The Power of Multiplication

S (Scripture) – Genesis 1:11-12, 27-28

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them;’ and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'”

O (Observation) – Every living thing was created with the ability within itself to multiply. Every piece of fruit has seeds within itself, every vegetable has the ability to be planted and more will grow, all animals can be joined together to create more of their kind based on the DNA passed on to the next generation…Father, You did not create anything that was incapable of multiplying.  The ability to see the larger picture of Your story is sobering – we are one generation in the epic story of Your Kingdom.  You set in motion this story on the day You created light, and this story is not over.  We are right in the middle of Your crescendo.

A (Application) – Your directive to mankind upon creating them was to “Go forth and multiply.” Your command to Your followers just before You ascended into Heaven was (and is) to “Go and preach the Good News and make disciples.”  The Great Commission is all about multiplying and reproducing, just in a different way.  By sharing the truth of Jesus with just one person, that can lead to generation upon generation of families changed forever.  May we not be so focused on ourselves, our circumstances, and our small circle of influence that we become stagnant in showing a lost generation the love of Christ in order to win them to the truth.

Tony Evans is a world-renowned Bible teacher, Preacher, and Author who has been used by God to lead millions to Jesus and help Christians mature in the faith.  Ravi Zacharias is a Christian apologist who defends the faith via debates in prestigious universities and through his dozens of books and worldwide influential radio ministry and leaders he has developed.  Both of these men were at one time lost and far away from the Lord.

Tony Evans’s father became a Christian because of a close friendship with another Christian man, and he brought that faith home to his family and passed it on to his wife and children.  Little did that friend of his father know what type of seed was within Tony Evans when he shared the Good News with his friend, Tony’s father.

Ravi came to know the Lord after attempting to take his own life as a teenager.  As he tells the story, he was in his hospital bed when a local Christian worker brought him a Bible and told his mother to read to him from John 14.  Right there in the hospital, he gave his life to the Lord and is quoted as saying, “Jesus if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it.  Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”  Thanks be to God that the local Christian worker had the courage to share the truth of the Word with him that day – how many countless lives have been impacted as a result!?

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for life.  Thank You for drawing us in closer to You, and working through us to show Your love to this broken humanity around us.  Open our eyes, Lord.  Help us to see through the cluttered chaos the world dumps upon us as a distraction.  Give us Your eyes instead.  Help us to see the potential that just one person can have on Your kingdom.  We do not know which person will yield the most fruit for You, or even if that person will respond to You…it is not our job to “convert” someone; rather, it is our job to show the world Your love and leave the rest up to You.

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The Wicked Think: God Isn’t Watching Us!

S (Scripture) – Psalm 10:11-13 “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.’  Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand.  Do not forget the afflicted.  Why has the wicked spurned God?  He has said to himself, ‘You will not require it.'” NASB

“The wicked think, ‘God isn’t watching us!  He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!’  Arise, O Lord!  Punish the wicked, O God!  Do not ignore the helpless!  Why do the wicked get away with despising God?  They think, ‘God will never call us to account.’” NLT

O (Observation) – The arrogance, pridefulness, tenacity, and resolve of the wicked in this world consumes their ability to recognize their own mortality and ultimate place when it comes to encountering You, oh Lord.  Their perspective of who You are is so awry that they have elevated their own selves to the highest possible realm and have reduced You to rubble in their eyes.  “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1).  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7).  How can it be that a mere human can honestly feel that he or she can do anything and everything evil in this life and that God will never call them to account?

A (Application) – This week’s message at church was about forgiveness.  The question is often wrestled with, “How do I forgive someone that doesn’t deserve it?”  If someone truly repents and humbly apologizes and sincerely seeks forgiveness, it may seem more probable that we would be “able” to forgive that person.  What about the person who says the words in this passage?  The person who does all sorts of evil against people, doesn’t care who he or she hurts, and doesn’t think that God sees them?

Un-forgiveness is a snare that will hold us captive if we allow it.  God, You have already forgiven us so much by sending Jesus to die in our place “while we were still yet sinners,” before we ever knew You, and before we ever “deserved it.”  The truth is, none of us deserve to be forgiven by You, but You do it anyway for those that call upon Your Name.  May we have hope and peace knowing that You DO, in fact, see everything that everyone does, and You WILL call people to account.  Romans 12:19 says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”  You never forget the oppressed.  You see the brokenness of the hurting.  We are called to forgive others, as You have forgiven us, and we are to trust that You will handle the vindication in Your own timing.

P (Prayer) – Lord, thank You for Your forgiveness and love that passes all understanding.  You will never ask us to forgive more than You have already forgiven us.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we forgive those who have caused pain and wreaked havoc on our peace.  For those who fail to repent and consistently choose the path of evil, may You deal with them quickly and justly and give us peace in the moment.

Those Who Know Your Name

S (Scripture) – Psalm 9:9-10 “The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

O (Observation) – Father in heaven, so many events have occurred over the last few months in my life and in the lives of those I care about deeply.  Wonderful things, tragic things, monumental days mixed in with the other days.  If someone were to attempt to go through this life without knowing Your name, putting their trust in You, and taking the time to seek You each day, it is easy for me to see how the weight of circumstances encountered would crush them.  Ecclesiastes is a tribute to the reflection and realization that this life, apart from You, is meaningless.  BUT – You have not forsaken those who seek You.  You are with us, within us, go before us, surround us as a shield, and goodness and mercy follow after us.

A (Application) – A stronghold is “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.”  It is fair to say that many circumstances we face are direct attacks from the pit of hell.  The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and with that promise comes the realization that every act in the natural world stems from the root of a spiritual component.  When we are facing adversity, we must recognize the origin of it is inherently spiritual.  2 Corinthians 10:4 promises us that every spiritual weapon we need has already been given to us by You.  We must rely on You alone to win our battles for us as we walk by faith in Your promises.

P (Prayer) – So many battles are going on each and every day in our own lives, our family’s lives, our city, state, nation, and world…it all starts within ourselves and how we respond to the leading of Your Holy Spirit.  Father, lead me by Your Spirit into all truth and help me to be a light shining brightly and pointing others to know Your name so that they might experience the power and peace that can only come from knowing that they know that YOU are their stronghold in times of trouble.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).”

Just You and Me

S (Scripture) – Psalm 8:1-2 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!  From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” NASB

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.” NLT

O (Observation) – Lord, children are different from adults in so many ways – some that are typically frustraing for me as a parent, yet some that are indescribably magical.  To watch a child worship You is an experience that creates a longing in me to cry out to You, dance for You, reach my hands high in the air, and be moved by You in a way only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.  Children do not understand so much about what goes on in the world, but in that moment of worship with You, I believe they understand all that really matters – loving You, adoring You, and abiding in Your glory.

A (Application) – A favorite character of mine once said, “Picasso said it took four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. They live in a delightful space somewhere between dreams and reality. They taste color, hear shapes, see sounds.”  Lord, I want to worship You with the wholly surrendered heart of a child.  I already sing the words, believe them with my heart, raise my hands, and feel the emotion that comes with declaring Your truth and Your promises over my life…but I want more.  I want to be overcome by Your presence like King David experienced.  I don’t have to be in a church service or in front of anyone – just You and me.  Help me to savor the worship experience like a child who dances as if no one is watching.

P (Prayer) – Lord, it’s easy to become distracted by life.  So many competing priorities and only so much time in the day.  Tony Evans recently shared a sermon that talked about the church at Ephesus…how the congregation there was busy being righteous and “doing church” and programs that they “left their first love,” which was You.  It’s possible to spend so much time doing good things that we neglect the One that matters.  Forgive me, Lord.

It’s Not Karma

S (Scripture) – Psalm 7:14-16

Behold, he [unrepentant man] travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.” NASB

“The wicked conceive evil;
    they are pregnant with trouble
    and give birth to lies.
They dig a deep pit to trap others,
    then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
    The violence they plan falls on their own heads.” NLT

O (Observation) – Lord, the verses surrounding these are cries of help from King David as he pleaded with You to rescue him from his enemies – he declared that You “judge the peoples” and asked You to “vindicate him according to his righteousness and intregrity that was in him.”  He declared that You are a “righteous judge.”  And You are.  There are so many people today that believe in the concept of “karma,” and that “what goes around, comes around.”  While the premise is accurate, it’s not because the nebulous universe around us somehow keeps the score even between humans.  It’s because the God of the universe “tries the hearts and minds” and “saves the upright in heart (v. 9-10).”

A (Application) – If we feel that we have been cheated, taken advantage of, or harmed in any way, may we not throw our hands up in disgust and hope that somehow the universe will teach that person a lesson in the future.  Instead, let us cry out to You and tell You how we feel.  We should always pray for our enemies that they may come to a knowledge of the truth and repent from their evil ways – that is always best.  If the person is unrepentant and continues to practice evil, then we need to leave the judgement up to You.  Nothing is a surprise to You, and You know the hearts of each person – deal with those that are wicked in Your own way and in Your own time.  We need to be concerned with making sure our hearts are not focused on the misdeeds of others and instead guarding our hearts from any bitterness or resentment that may attempt to take root.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You know every injustice that has ever been committed, You know every thought of every person who ever has and who ever will exist.  Help us to trust that You are indeed the perfect judge.  You can be trusted, and we need to relinquish our desire to judge others for their evil deeds.  We have a right to be angry – righteous anger is something that You experience when You see the atrocities committed every day.  We need to leave the judgement only to You.

The God Who Sees Me

S (Scripture) – Psalm 6:8-10 “Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.  All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; they shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.”

O (Observation) – Lord in Heaven, You see us weep.  You are right there with us.  You hear our cries out to You and You receive our prayers.  How is it that the Creator of all the universe, the Great Almighty One, the Beginning and the End knows me intimately?  How can it be that with the billions of people in the world that the tiniest details of my life are covered by Your fingerprints?  You are amazing.  You are El Roi (Hebrew), “the God Who sees me.”  Not only do you see me, You know everything there is to know about me, everything I have ever done, will do, and think.  “You see the depths of my heart and love me the same (Chris Tomlin).

A (Application) – Even though there will be times in this life when we feel lonely, desolate, and empty, we can take heart in knowing that we are never truly alone.  We are never completely desolate, and we are far from empty.  Our God receives our prayer and hears the cries of His people.  We can take heart in knowing that He is right there with us through every situation we encounter.  Even though we may not understand why our life plays out the way it does, there is comfort in knowing that He is waiting on the other side and already knows the end from the beginning.  It is our responsibility to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

P (Prayer) – Precious Lord, even though we wander at times and get so caught up in the daily distractions around us, You have not gone anywhere.  You are passionately pursuing Your children and won’t relent until you have our hearts in their entirety.  Your love is loyal – Lauren Daigle’s song comes to mind…

“You are always there for me
You listen every time I speak
You look into my eyes
See the things I hide
And say that You will never leave
Your promises I can not break
And I know You will never change

Your love is, Your love is, Your love is loyal”

Refuge in You

S (Scripture) – Psalm 5:11-12 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.  For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

O (Observation) – Lord, I had quite the emotional roller coaster today.  When all was said and done, this was my psalm for today…one that reminds me that You are my refuge, my “shelter or protection from danger or distress.”  You are the one who shelters me, who keeps me in “a position or state of being covered and protected.”  I love Your name, and I freely exult in You – to exult means “to be extremely joyful.”  I am extremely joyful because I realize it is You who blesses the righteous and surrounds him or her with favor that can only come from heaven.  The kind of favor that we cannot manufacture with our own worldly methods and contacts.  Your favor is so far above anything we can imagine…it literally wraps itself around us as a shield, “a protective cover or barrier.”

A (Application) – There is nowhere else I would rather be than right in the middle of Your will for my life, enveloped in Your favor, joyful in Your protection, and at peace at all times.  Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that no matter what we are going through, Your presence is where we rest our head at night.  Your heart is where our heart belongs.  Your face is what we should be seeking.  May we not get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we forget how much different it all could be if we were facing them with your favor as our shield.

P (Prayer) – Guide me, Jesus.  Grant me wisdom on my journey.  Open doors that You want opened and close doors You want closed.  In the midst of it all, guard me with Your favor as I exult in You.  Thank You that You go before me to make a way as my shield, follow after me to pick up any broken pieces I’ve made, and surround me on all sides with Your love, in everything.