Archive for August, 2010

Trust In The Lord

August 31, 2010

When tough times come into our lives there always seems to be someone who says to us, “Trust in the Lord.”  Question, “Does this lift your spirits or does this simply lead to more questions?”  This morning I found myself reading through different emails of prayer requests.  Each of these requests were sincere and very serious.  Each of these request will require different miracles.

I also found myself scanning the headlines on Fox News and again I was gripped by all the sorrow and tragedy in our world.  Again it will take many miracles to bring peace and purity to lives that are struggling and in most cases filled with Sin.

So what is the answer to struggles and what is the answer for the sin problem of humanity?  Here it is, “Trust in the Lord.”  This morning’s devotion covered the book of James and Proverbs 16.  Here is a verse that leaped off the page for me, “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”

As I read those words I was reminded how our Lord is the answer to every struggle we have in this life.  I also realized that solving our struggles will not bring the peace we are looking for.  The fact is the writer of proverbs said nothing about happiness being in the solving of struggles.  Happiness comes as a person trusts in the Lord.  This speaks clearly to the peace and perspective that comes to a person who has repented of their sins, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, and is walking in fellowship with the Lord.  Such a person understand’s the purpose of their struggles and they have the power to walk through every valley and on every mountaintop because they are trusting in the Lord.

The entire book of James teaches us to walk by faith in every circumstance.  One of my favorite verses is James 1:22, But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  Trusting in the world means to walk in faith trusting that he knows what He is doing and He is going to make each of us stronger in our walk and stronger in our witness for His glory.

I am praying for you as you pray for me to trust in the Lord.  Here are the words of the Psalmist, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me,” 50:15.

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What Are You Doing Today?

August 30, 2010

Each morning I have the honor of being able to share with Sherry, “My daily schedule.”  She often will ask, “What are you doing today.”  I wish I could report that I always answer her with joy and excitement, but the truth is some days I am not excited about the day.  At other times I really don’t know what to say because I don’t know for sure what I am going to do and there are those rare moments when I have not prepared for my day.

As I read Exodus 16-20 and Proverbs 15, I became aware of Israel’s and my failure in living out my day as I should.  Exodus 19 begins with the following commentary, “In the third mont after the Children Of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt.”  Oh how quickly time goes by.

Just a few chapters earlier they were crossing the Red Sea and now they were three months in.  Chapters 16-18 give us illustrations of their lives in these three months. Sadly the most of the time was spent in selfish pursuits that were characterized by complaints and failure to be thankful for what God was doing in their lives.

As I read those chapters I saw so much of myself.  Oh how often I focus only on me and how often I fail to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The truth is, “I am to live my life totally for the Glory of the Lord.”

In chapter 20, God leads Israel to the foot of Mount Sinai.  It would be here that God would give Israel the Ten Commandments.  God would begin His conversation with Israel by declaring, “I am the Lord your God.”  For me the question is simply, “Is He Lord of every part of your life?”

When the Lord is Lord you want every part of your day to be His.  You want every thought and every action to glorify Christ.  If this is going to happen for Israel she would need to know how to accomplish this.   So God gave Israel 10 commandments that if followed would give them success in giving glory to the Lord in everything.

If Israel would follow His commandments she would be successful in everything she did.  Brothers and sisters I want to be successful in giving glory to God and I want you to be successful in giving Glory to God.  How do we accomplish this task?  Daily we must spend time in His word and daily we must spend time on our knees discovering how we are to live out our days for His glory.

One of the passages that so helps me to accomplish this is Colossians 3.  I encourage you to read and heed its words.  “Set your mind on things above and not on things of this earth.”

For His Glory

August 27, 2010

This morning I arose with a multitude of things on my mind and heart.  As I approached the word of God, Exodus 11-15, Proverbs 13, it seemed as if I were reading but I wasn’t reading.  I felt the pressure of many things, “Not enough hours to accomplish all that I think I need to do, trying to be ready to visit hospital early and still spend the day with John because it is his ninth birthday.”

As all of these things swirled around my mind, suddenly I was cut to the heart by the word of God.  I was reminded that every second of my life is to be lived for the glory of the Lord (I Corinthians 10:31).  Suddenly the pressure left and the precious truth of God came into focus.

I realized this must have been the way it was with Israel.  God was bringing them out with a mighty hand from Egypt.  God leads them to the Red Sea and suddenly Pharaoh shows up.  Immediately a nation turns from peace to panic.  The people of God begin to complain as we often do when we are living for something other than the glory of the Lord.

God spoke through Moses, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today.The lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace,” Exodus 14:13-14.  In this moment the precious words of the Lord flowed in and over His people.  Notice what God now says, “Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”   They did and something wonderful happened.

Here is what happened, “And I indeed with harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them.  So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horseman,” Exodus 14:17.  God is placing Israel in a tough situation to gain honor for Himself.  They would be delivered and they would delight in His name and the world would be forced to see the Glory of the Lord.

This gave me all the perspective I needed this morning, because all of my day is for His glory and I need to patiently, peacefully, and purposefully enjoy every moment of the day for His glory.   This is going to be a good day because He will receive Glory.

Around and Around!

August 26, 2010

This morning, God gave me a great laugh at the expense of my wife and youngest son.  A couple of days ago, John was given a early birthday gift from a wonderful person in our church.  The gift was a new rabbit.  This morning, John brought him down in a basket to keep while he went to the gym.  He decided to allow it to run a little before he left.  The fun came as I watched Sherry and John chase this lively rabbit around trying to catch him.  Sherry would get so close and it would seem as if he wanted her to pick him up but it was off to the races again.

As I read Exodus 5-10, Proverbs 12, it seemed as if Pharaoh wanted to repent from time to time.  For example, after the seventh plague Pharaoh said, “I have sinned this time.  The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Pray to the Lord,for it is enough, I will let you go,” Exodus 9:27-28.  But you and I know that he did not.  So it was around and around again,

“And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet even more,” Exodus 9:34.  The fact is Pharaoh wanted a reprieve instead of repentance.  He was willing to speak empty words but he was not willing to surrender his life to God.

Much in the same way, we often say to God, “I will follow you,” when in reality we are saying, “let me out of this tough moment so I can go back to doing what I want to do.”  So God says to us, “Keep going around and around.”

Question, do you find yourself struggling with the same things that you have been struggling with for years?  If so, could it be that you have really not surrendered everything into the hand of God.  I think about Moses, He was a great man of God but he always struggled with his temper and eventually it cost him a trip into the promised land.

Allow me to encourage you to get off the around and around ride and get on the ride called, “discipline.”  Proverbs 12:24, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”  We must discipline ourselves to genuinely every day surrender ourselves to the Lord (II Corinthians 10:5).

When we do, our lives will be productive as we walk with God.  Well, I see that the rabbit has decided to not be submissive, he has jumped out of his basket.  So it’s around and around we go.  I pray your day is filled with disciplined progress in your walk with Christ.

When Circumstances Change

August 25, 2010

Question, “do you enjoy life when circumstances change?’  For example, “Would you like to be driving down the highway and suddenly as you push your brake pedal, “circumstances change.”  The pedal that had worked so many thousands of times now goes all the way to the floor.  At this moment what you trusted in has now betrayed you.

Imagine, trusting in a person to always be there for you, but now in a tough moment, circumstances change.  You find a note that says, “I did not sign up for this.”

The fact is, “Life is a series of events where circumstances are constantly changing.”  This was true for God’s people as we move from Genesis to Exodus in our devotions.  In particular Exodus 1-4, Proverbs 10-11.  Here is God’s commentary about circumstances changing, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph,” Exodus 1:8.

The fact is God’s people had experienced great blessing and prosperity in Egypt.  They grew, had great wealth, and were treated kindly.  But now the circumstances changed, 1:8-11.  At this moment I thought about how I would have responded to the change in circumstances.

Would I have complained, would I have given up, or would I have gone into deep depression?  Often I encounter people who’s lives are in disarray because, in their opinion, “Circumstances changed.”  It’s as if, everything must line up for them to remain in a state of happiness.

But notice what the word says, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew,” 1:12.  Amazing isn’t it, circumstances changed but they still progressed.  I must ask the question, “how did they do this?”

Here is the answer, “They served a God who was sovereignly in charge of circumstances and these circumstances were ordained by God to increase their faith.”  God had promised Abraham that he would bring his people to the promised land.  If things stayed the way they were, the people would not want to leave Egypt.  They would be satisfied to settle for okay things and miss the best things.

“In the process of time the King of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned and cried out to God,” 2:23.  Now that circumstances had changed they realized only God was their source and their course!!!

Are your circumstances changing?  If so, call out to God in submission to what He is doing.  Make sure you understand, as I told my college girl this morning, “The harder it is, the more God is going to grow you.”  Trust this, “And count it all joy, James 1:2.

I Can’t?

August 24, 2010

Yesterday evening I had the honor of taking my youngest son to cross-country practice.  Little did I know, all that would be required to do this.  I knew that parents could run with their children, so I wore the appropriate clothing.  However I did not know how much running they were going to do.  Needless to say, a workout at the gym is entirely different from a raw gut-wrenching run on the track and field.

I was so proud of John because he would not give in, even though his body kept saying, “I can’t.”  I wish his daddy could say the same :).

As I opened the word of God to Genesis 41-50, Proverbs 9, I knew I was going to finish the story of Joseph’s life and then read about wisdom for those who were willing to be trained.  But I did not know what God was going to directly speak to me about.

Brethren it is crucial that we approach God’s word with the attitude of, “Speak to me Lord,  Search my heart and lead me in the way of righteousness,”  Psalm 139:23-24.  As I read the words of Joseph to Pharaoh cut to the heart, “It is not in me.  God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” 41:16.

As I read those words God reminded me that when it comes to my life, I am to live my life in submission to His will and to His working in my life.  Joseph knew that God had a plan for His life and He knew that He was standing before Pharaoh because God wanted him there and he did not pretend that he had any ability on his own.

But he wasn’t standing there as a wimp, a quitter, or someone who had zero confidence.  He was standing there as one who was trusting totally in His God.  He was confidently saying, “I can’t but He can.”  This is how we are to live our lives as believers.

In cross-country, John’s coach teaches, “when you feel tired you must kick it up a notch and push on through.”  In life, our Coach Jesus teaches, “We can do all things through Him.”

So if there is something you can’t do and you know God want’s you to do it, let me encourage you to investigate the why you can’t.  Is it that you are trying in your strength? Could it be that you are trying for your glory?

If you answered yes to either or both of these questions you have your answer as to why you can’t.  However if we will submit to His will and to doing everything for His glory we will discover we can because the power will not be of us, but of God.

I Joh 4:4, “Greater is He that is in us than He who is in the world.”

You Go First

August 23, 2010

Imagine the scene, you are in rush hour traffic.  You are trying to get to where you have to be for a meeting.  The traffic is moving slowly and you are getting close to the traffic light, that once through you will be able to make it to your meeting on time.  Suddenly you spot a car on the side street trying to enter the traffic.  What comes to mind?  Do you think, I hope they don’t try to cut me off and cause me to be late or I hope no one else let’s them in because if they do, you will get caught by the light one more time?  Or do you think about them?

Certainly this scene is one that you and I deal with almost daily.  The way we handle life in pressure situations is an indicator of what is in the heart.  Consider this, “The way we look at life is driven by one of two forces, either our old nature, or our new nature.”

This morning, I left the book of Genesis 38-42, the life of Joseph, and turned to the book of Philippians.  As I read through those four chapters, I was focused on Paul’s teaching concerning putting others first.  Here is what Paul wrote in 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in all lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others.”

As I read these verses, I clearly could see the struggle in my own life with the person on the side street.  If my old nature was in charge,all I was thinking about was me and my needs and my wishes.  But my new nature was striving to get me to look beyond myself and into the needs of others.

So I came to this conclusion, I must put to death the old nature and walk in the new nature.  I must say in every circumstance, “You go first.”  The hardest part is not in the saying and in the doing of this.  The hardest part is in understanding why I should do this.”

In the new nature, we are able to pause and look at circumstances through the eyes of Christ.  Suddenly you look at the person driving the car and you see it is a young mother who is trying to get three kids to school.  You don’t know it but she is a single mother who is at the end of her rope.  Everything seems to be against her and she pulls up to the traffic and her life is miserable.

Your new nature teaches you that all will know that you are a Christian by your love  Suddenly you slow down and with a God sized glow on your face, you motion for her to pull out.  She is in shock and as she pulls out, her sorrow is turned into joy as she realizes God does care!!!

This only happens as we have the mind of Christ, Phil 2:5.  Oh how I pray that you and I have this mindset today in Jesus name.

Sweet Compromise

August 20, 2010

The title of our blog this morning will most certainly raise some eyebrows.  When I think about my relationship with Sherry these eighteen plus years, I think about the many times we have come to a place of sweet compromise.  I have discovered it is okay to compromise when it comes to different opinions such as how does the toilet paper roll come off, either from the top or bottom. 🙂

However there are things that a person cannot compromise.  For example, as a follower of Christ one cannot compromise what God says in His word.  Those who do discover that compromise may seem sweet in the beginning but its fruit will be sour in the end.

Daily you and I will be tempted to compromise in every area of life.  It happened to Jacob and his family in Genesis 34.  His daughter was violated by a man and then the man wanted to marry her, Genesis 34.  He offered to pay any amount of money for her.  He offered property to Jacob.  However there was one slight problem, “God had told them not to marry foreigners.”  Would they compromise or would they cling to God’s word?  Check out the results in Genesis 34.

As I continued reading chapters 35-40 of Genesis I saw a pattern of compromise time and time again in Jacob’s family.  However there was one who did not.  His name is Joseph.  His story is one of deep conviction that cost him but truly his life would become sweet in the end.

Question, “what decisions are you facing this morning?”  Are you thinking about coming to a place of sweet compromise?  If so, be careful that you find your answer in God’s word.  As I read Proverbs 7, I was reminded that “I am to treasure God’s commands and I am to keep them so I might live,” Proverbs 7:1.

In this chapter we see a young man who chooses to look away from the word and falls prey to a crafty harlot.  It seemed sweet in the moment but in the end, “It cast an arrow in his liver.  As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost him his life,” Proverbs 7:23.

The only sure way to know when to compromise or when to stand firm is to know God’s word.  “Keep my commandments and live, and my law as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart,” Proverbs 7:2-3.

Jacob Or Jesus?

August 19, 2010

Certainly most of you have heard or read about the tragedy in S.C. involving a young mother who killed her two small children and then strapped them into the back seat of her car and drove the car into the river hoping that people would think they just drowned.  The mother finally confessed to her actions, but placed all the blame on her mother for saying, “She was an unfit mother.”

Question, “whose fault was this?”  Was it her mother, her environment, or was it her fault?

This morning I read Genesis 26-33. In these chapters we have what I call, “The Life and Times of Jacob.”  There is so much in these chapters that we could take a month’s worth of blog’s to write about.  However for our time I want to concentrate on two things.  His life as a picture of humanity and one encounter as a picture of heaven.

Jacob’s life was filled with both dysfunction and deceit.  His mother and father showed favoritism.  One for him and the other for his brother. This caused great dysfunction that would carry on throughout Jacob’s life and into the lives of his own family.  In his life we see how not to raise a family.

Jacob also had an encounter that forever is a picture of heaven and how we can have heaven.  Jacob has a dream about a ladder that extends from heaven to earth and angels are going back and forth on the ladder. Here we find a man who was not following God but would meet the Lord and would begin to follow the Lord, “Surely the Lord was in this place and I did not know it,” 28:16.

At this moment Jacob’s life would begin to change but he would for the next 20 years live through the devastating results of dysfunction.  Now here is the deal, 20 years later Jacob would return home.  On the way he would have an encounter with God that would forever alter his life (Genesis 32).  But even then Jacob was not perfect.

However the scene in Genesis 28 stands as a high water mark for Jacob.  Adrian Rogers writes, “This scene is a picture of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus was having a conversation with Nathaniel in John 1:51, “Behold and Israelite in whom is no Jacob.”  The fact is all of us have dysfunction and deceit somewhere in our lives.  We are sinners.

But the question is, “Have we had and encounter with Jesus?”  He is the ladder by which a person gets to heaven.  He is the ladder by which a person is above to raise a family, live Godly in an ungodly world, and stand up against the onslaught of the enemy.

Imagine if this mother in S.C. would have known or was following Jesus?  She would not have taken the Jacob road of dysfunction and deceit by taking her children’s lives.  She would have placed everything in Jesus hands and walked through this valley.

I plead with each who read this today to follow Jesus and not Jacob!!! Please do not think Jacob is not in you because we all have the old nature.  Follow only Christ and Him alone!!!

Did We Do Enough?

August 18, 2010

There are many instances in life when a person wonders, “Did I do enough?”  For example, “I remember when a very good friend took his own life.  I thought did I do enough.”

This question was much on my mind as I awakened at 4:30 this morning.  Today we deliver our baby girl into the hands of Liberty University.  I approached the word of God with this very heavy on my heart.

Just like God, He had the very answers I needed.  In His sovereignty, My Bible reading began in Genesis 24 where Abraham instructs his servant concerning finding a wife for his son Isaac.

As I read this awesome story I was reminded, “Abraham was simply doing what God told him to do.”  “The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my Father’s house and from the land of my Family, spoke to me and told me…” 24:7.  By the end of the chapter we discover Abraham did do enough because Isaac was blessed with God’s choice of a wife.

Certainly, at best, parenting is a tough assignment.  You begin with the trauma of child-birth and then the reality that a child is in your care.  It seems only yesterday when God blessed our lives with the most beautiful girl (Beth).  I can still remember holding her in my hands.  Oh how quickly the time came and went.  I remember her first steps as she took three from her mother to me.  I still remember her first words, “Momma.”  I still remember how she wanted daddy to play Barbie’s evening after evening.  I remember how she hated bows and would rather play outside than to do girly things.  I still remember the moment when God opened her heart and she saw her need of a Savior.  I can still see the joy on her face when she received Christ on my lap at our kitchen table when she was six.

Through the years I watched her grow in grace and struggle with sanctification.  I thought this past Sunday, “she has heard her dad preach at least 100 times per year for 17 years.” But this past Sunday was the last for a while.  Now she is going to a new place following the call of the Lord on her life to become a medical missionary.

Did we do enough?  The answer is yes, if we pointed her to Jesus along the way.  I also read Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way they should go and they will not depart from it.”  I also read I Timothy 3 and II Timothy 1-2, where Paul called Timothy a son in the faith.

I praise God that my daughter has discovered that Jesus is her all in all. I praise God that Beth is the second generation to follow the Lord to Liberty to be trained in ministry.

Many who read this are just beginning the parenting journey.  I offer you this simply advise, “Walk obediently before the Lord and daily surrender your will to His and daily bring your children before the Lord and trust and obey His every directive.” It will be enough!!!