Tag Archives: faith

August 22; It’s Morning

Lamentations 3-4

 

Jeremiah is feeling old. He sees his wrinkled skin, considers his brittle bones and his toothless grin, and says, “All my splendor is gone and all I had hoped from the Lord.” I am going to my high school class reunion in a couple weeks. I hear you, Jeremiah.

But the prophet isn’t consumed with his failing body because he is vain. This chapter comes after his description of the devastation of God’s wrath on the people. Jeremiah feels helpless, useless in their situation.

But then Jeremiah changes his focus. He turns to the Lord. He was able to say things like:

Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. (3:25)

For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. (3:33)

I figure if Jeremiah, being feeble and discouraged, could have such faith and confidence in God in the middle of the famine and war, then I certainly can have the same faith and confidence in God in the middle of whatever situation I am facing. Because God’s faithfulness IS great. His mercies ARE new every morning.

And it is morning.

July 30; Questions Not Asked

Jeremiah 22:1-17; 2 Kings 23:31-37; Habakkuk

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “When I get to heaven the first thing I’m going to do is ask God why…?” “Why is life so hard?” “Why do bad people prosper and good people struggle?” “Why do non-Christians get away with making life miserable for Christians?” “Why are there diseases, wars, catastrophes…”

Habakkuk had questions, and his sound pretty much like ours. He asked, “Why are you ignoring me, God?” “Why do you tolerate wrong?” “Why do your enemies swallow us up?”

In other words, “Why isn’t life fair?”

What we see here in Habakkuk is a man’s frustration, expressing his honest feelings about life. Is there anything wrong with that? I’ve always been taught that the only stupid question is the question not asked. Now I’m wondering if that is true.

God answers the prophet. And he starts by telling him to “Write this down.” Whenever one of my professors used to say that, I knew that what was to follow was something I shouldn’t ignore, something he expected me to understand and remember.

God’s reply to Habakkuk is a wake-up call. In effect He is saying He really doesn’t need us to tell Him what is wrong in the world. And to be sure we understand that he is not unaware, He gives warnings to five different classes of people.

Woe to thieves and dishonest people. (2:6-8)

Woe to people who use people to get ahead. (2:9-11)

Woe to bullies and criminals. (2:12-14)

Woe to drunks, lewd and violent people. (2:15-17)

Woe to idolators. (2:18-19)

God’s not blind. He sees what is going on. And He will take care of it. Sin will be punished.

Then God reminds us, “But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” (2:20) In other words, “I’m God. You aren’t. Shut your mouth.”

In 2:4, God says something that hit me. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith.” I believe God is telling us that when we have the nerve to demand answers from Him, we become puffed up, we try to put ourselves on equal footing with God. Those questions don’t come from a good place in our hearts.

In fact, those who are truly His trust Him. The righteous don’t need answers, they live by their faith in God instead.

Habakkuk speaks again to God in chapter three. This time he says, “You’re right, God.” The prophet says things like, “I stand in awe of you. We’ve seen your glory in creation, your splendor in a sunrise. We’ve seen  your heavy hand of discipline and your control over nature. You scare me, God. And I rejoice in you. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk submits to the Sovereign God and says “…in wrath remember mercy.” In other words, “Do what you need to do, God. We deserve it. But please have mercy on us, too,”

Habakkuk starts out by asking God to defend Himself. God reminds Habakkuk who he is talking to. And Habakkuk replies by bowing before a Holy God.

He ends his book with,”The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enable me to go on the heights.” The answers to his questions don’t seem to be all that important any more. He turns his focus instead to God.

So, no. When I get to heaven the first thing I’ll do is NOT ask God anything. I’m going to spend the first billion years at His feet, loving Him, being loved by Him, simply drinking in His Presence. Then, after a billion years or so, if a question comes to mind, I’ll sit with my precious Savior another billion years before I ask.

 

July 23; Not Too Far Gone

Isaiah 66; 2 Kings 21:1-26, 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 33:1-25, 34:1-3

I’m always thankful that the life of King Manasseh is recorded in God’s Word. He was an evil man. In fact, the Bible tells us he was the worst king ever in the history of kings. He not only worshiped pretend gods, he put those idols in God’s house. Awful things happened in the temple at Manasseh’s direction, a blatant, in-your-face denial of God.

But one day, Manasseh repented. He humbled himself before God, and God forgave him. Manasseh spent the rest of his life serving God with the same energy he’d disobeyed God before.

Manasseh reminds me no one is too far gone, no one is beyond God’s grace. And it encourages me to keep praying, keep sharing Jesus, keep loving the person we might be tempted to give up on.

I have a dear friend who prayed for her husband for decades, until one day he came to her and told her he’d prayed to receive Jesus, and asked if she’d go with him to buy a Bible. Her prayers weren’t answered over night. But they were answered.

So keep praying, dear one. “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Praise the Lord!”

June 27; Not For Sale

Amos 7-9; Hosea 1-3

Amos did not have a college degree. He wasn’t a scholar or an authority on spiritual things. He was a shepherd, and we know tending sheep wasn’t exactly a career choice that was held in high esteem in those days. Yet God  spoke to this humble, plain, unassuming man and gave him an important word for Israel. That same word reaches to us centuries later.

The word is this: God is not fooled by religious activities. In fact, I don’t believe God even likes religion. God says the religious people, His chosen people, will prostitute themselves.  And He promises to destroy them.

We might go through the motions of religion by going to church, reciting prayers, giving of our finances, and wearing Jesus’ name like a get-out-of-jail-free-card by calling ourselves Christians, while at the same time selling ourselves to the world by compromise, by participating in things that dishonor God, or simply by harboring bitterness or hatred, and having a depraved thought life. We might look religious to those around us, but the reality is we are nothing more than prostitutes.

When I read God’s Word I realize He’s not fooled by my outward appearance. He knows my heart. And I want my heart to be totally, sincerely His. When the world knocks at my door and wants me to join in, when sin entices me to compromise, I want to slam the door in its face. Let it be known my heart is…

Not For Sale.

 

June 23; As Surely As I Live

2 Chronicles 24:17-25a, 25:1-40; 2 Kings 12:17-21, 4:1-44, 13:4-11, 8:1-2

It spoke to me this morning when I read about the Shunamite woman. She had treated Elisha with kindness, and as a result, God blessed her with a son. But years later, the boy died suddenly. The Shunamite woman, without hesitation, went straight to Elisha.

When Elisha heard her story, that her son had died, he immediately sent a servant with specific instructions. Then the woman said this to the man of God:

As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.

So often we hear of people facing hardship and loss and their response is to get angry with God, and walk away from Him. The woman had the opposite response.

And that’s the response I want to have myself. Whether good times or bad, I never want to leave God. I’ve lived long enough to have gone through some hard times. I’ve had loss, and faced giants. I can honestly say I’ve never been tempted to walk away from my Lord. In fact, I will say I was probably the closest to Him during those hard times.

As surely as You live, I will not leave You, Lord.

June 10; Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Ecclesiastes 11-12; Psalms 73, 88; I Kings 11:41-43, 14:21; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31, 12:13-14

Solomon tried so hard to find meaning, contentment, and happiness. But he was looking in all the wrong places. Asaph almost lost his religion because he, too, was looking at the wrong things. He admitted he was jealous of evil people who prospered while he couldn’t catch a break.

“…in vain have I kept my heart pure…” (Psalm 73:13)

If we walk by sight, if we keep our focus on other people and circumstances, we will be as frustrated and depressed as Solomon, and as ready to give up as Asaph.

We who know the Lord, walk by faith in Him who is faithful. We keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We live to love Him, instead of living to have Him make our lives easy.

Solomon himself said that fearing God and obeying Him is everything.

And it is.

May 25; But Then Monday Comes

I Kings 8:62-9:28; Psalm 132; 2 Chronicles 7:4-8:18, 9:21

Solomon’s Temple was completed, and busy with activity. But Solomon didn’t just sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor. He built a house for his wife, built and rebuilt cities, conquered other cities, built ships and financed mining expeditions, and he observed all the feasts and Sabbaths of the Lord.

Have you ever been involved in a project that required long hours and hard work, decision making, and overseeing workers? The job is complete, you step back with a sense of accomplishment and euphoria. You drink in the accolades, and have a wonderful sense of well deserved satisfaction.

But then Monday comes.

Have you ever been on a retreat or at a conference where your heart soared in worship, you were encouraged, uplifted, and challenged? You leave there excited to be a child of God, and excited about what He is doing in your life.

But then Monday comes.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some people are driven to live in a state of euphoria, some others experience  the down times and can’t seem to pull themselves up. Because when Monday comes, when things settle down and the day-to-day happens, you are the only one changed. The demands of the day are the same as always. The attitudes of people around you are the same as they were. And you have some choices to make.

The same is true in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes God brings us through valleys, and sits us up on that mountaintop. He is so real to us we feel like we could reach out and touch Him. We look around with His eyes of love, and see this wonderful world He created. But it’s unrealistic to think we can stay there. Because Satan is gearing up for round two.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord feels distant. We don’t feel blessed, or even heard. We try, and try, but nothing changes. I think that is a tragic place to live.

God seems to be encouraging me, through Solomon’s example, to keep going. There is always something to be doing for God’s Kingdom, always people to minister to, phone calls and visits to make, people who need to hear what Jesus did for them. Sometimes you have to get off the mountain to meet people where they are. And sometimes you have to let God drag you out of the pit, and into the lives of others.

Solomon enjoyed the celebration of the Temple’s completion. But when Monday came, he started another project, then another. I am reminded that the work of the Church, the effort to make disciples, to minister to hurting people will never be done until God calls us home or Jesus returns. We’ll have our ups and downs, our victories and defeats. But when Monday comes around, where will we be?

Besides, no matter if we are basking in the satisfaction of a job well done, or struggling to keep our heads up, we have reason to lay it all aside and praise God. Solomon did.

My prayer is that we all will be exactly where God leads us, busy working, continually praising Him, for His sake and His glory. And one day, when we look into those eyes, we’ll hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And we’ll have lived our last Monday.