Saturday, June 20, 2009

Frantic worship

1Kings 18:37 " these people will know that you , O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

1Kings 18:29 " Midday passed , and they (the prophets of Baal) continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention."

How often I try to get God to do something. If I read my bible and pray, surely He will answer my cry for whatever I ask. Surely if I serve at church, He will hear and respond. If only we all gather and pray and ask God for revival, for health, for favor, we will be answered. God will respond because we have asked it and at times asked frantically. But here, we see that frantic prayer and sacrifice are not the way to get God to hear. The prophets of Baal believed they would be heard because they worked so hard to get the attention of their god. We believe, at times, that our God will hear us because we pray in a large group, do many good works, read our bibles. I wonder if we have not thought about the fact that God, in His sovereignty, can and will bring new life, a revival, because of His plans, and through His mercy. To want revival is godly, to think we can bring it about is presumptuous. To pray for God to visit us is right, to demand He show up when we call is outright rude. To sacrifice for His kingdom, to serve Him is good and even commanded, to believe that obligates God to us is to become an idolater. God does not owe us anything, yet He has willingly given us mercy, grace and love. He has sought us out and we have ignored Him; He has rescued us and we have rejected Him; He has blessed us richly and we have blasphemed Him.
Pray for revival, pray for health and favor, but hold them all with an open hand before the God of the universe Who, in mercy and love, will do as He chooses for His purposes. We were, after all, created for His good pleasure.

Guard your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart fo it is the wellspring of life."
1Kings 11:4 "As Soloman grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods."

What incredible power the heart wields! The power to turn a man who had been visited by God; not once, but twice. To turn him away from this God to other gods. Away from the living God, to the various gods of his many, many wives. As he held fast to his wives, he lost hold his firm grip on the hand of God.
How powerful the human heart; it turns the trajectory of a human life no matter what the stage. Age does not preclude foolishness nor does wisdom. Guard your heart.
The widowed man, walking with God, in loneliness takes in a younger woman and rejects his God, his family and his church, for her. The wronged wife rejects her husband's repentance and moves in with another man against the wisdom of God and the counsel of friends; losing friends, church, stability.
How powerful the human heart to lead to its own destruction. Like an addict that must have a fix-the unguarded heart leads to the slavery of feelings and finally captivity. The heart, unguarded, must have its way and that is the way to destruction.
Guard your heart!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Death 2

Next time you are listening to the news or reading the paper, notice the reports about people who have died. "3 Die in Detroit Fire" or "Plane Crash Kills 2" or "Actor Found Dead of Overdose." Tragic ways to die, but since when is death news?
We are told in Scripture that we will all die: "It is appointed unto men to die once..." Heb. 9:27. A popular saying, attributed, I think, to Mark Twain states that the only two certainties of life are death and taxes. Why then, is death news? There is nothing extraordinary about it. The way of death may be tragic or untimely, but certainly not unique or unheard of.
My thinking is that we treat death as surprising because we were not made to die. God's plan for humans did not originally include death. And, I believe we all still carry that knowledge in our souls and so react to death as an intrusion. It is not 'natural' for us, it is deeply and decidedly unnatural. As beings not made for death we know at a deep level that we were meant for life and so cling to life and hope for life even in the face of terrible crises and diseases. God made us to live and to live with Him forever. It is our natural state. Our sin has ruined this life and now death must come, and it is an intrusion and an insult. But, as the miracle of Easter shows us, death is now only a door to the life that we were meant to live.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009


Death surrounds us, it lurks in places which we think safe. Death stalks us and finds us. We all die. But for me and for all under the care of Jesus, death does not conquer us; not any more. Like many other hurdles, trials and tragedies, death for the follower of Jesus, becomes one more experience which we go through. Death for us has an exit, it becomes a conduit, not a dead end. In conquering death for us, Jesus leads the way through it as we follow Him through it. This is the victory, this is the hope. And this is the truth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Effect of Holiness

“When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” Exodus 34:29

The flesh of Moses’ face took on the reflected glory of the Almighty, because Moses had been in God’s presence. He had spent forty days and nights on the mountain with God; and now returning to the people he was unaware that his face shone. It glowed like a fire, a lamp. This effect of being with God, this physical manifestation so frightened the people that they backed away from Moses and would not come near him. Why would light cause such a fearful reaction? We all think of light as an attractive force. Light is good. But here, this light; is unheard of, unnatural, radiating from a human face, it becomes a thing to fear. Not until Moses beckons the people, do they approach. Perhaps now aware that it really is Moses, the crowd knows he will not harm them, nor will harm come to them from the power that radiates from his face. But the people know that Moses’ appearance has radically changed since his venture up the mountain to meet with God. The anger is gone, there is no belittling of the people; only a glowing face and the commands of God as sealed in the covenant.
And now, Moses learns the cost of coming near to holiness; of becoming holy. That long journey we take to become what God calls us to become. Moses learns it can affect even close relationships, causing people to fall back and to be afraid. Being near God and his holiness has set Moses apart. His face is radiant and it unnerves the people so much that he has to wear a veil when among them; a veil, which creates a barrier and keeps him at a distance from them.
So also, holiness becomes a barrier often. As we become more like Jesus Christ, those around us may back away. Fearful, for themselves and for us they create distance and create reasons for the changes in our life. Think of all the excuses for not becoming Christlike, for not following too closely, Think of how people who pursue holiness are deemed to have missed out on the “good things of life.” Think of how people who pursue holiness are thought to have squandered their talents and abilities in this life.
Think how people who pursue holiness in this life meet with the Giver of life and find life; eternal and abundant. Think how people who pursue holiness find all that humanity hopes for and lose nothing except that which diminishes real life. Think of spending time with God and the effect being actually visible in your face.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Meditations on Jonah

Can you see him? Sitting on the rise above the city; a yellowed plant trailing over his head. Why is he sitting out in this searing heat? Why doesn’t he come down into the city an find some shade and water. Maybe his is waiting for someone to come out to him, but it really looks like his is simply waiting.

My vine; it died suddenly this morning and now I have nothing to relieve the heat. I won’t be stopped though. I am going to sit here and wait for God to destroy this evil place. He knows they deserve it. These people have violated every law He ever gave and them some. There can be no other solution but for Him to destroy this place. I wonder if He will use fire, or a flood; perhaps He will use plagues, like He did in Egypt. I would just as soon have the ground open up and swallow the whole place up - no traces of them or their evil. They surely deserve whatever God dishes out tho them. And, I can wait, heat or not. I just want them gone. And they should be gone, destroyed, decimated, done away with; forever.
God is righteous, good, perfect and these people have only, ever crossed Him, flaunting their evil ways. I can’t imagine why He is taking so long. I did my part, telling them to repent. Fat chance of that, they were only acting. Now it is time for God to rain down fire on their heads, judge them, find them guilty. Lets wrap this thing up. That sun is hot; why did my vine have to die? It gave such great shade; cooled and comforted me yesterday. Really some things are so good to have; but they die so quickly; why is that?
What is the hold up, God? Where is the destruction you promised to those who do evil? What are you waiting for? Really my vine and its shade were wonderful. I could sure use something to shade my head.
God, where are you? Why haven’t you released your power and destroyed this city? You know how much suffering we have endured at their hands. You of all people know how they have treated us, your chosen people. I know you love us and care for us; we are your special possession. These people hardly even know you. What are you waiting for? You don’t really mean You love these people too. How could you? I really miss my vine....

How to Lose a Promise

In 1 Kings 11 God promised Jeroboam, son of Nebat, the kingship over Israel; the 10 tribes that He would take from the house of David. God also promised to be ‘with’ Jeroboam and further more to build for him “an enduring house” in the way He did for David. God said to Jeroboam, “ I will give Israel to you.” Additionally, He told him that his family would become a dynasty of rulers if they continued in the ways of the Lord.
But the promises of God did not ultimately convince Jeroboam. In 1 Kings 12:26-29 Jeroboam evidenced his doubt of God. He decided to “make an enduring house” on his own and to rule Israel in another way, outside of the commands and promises of God. He did this by crafting two golden calves as objects of worship placing one in the area of Dan, at one end of Israel, and the other in the city of Bethel, at the other end of the country. This was in order to keep the 10 tribes, those under his rule, from traveling to Jerusalem in order to worship God at the temple. Jeroboam feared the people would desert him for the king of Judah if they continued to worship in the capitol city of Jerusalem.
The Kingdom was promised to Jeroboam; 10 tribes, an enduring house like that of David, and yet he doubted the power of God and the words of God to keep this specific promise to him. He feared the people would be drawn back to the house of David if they continued to worship in Jerusalem So in order to keep what God had surely promised to him, he rejected God, and God’s ways, setting up, instead, his own way to keep the kingdom, to preserve the promise by his own power.
Doubt that God could keep His Word and fear of losing the promise led to loss of all Jeroboam tried himself to keep. What Jeroboam tried to keep, he lost. What he tried to create, he destroyed. Doubt of God led to total loss of all Jeroboam had hoped to accomplish.
God is able to keep His promises and to provide that which He has committed to do. To doubt this is to lose all, as Jeroboam learned.

Friday, March 16, 2007

You Can Get There

Number 9:15-23
“At the LORD’S command they encamped, and at the LORD’S command they set out.”

The people of Israel knew Egypt; where it was, when the Nile flooded, that Pharaoh was a god, how life as a slave passed there. The culture, language, the customs and food of Egypt were all familiar to Israel. These were, in fact, all the people knew.
Israel knew nothing of the promised land. Having never set foot outside the boundaries of Egypt. The promised land was only a dream, a hope, and more often, an impossibility. The old stories, of ages past, about the forefathers living in The Land; the tales of tents in green pastures, of herd and flocks and wealth were like myths. So far in the past, so impossible in the present. How could a slave ever know the freedom to travel to another place, even if it was promised; how could a slave ever hope to acquire a piece of the land. Surely, this Promised Land, somewhere beyond all that the people knew, was beyond reach, and beyond hope, beyond promise.
And yet there was Israel, tent upon tent, clan by clan, tribe after tribe, camping in the wasteland beyond the borders of Egypt. The journey out of Egypt was, with doubt, orchestrated by the One Moses called God Almighty. That it would take a miracle for Egypt to let Israel go was true, that a miracle actually got them kicked out of Egypt was apparent. Now, evidence of this God Almighty, His presence, was just as evident, in a cloud, a pillar like cloud during daylight and a fiery pillar at night. Always there, just above them, always, always.
The problem was that not one of the people, except Moses, had walked this desert and he even asked his father-in-law to be a guide. A wasteland is barren, inhospitable; the sands shift, landmarks are few and changing, the climate is unforgiving. Amazing to think of leaving the green lands of Egypt, on the Nile River, to walk into a brown, barren desert, carrying all you own, with children and animals in tow. People get lost in deserts, they die from lack of food and water, from heat, from snake bites; a great number of ways to die in a desert. But walk Israel did, right into the wasteland, following the cloud pillar. Through the sand and scrub, over the rocks and around the crags, to the land promised ages ago. This land somewhere to then north and east, but really, no one knew where the Promised Land was exactly. No one, except this God Almighty, this One who promised it, this every present God in the pillar of cloud and fire.
So, He must lead Israel. He alone knew the way, so He must direct their steps. He would have to lead them to water and lead them to grass for their animals. He would have to give them food and protect them from danger. And He would have to show them how to live with Him, right there, in the midst of the tents. So, God lives with these people and shows them the way to the Land of Promise. He leads the way, His Presence guides along the way and in the end, He is the Way.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A New Name

John 21:20 “The disciple whom Jesus loved....”

Six times in the Gospel According to John, the author refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Near as I can tell, John never once identifies himself by name in the gospel. In a very real way John had given up his own life, as John, a fisherman, a son of Zebedee; to live as the beloved disciple. His earthly identity, the person he was before he met Jesus, no longer described and defined him. John chose to be known not for who he was nor what he did, but for Who loved Him. The fact that Jesus loved him came to be the totality of his identification. It was his new identity in Christ. This may be what Jesus had in mind when He spoke about losing one’s life - ....(Matthew 10:39) He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.
John was a fisherman, in business with his brother and father. When he became a disciple of Jesus, he went on to record the gospel account with his name and author four other books in the New Testament. The last of these books was the result of the vision, given John, of the time of Jesus’ return to earth as conquering king. He went from one of a thousand working men, living in a corner of the globe, to a man who served and taught millions of the love which he experienced himself.
His life, which he lost for the sake of Jesus, was like a million other lives lived out every year on this earth. The life he gained as the disciple whom Jesus loved, was one only the Lord of all life could envision and provide.
John did not hold onto the designation and role given him by the world. His time with Jesus so changed him that the only appropriate name he could use was a description of the relationship God had with him.
He was the disciple whom Jesus loved. That was enough for John.

A Lesson in Love

John 14:13 ‘For the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

In the midst of His discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus says the world must learn is that He loves the Father. The lesson to be learned from what went before and what is soon to come on Calvary, is all about love. But this lesson in love does not involve humans at all; it involves the Triune God. The whole world has to, must, needs to - see and understand that Jesus’ life and death, lived out before their eyes is a demonstration of love within the Godhead. This love, that is in the trinity, must have and outlet, as all love must. Because of that, Jesus brings action to demonstrate His love. Marvelous in is power and creativity is this love that, through Jesus’s redeeming death, it brings children to life.
We are born into God’s family because of the redeeming love of God the Son for God the Father. As with natural birth, the new child has no part in the giving of life. Life is given to the child; so with the new life, we are all born of love without any action or instigation from us. Because Jesus loved the Father, He went through with the planned sacrifice that would give new life to all who were dead in sin. We were born anew, because of love. Jesus wants us to learn how great the love is in the Godhead, how He loves the Father. It is a creative, redeeming love and we are the recipients of the overflow of this love, but the primary object of the love is the Father.
We are a gift of love from the Son to the Father.

Those in the know

John 2:1,7-10 "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galille...Jesus said to them 'Fill the waterpots with water.' So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, 'Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the head waiter called the bridergroom and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first...but you have kept the good wine until now.' "

The servants were the first to know of the mysterious happenings. There were even used in the working of this, the first of Jesus' miracles. Obedience, availability and willingness all came together - not money, status, opinion for these who were eyewitnesses to a great event. Servants of God are there for His bidding and these ones got a close view of the Lord at work. What great leader of our time would chose household slaves to be co-workers with him? Generally, we all look for ambitious, motivated, well-dressed, self assured people to carry out plans. Someone who looks like us, who thinks like us, who reflects our views and status. But those who stand afar, looking to have the world notice them are not the type chosen by Jesus. He simply asked the servants, those quiet people waiting to do the service required of them, for help. They were not looking to be in on something big. They were simply doing the job they had been given. They were not the beautiful people of the day. They would never be the beautiful people. However, they were known to the Creator of the Universe and Saviour of Humanity. Fame or service; If the world acclaims you as important, but you miss the miracle of God, what have you really gained? Fifteen minutes of fame in exchange for the price of working with God?