Friday, July 29, 2005

The Worm and Tiger Also

6 And the LORD God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah's head, shading him from the sun. This eased some of his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 7 But God also prepared a worm!

William Blake asked the question- Did He who made the Lamb also make the Tiger? He could see God in the Lamb. Meek, mild, and tender. But surely not the tiger- that steely killler.

God ordains the shade, but he also prepares the worm.

And it is all to His glory! He is Lord!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Myriad of Purposes- A Tapestry of Triumph

I Corinthians 12: 5 "There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6 There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us."

Our Bible Department head, Bill Delvaux, has the neatest illustration. He holds up the backside of a beautiful tapestry and reveals all the stitches and thread. It looks like a jumbled mess! But when He turns it around- there is a beautiful handiwork of art.

God is weaving throughout all of history and life experiences, a tapestry of triumph- His GLORY ! It is so complex, that as we look at the individual stitches- the back of the shawl- it seems convoluded and confused.

One family struggles with cancer or depression, another family celebrates the birth of a child. One man finds faith while another curses God to his grave.

One church thrives with excitement while another barely flickers with hope. One city seems to never have a day of change or excitement, while another is bombed almost daily.

Where is God?

He is still at work- spreading His good news of hope! He works in a myriad of different ways- but He alone will triumph.

Come to Christ today, and be a part of His beautiful handiwork!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Where are the Idols?

I Corin. 10: 5 5 Yet after all this, God was not pleased with most of them, and he destroyed them in the wilderness.
6 These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did 7 or worship idols as some of them did. For the Scriptures say, "The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged themselves in pagan revelry." 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don't grumble as some of them did, for that is why God sent his angel of death to destroy them. 11 All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close. 12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols."

I'm really enjoying the NLT of I Corinthians- Paul is so good and God's Word is so powerful.

This is a great passage. The OT is a reminder to us of God's nature and a warning to us on how to displease the Lord. Even after the people experienced His miracles, in the end, God was not pleased with the people and ended up destroying them.
Why? Because we constantly run to idols-maybe not the wooden ones- but we have them all around.

They are represented in our cravings -

Amos 8: 5" You can't wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless." The parallel is that we get restless in the things of God and crave worldly things.

They are represented in our grumblings-

Idols tend to make us spoiled and ungrateful.

Next time in worship ask yourself- what does my mind stray to? Is it sexual desires. or leisure, or work. or worries- Sad to say, I think a lot about football- I need to cast those out- all things must be in subjection to Christ.

By the way- the worst state is pride- if you say " I have no idols"- then you are risking the greatest loss of all- Pride prevents the true cure- the blood of Jesus from covering your idol worship.

So- I have idols- I need to throw them down and flee from my cravings and grumbling- I need to lean on Jesus to help me in my idol worship and my only hope is His great mercy and forgiveness.

God is faithful!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Valley of Decision

Joel 4:14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. It is there that the day of the LORD will soon arrive.

This verse just stuck upon me this morning. It is in the context of all the nations gathering for the last big battle of man. All of his greed, and evil is about to push the winepress over the brink. God will soon begin squashing His grapes of wrath- and no one will be able to stand.

Before the day of the Lord- there is still room, there is still time...but it is fleeting.

You, my friend, are in a valley of decision.

Choose well.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Too Simple

Joel 2:32 And anyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

Is it that simple? The answer is YES... and NO. All the Lord requires is We call on HIM to save us. We trust Him and not ourselves.

If the Lord required money...only the rich could be saved
If the Lord required secret or special knowledge...only the wise could be saved
if the Lord required our works...only the strong and disciplined could be saved

He requires faith- which makes it possible for all to be saved.

I do not trust my good deeds. I do not trust anything to save me but the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will be before the Lord one day in judgement. When I see His holiness, I will be in total awe. My only hope is the covering of Christ. And He is enough.

Simple for us- impossible for us- Yet He makes the way- It was hard for Him and complex- He has made it very clear to us!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Called to a Friendship

I Corinthians I Comments

"2 We are writing to the church of God in Corinth, you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere – whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs."

Being made holy through Christ- do we really understand how awesome that is? I committed a sin yesterday- I read in the OT this morning how that same sin caused the death of a man of God- yet I am here- alive and writing. Why? Jesus Christ took my death- Oh Forgive me Lord- I have heard that message so many times that I am hard to its true impact! I am alive- I am considered holy in God's eyes! What a Savior!!!

"9 God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

Wow- God keeps His word- He always does what He says- again, in the OT- if He commanded a curse- it always happened- but I am invited to be a friend to His son! It is a wonderful friendship indeed!

"10 Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won't be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose."

If God has made me holy through Christ- if He has welcomed me into His family- is this too hard to ask- that I be a unifier- and seek real harmony with my brothers in the church? Lord- this one is easy- I forgive others- I look for the good- I speak well of others- I do not participate in gossip or inflamatory criticism- I seek the cause of Christ.

Father, the enemy wants to divide us- please pour out a spirit of unity!

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Gracious Offer of Repentance

Hosea 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for your sins have brought you down. 2 Bring your petitions, and return to the LORD. Say to him, "Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you the sacrifice of praise. 3 Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle. Never again will we call the idols we have made 'our gods.' No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy."

4 The LORD says, "Then I will heal you of your idolatry and faithlessness, and my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever! 5 I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. It will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. 6 Its branches will spread out like those of beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedar forests of Lebanon. 7 My people will return again to the safety of their land. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

8 "O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who looks after you and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green, giving my fruit to you all through the year." 9 Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those who are discerning listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But sinners stumble and fall along the way.

I am amazed how as humans we shrink back from this offer- Some say "I've just been to bad" and don't believe God's word concerning His love- Some say "I just need to hide it from His pure eyes" God saw you and he knows- He doesn't approve,but He is not thrown back- His arms are open- Some say 'I'm too good or I'm not that bad" These are the hardest to reach.

Return to Christ- He forgives- He restores- He loves- He blesses!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Amnesia of the Flesh

Hosea 13:"5 I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. 6 But when you had eaten and were satisfied, then you became proud and forgot me."

I Kings 11:1 "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh's daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The LORD had clearly instructed his people not to intermarry with those nations, because the women they married would lead them to worship their gods. Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. And sure enough, they led his heart away from the LORD."

Our hearts are prone to wander. Some of the finest believers with great intentions and early success have ended up in states of rebellion and sin. How does this happen? I believe it happens slowly, thought by thought, moment by moment.

Is there protection from this? Daily ingestion of God's Word helps. An active prayer life- fellowship in a good, Bible teaching church- allow the Holy Spirit to direct and shine on sin.

Usually leisure and success make us more vulnerable- beware the butterslide of praise.

Father, my heart is continually drifting...anchor me to You and Your truth!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Prayer for America

We had a wonderful 4th- we rode bikes to a local neighborhood parade- went downtown for a festival- and ended up at a park for a concert and fireworks! It was a beautiful to celebrate such a wonderful country- And I live in a great part of the nation- God fearing- family loving, gracious people!

Dear God Our Father,
In this time of great division and danger, we ask that you help us. Not that we deserve it, but we want to continue to be a beacon of hope and a model of success. This life is a mixed bag and a temporary host. May you allow us to continue being a preservative of the natural entropy of order.
Lord, the churches are dark in the old land and selfishness reigns. Intellectual imperialism tickles the ears but salve no wounds. Our churches are flickering. Please revive us- give us soft hearts of love and united hearts of courage. We wimper in our prosperity and hoard our greed.
Be gracious to our leaders and heal our land.
In the name and example of Christ,

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Press ON

Hosea 6:"1 "Come, let us return to the LORD! He has torn us in pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. 2 In just a short time, he will restore us so we can live in his presence. 3 Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him!"

I watched the movie, Seabiscuit, again last night- it is a stirring inspiration to press on. When times are tough-just keep digging, clawing, and be patient- good days are ahead. When we are struggling, we learn to lean harder on Him - we become more dependent on HIm, we learn that He is all we need.

Solomon felt unable to carry out his tasks- so he went to the Lord and asked for wisdom- God rewarded that pursuit- we need to press on- the NT tells us to press on toward the high calling of God in Christ.

Press on to God