Tag Archives: God

September 15; Ups and Downs

Esther 9:18-10:3; Ezra 4:6-23; Psalm 105

The history of the Jews is a picture of life, isn’t it? In the book of Esther we see a great celebration lasting days. They had enjoyed a great victory over evil, and they were on top of the world.

But when they got busy rebuilding Jerusalem, they were stopped in their tracks. Scripture tells us the Persians “compelled them by force to stop.” (Ezra 4:23)

I find it the same in my life. I may have victory over a sin, or am able to successfully navigate a difficult situation. I may get a raise at work, or get a “thumbs up” medical report. Things in my life may be working out. I feel blessed!

Then I run into a roadblock, a temptation, a hardship, and I don’t feel blessed at all.

It’s interesting that the organizer of the chronological Bible I am using places Psalm 105 after Ezra’s account of the work-stoppage.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him… (vs 4)

It just reminds me that life has its ups and downs. Good times and bad. Successes and failures. There is only one constant.

God.

And I am reminded God is good all the time. God deserves praise all the time. And I can rest assured that He does all things well, all the time. May I, may we, sing His praises from hearts that are overwhelmed with WHO He is, circumstances aside. Because life will be hard some time. Life will be great sometimes, too. We will have victories, and we will blow it.

But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Praise Him.

September 6; It Is Good To Praise The Lord

Ezra 3:1-13; Psalms 92 and 126; Daniel 10:1-11:35

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night… For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands…The righteous will flourish like a palm tree… proclaiming “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. (Psalm 92)

It is good to praise God, and we on the coast of Georgia have a lot to praise Him for. We escaped Dorian when that hurricane stayed out at sea as it passed us by. We were spared, while others weren’t. We had no damage, while others lost everything – including the lives of loved ones.

Are we wrong to praise God for the outcome we experienced in light of the devastation in other parts of the world? We would be wrong NOT to praise Him.

So I will unashamedly praise God that I can drive across the causeway and go to my home, pick up a few twigs, and resume life as usual. I will praise God that my friends are safe, and their homes are just as they left them, God was merciful to us, and I want to make that known. We didn’t deserve His kindness, and that is a humbling realization.

Yet as I praise God, I will also pray that He will be merciful to those who are facing unspeakable loss from this storm. Dorian is not through with its fury. Others are battling the wind and rain right this minute. I pray that God’s hand will be evident to all who are involved even now.

I am reminded that God is worthy of praise, period. He is worthy of praise no matter what circumstances we face. His worth is not based on how easy my life is, and He isn’t less worthy of praise if my life is difficult.

Praise God. He shows His love in the morning, and His faithfulness at night. He is my joy, my strength, my peace, my everything. I’m praising God for who He is. He’s worth it.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

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Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.

August 10; Mind-Blowing

Ezekiel 1-4

Have you ever wanted to see God? The Old Testament tells us a person could not look God in the face and live. He is that Holy, that awesome, truly mind-blowing. Once in a while though, God gives us a peek. Once in a while God cracks open the door with the “Do Not Enter” sign, and shows us a glimpse of Himself.

Like here in Ezekiel’s vision. Now, I’m not going to try to draw a picture of four living creatures with multiple faces and wings, because that is not what God looks like. It is, however, who God wants us to see. It’s what God wants us to know about Himself.

I see a force that reveals God in nature, a power so incredible that the sun doesn’t rise without God raising it, animals and birds don’t even move unless He moves.  I see a fire burning so brightly we can’t get close. We are all subject to the One in Ezekiel’s vision.

And this is what thrills me about this awesome, untouchable God: Ezekiel “saw a hand stretched out to (him)” (2:9). In that hand was a scroll that Ezekiel was instructed to eat. Do you see what I see?

Scripture makes it plain that we cannot even hope to approach God. We can never go to Him. He is too holy, too powerful, too awesome. So He comes to us!

He comes to us in the form of Scripture, that scroll Ezekiel ate, the Bible you hold in your hand. God is in there and He wants you to know Him through His own words. He doesn’t want you to just read it. He wants you to ingest it, devour it, make it a part of you.

He comes to us in the human person of Jesus, His Son. God experienced life on earth, not so He could understand what it was like to be human, but so humans could be assured He’s always understood us. Jesus came, died, and rose again so that “Do Not Enter” sign could be removed once and for all who accept what Jesus did for them.

Ezekiel’s response to seeing this vision was to fall on his face in worship. He sat for seven days afterward, “overwhelmed.” And that’s what I want my response to be, too.

When faced with the reality of who God truly is, I can only fall on my face before Him and cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” I am unworthy to stand in His Presence. But look at what God does when Ezekiel was facedown in the dirt:

As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. (2:2)

Wow. Just, Wow!

This holy, untouchable God wants to be touched. We can’t reach up to Him, but He reaches down to us, and lifts us up to Himself. It’s not an out-of-body experience. It’s an out-of-self experience. The Spirit of God comes into me and raises me to great heights that I cannot hope to reach without Him.

To think that the God of the Universe, the Creator God, Holy, Holy Holy, reaches down to me to lift me up, that He wants me to be with Him, that He loves me, died for me. And one day, I will look straight into His face without fear, because I have received what He Himself bought for me.

Mind-blowing.

 

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

July 18; Who Is God?

Isaiah 43-46

Some days you just have to let God speak for Himself.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” (43:10-11)

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (43:25)

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (44:6b)

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: “I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…” (44:24)

For this is what the Lord says – he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (45:18)

“Even to your old age, and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (46:4)

“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (46:8-9)

I bear witness: God is who He says He is. The Bible tells me that. And He has shown Himself to be true in my life. There is no other god. None.

These are only a few verses I read today that declare the identity of God. I hope you’ll read all that He has to say about Himself, and His relationship to you. Listen to His heart.

I love God, who tells me not to fear, that He is with me, that He saves me. And He never fails.

How can such a great, awesome, powerful God be so personal? Because HE IS!

July 12; Until I Get It

Isaiah 10:5-12:6, 28:1-29

Once again God, through Isaiah, is telling us we need to fear Him, that His judgments are just and His hand is heavy, consequences swift and devastating. As I was reading His warnings today, I found myself thinking, “Really? Again? You’ve already made Yourself pretty clear about this a dozen times already. How many times do we have to hear how fearsome You are?”

“Until you get it,” He seemed to answer.

I recently read a great article about the OMG world we live in. I wish I had saved it so I could share it with you. I looked for it this morning, but I can’t find it. The author points out many ways our view of God has become so casual, our respect of Him and His Name has become almost unrecognizable. Do we get it that God’s Name is so holy that the ancient Jews, and some Jews even today, won’t even say His Name? I wonder if we think God’s holiness has waned over time.

I’ve heard some Christians use that Name as a punctuation mark. I’ve even heard some people use the precious name of Jesus behind the vulgar F word. Oh, someone has decided to disguise the Name using the letters OMG, and some people will tell you it doesn’t really stand for “Oh My God.”

Smoke screen.

Who do we think God is?

So I will continue to read God’s warnings. I’ll continue to let Him reveal Himself as a Holy, Righteous, Awesome, God to be feared…

until I get it.