Saturday, August 30, 2014
In the Book of Job today we read, "the godless are full of resentment". It's a vicious cycle isn't it. The more we disobey God and do things are own way, the worse things get for us and the more bitter and resentful we get against God and the further we stray from Him. While the opposite is true for the sincere Christian. Those that obey spend the rest of their years in prosperity and their years in contentment; thence, drawing them closer to God. We go on to read "For the godless are full of resentment. Even when he punishes them, they refuse to cry out to him for help". In the book "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis, a fictional account of life for the soul in the netherworld, C.S. Lewis illustrates the truth of this scripture. Lewis shows that in the afterlife, people/souls will only become more resolute in their convictions. The lost person who dies in their sin, full of rebellion and pride against God will only become more resolute as this God punishes him only reinforcing his hatred for this God. When all is said and the final verdict is pronounced and there is no longer hope for anything good to benefit them, then all the animosity and hatred will pour out of the vile heart. I remember as a teenager, I did not get along at all with my mother. However, I remember around Wed, Thursday, I would start forcing myself to be nice to her in hopes of getting either the car or some money for the week-end, or BOTH. Once it was made clear she had no money and needed the car, I immediately turned very hateful towards her. The mask no longer needed to be worn. We naively think everyone in Hell is going to have this repentant heart, seeing the error of their ways and wanting God to forgive them. However our scripture and many other scriptures in the Bible show us that that will not be the case. The place we have to come to as Christians is a completed trust and confidence in this Just and Merciful and Gracious God that we serve. We must trust that those that end up in Hell end up there because there was no alternative. Even if that person ends up being our children, our parents, grandmother or best friend. We must trust that God is Just and all His ways are perfect. We must trust that nobody who is in Hell had a chance at Heaven. I know sometimes we hear, "had you or I witnessed to that person they could have ended up in Heaven, but because of me they are in Hell now". However, as much as that makes the individual look back, it makes God look even worse. Why did God leave into the hands of a lazy or apathetic Christian, someones soul. Now that person who "could have been in Heaven" will now spend eternity in Hell because God left my sister's soul in the hands of a apathetic Christian, my sister, "who could have made Heaven" her home but didn't, Thanks God!" You have to see the fallacy in this kind of wrong thinking. That somehow, good people, that would have repented, had they heard, are in Hell screaming today with no chance of getting out. I must trust in the goodness, Omniscience, Omnipotence and Sovereignty of my God above all things. I must trust that those that will wind up in Hell were truly the un-penitent sinner. I believe, according to scripture that Hell is not full of repentant souls, but full of souls that defy, hate and curse their creator and they are in great company because their leader will one day join them for good, in the Lake of Fire.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
I work with an elderly lady and when I walk by, I hold my breath, not because she stinks, but the perfume she wears, stinks. She does not take the time and pay the cost, to put that perfume on, so that others can say, "she stinks, but regardless, that is the end result. I'm sure there are others that will tell her that the perfume she is wearing smells very nice. Paul describes our life as a sweet smelling perfume. However Paul makes an interesting observation here, he writes that not all think our perfume is so sweet. Paul writes that to those who are being saved we are a life giving perfume, but to those who are perishing we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. At work, at school and family events, to some, as they see you walking over, they say to each other before you get there, "block your nose, he comes so and so and she/her stinks of death and doom". And they hold their breath the whole time you are there. The Word of God has a scripture that gives us insight into this, "do not cast your pearls to the swine". I remember my son, when he was about 7 dragging me in the midst of 10 rough looking, basketball players, as these tall and big teens gathered around us, wondering what this little 7 year old and his dad would want (is this dad going to ask if his 7 year old son can play with us, what's this?) my son looked to me and said, "go ahead dad, tell them about Jesus!" That's when all eyes were on me and I could see it in their eyes, "yeah...Mr. Dead, why don't you go ahead and tell us!". Well, I did and one player was getting ready to take me off the court, but another player intervened. They all walked away, I was the smell of death and doom to these men. Though they had been playing ball and all were quite sweaty, to them, I was the one that stunk! However, one young man did not leave, to one young man I did not stink at all, I was the smell of life to him. The basic rule of thumb is, if someone that is around you or someone you are around "thinks you stink" because of the perfume or cologne you are wearing, your options are simple; either get away from him/her or change your perfume/cologne. We do not have the option of changing our perfume/cologne. The message we preach is not our message and it is not ours to change. However if there are some that think we stink and others that think we are the smell of life wouldn't it make sense to go to those who don't think we stink. There are some perfumes/colognes over the years that I have learned to like and change my opinion of them. So this is not to say that to those whom we stink, we avoid like the plague and just damn them to Hell. Things change, people change and sometimes/often we must re-visit and see if we are still the smell of "death and doom". But the point Paul is making, the point Proverbs is making, is that if we spend most our time, around those that think we stink, engaging in endless battles and arguments that we are not going to win; then we are wasting our precious time and efforts and could be using that time and effort towards someone else that would totally be touched by the message and hope of the Gospel. Do you stink? Well we know the answer to that is "no", but if you are giving yourself to a group that thinks you do, you may want to consider your alternatives? Never give up on anyone, but also make the best use of your time, resources and opportunities...."for the night cometh, where no man can labor". We must be careful not to allow people to goad our flesh and draw us into futile arguments, rather our job is to get as many people in The Ark, before the door shuts because once it shuts, that's it.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
One thing that is very interesting about reading through the One Year Bible is coming across days like today. Who could plan this out? Yesterday, in the Old Testament we are reading about "Lousy Comforters" and today in the New Testament we are reading about "Good Comforters". Paul writes that God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others in their troubles. The first problem then of a lousy comforter would be that he or she, is one that has not been comforted by God; therefore he cannot comfort others. The question to ask of course would be, "why hasn't he been comforted by God?". The answer is complex, but a simple answer for sake of time and space, would be that he/she is not able to be comforted by God because they are to distant from God and secondly, because they have structured their life in such a way that often there is not much trouble to be comforted in. Paul writes, "that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us". The Christian that has gone through some suffering is going to be the Christian that is actively pursuing the Will of God for his/her life and taking Godly risks as he goes along that journey. Paul endured much suffering, but the suffering was not brought on by reckless and dare-devil living, the suffering was brought on by pursuing the Will of God for his life and taking Godly risks. You may find this an odd statement, but it is true nonetheless,....not every Christian is pursuing the Will of God for their life. They are content to have good families, be good citizens and be in a good church, nothing more! High and lofty sermons that challenge to lay hold of God and pursue him at all costs will slide off them as easily as water off a ducks back; and sermons on being blessed and having a prosperous life, they will embrace and cherish. It's really a "self serving" Christianity. The good comforter is the disciple that is pursuing God's will at all costs; thence enduring suffering, being comforted by God and then being used to turn around and offer that same comfort to those that are also along the same journey, it's called Pilgrims Progress.. The good comforter is the one that has not had a leisurely life. The good comforter is the one who is in the ebb and flow of the Christian life. Paul also describes the Christians who are "the respected and dignified" Christians and mocks at how interesting it is, that he and his band of men, are being paraded as fools for Christ, while other Christians are so dignified. The dignified, the structured, safe and secure Christian life will make for a lousy comforter, some day when they give it a try. If you are a good comforter my guess is you are in the right place and are in the right ebb and flow. It is not to purposely keep ourselves down and low so we can minister to others, but it is to purposely pursue God with all we have and that in itself will bring hard and rough times; that will in turn make us smooth ministers, comforting ministers, because "we have been there" and God comforted us and now we offer that same comfort to another.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Job responds to his friends, "I have heard many things like this before; you are lousy comforters, all of you. Job is not trying to be mean and guess what?! Neither are his friends! They are simply, "lousy comforters". These are believers, they are well versed believers. Much of what they are saying is true. Their theology is correct, but their application is horrible. A Christian employee was asked by the secretary why bad things happen to kids; another religious man in the company interrupted with his own answer, "everything comes down to sowing and reaping" and he began to quote scripture. In this Christian's world, everything is black and white. Just like Job's friends; and what a lousy comforter he would be. What would he say to comfort the woman who has a miscarriage? He would not doubt tell her she was reaping some kind of sin. Even Jesus' disciples were caught up in this tract, they asked Jesus, "who sinned, this man or his parents, that he is blind?" Jesus surprised them when He answered, "neither". The Church is desperate for congregation members that have people skills. Christians that have a discernment to know what to say and what not to say, to know when to say and when not to say it. The time to say it may be wrong, even though the words may be true. The advice may be right, but the setting is wrong and at other times, the words, the setting and the timing, is all wrong! Are you a lousy comforter? "I don't think so", is more than likely to be your answer. The worse part is that lousy comforters don't realize they are lousy at what they do. Job's friends never went home thinking they were mean or insensitive; they went home thinking, how stubborn Job was. Every Church has a small leak. It's like the tire that keeps needing air every week or so. You put air in and it slowly leaks out. The Church has a small leak and what's causing the leak is lack of people skills in it's members. Allot of effort can go in to evangelism, but the church will not grow; because for all the people evangelism draws in, just as many are driven out, by people with long term status in the church, that are dogmatic with those that have come in and are insensitive to what they say or the questions they ask. After all these years of studying God 's Word and being Jewish believers, why are Job's friends so lousy at comforting their friend and so deficient in people skills? I believe as with everything else, if we truly want to know the truth, God will reveal it to us. Pride will not open itself up to criticism, but humility will welcome it. The questions to ask and be open to what you hear, is..."Lord am I dogmatic, Lord am I insensitive, Lord do I lack empathy, Lord do I lack people skills, Lord am I a lousy comforter?
Sunday, August 24, 2014
AUGUST 24 "PLEASE, I DON'T NEED TO BE LECTURED RI...: JUST because someone is down does not necessarily mean that they are spiritually inferior to you. There's some great insight into...
Friday, August 22, 2014
AUGUST 22 "THE WORSE PEOPLE TO TRY TO COMFORT ARE...: THE worse people to try to comfort are those that have spent their lives encouraging others, ironically enough (or not so ironic) is th...
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
AUGUST 20 "GOD CAN DO ANYTHING.......OR MAYBE NOT...: THIS is not the answer to prayer that Esther is looking for, ie: Fight. She is going to The King (A God type figure in this story) an...
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This is our hope, when there is no hope. That God is a "Master Orchestrator", orchestrating events on our behalf, in our favor. Though God is not "specifically" mentioned through-out the Book of Esther, He is interwoven through-out the whole book. God is not speaking directly to Esther or Mordecai. God is not even sending Angels to speak to his people; as in other stories. The story of Esther is a story that the 21st Century Christian should be able to relate to, more than any other story in the bible. In our day and age, we are not seeing appearances of God nor speaking with Angels. We pray and we believe God; once we've prayed and sought his help to guide by divine guidance and to orchestrate, we, the 21st Century Christian, rely heavily on Providence! Often we quote Mordecai as saying to Esther "for such a time as this you have come to be Queen", but the actual quote is "who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this". Mordecai is very much like us, a man with a relationship with God, but does not claim to have a direct line with God and neither does he claim to audibly hear from God. Mordecai is a man that prays and tries to reason and does not claim to know all, Mordecai is simply stating, "this sure seems like God here, I don't really believe in coincidence, you must be there for a purpose". Mordecai's hope is that God is at work and God is involved in their lives. His hope is that God has put Esther in the position she is in and his hope is that God will use her there as they pray. And while Mordecai is praying and believing, God is behind the scenes being the conductor of their lives, the Master Orchestrator. The very night, before the "Big Banquet" the King cannot sleep so he orders his attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him" (Really!). This is divine orchestration. And don't you know he finds out, that night about a plot that Mordecai had exposed and saved the King from being treacherously assassinated. It will be less than 24 hours later that Haman is petitioning the King to have Mordecai hanged on the gallows while the King is asking Haman what to do to honor Mordecai, talk about being at opposite opinions. Our hope as believers, like our brother Mordecai, is not in "the arm of the flesh". Our hope is in Jehovah, the Master Orchestrator of our lives from start to finish. Our job is simply to seek him, use the positions and places He has set us up in, to the best of our ability, do what we can and believe Him to orchestrate the rest and if that means that God needs to keep a King up at night, not able to sleep and have him request to read exactly what God wanted him to read, than that's exactly what God will do. Mordecai prayed, challenged, Esther used the place/position "that perhaps" God had put her in and God did the rest! This example should sum up the experience of every faithful Christian that ever passes through this life and in hindsight, we will see, that it was so!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
AUGUST 17 "DO THAT AGAIN, AND I'M GOING TO BEAT Y...: I think, God gave man an ego and I believe God gave man an ego so he could use them as leaders of his people, specifically, Shepherding...
Friday, August 15, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
AUGUST 13 "DON'T BE SO FREE TO EXERCISE YOUR FREE...: DON'T be so free to exercise your freedoms lest you cause others to stumble, Paul warns us, what a lost concept this is. Actually i...
Monday, August 11, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014
I am reading about this religious revival, a religious "awakening" something ....apparently every church yearns for, or so we say. But you know what I noticed as I'm reading through Chronicles, especially today, I'm noticing it's allot of work and it's costly. And there are few that want to work and there are fewer that want to give. For all the people celebrating and having a great time in this "religious revival" there is also a group of people that are very tired, over worked and quite frankly, not really enjoying themselves or this wonderful idea of Josiah's.. It's allot of work, in verse 14 we read, "the priests had been busy from morning till night offering the burnt offerings..." Now I have been in the Church and in Ministry long enough to know, that the priests were not rejoicing over this. If they are human like the people in our churches they were venting, saying things like, "next time Pastor, I mean...Josiah gets a wild idea to have revival, let him do the work himself and see how great an idea it is, why are we the only one's doing the work and everyone else is just eating and celebrating while we are busting our buns. This is ridiculous, next time I'm telling Pastor, I mean Josiah, I'm not helping. I'm exhausted, do you know how much work we have and we still have to clean up and everyone else is just going to go home, watch!" And you know, they will just go home, they won't help and the bulk of the work will fall upon the shoulders of the few and if not careful, we can become bitter and very irritated in the midst of supposedly, "serving the Lord". Work is a four letter word to most people, most people by nature are lazy, but you would think, that in the church, work would not be a four letter word, after all, aren't we all a bunch of Christians filled with God's Spirit doing "the word of the Lord", And of course you know I'm being facetious. Most church members are just wanted to enjoy the service, enjoy the event, enjoy the festivities and then go home. They don't know and don't care to know, how everything is getting done and who's doing what. Earlier in Chronicles we read that originally the celebration actually had to be delayed because there was not enough workers (priests) to do the work. Then we read a chapter latter, that even the few that showed up to help, were not consecrated, as they should have been to perform the work (sacrifices) so in desperation, they bent the rules and said, "just go ahead and do the sacrifices anyway, this isn't the right way, but what choice have you left us". One of the most read blogs of the year was titled "Quite the Ministry" because that title struck a chord with many readers. Many Christians involved in Ministry in their churches are burnt out and ready to quit. They are tired of doing all the work, while others feel no compulsion, whatsoever to help. The call of the disciple is still and will always be, "to deny thyself, pick up your cross and follow me". The natural tendency is to be selfish and lazy, but we must fight that. The more that get involved the easier the load becomes and joy returns to that ministry. The joy of service comes back to that Christian; who once joined that ministry with great enthusiasm and thrilled to be involved. Every Sunday you sit in your church and watch how everything works, do you ever wonder, "how's everything working and who's making it work and is there anywhere that I could do to lighten the burden? Is there a reason these priests, with their own families to care for, were stuck offering sacrifices from morning 'till night? There is no justifiable reason other than the fact, that WORK is still a four letter word, even inside The Church of Jesus Christ". What can you do, to lighten the burden of the Priests, so that, they, who have families too, can go home at a decent hour and not work undue & unnecessary hours, that will eventually burn them out and then what? Then that individual quits the ministry and by doing so, leaves fewer to carry the load; therefore putting more pressure on then, causing more to be burned out and it's a vicious cycle. Jesus said, "Pray for workers, for the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few". Jesus didn't say, Israelite are few, He didn't say, the Church members are few, Jesus didn't say, "the Christians are few", Jesus said, "the workers are few" and how true that was back in Josiah's day, how true that was back in Jesus' day and how true it is today, work is still a four letter word, even amongst God's people.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
The story in our bible today is so old it's hard to even imagine, over 2,500 years ago, at least. There were no secular, arrogant Americans at the time, only Israelites and the pagan nationalities that surrounded them. It was a time with no T.V.'s, no Hollywood and of course everyone wanted to serve The Lord, or maybe not! We think that man has degraded, we talk about the secularization of America and the rest of the World; and there is truth to that, but we can push it to far and make it sound like there was a time when every human being just wanted to surrender their selfish, rebellious will to God. Well, if that time didn't exist even 2,500 years ago, then when did it exist and why pretend like it ever did exist? In our text Hezekiah, a good King, is trying to stir religious revival. He sends out his runners, to declare "we are going to have a great celebration!". The people ask, "oh yeah, what kind of great celebration?" The answer they get, "we are going to have a great celebration to The Lord". We read, "but most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them". What!!!! No way!!!! People had no other desire than to serve God back then, there were no people that would mock the things of God, there were no people that would think serving God was the last thing the would want to do, not good God fearing Jews. After all, they didn't have MTV, they didn't have Cable, isn't that the problem? MTV, Hollywood and Cable? Apparently not! So what was the problem? Human nature was the problem. Is MTV foul, is Hollywood vile, the answer most of the time would be "yes' but that's just a by-product of who we are, it's not what makes us what we are. In any group of people in any given time or generation, there will always be those that have no interest in serving God and will mock those that do. Our problem is we get upset, we don't like being mocked and so desperately want to prove to the world, "we're not stupid, we're not nerds, we're not losers" and so today we have Christians that are hip, we have Christians that are "cool", there is a Church, or at least used to be a Church, in Tucson, Az. that was called, "The Cool Church". In our text there is simply a quick passing comment that there were those that laughed, but then the story goes on with those that had a heart for God and of their celebration. God does not get all upset about those that don't want to be on his team. God is not out there begging people to join his side. God is not insecure, are you? We need to stop trying to prove to those that don't want to serve God, "that we're really cool people" and that serving God is not for losers. Why? What if God does call losers and the rift raft of society to serve him. "Jesus is a crutch and that's why you're a Christian!" Will you fight and argue that that is not true to your own defense, will you fight for your rights and demand that you not be laughed at? Or will you say, "you're right, Jesus is a crutch and I need him, that's right, that's me, non-hacker, loser. That's right I couldn't make it through life without this crutch called Jesus, go ahead, laugh at me". Most won't do that, will be get Tat and pierce ourselves up, just like the world and say, "hey, we're just like you, c'mon man, be my friend, don't laugh at me!". Our text right after we read, "but many people laughed" goes on, moves on with the story, "at the same time , God's hand was on the people ....all one heart to obey God". Don't excuse or try to justify that you "have a heart for God" and they don't. Count yourself privileged, that for some reason, beyond our finite understanding we have a heart to serve God and others have a heart to mock God. The story doesn't given undue attention to those that want to laugh and neither should we. We give way to much attention to our mockers because it bugs us, it feeds off our insecurity as Christians. We, like Jesus when He walked the earth, have to be comfortable in our own skin, we have to be secure in who we are. BORN AGAIN Christians, unashamedly unapologetic in our beliefs and immune to those that laugh and mock. The more their laughter irritates you, the more their laughter affects you, the more you are revealing, that you are not all that confident and secure in who you have become, and that should be a greater concern to you than those that laugh at you. Those that are bothered the most by those that laugh, are often those that eventually revert and turn from their Christianity, it is only a sign, that you are not all that secure and sure, of what you are involved in and what you have become.