Devotion Day #2

09.18.2014 6am – Family room chair

Thank you Lord, that I have the opportunity to do these devotions and study your word. I ask for clarity of mind and your guidance in today’s reading.

Matthew 5:4

  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.(NIV)

All the translations use the word “mourn”. This seems odd, I remember seeing this on a card for someone who lost a family member. But this verse doesn’t specifically say “Blessed are those who mourn for the dead…”, though the word does convey that type of grief. There are a lot of things I feel guilt or loss over, but few I mourn over. And when I take away the material, there is really only one thing. Sin.

Un-Beatitude

  • Wretched are those who deny the tragedy of their sinfulness, for they will be troubled.

When I first came to Christ, I tried to lessen the blow of past sin by trying to find a way to make it God’s will. In doing that I was essentially saying “sin is good if it gets you into relationship with Christ”. When I came to understand this error, I would go over past sins and catalogue them in my head, I was focused on them. I was dwelling on, or mourning over, them. I had to remind myself that Christ died for those sins, they have already been forgiven.  I still do this, as I still sin. I have a tendency to bring up and dwell on past sins.

I find it interesting that this Beatitude is in the future tense, “… for they will be comforted”. Where the first was in the present tense, “… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  When I sin, when I recognize that I have sinned, I feel guilt. I feel sorrow. I mourn. And in this mourning, which can only come through acknowledging the sin, there is repentance. And through Christ there is forgiveness, and there is comfort in that. I think I can responsibly pull out this interpretation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for this time in Your word. Thank you for your sacrifice that I may find comfort in You, and the future promise that you will wipe every tear from my eyes. I ask that today you guide me, help me to keep my eyes focused on things above and not on past sins. Through Jesus Christ  I pray, AMEN!

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Devotion Day #1

09.17.14 6am- Family Room Chair

Opening prayer: Lord, help me to understand what it is You are saying,  and how I might apply it to grow in relationship with You.

I had planned to read and did read the Beatitudes, which until yesterday I thought were called the “Beautitudes”. I chose this opening on Jesus’ sermon on the mount for the main reason that I don’t really understand it, and I have never tried to. Every time I come to them I skim them or skip past them entirely. So I planned to focus today’s devotion on the Beatitudes, but after digging deeper into the first three and having spent 45 minutes in study and reflection, I realized that this was something that needed more careful thought. So I decided that I will be reflecting on one Beatitude a day.

Matthew 5:3

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
  • God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.(NLT)

I probably could have saved a lot of time had I read the New Living Translation(NLT) before writing this entry, and perhaps In the future I plan to look more at parallel translations. My confusion in this verse was hanging on what it means to be “poor in spirit”. How is being poor in anything a blessing? If my heart is where my treasure is (Mt 6:20-21), wouldn’t I be rich in spirit if my treasures were in heaven?

My NIV Study Bible was little help, so I turned to my Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew. What wonderful resources commentaries are! There is a section in the commentary that suggests that we can better understand a Beatitude by looking at it’s opposite, The Un-Beatitudes. It reminds me of something the demon Screwtape would write to his nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.

Un-Beatitude Mt 5:3

  • Wretched are the spiritually self-sufficient, for theirs is the kingdom of hell.

Looking at it in this light, is quite powerful. It is the heart of the Gospel. To be “poor in spirit” is to be completely bankrupt, to understand that there is nothing I can offer God. Nothing I can give to merit salvation. The materially poor, if they swallow their pride and realize they cannot support themselves, can live off of the charity of others. When I came to Christ I understood that I am spiritually poor, if I could swallow my ego and accept the gift offered, I could live eternally in fellowship with God. I don’t have to pan-handle or dance around waiting for God to throw a tip into my hat, He has already given the gift. I just have to accept it.

I fall into this trap sometimes. I can get so caught up in the study of Christianity, that I neglect to apply it. As much as I love studying Christian Theology and apologetics, and I think that I am loving God with all my mind, I sometimes wonder if I am really studying to make myself worthy to God.

Ending Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for this devotion, the understanding of your word. I pray that you help me to stay on track and not get distracted with other things.  I ask that you help me come to you as someone who is poor in spirit, to understand all my motivations, and change those in need. I pray that Your will be done through me, and not by me. In Jesus’ name I humbly pray. Amen!

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Devotion Challenge

Wow! It’s been 1-year and 5-months since I’ve posted to this blog. Guaranteed a lot has changed, in my theology and in my life. The last post I started to wander away from what this particular blog was about, which is my personal spiritual progress.

In our small group we decided to start a devotion challenge. It will be a 2-week Bible devotion, this blog will serve as a devotional journal for the next 10-14 posts (at least). If anyone is still subscribed to this blog, I don’t want you to feel obliged to read them. Also with this devotion I have an accountability partner (hi Jon!), who I may or may not give this link. I am slightly embarrassed by some of my earlier posts, but since it is a history of my growth I will not be deleting them.

The Journal

The journal should have at least 5 entries a week and no more than one day between entries. It will consist of the following 5 parts:

  1. Date, time, and location 0f writing – To document a place where I “meet with God”
  2. Personal reflections on a portion of scripture
  3. Expressions of personal worship – A written prayer to God
  4. Petition – Request for God’s help concerning my present circumstances in regards to my reading.
  5. Evaluation of personal situation – Thoughts, feelings, concerns, etc.

I am looking forward to, and nervous about this challenge. I hope I can manage, especially on the days when I work 12-hour shifts. I don’t expect all my entries to be perfect, in fact I am positive that until I get the hang of this I will be quite clumsy.

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The Intolerance Of Religious Pluralism

One of the most valued beliefs among many Pagans, Universalists, and New Age thinkers is the belief that “all paths lead to God”, or “the Divine” when they don’t want to use the G-word.

When I was a Pagan this was one of the views that led me to see Christians as intolerant, narrow-minded, and it kept me from accepting Christianity as a valid path.

As a pagan I held the story of the blind men and the elephant as the truth about spirituality.  If you’re not familiar it goes something like this:

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Why am I Still A Christian?

     A common question among believers and non-believers when finding out that I became a Christian not so long ago and/or upon hearing my background in unbelief is along the lines of: “How did you become a Christian?” Depending on the person asking the emphasis is either on “How”, “you”, or “Christian”.  Each variant requires it’s own emphasis on specific parts of the same story, which you can read in the “About” section of this blog.  Now, I will admit that my testimony, as with most others, is highly subjective and emotionally based, so I think a more important question to ask, which no one ever does, is: “Why are you still a Christian?” Continue reading

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Joel Osteen My Final Thoughts.

If you read my history you know how Joel Osteen helped to water the seed that was planted in me. I havent listened to him in some time, my spiritual journey has led me on to more solid foods and he just wasn’t meeting the gospel needs that I had. People like Joel Osteen are good for bringing people in, but they offered a watered down version of Christianity, which in the long run isn’t good at all. Continue reading

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Did God Change Adam When He Created Eve?

Some time ago I posted a question on facebook, and I got a bunch of great responses… No one, however, actually answered the question I asked. I suppose that was a good thing, because it left me to figure it out for myself. The answer, or at least an answer that satisfies my curiosity came to me today while reading Job.

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