Watch Yourself

Journal Entry // November 30, 2022

Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. (ESV)

2 John 8

In this world filled with so many distractions and deceivers, it is imperative that every believer take responsibility to watch themselves. It is the way of the world to lull the believer to sleep by turning their focus from the ever-present abiding Spirit of God to the fears, anxiety, and concerns of this mortal life. The voices of the world are many and these voices are all intent on damaging and bringing harm to the people of the Way. So as believers and followers of Christ, we are called to watch ourselves. We are called to be vigilant in the guarding of our heart and the perseverance of our faith. Any lapse… Any gap… Any breach in our hedge of protection against the evil one will be exploited. Our enemy seeks to kill and destroy all who align themselves with Christ. So, we prepare ourselves and we stand firm and ready for the onslaught of our enemy through the world and the flesh. We stand firm in the teachings of Jesus and the new heart he has given us. Remembering that the Spirit abides within us and is always empowering us with the love of Christ. Remembering that Jesus is in heaven praying for us constantly. Remembering that our heavenly Father loves us as little children and he cares for us more than we could ever imagine.

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Sleep, Slumber, and Folded Hands

Journal Entry // May 29, 2021

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, [34] and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 24:33-34 ESV

It is such a simple matter to move from a little sleep and a little slumber and a little rest to a life of lethargy and apathy. This is not just a warning for the physical poverty of this world, but a warning about the spiritual dangers of apathy. I think we all deal with this temptation at every point of our lives and will continue to deal with this no matter how dedicated or consistent we may be in our spiritual disciplines and routine.

Just a little is how it all begins. This is the story of pervasive sin in my life. It all seemingly begins with some form of this phrase, “just a little.” The encouragement from God’s word is to stay vigilant in the face of pressure. To hold the line. The barrage of temptation coming from my enemies (world, flesh, devil) is not going to relent and take it easy. The enemy of my soul is relentless and that means no rest for me. No peace for me. No folding of the hands of sitting back to bask in a job well done or to take stock of how God has used or is using me for his glory.

Usually, it’s a simple matter. A simple adjusting of God’s standards through my understanding. It is such a simple thing to move the line and let just a fraction of disobedience and non-conformity seep into life. To tell myself that this is an insignificant battle and one that is not worth getting worked up about. Maybe even criticizing others for the Pharisaical attitude toward rigidity in an area. All the while, knowing that I am making excuses. Knowing that I am in the wrong. Yet, still moving the line. Until one day I wake up and the line has moved so far away from me that I can no longer see God’s clear commandments any longer.

I need a ferocity and vigilance in my pursuit of holiness. I need to see my life as a calling to cultivate delight. Cultivation is hard and difficult work. Like a farmer who relies on the production of his crops to provide for him and his family, so too must I see the cultivation of delighting in the Lord as the most vital and basic command of the Lord. I am in the business of caring for my heart, soul, mind, and strength. All of these needing to be shaped and cared for in such a way that the Lord is glorified in and through my life. For it is only when I am delighting in the Lord with every ounce of my being that I am truly living. Circumstances come and go. Trials and adversity will find me. It is only faith being lived in daily moment by moment actions that anchor me to the delight and fellowship of God.

So a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands will need to wait until their proper time – in heaven. When the Lord calls me home, then I will have true rest. I will find that comfort and rest that my soul longs for. The path leading to my true home is uniquely designed for me and is meant to mold and shape me to be more like Christ with each and every step. I need patience and steadfastness. I need humility. I need mercy and grace in abundance. I need Jesus.

Leave the Simple

Journal Entry // May 16, 2021

Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Proverbs 9:6 ESV

Living and walking in the way of insight is not a simple matter. Living life as a follower of Christ is complicated and difficult. A simple carefree life is one given over to slavery. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the master of the simple. But those who fear the Lord are walking and living in a complicated way.

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Arise and Eat

Journal Entry // August 30, 2022

1 Kings 19:5

And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” (ESV)

At this point in the story Elijah has concluded that his journey as a prophet is at an end or maybe that he wants it to be at an end. So when his life was threatened, he ran and hide himself. In his hiding place, he asked that the Lord take his life as he had had enough and was ready to be finished. So, in his despair and fear he sought isolation and in his isolation he sought for an escape from the frightful thoughts that only brought anxiety. The escape he found was in sleep. He lay down and slept under the broom tree. The Lord sent an angel to feed and encourage him, but Elijah once again chose sleep once he was fed. The Lord sent an angel a second time to feed him in preparation for his next journey. You can see that Elijah is at the end of his mental and physical limit or at least he believes he is at the limit. The Lord wants to stretch him more and begins preparing him for the journey even when Elijah himself will not. The kindness and goodness of the Lord is on display for Elijah to awaken and rejoice. Yet, Elijah chooses to escape through sleep and there avoid any action or responsibility that is required of him.

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Rejecting Hypocrisy

Journal Entry // August 19, 2022

And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (ESV)

Galatians 2:13

It is vital that our convictions line up with our actions and that they do not falter and waffle depending on who is in our immediate presence or whoever we may be trying to impress. Paul confronts Peter for his hypocrisy with this same line of reasoning. Peter knew there was freedom in Christ and exercised this freedom as he associated and had fellowship with Gentiles. Peter’s conviction was that there is freedom in Christ, but when a certain group of men arrived, Peter withdrew from associating with Gentiles. Instead of standing firm in his convictions and exercising his freedom in Christ, he bowed to social pressure and compromised the truth of the gospel. He set his convictions aside to please the important and influential to the detriment of the gospel. Even to the point where not only did the other believers see his actions and take note, but the leadership that look to Peter was then led astray by his actions. Peter’s lack of commitment to his gospel convictions caused him to not only fall into sin, but then also led many others to reproduce this error in their life as well.

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Dim Mirrors

Journal Entry // July 27, 2022

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 13:12

As I look out upon this world and see all of the challenges and difficulties that are present, I am tempted to groan in frustration or sigh in exasperation as I question the holy righteous plan of God. We are all deceived to believe that what we see here on this earth is all there is and that this present reality is the measure against the standard of good. We forget that we are looking into a mirror dimly. Paul did not have in mind a modern highly reflective and accurate mirror, but more likely a mirror made of polished metal. I want to take this dim reflection that I see and make it the accurate truth. The problem is that we now only know in part. We see things dimly. We misinterpret the workings of God as we view them from our self-centered humanistic standpoint.

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Be an Imitator

Journal Entry // July 25, 2022

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 11:1

I always find it challenging when I read this statement from Paul to the Corinthian church. Initially, I tend to start out thinking that I am unable to make this statement to anyone at the moment. I don’t really want anyone to imitate me, because I myself am not truly imitating Christ. I feel and see the huge disparity between the life of Christ and my own life. I see my sin looming so large and prevalent in my heart. I know the fear that has a tight grip on me. I understand my failure to truly love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I see all this and I don’t want to have anyone imitate me. Yet Paul could tell this church to follow his example and life. Surely Paul was sinful and was afraid. Surely he had moments of doubt and worry. So how could he make this statement? Our imitation of Paul is in a life full of repentance and humility. A life of following after Christ. Not a perfect sinless life of complete obedience, but a life understanding our weakness and dependence upon Jesus for everything. A life filled with the grace and mercy of God.

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Not Immediately

Journal Entry // June 5, 2022

Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

Joshua 11:18 ESV

Quick answers. Immediate success. Fast results. These are the expectations of the modern world. We have all come to believe that technology can solve any problem and make our lives better by enhancing these three actions. We let this seep into every area of our lives and we have these expectations even when they are unrealistic and unhelpful. We even let these thoughts overtake our spiritual lives. We don’t want to study the Bible and work through it’s teachings. We want an interesting podcast or short article that can give us an executive summary of how to be a “gospel” whatever. We have let this mentality so invade and dominate our thinking that we don’t realize how shortsighted we have truly become.

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Thoughts in the Pit

Journal Entry // February 2, 2022

Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

Genesis 37:25 ESV

This morning I was reading through the beginning story of Joseph and his brothers. I have always been fascinated by Joseph for a lot of different reasons, but mainly because of his faithfulness and steadfastness to be content with where God has placed him. In this beginning part of Genesis I see a sort of naivety to Joseph in how he relays his visions/dreams. He does it in such a way that his brothers hate him. They hate him so much that they conspire against him and throw him into a pit. Then, as Joseph is in the pit before them, they sit down and have a meal together.

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Great Faith

Journal Entry // January 25, 2022

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 15:28 ESV

In contrast to Peter being told that his faith was little, Jesus here praises a Canaanite woman for her great faith. A woman who sought Jesus, cried out to him continually, was ignored, was being sent away, was reminded that she was a foreigner, and was compared to a dog. What was her response? Humility. Pointing out that even the dog eats the crumbs from its master’s table and that the Lord is compassionate and merciful to all people.

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