Archive for November, 2018

Rebellion 101 (Numbers 16)

November 16, 2018

28 And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. Numbers 16:28

I can still remember the first class I took in seminary.  The class was Old Testament Survey 1 (101 in the course catalog).  The next class would be Old Testament Survey 2 (102 in the course catalog).   Did you know, when you began your life that your were taking your first course in rebellion?

Sherry and I have a grandson coming in a few days. At the moment of his birth Colt Matthew will begin his first course in rebellion.

The hard truth of this is sobering. Unless Jesus breaks into Colt’s life, he will continue to take course after course in rebellion.

In Numbers sixteen we see first hand a congregation who was excelling in their courses in rebellion.  Moses lifts out of their story the story of three people who were leaders in rebellion (Korah, Dathon, and Abiram).  These three stood out in their class.

They rebelled against God and against Moses.   These men were self-absorbed, self-promoting, and self-glorifying.  Moses is clear, “They have sinned against God.”

Notice how God is at work.  God says to Moses, “I am going to destroy all the people.”

Notice how Moses is at work. Moses intercedes for the people, Vs:20.  God offers grace to the congregation.  But he destroys those who led in the rebellion and all who stood with them.  Brothers and sisters, rebellion against God leads to death!

Now, before we all say, “amen,” and move on, we must consider the last part of chapter six-teen, In particular verses 41-50.  Now the entire nation complains against God.  Again it is the intercession of Moses which saves the day.

As I now pause to reflect on the entire chapter I take the following to heart:

  • My sin affects all who are around me.  Colt begins his life as a sinner because his dad is a sinner and yes, his grandfather is a sinner.  I passed it down.
  • My sin cost Jesus life on the cross.  Jesus became my intercessor (I Timothy 2:4-5; I John 2:1-2) and Jesus became Keith’s intercessor and I pray Colt receives Jesus as his intercessor.
  • I am to be interceding for all men in this day, Jude 1:20-22.

May the Lord cause you and I to drop the class rebellion 101 and may we add the class righteous at the feet of Jesus 101.

What Type of Person are You? (Numbers 12)

November 15, 2018

 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. Numbers 12:3

Recently I was in a meeting where the leader asked each of us to do the following.  We were to write down one word which we each believed described ourselves best.  Next we were asked to write down one word that we believed others might use to describe us.  As I considered the second question, I truly began to wonder, what are others thoughts about who I am?

In Numbers 12 we have the story of Moses, Aaron, and their sister Miriam.  When I think of Aaron and Miriam I think of words like siblings of Moses, servants, leaders, and committed.

But in this chapter, because of what happens here, other words come to mind.  Words like: selfish, jealous, prideful, and judgmental.

Question: How could my views change so quickly?

The truth is, when the flesh rose up in Aaron and Miriam they embraced the character they had apart from God.  Just look at the disease of leprosy as a vivid picture of what we look like when we evidence character of the flesh.

Question: Do you have leprous spots in your life?

In the moment Aaron and Miriam evidenced spots that needed God’s attention.  Today I am reminded of the spots that need my attention.  Please take time to read the following verses as a help for the spots in your own life:

Romans 13:12

Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:14

14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Father, direct our hearts and minds into a life of laying aside and putting on for your glory!

A man who did not care (Genesis 25)

November 14, 2018

 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:34

The disciples of Jesus came to Him in the midst of a storm with a very serious and accusing question: “do you not care that we are perishing?” How could anyone believe that Jesus did not care?

Question: “Could it ever be said that you and I do not care?”

If I had to sum up the life of Esau, the brother of Jacob, I would say, he was a man who did not care.  The story of this man and his brother are well documented in the book of Genesis.  Most who study their story, focus on Jacob.  But today I would like you to focus on Esau:

  • Esau’s life began with both blessings and problems.

The blessing was in being born into a family which had the covenant blessing of God on it.  The problem was, Esau and his brother were both born as sinners and their sin set them at odds with each other.

  • Esau’s adult life was characterized by depraved living.

Hebrews 12:16 “He was sexually immoral and unholy.”

  • Esau’s life was wasted because of his refusal to turn to the Lord.

Hebrews 12:17 “He would not repent.”

I know the above is basically a skeleton outline of Esau’s life.  I hope you take time to fill around the bones by reading Genesis 26-34.  But here is what I want to ask you, “Do you care about what God cares about?”  Esau did not.

Maybe you ask, How do I know whether I care or not?

Are you bitter or broken for others?  Are you wanting to let go of hatred or are you wanting to get even with those you hate?  Have you become a user of people or are you a servant of people?

I want to challenge you to follow the example of Jesus who was broken for us.  He forgives all who seek His forgiveness and He served others.  Feast on Ephesians 1 this day:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[b] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

 

Passionately wrong (Judges 11)

November 13, 2018

 Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.” Judges 11:9

I did my homework.  I knew exactly what was wrong and I knew exactly what part was needed to fix the problem.  With great pride I ordered the part from Amazon.  When the part came with great passion I took it out of the box, laying aside the paperwork because I was so ready to fix the problem.  But tragedy hit.  About half-way through the process I broke the part.  I was stunned because I was using a simple tool to tighten down the part.  Suddenly I saw on the side of the part in bold print, “only tighten with your hands.”

Brothers and sisters, I was passionately wrong!  Is it possible to be passionate and wrong at the same time?  The obvious answer is yes.  We could point to such people as Hitler as our example.  Shamefully, I can from time to time point to my own life.

In our focal text Jephthah was an example of a person who was passionately wrong.  Follow the storyline:

  • Jephthah story is of being born to a prostitute.  Early in life his half-brothers developed hate for him, so as a young man he leaves his country..
  • Jephthah is also known as a warrior.  As a warrior he is needed in his country.
  • Jephthah is asked to come home and lead his people.
  • Jephthah takes a stand in saying, if God favors me I will lead.  His stand is strong even before his enemies.  He says he will take what God gives him.

Here is where Jephthah stumbles.  For some reason he mixes his passionate devotion to God with a polluted view instilled in him by the pagan’s.  He takes a vow to sacrifice what first comes out of his house, if God will grant him victory.

Be assured, God grants victory not because of the vow but because of His grace to His people.  Suddenly a mighty and passionate warrior sees his daughter coming out of the house.  How could such a man be so passionately wrong?

Answer: “When he mixes God’s views with the views of the world.”

Brothers and sisters, here the Word of God, “Study to show thyself approved unto God…” II Timothy 2:15.  Make sure you have a Biblically accurate reason to do what you do!  Here the Word of God, “Whatever you do, do all for the glory of the Lord,” Colossians 3:17.  Make sure you are passionate for Him and not for yourself.

Finally, swallow your pride when you fail.  Jephthah please cry out to God for forgiveness.  But no, he did not and after three months, he sacrifices his daughter.

As we leave this text, there is a strong reminder to humble ourselves daily before the Lord being careful in our passions!!!

 

Silence (II Samuel 14-15)

November 12, 2018

And at the end of four[a] years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron, II Samuel 15:7

There are times when silence is the right response. In the book of Revelation there was silence before the Trumpet judgments of God were carried out (Revelation 9-10).  There was often silence coming from the disciples of Jesus when He spoke eternal truth to them.  Question: “Are you in a time of silence in your life?”

David was in a time of seemingly silence when his family was falling apart.

Certainly you remember David?  David was the shepherd boy who was called from his profession of caring for sheep to then care for the sheep of Israel, I Samuel 16:13-16.  David was according to God Himself, “a man after my own heart who will do all my will.”

This was David.  However David, like us, had some dysfunction in his life.  His, unlike ours, has been published for all time in God’s Word.  David had dysfunction in his family life:

  • David had multiple wives.
  • David had multiple children by these multiple wives.
  • David seems to fail at leading his children when they act in rebellion.

We remember his son committing murder against his half-brother because his half-brother had raped his sister.  While this is happening (II Samuel 13), David is silent.  His son runs for his life and for three years David is silent.

Through a series of events, his son returns and for two more years David is silent.  Brothers and sisters, silence is golden when you don’t know what to say.  However, it is quick-sand when you are in a position of leadership.

By the end of chapter 15, nine years have passed in silence between these two men.  What is the result.  Absalom overthrows the throne of his father.

What should have David done differently?  I believe he should have followed James words of wisdom:

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:6-10

Lets be honest.  There are times when we do not know what to say.  It is in those times when we must call out to God for His answers.  We are to dig down deep in prayer, fasting, and meditation.  It is then when God will give us not only the answers we need, but the boldness to speak as we should.

Obey God’s Word in this day of silence and watch what the Lord can do through you!!!

A Land of Perversion (Leviticus 18)

November 9, 2018

You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. Leviticus 18:3

In recent days the news in America has been filled with the debate as to whether our nation should allow people into our country from Central America.  I was watching a news reporter who asked a very important question.  Here was her question:

“Why do people want to come to the United States to live?”

Certainly you know the answer!  The answer is, “This nation has more opportunity than any other.”

At the same time, I realize this nation also has more opportunities to be perverted than any other.

In the days of the Exodus the nation of Israel was beginning her journey from a land of perversion (Egypt).  She was headed to a land of perversion (The Promised Land).  God spoke to the people through Moses and said: “Do not allow the land to pervert you.”

How was this possible?  We see God’s answer before us:

You shall follow my rules[a] and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.

God has a different set of rules than does a perverted world.  God has blessings awaiting those who follow His plan. In Leviticus 18 we understand those blessings translate into a life lived by morals which lead to both sexual and spiritual purity of life.

Brothers and sisters, we live in a day when nations need the Lordship of Christ!  We live in a day when nations need believers who will live lives depicting the way God intends.

I am reminded of Paul’s passionate direction to Timothy.  I offer these words in hopes of encouraging an awakening among us:

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. I Timothy 4:12-16

 

How could things get worse? (Joel 2)

November 8, 2018

Blow a trumpet in Zion;
    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
    nor will be again after them
    through the years of all generations. Joel 2:1-2

One could understand the utter hopeless feeling of the mother as she stood in the rubble of what used to be her family’s home.  She walked around trying to find anything still usable.  Finally she gave up.  She looked at her equally shocked husband and she asked, how could things get worse?

Maybe the people in Joel’s day felt the same way as they were trying to recover from a plague of locusts(1:4).  The prophet of God uses this backdrop to prepare the people for an even darker day.  The day he simply labels as, “The Day of the Lord.”

The Day of the Lord means different things based upon the context of its usage:

  • Sometimes it was a personal judgment as experienced by the people in Sodom, Genesis 19.
  • Sometimes it meant the national judgment of God as experienced by Israel in Joel 2.
  • Someday there is coming a “Day of the Lord” like no other which is the Second-coming of the Lord (Joel 3).

It is to the last context that you and I need to consider. As the people of God the Day of the Lord is a joyous coming reality because we are looking for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

What does the Day of the Lord stir in you?

Joel writes:

  1. It should stir a desire for examination.

Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
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.

Where are you with the Lord?  What would God say to you if He returned today?  What would you say to Him?

2. It should stir a desire for evangelism.

Joel wrote of the day when the Lord would come (first coming) and when the Lord would pour out His Spirit (Acts 2).  The church has been empowered by God to take action knowing the Day of the Lord is coming.  We are to be about His work knowing The Day of the Lord will have an entirely different meaning for those who know Him not.

I think about that dear woman who stood in the rubble of a house lost.  Her husbands reply was wise and filled with understanding of the Day of the Lord.  He said to her, “sweetheart I understand how tough it is to lose earthly possession.  But remember we have a home in heaven that is far better than what we have lost here.  We are so blessed.”

What wise words for a family that is looking forward to the Day of the Lord!!!

 

What do I need? (I Corinthians 14)

November 7, 2018

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.  I Corinthians 14:1

The Apostle Paul begins chapter 14 with the answer to our question, “what do I need?”  Paul writes:

  1.  You need to pursue love.

This love is found in chapter 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The church at Corinth was not pursuing love.  The church members were pursuing speaking in tongues.  This lead to jealously in the church.  This led to confusion when lost people heard them speaking.  This lead to confusion and disorder in the church.  Ultimately this was resulting in self-glorification (vs: 2-5).

You and I need God’s love to overflowing in our lives. Without His love guiding us, we will become people who live in confusion and disorder.

2. You need to be earnest in your desire to exercise your spiritual gifts.

Paul writes about different gifts in chapter 12:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Question: Which gifts do you have?  God intends for us to use our gifts for the building of His church.  God has gifted you  in order for you to be successful as a Christ-follower.  God has gifted you so that others will come to know Him as Lord and Savior.

What do you and I need?  We need to receive what God is offering because He knows best what we need.  Take time today to discover fresh and new His love.  Take time to be reminded of His giftedness in your life.  Focus even more on using what He has given for His glory and your good.

What is your problem? (John 12)

November 6, 2018

He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.  John 12:6

As I wrote the title for this blog, I knew the answer for my pressing problem.  I can’t breathe because I just got through working out.  I am sitting at my desk breathing very hard because I ran almost three miles in seventeen minutes.

However, if someone met me on the street while I was sitting down breathing as I am, they might think, this dude is having a heart-attack.   Question, how good are you and I at assessing someone’s problems?

Let’s make this personal, how good are you and I at assessing our own problems?

In John 12 we see a bunch of people with problems.

  • We see Judas who loved money so much that he was willing to betray the Son of God.
  • We see Chief Priests who so loved their positions so much that they wanted to kill Lazarus for being exhibit A of Jesus miracle work.
  • We see Pharisees who loved their influence so much that they were bound to kill the Son of God.
  • We see a world who so loved the world  so much that they would reject their only hope of rescue from this world.

These people were filled with problems.  If we are honest we who are Christ-followers also struggle with loving money, positions, influence, and the thrills of this world.

Question:  Is there hope for such people with such problems?  The answer is, “Yes.”

Jesus said:

32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Mary understood what Jesus was doing for her.  This is why she gave him the best she had.  She understood how her life had changed for the better because of the joy that can only be found in Christ.

The song writer wrote, “I am trading my sorrows for the joy of the Lord.”  The sorrows are the problems we read about in John 12.  Brothers and sisters, only in Christ do we find the joy that removes our problems.

Intimacy with God (Psalm 23)

November 5, 2018

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

Have you ever tried to write about someone you had never met?  The task would be impossible if you only had your personal experience to draw from. The only way this could happen would be if you found writings from trusted sources who truly knew the person you are wanting to write about.

In Psalm 23 David is writing about the God he knew.  This God had reached out to David when he was just a youth (I Samuel 16).  He took David from shepherding his fathers flocks and made him a shepherd of an entire nation.

It is of no wonder that David uses the image of a shepherd to describe his intimate relationship with God.  It is of no wonder that Jesus would use this same image in referring to His role as the Savior of all-men (John 10:10-17).

Question:  “Is Jesus your shepherd?”

Those who come into intimacy with God have come only through the Great Shepherd Jesus.  In Psalm 23 we find 12 blessings given to us by our Great Shepherd.  On this Monday, we need to be reminded of our Great Shepherd’s love for us.  Be encouraged by these 12 blessings:

  • Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of our heart and soul (“I shall not want.”)
  • Jesus provides rest for our heart, mind, and soul (“I lie down in green pastures”)
  • Jesus gives us security in a chaotic world (“He leads me by still waters”)
  • Jesus gives purpose to our existence (He restores my soul”)
  • Jesus directs us to live in right ways (Paths of righteousness”)
  • Jesus gives us confidence in the hour of our death (Valley of the shadow of death”).
  • Jesus disciplines us and protects us (“thy rod and staff”)
  • Jesus makes a way for us in hostile territory (Prepares a table”)
  • Jesus honors us with the title of Son-ship (“Anoints with oil”)
  • Jesus gives us joy (“overflows”)
  • Jesus goodness and mercy follows us always (“all the days of my life”)
  • Jesus provides us eternal life in heaven (“I will dwell in the house of the Lord”)

Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our Great Shepherd.  How could we not be encouraged by the fruit of the intimacy we have with God.  No wonder the song writer wrote the following:

How Can I Keep From Singing
There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing
I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You’ll see me through
And sing the songs You give
I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing ’cause You pick me up
Sing ’cause You’re there
I can sing ’cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I’ll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne