Category Archives: Christianity

(Daniel 4-5) Don’t Give Up

Yesterday I was saddened that King Nebuchadnezzar’s knowledge of God didn’t reach his heart, didn’t change him. He remained the same arrogant, self-satisfied, ruthless king he’d always been, even after recognizing the power and authority of God.

But I saw something today that blesses my heart, makes me love God all the more, and encourages me to continue to pray for my loved ones who don’t know Him. Here it is:

God never gives up on any of us.

Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, God gave Daniel the interpretation, the horrible events of the dream came true. Then Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself before God, and God blessed the king greatly because finally, his knowledge of God had reached his heart.

I guess I want to encourage us all to keep praying. Our resistant loved ones may have to experience horrible circumstance (read what Nebuchadnezzar experienced) before they humble themselves.

But take heart. God isn’t going to give up on them while they are still breathing. Don’t you give up, either.

(Daniel 1-3) Do You Believe In God?

King Nebuchadnezzar believed that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was God above all gods. How else could it be explained that the three men were thrown into a blazing fire which killed some soldiers, that four men were seen taking a walk inside the fiery furnace, and that the three came out of the fire unharmed? They didn’t even smell like smoke!

Nebuchadnezzar shouted praises to God, and made it a law that no one could say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Saying anything offensive against God resulted in a death sentence, according to the King’s new law.

I think Nebuchadnezzar really believed. But Scripture tells us even demons believe. And believing God is who He IS, has demons shaking in their boots! (James 2:19)

Acknowledging God is God, believing Jesus God’s Son died on a cross and rose again, just isn’t enough. What you do with that knowledge has everything to do with salvation, with eternity. Without surrendering to God, your knowledge of Him has no more to do with the forgiveness of your sins than believing the earth is round, or that Thursday follows Wednesday.

King Nebuchadnezzar makes me sad. But my heart breaks at the thought that some of my family and friends are satisfied with the fact they believe in God. It’s not enough.

Hear Jesus’ own words:

Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Do you believe in God? I hope so. Now, what are you going to do about that?

(Ezekiel 34) Called to be a Pastor

If you are a pastor of a church, or if you feel God is leading you into ministry, please read Ezekiel chapter 34 today and know that God is talking to you. He takes the shepherding of his flock very seriously, and so should you.

Years ago I knew a man hired to pastor a church who very matter-of-factly told his Board that he felt called to preach, not visit sick people, not to pound on doors, not to be involved in children’s ministry. None of that was in his wheelhouse, so they needed to hire an assistant pastor to do those things so he could devote his time to study. He told them he read about a dozen books a week and didn’t have time for boots on the ground.

Now, I would say (or at least hope to say) that this man is an extreme example. But God, through Ezekiel, has something important to say to any pastor who doesn’t shepherd. Again, I would highly suggest you read chapter 34 if you are a pastor, or if you go to a church with a pastor.

Sadly, there are pastors who love to hear the sound of their own voices, who have left their sheep unprotected against the enemy. The people under their care have become “prey and food for every wild animal.”

I know that the New Testament Church appointed deacons to care for the physical needs of the people so that Paul and the other Apostles could devote themselves to the preaching. But Paul wasn’t a pastor, was he? He was an evangelist. And even in that, if you read his letters to the churches, you see how much he cared for and protected those congregations, too. When he was with a church for any length of time, he didn’t just sit around preparing his sermon for Sunday. He worked with them, beside them, supported them, spent time with them, made friends of them.

Let me suggest that if you feel called to ministry, but say, “Children’s ministry isn’t my thing,” or “I’m not comfortable around old people,” or “I hate hospitals,” or “I’m too shy to entertain people in my home or to visit them in their’s,” maybe you are called to be a public speaker. But you are NOT called to be a pastor. Get out now.

Allow your congregation the right to have a real shepherd who will protect them and care for them. A shepherd doesn’t throw out a handful of food at his flock once a week and think he’s done a good job. A pastor shouldn’t do that, either.

Get out now for your own sake because you will be held to a high standard of care over your flock. Will you one day look into the eyes of Jesus and say, “Well, Jesus, you know I never really did like children?” Good luck with that.

If you are a pastor – be a shepherd. That congregation is your responsibility from the nursery to the grey haired ladies’ Sunday School class. If you recognize weaknesses in yourself, ask God for strength. If He has called you to care for His flock, He will answer that prayer. But don’t simply pass that responsibility off to someone else and think that will cover you. Don’t feed yourself rather than God’s flock.

Are you called to be a pastor? Then you are called to be a shepherd.

(Ezekiel 29-32) I AM The LORD

Egypt was never identified with God. They worshiped idols. They were the enemy of God. Yet the Israelites went to Egypt for help instead of going to God. Big mistake.

But here’s what spoke to me today: God repeatedly sent word to Egypt, warning them what the consequences of rejecting Him would look like. Why? Why would God continue to warn His enemies about the devastation that was ahead for them?

“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (28:23,24,26, 29:6,9,16,21, 30:8,19,25…)

I am reminded that God doesn’t want anyone to die without Him, that whosoever believes on Him will have eternal life, that anyone who believes on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It reminds me how God continually works in the lives of every man, woman, and child to bring them to the realization that He is the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to God except through Jesus.

It reminds me that instead of praying God would take away the “plague” of COVID, I should pray that this virus will show the world that He is Lord. Simply praying that God will somehow say the word and the virus would disappear, might be praying against His will that we who have turned our backs on Him will humble ourselves, turn from our sin, so that He can heal our land.

Whether it is a virus, or war, or hurricanes and earthquakes, alcoholism, or cancer, or divided families and churches… whatever the consequences of sin might look like… may it do what God intends it to do.

May we hear Him say in the midst of it all:

I AM the LORD.

(Ezekiel 24-28) It Isn’t Me

The thing about Scripture, I believe, is the amazing way there is always a spiritual interpretation relevant to 2021, even as there is a material interpretation relevant for the people living at the time it was written.

Is God, in chapter 28, referring to a human king of Tyre, or to Satan, or to prideful disobedient people in the 21st century? The answer is yes to all three!

I believe that is the awesome beauty of Scripture. These verses tell us that God didn’t spare a prideful angel from the irrevocable consequences of sin, nor did He spare a prideful king from the same. And God won’t spare me, either, if pride doesn’t stay in check, if I allow pride to come between me and God.

Satan wanted to be God. But He wasn’t even close – and God condemned him to hell. The king of Tyre considered himself a god. But he wasn’t even close, either. And God condemned him to hell.

What does that tell me about pride in my life? Yes, the word of the day is that I am powerful, deserving, smart, capable, that I can determine my own truth that supersedes your truth. I am my own god, so I’m told to believe.

But I’m not even close. And if I allow myself to think I am, God will condemn me to hell.

There is one God. It isn’t Satan. It wasn’t the King of Tyre. And it certainly isn’t me.

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.

(Lamentations) Lord, Bring Us Back

If the Old Testament nation of Israel is a picture of the New Testament Church, all of us should share in Jeremiah’s grief. The frightening truth is that if God could turn His back on His chosen people, if the city of Jerusalem and the temple there could be destroyed, the Church had better pay attention.

Read Lamentations with our modern Church in mind. There are so many spiritual red flags here, from a look at starvation in a spiritual sense, to cannibalism which speaks to me of parents – and church members – who try to get what they want out of God while sacrificing the spiritual needs of their children, to the Church once revered now an object of scorn by the world, and seen as an enemy to be destroyed by some.

We have reason to lament.

God’s protection has always been linked to obedience. But there are people who believe the Church is somehow different, that because Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, that the Church’s position on earth is untouchable.

Israel wasn’t untouchable. Jerusalem wasn’t. The temple wasn’t. And it’s my opinion that the Church in 2021 isn’t untouchable, either. God’s demand to be obeyed is as binding as it was in Jeremiah’s day. And disobedience means separation from God, and destruction.

An obedient Church is untouchable.

I am thankful that every time God warns His children about the coming consequences for our disobedience, He leaves us with a bit of hope. The writer of Lamentations prays:

Lord, bring us back to yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times, unless you have completely rejected us and are intensely angry with us. (5:21-22)

Yes, Lord. Bring us back to yourself.

(Jeremiah 46-49) Doing The Lord’s Business

God’s not a fool. And we are foolish if we think He is. We might go to church, teach a Sunday School class, visit the sick, give generously. But if we have not confessed sin, if we do those things with any other motive than to be obedient to our King, God says this to us:

The one who does the Lord’s business deceitfully is cursed. The one who withholds his sword from bloodshed is cursed. (48:10)

Bloodshed? Surely not!

Actually, Jeremiah was speaking of war, of destroying God’s flesh and blood enemies. But thankfully, after the cross, we are not told to kill anyone! We’re told to love our enemies.

Yet what Jeremiah said can and does apply to us. We need to destroy sin in our lives, cut it out, without mercy. Satan is the enemy that applies here. And we cannot withhold bloodshed against him by ignoring sin in our lives.

We can do all the right things and be first in line to volunteer for a ministry. But if we haven’t dealt with our sin at the foot of the cross, we do God’s business deceitfully. And we are cursed.

Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?” Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!

The lesson for us here in Jeremiah and in Jesus’ own word in Matthew is: Deal with the enemy of your soul first by confessing your sin and accepting God’s grace through Jesus’ blood…

THEN get busy doing the Lord’s business! For His sake and His glory!

(Jeremiah 38-41) Just Because

Sometimes I think we Christians get a bit too comfortable in our association with God. We begin to believe that just because we wear His Name, bad things shouldn’t happen to us. We find ourselves asking “why?” when we get COVID, or a loved one dies, or hurricanes and fires and floods and terrorists devastate people in the world. We think God will protect us just because we believe in Him.

Like the Jews in Jerusalem under King Zedekiah. God warned them the city would be captured by the Babylonians, that they should surrender to them and go willingly or they would be killed or taken by force. The city will fall one way or the other, God told them through Jeremiah.

But Zedekiah and many of the Jews stayed put. They doubted Jeremiah’s message because, after all, God’s temple was in Jerusalem. He wouldn’t let anything happen to His temple – right?

Gedaliah was warned that someone was out to assassinate him. Gedaliah replied, “that ain’t gonna happen.” After all, the prophet Jeremiah was living with him. God in the house ought to keep him safe – right?

Wrong on both accounts.

God warns Christians today that trouble and persecution is to be expected. We will be hated because the world hates Jesus. But we Christians say, “God loves us. God will protect us. He wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. I’m His child. He works things for the good for people who love Him. And I love Him!”

We forget Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commands.”

“Oh, you mean I have a responsibility here? Your protection is connected to my obedience? Darn!”

Just because you call yourself a Christian, just because you feel a special kind of connection to Jesus, doesn’t mean you won’t face consequences for your disobedience. Hear God’s warning.

Are you going to ignore it like the Jews we read about in Jeremiah? Or are you going to turn from your wickedness and surrender to God? I think you know how I’m praying for you.