“And many nations shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways, and we may walk in His paths. For the law shall go forth out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:2 ->me: First, it is so good to be home! Yesterday was a travel day and I walked in the door of the house at 5:30pm; it was sooo good to see my family. I did not have a formal quiet time but did read the first 3 chapters of Romans (something we are doing in our Life Group). I was reminded how I am really not able to read the bible like this anymore…I have to take it verse by verse. That brings me to today -> God spends the first 3 chapters telling the Israelites through Micah that He is going to allow the nation to be taken into captivity and the process will not only be painful but humiliating as well. But then we come to chapter 4 where Micah begins to talk about the latter days when Israel will once again be the place to be to come and get close to the Lord and hear Him. As a child of the King I need to see my quiet times as a mountain of the Lord; a place where I come to be taught His ways and walk in His paths. I feel so blessed to live this life with Marianne! God has been doing amazing things in her and she has been answering “Yes!” when the Lord calls on her. Watching the Lord work through her is so inspiring; it causes me to want to be who I should be for her.
Ben’s CWGT – Today was a very busy day and my reading will come after I crawl into bed. It is 12:31am Friday morning here in Virginia, and I just finished packing to head home at starting at 7am. Today I had the opportunity to drive into town with a couple of DoD folks to get lunch for the rest of the team. I had to go because there are strict rules about paying for even a coffee for a government official and I needed to cover our (6 of us Microsoft peeps) lunch costs. Anywho…While on our way one of the guys (lets call him Jed) asked me whether I am married and have kids and of course this gave me the opportunity to tell our family story which includes Prim. I cannot talk about these stories without talking about my relationship with the Lord, so I did. Come to find out, Jed, is a Christian and we got to talking about all sorts of great stuff and it was so refreshing. Jed is a real young guy who just got out of the Army Special Forces and has seen far more war than anyone should. I could not get a pulse (spiritually) on the other gentleman with us (he has worked in US Embassies across the globe) but he is such a kind soul and we really get along well. I needed some Christian body support today and the Lord blessed me with Jed. When we got back to the post I let Jed know how much I appreciated him and I am hoping that maybe we can have him over for dinner or something when he is here next week. God is so faithful and I so encouraged by this interaction today. God is so good.
“Therefore I [Micah] will lament and wail; I will go stripped and [virtually] naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a lamentation like the ostriches.” Micah 1:8 ->me: This verse today comes at a time where God is revealing to Micah the destruction He will bring to the idol worshiping and transgression ridden Israel. What I am moved by today is this reaction by Micah to God’s revelation -> He could have gone running down the streets screaming in people’s faces to snap out of it and repent. He could have stood on a street corner with a sandwich board preaching the punishment to come…but no…Micah wailed and was genuinely mournful for what God was preparing to do to his countrymen. He was essentially beside himself in sorrow. Isaiah did something similar in Isaiah 20:2-4 by taking the same posture Israel would have being walked away in captivity “naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered”. These men of God were listening to the Divine Nature inside of them and that is why they responded the way they did. Then I read this in Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest today – “The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God. But when God brings me into the right relationship with Himself, I will become attuned to Him; allowing the call of God to penetrate my soul. The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed.” Once again, God stitching together confirmations of direction for my continued walk and sanctification.
“And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God], that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20 ->me: Today was a travel day so lots of time for reading and work. I spent almost the whole second leg of my trip (from Chicago, Il -> Richmond, VA [~3 Hours]) reading the new book for my Men’s Bible study called Side by Side by Ed Welch. The book focuses on our need for each other. One of the quotes from the book really made an impression on me -> “Who we love above all else is who we worship, and who we worship controls us”. This is such a simple yet true statement. Since the distraction of this job has come, I have put more focus on the job than on God and that has become a set of opaque scrims that “I” have put between God and myself. Then I will have a moment where the Holy Spirit prods me and it is as if I have retained some vague awareness of the love songs that God sang to me before I received the new job position, and when I hear those songs again (the prod), they evoke something familiar and right but then that feeling flees. So what has happened?? My heart has grown distant because He stopped being “who I love above everyone/everything else”. Those scrims…the problem -> I can put them there but I can’t remove them. Only God, through my confession and asking forgiveness can remove them…but Oh, when He does, He is so faithful to let me right back by His side, arm clutched around me. THAT is the feeling of peace, contentment, love, and hope that I have come to miss when I put other things before Him.
“My sacrifice O God is broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart Lord, You will not despise. May it please You to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem…then You will delight in the sacrifice of the righteous.” Psalm 51:17&18 ->me: Yesterday I said that I would roll out my new approach to spending time with the Lord each day especially when it comes to days that I didn’t physically sit down with His word in front of me for dedicated quiet time. First, my goal continues to be to have a quiet time everyday where I spend time in the prayer closet followed by deep study with Him in His word. Whether I have the quiet time or not I am starting to focus on sustained dwelling and communion with Jesus, all through the day, every day. I will live every day seeking opportunities to serve Him, seeking His wisdom, seeking to see more of His character, seeking to know Him better, and asking Him to help me grow in the ways of His Son. In this hectic time right now, there are days where I have not been able to get that focused quiet time with Him but that does not mean I can’t have the focus on sustained communion I talk about above. On those days I will still write and replace QTVOTD with CWGT (Communion With God Today) and share something the Lord revealed to me about Himself, myself, or something I felt led to do or anything else that stood out in my relationship with my Savior that day. This verse today is appropriate as I feel broken before Him in my human attitude and foolishness. I tend to over think things and this is no exception. This verse says that the Lord is pleased in our sacrifice and worship when we are broken before Him. This is what I needed to make this turn today.
“Therefore I [Micah] will lament and wail; I will go stripped and [virtually] naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a lamentation like the ostriches.” Micah 1:8 ->me: What hit me today was more in the Oswald Chambers devotional than this verse but they are so appropriately brought together. I have not chosen to see this busy time at work as an opportunity to be alone with God. I know that sounds weird but go with me for a minute -> God uses many different circumstances, situations, and life trials to teach us about the inadequacies of our human selves. I have been struggling to, within my own might, make time to get close with the Lord in quiet times; and these are absolutely a must. However, I have been getting down on myself for not making them happen. So, while I am in this state where all of my time is consumed with work and the very little of it not, spending with family…why not see this as a prime opportunity to just listen and respond to what the Lord is teaching me in this place. This time will pass and I will be right back to an easier time of quiet moments with Lord and His word. It would be just like satan to use my feebleness and self loathing as a way to keep my mind off what the Lord is revealing to me in this time. Why not see it as the Lord and I in this together, taking small moments to listen and grow in Him. Small moments == walking from building to building at work reciting memorized verses and dwelling on them or worshipping in my car to and from work. Tomorrow you are going to see a new format to my QTVOTD implementing a new way of staying accountable to living with the goal of growing closer to the Lord every day.
“But He said, What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 ->me: Oh how good it was to be back in the Word today. After starting Micah the other day I really struggled to find time to set aside for the only one that really matters in my life. The busy-ness of what work and life are contributing right now have been a distraction beyond words…but that doesn’t matter. Yes, work is good, and family/church activities are good, but my God is better. This verse today helped remind me Who He is, what He is capable of, and the weakness that I represent. What seems impossible by my measuring stick is trivial to God. Running to Him, in these times especially, is the first thing I should do; not use Him as a last resort when I have either hit the end of my rope or finally have time for Him. There is always enough time for Him. He has shown me this over and over again. Thank you Lord for the reminder that You alone are everything! You alone can solve any problem I have. You alone can give me peace in the midst of the storm/trial.
“All this is because of the transgression of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not [the idol worship of] Samaria? And what are the high places [of idolatry] in Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?” Micah 1:5 ->me: As you can see I have moved on to Micah. I was going to read Hosea but when I read through the first couple of chapters I felt that Micah might be a better place to drop with the current situations of this world and my own struggles. Micah was alive during the time of Isaiah and around to see the events of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; kings of Judah. Here in the first 7 verses Micah is talking about how humans are so comfortable to go about their business separate from God while He is up in heaven. However, when He comes down to ‘tread’ on the hilltops and high places it says that “the valleys will be cleft like wax before a fire” and “like waters poured down a steep place”. This is what Lord can and will do in time. Why am I so quick to forget about God while I am immersed in my duties at work? Why do I forget about Him when I am having the time of my life focused in a hobby? Why? Because I surround myself with these idols…that is what they are when they cause me to operate separate of Him. There is nothing wrong with either of these things on their own; it is the condition of my heart while engaged in them. What I need to realize is that my job and hobbies become even more satisfying when God is at the center of what I do…in all that I do.
Thoughts on Revelation (8/30/2018 – 1/6/2019): (Sunday’s QTVOTD was not sent but is on www.bourlandweb.com) Yesterday and today I have been going over my notes on Revelation and really trying to ingest the full scope of God’s message to me as I read this book; at this time in my life. I am confident that if I read this book again in a year I would have entirely new takeaways given by the Holy Spirit. So, for this time the Sovereignty of God rang through. God is all powerful, He has a plan that is being acted out as we speak, and His desire is for the eradication of evil but not until it is completed serving the purposes of His plan. I also realized that I don’t need to understand the symbology or timelines of the end times to comprehend that God, in His infinite wisdom, is concerned with redeeming and saving His children to Himself for all eternity. If I were to pick a favorite set of chapters it would be Revelation 1:12 – 3:22 (The letters to the 7 churches). From a Christian walk perspective I have learned that every moment must be saturated in repentance of my sin. I must hate my sin so much that my entire being yearns to be free from it; realizing that the only one who can give me the strength to fight my sin is the One and Only Messiah. I must live my life like He is coming back this week. Being given the a view into the absolute disaster that lies ahead for the unsaved I must press forward to bear witness and speak the good news to all that I can; expecting God to move in His way to draw those to Himself.
“I warn everyone who listens to the statements of the prophecy in this book: If anyone shall add anything to them, God will add and lay upon him the plagues that are recorded and described in this book. And if anyone cancels or takes away from the statements of the book of this prophecy, God will cancel and take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city of holiness (purity and hallowedness), which are described and promised in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19 ->me: Having now read through the entire book of Revelation before reading these 2 verses I get a good understanding of why God has put them there through John. There are many other places in the bible that say ‘don’t take away or add to’ the things written, but none of them go on to outline the consequences of doing so. One might think that this message to those who copy and distribute the bible but it to anyone ‘who hears these words’. The other stand out is that what you cannot add to or take away from is “the prophesy”. This is a good indication that its not just John’s book of Revelation that is covered otherwise it would say ‘this prophesy’. Finally, God makes it clear that the consequences of changing His word is proportional – ‘cancel or take away’ their appropriate share. Through these words I have even more confidence that God’s word is what we read in the bible…cover to cover.