Archive for January, 2013

Strong Moments of Truth (Genesis 18; Matthew 17)

January 17, 2013

“The Lord said, “Surely I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” Genesis 18:10

Brothers and sisters there are moments when we face strong opposition to our faith.  These moments happen as a result of many things.  For example; “The enemy is always seeking to move us off-center in our walk with God,” I Peter 5:8. We face great trials of fear as we stand against the enemy.  We face great fear as we doubt the outcome of intense moments. However there is something that needs to be said, “tough moments are strong moments of truth.”  In these moments God has our attention and he clearly speaks.  Maybe this is the type of moment you find yourself in?

If so, you are not alone.  Consider the outcome of Abraham’s faith.  He has trusted in God for 25 years, but still there is no answer to his promise of a son.  Here in chapter 18 God makes three powerful statements:

1.  I will surely return to you this time next year!

2.  Is anything too hard for the Lord?

3.  I am going to judge Sodom.

These are strong moments for Abraham.  Within one year he would have a son and within hours his nephew would see his city destroyed.  Abraham responds to truth with praise and prayer.

In Matthew 17 we see strong moments of truth as well:

1.  Jesus reveals his glory, Vs: 1-14

2.  Jesus reveals his greatness, Vs: 15-21

3.  Jesus reveals his grace, Vs: 22-27

In both the Old and New Testaments we see strong moments of truth in the midst of trials.  So, the natural question would be, “What strong moments of truth are you gaining today?”  If your response is zero, then you are not listening to the Lord.

May I suggest to you the following:

1.  Be still and know he is God, Psalm 46:10 (Pause and listen)

2.  Hunger and thirst for His Word, Psalm 119:121-128 (Read and heed the Word)

This is what both Abraham and the Disciples were doing when they experienced strong moments of truth.  This can be you as well!!!

 

The Blameless life (Genesis 17; Matthew 16)

January 16, 2013

“When Abram was 99 years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I am God almighty, walk before me, and be blameless.”  Genesis 17:1

Could it every be said of us, “He or she is blameless?”  This is a heavy question, especially since every person is born with a sin nature.  But this is exactly what God is calling Abraham to be at the age of 99.

As we read this text we discover two valuable insights into this blameless life:

1.  Abraham has a name change that affects this life, Vs: 1-9

These verses help us to see God’s work in this man’s life.  Originally his name was Abram (exalted father) but now he would be called Abraham (Father of a multitude).  Keep in mind, he still has no son to carry on the family name.  If Abraham was to live up to his name, he would have to have help from an outside source.  He who had no life would have to receive life from somewhere else.  This is exactly what God did (Romans 4:13-24).  Only in the New Birth do we come to a place where we are blameless.

2.  Abraham submits to circumcision as an outward sign of an inward change, Vs: 10-14

This was to be the sign of the covenant, Rom 4:11; Acts 7:8. Outwardly Abraham’s life was to be lived in submission to the work of God.  As He walked in submission and holiness God would bless him and direct him.  We see this out working in his life.

For the Christian, The Lord’s Supper is a sign to the world (Luke 22:20) of our dedication to the work of Christ in our lives.  Certainly there were days when Abraham failed, but in those days God’s grace was still moving him forward.

This day, I want to encourage you to seek to walk in newness of life (Blameless life).  This life is filled with many challenges but God’s grace is sufficient.  The Key to success is to die to your life and to live His life (Matthew 16:24-28).

When Washing Your Hands Is Useless (Genesis 16; Matt. 15)

January 15, 2013

“This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”  Matthew 15:8

Remember those days as a kid when your mother would tell you to wash your hands before you ate?  Wait a minute, my wife still reminds me to wash my hands before I eat.

This morning we find a much more serious discussion concerning hand washing.  The religious leaders in Matthew 15 are dogging Jesus every move.  Now they have progressed into trying to discover ways to bring charges against Jesus.  Their ultimate goal is his death.

In this passage, Matthew 15:1-20, Jesus has to answer questions as to why his disciples fail to wash their hands before they eat.  Jesus bypasses their religious rules and goes for the heart.  Heart issues are not solved by some external adherence to rules of doing and not doing.  Jesus knew that only the new birth would bring a heart change.  Everything else is in vain.

Brothers and sisters God’s plan is for the heart to change in every person.  We see this in the life of Abraham.  God establishes a covenant with him in Genesis 15.  However one chapter later he fails to listen to God but instead listens to his wife.  Abraham fails because he listened to a heart that had grown impatience.  He listens to a heart that had grown insensitive to God’s plan.

Question, “What do you have in place that assures your heart is right before God?”  It is what that comes out of us that defiles us.  Make sure you are walking in the Spirit.  Make sure the Word of God is tempering your heart.  Then and only then will you find the joy of a clean heart.

The Path From Promise to Possession (Genesis 15; Matthew 14)

January 14, 2013

“And he brought him outside and said, “look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said, ‘So shall your offspring be.'” Genesis 15:5

The year was 2005, It was early summer. I was standing in the midst of what looked like a jungle.  The place where I stood was in a remote section of Romania.  I was standing with a missionary who said, “This will someday be a Christian Camp where boys and girls from all over Romania will come.”  I can still remember that day and my lack of faith.  Brother Achim believed God had promised and he believed God would provide.  It seemed an impossible venture.

It must have felt this way for Abraham and Sarah.  They were both past the age to do anything about God’s promise.  But according to Romans 4:17-20, “They believed.”  The Disciples must have felt this way when they found themselves in the midst of a storm.  One could not imagine how they must have felt, it was over.  But despite all odds (Abraham and Sarah gave birth) and Peter walked on the water.  A few chapters later the angel of the Lord said, “Nothing is too hard for the Lord.”

Brother Achim believed this and now 10 years later there is a camp where children from all over Romania come to hear about Jesus.  This very day, I do not know where you are on the path of faith.  You could be at the moment of promise and you could be at the moment of possession or maybe somewhere in between.  The most important thing you must do is, “Have faith in God.”  He will see you through.

Grace and Wrath (Genesis 18:1-19:38)

January 11, 2013

“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what he has promised him.”  Genesis 18:19

The title of our blog for today could possible seem strange to you?  However, it is very important that you see the beauty and majesty of its truth.  Both grace and wrath play a vital part in your salvation.

For the last few days we have been looking at the life of Abraham.  Here is a guy who is called by God to follow him (Genesis 12:1-3).  We have seen grace at work through the ups and downs in Abraham’s life as he strives to, by faith, walk in the promises of God.

As we come to chapters 18 and 19 we discover both the grace and the wrath of God:

1.  We see God’s grace given to Abraham, Genesis 18

God declares: “I will surely revisit you this time next year (Your wife will have a son).”

God declares: “Is anything too hard (wonderful) for God.”

God declares:  “I am going to pour out my wrath on Sodom.”

In this moment Abraham pleads for mercy.  God makes clear that he is a merciful God.  If even 10 were righteous in the city he would spare them.

In this moment we must gain theological truth: “God’s wrath is coming to a rebellious people.  At the same time God’s grace is extended to repentant people.”

1.  We see God’s wrath given to Sodom, Genesis 19

Genesis 19:4 gives us insight, “Every man of the city was corrupt.”  In this moment we understand God’s wrath.  But we also see grace in this moment:

God speaks to Lot and his family:

1.  Lot, get out of this city with your family.

2.  Mrs. Lot, don’t look back.

3.  Lot’s children, “Don’t allow Sodom’s ways to direct your life.”

At the end of this chapter we find these words, “God remembered Abraham and spared Lot.”  Brothers and sisters do you see it?  Do you see both grace and wrath?  The only reason you and I are delivered from the wrath of God is because of Christ sacrifice for our sins.  He took our wrath and extended grace to us, II Cor. 5:21, Hebrews 7:24-25, I John 2:1-2.

Lord, I praise you for grace and I praise you for the victory we have in your name.  I would never understand the height, depth, and width of your love apart from a true understanding of your wrath.  

Which Way Will You Go? (Genesis 15:1-17:27)

January 10, 2013

“And Abraham said, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’  God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac,'” Genesis 17:18-19a

There he stood, in a foreign land, with two roads before him.  The bus he was to take had already departed and now he was seemingly alone.  What would he do?  Little did he know but the team he was with had moved the bus and they were playing a cruel trick on this man.  As the team looked on from a hidden position, they saw the man choosing to not go in any direction.  He simply sat down and placed his head between his hands.  In this moment the team felt the cruelty of their joke and they came clean before this man.

Brothers and sisters there are moments when you and I are tempted to think, “Our God has left us to our own choices and to our own path to figure out life.”  But nothing could be any father from the truth.

Consider Abraham, in who God had established a relationship with.  In Genesis 15 God declared Abraham to be righteous based solely upon two things, Faith (15:1-9) and grace (15:10-21).

Abraham began to follow God!!!  Along this journey, things were tough and they would become even tougher.  Check out chapters 16-17.  In these chapters we see the following:

1.  Abraham faces distraction along the journey, Chapter 16

His wife becomes impatient, Vs: 1-3. His wife blames Abraham for their failure and she is right, Vs: 4-6. But in this God gives grace, Vs: 7-14.

2.  Abraham finds distinction along the journey, Chapter 17

God establishes an everlasting covenant with Abraham.  This covenant includes a name change and a promise of the Messiah.  God also establishes an earthly sign of this distinction.  We know this to be circumcision.  Today we see this sign in the new life we have in Christ (Luke 22:20).

The point of all of this is God’s reminder to each of us, “He has a plan for our lives and His requirement is simply this, ‘follow me.'”  This day, maybe you are facing some tough choices about the future?  If so, allow me to challenge you to simply follow what you know:

1.  God has called you to walk in obedience to his word.  As you stand in his word you will have success.

2.  God has called you to do good deeds in this world.  As you seek to live for him, you will find success in whatever direction you go.

For further reading consider, Titus 2:11-3:7

 

Getting Consumed (Psalm 119:1-24)

January 9, 2013

“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.”  Psalm 119:20

Question, “Have you ever been consumed by anything or anyone in your life?”  I can remember the first time it happened to me.  I was 7 years old.  The year was 1974 and I fell in love with the NFL football team, “The Dallas Cowboys.”  I can still remember the names of the players and the games they won and the eventual loss in the Superbowl to Pittsburg.  If you visited our home you would have seen Dallas Cowboy stuff in my room, everything from banners to a lamp that had a star on it.  Even my bed sported the team.  It was easy to see what was consuming my life.

Certainly many years have passed and now I am 45 years old.  Question, “What can you see in my life that is the tell of my passion?”  Oh, by the way, why you are looking at my life, take time to investigate yours.  What is the tell of your passion?  What is it that is consuming your life?

The Psalmist was consumed with the Law of God.  Here in Psalm 119 we find the longest chapter in the Bible.  This chapter teaches us much about how to properly relate to God’s Word.  Notice three things in the first 24 verses:

1.  The great desire to live in obedience to God’s Word, Vs: 2-8

The Psalmist is seeking this with his whole heart.  He gives his prayers to this goal.  His praise is focused on this consuming desire.

2.  The great desire to learn obedience to God’s Word, Vs: 9-16

In obedience one becomes pure in their walk with Christ.  In obedience one is storing up wisdom to deal with life’s issues and life’s traps.  Daily the Psalmist is consumed with this process of storing up God’s Word as would one in preparation for the wintertime.

3.  The great desire to love God’s Word, Vs: 17-24

Here we discover the end result of getting consumed, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors,” 119:24.  Oh how I pray this is true of your life and my life.

Brothers and sisters, there can be no greater thing to be consumed with than with God’s Word.  I promise you, “Your life will pay great dividends as you are consumed with His Word!!!”

For further study, “read the rest of Psalm 119.”

There Must Be More (Psalm 118, Matthew 19:16-30)

January 8, 2013

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 118:8-9

Two weekends ago I traveled with our students to an Winter Extreme Conference.  This was a great time to both study the Word and to stand in worship before God with our students.  On the last day of the conference, I was sitting as one of the bands were playing.  I noticed the 22 people in our group off to my left.  Each person was doing something different.  Some were exhausted, others were clinging to their chair in an attempt to stay awake. There were those who were engaged in an attempt to try to worship despite the fatigue they were facing.  But there was one person who was on their feet with their hand-held high striving to worship God.  As I sat there, I prayed, “God help all of us to fight through the fatigue to worship you.”  In that moment I was challenged greatly to consider the worth of worship.  I was challenged with the fact, “There must be more to worship!”

Admittedly the last few days have been days of searching for the more.  This morning I found my answer in Psalm 118.  This Psalm was the last Psalm the people would sing at the end of the Passover Feast.  I encourage you to read this Psalm which points us directly to Christ who is the more of worship.

Here is an outline to help you in our studies:

1.  We Worship The God who set us free, Vs: 5-13

Jesus deserves our worship, Vs: 5.  Jesus delights in us, Vs: 5.  Jesus delivers us in every battle, Vs: 7-13

2.  We Worship The God who saved us, Vs: 14-21

3.  We Worship The God who is our Savior, Vs: 22-29

Jesus came and was rejected.  Jesus came to redeem us and this he did.

Brothers and sisters let there be no doubt this speaks to us of Jesus Christ.  Matthew 19:16-30 gives us an awesome reminder of the truths before us.  Man could never save himself or anyone else.  Our Messiah can save anyone.

In 2013 I want to push past all moments of fatigue, frustration, and failure.  God help me to be faithful in striving to know the one who is more than we can imagine!!! My prayer is the same for each of you today.

 

Noah (Genesis 6:8-10:39)

January 4, 2013

“Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household for I have sen that you are righteous before me in this generation,”  Genesis 7:1

Two weeks ago, I saw the most amazing site as I left the church late in the afternoon.  The weather had been extremely cold and rainy.  But as I got in my vehicle it stopped and directly overhead appeared not one but two rainbows (Double rainbow).  I took a picture with my phone, but it did not do justice to wonder of this sight, nor did it do justice to what the bible teaches us about the rainbow.

Genesis 6-8 recounts the story of God’s destruction of a world in rebellion again Him.  In the midst of this destruction we see the amazing grace of God.  God tells Noah to come into the ark (Which is a place of protection from God’s own wrath).  Here is an outline of these chapters:

1.  The family of Noah, 6:9-10

2. The faith of Noah, Vs: 11-22

3.  The flood in Noah’s day, 7:1-8:18

4. The future for Noah’s family, 8:18-10:39

All of this scene is clearly the grace of God.  God establishes his covenant with Noah.  God covers Noah from his wrath.  God allows Noah to safely float in the ark across the waters of God’s wrath and he delivers Noah safely on the rock of a mountain that is higher than he could imagine.

But very quickly we are reminded of the continued depravity of man.  Only in Christ can a man break the chains that bind him in sin and shame.

As I stood there looking at the rainbow I felt the amazing peace of God in knowing that God would never destroy this world by water again. But at the same time I felt the amazing grace of God in knowing that I have been delivered from the wrath of God that is still to come on the earth.  (II Peter 3:9-2).

Brothers and sisters as we look at Noah’s life we are reminded of our own lives as Christians and we are reminded of Christ who became the ark for us.  This day I celebrate the grace and mercy of a holy God. Praise be to his name.

Life Outside The Garden (Genesis 4:1-6:8)

January 3, 2013

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…” Genesis 4:1

Having moved to different parts of the country in ministry has been a blessing in many ways. For example, I have been blessed to experience people and places that literally amaze me in the blessing of a Holy God.  I have seen the dark side of places and people who literally remind me to praise God for His grace and mercy.    I have seen the dark side of my own life as God has continued to discipline me in every place where I have lived.  This continues to this very hour.

Question, “How has life been for you as a follower of Christ?”  Think about the days you have lived after God’s glorious regeneration of your life.  Your life and my life should always model becoming more Christ like.

For Adam and Eve it seemed just the opposite was happening in their lives.  While in the Garden with God they experienced perfect peace and perfect purity of life.  But it all changed when sin entered the picture.  Follow the outline in your studies:

1.  Rebellion and murder, Genesis 4

We see both the birth and the battle between two sons.  One sought to obey God and the other sought to obey himself.  One offered an obedient sacrifice while the other offered what he wanted to offer.

The one son was given opportunity to make things right (Vs: 6) but he chose to allow sin to overcome him.  God judged him and gave him grace.  The greatest grace came through the giving of another son who would be the forefather of Jesus.

2.  Genealogy and more rebellion, Genesis 5:1-6:8

Here we see God’s assessment of men’s lives.  God decides to blot out man from the earth.  But Noah find’s grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Noah receives unconditional grace.

In this we discover the powerful effects of the fall.  If not for grace we would all be destroyed.  God gave grace in a son (Seth) who would be in the line of Jesus.  Because of Jesus, you and I  can while still living outside the garden, have fellowship, forgiveness, and faith to live for God.

These chapters remind me to Praise God for his grace in a world outside the Garden.  These chapters remind me to never allow Satan to take charge of my life.  These chapters remind me of the wrath to come.  These chapters remind me to share Christ outside the garden