Thursday, January 30, 2014
"Go your way. Eat the fat and drink the sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to the Lord. And do not be grieved for the joy of the Lord is your strength."They tell them to put aside their weeping and throw a party instead. Why? Because the grace of God is worth celebrating. We are to be strengthened by the joy of the Lord who's delight is in our redemption. He wants us to see our sin in the light of His forgiveness and grace. Because without drawing near, we continue to carry the burden of sin along with us. But God wants to set us free and give us a reason to celebrate. Lord, I want to draw near to you so that your Word becomes personal in my life. I want you to search me O God and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way. Set me free in the joy of your forgiveness and grace to the praise and glory of your great Name! Teach me to celebrate your grace.
Monday, January 27, 2014
"Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name." (Acts 5:41)As you read closely, you'll find that the apostles didn't rejoice in their beating. They didn't enjoy their physical suffering in a kind of sadistic euphoria. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ. They realized that the lashing they received was they same that was given to their Savior. After all, they (like Jesus) were not being punished for a crime. These religious leaders didn't have a problem with the apostles per se. They had a problem with their message. And so, in the end, they rejoiced because they knew that the message they were preaching was being heard. For many who were seeking a Savior, it was the good news of salvation. But for those who were doing just fine on their own, it was an irritable inconvenience to their preferred way of life. But in either case, it was confirmation for the apostles that the good news of salvation in Christ was heard and understood by all. Lord, I too desire to be in a place where I might rejoice when suffering dishonor for Your name. Where my life is so centered around your gospel that my reaction to circumstances is not judged by the presence or absence of pain, but instead, on the understanding of the message I am called to proclaim. I realize that some with respond with great joy, while others will lash out with hatred. But may I realize that the reaction, in both situations, is not based on me and what I have done. It is a response to your truth which is salvation to some and foolishness to others. In whatever I do (or not do), may it be for the glory of your name.
Monday, January 20, 2014
For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horseman to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek Him, and the power of His wrath is against all who forsake Him." Ezra 8:22In other words, we've got to practice what we preach if we really believe it is true. Either we trust God to be faithful or we look for other means to help us along the way. What a dilemma for Ezra that is equally as relevant in our lives today. Here we are in the Bible Belt of America and we can recite verse after verse of things we claim to be true. But what is our response when God calls us to practice what we preach? Namely, those impossible situations in life that may seem foolish from the world's perspective (kind of like walking into enemy territory with a buffet of priceless artifacts). For example, do we trust God's ability to redeem the marriage of an unfaithful but repentant spouse? Do we sacrifice an advancement in our career to pursue a life in ministry? Are we willing to trust that God can comfort those we love who suffer from an incurable disease? In the end, is there anything in my life that is just too big for Him to handle that would require me to go my own way. Or do I truly believe that He is faithful to carry me through? Lord, help me to live a life that truly trusts in you. Give me strength in those moments when my faith is put to the test. When I am called to practice what I preach. No matter what I face, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to live out my faith in both word and deed as I proclaim: "You alone are my Rock and my salvation; my stronghold, and in You I will not be greatly shaken." (Ps62:2)
Thursday, January 9, 2014
"Media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."That's the world we live in. And perhaps there is a method behind the madness of our highly fragmented information age. Maybe, just maybe, our enemy is behind the schemes of this world and His desire is to keep us moving so fast that we never really stop long enough to feast on the richness of God's love. Oh, we might wave as we zip by on our Jet Ski, but we no longer stop long enough to have a meaningful conversation. We don't go to the quiet place of prayer and reflection to nourish the deepest part of our soul. I think our enemy may be keeping us occupied while he is starving us to death. Lord, forgive me for falling into the enemy's trap. I'm sorry for ever believing that anything in life could possibly be more important than finding my rest in You. Teach me to slow down. Help me step away and be still before You. To listen... to reflect... to pray. I need You to speak words of life into my soul. To nourish me with Your Word... To patiently and lovingly lead me in Your everlasting way. You have my attention. I want to be all Yours. I'm listening now.
Monday, December 30, 2013
“And then God slipped me an insight, timely as manna dropped from the sky. He showed me that her past was beyond repair, at least on my watch. If there was any good thing there to salvage, I knew not how. But in the same instant God showed me she still had a future. And it was vast, unbroken, pristine, radiant. It was a pure promise: a glory that would be revealed to her, a glory that far outweighed her “light and momentary troubles” now, the glory of the One who was coming to redeem her and transform her (2Cor 4:17). Her past was a tragedy to lament. But her future was an epic to anticipate. Which is to say: what will happen matters more than what has happened.”I, nor this pastor who writes, would intend to minimize the past as if it doesn’t matter. And yet, we see how easy it is to become so paralyzed by our past that we cannot see any hope for our future. But we, as a Christians, have the unique ability to know ourselves, not based on our past, but instead in the light of God’s future. He is a God of redemption that brings “beauty from ashes” and “remembers our sins no more”. I pray that as you pray, and consider and seek counsel of where to go from here that you not lose sight of what God can do if He is allowed to work through our past to create a new future. As the author says in closing his thoughts:
“Apart from a compelling vision of things unseen, our lives shrink to things as they are or things as they were. Is the problem you face right now, the family issue or business fiasco or church quarrel or financial dilemma, really as large as you’ve made it out to be? Seen from the perspective of eternity, does it not scale down to more modest proportions? It’s the same with your past. It’s easy to let the hurts and slights of yesterday, like an unruly child coloring on the walls, mar all your days. What would happen if instead we let our future loose with a roller and paint can? What if we let God create something new?”I pray that you trust Him to do this in your life as well. I love you very much... and God loves you so much more!
Saturday, December 28, 2013
“Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” (2 Chronicles 14:11–12, NASB95)And yet, over time, even Asa increasingly fell into the trap of trusting in himself. He grew confident in the comfort of peace and power. And so when another opportunity to trust in the Lord came his way, he chose to rely on his own ingenuity in solving the problem. Instead of seeking God, he sought the support of an enemy. Asa looked to the security of worldly alliances instead of putting his trust in the Lord. Somewhere along the way, Asa determined that he could do just as well on His own.
O Lord, please protect me from making the same mistake. May I always trust in you more than I trust myself. My I look to your Word instead of depending on the opinions of others. May I be content in your provision instead of building an alliance with the power of this world. May the story of the kings teach me to trust in you.