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Archive for February, 2009

Here’s a note I just sent to my students at Bethany University. I hope it blesses you as well!

Hi Students,

I’m having a very good quiet/devotional time this morning and one of the chapters I’ve just read was Ps. 17. I was praying this in the first-person over me, Maureen and over you and applying the attack from David’s enemies to our spiritual adversaries (note the similarity especically between v.12 and 1 Pet. 5:8-9, but see vv.6-10 in 1 Peter for the broader context).

As soon as I finished reading this, one of my E Bethany students called to let me know he’s going through some pretty severe challenges. I listened, encouraged him, promised to stand with him and support him and prayed for him.

When I went back to finish my quiet time, I sensed the Lord tell me that many more of you are going through various trials: discouragement; sickness; heaviness and oppression. Now I could talk to you about this all day long to encourage you, but let me close with this one encouragement to and for you:

Please read Ps. 17 out loud and back to the Lord in the first person, just as David did. Do it several times, if you need to, until you sense a breakthrough. And then go to 1 Pet. 5:6-10 for encouragement as well.

One last thing that I hope you’ll appreciate and that I think will bring you the hope you need: the word translated “perfect” (1 Pet. 5:10) in the New American Standard Bible means to put in order; to mend; to re-establish; to make whole. It was used of a setting of a broken bone or of reparing or refitting a damaged vessel.

The next word, “confirm,” meant to fix firmly; to establish, strengthen. The last word, “establish,” meant to make a foundation (solid); to ground firmly.

Father, once again, I bring Your students before Your throne of grace and ask You to open their eyes, hearts and minds to receive what You have for them in Your Word — the Word that renews us, sets us free and brings Your truth and joy to our hearts. Visit them Father and bring Your encouragement and strength to them in Jesus’ name, amen.

Looking forward to doing this life with you this week and for the remainder of the semester (and beyond),

Pastor Brad

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Beloved,

Never underestimate the power of deception!

This is a phrase I began to use in my pulpit ministry years ago: we can easily deceive ourselves through willful sin and hardness of heart (James 1:13-16; Heb. 3:12); we can be deceived by others (Mt. 24:4, 24) and we can certainly be deceived by Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:3, 14-15).

Tonight I was reading John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and was struck by this insightful quote by him (speaking of Satan):

Truth he assails with lies, light he obscures with darkness. The minds of men he involves in error; he stirs up hatred, inflames strife and war, and all in order that he may overthrow the kingdom of God, and drown men in eternal perdition with himself.
Hence it is evident that his whole nature is depraved, mischeivous, and malignant.

There must be extreme depravity in a mind bent on assailing the glory of God and the salvation of man. This is intimated by John in his Epistle, when he says that he “sinneth from the beginning” (1 John 3:8), implying that he is the author, leader, and contriver of all malice and wickedness. (I.XIV.XV)

May our Lord incline your heart to follow after Him only; may He incline your heart to know — along with David — that “the nearness of God is my good” (Ps. 73:28) and may He incline your heart to desire to walk in the destiny and plans that He has for you (Eph. 2:10).

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Maureen and I saw “Taken” last night — a movie about human trafficking — specifically in the sex-slave trade. This foul, demonic trade — in the multiplied billions of dollars — must be stopped. We are responsible to demand that politicians put law enforcement on this trade here in the U.S. and heavy sanctions and other pressure on countries that tolerate this heinous, unspeakable crime.

I’m pretty fed up with all the “causes” out there that take away from what is ultimately of most importance: the quality of human life — especially the inalienable right from God to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If people are going to give to their various causes, fine, but let’s make this a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” and put ourselves in the shoes of a young girl that has been abducted, drugged, starved, dominated, enslaved and RAPED REPEATEDLY — THOUSANDS OF TIMES OVER!

My God, how His wrath is being kindled in these last days against the greed of this world and the apathy of the rest of us who merrily go on our way, blindly unaffected by horrors too evil to speak of.

No more! God, give us one million John Wesley’s; one million William Wilberforces; one million Charles Finney’s; one million Harriet Tubman’s; one million Mother Teresa’s!

P.S. If you want to do something to make a difference — which you should — sacrifice some money and get involved with International Justice Mission.

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Moses, desperate to be with God and crying out for His presence (Ex. 33:13-18) received this self-description of God when He visited Moses (Ex. 34:6; cf. Ps. 103:8): “The LORD is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.”

 

Here is the overwhelming significance of this verse: “LORD” is the personal, active, covenant-keeping God; this word appears in the OT more than 6,800 times. “Compassionate” (racham) is the Hebrew word that refers to a deep love, usually from a superior to an inferior.

 

“Gracious” (from hen) depicts a heartfelt response by someone with something to give to someone in need, who also has no real claim to gracious treatment. And “lovingkindness” (hesed) can also be translated “steadfast love,” “covenant loyalty,” “devotion,” “mercy,” and “faithfulness.”

 

I’ve meditated on these words for many, many years now and they’ve changed the way I view God. I thank Him for these qualities almost on a daily basis and have done so now for at least 10 years. Doing this in prayer absolutely revolutionized my prayer life

!

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