O LORD, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days;

let me know how fleeting I am!

Psalm 39: 4


Let me say that David must have been in a very odd mood on the day that he set out these words. This is just not the sort of thing that I would want God to reveal for me, and David doesn’t strike me as a person who was more morbid than I am or than most others are either. Yet, he asks for an image, a picture, of where this life comes to its end as if that would appear on his calendar as one of those automatic prompts that self-populate mine. That would be strange and troubling; it might look somewhat like this, “Last Hour of Final Day of Life, Start: 4:00 P.M. End: 5:00 P.M.” In fact, I think that David is actually doing something very different than reflecting on the end of his days here; rather, he is actually entering into living his life more righteously and with clearer God-directed purpose.


This Psalm is a lament. The author is distressed and troubled by the way that his life is going, and he is also taking responsibility for the ways that it has gone off track. God has a plan for David’s life just as He has one for each of us. David admits to his own sinfulness and owns his frustrations with the outcome of those departures from righteous thought and action. As we read his thoughts, we are invited to join David in reflecting upon our own lives, and we are guided into owning the ways that we are turning away from God as we conduct life in a manner that we have determined and that we attempt to control outside of submission to God’s Word, His will, and the Spirit’s direction. So, considering the end of it all is of very real importance.


This is that point that we all will face where we no longer can change any of the course of our life. What we have done is completed, and the way that we will be remembered is established by those expressed thoughts and emotions, the deeds completed, and the others that were left undone. This is not stated as a form of defeatist resignation, but, instead, I see this sort of process as one in which we look at the place where we are in life, own the sin that is there, and submit it and the other aspects of our existence to following Christ in service to His Gospel. The place where we are on that track through our days doesn’t matter. If this is the last of those allotted hours, let them be lived in praise to God and for His glory. If there are thousands of days to go until that end, let them all be ones that are committed to Christ and to proclaiming Him in thought, word, and action. The specific moment of that final breath does not matter, what does count is the way that each of our breaths sing out praise and glory to the Lord!




When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: 6


The way that we approach prayer can be a very interesting and highly variable subject. There are a great many ways to engage in prayer. Most people pray in ways that cover a wide range of styles and intensity. Some people express themselves in very formal and proper ways and some are highly emotive or truly casual in their attitudes and words. This is how it should be, for God made each of us as an individual and He relates to each of us individually. However, there is one thing that I believe is universal. That is the simple fact that God is neither impressed nor is His attention gained by the cleverness or by the form of our words. The point of engaging in prayer is not so that God would be aware of us. We are instructed by God to engage in prayer in order for us to become more deeply attentive to God.


In this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not teaching against public or group prayer, for there are other instances when He engages in very public prayer. He is teaching us to approach prayer in a manner that runs against our culture. Christ wants us to understand that God is infinitely more interested in the relationship with us than He is in the form of our engagement in that relationship. The Father is fully aware of who we are, of what is happening in our lives, and of what it is that we truly need. He is also completely secure in who He is; thus, God does not need for us to express words of praise and adoration to Him. It is us who do need to recognize the character of God and to acknowledge His nature so that we can enter more fully into a life that reflects the love and righteousness that the Lord is pouring out upon us.


So, why does Jesus tell us to go into a private place and pray words that only we might be aware of? This is an issue of intimacy and of trust. The Father desires for us to drop our guards and to become utterly vulnerable before Him. He wants us to stop being wise, all-knowing and competent in the ways that our world teaches us to be in order for us to be able to recognize the sort of absolute dependence upon God that leads us to the surrender of our hearts and our minds completely to His will. When we pray to God in our own words with no other audience in mind than the Father, what we say may come out in unstoppable torrents or it might be uttered in only the sounds of the silence of inexpressible emotion. Form carries no weight with the God who already knows everything that is on our minds and whose intent is to bless us with the abundance of His grace, love and provision. Jesus is sharing with us what He already knows to be true. Prayer is an unending and unrelenting dialogue with God the Father, and it is a fundamental aspect of living in a very real state of present-time, deeply intimate relationship with our Lord and King.


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3: 16


After a long journey, the band of travelers from the east arrive in the land of David; they go to Herod, for as the religious ruler of the country they thought that they could get specific directions to the location of the baby king that they had come to honor. But Herod was interested in personal gain, in power, and not in the souls of men; so, they went away from him, and they stayed away from his evil intent. These men were the philosophers and the spiritual counselors to their home country. They studied the stars and they predicted the future. They were the elite thinkers of their culture. Here they were in a foreign land, and they were very far from home; yet, the sense of adventure and the excitement of encountering the fulfillment of their prophetic studies had to be intoxicatingly powerful.


We, too, have all been on a long journey through life. We have all encountered various challenges and trials and roadblocks along the way. Yet, I have found that the presence of Christ remains constant throughout all. His glory shines even brighter than that star that the magi followed. Christ never stops calling to all people just as He has never stopped calling to me. Christ cares deeply about what I do and how I am living; still, these actions and thoughts of mine have never made any difference to Him in regards to His desire to lead me to truth, to integrity, to righteousness, and to love. Since I have known Jesus on the profoundly personal basis that He desires for all, the journey to God’s presence is a very short one, for His Spirit is a part of who I now am. Still, that journey can seem like the longest and the most challenging expedition that I could imagine; yet, that perception is my problem. God is here with me always; it is my heart that tries to shut him out. I am the one that tries to run and hide from Him and His truth.


For people who haven’t come to the decision to enter into a relationship with Jesus, the journey to Him is also, in fact, very short, for it is accomplished in the heart, not with the feet, and He is there waiting to enter into it with everyone. There are no special words and no magic spells required. God does love everyone, and Christ wants to complete that love by infusing every one’s heart with it. So, like the Magi, we come to the presence of Christ bringing gifts to honor the king, He wants us to bring Him a gift also. God wants us to give him the gift of our lives. He wants us to present our willingness to let him have control of our thoughts and our actions, and He asks for us to give Him our openness and willingness to live for Him. In turn, God gives us everything. He gives us His hope, grace, comfort, freedom, honesty, compassion, serenity, understanding, companionship, majesty, and joy. God gives us all of this and so much more, and all of this is ours always and forever.


So, I ask myself, where am I on this journey today? What is it that I am holding onto out of fear or stubbornness or some other personal motive; what does God want me to lay at His feet as my gift of self? As I fall down before the King in worship, I challenge myself to accept Christ’s gifts to me, to live like they are my reality, and like the Magi did, I am to go into my own world to tell of this gracious love that fills my heart and that gives me my true purpose in life.


And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and plea for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12: 10


We like it when things are easy, when everything is going well and everyone around us is happy and content. Yet, that is really not the reality that most people get to deal with. Life is not smooth, and the path that we travel through it is frequently interrupted by detours that are caused by broken dreams and failed aspirations. Although we would like to point to the condition of the world as thee cause for our troubles or hold up others as the problem, if truth is to be told, each of us needs to take ownership of our own contribution to the way that things are today and for the place that we occupy in our world. We have all sinned, and each person has done things, thought thoughts, and carries attitudes that diminish the quality of life in the space that we inhabit. There is no one alive who does not need the grace that God has to give to us, and none of us are too far gone to receive the mercy that comes our way through Christ.


Zechariah is describing a time when his entire nation would be overcome by the need for repentance and a desire to return to being focused upon worshiping the Lord. I fear that this sort of national transformation is highly unlikely short of Christ’s return, and even then, it will not be the existing nations that turn in full to Christ, but rather, He will replace all that is here with His singular restored holy and just kingdom. In the interim, each of us continues to dwell in this land, and we are asked by Christ to push on in our journey of faith, hope, and trust. This is where the same grace and mercy that the prophet describes are so vitally important to us, for I believe that without God’s grace and His mercy it is essentially impossible to continue to live out our days with faith as the foundation for each step that we take, with hope as the reason for going forth, and with trust in Christ as the source of strength for the journey.


For me, this all starts with repentance. When I consider all that God has done in order to draw near to me, a person who has too often pushed Him away or attempted to keep the Lord at a safe distance from the most personal and closely held aspects of my life, my knees collapse and my heart fills with tears of remorse as I seek Christ’s forgiveness. Yet, this is something that I already possess, and as I recognize my need for grace, I also see that it has been poured out over me as an anointing with the holy oil of forgiveness. It is here, where my sinful life meets Christ’s cross of redemption, that my penitent’s tears are wiped away and are replaced by a strength and an understanding of purpose that are provided to me by Christ, Himself. The hope that I have for the land where I live and for the world where we reside is found in the power of Christ as He leads His people to live righteously and to engage directly with the various issues and concerns of our day while pouring out upon others the same grace that we have received and  by approaching everyone and each situation with open hands that are filled with mercy and with love. This is how we can take Christ into the center of the Jerusalem in which we dwell.



Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass.

1 Thessalonians 5: 24


Everyone faces issues and challenges that are hard to deal with. There are the long standing personal characteristics and traits that continue to plague us, and the issues of sin that are wound around our hearts and minds in a manner that makes them resist our best intentions and our genuine desire to change. The hard to win battle may be wrapped in a seemingly impenetrable covering of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, or it might be anchored by the hardened cement of our stubbornness. However, whatever it is that is causing us to hesitate to commit fully to Christ, to trust Him absolutely with everything, or to release our grip on the remnants of an old way of thinking and acting; God has an answer for it, and He will do most of the hard, transformational work for us.


The Lord does require that we be willing. He wants us to desire the change and to seek the relationship with the change agent; that is, with His Spirit. As we become open to the need for a new or a different way of viewing various aspects of our lives and we allow Christ access to those areas of our hearts and minds, His Spirit will start to change us, and this change will always be for the better. The Lord never requires us to give up something that He doesn’t replace with something far greater, and He always stays with us all the way through the process.


This all starts with accepting Christ as the one who makes that crucial difference. This is the difference between life and death, and the difference between futility and fulfillment in this life. Then, once we are engaged in a relationship with Christ, true living can begin. Then, the Spirit becomes engaged with us in molding our hearts into ones that function more and more like God’s, and He provides us with the direction, process, and strength to make these changes. The Lord calls us to live a life that is full of promise, hope, and joy, and He will make it all real for anyone who desires the transformation and who allows Christ to make the needed changes.


And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17


If only people could learn to compromise. This is the exasperated lament of many of us today as a vast array of big issues remain unresolved and without solution. I do hold that there is much to commend the practice of compromise when it comes to governance and the management of society. Yet, I think that there is something else involved in the way that God would see people learn to live together peacefully in this world. The Lord doesn’t call upon us to compromise; rather, He desires for us to move away from our tightly held positions on everything and move toward Him and His singular point of view on all that we think, feel, and do.


In order for us to do this, we need to start to function in a manner that is like the one that God uses with us. God listens well, and He hears what we are saying both in the words of it and in the emotion that is behind those words. He also knows us in a manner that goes deep into our hearts and minds, and even with this knowledge, which includes our darkest secrets and our doubts and fears, the Lord still seeks to engage with each of us. He pours out His love, grace, and mercy upon us as He also brings the full weight of His truth and righteousness to bear upon our choices and decisions. In Christ, we find God’s great love in direct contact with humanity’s abandonment of relationship with our Creator, and the purpose of that contact is redemption and the reconciliation of our lost bodies and souls to God’s absolutely loving presence.


So, it seems that the real and true starting point for resolution of all that is difficult and to the conflict in our world is Christ. The strife, violence, and loss of our world will cease only when Christ returns and reigns over the restored order of creation that will become the new and eternal world at that time. However, that should not stop those of us who know Christ from living today as He would have us live. That would mean that we would seek to apply the truth of God’s Word in its totality to all that we think and do and also that we would strive to hear all others well and to attempt to get to know them in a deep and real way so that when we listen to them we can actually hear what is being spoken to us. This also suggests that we would be bold and brave enough to hold fast to what is non-negotiable from God’s perspective while inviting Christ to be our anchor point of truth and belief. In this world where disagreement is our common language, Christ speaks forth a different dialect as He leads His people into the conciliation of peace and the restorative hope of His grace and love.

Since therefor, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4: 1, 2


Let’s face it, most of us do not like pain. We will do almost anything to avoid it and to get rid of it as quickly as is possible when we encounter its presence. We have developed methods for avoiding the sorts of situations that bring it upon us, and our science has created numerous compounds and devices that grant us relief from it. So, to suggest that this sort of discomfort or worse is something to consider as worthy of acceptance is just a bit off center to the way that most people process life. Yet, God deliberately brought extraordinary and overwhelming pain upon Himself in order to bring each of us back into His full and eternal presence. Jesus, the one person in all of history who did not deserve to suffer as He was in all ways without sin, took on our states of lostness so that this restoration could be truly accomplished.


Now, we are invited to join with Christ in suffering a small portion of the agony of His cross so that we can put to death the lingering effects of our sinful state of deviation from God’s will and enter more fully into His path of righteousness in our lives. It does seem to be necessary to willingly take on a form of pain in order for some of the aspects of our former lives to be removed from us. There are ways of thinking and forms of action that are deeply ingrained within us so that they have become a too comfortable part of our sense of being. When these vestiges of our former, pre-redemption, selves cling to us, they often do so with a fierce sort of tenacity that makes their removal somewhat like what undergoing dental work must have been like in ancient times. Yet, there is one very real and absolutely significant difference between our human experiences of painful events and this one of entering into Christ’s call to holiness.


Christ has gone there before us, and now He travels these hard paths of transformative life with us. When we turn these various aspects and areas of life over to Christ by placing them on His cross of sacrificial pain and death, we are giving up control over a part of ourselves and allowing the Lord to take over this same internal territory. In doing this there can be an excruciating tearing of our spiritual and emotional flesh; yet, God is faithful to provide the sort of healing that brings about a greater form of strength as He moves us closer to His calling for our lives. This way of Christ’s cross is seldom an easy road to travel, but it is the direction through the remaining days of our lives wherein we leave behind ever more of the sinful passions and rebellious disobedience to God that is behind them in order to live in the fuller experience and expression of Christ’s glorious will for our lives.

Next Page »