QTVOTD: A Digest of Psalms 5…

Today I took a departure from Luke to read Psalm 5 and capture it in my own words. I am going to type it out here.

CAVEAT: Do not read this as a direct interpretation of Psalms 5. This is just how I personally took what I see it saying with a little bent on my personal circumstances and what the Lord may be revealing to me. Please don’t take this digest as anything other than a peek into my mind. 🙂

Ben’s Digest of Psalm 5:

Hear me O God! Please see my discouragement! I am crying out to You Lord…do You not hear me?

I know that You hear my voice when I cry out to You first thing in the morning. At that time, I tell You my requests and then I wait in expectation to hear Your answer.

God, You hate evil. It cannot be where You are. When You see people do wrong, You stand in frustration, and hate them and their behavior. You abhor those who lie.

I, Lord God, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house, Your temple, and bow down to You in reverence. As I submit to You, please lead me in Your righteousness. My enemies work to confuse me Lord; please lay the straight way of Your will before me.

These enemies God, cannot be trusted. Their hearts seek and thirst for my destruction. Everything they say is the foulest smelling. Declare them guilty O God! Let them walk themselves into ruin. Hold them from Yourself, send them away… they have left You.

But! Let those who cling to You for safety be glad. Let them with a heart of peace, sing for You. Spread Your protection over them, that in their safety they may rejoice in You.

[Quote] Surely O Lord You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.

Psalms 5: 12

QTVOTD: …and it gets away from you that quickly…

This has been a rough week for quiet times…but I must admit that it was all me. Was I busy? Yes, more than most weeks. Did I have downtime where I could have done some alone time with the Lord? Yep, sat on my duff and even thought about the fact that I had not done a quiet time in days. There were great excuses for me to miss quiet times as well but none of them was an acceptable excuse. However, there was one common denominator…I got to each evening (not having started my day in God’s Word) and there was always something that got in the way of spending that precious time.

It all came to a head on Friday mid-day when I had a phone call with a peer of mine who I don’t see eye to eye with professionally…let me cut to the chase -> on the phone I yelled at this person and then hung up on them. The moment my simmering ceded I felt immediately guilty and convicted of my sin. Within 15 minutes I had texted this person and apologized profusely for my behavior; stating that it was out of character for me to behave this way and even though I had been angry over being protective of one of my employees, the way I acted was unacceptable. This elicited an apology back from the person (who never apologizes directly but I knew it was an apology) which I had not expected.

All it took was for me to be out of God’s Word for 4 days to be utterly destroyed by my flesh…but God, in His loving way guided me back to the safety of HIS Character and reminded me that my freedom resides in Him alone. With the exception of Sunday morning (was busy all 4 church services), I spent every waking moment with my family and serving friends in need. I am back in God’s Word and will pick back up my posting of Quiet Times tomorrow.

Remember that common denominator above? Well, I am getting up early to do my Quiet Times first thing so there is never an opportunity for the day to waste away before I get my time with HIM.

QTVOTD: Without Hesitation…

Today was the first day back to work after a wonderful 4 days off. Things are super busy at work and it could be argued that I could not afford to take time off…but I did. One thing that made it easier was a blessing from God. I have a very large and involved contractual document I needed to turn into the Government by 24 MAY 2023. The morning I took off from work (THURS) I asked my counterparts on the government team whether they would allow me to extend the submission date a week and THEY AGREED! There is good reason from them to as they just had a new person start that is coming up to speed and it will provide he and I more time to align on some of the direction before submitting. I was soooo thankful and I know it was the Lord’s mercy and gift to allow me to focus on my wife and our church at the Pastor/Elder Retreat I attended with her.

And after this, Jesus went out and looked [attentively] at a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office; and He said to him, Join Me as a disciple and side with My party and accompany Me.  And he forsook everything and got up and followed Him [becoming His disciple and siding with His party].  Luke 5:27-28 [AMP]

I remember watching The Chosen and the writer’s depiction of Levi (Matthew) who they portrayed as a brainiac math wizard who had some ADHD/Autism aspects about him. They showed Levi having a lot more watching of Jesus and being familiar with Him than what I can find in God’s Word…however, I could totally see how Levi might have had some knowledge of Jesus before He called him to follow.

Under contract with either the tetrarch or more local officials, Galilee-based tax collectors collected sales taxes, real-estate taxes, and toll taxes imposed along travelling routes between cities. It was a role that lent itself all too well to extortionary practices. Given the high degree of contact between tax collectors and Gentiles in this profession, the stricter Jewish sects would have considered tax collectors inherently unclean, much like the man with leprosy we read about yesterday. Like the fisherman called in 5:11, Levi is led to leave everything behind and ‘follow Him’. For Luke, following Jesus means leaving everything behind, not for the sake of duty or for the sake of sacrifice itself, but simply because Jesus says, “Follow Me”.

So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33 [AMP]

Like what was said above, it would not be a trivial thing for Levi to just leave his post; being assigned to a local official would come with some lose ends as he just stepped away. In the ‘The Chosen’, they show that Levi has a centurion assigned to him; but more than likely the soldier was assigned to guard the money and keep an eye on the tax collector and maybe even being his ‘heavy’ in needed circumstances.

Application:

Levi (Matthew) had no hesitation in dropping everything and following Jesus…even when it meant likely earthly ramifications. Levi didn’t care about those things in the moment. Do I have this loose of a grasp of my worldly possessions, job, or standard of living? As a person who has been blessed with a measure more than most, I must constantly be asking myself whether I am doing everything I can to be a conduit for God’s Kingdom building work? I need to be listening for the voice of God in my time in prayer and in His word everyday if I am indeed ‘Following Him’. Clinging close to the Spirit within me and tuning my ear to the sound of the Shepherd is the only way to be sure that I am standing, walking, or even running the narrow road of obedience.

QTVOTD: Jesus Reinforces His Identity…

And when He saw [their confidence in Him, springing from] their faith, He said, Man, your sins are forgiven you!   And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason and question and argue, saying, Who is this [Man] Who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts and questionings, answered them, Why do you question in your hearts?
 Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk [about]?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has the [power of] authority and right on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say to you, arise, pick up your litter (stretcher), and go to your own house! Luke 5:20-24 [AMP]

Feels like I have been away from my posting for longer than just 3 days. I am happy to be back sharing my time with the Lord in this form but my time away with the elders, pastors, and their wives at the CHCC Pastor/Elder retreat was amazing. We had Drs Nicholas and Vanesa Ellen with us to encourage and admonish us. It was a special time.

In my reading today I focused on the well-known story of Jesus healing the paralytic who was lowered down through the roof and set right in front of Jesus as He taught those there. There were many Pharisees and Teachers of the Law that were in attendance, who had come from all over to hear this Man who was having a meteoric rise in His visibility and following. As you likely remember, this paralyzed man had a set of friends who knew Jesus could heal the sick (as He had been doing this for the last several days/weeks and news had traveled). They were so bent on getting their friend in front of Jesus, that that took him up to the roof (no small feat), broke through the thatched roof and then lowered their friend down right in front of where Jesus was sitting.

Luke does not tell us anything about the paralyzed man and his belief, but Jesus addressed this man’s condition because of the faith of his friends. The condition Jesus addresses is not what we might think initially…He said “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” This immediately set off the Teachers of the Law and Pharisees that were in attendance. For them, Jesus’ assertion constitutes a blasphemous usurpation of authority, since declarations of forgiveness could only appropriately be made by either Yahweh (Exod. 34:7; Ps. 103:12) or Yahweh’s appointed agent. On the face of it, the teachers’ reaction is not entirely unreasonable, especially since Scripture clearly indicates that sin forgiveness is a strictly divine action. But Jesus then reinforces HIs identity by healing the paralytic, telling him to “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home!”. There must have been astonishment from everyone that was there. He is now trying to get their attention.

Application:

This repetition is one of the things I notice in my own walk when God is trying to get my attention. I have learned to stop in my tracks when I see this happening, and respond with obedience on what I feel Him calling me to do. My study of Romans 8 and Spiritual Warfare was one of these.

QTVOTD: [Jesus] I am willing…

While He was in one of the towns, there came a man full of (covered with) leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cure me and make me clean.
   And [Jesus] reached out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed! And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12-13 [AMP]

Because of my long day yesterday I had to push my Quiet Time to after Life Group. I crawled in bed with full intention of hearing what God had for me in His Word but I kept falling asleep. So I shut my laptop and went to bed. God deserved my best, not a quick sleepy plug at the end of the night.

I don’t know why but I always smile when I read about this specific story. The smile comes from Jesus saying “I am willing”. The vision I have in my mind as I recreate it is a loving banter between this leper and Jesus. The leper is committed to doing a couple of things – This guy likely hunted Jesus down. He had heard what Jesus was doing and what He was teaching – He believed. He worshipped by falling on his face before Jesus in his plight for healing. He implored Jesus for an answer to his request for healing acknowledging Jesus’ sovereignty by stating “If you are willing”. He trusted in the power of Jesus’ touch – “You ARE ABLE to CURE me and MAKE me CLEAN”.

The next part of this vision I have is Jesus looking down on Him in full compassion, acknowledging the desperateness of this man’s plea, with eyes looking directly into the leper’s saying, “I AM willing…Be cleansed!” [emphasis on AM].

Tonight I have some people very close to me who are hurting from a very difficult decision what has been handed to them. They are totally heartbroken but also being so honoring to the Lord in their processing of the news. I am praying that the Lord shows a compassion that is reflective of their acknowledgement of Him as their Savior and Object of their service. If God, You are willing, please comfort these precious people who love You and trust in You so much. You know their situation and heartbreak better than anyone. Please have mercy on them and quickly show them Your purpose behind this change.

QTVOTD: Why Loose Trust?

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon (Peter), Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul.
   And Simon (Peter) answered, Master, we toiled all night [exhaustingly] and caught nothing [in our nets]. Buton the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again].
   And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish; and as their nets were [at the point of] breaking,
   They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and take hold with them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
   But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. Luke 5:4-8 [AMP]

So thankful to have a bit of time before my first meeting this morning and rather than choose to do busy-work (email, document writing, and other things I need to do outside of meetings) I am going to spend this time with the Lord and ask that He help me be productive as possible through the rest of the day. Starting off my day with Him ‘always’ results in a day where my mind stays nestled in His care, grace, and presence.

I pulled up the calling of the disciples in Matthew, Mark, and John and this (Luke) is the only place where the ‘haul of fish’ is recorded as a part of that initial calling. In the other recordings, Jesus asks them to follow Him, and they drop their nets and leave their boats, but the miracle is left out.

The main takeaway from today is the identification I take with Peter (as I often do) with his questioning of Jesus in regard to going out and fishing again after an entire catch-less night of work. Remember, Peter just got done seeing Jesus miraculously heal his mother-in-law from the fever and all of the rest of the people that came that night where Jesus healed every single person who came…yet, here Peter questions Jesus’ request. Let’s be clear, fishing for these guys, was tough work. The boats were about 26′ long and 8 feet wide. They had to row the boats out to where they would fish before prepping and dropping their nets. No small feat with the close recollection of the fruitless night and exhaustion that had probably set in.

But then look at Peter’s response after the big haul of fish – “I am not worthy to have You in my presence Lord Jesus, please leave as I am a man full of sin!” He was not only broken about his doubt in Jesus, but he was also in awe of the realization that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and he (Peter) should not have questioned Him. Finally, they left everything (including they huge load of fish in the boats) and followed Jesus. There was no earthly possession or enterprise that got in the way of their service to the Messiah…they had an change in perspective that made earthly things meaningless.

Application:

I have seen the hand of God move uncoincidentally in my life and those around me. Yet, I like Peter, question God’s ability to have impact or move in another circumstance or situation. When He does show His presence and power, I am ashamed of my lack of unbelief and come like Peter did in repentance and guilt. In my sanctification, I only find that I am more and more guilty of giving into the flesh in terms of self-sufficiency or pride. Things that I have been doing out of habit are revealed as ‘Respectable Sins’ that I must address. The big question I have to ask myself is – “Am I willing to walk away from my nets, boats, and livelihood to follow Jesus?” Honestly, I have to ask myself this question and answer it every day. I do think that one day is coming where I may lose my job for what I believe and my worldview that is centered on the Word of Truth alone. I live each day in the freedom that where God has me right now is my mission field. I must keep close to Jesus in my heart every day to be sure that I am exactly where He wants in regard to His will and purposes for my life.

QTVOTD: New Learning and a Little Something for all the Women in My Life…

​ NOW IT occurred that while the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the message of God, He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee).
   And He saw two boats drawn up by the lake, but the fishermen had gone down from them and were washing their nets.
   And getting into one of the boats, [the one] that belonged to Simon (Peter), He requested him to draw away a little from the shore. Then He sat down and continued to teach the crowd [of people] from the boat. Luke 5:1-3 [AMP]

Getting my QT in while Brooklyn is sleeping, Prim is watching an American Girl movie, Sophie is surfing on her phone (likely Roblox), and Bella and Marianne at the flower shop getting flowers for all to help plant this evening.

When reading my passage today, a couple of things hit me that I had not really realized before about the set of events leading up to Jesus calling His first disciples.

  1. I had always thought that the first time Jesus met Peter, Andrew, James, and John was here at the ‘Great Catch’ moment when Jesus chose Peter’s boat to get into to have a better angle and platform to speak to the mass of people who came to hear Him teach. However, I now remember here in my reading that Jesus had come to Peter’s house where He had healed his mother-in-law of her fever; and it was after this that He healed all the people that came all the way into and likely through the night. So, when He chose Peter’s boat to teach from, it was not necessarily coincidence (I know that nothing with God is coincidence by the way 🙂 ).
  2. From the way this reads here in Luke, Jesus was in the boat when Peter made his haul. I had always thought that Jesus was on the shore when He asked them to do this.

Tomorrow I will be focusing on the rest of the story of the direction of Peter to go out into deeper water to fish (even though they had a very unfruitful night of fishing already).

I am so thankful for all the Moms in my life! My mom Becky of course but also my wife Marianne, my mother in-law Dianne, the grandmothers, and aunts. So very thankful for all that mother is to not only her children but also to everyone around her. Honestly, I feel a deep respect for women when it comes to today…because even those who have not necessarily had the blessing of bearing children, every woman of God I have known ‘Mothers’ those around her in service, love, wisdom, guidance, and thoughtfulness. So grateful for all of you women in my life!!

QTVOTD: If Jesus Needed Quiet Places to Pray, Don’t We?

And when daybreak came, He left [Peter’s house] and went into an isolated [desert] place. And the people looked for Him until they came up to Him and tried to prevent Him from leaving them.  Luke 4:42[AMP]

Lately I have been stealing away from work or the hustle bustle of home life to pray. Most of the time it is over my PrayerMate list, sometimes it’s on my own need for God’s mercy and grace, others it on whatever God lays on my heart.

Luke doesn’t tell us that the Lord went into an isolated place to pray but we know that He was likely praying because this same recollection is recorded by Mark and he wrote that Christ did this to pray.

Jesus does this many times during His ministry and it is important to see that the removal of distractions for Jesus was super necessary. Doing this 1 or 2 times per day has helped me immensely in connecting with God on this important level.

QTVOTD: Inexhaustive Compassion…

Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her.  So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them.
  

When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.  And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
  And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. Luke 4:38-41 [NKJV]

Today might be a little shorter of a post but the takeaways have caused me some deeper thinking.

  1. Jesus’ inexhaustive compassion on hurting people. First, we have Simon Peter’s mother-in-law who is sick with High Fever. Interestingly the words used here for being sick with fever are also interpreted as “hemmed in” or “held captive” by the fever. Then when Jesus heals her, He uses the same verbiage He used when casting the demon out of the man at the synagogue that I talked about yesterday (He “rebuked” it). Am I ready to leap to something like concluding that all diseases and fevers are the work of a demon? -> NO. However, I cannot just turn a blind eye to the similarities in Luke’s choice of words between casting out the demon and freeing Simon’s mother-in-law from the fever.
  2. Because Jesus was coming from the Synagogue, this is likely the Sabbath and so the people who were bringing their sick didn’t start until sundown, the official end of the Sabbath day. What caught me was the complete healing of every person that was brought to Him. It doesn’t say He turned anyone away. I think we are likely led to believe that He did this healing all through the night…He did not tire of His healing work or throwing out demons. I am so glad that Jesus does not tire of expending compassion to those in need and hurting.

Application:

So, the rough position I am currently at in regard to disease, sickness, and demon possession is that some illnesses are the effect of demonic activity…however! I don’t believe this is ever the case for a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. In His death on the cross and resurrection on the 3rd day, Jesus conquered sin and death and satan has no capacity to possess a believer; the believer’s life has been purchased and we have freedom from possession because our entire heart, mind, soul, and strength has been given over to Jesus.

QTVOTD: A Flick of a Gnat…

Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice,  saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
    But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Luke 4:33-35 [NKJV]

When I read this passage today…Jesus’ response to the ‘unclean spirit’ just caught me funny. Although there is nothing funny about the evil lurking in the spiritual realm and the ruler of this world who enjoys and organizes the destruction of souls, the power of my Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrated in this recollected story by Luke. Jesus’ response is almost with a tone of annoyance.

My takeaways from the passage (Luke 4:31-37).

  • This set of events (in Capernaum) happened a little after Jesus had left Nazareth and His altercation with His hometown. Capernaum is also the hometown on Simon Peter and Andrew. Jesus was spending most of His time teaching in the synagogue.
  • The man with the unclean spirit was in the synagogue when Jesus was teaching. This tells me that satan and his underlings have the ability to mingle in houses of worship. It wasn’t until the demon had an outburst that Jesus addressed the demon.
  • Jesus’ response of “be quiet” is likely due to the fact that He was still trying to manage His exposure and His ministry at this point. Jesus was silencing the demon because it was drawing too much attention to Himself as the Messiah.
  • Not only was the demon no match for Jesus but the demon knew exactly Who He was and why He was on earth – “Are you coming to destroy us?” As the eschatological High Priest, Jesus is also expected to wage a holy war against the kingdom of darkness.
  • The fact that the demon referred to itself in the plural makes me wonder if even though satan and his demons can’t be everywhere at once, they might all still be able to communicate with each other regardless of their location.
  • Jesus deals with the demon quickly and deftly. The demon responds without hesitation and obeys without harming the man it was possessing.
  • Jesus’ words have power (Raema). The people who listen to him notice the authority with which He teaches and the demons respond immediately when He commands.

Application:

I am listening to a book right now called “Truth or Territory” by Jim Osman and he has done a ton of research through the Word of God on Spiritual Warfare and this book debunks a ton of misconceptions and myths around exorcism and understanding how we combat the evil in the spiritual realm. Most important point for me today -> Greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world. Clinging to the Spirit within me is the best way to identify (with discernment) and combat the evil in this word; as I seek to glorify God in all that I do.