Sunday, October 20, 2019

Will Be Glorified

Will Be Glorified
John 12:28  "'Father, glorify Your Name.' Then a voice came out of heaven: ''I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.'"
October 21, 2019

The Lord is all powerful and worthy to be praised. the Lord says very clearly that if you will not praise Him, then He will have the rocks cry out in worship. Worship, however, is not always standing there and saying, "worthy is the Lord." That is the passive manifestation of humanity's song. Aside from standing there and making the declaration, it is not an action-style concept of worship. An active-style worship is dedicating a sacrifice to Him, significant works or gift, something costly to the giver. But what is more than active-style worship is the Glorification of the Lord. Glorification of the Lord is an active situation, in which the Lord's physical power or might or redemption is displayed. Either it is a direct manifestation of the Lord's power over something, or revelation of the  Lord's power and might in someone's life.

Several examples of this might include closing the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into the lion's den. Another example is when Daniel's friends were thrown into the fiery furnace. The Lord spared them and the Lord was glorified. Other scenarios in the Bible include time and again when the Lord rescued the children of Israel from the hand of a formidable foe. There were plenty of times when a powerful army was standing against the children of Israel but the Lord caused them to prevail. It was, and is, a situation in which no explanation can be given to science or man's own effort, but only in the physical manifestation of the Lord's power at work. The Lord was glorified when Jesus was crucified and then risen from the dead, a miracle that only can be accomplished by a display of the Lord's power and might. 

Jesus prayed that the Lord would be glorified in what was about to transpire over his pending death. The Lord replied from Heaven that His name was already glorified but that He would glorify it again, meaning it was of no problem to continue in the miracles of His own plan. The Lord had no intention to prove Himself only once, but again and again in people's lives. The Lord did not stop when He pulled the Israelites out of slavery through Moses and He did not stop when David triumphed over Goliath and He did not  stop when He rose Jesus from the dead and He has not stopped today. His goal has always been to continuing glorifying His name, through the demonstration of His power. The Lord delights in bringing His power in place to overcome the frailty of humanity. 

The Lord's name will be glorified through the demonstration of His power and might. In your own situation, it may seem a difficult road, an obstacle that the Lord can be glorified through, but the Lord would say that despite your understanding of the outcome, the Lord will be glorified.  It is not a matter of if the Lord can be glorified, that is a given. The Lord WILL be glorified and He delights to do that time and time again. Whatever your facing right now, it will be brought to completion and when it is over the Lord's name will be glorified. This is an opportunity, not to pray that He will be glorified in what you are facing, but an opportunity to thank Him in advance of what He is about to do, whatever it looks like. It also works on the reverse. If you refuse to glorify the Lord, then He will come against you and make sure He is made known.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ez 28:22, Dan 5:23, John 12:1-30, John 15:8 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

This Day

This Day
October 14, 2019
Psalm 118:24  "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

There is a famous Bible verse written to music, that we call can quote, but we may use it at only one type of moment. It comes from Psalm 118 and is believed to be written by King David, and written in song-style to music even from the beginning. The verse reads, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." When we hear that verse, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the Lord's blessings on a sunshiny day or is it a phrase meant to uplift the soul of the singer, in the midst of adversity?  You can sing those words when this go well and you can sing those words when you are in the midst of trouble and you're trying to encourage your heart to keep on going. 

We know we are to give the Lord thanks in all things, but what was King David referring to when he said he would rejoice in this day? Did David mean this exact moment, the one for each immediate breath? If you read all of Psalm 118, you see that David is actually praising the Lord for the Lord's enduring faithfulness throughout David's lift, even when David himself was not perfect. David references a rescue from an enemy, he references having had blessings, he references being disciplined, and he references the future day of Salvation. The psalm starts out with David's life but then transitions into the life of Jesus, being the stone that the builders rejected now becoming the corner stone of Salvation. 

The progression in the psalm is about all of the Lord's participation in David's life with the culmination for the need of a Savior. It completes with the finality of Salvation for David, as if it has already taken place through Jesus. Jesus was still hundreds of years away from David's own physical death, but David rejoiced in the day of Salvation for himself as if it was now fully realized and complete.  The psalm is fully about the participation of the Lord in David's life, from beginning to end, not just about the experiences David was enduring. Every day is the day the Lord has made, that is a given, but the rejoicing comes with and from the Lord's participation of it. The gift for rejoicing is the Lord's presence and action in today, not the adversity or blessing that comes from today.  The gift for rejoicing comes knowing the Lord is working in and through and with you throughout all of it, with the full intent of bringing you to His side in the end, redeeming every situation and experience. 

When David was rejoicing about this day, he was rejoicing in the good, the bad, the ugly, and then the redemption and completion of it all. The end result of every Christian's life is eternity in Heaven with Him. All that happens in a life will eventually become irrelevant once Heaven is attained. Each day for rejoicing in the good or the bad or the ugly is one step closer to Heaven, one step closer to perfection and union with the Lord.  In all things the Lord is working and moving in your life, leading you with the intent to usher you into His full presence someday. But so often we fight or resist today, when it is the bad or the ugly. We want only the blessing and salvation, but the Lord would say it is not about what happens in the day at all, regardless of what happens. We aren't rejoicing in the actual day, but in how the Lord designed today for our lives and for our good. It does not matter what happens, it matters that the Lord is working in and through it; that is the reason for rejoicing. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps 118, Rom 8:28

Sunday, October 6, 2019

New Knowledge

New Knowledge
October 7, 2019
Romans 9:15  "For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'"

The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change and He is not new. His character is steadfast and He is truth. These things are not debatable, however, are you fully aware of who He is? If you think you know, truly know, who the Lord is, then you're shorting yourself and limiting God. It is an easy question to ask a child what they learned new at school today. The child did not actually learn anything new, the child just came into the knowledge of what was. But, it was new for the child. Learning new things as a child is a daily occurrence, but how about as an adult? We may be forced to learn something new at work, but do you force yourself to learn new habits, new concepts, new skills? How about with the Lord. Did you learn anything new about the Lord today, not that there is anything new about the Lord, but new to you?

There are angels assigned to fly around the Lord continually, in the throne room of Heaven, and each time they pass around Him and His glory, they discover something new about His majesty. But they are not looking directly at Him, rather covering their eyes from the blinding light. We've become so casual with the Lord that we've made Him into a man to have a conversation with, rather than a God to worship. We cannot digest the magnificence of who He is, so we bring Him down on our level so we can understand Him.  Once we've drawn Him down to size, then we've limited Him to how big and how wonderful and how amazing He could truly be to us. If we've limited Him, then there is nothing new to learn about Him. There is nothing new to the Lord and your relationship with Him, unless you keep Him on His throne and make concerted effort to expand your knowledge and understanding of Him.

The Lord is like a gleaming diamond, illuminating light from all His facets. But that is too bright for many of us, we shield our eyes from all the reflection. We do not let all the facets of the Lord permeate our lives, we cover them up and limit God. We know God, we've known God for so long that we are tight and close. Not so. You cannot learn all there is to know about God. You cannot understand all there is to understand about the Lord in a human lifetime. If you are not growing in your knowledge of the Lord, then you've limited Him and you are limiting your life.

Paul writes that as Christians, our responsibility is to grow in the knowledge of the Lord daily. Most people understand Paul to be addressing new Christians, and even if he was then so be it. If coming to the full knowledge of the Lord takes more than a hundred lifetimes, then 15 more years of knowledge ahead of someone else is still barely at the beginning line. You are not even close to knowing who the Lord is, even if you've learned about Him the last 60 years. Your job is to stay humble and learn something new about the Lord everyday. Your job is not to fully understand Him, but learn on a daily basis. What did you learn new about the Lord today?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Col 2:1-7, Rev 4

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Rhetorical Question on Mercy

Rhetorical Question on Mercy
September 22, 2019
Romans 9:15  "For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'"

I was listening to a radio station on my commute to work, and the pastor on-air asked callers to bring difficult theological questions to the forefront.  He was attempting to be the expert and answer all the ponderings of Scripture. One caller brought forth a question I've never heard asked. He wanted to know why in the Old Testament that stoning was the mandate for being caught in adultery, and yet King David did not get stoned when caught in his affair with Bathsheba. Good question. The pastor did not actually have an answer that was satisfactory, other than suggesting it was David's own privilege at the time. Who would have dared to bring up a stone against a king, and rather the Lord dealt with David for sins anyway. David did not escape discipline, but he certainly escaped being stoned to death. In short, the Lord had mercy on David and did not require David's death.

But what does it take to get the Lord's mercy and compassion? In looking at David, he had a great history with the Lord. He represented the Lord before the world at the time, in his triumph over Goliath. David, in everything he did, honored the Lord with his life, until he didn't. That is, David was as perfect a "Christian" as possible until he fell into sin.  His sin was a point of failure in life, after years and years of service to the One True King. David had a great history with the Lord, maybe the Lord reviewed that history before requiring the stoning. Maybe the Lord decided there was enough good in him worth sparing, or that a different course of action would work rather than taking him out. Regardless of the Lord's thinking, He never enforced the stoning. David received the Lord's mercy and maybe it was out of compassion. Whatever the reasoning, David benefited; the situation could have been far worse. 

The Lord says He will have mercy on whomever He has mercy and compassion on whomever He has compassion. In essence, the Lord is saying its none of our business  on the formula for receiving mercy and compassion from the Lord. The reason there is no formula is because man would try to manipulate Him instead of honoring Him from pure motives. The Lord says He cannot be mocked, that a man will reap what he sows. David had sown goodness and mercy and that's what he reaped. You cannot fake sowing goodness or mercy or compassion; it has to come from your heart. The Lord will show you mercy and compassion if that is what is in your heart, otherwise you are likely to get the stoning. 

Feel like you're getting stoned on a daily basis? Maybe you did not sow enough mercy and compassion, maybe your history with the Lord does not warrant grace right now from Him. Before you suggest that the Lord is full of mercy and grace and it is  a right to be received, you might want to refresh yourself on the Bible. The Lord is the one who determines when you get mercy, not you. You don't get to forgive your own sins and you don't get to apply the Lord's mercy on yourself.  David did not escape the Lord's discipline, just the stoning. Do not mistake mercy from getting out of discipline. You might feel like you're getting beat up, but maybe the punishment would be far worse right now if the Lord wasn't administering mercy. The rhetorical question is not why the Lord had mercy on David, rather why do you deserve the Lord's mercy today.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Rom 9:1-24, Gal 6:7-8

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bloody Husband

Bloody Husband
September 16,  2019
Exodus 4:24  "Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death."

After Moses argued with the Lord at the burning bush, giving Him all the excuses as to why Moses was not the right man for the job, the Bible says the Lord's anger burned against Moses. Yes, everyone knows that Moses and the Lord ended up having a good relationship, but Moses did not start things off too well. Moses truly argued and talked back to God, even frustrating the Lord and enticing His anger. Moses could have been a little bit more humble, but he was brazen enough to argue with the Lord.  Nonetheless, Moses finally agreed, and he took his wife and his son and headed to Egypt to do what the Lord asked of him. But before Moses could reach Egypt, even for the first encounter, the Lord sought to kill him.

Why on earth would the Lord pick Moses and then seek to kill him before he even got to the first part of his destination? In reading Scripture, it is actually unclear as to whom the Lord wanted to kill. The Bible says, "him" but it could have been referring to his son Gershom, who had not been circumcised. The verses before this, the Lord talked about the nation of Israel being a covenant relationship as a first born son, with also Pharaoh having a first born son, who was eventually going to pay with his life. Gershom was Moses' first born son and Moses had not circumcised Gershom; Moses had not brought Gershom into the faith covenant with the family of the Lord by circumcising him. Moses' wife feared for the life of both Moses and Gershom, so she took it upon herself to circumcise her son. Moses was on the Lord's short list already and Gershom would not make it forward in Egypt unless he was part of the circumcision covenant.  It was not the mother's job to perform the circumcision either, it was the husband's job to bring the son to be circumcised. Moses was negligent in his responsibilities and jeopardized his own relationship with the Lord and possibly his own life and the life of his son. The one who was not circumcised was not part of the family of God, and Gershom was outside that family protection. 

Moses' wife was afraid and she had to help jump in to make up for Moses' shortcomings. It was not a blessing for her to have to circumcise her son, it was a bloody mess because the boy was older, past the correct age to circumcise him and likely Moses had to hold him down. His wife was not happy about having to get blood on her hands; she was not likely raised with these customs and was only coming into her own relationship with the Lord. Nonetheless, she did it and threw the bloody flesh at the feet of Moses because he was not man enough to step up and lead from the start. She called him a husband of blood because of this, not realizing how many first born sons were going to die in Egypt very soon. Just because the Lord sent Moses to bring judgement on Pharaoh and Egypt, did not exempt Moses from the judgement of his own actions or sins. 

The Lord wanted Moses to be in right standing before he went in to ministry in Egypt, and this required the fulfillment of the Lord's covenant relationship through being circumcised. Moses did not get a free pass on anything and the Lord held him accountable. But Moses' actions, or lack there of, inflicted pain on his wife and son. They were collateral damage to Moses not following the law. Your life and relationship with the Lord does not effect you alone; it impacts those around you. And if you are moving forward, stepping out in faith to what the Lord asks of you, make sure you have all your affairs in order. What pain are you bringing on your family today because of your unwillingness to do the right thing?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 17:14, Ex 4:14-26

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Changing Face

Changing Face
September 9, 2019
Exodus 3:6  ". . . Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God."

When Moses met the Lord at the burning bush, the Lord was relatively unknown to Moses. Moses did not have any ancient text to go by in learning about the Lord; the Bible had not been written yet. He grew up in Egypt, knowing he was a Hebrew, but he did not truly know or understand who the Lord was to him. The Lord was a God, obviously the One True God, but Moses had a very narrow understanding of Him. The Lord decided to appear to Moses, having picked him for the task of leading the people out of Egypt, but Moses was not necessarily wanting to be used by the Lord. In fact, Moses was ashamed of his actions and life, now living on the backside of a mountain, hiding from his past, and possibly hiding even from the Lord. But the Lord appeared to Moses through the burning bush and spoke to Moses directly. The Bible says that Moses hid his face because he was afraid.

Why was Moses afraid of the Lord? Certainly the Lord is to be feared but if the Lord appeared as a small fire, not the Lord's direct image, then why would Moses need to hide his face?  We can only speculate as to why Moses was afraid of the Lord, but likely he realized his humanity was unworthy of the Lord's presence. Moses was ashamed of something, possibly his own sin. Moses did not really know the Lord; he knew of Him but that knowledge was extremely superficial. He did not know if the Lord was coming to smite him or punish him or what. All Moses knew was that a God, an unknown force, was appearing to him in the most unnatural way. It was not a normal thing, a common thing, for the Lord to be appearing to him or to anyone.

Fast forward nearly 40 years and Moses eventually developed a deep relationship with the Lord, a relationship so unnatural that it changed the face of Moses. The Bible says that as Moses met with the Lord, that the face of Moses was changed; it radiated from the Lord's presence. At one time, Moses hid his face because he was afraid but as he developed a relationship with the Lord, he was no longer afraid but changed, reflected the presence of the Lord, even. It took years and years of establishing a deep relationship with the Lord, but through all of that Moses became confident in the Lord's presence, not afraid. Moses was still human, that part did not change, but what did change was his relationship with the Lord, through spending time with Him, with the God he once feared.

Moses become so comfortable with the Lord that he asked to see his face directly, no longer afraid of the Lord's power and might, fully confident that the Lord desired only good things for Moses. Moses wanted to go deeper in his relationship with the Lord, to see Him fully, nothing held back, no fear. How is your relationship with the Lord? If He appeared to you today, would you hide your face like Moses did initially, or would you ask to see all of Him? How deep is your confidence in the Lord and His presence? It took 40 years for Moses to grow confident in his relationship with the Lord; where are you on that continuum? What are you doing today to deepen that relationship? What does your face look like? Does it reflect the Lord; does it radiate from spending time with Him? Is your face changed or do you hide from Him even today. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ex 3:1-6, Ex 33:17-23, Ex 34:33-35

Sunday, August 25, 2019

If Commanded

If Commanded
August 26, 2019
Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

When Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua very clearly. It was made known before Moses died that Joshua would be leading the nation of Israel through to the Promised Land. The day came and it was time for Joshua to lead. The Lord encouraged him. He told him to be strong and full of courage. Why would the Lord encourage Joshua of those things? While Joshua was a strong and fearless leader, he certainly was tempted to shrink back, otherwise the Lord would not have had to encourage him. If Joshua was a robot, He would have programmed him to follow orders without fail. But Joshua was human and likely a huge target for a mental or emotional attack from the enemy. The Lord was the one could encouraged Joshua.

As the Lord was encouraging Joshua, He reminded him would was sending him. He reminded Joshua that the Lord, the God of Heaven, was the one sending him on the noble mission to lead the people through the promised land. The Lord reminded him because He wanted to emphasize the might and direction from the Lord if the Lord was requiring the task. The Lord told Joshua that He was going with him on the journey. The Lord promised He was leading and guiding every step of the way, that he should fear no man and no circumstance. If the Lord is the director, why would anyone question the safety or validity of the mission? Joshua had to rely on that as the days and weeks and months progressed. 

The Lord used a rhetorical question with Joshua; He said, "Have I not commanded you?" It was meant to remind Joshua that the Lord was the one requiring the mission, not a mission made up on Joshua's own terms. It was meant to remind Joshua who the real leader was and instill confidence in following the mandate from the Lord. Joshua had a mandate to lead, and do so with strength and courage because the Lord was in charge. You and I have mandates from the Lord but when the going gets tough we start to move forward in weakness and fear, which eventually leads to quitting. The Lord never intended us to live in weakness or fear, but always with strength and courage. We lack strength and courage sometimes because maybe the task we are in is not from the Lord or maybe we need reassured who was really in charge of the mission in the first place. Th Lord had to ask Joshua who had commanded the mission. Once Joshua could answer that with confidence, then he was able to lead with strength and courage.

How do you answer the question on a daily basis; who has commanded the task and path you are on today? If the Lord has planned the task and path that you are on, then move forward in strength and courage. If you made it up, making your own decisions in life and the path you are following, it makes sense to live in weakness and fear. If commanded, strength and courage are easy, and essential for succeeding. If you are not succeeding, maybe you were not commanded, OR maybe you need reminded to move forward in strength and courage because the Lord is with you.  

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Joshua 1:1-9

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pray to Persevere

Pray to Persevere
August 19, 2019
1 Colossians 1:11  ". . .being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. . ."

Paul wrote to the Colossians regarding a prayer that he had for them and it was a model for us to pray for ourselves, over our own lives. The prayer was progressive in nature, each section of the prayer building upon the previous step rather than a laundry list. The first item of the prayer was needed for the next item of prayer, meaning once the Lord honored the first portion it was then time to move on toward the next portion. The successive items (order specific): filled with the knowledge of His will through the Spirit, bearing good works from the knowledge of that will, be strengthened to persevere in those good works, have patience and endurance to make it to the end, receiving an inheritance along with Christ when it is all said and done. 

If you work it backwards, you don't get the inheritance along with Christ if you weren't patient until the end. You cannot have patience through that unless you've persevered through the hard times of those good works. Your good works are nothing unless they are in direct obedience to the Lord's will not your own. You cannot know what God's will is until the Spirit has revealed it to you through His wisdom and knowledge. It is an admirable prayer and a building-block style prayer for your life. Most Christians, however fall short of that prayer to completion. Their either miss a step or two, or they stall on one of those steps too long. Some people become Christians, and never figure out what the Lord's will is for their lives. Either they never sought the wisdom and knowledge from the Lord or they didn't like where it would lead so they ignored it in its entirety. I know some Christians who are so paranoid in getting His will correct that they never step out and begin executing it, bearing that good fruit. Some people don't like where it will lead so they pretend they never heard the Lord and yet still profess Christianity.

Maybe you got the Lord's will right at the beginning and you're half way into it and its hard, possibly too hard. Maybe now it is time to persevere through that. Paul wrote to the Romans that they needed to pray in their perseverance, because when the going gets tough some want to quit. You cannot have the full inheritance if you've quit halfway through your life. You won't have the full character that Christ requires of you if you stop part way through it all. As humans, no one likes to persevere, because that means times are tough. It isn't perseverance to sit on a beach and stare at the ocean relaxing; that requires no effort. Persevere contains the root word severe, translated as really bad. Paul says that's the epitome of your Christianity, being in the midst of something severe and staying through it when its really bad.

Paul says you're making it as a Christian if you are in the midst of severe and you stay the course. Humans like to avoid the severe because its really bad. This was Paul's whole point, you don't get to avoid the really tough part and fully accomplish the Lord's will for your life. The Lord's will for your life isn't really bad, just that portions of it will feel extreme at times.  Jesus said if we follow Him then we WILL share in His sufferings, that's part of the deal. If you get out of it when it's severe, what does that say about your character? Unfortunately, the only way to fully execute the Lord's will for your life is sticking it out when it's tough. I pray you can persevere, in the midst of the really bad is when you must pray the hardest, not to get rid of the really bad but so you can make it through it all.  The finale to Paul's prayer is gratitude for making it through. We're get there if we persevere.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Rom 5:3-5  1 Col 1-12 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ready While Asleep

Ready While Asleep
August 12, 2019
Revelation 3:3  "If you refuse to wake up, then I will come to you like a thief, and you will have no idea of the hour of my coming."

Jesus told a parable about virgins, ready and waiting for their groom. Some of those fell asleep, when the groom did not arrive when they were hoping. The virgins were tired and fell asleep, some not keeping their candles burning and missed the opportunity they were waiting for their whole lives.  This parable was speaking to those in the church, who were waiting for the Lord's return. Notice in the parable, they were virgins, saving themselves for the wedding. But they fell asleep, having grown tired of waiting. Then the sun went down, they grew sleepy and succumbed to the slumber, as the temptation to sleep was too strong.

This parable is reinforced in the book of Revelation, where Jesus writes a letter to several churches. One of those churches, in Sardis, had a reputation for being alive but had fallen asleep. Jesus said to wake up, which means to repent, otherwise they would miss the opportunity to be taken to Heaven when Christ comes back again. The threat was, and is, wake up and repent or be damned to hell. Like the parable of the virgins, who had waited their whole lives, the opportunity to met Jesus in Heaven can be lost if we are not ready for it. Obviously, the analogy of falling asleep is something we are familiar with; you cannot be ready to go while you are also asleep. In keeping with the analogy in both Matthew and Revelation, falling asleep means falling into sin, otherwise repentance would not have written to and required of Sardis. They were a church that had a reputation for being alive (waiting for the groom as a virgin), but had stopped waiting with excitement for the Lord's return. They weren't living like they should be living and Jesus said they would miss the opportunity that they had waited for their whole lives.

The original disciples were waiting for the Lord's return during their lifetime, fully believing that He would be returning before they died an earthly death. Obviously, 2,000 years later, that has not happened yet, but some of us put it off like it won't happen for another 2,000 years. The disciples eagerly awaited the Lord's return, consequently they did not fall asleep; they kept the faith. We get accustomed to each new day, without the Lord's return, then become complacent. The Bible clearly wants to motivate us in believing He is going to return in our lifetime, any moment. This was, and is, how the Lord intended us to live, even if His return is a few years off still. The only way to be found ready upon His return, is to wait in anticipation, with eagerness, believing it will happen any day now. Otherwise, it is easy to fall asleep. You cannot be ready while you are asleep. Remember, falling asleep is akin to falling into sin. If you are asleep, then you are not ready.

Are you ready for the Lord to comeback today? This question does not ask if you are tired of the earth and want something different, but are you truly ready to meet your maker? Are you ready for Him to show up tonight? When He shows up tonight, what sin is He going to catch you doing? If you are in sin, then you're not really ready. It is a tough journey, to stay watching and waiting all through the night, alert for His return. You cannot have it both ways, being asleep and ready at the same time. You're either ready or you are not; you are either in sin or not.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matthew 25:13, Revelation 3:1-6

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Cannot Run

Cannot Run
August 5, 2019
Romans 11:29  ". . .for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

The story of  Jonah was, and is, one of the most famous stories in the Bible. While it was not a story, as Jesus believed the recount of the fish tale to be true, there is more to be gleaned than most people realize. Recall that the Lord equipped Jonah to be an evangelist and told Jonah to preach salvation to Nineveh.  Jonah refused, flat out denied the Lord's request and ran the opposite direction. He ended up on a boat toward anywhere but Nineveh and the cargo ship he was on encountered a storm. The storm appeared out of nowhere and was so severe the crew on the shipped realized they may not make it. The crew started to throw all their precious cargo overboard, their livelihood in jeopardy if it did not get it delivered. But Jonah knew; he knew the Lord was chasing him. 

That night on the waters, before Jonah ended up in the belly of the fish, he put the lives and livelihood of those men on the boat in danger. Those men ended up losing their cargo intended for delivery and it was Jonah's fault. But the storm got worse and the men did not know what to do. Jonah knew his disobedience was causing the storm, the storm that put his life in danger and those around him. Jonah understood he was bringing the danger to all the men and the ship. He knew that if he stayed on that boat, that all would be lost. He could have been a hero and jumped overboard to save the lives of those on the boat, but he was a coward. He ran from the Lord and endangered all those he encountered. He could have jumped overboard to save the men and the boat, sacrificing himself, to spare those around him from suffering but he was too selfish. Even easier than that, he could have repented right there on that boat and I suspect the Lord would have calmed the storm. The Lord caused the storm on those waters to get Jonah's attention, but Jonah still tried to run from it. 

The men finally threw him overboard and the fish swallowed him up. Jonah was alive in the belly of the fish, realizing he was being digested alive, likely gasping for air at times. Jonah could have repented that moment, upon realizing he was being eaten alive, but he did not. Jonah had to rot in the belly of that fish for three days before he would repent from his disobedience and agree to follow the Lord's direction and request for his life. Jonah realized he could not run from the Lord and if he tried, the Lord was intent on chasing after him. The Lord's call on Jonah's life could not even be stopped by attempted suicide from the boat's deck. Jonah was content to be eaten alive, death was preferred from repentance or obedience. 

But the Lord did not allow Jonah's attempt at death or the disobedience. The Lord was patient with Jonah in the belly of the fish, sustaining Jonah even though Jonah preferred to end it all, similar to Judas after betraying Jesus. Jonah could not shake the Lord's call, it was irrevocable. Your calling, too, is irrevocable. You cannot out run or out last the Lord. He is patient and willing to chase you to the ends of the earth until you are willing to submit. Jonah could have submitted upon being swallowed by the fish, but it took three days for him to finally come around. Jonah could have even repented on the deck of the boat instead of forcing the men to  throw him overboard. The men on the boat lost their payload in the cargo that was thrown overboard; Jonah's disobedience cost those men a lot of money. Your disobedience does not only impact your life, but the lives of those around you. If there is something you know you are supposed to do for the Lord, it is wise to do it right away.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Jonah 1

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Allowances Made

Allowances Made
July 29, 2019
Colossians 3:13  "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Paul was writing to the new churches, one specially to the Colossians. He was encouraging them in how they should be living their lives as transformed and empowered Christians. His list was not a set of commandments, rather a list or encouragements that radically challenged their current lifestyle. Their original lifestyle, similar to many today, was internally focused. He challenged them to not only focus on Christ but to focus on others. He said they (we) are to bear with each other and forgive each other. This is not a new topic for those who have been a Christian any length of time. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. But the first part of Paul's statement was to bear with each other. 

The word used to describe bearing with someone else is only found in another instance in Scripture and the meaning connotes making an allowance for someone else. This allowance is knowingly working with a persons weaknesses and personality faults and making a way for them in your relationship with them. Paul was not suggesting we should put up with someone's abuse but he was saying that people are not going to be perfect and you get to put up with all their personality flaws. We tend to view people with personal weaknesses and personality flaws and then judge their Christianity. If they were a perfect Christian, then they would be overcoming those completely obvious personality flaws. Unfortunately, there is not perfect Christian, and the Lord works on people at a different pace than your or me, sometimes. 

Paul said we are to make room for people's quirks and idiosyncrasies and known weaknesses, because sometimes those weaknesses may never change. Some weaknesses a person has can never be fixed. If someone is not creative or imaginative, and lives in concrete mental boxes sometimes, judging them for not thinking outside the box is not a fair trial. Some people are good at relationships and others are good at math. There is no optimum blend of skill sets and strengths. It would be a flawed request to ask a mathematician to work as a relationship counselor, that is not how the Lord makes people. But the Lord gifted the mathematician just as much as He gifted the elementary school teacher. There is room for both, including all the styles of personalities out there. Paul said we are to make room for the way people are, extra room for grace in working with them because they are not perfect. You are not perfect either, far from it; and people make allowances for you quite often. We tend to think we are the only one giving in a relationship or putting up with another's flaws and weaknesses. The Lord said to get along and pad the room for someone's known shortcomings.

Paul did not say to put up with blatant sin, but he did say to work with someone in spite of their weaknesses. No one is perfect. Jesus, even though He was perfect, did have an unique personality style that may not have meshed with everyone perfectly. His style may not have been easy to digest initially, and working with Jesus was not always easy. People bring their own insecurities and style to the table, and maybe it isn't the other person that needs the allowances. Make allowances for others, so  you can get along with them. Pad the clock to work with their schedule. Pad the grace bank to work with their personality. Pad the level of forgiveness to compensate for their little slip ups. People have to do this for you more often than you realize. Allowances have been made, do likewise.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 103:12, Eph 4:2 & 32, Col 3:13-23

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Remember Me

Remember Me
July 8, 2019
Psalm 106:4  "Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them."

The Lord knows when a sparrow falls from the sky. That is a familiar phrase from Scripture. It was actually Jesus speaking, and comparing our worth as humans to that of a small sparrow. A small sparrow is insignificant, not able to be counted in a flock of birds. You've seen thousands of small birds in the sky, in a giant swarm, almost appearing as a swarm of bees. If one of those small birds is taken out of the count, would you even notice? Jesus said the Lord would notice and in fact if the Lord desires that specific sparrow to stay in the flock, it could not fall. If a sparrow does fall out of that flock of birds, the Lord is more than aware, involved even. Jesus said we are far more valuable than those teeny birds, to the Lord, and He knows about everything that goes on. Not only is the Lord aware of us, but we are valuable to Him.

The Lord knows all, sees all, certainly you. Do you ever think that the Lord has forgotten you? In readying the psalms, the writers are often deeply vulnerable, exposing their feelings and the fullest raw portions of their humanity. In Psalm 106, David was confessing on behalf of the entire nation of Israelites. He asked the Lord to remember them. Specifically, he was repenting of the nation's sins and begging the Lord to remember them when it was time to save everyone. Fast forward to the death of Jesus on the cross, the moment of salvation and there was a sinner on a cross next to Him. The sinner acknowledged and confessed his sin, then asked Jesus to remember him when it was time to save. Neither men, David or the sinner on the cross, needed to use the phrase, "remember me." How could the Lord forget? Both of those men, and all the Children of Israel, were valuable to Him.

When you and I have items of value, we do not forget them. Parents understand this well, a child is not easily forgotten. When I prepare a meal for my children, the middle child does not have to say, "remember me" as I'm setting enough plates for the family or in making sure there is enough food. How could I forget my own son? If I love my son, and he is valuable to me, forgetting is not something I could do. Similarly, the Lord remembers you at all times. But like the psalmist, sometimes we think the Lord has forgotten us. If we fear the Lord has forgotten us, then we have devalued ourselves, perceiving ourselves unworthy of His love. As humans, it is difficult to understand the love of the Father, since we can only love as humans love. But He loves us with a supernatural love that we cannot understand. He does not approve of our sin, but He loves us nonetheless, not able to forget us. Maybe judging by your own sin, you think that has now made you unlovable and must beg the Lord to remember you once again.  He loves you, knowing your sin, and has not forgotten you.  

If you think the Lord no longer remembers you, the correct prayer is not to beg the Lord to remember you, rather remind you of His love for you. The Lord neither forgets us or stops loving us, we simply lose sight of how much He loves us. If you think the Lord has forgotten you, ask Him to remind you how much He loves you. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 138:1-18, Ps 139:2, Job 23:8, Matt 10:29-31, Lk 23:42

Sunday, June 30, 2019

One Day

One Day
July 1, 2019
Zechariah 14:9 "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name."

The Lord is Lord, even if you don't acknowledge it. He is Almighty, Sovereign, and Ruler over all creation. He is either Lord of your life or not, but that does not change the fact that He is still Lord. You can agree or disagree, neither changes His identity. Atheists will one day have to acknowledge that He is Lord. They may choose to deny His existence now, but there will be a time when they not only have to acknowledge His existence but they will also honor Him as Lord. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord. For those of us who understand this, it gives us opportunity to do this now.

There are many religions today, and gods who go by many different names. Those who serve those gods will one day realize an unfortunate truth, that those gods had no name, that those gods were not even real. People spend their lives in service to these gods, only it is for nothing. Those gods cannot save them in the end, and in the end those who serve those gods will not be saved. Those people, however, will still have to acknowledge that the Lord is Lord, that the Lord is the one true God over heaven and earth. We can acknowledge now and later or be forced to only acknowledge it later.  You and I, we chose to acknowledge Him now. We know Him as Lord and Savior, but do we honor Him as Lord of our lives, honoring Him as Lord every moment.

Sure, in the end, we will bow down and acknowledge Him as Lord, and in general, we acknowledge Him as Lord, but what about each and every secret moment. One day we will all honor Him as Lord publicly, the atheist and the Christian alike. But in the secret moments, when no one can see you, do you still acknowledge and honor Him as Lord? When the Lord comes back, making Himself known and destroying the old ways of heaven and earth, it will be the obvious moment to declare Him as Lord. This will be the opportunity to bow before Him in humility, as a Christian, and bow before Him in embarrassment and shame as a previous atheist.

But if the Lord came back at this very moment, as a Christian would He find you honoring Him or would you be embarrassed by your actions in the moment. Consider yourself at your worst moment yesterday, if the Lord had chosen that moment to appear in all His majesty and glory, would He be pleased or would your actions be akin to those of an atheist? One day every knee will bow and tongue confess, but is that one day in the future for you or is one day really and truly everyday? One day is for the atheist, everyday is for the Christian.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Phil 2:9-10, Rom 14:10-13

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It Was Good

It Was Good
June 24, 2019
Genesis 3:6  "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."

Adam and Eve were set up in the Garden of Eden and it was good. The Bible says that all of creation was good, as the Lord was building and designing and creating, and the Lord declared it all as good. He put the man and the woman in the good garden, and placed boundaries around them. The Lord also placed the a tree in the middle, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. No one will ever know why He placed that tree there, a tree that would be tempting to someone along the way. But it did not take long for Adam and Eve to figure out the tree in the middle of the garden, the one that grew forbidden fruit, was good, too. Eve inspected it and decided the fruit was good for something, it was quality food and would open their eyes. No one will ever know what went through her mind just before Eve took the first bite of the fruit, but she reasoned it was good. She reasoned the fruit was good and the experience would be good and it was going to be good thing to do.

It wasn't good, however, eating that forbidden fruit. The sole reason it was not good was because the Lord had told them not to eat it, never to eat it. The fruit was good but the eating of the fruit was not good. The Lord creates everything in our lives, all good things, but it does not mean that everything is permissible or good for us to partake. If the Lord creates a boundary, a limitation, then we need to respect the boundary line as good. Eve did not asses the boundary line as good. She assessed the boundary line as just a line, that was passable if she deemed passing it was good. That's where Adam and Eve went wrong. They assessed that crossing the line was possibly in their interest, best interests even.  Here lies the difference between God and man. God can declare something as good, but man does not possess all knowledge to understand what the Lord understands.

In having a children, the parents set up boundary lines. Maybe a boundary line is as simple as not playing the street. The child may assess the street as a desirable place to ride a bicycle or kick a ball, but the parent is aware of so many more dangers and hazards. Playing in the street may seem good, but it is not. Parents often know far more than children do, but it is the same nature, that Adam and Eve had, to deny the boundary line if crossing the boundary line seems good. Parents don't always have the time to explain to a child why something is not good, nor does a child possess all the understanding required to comprehend why something is not good. This is often true with the Lord. He does not always explain why the boundary line is good and participating is not good, but nonetheless He put the line there not to be crossed.

You and I, we think we know better than the Lord. Eve clearly reasoned she knew better when she decided to eat the fruit. Maybe the fruit was good but maybe the boundary line was good, too; maybe the boundary line was better than the fruit. You have boundaries placed all around you. They are in your marital relationship, or lack thereof, they are in your workplace and finances, they are even in your walk with the Lord. The Lord sets up good boundary lines, as He knows best how to take care of His children. He knows all the reasons why the boundary line is put in place but does not always express to us why it is there. We want to know why the boundary line is there to assess if the Lord is correct, but the Lord wants us to trust Him and follow Him. There is where the rub lies, sometimes. We want to know all that the Lord knows and make our own decision. If you think about it, maybe the Lord is best equipped to make our decisions for us.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 3, Deut 34:12,  Ps 16:6, Jer 5:22, Hos 5:10, Rom 8:28

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Obeying is Sacrifice

Obeying is Sacrifice
June 17, 2019
1 Samuel 15:22  ". . . has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the voice of the Lord. . . ?"

The Lord said that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. This was said after an act of disobedience. The Lord had given Saul clear and concise directions, very specific and direct instructions. Saul disobeyed. Back then, when you sinned, the Lord had made a way for you to make it right. You had to offer a sin offering, basically bringing something of value, usually a live animal, and destroying its value to you.  It cost you something to make it right when you disobeyed. The Lord said it was far better to obey rather than pay the price for the sin. In fact, you could offer a sacrifice to the Lord just because, destroying something of value to you simply in honor to the Lord and yet the Lord said he'd prefer you and me to just obey. The Lord doesn't want you to pay the price for your sin; He wants you to obey.

There are two ways to obey. The first is the easier of the two. If the Lord tells you to NOT do something, then don't do it. If He tells you to not lie, then don't lie. If He you tells you to not murder, then don't murder. It's pretty easy to not murder, at least for most of us. If you violated these few rules, then you would be required to pay the sacrifice for the sin. He said it was better to obey than to offer a sacrifice. The second way to obey is move out and do something that He specifically tells you to do. This requires you to acknowledge His voice and directions, then to step out and take action. It brings honor to the Lord when you step out in obedience to do something for Him. When the Lord told Saul it was better to obey than sacrifice, Saul was clearly hoping to offer a sacrifice in hindsight to make up for his lack of follow through. This did not, and does not honor the Lord. Many people feel guilty for not stepping out in obedience to the Lord's leading in their lives. Many people give and give and give to make up for their disobedience and their feeling of guilt. Even as Christians we feel guilty when we don't do something we know we are supposed to do, so we give something to appease our guilt. The Lord would say to keep your gift. He would prefer the obedience.

I would tell you that to obey the Lord is a sacrifice, however. It requires you and me to lay down our own wants in order to do what the Lord wants us to do. Sometimes the Lord asks a great feat from us, to step out and do something that is bold or scary or even painful. It takes great faith and courage to obey when this type of command is as stake. It takes a great sacrifice sometimes to obey the Lord. Jesus told Peter to lay down his net and follow Him. Following the Lord, obeying him, was a sacrifice for Peter. In my own life, my family has followed a difficult path, one we knew the Lord asked of us, but would be painful and difficult. We could have chosen to disobey, then attempt to appease our guilt by giving to the Lord, but the Lord doesn't want our giving, He wants our obedience. 

You can sacrifice until you are blue in the face, but it does not take the place of obedience. Obedience, however, still requires a sacrifice and if you think obeying the Lord does not bring Him honor then you are playing the part of a fool. The Lord is well aware of the sacrifice involved with obedience and it brings Him great honor and joy and you find favor in His eyes when you do that. The Lord says your life will go well for you when you obey Him, when you step out and do the things He has for you to do. It is better to obey and find favor in the eyes of the Lord than it is to offer a sacrifice to Him that He did not request.  He requests obedience, not the offering you'd like to bring.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Sam 15:1-23, Jer 7:21-23, John 21:15-19, Eph 6:1-4

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lacking One Thing

Lacking One Thing
June 10, 2019
Mark 10:21  "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One think you lack, He said. Go and sell everything yo have and give it to the poor. . . . '"

A rich young man fell at the feet of Jesus and wanted to earn eternal life. He specifically asked Jesus what he had to do. If you are a rich person, chances are there was a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved with attaining the wealth. This man knew there would be a cost and he was essentially asking Jesus what sacrifice would be required to accomplish salvation. At this point, Jesus had not died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, so efforts were still tied to a rule-based system. The rich young man understood a rule-based system quite well; he did follow the 10 Commandments. He likely understood banking and financial systems quite well, too. He was not really asking Jesus how to buy his way into heaven, but we wanted a certificate of deposit, a guarantee.  Jesus did not offer him the guarantee, however, rather looked into his heart and loved him.

Jesus agreed with the man that he had followed all the 10 Commandments since he was a boy, but still lacked one thing. He told the man to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because that was not a price tag the rich young ruler was expecting. The man actually did not understand the requirement from Jesus. It wasn't a price tag, it was a condition of the heart. The man followed the 10 Commandments but not the Lord. The man followed instructions and laws and rules, but not God. The man liked the rule-based system because it was a set of lines he could follow, but the Lord is not a set of lines. Jesus wanted the man to follow him, not a set of lines but that was all that the rich young ruler understood. The man knew how to follow the lines, not how to follow the Lord. It was a relationship the Lord was, and is, after, not a rule book and concrete work/reward system. Following a work/reward system and the follower is working for the reward, not for the individual.

The man couldn't do it. It is possible he never sold all that he had to give it to the poor to follow Jesus. Since his heart was never in following the Lord, rather only the rules, he didn't understand what Jesus was asking. The man did not understand that Jesus wanted to be Lord of that man's life, money or no money. The man was his own master, had great wealth, and yet was lacking. He lacked understanding of who the Lord was, and is, and what it really was all about. The man lacked a relationship with the Lord, the man wasn't even following the Lord; he was following rules. When Jesus looked at the man, the Bible says the Lord loved him. But it never says the man loved the Lord. The man went away sad when the Lord asked him to sell all he had and live for him; obviously the man loved his wealth and only following rules. 

You love something. What is it? Do you love your stability, or your control over your life? Do you love your career or status among friends, maybe your social media followers? The Lord says if you follow Him, you are likely to lose all that you have in this world that is dear to you but the Lord will repay you for it. The man never understood that if he sold all he had and gave it to the poor and followed Him, that He would give it all back to him and then some. But the man didn't trust that rule; the man didn't even know about that rule. The Lord will repay you for all that you sacrifice for Him, only you have to give it up first, truly and willingly give it up. In doing so, you are proving who the Lord of your life is and the Lord promises to repay it in this life or the next. The man was lacking one thing, Jesus as Lord of his life.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Mark 10:17-31