Let My Words and Meditation Be Acceptable

Psalm 19 reveals many nuggets of solid points:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
– More to be desired are they than gold
– In keeping them there is great reward

The Psalm ends with a beautiful request that shows us an example of how to pray:

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:13, 14 NKJV)

She is My Sister

Interestingly enough, the Bible takes time to point out that Isaac followed in his father’s example – even to the point of calling his wife his sister.

And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, She is my sister; for he was afraid to say, She is my wife, because he thought, lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold. (Genesis 26:7 NKJV)

Isaac says the same thing about his wife as Abraham said about Sarah. Either there weren’t very good looking women in Abimelech’s land, or the judgement of the Philistines was questionable. Whatever the case, Abimelech figures it out this time around. They watch Isaac and observe that he shows affection to Rebekah. He calls Isaac out on his cover.

And Abimelech said, What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us. So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. (Genesis 26:10, 11 NKJV)

Humility

Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. (Luke 14:1 NKJV)

Jesus was invited to the house of someone in a influential position. Jesus was not made flesh to make friends and it is apparent in this chapter. He was on a mission to teach the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Healing a man with some sort of edema on the Sabbath, he challenged a mindset that no healing should take place on the Sabbath.

I found it interesting today how Jesus noted the men taking the best positions at the meal. Today I think we would call it “jockeying” for position. Some of us really like positions of influence/attention – and all of things that come with it. Jesus’ response to this was clear: those who humble themselves before others will be exalted in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who are puffed up will be humbled. The Kingdom of Heaven is helping those in need – not for the sake of recognition of men – but because your heart is in the right place. This will be exalted in heaven.

But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:10, 11 NKJV)

Give Me Success and Show Kindness to My Master

Abraham’s servant was sent on what appeared to be an impossible task: bring back a wife from Abraham’s original land (his father’s house) for his son Isaac. The servant believed that even if he found a willing wife for Isaac, how could he convince her to leave her home for Canaan? The interesting thing is what he did with that doubt – he prayed.

Then he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, Please let down your pitcher that I may drink, and she says, Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master. (Genesis 24:12, 14 NKJV)

Before he had even finished speaking the prayer, the beautiful Rebekah comes out to get water from the well. The servant was in awe at Rebekah and that the Lord would have answered his prayers and made this trip so successful. He almost didn’t believe as it was happening in front of him.

Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my masters brethren. (Genesis 24:26, 27 NKJV)

I believe the important thing to take from this is that Abraham’s servant had a promise from God. God keeps his promises in mighty ways. It’s His promises that give us hope and faith; specifically when he says something to us about what is to come.

But he said to me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with you and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son from my family and from my fathers house. (Genesis 24:40 NKJV)

Loosing the Bonds of Satan

And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. (Luke 13:11 NKJV)

Infirmity – a physical weakness or ailment; lack of strength.

But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. (Luke 13:12, 13 NKJV)

Loosed – free from anything that binds or restrains; free from fastening or attachment.

What an amazing passage! A woman who could not walk upright because a spirit of Satan has her in shackles for 18 years. There are many thing that I take away from this:

– Jesus was teaching in the synagogues on the Sabbath.
– This lady believed and was called by Jesus “a daughter of Abraham.”
– She immediately glorifies God when healed.
– Satan had bound her with an “unseen” spirit of infirmity with physical consequences.
– Jesus loosens the spirit by both proclaiming the Father’s words and with physical touch.
– The ruler of the synagogue responds out of frustration that the law was not being recognized (in his mind).
– Jesus looked at the situation and had grace and mercy on the woman. He helped because He knew what His Father wanted Him to do. Jesus calls the woman to Himself in this example.
– People are to be considered more valuable than animals.

The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:15-17 NKJV)

Fear God, Not Man

Is there anything more frightening than death? Or death by another person? In the following passage, Jesus says not to fear death by another man – do not be afraid of what “they” can do to you. It is a pretty solid point to fear the one who knows the number of hairs on your head and controls where poeple go in the after life.

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4, 5 NKJV)

I believe Jesus is pursuading us to to put God first; elavate Him above all else – including our fear of death or man. We should respect Him above all other authority. That doesn’t mean we ignore all other aspects of life. But, He is the very one who created us and can give us everlasting life or everlasting hell.

Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8, 9 NKJV)

Abimelech’s Bad Dream

Genesis 20:1-18 NKJV

This passage of scripture fascinates me. This is the second time that Abraham feared for his life in front of a new people so that he called his wife, Sarah, his sister. The people in that age were not God fearing and Sarah must have been very beautiful. Wherever Abraham went, the people wanted to take her as their own prized possession. It was also revealed in this passage that Abraham was only telling a partial lie:

But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. (Genesis 20:12 NKJV)

There were several interesting things that stood out to me in this particular passage today.

The sanctity of marriage. Even in that time God came to Abimelech in a dream and reprimanded him for taking another man’s wife. In his defense, Abimelech proclaims to God, “I did not know it was his wife!” Later we learn that God punished them by closing all of the wombs in Abimelech’s house, only to later heal them.

God’s Ambassador’s: the prophets. In the old testament especially, God partnered with the prophets to carry out His will and His word. God was with Abraham. They talked to each other. God made promises to Abraham, protected him and answered his prayers. Abraham was not perfect, but he demonstrated how we can have a relationship with the Lord. God commands Abimelech to restore Abraham’s wife in a very clear message of who’s side He is on:

Now therefore, restore the mans wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours. (Genesis 20:7 NKJV)

God’s Mysterious Ways. God has His ways and that is that. We will never fully understand Him no matter how hard we try. In this passage, He threatens Abimelech in a dream and closes the womb of all those in his household. What for? All for taking a prophets wife in the innocence of his heart.

Did he not say to me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother. In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this. And God said to him in a dream, Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. (Genesis 20:5, 6 NKJV)

It’s as if God knew this the whole time. He kept Abimelech from Sarah, but curses His family anyway. He is all powerful and later heals their family when Abraham prays for Abimelech. The only way I can wrap my mind around this is that God was literally putting the “fear of God” into them. That was something that was definitely missing in those days. I have learned that we don’t always know why God does what what He does, but we partner with Him anyway. His ways are good and His understanding passes ours.

The Power of Prayer. God chose to heal Abimelech’s family only after Abraham prayed for him.

So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; (Genesis 20:17 NKJV)

The Lamp of Our Body

The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34 NKJV)

Isn’t it amazing how these words of wisdom still ring true today – 2000 + years later. People are people and there are deep truths that will stand the test of time. These truths do not change because of our Author, our Creator. He put his signature in our DNA.

This is a major reason for my attempt at daily devotionals. What are we looking at daily? What do we set our eyes and, therefore, our minds on? The lamp of the body is the eye. When our eye is good and we set our eyes on good things, we are filled with light. When we set our eyes on bad things, whether by choice or not, we are filled with darkness.

It makes me think of stumbling around in the darkness at night, trying to find the kitchen for a drink of water. If I turn on a light, my eyes receive the light which overwhelms the darkness. It’s even hard to adjust to the difference at first. Both light and darkness have an affect on us. Let us set our eyes and minds on good things.

Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name

One of my favorite passages is Jesus’ response to the disciples when they ask him how they should pray. It breaks down like this:

– Sacred is Your Name
– Your Kingdom Come
– Your will be done
– Let it be on Earth as it is in Heaven
– Give us our daily bread
– Forgive us our sins
– As we also forgive those who are indebted to us
– Do not deliver us into temptation, but away from the evil one

Perfect. That model has influenced and guided our prayers ever since.

So He said to them, When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Luke 11:2-4 NKJV)

Walk Upright In Righteousness

If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3 NKJV)

Ever since my wife and I decided to grow a garden, I have learned more and more about the nature of this life on Earth. Our garden is very small compared to some and I must not have had any prior experience growing fruits or vegetables. I am a beginner and we are learning so much.

The more work we put into the garden, the better it seems to grow. When we are busy and therefore, work the garden less, it’s tendency is to go wild and do whatever it wants. Last year, we dabbled in gardening and we barely had any produce at all. This year has been an entirely different story because of one change: the foundation.

We live in Kansas and the dirt here is extremely dry. It is almost like rock or clay in some areas. And the weeds, bugs… Let’s just say that last year, our garden never stood a chance. This year, I brought in soft, irrigated soil. I would call it a 180 degree turnaround.

I believe that we are like the plants in that garden. It seems that there are many things that try to tear down a plant – fungus, wind, insects, heat, hail, etc. It seems like it takes a lot of work, good conditions, patience, hope, despair :-), to make it grow.

Much like the plants in our garden, it is not easy to stand upright in this life. I believe that standing upright is to live in righteousness. It is doing the small things right everyday. Trust the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind. We must labor to build strong foundations: in our gardens, in our homes, etc. Do we think it is going to be any easier in our faith? We must have strong foundations to not be beaten down, pushed aside, made irrelevant. Righteousness must be able to stand on firm foundations.

Whether we like it or not, wickedness exists on the Earth; both in spirits and in people. Their joy is violence and their goal is to aim their attacks at the “upright in heart.” Stand boldly with confidence in the Lord. For He looks gladly upon the upright and loves the righteous.

The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. (Psalm 11:5-7 NKJV)