October 14, 2018
Haggai 1:2-4
Keeping God’s House
 
GOD SEES how you keep your house. Do you see how you’re keeping his house? God sees how you live for yourself. Do you see how you live for God? He knows how much time you spend educating yourself for your job. But how much time have you spent educating yourself about God? He sees the effort you put into earthly relationships. Have you put that same effort into your relationship with him?
 
There is our house, and there is God’s house. And God sees the time and effort we put into each one. Our house represents those things we do for ourselves. It is often characterized by self-love and indulgence. We fill it with all the things we think we need to feel secure and independent. The halls are garnished with PhDs and achievements, high-powered friendships, and impressive stock portfolios. The rooms are lined with books we’ve read or written and souvenirs of trips we’ve made around the world.
 
God’s house represents those things we’ve done solely for him. Within its rooms are the times we’ve spent seeking to draw nearer. The prayers we’ve lifted up on behalf of others. The souls we’ve reached out to. The quiet and painful sacrifices we’ve made in God’s service. Our humility before the throne. Our obedience in the most trying of circumstances. The condition of our heart.
 
Only God can see inside these two separate homes, and he knows the effort we put into keeping them. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” God asks Israel through the prophet Haggai (1:4). The question could have just as easily been posed to you and me. The Israelites were so busy with their own concerns that they never bothered to rebuild God’s Temple. Too often you and I allow God’s temple in our heart to lie in ruins as well. The homes we build for ourselves seldom go without, but God’s home is frequently sparse and barren.
 
God sees how you keep your house. Let him see that you keep his house with the same zeal and effort.
 
Reflection Are you giving God an adequate share of your time, energy, and resources? How would he have you live in light of today’s reading?
 
Weekly Prayer
“My Father God, enable me to roll my ways onto you, to trust you, and to believe that when I stand with you in the perfect daylight, I will see and understand those things that now I take on trust. All your ways are mercy and truth.”
 
October 7, 2018
Haggai 1:2-4
Keeping God’s House 
 
God sees how you live for yourself. Do you see how you live for God? He knows how much time you spend educating yourself for your job. But how much time have you spent educating yourself about God? He sees the effort you put into earthly relationships. Have you put that same effort into your relationship with Him?
 
There is our house, and there is God’s House. And God sees the time and effort we put into each one. Our house represents those things we do for ourselves. It is often characterized by self-love and indulgence. We fill it with all the things we think we need to feel secure and independent. The halls are garnished with PhDs and achievements, high-powered friendships, and impressive stock portfolios. The rooms are lined with books we’ve read or written and souvenirs of trips we’ve made around the world.
 
God’s House represents those things we’ve done solely for him. Within its rooms are the times we’ve spent seeking to draw nearer. The prayers we’ve lifted up on behalf of others. The souls we’ve reached out to. The quiet and painful sacrifices we’ve made in God’s service. Our humility before the throne. Our obedience in the most trying of circumstances. The condition of our heart.
 
Only God can see inside these two separate homes, and he knows the effort we put into keeping them. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” God asks Israel through the prophet Haggai (1:4). The question could have just as easily been posed to you and me. The Israelites were so busy with their own concerns that they never bothered to rebuild God’s Temple.
 
Too often you and I allow God’s temple in our heart to lie in ruins as well. The homes we build for ourselves seldom go without, but God’s home is frequently sparse and barren.  God sees how you keep your house. Let him see that you keep his house with the same zeal and effort.
 
Reflection Are you giving God an adequate share of your time, energy, and resources? How would he have you live in light of today’s reading?
 
Weekly Prayer
“Blessed Lord, may I find a balm for my own griefs and a solace for my own disappointment, in sympathy and ministry to those whose hearts are breaking around me. Give quick eye and skillful touch, that I may become like Barnabas, a person of consolation.
 
September 23, 2018
Speaking Out Blessings
Matthew 12:35-37
 
IMAGINE BEING GIVEN the greatest gift of your life and not being able to tell anyone about it. What would it be like to receive a blessing from God so great that you couldn’t contain your excitement and then have to keep it to yourself? That’s what happened to poor old Zechariah.
 
When the angel of the Lord told him he would be having a son—not just any son, but John the Baptist, the foreteller of the Savior—Zechariah didn’t know how to receive the news. He doubted the angel’s words. “I’m an old man now,” he said. And his lack of faith caused the angel to strike him dumb. “Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out,” Luke records, “wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them” (1:21-22).
 
The angel figured that if Zechariah couldn’t stop speaking out curses on his life, then maybe it would be best for someone to stop it for him. He quieted the old man’s tongue and told him he’d have to stay that way until his son was born. The object lesson for you and me is pretty clear. There is power in the words we say, both good and bad. What comes out of our mouths affects the state of our heart. The things we say have an impact on the direction of our future. If we speak out messages of gloom and despair and doubt, we are doing little more than bringing those destinies about. What we say influences how we see ourselves, and it limits what God can do through us.
 
But when we speak words of blessing and faith, we are allowing God to shower us with that kind of future. We are spreading seeds of hope, not hopelessness. “A good person produces good words from a good heart,” says Jesus, “and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart…. The words you say now reflect your fate” (Matthew 12:35, 37).
 
We can choose the words that come out of our mouth. We can quiet the doubt before it reaches our lips. We have the ability to bite our tongue when negative thoughts come to our mind. We also have the ability to speak blessings in their place. How we choose to speak says volumes about the depth of our faith. And a person in God’s will chooses carefully.
 
Reflection Are you in the habit of speaking out curses or blessings? Why not begin today developing positive speech habits?
 
Weekly Prayer
“God of my fathers, I bless you that life is a pilgrimage; that the earth is not my rest; that every day brings me nearer my home in the city of God. I humbly thank you that you are willing to be my companion in every step of the desert march.”
 
September 9, 2018
Overcoming Spiritual Burnout
Isaiah 40:29-31
 
WE’VE ALL experienced spiritual burnout at one time or another. We’ve all gone through days, weeks, or months of feeling far from God. We may not doubt His goodness or mercy; we just don’t feel as close to Him as we once did. We become dry and tired and lonely. Our prayers become stale, and our worship seems forced and empty.
 
In the middle of this project I went through a short period of spiritual burnout. It started with some personal health issues a couple of months ago. I spent the last month going through a series of test that at time left me completely exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake it. Writing became a chore, not a joy, as it usually is.
 
Spiritual burnout comes to us when we least expect it, and often when we can least afford to feel far from God. These are times when we most need to feel God’s hand on our shoulder and hear his gentle whisper in our heart. Oftentimes it is a sign that we are pouring ourselves out more than we are allowing God to fill us. It comes when we spend more time focusing on the things we are doing for God than we do reflecting on the Source behind our ministry. And the cure for burnout is to allow God to renew our strength with His.
 
I learned it was a time I needed to spend time with Him in prayer.  So, God had to take me through a series of events.  For example when I was away for a month, My cell phone went dead due to a malfunction in the system.  I had to spend two weeks without a phone. What was God trying to tell me?  He was trying to tell me to pray. Your strength and healing doesn’t come from man but for God.  
 
“He gives power to those who are tired and worn out,” says the prophet Isaiah; “He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength” (Isaiah 40:29-30).
 
During times of spiritual burnout, the temptation for most of us is to chase after the Lord. We cry out to Him and wear ourselves thin trying to get Him to revive our spirit. Maybe what we should do instead is to wait on Him. To stop chasing and start relaxing. To rest in His presence and allow Him to work. To meditate on His Word. To get away and listen. The best approach to finding revival from God is to simply linger in His presence. A few months relaxing may be just what’s need!
 
Reflection When is the last time you experienced spiritual burnout? How does God work to revive you during these times?
 
Weekly Prayer
“Help me to find my life according to your promise. I thank you that you have planted the germ of your own nature in me. Leave me not; neither forsake me in the toilsome, upward climb. Teach me to renew my strength and mount up with the wings of eagles.”
 
September 2, 2018
Living Sacrifices Romans 12:1
 
GOD GAVE everything to save us, and He wants us to give everything to serve Him. When Jesus laid down his life on the altar for us, He set an example of what being a true follower looks like. If we love Him, we will lay our life on the altar as He did. We will give ourselves wholly to the work of God’s Kingdom. We will forsake all other earthly pleasures in order to serve God and lead others into his arms.
 
We call ourselves Christian “disciples” without ever giving much thought to what that idea implies. A disciple is one who follows in the footsteps of his master. He goes wherever his master goes, says what his master says, does what his master does, and lives as his master lives. With every part of his being he tries to imitate his master’s actions and obey his commands. There is nothing a true disciple would not do for the one he follows.
 
There is a radical and revolutionary element to the Christian faith that most of us never really embrace. So many followers make Christianity a part of their lives without ever letting it transform their lives. Yet, Christ calls us to a complete and total renovation of the heart and lifestyle.
 
I plead with you to give your bodies to God,” Paul tells us. “Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” (Romans 12:1). Jesus went to the cross on our behalf; the least we can do for Him is to obey his teachings and to live a life that is worthy of his name. That’s the message that Paul was pleading on behalf of our Savior. He was asking us to lay aside our own agendas and to put all our energies into pleasing God and allowing him to guide us.
 
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,” Paul continues, “but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do” (Romans 12:2). True discipleship takes sacrifice and commitment beyond which most followers are willing to give. Not every believer will strive to reach this level of service to the Master. But those who do will feel his strength and power beyond all human comprehension. Commit today to becoming a living sacrifice for Jesus.
 
Reflection Would Jesus consider you a disciple in the truest sense of the word? What do you need to do in order to allow him to transform your heart and mind?
 
Weekly Prayer
“O my Savior, may I live in the spirit of prayer today. I sometimes get a glimpse of a life in which the heart goes out to you the whole day long, smiling to you in joy, confiding to you in sorrow, and talking with you of all the details of daily life. Graciously make such a life mine,”
 
August 26, 2018
The Provision of God Isaiah 52:12
 
THERE IS NO room for coincidence in God’s economy. When we are walking in the Spirit and moving in God’s will, we can be certain that whatever happens to us is part of God’s design. There is no such thing as luck. And when God directs our steps, we can do little more than stand in amazement at his miraculous intervention.
 
I’ve heard hundreds, even thousands of stories about God’s supernatural provision, yet still I find myself in awe of Him. I read one such story just this morning. It happened to an evangelist named John Robb. He was at a week-long seminar in Moscow, where he spent much of his time passing out Bibles to Muslims. A few days before his departure he ran out of Bibles and had only some tracts to give away. During his last day in Moscow, he ran into a man named Mirza—a Muslim doctor. Robb told Mirza about Jesus and gave him a tract. The man seemed intrigued, but the conversation was short.
 
The next day Mirza showed up at Robb’s hotel room, just as he was leaving for the airport. He said he came by to simply express his appreciation, but Robb could tell that his Muslim friend was interested in hearing more about Jesus. Lord, what I’d give for a Russian New Testament right now, Robb prayed silently as they spoke. Not ten seconds later a knock came at the door. It was a Russian Gideon missionary with a box full of New Testaments. They had just been given permission to place the Bibles in every room. The missionary stood with a New Testament extended toward Robb, almost as if to say, “Is this what you needed?” He gave the Bible to his new friend and said good-bye before rushing to catch his flight.
 
For the Lord will go ahead of you, and the God of Israel will protect you from behind,” says the prophet Isaiah (52:12). Though it may often feel as if we’re on our own, God is always beside us. When we are moving in His strength, He is guiding our steps and watching from behind. We are never alone.
 
Reflection When have you experienced the miraculous provision of God during a time of need? Do you allow God to direct your steps on a daily basis.
 
Weekly Prayer
“May my heart be as a palace, which the One who is strong keeps in perfect peace. And let me not miss whatever grace may be won, or lesson learned, or sympathy gained through the fiery ordeal of temptation.”
 
August 19, 2018
God Has Never Failed Psalm 37:23-25
 
ONE OF THE MOST arrogant statements a person can make is to say, “God has failed me.” It is the haughtiest thought of a person’s mind. It is the most conceited sentence a tongue can utter. 
 
“God, our Father, we come to you weak and frail and wounded. So many here have lost so much, and yet we are grateful to you for your grace and for your mercy.” The Mark, 362
 
Yet most of us have thought or said it at one time or another—if not through our words, at least through our actions. When trying times come, we slump into our sulking chair and fold our arms across our chest, thinking, How could God have let this happen? Doesn’t He know I had a plan? Isn’t He paying attention? How could He fail me like this?
 
We’re certain we know what’s best for our future, and when God doesn’t cooperate, we’re quick to remind Him how out of line He is. If only He could see things our way, He’d understand. At least that’s how it seems from our point of view. But is God really so out of touch? Do we really think He isn’t paying attention?
 
“The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord,” said King David. “He delights in every detail of their lives…. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly forsaken, nor seen their children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:23, 25).
 
There have been literally billions of people on the planet since the days of Adam, and God has never failed one of them, yet somehow we convince ourselves that He has forgotten our predicament. What message does that send to God about the level of our trust?
 
God’s power is most evident when it seems that our life is most out of control. When we are the weakest, He is the strongest. When we need Him most, He is nearer than ever. Even when it seems that life has left us alone, God is right beside us, holding us in the palm of his mighty hand. The worst we can do during these times of trial is to blame God and fight Him for control. The best we can do is to let go and believe His promises.
 
Reflection When is the last time you felt like God had forsaken you? Has he ever let you down in the past? Pray that he will help you trust him in the midst of your troubles.
 
Weekly Prayer
“Fulfill in me, O God, those desires of goodness which you have put in my heart, and complete the work of faith, that Jesus Christ may be glorified in me.”