Keep the Fire Burning (Feb 18)

February 18

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

Keep The Fire Burning

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 27:7-14 | Leviticus 6:1 – 7:27 | Mark 3:7- 30 | Proverbs 10:3-4

Today’s Scripture Focus: Leviticus 6:1 – 7:27

“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar (Leviticus 6:9 NIV). 

The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out (Leviticus 6:13 NIV).  

The aroma of the burnt offering was to go up to God always as a sweet savor to Him. It required the diligent attention of the priest so that it would not go out.

New Testament believers are called to be living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). The transformed life sends up an aroma pleasing to God.  The spiritual passion of our lives requires the same constant attention, as did the continuous burnt offering. Spiritual passion, like fire, tends to go out unless it is attended to regularly.

Spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation and the study of the Word help to tend the fire. The sacrifice of praise also fuels the passion. These disciplines keep our spiritual passion burning strong.

Fellowship with others who share your passion also keeps the fire burning. You don’t build a fire with one log. You build the fire by having several logs in close proximity. To keep the fire burning brightly you keep adding logs to the fire. So it is with our spiritual passion, it is difficult to remain strong apart from a group of others who will keep you burning bright.

Tend the fire of your spiritual passion–don’t let the fire grow dim.  “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”

O God, Consuming Fire, keep the fire on the altar of my heart burning bright, Help me to always tend the fire and keep it burning strong. May that passion set others ablaze. In fellowship with others with likeminded passion, may the flame intensify and grow. Amen

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Whom Shall I Fear? (Feb 17)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 17

Whom Shall I Fear?

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 27:1-6 | Leviticus 4:1 – 5:19 | Mark 2:13 – 3:6 | Proverbs 10:1-2

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 27:1-6

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 KJV).

David often found himself in a place where he had to face his fears. Chased relentlessly by his enemies, he spent much of his life seeking a safe place to hide.  

David here reveals his secret to facing his fears: God himself is his place of safety, his stronghold, his fortress. The circumstances around him change constantly, but his relationship with God is rock solid. 

In the midst of darkness and confusion, the Lord is his light. In the midst of the battle, the Lord is the one who rescues and saves Him.  In the midst of uncertainty and fear, the Lord is the safe place where he can run.

He longs for times of worship and prayer—precious times spent in the presence of the Lord. As he cries out to God and worships him with all his heart, the fears melt away in the beauty of the Lord’s presence.  

Psalm 27:4 (NIV) One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 

When you face circumstances that tempt you to fear, it is good to seek his face; it is good to gaze upon his beauty. Remembering who he is, we can say with David, “The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Almighty God, you are the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? I look to you and find rest. You are my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Ever Present Help. Remind me that perfect love casts out fear. Pour out your love into my heart now, I pray. Amen.

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A Solitary Place (Feb 16)

February 16

A Solitary Place

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 26:1-12 | Leviticus 1:1 – 3:17 | Mark 1:29-2:12 | 

Proverbs 9:13-18

Today’s Scripture Focus: Mark 1:29 – 2:12

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

The day before had been incredibly busy for Jesus. Mark describes it this way: “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons.” He had been up late healing people and setting them free from demons. The whole town had been at his doorstep.

If it had been me, I’d have been tempted to sleep in the next morning–to hit the snooze button a few times at least. Jesus, however, did nothing of the sort. “Very early, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” Jesus desired intimate conversation with his father and would not let a busy day or lack of sleep keep him from the joy of fellowship through prayer. He delighted in these times of conversation with the heavenly Father. Refocused and refreshed he was ready for the day ahead.

How much more true for you and me. We dare not neglect the solitary place—the place where we can get alone and meet with our Heavenly Father—to have intimate conversation with the one who loves us most. Find a quiet place and pour out your heart to him. Make it a daily practice and don’t let anything crowd out those special times in your schedule.

Loving Father, thank you for the restoration that comes from finding quiet places and spending time with you. May I always delight in these quiet moments. I quiet my heart before you now, so “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Amen.

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Dwelling Place (Feb 15)

February 15

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

Dwelling Place

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 25:16-22 | Exodus 39:1 – 40:38 | Mark 1:1-28| Proverbs 9:11-12

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 39-40

“Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar; and it will be most holy” (Exodus 40:9-10 NIV).

With meticulous detail, every last instruction was followed in preparing a tabernacle for the Lord. Now it was time to consecrate the tabernacle–time to anoint it with oil and set it apart for holy use. And time to set apart the priests by anointing them for God’s service.

Then the glory of the Lord descended on the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting. So much so that Moses couldn’t enter the Tent of Meeting.

All of this is a picture of what God longs to do in us today. God no longer “tabernacles” in a structure built by human hands. He “tabernacles” (lives) in us by His Spirit. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

He calls us to consecrate our bodies and become the vessels he can fill with His glory. He longs for you to give yourself wholly to Him; to become a holy vessel he will use for his glory.

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

He has set you apart for his purposes, allow him to fill you by His Spirit and use you for his glory!

Father God, I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. May it be set apart as a dwelling place for your Spirit. May Jesus live and rule and reign in me. May my whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless as I await the coming of our Lord Jesus. I know you are faithful, and I trust you to do it. Amen.

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Fearing God Without Being Afraid (Feb 14)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 14

Fearing God Without Being Afraid

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 25:8-15 | Exodus 37:1 – 38:31 | Matthew 28:1-20 | Proverbs 9:9-10

Today’s Scripture Focus: Proverbs 9:9-10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV).

Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom.  It is among the most admirable qualities a person can possess (Proverbs 31). The one who fears God is promised many blessings, including guidance “in the way chosen for him” and an intimate relationship with God in which the “Lord confides in those who fear Him” (Psalm 25). But what does it mean to fear God?  

It does not mean being afraid of God.  Some people live in servile fear—and that is not the kind of fear God delights in. Being afraid of God will not lead to worship or obedience. 

Sinclair Ferguson defines the fear of God this way: “That indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us.”

A. W. Tozer speaks of the fear of God as “astonished reverence.” He writes: “I believe that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state and the most satisfying emotion the human soul can know.”  

To rightly revere God, to stand in awe of Him, is to fear Him. This “astonished reverence” is foundational to a life lived in the fullness of his blessing, a life of intimate fellowship that brings the Father pleasure and brings our hearts deep satisfaction.

Holy God, Help me to fear you, to revere you, without being afraid. As I consider your greatness, your majesty, your holiness, let me stand in awe. Then, as I consider your grace, your love, your mercy, let me draw near with astonished reverence and a heart filled with love and devotion. Amen.

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Wounded (Feb 13)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 13


Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 25:1-7 | Exodus 35:1 – 36:38 | Matthew 27:32-66 | Proverbs 9:7-8

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 27:32-66

“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:31 NIV).

“And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (Matthew 27:44 NIV).

Crucifixion is designed to bring excruciating physical pain. The physical torture of crucifixion is almost unimaginable. It was a cruel and painful way to die. It was also a method designed to bring shame and humiliation to the victim. The wounds of crucifixion were both emotional and physical.

The days preceding the cross were also filled with wounds. Jesus experienced emotional wounds of denial, betrayal, mocking and injustice. Most of these wounds were at the hands of those closest to him, magnifying the pain. Perhaps the worst of all the emotional wounds was the abandonment he experienced on the cross that brought voice to the words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

On the cross, Jesus became the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, he took upon himself our sin: “He was wounded for our transgressions.” He was condemned and forsaken. He was betrayed and denied. He endured shame for us. He felt the sting of abandonment from His Father. He did it all for you and me.

Those wounds that were the source of his pain are now the source of our healing: the forgiveness of sin, the freedom from bondages and shame, the healing of broken bodies and wounded hearts. When you experience the wounds brought on by denial, betrayal, mocking, injustice or abandonment, remember that Jesus understands. He has experienced those things too. Bring your wounds to Jesus and allow him to bring the healing you need.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the cross. Thank you for being wounded for my transgressions. Thank you for the forgiveness and healing that flow from your wounds. Amen.

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Shining Faces (Feb 12)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 12

Shining Faces

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 24:7-10 | Exodus 34:1 – 35:9 | Matthew 27:15-31 | Proverbs 9:1-6

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 34:1 – 35:9

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant” (Exodus 34:29 NIV).

Moses had asked to see the glory of the Lord, “Now show me your glory” (33:18). The Lord gave him as much as he could handle: “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence . . . but you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (33:19-20). He had an awesome experience of the glory of the Lord.

But God gave Moses more than a one-time experience. He found the joy of the ongoing glory of the Lord’s presence as he spent time with Him.  This glory would be reflected on his countenance—his face would be radiant.  His face so reflected the glory of the Lord, that the people were afraid of Him when he would come down from his times with the Lord—even Aaron. “The Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory” (2 Cor. 3:7).

Yet as glorious as that is, the New Testament suggests that Moses glory cannot compare to the surpassing glory of Christ in us, the glory that lasts. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed in his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18).

True Christianity is a relationship with Christ. As we spend time with Him, we reflect more and more of his character. Our whole being reflects his glory (2 Corinthians 3). Not only our faces, but our whole being and lifestyle reflects the glory of Christ within.

Moses experienced glory by being in the presence of the Lord. So do we. But there is no need for a veil anymore. The world needs to see Christ’s life reflected through his followers who are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.

Enjoy his presence today. Come away gloriously transformed by time in the presence of the Lord.

Glorious Lord, I long to be transformed into the likeness of Christ with ever-increasing glory. By your Spirit, shine through me. May my heart be captivated by your glory, and may others see Jesus in me. Amen.

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