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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

I wanted to offer you the Soundcloud link to the Bible Study I taught March 3 on “The Woman Who Loved Much – a Love Compelled by the Cross”. I think this was my favorite study of all the studies I have ever taught, because it bathes your heart so thoroughly in the grace of Christ, freeing you to love, while at the same time exposing the way legalism chokes our love.

This Soundcloud link will not work permanantly because free accounts are only allowed 2 hours of upload time, so when I do a new study, I’ll have to delete this one. If anyone knows a better way to upload audio, let me know. (For some reason, I am no longer able to upload audio directly onto this blog, even though I paid for extra upload space.)

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This year we had the joy of writing and designing our own homemade Christmas tract to pass out with the gifts. As Tim, my usual source of artwork was busy with his sermon, and we only had a day left to get it done, I stole an old Christmas ornament Tim had made in years past off the tree, scanned it and made that the cover. Then I added some Christmas devotional thoughts that had come to me during my quiet time as I thought about the contrast between us fallen sinners and God’s one perfect Son, given to us on Christmas day. Written in Romanian, it still needed grammar revision, but thanks to Miha’s willingness to be my editor 🙂 I still made my deadline.

Thought you might like to see how it turned out. (more…)

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What’s wrong with having a normal life? If you belong to God, everything!

That was the tough message proclaimed by the prophet Haggai to a bunch of bedraggled Jews struggling to survive in the ruins of Jerusalem around 519 B.C.. Of course, if you took God out of the picture, no one could blame them for wanting a normal life. Their hardship was real enough. By the time Haggai wrote, they had already faced eighteen long years of harrassment, intimidation, frustration and legal set-backs in the fight to rebuild their temple. Their enemies were not averse to sending assassins and spies to terrify them. Fear had crept in, unpacked and continually ate away at their stores of resolve. And to top things off, compared to past works of God, what they were building looked terribly small and weak. Day in and day out they were pouring out their lives…and for what? That was the question that screamed to be answered with bracing truth.

The truth was God was not only in the picture, He was the master artist. They owed everything to Him. Not only had He had made them His covenant community—a people for his own possession and purposes, and His own special treasure, but he had forgiven them appalling sins. That they were living in Jerusalem at all was a miracle of grace. That God had moved the heart of the most powerful man on earth to permit them to return to their land and have a fresh start was a testimony to God’s enduring love. They didn’t deserve to exist, let alone to be released from the captivity to which their idolatry had sentenced them, and yet there they were! And God had not done all of this just so they could be normal!

Normal was far below what God wanted for them! God had an amazing dream for them. He wanted to give them the greatest treasure possible: Himself! And to fulfill that desire, His immediate task for them was a construction project. They were to rebuild the house where He had chosen for His glory to dwell. That temple would become the heart of their fellowship with Him and would continue to point towards His future provision for them in Christ. It would sing with every stone, “I AM your Saving God!” (more…)

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Read a John Piper sermon on John 5:30-47 today that made me deeply appreciate all God does in my life to wean me from seeking satisfaction in the praise of man. Understanding what Jesus meant when he said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” makes me shudder at the natural tendencies of my own sinful heart and makes me so thankful for God’s saving mercy.

My favorite convicting bit: Piper writes, “…you can’t believe. Why? Because you love the glory of man, not the glory of God. You don’t want Jesus because you want human praise. You don’t want Jesus, because you want to be the center. You want to be in control. You want to be exalted. You want to be made much of. You love being somebody. Pick whichever of those fits best. They all fit me, apart from sovereign grace. This, Jesus says, is the root cause of unbelief.” (more…)

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Here’s a great prayer for our church (and maybe also for worship teams). Romans 15:5-6 NES says this: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

After meditating on that verse here are a few conclusions I came to: (more…)

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Fuel for Leadership

This summer I’ve been reading Zechariah, Haggai, Ezra and Nehemiah. I’ve been concentrating on the period of Israel’s return from exile and just trying to soak in what God had to say to people called to build God’s house and city in a very hostile environment. Sitting at my desk each morning with my cup of coffee and bowl of yogurt and granola, the hot summer air flooding in the open window, I’ve turned page after page. And page after page the open book before me has fed my soul with fresh strength. Through his words of hope to that sinning, struggling and oh so weak group of his people, God’s tenacious grace has gripped my heart. So I commend those portions to all who, like me, are very aware that they’re not yet home.

As I’ve read, I’ve been awed by the grace-filled visions of Zechariah and have been comforted by God’s own zeal for his people. I’ve been  reproved by the prophecies of Haggai to cowards who had more or less backed away from the battle, attempting  to live a “normal life” and make their own nests more cozy while the house of God lay in ruins. I’ve been humbled by Ezra’s deep hunger to teach God’s law to the people, no matter the cost. But I admit to being especially alert when I got to Nehemiah, expecting to see clues to strong  leadership and insights that might help Tim and I in the weeks ahead.

Surprisingly, what stood out most on my first reading through the chapters, was not Nehemiah’s leadership, but his theology…who he knew his God to be. It was Nehemiah’s theology that riveted my attention from the very first lines. For it was that that was the source of his worship, the ground of his prayers, and the fuel for his leadership. (more…)

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Leading Like Him

It’s winter. Snow blankets the woods. Soldiers shiver in foxholes guarded by shattered sentries– mortar-blasted trees.  Tension hums in the air. The men wait nervously near a town that at some point they’ll be ordered to attack. But meanwhile, enemy shells drop relentlessly from the sky, shredding anyone caught above ground.

To make matters worse, their superior officer is nowhere to be found. He  goes on “walks”, slinking away to visit headquarters, which, coincidentally is safely behind the lines. But even when present, his indecision unnerves them. (more…)

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