Monthly Archives: July 2016

July 22 – God Won’t Stay Where He’s Not Wanted

Hosea 1-7

Here is an example of how serious God is that we obey Him, that we worship Him as He demands:

For I will be like a lion… I will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (5:14-15)

Did you catch how many times God said He would go away? I don’t know about you, but that thought really, really scares me.

Later, in chapter 6, God tells Hosea He delights in loyalty more than people going through the motions of offering sacrifices. He honors people who seek Him, rather than mere burnt offerings.

In other words, calling ourselves Christians, going to church, tithing, even teaching Sunday School, are meaningless if we aren’t seeking God with our whole hearts. I think Scripture clearly teaches God hates lip service. Didn’t Jesus call the pharisees, those men who prided themselves on knowing Scripture and following the Law, hypocrites?

So what should our response be to God, who isn’t fooled by our outward appearance, and who will leave us to our own devises and the consequences that come because of our disobedience?

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will  heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. (6:1-3)

I love the line: let us PRESS ON to know the Lord. To me that indicates a purposeful, determined action on my part to really know God by reading His Word, by spending time in prayer, by talking to others about Him, by including Him in every minute of my day. It’s not a one time prayer of “Father, forgive me.” It’s a minute by minute choice.

Don’t think God isn’t serious about going away. He’ll try to get our attention, He’ll forgive us when we ask, He’ll walk with us when we seek Him. But He won’t force Himself on us. If we want Him out of our lives and our country, He’ll go.

Holy God, I bow before you a sinner saved by grace. I confess that there are times when I don’t follow You with my whole heart. Forgive me when I get busy, when I get caught up in things of this world, and neglect my relationship with You. I want to worship You as You demand. I want to serve You as You deserve. Don’t go, Father. I need You. We need You.

 

 

July 21 – Blast Off!

2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

Hezekiah was a busy man. He was 25 when he became king of Judah and it seems like he hit the ground running. He did some repairs on the temple, removed the evidence of idol worship (including the bronze serpant Moses had made to help the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt years earlier). Hezekiah directed the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves, and he organized a Passover feast like the Jews hadn’t seen in a very long time.

What I noticed today was that his enthusiasm for doing God’s work was contagious. In fact, after inviting Jews from near and far to the Passover celebration, the turnout was much more than the number of consecrated priests could handle. And the shear enthusiasm of the masses was an embarrassment to the priests and Levites who’d been caught unprepared. So they cleaned up their act and got onboard.

I’m thinking God might be saying we who sit in pews every Sunday need not wait for our pastors to start a revival. Maybe we shouldn’t be waiting for some preachers out there to start preaching the Truth of Scripture. Maybe it’s us everyday people who need to get right with God, and take the bull by the horns.

Let the preachers follow our lead for a change, when we our lead by God.

Is your commitment to God contagious? Is mine? How exciting would it be for us to see that fire ignite. It could be as powerful as watching a launch from Cape Canaveral.

Ignition! Blast Off! Souls won. Lives changed. Eternity won!

July 20 – My Rock

Isaiah 23-27

Selling two homes, buying one, moving 600 miles away from family, packing boxes, moving vans, closings, finances, utilities. To say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have contracts on my two condos, have gone through about twenty homes with my realtor, and put an offer on one. My head is spinning.

It’s times like this when I am reminded that, no matter how busy my life, no matter how many directions I am pulled, I need to protect my time in God’s Word. These intentional moments I spend with my Savior are really the most important part of every day.

Isaiah reminded me this morning to “Trust in the Lord forever, for on God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (26:4)

My footing right now feels unsteady. There are so many questions yet to be answered about this move. I may be stressed. But I have a Rock. I need but trust Him with today and eternity.

So with Isaiah I will pray “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders…”

He has. And He will.

July 19 – A Heart Condition

Isaiah 18-22

What do you do when God pricks your conscience concerning sin in your life? You know the feeling. That small voice inside your head that says – don’t do it. Or that nagging thought that postpones sleep at night. A quickened heartbeat or that sudden feeling that something is wrong with the AC.

If we ignore those nudges from God, the next nudge might be more like a slap in the face. And ignoring that slap could result in devastation.

The Bible is rich with examples of how God tries to get the attention of His people in order to turn them from sin. And sometimes the consequences like we read about in Isaiah, are pretty severe.

Thinking about these chapters today I’m tempted to focus my attention on the sin of a nation, because evidence of God’s attempts to get our attention is everywhere. But I am reminded that a nation is made up of individuals. It’s you and me.

So the question is – what do you (do I) do when God pricks our consciences concerning sin in our own lives? It’s not about the USA as much as it is about the people who call themselves Christians in this great nation. It’s not about the White House, but what happens in our own houses.

It’s about your heart – and mine.

When God tries to get our attention, let’s pay attention. Let’s be quick to repent. Let’s recognize sin and run from temptation. Let’s be the people God can use to turn things around in our homes, our churches, our towns, our country, starting with our hearts.

July 18 – Worthless, Delightful Plants

Isaiah 13-17

I was reading about God’s prophecy concerning Damascus. That great city was set for destruction.

For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. (17:10a)

But it’s what follows that verse that got my attention this morning:

Therefore you plant delightful plants and set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day you plant it you carefully fence it in, and in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; but the harvest will be a heap in a day of sickliness and incurable pain. (17:10b-11)

I think about what is being preached from far too many pulpits. God is love. Love wins. God wants you to be healthy and rich. Don’t judge. Come to God on your terms. Everyone goes to heaven. Sin is relative.

Delightful plants! Feel good sermons. Love! Love! Love!

Delightful – and deadly. May God help us examine that which we plant by our words, our choices, our very lives. I can’t imagine anyone purposefully planting a garden of weeds. Let’s not do that in our lives, either.

July 17 – Lessons Still Unlearned

2 Chronicles 28, 2 Kings 16-17

I’ve never counted how many times the nation of Israel, blessed by God, sinned and endured punishment, only to repent and be blessed once again, then sin and face judgement. That cycle seems to be a major theme in the Old Testament.

I find myself frustrated with the Jews because of their weakness. Why couldn’t they just learn to obey? Why couldn’t they hold on to the One True God who dramatically proved His superiority over and over?

Then, just when I find myself getting angry with the ancient Jews for “walking in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out” (2 Kings 17:8), the pages of God’s Word become a mirror, and I am face to face with my own weaknesses.

It’s easy to read these chapters as a history lesson and miss the living Truth right in front of me. I find I can’t condemn Israel with condemning myself.

God, I want to be steadfast and sure. I want to hold strong to the Truth of Scripture, to the God of Creation, to my Savior, my Lord. Forgive me if I look at the world and want what they have. What they have leads to judgment. I want to be faithful to You only. Be my strength. In Jesus’ name.

July 16 – Terror And Trust

Micah

Are the prophetic books like Micah meant to be interpreted as futuristic occurrences only? Are the “latter days” a stick we need to continually throw ahead? Or are there truths for today, no matter when the day comes that Jesus returns?

Terror is covering our globe like a heavy blanket. It’s not just us in America who go to bed wondering where and when the next attack will be. The overwhelming drive to consider evil good and good evil should concern all believers. Our world, as we know it, seems to be spinning out of control.

How much worse can it get? Maybe that’s not an answer we’re ready to hear.

Things were bad in Micahs’ day, too. And they were going to get worse. But I want to leave you with Micah’s words from chapter 7:7-9. They are words that spoke to me this morning, and give me hope. I trust they’ll do the same for you.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is light for me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.