Archive for January, 2015

What do you presume (Romans 2; Esther 7)

January 30, 2015

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”  Romans 2:4

“And the king said, “hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.  Then the wrath of the king abated.”  Esther 7:10

I presumed she knew what I was asking, but I discovered she did not.  Here was the deal, I had asked Sherry to bring me something to eat for lunch to my office. What she brought was not what I was craving.  Wrongly, I presumed she could read my mind.”

Brothers and sisters, “God does not presume the wrong things about us.”  “He we render each one according to his works.” Romans 2:6

Beginning in Romans 1:18 through the end of Romans 3 Paul is clearly teaching us this one truth, “All the world is condemned before God because all of the world is in rebellion against God.”

Think it through:

In Romans two Paul is targeting his own countrymen (The Jewish people).  The Jewish people believed they were right with God because of two things:

  • God had not presently judged them
  • God had given them the Law

However we discover neither of these things proves their rightness before God.  The opposite is the case. Sin had blinded both their minds and hearts.  They were presuming that God’s delayed judgment was God’s stamp of approval.  Paul reminds them and us, “it is only because of his rich kindness and mercy that we are not already consumed.” Paul’s own countrymen were breaking the very laws they were teaching.

Later they would hear, “It is not the hearers of the law who are justified, but the doers of the law.

Question: “Where are you with God?”

Think back to the time of Esther.  It would seem, Esther 6, that Haman was the one who was right with God.  But within one chapter we discover, Esther 7, two things:

  • God’s payday will come suddenly (Haman is hung on his own gallows)
  • God’s favor will always see us through the judgment of men (Esther was delivered)

As I came to the end of Romans two, I was not presuming that I deserve to be right with God.  I was praising God for making me right with Him.

Our response:

What should be our response to what we have read?  I believe we must praise the God who has delivered us from the wrath to come.  We must endure the trials of this life knowing the goodness of God will see us through.  We must seek to rescue those who are perishing but do not even know they are perishing.  They are presuming on the goodness of God.

I leave you with Peter’s writing in II Peter 2:9 “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.”

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They deserve to die (Romans 1; Esther 6)

January 29, 2015

“Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them,” Romans 1:32

“Everyone reading this blog deserves to die!”  Wow, the previous sentence seems harsh and it seems to many, anti-God.  But upon deeper investigation of the book of Romans one discovers, Rom 1:18-3:23, the reality that all men are condemned to death for their rebellion against God.  Paul sums us this fact in the first part of Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.”

Before us is the book of Romans.  Without a doubt Paul’s greatest honor in all the inspired writing’s from the Lord.  Some label this as, “The theological constitution of the church.”  R.C. Sproul comments in the introduction to Romans, “Romans is Paul’s fullest, grandest, and most comprehensive statement of the gospel,” Cited from Pg. 1611, “Reformation Study Bible.”

Chapter one gives us both the author and his desire.  Paul is the author and his desire is to come to Rome to bear fruit in the gospel.  It is this gospel that has taken hold in Paul’s life:

  • Paul is under obligation to the gospel, 1:15
  • Paul is overjoyed by the gospel, 1:16-17
  • Paul observe’s the world through the lens of the gospel, 1:18-32

Think it through:

This gospel was proclaimed by the prophets, “Jesus the Son of God would come.”  Paul saw the resurrected Christ (I Corinthians 5:5-8; II Corinthians 12:1-3) and Paul proclaims Jesus to be the Son of God.

This gospel has so changed Paul that he is overjoyed to proclaim the gospel to every person.  He knows of the power of the gospel.  He also know’s that all who rejected the gospel will spend eternity apart from God living out a spiritual death in hell. This is what drove him to go everywhere.

But Paul also knew the world was in darkness.  Their sin was ever before him and ever before God.  The description of men’s rebellion is clearly seen in our world.  Paul is proving, “they deserve to die.”

Brothers and sisters, this is the amazing part of the gospel.  Even though men deserve to die, God has given grace in the coming of Jesus so that men would not perish, John 3:16

As we read through the book of Romans, allow the richness of the this truth to grip you as you study the great Theological Truths of our Faith.

Our response:

May we live as men in love with the God who in his mercy has delivered us from a death we deserved!!!  May we proclaim the gospel as living men who want all men to be alive in Christ. May we worship the God who has given us life.

Safely Through (Acts 28; Esther 5)

January 28, 2015

“After we were brought safely through, we learned that the island was called Malta.”  Acts 28:1

“And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight…Esther 5:2

For a moment consider how you would feel if God spoke the following over your life, “You will be brought safely through.” Brothers and sisters, the previous statement has brought me much comfort and clarity over the many years of my walk with Jesus.

This morning you may be facing trials of great proportion as was both Paul and Esther?  But one thing is for sure, “As a Christ follower you will be brought safely through.

Think it through:

Paul finds himself in the midst of a great storm (Acts 27) but he arrives safely at the shore.  Acts 28 gives us the details of his safe arrival in Rome. Consider two facts:

  1. The Lord’s Sovereign grace is always sufficient, Vs: 1-10
    1. Here is a short list of God’s sufficiency in Paul’s life
      1. Safely through the storm
      2. Safely through a snake bit
      3. Safely through the need of supplies of food
      4. Safely through to the very city God had promised he would come too!!
  2. The Lord’s Sovereign grace is always successful, Vs: 11-28

Every step of the way Paul is able to be successful in sharing the gospel.  Paul’s story is filled with moment by moment sovereign grace.  Notice I did not say, “his life was filled with only good times.”  Paul faced much hardship (this is a result of a broken world), however he was taken safely through.

When we consider Esther we see the same truths alive in her life in chapter 5.  Her life is a model for all who walk by faith.  It was not easy in her life as well, but a sovereign God was at work.

Our response:

Both you and I can identify with the trials of life.  We too live in a broken world.  The question is, “Do we trust in our Sovereign God to see us through?” I think of the words of Job, “Though he slay me, I will trust him.”  Job knew that he would arrive safely through the trials he was facing.  This very day I am compelled to do the following:

  • Pray for all who are facing trials of life.  May each see the sovereign hand of God at work in their lives.
  • Trust in the God of my salvation.  I believe He is able (II Timothy 1:12).
  • Spend my life in making impact through His glory being lived out in and through my daily trials.

I pray God compels you to do these things in response to your trials.

Faith in the storm (Acts 27; Esther 4)

January 27, 2015

“…then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”  Esther 4:16b

“So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”  Acts 27:25

For some reason it was not working out as I expected.  The following commentary could be a tag to many of the circumstances that come our way throughout life.  Here is the deal, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  Acts 14:22

This day we find two tribulations before us:

  • Paul’s tribulation in the midst of a storm as he sails toward Rome to fulfill God’s call on his life.
  • Esther’s tribulation in the midst of national panic as she stands in the gap for her people.

Question:  “What storm do you or those you love find themselves in this morning?”

Let’s spend our time discovering how to have faith in the storm.  We see it in both passages, but let’s look at Acts 27 in our time.

Thing it through:

  1. Dr Luke gives us specific detains about this storm:
    1. It was a violent storm that took much from the men, Vs: 14.  They lost all their cargo.
    2. This storm drained all hope from the men, Vs: 20
  2. Dr. Luke recounts great faith in the storm:
    1. Paul is able to restore the hope that the storm had taken from the men.

Here we see a great message of hope:  “For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar.  And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.  So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”

This message is incredible for us to see.  Paul gained hope in the same way you and I are to gain hope in the storm.  Paul listen to God’s Word.  Take a moment and read the following passages, Hebrews 6:18-20; I Peter 1:13,21.

Our response:

  • Daily look to your hope (Jesus Christ).
    • As you read His Word, you will discover hope on every page!!!
  • Daily live out your hope (before the world).
    • Paul spoke in faith
    • Paul gave thanks in faith (He knew God would spare their lives)

If you are facing a storm, practice the previous disciplines to increase your faith in the storm.  Look to others who are facing the storm and live out your faith before them!!!

Much at stake (Esther 3; Acts 26)

January 26, 2015

“And Paul said, “Whether short or log, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am-expect for these chains,” Acts 26:29

And all the kings servants who were at the kings gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him.  But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage,” Esther 3:2

There are days when it seems at the end of the day that we really did not accomplish anything of significance.  In these moments of retrospect we must ask ourselves, “What is at stake?”  The fact is, every moment of our lives is intended by God, I Corinthians 10:31, to be lived with impact.

The key to this type of living is seen in understanding the big picture.

Consider the scene in Esther 3.

The people of God are in captivity.  It would be easy for the people to just like out their lives minding their own business and accepting where they are.  Sadly, for many, this was the case.  By the time you come to the end of chapter 3, the city is in confusion because they have been living in insignificance.  Certainly I am getting ahead of myself.

Think it through:

  • The arch-enemy of Gods people had risen to prominence in the government.  Haman is a descendant of the Amalekites.
  • The man of God, Mordecai refused to bow before his enemy.

In this moment we ask, “What is the big deal?”  The king said bow, “If we bow, all will be ok.”  The truth is, the enemy was not just seeking their loyalty, his desire is for the death of all the Jewish people.

Much is at stake!!!!

If all the Jews die, the Messianic line of the coming Messiah will also die.  The promise to Abraham, Genesis 12:2-3, would be lost forever.  One man stands up.  Brothers and sisters, much is at stake.

It was the same way with Paul.  His call was to take the gospel to the nations of the world.  Much was at stake.  Here is his own testimony:  “I was being sent to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”  If he chose to back down, millions would remain in the darkness.

Our response:

Question, “Does it seem that nothing of importance is going on in your life?”  If your answer is, “Yes.”  Be careful, because you could have overlooked your purpose as a Christ-follower.  Those who engage in God’s work will find themselves with much at stake.  Oh how I pray that we live with impact!!!  Possibly millions of lives hang in the balance.  My prayer for you is very simple, “Show all who read this the height, the depth, the length, and width of the influence they can have in the gospel.”  

Where are they? (Nehemiah 13F; Acts 23)

January 23, 2015

“Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service,” Nehemiah 13:14

Question, “How long has it been since you met a person with strong conviction?”  If you had been living in the vicinity of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. you would have met a person of strong conviction.  This person was Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 13 tells us the story of his strong conviction to live for the glory of God.  Here are the details:

  • He removes the evil presence from the house of the Lord, Vs: 1-10
    • Foreigners are removed
    • Tobiah is removed
  • He restores offerings for the work of the Lord, Vs: 11-14
  • He reinstated Sabbath rest, Vs: 15-23
  • He restores separation from unholy relationships, Vs: 24-27
  • He removes corrupt leaders from the house of the Lord, Vs: 28-30

Think it through:

Any one of these 5 works of conviction seem overwhelming to us.  As I consider each of these reforms I discover one overriding truth:  “Nehemiah was living his life for the glory of God.”  His convictions were firmly planted in the belief that he and his people were to obey everything God had said.

Question:  “Do we believe we need to obey everything God has said or do we settle for 2 out of every 3?”

One greater than Nehemiah believed we must do everything God said to do. This one is Jesus.  We see Him in Mark 11:15-18 instituting reform in the temple of the Lord.  Jesus convictions moved him to stand up even when the odds were against him.  Our New Testament reading teaches us of how Paul stood us with conviction, Acts 24:24-26.

This very day we see a world that has completely lost its moral compass.  The question that dominates my mind is this, “Where are the people of conviction?”

Our response:

Hopefully our response is this, “We in the family of God are standing up for the convictions God has placed deep within our soul and spirit.”

Without a doubt some who read this are wanting to stand up, but the pressure to conform is intense.  Here is our great encouragement:  “The Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”  Acts 23:11

The God who stood with Paul will stand with you and I if we are standing up for Him.  

You may respond, “It does not seem that anyone else is standing with me.”  Be assured there is one who stands beside you, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the Lion’s mouth.” II Timothy 4:17

Those who stand up experience this same truth!!!

Be assured you are being prayed for as you stand up!!!

What do they hear? (Nehemiah 12; Acts 22)

January 22, 2015

“And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the woman and children also rejoiced.  And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”  Nehemiah 12:43

“Up to this word they listened to him, then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth!  For he should not be allowed to live.” Acts 22:22

Before us we see a great contrast of what is being heard!!!  In the book of Nehemiah the communities surrounding the capital city heard joyful worship.  In the book of Acts the city was filled with the noise of people demanding the death of Paul.

Think it through:

What is the noise being heard in your community?  Sadly for most of the world, the news is of violence, hatred, wars, and rummers of war.

As we look back to Nehemiah’s day we find ourselves in a community that had taken a stand for the Lord.  They had visually given evidence of their stand by constructing the walls around the city.  Now it was time for celebration.  The people did the following:

  • They prepared for worship
  • They passionately participated in the worship
  • They proclaimed the gospel by their worship

This is the type of noise the Lord wants us to give forth from our churches today.

As we consider Paul’s day we see just the opposite:

  • The people are fighting against true worship
  • The people are seeking to destroy anyone who engages in the gospel

Let’s dig a little deeper:

  1. Paul viewpoint of the gospel is radically changed, Vs: 21, “The good news is for everyone.”
  2. Paul’s viewpoint of God is radically changed, Vs: 6-21
    1. He had been zealous for God-however he discovered he did not know God.
    2. He saw the light in discovering Jesus to be the Son of God.
    3. He submitted to the light in obeying God’s commands.
    4. He stood in the light by proclaiming God among the nations.

Here is where it really get’s deep.   We are to both worship God and to witness for God inside and outside the walls of the church.

Yes there will be people who will seek to destroy your life.  They do this because they live and love the darkness, John 3:17-20.  These same people desperately need to hear the gospel because they are in darkness, II Corinthians 4:4-6.  Ours is the task to grow in our understanding of the greatness of our God.  Ours is also the task of growing in our understanding of true worship of this God.

Our response:

Heavenly Father, may the nations hear the joy of worship coming from our churches as well as from our homes.  Give us favor in granting us a voice for you among the nations of the world.

What should I do? (Acts 21; Nehemiah 11)

January 21, 2015

“And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem,”  Nehemiah 11:2

“And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done.'” Acts 21:14

In both of our scripture readings we find a question that needed to be answered.  Here is the question, “What should I do?” Even deeper the question comes for the disciple of Christ, “What is the will of the Lord?”

Think it through:

In Nehemiah’s case, the walls around the city were rebuilt, but there were few people living in the city of Jerusalem.  The question is, “Why would it be important to live in the city?”  Answer, “The care and worship in the temple demanded the community support of its people.”  As the people lived in the city and worshipped in the temple, they were giving forth the truth of trusting in God’s provision.  His glory would be manifested!!!  We praise God that many of the people were willing to do the will of the Lord.

In Paul’s case, he was being led by the Spirit with urgency to fulfill the will of the Lord (Acts 9:15).  Let’s dig deeper.  As Paul sought the will of the Lord, he found himself facing opposition:

  • People who loved him directed him away from the will of God, Vs: 7-14
  • People who were legalistic would have discouraged him from the will of God, Vs: 15-26
  • People who were spiritually blind would have destroyed his life, keeping him from the will of God, Vs: 27-36

This next point is very important to grasp:  “The will of the Lord will be done!!!”

The question is, “Will you be a willing participant?”

Nehemiah was and many of his people were.  Their names are listed in chapter 11.  Paul was, and the obstacles did not stand a change to stop the will of the Lord.

Our response:

  1. We must not allow our emotions (A.K.A. love for family) to keep us from seeing the will of God.
  2. We must not allow our closed-minded (A.K.A. always doing it the same way) friends to keep us from the will of God.
  3. We must not all the enemy (A.K.A., the enemy of the will of God) to discourage us from the will of God.

Ours is a great task, obeying the will of God.  Here are a few verses that will encourage you as you seek the will of the Lord: Romans 8:36-39; II Cor. 4:16, 12:10; Phil. 2:17.

Now is the time for you to choose to do the will of the Lord!!!

A City on Edge (Acts 19; Nehemiah 9)

January 19, 2015

“So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel,” Acts 19:29

The title of today’s bog could easily be the descriptive words for many cities in our world today.  It seems that much of our world is on edge.  Could it be that God is positing our world for something of great significance?

Now there are those who would respond with a prophetic answer:  “The end of the world is coming.”  Such people quote Matthew 24-25 as proof texts.

Still others would respond with a pessimistic answer:  “Ours is a world that has gone crazy.”  Such people quote I Timothy 4:1-6 as a proof text.

However there are some who respond with a possible answer, “It is possible that God is positioning the church to be the great light in the darkness.”  Such people quote Matthew 5:13-16 as a proof text.

Think it through:

When Paul comes to the city of Ephesus, Acts 19, it is a city on edge.  The city is known for two things:  1. It’s commercial trade 2. Its worship of Artemis.

The people are committed, in their darkness to these two things.  As Paul comes, he discover’s the presence of the gospel, 12 men.  Paul immediately engages these men with the truth of the gospel and a church plant begins.

For three months Paul reasons with the people in the synagogue and then for 21 months he ministers from a rented hall.  I believe the very hall where the riot almost happens.  During these 2 years some amazing things happen:

  • God’s dies extraordinary miracles through Paul, Vs: 11-12
  • Men do foolish things, thinking they can have the power of God without knowing God, Vs: 13-16
  • Many people renounce their old way of living, Vs: 17-19
  • The city tries to remove the gospel for personal gain, Vs: 20-41
  • Paul leaves the city

Here is the path we see in this city over the long haul: The gospel is established-the gospel expands-and the gospel evaporates!!!

In this moment I think it is very important that you see two additional passages of scripture, Ephesians 2; Revelation 2:1-5

The church at Ephesus would be blessed to expand after Paul leaves.  Church history records that the Apostle John comes to be the pastor.  Many believe it was from Ephesus where John writes I, II, and III John.  We do know that Paul writes the book of Ephesians as a letter to the church helping them to understand the grace of God that is to impact them for righteous living.  We also know that Jesus speaks to this church some 30 years later, pleading with them to turn back their first love.  History tells us that they did not turn back.

Here is what I take away:

  1. Every church has opportunities before them.
  2. Every church has obstacles before them.
  3. Those who are successful, planted in cities that are on edge, are those who love Jesus and reach out daily making disciples of all people

Our response:

As a follower of Christ you must choose to either hide from the world, give into the world, or be a light to the world.  I pray that you and decide to be a light?  This happens as we love God and are committed to making disciples.

When it gets personal (Nehemiah 6; Acts 16)

January 16, 2015

“Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.  But they intended to do me harm.” Nehemiah 6:2

As long as you go about your Christian walk with a middle of the road attitude, you will be safe from the enemy.

Question:  How do you feel about the previous sentence?  For me, I do not want to be known as a middle of the road follower of Christ.  I want to be a sold-out follower of Christ!!!  I want to live my life with a genuine purpose because I love the one who has given me all that I have.  I believe without a doubt this was the heart of Nehemiah.

In chapter six we see his heart, “And I sent messengers to them saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.  Why should the work stop while I leave it, and come down to you.”

Think it through:

The context of Nehemiah six is this:  “The work of repairing the walls is almost complete.  All that is left is the hanging of the gates.”  We notice the enemies escalated efforts to stop the work:

  • The enemy tries to allure Nehemiah into a trap, Vs: 1
  • The enemy attempts to slander Nehemiah, Vs: 2-4
  • The enemy seeks to have Nehemiah killed, Vs: 16-19

To be honest, just one of these efforts usually stops most of us!!!  But Nehemiah stays the course.  Why does he stay the course:  “Nehemiah knows the finish is was worth the fight!!!”

When it gets personal, only a right understanding of the finish will keep us in the fight.  Our New Testament reading, Acts 16, teaches us this same truth.

Our takeaway:

  1. Do we believe the Kingdom of God is worth the fight?  Check out Philippians 3:20-21
  2. Do we understand the purpose of tribulation in our lives?  Check out Acts 14:27
  3. Do we understand we cannot be victorious in the fight unless we get personal?  Check out Acts 18:9

Today, I am praying and believing that God’s work is worth the fight.  Today I am believing that God is placing people in my path that are worth the fight.