Transition of Power – 1 Chronicles 11:1-3

The Whole People Should Recognize The Leader That God Has Chosen

1 All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel.

A Great Gathering

After Saul died, all of Israel came together as a group.   This was important, for it showed unanimous consensus among God’s people that they recognized the transition of leadership to David.  Samuel had anointed David’s head with oil as the next king over a decade prior.  And now, that promise of God was being fulfilled.

Royal Recognition

It is important that all of them recognized the transition of power.  Rather than refuse to acknowledge the new king, they embraced him as God intended as one people.  It is very difficult when questionable circumstances overshadow the transition of power.  That can divide a nation and cause irreparable harm to the unity of the people.  It has been said, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The enemies of peace have long understood this concept, and work tirelessly in opposition to unity in order to foment discontent and resentment towards the leaders that they do not like.  When a nation is torn in two this way, the nation is being set up to be financially pillaged and eventually overrun.  There is great profit in confusion.

In this particular case, the people pulled together to recognize David as their new king.  The ardent followers of Saul supported David.  They did not try to stage a coup and insert their own candidate for king.  This served to unite the people even more.

A Climatic Covenant

David not only assumed the throne, he made a covenant with the people.  He did not merely take a verbal oath, he made a promise that carried with it the penalty of death should it not have been held up.  David was a servant to the people.  He shepherded them as God intended, rather than seek His own glory, power, and recognition apart from The Lord God Almighty.  This solidified his position with the people and gave him the accountability necessary to ensure that he would take promise and responsibility towards the people with the gravest of attitudes.

The Powerful Promise

By uniting the people, recognizing his role, and taking the necessary steps to ensure his accountability, the promise that God had made to David was fully secured in the support of the people.  Samuel’s anointing of David’s head as the next ruler of the people of Israel was complete, and he was able to rule them in joy and with God’s protection and power.  God demonstrated His choice of David as His chosen vessel of authority over men in that He increased David’s power and influence among them.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to accept the leadership that God has placed over me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have placed leaders over us for our protection and to bring about Your will.  Help me to be supportive of Your decisions, and to do my very best to submit to leaders who are yielded to You.  Father, I ask that You would strengthen and encourage the men and women You have chosen as leaders over me to yield themselves to You.  Help them to become the servant-leaders that You desire them to be.  Give me the strength to endure wicked leaders when You send them as judgment upon a nation, and to encourage all to pray for the people who are under difficult leadership that they would call out to You, and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, that You would heal the land.  Bless the leaders that You have chosen with wisdom, restraint, and advisors that would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Leadership with God – Psalm 71:1-2

Pray For All Who Are In Leadership Over Us.

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

Judge with Justice

The author of this Psalm cries out to God that He would divinely place justice in the king.  In governments that are not monarchies this would go to the one who was in charge of overseeing the law of the land.  We too should cry out to God that He would place true justice in the hands of those who would wield it correctly.  Far too often have people in this era been forced to endure either the misapplication of justice, or even just a lack of it.

When justice leaves a country, it begins to fall apart.  It crumbles from within.  Evil and petty tyrants come to power, and are brought down as well.  Power is then seized by bullies and people whose moral compass points counter to justice.  It is our duty to cry out to God for leaders who are just.

Rein in Righteousness

But not only should they be just, they should be righteous as well.  Justice cannot be correctly meted out without the proper frame of reference with which it can be done so in righteousness.  And although we all claim to want a justice system that is “fair”, it is mercy and grace that we seek when we are being accused of breaking the law.  “Fair” implies merely that the law is applied consistently.  But consistently applying the law unjustly does it no credit.

Only in righteousness can justice truly be meted out.  And righteousness requires mercy and grace.  For without compassion, justice is cold, harsh, and cruel.  It may not distinguish between self-preservation and premeditated murder when a person’s life is ended.  And wicked people will attempt to usurp blind justice to do their bidding.  We need only to look at the life of Jezebel, the queen of King Ahab, to see this:

1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” 7 on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

Creating a Chiasm

Now comes the interesting part.  Many of the writers of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible used a form of literary prose known as the Chiasm, or Chiasmic structure.  This is where two or more ideas are paralleled in a stepping stone fashion.  This has been used to juxtapose opposites, or to show the outcomes or natures of two different, but interrelated subjects.

In this case, the author of this Psalm chooses to show the theoretical or ideal of two subjects – Justice and Righteousness – in comparison to the practical application or implementation of them.  The Chiasm looks like this:

Righteousness – Judge in
with the sonrighteousness
/\
Endow Justice Justice
with the King for the afflicted

Notice how the on the left side of the Chiasm that the subject matter is to be endowed – it is the “ethics” of the situation that is being highlighed.  On the right side, it is the execution of those “ethics”, or practical “morality”, that is requested.  This type of prose can be found throughout scripture, and gives us insight to what the authors intended.  Without understanding this structure, it would appear that the author may either be rambling or just merely repeating themselves.  If taken chronologically, it could lead to some very incorrect conclusions about prophecy and other events.  But it is designed for a specific effect:  the juxtaposition of two parallel thoughts with the first thoughts from front to back, and with the constrasted thoughts being presented back to front, giving us a clearer view of the subject matter when compared to each other.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I give out justice in the same manner that I desire it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Praise be to Your holy name.  Thank You for Your insights to justice and righteousness that You provide to me through Your word.  You have revealed that You are perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Your justice is tempered by Your mercy and grace.  Because of Your compassion, You did not destroyed me when I first sinned against You, but rather two thousand years ago sent Your Son to be my perfect sacrifice.  Help me to better understand Your character, and to display it to the world, for You have been gracious and merciful to me when I deserved justice.  Apart from the finished work of Your Son Jesus Christ on the cross, I would still be in my sin.  Thank You Lord Jesus!  I love You very much!  Help me to show that love through obedience to Your word and displaying Your character in my thoughts, words, and deeds.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Authority by God – Daniel 2:19-23

There Is No Authority Except That Which Is Established By God

19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Riddle Revealed

Have you ever had a mystery in your life that neither you nor no one else could figure out?  Daniel was in that exact same place.  The king had asked a question of the wise men of his time that no one had ever asked before – to rightly divine what the king’s dream had been, and its proper interpretation.  In previous times, the king would reveal the dream and ask for the interpretation.  However, being clever, the king asked the wise men not only the interpretation to the dream, but also the dream itself.  For only the truly wise person would be able to divine both the interpretation as well as the dream.

The Lord God Almighty knows all things.  What is done in darkness is as clear as light to Him.  He is omniscient – knowing all things.  Nothing is withheld from God.  In order for God to be sovereign over all of creation, He would need to know everything that was going on in creation all of the time.  And this time was no exception.  When Daniel and his three friends prayed to the One who knows all things, God was faithful and provided the knowledge to Daniel, His chosen instrument, to deliver the message to the king.

Despots Deposed

Daniel then prayed a prayer that glorified God and reveals some interesting aspects of the character of God.  Daniel rightly proclaims that it is God who removes people from positions of authority.  While the reasons for this are the purview of God for His plan, this revelation should give us hope and assurance.

When faced with unholy rulers who oppress people rather than serving them in submission to the Lord God Almighty, those who are faithful to God should bend their knees in fervent prayer that God would remove such a one from office.  When the true disciples of God cry out for justice and Godly leadership over them, repenting of their sins and the sins of their nation, turning their faces back towards God and away from sin (in that order), humbling themselves in prayer and fasting, God will hear their prayers and heal their land.

Authority Authenticated

It is God and God alone that places leaders in their positions of power.  For God and God alone has all authority, and He delegates that authority to whomever He chooses.  For some, He delegates it in righteousness for His glory.  For others, He delegates it to bring about the discipline of His people.

Habakkuk, in an apparent prayer of despair,  cried out to God in an attempt to understand why the righteous were held back, and the wicked prospered on Earth.  God said to Habakkuk,

See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness

We must remember that it is God’s purview and His alone that allows the wicked to prosper and to be in leadership over others.  While we have every obligation to ensure that we are living righteously and living in a just manner before God, it is God and God alone who will raise up leaders and lay them low.  This is a divine attribute of God, that He and He alone has all authority and can do with it what He wants for His purposes.

Information Imparted

Since God is all-knowing, it is God’s responsibility to provide that knowledge to others.  Many try to seek wisdom and knowledge through other channels, such as divination (tarot cards, Ouija boards, palm reading, tea leaves, and any number of other methods including seeking out those who traffic with Demonic beings.  Any method of revelation of true hidden knowledge is through God and God alone.  Others may guess at the nature of truth, but only God knows it for sure.

The sad aspect of the seeking of wisdom and knowledge outside of God is that these methods lead a person down a very dark path away from God.  Whether it be Saul and the medium of Endor trying to (and from what scripture says, apparently successfully at the attempt) channel the spirit of Samuel from the dead, or others who traffic in demons, any attempt at divination is evil and hated by God.

When someone goes to a real medium (a person who is being imparted with knowledge from demonic beings impersonating the dearly departed), they may get some real information that no one else could possibly know because no other human being was present.  However angels and demons are among us.  And they communicate with each other.  The knowledge that you get may have just enough truth in it to hook you into believing that the person you consulted really does know the future.  Once a person is hooked, they will depend more and more upon the medium or method of divination rather than depending upon God for knowledge and assistance.  Our God is a jealous God, and will not allow us to serve two masters.  Free will has been given to us, and we can choose whom we will serve.  We can choose to serve God, or serve anyone or anything else.  The choice is ours.  And every choice has its consequences.

The one who goes to a medium to see if they got the job after the interview may very well be told the truth.  A demon may have been present when the HR official authorized the paperwork or verbally approved the hiring.  Perhaps there is something that only the mark knows (the person seeking information from mediums) that is told to the mark.  After all, if no other human being had been present, how could this medium know the truth of the situation (such as where the serial killer buries the bodies or disposes of them, etc.)?

For the spiritual safety of God’s people, God and God alone should be consulted for wisdom and truth.  If it is to the glory of God that it not be revealed, so be it.  If we need to wait upon God’s timing for it, so be it.  It is the impatience of man that leads us to seek knowledge and wisdom apart from God and His word.  If you are ever presented with that temptation, remember what happened to king Saul because of his impatience with God’s timing (offering up the burnt offering to God, and seeking out the medium of Endor).

Wisdom Welcomed

Daniel welcomed the wisdom that God had provided, as should we.  Regardless of the word of knowledge that we are given by God, we should treasure it and act upon it, for God has seen fit to provide us with understanding and wisdom.  God loves it when we move in obedience to His revealed word.

And when we have received the answer to our prayer, we should praise the Lord God Almighty for what He has done.  God is worthy of all praise, honor, glory, power, strength, and dominion.  Let us give great praise to the One who provides for our every need, and gives us that which we have requested.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I able to be content when waiting for God to act upon my requests (especially with the outcomes of who is in authority over the nation I live in)?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  You have given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to lead us into the way everlasting.  Give me patience this day as I wait for You to act, and help me to be content with the outcome that You have decreed.  Regardless of my circumstances, help me to never take my eyes off of You.  Grant me peace in my heart, and bring me around to Your way of thinking so that I can be better prepared when difficulties occur in my life.  Help me to live by faith and faith alone in You when You send wicked rulers to be over us, and help me to rejoice when You relent and send leaders that will follow You to be over us.  This I ask in the glorious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Justice of God – Psalm 58:6-11

The Righteous Cry Out That Wicked Leaders Receive Justice In This Life

6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

Purge the Powerful

Nothing stinks quite as bad as people in leadership that have gone astray and have abused their power and responsibility over others.  For there is no authority except that which God has established.  David, having been on the receiving end of such a terrible power, the relentless pursuit by Saul’s troops for many years, cries out that their power would be broken.

Without its teeth, the lions, though powerful, would be crippled in their ability to bring down prey.  David calls for the de-fanging of those leaders who would use their power to oppress and destroy the very ones that they have been called by The Lord God Almighty to protect and to serve.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every petty dictator lost their ability to enforce their wickedness upon the helpless and the oppressed?

Salt the Slug

David makes another reference to those wicked leaders and uses the metaphor of a slug that melts as it moves along.  Slugs need the comfort and protection of darkness and a moist environment to move safely.  Just as they melt in the hot sun, or in salt, so does David wish that all wicked leaders would find themselves – melting as they move, their strength ebbing as they struggle, surely a fit end to the ones who would cripple and destroy the innocent and righteous that they themselves are oppressing.  Not only is it fit, it is just that they should, in the sight of those whom have been denied mercy, receive the same measure of mercy.

God is full of love and mercy, but He also says that a man reaps what He sows, for God cannot be mocked.  It is terrible but just when the leaders that sow wickedness in their rule are treated this way by God.  It is both a public humiliation and ruination, but also a warning to future leaders to submit themselves to God or face the same.  God gives them every opportunity to do what is right; however, there are limits even to the patience of God.  And once those limits are met, the mercy of God becomes the just wrath of God.

Quench them Quickly

For those who are oppressed by wicked rulers, relief from unrighteousness cannot come too quickly.  David calls for the swift destruction of wicked leadership.   When wickedness is allowed to flourish, it erodes the endurance of the righteous to bear it, for it appears that God either does not care, or will not intervene.  The usurpation of power of wicked rulers is greatly anticipated by the righteous, for God will not allow such behavior to continue forever.  And when anyone is on the receiving end of such vitriolic hatred and the expenditure of time and effort directed at themby wicked rulers, relief from their power is greatly desired.

Glad they’re Gone

Once the wicked have been removed from power; once the righteous have been avenged by God on behalf of their enemies, the righteous will rejoice, for they will know that God is still just.  It is only fitting that the righteous “dip their feet in the blood of the wicked”.  For so long, the righteous have had to endure oppression by wicked leaders who spill their blood and destroy their lives, that vengeance is desired.  The Lord God Almighty has said that vengeance is His, and He will repay.  The righteous look forward to that day, and pray that it occurs in their lifetime.  They will then see deliverance from evil by The Lord God Almighty Himself.

Joyful Justice

When the unjust rulers are removed from power, the righteous will rejoice, and joy will fill their hearts.  It is then that the righteous can say that they have experienced deliverance from such evil by God.  They will participate in His character through experiential knowledge of His glory and grace.  Then the wicked will fear, and the righteous rejoice, for the reign of terror and destruction will be at an end.

Beware, you rulers who seek wickedness and operate under the cloak of darkness – your time is short.  Repent now, and give glory to God, or face His wrath and your very public destruction in front of the very people you oppress.  God’s vengeance is coming, and there is nothing apart from repentance that will stop it.  You have been warned.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I walking in justice when I have been given leadership over others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for your holiness and Your love of justice.  You alone are perfectly just, able to rightly discern the motives of our hearts and the intent of our actions.  Examine my heart, oh God, and see if there be any unrighteousness within me.  Purge it out of me, and strengthen me as I am disciplined.  Remove the dross from my character, that I may walk ever closer with You.  Destroy my enemies, oh God, just as you destroyed the enemies of David.  Give me victory over those who would oppress me, and may your vengeance be upon all who rule without mercy and justice.  May their rule in power come quickly to an end, and may their public humiliation be so great in the eyes of all, that the wicked would shudder before You and fear for their very souls.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Can God Trust You? – Daniel 6:4

Can God Trust You to be Faithful?

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Capable Character

God seeks to inculcate within us great character – HIS character. Our trials are designed to challenge us to rise to the occasion, and to cast aside our way of doing things in favor of doing things God’s way.  The Holy Spirit not only guides us in the way we should go, but provides the very means to do it, whether it is strength, endurance, wisdom, words, or anything else that is needed for God to accomplish His goals through us.

God greatly desires and has planned to do just that – to use His people to showcase Himself, rather than just appear as a great tower or smoke or pillar of fire as He once did for Israel.  We are to be used as His hands and feet and mouths so that His work in our lives can be displayed, rather than just signs and wonders to behold and possibly be ignored.  He seeks to have a relationship with His creation, and particularly with us humans.  This is shown in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, as well as the way that God has worked through people all throughout the Bible.

God doesn’t have a “Plan B”.  Christians are it.  If we fail to do what we are supposed to do, then God’s plans won’t be completed the way He desires them to be completed.  Even now, God must reveal Himself through dreams and visions to people who live in the Middle East under Sharia law, as the evil there is so bad that even mentioning Christ will get you beheaded.  It’s hard to get the message out when the messengers are murdered before the message is completely delivered!  Speaking of messengers, Proverbs 25:13 tells us something about the ones with good character:

Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master.

Trustworthy Through Trials

God is seeking men and women who are willing to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus.  God needs people who are able to trust in Him to deliver them through the most difficult of trials.  Jesus experienced great hardship at the hands of men and His trials.  God appoints those who are trustworthy through trials to different positions depending on their ability and need.

God calls people to different many different responsibilities.  He who knows all things determines what and where His people should be called.  He selects them as He sees fit.

Administration Acumen

Many are selected to be leaders.  People should not seek a position of leadership without the calling of God.  The burden of leadership is great, and requires a specific personality and mentality to do it right.  Look at how many people are in leadership today that are causing so much grief to the ones that they have been placed over.  We should soberly look at this and give great consideration before accepting any position of leadership.  Remember – leaders will be judged more strictly than others because of the responsibility of their role.

Monetary Mindfulness

Some are selected to be the overseers of great wealth.  Although many (if not most) of us would say, “Sure – I’ll take that!”, it is most probable that they would fail miserably at the task.  The Bible says that if we can be trusted with little, we can be trusted with much.  Many Christians are living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s not that they don’t have enough money to live frugally and save, it is just that the call of culture and desire of our hearts is to spend the money provided to us by God on ourselves.  Many people are not fiscally prudent, nor even know how to be.  Self-control in this department sometimes seems absent, and the wisdom to know what to do with money, as well as what not to do with money, seems to be missing from many Christians’ lives.

It takes someone who have been trained by a knowledgeable mentor to understand these concepts and put them in practice.  For instance, in a perfect world, where the average rate of return on an investment is 12% per year (don’t laugh – we know times are tough and something like this is very unlikely at present), that a person that is eighteen years of age who puts $1000 U.S. into a Roth IRA investment every year for just 10 years, and leaves it alone, will have over one million U.S. dollars waiting for them at age 65 – TAX FREE.

How many people are willing to do that at that age, or consistently?  What if the return is only 8%, but they invest the maximum allowed per year every year (at this time, through two separate employers [you can be self-employed as well] a person can put in $5,500 U.S. dollars TOTAL) for just 20 years?  At age 65, they will have almost two and a half million U.S. dollars waiting for them.  Who knew?

In any case, it would be a terrible thing to have to give an accounting to God of how great wealth was lost through fiscal mismanagement or spent on personal enrichment.

Taken Through Trials

There is a reason that Jesus suggested that we pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  He Himself was led by the Spirit of God to be tested by Satan himself.  We are going to be taken through trials to purge the dross that we have within us.  We shouldn’t be surprised at the trials that we face.  Regardless of what we are selected to do, we will face trials of many kinds.  Sometimes, they can take decades before we are ready (it took God forty years to get the Egypt out of Moses before He called him to service…)  But there is one specific calling that no one wants to receive, and that God requires the greatest trust from His people .

Selected for Suffering

God trusts us with what we are able to do and won’t allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure without providing a way.  God DOES give us more than we can handle so that we can grow in faith and character as we overcome our deficiencies with HIS strength, power, and ability.

One of the most difficult callings, or selections, is to be called to suffering.  God will eventually remove all suffering and pain.  Sometimes these things happen because it is God’s will that they happen and are not a direct result of sin:

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

It is very difficult for a person when God selects them for suffering.  Having to bear that tests a person’s faith down to its very core.  When the trial is prolonged (especially accompanied with excruciating pain) without help from others who support and encourage rather than assume and accuse, depression can set in, because the suffering is so great.

God greatly desires that Christians be patient and compassionate with people who have been called to this.  This does not include whiners who have a hangnail and act as though they have been skewered with a spear like a stuck pig.  These are people who have crippling diseases (like Lyme’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, and the like).  Not every disease manifests itself on the outside for all to see. And the mental and emotional abuse afflicted upon people is much harder to see than physical abuse.

Even though God’s people are called to suffering, God assures us that eventually all pain and suffering will end for those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Sometimes that will be addressed in this life (like the blind seeing, the lame walking, the sick cured, and the like), or in the next.  Either way, God will eventually provide an end to it.  But just as Jesus said concerning the blind man who was that way from birth, there is purpose to it – not only for character development, but so that the works of God can be put on display.

Special Service

There was once a story about a man who came into a logging camp.  He was shown the logging operations, and was given the grand tour.  When they came to the river where the logs were being floated down to the logging plant from where they were cut, a logger stood at the edge of the river.  Every now and then, he would use a pole that he was carrying and reroute a cut tree down a smaller fork in the river.

The man asked the logger who was directing the trees what he was doing.  The logger replied, “oh, those are special trees”.  The visitor asked, “What is so special about them, and how can you tell?”  The logger replied, “The trees I am selecting are very special.  They were harvested from the very tops of the mountains.  The winds are ferocious up there, and these trees are bent as the storms wail against them, but they stay strong and resilient.  Although all of the trees are profitable, these trees have endured the greatest of trials, and are greatly prized by furniture makers and artists, and are worth many times more than what the other trees are worth.  They will be used in ways that show their beauty, and when they are finally shaped, will endure for generations as priceless antiques and masterpieces.”

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

If you have been selected for great suffering, rejoice:  God plans to use you in the most beautiful of ways.  Once you have been tested, expect to be put on display.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I demonstrating to God that I can be trusted with whatever He is selecting me to do and be?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are good and gracious.  Help me to both find the area where I am called, and to do thrive in it so that You may be glorified.  Strengthen me so that I will be able to endure all the trials that I have been appointed to, and to overcome any difficulties that I encounter.  May Your character be put on display at all times, that as an image-bearer for You, I would be able to fulfill all that you have planned for me to do since before time began.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Family Living by God- Ephesians 5:21-24

Jesus Submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Sacred Submission

Paul starts this section on family living with a very provocative statement: that ALL of the body of Christ should submit to the REST of the body of Christ.  Unity within the body of Christ CANNOT be obtained unless we are willing to submit ourselves to one another.  He prepares the reader with this for the next big challenge – that wives should submit to their husbands, and not only submit; but submit to them as they submit to Christ.

God has created within Men and Women certain traits that have been corrupted by the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden.

  • Men – by nature – understand how to respect each other
    • They can live in a state of quasi-harmony with each other in respect.
    • They do not have agape love embedded into the DNA of their brain.  As a result, they will tend to do things that show respect to others, but they may not necessarily show love to others.
    • This can be seen in the business world, and even in gangs.  Men are risk-takers, and do things that tend to benefit themselves.  When men do things to each other, they have a sense of respect when it happens, understanding the need for certain situations, but then say, “It’s nothing personal – it’s just business.”
    • This can come off as being aloof, uncommunicative, unloving, dispassionate, emotionally distant, and relationally cold.
  • Women – by nature – understand how to agape love each other
    • They can live in a state of quasi-harmony with each other in love.
    • They do not have respect embedded into the DNA of their brain.  As a result, they will tend to do things that show love to others, but they may not necessarily show respect to others.
    • This can be seen in the family, and even in women’s gatherings.  Women are natural communicators, and seek the best for others at their own expense.  They are protective of others, and are wonderful for showing love and raising children.  When something needs to change, they often use their communication skills to spark a controversy (repetitive criticism can sometimes be seen here) because women want wholeness in relationship, and will respond to that with compassion and a heart to reconcile the relationship.  Their natural sensitivity helps them to stay connected and desire smoothness in relationships.
    • This can come off as a critical spirit, gossiping, and nagging.

Wives are told to submit to their husbands, and this is very difficult for them, especially if they don’t have respect for them, or see them failing as leaders of the family.  How can a person submit to another person that they don’t respect?

Because of this issue, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ.  This is the hardest thing they will need to do in marriage.  But it can also be the easiest thing to do in marriage.  Paul next tells us why this can occur.

Household Headship

God is a God of order.  There is order in the Trinity:

  • God the Father is the head of the organization, but submits to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
  • God the Son submits to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit
  • God the Holy Spirit submits to God the Father and God the Son
  • Someone has to be in charge for the purpose of accountability and to establish a hierarchy of authority so that order can be established and maintained.

In the same way, there is hierarchy of order within the family:

  • The husband is the head of the organization, but submits to his wife (and any children).
    • He is a servant-leader, who is charged with bringing about the spiritual growth of his wife and children, teaching them the things of Christ and revealing to them the Word of the Living God.
    • He is charged with taking care of them and providing for them physically, financially, and spiritually.  God has placed this burden upon his heart, and he eagerly seeks to meet this goal.
    • It is a terrible thing when he rebels against this and abandons servant-leadership to become self-centered.
  • The wife submits to her husband (and any children).
    • She has an advisory role in the organization, able to see things about people and situations that the husband is unable to see because of his giftedness.  Her input is very valuable, and should be given great consideration by her husband when making decisions.
    • She is in tune with the needs and desires of all affected people in the organization, and can provide balance and unity between husbands and children.
    • It is a terrible thing when she abandons this and cultivates a critical spirit that does not encourage and love but rather verbally reminds others in her care of their shortcomings, often in anger, fueled by the memories of all of the other similar things that happened to her that flood into her mind during the situation.
  • The children submit to the husband (father) and wife (mother).
    • They are adults-in-training, and don’t have the skills yet to be independent of them.  They should carefully consider their parent’s advice and decisions.  When both the mother and father are acting in the role of servant-leader, they are taking their children’s best interests at heart, and are making decisions that are meant to be beneficial to everyone involved.
    • Children are born needy and selfish.  If left alone, they would do great harm to themselves and others.  It is only through the care, teaching, and correction by their parents that they are able to train themselves away from this natural-born state.  But it is just as important that they acknowledge and submit themselves to God so that they can overcome these tendencies.
    • Sometimes, decisions made by their parents may not appear to the children to be in their best interest.  An example of this is when they have to move because the father and/or mother has lost his/her job, and now are going to be separated from the safety and security of everything that they have known until now.  What they fail to grasp is that if the family stays, they may become homeless and encounter all of the difficulties associated with that particular life situation. They may not grasp that this would be far worse than if they moved.
    • It is terrible when they rebel against the authority of their parents (in the Lord). One example of this is when the children seek to do them as much harm as possible to get back at them in retaliation for feelings they may experience when their desires are not immediately granted (the entitlement generation syndrome).

When the order that God has imposed is followed by the family organization, there can be unity within it.  When a husband (fathers) submits himself to Christ, he is listening to the One who Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.  God has everyone’s (including the family’s) best interests at heart and will direct the husband (father) in the ways that the family should go.

When this occurs, he will display the love of God to his family, and it will be much easier to respect him in his role.  They should remember that he will be held accountable by God for the success or failure of the family organization.  While individuals have free will, and they certainly can rebel against both God and the husband (father), he will be held accountable for his submission to God and obedience to what God has directed him to do.

If a husband (father) is seeking God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength, it should be a joy for his wife to respect him and submit to him in all things, for in doing so, she is both submitting to the one placed in authority over her by God, as well as to God Himself as He works through His servant, the husband (father).  When the children (if any) see this relationship being displayed, their unity and Christ-likeness should fill them with a sense of safety and security and fill them with joy, knowing that they are loved and respected, and that their best interests are being kept in mind in all things.

When a wife submits to her husband, even (and especially) when he doesn’t deserve it, she is fulfilling her obligations with regard to the organization.  This must be done in love and without a critical spirit.  When this occurs, her love and respect for him will be used by the Holy Spirit to convict him and bring him back into line where he should be.  This is to be done with tender and tearful prayer by his wife, so that God would get a hold of him and help him to be the man of God that he is called to be.  Once that occurs, it will be a joy to submit to him.

A definition for submission of wives to husbands was once described as wives being willing to duck so that when God throws a right-cross at the family leadership, it lands firmly upon their husbands.

A Qualifying Question

For wives, let’s ask the question:  Are we submitting to our husband as the church is supposed to submit to Christ, with great respect and joy (even and especially if he doesn’t deserve it)?

A short prayer of Preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is a difficult thing to do what is the opposite of my nature to do.   Father, give me strength and guidance in every area of my life.  Help me to be who You made me to be.  Give me peace as I fulfill my role that You have provided for me.  Help me to see Your perspective in all things, and to love and respect my family the way that desire.  Show me where I need to change, that I may grow in You, and be an example for others.  Watch my ways, and keep me from sinning against You.  You have called me to be Holy – to be set apart from sin, and set apart to You.  Only You can bring that to fruition.  Encourage me when I feel frustrated, and remind me of Your goodness, mercy, grace, and compassion that I may lean upon them and show them to others, even when I am experiencing great trials.  This I ask in the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Leadership with God – Psalm 2:10-12

An Open Letter to All Who Are Called to Leadership by God

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Wise Warning

God sets the tone for these passages with a warning to all leaders.  God specifically mentions kings, then more generally mentions rulers.  All authority comes from God.  There is no authority that exists that is not expressly instituted by God, for God is Sovereign over all creation.  Anyone who is wise will take heed of and allow their heart to ponder His warning to them.

Solemn Service

The Lord God Almighty asserts His Sovereignty and commands those who have been placed in leadership over others to serve Him with (reverential) fear.  God has stated that He is ruler over all.  Just as those who are in leadership over men expect them to heed what they decree, so also does the Lord God Almighty.  Every ruler should celebrate that they are just a link in the chain of leadership over us, rather than the head, for who can rule alone wisely that is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent?

As leaders consider their role and position in the chain of leadership, they should do so with trembling.  We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  In the same way, leaders should carefully consider their actions as they are accountable to the One and Only God who is in authority over them and requires them to be obedient to Him.

Royal Recognition

Leaders are to “kiss the son”.  Matthew Henry points out that we should kiss the son not in way that betrays Him like Judas, but rather with a kiss of adoration and religious worship.  All are to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.  Every knee show bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.  We can choose to bow the knee now in praise, adoration, and obedience, or we can bend it later in front of the white throne seat of judgement.  The choice is ours.

Angered Answer

Those that choose it ignore their place in leadership and go on to be a “Lone Ranger” will suffer the consequences of their actions.  Just as we expect our children to obey us, God expects us to obey Him.  And when we are disobedient, especially with regards to the usurpation of power and authority by leaders from that which God grants to them over His people, there are grave consequences.

Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.  Leaders that refuse to accept God’s authority and leading in their lives face eventual destruction.  This will manifest itself in their removal from office by the hand of God through people, circumstances, disability, or even death.  Their destruction is foretold by the one who placed them in leadership to being with.  They rebel against God at their own peril.

Those who rebel will be held accountable by God.  We should pay attention to the past, for God has warned us of what He does to the disobedient:

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.

In times past, it was kings like Nebuchadnezzar that were used as tools of God’s wrath.  Now, it is the fundamentalist adherents to Islam that God is using as tools to implement His wrath.

Beatific Blessing

Finally, God pronounces a blessing upon all who take refuge in Him.  When leaders take refuge in God, they will be protected and blessed by the One is able to save and protect them.  Some trust in weapons, and some trust in armies, but wise leaders trust in the Name of the Lord God Almighty.  When leaders of a nation yield themselves to the God of Creation, and celebrate His sovereign authority, they are protected and blessed:

Let us read about the confession of a leader that was humbled by God and then blessed:

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question.  Are we taking God’s warning to leaders to heart, given that all of God’s people are called to be priests of a royal priesthood, and are therefore leaders?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You provide us with the opportunity to be leaders in every aspect of life.  We lead not only our families, but are often called to greater responsibility in our jobs and in government.  Watch over us and help us to fulfill all that You have planned for us in the roles that You have placed us.  Father, keep me humble that I may not rebel against You.  Help me to have a heart that greatly desires and seeks to know You and Your will for every aspect of my life.  Empower me and strengthen me as I seek to honor You and bring glory to Your name.  May all praise, honor, glory, strength, power and dominion be Yours forever and ever, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Leadership of God – Acts 13:22

Have You Considered My Servant, David?

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.’

Lasting Loyalty

David was a man who was loyal to God.  No matter what he did (good or bad), he always returned to God.   David always saw God in front of him.  David experienced Jesus at his right side as his companion.  In the New Testament, Jesus used the Greek word akoloutheo (to walk shoulder to shoulder, step for step) to describe how we should walk with Him.  David experienced that companionship, and was loyal to God.  Even when being confronted with his sin concerning Bathsheba, David experienced righteous indignation concerning the theft of a man’s only lamb by another.  Despite all of David’s failures, David always returned to the Lord.  This is why he was a man after God’s own heart.

Let’s take a closer look at David’s indiscretions.

Soaked in Sin

David was by no means perfect.  None of us are.  But God saw fit to show us a record of what had occurred so that we could learn from it.  Here’s a short list of the failures of David:

  • David was a murderer
    • David murdered Uriah – a Godly man, one of the mighty men of David, husband of Bathsheba – after he refused to go and be with his wife while the men were at war.  David tried to get Uriah to be with his wife to cover her pregnancy after being raped by David.
  • David was a rapist
    • David stayed home when he should have been with his army when it went to war.  He watched Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop (she couldn’t get away from the prying eyes of the neighbors?).  David so desired her that he had her brought to him, where he had his way with her.  No woman at that time would have refused the king, regardless of whether she wanted to have sex with him or not – he could have her killed.  Pure and simple, it was rape, even if she consented out of obedience to the king.
  • David was an adulterer
    • Bathsheba was married to Uriah.  David knew his mighty men, and Uriah the Hittite was one of them.  Since David was married, having sex with a woman he wasn’t married to was committing adultery.
  • David was a hot-head
  • David was a liar
    • David, when he lived among the Philistines, would report back to Achish (son of Maok king of Gath) that he was raiding the Negev of Judah, the Negev of Jerahmeel, or the Negev of the Kenites.  However, he was actually raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites.  He made sure no one was alive to tell of his activity to ensure his ruse was upheld before Achish.
  • David was a deceiver
    • When David fled to the land of Achish, the people there were concerned about David because he had slain thousands.  David greatly feared Achish, and pretended to be insane.  He drooled and made marks on the door of the gate.  This was hardly the way a King should ever act (unless God drives them insane)!
  • David ordered a census of Israel, even after being warned by Joab not to do so.  God was displeased with this.  This prompted God to give David a choice of punishment:
    • Three years of famine
    • Three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you
    • Three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.
    • David threw himself on God’s mercy.  God chose the plague option, and SEVENTY THOUSAND Israelites died in the plague that ensued before God relented.
  • It should be noted that the Bible reports that David did right in the sight of the Lord all the days of his life with the exception of Uriah the Hittite.

Repeatedly Repentant

In every instance, even when his heart had grown hard and/or he justified himself, David ALWAYS repented when he was confronted with his sin.  David would weep and fast before God in repentance:

Even when David was confronted with his sin in public by Nathan, David confessed his sin and repented.

Troubling Times

David lived in troubling times.  How many of us can say that the leader of our nation sent all of the Special Forces looking after us to kill us?  David was the recipient of that – for YEARS.  David dealt with famines, war, political intrigue – even being forced to leave the country when his son Absalom conspired against him to usurp the throne.

Troubling times should send us to our knees to seek God for help, and to confess and repent of our sins.  But Israel, as well as us, would only do that for a short period of time.  We go to God for help; then when help arrives, we forget that it is God who helped us, turn our backs on Him, and go about living our lives just as we did before.

I cannot even imaging how frustrating that must be to God – even though God is patient and perfect.  Even He gets angry at continued disobedience.  I guess it would be like the brother- or sister-in-law who knocks on your door asking you for money, only to spend it on alcohol and drugs and partying rather than get their life straightened out.  Every time they knock, you know how it is going to end.  And it does.  I imagine it would be like that…

Evicting Evil

Choosing the lesser of two evils for office seems to be a commonplace situation in United States’ politics.  Christians have this ideal in their mind that the only person worthy of being over them is some who is perfect like Jesus Christ.  And while that is certainly an ideal candidate, it is rather short-sided, given the fallen nature of man.  EVERYONE has skeletons in their closet.  It was once said that we might act a bit better if we had a television monitor affixed behind one of our shoulders that played back everything we were thinking (and now is the right time to shudder if you aren’t already doing so…).

This is what God told Samuel to forewarn the people when they cried out to God for a human king:

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Does any of this look familiar today (income taxes, the draft, property taxes, business regulations, Title IX, Affordable Care Act, the list goes on and on…)?  Remember – we get the rulers that we deserve.

While Christians have this ideal candidate in their head, we need to be practical as well as idealistic.  Let me ask you a question:  would you want David, a man after God’s own heart, to lead you?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Imagine what the headlines in the United States media (let alone world media…) would look like if David were to be nominated today to be President of the United States of America:

  • “Murdering rapist to set the tone”
  • “Racist Zionist will destroy us all”
  • “Polygamy is all the rage again!”
  • “Philandering Faker Muses about Marriage”
  • “Dictators R Us”
  • “Warmonger will start WWIII”
  • “Least politically correct person on Earth to vie for President”
  • “Will David force everyone to believe in and worship his god?”
  • “Will the United States rebuild the Temple in Israel again?”
  • “David, the insane wanderer: can we ever believe anything he says?”
  • “David unable to tell the truth – story at 11:00”
  • “Murdering Rapist – Is David above the law?”
  • “Some animals are more equal than other animals”

God can use anyone to do what He wants.  He will wrestle with them if they need it.  They don’t need to be perfect.  God can get ahold of anyone.  So what should we look for in a candidate?

  • They do what they say
  • They are consistent
  • They will follow wise advice
  • They choose wise advisors
  • They stand on principle
  • They uphold the law
  • They follow the law
  • They act justly
  • They take responsibility for their failures
  • They can rebound from failure
  • They learn from their mistakes

Careful Consideration

Please keep all of this in mind should you have the awesome opportunity to be a part of selecting those who are in leadership over you.  Many are not afforded this great privilege.  Take the time to know and evaluate the people who are presented for candidacy.  No one is perfect.  Don’t rely solely on the opinions of others – be a Berean!  Do the research!  Your very life may depend on it.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Is my list of qualifications for an ideal leadership candidate unrealistic?

A short prayer of preparation:

 Father in Heaven, You have given us the wonderful opportunity for hindsight through the lives of Your people.  Help me this day to have a realistic idea of what Your candidate should look like.  Help me to not set goals that are so high as to be impossible.  Father, help me to overcome my disgust at my leaders for what they have done, and trust in You to bring about Your plans through them.  Father, I trust You in all things, for You are sovereign over all creation.  Help me to choose the leaders that You will appoint over me.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

CorrectionBathsheba was originally married to Uriah, not David, when she was raped by David.  It was only after the murder of Uriah by David that she became David’s wife.  This error has been changed in the text from the original version of this blog.

 

Leadership of God – 1 Timothy 3:8-13

It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Requirements of Responsibility

The body of Christ, now as well as then, needs capable leaders and leaders-in-training to ensure that the body is orderly, well-kept, and that their needs are met.  Before anyone should be put into a position of leadership, they should first be examined to see if they are up to the challenge.  Leadership exacts a toll on people.  And to the extent that leaders allow themselves to be crucified – to submit to the task of servant-hood and apply themselves to fulfilling their responsibilities well – will determine the success or failure of their leadership.

Paul lays out the expanded character requirements of Deacons here.  It is important to note that all of these requirements should be the core foundational principles of EVERY Christian man and woman.  We should ALL be found worthy to be chosen for roles of leadership.  Jesus is our model; He led the disciples, and leads us now.  How much more should we try to emulate Him so that we can be useful in the Kingdom of God?

Capable Character

Paul lists several important character traits that the Deacons should exhibit prior to even being considered for appointment to this office:

  • Worthy of Respect
    • When leaders act responsibly and show themselves devoted to the tasks at hand, placing a special emphasis on the needs of those being led, they are worthy of respect.  When they abuse their office, or the responsibilities entrusted to them, they are no longer worthy of that respect.  In that case, they should be relieved of duty, confronted, and be restored once the issue has been addressed and they have once again shown that they are steadfast in their walk with God and worthy of respect.
  • Sincerity
    • Sincerity does not preclude hilarity.  A person can be jovial, but should be very serious when it comes to ensuring that their responsibilities are properly and promptly executed.  They should be able to set aside frivolity and indifference so that they can be clearly seen to understand the gravity of their calling, and be trusted to execute their responsibilities in such a way that any who watch will not have any reason to lay a charge against them.
  • Sober-Minded
    • Many have indicated that this means that a Deacon cannot drink alcohol.  In leadership, it is very important that the leader emulate the character that they wish to see in those whom they are leading.  It is imperative that this example be exemplary.  Imagine what a Deacon would have to say if they were called just after dinner and a glass or two of wine, to come out to the church to help with some immediate needs, or provide counsel to a member of the flock over the phone.  Wine addles the brain.  It is best to be sober-minded at all times, if possible.  While not prohibited, great thought should be given when contemplating the consumption of alcohol both for timing as well as amount.
  • Financially Content
    • The candidate should be able to put into practice the wisdom that God has provided to them concerning financial matters as instructed in the Bible.  This includes giving to the ministry of the church, financial planning, and with payment of all financial obligations.  There may be times that the candidate has unusual circumstances – one of the leading causes of bankruptcy is medical debt.  These should be taken into consideration.  The person should not desire to pursue dishonest gain, be in a state of greed, or envious of the material success of others.  If a person is faithful in the little things of life, they will be faithful in the big things of life.
  • Biblical Understanding
    • This requirement cannot be emphasized too greatly.  The Deacon, in the role of meeting the needs of the body, needs to have a firm understanding of God’s Word.  Not only should they have a firm understanding, they should have a great love of the Word.  It is only when there is a great love of God’s Word that they are able to do what God has called them to do when leading God’s people.  Because the office of Deacon is often the training ground for Elders (both lay-persons and ministers of the Gospel), it is critical that they show a commitment to the Word of God, and demonstrate through their lives that the understanding that they have in their mind is shown by their actions, speech, and thoughts as seen by others.
  • A Clear Conscience
    • When they are properly demonstrating in their lives the truth of the Word of God, they will walk with a clear conscience, being able to test God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will in their lives.  This will further embolden them to walk more confidently with God.

If after demonstrating these characteristics, if there is nothing found against them, they should then be considered for the vital role of Deacon.

Women Welcome

But this role is not only for the men.  Women can also serve in this capacity.  Paul gives a few qualifications for women to be considered.  Because of the God-appointed roles of men and women by God, they will not have all of the specific requirements that men are required to display.  The qualities of character that women are to display in order to be considered for the office of Deaconess are:

  • Worthy of Respect
    • Deacons should be worthy of respect.  It is hard to follow a leader when they demonstrate through their words and actions that they are unworthy of respect.
  • Careful Speech
    • God has made women natural communicators.  Because of this, the enemy likes to take the strengths that God provides and twist them to malign the image-bearers of God and by implication, God Himself.  It is important that women who are to be considered for the position of Deaconess not engage in gossip, or accidentally (and especially not on purpose!)  divulge anything said to them in confidence as they meet the needs of the body.  They need to be above reproach in how they speak, and keep matters that are private from becoming public talk.
  • Temperate
    • God has provided women with a natural ability to harness their emotions for accurately judging situations (womanly intuition).  However, the enemy does like to twist the good things of God, and women may have a tendency to be overly emotional or take the statements of others to heart before they are carefully evaluated to see if they have any merit.  In this, it is a requirement that women are able to manage their emotions properly so as not to be compromised when these situations occur.  Steady leaders are easier to follow than moody ones…
  • Trustworthy in all things
    • As with all positions of leadership, it is absolutely vital that the person be trustworthy in all things.  If people are unable to trust their leaders, there will be a reduction in their ability to fully engage in the work at hand.  This undermines the credibility of the leader, and eventually, people will just ignore them.  When they are not longer trustworthy, they are no longer worthy of respect.  It is hard to lead when no one will listen to you.

Family Focus

In any organization, their needs to be a hierarchy for decision-making and, as a necessary part of that, accountability.  God has appointed men to be the head of the household, and women to be in an advisory role.   While this may seem sexist to our generation, it is not that men are superior and women and children are inferior, but there has to be a chain of command:

  1. Jesus Christ is the head of the organization of the family
  2. Men are the leaders who are (ultimately) responsible for making the decisions and (ultimately) accountable for the success or failure of the family organization.  Men are, as Christ, required to lay down their life for those he has been placed in charge.
  3. Women are in a very good position within the family organization – they (should) have great influence in the decisions that affect the family.  They are required to submit.  It has been said that submission is the willingness to duck so that God can throw a right cross at leadership when needed…
  4. Children are adults in training.  Treat them accordingly.

When a man is leading his household faithfully and under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it should be easy for those under his leadership to not only willingly submit to his authority but to rejoice and be glad in the decisions that he makes, for they will be in everybody’s best (long-term, and not selfish) interests so that they align with God’s Word and God’s plan.

Firm Foundation

When a Deacon is leading a life full of the Spirit and in step with the Spirit, he/she will be gain a boldness in their walk – a boldness from the confidence of knowing that God is leading them, that God is sovereign, and is has everyone’s best interests (within the framework of God’s holy and perfect plan) at heart.  They will grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Holy Word, as God reveals more to them so that they can be better servant-leaders.  This confidence will be in a humble attitude, and should encourage those who have entrusted these leaders to greater trust and confidence in their ability to provide leadership to them.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I leading my life in such a way that I would be considered for a position of leadership?  And if I am in a position of leadership, am I leading my life in such a way that I am worthy of respect and above reproach?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to bear witness to the Truth.  Guide me in Your Truth, and help me to live a life worthy of respect and above reproach.  Help me to completely submit to You through Your Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  May my life be poured out to You as a drink offering.  May it honor and glorify Your Holy Name.  May it be in dedication to You and Your purposes.  And may my life be lived in such way that others will glorify Your Name, and be drawn to You.  Help me in the role that You have placed me in so that it may be carried out to its best and fullest extent.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Prayer to Provide Potentates with Power and Protection

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Petition for Penitence

Paul urges Timothy to pray for those that God has placed in leadership over us. One of the best prayers that we can pray for ungodly leaders is that God bring them to salvation.  Many people who love God and hate evil have been asking the question, “What can I do?  All of our leaders are evil!”

The best thing you can do is to pray that God would soften their hearts, send faithful people to witness to them, and that they would give their lives to Christ.  It is only then that they can be the servant-leaders that God calls them to be and to do what is best for the people that they have been charged with overseeing.  This is the only way to break the cycle of selfishness where those elected by us seek to enrich themselves through laws that are designed to exempt them (or, as they see themselves, the “ruling class”) from the penalties that any one of us (or, as they see us, the “peasant class”) would be thrown in jail with the key thrown away.  Without the fear of God – including accountability to God – they will continue to do what is best for themselves rather than what is best for those entrusted to their care.

But we must pray for repentance of God’s people FIRST:

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Prayer for Protection

As in the terrible recent days of violence in the United States of America, we need to be on our knees begging God for protection of those in authority over us.  The assassination of five police officers is a great example of why we need to pray this.  If, for some reason, a person has been treated poorly by those in authority over them, it is all the more important to pray for their protection, as it is a blessing to them.  And we are instructed:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

If you encounter any message other than what you see above, whether it is from TV, Radio, in person, in a book, on the Internet, or from any other source – know that it is contrary to the Word of God.

The Interruption of Intercession

When we pray for the salvation of others, we are in effect asking God to sovereignly interrupt their life.  This can be quite disconcerting to our leaders, especially if their misdeeds are profiting them greatly, or they have committed acts of treason or treachery against the people.  Imagine what must go through their minds: “I have been sinning!  What will the people think?  How can I salvage my career?  What should I do next?  Should I give back all of the money that I received lawfully but wrongly?  Should I publicly announce my faith?  Will I go to jail for my misdeeds?”  There will be unbelievable pressure on these individuals to either keep quiet about Christ.  If they don’t, they will be eviscerated by the corrupt sycophantic media that not only approve of evil, but cater to the evil whims of the existing corrupt elite.  This will impact their lives for eternity, so any temporary loss now is minuscule compared to the great riches of knowing Christ.

Remember that this will be the most difficult issue they will ever have to face, and they will be doing so as a babe in Christ.  It is incumbent upon us to pray not only for their salvation; not only for their Godliness;  but also for the necessary strength to endure as their lives are turned upside down when they encounter the most cruel and insipid hatred that they will ever have to face.

Thoughtful Thankfulness

And in all things, we are to give thanks to God the Father, for this is His will for us.  Give thanks that God hears our prayers.  Give thanks that God is answering our prayers (in His timing in His way for His purposes for His glory).  Give thanks when our leaders come to repentance before God.  Rejoice as the angels do!  Give thought to your thankfulness so that you can be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself, regardless of who is in authority over us.

The Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I praying for the spiritual success of my leaders or just for their Godly replacements?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are fully just, yet full of mercy and grace.  Please work in the lives of Your people, that we would have revival in the body of Christ.  Help all of us to get on our knees and beg You for forgiveness of our sins.  Help us as a nation to turn from our sins, seek Your face, and confess our wrongdoing to You, so that You can heal our land.  Bless those whom You have placed in authority over us that they would come to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  Father, we know that this may very well not happen until we as Your people turn away from sin and towards You.  Give the faithful among Your people patience, grace, and peace, as we plead for the rest of the body to come back to reason.  Your blessing upon this country has clouded our minds, and like Sampson, we may go on thinking we are OK but not realize that Your Spirit is departing from us.  Bring Salvation to those in authority over us that Your Holy Name may be praised and blessed by all who hear it.  This we ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Deuteronomy 6:8

When God makes promises, circumstances change.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Not Just for Joshua

The author of Hebrews took to heart that this promise was not just for Joshua, son of Nun, but reiterated it in Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

A Promise Provided

This promise is fulfilled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He is a down-deposit for our inheritance.  He won’t just go away when we sin, or are in need, or feel lonely, or scared, or depressed.  He is ALWAYS there – comforting us, guiding us, leading us, empowering us, and encouraging us in our walk with God.

Light Leads through Love

Ephesians 5:18, showing us that the Holy Spirit leads us, saying:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

The word “filled” is plErousthe in the Greek.  It means “to be controlled by.”  Just as wine controls us in drunkenness (who can honestly say that they are in their right mind and in control when they are drunk?), we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.  It is an imperative command – not a suggestion!  We are expected to do this!

Since God is love, everything that The Holy Spirit does is in love – even if it is to refine our character and test our hearts through trialseven when we sleep!  We can be confident that when God is leading, we are in good hands.

Provision of Power

God doesn’t just give us an empty promise.  He promises not to forsake us.  To do that, He empowers us through The Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God provides us with the source of the power of the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t just dwell in us; He provides power for all that we are to do.  We can take comfort and strength knowing that He is not just accompanying us through our journey, but providing for us as well.

The Fear Factor

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for prey to devour.  Lions are not creatures that we should confront without appropriate protection or weaponry.  It is easy to be frightened when confronting a force that can easily overwhelm and destroy you.  Have you noticed that just about every time an angel visits someone in the Bible, the very first words out of their mouth is “do not fear”?  There is a very good reason for that.  When confronted with the power of angelic beings, we are immediately aware of our fragile nature.

But God has provided us with the Spiritual Armor of God.  And we have an offensive weapon as well – the Sword of the Spirit, which IS the scriptures.  And God’s Word says that there is no fear in perfect love.  Since God is love, and we are in Christ, we no longer need to fear.  Fear is predicated on consequences, and ALL of our sins – past, present and future – have been forgiven.  God has chosen not to forsake us, and even in our incapacity to live life perfectly because of our sin nature, God still provides for our future sins, having known about them from before time began.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question:  given this wonderful promise, are we allowing the Holy Spirit of God free rein to lead and empower our lives as we walk with God to the extent that we should?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made us this wonderful promise.  Give me the strength today to let go of those things that interfere in Your guidance of my life.  Rid me of my own evil desires, and place within me the desires of Your heart.  Help me to yield myself to you completely as a living sacrifice.  Remove the dross from my heart, and help me to submit completely to the Holy Spirit.  Father, I recognize that in submission to You there is freedom.  Set me free from myself that I may be free in You.  Bless Your Holy Name, for You give Your children wonderful gifts and promises.  Knowing that I am never alone, and always in Your care comforts me through my trials.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity with God – Ephesians 5:21

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ouch.  There’s that word – submission.  Yielding your preferences, desires, goals, way of doing things – to someone else.  Admit it – it’s HARD to submit.  We greatly desire to have our own way.  Very few things chafe us more than having to do something someone else’s way, especially if we are certain our way is better.

But we see something else at work in the Bible.  When Jesus put on flesh (became fully human and fully God), He submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit, became nothing, and took on the nature of a servant.  Jesus also said that in order to become the greatest among us, we should become a slave in serving others.  We are also to submit ourselves to the ruling authorities.

Mutual submission helps us to grow in character to become more like God.  There is a sense of submission to each other of each of the three persons in the Trinity.  Additionally, as we interact and submit, we are constantly being refined – “Iron sharpens iron.”  Mutual submission to one another in the body builds a unity within the body that cannot exist elsewhere, for it is not possible with us, but through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  As we submit to one another, we are becoming one in purpose.  People will know we are Christians when we love one another.  And love does not seek its own interests, but the interests of others first (the JOY principle – Jesus, Others, You, in that order…).  Since God IS love, do we not demonstrate this when we love one another?   Paul says that we should devote ourselves to one another.

Imagine how winsome the Church, the Body of Christ, would look if ALL Christians submitted ourselves to one another?  No more division would exist between us!  The world would see a unified front of love extended inward AND outward.  People might actually WANT to become a Christian by our example, rather than be turned off by division and rancor within our own ranks.  Families would grow in love and grace as they submit to one another in Christ as well!

So, let’s ask the question.  Are we submitting ourselves to one another?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us in Your word that submission is a good thing, unlike what the world and culture make it out to be.  Submitting to one another In Christ draws us closer to You, and reveals Your nature to the world.  Help us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through Your word.  Change us into what we should become, that glory would be brought to Your name.  Help us to shed those things that hinder us as we try to better reflect your glory and light in a dark and unbelieving world.  Grant us mercy and grace as we struggle with these things, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Isaiah 54:17

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

The Bible contains many promises of God.  This one is very encouraging.  It is comforting to know that we are being protected by God against all of the weapons of the enemy.  It is also comforting that anyone who says anything against us will be refuted, for we have been forgiven all sin.  This is our HERITAGE!  God will VINDICATE us!

There only appears to be one qualifier – “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Who are the servants of the Lord?

Servants wait upon the master.  They are in His service to do His bidding whenever and wherever He directs them.  They direct their talents to complete the tasks assigned to them.  They are often given guidelines, and are expected to do the work when they see work to do.

There are many gifts given to believers once they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Here are just a few ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11):

  • Wisdom
    • The ability to understand the difference between wise and foolish things (think: King Solomon)
  • Knowledge
    • Are you able to absorb great amounts of information and then process it so that it is understandable by others?
  • Faith
    • Do you trust God to move mountains, trusting Him to do things when other people would normally give up?
  • Healing
    • When you pray, do people get well?
  • Prophecy
    • Do you know things about what is going on and things that will go on, when you have no reason to know them?
    • Does God often let you know something that you should share with a person or people He directs you to share with, even if you don’t understand the message?
  • Distinguishing between spirits
    • Do you know who’s who?
    • Do you sense the presence of angels and demons and their activity in this world?
    • Do you know when, if someone is speaking, whether or not what they are saying is Biblical, even though you don’t know why?
  • Speaking in tongues (languages)
    • Are you able to speak in a known (already existing) language but don’t understand what you are saying?
    • Are you able to speak in an unknown language and don’t know what you are saying?
  • Interpreting tongues (languages)
    • When people speak, do you know what they are saying, even if everyone else around you doesn’t because they don’t speak the language (and you may not know the language either)?

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are many others.  Here are eight more to think about:

  • Craftsmanship
    • Can you make a masterpiece out of nothing?
    • Or, can you take a box of parts and with a few simple tools, put the item back together without any instructions?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Hospitality
    • Are you driven to constantly feed and attend to guests at your home?
    • Do you enjoy throwing parties and events?
    • Are you the first one to get up to pour drinks at an event?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Music
    • Can you play a musical instrument in a way that inspires others to greatness?
    • or, are YOU an instrument (should you audition for “Stomp“)?  You may have this gift.
  • Leadership
    • Do people have a great tendency follow what you say and where you go?  You may have this gift.
  • Teaching
    • Can you take the most difficult subject and explain it to most people so that they have a clear understanding of it?  You may have this gift.
  • Pastoring
    • Do you constantly feel the need to guide and nurture people in their faith and walk with God?  You may have this gift.
  • Service
    • Are you the one who gets great joy from doing the jobs that no one else does, and is content that the job is done and done right, even if no one else notices?  You may have this gift.
  • Prayer
    • Does God wake you up in the middle of the night to pray about something that He then places on your heart?
    • Do you struggle (wrestle) in prayer for individuals, issues, leaders, and/or nations (or other things)?
    • Do you enjoy spending hours communicating with God in prayer about anything and everything?  You may have this gift.

There are over 30 implied and delineated gifts that the Spirit of God gives to us to use to glorify God and help the body.  Are you using the gifts that were provided to you in stewardship by the Spirit of God at the direction of the Spirit of God for God’s Glory?

If not, why do you call yourself a servant?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we all fall short of perfection.  You have saved us from this, and give us the wonderful opportunity to know You, the only One True God.  You have given us great privileges and responsibilities as well.  Show us what gifts the Holy Spirit has provided to us.  Empower us to act in these gifts, and guide us in the way that these gifts should be used.  Father, do not let me be afraid of these gifts, but help me to embrace them that Your kingdom would grow.  I am your servant, Lord God.  Speak to me that I may do Your Will, in Your Way, in Your Time, for Your purposes, that You may be glorified.  This I ask in the the precious name of your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?