Archive for February, 2011

A Time Of Indifference

February 28, 2011

Do you every find yourself so engaged with your day that you seem to just zone out the world around you?  I find in my life that it is a constant battle to stay focused on “Gods Big Picture.”  We live in a world that is in cardiac arrest.

If you do not believe me, take some time this morning and read the headlines from any major news network.  Every morning I force myself to read the headlines and every morning I find myself shocked at what I read.  Some would say, “It is easy to become indifferent after reading day after day.”

This certainly can be true, if one does not keep “God’s big picture” in mind.  However if one is daily in God’s word he or she will not be indifferent but engaged with all that they see.  For example, consider the book of Zephaniah.  The prophet of God proclaims the coming day of God’s judgment, “Be silent before the Lord God!  For the day of the Lord is near,” 1:7. The signs of the times were all around Israel but the people chose to be indifferent, “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, the Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill,” 1:12.

Before us is a people who are totally indifferent to all that is happening around them. God’s judgment was coming quickly and the prophet of God could hear the hoof beats of judgment pounding ever so loudly, “The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter,” 1:14. But the people did not hear.

How do we know they did not hear?  “Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them,” 1:13. These people were trying to go on with life as usual refusing to accept all that was coming.  I find such a parallel in our nation today.  People who refuse to see all that is happening around them.

Someone said, “As long as it doesn’t affect me, I will not get involved.”  Herein lies the problem with people of indifference.  They are only focused on their lives and their blessings.

Only those who lives have been touched by Christ understand the selfishness that lies within each of us.  Only in Christ will anyone seek to actively help those around them.  This very day my heart break’s for the lostness in our world.

I find myself asking, “God what can I do?”  Here was God’s answer to my cry,”Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility,” 2:2-3.

Dear Lord, “May you cleanse me of all of my selfishness as well as my failure to be engaged with your kingdom purpose.  Father, may my every thought be to fulfill your purposes on this earth.  I plead with you to keep me from looking away from your will.  Lord, I would be lost without your mercy and grace.  I am so thankful that my future is secure in Christ. Please grant me the strength and wisdom to share your mercy and grace with a world that is indifferent.  Open blind eyes that they may see your kingdom purpose today.”

 

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A Question That Begs An Answer

February 25, 2011

There are moments when my nine-year old becomes very inquisitive.  Actually there are many moments when this happens.  It usually begins with his literal thought process which is followed by a long list of questions in which he is trying to figure out what he either just heard or what he just saw.

Much in the same way, I find myself looking at the world we live in and I find myself with many questions.  However one stands above everyone else, “Lord, what are you doing in all of mess in our world today?”  This is truly a question that begs an answer!!!

Much in the same way the Prophet Habakkuk was asking this same question.  God’s people were facing oppression from a crumbling Assyrian empire and an even worse enemy, Babylon, stood on the horizon.  Habakkuk wanted to know what God was doing about the mess in the world, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong,” 1:3. The prophet of God knew of God’s goodness and His absolute sovereignty over the world.  But he could not reconcile in his mind what God was doing.  Here is the depth of his question, “Why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up,” 1:13.

This is a question that begs an answer. I am sure many who read this ask, “God why are you allowing tragedy in my life?”  God answers Habakkuk in chapter two, “I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if I told you,” 2:5. The fact is God was using this wicked nation to carry out His judgment on Israel.

At the end of the day, the prophet would have to decide, “Do I trust God in His dealings in this life?”  Here me clearly, “There will be moments when you will not understand the why of your circumstances.”  But in these moment, have faith that God understands the why!!!

God will reveal to you the why in His time, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay,” 2:3. God’s answer is on the way.  The question that really begs and answer is this, “Will you walk in righteous faith while you wait?” “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright in him, but the righteous shall live by his faith,” 2:4.

God’s people walk in faith by responding with trust instead of temper tantrums. They walk by faith in waiting instead of worry.  They walk by faith by watching instead of wondering.

The Apostle Paul would quote this very verse as he shared about the power of the gospel in Romans 1:16-17.  Our faith in life and in eternity is riveted in Christ and not in our circumstances.  When this faith is evident we will have joy in all of life circumstances.  This was so clear in the prophets life, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take my joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength,” 3:18.

May this be your resolve in all you face this weekend!!!

 

Where Can I Find Some Good News?

February 24, 2011

I click the remote time after time and it is all the same, “Bad news on every news channel.”  It is not only our national networks that broadcast bad news, it is also on our local news networks.  It seems that we are in the time spoken of by Jesus, “for nation will be against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines; These are but the beginning of the birth pangs,” Mark 13:8. The nations of our world are in a time of upheaval that seems to have the undercurrent of Satan’s direction.

However be assured our God governs the affairs of this life.  This was so clear to me as I read the prophetic book of Nahum.  The prophet of God is proclaiming the coming judgment on the wicked city of Nineveh.  This was the city that had repented earlier during the time of Jonah but now they had returned to their old ways and God was sending judgment on the people.

The news was heartbreaking.  God in His goodness, “Was slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty,” 1:3. These people trampled on the goodness of God all the while choosing to align themselves with a depraved lifestyle.  Now it was payday.  “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.  But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries,” 1:8.

Many of the nations in our world today stand at the same place as did Nineveh.  As followers of Christ we wonder where is the good news for us?  We wonder, could this be the time of Tribulation spoken of in the book of Revelation?

Here is the good news, even though I don’t know if this is ushering in the Tribulation period. I do know there is good news in all of this.  “behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!” 1:15.

The good news is that Jesus will come again and He will establish peace on the earth. In this world you will always have bad news, but there is always good news.  This good news is contained in Jesus.

Beloved I want to encourage you to look to Jesus in every circumstance of your life.  He is the good news you need today.  You do not have to have good news from a business deal to be happy.  You do not have to have good news from work to be happy.  You do not have to have good news at home to be happy.  At best these things bring only temporary happiness. True happiness is found in the good news that we have peace with God and the peace of God that is a guarantee of eternity in heaven.  By the way, “there will never be any bad news when we get there.”  Praise be to His holy name today.

What Is God Thinking?

February 23, 2011

Have you ever wondered, “God, what is God thinking.”  Certainly I have wondered this many times in my life. I thought this just yesterday as Brother Troy and I drove around the parking garage at the Kosair Children’s hospital parking lot for 30 minutes.  Certainly I knew God had a purpose and both Troy and I wondered what does God want for us in this.

In a much more intense way, I thought yesterday, “God what are you thinking in allowing the four Americans, two of which were committed to distributing the bible throughout the world, to be killed by pirates off the coast of Kenya”  I know God has a purpose and I know I must trust that purpose.

This morning I was blessed to read the book of Micah.  This prophetic book is packed with the love of God for a rebellious people.  Even though God judges His people.  He promises the coming of the “Prince of Peace.” “From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days,” 5:2. Our Lord and Savior would come and bring peace to a troubled world.

However one chapter earlier the prophet of God proclaimed the blindness of the people who would carry out God’s judgment on His people, “But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan,” 4:12. These nations thought they were in charge but the fact is, they were just a pawn in the hand of God.  God has a purpose in everything.

Our’s is not to question His plan. Our’s is to discover the purpose in His plan.  For me this boils down to a matter of trust.  Do I trust the plan’s of God?  Do I trust what He is thinking?  Those who have followed God have discovered a life principle that gives them confidence in every circumstance of life.  Here is the life principle, “God is Good. He knows what He is doing and He is worthy of our trust.” The previous principle comes from James Macdonald’s book, “Always true.”

Brethren it is always true that God is good. “I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” Psalm 27:13. The more we see God’s heart the more we can trust His hand.

The prophet Micah saw the goodness of the Lord.  His goodness was and is so great that the prophet wrote, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance ,” 7:18.

Oh how I pray that you and I trust in what He is thinking, even when it seems that things are upside down.  In the end our Lord knows what He is doing.  Be assured it will work out for your good and His glory.

What Will You Do?

February 22, 2011

The choice is yours, “what will you do?”  The answer is easy if you are trying to choose between two of your favorite pies.  You just choose to have a piece of each, typical answer from a Baptist preacher.

However some choices are not so easy.  For example, “Which job do you take or do you buy a new car or a used one.”  In our lives we face many choices, some take little thought and others take a lot of thought.

However when it comes to God’s call on our lives, the choices we make has eternal consequences.  Consider the choice before Jonah in the book of Jonah.  “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, arise and go…” 1:1. The book of Jonah teaches us about the of our God for even the worst of sinners.  God instructs Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and declare a message, “Unless they repent, in forty days, God will destroy their land.”

There is only one problem in this book, “God’s man did not love all people as God did.” I don’t know about you, but I see myself far to well in this book.  Just like Jonah there are times when presented with the choice of reaching out to people, I have chosen not to.

Imagine how embarrassed Jonah was when the storm came and the captain of the vessel Jonah was on came and said, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise and call out to your God!” 1:6. Imagine how embarrassed the church in America is going to be when we stand before the Lord?  For many of us we have chosen to focus on building a monument to self instead of focusing on building the Kingdom of God.

Brothers and sisters, I plead with you to be obedient to God’s call to go and spread His word to the nations.  I weep this morning with the people of New Zealand for their dead after the earthquake that hit their nation.  I weep with the people in Africa who have lost 4,000 children today to disease and another 1,200 to preventable causes.  I weep for the darkness of sin in the Middle East.  I groan for the coldness of religion in Europe.  And most of all I weep for the darkness in our own land.

Brothers and sisters we cannot afford to be disobedient any longer to the gospel’s call to the nations.  I encourage you to read Matthew 5 this morning and I also encourage you to get involved in God’s work this day. “What will you do?”

Imposing Your Will

February 21, 2011

A teenager was being overcome by his selfish pride when he made the following bold statement, “I am going to do what I want to do and there isn’t anything you can do about it.”  Little did this teenager realize but just the opposite was true.  His parents removed his cell phone, car keys, and every other privilege he had.  Suddenly this 16-year-old realized he could not impose his will because there were those who had more authority than he did.

Locked away in the Old Testament is the little book of Obadiah.  This book is addressed to the people of Edom.  These people were the direct descendants of Esau, who was the twin brother of Jacob, Genesis 25:29-34.  The nation had prospered in standing with other nations in seeing the fall of Judah.

Obadiah’s prophecy in this one chapter is a powerful reminder that humanity can never impose its will over our Sovereign Lord. “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised.  The pride of your heart has deceived you, you will live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, ‘who will bring me down to the ground,'” 1:4-5.

As I read this prophecy, I felt deep conviction in my own heart.  How often do I just assume my days will go the way I have planned them.  How often do I just pray,” Lord I want to do the following today…” In those moment’s I think I am seeking His will when I could be imposing my will.

The people of Edom had aligned with nations that brought false peace.  They thought no one could ever overcome them, But they were to soon find out that God was stronger than they were. “For the day of the Lord is near upon the nations,” 1:15.

Question, “Are you trying to impose your will upon God?”  Maybe it is not as drastic as saying, “I will do what I want to do.” But it could be every so slow and every so subtile that you think God is not watching.  Be assured any movement away from God’s will is clearly seen in heaven.  Be assured you and I will not be able to accomplish our will.

The only sure way of success is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who rebuked Satan when He began His earthly ministry, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve,” Matthew 4:10.

Dear Lord, “I submit my will to your will today.  This new life I have in Christ demands my all.  I will only worship you today and I will only submit to your will today.  Please grant me the power to overcome my old life that fights hard and tries to overcome your will.  Thank you for your will and thank you for the Holy Spirit that empowers us to dethrone our will and enthrone Your will.”

Just Get It Over With

February 18, 2011

There are things in life that we really wish would just get over.  For instance, when you must have a shot, you might say to the nurse, “Just get it over with.”  Or maybe when you have failed and now it’s time for payday, you think, “I just wish they would get it over with.”

This morning I completed the book of Amos, chapters 6-9.  The surety of God’s judgment was clear.  But the length of God’s judgement was not so clear.  The people would experience many years, 70, of judgment.

One might ask, “What happened to God’s people?”  A closer look at chapter eight reveals God’s indictment in three areas; “social injustice, economic dishonestly, and spiritual indifference.”  Let’s focus on the third for our time this morning.

“Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath that we may offer wheat for sale,'” 8:4-5. God’s people were simply going through the motions of religious ceremony.  They were not excited about honoring God on the Sabbath.  They were not excited about meeting with God.  They simply were watching the clock and watching for the sun to go down so they might continue in their selfish lifestyle.

Can you see them in the temple as the priest were offering sacrifices? They were thinking, “Just get it over with.”  Imagine being in a synagogue with people, the teacher stands to read the law and under people’s breath they are saying, “Just get it over with.”

Certainly we can see the parallel in many believers lives today.  Worship has become a ritual instead of a time of vital worship.  The word has become a time of watching the clock instead of wanting to hear from God.  Is it of any wonder that many churches have moved away from true worship and the teaching of the word?

Today we see and hear churches that entertain instead of equip.  Oh how I pray that you are excited about worship and the study of God’s word.  The prophet of God spoke about Israel’s future, “Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land-not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord,” 8:11.

If you have been blessed with a church and a pastor that preaches the word, be thankful and never take it for granted.  If you have been saying, “Just get it over with,” consider where you are spiritually and ask God for revival in your heart and life.

If you are in a church that entertains instead of equipping you from the word, get out.  Seek the place and the people who never get over what God has said and what God is doing.  May worship be fresh for you this weekend.

The Best Thing For You

February 17, 2011

“Daddy, I don’t want too.”  These were the words that came from the lips of my youngest son when he discovered he needed to take an antibiotic.  When I asked him, “Why.” He responded, “Daddy, I have taken it before and it tastes awful.”  At this point I tried to explain to John how that this medicine was the best thing for his recovery.  However all that was on John’s mind was the bad aftertaste.

If somehow I could get him to look beyond the moment and see the end result, it would be easier for him.  Much in the same way there are many things God sends our way that we often do not want to partake of.  Consider the people in the time of Amos. I encourage you to read the first five chapters of this book.  Here was Amos proclamation, “Prepare to meet the Lord,” 4:12. God had blessed His people but to no avail.  They choose to ignore His love and even His rebuke.  Now they would meet God and it would not be good.  The prophet describes this day as follows, “Going into a house and leaning against a wall and a serpent bites him,” 5:19. The best thing these people could do was to repent.  They needed to turn back to the Lord and live, “Seek Me and live,” 5:4.

Question, “Are you facing some hard times in your life?”  Have you asked the Lord, “What are you teaching me?”  In these moments I have learned the following, Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I keep your word,” Psalm 119:67. The best thing for me to do is to simply walk through these hard times and learn what God has for me and learn it well so that I do not have to go through it again.

For many of us, we end up right back in the same mess we had been in before.  The names may change and the circumstances may change, but at the root is the same core issue, “Surrender to God.”  Here was the Psalmist prayer, “Teach me, good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments,” 119:66.

This is my prayer for my life and for yours.  I want to be taught by God so that I will have His knowledge to know how to judge correctly each circumstance so at the end of the day I can say, “This is the best thing for me.”  Yes, “What you are facing now is the best thing for you!!!”

 

 

Slow To Anger

February 16, 2011

Around our house we have a saying when someone is grumpy or grouchy, “You must have had razor soup for your meal.”  I am sure each who read this blog today have those moments when you are grumpy and when you are grouchy?

Have you every considered if God get’s grumpy or grouchy?  Certainly there are signs that might lead someone to think this way.  Consider the scene in the book of Joel.  The writer is predicting a day simply known as, “The Day Of The Lord.”  This day will be a day of great judgment on the world. Could it be that God is going to do this because He is grumpy or grouchy?

Well let’s investigate what the word says, “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster,” 2:13. The fact is God is never grumpy and He is never grouchy.  The scripture teaches us that He is just the opposite, “Slow to anger.”

When you read about God’s judgment or wrath you discover His anger is against sin and against the sinner who is filled with sin.  When I think of God’s character I see His love for humanity in pouring out all of His wrath on Jesus.  Again this is the opposite of being grumpy or grouchy.  Someone who evidences this character is usually in a self mode.  God was being selfless when He sent Jesus to this earth, John 3:16.

So we can conclude that God’s character does not include grumpiness or grouchiness.  Now watch this, “when a person embraces Christ he or she is now to have the mind of Christ, Phil. 2:5, and he is or she is to model the Christ life.  So the natural question would not be, “Are you slow to anger?”

Here is what the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,” James 1:19.

At this juncture of our time I find myself asking, “How can I live a life that models this?” God’s answer is simply, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word,” Psalm 119:9

Brethren as we listen to the word we will find ourselves handling life with love instead of anger.  We will find the joy of the Lord that leads to grace instead of grumpiness.  We will find God’s instructions on how to live the new life instead of living in the old nature.

If you are struggling with issues of anger, “Get in the word and listen.”  Once you listen, ask God for the power to walk in the new life you have in Christ.  When this happens people will see the joy of the Lord overflowing in you that leads you to be slow to anger.

Ignoring Your Trainer

February 15, 2011

Several years ago I was blessed with a person who approached me and said, “I am a personal trainer and I can help you get in shape.”  Little did I really understand all that entailed.  A few months later I was so thankful for this man’s kindness in helping me lose weight and for helping me to honor “The Temple Of The Lord.”

All these years later I am still following the principles taught by my trainer.  Question, “Did you realize God identifies Himself as our trainer in the Bible?”  “Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devised evil against me,” Hosea 7:15. This training began from their first moments of life, “Yet it was I who taught them to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.”

I confess my heart broke as I read Hosea 7-14.  God’s people had been birthed by God, trained by God, and protected by God but they choose to ignore their trainer.  “I lead them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as on who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down and fed them,” 11:4. These people took advantage of God’s training and now they would pay the price.

I wonder, “Have you been blessed with the kindness of God?”  Has God been training you?  Are you using His training for His glory or for your personal gain?  These questions are hard to bear when we know the answers are not what they should be.

I know I have been blessed with His kindness, but I am not always kind to others.   I know I have been trained by God and sometimes I fail to share what I have learned with those around me.  I know God has protected me and provided for me, but I sometimes am unthankful and I am sometimes selfish with His provisions.

The devastation of Israel came as she chose to ignore her trainer.  Her spiritual life began to sag and her love for her trainer began to fade as she started to chase after other trainers who promised health without holiness; prosperity without honor; and pleasure without consequences.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned from my trainer, that there cannot be health without the daily grind of exercise (Sanctification).  I have discovered from my trainer that there cannot be gain with grind and there cannot be pleasure without a passion to obey the commands of my trainer.

Here is the bottom line, “For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them,” Hosea 14:9. It is my prayer that each who read who submit to Jesus (Our trainer) and in submission we would daily exercise Godliness.