Tag Archives: Jesus

Seriously? (Isaiah 5-8)

Do we really think we have better ideas than God’s? Are we foolish enough to believe our plans are good and fair, and God needs to get on board?  We can fight our own battles, but Isaiah warns us that we will be fighting against God. Do we honestly think we’ll win?

God has a solution for all the bad things in the world. He has the means for turning evil hearts into holy hearts. He’s provided a way to change hate into love:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

God with us!

God has the answer to all that is wrong in our world. He sent His Son to BE the answer!

If I have a medical question, I don’t go to a two-year-old for answers. If I need advice I don’t ask an infant what he thinks I should do. Yet we are acting equally irresponsible when we listen to the advice and follow the plans of our fellow, fallen, sinful man. Whether it’s the CDC, Black Lives Matter, Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Lebron James, or any number of “experts” in all that is wrong with the world, we are asking two-year-olds to solve our problems.

There is only one answer. There is only one plan that will see success. There is only one person’s advice that is worth listening to.

Read your Bible. Get to know the Answer. Follow His Plan. Obey God and see our world change.

Do you think you have a better idea? Seriously?

 

The Same Boat (Ecclesiastes 7-12)

Solomon was so wrong about so many things. He was looking through the eyes of a natural man, out of the framework of sin, of self, of trying to outthink, outsmart, and out maneuver God. As wise as he was, Solomon wasn’t God. He would never be God.

Solomon seems to believe we are all in the same boat. We live. We die. We succeed. We fail. Life is good. Life is hard. But Solomon misses the boat, so to speak.

I recently heard someone say, “We are all in the same storm. But we are NOT all in the same boat.”

Some people are weathering the storm of life in cardboard canoes, paddling against the waves with plastic straws. Some are trying to fashion their own lifeboats by grabbing at driftwood while trying to stay afloat in the torrent.

But some of us are resting in a sturdy, sea-worthy, ocean vessel called, Salvation. Some of us are enjoying peace in the midst of the storm of life while in the presence of the Prince of Peace. Some of us will come out of this storm more alive than ever when we finally step on the shores of heaven.

Yes, there is a storm raging that effects us all, Solomon. But we are not all in the same boat. Not even close.

Do You Want Change? (Psalm 149)

The book of Psalms ends with praise to God, our Creator, Savior, Sustainer, Judge, and King. We are reminded of who He is and what He has done, and the fact that more than anyone or anything, He deserves our praise. He alone is worthy of our praise.

But there is a thought that struck me today as I read 149:6-9 in light of the present climate in our country these days. So often we pray – I pray – “God, defeat the enemy. God, bring about peace. God, show people the wonder of your salvation. God, fix this.”

Today I hear Him say, “No. I asked you to pick up the sword.”

God could turn this world into Eden with a word. He has the power to turn every heart of every person on this earth toward Him in an instant. But He won’t. In His sovereignty, His plan for the salvation of the world includes you and me. He’s made that pretty clear.

God will release His power to save through obedient children, yielded vessels. He will go to battle against Satan with an army of believers ready for battle. We not only need to pray that God will defeat the enemy, we need to then get off our knees, pick up the sword, and go into battle. We need to be armed with His Word, strengthen by His power, and following His lead. The battle won’t be won unless we do.

Don’t read these verses in psalms and picture Muslims, or atheists, or that jerk down the road. Our enemy is Satan. And if we want him defeated in the lives of those people we need to wield the sword against that snake. Not against people who disagree with us. Violence is not the answer.

But we who know Jesus need to go, and tell, and live, and love Christ so that people who don’t know Him will want to know Him. That’s how Satan will be defeated. That’s how the battle will be won. That’s how eternal souls will find forgiveness. And that’s how to bring about change.

Racism, political parties intent on taking away our rights and freedoms, abortion, the few corrupt policemen, and whatever else you think needs to change, won’t change until people accept the fact that they are sinners in need of a Savior, then accept the Savior! Sinners will act like sinners. Don’t expect them not to just because you are praying God will fix our country.

Pray. Don’t stop praying. But while you are praying, pick up the sword and join the battle. Nothing will change unless you do.

 

Blessed Because (Psalm 145)

It is often that the verses my mother underlined in the Book of Psalms have to do with God’s love, protection, and faithfulness. Just in this one psalm, Mom underlined four verses:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” (vs 3)

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises…” (vs 13b)

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (vs 18)

“The Lord watches over all who love him…” (vs 20a)

David tells us that God is worthy of praise. He is faithful, near to us, and watches over us. These verses are timely considering the unrest surrounding COVID 19. I pray that they are your experience in all this, that you are resting in the knowledge that God is with you every step of the way. I hope you aren’t living in fear like those who have no hope.

Mom seemed to understand the correlation between our personal relationship with God, and His blessings on us. He is near to all who call on him. But in verse 18, David repeats that thought with this caveat: “to all who call on him in truth.”

It’s a mistake to think God comes near to just anyone who prays, or just anyone who isn’t an axe murderer. Not all roads lead to God. Scripture makes it clear that if we want to be near to God, we have to come to Him in truth. How can you know that truth?

Jesus said HE IS THE TRUTH. (John 14:6) You draw near to God through His Son. Period. Read God’s Word. You will find the absolute one and only truth by which you can enjoy a closeness with God.

God doesn’t protect just everyone, either. He protects those who love him, according to  the psalmist. Scripture talks a lot about love, and what love for God looks like. It’s not just three words, “I love God.” Love for God involves obedience, sacrifice of self, commitment, and a servant’s heart that lives love out of gratitude for what God has done. God’s protection is reserved for those who love Him, to those who have accepted what Jesus died to give, the forgiveness of sin and a glorious eternal home.

God’s blessings are directly related to our relationship with Him. Because, no matter what happens, if we live or die, if we have a brick home or a cardboard box, if we are a part of a big old family or alone, those of us who know Him have God! And those of us who know Him know it doesn’t get any better than that.

I am blessed because of my relationship with the Creator, Holy, Eternal God through His Son Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

Come What May (2 Samuel 16-18)

Ahimaaz wanted to run and tell David the outcome of the battle between his men and Absalom’s. Joab said no. He would send someone else to David because, “You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”

The news about the battle wasn’t all good news. David’s son Absalom had been killed in that battle, and that fact would destroy David. Or it would destroy the messenger like those who brought David word of Saul’s death. David had a history of killing the messengers of bad news, and Absalom’s death would have been the very worst kind of news.

Ahimaaz’s reply to Joab speaks to me:

Come what may, I want to run.

We have news to share with the world. It’s the best news ever in the history of the world. But with it comes some bad news, too.

The bad news is that we are sinners. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. And sin comes with a death sentence. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone outside ourselves to save us from that awful end. Some people get angry when faced with the truth about their sin.

The good news is, Jesus is the Savior we need. Jesus paid the death sentence that would have sent us to hell, and instead offers us eternity right next to Him in a place too amazing for words. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The thing is, you can’t share the good news without the bad. In order for someone to accept the Savior, they need to see their need of the Savior. And sometimes we might hesitate to share that message for fear of how it will be received.

Will I lose a friend? Will I be laughed at? Will people start treating me differently, unfairly, exclude me from things? Or as in some places in our world, will I lose my life?

Ahimaaz wanted to be the one to tell David, and he was willing to pay whatever price to share that message. He wasn’t concerned with his own safety. He wasn’t looking for some reward. It wasn’t about him. I believe, for Ahimaaz, it was about the message.

It’s still about the message. God is challenging me to take up Ahimaaz’s battle cry when given the opportunity to share His news with people He died to save.

“Come what may, God, let me be the one to tell someone about You today.”

The King (Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68)

David was a powerful, popular king in his day. Yet he often talked about God as being the King over all kings. Even in the height of his reign, David knew he was really just a worm. (Psalm 22:6)

Got me thinking about what kind of King God really is. Here is some of what David says about that:

First of all, David tells us that God the King has a powerful army at His disposal. Ten thousands and thousands of thousands of chariots ready to move at His command. (68:17) In fact, David tells us all the kings of the earth belong to God. (47:9) God is the King of Kings!

The King of glory, strong and mighty. Who is this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – HE is the King of glory. (24:10)

I can know without a shadow of a doubt that my King has absolute power over my enemy Satan, and his weapons of sin. At any time, the whole angel army will fight for me as a child of the King.

David describes our King as a Shepherd (Psalm 23). That is quite a different picture than that of a powerful king. A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, a shepherd gives up house and home to stay with the sheep, to protect them and make sure they are fed. That’s who God is to His sheep.

David also tells us our King is our Savior, that he blesses and vindicates those who seek His face (24:6). In fact, our King Savior died in order to save us. (Psalm 22)

David talks about our King as our Creator in Psalm 22. Our King is near to us, He hears the prayer of those who trust Him.

And finally, David declares that one day every knee will bow to the King of Kings (22:27-28). God is not the king of Christians. God is the King of everyone who has ever lived since the beginning of time. And one day, no one will be able to deny that Truth.

What a privilege to be the child of the King of Kings, the Shepherd’s lamb, protected by, loved by, blessed by the Lord God Almighty!

 

 

 

 

My Wedding (Psalms 43- 45, 49, 84-85, 87)

I’ve never been a bride. I’ve witnessed others experience their special day, and I’ve longed to put on my own jeweled white gown, a veil over my face, and know what walking toward a man who loves me above all others feels like, to hear him declare his love to an entire congregation, and to give myself totally, exclusively, eternally to him. I imagine that is a pretty awesome experience.

God, in His love letter to us we call the Bible, often describes His relationship with His people like that of a husband and wife. You can find references to that in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and in the writings of Paul and John. Jesus called Himself the bridegroom in Mark 2. And the Revelation of John specifically speaks about “the Lamb’s wife.”

Psalm 45 is a wedding song. And, in a very real sense, it describes my future wedding. On that day my robe interwoven with gold will be Jesus’ perfect robe, the one He bought for me with His very life. I’ll be wearing His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. No designer dress will compare with the glory of my future wedding gown.

I’ll draw near to him “with joy and gladness,” like a girl on the arm of her father walks down the aisle, and I’ll look into the eyes of Someone who loves me more than any man can possibly love. I’ll hear Him proclaim in front of the whole world that I am His forever. I’d like to invite you to my wedding.

But more than that, I pray when your time comes, you will experience your own glorious wedding day. I pray that you will allow God to place Jesus’ righteousness over you and be united with Him forever, with joy and gladness.

That will be your experience if you have accepted what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, and rose again to prepare your honeymoon in heaven. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Then begin to plan you wedding. What a day that will be!

A Name On A List (I Chronicles 1-2)

My reading plan has me in the first two chapters of I Chronicles this morning. I spent some time trying to carefully pronounce all of those weird names as I read. “Why?” you might ask. Why not just skim over the names of people whose stories are not even recorded? Well for one thing:

All Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16)

I know nothing about most of the men whose names I read in these chapters today, except maybe the names of their dads and their sons’ names. And the fact that God placed their names in His Holy Scripture.

Not all these people were obedient servants of God. Not all did amazing deeds, or won great battles. They were ordinary people. Yet all of them have a place in the history of God on this earth. All their names have been preserved for centuries. They were God’s children as part of His chosen people.

When you think about it, this is a pretty amazing list. What a privilege to be counted among God’s precious ones for ever. But this list is nothing compared to the list where you’ll find my name.

Scripture often talks about the Book of Life, or in Revelation, the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s where you’ll find my name.

I know my name is there because I have believed that Jesus is the Christ. I have recognized my sin and confessed it. I have received forgiveness for those sins through the blood of Jesus, the resurrected Savior. And because I have been redeemed, my name was added to the list of God’s precious ones, His children for whom He is preparing heaven!

The Lamb’s Book of Life is filled with pages and pages of ordinary men, women, and children. Not all have done great deeds, or won great battles. Not all have taught Sunday School or preached in front of thousands. Not all have given their lives for the Name. But every name on that list has something in common.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name in heaven or earth that can save except Jesus. Jesus Himself told us that He is the Way and no one goes to the father except through Him. John 3:16 tells us whoever believes that Jesus died for the sins of the world will be saved and have everlasting life.

The names of the people who have accepted Jesus are listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. My name is there. I pray yours is as well. But it’s more than a list. It’s a relationship with God Himself. It’s the joy of sins forgiven. It’s truth and life, and eternity.

Now that’s a list!

 

Blameless and Innocent (Psalm 19)

My mom wrote, “for 1991” in the margin of her Bible, next to these verses she’d underlined:

…Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)

Mom lived these verses about as well as anyone I’ve ever known. But it wasn’t so much the verses she’d underlined that stood out to me. I’ve sat here for a while considering the words she chose not to underline in verse 13. Those words are what speak to me today:

Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

I do not claim to know why my mother didn’t underline this phrase, so I won’t pretend to speak for her. I knew Mom as a humble, less-than-confident servant of the Lord she loved. Did she feel unworthy to even suggest that she could be blameless or innocent, even if God had declared she was that and more through the blood of His Son? I don’t know. I only know she didn’t underline that phrase in 1991.

It occurs to me that it’s fairly easy to recognize someone struggling with pride. They tend to brag, they draw attention to themselves, they are critical of others in order to show themselves superior.

It’s not as easy to recognize someone struggling with guilt, regret, or feeling undeserving of God’s grace. They tend to serve God quietly, maybe self-sacrificially, and avoid recognition or praise But they struggle in the depths of their souls, often with a smile on their faces.

Let me share two things God has laid on my heart concerning this. 1) If you feel unworthy of God’s grace, you are right. You don’t deserve it. You are a sinner and what you deserve is hell. That is true for all of us. In fact, grace wouldn’t be grace if we deserved it.

But do not misunderstand, Jesus died for you and me while we were sinners. You do not deserve His forgiveness, but He deserves for you to accept it anyway. He willingly paid what you couldn’t pay. And being blameless and innocent is His gift for you if you would just receive it. We need to stop trying to feel worthy, and instead rejoice in the reality of God’s grace to we who are anything but worthy.

2) Because if we don’t, if we continue allowing ourselves to feel shame or guilt, or if we allow our unworthiness define us, we run the risk of having a works-based faith. We want to feel like we deserve God’s grace so we teach Sunday School, we visit people in hospitals, we fix food for shut-ins, we read our Bibles every day, we don’t drink or smoke or gossip. And we think that somehow living like that will make God love us more, or forgive us more, or maybe it’ll just help us feel good about ourselves.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that nothing – nothing- we do can make God love us more. He died once for you. It is finished, He said. You can’t earn what has already been bought.

Again, I don’t know why Mom didn’t underline this part of verse 13. But if you are struggling with guilt for sins already forgiven, or if you find it hard to accept what Jesus freely offers, understand those thoughts and feelings don’t come from God. They are the arrows of the enemy.

My prayer is that you will rejoice in the cross today, allow God to cover those sins He died for, accept His grace without hesitation. And with boldness, live your life as one who has been declared blameless and innocent.

Because through Jesus’ blood that is exactly what you are.

 

Read All About It (I Samuel 27)

Do you know what I love about reading the Bible? God didn’t sugar-coat anything when He whispered into the ears of the men who penned His Words. We don’t just read about the victories and the blessings. We also read about the epic failures and the devastating consequences for sin. God never paints His children as perfect. I like that.

Take David for instance. Here we read about the future king who will be described as a man after God’s own heart, murdering whole towns of people and lying about it. He’s living with the enemy and doing what he needed to do to survive there.

I Samuel 27:1 holds the key to this very dark time in David’s life:

But David thought to himself… the best thing I can do is…

There is no mention that David was obeying God. In fact, there’s no mention that David consulted God at all during this time with the Philistines.

Now some people will say it was God’s will, that it was all part of God’s plan for David. And to be honest, I can get a little angry when people brush sin off like that. I wonder if people who believe that really know God at all. Our holy God does not cause His children to sin. There is no evil in Him. But there is evil in each of us, and God is very honest to tell us that that is something we need to address, because the consequences are serious.

We read that David went on his own and sinned. He thought to himself. He came up with that plan on his own. And we will find there will be consequences he’ll face for his sins.

But David will also be forgiven. And that’s why I love reading the good, the bad, the ugly, and the grace we find when we open God’s Word. God not only tells us what happens when we choose sin, He tells us how we can be forgiven. He not only describes a heart hardened by disobedience, He describes a heart cleansed by the blood of His Son.

If you want to read the Bible in order to feel good about yourself, don’t bother. This book will break your heart. It will sit heavy on your shoulders as your sins are revealed. It will tell you you are a sinner, then it will tell you that again and again.

No, this book won’t make you feel good about yourself. But it will make you feel good about your Savior. While you were a sinner, not a cleaned up version of yourself, while you were still a sinner Jesus died for you. You, my friend, don’t deserve what Jesus did for you there. But He did it anyway.

Because He loves you that much. You can read all about it in the pages of the Bible.