Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Knowing God

August 22
Today’s Bible Reading:  Jeremiah 28-30; 1 John 3

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

SCRIPTURE:  1 John 3:24

…this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
(1 John 3:24 NIV)


As human beings made in the image of God we have a unique make up. Just as God is a triune being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are also triune. Often this is expressed as us possessing a body, soul and spirit. Our understanding of our physical body is clear enough, but making the distinction between soul and spirit is a bit cloudy. How do you divide the inner man—the part that gives the body life? –the part that reasons and feels? –the part that loves and cries –the part that senses right from wrong –the part that can know God? John says we know it by the Holy Spirit who has been sent to dwell with us and in us.


If we relegate our conscious being only to our intellect and ability to reason, we deny ourselves a much broader and meaningful existence which cannot be acquired intellectually, but may only be realized spiritually. It is a gift beyond our understanding received from God by faith.


May the power of God’s Holy Spirit reveal this truth to many.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Point of No Return?

August 15
Today’s Bible Reading:  Jeremiah 18-20; Psalm 93; John 17

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

SCRIPTURE:  Jeremiah 18:1-8, 19:10-11

18: 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. (Jer 18:1-9 NIV)

19: 10 "Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, 11 and say to them, 'This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter's jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. (Jer 19:10-11 NIV)


Today’s reading in Jeremiah is chapters 18-20. The prophetic imagery in these chapters seems to depict God’s chosen people Israel. In a broader sense these passages could be speaking of the USA today—as clay being shaped. In verse 4 the pot being shaped by the potter had become marred and needed to be reshaped. When other hands have been allowed to shape the clay it is as if God the potter in verse 15 saying, “my people have forgotten me;” but destruction is not yet. The people—the nation—may yet repent and place themselves once again in the hands of the Potter. There comes a day eventually when the shape is set in the kiln. That may be seen as the day of no return.  


In Jeremiah chapter 19 the Lord tells Jeremiah to take the finished clay jar and break it while the people watch and in verse 11 says, “I will smash this nation…  just as this potter's jar is smashed and cannot be repaired.”

When will my nation the USA reach the point of no return? Have we already reached that point? I do not believe so. There seems no doubt, however, that we have been increasingly rejecting the shaping of the hand of The Potter in favor of other hands shaping us in ways that have marred us. Woe to us if we become hardened in the kiln of human experience and history.


Lord have mercy on the land of my birth, a nation conceived in liberty and ordained by You. Raise up leaders that will lead us in Your ways—in true principles of rightness and justice. Open the eyes of our spirits—the individual spirits that collectively comprise our population—to see, understand and repent beforeYou. Keep us from ever reaching the hardness of that point which leads only to broken destruction.
By Your mercy in the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Man of God

August 8
Today’s Bible Reading:  Jeremiah 1-2; John 10

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

SCRIPTURE:  Jeremiah 1:17-19

17 "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land — against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.
(Jer 1:17-19 NIV)


The fictional superhero Superman is called the invincible man of steel. Here the man of God is called “an iron pillar and a bronze wall.” I once heard a Christian leader say, “The man of God is invincible until God is finished with him.” On first hearing that I thought the statement was at once arrogant and fatalistic. However, when you consider it, it is indeed true. Just as God told Jeremiah that as long as he was obedient to speak what God told him to say, he had nothing to fear, God would uphold and protect him.


If I will live in such closeness to my God so as to know clearly His voice (see John 10 of today’s reading), and if I will be unwaveringly obedient to His voice, no enemy will conquer me; no obstacle will stop me; no harm will come to me. I will be invincible until my created purpose is complete. Then I get to go live with Him.


Lord grant me such clarity, courage and commitment in my life.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The God Connection

August 6
Today’s Bible Reading:  Habakkuk 1-3; John 8

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

SCRIPTURE:  John 8:47

Jesus said…

“He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." (John 8:47 NKJV)


When communication is achieved electronically there must be a transmitter and a receiver working in tandem on the same frequency. If either of these is absent, communication cannot be completed. If either of these is faulty or if they are operating on different frequencies, the message may be garbled or obscured by static. What Jesus is stating in this verse is that in order to hear and understand God’s words you must be “of God”—you must be connected to God. That puts you on the right frequency so to speak. And the conduit for that connection is through Christ.


How true this passage is. I get so frustrated at times because people just don’t seem to “get it.” I tell them the truth about Jesus in terms that seem perfectly clear, and it is as though they don’t even hear. The words just sail right over their heads. I think, “How can you not understand? I’m speaking perfectly clear English.” Yet when I say the same words to true Christians there is an immediate connection of understanding. Being or not being of God must be what makes the difference. Being connected to God through Jesus is what makes the reception clear. It is as though until people make the Jesus connection they are hearing through a weak and garbled cell phone connection. It is therefore vitally important for me to always keep my connection with God solid, that I may continue to hear and understand.


Lord forgive me when I become lax in spending quality time with You. May I always hear your words to me clearly. I pray that others who do not yet know You will switch providers so to speak and get connected to You through Christ Jesus. Amen.  -AP

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Here Come de Judge

August 3
Today’s Bible Reading:  Nahum 1-3; John 5

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

SCRIPTURE:  John 5:22

The Son of God informs us…

…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son. (John 5:22 NIV)


We know that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are One God. They are co-equal, co-eternal, co-divine. They are He—the One and only God. Yet, as a human being who has personally come to know, love and worship the One God, I find it heartening that the place of judgment has been given to the Son. He, who became flesh and lived and died as one of the human beings He created, knows first hand the frailties and temptations flesh is heir to. He as God and man is the perfectly understanding and just judge.


Knowing that the all-knowing God understands me better than I know myself is comforting to me. Knowing that He knows my heart and knows I have believed in and received Him gives me peace. Knowing He loves me so much that He gave himself to human death for me leaves me with no fear of judgment.


I thank and praise You God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for giving me meaningful life and doubtless love. The glory of Your judgment is wondrous and You have made me unafraid to stand before You. In Christ Jesus. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Believing is Seeing

August 2, 2017
Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; John 4

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

SCRIPTURE:  John 4:48

"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe." (John 4:48 NIV)


This passage puts me in mind of another later in John’s Gospel when Thomas would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw it for himself:

Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29 NIV)

Jesus apparently may or may not give “proofs” to individuals, but true faith is believing even without seeing. Often even seeing is not believing. In the epic Star Wars motion picture, The Empire Strikes Back, there is one scene where Luke Skywalker is being trained by the master Jedi Yoda. Luke tries to levitate his space cruiser out of the marshy swamp where it had sunk, but eventually gives up saying something like, “It’s too big. I can’t.” Yoda then proceeds to use the force to lift the ship up out of the mire and onto dry land. Luke watches with wide eyes and dropped jaw; “I… I can’t believe it,” he finally utters. Yoda replies simply, “And that is why you fail.”

It is often said, “seeing is believing.” Therefore, seeing is the actuator of faith. Jesus says that the actuator is actually believing first, which turns this saying around: “Believing is seeing.”   


I will do well to remember my faith. Seeing the Lord work is a blessing and a booster to my faith. Not seeing and yet believing, however, is how faith becomes strong. 


In times of not seeing, Lord help my faith not waver but become stronger.
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

One Whom God Esteems

August 1, 2017
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 65-66; Psalm 62; John 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading: 
Topic: Fear of the Lord

SCRIPTURE:  John 3:19-21, Isaiah 66:2

Jesus says…
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21 NIV)

The Lord says…
…"This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isa 66:2 NIV)


The one who God esteems is not the perfectly upright righteous person (who, by the way, does not exist except for the person of Jesus), but the one who lives openly in the light with humility and the desire to live better and do better daily; the person who hides nothing from the Lord and knows that there is no place for pride because whatever good they achieve is due to God alone. The person God regards, “trembles” at His word, not because they are afraid of Him but because they reverence Him and know that what He says, He will do.  


So here’s the question for reflection: Do I attempt to keep anything hidden from God—are there things in my life I would prefer to keep in the dark? I cognitively realize that it is impossible to hide anything from God, yet I sometimes behave as if He can’t see me. Either I think He does not see, or I don’t care as long as I believe I’m hiding it from others to see. Either way, if the truth of God’s word does not cause me to tremble I am indeed in a sorry state. 


Lord I tremble at Your word, not in fear of harm but because I know Your word is true and immutable. By Your Spirit may I ever dwell fearlessly in the light of Your presence. Through the grace of Christ and the presence of Your Spirit within me. Amen.  -AP