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The Lord is a Warrior

“The Lord is a warrior, The Lord is his name!” (Ex 15:3)

Talk about a powerful verse!  That is who is on Moses’ side, and my side also.  Earlier in Exodus, when Moses was nervous to go tell Pharoah to let the people go, Moses asked God, “Who should I tell him sent me?”  God:  “tell him I AM sent you.”  I AM, in it’s most basic Hebrew language form is “BE”.  The word BEcame flesh, The world BEheld, BE still, and most of all BEloved.  That is who came, BE.  That same BE, I AM is a warrior, fighting on our behalf.  When Pharoah chased after the Isrealites it appeared that God’s people would be killed.  But BE, I AM showed up once again, parted the water and saved his people.

Prayer:  Lord, may I remember today that you are a warrior.  It’s so easy to think of you as a sweet shepherd tending his sheep.  Give me a clear picture today of I AM.  I am yours.  Amen

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The King of Glory

Who is the King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord invincible in battle…
the God of Angel Armies, he is the King of Glory.” Ps 24:8&10

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the moment, to work hard all day and week building the kingdom of me. It’s my natural tendency to look out for myself first. The Psalmist shatters this thinking and reminds me that I am not in charge, I answer to a king, The King of Glory. My guess is that those who were under the rule of a king in days gone by, did not really appreciate being “servants” to the king. In contrast, the King we get to serve is strong, mighty, invincible in battle, He is the God of Angel armies. Talk about an ally. He has all the qualities that I desire, deserves all the reverence of a king, and all the while He offers friendship. The King of all things offers friendship and partnership to me today.

Prayer: You have so many qualities that I want. Graft those qualities of strength and might in me. I am under your authority. Amen

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Discouragement and Bondage

“Moses reported this to the Isrealites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and bondage.”  Ex 6:9

The “this” that Moses reported to the Isrealites is that God spoke to him.  God said to tell the people that I AM is the Lord, that I AM is in control.  God goes on to say to Moses that he will rescue the people and bring them into the Promised Land once again.  Unfortunately, the Isrealites are too focused on the present to see a different future.
The Catholic priest that we do retreat with from time to time gives a great definition of discouragement: “without faith, without belief.”  In spite of God speaking that day, the Isrealites did not believe that God would rescue them.  Wow, that’s convicting!  How often do You speak and yet I still don’t believe.  Over and over in the Bible you say, “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.  I am God, I am in control.  I will rescue you”, yet it’s so easy to get caught up in discouragement and bondage.  Talk about two tools of the Evil One, especially today: discouragement and bondage.

Prayer:  Lord, it is so easy to get discouraged.  Often I turn around and I am in bondage and don’t even realize it.  Help me to believe your truth today.  The truth that You are I AM, that You are in control, and You will come to my rescue.  Amen

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Coming out of hiding

“For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20

My temptation is to try and do life by myself.  It’s easier, more efficient, and I can be in control.  After all, in this faced paced world, I don’t really have time for others.  We live in a culture that worships busyness.  Just pay attention to a greeting at work or even from a friend, “How are you, you staying busy?”  I hate that greeting and most often my answer is, “No”, simply to get a reaction from the asker.  The truth remains, however, that it takes a conscious effort on my part not to do life on my own.
Jesus’ words in Matt invade this 21st century thinking that we buy in to.  His promise is  that if we will gather together, even two of us, then He will be there present.  That means Father, Son, Holy Spirit are present.  After all, the very essence of God is community.  His invitation today, and every day, is to enter into communion with Him and with others to live life together.   It takes time and labor to invest in others and allow them to invest in me.  But as Jesus tells us, it is powerful.  Having made the shift a number of years ago to living life with others, I can honestly say that it changed me, significantly, and for the better.  The invitation is communion with God and with others.

Prayer:  Lord, help me today not to do life own my own.  It seems so much easier at the time.  Help me to come out of hiding and open my life to You and others today.  Amen

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Fall of a nation

“Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.  Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm.”  Ps 20:7

There must have been a time when this verse was true of our country.  I know David was talking about his nation, but I have to believe that the United States, founded on the principles of Jesus, once boasted in the name of the Lord our God.  The question today is not so much, “When did we stray away?”  but instead, “What are the consequences of  our decisions as a nation.”  Well, it appears that we are getting a glimpse of the consequences.  David warns us that the result will be collapse.  The truth is that we as a nation have “boasted in chariots and horses” for quite some time.
I drove past a church 8 or 9 months ago and saw a sign that said, “Blesses is the nation whose God is the Lord”  (Ps 33:12).   My first thought was, “that’s certainly not us.”  We have many gods, none of which are the Lord.  I wonder what David would say if he looked our nation, oh wait, I think he already spoke to us, maybe not directly, but to the reality of where we are as a country.
Prayer:  Lord, you have the power and ability to return us to You.  Have mercy on us.  May we become a nation and a people who have you are our God.  Amen

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Armed for the battle

“You have armed me with strength for the battle.”  Ps 18:39

Just a few vs earlier David says, “He (the Lord) trains my hands for battle.” (v31)  The battle that David is referring to here goes way beyond his experience on the battle field.   The battle is for his life, his heart, his relationship to God and others.  His life experience  tells him that there is a battle to fight in all areas of his life.  One man put it this way, “Anything worth having will require you to fight for it.”  My eyes were opened a few years ago to John 10:10.  To say open, I mean I began to understand the whole verse.  For many years I focused only on the second half of the verse, “…life to the fullest.”  I somehow missed the part, “the thief comes to kill, steal, destroy.”  That’s why God gives us the strength for battle, and trains us for it, because the thief is opposing us.  The last thing Satan wants is for us to live life to the fullest.  So there are two real forces at war for our hearts, and the only way we will end up on the side of love is to fight.  That means I have to fight to make a conscious effort today to get time alone with Jesus, to serve my wife, to engage with my kids when my mind is racing, to pray for, encourage and be present with those I minister with and to on a daily basis.  Throughout the day I must choose to fight.

Prayer:  Oh Lord, that I might engage in the battle today.  The battle that you call me to, the battle for my own heart and the hearts of others.  Have mercy on me.  Amen

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You alone are God

“For who is God but the Lord, and who is a rock except our God”  Ps 16:31

This verse takes me back to a book that my mentor gave me a few years ago that had a big impact on my life, “Who is God, Who am I, Who are You?”  In this book, the author give a great explanation of pride: “The passion of pride convinces a person, down inside himself, that he can get along without God.”  Pride is believing that we are God, that we are in control of our own lives.  Ps 16 confronts us with the reality that there is only one God, one rock, one refuge, and it is not us.  Sometimes my tedency is believe that I can go it alone, “I’ve got this one Lord, I’ll call on You for a bigger issue.”  Other times my tendency is to give others the power that only God has, the power to define who I am or what I am worth.  The truth is that no one, including me, is God.  You God, alone, are God.  “You make my feet like hinds feet, You set me upon high places, You train my hands for battle (v33).

Prayer: You are God, You alone are in control.  Take control of my life today.  I surrender!  Amen

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True joy

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Ps 16:11

I read a fascinating book last year (www.lifemodel.org/product.php?type=book&rn=1).  The main subject of the book is joy.  “We are creatures of joy.  At it’s essence joy is relational.  Joy means someone is delighted to be with me and I like it! Our creator made us with brains that want to operate with joy in charge, and our lives want to be filled with relationships that lead us to joy.”
Ps 16 speaks of this joy.  Ultimate joy comes from being in the presence of God, being delighted in by Him.  It’s hard for me to accept that joy is out natural state of mind.  That means anxiety, fear, worry, disillusionment are invaders of the heart and mind.  Now that I think about it, there is quite a bit of talk about joy in the NT.
“make my joy complete” http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1435
“enter into the joy of your master” www.biblebrowser.com/matthew/25-21.htm
Back to Ps 16, You God are the one that shows me the way of life, true joy comes from being with you, and pleasure is achieved by walking with you today and forever.
Prayer:  I look to so many other things for life, joy and pleasure.  Have mercy on me oh God, help me to live in your presence and experience your joy today.  Amen.

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Rest for the soul

Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matt 11:28-29

Rest for the soul, even the very sound of that phase is appealing.  It’s what we long for, we just don’t know it.  We think we want rest for our body, so we try to get sleep, or rest of our mind, so we watch tv or get on the internet, but what we really need is rest for our souls.  Just before this statement Jesus says, “no one truly knows the Father except the Son AND those the Son chooses to reveal to Him.”  He’s foreshadowing to what true rest is, to know and be know by the Father.  That’s the only way we will ever get rest, by knowing that we are loved.  Otherwise, as Henry Noewen says, we will spend our lives literally begging others to love us.
“Weary and heavy burdened” describes us as a culture today.   We worship busyness and overcommitment, and if we believe in Jesus we ask him to bless our many plans.  Yet, His words invade us today, “Let me teach you..and you will find rest for your souls.”    Man, I want rest, I want that rest that Jesus talks about here.  I know the only way to receive that rest is to steal away each day and be restored by the One that makes us whole.

Prayer:  My Lord, you have such a different way about you.  You are humble, gentle at heart, you provide the ultimate rest.  Teach me to rest in you today.  I am yours.  Amen

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“Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“When he entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  Matt 9:28

On a morning when my faith is wavering, coming off of a day a fight off belief, you put this verse in front of me.  Reading this verse in Utmost 4 years ago shifted my journey.  I still remember where we were on the highway when my buddy reached in the back of his vehicle, grabbed the book and said, “Have you read Utmost today?”  I must have read it 10 times in a row, the last few times aloud so that we could both take it in.  Ever since then You have been pointing me toward belief.  Before this morning I haven’t payed close attention to the order of things in this verse.  You asked the question first, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and waited for a reply.  The 2 blind men replied, “Yes Lord”  and THEN You said, “”It shall be done to you because of your belief.”  Man we miss that.  Jesus allows for our belief to dictate the outcome of our lives.  That is scary, but this verse, and many others I have found since this one, tell us this is true.  “Shawn, do you believe, really?  I know you want to, but do you?”  Yes Lord!  “It shall be done according to your belief.”

Prayer:  Lord, I have a lot of “this’s” in my life.  There are a lot of “this’s” that come up each day.  I belive that you can do this!  You are the God who comes, who has come and who continues to come.  Glory to you.  Amen