Word on Wednesday

Waiting on Dueling Angels

But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. Psalm 38:15 ESV
God answers prayer. I love the certainty of that promise.
But our opening scripture also reveals another truth: We often have to wait for that answer.
The waiting frustrates most of us. In this world of instant gratification, often God’s movement seems a bit slow. But what if it isn’t God that’s keeping you from your answer?
Today we will glimpse two prayers from a gatekeeper, a man whose prayers released God’s deliverance on this earth. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is Daniel.
Our friend Daniel is most famous for having survived a den of lions, but that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. Today we’ll see how he served the people of God as a watchman, discerning God’s Word and releasing His will through prayer.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:2
Daniel lived in Babylon, the result of Israel being carried off into captivity because sin had removed God’s covering of protection. Jeremiah had warned them in advance of their exile, declaring they would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
Daniel realized those 70 years were coming to a close and it was time for God to deliver His people once more. So, he put on his party hat and waited to see God move.
Well, not exactly. He did precisely what Elijah did last week when God had revealed His will. He prayed.
Then I turned my face […]

God Chooses to Need You

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
God never moves without partnering with people. Yep, that’s what I said.
The enemy would have us believe that God will just do what He wants to do anyway so you and I don’t have to pay attention. We can just do what we want.
But that isn’t what scripture demonstrates. I challenge you to find an occurrence in God’s Word where He intervened to bring deliverance without involving people—either by acts of faith or through prayer.
Even the birth of Jesus involved human cooperation. A betrothed virgin heard the word of the Lord proclaimed through the angel Gabriel and became an earthly conduit of God’s power as her heart came into agreement with God.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
God doesn’t move without involving people. He can, but He chooses not to. Instead, He waits for willing vessels who will cooperate with Him to release His power.
A few weeks ago, we discovered why that is. God gave dominion of the earth to man, and He never goes back on His Word.
What does that mean for you and me, dear one?
We will see God move as we listen at His gates, discern what He is speaking, and agree with Him through prayer and obedient faith. When we do that, we become gatekeepers (John 10:3), releasing the will and power of God to intervene on this earth.
That’s the authority God gave to man before the fall, and that Christ bought back for the church through […]

Living the Difference

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV
My world looks and feels a little different these days.
My family and I just returned from a week in Jeremie, Haiti where we served alongside Haiti Bible Mission over our boys’ Thanksgiving break.

I have never witnessed such a glaring contrast in my surroundings. Nestled amid God’s glorious display of some of the best He has given us— amazing turquoise seas, lush jungle landscapes and rolling green mountains—bare feet walked dusty roads littered with trash, and half dressed children played in the streets, hungry for both food and attention.
My heart broke for them.
But then again, I had prayed before I ever boarded that plane to cross the sea that God would pierce my heart and open my eyes to see the people of Haiti like He sees them.
I had asked for it, and still it caught me by surprise.
The first time we stepped out of the truck and began walking down the street along the poverty stricken waterfront, a wave of emotion swept over me with such force, I had to ask God to strengthen me to keep on walking without tears.
Oh, how He loves them! My heart swelled with compassion. His compassion.
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5
God sees those people the same way He sees you and me. He […]

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
A smile lurks at the corners of my eyes when I ponder our opening scripture.
As a child I memorized Psalm 100 in song, an upbeat chorus proclaiming the truths of the verses and then breaking into a refrain. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, Jesus…Praise God… Thank you, Jesus…”
I still can’t read the words without inserting them into the tune. I guess there’s something to be said about the power of a melody. After almost 40 years, I can still remember the whole Psalm.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Granted, Psalm 100 only has five verses. But when I learned them, I was only six.
Still, just knowing the words won’t do anything for me if I don’t understand them and live by them. So what does Psalm 100 really teach us?
Let’s take a few moments to read it together, pondering its truths. After all, it bears the subtitle A Psalm for Giving Thanks and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It may help us shift our gratitude in the right direction.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Oh, how I love the Word of God! My soul yearns for truth and my heart swells when […]

The Beauty of Intercession

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)
What a beautiful promise found in our opening scripture! Does it comfort you to know that Jesus is able to save you to the uttermost? He’s not a halfway God. He offers complete salvation.
But notice that there’s a condition to becoming a beneficiary of that salvation. He is able to save those who draw near to God through Him.
Within this phrase we find why so many believers miss experiencing the bounty of Christ’s salvation in the day to day. We don’t draw near. Instead, we often keep ourselves at a great distance from God, allowing jobs, relationships, even hobbies to separate us from the God who wants us near. Then we wonder where He is when we have an emergency.
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1:22-23
What an amazing promise from an amazing God! He longs to pour Himself out and make His desires known so that we can live His very best for us.
But what happens when we refuse to draw near to hear?
“Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity…” Proverbs 1:24-26
Chilling words from a God of grace. Do they surprise you? There’s more.
“Then […]

To Aid and Protect

“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 ESV
Do you find that your prayers tend to be reactionary?
Mine used to be. I’d offer grateful prayers at dinner and sweet nighttime prayers with my children, but it took something unpleasant happening to bring me to my knees and make me cry out passionately to God. I’d pray in response to things I didn’t like or understand.
I didn’t want it, so I’d ask God to change it. Sound familiar?
What if God offers something so much better than help out of our present messes? What if He wants to help us avoid some of those messes all together?
We’ve spent the last couple of weeks digging into some biblical principles about prayer. John 10:3 revealed a simple but profound truth. Jesus doesn’t open His own gates.
Instead, He seeks gatekeepers—or watchmen—to listen at His gates and open them through prayer. Unlike our enemy, Jesus doesn’t just force His way into our present circumstances; He only ever enters by the door (John 10:1-2). And He waits patiently for a gatekeeper to respond to His call and open the gate, inviting Him in.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:34-35 (ESV)
Today I’d like to dig a little deeper into the role of the gatekeeper or watchman. Consider this description of John 10:1-5 from the Bible Knowledge Commentary.
Verses 1–5 describe a morning shepherding scene. A shepherd enters through a gate into a […]

The Watchman at the Gate

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:33-35 (ESV)
I think we forget that our most important role as followers of Christ is listening.
Well, let me rephrase that. We do a lot of listening. We just don’t recognize our need to quiet ourselves and listen to Jesus.
We seek His favor. We seek the abundant life He offers. But we usually ignore the means.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.
Listening to Jesus is how you will find your way into His abundant life and favor.
You’ve probably heard Jesus described as the Good Shepherd. He actually gave Himself the name in John 10:11, just before He revealed what He had come to earth to do.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Let’s take a look at how Jesus describes His relationship with His sheep.
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5
Verse 5 always pierces my heart. For many of us, Jesus’ voice is the stranger we never […]

Free to Choose

But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:17
For reasons beyond our understanding, God chose to hand the earth He created over to the dominion of man (Genesis 1:28). It pleased Him to give us a say in what happens here rather than force us to cooperate with His desires. You see, love is only love when it’s offered freely.
So He set His perfect will in place over His creation, and He gave man the authority to choose whether he’d walk in those blessings or live according to his own plans.
He chose poorly.
I sure wish Adam had taken hold of the truth revealed in last week’s opening scripture.
“For the simple are killed by their turning away… but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” Proverbs 1:32-33
Adam turned away from the protective counsel of His Creator and walked straight into disaster for us all. Why did He do it? He followed the wrong voice. He chose to trust the serpent instead of trusting God and found himself caught by the terrifying reality of Romans 6:16.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
The moment Adam did what the serpent desired of him and bit into that forbidden fruit, he became a slave to the one he obeyed. Sin entered his heart and took control of his will, tainting his desires with a […]

A Surprise Gift From a Sovereign God

“For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” Proverbs 1:32-33 (ESV)
Do you ever wonder where God is? What He’s thinking? Why He isn’t doing more to stop the spread of evil in our generation?
We love to blame God when bad things happen. We accuse Him of not doing His job and failing to protect us. Our anxiety leads us to doubt His goodness while our hearts tremble with fear.
I’d like to ask you to consider something with me.
What if God isn’t responsible for the increase of evil we see occurring? What if the blame lies a little closer to home? What if, in fact, you and I see one with the power to change things on this earth every time we look in the mirror?
I know the thought seems preposterous. After all, what can we do? Maybe we need to remind ourselves of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:23.
“All things are possible for one who believes.”
All things remain possible for the believer, and the impossible becomes possible through prayer.
God’s been teaching me a few things about the power of prayer, dear one. You and I have a role in holding back the tide of darkness. You see, here on earth that’s not God’s job. He entrusted that job to His church.
Jesus spoke some powerful words to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19.
“… on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, […]

No Offense, But…

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Last week we looked at the power of forgiveness. Christ’s blood poured out from a cross at Calvary so you and I could escape the destructive power of sin. The promise of the cross doesn’t just pardon sin’s penalty, dear one. It conquers the present compulsion for sin in our day-to-day lives.
Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Spirit provides.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?
Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily suffer the fruit of the flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.
What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Powerful words. Jesus said if […]