With Abandon

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, February 21, 2012. Back to work today, after a long weekend. We had a great visit with my parents, yesterday, along with a fairly healthy lunch at The Mesquite Pit in Mineral Wells. After looking over the menu, which actually had a small variety of grilled foods, Christi and both chose the 1/2 barbecued chicken, which consisted of, I guess, a breast, leg and wing (there may have been a thigh in there, but not sure), that had been probably rotisserie barbecued. It was very tasty, along with two sides of green beans. I’m sure it was more calories than I’m supposed to have for one meal, but we balanced it off by having a simple sandwich and 100 calorie bag of low fat popcorn for dinner after our workout yesterday.

It’s currently 37 and clear, outside, this morning, with a projected high of 69. No rain in the forecast…should be a beautiful day.

My Utmost For His Highest

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:6

“If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love.” I could stop right there, couldn’t I? I mean…that could be the totality of today’s devotion, all wrapped up in one sentence. If I am sensible and discreet, always calculating…that’s not really love. “It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.” Have I ever been so carried away by love for God that I do something, not just out of the sense of duty, or because there is something in it for me?

Here is a bold statement. “Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness.” I can hear the gasps of shock from here. What??? “Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God.” I am of no use to God…I must accept that fact. However, I can be of value to him. What’s the difference? I can’t consciously do things just because I think they will be useful to God. Well, I guess I can, but they won’t be. They will simply be “feathers” in my cap. But if I am abandoned to him…truly abandoned, he can work through me all the time. In that way, I can be of value to him.

Tabletalk Magazine

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; Daniel 7:13-14a

Tabletalk is going to spend the next few days examining some of the titles that Scripture uses for Jesus. This study begins with one that Jesus frequently used for himself in the gospels. This title was “Son of Man.” Some believe that he used this title to emphasize his humanity. Some say that it means he saw himself as a prophet, like Ezekiel, who was also called “son of man.”

The passage quoted above is “the primary background for our Lord’s use of the title ‘Son of Man.'” Jesus’s quoting of this text from Daniel “shows us that He is worthy to receive an everlasting dominion from God Almighty.” In the first part of Daniel 7, several kings, represented by beasts, are cast down from their dominion, and it is all given to “one like a son of man.”

“This ‘son of man’ comes from heaven, is worthy of everlasting majesty and dignity, and has a kingdom that knows no ethnic boundaries.” When he called himself “Son of Man,” he was telling people that his origin was not Bethlehem, “but that He is from all eternity.”

The Bible Panorama

Mark 3; Numbers 1-2

Mark 3 begins with a teaching on the “Sabbath” (1-6) as Jesus quizzes the religious leaders before healing a man with a withered hand. He simply asks them if it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or should harm be done? Which should he do on the Sabbath, save life or kill? When they did not answer him, he healed the man. After speaking to crowds, Jesus heals many people, and they begin to publicly claim that he is the “Son” of God (7-12). He then appoints the twelve (some of whom had already been chosen) to eventually be “Sent” out to preach his message (13-19). In 20-30, there is “Serious” accusation leveled against him by religious leaders, who accuse him of being in league with Satan. Jesus, at this time, shows that they are in violation of a sin for which there is no forgiveness, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I think I may have just noticed that this sin is defined in this passage, so there is no need for the ongoing question about what this means. Mark simply says, “…for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.'” (v 30) In 31-34, Jesus teaches that his closest family is “Spiritual,” not biological.

Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch. It was written by Moses, probably between 1445 and 1405BC, during the wilderness wanderings. It has the name “Numbers” because, well, that’s what it does. It records and numbers the children of Israel, and their organization by tribes. It also relates their wandering in the desert after failing to enter the Promised Land because of their lack of faith. They are characterized by sinfulness, failures, murmurings, jealousy, and unbelief. What a lovely list. Yet God’s presence remains with them.

As Numbers 1 begins, they are in the “Desert” (1), and it is the second month of the second year since they left Egypt. “Details” are taken (2-19) of all males over twenty years, that are able to fight. In 20-46, the numbers of “Descendants” of the sons of Israel, who are able to fight in war, are given by tribe. The Levites, however, are “Different” and are excluded from this numbering (47-53). At this time, Israel is successful in “Doing” all that God commands (54).

Numbers 2 begins by giving details of the placement of “The Tabernacle” in the camp (1-2), whenever they stop. 3-34 shows how “The Tribes” are to arrange themselves around the tabernacle when the stop to camp.

Father, it is my desire to be abandoned to you. Perhaps I have reached that point a couple of times in my whole life, but it has never lasted more than a few moments. I want to be like Mary, who burst on the scene, broke open the most expensive thing she had, and poured it over the head of Jesus, taking no thought whatsoever of what others might think of her actions. I want to be like that. Why? Because you have forgiven me of many sins, and of many that I’m sure I will commit in the future. Because you are infinitely beautiful! And you deserve my full worship and praise. I pray that I would be moving in that direction.

I praise you, Lord Jesus, Son of Man! I acknowledge your worthiness, your kingship, your lordship. You are King of kings and Lord of lords! You are from all eternity in origin! I will praise you with every breath that proceeds from my mouth for all eternity. I look forward with great anticipation to the day when I will be united with you for eternity. I pray that I will be able to serve you with abandon, as I grow closer to you and the Father in this life.

I pray for this day, Father. I have not heard any update on Bart. I continue to pray for his health and healing, Lord. I pray for Christi’s day at work, and mine as well. May we both have a good, productive day at work today. I pray that Stephanie’s day will go well, also, with her meeting with the teacher. I pray that she got a good amount of homework done last night. I also pray for her first meeting with a new trainer Friday night. I pray that you will help him to understand how to work with her for the best results.

I pray for continued success in our workout and health program. Let us continue to be faithful, without wavering, in this journey.

May we all work toward living our lives with abandon toward God.

Grace and peace, friends.



It’s Wednesday morning, January 18, 2012. It’s brrrrrr 28 degrees out right now, but should make it to around 56 this afternoon. Looks like I’ll be wearing “The Coat” today.

Let me update on yesterday’s prayer request. The young lady’s husband died in his sleep Sunday night. She woke up and he didn’t. This is a tragic situation, and she and her family could use a lot of prayer right now. The family, as a whole, are strong Christians, so that helps, but it’s still a dark, sad, time for them.

Stephanie had a good meeting with her teacher yesterday, and has another scheduled for today. The teacher will be out of town for the rest of the week, so they will resume next week.

We went to 24-hr Fitness again last night, making it three days in a row. We’ll be back tonight, and Stephanie will meet her trainer. We bought her three personal training sessions, just to help get her some good direction.

My Utmost For His Highest

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28

It’s almost like today’s reading is split into two topics. First, Chambers makes a good point that, too often, we are intent on having Jesus satisfy our thirst (which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing) instead of us satisfying him. And it’s true, sometimes. I’ve run into a lot of people who are more concerned with what they can get out of Jesus than what they can give him. Being a witness for Christ means “a life of unsullied, uncompromising and unbridled devotion to the Lord Jesus, a satisfaction to Him wherever He places us.”

Suddenly, Chambers turns a corner. “Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ.” I love this quote. “Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ.” What, do you think, might be the greatest competitor? Many would say money, pride, sex, drugs, television, materialism, etc. Nay, says Chambers. “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him.” WHAT??? Yes, and I love this thought, because I have also seen this to be true. I have been part of churches that worried more about “doing” than they did worshiping. “We have to be BUSY!! We have to be DOING SOMETHING!!” But the doing is the joy that we fulfill because of our devotion to Christ! “The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him.” And how is God satisfied? John Piper, I believe, said it best in Desiring God. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I know…the quote says “glorified” not “satisfied.” But I believe that God is “satisfied” to be “glorified.”

I suddenly remember an old hymn that we sang when I was a child. (Some of you youngsters may not remember “hymns.” They came in a “book.” Remember “books?”) It’s called “Satisfied With Jesus,” and was written by B.B. McKinney, copyright 1926. It was number 436 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. Yes. I still have a copy of that hymnal. Anyway…the first verse goes:
I am satisfied with Jesus,
He has done so much for me:
He has suffered to redeem me,
He has died to set me free.

But then there is a twist in the “refrain:”
I am satisfied, I am satisfied,
I am satisfied with Jesus,
But the question comes to me,
As I think of Calvary,
Is my Master satisfied with me?

A question we would all do well to ponder.

Tabletalk Magazine

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5

“Understanding the depth of our sin and misery is the first step to understanding the sovereignty of God in salvation. If the intentions of our hearts are wicked from our youth (Gen. 8:21), if we possess corrupt natures from the moment we come into existence in our mothers’ wombs (Ps. 51:5), and if we enter the world dead in our ‘trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 1:1-3), then we need the Lord to act upon us and in us if we are to escape this condition. Being wholly disinclined to obey our Creator, there is no reason why we would submit to His way of salvation in Christ Jesus.” Friends, this last quote is why I’m a Calvinist. It’s why I believe in the “Doctrines of Grace.” If I am to be saved, if I am to be a participant in the new birth, God must take the initiative. In fact, I’m really not much of a participant at all.
We know that believing in Jesus is a good thing, but I can do no good thing until my “God-hating” nature is removed. And no one can remove that but God. In need a new disposition before I can love the Lord. I need regeneration, “and regeneration must precede faith if we are to have faith at all.” This is important. I’m quoting more than usual because I can’t say it better. “We are not given new hearts after we believe; rather, we believe because the Spirit takes the first step and gives us new hearts.”
This concept of being “born again by the Spirit of God” is in the Scripture passage above, and is echoed in Q&A 8 of the Heidelberg Catechism. The question is “Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?” The answer is “Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.” The Spirit must do the “sovereign, regenerating work” of opening our blind eyes and then give us the willingness to turn from our sin and follow Christ. “Regeneration precedes faith, and to say otherwise is to rob God of His sovereign glory in salvation.”

The Bible Panorama

Matthew 12:22-50; Genesis 43-45

As we continue in Matthew 12, we see a miracle of Jesus being attributed to “Satan” (22-32). Jesus identifies their accusation as blasphemy, an unforgivable sin. AS he continues speaking about the Pharisees, he talks about “Speech” (33-37) and states that we will be held accountable for every word we say. That’s rather frightening, isn’t it? The words of our mouth indicate the true nature of our heart. That is also frightening. The Pharisees then dig their hole a little deeper by asking for “Signs” (38-42). They reject Jesus, who manifests God in the flesh, but ask for signs. Jesus tells them that the only sign they are getting is the sign of Jonah, who spent three days and nights in the belly of a large fish, which was a foreshadowing, which Jesus now points out, of his time in the grave. Jesus then speaks about “Spirits” (43-45) indicating that, without the operation of God’s grace, things will only get worse. Finally, people are “Surprised” (46-50) when Jesus declares that people who do the will of His Father are more “family” than his blood brothers and mother.

Genesis 43–The saga of Joseph and his brothers continues. But first, there is “Delay” (1-5), as Jacob and family have run out of food again. The brothers refuse to go back to Egypt without Benjamin. There is a great “Debate” (6-10) between them and Jacob. Finally, Jacob makes a difficult “Decision” (11-14) and reluctantly agrees to send Benjamin. They take double the money with them and some gifts from their land. When the return, there are “Doubts” (15-23) concerning the money that was returned on the first trip. These are put to rest by Joseph’s steward. Then there is “Drama” (24-34) as Joseph prepares for them a huge feast. He seats them in birth order and gives Benjamin five times as much food as the others. When they first meet him, and he sees Benjamin, he cannot restrain himself. He has to leave the room to weep.

Genesis 44–Joseph continues his charade, however, with “Joseph’s Plan” (1-15). He loads them up with food, puts their money back in their sacks again, but this time, puts his personal silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. He then sends the steward to overtake them and accuse them of stealing. When the cup is found in Benjamin’s bag, the other brothers tore their clothes in dismay. They are returned to the city, where “Judah’s Panic” (16-17) ensues. Joseph demands that only the one who was found with the cup stay as his servant. This leads to “Judah’s Plea” (18-34) Judah begs and pleads, coming full circle from his involvement in the conspiracy against Joseph in the first place. Judah explains that, if they return without Benjamin, Jacob will die from grief.

Genesis 45–This chapter begins with “Loud Weeping” (1-2). It is, in fact, so loud that Pharaoh’s house even heard it. Joseph sends everyone but his brothers from the room as he makes himself known to them. I love verse 3. But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. I actually giggled out loud when I read that verse. But Joseph is giving them a “Loving Welcome” (3-15). He feels no animosity toward them at all. How could he? Look at the life he’s had! But he points out God’s sovereignty in the whole thing. He promises them great prosperity if they will all come to Egypt to live there with him. “Loaded Wagons” (16-28) are sent back to Canaan, to retrieve Jacob and all of their goods. Jacob is overwhelmed at the news that, after all these years, Joseph is still alive, and he will be able to travel to meet him before he dies. This brought tears to my eyes.

Father, I praise you for your sovereignty in our lives! I know that, if not for your great hand in my life, I never would have followed Christ. I know that my faith is a gift from you, and that without that gift, I would not have believed, for you must act before I could ever do anything of any value. I pray that you will be satisfied with my life, Lord. It is my desire to glorify you in all that I do. I know that I fail in this endeavor; I fail frequently. But I always get up and continue walking, drawing ever closer to you. May my life be pleasing to you, and may I continue to seek to satisfy you. I pray that I will also be satisfied in you. Let nothing compete with my loyalty to you, and may any service that I do be out of joy for my relationship with you. I pray that the service will never become the end in itself. The end is you. The end is to satisfy you. The end is to glorify you. The service is but an expression of my joy.

Stories such as the one about Joseph give me great confidence in your sovereignty. To see how your plan was worked from the beginning, gives me comfort when trials come in our life. We know that you are working all things out for our good, because we know we love you, and we know that we are called according to your purpose! I pray for the eventual end to these trials, when we will see you face to face and know that everything that happened to us on this earth had a divine purpose. I pray that I will be faithful to that purpose.

I pray for this day, Lord. I pray that Christi’s day will be smooth and stress-free. I pray that I will have a good day, also. I pray for Stephanie’s meeting with her teacher today.

I continue to pray for Lauren, her family, and her husband’s family in the aftermath of this tragedy. It is difficult to find you, sometimes, especially in times like this. But I pray that their faith will hold fast, and that they will find your face in this, and that they will find comfort in you.

Your grace is sufficient.

Are you satisfied with Jesus? Is he satisfied with you?

Grace and peace, friends.

I’m making an addition to my blog today. I forgot to request prayer…the grandson of one the guys that drives for us is having surgery this morning. Please pray for it to go well.

Power Outage

About an hour before my alarm was to wake me up, our power went off. It is currently 905am, and the power is still off. So I’m using my laptop on battery, and typing my devotion in a Word file, so I can cut and paste it later.

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Matthew 12:22-50
22 The a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

This is the second time the religious leaders have accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. But this time, he sets them straight. He pretty much lets them know how ridiculous their accusation is. If Satan casts out his own minions, then his house is divided against itself, and cannot stand. On the other hand, if Jesus is doing this by the Holy Spirit’s power, then “the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
In this context, Satan is the strong man, and Jesus has, effectively, bound him.
Jesus gives an ultimatum that there is no middle ground with him. We are either with him, or we aren’t. This goes back to what I wrote a couple days ago about Jesus being exactly who he says he is. There is no use thinking that Jesus was “a good teacher.” No. He wasn’t. Because, if he was simply a teacher, then he was lying about who he said he was, or he was a madman, either of which would pretty much disqualify him from being a “good teacher.” Either we believe he is who he says he is, or we don’t. Those are the only true choices.
Finally, he voices the words that have concerned people for years. Many a Christian worries that he has blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. In this particular passage, I think the context is clear. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, when he was, in fact, doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit. These Pharisees would not be forgiven. They attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I think this passage should scare us more than the passage about blasphemy. Our words are important, and the things we say come out of the things in our heart. It is important to note that the Bible attaches just as much significance to lies, gossip, and slander as it does to adultery and murder. We must monitor what kind of “treasure” we have in our hearts.

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
42 the queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

The most significant part of this passage is telling us that we need not be looking for signs. Faith does not need signs, does it? This tells me that the segment of Christianity that is all about the “signs and wonders” is way off base. Our faith does not require signs, and Jesus said that there would be no sign given, other than what had already been given. Now, I will say this. I do believe that the Holy Spirit still works miracles, especially in areas where the gospel is just beginning to reach. But Jesus condemned the religious leaders, because the men of Nineveh repented at the message of Jonah, and here was one much greater than Jonah speaking to them, and their arrogance refused to allow them to listen.

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.
44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.
45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and the enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also it will be with this evil generation.”

Removing the evil from our hearts is not enough. We must replace it with something better, otherwise, the “evil” may return, more viciously than before. Jesus continues to relate these things to the generation in front of him, that of the religious leaders.

46 While he was speaking to the people, behold, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.
48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

We are not told what his family was wanting to talk to him about. But Jesus was at a point in his life when blood relations were not as important as spiritual relations. It’s not so much that he was denying his blood relatives, as he was making a point. In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, and this relationship will ultimately supersede that of blood family.

Isaiah 9-10

There are some important passages in chapter 9. First, is the very popular Messianic prophecy.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Who can read this without beginning to hum part of Handel’s “Messiah?” Well, maybe a lot of people, but not me. Anyway…these are some great prophecies of the Messiah. But he follows this with some admonitions against the religious leaders of the day.
13 The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
15 the elder and honored man is the head,
and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray,
and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
17 Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men,
and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows;
for everyone is godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

It is a terrible thing to read that “those who guide this people have been leading them astray.” I see that happening in our modern day, as well. “Pastors” are teaching thousands of people things that are not Biblical. The people are being lead astray. However, it is more than just in churches. People are being led astray by their country’s leadership, as well, in all parts of the world. It is not just religious.

Father, I do not have time to complete my readings today. I pray that our worship this morning will be acceptable to you, and meaningful to us. Let us have an encounter with you as we worship you this morning.

The power has come back one, but I’m out of time. I must get ready to leave.

Grace and peace, friends.