Archive for August, 2015

Whats on the inside? (I Samuel 24; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39; I Corinthians 5)

August 31, 2015

“As the proverb of the ancient says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.”  I Samuel 24: 13

This morning I was challenged by a familiar story from the life of David when he was on the run from King Saul.  Just as a way of reminder I want to set the context for you.

David has been for some time living in caves and hiding out in the Judean wilderness with a band of soldiers numbering 600.  This group believes David is God’s man for the future of Israel.  However King Saul is being used by the enemy in an attempt to destroy God’s man.

Imagine how hard it must have been for David to live among the caves and in the wilderness away from routine and even relief in his own home?  A reading of Psalm 39 would help you to see even clearer.

Here in I Samuel 24 we see a moment when David could have ended the conflict with Saul.

Everything looks like God is in this:

  • Saul enters the very cave where David is hiding.
  • Saul is left exposed to an easy attach and certain death.
  • David’s mighty men encourage him with, “this is God’s Will.”
  • David almost gives in when he cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe.

But he does not kill Saul.  Question, “What’s on the inside?”

Think it through:

David allows Saul to live.  He follows Saul out of the cave and makes Saul aware of how he (David) has spared his life.  In this moment David shares an amazing observation, “Out of the wicked comes wickedness.”

Truth: “What is on the inside determines how we react on the outside!”

Jesus said, “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits,”  Matthew 7:20

When Saul sees the fruit he becomes, for one of the few times in his journey, remorseful. I Samuel 24:17-19

17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.

Our needed response:

The challenge for each of us is simple, “Examine our lives from the inside out.”  The cry to God should be simple, “Change my heart oh God and make it like your heart.”  The change in our lives should be apparent, “We will obey God.”

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What is God thinking? (I Corinthians 2; I Samuel 20; Psalm 36; Lamentations 5)

August 28, 2015

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?  So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God,” I Corinthians 2:11

Vester Lee Flanagan’s actions are now being question as to the why by many around the world, the day after his killing of 2 TV news workers in Roanoke Va.  The headlines from yesterday read as follows, “Killer had long history of erratic behavior.”  The articles writer quested, “What was this man thinking?”

When bad thinks happen, we often ask the questions that have no answers.  We really will not know, this side of heaven, what was in this man’s mind when he committed murder.

Now there are times when we are tempted to look at our circumstances and to ask God, “What are you thinking?”

Think it through:

As Paul writes to the Corinthian church we know his theme at the end of chapter 1 is boasting in the Lord.  In chapter 2 Paul continues to life up the Lord.

  • Paul boasts in the Lord’s work, Vs: 1-4

The message that had success in Corinth was totally because of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul was filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word of God.  This should be the desire of every Christian leader.

  • Paul boasts in the Lord’s wisdom, Vs: 5-16

Paul is able to impart wisdom to those who are mature in Christ.  Paul is unable to impart wisdom to those who do not know Christ.  The truth is clear, “Only those who know Christ and are seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit can understand what God is thinking.”

Paul wanted the Corinthian church to return to boasting in God’s work and in God’s wisdom.  This would be the only way they would be able to understand God’s wisdom for their lives. This would bring the needed unity among the body.  At the same time the church needed to rely on the Spirit of God and the Word of God to bring to life those who are dead in trespasses and sins.

In the midst of this chapter we also see the truth:  “The wisdom of the world does not understand the thinks of God.”  It is true, “I do not know what Vester was thinking when he committed murder.  However I do know what he was not thinking, “He was not thinking about God’s will in the matter.”

Our needed response:

Lord, “speak to me in your Word and lead me to understand and obey your Word through the Spirit’s wisdom.”

Looking for what what would not come (Lamentations 4; I Samuel 19; Psalm 35; I Corinthians 1)

August 27, 2015

“Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; in our watching we watched for a nation which could not save.”  Lamentations 4:17

I once heard the story of a person who would every night watch the late night news for one purpose, “to hear the winning lottery numbers.”  To his disgust, he never won.  Each night he would ask the Lord to help him to win. Finally, the Lord spoke to the man and said, “Help me out, buy a ticket.”

Certainly we know this is a made up story because God would not be for the Lottery and God would not speak such thinks to men.  However this made up story illustrates a point:  “Sometimes we look for things that will not happen.”

Think it through:

The nation of Israel finds itself in a place where she is looking for something that will not happen.  The fact is, 4:17, there will be no one to deliver them from destruction.

Jeremiah does two things in the chapter:

  • Jeremiah laments the destruction of his people, Vs: 1-20
    •  The first 19 verses show us the practical side of the destruction.

We see Jeremiah lamenting those who did not die in battle, but were now faced with a fate worse than death, Vs: 9-10.  We see the fright that comes when a people experience the full wrath of God, Vs: 11

  • Jeremiah lifts the spirits of his people, Vs: 21-22
    •  We see the theological side of all of this

“God will cause the cup to pass.”  When we look at this in context we understand the cup of wrath is the same cup Jesus drank for all who would come to Him for salvation.  Check out I Corinthians 1:8-9.  When we look at this cup in context we are reminded of Jeremiah’s words in 25:15-16.  We also are reminded to look ahead to Revelation 14:10 when all the world (that has rejected Christ) will drink the cup of God’s wrath.

Sadly, our world is looking for what will not come, i.e. peace and prosperity.

Our response:

What should our response be?  I believe the words of Paul in I Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

I will boast in God’s drinking the cup for me.  I will boast in knowing that I have something great to look forward to in Christ!!!  I will proclaim the only hope of the world.

Many are… (Psalm 34; Romans 16; I Samuel 18; Lamentations 3)

August 26, 2015

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  Psalm 34:19

On the heels of a great victory it would seem as if nothing could stand in David’s way of the life of ease!!!  You understand the life of ease?  It is the life that is portrayed by the American Dream and is preached by the prosperity preachers.  However there is one problem, “many are…

God says, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.”

In I Samuel 18 we do not see the American dream nor do we see prosperity coming to David because he served the Lord.  We see David facing the jealously of King Saul which drove him to try to destroy David.  This jealously would last for over 10 years.

These 10 years would be filled with many adversities, but in each of them David would progress in his faith and David would proclaim the faithfulness of God.

Think it through:

  • Many of the Psalms are written by David as God is inspiring him in the midst of afflictions:

“The Lord redeems the life of his servants, none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”  Psalm 34:22

  • Multitudes of people have been challenged by David’s heart for God in the midst of afflictions:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  Psalm, 34:8

  • David’s throne would ultimately find its greatest fulfillment at the coming of Jesus Christ.

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon were fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations,” Matthew 1:17

The fact is, “David’s life helps us to see the “many are” that comes to everyone who is a Christ follower.”  David sought to follow God’s path which placed him in the opposite path of the world.  Trouble was going to come!!!  So will it will all Christ followers, Acts 14:22; II Timothy 2:12.

Our response:

You and I must expect the “many are” and we must fulfill the purposes of God in the “many are!!!”

Be assured, The God of heaven is for you this day!!!  Check out Romans 8:31-38.

Never allow the enemy to convince you that you are sinning when the “many are” comes your way.  Claim the trial as your opportunity to progress in faith and to proclaim the faithfulness of God.

Fresh truth from a familiar place ( I Samuel 17; Romans 15; Psalm 33; Lamentations 2)

August 25, 2015

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth. that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”  I Samuel 17:46

This past weekend in Alabama a 920 pound alligator was pulled from a lake.  As I read the head line, I said, “Wow.”  But beneath this headline was a bigger wow, “a 13 foot 6 inch alligator was pulled from another lake on August 14.”

I don’t know about you, but for me, I am going to stay away from Alabama lakes.

This morning we come to a very familiar place in our Old Testament scripture reading.  Here we see the story, I Samuel 17, of David and Goliath.  Many times we read familiar passages without seeing what God intends.  Allow the Holy Spirit to show you fresh truth this day.

Think it through:

The truth before us is simply:  “Success in life is centered on focus!”

  • Israel’s focus in Goliath

The results are as follows:

  1.  They see an imposing figure, Vs: 6-7.
  2. They have inflicting fear, Vs: 11.
  3. They have intimidating fatigue, Vs: 16.
  4. They have internal fightings, Vs: 28.

These results are far too often the stories of our lives as we face tough times.

  • David’s focus is God:

The results are as follows:

  1. The imposing figure is God, Vs: 27, “The living God.”
  2. David’s faith is increasing, Vs: 34-36, “From childhood God has worked miracles.”
  3. David’s faith in invincible, Vs: 37, “I come to you in the name of the Lord.”

Question:  “What is the focus of your life?”  Is it the 920 pound alligators in life or is it the eternal God who is the God of Israel?”

Here are a few scriptures to consider:

For not in my bow do I trust,
    nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
    and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
    and we will give thanks to your name forever.  Psalm 44:6-8

Psalm 33:20-22

For not in my bow do I trust,
    nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
    and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
    and we will give thanks to your name forever.

II Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Our response:

This day I want my focus to be on God and His Glory!!! In this we can be fresh for whatever we face in the day!!!  In this we can know that God will see us through, over, or around every alligator of life

How can we live up to Psalm 32:12 (Psalm 32; Lamentations 1; I Samuel 16; Romans 14)

August 24, 2015

“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”  Psalm 33:11

Before is in Psalm 33:12 we have a direct command from the Psalmist:  We are to be glad, to rejoice, and to shout for joy.

The challenge is in how we live up to what this all means.

Think it through:

David is writing about the blessing of being forgiven by the Lord.  David’s sin was and still is the most chronicled sin in all the Bible.  All one has to say is David and Bathsheba.  We see the sin in II Samuel 11-12.

However, you and I know David is not the only sinner out there today.  For example, last Friday the news revealed the marital unfaithfulness of Josh Duggar.  When interviewed he said, “I feel like I have been the greatest hypocrite ever.”  I think David would argue something different and I believe Paul would argue that he was the chief of sinners, I Timothy 1:15-16.

So where do you and I stand in all of this?  How do we live up to Psalm 32:12?  Here is our answer:

  • We become glad when we come to the Lord.

David was sad when he hid his sin, Psalm 32:3-4.  David came before the Lord and confessed his sin and received the forgiveness of God, Psalm 32:1.

  • We can rejoice when God makes us righteous.

David was truly living in unrighteous cover-up.  But confessing brings us to the place where we are willing to receive the cleansing of the Lord.  Psalm 32:2 “God makes us right and no longer counts sin against us.”

  • We can shout for joy when our hearts are right before God.

David rejoiced when the Lord cleansed him from all sin, Psalm 32:6-7.  David desires to walk in holiness before God.  The Lord gives us power, I John 4:4, when we are walking with a clean and committed heart.

This is how we live up to Psalm 32:12.  It is all the work of Jesus!!!

Our response:

Today I will be glad, I will rejoice, and I will shout for joy.  Brothers and sisters pray this for Josh Duggar and pray this for your own life as I pray this for my life.  Then present this glorious truth to all you have opportunity with today.

What is in our hearts? (I Samuel 13; Romans 11; Jeremiah 50; Psalm 28-29)

August 21, 2015

“The proud one shall stumble and fall, with none to raise him up.  And I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all that is around him.”  Jeremiah 50:32

Living in close quarters lends itself to true revelation to what is in a person’s heart.  For example, “Sherry and I have been honored to host Brother Ovi who leads Hope for the Future ministries in Malawi Africa for part of his American mission trip.  I have been daily amazed at the heart he has for God.  Without a doubt, in his life, “the Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is his name.”  The Lord described by Jeremiah has redeemed this young man’s life and has given him a new heart!!!

Question:  “What is in our hearts?”

Think it through:

In I Samuel 13 God continues to chronicle the story of Israel and her first king.  The previous three words, “her first king,” leaves a sting in my heart knowing the truth of knowing the Lord of hosts is not ruling in the people’s heart.  Here we see what is in king Saul’s heart.

King Saul disobeys the commandment of God in taking to himself what God intended for someone else to lead.  Here is what is revealed in Saul’s heart:

  • Saul reveals his desire for self-promotion

The people were scattering in their fear.  Saul wanted them to rally to him instead of relying on God.

  • Saul reveals his desire for self-preservation

Saul did not want to be defeated and he was going to achieve victory at the cost of God’s glory.

  • Saul reveals his deficiency in surrendered praise.

He did not keep the commandments of God.

In this moment I am greatly convicted to know what is really in my own heart.  It seemed that in every passage I read, I felt the weight of my Saul like heart.  I cried out to God, please create in me a clean and pure heart.

I desire to have a heart that God wants for every believer, “The Lord has sought out for a man for his own heart.”  

Our response:

Here was my response to God:

  • Lord, thank you for giving grace to me when I fail to be pure in my heart.
  • Lord, thank you for the Holy Spirit that daily challenges, directs, and convicts my heart.
  • Lord, thank you for the Word which shows me the right way to walk.
  • Lord, thank you for a new heart in Jesus.

I pray the Lord will create in each who read this a heart like Jesus.

The struggle for integrity (I Samuel 12; Psalm 26-27; Jeremiah 49; Romans 10)

August 20, 2015

“Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.  For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”  Psalm 26:2-3

Ours has become a world where it seems there are less and less people who are walking in integrity.  Yesterday I was reading about Jared Fogle (the recently fired spokesman for Subway).  This seemingly great guy who lost a ton of weight with a Subway died had another side to him.  You can read the story here:

Report: Subway spokesman Jared Fogle to accept plea deal on charges of possessing child porn

Certainly there are no righteous among us who never sin.  But has God not called each of us (as Christ-followers) to a different lifestyle?

David in Psalm 26 sets before us the need of walking in integrity before God.  It is clear, when one walks in integrity before God, he or she can walk in integrity before me.

Think it through:

Consider the Prophet Samuel in I Samuel 12.  R.C. Sproul comments:  “With Samuel’s farewell speech, we come to the end of the time of the judges in Israel’s history.”  Cited from Pg. 393, “The Reformation Study Bible”

During the time of the judges, “there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

Now there was a king in Israel, but the people were still sinning against God.  Standing opposite such lifestyles was the Prophet Samuel who evidenced three traits that are necessary for making impact in a world that struggles with integrity:

  • Samuel evidenced true character, Vs: 1-5

The prophet of God challenges the people to research his life.  He challenges the people to seek to find any skeleton in the closet or any hidden sin under a rock.  God has transformed this prophet.

  • Samuel evidenced true competency, Vs: 6-13

The prophet of God understood the history of his people.  He understood the sovereign workings of a Holy God.  He made clear what was happening in his world.  Question, “Can you and I do the same?”

  • Samuel evidenced true conviction, Vs: 14-25

This man evidences his convictions before the people.  He both pray’s for and presents the truth before the people.

Our response:

When we read Paul’s instruction concerning true faith we see the same path being placed before us that Samuel lived.  This day I challenge you to read Romans 10 with the desire to have these same spiritual traits in your life.

Don’t take it for granted (Romans 9; I Samuel 11; Jeremiah 48; Psalm 25)

August 19, 2015

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.  My eyes are every toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net,” Psalm 25:14-15

Yesterday morning I read the tragic story of the death of an Army Skydiving team member as he was making a jump on Sunday in Chicago.  You can read the story at:

This man had made over 200 jumps and had many award’s for his military achievements, but on this day away from war, he died.

Question, “have you recently been taking for granted the life you have been given by the Lord?”

In Psalm 25 David gives praise to the God of his salvation.  Notice Psalm 25:5, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”

David understood the glorious grace that had been extended to him.

Think it through:

In Romans 9 Paul helps us to understand this same truth in the most detailed discussion of the election of God in the Bible.  I challenge you to think through Romans 9 with three viewpoints:

  • If you are a Christ-follower, be thankful for being saved by faith, Vs: 31.
  • If you are a Christ-follower, be broken over those who have not come to saving faith, Vs: 1-13.
  • If you are a Christ-follower, share your faith with all people because their end could be this very day, Vs: 14-26

I love what Paul writes after the long discussion of election.  Check it out, “What shall we say, then?  That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is a righteousness that is by faith.”  Romans 9:30

Only the grace of God brings a person to their understanding of their need of a Savior.  Please do not take it for granted.

Our needed response:

If you are not a Christ-follower, understand the grace of God that has preserved your life through many accidents and mishaps.

If you are not a Christ-follower, understand the grace of God that has kept the Lord from judging you for your continued rebellion against Him.

If you are not a Christ-follower, repent of your sin and become a follower of the one who will save you by His grace, Ephesians 2:8-9.

If you are a Christ-follower, never take for granted the grace of God!!!

How We Operate (Romans 8; I Samuel 10; Jeremiah 47; Psalm 23-24)

August 18, 2015

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death,” Romans 8:2

Each week my computer has automatic updates to my operating system.  Usually on Monday my computer will ask me whether I want to update my operating systems or not.  Some weeks, I respond with a yes.  Other weeks I respond, ask me later.  And occasionally I will respond with no.

Question:  “What is the spiritual operating system in your life?”

Think it through:

Because of Christ, we who follow him have been set free from our old operating system (i.e. the Law of the Flesh).  As Christ followers you and I can now operate in the Law of the Spirit.  However do we choose to daily say, “yes to the Law of the Spirit?”

Notice how Paul describes the two operating systems in Romans 8:

  • The Old operating system

This system is the one we are born with and it is under the condemnation of God, Vs: 1.  This system of life is hostile to God, Vs: 7.  This system cannot please God, Vs: 8.  Be assured, this system is dead, Vs: 5

  • The New operating system

This system is approved by God, Vs: 3-4.  This system has life in God, Vs: 11-12.

Which system is operating in your life?

Our needed response:

Beginning in Vs: 12 through the end of the chapter Paul teaches us how we should respond:

  • We should live as debtors (owe God our lives) to Christ in putting to death the old operating system, Vs: 12-13.
  • We should live life as God’s adopted Children, Vs: 13-17.
  • We should live in hope of the adoption, Vs: 18-25.
  • We should live according to His purposes, Vs: 26-30

If this is how you and I are operating, we are assured of this reality, “If God be for us, then who can be against us.”

Application:  If you are living in fear, frustration, or in the flesh, you must own the system you are operating in.  You must also confess it as sin and turn from this system.  Then you must cry out for God’s Spirit to fill you with fresh perspective and power so that you can do His will.