Archive for May, 2013

Listen and Obey (Deuteronomy 4; Psalm 86-87)

May 31, 2013

And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers is giving you,” Deuteronomy 4:1

Listening and obeying are two crucial actions in the life of every believer.  However, unless these are connected, the follower of Christ could possible live his or her life without success.  Consider Moses directions to his people in the chapter before us:

Moses directs the people to never alter God’s commandments, Vs: 1-8

Listening and obeying are crucial to the people’s success in this point.  Moses taught what he had heard and he has obeyed what he heard.  This brought Moses into closeness with God.  The same will be with each of us.

Moses directed the people to pass on God’s commandments, Vs: 9-14

Daily these people must listen and obey his commands, lest they forget them.  As these commandments were in their hearts and minds the people would be able to pass the commandments along to their children.

Moses directed the people to not make idols, Vs: 15-31

As they listened and obeyed they would be able to spot and to steer away from idols.  It is crucial that we listen and obey God so that we will know the one true God.

Moses directed the people to remember there is only one God, Vs: 32-40

Brothers and sisters these are great directions for the follower of Christ.  However, the commandments will be wasted if we listen and do not obey!

Heavenly Father, teach us to both listen and obey.  Give us success as we strive to listen and obey.  Father open the ears of those we share with today.  

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When Justice and Mercy Meet (Deuteronomy 3; Psalm 85)

May 30, 2013

“You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”  Deuteronomy 3:22

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  Psalm 85:10

Ours is a time when there are often things that do not make sense.  For example, “How could a President not know what his top aides are doing?”  Certainly this is a message for another time.

As Moses prepares God’s people to enter the Promised Land, he challenges them to never rely on their own effort, but to rely on God who fights for them.  Brothers and sisters this does not make sense, until one understands the God who works in us, for us, and through us.  God would go before the people, God would go with the people, and God would work for the people.  All of this was so that his name would become great among the nations.

As the Psalmist considered Israel’s plight hundreds of years after Moses, he contemplates God’s justice and mercy.  In God’s justice he has punished Israel for her rebellion (70 years of captivity).  But now he has restored Israel.  Notice the Psalmist choice of words to describe this: “He has restored, He has forgiven, He has covered, He has withdrawn, and He has turned from.”

Question:  “What did Israel do to merit God’s restoration?”  Did she complete her time of punishment and did she show enough character to receive restoration?  The answer is seen in Vs: 10 (Quoted above).   God gave mercy to Israel because there would be a day when Justice would meet Mercy.

Brothers and sisters Jesus came so that justice could meet mercy.  Jesus offered a sufficient sacrifice to God so that we could be forgiven.  This very day, I shout for joy that I have been forgiven by and through the payment of Jesus.  There could be no great picture and provision than this.  Celebrate this today and share this with others today!!!

A Long Time (Deuteronomy 2; Psalm 83-84)

May 29, 2013

“And the time from our leaving Kadesh-Barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was 38 years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them,” Deuteronomy 2:15

Blesses are those whose strength is in you, whose heart are the highways to Zion,” Psalm 84:5

Imagine going to a funeral every day for 38 years.  It’s kind of like the movie, “Ground hog day.”  Believe it or not , Moses not only went to a funeral every day for 38 years, but he most likely officiated these funerals.  During the Wilderness Wanderings, all those over the age of 20 (at the time of their refusal to go into the Promised Land) died as a result of God’s curse upon them.

One could not imagine the daily sorrow (It was a long time to deal with such pain).  How would we get through such a time?  I think we find our answer in Psalm 83 and 84.  In these Psalms we are reminded of both God’s position (The Most High is over the entire earth) and God’s presence (For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly).

Our God is sovereign over every event in our world.  We must learn to trust and rest in his sovereign power and purpose.  God was preparing a new people to occupy the Promised Land.  God is preparing you for a homeland.  You will make it home.

Our God is strong in every event in our world.  We wrestle not with men but with the rulers of the darkness (Ephesians 6:10-13).  As we focus and follow our God, he removes every enemy in his time and for his praise.  You will win in the end.

Yes, what you are facing may go on for a long time.  But you have no reason to flee or to be discouraged.  Your God is over all!!!

Looking In The Right Place (Deuteronomy 1; Psalm 81-82)

May 28, 2013

Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God,”  Deuteronomy 1:26

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me,” Psalm 81:10

“Yes dear,” was my response when Sherry asked me to pick up something at the grocery store on my way home from the office.  Everything was ok until I got into the store and realized, “I don’t know which aisle this item is in.”  So being a good man, I began to look down every aisle.   I started at one end of the grocery store and went through every isle.  Being a very good man, I did it again.  Still I had no fortune in finding the item.  So I had a choice, either go home and say, “They did not have it,” or call her.

Israel had been given a direct command from God, “Possess the land.”  But as Moses recounts in Deuteronomy 1, she chose to disobey.  The first section of this book recounts the devastating results of looking to someone else instead of looking to God for direction.

Consider Psalm 81 where the Psalmist gives direction to his readers:  “Shout for joy, to the Lord.”  Most believe this came at the Feast Of Booths.  The Psalmist reminded Israel of how God had delivered her from her burdens and had responded to her cries.  But now she has chosen to look in the wrong places for help.  Here was God’s word to them, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.  Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”

“Much of Israel’s history is a story of God’s people looking for satisfaction without God.  If they were worried about rain, they turned to Baal (II Kings 18).  If they were worried about enemies, they wanted a strong king (I Samuel 8).  They kept forgetting they had a God who could and would fulfill all their needs.”  Cited from Pg. 809, “Reformation Study Bible.”

Brothers and sisters Israel was always coming up short because she was always looking in the wrong places for direction and deliverance.  I found myself in this same place with Sherry.  Would I humble myself and call her and ask, “Where should I look.”  Or would I in my pride go home empty.  Thank God, I called.

Brothers and sisters, your answers are before you if you will read and heed God’s Word.  I challenge you to humble yourself and ask God to speak to you.

The God Who Restores (Numbers 36; Psalm 80)

May 27, 2013

“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!  Let your face shine, that we may be saved.”  Psalm 80:19

It was an average day, nothing unusual, until it happened.  From this day forward his life would never be the same.  This was the true confession of a man who had spent his life from sun-up to sundown drinking.  He had started early that morning and had expected to spend the day drinking.  But as he looked in the refrigerator he was out of beer.  So he got into his truck and headed for the convient market.  He was already over the legal limit as he rounded the corner and did not see the 10-year-old boy crossing at the cross walk.  When he saw him, it was too late.  The young boy would be crippled for life and so would this man.

Brothers and sisters, how can such a man be restored who has scarred someone else and scarred himself? If we look with human eyes, the answer would be , “He cannot.”  But if we look with God’s eyes, “He can be restored, by the son of man.”

Before us in Psalm 80 is a people who are dealing with broken days.  The Psalmist describes their days as follows, “You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.”  This metaphor speaks about the great sadness that consumes the lives of these people.

Question, “Do you know anyone who lives this way?”  Maybe you are in this place yourself?  If so, I want you to consider what the Psalmist is communicating:

1.  The only way to overcome is through restoration

2.  The only one who can restore us is Jesus

My life would be filled with daily tears had Jesus not restored me.  This day, I have happiness and joy because my redeemer lives.  Because He lives, I have life as well.  The old hymn says it best:

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Lest We Forget (Numbers 33; Psalm 78:1-39)

May 24, 2013

“He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes out again,” Psalm 78:39

Here this massive man stood with his camouflage uniform sporting guns on both sides. In his hand he held a machine gun.  On his face were several types of green that made him ready for the combat.  To top it off, he had a dew rag on his head.  Certainly this warrior was ready for battle.  But suddenly, I remembered, this was my little boy dressing in character getting ready to do battle with his sister who is home from college.

Brothers and sisters, we often forget who we really are as we go through this life.  In Psalm 78 we see God as one who is awesome in compassion and mercy (Vs: 38).   Before this verse we see the rebellious heart of mankind represented in Israel.  Despite God’s constant provision of love and mercy, Israel lived in continual rebellion (Vs: 32).  Because of their rebellion, their days were being lived as a flower in the wind.

What should we take away from these verses?  Brothers and sisters we should never forget who he is and who we are without him.  Here is what I wrote in my journal:

Dear Father, I do not want to be known as a rebel.

Dear Father, I do not want those who know my life to know me as a rebel.

Dear Father, I want every generation to see and follow your amazing grace.

Brothers and sisters may we live with a passion for the love and glory of Christ!!!

Is This The End? (Psalm 77)

May 23, 2013

“Has His steadfast love forever ceased?  Are His promises at and end for all time?  Psalm 77:8

It’s that time of the year again.  The time when you are asked to attend graduation ceremonies.  It is an awesome thing to be able to celebrate with someone in the accomplishment of a lifetime (unless it’s preschool graduation).

Even though we know of this functions value, we sometimes begin to look at our watches and we begin to wonder, “Will this ever end?”  Here in Psalm 77 the opposite is the cause with God’s presence and power.  It’s seems to the writer that all of God’s goodness has vanished.  He wonders if this has come to the end.

Maybe you know someone or maybe you yourself feel that you have come to the end of good days in your life. If this be the case, find encouragement in the wisdom of the Psalmist:

1.  Remember the deeds of the Lord, Vs: 11-13

In these moments we must ponder anew the body of work.  In these moment we must mediate on his mighty deeds.  As we do we gain strength in the moment, because the moment is not to heavy for the God who has carried all these previous weights for you and I.

2.  Rejoice for the deeds of the Lord, Vs: 14-20

We serve the true and living God who has redeemed us and has led us in the past (Vs: 17-20) and he is leading us now.  Truly we can resolve to follow in these moments because it is true, “Our God will never leave us nor forsake us.”  Hebrews 11:6

Lifted up and pulled down (Numbers 31; Psalm 75-76)

May 22, 2013

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites.  Afterward you shall be gathered to your people,”  Numbers 31:1-2

“But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another,” Psalm 75:7

Years ago I had the honor of sharing Christ with Bobby and his wife.  That day, God opened both of their hearts to the gospel.  God brought this couple into the fellowship of our church and we severed with them until God called his wife home. Afterwards he moved to another state.  Bobby was a guy who did amazing things even though he had polio since childhood.   Bobby grew up in a poor family where he and his brother shared the same bed.  Bobby said to me, “Pastor, I used to often wonder how on the night that I contracted polio that I got it but my brother did not.”

Question, “Have you ever wondered the why of God’s choices?”  In Psalm 75 we are reminded that it is God who choses to lift up and pull down, because he is the judge.  The wicked are pulled down as they drink the cup of God’s wrath.  The redeemed are lifted up, only because Jesus drank that bitter cup for them. (II Cor. 5:21).

We must become a people who praise God for the blessing of being able to believe.  All of humanity is born under the wrath of God.  For those who respond to the gospel’s call, there is a great lifting through the power of the cross.  In this moment, there is the recognition that God lovingly calls all men to be lifted up because of Jesus being lifted up on the cross.

I can still remember my friend Bobby as he rejoiced in God’s blessing in his life.  His polio was a temporary problem. However his eternal state was one of a lifting up for the glory of the Lord.  May this same mindset fill you as you face this day in a pulled down world.  Child of God the best is yet to come!!!

What Now? (Numbers 30; Psalm 74)

May 21, 2013

If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word.”  Numbers 30:2

“How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?”  Psalm 74:10

Several years ago Sherry and I found ourselves in dark water as we tried to swim in the midst of the emotional turmoil of losing a third child to miscarriage.  During this time the Lord was dealing with my heart about his sovereign control over every moment of our lives.  I was working through Peter’s first letter.  I had written three messages from chapter one and entitled them, “What now.”  I offer Peter’s grace filled and hope saturated words to you this morning, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus.”  I Peter 1:6-7

In this moment you might ask, “What does this have to do with our More For Christ readings?”  It has much to do, because this is why the Psalmist was able to write what he wrote in Psalm 74.

The Temple of God lies in ruins.  The people of God are without even a sign that God was with them (Vs: 9). In this moment the Psalmist cried out, “How long oh God?”  Two things stand out in the last verses:

1.  Lord, don’t hold back in destroying our enemies, Vs: 11

As the creator, He is sovereign over every moment of our lives.  He is God and King (Vs:12)

2.  Lord, never let go, Vs: 14-18

The Psalmist compared himself to a dove and he remind’s God of his covenant with his people.

As I read these verses I remembered my own struggle and I remembered how I cried out for mercy and how I clung to the hope of grace.  This is exactly what the Psalmist was doing and it is what you must do in your hour of trial.  Praise be to our God who loves us in every moment of every day.

If you don’t see God’s answer:  “Look back to Peter’s words written above!!!”

The God who holds your hand (Numbers 29; Psalm 73)

May 20, 2013

“So Moses told the people of Israel everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses,” Numbers 29:40

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.”  Psalm 73:23

This morning’s More For Christ readings were a precious reminder of the love of God for his people.  In Numbers 29 we see the faithfulness of God’s man to deliver all God directed him to deliver to the people (I praise God for one greater than Moses who guides us to do the will of the Father).

In Psalm 73 we see the faithfulness of God to walk with his people as they struggle with understanding.  In particular, in Psalm 73 the Psalmist is struggling to understand the path of the wicked.  At first the Psalmist cannot understand why the wicked seem to live lives of leisure without the slightest hint of judgment.  This lead the Psalmist down a path of confusion, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.”  

Brothers and sisters, I have had those moments when I have complained and I have been like an unbeliever as I walked through difficult circumstances.  But oh for the grace of God.  Here the Psalmist reminds us of how God in his sovereign grace walks us through such times of difficulty.  He illustrates this time as God holding our hand.

As God holds our hand we are reminded of several truths:

1.  God is our sovereign judge, Vs: 18-20

2.  We are a sinful people, Vs: 21-22

3.  God is a gracious Savior, Vs: 23-24

Brothers and sisters we must be spiritually aware of these things as we face all of life’s issues.  The Psalmist closes the Psalm by reminded us that God alone delivers (Vs:25), God alone must become our desire (Vs: 26), and God alone deserves the praise (Vs: 28).

Oh that I would see correctly and that I would surrender my life totally to walking with Jesus holding my hand.  And by the way, He is the one leading, not I.