loving truth with those who have not yet come to realize it.
By the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  -AP

Friday, June 23, 2017

Double Honor

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 22-23; 1 Timothy 5

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Honor

SCRIPTURE:  1 Timothy 5:17-18

17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." (1 Tim 5:17-18 NIV)


Here is a directive to the church that isn’t often followed well. Those whose occupation it is to serve as ministers—especially those whose labor is that of preaching and teaching—and who are serving well in that capacity, should be receiving twice the pay. The word for “elders” (presbuteroi) here generally refers to older persons involved in the presbytery or oversight of the church. The word for honor (timees) literally means value or money paid, and by analogy esteem and dignity. Reasonable questions to be asked in this light include: If the older preachers and teachers are supposed to be receiving two times the pay, what is the rate that is to be doubled? And what age is considered elder?


Obviously Paul is not proposing a mathematical formula, but a principle that is meant to reveal attitudes and spark response. The real questions to be asked within Christian organizations are: Are we offering proper due honor to those who serve us well, and if not, how can we value and resource these leaders more fittingly?   


Lord, my prayer is not for myself as an elder pastor/teacher, but for Your Church. Those who answer Your call to serve in ministry and who carry out that calling with effective devotion, do so out of a love for You and for people, not for a paycheck. May Your Church be blessed with resources and the same giving attitudes of their godly leaders, that double honor may be freely given without undue fiscal burden. 
For the sake of Christ and by Your provision. Amen.  -AP

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Validation On God’s Team

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 8-9; 2 Chronicles 21; 1 Timothy 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Service

SCRIPTURE:  1 Tim. 4:13-16

13 …devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim 4:13-16 NIV)


Paul admonishes young Timothy to be mindful of the gift within him—a gift confirmed earlier by a word of prophecy over him as elder church leaders laid hands on him and prayed over him. According to Ephesians 4, Jesus gives gifts of office to certain individuals to serve in leadership roles in His Church:    

11 And He (Christ Jesus) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ… (Eph 4:11-12 NKJV)

Paul’s repeated references to studying and heeding doctrine (vv. 13 & 16), clearly indicate Timothy’s call to the office of pastor, teacher. Timothy had accepted the gift of the Lord to serve in this office and it was confirmed by a word of prophecy as the elders laid on hands and prayed over him. Now Paul is urging Timothy not only to not neglect his gift, but to give himself entirely to this calling; so that everyone may see” his progress in his God-given profession—that it will be evident to all (v. 15). 


This passage strikes me in a highly personal way, since I too am one whom the Lord has called to ministry. I too have had words of prophecy spoken to me by church leaders who have laid their hands on me and prayed over me. Timothy was young and perhaps a bit unsure of himself. Perhaps he felt that people didn’t recognize or accept him for the gift bestowed upon him. Thus, verse 15 is both an admonishment and an encouragement.  Unlike Timothy, I am not young at this juncture of my ministry. Yet I’ll have to admit that since moving to Portland and out of full time pastoral ministry, I have identified with feeling unrecognized and unaccepted. While Portland has been a place for me to meditate and give myself to further study (I have completed my BA and my MS degrees), I have often felt sidelined from direct active ministry. I often have felt like an old third string quarterback who never gets any playing time; few people even know I’m on the team.  Therefore, as I continue to press on toward the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus in my life (Ph 3:14), I have to trust that He will cause my progress to become “evident to all.” 


Lord, thank You for the encouragement of Your Word.  I humbly ask for Your guidance, provision and favor as, even in retirement, I pursue future service as a member of Your team. 
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Noble Task

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 6-7; 2 Chronicles 20; 1 Timothy 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Service

SCRIPTURE:  1 Timothy 3:1

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. (1 Tim 3:1 NIV)


Leadership is not for everyone; not everyone is gifted for leadership; not everyone is called to a position of leadership. It is true to say, however, that those who do aspire to leadership in Christ’s Church are desiring to take on a virtuous vocation. Note that Paul is not saying that the person who desires leadership is noble, but that the position of leadership is noble. In the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “overseer” is episkopees. Unlike the gift of leadership, proistamenos, a more general term for leadership (Romans 12:8), episkopees denotes leadership specifically in the Christian church such as the office of a bishop or, other designated positions of oversight in the church.


There are some roles in life that individuals are gifted for by our Creator. There are some roles that Christ clearly calls some people to fulfill. As noted above, Paul does not state in this passage that those who are “called” to leadership in the Church desire a noble task, but rather he who “sets his heart on being an overseer” desires a noble task. The language here seems to be an extolling of the leadership positions in the Church rather than necessarily a revering of the persons who take those roles. So it isn’t wanting to be a leader that is noble, it is the role itself that is a noble task. In my opinion, to take such a leadership position in Christ’s Church, one should not just personally want the responsibility, but should clearly know that Christ has called them to pursue the role. 


Lord, thank You that Your plan for individual lives is not hidden, but that You make known Your calling to us when we seek You to reveal it to us. We know that not every step on the path may be revealed, but as we step forth in the direction of Your choosing for us, thank You for graciously continuing to light the way as we pursue Your calling.
By the word of the Father, the presence of the Son, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Go in Peace

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 4-5; Psalm 83; 1 Timothy 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: God’s Grace

SCRIPTURE:  2 Kings 5:17-19

Naaman, commander of the armies of the king of Aram, after being healed of his leprosy, says to the prophet Elisha…

17 …for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also — when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this."

19 "Go in peace," Elisha said. (2 Kings 5:17-19 NIV)


On reading this familiar story of Naaman, I was struck by verses 18 and 19. But first let’s get some background and summarize Naaman’s story. Naaman was the commander of the Aramaean army and beloved by the king of Aram. The Aramaeans were worshippers of the idol god Rimmon, and they were one of many constant threats to neighboring Israel. Naaman had sadly contracted leprosy and nothing could be done for him until an Israelite slave girl suggested that the prophet Elisha in Israel could heal his leprosy. The king of Aram gave Naaman leave to seek out Elisha. Not to drag out the story too long, Elisha tells Naaman to dip seven times under the waters of the Jordan River. Naaman reluctantly but obediently does so and is miraculously healed. He offers gifts to Elisha which Elisha refuses. The experience has turned Naaman into a true believer of Jehovah, the God of Israel. Then, as Naaman is about to return to Aram, we come to verses 17-19.

Naaman realizes that when he gets back to Aram he will still be expected to accompany his king in the temple of Rimmon, yet he has now been enlightened, proclaiming, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (verse 15) and, “I will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord” (verse 17). He wants to know if the Lord can forgive him when his duty demands that he join his king in the temple of Rimmon. Is he chastised? Is he condemned? No, Elisha’s answer: “Go in peace.”   


It is comforting to know that the Lord knows the intent of our hearts over and above outward appearances. Sometimes the world forces us to comply with things our hearts do not agree with. It is certainly within our purview to protest and resist. However, when it comes to the point that society and the authorities in power forcibly compel compliance, take comfort in knowing that God sees the intent of your heart, not an action forced upon you. If such a situation should ever befall you and on the inside you are saying, “I hate this! I don’t want to do this! I don’t agree with this! I love, worship and serve the Lord God alone!” –then hear the voice of the Lord to you, “Go in peace.”


My Lord and my God, Your loving graciousness is overwhelming! Grant me the strength and courage to resist evil; to stand in protest against wickedness. When men’s laws and societal mores constrain me under severe punishment or even actual physical force to actions against my will, thank You for the peace You offer me.

In and through Christ Jesus. Amen.  -AP

Monday, June 19, 2017

By the gods

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 1-3; Psalm 82; 1 Timothy 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: False gods

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 82

1 God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the "gods":

2 "How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?

3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

5 "They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6 "I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.' 7 But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler."

8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
(Ps 82 NIV)


God is the One true God with a capital “G” over and above all other pseudo lower case “g” gods. There are plenty of these gods that people follow and serve, but the psalmist calls them out for what they are. These gods look only to particular desires and longings and care not for the poor, oppressed, weak and needy. They act importantly and seek followers, but in reality they ignorantly dwell in darkness and feed on the weak of mind and spirit. These gods, which are no gods at all, are all as men under the Most High God and will all eventually perish.


People today still ignorantly follow after false gods, although the title of “god” is seldom used or acknowledged. These gods are known by other names: pleasure, convenience, status, choice, comfort… Sometimes they take on fine sounding “protector” names: environmental protection, wildlife protection, protect our borders… or “rights” titles: human rights, animal rights, minority rights, worker rights, health care rights, gun rights, right of speech, right of protest, right of choice, sexual preference rights… Sometimes they are gods against something or gods for something. To whatever it is one offers the most of their allegiance, time and energy, it can ostensibly be regarded in this sense as a god to them. So the question that each one must ask and answer is: Do I worship and serve the capital “G” God, or does my time and energy belie that I actually follow after a lower case “g” god or gods?


Lord I realize that to pursue righteous and worthwhile causes is noble and honoring to You when it is what You have called me to. Forgive me when I have expended the lion’s share of my time and devotion to other pursuits that have not been sanctioned by You for me. It is my desire to worship You, and You alone. Guide my steps and direct my path I pray.
Through Christ Jesus. Amen.  -AP

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Speak the Truth with Grace

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18-19; Colossians 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Witnessing

SCRIPTURE:  Colossians 4:5-6

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col 4:5-6 NIV)


What a good word about how Christians are to share their beliefs with non-believers. Paul says “be wise” in the way you behave and in the words you say. Yes, we are to follow the command of Christ to share the Gospel truth far and wide—to be witnesses sharing the testimony of what He has done for us and will do for all who will but believe and receive Him. The truth is not to be watered down. However, how we present ourselves and the Gospel to others should always be done gracefully.


Our zealousness for the Lord, if we are not careful, can sometimes tend to push people away rather than attract them to the Lord. Paul is not advising us to tone down our speech; indeed the words we say should be “seasoned with salt”—palatable and savory, but not so pungent as to be off setting. Our task is not to hammer people or to spew judgment upon them. The truth is powerful and the Holy Spirit may convict people who hear it, but it must always be presented wisely and lovingly with grace. 


Lord, grant me boldness with wisdom. May my speech be savory rather than bitter. May people be convicted by Your Holy Spirit not judged by the words I say. Help me to always speak the truth with grace.    

Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Look Up

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 20-21; 2 Chronicles 17; Colossians 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Life In Christ

SCRIPTURE:  Colossians 3:1-4

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:1-4 NKJV)


What is your vision like? I am nearsighted. I can see things close up perfectly fine, but to see things far away I have to wear corrective lenses. Even before I wore glasses I was pretty nearsighted in that I always tended to only see things close around me; not because of my eyesight, but because I didn’t look up and around very much. As a school boy walking home from school I would more likely be looking down at my feet kicking a rock along the road rather that looking up to see the trees or the sky. As I grew older I trained myself to look up regularly and enjoy a much greater scope of vision and a much broader world view. Paul here says to look up to where Christ is, rather than to things on the earth.


Sometimes as Christians we can be pretty nearsighted too. We will do well and live life more fully if we will heed the admonition to stop dwelling so much on the things of earth and look up. If you are a believer in and follower of Christ Jesus, your real home is with Him not on this earth. Just as Jesus died and rose again, so we have died to our old life and have been raised to eternal life with Him. Don’t be nearsightedly focused on your earthly life. See beyond to infinitely greater and more glorious realities that are yours in Christ.


Thank You Lord for the fullness of life You have given to me today and forever. Thank You for eternal life with You in my heavenly home when my earthly life has passed. Thank You for the richness of life You offer me on this side of heaven as well, as I look up and realize the boundless and glorious life You have lovingly made possible for me. 

In Christ. Amen.  -AP

Friday, June 16, 2017

Deceptive Philosophy

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 17-19; Colossians 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Truth

SCRIPTURE:  Colossians 2:6-8

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2:6-8 NIV)


The Apostle Paul admonishes Christians to be steadfast in adhering to their faith in Jesus Christ. It is in knowing and continually living in Christ Jesus as Lord that brings believers to be rooted, built up, strengthened, and thankful. Paul then uses very direct language of warning against the philosophy of false teachers. He imperatively states, “See to it!” (“beware”) that you are not deceived and trapped into following a worldly philosophy that has no real substance. Then he emphasizes the point concluding verse 8 with the antithesis of what has directly preceded: “rather than on Christ.”    


Our world today is abounding in worldly philosophies that are cunningly deceptive. They may not even be recognized by most as “philosophies.” By co-opting fine sounding words and applying new meanings to them, people willingly follow en-masse into the hollow trap. Good words like, progressive, conservative, liberal, tolerance, choice, freedom, rights, have their definitions altered or amended to entirely different interpretations according to these smoothly championed philosophies. We end up with people using the same words but meaning entirely different things. Many well-meaning Christians slip right into the same trap without even realizing it. Paul says, “Beware! Don’t follow any other philosophy other than the true Gospel of Christ!”    


God, have mercy on our feeble minds. Shine Your Light upon the world and expose the lies and false teachings. By Your Holy Spirit bring clarity to human minds. By Your power heal confused and clouded minds. By Your love draw people to truth—real truth—Your truth—saving, life giving truth.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.  -AP

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Christ In You the Hope of Glory

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 15; Colossians 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Hope

SCRIPTURE:  Colossians 1:24-27

24 I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you. There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world — the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering. 25 When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth, 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:24-25 MSG; Col 1:26-27 NIV).


The Apostle Paul refers to the truth of the Gospel of Christ as a mystery that has been revealed. He used this same literary imagery in his epistle to the Ephesians (see June 7 journal entry, “A Mystery Revealed”). Paul says that this mystery, “that has been hidden for ages and generations,” is now made known for all people of the earth to see. When Paul says this Gospel is for “Jews AND Gentiles, that means Christ is not just for Jewish people but all other people in the world who are not Jewish—everyone!). And the simple message—the hidden truth that is now revealed—is this: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Regardless of your background, nationality, ethnicity, or religious standing, when you accept and receive Christ, He dwells within you. Therefore, your hope is that you may look forward to sharing in God’s glory.


It needs to be understood that the word “hope” should not be confused as a wish or as something that is uncertain. As we often use the word in English, it tends to denote something that is a desired or preferred outcome that one would like but can’t be certain of. The Greek word translated here as hope is elpis – an expectation confidently anticipated. Hope is a known, solid truth that is present in God even if yet in our future.  


God, thank You for the certainty of our expectation of sharing in Your glories. Thank You for the certainty of heavenly eternal life that you offer through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Habits of Mind

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13-14; Philippians 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Good Thinking

SCRIPTURE:  Philippians 4:8

…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things (Phil 4:8 NIV).


I do not consider myself a guru on the subject of leadership, but part of the calling the Lord has personally given me as a Christian minister is to be a leader who develops other leaders. In pursuit that calling I have earned my masters degree in the field of organizational leadership. Consequently, I have read and continue to read many books and articles on the science, art and practice of leadership. This passage in Philippians 4 reminds me of something I read about the self discipline of good leaders. Good leaders develop habits of mind or patterned ways of thinking that define how they approach and resolve issues. They develop a mindset that is focused on the creation of possibility.

This is what I believe the Apostle Paul is speaking of in Philippians 4:8. It will only be good and beneficial to develop habits of mind that dwell on good, positive things—true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy things.


Everyone faces problems and obstacles in life. Whether it is in his or her personal life or in their business dealings, a good leader has developed the habit of mind that dwells on the solution—on overcoming the obstacles. Of course, this principle is not just for leaders, it is for everyone. Just as developing healthy eating habits and healthy exercise routines, developing habits of mind that think on such things as Paul has listed is healthy and beneficial to our well being and success.


Lord, thank You for this reminder that You are always present with me. When hardship or trials come to me, help me remember that all things are possible when I have Your presence within me. You are able to bring light into darkness. You can take what is bad and what is meant for evil and miraculously bring good from it. Help me to think on such things as these. Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Press Forward

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 12; Philippians 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: God’s Calling

SCRIPTURE:  Philippians 3:13-14

13 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14 NIV)


In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul reiterates his past as a circumcised Jew who had persecuted followers of Christ. Now he exhorts that the past needs to be forgotten in favor of pressing toward God’s calling today and into the future.


We all have past sins or even past glories, but what are we doing now? How are we living today? Past failures serve to humble us. Past victories in service to the Lord serve to bolster our faith. These have their place in our lives; for good or bad, they are what have brought us to where we are. The danger, however, is when we allow ourselves to live there.   


God, what are You calling me to today? Just as You helped me press on toward yesterday’s goal, help me press on toward the goal You ordain today. Thank you for the past victories, they warm and encourage me. Where I stumbled and fell yesterday, grant me the resolve not to stumble today.

Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Monday, June 12, 2017

Servant Leadership

Today’s Bible Reading:  1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Philippians 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Leadership

SCRIPTURE:  Philippians 2:4-8

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Phil 2:4-8 NIV)


What is the purpose of a king? What is the job of a president? Is the coach the head of the football team—the manager the leader of the baseball team? What is the role of a CEO, a general, a politician, a pastor? All of these positions are occupations of leadership. In this passage the Apostle Paul offers a model of leadership in Jesus, arguably the greatest and most influential leader of all time. Jesus, though He was in very nature God, humbled himself and took the nature of a servant.

If you are a leader who believes that the position you have been empowered with is a God-given calling, then your leadership has an added God-given definition. A leader in God’s economy must be more than smart, shrewd, visionary and organized. The successful leader by Jesus’ standards must also become a slave to those whom he or she is called to lead. The successful leader is not the one who gains the most for her or himself, but the one who gives the most for the benefit of others.


If a king or a president or a CEO or a pastor sees their role only as one of authority, or as a position to bring themselves wealth, power, exultation, etc.—they are missing the mark of a leader. A football coach or a baseball manager’s job is to bring out the best abilities of the athletes under his supervision and to build them into a well functioning team. The manager is a servant to the team she leads; helping to coach, teach, prod and encourage each team member to their best potential. Kings, presidents, CEO’s and pastors should see their roles in the same light. A leader is a servant to those he leads.


Lord, in whatever capacity You empower me to lead, grant me the ability to lead effectively and the grace to lead humbly. In my calling to teach and develop other leaders in Your Church, grant me the favor and faculty to impart the importance of Spirit-filled servant leadership to disciples who will then lead others.    

In Jesus’ name. Amen.  -AP

Sunday, June 11, 2017

To Live is Christ

Today’s Bible Reading:  Song of Solomon 5-8; Philippians 1
Topic: Serving the Lord

SCRIPTURE:  Philippians 1:12-14, 18-24 NIV

The Apostle Paul writing from prison…

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

18 …Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Phil 1:12-14, 18-24 NIV)


The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi is written as he has been chained in prison for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Rather than causing people to fear and be deterred from preaching the Gospel, his imprisonment has actually spurred others to preach more courageously and fearlessly.” Because of this, Paul rejoices.

Paul is totally sold out for Jesus. His entire outlook and joy in life is centered only on advancing the Gospel—the mission given to him. If being in prison advances the cause, Paul rejoices. As long as he lives and in whatever conditions he lives, he will continue to labor and apparently has no doubt that it will be, “fruitful labor” (v. 22). So, for Paul, to die is get to go be with Jesus—the most desirable outcome for him. However, to continue living on this side of heaven is to whole-heartedly serve his Lord (v. 21).


The total commitment demonstrated by Paul is inspiring. My life and ministry has not seen the level of hardship Paul endured with grace, but I hope my resolve is the same. With the Lord’s help and a sure calling I, and other Christians far and wide, can fulfill our destinies with fruitfulness and joy. I too can endure, as Shakespeare put it, “the whips and scorns of outrageous fortune” if need be. Knowing that to die is gain for me, my desire is that as long as I yet live my life is to be in and for Christ.    


Until that day Lord, I remain in You. Amen.  –AP

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Offensive Weapons

Today’s Bible Reading:  Song of Solomon 1-4; Ephesians 6

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Spiritual Warfare

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 6:17-18

17 Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Eph 6:17-18 NIV)


These verses are found in that well known passage of Scripture when the Apostle Paul admonishes Christian believers to “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:11 & 13). I have often noted that all of the pieces of armor listed are protective gear: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace foot covers, shield of faith, and helmet of salvation. And then “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17) is listed. For a long time I thought this was the one and only offensive weapon listed for our warfare against “spiritual forces of evil” (see v. 12). But I have since noted that praying “in the Spirit” (v. 18) is also an offensive weapon. Two offensive weapons—two means of advancing against the enemy: The sword of the Spirit and praying in the Spirit. The key to victory over the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil, is Holy Spirit enlightenment and enablement. 


Listen up Christians: The mission we have been given in the world is not just to defend ourselves. The task given to us is to advance upon the enemy, to take back ground that rightfully belongs to our King. If all we do is to trust in our armor—our defenses—we will only be holding our ground at best and will eventually face defeat. No! We must take up our offensive weapons, the Spirit empowered Word of God and Spirit empowered prayer, and move forward into the fray to attack and drive back the enemy of our souls. 


Thank You Lord that You have provided everything we need to not just survive in this fallen world, but to realize victory. Through Christ and with His Spirit. Amen.  –AP

Friday, June 9, 2017

God’s Love and Consolation

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ecclesiastes 10-12; Psalm 94; Ephesians 5

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: God’s Presence

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 94:18-19

18 When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
(Ps 94:18-19 NIV)


Have you ever felt as though you were slipping and in danger of falling? Maybe you have sensed the temptation to give in to an old bad habit, or to compromise your integrity in some way. Perhaps you are about to lose control of a situation or to lose your temper. Maybe you’re about to lose a job, or the love of someone dear to you seems to be waning; or maybe it is your passion that feels like it is slipping. Maybe your financial situation is in jeopardy and you are worried. Perhaps you are experiencing poor health or your vitality is weakening and angst within you is rising. Whatever the case, the psalmist exhorts that when you cry out, “Oh God! I’m starting to slip!” He is present to support you and lift you up with His love and consolation.  


When everything seems to be falling apart around you, the distraction of that commotion in both the physical and spiritual realms tries to draw your eyes away from your faith. Take heart and remember these encouraging words from Psalm 94. God is present. Look to Him more than the distraction. His love will keep you from falling and His consolation can restore your joy.  


My Lord and my God, I know You have not promised a life without pain, challenges or discomfort, but you have promised Your presence, Your love and Your help. When tough situations befall me, remind me by Your Holy Spirit that You are present. Regardless of what evil seems to be prevailing, my best is still in Your capable hands. With thanksgiving and joy in Christ. Amen.  –AP

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Gifts of Office

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ecclesiastes 7-9; Ephesians 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: God-given Gifts

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 4:7, 11-13

7 …to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:7, 11-13 NIV)


In a previous journal entry we looked briefly at “Motivational Gifts” (May 31, Ro 12:4-8). Those seven gifts may aptly be called “Gifts of the Father”—gifts our Creator endowed us with when He formed us—our inborn giftedness—what we were made by our Creator to be. Here in Ephesians 4 is another list of five gifts which can clearly be identified as “Gifts of the Son”—gifts of office leadership to which “Christ” calls some. Everyone has been uniquely created with primary and secondary motivational gifts giving each individual a one-of-a-kind spiritual fingerprint so to speak. Every individual has indeed been created for a specific purpose or calling. However, not everyone will necessarily be called to one of these office gifts. These are leadership gifts specifically given as Christ chooses, “to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v. 12).


I am blessed to have discovered my own personal blend of motivational gifts. My primary gift is that of an exhorter or encourager, with strong secondary gifts of teaching and administration. I am also honored to have been called by my Savior to serve in the office gift of teacher in His Body (that’s all of you who are believers in Christ). So my question to you, dear reader: Have you yet come to realize your motivational gifting? God is not keeping it a secret from you. You can know how He has gifted you and what your purpose—your personal calling—in life is. Next question: Are you willing, if Christ should so choose you, to accept His call to serve in an office of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, to prepare other believers and to thus strengthen—“build up”—the body of Christ?


Lord, You have created each individual for a purpose. Help me to fulfill my calling to lead people to first come to know a personal relationship with You for themselves, and then come to realize their own place within Your Body—a place of fulfillment and joy in life that cannot be known in any other but in You. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.  –AP


NOTE: Interested in enrolling in a detailed course of study on discovering your own God-given gifts and personal calling? Inquire to Metro School of Ministry about college level course LD101 “Foundations for Leadership.” Send email inquiries to: WFC Metro School of Ministry,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Mystery Revealed

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ecclesiastes 4-6; Psalm 18; Ephesians 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Revelation

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 3:2-6

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Eph 3:2-6 NIV)


When you start out watching a mystery movie or reading a mystery novel, you don’t know the answer to the mystery do you? As you go along and start putting clues together, you begin to try to figure out “who did it.” But after you’ve finished reading the book or when the closing credits begin to roll on that movie, everything’s been revealed. Now it is not a secret anymore; you know the answer.

Well the concept of mystery as Paul uses it here is like that. In verse 3 Paul says that this mystery—this secret unknown answer—has been revealed; and in verse 6 he tells us the answer: This mystery—this secret, unknown thing that is now known—is that Jews and Gentiles—everyone, no matter what race, nationality, language or any other dividing lines you can think of—have equal access to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Therefore, the promise of the Lord is open to us all.  Hallelujah!


Previously to this, throughout most of the history of the world, the Jews were the only people group in whom there had been the repository of life and light in truth. But now, God, who had brought through the channel of the Jewish people the entrance of the world’s Redeemer, was bringing life throughout the whole world. God’s life—real life—meaningful, joyous life for each person’s present and eternal life for each person’s hope and future—was beginning to spread across every ethnic, sectarian and racial boundary. It is this free flow of God’s life and salvation we are called to aid, and not to hinder.  


Lord, continue revealing Your life and love within me and to the world. May I and my fellow Christian brothers and sisters never be guilty of even inadvertently erecting barriers that separate people from the amazing gift of life available to all in You. Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My Work

Today’s Bible Reading:  Ecclesiastes 1-3; Psalm 45; Ephesians 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Good Works

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10 NIV)


It is interesting that, while the Apostle Paul clearly communicates that salvation comes only by God’s grace activated by faith to believe and receive, he also states that we have been created to do good works. The point may be deduced that since salvation is not wrought by good works, then the doing of good works serves to provide us with personal fulfillment and health apart from our eternal deliverance from death.


Verse 10 says that God has “prepared in advance” work that we have been specifically created to accomplish. That means He has a plan for my life—there is a purpose for my existence. Therefore, of highest priority for me—for each life—should be learning what that purpose is.


Lord, I draw close to You. I desire a growing and deepening relationship with You. Daily continue to show me the work You have prepared for me and prepared me for.

Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Monday, June 5, 2017

My Prayer for You

Today’s Bible Reading:  Proverbs 30-31; Psalm 33; Ephesians 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Revelation

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 1:17-18

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. (Eph 1:17-18 NIV)


More and more in my teaching and preaching as a minister called by the Lord, my message to believers in and followers of Christ (the saints) has been that first and foremost God wants relationship with us. More important is this than a call to arms, or the urging to go out and fulfill His command to be witnesses—to get out there and do for the Lord. The major thrust of the evangelical church has been to get people saved and then get them out there leading others to salvation with only a minor emphasis on these new born babes in Christ building a deeper relationship with God through their Savior. Maybe it has been assumed that as people receive the gift of salvation and begin serving the Lord, relationship will naturally grow. This may be true for some, but for many the pressure to perform and the hidden guilt experienced from what is felt as a lack of performance on their part actually stifles growth. What is it that God wants? He sacrificed His one and only Son to provide the means by which we may be brought back into right relationship with Him—a loving, growing, personal kinship with each individual man, woman, boy and girl. It is within this growing relationship that God’s plan for each individual is revealed.    


My prayer is that individual people will come to know God so intimately as to be able to discern His revelation to them personally about His plan, purpose and calling for their lives. It is when people know where they fit and begin to fulfill the calling for which the Creator has created them, that they may realize the greatest satisfaction and joy in life, and God’s kingdom is built naturally. This is how my calling to equip the saints (Eph 4:12) is fulfilled.        


I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.
Through your personal relationship with God in Christ. Amen.  -AP