Why Faith? How Come God Doesn’t Offer Indisputable Proof?

Why Not PROOF?

Have you ever wondered why the Bible talks more about FAITH than about PROOF?? “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, KJV)

Faith doesn’t require proof, validation, satisfaction, victory or blessing. It is in ITSELF these things, and offers complete comfort and peace to those who exercise it. But I have always thought Christianity would be a lot easier if there was “God-in-a-box”. I’m talking about empirical proof that you could carry around and just show people.

Indisputable Evidence

Think about how easy evangelism would be. You’re sharing the good news with someone, and they say, “I’m just not sure I believe all that stuff”. Well, you open up “God-in-a-box” and SHOW them, and they’d have to say, “Oh, I see now. You’ve got God, right there. I guess I have to believe.” Scientists could analyze it and find conclusively that yes, indeed, God exists. No more arguments about who God is, or what God is like. No more atheists. If we just had “God-in-a-box”, the world would be 100% converted in whatever time it took for everybody to see the proof.

proof

Kind of a silly thought, I know, but also a fascinating one. Why is it that we can’t just PROVE the existence and nature of God in an irrefutable way? How come the Lord of the universe set things up in a way that allows for so much interpretation and ambiguity? Put simply, I look at it like this: God requires faith so that we have a choice. God could have given us undeniable proof and created us as automatons who are programmed to follow His every whim, but He didn’t. He created a universe in which we have free will to the fullest extent possible, where we could even choose to perceive him or believe him—or not.

By definition, if you could PROVE the existence of God, there would be no need for faith, and no real possibility for us to love Him of our own accord. Only by allowing us to reject Him did he give us the power to accept Him. He grants us the ability to have faith so that we can truly experience love.

Is Testimony True?

Second, God allows faith so that we have a journey. As God has revealed himself and men have responded, there are thousands and thousands of stories about changed lives and new directions. Abram left Ur to go to the place God would show him; Moses led a nation out of slavery; Paul did a 180 on the road to Damascus; and more recently, Brian Welch, Albert Pujols, Eric Metaxas, and many others speak movingly about their faith in God and their new direction on the website I AM SECOND (iamsecond.com). The changes in these many lives are fueled by faith which provided a platform from which to embark on a new journey in life.

proof

Finally, God gives faith so that we can live out a dream. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith enables us to take evidence and convert it to hope. It empowers us to take hope and convert it to action. True faith ALWAYS results in action (see James Chapter 2). There is no such thing as passive faith. It’s like the old expression, “put your money where your mouth is.” If you really believe something you won’t just talk about it, you’ll invest in it with your time and resources.

A person of faith will think differently, act differently, and dream differently. It might be surprising, but I’ve never really been a big “pie in the sky when you die by-and-by” kind of guy. I have always thought that the greatest thing about eternal life is how it performs TODAY.

What’s There to Lose?

You may say, “This God stuff is silly. We die and that’s it.” You might be right. So then, even if I’m 100% wrong, and we both end up in the grave, what did I lose? I still gained comfort, wisdom, and a quality of life I never dreamed possible. But if the faith I place in God is justified, and I’m right, then, WOW! What did I gain? If you ever stop and think of what heaven could be like, it is mind–bending. And it would be a shame to miss an eternity filled with God’s glory just because you were waiting for more evidence.

Somewhere, sometime along the way, God has revealed Himself to you. He has given you glimpses of His creativity, his character, his Word, and his impact on others. But He will never PROVE himself to you. He is waiting for you to step out in faith, and Hebrews says He is waiting to reward you if you diligently seek Him. Believe it. Bet on it.

Your Choice, Your Privilege

God did not make robots who could not think on their own,
But men who had to find their way to Him by faith alone…
Sure, He could have forced mankind to find Him and accept Him;
He could have offered iron-clad proof so no one could reject Him.
Instead of proof, He gave us all the privilege to believe,
To come to him by Faith, based on the evidence we receive.
Many may ignore Him; there are times when no one sees Him;
Just don’t forget: without Faith, it’s impossible to please Him.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Evil Days Demand Wiser Ways. Be Careful out There.

An Undeniable Trend

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV) Stop for a moment and think about the world around you. Is the world getting better and better? Do you see mankind evolving upward towards better values? Is our culture more wholesome and encouraging than it was ten years ago?

I used to hear older people talking sadly about how there seemed to be more evil in the world now than there used to be. They would reminisce about the “good old days”, when neighbors were more neighborly, it was safe for kids to play “down the street”, and you never heard a cuss word or saw nudity on your TV. And that was over 40 years ago! Now I AM one of the older people, and I feel the same way, but even more so!

Look around. Standards have changed. A Jack in the Box commercial on TV recently was selling their new bowls by using phrases generally applied to male anatomy, making a poor play on words at best, and a comparison that doesn’t make me want to rush out and buy a pair, SMH… (That’s “Shaking My Head” if you’re not up on internet acronyms.) The “poop” emoji is now on billboards as if it has marketing value. We accept these allusions and buy these products today without a thought.

Going, Going…

Not only has decency begun to disappear, but so has truth. Journalists and politicians lie so subtly (and so constantly) that you don’t know what to believe anymore. Half-truths and accusations are disseminated so frequently as facts that they are often accepted as true. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels said that if you tell a big enough lie, and tell it often enough, it would become accepted as fact.

Our communications culture demonstrates this every day. Narratives are created and fed to us over and over. His words could be applied to our media (the way they report about Covid and masks causes more confusion than illumination), and to the hateful bipolar atmosphere in America today. People will gladly ignore truth if it will help them get ratings, clicks, or attention.

evil days

Today’s values and standards are definitely different than they were “back in the day.” Commercials on TV reach out to consumers by saying “Break the rules!” Abortion is considered just another birth control option. High school kids go to movies that promote sex and violence, even as youth groups take a stand against human sex trafficking. Our culture is extending legalization of marijuana, so that better living through chemistry can become even more common. Gambling is available to anyone who wants it.

Moving the Line

Our children (and our neighbors) have internet access to virtually anything, and are bombarded with everything from non-stop materialism to hard-core pornography. Video games make death and violence commonplace, because after all, they’re just games.

Music (which weaves its way into our brains forever—quick! How many songs do you remember from when you were a teenager?) is full of stories about breakups, drugs, sex, and casual relationships. Hip hop and heavy metal are full of anger, abuse and violence. Interpersonal relationships are changing rapidly, falling away from the personal touch of conversation and affection to on-screen interaction, where it is easier to lie, misrepresent, and misunderstand…There were evil days in 60 AD (when Paul wrote this), and they are evil still…

How do we respond wisely to them? James 1:5 says if you want to be wise, go to the source: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” If you would truly like to make the most of every opportunity in this life, then ask the Lord for wisdom. Apply it to your decisions about what you watch, who you listen to, and what you believe.

“Be very careful, then, about how you live.” Put another way, Paul is encouraging you to be full of care, to care deeply about how to live. Avoid evil and choose good wisely. Ask the very source of Wisdom to give you some, and study it in His Book. When calamity strikes or when opportunity knocks, you’ll be ready. Evil days surround you. don’t be unwise.

Some Things Never Change

Be careful how you live, because we live in evil days,
And evil tries to infiltrate our lives in many ways.
There’s no regard for gender, creed, infirmity, or youth;
It challenges our decency, integrity and truth.
Stop and look around your world, and don’t believe the lies.
Be careful how you live, and make an effort to be wise.
Do you want to find some wisdom? Here is where to look:
You’ll find it when you talk to God, and study in His Book.
Allow your heart and mind to join with His in Holy unity;
Be careful, then and make the most of every opportunity.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Powerful Dash In Moses’ Prayer: What Does It Mean? Why Is It There?

There is a weird place in a prayer in the Old Testament, which I had read several times without even noticing. Maybe you caught the meaning of the dash, but if you didn’t then today’s thoughts will show you something new:

Look for the Dash

“The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin— (why is this dash here?) but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” (Exodus 32:30-32, NIV). There is something important in this verse that’s easy to overlook. It’s the dash.

dash

Best Summer Ever

The summer of 1972 I had the privilege of working as a counselor at the Navigators’ Eagle Lake Boy’s Camp near Colorado Springs. It was a rustic, beautiful camp high in the mountains where boys would come from all over the nation to experience hiking, rappelling, pioneering and living in a teepee for a week (made all the more authentic by the fact that our “facilities” were outhouses). The camp staff was an awesome group of guys, and the experiences were second to none. We rappelled, built stuff with logs and twine, and had mountaintop experiences every day.

What has stayed with me longest from that summer are the lessons learned from several of the Navigator leaders like Lorne Sanny and Leroy Eims who came out from Glen Eyrie and taught us from time to time. (I later realized that since we met at 6:00 am, these godly men must have gotten up at 4:00 am to be there to teach us!) Their insights into Scripture and the practical way they applied it are still foundational for me almost 50 years later.

Insights from the Mountain

Leroy Eims taught us this particular passage, and pointed out the almost humorous exchange between God and Moses in Verses 7 and 10. “And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For YOUR people whom YOU brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” Moses’ answer was classic, almost like two parents whose child has done something wrong, so that neither parent wants to claim responsibility.

“Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against YOUR people whom YOU have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?” The way Moses interacted with God is marvelous, and certainly provides us some solid principles about how to pray: be candid; be fully expressed; be persistent.

Even more than these verses, though, is the principle revealed by the dash. Mr. Eims pointed out that in verse 32, there was this odd grammatical anomaly: “But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” He read that verse, and then he asked us, “What’s the dash for?”(Of course, none of us had ever really noticed the dash or given it any thought.)

The Mystery of the Dash

He told us, “The dash represents a pause by the speaker, but it doesn’t really explain why. It’s there, but it doesn’t tell us WHY it’s there. I believe that as Moses was praying for his people, as he contemplated the consequences of what they had done, he was overcome with emotion and broke down, unable to continue. He was so overcome with grief and empathy that he couldn’t even complete his sentence. When he regained his composure, he finished by putting his own eternal security on the line for his people.”

Leroy Eims told us about the secret of the dash. It represented powerful emotions! It showed how much Moses cared about the children of Israel! When was the last time you broke down in tears and were unable to complete a sentence because you were praying so passionately? And who do you care about SO much that you can’t lift them up to the Lord without getting teary-eyed? Who is in your dash? Yes, Moses prayed with honesty and persistence. So should we. But he also prayed with passion and emotion. So should we.

The Dash in the Prayer

The people of Israel made them a calf
So Moses prayed on their behalf
And asked the Lord His judgment to withhold
Because they had worshipped a idol calf of gold.
While he was praying and asking for grace,
Tears were streaming from Moses’ face
As he considered his nation’s fate
Which was just too awful to contemplate.
And in his prayer there was a pause;
Maybe it’s in there just because,
But really it’s kind of a mystery
That’s written in Scripture for all to see.

That little dash in the incomplete prayer:
What does it mean, and why is it there?

It’s there because Moses couldn’t take
The way they would pay for their mistake;
While praying, his shoulders began to shake:
How could Israel be so dumb?

As Moses prayed he was overcome,
And couldn’t continue because of his tears,
His love for them, and his greatest fears,
And he asked for his own life to be traded
In hopes that judgment could be abated.

That little dash in the incomplete prayer:
The emotional power residing there
Is more than words could ever show.
Why is the dash there? We don’t know,
But someday I will ask Moses why,
And if he broke down and began to cry…
Help me, Lord , have some prayers with a dash in;
Help me to pray with emotion and passion.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Fear and Worry are Actually Little gods. Don’t Worship Them

What, Me Worry?

We are living in the midst of the most stressful times most of us have seen in this lifetime. So, this passage is for everyone who has ever experienced fear or worry: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10, NKJV) Isaiah 41 warns about impending judgment, and warns against worshipping useless idols. (Interesting how often those two things intersect in Scripture…)

Unexpected Idols

God consistently warns against worshipping idols, and calls us to leave them to follow Him. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you live in fear and worry, you are an idol worshipper. Here’s why: Everyone has experienced the insecurity of walking into the cafeteria on the first day of middle school, or communal middle school showers. We have all experienced insecurity while growing up.

The fact is, however, that most of us get over adolescent fear and become pretty self-sufficient. We are taught from early on that we need to work to provide for ourselves, and we live our daily lives under the assumption that we control the outcome by what we do. Indeed, the Bible encourages us to work hard, to honor God with our effort, and to be good stewards of our time and resources.

But be aware that self-sufficiency has a dark side. It gives us the feeling of control (probably like Eve felt for a moment as she took a bite of the apple), and it provides a brief illusion that we have power. At some deep level, when we think we are in control. We feel like God. It’s inevitable, though, that in spite of our best efforts, there are times when life reminds us that we are not in control, and that perhaps our strength is not enough. These kinds of times can cause us to be discouraged and cynical.

fear and worry

Avoid the Natural Response

If I know anything about life, I know that every one of us will experience something difficult and heart-wrenching. In some season of life you will encounter a time when events are more than you can bear, and you are assaulted by fear and insecurity. At some point you will lose your confidence in the way you assumed things were supposed to happen, in circumstances, perhaps even in yourself. This is a natural response when disaster or tragedy enters our lives and turns our world upside down.

So, how do people deal with insecurity? You’ve heard the old saying that came out of World War II, “There are no atheists in a foxhole”. Even people who ignore God on a daily basis will seek Him when they face uncertainty or danger. Isaiah’s claim about God has been meaningful to millions of people in the midst of their pain, suffering, or affliction. It makes sense to turn to God when life is overwhelming.

Maybe Isaiah Was Right

But consider this: Isaiah 41:10 was not meant to be rolled out only when life is tough, or when misfortune strikes. It also works pretty well in the hum-drum activities that happen everyday… Think about how often you actually experience anxiety, all of those little times when you assume control, or worry about something that hasn’t happened… This verse is for THOSE times. Anxiety and worry are little idols, and it’s scary to think of how often we worship them instead of God.

When we assume control or when we worry, what we are really saying is that God is not sufficient to meet our needs. Jesus spoke of worry in Matthew 6:26-27, 33: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Isaiah is saying the same thing: when you are fearful, when you doubt, when you are dismayed, God offers you his strength and his help. That assistance is available not just when tragedy strikes, but every day when we experience doubt, anxiety or worry. You are not in control, but fear not! The God of the universe offers you his strength, and here’s what His Word tells us to do: “Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Stop worrying. Start casting.

Try This

Fear thou not, for I am with thee, just as I have gone before
With Moses and with Gideon, and with David, and with countless more.
I understand your desperate need to handle things, to take control:
But follow me, and I will give you peace within your anxious soul.
Fear not! And be not anxious for the many things you have to do,
But cast your cares on me, because I deeply care for you…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Why Do People Smile at A Wedding? Well, Think About YOURS

A wedding is something that makes people smile! (Yes, some people cry, but they are tears of joy, not sorrow…) And whether or not you are married, this wedding verse has something to do with you: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10, NKJV)

All Dressed Up With Someplace to Go

Isaiah makes a bold statement: he claims that when we have a relationship with the Lord it should be as obvious as wearing a Wedding dress, something that everyone around us should perceive. He says that God literally “clothes us with the garments of salvation, and covers us with the robe of righteousness.” Even though a spiritual relationship with the Living God is an intimate internal affair, Isaiah says that following God should result in obvious external changes. When we follow God, he says, we should look and act differently…

Why do you think he used the analogy a bridegroom and a bride? First, it is because at a wedding, the Bridegroom and bride are the most identifiable participants.

wedding smiles

Their clothes are distinctive; their ornaments and jewelry identify them as people involved in a new relationship. That makes sense, since a wedding in those days involved the whole village and proclaimed to everyone present that the happy couple was now reserved for each other. Unlike all of the other guests, these two wedding participants were entering into a binding legal agreement that was spiritually sanctified and publicly proclaimed; like theirs, our union with God is a covenant relationship. It makes good theological sense that Isaiah would compare our relationship with God to the social, legal, and spiritual underpinnings of marriage.

There was also a tremendous sense of anticipation, certainly for the bride and groom on their wedding night, but for everyone involved. A new family was being created, and a new household was being established. But that’s not why he used the analogy. Read the first part of the verse again.

Why, A Wedding?

Isaiah compares our walk with God to a wedding because of JOY. He says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God”! Joy is the defining characteristic of a wedding: there is the power of positive goodwill, the allure of romance, the promise of unlimited potential, and the beginning of something new. I can’t recall attending a wedding that did not have a sense of joy, can you?

Setting up a new home, private moments of intimacy, first baby steps, family meals, setting and achieving goals, and so many other actions and events are all tied up in getting to that place in a wedding where the bride and groom say “I do.” Without THAT moment, none of these other moments happen. Potential remains unfulfilled and two hearts remain independent until that moment occurs.

Have you said “Yes” to God? Are you walking with Him? Then don’t forget: His purpose is not to obligate you to the law, not to burden you with mission, but to create with you a new family bond that brings you joy. Jesus said, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) John said, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:4)

As you consider where God is in your life, don’t forget that He has adorned you in the garments of salvation, and covered you with the robe of righteousness. He has brought you into His family, and there are many, many moments of love, joy, and intimacy with Him waiting to be claimed. Sit and ponder that for a moment. Now go smile at everyone you see today for no earthly reason; after all, it’s YOUR wedding!

A Joyful Wedding

The blushing bride is gorgeous, walking slowly down the aisle;
The groom and everybody else await her with a smile!
Every eye is fixed upon her presence in the room
As she proceeds to take her place beside her anxious groom.
This day was planned with all the art and skill they could employ
To bring this love together, and to bring these lovers joy!
Isaiah says this wedding vow will be one that endures,
And that you are the bride, because this wedding day is YOURS.
Rejoice! Be glad! Embrace this day, and all that it will bring:
You’ve been adorned and chosen. You are marrying the King.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Remember the Thrill of Your First Love? Maybe you Should

In John’s Book of Revelation he describes one of the greatest dangers to today’s church: losing your first love… “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write…you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love…” (Revelation 2:1; 3-4, NKJV)

When John wrote to the seven Churches in Asia Minor, he wrote to literal church locations. His book about the Apocalypse was carried by messenger and read aloud to each congregation, and his message was cosmic and stunning to say the least. I’m sure that the reading of John’s letters in the late first century drew crowds and created quite a buzz in the local churches!

He Quit Preaching and Went to Meddling

To each congregation he gave a compliment, a criticism, and a command that probably addressed actual contemporary events or persons in that particular church, so I’m sure that listeners had many questions about who was to blame, how things got to be that way, and what to do about it. So in some respects, it was just a normal letter, written to contemporary churches John knew about.

But many theologians also believe that the letters to the seven churches also have a historical application and that each church can be compared to an era in history that corresponds with John’s message. (For instance, the church at Ephesus symbolizes the cooling off of the Church’s first love, and the end of the Apostolic age; Smyrna represents the era of church oppression and martyrdom, Pergamos the church becoming connected to the world, and so on. It’s a stimulating study if you are interested.)

But the application that intrigues me most is the PERSONAL ONE. When you read the messages to the seven churches, what jumps out at YOU? Are there compliments you identify with? Are there criticisms that make you uncomfortable?

Remember that First Love?

As you read John’s words to Ephesus, for instance, does anything resonate in your heart of hearts? “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love…” Our Sunday school class once described the characteristics of new or first love from a romantic point of view, and here is a partial list: “You want to spend time together.” “You think about each other all the time.” “You love talking together. You love being together.”

Ever feel that way? Have you ever been caught up in the new stages of a romance that are so powerful that it commands your thoughts, your time, and your desires? Romance writers talk about it, and surely you can remember it from that time you first “fell in love”!

first love

Now think about the things you felt when you first encountered God’s love, when you learned about Grace it became real to you… what happened on the day you realized that God loved you, that Christ died for you, and you decided to grab ahold of it and love Him back? Do you remember the joy? Do you recall the comfort, relief, happiness and gratitude you felt? For me, it was like seeing the world through new eyes, and about finding a confidence that wasn’t held down by my own inadequacy or insecurity.

If you ever appropriated God’s love by faith, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a feeling of life-changing love and assurance so complete that it is both infinite and intimate. It’s a doorway to new possibilities that include spiritual awakening and eternal life! As I recall, it came with a bunch of new discoveries about life and the way the world works.

Bringing it Home

So here’s the question: do you still feel that way today? Are you walking around feeling loved, touched by grace, grateful that you can spend time with the Father? Have you left your first love? If you have, remember. Remember the early feelings you experienced when you stepped away from the deadly selfishness of the world to the selfless love of Jesus.

If you have wandered away from those emotions, reclaim them. Allow yourself to be courted by the Creator. Read some Psalms or the book of John. Go on a honeymoon with God. Serve someone else in His name, and see how you feel. It’s ok to feel romantic or smitten with God. He feels that way about you, and His first love is also His eternal one.

A Love Sonnet

Oh Lord, when there are times I, failing, doubt,
And do not seek to know Thy love and grace;
When I, in haste and worry, rush about,
And turn all inward seeking from Thy face;
When I forget that you were my first love,
And take for granted how I have been blessed;
When I, with thoughts below and not above
Am tempted, and I fail to pass the test –

When I am sore beset by worldly grief,
For having failed to put my trust in Thee,
While knowing that this trust would bring relief,
And that Thy face would never turn from me;
When our First Love’s romance, Oh Lord, I spurn,
Please call me back, and help me to return.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Gloriosity: The More Time You Spend With God, the More People Will See Yours

Gloriosity is not yet an official word, but this passage suggests that it should be. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV) Paul says that we all (you and I) are being transformed into God’s glorious image. And that glory is “ever-increasing”.

Two Steps Forward…

From what I can tell this doesn’t happen instantly. It’s kind of a “one step forward, two steps back” process sometimes. Looking at my life so far, I’d have to say that I haven’t quite been transformed into the Lord’s image even though I have attempted to follow Jesus for 50 years or so. I’ve made huge mistakes and I’ve sometimes wandered very far away from God. Apparently being a follower of Jesus does not necessarily relate to being perfect, mature, or well-behaved…

At least that’s been my experience. There are a lot of stops and starts in the transformation process, not to mention some pretty big backward steps along the way. From what I’ve observed, that is true for all of us. Does that mean gloriosity is not happening as Paul says, or that it’s different than we might expect? Perhaps this verse not only suggests what is possible but also offers some clues about how it happens.

Unveiled Gloriosity

First, we are able to contemplate the Lord’s glory (I like to call it His gloriosity) with unveiled faces. This reference hearkens back to Moses, who asked the Lord for the assurance of His presence as he tried to lead the children of Israel (who certainly had their share of stops and starts!). He asked, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:16-17)

gloriosity

The Lord told Moses that no one could see His face and live, but that he would allow Moses a glimpse of His back after He had passed by. Afterwards Moses’ face was shining so brightly that he had to wear a veil! The good news was, he was completely transformed by being close to God.

The bad news was, he was intimidating and a little creepy looking, so he used the veil to cover up. In his case the veil hid his gloriosity, which is kinda what veils were for in the Bible: to hide things. Veils were used for modesty or subterfuge, and there was even a huge veil within the temple that acted to set the Holy of Holies apart and make it sacrosanct. But when Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn, indicating that all believers now had access to God’s Holy place.

Transaction = Transformation

A couple of things here: Transformation into the Lord’s image doesn’t just magically happen. It’s transactional. The closer you get to Him, the more like him you’ll become.

Second, we have access to God’s glory with unveiled faces. His holiness is no longer contained in an inner chamber, but it’s available to all of us through His word, prayer, worship, proximity…

What if we went to Ft. Knox, and I told you that the vault doors would be opened so that you could transform yourself into someone fabulously rich, just by going in whenever you wanted to fill your pockets with cash? Would you go?

treasure of gloriosity

Well, that’s the torn veil: God’s glory and Holiness became accessible to us all the time. We can now go to Him anytime to be filled. Yet we keep our distance, worshipping the Lord tentatively or indirectly, living in the everyday world even though we are residents of the eternal one. This verse made me think, because I sure don’t feel my gloriosity most of the time… I just feel like a regular person.

Regular or Unfettered?

But it made me realize that I am a regular person who is sealed with God’s Spirit and who has access to God’s word, so hopefully my lack of current gloriosity (yes I made that up and yes it is now a word) will not keep me from being transformed with ever-increasing glory into HIS image. I’m unfettered by a veil so I can see God the way He really is. That’s God’s plan for us: Be intimate with Him. Contemplate Him. Be transformed. If you spend more time honestly before the Father, I think you’ll be surprised by how much gloriosity you can be given through His Spirit.

Transformed by Glory

Moses had to veil himself because he saw God’s glory.
Paul says in Corinthians there’s much more to this story:
Even though we fall and fail, and even though we’re spiritually pale,
He says God’s glory can prevail and that we can remove the veil, To see the Lord, and satisfy much more than curiosity:
Beholding God so we can be just like His gloriosity!
But listen to Paul: don’t just accept these humble words of mine:
Behold Him for yourself. Receive his Glory! And go SHINE!

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Promises Made By Someone Patient, Persistent, and Perfect

People make and break a lot of promises. Good intentions don’t always work out, things and people change, and sometimes promises don’t get fulfilled… I promise you, though, that if you read this you will be encouraged that there is a Promise Keeper, and He’s made some promises to YOU:

Long Standing Promises From a Very Old Book

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV) I know some people don’t like the King James Version of the Bible, and most of us have moved on to other more modern versions. But it is the Bible I grew up on, the one in which I memorized and studied for most of my formative Christian years.

As a result, I still like it and still use it from time to time. Yes, the language can be archaic and awkward, and sometimes it is harder to read or understand; but it can also be more formal and beautiful. And sometimes (like this time, for instance) it just flat-out creates the opportunity to make some good points, and to explore the promises of God.

promises

There’s a Difference

This is one of those verses, because it says: 1) God keeps his promises. Scripture shows over and over that the Lord’s timing is different from man’s, and in fact Peter has just reminded us of that in verse 8. But the story of redemption as presented in the Bible over a span of thousands of years is a complex tapestry woven from revelation and history that depicts God keeping. His. Promises. Men are fickle and inconstant, and we see them throughout the tapestry weaving threads of greed, murder, deceit, lust, jealousy, violence and betrayal. God’s persistent love remains true throughout.

2) God is patient. Yes, the Lord is to be feared, and yes it is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the Living God, and yes His judgment is terrible; but Peter reminds us that God’s wrath never falls impatiently, and that He is long-suffering towards rebellious fools who thumb their nose at Him, deny Him, and disdain His Word.

True No Matter How You Say It

3) I just like the use of “us-ward”. He is an “us-ward” God. He is the God of relationships. The Lord introduced Himself to Moses as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. We are His children and he is our Father. His love and concern and good-will are pointed “us-ward”. He loves US and His promises are made to US.

4) The Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” This verse doesn’t say that God will bring everyone to salvation. In fact, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7:13-14 that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” But it does say that God wants all men to come to repentance. I think it’s logical that an “us-ward” God is looking for some “God-ward” people, so repent. Claim His promises. Be God-ward. I think it makes sense no matter how you say it.

Us-ward Promises

Peter said something we really should cherish:
The Lord is not willing that any should perish,
But offered His love–and He offers it still!–
Without overriding our choice or our will,
And He offers His promise, His Word, and His voice,
While He lovingly, patiently gives us a choice…
KJV says He is patient to us-ward;
Perhaps we’d be smarter by turning to God-ward.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Presence Presupposes That Wherever You Go, There You Are!

From devotional writings of the early Church Fathers to “The Hound of Heaven”, men have reflected about the presence of God. Jesus said, “I am with you always”. The Lord introduced himself to Moses not as a name but as the eternal “I AM”. Although we cannot see God, there are definitely times when we feel Him near, times of comfort or awe… In the Psalms, David expressed his own feelings about being close to God:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; or if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10, NKJV)

presence of God

Inescapable Intimacy

David had learned that God’s presence was everywhere, and that no matter where he went, God was there. We can all find encouragement in Psalm 139, because it promises us that no matter where we go the Lord will guide us and hold us fast.

After all, David wrote this Psalm from experience. He had felt God’s presence as a solitary shepherd, tending sheep by himself and facing the elements, predators, and loneliness. David felt the power of the Lord when he stood between the armies and faced Goliath. He knew God was with him as he hid in the caves of Adullam, and as a fugitive hiding from Saul’s fits of rage. The Lord was with David from the pasture to the palace, from obscurity to celebrity.

The Other Side of the Song

Psalm 139 provides us assurance that we can live each day with a sense of the security and comfort of God’s presence no matter what life throws at us. There is, however, another side to David’s song. Do we really think it’s a GOOD thing to hang out with God wherever we go, to have His presence beside us no matter what, no matter where?

Have you ever wanted to hide from God? You know, put Him away for a little while so you could do your own thing, and then maybe catch Him on the flip side? David did. Even when he went his own way, even when he ignored the Lord, God was there. “If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there”. David had made his bed in hell, and God was still with him. So it is with us.

Opening the Presence

Perhaps you have done some things that make you feel unworthy to associate with the Living God. Maybe you have ignored Him, or avoided Him, or left God behind as you have gone about your business; the good news is that God’s secure, comforting presence is still near, and He is with you. If you haven’t sought the Lord in a while, climb up into His lap and sit for a moment. Catch up. Don’t ask Him for stuff, just enjoy His presence for a few minutes…

presence of God

Remember your first love, rejoice in your salvation and let his peace surround you. No matter where you have been, and no matter how far away from God you think you are, you can say with David, “even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” If you’ve never introduced yourself to God, why not now? And if you’ve wandered away from Him a bit, go ahead and climb up into His lap. Welcome back.

Taking a Broken Break

Just this once the Lord won’t care I walked away and left him there!
I needed just a little break for these few steps I want to take.
Surely he’ll just look away when I choose darkness over day,
Or say the things I want to say, or take some time for me to play.
I know He loved me first and best, and yeah I failed that little test
But so did all the rest. I’m blessed,
But all these appetites suppressed affect me more than I had guessed!

I sometimes try to hide me, when I think He might deride me,
Or think that He denied me, just because I chose to sin;
But then I realized He only put His love inside me
For to comfort and to guide me in whatever state I’m in.
He is not there to scold me! His hand is meant to mold me,
To comfort and enfold me, and to there forever hold me so that I can leave the old me
I’ll celebrate His essence and His substance with persistence,
Knowing that His presence signals nothing but acceptance.
I’m paranoid, Lord, with blindness: help me see your loving-kindness.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Your Big Transgressions Require Big Repentance.

I bet you haven’t used the word ‘transgressions’ in awhile… In the dictionary, it’s “an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense.” That’s something we have all done, and the Bible reminds us in the words of King David that even royalty could make mistakes. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:3-4, NIV)

David may have been the greatest king of Israel, but he was also one of its greatest sinners. When he spotted Bathsheba bathing he was tempted, which in itself is not sin. But what followed is almost a textbook case of how big transgressions can emerge from seemingly small temptations.

The word transgressions comes from the notion of going beyond the boundaries, of over-passing the rules. That often starts with temptation and develops from there. As James says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, KJV)

A Walk Upon the Roof

David’s demise started with a walk on the palace roof. (A place David had built, where he stood upon the pinnacle of his own accomplishments as Lord of all he could see, where he felt protected, private, and proud… all fertile elements for temptation to take root and come to full flower…Say, where do YOU experience that same environment or those same feelings? That can happen when you are all alone, or feel safe that nobody will know what you did. When there is no accountability, or when you are full of your own rights or accomplishments, then beware: conditions are ripe for temptation to turn into sin!)

transgressions require repentance

David was drawn into transgressions that seem unthinkable for a man after God’s own heart. His lust led him into adultery, betrayal, cowardice, and murder. He even made others complicit in his sin by having them bring Bathsheba to him (imagine the talk among the servants!) and leave Uriah alone in battle to be slain. (You think Joab lost a little respect for David over this “let’s abandon Uriah” thing?) When the King of Israel fell into sin, he fell hard.

In the space of a few weeks, David committed adultery, deceit and murder. These actions are startling in a man who rejoiced in the God of his salvation, who adored and loved the Lord so publicly and passionately. (I guess sin and depravity are startling in every one of us, for that matter, aren’t they?) I have often wondered why the Hebrew people portrayed heroes with such incredible flaws. The only explanation is that they were simply recording the truth, not varnishing or white-washing it. And perhaps it’s also so we can relate to and learn from David’s horrible mistakes.

What Can We Do About It?

But if we can learn from how David failed to avoid temptation and how it led him into big transgressions, we can also learn from how he repented. It was not David’s purity that made him a man after God’s own heart. It was his response to his own impurity. Real quick, here are three things David teaches us about true repentance:

1) “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” He knew what he did was wrong, and he felt profound conviction over it. He didn’t sin and walk away; he realized all that he had done, and he couldn’t forget it or put it behind him. His remorse followed him remorselessly. When we commit transgressions, our repentance needs to be total and authentic.

The Right Place to Seek Forgiveness

2) Even though he sinned publicly and involved others, he knew his sin was a private matter between him and his Creator. “Against you only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight.” While David’s actions had many, many earthly consequences, he also understood the heavenly ones. It grieved him to betray the Living God, and it was to the Living God he turned for restoration. While there are always earthly consequences to sin, our repentance needs to be personal and private between us and the Lord.

3) “You are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” Even though he was a king who could have had Nathan killed for revealing his sins, David accepted God’s authority in his life. He didn’t rationalize or equivocate, he didn’t tap-dance or make further excuses. David didn’t hire defense attorneys or try to circumvent the law. He acknowledged his transgressions and placed himself willingly under the verdict of a Righteous Judge.

Proper repentance always involves the right respective about who God is and who we are. I am always surprised that David’s failures were written about so candidly. After all, he was Israel’s hero and greatest king; but God allowed us to see his failings because we, too will fail. And He allowed us to see his repentance, because we, too, need to repent. You have undoubtedly committed transgressions, too. The next step is up to you.

It’s Your Call

Here's a tip for your transgressions:
Offer up a real confession.
This is more than my two cents,
(I offer this with no pretense)
Since Sin requires a deadly sentence,
Start with a heart of true repentance!
Don't obfuscate, prevaricate,
Procrastinate or hesitate.
You've sinned, so you know what to do:
The rest of it is up to you.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

There is a Cosmic Romance, and YOU are a Big Part of It

A wedding ceremony is full of romance. In these unique celebrations of love, there are flowers and music. The groom is dressed in his finest, waiting by the altar as the lovely bride approaches. He is nervous, she is blushing. She glows with beauty, and he glows with pride. There is a sense of anticipation and joy that makes a wedding day very special.

With that in mind, stop and think about this: the Bible compares the way the Almighty God of the Universe feels about YOU to the way the groom feels about his lovely bride. It says, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5, NKJV)

Weddings are amazing events, full of love and romance. When you consider the amount of time, creativity, and preparation poured into a wedding day, it has to be one of the most anticipated days of a lifetime. I was the father of two beautiful brides, (and one handsome son as well!) . Each event was significant and special, attended by hours of planning, selecting, decorating, and choosing every element so that the wedding day went just right.

The Perfect Day

At a wedding there are participants, coordinators, flowers, colors, and rehearsals. There are photographers, videographers, tuxedos, caterers, locations, churches, gifts, meals, DJ’s, music, toasts, and shoes… There are countless other things besides mere romance to consider.

When I’ve had the privilege to officiate at weddings, I have noticed that most of these details are very important to the Bride. She is not only giving herself away, she is coordinating the blending of two families to create a new one. That means, of course, that her wedding must be special. It should commemorate the occasion with all of the appropriate decorations and elements. Brides and their mothers (and perhaps their wedding planner) dream of, conceive, plan, and manage every detail of a wedding so that it will be a perfect day.

romance

Grooms… not so much. Most of the time (in my observation) Grooms leave a lot of that preparation stuff where it belongs, with the Bride and her mother. Yes, they smile and say, “Yes Dear”, or “That looks great”, but really, how much work do most grooms have to do getting ready for the wedding? So why didn’t Isaiah say, “As the bride rejoices over the wedding day, so shall your God rejoice over you”? Why did he compare God’s love for us to the groom?

Anticipation the Way it USED to Be…

I’m gonna get real for a minute. In our modern age of birth control, weddings have lost something that used to be a huge part of the anticipation and build up for the special event. Face it, most couples today have slept together already. Before birth control, you were playing Russian roulette with your future to do that, and 60+ years ago, most women weren’t willing to take that chance. I’m not being Polly Anna, and yes I know that people still did it, but not nearly as easily or as often as they do today.

Weddings before birth control still held the romance and pure physical anticipation of intimacy. Physical consummation was scary, mysterious, spiritual, sexual, and highly anticipated, particularly by the groom. He’d been mooning over his fiancé, longing for her, and doing all of the highly charged heavy petting she would let him get away with. 60 years ago a groom approached his wedding day begging for union. That was just the way things were before women engaged in the “sexual revolution”. The danger of pregnancy outside of marriage was a powerful (but not total) deterrent to sex before that special wedding day.

But Wait, There’s More

I’ll pause for a moment and say that even today, when I officiate weddings, it is always a special moment when the bridal procession starts, and I can see from up close the look in the groom’s eyes as he watches his beautiful Bride, prepared and reserved for him, coming down the aisle to be presented to him.

There is always longing, pride, affection and commitment in that look; I mean, it’s a wedding! But where physical intimacy has not yet occurred, the sense of anticipation is that much higher. The desire for intimacy brings the groom an even greater sense of urgency to the bride’s approach. It puts the RRRR in “romance”! The groom is a raging combination of love, romance, and hormones, anxious to consummate this union that he has anticipated so long…

True Intimacy

Lest you think I am obsessing over this aspect of the ceremony, picture this: Isaiah says THAT is exactly how God rejoices over us. That is why Paul quoted Moses in Ephesians 5:31-32: ““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” A man leaves his home and family to start a new one, and to become one with the woman he loves. He will find completion and comfort in her arms, and they will discover the delights and pleasures of that union together.

As a groom stands and rejoices that his bride is coming down the aisle to be his—that is how God feels about us. That is how God feels about us!
As we walk down the aisle to be His bride, can you feel His gaze upon us? It is filled with pride, affection, commitment and joy—as well as the pure longing for intimacy that has been planned since eternity past, and will bring joy for eternity to come. Be glad! You are being rejoiced over. You are at the center of the cosmic romance.

The Eternal Romance

The blushing bride is in the aisle, approaching sweet and pure;
She cannot hide her glowing smile, and yet remains demure.
Her face is like a work of art; she looks her very best–
Anticipation makes her heart beat faster in her chest!
Her steps are slow and measured as she walks into the room;
She could not be more treasured by her loving, waiting groom.

He sees her dress, her hair, her skin, the beauty waiting there within,
And drinks this lovely vision in, and knows that she’s reserved for Him!
He looks at her with perfect pride, a love that cannot be denied,
A heart that wells up deep inside with love for His eternal Bride!
Where joy is full and tears are dried, this Cosmic Romance will abide…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Want God to Appreciate Your Heart? Start Here

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22, NIV) What an amazing thing for the God of the universe to say about someone! Would God say that about you? He called David “a man after my own heart”. So, even though David did despicable things, perhaps there is hope for all of us.

Perfection not Required

Apparently perfect behavior was not the key to chasing after God’s heart, so why did God say this? What can we learn from David that could teach us about how to be that kind of person? Take a quick walk through the Psalms and look at David’s intimate connection with God’s loving-kindness, and what it teaches us:

1) David was a man for whom seeking God was a passionate pursuit. “The Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8). David sought the Lord day and night. He prayed often to the One he called “the God of my life”, and he depended upon God’s goodness and creativity.

heart

2) His daily relationship with God gave him purpose and direction. “Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” (Psalm 143:8) Would YOUR week be any different if you approached every day like that? When you read the account of David’s life, you find that David was successful when he sought the Lord’s advice and followed it.

3) David’s feelings about God were not a private matter. He sang and prayed to the Lord even in public; he put it out there. “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; but I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving-kindness and Your truth From the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:10)

He didn’t worry about offending anyone or being too vocal about God; he shared and sang and wrote about the love of his life. It was something he could not contain. For David, his relationship with God was like a grand love story that he had to share with everyone.

A Modern Parable

Picture a man who falls in love with that special woman who completes him, and provides all the love and affection he ever dreamed of. So, he marries his beautiful bride, enjoys the ceremony and then takes her home and locks her in the back room. Now, imagine that he only takes her out a few minutes a day or a few hours a week. Would that make sense? NO!! And yet, that is how many of us treat God! We fall in love with the God of the Universe, we call Him Father, and yet we only spend a few minutes a day with Him, or visit Him at his place once a week.

That’s certainly not how David did it. Consider revealing your love for God the same way he did. Learn from his passion, his persistence, his prayer, and his public display of affection. Perhaps God will say, “I have found ________ (YOUR NAME HERE!), a person after my own heart.” How cool would THAT be?

“A Man After God’s Own Heart”

Start with a boy, who, tending sheep,
Beneath the stars, too in love to sleep,
Looks up at the heavens’ glistening art,
And comprehends the Creator’s heart.

Least regarded, chosen king,
Transformed by a giant, a rock, a sling!
A man who gazed at God above,
And understood; And fell in love.

Powerful warrior, loyal friend;
Head of the kingdom without end;
Poet, prophet, singer: dance,
Caught in the grip of God’s romance!

Love the Lord and love His word!
Let your songs and praise be heard,
Reaching countless human ears,
Timeless for a thousand years!

But O! That sword can cut two ways:
For those same lips that sang God’s praise
Will kiss their way into a fall,
A story shown and known to all…

Scheming, lying, murderous lust;
Broken hearts and broken trust,
Written down for all to see,
Captured for eternity…

Deep your capacity to transgress!
But deeper, a longing to confess:
To bring your contrite, broken heart
Back to the Maker’s matchless art.

Honest now, with no pretense,
No vain attempt at self-defense!
Broken as a consequence…
Confessing, teaching us that this
Is how to have a heart like His.

Acts 13:22 “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart…”
Matt. 22:37: “And Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy god with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…”

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread