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Monday, September 18, 2017

Despicable Me…

There are times when the Word of God is stunning to me.  Two days ago reading 2 Samuel 12:9, the Word of God not only stunned but filleted me.
Despicable Me…
The writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit describes disobedience as despising the Word of God.  It occurs to me that to despise God’s Word is to despise Him.

Concurrent to my devotional and Bible study I have been working through How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, by D. A. Carson.  When I read 2 Samuel 12:9 this passage came to mind:
The ultimate measure of evil is the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18ff.), and that wrath is so resolute that it issues in the cross. We are all “by nature deserving of wrath” (Eph. 2:3): apart from the cross, there is no hope for any of us.
In this primal sense, then, evil is evil because it is rebellion against God. Evil is the failure to do what God demands or the performance of what God forbids. Not to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength is a great evil, for God has demanded it; not to love our neighbor as ourself is a great evil, for the same reason. To covet someone’s house or car or wife is a great evil, for God has forbidden covetousness; to nurture bitterness and self-pity is evil, for a similar reason. The dimensions of evil are thus established by the dimensions of God; the ugliness of evil is established by the beauty of God; the filth of evil is established by the purity of God; the selfishness of evil is established by the love of God.
(D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 42.)
For me to disobey, lust, covet, not to love, is sin, despising God’s Word, and by extension, God.

James 4:17 reinforces this.  In Psalm 51:4, David declares that his disobedience is against God, he despised God and His Word.

This is hard.  It is especially hard when someone sins against or betrays me.  I have to respond to them in God’s grace or I become engaged in despising Him and His Word.

I am in dire need of His grace to live like this.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Producing Love?

This morning 1 Corinthians 13 was in my reading project.  You know the chapter, love.  Chances are if you have been to a wedding you have heard the passage read.
Producing Love
One of the things about the Word of God that continues to astound me, is how it continues to reveal more in passages that are “familiar”.  Today was no exception.  When I have read or studied this chapter in the past, and if I were pressed the number of passes may be in excess of a hundred, I have always viewed it as an exhortation and a balance to the surrounding chapters on gifts.

While I am still processing what I saw this morning, it was different.

As I was reading through the passage, again, 1 John 4:8 came to mind; specifically, “…God is Love”.  Hard on the heels of that thought, Galatians 5:22 forced its way into my consciousness, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love…”  Now, I may be courting heresy here, but it seems like the love in 1 Corinthians 13 is not something that we can do on our own.

John 15:5 joined the other verses clamoring for attention.  If I do not abide in Christ, I cannot do anything, which would seem to include love.

John 8:31 – 32, and John 15:7, seem to suggest that the Word of God plays some part in our abiding in Christ.

If this line of thinking is correct, one would expect that a person who is not regularly abiding in the Word, abiding in Christ, is incapable of love.  That would also seem to suggest that the things that are presented as love by those who are not so abiding, are not actually love.

Believing Men, who are charged with loving their wives, with raising their children in the Lord, and loving others as themselves, who are not consistently in the Word of God, have no hope of doing any of those assignments.

Even when we are consistently in the Word, if we are not allowing the Word to impact us, to change the way we think (Romans 12:1 – 2), if we are not trusting Him to love through us.  We are pretty much guaranteed to fail.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

From Strength to Weakness

Uzziah’s life is instructive.  We find him in 2 Chronicles 26.
From Strength to Weakness

Look at the contrast between 2 Chronicles 26:4 - 5 and 26:16 - 21.

Verses 4 – 5 describe Uzziah as:
  • Doing right in the sight of the Lord
  • Continuing to Seek God
  • Prospered by God
But verses 16 – 21 describe him as:
  • Strong
  • Proud
  • Corrupt
  • Unfaithful to the Lord
What happened?  How did Uzziah move from following hard after the Lord to proud, corrupt, and unfaithful?

He succeeded.  He did so well that he begin to take credit for what the Lord had done for him.

There is a harsh lesson there for us.

John 15:5 reminds us that we are not able to do anything apart from Christ.  We are completely dependent on His grace for all that we do.  So, say that our kids are turning out OK.  Say that our marriage is clicking on all cylinders.  Say that we are effective in leading people in our workplace to the Lord.  Say that we are helping others to grow in their relationship to the Lord.

Say we start to think that we are doing really well in this Christian life thing.

As Uzziah we begin to take credit.  When things are going well, it is easy to forget who is really behind those good times.

Uzziah may counsel that is not such a good idea.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Meeting Us Where We Are


Most of what is written here, upwards of 85% (swag) comes out of my journal.  Typically I review something I wrote some months back, double check the passage to which I was responding – to make sure I did not write down something really stupid – and then transfer it here, usually somewhat expanded.
Meeting Us Where We Are
Just now I was reviewing the next section of the journal.  It was the middle of last December.  Since last August many difficult things have happened and continue in our family.  I wrote, as a prelude to my time with the Lord, “Lord there is much on my mind and heart now.  I do not know where to start.  At some level I feel overwhelmed by what you have…”  At that point there is a note that my dad, who would pass away 37 days later, called with an issue concerning his 24 hour health care and a challenge with insurance…it left me with a task to do for him…then I continued, “…yet something else on my plate, Lord how do I proceed?  I feel like I am getting crushed here.”

I don’t always record my prayer, I did this time, “I cast this on you and thank you for this series of circumstances.  Lord, please glorify yourself in this and…glorify me in you.  Father please help me through this.  Help me to pray and trust you in this.  Help me where I don’t trust you.”  Next to this was written Philippians 4:6 – 7 and 1 Peter 5:7.

Then I picked up my reading for the day, 2 Chronicles 14 – 16; Revelation 4 – 5; Haggai 2; Zechariah 1; and John 4.  Those passages just so happened to deal directly with my being “crushed”. My response filled 4 pages, about 8 times more than usual…

At times like these, and this has happened more than once, I will start with the reading and the Lord will bring other passages to mind that reinforce.  For example I started in 2 Chronicles 14:11, which took me to 2 Corinthians 12:10, James 1:2, Romans 5:3 – 5, and then back to 2 Chronicles 15:2b – 7… “the Lord is with you when you are with Him, and if you seek Him, He will let you find Him…in their distress they turned to the Lord…they sought Him, and He let them find Him.”

Part of my response to that chain, “Lord I rejoice in my weakness, I rejoice in all of the affliction…” what guarantees a strong finish “is my continual trust in Him.  My abiding in Him.  But I cannot do that on my own, I have to trust you for that as well…”

The point is – well there are several – If we come to Him admitting our desperate pain, He responds, He comforts, He meets us where we are.  He does that through His Word and through His Body.  All we have to do is seek Him, He will let us find Him.

If you are not recording your walk with Him in some form of journal, start.  I had forgotten this.  However, as I was reviewing this entry, it came back, and reading through the entry I was overwhelmed by the grace with which the Lord met with me on that day.  I wept as I read through how He responded.

If I hadn’t recorded it.  It would have been forgotten, a sweet time with the Lord passed and not remembered.

Do yourself a favor.  Write it down.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Drifting Away

The importance of the intentional development of leadership, both in the home and the church, has been a constant focus for some years now.  Sometime back Jeremiah reinforced that with the emphasis on the abandonment of the Word of God by the leaders of Judah in favor of their own dreams and ideas.  The impact was the destruction of the nation.
Drifting Away
Zephaniah 3:2, 4, echoes this theme.

The failure of the “city” to not cling to the Lord was laid firmly at the feet of those who were charged with teaching and leading them.  They did not teach them to cling to the Lord nor did they exhort them do so.  So, they did not.

It is the case that if we are not in community that encourages us to be in the Word, to “draw near to God”, then we will drift away.  Hebrews 3:12 – 13 reinforces this from a New Testament perspective.

It is imperative that we abide in the Word and intentionally continue to encourage one another to draw near to God through His Word.

Not to do so will, as with Judah, have dire consequences for our communities.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Chosen and Consecrated

2 Chronicles 7:16 closely follows the passage that we all memorize, frame, and cross stitch on stuff.  The statement puts special emphasis on the temple as far as God’s relationship to His chosen people.
Chosen and Consecrated
He has the same commitment to the New Temple.

  • 1 Peter 2:4 – 5
  • 1 Peter 2:9 – 10

While the temple that Solomon built was grand, magnificent, it was man’s work.  It was built with earthly stones, dead.  It was done in obedience, but, because of the frailty of the material that was used, did not endure.

This temple, the Body of Christ, the Church, is built of sterner stuff.  It is built not by man, but by God.  Build with regenerated souls assembled with purpose and intention.  Each stone serving an intentional function and place.

It is built on the cornerstone of the Son of God who purchased forever the individual stones, which live.

This Temple will endure.  Even in the context of the reality of the oppression and hatred of the enemy and the world it will stand bridging all ages to eternity.

(See also 1 Corinthians 3:16 – 17, 6:19; Ephesians 2:21)