During family devotion last night, I intended to ask some hard questions about a familiar story–Daniel and the lions den. My first question was, “Who is the hero of this story?” Answer: “God.” (If any of you are familiar with Desiring God Curriculum for children, you know the emphasis is to regain a God-centered telling of the Bible. I highly recommend this curriculum to you.)
The next question I asked (a 6 & 7 year old) was, “If God was able to shut the lions’ mouths then why didn’t He just keep Daniel from going to the lions’ den?” Answer from my 7 year old: “Because it is impossible for a man to be thrown into a lions’ den and not be eaten and God wanted to reveal Himself to everybody by doing the impossible.” Of course, that answer made a dad very thankful to the Lord.
I then asked, “Why did God save Daniel and not the others thrown into the den?” Answer: “Because Daniel trusted the Lord.” I would encourage you not to withhold hard questions from your children. Certainly, this is not the first day we have had devotion. So that is where to start. Teach your children. Equip them to follow the Lord in this world. Don’t shelter them from everything. And don’t think they will figure out how they ought to do things (you even have to teach them how to PLAY with each other in a God-honoring way…they don’t know). Equip them.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Last year we used this resource from Desiring God as we prepared for Resurrection Sunday. As you will read in the introduction, these can be done weekly beginning at Lent, or daily beginning on the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend (the weekend before Easter). This article also gives instructions for lighting candles along with the reading if you choose to add that to your devotion time. I highly recommend using the candles because it is a helpful visual aid. As you get closer to Good Friday, there will be less and less candles lit. The last one gets blown out on Friday. None are to be lit on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, all are relit!
From September 10 (my birthday) until October 6 (today), I have walked in darkness and struggle. I am not certain what happened. I do know the result–namely, “rejoicing with inexpressible joy and full of glory!” So, this writing will do little in expressing all that happened in my life. It seems my life in the last month resembles the Psalms. The Psalms actually contain more laments than psalms (praises). Praise seems to follow lament. I have lamented, but today I am praising Him.
The psalm that encouraged me the most begins Book 2 in Psalms. The main verse for me was, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? HOPE IN GOD; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation” (Ps. 42:5). This verse sums up the last month of my life. That hope has produced an abundance of worship today!
I have been learning, in spite of the darkness, that worship is a response to God’s revelation. The worship today is due to the revelation of God. He has lead me, through various means, to know His will for my life in this next phase of my life. I had many obstacles placed in front of me over the past month. I have been greatly confused. Anyone who was around me in the last month would probably say amen to that. In the midst of collecting all the information needed to have an “Ah, ha!” moment, my confusion was apparent. Today, the Word of God has encouraged me and lead me to know where we are going.
I would like to remind you all to “be careful how you listen” (The Parable of the Sower). How did the word transform you today?
A timely message on serving one another was wrought in my heart this morning. I began to evaluate my heart to see if indeed I had been “subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21). I found some disturbing things in my heart. As of late, I have thought far more of myself than I ought. To clarify what I mean, here is an example: I have just finished a hard semester in seminary. I felt as though I deserved a break. I had decided to coast this summer and spend time with the family before the next semester started. This is not the ideal summer for a servant of Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, the summer should give way to multiple opportunities to serve the church. So, why not? I praise my Father in heaven for having such mercy on me this morning. He exposed my plans and changed my heart. This does not mean I am going to abandon my family. It just means I am not going to treat them as an object of worship. They will be part of my worship to Christ as I spend time teaching them and encouraging them and loving them this summer. But, they will not occupy the entire summer. Let me transition to another sermon that reflect that of a servant’s heart.
Hear and see this quotation.
The context of the message was an exhortation to “soon to be pastors.” Here is what he encouraged the pastors to say as they interviewed with a church, “I am coming with a message that could cost you your life. I am here to make you happy. So happy in Jesus you don’t need to be alive. You don’t need that house. You don’t need that car. You don’t need this family, if they all die HE is still alive! I am coming to make you so glad in God, revealed in Christ, that you will sing, ‘Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, satisfying my heart no matter what.’ I count everything as loss for the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ.”
Has the gospel changed our lives in such a way that we have this type of message to bring to the church? Is the gospel that radical? May we look deeply into our hearts to see where our satisfaction lies. We will be subject to one another if the attitude of our heart is like that of the above quotation which is a result of being filled with the Spirit.
Dear Brethren, do not neglect the Spirit. In a day when the Holy Spirit is misunderstood and carried from one extreme to the other, we must find a biblical view of the Spirit. Recently, I was reading I Corinthians. I began by reading chapter one which caused me to begin journaling. As I journaled an entry, I was overwhelmed by chapter one. By that I mean as I finished reading chapter one I knew what was lacking in my life over the past several weeks–The Holy Spirit. Before ending my quiet time with the Lord I looked ahead to chapter two. I am sure you know what chapter two is about–yes, the Holy Spirit. So, what caused me to see my need for the Holy Spirit in chapter one? Human wisdom or as Paul says, “the wisdom of the world.” I had been seeking God completely through His Word ALONE. I had become arrogant in my study of God’s Word. I had neglected the Spirit. I had quenched the Spirit of God. By the next morning I could hardly wait for morning to arrive so I could see how Paul was going to instruct me. The next morning came and I read the rest of the letter. For two days I walked in the Holy Spirit. It was amazing! I saw things in God’s Word with new eyes. It was a joy to feast on the Word with the Spirit’s guidance. However, Saturday came and I slept in after a hard week of studying. By the time I awakened from my slumber, the family had awakened as well. As you could guess, I missed spending time with the Lord that morning. By ten o’clock I was more than aware of a quenched Spirit. I rushed to my room and closed the door. I opened the living Word and cried out to God for His mercy. He restored the quenched Spirit within me. Something unique about that day was my awareness. I had been walking for weeks (maybe more) with a quenched Spirit. However, His presence was noticed very quickly that day. Brethren, how long has it been since you were filled with the Spirit? Examine yourselves. BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!