Author Archives: chefdave11

2 Chronicles 31; Revelation 17; Zechariah 13:2-9; John 16

Beginnings…Endings…Beginnings

Here we are…smack dab in the middle of the Christmas season. For those of us of the Christian faith, it’s the time of the birth of our savior. A time when the God of the universe came to this earth in human form to be “with” us and to ultimately save us. This time of year marks the moment that God bridged the vast distance between the glorious heavens and an earthly realm bent on opposing all that is holy. What’s amazing about this is that God did not “need” to do this…nor did He “have” to do this…instead He did it because He loved us. For us it was the beginning of our chance at eternity.

Part of today’s scripture takes us to yet another pivotal moment in the destiny of humanity. Christ brings us to the foretelling of His death. He marks the time and summarizes His life embraced with humanity. He reflects back on His time here on the earth and gives it as a clear example of the path we all find ourselves on. He adamantly proves out that we will have sorrow in this world…that we will find tribulation breaching the hulls of our lives. But (and probably the largest interpretation of the word “but”)…He provides us with hope beyond the sorrow and tribulation. That these things must pass in order for Glory to become realized. (John 16:22) And not only that, but the tribulation we now face and have yet to face HAS BEEN OVERCOME! (John 16:33) The life of the Son in this world is coming to an end…all because of the love of the Father.

And while these passages deal with Christ’s life coming to end here on this earth…it also opens up to yet another glorious beginning. For as God sent His Son for us to die…Christ now sends the Holy Spirit to indwell us with power and guidance. (John 16:13-14) Oh how we so undeservingly were given a Helper to be “within” us and not just “near” us. For all who have accepted Christ, this gift of the Holy Spirit is the lifeblood we all have beating through our veins and powering our hearts.

Lord, let me find newness in your Son’s birth…thanksgiving in your Son’s death…and wisdom in your Spirit’s guidance.

The implications of the name “Immanuel” are both comforting and unsettling. Comforting, because He has come to share the danger as well as the drudgery of our everyday lives. He desires to weep with us and to wipe away our tears. And what seems most bizarre, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, longs to share in and to be the source of the laughter and the joy we all too rarely know.
~ Michael Card ~

~ chefdave11

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2 Chronicles 13; Revelation 3; Haggai 1; John 2

Preparing for Eternity

Here we are…coming down to the last few weeks of 2010.  The passages for today give me a clear look into why it is so important to recognize and acknowledge that the end is near and we have no time like the present to prepare ourselves for that time.

I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you…He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Revelation 3:3,5

How could I review these passages and not be reminded yet again that a wishy washy faith that tries to play the game of having one foot in eternity and one foot in the world…just doesn’t cut it for a life that’s intended for glory.  That when preparing for a marathon…I can’t train like I’ve already won.  That I can’t live with bipolar commitments.

I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Revelation 3:15,16

It’s horrifying to me to think that God would rather me walk a faith turned completely cold to Him over a life that makes a halfhearted pursuit.  If that doesn’t present perspective to the preparation set before me…nothing will. 

You can see this same idea laid out early in Jesus’ ministry.  He enters the temple…a temple built to glorify God.  It was built for a single purpose…built in supreme architectural excellence to point to the singular God of the universe.  Instead it was being used for a substitute God.  It was drawing attention to trinkets and profit of man.  Jesus couldn’t stand a soiling of the place meant to glorify Him…and Him alone.  A lukewarm temple is not a temple God desires to encounter.

And to those that were selling the doves He said, “Take those things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

John 2:16

Yes we are coming down to the last few weeks of 2010, but with that finale…we have a beginning.  We have the birth of our Savior to reflect upon and accept as the strength and power for our transformation.  Just as Jesus presented the best wine for the end of the party through transformation (John 2:10), He desires our best to come from the transformation of us.

Let my life be a transformation in preparation for eternity.  Let my God speak to me the words I long to hear…

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

Revelation 3:10-12

~chefdave11

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1 Chronicles 24, 25; 1 Peter 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

– CHOICE –

I think I’ve been struck by this simple yet deep concept more than any other as I’ve plowed my journey through scripture over the years.  Every time I’m impacted by it…it takes me deeper and deeper into the truth behind it.  And now, here again, I find today’s selections of scripture focusing me back on this vital tenant to anchor my life. 

So many examples are given in just these few passages to build a foundational understanding that the way my life plays out is essentially in my hands to choose as I see fit.  God clearly presents the opportunity…but I ultimately choose to embrace the opportunity or I choose to throw my weight against the opportunity in preference of my own selfishness.

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I can choose to shepherd those God has placed in my midst…

            …or I can choose to make my wellbeing the bent of my existence

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly.

1 Peter 5:2

I can choose to accept the present danger of the adversary by humbly submitting to the hand of God…

            …or I can choose to walk obliviously in the midst of the danger that stalks me

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

1 Peter 5:6-8

I can choose to put full weight against my actions…

            …or I can choose to squeeze out every weak kneed justification I can muster.

Hear now, O heads of Jacob,
      And you rulers of the house of Israel:
      Is it not for you to know justice?

Micah 3:1

I can choose to let my entire life follow Christ…

…or I can choose to believe that there are portions of my life that can be safely hidden from influence.

For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.

Luke 12:2

I can choose to humbly fall to my knees at the feet of an all-powerful God and find comfort in His protection…

            …or I can choose to flex my will against God’s and believe that my protection is in my hands.

Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Luke 12:5
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:7

I can choose to live my life as a confession of Christ…

            …or I can choose to accept Christ, live my own life and make confession to neither.

Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Luke 12:8-9

I can choose to give all God has blessed me with as an offering to others…

            …or I can choose to keep my possessions, ability, talent and wisdom closer to my chest as a “blankey” of selfishness.

And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool!

Luke 12:19-20

I can choose to rest and find peace in the overwhelming provision of our Protector…

            …or I can choose to self-reliantly make an attempt at foreseeing and planning every minute of my life in order to try to feel safe.

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 12:31

I can choose to utilize the preparation and equipping God has provided as an asset for my life…

            …or I can choose to deny that which has been given and accept a life of halfhearted mediocrity.

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Luke 12:48

I can choose to stand behind the convictions of the Lord…

            …or I can choose to appease and avoid conflict for as many people as I can.

Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.

Luke 12:51

Throughout life I am faced with choices…some of those choices can lead to God and other can lead away.  My life needs to be one with eyes wide open to the choices presented and heart properly aligned with the great opportunity giver.

LORD…guide me in paths of righteousness on this journey to seek You first.  Allow my choices to be bathed in Your mercy…Your grace…and Your guidance.

– CHOOSE –

~chefdave11

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1 Chronicles 3, 4; Hebrews 9; Amos 3; Psalm 146,147

This passage of Hebrews gives me an incredible reminder of just exactly what Christ’s death was able to accomplish for me.

This passage begins by detailing the extreme measures that were required for someone to even come close to God’s presence.  Elaborate rituals, tabernacles and preparations had to be adhered to in order to just somewhat draw near to the place God resided…and even under those strict guidelines and rules only a few ever had even the slightest bit of chance to engage it.  The presence of God was thought to reside in a completely different world than the common man.

To even gain some asemblance of relationship with God, rituals of blood needed to be performed over and over and over to possibly give a mere penance of what the cost of our sin weighed.  The image becomes one of a desperate gambler trying to pay off their bookie one penny at a time uttering the words…“just give me a little more time to get the rest!”  It’s never enough and the debt can never get paid that way.

We then encounter the second half of Hebrews 9 and see that there is a single and final way to have this debt of sin paid in full.  It isn’t through ritual…it isn’t through tabernacles…and it isn’t through our effort.  Christ came to eliminate our shortcoming with His greatness and perfection.  Christ came to break down the barriers that kept relationship with God out of reach.  Christ came to offer the blood that only needed to be spilt once…and once for all.

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:12

Dr. J. Vernon McGee hits this verse right on the head in his commentary of Hebrews.  He says:  “The emphasis of this verse is upon the contrast that Christ entered once into the Holy Place and obtained eternal redemption.  The Israelite priests went in continually, and they got a temporary sort of thing.  Only Christ went in once and obtained eternal redemption.  This now puts the authority and the importance upon the sacrifice of Christ, and it reminds us that the life of Christ never saved anyone.  You can follow His teachings and think you are saved, but, my friend, His teachings never saved anyone.  It is the death of Christ, it is His redemption that saves.”

His death and His blood bridge the gap I can never span on my own.  I can try with all my good deeds and good intentions, but ultimately it was solely up to His work for me…all else are mere pennies towards my debt.

Let it be said by me…

“Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul!

While I live I will praise the Lord;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

Psalm 146:1-2

 

~chefdave11

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2 Kings 13; 2 Timothy 3; Hosea 5; Hosea 6; Psalm 119:145-176

It’s often said that the last words someone might speak are the most important things that need to be said.  Here we come to the end of 2 Timothy with some of the final words that Paul has chosen to communicate to his pupil Timothy.  I can’t help but think that Paul held these lessons in high regard and they’re precepts that of which he wanted to ensure Timothy could live out and carry on.

2 Timothy 3 points to one of the concepts that Paul had lived his entire life.  It’s speaks not only to what God has chosen to communicate but maybe more so out of Paul’s firsthand experience.  He’s ensuring that Timothy thoroughly understands the path chosen by a true man of God.  He speaks of a life not surrounded by roses and puppy dogs, but instead of a world bent on taking the feet out from under him.  He embraces the reality that there is a lifestyle that ignores the truth bestowed upon those who believe.  He acknowledges that we must choose the path not offered by the world and instead find foundation in truth.

Paul came from a life of persecuting others and chose a life of persecution.  Few in the scriptures were persecuted as strongly as Paul for what he believed in, but Paul was able to supernaturally utilized those persecutions to preach Jesus to the world. 

“Now you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings……I endured, and out of them the Lord rescued me!”  v. 10 & 11

He is pronouncing…”please look at my life!”.  Not because he raises his ministry up in pride…but because of the obvious work of Christ for rescuing him through it and from it.  He’s pronouncing…”please look at my life…and see Christ!”

He then goes and boldly makes two promises if you choose to follow Christ…

1)    You will be persecuted!

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  v. 12

He makes no mistake in telling us that this journey we are choosing will be difficult and will come with it those who desire to see you fall and fail.

2)    With Christ, the persecution can be overcome!

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is Christ Jesus.”  v. 14 & 15

God provides us the tools and the power to stand up against and endure persecution.  If we choose to follow the teaching we have been given and stand true…those who stand against us will have no power.

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These are the final words of Paul to Timothy…and words I think we all need to heed.  When I get beat up, discouraged, and persecuted…I can know that I have a God that stands to hold me up and strengthens me to endure.

~ chefdave11

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1 Kings 20; Thessalonians 3; Daniel 2; Psalm 106

What struck me about the Daniel passage was the posture of Nebuchadnezzar in his request for reason about his dream.  Essentially, he had a dream that he knew meant “something”…and he wanted an explanation.  He had a problem though…who could he trust to explain the dream?  How would he know if the person explaining the dream was just making it up or was it a true interpretation?

How many times do I just settle for “an” answer to life’s problems and mysteries…when I should be seeking “the” answer?  Am I seeking counsel for the interpretation of my life just to find someone who agrees with my interpretation…or am I ensuring the interpretation comes from a true place?

Nebuchadnezzar reasons that if he can find someone who can also tell him the details of the dream itself…that same person could also be trusted to interpret the dream.  He’s looking for someone truly gifted to be his counsel in this matter.  It’s so important to him that he poses severe consequences for those around him that cannot do it…to the point of death!!!  Nebuchadnezzar knows that God speaks…and he wants to listen, but he knows that his own understanding is not strong enough to grasp the weight and breadth of what God has in store.  He’s seeking wisdom with as much intentionality and strength that he can muster.  Granted, he may have taken it too far, but the point is clear that he wanted the truth!

In times of pain, confusion or offered guidance by God…who am I seeking wisdom from.  Am I surrounding myself with people that are just like me?  Do the questions I ask lead to the answer I want?  Am I predicating my journey with breadcrumbs thrown ahead of me?  Or…

Am I seeking Godly wisdom from mentors that have nothing to gain from their own words?  Am I seeking counsel from specific people who I have identified as seeking God and God alone?  Is my desire to find God’s truth through Godly people?  Am I able to point to those who help me navigate life and say to them…

”Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and the revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47).

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1 Kings 13; Philippians 4; Ezekiel 43; Psalm 95; Psalm 96

I wonder how much my life would be different if I simply lived by Philippians 4?  I look at all of scripture and do my best to live by its teaching as much as possible, but chapters such as this bring me back to the simplicity of it all. 

You see…sometimes I take this large conglomerate of knowledge and wisdom that we call the bible and I end up packaging it in such a way that it becomes too big for my everyday life.  This chapter, though, makes quick work of exemplifying some simple yet life changing principles that should never become out of reach or buried or lost in the conglomeration.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!” (verse 4)

Oh, how the world in my midst would change if I learned to truly rejoice…not just when I “felt” like it, but at all times.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (verses 6 & 7)

What a picture of prayer this is and what a picture I so frequently fail to provide.  Why is it that find it so difficult to ask, when right here it is so clear that God desires our requests to be made with a heart of thanksgiving.  And not only does it provide the freedom to make those requests, it gives s a glimpse of how God is able to encounter us upon those requests.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”  (verse 8 )

Such a reminder on what and where my mind should rest.  These are verses that, if kept in sight throughout my day, could change the very nature of my presence.  How my mind, body and spirit could find peace and comfort if my thoughts and meditations were set on these wonderful attributes.

“…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (verses 11-13)

All things?…that’s a promise that bulges the bounds of my understanding, but at the same time gives me great hope in how God intends me to live.  When my apparent weakness rears its head, I can know that beyond my simple strength, lays the strength to overcome all.

~chefdave11

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