Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert
January 26, 2015
Isaiah 46:10  "Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish."

Recently, there was a long awaited sporting event attended by over a hundred thousand people and watched world-wide by millions.  It was a game I had been wanting to see for quite some time, but unfortunately I was needed at work.  I was unable to see it live.  Within minutes of the game's end, the final score was all over social media and many of my friends were having post game discussions.  It was inevitable that I learned the final score before I was able to watch the recorded version of the game.  I knew the outcome of the game, yet I wanted to see it anyway.  The whole while I was watching the previously recorded game, I could see the intensity on both sides of the line, each player wondering if their team would best the other.  As one team advanced, the other would work harder and change the score again.  I knew the final score, aware during each play whose dreams were going to be realized.  Several times during the game the tides would turn with angst intensifying the playing on the field.  Again, I knew the final outcome, so I was not stressed or worried for my team.  Even though they feared a loss, I still knew the final score.  I wasn't worried that they would win; there was no suspense for me.  I just watched as the players finally realized what I knew all along.  I actually found it silly to see the wonder and amazement on each face as the game came to a close.  Didn't they already know the final score, too?  There was no surprise in it for me; I knew the end at the beginning.

Sometimes you want things to be a surprise, like when you are watching a movie with a really good plot line or awaiting to open a present.  Those, pretty much, seem to be the only times we don't want the surprise spoiled.  In everything else, we want to know what's going to happen, in an effort to feel in control of our lives.  It's funny, though, we aren't told all the little details; they get to be a surprise.  As life unfolds, I find myself like the players on the field, fearing a loss and going through life with a huge degree of intensity, wondering if I am going to come out on top in every situation.  I bet the Lord sits back, with zero suspense in His heart, thinking it silly when I fear the outcome of a situation.  He knows the end at the beginning; He knows how everything unfolds, yet He still sees the angst on my face during the game.  He knows the final score; He knows the result of each play on the field before it even happens.  But He can see me running around, constantly wondering, fearing the outcome of my situations.

The Bible says very clearly that we aren't supposed to be afraid.  It is a theme woven all throughout the Lord's teaching.  He knows the end from the beginning; He knows how it will all play out.  It is with confidence in the outcome that He tells us not to be afraid.  But do we listen?  Nope!  The Lord has set His plans in motion and that includes the plans for your life and mine as they are intertwined into His Divine Design.  He knows the outcome of the situation you are dealing with, the one you are struggling to overcome.  He would have a few words for you today.  Relax and stop living in fear of the outcome.  The outcome has already happened; you simply get to come in to the realization of what the Father already knows.

Living in fear is a waste of energy.  Do your best and let the outcome happen as it is already written by the Lord.  Your life has been pre-recorded and the Lord is watching it, knowing full well the outcome.  He has seen the end, and guess what, you win!

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps 33:11, Pr 19:21, Is 14:24, Is 41:4, Is 48:3, Acts 5:39, Acts 15:18

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Divine Discontent

Divine Discontent
January 19, 2015
Genesis 1:27  "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them. . ."

The Creator Father, for His own personal glory, discontented with the way things were, decided to create.  How long was He alone in Heaven, maybe just the Trinity up there, playing board games together, discussing whatever it is divine beings discuss?  They couldn't talk about you and me; we weren't born yet.  Maybe we were the twinkle in His eye.  Nonetheless, He was dissatisfied with the status quo, possibly board from simply basking in the radiance of Heaven, and so the Father decided to create.  In the beginning the Lord God Almighty got creative and crafted us, perfectly in His own image, and He said that it was good.  The impetus for this  activity, the muse for this messy humanity, one will never know, but the Lord couldn't sit back any longer.  He was spurred to action.

The result of that creation was you and me.  We were created in His image.  Looking at the faces of those around me, seldom can I distinguish our resemblance to Him.  But the Bible says so, so we will submit to it.  You were made in the image of God, with all the same innate qualities of the Lord God Himself.  This carries with it the desire for good, the opportunity for jealousy, the compassion coming from nowhere, and mercy when mercy doesn't make sense.  It also carries with it a degree of divine discontent followed by the need to create, improve, forge, assemble, refine, and build.  It is an internal drive that spurs us to action, resulting in restless motivation to do something.  It isn't a sit-back-and-complain attitude, but a precursor to doing what the Lord would have for us to do in life.

You have a fire burning in your belly for something other than the status quo.  For each man it is a different fire, but a unique burden to move forward with something new, like the Father in Heaven did during Creation.  You cannot live up to your full calling in life unless you submit to moving forward with that drive to create, the compelling need to do something more, something better, something different.  This isn't creating a new religion, but furthering the Kingdom of God through the gifts and talents the Lord instilled inside of you.  It is a divine discontent with where you are, leading to a new work in alignment with the Lord's divine tenets.  It doesn't have to be in vocational ministry necessarily, but right where the Lord has placed you, in whatever field you're in.  The opportunity is as unique as you.

As you create, you are further creating in the image of the Lord.  You are like your Heavenly Father when you create, when you improve, when you forge, when you assemble, when you refine, and when you build.  It is in your blood; you were made for this.  If you've been sitting on the side and feeling discontent, then maybe it is a divine discontent, spurring you to action, a call to arms.  You can ignore it, squelch it, stuff it down, but it will always be there, urging you to get up and move.  While you may feel insecure about it, wondering if you've got what it takes, it is up to the Lord to lead you to success.  He only needs a willing vessel who will follow in His footsteps and who will follow His lead.  Listen to His leading; do what the Lord has placed in you to do and you will look more like the Heavenly Father for it.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 1, Is 43:18, Rom 8:28, Phil 2:13

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Complaining Rights

Complaining Rights
January 12, 2015
Jonah 4:9  "But God said to Jonah, 'Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?'"

Complaining is so easily observed in others, but not so easily seen in ourselves.  We notice, without hesitation, when someone around us is stating his or her dissatisfaction with the current situation.  The person who complains constantly is labeled as being negative, a downer.  I know some of those people and I'm sure I've been labeled as such, at one point in my life.  I would bet each of us has gone through a season of constant complaints.  Once we start complaining, it is hard to jump out of that downward spiral, but it happens; we all complain.  While we know it isn't the best thing to do in life, is it a sin to complain?

The Bible is very clear that we SHOULD do everything without complaining or grumbling.  If you review every book of the Bible, though, you'll witness complaining going on, a grumbling dissatisfied recipient of The Father's love.  That's the correct label if you'd like to get technical about it.  We've all received the Lord's love and when we complain we are simply being a dissatisfied and grumbling recipient of that love.  Since the beginning of time with Cain and Able, man has been complaining.  Moses complained, the Israelites complained, King David complained, the apostles complained.  If everyone's doing it, is it still wrong; is it a sin?  Actually, if you read the account of Job, the Bible says he complained, stated his dissatisfaction with the situation, but did not sin.  So, there is an opportunity to express dissatisfaction without sinning, but there is also a line that shouldn't be crossed.  It was said of Job that he never sinned by charging the Lord with wrongdoing.

The prophet Jonah complained; he expressed dissatisfaction with the situation when his personal shade tree had withered up.  Jonah got hot in the summer sun and couldn't take the heat any longer.  He got angry and complained about it.  The Lord asked him if he had any right at all to complain to the point of anger.  Jonah told the Lord, unequivocally, "Yes!"  The Lord had caused the shade tree to grow up over Jonah and the Lord provided the worm to eat the roots of the shade tree, yet Jonah still believed he had a right to his complaint.  Not even Job, who was upright and blameless, got away with his complaint.  The Lord told Job he had no idea what the Lord was thinking, therefore didn't have a leg to stand on about his complaint with the situation.  Job wasn't as bold to talk back to God as Jonah was.  But you and I are more like Jonah; we are willing to talk back to God about our situation, believing we have every right to complain to the point of being angry.  The Lord would disagree.

Your complaint in life, and I'm sure you have one or two, is an effort to believe the Lord is not doing His job with correctness, fairness, or justice.  When you cross the line and actually get angry with Him, like Jonah, you are sinning.  I've clearly sinned once or twice in my life and you probably have, too.  The trick is to figure out a way to express your dissatisfaction only to the point of realizing how silly you are to actually complain.  When Job complained, the Lord corrected Him.  You and I can read from others in Scripture and realize our situation is really not cause for complaint if we trust in the Lord's sovereignty.  The Lord is in charge of your life and to charge Him with wrongdoing for how things have turned out in your life is not something I'd recommend.  Turning our complaint into praise is the next step.  We can all praise the Lord for something good in our lives.  Jonah didn't thank the Lord for growing the shade tree; he took it for granted.  Job didn't constantly thank the Lord for all those years of blessing; he figured it would always be that way.  Learn to praise the Lord when times are good, so when they're bad, you can still praise Him for when the times WERE good.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Job 1:22, Job 2:10, Job 33, Jonah 4, Phil 2:14

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pointless Without a Reward

Pointless Without a Reward
January 5, 2015
Malachi 3:14  "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements. . .'"

Since the beginning of time, every mortal has questioned whether the benefits outweigh the costs of serving the Lord.  If we are honest, we have wondered the same thing, wondered where our reward is for all the rules we have been keeping.  In my personal life, I try to follow the precepts laid out in scripture yet see my non-believing neighbors rewarded when I know they are cheating behind the scenes.  I wonder why the Lord doesn't allow me to receive the reward instead.  Everyone wonders this.  Job wondered it, the Israelites wondered it, and we wonder it still today.  There are a few areas of Scripture that address this exact thing and I hope you will review the Bible to see what I've come to understand.

First and foremost, the Lord does not appreciate when we complain about our reward, especially in perceiving other people (non-Christians) blessed ahead of us.  The Lord charged the Israelites with arrogance for this line of thinking and did not treasure the poor accusations.  Our perception is that the Lord measures our work/reward by human standards and human time-frame.  Remember that the Lord can see into eternity, our future, but our life on this earth compares to a flash of fog that is burned up in a moment of sunshine.  The Israelites thought they had served the Lord and therefore were looking for their reward.  The Lord told them to stop complaining about it, and let Him handle it His way.  He does promise that if you obey His ways there WILL be a reward.  But the Lord NEVER promised a time-frame for that reward.  To understand a time-frame for your reward, you have to dive deeper into Scripture.

Job, who was blameless and upright, appeared to receive a punishment instead of a reward.  But he got rebuked when he said it was pointless to serve the Lord; that there was no reward in it.  Elihu, who is believed to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, told Job that though non-Christians appear to receive a reward and we don't, they will be crushed in the middle of the night.  The reference to the middle of the night refers to human death and not knowing when it will arrive.  The Holy Spirit said when they die, they will be crushed, or sent to Hell.  The Holy Spirit was saying not to compare your Christian life to non-believers, because when they die they will go to Hell.  If you read Paul's letter to the Corinthians, you'll see Paul used the same word crushed.  We, as Christians, may be afflicted in every way, we are not crushed.  It means we may experience hardship on this earth but we will not go to Hell when we die a human death.

Read further in Scripture about experiencing hardship on this earth and you'll come to understand, through the book of James, that the Lord does promise the full reward of Job if you endure this life as hardship.  Remember Job suffered on the earth, though he was righteous.  In the end, Job was blessed after his suffering.  The Lord promises that, in the end, you will receive the same reward that Job received.  ONLY IT WAS NEVER PROMISED WHILE YOU AND I ARE ON THIS EARTH!!!!  So, if you are wondering why non-Christians are blessed and you aren't, your thinking is off.  They may be enjoying pleasures on this earth, but what if those pleasures aren't really pleasures at all compared to what we will experience in Heaven?  They will be sent to Hell in the middle of the night, but you have insurance against that.  Living with this type of insurance against Hell is a far better reward in this life-time than the pleasures non-believers experience on this earth.  And your full reward for your righteousness is coming, the full reward of Job, only not to be received until you see the Father.

If you'd like to wonder why your life isn't blessed yet on this earth, the Lord would say to you the same thing He said to the Israelites when they didn't see their just reward, "you have spoken arrogantly against me."  He is suggesting we don't know what we are talking about.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Psalm 118, Job 34, Mal 3:13-14, Cor 4:1-12, 1 Thess 5:2, James 5:7-11, 2 Pet 3:10