Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part

Marriage is a wonderful blessing from God. It has allowed me to experience some of the best times of my life. It has allowed me to have the joy of bringing children into this world, experience intimacy with another person that brings me to an even closer relationship with God, and it has given me a companion to share all of my hopes, struggles, and praises with.

Marriage has also been one of the most difficult commitments I have ever made. It has brought to light many character flaws that I have, it has taught me how selfish I can be, and it has made me have to work hard and provide for a family rather than live comfortably for just myself.

One of the marriage vows that we take as couples is to stick it out regardless of the circumstance until one of us dies. I don't think getting frustrated and killing your spouse counts... Unfortunately our culture has been breeding a generation of "me first, I want it resolved now" individuals who have a hard time with the "till death do us part" piece of the commitment. The term "till death" sounds nice when the couple is standing together on the alter, but when the rubber meets the road, keeping those wedding vows can be quite a challenge.

I suppose that on the wedding day it would sound kind of funny if the pastor says that these two shall remain married until one of them gets frustrated and leaves the relationship, or until financial trouble hits, or worse yet when one decides that the sex isn't good enough and finds someone else to share themselves with on the internet or workplace. When we throw in the towel to pursue our selfish desires the Gospel is tarnished and the power of God is left to look sparse at best.

We want to think that marriage is going to be a blessing and from the moment we leave the alter it is going to be awesome love, great sex, and perfect kids. Well, here is a heads up... It won't be. In marriage things will arise that cause conflict and pain and developing skills which allow a couple to overcome the trials is far more important than trying to completely avoid them.

Mat 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, Mat 19:5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? Mat 19:6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Understanding that we are joined together as one is the first step to being committed to keeping the marriage in tact. In my writing, "When Does One + One = One" I talk about how two people need to give up their own desires in order to achieve oneness. When the two who have become one are ever pulled apart there is a trauma that makes them both no longer the same. Each one carries a part of the other and the wound that is left will never fully heal. God understands that a couple committed to marriage need to become one and this is described here in Matthew. When my wife is hurting, I hurt with her. When I am hurting, my wife in turn hurts with me. When one of us experiences blessings and joy so does the other. When a young couple begins to realize (or any couple for that matter) that being one flesh is a good thing they will always do what is best for the relationship rather than for oneself.

I pray today that if you are married and going through tough times you look to the Lord to help you find that oneness in your spouse again. Look for those things that you fell in love with and bury your own desires at the foot of the cross. Jesus is there to meet our needs, and when we are filled with Him then we are able to again fill our spouse with the love they need, supplied by Christ. We will never have enough strength to make it on our own.

Till death do us part means exactly that. Until the other person dies. God has called us as married people to glorify Him in our marriage and in order to do this we must remain as one flesh in good times or bad. For better or worse, in sickness and health. Forever means forever.

Thank you Lord for the gift of marriage. Please strengthen my marriage and keep me looking to you for wisdom and encouragement so my wife will be blessed by the man you have created me to be.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Psalm 124 A Song Of David

Psa 124:1 A Song of Ascents, of David. "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side," Let Israel now say,
Psa 124:2 "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side When men rose up against us,
Psa 124:3 Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their anger was kindled against us;
Psa 124:4 Then the waters would have engulfed us, The stream would have swept over our soul;
Psa 124:5 Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul."
Psa 124:6 Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
Psa 124:7 Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Psa 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. (nasb)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fulfill Your Ministry

2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2Ti 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In this message to Timothy from Paul, we as Christians are urged to do many things. We are a generation that has decided that the moral issues we face are not absolute and each person is responsible to decide for himself what is right in his own eyes. Drug usage and alcohol abuse is rampant amongst young people, the family unit is eroding, and the fight against pornography and sexual immorality doesn't seem to be getting any better in spite of all of our efforts. The sad story is that this is in the Christian community as much as it is in the world.

Paul teaches us that there is going to be a time when men and women of God will turn away from the truth. They will not only turn away from the truth and wander off into myths, but they will begin to worship the creation rather than the Creator. They will be given up to the lusts of their hearts and to impurity to the point of dishonoring their bodies. They will exchange the truth of God for a lie. (rom 1:23-25)

I certainly believe we are in that time. I was listening to a celebrity the other day who claims to be a Christian. I was curious about what they truly believed because the life they live on and off the big screen doesn't really match up to what I have come to know a follower of Christ to live like. As I did a little research I discovered that this person believes that Christ was a good moral person and that He is a person to model after because of His charity and good deeds to the poor. Being God himself isn't part of the picture because this person doesn't believe that Christ is God.

Paul addresses this very issue to Timothy and gives him instruction as how to live so he doesn't become like one of them. 2 Timothy 4:5 tells us to be sober minded. The King James version says to watch thou in all things. Translated: Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1Cor 16:13) Paul tells us to be watchful of sinful desires that come down our path and to be strong enough in Christ to flee from these temptations. When we flee from temptation we are able to fulfill the ministry that God has given to us.

Too many times men and women of God allow their lives to be taken over by their fleshly desires, sexual temptations, and lust. When this happens the ministry that God has called them to suffers and those who trusted them are crushed and their faith is shaken. As well as being watchful of sin in our lives we are told that we will need to endure suffering and do the work of an evangelist. There are many hardships that come our way as we decide to walk in faith and do the work of God. Some of those could be financial, others personal, and some may just be character issues that God is working on to make us more like Christ. Whatever the hardship, we are to go through it and see God's hand working in it.

This message to Timothy isn't only to pastors and elders, but I believe it can apply to all of us who are followers of Christ. We all have people around us that we are able to influence and lead toward the Gospel. (evangelism) This includes our own children, other loved ones, and neighbors and friends. So whatever your position is in Christ I urge you today to look at the message from Paul to Timothy and follow through with the instruction given so you will be able to fulfill the ministry God has given you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Please Pray For Matt

There is a young man in Afghanistan named Matt. Not unlike many of the young men and women who are fighting across the ocean. Strong, courageous, loyal. A young man that a mom could be proud of.

I got a message from my sister last night requesting prayer for Matt. It seems that God has allowed this young soldier to fall into a difficult situation. Matt has been injured, damaged, broken down. Matt's legs have been blown off during his course of duty. His mother is a friend of my sister's and they are asking the Christian community to pray for Matt.

Please join me in prayer for Matt and his mother Claudia. I am unaware of their relationship with God, but God knows. I am unaware if Matt is going to make it, but God knows. And I am unaware of all of the details, but God knows.

Dear Lord, I pray for Matt. I lift him up to you today and ask you to reach down and heal his heart, soul, and body. Please show him your grace at this very difficult time. Be with Claudia and comfort her troubled heart. Lord most of all, draw them and the people around them closer to you during this time of tragedy. I know that through all things you desire your name to be glorified and we plead that you turn their hearts to you and allow this situation to work for their good and that it will ultimately bring you praise. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Psa 29:11 The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.

UPDATE 07-08-09

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Embrace Suffering

The more I study God's Word the more a reoccurring theme keeps coming up for me. Christians will endure hardship and suffering. I remember several years ago I was dealing with many struggles and the whereabouts of God was a mystery to me. I met my wife to be and the two of us each had two children prior to us coming together. We had grand plans of getting married and raising this almost "Brady Bunch" of kids together. We would have never ending green pastures and eternal blue skies and life would be swell.

Well, once our fantasy turned to reality and I discovered that raising a brood was far more difficult than what I had anticipated I began turning to my own inner strength to try to get through difficulties. I basically ditched God because He was allowing difficulties to happen in our life, and being good Christians we were taught early on that all good things come from the Lord. Well, if all good comes from God, then this bad stuff happening must be coming from Satan, and if this is the case then where on earth did God go?

Boy, was my theology messed up... As Lori and I jumped over one hurdle after another we could see our marriage slowly fading to frustration and difficulty. I turned my focus to work, church ministries, and myself rather than turning my heart to God. I came to the decision that I just wasn't doing enough good things for God and that must be the reason why He seems to have disappeared and all of these difficulties were occurring. After a couple of years of being too tired, too frustrated, and too ticked off we were encouraged to meet with a woman who was a counselor and minister of prayer. She lived about 8 hours from our place and had a beautiful home she uses as a bed and breakfast. Couples could meet with her for a weekend, get ministered to, well fed, and intensely work through some of the struggles they have with their relationship with God and each other. This weekend changed our lives.

The turning point for Lori and myself was that we realized God is not a God who hands out cotton candy and balloons to all the good little boys and girls at the playground of life. We discovered the God of the universe that weekend. He is the grand creator and has a wonderful plan for our lives, which is to bring glory to Him in all things. Whether it be through suffering, hardship, blessings, or trials, His purposes will prevail through it all. Once we came to terms with the fact that we saw God as someone who we tried to control and used Him as our wish maker rather than our God, our lives changed in a moment. God's love for me and my wife was far greater than we had ever imagined up until that weekend. We, for the first time, saw God in our suffering and struggles as well as our blessings. We felt Him when Lori was going through cancer treatment and a few other times, but we didn't have that daily communion with God because we were looking at Him through the wrong eyes.

Coming to know God is a daily practice. When we meet someone here on earth and want to get to know them we spend time with them. Same goes with God. To know and truly understand Him we began to spend time with Him daily. Through our daily walk we have discovered a new perspective to Him and His goodness to us in all situations. The main change that came in my life through this weekend retreat and years of daily study is that God doesn't disappear during moments of affliction and suffering. Just the opposite really. When I began to look at our difficulties as being used by God rather than being because God was not present, I was able to face and endure them.
  • Job 36:15 "He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression.
  • Psa 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.
  • Isa 48:10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
  • Mat 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
  • Php 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
  • 2Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • 2Co 4:17-18 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
  • Php 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
  • 2Ti 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
  • Luk 24:26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
  • Rom 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
  • 2Ti 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
It isn't easy when hard times come. The Bible has many references to when God's children go through struggles, hardship, affliction, persecution and pain. The Gospels are filled with the sufferings of Christ. Luke 24:26 tells us that Christ needed to suffer in order to enter His glory. As Christ followers we too must suffer. It just goes with the territory.

I encourage you today to embrace suffering and hardship as a tool for God to bring glory to Himself and a way to shape our character. He is there to comfort and bring strength during our struggles and if we embrace Him rather than reject and blame Him we will see his glorious peace come upon us during our times of difficulty.

Lord, I thank you today for the struggles that you have placed into my life. Even though they are difficult to face alone, I know that you are with me. Your rod and your staff will comfort me. You have shown me Lord that you are ever present in my struggles and I give you praise not for you taking away my struggles, but for helping me endure them. Please help me to be faithful to you in the midst of them. Amen

Saturday, June 13, 2009

God's Hand During Suffering

I can remember several years back when my wife was going through chemo we felt an amazing closeness to the Lord that we had never felt prior to the diagnosis of the illness. During that time, God's hand worked mightily in our lives and we were blessed almost daily through others and through our church.

I was reading through the story of Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer recently and came across a quote that I will probably never forget. Ridley and Latimer were two Bishops during the Protestant Reformation in England who stood by their faith and would not compromise. In 1555 Ridley and Latimer were brought before the panel of Bishops to answer to the charge of heresy. They were told to renounce their errors and conform to the ways of the "church"

Well, to make a long story of martydom short, the two of them stood firm till the end. As they were to be turned over to the secular authority and eventually be burned at the stake, it is recorded that in a conversation between the two, Ridley said to Latimer, "Be of good cheer, brother, for God will either assuage (reduce) the fury of the flame or else strengthen us to bear it." Shortly after this the two went up in flames.

The faith of the average American Christian doesn't hold a candle to the faith of the early church father's. (No pun intended) When the fire is around us, many of us fall away from the faith rather than embrace it. Stepping back into the old patterns of behavior and methods of survival rather than crying out to the Lord to rescue us. We are to be a testimony to the work that the Lord is doing in our lives. When we show the people around us a different way to deal with the pain and suffering we encounter than the way the world deals with it, then we are likely to bring others to faith in Christ as well.

I want to share a post from a good friend of mine. He is the author of the book, "If God Disappears." It is a story of sharing the gospel even in the most difficult of times in our life. I hope you benefit from his post.

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

God Disciplines Those He Loves

Heb 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Heb 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
Heb 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."
Heb 12:7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Heb 12:8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Heb 12:9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
Heb 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (esv)

Have you ever gone astray and then felt the correction of the Lord upon you? I was reading in Hebrews this past couple of days and I am reminded of the fruitfulness of the Lord's correction. I remember as a child being fearful of getting into trouble because I would be disciplined by my parents. It really didn't keep me from trouble, but it did keep me from trying to get caught. As a child of God we should remember that we can't hide our transgressions from God. Unlike our human parents, God is witness to all that we do so His correction and discipline comes even if we hide our wrongdoings from the rest of the world.

  • He has shown us that His discipline does not go wasted. Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
  • As children of God we are disciplined because He loves us. Heb 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
  • He disciplines us for our good. Heb 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Becoming Like A Child

Mat 18:3-6 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Having a childlike faith. Oh to be like one of the little ones. This morning I was at a customer's home and I was doing some work there for her. Running around the house were two small children. A rambunctious little boy who just turned two and a precious little girl who is four. The rough and tumble little fella was running around in a pair of shorts and sported a bottle with him everywhere he went. The princess was adorned in a beautiful fairy dress and had a smile that was as precious as the morning sun. I couldn't help but watch these two little ones as I went about my duties there. They were genuinely innocent, incredibly inquisitive, and willing to help me in every way. They were asking me questions and very hungry for knowledge.

Why do you do it that way and how come you have to go over there? Each time they asked me a question I answered with care and compassion. No question to me was meaningless and they were full of many of them. Every time I answered their little question, as trivial as it may have been, they responded with the next question with just a little bit more confidence. By the time I completed my work they knew so much more than when I got there.

Throughout the morning their mother was trying her hardest to keep these two little ones from "bothering" me. "Stop asking the nice man all of these questions" she would say to them. All the while I would inform her that everything was fine and I was not the least bit bothered by their inquisitive minds. Finally, she scolded one of them and then turned on the TV in hopes of distracting them from keeping me from my work.

Jesus tells us in Matthew that we need to be converted and become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. To me this means to have an innocence about us that allows us to come to the father and seek Him with the faith of a child. Children are oblivious to the things of adults. In the eyes of a child all things are relevant and equal and what I had to accomplish there this morning was for the purpose of benefiting their little lives. Being childlike means we put all preconceptions aside and cry out to God for guidance, assurance, information, and ultimately freedom in Him.

The thing this morning that was bothersome to me was the mother trying her hardest to prevent the little ones from coming to me with their questions. It made me think that, in the spiritual realm in which we live, Satan has a great way of keeping us from our heavenly Father as well. Woe to you who cause one of these little ones to stumble.

As God's children we are to rely on Him as a child needs his father. Removing our pride and placing ourselves far below the magnificence of the Father, gleaning all we can from Him for our life. We can not sustain ourselves and Jesus reminds the disciples of this very fact as they are trying to figure out who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. I truly desire to be like a small child in my walk with the Lord. Always seeking Him for my sustenance and never being too grown up to think I know all of the answers.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that I need be converted and be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Help me to never cause one of your children to stumble and please guide me today in the way you would have me to go.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Proclaim To The Next Generation

Psa 71:15-18 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (esv)

I am meditating on this Psalm today as I go about my day. "Oh Lord, don't forsake me until I proclaim your might to another generation." God, in his grace, has given us the opportunity to teach and proclaim His mighty work to those who come after us. I spend several hours each week studying the Bible and I think about the generations of men and women who have gone before me and who have been faithful to the end. Their words are like pearls of wisdom as I dig deeper into the God's word. Their perseverance and fruitful lives have impacted me beyond measure.

I pray today that I can look to the next generation and that my words and life can be a testimony to the King. I encourage you today to not forsake the next generation of believers. To look to them and ask God to put a fire in your heart to proclaim His might to those who are struggling to understand who they are in Christ. As my hair turns gray, my sight begins to fail me, and my bones start to ache, I am still able cry out His goodness to the next generation. Lord I pray that you will find me faithful to the end.