Archive for September, 2010

Keeping It before You

September 30, 2010

My youngest recently received as a gift, his second pet rabbit.  Quickly our family has embraced this rabbit.  But with all animals there are those wonderful challenges.  With a rabbit there is the challenge of  his constant chewing of everything before him.  John’s task is when he allows him to stretch his legs to keep him from chewing on things like, computer cables, lamp cables, and mom’s flowers.  However John has discovered this is not always easy because the rabbit is so fast that he cannot always keep him in front of him.  This is what he needs our help to keep the rabbit in sight at all times.

This morning I found myself thinking deeply about “Keeping the right things in front of me,” as I read I Kings 9-12.  Solomon is on the throne and he is blessed beyond anything we can imagine. Here is how God describes his blessing, “The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones,” 10:27.

However one chapter later we see things starting to fall apart because Solomon could not keep the right things in front of him.  God had told Solomon to follow Him with all of his heart.  He was to keep the Lord every before him.  But in chapter 11 Solomon allowed other things (Women) to turn his heart away from God.  Here is how it happened, “He forsook the Lord his God, and embraced other Gods, and worshiped them and served them,” 9:9.

We look at Solomon’s life and we say, “I would never do this.”  Brothers and sisters, unless we intentionally keep the Lord before us we will turn away.  This must become a daily discipline in our lives of always submitting to Him and daily seeking Him.  Out of this truth I turned to Psalm 16:-17.  “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” 17:15.  Every day we must set our minds (Colossians 3:1-2) on God and we must keep Him before us.

Once I look to the Lord, I must then look into His word.  I found myself turning to I John 3.  As I read this chapter, I leaped with joy as I read Vs:24, “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him , and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

The word of God keeps us connected to God as we hear from Him.  The word of God keeps us clean as it convicts us and cleanses us as we confess our sin.  The word of God keeps us on a clear path and we receive instructions for our every day.

Just like John needing help to keep his rabbit in front of him.  So to do we need the word of God to keep God in focus every day.  I pray he is ever before you!!!

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I Cannot Do It By Myself

September 29, 2010

Recently I watched as my youngest son tried his best to get the lid off of something he wanted to eat.  My offer of help was quickly rejected as John was determined to do it himself.  Finally, in desperation, he flings the jar toward me and says, “Daddy I cannot open this.”  I could see the defeat in his eyes as he handed me the jar.  But moments later his eyes lit up as he tasted the contents of the jar.  His hurt pride was replaced by the joy of an open lid.

“Why is it so hard to admit we cannot do things by ourselves?” The answer is pride.  Our old nature always wants to build up itself and the old nature always wants to feel the pride of self effort.  However, we can never be successful in life on our own.  This was never more clear to me than when I read I Kings 3-8, Psalm 14-15, and Colossians 2.

I Kings 3 opens with Solomon on the throne. Verse 5 teaches us that Solomon is approached by God through a dream.  The Lord asks Solomon, “What shall I give you.”  Solomon’s response is a response I want to give to God every day, Vs: 8-9.  Here is my paraphrase, “Lord I have been asked to lead a great people who are to numerous for me to lead.  I need your wisdom because I cannot do it by myself.”

If you read the rest of the chapter you will discover how pleased God is when we humbly cry out in total dependence on Him. My footnotes lead me to Colossians 2 where Paul writes about Christ, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Later in this chapter Paul would write, “And you are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power,” 2:10.

Brothers and sisters, only when we are surrendered to Christ do we come to a place of maturity in our lives.  Anything else leads to immaturity that is characterized by stress, arrogance, and often blame of others because tasks are not completed.

I want to walk in humble submission to my Lord because frankly I cannot do life by myself.  I cannot lead my family, my church, or anyone to Christ by myself.  I cannot overcome the pride of my flesh and I cannot love people on my own.  I don’t know about you, but I am willing to admit, “I am a mess on my own!”

However in Christ, “I am complete.” But this is a daily assignment of submitting to Christ.  “We must die with Christ from the basic principles of the world,”Col. 2:20.  As we do this we discover that we can do all things because it is Christ who is accomplishing all things in our lives.

Try it His way today and see if the lid will open for you as it did for John.  All for His glory alone!!!

Stress Relief

September 28, 2010

Here is how some people describe their lives, “My day begins with stress, it continues with stress, and it ends in stress.”  I suspect that many who read this blog feel the same way.  The fact is everyone has their days filled with activity.  But it seems as if some people handle it better than others.

Consider King David, II Samuel 22-24, I Kings 1-2.  David is at the end of his earthly journey.  A detailed study of his life reveals a life with activity. His life was filled with up, downs, and many in-between.  However in every activity He came through with great success because of one simple thing.  David had stress relief in his life.  Here is what David said, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress,” I Kings 1:29.

The key to David’s stress relief was in his relationship to God.  God was his redeemer in every way.  God was his redeemer in Salvation,  David could only have a relationship with God because of the Redeemer.  God was his redeemer in his failures.  David often failed but his Redeemer extended mercy each time David confessed his sin. I was reminded of this as I read Psalm 13-14, “But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me,” 13:5-6.

The Redeemer secured David’s relationship with God and the Redeemer kept his fellowship in tact with God. For me this is the only source of stress relief we need as followers of Christ.  When our fellowship is in tact with our Redeemer, He leads us through every stress filled moment for His glory.

As I contemplated this the Lord led me to Ephesians 3.  I challenge you to read the entire chapter.  Here is a simple tasting of the chapter, “Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power,” 3:7.

It is only by His grace that we have a Redeemer and it is only by His grace are we able to be in fellowship with God.  I fail so many times in a day as I allow stress to become the focus instead of keeping the Redeemer in focus. Even in these failures our Redeemer is so kind so bring us to a place of repentance so that our fellowship would remain in tack.

The love my Redeemer has for me, gives me relief in any situation I face.  Here is how Paul describes it, “To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God,” 3:19.  Even reading these words causes me to inhale and exhale in the peace of a Holy Redeemer. I challenge you to discover the height and depths of this our Redeemer!!!

They Go Together

September 27, 2010

In our society it seems there are things that just seem to go together.  For example, “Batman and robin; Peanut butter and chocolate, and apple pie and ice-cream.”  Each of these things go together and have brought success and enjoyment to people in many generations.  However there are somethings that go together that have brought anything but success.  For example, “sin and self” always brings a life that is to be regretted.

This morning I was reminded of things that go together as I read II Samuel 16-20.  These chapters tell the story of David’s exile and return to the throne of Israel.  Chapter 17 stood out to me as David found himself in a state of being weary and discouraged.  The enemy knew what this would do to David and his army, “I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee, I will strike down the king,” 17:2.

The fact is weariness always leads to discouragement unless the weary are encouraged.  Chapter 17 ends with David and his army being encouraged by the kindness of a man by the name of Shobi (17:27).  This man brings food to this army and because of this, chapter 18 begins with, “Then David mustered the men who were with him.”

A I read these words I was reminded of how important it is for us to encourage the discouraged with nourishment that will refresh the soul.  With this fresh on my mind I turned to Psalm 9-11 and was encouraged by the word of God, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Next I turned to Colossians 1 and was reminded of our need to labor for those around us so that they would be encouraged by the spiritual food of the word of God, “teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ,” 1:28.

In this instant I was blessed to realize the best thing a person could possible put together with discouragement is the word of God.  I wonder, “Are you weary and discouraged on this Monday?  If so place the word of God along side of your discouragement and discover how His word can bring the joy you need in your life today.

Even if it just for five minutes pause and read his word.  It’s the very thing that will move you from discouragement to determination.  Try it and see if they really go together.

It Happened

September 24, 2010

Yesterday, when John and I arrived home from his cross-country practice we discovered the door was locked from the garage entrance to our house.  We never lock this door during the day because we enter through the garage.  But for some reason it was locked.  Later Keith and Adam returned and upon investigation here is what I discovered, “No one locked the door, it just happened.”

I made the comment, “It must have locked itself.”  How much is this like our lives when it comes to the decisions we make and the deeds we do?  We live in a world that tries to reason away personal accountability.

Consider our bible reading in II Samuel 11-15, Psalm 7-8, and James 4.  David is established on the throne of Israel as God’s man for this moment.  However chapter 11 shares the tragic story of David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Verse 2 begins as follows, “It happened late one afternoon.”  A loose reading of this text would indicate, from a post modern viewpoint, that this was not David’s fault, it just happened.”

However a true reading of the text indicates that nothing just happens.  One chapter later the prophet of God clearly says to David, “You are the man.”  David was fully responsible for his actions.  James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  David knew this was wrong and he could not say, “It just happened.”

And the fact is, neither can you or I. When we fail, we must confess our failure and we must ask for forgiveness and we must turn and walk in a new direction.  Some people would say, “I don’t like this kind of teaching because it makes me feel worse than I should.”  Brothers and sisters, “Sin is terrible and the truth is, ‘Sin that happen’s without any cleansing will cost more than we want to pay.

Consider what David wrote in Psalm 7:14-15, “Behold the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.”

Do you see the path of “It happened.”  Man says, “It’s okay to think evil.”  Then he says, “It’s okay to toy with evil.”  Then he says, “It’s okay to try evil.”  But what he fails to see, “I am going to get trapped in my evil.”  And finally he will be trampled and tormented forever because of his evil.

The only way to over an it happened lifestyle is to understand that we have a sin nature that must be brought into check by the cross of Jesus Christ.  When we come to the cross we see the awfulness of sin and we need our need to abandon a sinful lifestyle that says, its not my fault.”  The cross gives us the ability to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:6-11).

Why Me?

September 23, 2010

Sometimes people find themselves in adverse circumstances and they ask the question, “Why me?”  For example, “The evangelist, for our revival, was sitting at a lunch table and his waiter decided to spill a full glass of tea in brother Bill’s lap.”  It was a wet, and slightly worrisome moment.  However Brother Bill smiled, laughed, and praised God for even this moment of his life.

What amazes me is that we often really bear down on God with, “Why me,” when things are tough.  But we seem to drift away from God when things are terrific.  When was the last time we came before God, with our blessings in mind and hand, and asked, “Why me?”

This was much on my mind as I read II Samuel 6-10, Psalm 5-6, and Ephesians 1.  II Samuel 6-10 gives us a snapshot of all the blessings in David’s life.  I found myself searching for answers as to why God so blessed David and why has God so blessed me.  Here is what David said, “God who chose me,” 6:20. Here is what God said to David, “My steadfast love will not depart,” 7:15.

The fact is God choose to bless David and God chooses to bless those He wants to bless because He is God.  I found myself, weeping this morning because I do not deserve any of the blessings of God.  The fact is I am sinful, wicked, and not worthy of love in my old nature.  The fact is, I fail God and I often fail to progress in sanctification, but still yet God blesses me with patience, kindness, and an everlasting love that is not based on my life but on His love.

Maybe you are facing some tough moments and you are asking, “Why me.”  Please let me encourage you to move away from that line of thinking and embrace the other side of the equation and begin to ask God, “Why have you blessed me with all I have?”  We have a great an awesome God who has loved us and that love will last forever and we know that all He allows in our life is for our growth in godliness.

For me this brings great peace, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8.  For me this also brings great perspective, “In love, he predestined us for adoption to the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:5.

In this very day I am blessed to be His and I am blessed to be the object of His love.  How could I possibly be sad or discouraged by the tough moments when my very existence is proof of the eternal touch of a Holy God.  Live in His love today as you joyously proclaim, why me!

Getting Stronger

September 22, 2010

Someone once said, “The older I get the better I used to be.”  Certainly those words have merit as we get older.  It seems at 43 that I find myself struggling from time to time to keep up the pace that I did with ease when I was 33.  Certainly, if you are willing to admit it, you can identify.

However, when it comes to my life in Christ, the opposite is to be the case.  The older I become in my walk with Jesus, the stronger I should be.  For example, take the life of David, II Samuel 1-5. Most believe David was a teenager when he received the anointing of God to become King of Israel, I Samuel 16.  However it would 12 years later that the prophecy would be fulfilled.  So for 12 years David went through God’s growing process (Sanctification).

The physical wear and tear from the battle was intense, and David failed from time to time.  But there is something amazing about his life, “He was getting stronger every step of the way!!!”  “And David grew stronger and stronger,” II Samuel 3:1.

How can this be?  Here is a guy who faced constant opposition from without and within, but he was getting stronger.  The answer is found in II Samuel 4:9 “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity.”  It was God who was growing David as he walked in obedience to His commands.

I wonder, “Are we getting stronger or weaker in our faith?”  I found myself asking this question in personal reflection as I turned to Psalm 2-3.  David wrote in Psalm 3, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head,” Psalm 3:3.  David knew that God was the one who made him strong.  On his own he would get weaker and weaker.

I have discovered, in my life, that when I seem to be loosing battles and loosing my spiritual vitality it is because I have been walking in my strength and not in His.  In those moments I have to come back to my source and repent of my sinfulness in trying to live in the flesh and trying to lift up myself.

The key to getting stronger in any situation is to humbly submit to God’s authority and power in your life.  Here is how Paul put it in II Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”  Yes we get stronger in Christ alone for His glory alone.

So, I want to encourage each of you to become stronger in Christ and to become weaker in yourself.  To God be the glory alone.  For we are mighty in Him.

Who Will Go With Me?

September 21, 2010

Recently I was reminded that not everyone likes to go and do the same things.  It was early summer and I received a magazine that listed some of the wonderful attractions in the wonderful state of Kentucky.  There was one in particular that I really wanted to do, but for some reason no one else in the family wanted to go with me.  To be transparent, “It hurt, because in my judgment, I am always going where others in the family want to go, but for some reason they did not want to go where I wanted to go.”

As I reflected on this tragic moment, I came away with the sobering reality that people are often on different pages in their lives.  And no matter how much we say we want to support others, it is hard unless we are on the same page.

This scene in my life came back into focus as I read I Samuel 26.  Actually my devotions covered I Samuel 25-31, Hebrews 13, and Psalm 1.  However I Samuel 26 leaped off the page of God’s written word.

The scene is one we have read before.  David is hiding from King Saul and once again David has the opportunity to take Saul’s life.  The scene is at night and David asks the following, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp,” 26:6. One of his soldiers, Abishai responds, “I will go with you.”

Oh how joyous to hear such words!!! For me there is great joy when you know you are not going it alone and there is even greater joy when someone is on the same page as you are.  However there is a warning here, “David’s friend gives him bad instruction.”  “Let me strike him at once with the spear,right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time,” 26:8.

Brethren, just because someone goes with you and says they are with you does not mean they are sent by God or they are hearing from God.  The child of God must seek those who are first on the same page with God, surrendered to His will.  Psalm 1:1-2, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinner, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he mediates day and night.”

We need friends who have the mind of Christ and are meditating on the word of God.  Such friends will walk with us and give us godly advice in every circumstance.  This is what you need in your relationships, in your work place, and in your secret places.

I thank God that David had a friend, that stuck closer than a brother, I Samuel 26:24, “My life is valuable in the eyes of the Lord.”  Jesus is also the friend of all who surrender their lives totally to Him.  Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

I may never get my family to go with me on the outing, but that has little eternal value.  But thank God they are on the same page with Jesus and because of this they walk with me and together we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Life Filled With Choices

September 20, 2010

It goes without saying, “Our lives are filled will many choices.”  But what needs to be said, “These choices affect many lives.”  This morning I read I Samuel 18-24, Psalm 35,43, and II Corinthians 11-12.

The lead character in these chapters of I Samuel is David.  The writer gives us the narrative of David’s life on the run from Saul.  At one point David makes a statement concerning his choices, “I have caused the death of all the persons of your Father’s house,” 22:22.  David knew that his choices affected so many people around him.

Question, “Do you consider the reaching impact of your choices?”  I find it very revealing that David, when closest to God, sought God’s direction concerning his choices.  For example, “Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “shall I go and attack the Philistines,” 23:1.  When David sought the Lord and obeyed the Lord, his choices had positive implications for those around him.  However when he failed to seek the Lord, his choices were clearly the wrong ones.

Certainly you and I go through many valleys that are very stress-filled and often we make discouraged decisions instead of informed decisions.  In these moments of stress it is crucial that we train ourselves to be disciplined to never make snap decisions but to only make decisions as we seek and hear from the Lord.

Paul models this truth in II Corinthians 11-12.  Certainly his life was filled with extreme valley moments, but in the midst of his hurt he still had a disciplined mind and heart and sought the Lord, “I pleaded with the Lord three times.”  In these moments God with clarity responded, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Brothers and sisters I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to allow God to direct your choices and my choices in life.  Maybe you are saying, “I tried this, but God was and is silent.”  David prayed in Psalm 35, “Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my precious life from the lions.”  It almost seems as if David is saying, “don’t you care?”  But this is not what David is saying at all.  Look at the next verse, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly ; I will praise You among many people,” 35:18.  David knew a sovereign Lord would respond in His way, His time, for His glory.

I can honestly say, “I  am daily faced with choices that affect so many people.”  But I am confident that God has the answer, and He is the answer and I must trust every choice into His hands.  Trust the Lord today with every decision of your life.  This is the only choice that will bring success in every choice you make.

Just Obey

September 17, 2010

The title of our study today seems harsh.  But by the time we are finished you will see the love in our study.  I Samuel 13-18 gives us a story of two lives in contrast.  One is the story of a man chosen to be King who at moments does great things, but he has one deep-seated abiding problem, “He wants to do things his way and for his glory.”  The second man has also been chosen to be king who also at moments does great things, but there is something very different about this man, “He wants to do things because he loves the Lord.”

Who are these two guys?  The first guy is King Saul and the second is the shepherd boy David.  Both men are sinners and both men have problem’s but what sets one apart is his love for obeying God.  The first man consistently obeyed when it was convient and he preferred to make a big show of sacrifice when in truth his heart was focused on self.

Here is what Samuel said to Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams,” 15:22.

Saul was willing to sacrifice for the moment but not willing to serve from the heart.  However David was just the opposite, “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after his own heart,” 13:14.  David would be this man.  David would become a king that would obey the Lord and find great success.

Question, “Are we know for our obedience or our sacrifice?”  This question goes to the heart of approach to our Christian lives.”  As I pondered this question, I turned to John 15 and was reminded that I obey God because I love Him.  I also read I Corinthians 13 and was reminded of the place love was to occupy in my walk with Christ.

I am afraid I often sacrifice things God never asks me to sacrifice.  This could be for many reasons including; “Tradition, religious beliefs, pressure from others, or self uplifting.”  My prayer is that each of us would gain a heart that desires, “To Just Obey.”

Here is a way to accomplish this: “I am to obey the Lord consistently day in and day out.”  This happens as I love the Lord (Matthew 23:37-38).  This happens as I listen to the Lord (I Samuel 13:22).  This happens as I live for the Lord (I Corinthians 15:31).

I leave you with the words of Jesus, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you,” John 15:14.