I am reminded of the gift of life. Too many diseases, too many deaths, too many things that pull away from God and HIS desire and design. There is a little girl with Cleveland ties who is fighting her battle for life. The doctors have exhausted their knowledge in what to do. They have sent her home – to die. Only by the power and grace of God does she continue to breathe right now. I hear of too many stories that have that familiar ring to them. While I go to sleep tonight with my family all snug in their beds, I restlessly know that some families are fighting to believe in God because of the situation of a child. If I were God, I would hear their prayers and answer their desires, but that is because as a god I would be nearsighted. While I know the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and at the same time, believe in those same Scriptures for they give me hope, comfort and promise of something more, I struggle with the view from here. If there is a God who IS love, than HIS heart has to break more than mine does as HE sees much more than I! [BTW – there is a God and HIS Name is LOVE.] I believe in this God of love so deeply. I also know deep down in my heart that this little girl will experience something better than life here – period. There is nothing more to say about that- honestly. My problem is I want to spare some of the pain – and I can’t, and God won’t. It is not because HE doesn’t care, but all because HE cares more than you and I could ever know. And since HE is an all-knowing God, HE knows far more than you and me combined (Isaiah 55:8-9). So while you and I are left here to deal with the pain and the promise, may we not cling to here, but long deeply, even more so, for there!
As I sit at my desk to write this week’s sermon for a series titled “Stand Firm”, I am working on a particular sermon that is titled “Courageously and Worshipfully Stand” based on 2 Chronicles 20. What is timely interesting is that the nation of Judah was being attacked by the Moabites, Ammonites and the Meunites – three different armies! Jehoshaphat, who was one of the few “good” kings, sought God out and eventually called on the nation to fast. The people of Judah came together to seek The Lord! Here we are on a day when our government cannot come to an agreement, so it is “shut down”. Couple this with the fact that this morning I attended a Ministerial Alliance meeting and our topic of discussion was the lack and need for unity in our churches for the glory of God. We left that meeting desiring to get out of the way for God’s love to be seen in us and through us. It amazed me that we seek unity on our own terms (I am speaking of “we” as all humans!) We always want everyone else to see out way and agree with it! This does not bring unity but rather fights, quarrels and competition. What would happen in the community of Cleveland, in the county of Pawnee, in the State of Oklahoma, in the United States if we as the Church sought The Lord out by coming together to fast and pray for unity. In this text, one obvious point we cannot miss: The battle belongs to The Lord, we need not fight, we only need to stand and see the deliverance. This standing is not idleness, rather it is – “focus” focus on the KING!” In 2 Chronicles what takes place before God goes in to action is a nation in worship. I keep seeing people posting, “What should I do since the government is shut down…” and many talk about doing what they did the day before. This is fine, provided that what we did yesterday was right – not just good but what is best. Otherwise, maybe what our nation needs is a revival of the Church being the church and beginning with a little bit of humbling of ourselves and sacrificing through fasting, praying, worshipping and watching our God grow us, revive us and deliver us once again from our own entrapments. Church, I agree with Bill Hybels, we are the hope of the world – it is time to deliver that hope! Will you join the movement of God? I pray so…
Have you ever watched a close basketball game where either team could easily walk away with a ‘W’? Then as the clock is winding down you see a play that (at least in your mind) is the game changer. The moment that particular play happens you know the other team (team B) is toast. There is not recovering from that dynamic blow! Nothing will be the same. The confidence is overwhelmingly with that one team (team A). Maybe it was a dominating dunk, or a threatening three pointer or even just an unbelievably spectacular shot. Whatever it is, you know – GAME OVER!!! You can turn the TV off and not even watch the final moments because nothing, and I mean nothing can change the momentum of the game.
The Bible as several of these game changing moments! (Right?) Just recently, I was reading in the book of Ezekiel (highly recommend!) and I saw a game changer in action. The first 39 chapters a recurring phrase appears 63x, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” God proves HIS LORDSHIP time and again in the first 39 chapters. Chapter 40 brings a different tone (as I see it!) The New Temple and Temple area are measured. Now if I am going to be honest, I began to get blurred vision from boredom for two reasons: One: I can’t picture very well what Ezekiel is describing. Two: I have no idea what is coming – the game changer!
Ezekiel 40-42 talks about gates and their sizes, inside measurements, outside measurements, how many stairs here, how many stairs there, thirty rooms on this side, alcoves right here, tables over there, these rooms are for priests, this table is before the Lord… I can hear Charlie Brown’s teacher talking…”Wah, wah wah wah wah wah” (You get the idea, I can see your head bobbing and I can tell you are thinking about not finishing this article, but hang with me.) Then Chapter 43 opens up with this, “1Then the man brought me to the gate facing east” (Oh know I thought here we go again!) “2 and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roaring of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory.” It was like a slap in the face moment. It was a “I coulda had a V-8″ epiphany. What did I just read? God’s glory! Holy, holy, holy. It was a game changing moment in two forms, two timeframes: First was Ezekiel’s and the second one was mine! For Ezekiel, he saw the glory of God and it brought him to his knees while the glory of the Lord filled the Temple! He realized that he was standing on holy ground. And God’s message to Ezekiel was that earth was a resting place for HIS feet! (See Isaiah 66:1 and Psalm 99:5)
For me, I realized I had dangerously fallen prey to the lie that the Word of God is boring! My V8 moment, reminded me any time I think nothing important is going on in the Scripture I am reading, I MUST be drawn in closer to see the God of Heaven and Earth who calls me into HIS presence! It was a game changer for me! The God who wants to live with me and in me has blessed my life with HIS Word. I will never be the same. But don’t stop watching, the game isn’t over because God is still working on me and through me ALL FOR HIS GLORY! But the clock is still winding down…
When it comes to life decisions, I guess it just doesn’t make sense to me! I understand a few thing (not all things! 🙂 ) I understand that in the beginning sin looks exciting and it is – at the beginning. I guess I don’t understand why we buy the lie EVERY time. I understand that addictions are ‘hard to break’ thus the name. I guess I don’t understand an attitude of quitting EVERY time because it is hard. I understand that I want more for myself (and my family) that’s why it’s called selfishness! I guess I don’t understand why I think something easy will be the solution EVERY time when EVERY time I end up disappointed and stuck in my old rut of addictive behavior and issues. I understand that loneliness is depressing. I guess I don’t understand why I would stay by myself when I know the outcome already because it is the same EVERY time. I understand that sin easily entangles and keeps my mind from the right things to help me lose my time. I guess I don’t understand why I don’t choose to let Jesus untangle me, but I choose to remain stuck EVERY time!
Maybe the truth of it is I must not understand anything, but I guess EVERY time I think I do I get myself in a deeper hole. Why not THIS time make a change? Choose differently? Go in a different direction instead of sticking with the same old EVERY time way!
Looking for something new, fresh and revitalizing? THIS time go HIS way!
My soul longs to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling! (2 Corinthians 5 2-5) And the Good News is that God made us for this very purpose. The Bible also alludes to this in Romans 8:19-21! when God says “Creation was subjected to frustration…by the will of the one who subjected it in hope that creation…will be liberated and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Back in 2 Corinthians 5:9, Paul says because of this, “we make it our goal to please HIM.” Is that your goal, to please the Father? I see many people today who struggle to live for godliness. They think the frustration they feel is to try harder and exert effort to obtain a right standing. (Even though we preach, time and again, that it is through grace, not our works by which we are saved.) On top of that 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that by God’s divines power we have “everything we need for life and godliness…” People continue to struggle and find no relief. There are a few reasons for no relief: First: It won’t be fully experienced here and that’s why we have our longing for the heavenly clothing. Second: What peace and relief there is to experience here we search and fight for in the wrong context. We most often try to accomplish HIS goals for our life while hanging on to our wants/desires/sinful passions because we are not fully convinced God is enough to satisfy and deliver. Don’t you want something different then what we can find here for fulfillment? I do, in fact, my soul cries out for it!
I have always been fascinated with the Sabbath. Unfortunately, I have fought to honor it and keep my personal Sabbath for a few reasons. First, I think I am too busy to stop and rest, but in the same breath I say I trust God. Second, some around me see a Sabbath as lazy and useless and I let that get the better of me at times. (Most often, the first reason is the biggest obstacle!) I teach that a Sabbath rest is commanded by God and I firmly believe this. But my rebellious nature fights to keep going. Lately, I have been reading through the book of Ezekiel and I have noticed that the prophet has a lot to echo from God concerning the “rebellious house” (Israel) Interestingly enough, this morning I was in chapter 20 and I ran into this topic of a Sabbath rest! In verse 12, God says, “I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I, the Lord made them holy.” The Sabbath was given to us to verify that God has made us holy! I don’t ever remember hearing that in a sermon or reading it in a book. But I love it! In verse 20, HE goes on to say, “Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” God wants us to honor HIM by honoring and keeping HIS Sabbaths to show we are connected to HIM. Our response to the Sabbath is a direct correlation to our witness, testimony and walk with the Almighty in whom we can trust! For the Israelites they “desecrated” HIS Sabbaths. But what about us? Do you and I trust HIM enough to obey HIS word and HIS commands? When was the last time you celebrated the Sabbath, HIS Sabbath with which HE blessed you? Take a break this week, a real Sabbath and enjoy it guilt free. Make sure you use it to connect with HIM, not to just be lazy! 🙂
I was preparing for my sermon for this Sunday and in my search I came across this verse. I had underlined it, but had forgotten about it. Jeremiah 32:40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them. I will inspire them to fear ME, so that they will never turn away from me.” That just blew me away! I am so thankful that God loves me enough to INSPIRE me to fear HIM, so that I will choose HIM all the days of my life. Thank you Lord for you unfailing love for me! In Acts 9:31 we see that the church grew and was encouraged by the Holy Spirit as a result of their “fear of the Lord.” May HE be the focus of your fears and love. God bless!!!