Sunday, January 30, 2011

Romans 9 & 10

Romans Chap 9 continues to address Paul’s plead for authenticity to achieve salvation. Paul continued to explain the transition from solely following the law as a means to reach heaven; to exclusively placing your faith in Jesus Christ to please and honor God. To illustrate the depth of his desire and love to see people saved; Paul was willing to forego his own salvation in order for others to receive an understanding of Jesus Christ and God’s love. The question we should ask ourselves everyday is what will we sacrifice in order to reach those who don’t know God yet.
As Paul speaks to the Gentiles the first important question arises; concerning who is apart of God’s family? Paul used Jewish history to illustrate how people do not receive salvation due to lineage and religiosity. It confirms there is nothing we can do achieve the ultimate gift by ourselves. We receive salvation through placing faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul also emphasized again, God’s sovereignty on deciding who comes to him and how people are used to achieve his plan. To confront a second question, Paul addressed how people may question God’s sovereignty. The analogy about the potter and the clay, answers the question by pointing out, the created cannot question the creator. In our own time, we are raised in an age where we question and have to know facts. We sometimes fail to take in who God is and what it means to be sovereign. His ways and his love are above our understanding. This is why complete faith God is necessary.

Romans Chap 10, Paul takes the opportunity to explain how to receive salvation and what to do with it once received. We should take chap. 10 as a call for believers to act. Paul first points out that salvation is an internal choice. It is not about deeds or following laws. These actions allow man to place faith in themselves. It is about confessing in your heart and on your lips that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ has fulfilled the purpose of making us right with God. Thus making salvation for everyone. Paul went on to state that as believers, there is a public responsibility to spread the Good News (v.14-15). As Paul, we should all have the desire to bring people to Jesus; whether if it’s through mission work or just speaking to someone about the gift you have received. We should INVEST, INVITE and get INVOLVED.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday, January 29

In reading Matthew 8-9, we see miracle after miracle; healing after healing occur.

These miracles inlcude:

-the healing of the man with leprosy

-the healing of the Roman Officer's servant

-the healing of Peter's mother-in-law

-the healing of the demon possessed

-the calming of the storm

-the casting out of demons into the herd of pigs

-the healing of the paralyzed man

-the healing of the synagogue leader's daughter

-the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage

-the healing of the blind

-casting out another demon in the mute man

This list is an amazing testiment to the love Jesus had for people. But I think it is a greater conviction to us as his followers. This list is not created because Jesus went and sought out each of these people. These miracles occurred when these people in need sought after Jesus. Jesus wants us in relationship with him but doesn't force it upon us. We must take the step towards him! How often do we take our big or small problems to his feet? Too often we try and fix the problems but here we see a great picture of taking our concerns straight to his feet.

As we continue to read in Matthew 10, we see Jesus sending out the twelve apostles. As the twelve are listed, we see twelve men who weren't religious leaders but regular men who were willing to be used. Following the list of these men we see Jesus' instructions to them and it is amazing to see the powerful things that they were sent to do in His name! Ordinary men were being given extraordinary tasks! We too must accept the extraordinary task set before us.

"The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields." Matthew 9:37-38
God is Sovereign. He controls nations, history, people. In Isaiah 18 - 22 we find the prophet Isaiah speaking about the future of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel. Egypt, strong and mighty, and Israel, small and weak, one day will switch places. Egypt will come to Israel to worship the Lord of Hosts. Most scholars believe this is a reference to the millennial kingdom yet to come.

Isaiah in chapter 21 speaks against Babylon. The repeated cry "Fallen, Fallen is Babylon" emphasizes Babylon's final and total destruction (see Revelation 14:8, 18:2).

Isaiah continues to speak against Dumah, Arabia, and Israel. Dumah or also known as Edom pleads with the prophet to announce how much longer his nation must endure the darkness of its troubled history. The repetition of his question conveys his desperation.

The third oracle is directed at Arabia. The prophet declares that the prestige of Arabia will soon be humbled and her warriors reduced to a remnant. The ultimate reason for Arabia's decline is that the God of Israel declares it.

Finally in chapter 22, the prophet speaks an oracle concerning Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be destroyed because they have placed their salvation in themselves. In verses 12-13, Isaiah contrasts what the Lord God of hosts called for with what his unrepentant people called down on themselves.

In all these verses we see that God is Sovereign. He is Sovereign today. Nothing surprises Him. The sinfulness of man will not go unpunished. However, God is mericful and full of love. He desires all to come to Him. Don't misinterpret His grace with weakness. The Almighty God will do what He wills.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thursday, January 27th

"Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand? Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hired hand who looks for his wages, so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn. (Job 7:1-4)

As I type this Thursday blog these first four verses of Job chapter 7 sit very heavy on my heart. Today (01-26-11) at 6:18am Officer David Moore of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department was pronounced dead. I didn’t know David. But I can tell you some things about his life because we have them in common. I know how the polyester of that uniform feels against your skin in the frigid month of January. I know how it feels to keep pushing that Kevlar vest down off your chin every time you sit back down in your patrol car, with each push saying a silent prayer that the vest never has to “do its job.” I know how the weight of the gun belt can make your hips go numb after a hard nights work. I know what it feels like to approach a house or a car where there is a potential “bad man” and hope that I have trained well for whatever might happen. But our similarities end there. I always was able to go back to my family after each shift.

Because of our commonalities I have shed tears over the loss of David Moore. But tears and anguish are two very different things.

In the wake of the shooting I have heard a lot of very well meaning people asking for “prayer for David Moore.” But David Moore is no longer in need of prayer. However there is a certain Lieutenant who was on that same police department who is very much in need of prayer. Retired Lieutenant Spencer Moore is David Moore’s father. I believe that Lt. Spencer Moore can give a special kind of gut wrenching “amen” to the first four verses of Job chapter seven. He knows anguish. His nights of misery are truly upon him. Before you continue reading this entry will you please stop and pray for the Moore family.

Job and Lt. Moore have more in common than either one of them ever wanted. One major difference however is that I believe that the Moore’s are receiving a lot of genuine love right now. Job though…. not so much.

The first 10 verses of Job seven are actually part of the last chapter. Job is answering Eliphaz’s charge that he has some hidden sin in his life that has caused this chain of events. In verse 11 there is a shift with three “I will” statements. Job says in essence, “God I will painfully be transparent and honest with you about the way I feel.” Just for the record, that is the way God wants us in the midst of our hurts; transparent and honest.

Does Job’s lament make you uneasy? I almost want to say, “You can’t talk to God that way.” Truth of matter though is that any child, that’s in a loving relationship with their father, feels comfortable expressing heartache. I really need to remember that. If my son ever felt like Job; I’d want to hear about it.

You want to know what the wrong thing to say to Job at this point would be? Well… keep reading.

Bildad is a Shuhite. That simply means that he is from Shuah which is most likely a place in Edom or Arabia. The long and short of Bildad’s speech is that Job needs to repent. The speech itself, much like the one from Eliphaz, contains many timeless truths about God; He is just, the godless will perish, etc. The only thing was that this had nothing to do with Job. The Lord had given to Job in the past and it appears that Job was now in the midst of the Lord taking away; although even that is certainly up for debate.

Every week in my commentary on Job I keep coming back to one central point. This week will be no different. His ways are higher than our ways. He gives and takes away for reasons that more times than not are far above what we can understand. And he adds to that mystery; love, faithfulness and peace that carries us through even when we can’t make sense of it all. I pray that all of the pain and confusion that Lt. Moore is certain to be feeling right now will soon be overshadowed by the peace that passes all understanding.

Jan, 26th (Psalms 9,10,11)

David is praising God for His faithfulness and protection once more. As in other readings up to now we have read of Joshua and how God is faithful, until Joshua in some situations hasn't seeked God and makes decisions of his own will. We see Joshua repenting of his mistakes and God restores his people again. We read about this with Israel over and over again. And here it is plain to see as we read that David is seeking God for his decisions and praising him - even when apparently his enemies are still persecuting David (Psalm 9:13). Then as soon as we may say ... David has much more depth in his faith and trust in God than I could ever have ... we read where David is questioning God about His presence in Chapter 10. "Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" To me, it brings the humanity of David back where I can identify - at this point David is see all the advances of the wicked and questions, Why? We find David praying for God's unmistakable presence to come back in Psalm 10:12-15 and he ends this chapter praying in the attitude of who he remembers God to be and the promises that are comforting. In the next chapter (11) I read a calm, collected, peaceful and comforted tone with David's prayer. No matter what is going on around him, he understands and realizes that God is present and in control.

Take heart - be comforted that when everything around you and me are dismal, God is still present and loves us and longs for us to seek Him and His will.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday January 25, 2011

Joshua 16-19, are chapters that continue the process of dividing the land among the Israelites. This could be seen as "blah, blah, blah" as we are reading it, but I can assure you they were not "blah, blahing" it as they were listening to who got what. This was a major deal and people were on the edge of their seats, as this would determine neighbors for generations to come. In chapter 17, we see a slight family squabble as the sons of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh are not happy with their allotment. They wanted MORE because they had many people. Joshua explains his reasoning forgivinig to them what he did and without giving in whatsoever challenges them to use their considerable power and people to drive out the Canaanites that were in the same area. Joshua 19:51 "so they finished dividing the land" finally the process was complete.

In Joshua 20, we see that God in His wonderful plan created a court system for the most difficult of cases. These cases would be the hardest to handle fairly in a local trial because of the loss of life; yet, we see that God cares for justice to be given out. Thhis has been interesting to me that we can see the giving out of the land to the Israelites and the immediate protection of justice by God as He sets up these cities of Refuge.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Genesis 12-15

Genesis 15:6,

"Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness."

This is a hard teaching. It is easy to get confused.

It's no secret that I believe in the total depravity of man. When I say, "man is totally depraved," I do not mean that every man on earth is as bad as he can be. What I mean is that every facet of every man is inclined towards sin and not holiness. When left to himself; a person's personality, emotions, decisions etc. are all bound and constrained by sin. They are marked by one major characteristic: not honoring to God.

Scripture says in Romans 14:23 that,

"...everything that does not come from faith is sin"

This statement has, at least, one huge implication to it:

1: Those with zero faith have only sin to occupy their time.

The statement above is a difficult thing to understand. Am I saying that someone with no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is sinning when they sit down with their family to eat a meal? Am I saying that a person with no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ sins when they walk their dog?

The answer is yes, a person without faith is sinning in everything they do because:

"...everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23)

Do you believe that? Do you recognize that, because a non-Christian has no faith, all they have is sin? This is a hard teaching. It is difficult to understand. Why is everything that a nonbeliever does sin?

The answer, as always, is within Scripture.

The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that,

"all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God."

Here we see that sin, in its raw form is a falling from the Glory of God; a rejection of God's Glory.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6, we see Paul dive into the explanation of what happens in a person's heart when he is born again,

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

So here we begin to understand that when a person is born again, when God shines in their hearts, He gives them the ability to see the Glory of God through Jesus Christ.

God turns on the light switch in a dark room and everything is lit up. Maybe you remember the day you were saved. One moment Christ was nothing but a swear word to you and the next moment you were captivated by him. You could agree with the man in Matthew 13:44 who found something so worthwhile that you'd sell everything you own just to get it. You found the most valuable treasure: Christ.

You were blind to God's Glory and now you are able to see. You rejected the value of Christ and therefore rejected God. You cannot reject God and honor God at the same time.

So now we can begin to understand why everything not done from faith is sin:

faith = seeing Glory and giving God glory
no faith = blind to Gory, not giving God glory

Faith pleases God. Unbelief dishonors God. Unbelief is ungodly and cannot honor God; cannot please God. Unbelief is unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is sin.

Before you became a Christian, you were hostile to God.

", who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds..." (Colossians 1:21)

So how does one get to please God? How does one become non-hostile towards God?

We finish the passage in Colossians 1 to find out:

"you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith..." (Colossians 1:21-23)

Genesis 15:6:

"Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness."

Abraham believed the LORD. He believed what God said He was going to do was actually going to be done. He was trusting in God.

Romans 10:4 says,

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

As Christians we believe that to believe in Jesus Christ is to have Christ's righteousness given to us in order to become a child of God.

Why? Because, "For our sake he made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So take hold of that promise today, call on the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness of your sins and like Abram,

Believe God and have it counted to you as righteousness.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Romans 7 & 8

As we continue to work through the book of Romans, chapters 7 & 8 address the issue of following The Laws received by Moses. In these chapters Paul points out how salvation is found in placing faith in Jesus Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to impact lives towards God’s will. As Paul pointed out how we need Christ, due to our desire to sin, he now dealt with the issue of breaking traditions. In today’s time it’s easy to see and place our faith in the Bible but the population Paul addressed were people entrenched in generational customs and beliefs. Think about the difficulty in our own time with changing aspects of worship styles. Paul is attempting to alter the idea of how to have a relationship with God. For Centuries the Jewish people followed The Law in an act of obedience, to seek forgiveness for sins and to be made right with God. Paul now preached about the perfect sacrifice that was given through Jesus. No longer was an animal needed to act as a substitute. Jesus was the permanent intercessor between God and his people.

Throughout Chapter 7, Paul illustrated that even though The Law was perfect, it was man that was faulty. In (v. 21, Holman), Paul stated “So I discovered this principle : When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.” The NLT uses the words, “I inevitably do what is wrong”, to show man’s plight in trying to obey the laws and relying on self. Paul goes further in the chapter to describe man’s problem in following the Law:
1) Prompted man to live in the process(religiosity) VS. living in the Spirit.
2) Man enticed to commit sins that were pointed out
3) It gave a false since of salvation.

But let us remember the Laws given to Moses served to:
1) Let people know when they were sinning,
2) Acted as a guide on how to live personally and with others
3) Reminded people about how Holy God is
4) Provided a way for people to be reconciled to God.
Paul goes on to conclude in Chapter 7 that because followers could not live up to the Law, faith should be placed in Jesus who freed us from a slavery of sin.

In Chapter 8, Paul addressed how placing faith in Jesus Christ, created a new personal relationship with God. By accepting Jesus, the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in the believer; providing strength from sin and eternal life. Paul also illustrated the new relationship with terms such as adopted children, call Him “Abba, Father” and the heirs of God’s Glory. He proceeded to build on this personal relationship by stating the glory of things to come, how the Spirit intervenes for the believer and how God chose his people and set them in right standing or justified them.

Towards the end of the chapter, Paul made a profound statement that holds us to this day. By accepting God’s gift in Jesus and submitting to him, what an AWESOME thing to know that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s LOVE.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, January 22

As we read through Matthew 5-7 today, we are hit with so much Biblical truth on how we are to live. We are told to be the light of the world, not hiding our lights. We are taught about forgiveness and loving our enemies. We are taught how to pray. We are taught about the path we should take as believers. These chapters are just full of examples of how we are to live.

In chapter 6, verse 25-34 we are taught about something that I know I personally struggle with...worry. We are told that we don't need to worry. God loves us and we are valuable to him and so worry is pointless. I know that in these times of economic troubles and all the other troubles of the world, it is easy to worry. I struggle with worry too often. But I know that as these passages state, God will provide! I think this is an area that believers should step up on. We need to be setting the example of what it means to place all our trust in God for those in our world who are looking for hope.

All in all, these passages are helpful hints to us. We see clearly in just these three chapters that God does indeed give us a guidebook to use and that we aren't walking alone...He wants us to be following Him and what His Word says for our lives!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Isaiah 12:1 founds the prophet speaking for Israel. The "I" in "I will praise you, O Lord..." is probably the nation Isarel instead of the prophet Isaiah. The nation of Israel is praising God for turning His anger away from them and on to Babylon and Assyria. Isaiah 13 reminds us that God Almighty is Sovereign. First, He mustered an army (the Babylonians) to destroy the Assyrians. He now musters an army (the Medes) to destroy the Babylonians. The Babylon with its temples and palaces was a place of beauty. The hanging gardens of Nebuchadnezzar were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But now the Lord Almighty will destroy Babylon's pride and glory. It will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations. In our lifetime Iraq tried to rebuild Babylon the Great, but failed. God is Sovereign. Isaiah 14 shows God's compassion on Israel. He will restore them to their land. This chapter also gives us a glimpse of Satan. Isaiah 14:12-15 describes the fall of Lucifer (the morning star). This can be a prophecy completed in Luke 10:18 by Jesus.

Isaiah 14 through 17 continue to show God's sovereign power and reign over all nations. The prophet reveals what God plans to do to the Philistines, Moabites, and Damascus. Each of these nations had been enemies of Israel. The book of Judges through 2 Samuel reveal how much trouble the Philistines had given to Israel. Moab also had been a perpetual thorn in the side of Israel. Damascus, the capital of Aram (Syria), since the days of David had been a frequent enemy of Israel. God makes it known that He will destroy them.

These chapters reflect that God is in control of history. Nothing surprises Him. He moves nations, kings, even armies to do His bidding. As we look at our present situation, we need to always remember that God is on His Throne. It is not by accident that God allows bad things to happen. He uses bad things to grow us - to form us into the image of Jesus. God is more concerned about us becoming more like Jesus than anything else. He will always have that purpose on His radar. If we don't learn what He wants to teach us, He will allow another opportunity to emerge. How are you doing with becoming more like Jesus?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thursday, January 20th

The closer you are to your target; the more damage you can do. That’s true in warfare. It’s true in fighting. It is especially true in relationships. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a little test.

There you are in your little (office, cubical, job site, etc.) and here they come. You know guy or girl I’m talking about! They hate you and you most certainly have a Judeo-Christian disdain for every bone in their “fearfully and wonderfully made” body. When you see he/ she coming your jaw clenches, your knuckles turn white and your toes curl up in your shoes. They walk into your world and let you have a dose of, “you do bad work, you can’t keep up, your hair looks soooo stupid that way…” pick one. How much damage did they do? Not much really; your shields were up as soon as you picked up their scent.

Now let’s change it up a little. Things in your life have gone bad. The unthinkable has happened. You sit on your couch; weeping on the outside and dying on the inside. A knock at the door… at last you have some companionship; a shoulder… an ear… a helping hand. Now for some friendly advice, perhaps even some solid biblical theology upon which you can begin to rebuild. Then it becomes apparent. For all of the “comforting words” being spoken to you the meaning is quite clear, “this is your fault.” Whatever pain has befallen you… it is now worse. Beware the sheep with sharp teeth. Now we are ready to rejoin Job…

Chapter 5 picks up in the middle of a passive/ aggressive shaming by Job’s comrade Eliphaz. Eliphaz tells Job that this must be a matter strictly between him and God. Eliphaz uses the principle of sowing and reaping to let Job know that if he reaped trouble he must have sown it at some point in the past. Verse 8 is the biblical version of, “Hey… you know what I’d do!” Eliphaz’s solution was simple in his mind. Calamity is the product of secret sin. Therefore confession reverses the calamity. “Go ahead Job… let ‘er rip.” “Tell God what bad boy you’ve been so we can all go home.”

What’s really amazing and scary all at once is that when you look at verses 9 through 19 every believer should be saying some “amen’s.” There are some very powerful and amazing truths in those 11 verses. Paul even quotes Eliphaz in verse 13 when he writes to the church at Corinth. (1 Cor. 3:19)

The scary part is that Eliphaz acknowledges this list of God’s beautiful attributes but in the same breath presumes to know Job’s heart and Job’s motives. I would really like to say that I have more in common with Job than Eliphaz. I would like to say that. The truth is; I have been “that guy.” The guy with too many words and not enough silence. Too much “God I know what you’re doing” and not enough “Let Your will be done.” Lord… please make me aware when I am being “that guy.”

Verses 20 through 27 also contain things that are very true about God. The problem is that Eliphaz is presenting this to Job as a sort of “health and wealth” gospel. “Job if you confess your secret sin… allllll this can be yours!!” Eliphaz is just certain that God wants to bless Job if he will just let go of this deep, hidden evil that has caused this tragic turn of events.

After chapters four and five, I was fairly certain that Job chapter six verse one should have read, “Then Job’s fist knew Eliphaz’s face… and Job was not ashamed.” However it did not. Let me just say; there is a lesson in itself. The things that Job could’ve done or said but didn’t, speak volumes. Job has now officially been kicked while he was down.

Job’s response for the first thirteen verses has only to do with him and God. “God I know this pain is from You.” Job is not saying he hates God for the pain. Job is not saying that God no longer exists because of the pain. He merely makes a statement of God’s sovereignty. Then he makes a request; “kill me… kill me now.” I don’t mean to make light of this. Job is not contemplating suicide. He is expressing the belief that death would be an act of mercy that will bring him into the arms of God Himself.

Job has not been afraid to correct his wife’s poor advice (2:9). He is certainly not going to be afraid to say something to these “friends.” The long and short of verses 14 to 22 is this; “You guys are as helpful as a dry river bed in the desert. Job names the areas of Tema in the north (named after one of Ishmael’s sons) and Sheba in the south. Both areas were part of the very dry Arabian Desert. Then in verses 24 through 30 he invites Eliphaz and his crew to examine his life. Job was not claiming to be sinless. He was stating that he believed that there was no correlation between some hidden sin and what was going on around him. He challenged this trio to find something in his life that he may have missed.

The truth of the matter is that what lies at the heart of Job’s pain and suffering is really the same thing that ultimately lies at the heart of most all of our own personal pains. It’s this; “Why God?” Or how about “Why me God?” It’s the lack of answers. If Job only knew what God was up to he could simply explain it to his wife and friends. They could hug, have a prayer for “traveling mercies,” and go their separate ways. But Job didn’t know that he had God’s loving attention or Satan’s jealous eye on him. It’s almost as if God wanted Job to trust in His character even if he didn’t understand all the circumstances. I wonder if He wants that same thing for you and me today.

Wednesday Jan. 19th (Psalms 6,7,8)

As we've been learning and studying in our Sunday morning series where Nehemiah spent a considerable amount of time in prayer seeking God's "Will" and "Favor".

In Psalms, we find a continual pattern of prayer.

(Psalm 6) David was ill - we don't know exactly what was wrong, but David had prayed to God for a long period of time. So long that David felt like God had left him, because David saw no answers to his prayers. In vs 6, David doesn't find any elegant words to pray, but just tells God, "I am worn out from groaning; I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears". David was not praying two sentence prayers from time to time, but said that he'd cried so much that his couch was drenched. I think about when we run in from the rain and there are a few wet spots on our shirt, compared to, when we get caught in a down pour where all we can do is change our cloths and dry off because there isn't a dry place that can be found on us. I'm sad to say - I've never prayed like that - I can't even say that I've come close. David is a witness to us, that when we feel that we've exhausted everything we have and still feel God isn't there - that He is still there. In vs 8-10, David has heard from the Lord.

(Psalm 7) Even David as a leader of Israel, doesn't take upon himself to deal with the wrongfulness of life's circumstances. We watch the news, read the paper, hear from other people the wrongs that are being done today, not only in our community, but all over the world. In this Psalms we read where somebody (Cush) had told someone else (King Saul) that someone (David) wanted to kill him - which isn't true. David tells the Lord that his refuge is in Him (God) and asks the Lord to take care of this problem. He continues to say, that if he (David) has done wrong in any way - to let him die. This is a gutsy prayer. David wants God to judge and pursue his enemies that are "pregnant with evil". And, God does. David later gives his thanks and praise to the Lord - The Lord Most High.

(Psalm 8) Many songs have been written with this Psalm as the song writers inspiration. This is a Psalm that man recognizes God as "I AM". Nothing that we've done or can ever do will touch God's Majesty. God created, God controls, God ordains, God judges, God answers, God loves, God rescues, God sustains, GOD - GOD - GOD.
When we read this - our world and our lives and the troubles we are facing become a lot less worrisome. Take heart - our God is an Awesome God !!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday January 18, 2011

Joshua 11-15 is a record of God’s victories on behalf of the children of Israel as well as a record of the children of Israel’s obedience and disobedience. We see where they obeyed by eradicating their enemy to the fullest and we see where they tolerated tribes that they ought not. (13:13) We can also see where they did not take down the cities built on the mounds that were dedicated towards the false gods while at the same time obeying in every other way in their battle. (11:13) This is a reminder to me that God does not tolerate in any way sin, but he calls us to complete obedience. This complete obedience is not because God is a hard or mean taskmaster but because he knows that for us to tolerate sin is to allow it in places in our lives that will ultimately cause us great pain.

I also see in the last two chapters of this passage what reminds me of my junior high school and high school days as we would have our annual sports banquet. In our christian school this was the pseudo prom. At the sports banquet you would receive rewards for your year of hard work. We see in the last two chapters of today’s reading the giving away of the specific land to the specific tribes of God’s people. There is a specific honor given to Caleb for his faithfulness back at Kadesh-Barnea when he went in as a spy and was faithful to the Lord and gave a good report of faith. There will be a day when every believer will receive his due reward – what a day that will be.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Genesis 8-11

Remember when you were a kid? Remember how part of growing up was learning through the art of story? Your parents may have read you stories before you would go to bed. Your teachers would take a time each day in class and read a book to the class? And if you were raised in a church environment, you learned almost everything through the power of story.

One such story I learned in Sunday school as a child was the story of, "the great zoo boat." Now obviously, that is my name for for story. My Sunday school teacher didn't call the story, "The Great Zoo Boat." She called it, "Noah's Ark," and i heard this story every year.

I remember my Sunday school teacher talking about how God caused all the animals of the planet to show up on Noah's front lawn and get on a boat that Noah had built. In my mind it seemed like a Safari Cruise: Noah and his family serving the animals all you can eat buffets and the zebras accusing the lions of cheating at shuffle board, and everyone getting angry that the hippos wouldn't share the 3rd deck pool in which they would insist upon playing game after game of, "Marco Polo."

I remember hearing the story and thinking how awesome it must have been to see all the animals with their boarding passes lined up at the entrance to the cruise ship. Noah's wife, meticulously checking off each animal's credentials.

I have fond memories of learning that great children's story.

The truth, however, is that the story of Noah found in Genesis is far from a children's story. It's the story of a mass extinction when God drowned the entire world because of its poverty of morality, its famine of righteousness.

More than that though: the story of Noah is a story about how God's desire for His glory to be ultimate in the earth and in the heavens is greatly above and far exceeds the plan of man.

So against the backdrop of Genesis 7:23 and 24 where it says,

"Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days,"

we come to the very first words of Genesis chapter 8:

"But God remembered Noah."

What an awesome sentence. God remembered Noah. God had just eradicated the entire human existence for their complete rejection of Him. He punished the world for their denial of His Way. But there was a promise made and God remembered Noah. He saved Noah and his family.

As a Christian, do you sometimes feel as if you're surrounded by people and ways that are hostile to holiness and to God? Do you feel as if you're swallowed up by evil? Does it sometimes feel to you that God has forgotten you?

Look at Noah. His was the only family that God approved of at this time in history. (Genesis 7:1-4)

Maybe you feel as if you keep doing right and everyone around you does wrong and they keep getting ahead in life. You say with the prophet Malachi,

"But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it." (Malachi 3:15)

Perhaps you feel like King David when he wrote in Psalm 69:

"Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head."

If you are a believer in Christ, you are a friend of God. You are an adopted son. You are welcomed and accepted by our Father. You can take comfort that God doesn't look upon the hurt of His children lightly. In fact, the Apostle Paul says in Romans 2:7 that He,

"will repay each person according to what they have done."

So be comforted that evil does not win; that justice will be served.

But along with comfort in justice, there should be mourning. For the justice that God pours out in His wrath against evil will be full and complete. Woe to those upon whom the Lord's wrath sits. It is final and everlasting wrath. It is hell, and hell never ends.

This should drive those who are in the family of God to pray. We should pray for those who persecute and who do evil in the sight of the Lord; that the Lord may in His fullness of Grace,

"perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth," (2 Timothy 2:25)

We shouldn't rejoice in the destruction of any person. Just like the most evil of men, we are completely undeserving of Grace. To say that we're better people because we live, "good lives" is a lie.

At some point in our lives, before we were regenerated and saved, this was true of us:

"All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12)

We have nothing to boast in except the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our boast. His righteousness imputed (given to) to us is the only reason we are holy in His eyes. We have nothing to offer.

We should mourn for the wicked; unless they repent and are saved, their end is eternal destruction.

We should also preach to the wicked. We should take every opportunity to proclaim the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to lost and dying people. We need to give them opportunities to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved, for,

"everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" (Romans 10:13-14)

Let us learn from the story of Noah: God's patience with evil only goes so far. Let us take every opportunity to redeem the time and use every moment to point others to the wonderful Cross of Christ.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Romans 5-6

Romans chapter 5 & 6

In our continued reading of Romans; we have discussed the different types of sinners and our need to place our faith in Jesus, in order to establish a bridge to God. Paul now, in chapter 5, turns to describing the great joy and honor of placing faith in Christ. In the New Living Translation, phrases such as “made right with God”, “to have peace with God” and “to be brought to a place of undeserved privilege”; all give light to the gift we receive when we place our faith in Christ.

Paul made similar statements about “being made right with God” in 2 Cor. 5. At the end of the chapter, the word “reconciled” is used frequently to describe the purpose and outcome of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Paul explains that the Father gave his Son in order for us to be made right to Him(purpose). However, it goes on to mention that as a result, Christians are to go out and help others be reconciled to Christ (outcome). Because of this reconciliation Paul urged the believers, who understood suffering and sacrifice, to be assured that God is present even through hard times. In James Chapter 1, this same sentiment is used that God is faithful and believers need to endure and press on. The way we can reconcile others to God during trials is by being thankful and giving praise to Him. We should consider these opportunities to show others what our Lord has done and will do for us.

For the remainder of Chap 5, Paul contrasted the difference between Adam and Jesus. Once again Paul illustrates the need for Jesus’ intervention in our life; as Adam brought death with sin and Jesus brought life as God’s gift. Believers are to remember that we are made right with God through Jesus and not through Laws, religious behavior or completing a number of tasks.

In chapter 6, Paul used the idea of freedom and the image of slavery to illustrate our new life in Christ. He made clear that as Jesus died, believers are to die to sin and as Jesus rose from the dead so we rise anew and reborn. Believers are no longer to be slaves to the world and sin but instead slaves to a life in Christ. At the beginning of several letters, Paul frequent opened calling himself a slave to Christ. We as believers need to follow this role and devote our lives and actions towards God and avoid the trappings of sin.

What have you done lately to reconcile others to Christ?

Remember Invest, Invite, Involve.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 15

So in reading today's passages, Matthew 3-4, we see a closer glimpse of John the Baptist and Jesus.

First, in Matthew 3, we get this great view of John the Baptist. We see a man that is not like the rest. The clothes he wears are different. The food he eats is different. And he proclaimed boldly without fear. He didn't care what anyone thought of him...he had a message to share and that is what he did. And people listened and turned to God because of his willingness to be used.
I am always a bit convicted when I read of John because how often do I proclaim the gospel message without fear, without concern of what others might think. I look here in Matthew 3 and find a picture of a man that I wish I was more like.

Then at the end of Matthew 3 we see Jesus come to John and be baptized. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus. And then we turn to Matthew 4...

In Matthew 4 we see Jesus tempted. He was tempted three times by the devil and yet resisted. He stood firm in what he knew was right and of the Father. I can't help but recognize the importance of the Holy Spirit in leading us along our daily paths as we are tempted in life. Jesus was tempted and stood firm...we must attempt to stand firm too!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WOW!!! Isaiah 7-11 is filled with prophecies about the coming of Jesus. Chapter 7 is the most famous prophecy by Isaiah related to Jesus. It is in this chapter that Isaiah tells Ahaz that a "virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel." This is fulfilled in Luke 1:26-35. Chapter 9 continues with more prophecies about Jesus birth and rule. It is important to note that Isaiah 9:6a talks about his first coming; however, Isaiah 9:6b-7 talks about his second coming. Chapter 11:1-16 continues to describe the second coming of Jesus. What a glorious message for believers. We will one day see Jesus in all His glory.

Stuck in between Chapters 7 and 9 is a fufillment of the promise to Ahaz in chapter 7. Before Mahershalal-hash-baz (Isaiah's son) was old enough to know right from wrong Aram was destroyed as promised. Soon after Assyria would destroy Israel (the Northern Kingdom). The Lord of Hosts calls Ahaz and Judah to trust him and not to fear their surroundings. He calls us to do the same. Trust him and do not fear our surroundings. God is Sovereign. His will can not be stopped. Praise the Lord!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, January 13th

I am not at all surprised that Jesus was a carpenter. When you look at God in the physical realm; He builds things. (landscapes, stars, ponies, etc.) In the social realm He is again a builder. (marriages, communities, governments) And last but certainly not least He shows Himself to be the master architect of the spiritual. How does God build in the spiritual sense? Platforms; God uses platforms. Talent, resources, personality, friends; all platforms that can and should be used for God’s glory. What is the greatest platform? I believe it is tragedy. Tragedy used for God’s glory can make a man the subject of a conversation (or blog) some thousands of years after his death. But tragedy still hurts.

In Job chapter 3 we pick up after seven days of silent mourning. I really believe that chapter 3 loses some of its “raw emotion” if we don’t pause and think about those past seven days. Besides losing his wealth; Job has lost his children. We don’t know how many children exactly as if one was not enough. We know from the text that Job has experienced the sudden and devastating loss of at least four children (i.e. “sons and daughters). He has also lost his health and now has spent the last seven days sitting in the dirt scraping painful boils on the flesh that covers his broken heart. There is nothing in the text to indicate that Job has left his land. Do you know what that means? That means he sees the hills where his kids used to play. He sees the lake where they fished together. He sees the tree under which they all used to sit and talk about God and His goodness. His face is raw from the salty tears that have caused his wounds to become even more infected. He hurts.

Then Job breaks his silence. I don’t believe when Job first said these words that they came out the way that we read them today. I personally believe that after time Job retold the story in the form of a poem to make it easier to tell. Remember that oral tradition was how most stories were passed down. I do however think that Job was a gifted poet. How often God takes those skilled at art and gives them “subject matter.” This first “poem” is much more Edgar Allen Poe than Henry David Thoreau. What comes next is not blame. It is a true outpouring of human pain and suffering.

“I wish I was never born!!” Job recounts the steps that his life has taken to bring him to where he currently sat. He wishes the night that his parents conceived would be forever blacked out. He then wishes that his birth would have been a still birth; where the “slave is free from his master.” Notice what Job says in verse 23. Job rightly puts God in control of his pain. Truth be told God could have kept this from happening. God could have immediately eased Job’s pain. This is a theology that so many people refuse to accept.

When I was very ill with leukemia a loved one had made mention about what “God was doing” through my illness. This statement was made within earshot of another family member who immediately responded by saying, “God didn’t want this.” I had to think long and hard about that. I was in pain. My wife was facing the loss of her husband after only three years of marriage. But did this disease just slip past God and His attention? Did I want to worship a God that couldn’t control the white blood cell count in my body? No I didn’t. And no I don’t. He is in control. I came to accept that, like Job, there was a scene in the throne room of God that I did not know about. In that moment I chose to believe that His ways are higher than my ways. But… it still hurt.

In chapter 2 verse 11 we saw that Job got a visit. He has not been alone for these past seven days. He has companions who have heard about the tragedy and come to be with him. Why did they come I wonder? If it was humanitarian aid; there is no record of them bringing anything. I’m afraid that the only thing they brought is what far too many other believers bring to tragedy; they brought a narrow view of God. It is at this point that I will not be casting any stones. I too have sat in hospital waiting rooms, near burned down houses and at funeral homes with a narrow view of God. I don’t want to do that anymore. Back to Job…

His first friend to speak is Eliphaz. Eliphaz is a Temanite. Teman was an important city in Edom known for its collective wisdom. Eliphaz starts off with an acknowledgment of the good that Job is known for; “you’ve helped others and taught others.” Then comes what he thinks he knows about God; “good people prosper, bad people suffer.” What’s the conclusion? Job’s suffering must be because of some hidden sin. Eliphaz uses nature as an argument to say that nature can’t escape natural law so man (especially Job) cannot escape God’s moral law. Eliphaz even claims a vision which may have been stated to give his analysis of the situation some type of authority.

There are a lot of particulars in the speech given by Eliphaz and we will pick up with that next week. Ultimately what it boils down to is your view of God and your view of… you. When the hurt is on how big is your God? Does your God know what He’s doing even if you don’t? Are you able to hold fast to the truth of God’s nature when dealing with “wise people” who do a lot of “looking around” rather than “looking up?” Tragedy hurts but God is on the throne!

Wednesday, Jan. 12 (Psalm 3-5

Psalm 3
Absalom was David's son who inspired to be King. David wrote Psalm 3 after he had fled from Absalom. It was in the morning that David thanked God for a safe night. Absalom and the people were saying that "God will not save David".
(Vs 1-2) So after David fled, he was frightened and prayed for help. It's important to recognize that David paused (Selah) within his prayer - this shows that it gave him time to remember the faithfulness of God and to listen to what God had to say to him during his prayer.
(Vs 3-6) Because, David then says that "...You are a shield around me..." and '...He answers me from His holy hill". His prayer takes a turn to the positive and encouraging nature. When our perspective dwells on what is around us, we do have reason for concern and fear. But, when we, as David did, remember the promises and the faithfulness of God, our perspective rises upward and we can rejoice in who God is and what God will do and has done. So David prays for God to be is Shield and wants to see the glory of God. David says in vs 5, "I lie down and sleep..." because he knows that God will watch over him.
(Vs 7-8) David actually is rejoicing in the Lord. God has turned his fear into praise, because David through this process has realized that blessing and deliverance is in the Lord.

The bridge from the song Blessed Be Your Name
"You give and take away, You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say, "Lord, Blessed be Your name".

Psalm 4
(Vs 1 -2) David again prays for the situation he is in and for God to hear him - God knows where we are and what we are going through, however, He still wants us to bring our troubles to Him. David has in his mind what he wants to say to the leaders of God's enemies ("Sons of man") and asking for God's blessing. (Selah - pause)
(Vs 3-4) David is telling the "Sons of man", you can't win - because you're not fighting me, you're fighting God. The God which has chosen David as king. David continues to tell them that he has God's ear and will listen to David's requests. David also knows that what he tells them is going to make them angry - so he tells them "...when you are on your beds, search your hearts..." which he's saying, you can argue your position in your thoughts - but then he has a warning - "... be silent" don't you dare speak aloud against God. (Selah -pause)
(Vs 5-8) David then is filled with joy in what the LORD will do and finds contentment within his circumstance. In vs 8 David says "I will lie down and sleep in peace...". That's great, but remember, David is still hiding out - he is still in the circumstance that Absalom has drove him into, but David is rejoicing because he is dwelling within his God.

From the song Blessed Be Your Name
"Blessed be Your name ... in the land that is plentiful.
... when I'm found in the desert place.
... when the sun's shining down on me.
... on the road marked with suffering.

Psalm 5
Is another Psalm/Song written in the morning. Not actually sure when David wrote it, but David is praying about his enemies.
(vs 1-3) David prays in the morning and asks again for God to hear his prayer. David is not only praying, but tells God that he will be looking for the answers to his prayer.
(vs 4-6) David speaks out a witness that he knows and rejoices in who God is and what His attributes are against his enemies.
(vs 7-8) Lord, I will follow You - even though my enemies are making it difficult for me to obey You - "make straight Your way before me".
(vs 9-10) Open graves are filthy and smell - David know what comes from their mouths can't be truth and their deceit is sickening.
(vs 11-12) Again, David closes with rejoicing in who God is and does for those who are His and desires to rest in Him.

There's trouble everywhere and there will always be. Our world is a place of fallen men, deceitful thoughts and men who will acted on those thoughts. Our only hope is finding our rest and refuge in God alone - there's nothing we have, that we can add to help God.

One last line from Blessed Be Your Name
"Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday January 11

The Book of Joshua is one that is enjoyable especially for men as it is filled with action. We see the 1st battle in today’s reading after the crossing of the Jordan as God delivers to Joshua and the children of Israel Jericho in the most unusual of ways. All they are to do for 7 days is march in the way and manner that the Lord told them to march and at the end shout and charge. They were to then take the city but not take the stuff. Which leads us to a problem, at battle #2 Joshua sent spies to check out Ai but he does not consult with the Lord. He does according to what the spies tell him to do (send a few of the soldiers) and then after doing so the Israelites receive a good old-fashioned butt kicking. Joshua is upset over what happens and then goes to the Lord blaming Him for what has happened 7:7. How many times have we blamed God for what we have done and have never even asked God what we should have done as we have simply gone out on our own ideas? God lets Joshua know that there is sin in the camp and how to deal with it. Joshua deals with the sin. What struck me was that 36 people died because one man committed the sin of coveting, stealing and deceit. We often believe that our sin affects no one but ourselves but the truth is that our sin never affects only “just us”.

We will see in the defeat of Ai God gave specific directions concerning how many soldiers to send as well what the strategy of the battle should be. Let’s not forget to involve God on the issues of our lives. As believers He is the hub of our life and we are to never get off the hub.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Genesis 4-6

Today's scripture reading, if you're reading through the Bible in a year with us at NorthWoods Church, is Genesis 4-6.

Genesis is a book of beginnings and chapter four we see a beginning: the beginning of natural childbirth.

At the beginning of natural human history, the first naturally born child is thrust onto the scene: Cain enters this world like the rest of us, through pain.

It would be great to say that the first naturally born child to enter this world was one who made a positive and godly impact upon the world and left his mark for the Glory of God. That simply isn't the case however as we learn in 4:8,

"And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him."

Was it just an accident? Was it a crime of passion? Was this first family fight that ended up being the first homicide in history just the result of circumstances that were beyond Cain's control?

To answer these questions, we have to look again to the Bible; although in a different section. In 1 John 3:12 it says,

"Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother."

Apparently, the writer of 1 John wants us to know that Cain belonged to Satan. But, I want to know more. I understand that Cain wasn't a follower of God, but even non-Christians don't just go around murdering people, especially their families. Most people know that it's wrong to kill.

So, what was it Cain? What made you murder your brother? The last part of 1 John 3:12 tells us,

"Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous."

There it is. Cain hated his brother because his brother was someone who did right in the eyes of the Lord. Cain didn't. Cain lived for his own glory. Abel lived for the Glory of God.

Jesus said to his followers in John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble." Count on it, you're going to have trouble. Things won't work out like you want them. Situations will seem against you. Life will seem hard. Trouble will be knocking at your door. The world will bring you trouble.

"But take heart! I have overcome the world." (end of verse 33)

Why do we, as Christians have trouble? Why does the Lord Jesus promise us trouble in this world?

I can think of at least 3 reasons:

1: Jesus said so.

It should not come as a surprise to believers that the world will bring us tribulation and trials because our Lord and Master has warned us ahead of time. The Creator of the universe has decreed that trouble will come our way. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when.

2. The world is evil.

I'm not sure I have to convince you of this. Just turn on the news at any point in any day and you'll see what I'm talking about. Each one of us could write story after story about something awful that has happened to us or to someone we know. But it's not enough to look at what happens to us to make a final decision about what we think: we always look to the Word of God to shape our opinion: "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." -Ephesians 5:15

3. The world hates us.

Our Lord said in John 15:17-19, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

It's easy to look at Cain and say, "well I'd never murder my brother." And for most of us, we would be right in saying that. As always however, our opinion is never the last word. Right after telling us why Cain became a murderer, 1 John 3:15 expands on the definition of murderer:

"Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."


That's the truth about us. We add to the evil in the world. We have the same problem that Cain had: "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." -Romans 3:12

That's the bad news.

But oh, what great good news we have! We have a God of love. We have a great God of Love and, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." -1 John 4:10

We have before us a God who sees us in our lowly state of sin and with His wrath upon our heads and shows up to bear our sin and our wrath and offer forgiveness and reconciliation to Himself.

Have you repented of your sin and called on the name of Jesus?

Have you placed your faith and trust in my Lord Jesus Christ?

Come today, to the Cross of Christ and do what Cain didn't: go from being born, to being born again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Romans 3 - 4

Hello all, we continue our Sunday reading in the book of Romans, chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 3 is highlighted by Paul’s illustration of why we need Jesus. He depicts the sinful nature of man as even believers fall short as they get caught up in religiosity, false thinking and aspects of the world. Paul had addressed similar issues to other groups of believers. He wanted to make clear that the Laws were useful in showing how far people were from God; where moral boundaries lie and to act as a guide towards His will. These Laws however could not give salvation. Paul preached that only through faith in Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, could people come to God. This is the basis for chapter 4. Paul used the life of Abraham to illustrate what faith in God looks like and what rewards come with obedience.

Something else mentioned by Paul in this reading was that there were great benefits to being a Jew. They were entrusted with the whole revelation of God, they had the Law and Jesus was born into this race. Paul however wanted them to know this did not excuse them from being judged for their sins. Similarly, we need to be aware that we are a special group too. Because we believe and accept Jesus as our savior, he has given us the right to become children of God (John 1:12). With this we have the responsibility to spread and obey God’s word. We need to cherish our salvation and God’s gift. This freedom does not grant us the right to freely sin when we choose. On the contrary, because of our love for Christ, we show faith through our behavior as we lead a life worthy of glorifying Jesus.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday, January 8

In reading today's passages from Matthew, the concept of choices kept hitting me! We talk about choices within our daily lives but in reading these passages it really hit me how much our daily choices can affect our walks.
We began in Matthew 1 and found the genealogy of Jesus Christ. If most of us our honest, we would probably have to admit that in coming across genealogies, we prefer to just skip over them. I have typically found that to be true except in this particular one. We see this long list of names in Jesus' family tree and many of those names are probably familiar to us. There is Abraham, Issac, Ruth and Boaz, Rahab, David, Amos, and many others. God did not choose to bring His Son into the world through anyone special...He picked ordinary people. And not just ordinary people but in some cases, some really messed up people. We can look at Rahab or David and see people who were known for sins in their life. Jacob had family troubles. Mary was a teenage girl. Yet each of them made the choice when presented with it to turn from the path they were on and follow God. That made them more than just ordinary people, that made them moldable, usuable people; and God followed through.
We move past this genealogy to find the story that over the past few months has hopefully been fresh in our minds...the Christmas story! But more than just a story we hear at Christmas, it is the story of how God's Son came to this earth as a baby, born to ordinary people, to save us. And this account wasn't without a little drama. Joseph was faced with a huge choice! He could have run from the opportunity that God placed in front of him but he chose to listen to the angel of the Lord and be used by God.
In Matthew 2, the account of the wise men is told. We often have this image in our heads of the wise men seeing the star, following it to Bethlehem and finding a baby laying in a manger. That is not the case. The wise men made a choice to go on a long journey. They were brought before Herod and given a task but made the choice not to follow through on it when a dream told them otherwise. They could have followed a different path in life but chose to be a part of God's story.
Ultimately, these passages, no matter when I read them, or how often I read them, remind me of my ability to be used by God for His bigger picture...if I chose to follow Him. It doesn't matter our background, our mess-ups, our fears, or our lack of knowledge, God can and will use those who allow Him to. And WOW! what a cool story all of these people got to be a part of just because they made a choice to follow when God called!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The book of Isaiah is filled with prophetic truths and promises. Over the next few weeks we will look at several of these prophetic passages. But first it is important to understand how prophetic scripture works. When the prophet speaks his words can relate to the immediate present, the short-term future, or the long-term future. He does not always know the timeline. Thus, as we look at the book of Isaiah, we will attempt to help you understand the timeline.

The prophet Isaiah spoke during the reign of four kings. His ministry ranged from about 740 to 680 B.C. During his ministry two of the kings were good and two were bad. These kings had a great effect on the nation.

Today we will look at two promises and a calling. Isaiah begins the book calling the rebellious nation of Judah to repent. In chapters 1-4 he declares God's anger over the sins of Judah. However, he gives them a promise in Isaiah 1:18-19. The promise is awesome. The Lord promises that he will take their sins (and ours also) and make them white as snow. This promise was for Judah if they repented and obeyed, but it is also a foretelling of what Jesus did our us.

A second promise is found in Isaiah 2:1-5. Here the prophet Isaiah looks way into the future and shows a a glimpse of the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. We discover that Christ will teach His people and the message will go out from Jerusalem to all the nations. If we stopped here we could say that Christ has already done this, but the message tells us that there will be peace everywhere. Now that has not happened yet and will not happen until Christ returns and rules as King of kings and Lord of lords.

We conclude today looking at Isaiah 6. This passage is well known to most Christians. Here Isaiah stands in the very presence of the Lord in His throne room. This occurs during the reign of Uzziah (Uzziah was the first king during Isaiah's ministry). One of the greatest failings we can have as Christians is not to realize who God is and what His character is like. We are reminded in this passage that God is God and He is Holy.

Isaiah is humbled by this expereince. Verse 5 states: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." But the chapter ends with a call for Isaiah to go. That same call is to us. Matthew 28:19 states: "Go and make disciples of all nations..." Will you accept the call?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thursday, January 6th

Job was a real man. Before we begin to examine the text let’s just take a moment and wrap our minds around that. He is not a literary character or the fictional embodiment of some ideology; he was a beloved creation of a loving God. We need to understand that if we are going to learn lessons from the book of Job.

The modern day location of Uz, the place where Job called home, is unknown to scholars. But one thing that is not in dispute is Job’s character. He was “blameless and upright.” Those traits are also attributed to Noah. We also know that Job was filthy rich. The way that we measure Job’s wealth may also give us some insight into how old this account actually is. Job’s wealth is measured in live stock and servants instead of gold and silver. Some scholars use this fact among other things to say that Job may have lived before Abraham.

Job was also a devout family man. He not only cared about the physical and mental health of his kids; he cared about their spiritual health. He prayed for them. He sacrificed for them. He prayed and sacrificed for the sins that just might have committed in their hearts. Dr. Dobson would have definitely had this guy on his radio show.

Then, just 6 verses into Job’s story, something happens. In fact something happens to the reader. We get a complete frame of reference. The scope of the picture gets much wider. Actually… it gets much higher. We get a glimpse in the heavens right into the throne room of God. And in the throne room there are some powerful lessons that will help us to see life, our relationship with others and our relationship with God more clearly.

First we see The Adversary on a short leash. Satan answers to God… period. Never forget that. He is a defeated foe. There is no power struggle. Our God reigns.

Next God initiates a chain of events. That is important; God kicks this thing off. He points out Job. Now I can’t honestly say that I would want to have a “Job experience” but I love the thought of having Almighty God call me by name and tell Satan, “Have you seen ____” “He/ she loves me and it shows.” Satan takes the bait.

What Satan does next I believe is done because it is in his nature. He does not understand the type of love and devotion that Job has for God. Lest we be unfair, Satan sort of does what many of us may have done when we see someone wealthy or successful praise God. There is often this thing inside of us that thinks, “Sure… if I had their (money, power, family, Superbowl ring, etc.) I could easily praise God too.” Satan asks God to take away “the good life.” So God does.

Before we move on… I wonder how many other people Satan asked to “sift like wheat?” I wonder if God’s response was a “no” and that the particular person in question was not ready for that sort of trial? I wonder if Satan has ever asked God to remove His hedge around me. More so, I wonder what God’s response was? Was I ready for the challenge? God saw Job as being ready.

Imagine your little handy dandy smart phone rings. You pick it up and the person on the other end of the line says something like this, “One of the banks where you keep some of your money just got robbed (with no FDIC) and the guys you employed at the bank were killed in the robbery.” While having that conversation the text alert goes off. It reads, “Unseasonably warm weather (i.e. fire from heaven) has wiped out your agricultural investments and those persons employed to look after the investments.” Next comes the e-mail alert. “You’ve got mail.” Terrorists have laid siege to Job Co. taking all tangible assets and leaving no one alive. Then a knock at the door… it’s the police. “We regret to inform you that you’re family have been killed in a horrific tornado.” Welcome to Job’s world.

Remember that when this happens, Job does not have the luxury of knowing what was written in verses 6 through 12. He just knows that he loves God, was trying to serve Him and that he has now lost everything.

How would you or I respond? Anger, disbelief, bad theology? Job worshipped. Not pretty, Sunday morning, Americanized church worship… Job WORSHIPPED. Job worshipped by falling head long into the truth. “I came with nothing… I’ll leave with nothing. God you gave me everything, you have the absolute right to take everything. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I have never had to walk that path. The path that men like Steven Curtis Chapman, or Steve Lynch have had to walk. I cannot imagine what it means to lose a child and fall to your knees and worship. But whatever it takes… God had instilled in Job, I believe because Job wanted it there. It had been cultivated before the trial was upon him.

I can however relate to the second test that God allows for Job. Job lost his health. If you have ever been in the position where you have lost your ability to function, as with what happened to me in 2004 when I was diagnosed with leukemia, then you know that you would trade all of your wealth to just be whole again. Job had no wealth to trade. He had children to comfort him.

Job did however have a spouse. Job’s wife could have been a great source of comfort. She could have said all the right words, done all the right things, been his partner in prayer; but she blew it. I know a spouse who’s blown it before. I see him every morning when I shave. I can relate.

Job’s wife reacts out of pain. Remember that she has also lost deeply. She is not in the same place that Job is though. Job not only has to deal with family loss but also family strife. He has to lead his wife to a clear understanding of who God is. He reminds her to think before she speaks and that, in essence, God’s ways are higher than our ways.

Then… come the “friends.” We’ll talk much more about them later. What we can say now is that they hail from identifiable and biblically significant places. They also seem to start off well. Who wouldn’t want some sympathy and comfort right now? Job is in a position of mourning; so they join him. Their garb is that of mourning and they spend a ceremonial 7 days of silence with him much like Ezekiel did when he met with exiles from Babylon.

Can you imagine if the story stopped right there? What if all the scenes from the throne room were left out of the picture? That is how far too many people live their lives. God’s word gives us a panoramic view of life especially during suffering. We need not suffer with blinders on… or standing in front of a mirror, wholly focused on ourselves. When the storm comes we need to remember to look up and remember that God is always at work and His ways are truly higher than ours.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wednesday, January 5th

In Psalm chapter 1, we find where there are two ways we may choose to live our lives. As blessed men or wicked men. The Psalmist shows us through verses 1-3, that the blessed man doesn't hang out with or doesn't (sit) stay in the company and influence of wicked men. After reading this, we think of Jesus that ate with the tax collector and spent time with those who were thought to be undesirable people of the day. However, Jesus was sharing with them what He knew to be the eternal truths of life. Jesus was never in a position of taking counsel from the men he knew were blind to truth. How many times do we (I) sit the the counsel of the wicked by listening to what this society's opinions are about things that are happening around us - whether it be about our finances, retirement, political views and even the shaping our moral standards. Instead, we are to be planted firmly in the Word of God, as the tree is planted - receiving our nourishment from God's principles and teachings. As the tree receives nourishment from the stream, God's Living Word is our living water. We don't produce our own fruit, but God produces His fruit through us when we are sustained by Him and not our own ways. Continuing in verses 4-6, it shows us that the wicked man is not grounded in anything, which allows man who follows public opinion however fast or slow it may change. The very opposite of the scriptures where it says that "...God is the same yesterday, today and forever". God's teachings never change - they're not progressive, because they're eternal. They're not evolving, because they're absolute truths. It teaches us plainly that God watches over the way of the righteous, but the wicked are left to inhereit their end, which is not all that great in the end.

Psalm chapter 2 we find David, (maybe Nathan), writing - Why do the nations conspire and plot in vain? Why are kings and rulers taking their stand and attacking against David?
Because those who attack David are attacking God, because God's blessing is on God's Annointed One, David. In verses 7-12, David says that he became a son of God, when he became king. And he knows that God will give him whatever he needs or asks. He is also telling the leaders to obey the king ("kiss the son").
Chapter 2 does talk about David's rule, but is also talking about the King who will some day rule the world. David never ruled the world, but with Jesus' return the scriptures say that "Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord"! Jesus will rule this world and as Psalm chapter 2 concludes - "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him".

My prayer for myself and my family, as well as for all of us who are reading through the Bible this year, is to find more of God's enternal truths and grow deeper in Him, while we understand in a greater way to fear, love and surrender to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Let's bear much fruit together as NorthWoods looks into the year of 2011. We are "Blessed".

Tuesday January 4

I have the opportunity to walk us through the History books of the Old Testament. Joshua is our first book. It begins with a marking of the end of the Exodus period and the death of Moses. The children of Israel are moving into the Promised Land with a new group of leaders that have never been in these positions before. Joshua has now taken the place of Moses. Joshua chapter 1 begins with God notifying Joshua of Moses' death. This had to be difficult as Joshua had walked closely with Moses as his (right hand man.) Joshua has received the order to move forward as the leader of the people and receives certain promises that are directly contingent to his and the people's obedience. Has God called you to do something new? Has the idea of it shaken you up? You will notice that our reading begins with God's calling today but it ends with God revealing His presence at the end of chapter 5 as the Commander of The Army of The Lord. God will never call you to do something and then send you alone. In the Great Commission God doesn't call us to make disciples and share our faith with others and leave us alone to then do it Matt. 28:18-20 nor does God leave us alone to accomplish His purposes in any area of life. We even see when Joshua sent the spies into Jericho that God had already gone before him and the people had heard of His works and when they did "their hearts melted." 2:11 Rahab was also prepared to receive them and we see a statement of her own personal faith in God as she says "for the Lord your God. He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath." 2:11b God has gone before Joshua in his leadership decisions. Has God called you or to use last sunday's sermon do you have a burden that you can't let go of? Obey Him and know that He is with you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday January 3

As I look at Genesis 1-3 I see a 24 hour period of creation for each day as we see “the evening and morning were the first day.” This is a hard pill to swallow for many of our scientists today who neglect the truth of scripture or those who try to explain away scripture by looking at it through the lens of science; rather than looking at science through the lens of scripture. I also that God is a God of order as we see a perfect plan moving forward in creation. Nothing kept God from by His words unleashing His creative power to bring about all of creation in a day but instead He had a 7 day plan for a reason. Hmmmm? In the 2nd chapter we see that God created a moral and spiritual boundary as well as a help mate for Adam. We see the first wedding at the end of chapter 2 and the most crucial passage concerning marriage in the scripture as it will be quoted by Jesus and Paul in 2:24-25 In chapter 3 we see the breaking of the moral/spiritual boundary set up by God, the punishment given by God, and a revealment of God’s wonderful grace as God made a covering for Adam and Eve which is a picture of the permanent covering that could be received by every believer by faith at the cross. At the cross we put on His righteousness, but in the garden they put on clothings made by God of animals but for that to happen there had to be a shedding of blood which is a picture of what would happen in the final sacrifice by Jesus on the cross.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Jan. 2

Happy New Years to all,It is truly an honor to be writing the first blog on our journey through the Bible. I look forward to sharing my views and insight with you. Our first reading found in Romans 1 & 2 is truly special as it coincides with this time of the year. I will address this shortly. First in looking at Romans, Paul while in Corinth wrote this letter to an audience made up of mostly Jews, who were now believers in Christ and a growing number of Gentiles. Throughout the letter, Paul encouraged and voiced his desire to meet with the people in an effort to express his love, provide sound guidance in their walk in faith as well as to be rejuvenated by their companionship. These first chapters are powerful as they lay down the foundation of Christianity and describe the sinful man. In reviewing chapter 1, Paul laid out the case for the “Good News”. He gave the background on how Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets in scripture. Paul provided evidence from King David’s family line to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to be with his Father. He explained that the Good News was for everyone both Jews and Gentiles. Paul also clarified that the Good News declares that through faith in Christ, we are made right in God’s sight. For the remainder of chapter 1 and into chapter 2, Paul discussed the various images of sinful people. Weeks ago Pastor Bobby went over these images. In chap.1, Paul addressed the sinner who REFUSED to acknowledge God and his works. In Chap 2, Paul spoke about two other types of sinners that represented hypocrisy. The first are those believers, who judge others while performing sinful behaviors themselves. The second are those who show extreme religiosity and focus on the law but miss God’s will. Paul notes they will all be judge by God.MY THOUGHTS Romans 1 is a chapter filled with several sermons. One could speak about humbling yourself as Paul did, or our authority and duty to witness to others. One could talk about the power of worshiping with other believers or about the salvation and sin mentioned above. As Paul opens up with explaining our need for Christ due to our sinful ways, I can’t help but to think of this time of the year. During Christmas the focus around the world is giving gifts and having that holiday spirit. We are reminded through these scriptures that we have received the greatest gift of all in Jesus Christ. Because of his love and sacrifice, we are made right and as Paul said we are made into apostles as we spread joy through telling everyone around us about the wonderful gift of LIFE we have received. Not only is Christmas represented but also the celebration of a New Year. During this time people often make new commitments or rededicate themselves towards a behavior that will benefit their life. It is this coming of a new year that people hope for new opportunities and prosperity. It’s our desire during this time to shed our tarnished and debilitating shell and dawn new, clean and productive forms. What we need to understand as believers is we have the opportunity, at any time, to humble ourselves and come to the perfect gift in Jesus and make ourselves anew. To let him wash our sins away and take on a new form that reflects his love for us. As far as the holiday spirit, we should acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s constant presence in us to love and care for one another. We should truly be thankful for what the Lord has given us.