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Archive for October, 2010

25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27 I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

If anyone should know the truth of this passage, it should be those of us who have lived a long time since Christ’s death, burial and victorious resurrection.  We have the written Word of God, thousand of biographies, plenty of evidence to backbone our faith.  As far as I know he did not have one single copy of Stanley, Swindol, or Beth Moore’s studies and had a solid theology and made it through hell and back anyway.  I find it stunning that Job had a faith that was so solid.  God is the ever living one who draws men near for the purpose of delivering them.  Job knew that.  His Redeemer was alive.  The implications of that truth held his confidence through the midst of severe pain.

Centuries before Christ’s resurrection and the King James Bible, the Bible records that this guy named Job was minding his own business and became involved in a conversation he was not having with anyone (stunning observation on my part I might add).  He was living the high life and within hours he was on bottom.  I don’t know why God allows that kind of thing.  God did not invite me to sit with him as he prepared the story line much less find a spot in line at the book signing.  He does as he pleases for His glory.  He obviously did not check it out with Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn before he wrote it.  Oh, that’s right he was around before Benny Hinn.  The story line that I do “know” is in the Scriptures.  It is all that God wants us to know about a righteous man whose relationship with and walk with God had interesting twists and turns.  His walk with God was real and relevant for the moment.  His faith and trust in God demonstrates an unbelievable depth…the reality of which is developed through the path of pain.

It’s risky to even read the story.  I am not superstitious.  But someone said that if I held my eyes like that for a long time, they would get stuck in that position.  So if I hang around Job long I will get the chance to write my memoirs of my “Job” days.  If you get too close to Job, do you chance a common experience is on the horizon?  I don’t know how in the world he develop his theology.  There is no mention of the Law in the entire poem, however he obviously knew the Law Giver.  Was he a Gentile – one we could have tagged as a non-chosen individual?  Whatever I could think about Job, I know the record is in the Scriptures and the evidence is that in the midst of great pain and surrounded by folk who are trying to figure out what “they” are not going through, Job declares that His redeemer lives.  And even though the body has decayed – He will see God for himself.  That thought carried him through it all.

I guess the size of a man is the size of his God.  There is no doubt to me that Job had a wonderfully deep working knowledge of God.  No shallow person could go through what Job did and arrive where Job did in the midst of anguish and pain.  God had great confidence in Job.  When challenged by the Devil himself, it seems as if God did not flinch as he pointed to one of  his champions. Obviously Job had a very close relationship with God and a theology that let him to declare his hope beyond the grave and beyond the pain he was experiencing.  His faith and trust in God kept him alive in the moment.  He was comfortable and confident enough to argue his pain in the presence of the One who allowed it.

John McArthur was asked following the horrible attack on the Twin Towers as to his perspective about the whole painful experience.  His response caught my attention as he said as best I can remember that the unbelievable truth is that the event was horrible but he was reminded that all men will die and we never know when that will be nor are we in control of how it will happen.  I am glad that I have a common hope with Job.

Smith called me yesterday to tell me of his friend in Texas who had died.  Alzheimer’s stole his memory, however, it never affected his hope in Christ.  Smith was shaken.  The death of a good friend does that to you.  Eddie Eaddy fought staying on this side of eternity as long as he could and as his body showed evidence of death, he was more alive than one could imagine..  That’s where hope takes you.

25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27 I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

God has always been in the right place.  He never moves and is always present.  The issue here is not whether or not God is where he is supposed to be,  but, am I in the right place.  How am I responding in light of the hope that is mine because of Christ’s great investment in my life.  God has truly put all of his eggs in my basket today and is willing to allow me to live that truth out in the middle of my own circumstances.  When God is all you have, then God is all you need.  “…I am overwhelmed at the thought!…” Job 19:27

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7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.

The context is the presence of God.  He is here.  The evidence is that the waters of the Red Sea parted and the waters of the Jordan parted as well.  Mountains skip and waters move when God wants them to move.  The nation of Israel was in bondage in Egypt.  There were three barriers to their freedom…the Red Sea…the Jordan River…and the Mountains.  The Red Sea and Jordan melted in front of them.  They watched water come out of a rock in the middle of their trip.

Tremble.  God is not our therapist here.  He is not some syrupy sweet friend to sit with us on the park bench of life.  He is not our buddy.  He is awesome God.  Tremble.  They were fortunate to be able to see God up close and personal.  God was with them.  He is holy and awesome.  His works are perfect.  God is moving and all we can do is watch.

Two things become obvious to me.  One – He is present and in a big way…so much so that “tremble” is an operative word.  Second, He will provide for all of my needs today.

OK.  I will reflect so English Majors put your pens up.  Last evening I found out that my nephew is in ICU.  His addiction put him there. He is under deep medication and on life support due allowing his body to recover.  There is a mom and dad who are having to make major decisions today about the healing process.  It has to be one of the most difficult times of their lives.  God is present.  I affirm that.  He is in total control for He is the head of all things.  He is not trying to figure out what action to take.  His ways are scripted by Him, through Him and for Him.  He is is using this situation to bring glory to His precious name. God made my nephew.  God is in charge of life.  He can heal.  He is present with them.  They are in great Company.  I can trust in God.

I didn’t say that to make it true.  I said it because I needed to hear myself affirm the truth of God in the midst of my hurting for my family.  I am looking for the evidence of His presence.  I don’t need the Red Sea to part again.  I am longing for the waters to part at the presence of God…to hear him again stand in the boat of their circumstances and speak, “Peace!” and watch the waters settle…but maybe to get to the point where his family and I can lay down with Christ in the bottom of the boat of our circumstances and simply rest in the midst of the storm as I trust in the Lord of all.

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16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.

People who are not Christians do not understand the Christian faith.  Paul was the one I believe that said that the natural man – the person who is not a Christian – does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned.  These accusers can only see Paul in the light of their own belief system.  Obviously, they did not take the time to fully understand Paul’s faith.  They did not afford him the privilege of private conversation to clarify Paul’s activities.  I guess it is not abnormal when people with a life that is not in sync with the Christian to see the Christian in light of their own value system.

He was watched by the Roman leadership.  He was oppressed by the Jewish leaders.  Obviously, religious tolerance was practiced toward those who had a bigger sword than the Jews.  However, Paul did not have an army with him…just the Lord in Him.  And to think that he was a bigger threat to the Jews than the Romans.  He knew that people watched him.  “…because of this…”  because of my faith and this testimony.  “…I always try…” I labor hard, work at it, struggle, make a great effort  “…to maintain a clear conscience…”  void of offense  “…before God and men…”  plenty of eyes both in heaven and on earth watching.  He had just been accused of being a “…troublemaker all over the world…”  For some strange reason I am sitting here almost laughing out loud knowing that Ananias the High Priest must have followed him “…all over the world…”  Even big shot religious people lie and do not maintain a clear conscience before God and man.

I am reminded that  those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord perceive this Christian life of mine from a whole different perspective.  My new life is concealed from the world. They don’t know it. They think I am just like everybody else. They don’t know what I know.  You know the world doesn’t know about us. Do I think they understand what makes you tick? Do they know that I am a citizen of heaven living in the heavenly but working my faith out in this earthly world? They haven’t got any idea. All the phony religionist accusers did not have a clue.  They have never seen what faith in Christ could do in their lives.  It was concealed from their diluted minds.

I guess there is a lot in the balance today with how I live my life.  God is not asking for sinless perfection out of my life, but he is asking me to represent well…and according to this passage to labor hard at it.  There are eyes looking at me…ears open to hear what I am saying…and I represent the King of Kings today.  I want to represent well.  That’s my heart this morning.

I am a dead man living for the One who gave me life.  May my life be testimony to that fact.

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God IS Able…

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I know it is a statement first of all from the Word of God.  Secondly, I know that it is a truth, a fact that God is able.  It is third of all a truth I can trust.  That is easy preaching, however, there are circumstances in life that requires a reminder that God is big enough and is able.

I approach today with a heart that is totally dependent upon God’s being able to do exceedingly abundantly more than I could ask or think.  His name is Patrick.  He is a tall, good looking young 23 year old full of potential young man.  Being blunt, he is addicted to alcohol.  Nicotine is part of his routine.  Life for Patrick requires anesthetizing.  His drug of choice is alcohol.   That is what I know to be true.  Pat also has difficulty sleeping and has been given by appropriate physicians some medicines that assist in his getting appropriate rest at night.  I am glad that there is medical help when one struggles with sleep.  When he gets the rest he needs and is able to eat, he is helped.  Thank God for the medicines.  However, Pat is addicted to alcohol.  Alcohol doesn’t mix well with those medicines.  He is such a fine young man.  It seems to me that Pat feels that alcohol attempts to promise him relief.  All I see it doing is stealing his life away.  He is no longer an asset.  He has become a liability.  An entire family is struggling like never before because of his choices.  He is loosing it all.  What scares me more than any thing is that we might be loosing Pat.

When the phenomenon of craving hits, he is willing to do anything to satisfy his desire.  It seems that being sober is longed for, however, he is not able to stay that way.  Alcohol has taken his feelings away.  Watching from a distance is difficult because there is something in me that longs to help him.  I know that our enemy would want to steal, kill and destroy…and watching him put the bottle to his mouth keeps him from experiencing the abundant life that God wants to give to him.  He is addicted.  He is controlled by it.

Father, Pat is your child.  He is hurting and needs a special touch of your hand…as if I need to tell you…I worship you for knowing all about Pat.  You know his mom, dad and sister.  You understand fear, anger, and all kinds of issues that surround this situation.  You are at work and I praise you for your presence in their lives.  May they see your hand, trust your heart and find the wisdom to know what is to be done.  I trust you with Pat today.  You are able.  I did not say that so that You could be…but to simply remind me that You ARE!

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1 “I am disgusted with my life.
Let me complain freely.
My bitter soul must complain.

There is no need for me to put Job into context except to say that his life is miserable.  I am blown away at his comfortable relationship with God especially since he doesn’t seem to be surrounded by James Robinson, Beth Moore, Charles Swindol, or James Dobson (all four of these I tend to enjoy so don’t put a sarcastic twist to them) to help him get the clear word about what is going on in his life.  He doesn’t have a plethora of religious (add sarcasm) know it all “Collared Professionals” to give him a “word from God” about how his situation will get better if he gave them a $58.00 donation to their ministry (now let’s all hear from Sister So-and-So Christian Music Artist as you go to the phone and dial “1-800-give your money and your pain will go away help line”).

He is sitting in the reality of a terrible deal.  He does not know the situation as God sees it and to be honest with you I don’t know either.  It is reported that when they asked Mother Theresa if she had in mind any questions to ask God or what would you say to God when you see him she said “You have some pretty big explaining to do!”  I wonder why the “name it claim it – word of faith boys and girls don’t preach on Job a lot.  He is miserable and I don’t think you could say it was a lack of faith.  For some reason on this side of eternity – He is not bound to explain anything to us.  We are trusting His work in our lives.

I do think you can find his faith working through his doubt and pain and he is willing to do that right in the face of the God he knows experientially.  He is not in some theology class theorizing why God allowed him to do this.  His in a life setting trying to understand what the heck is going on in his life.  It obviously doesn’t sync with his perception of what ‘should’ be going on…however, instead of carrying on a conversation with a thousand other people…he goes straight to the Source and talks to Him.

A bitter soul needs some kind of expression.  A boiling teapot needs to let the steam off and it is the whistle that alarms the need for expression.  Women naturally “talk the deal out”.  That is the way the steam comes out.  I find that I work it out in so many other ways from work, exercise, eating.  I have a dear friend that will listen to me.  My wife opens her heart to me.  However, I am glad that God demonstrates His grace and patience to me by allowing me to come into His presence and talk about what is bothering me…especially when I am working through how in the world He “allows” things to happen even though He is not the instrument of the pain.  God hears.

Today I am reminded of God’s love for me.  I am not disgusted with my life.  As a matter of fact today is a pretty good day.  It is cool outside and I am able in the quiet of my study to think and dig through the Scriptures.  I have great friends and family who love me deeply.  It is a good day.  I am thankful that the relationship that I have with God allows me to come to Him with my needs and situations.  I don’t have to understand.  I don’t have to like it.  When I call out to God I don’t get an answering machine with a thousand buttons I have to push before I can get a message on his phone with his secretary.  He is available all the time.  God thank you for letting me complain freely.  You truly are my Father!

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23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.

As I journeyed through my quiet time I walked around with Job for a few minutes this morning and observed an angel of the Lord free Peter from jail.  I watched a concerned praying group of believers have to deal with the unpredictable hand of God. His arrest and  release caught them by surprise.  God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think…and He did.  I thought of William Cowper’s (pronounced “Cooper”) lyrics  [I remembered the first phrase, lest you think this country boy memorized this hymn – I looked it up]

“…Sometimes a light surprises
the Christian while he sings;
it is the Lord who rises
with healing in his wings:
when comforts are declining,
he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation
we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God’s salvation,
and find it ever new;
set free from present sorrow,
we cheerfully can say,
let the unknown tomorrow
bring with it what it may,… “

A church in prayer for Peter, hours before he is to be tried, chained between two guards and now the  prisoner freed.  Peter thought it was a vision – it was real.  He rejoiced.  The surprised crowd shouted and was calmed down.

Everyone was excited!  Herod Agrippa wasn’t the least bit impressed. No Peter.  No trial.  Someone will pay for this.  Collateral damage!  God frees Peter.  Herod kills the guards.  He couldn’t find the Apostle.  He was in a killer of a mood.   It wasn’t long before this King in Jerusalem was believing his own stuff, dressed the part, stood up in his royal robes and was worshiped by those gathered as a god.  It appeared to me that God’s ticked.  He dealt with it, alright.  God is so unpredictable.  I was surprised.  Caught off guard.  It seems that a good dose of worms would be in order.  Or at least that’s what is recorded.  Consumed with worms!  I wonder if they let him lay in the bed in that silver robe?  His body looked good on the outside…rotting on the inside.   What a way to die!  According to one historian, it took him five days to kill over…I guess the worms ate slowly…I guess he gave even the worms indigestion.  A horrible death to say the least.

I am reminded that God does not share His glory.  His anointing for the day in my life is for people to see Him working through my life and give glory to God the Father.  I guess it is easy to get used to the prestige of the clerical collar and if one is not careful as Yancey said …Just as I begin to slip into my seat of authority and believe the jacket copy the publishers write about me, the Teacher brings me back to earth.  I am no writer, however,  I am blessed to be used by God in so many ways – I am humbled at that thought.  It is an honor to serve Him today.  Unbelievable responsibility and accountability accompany this day’s journey.  He is the Potter.  I am the clay.  I need to keep that in the right order.

I did not get as close to Herod as I did Peter.  I was rejoicing as I watched Peter walk out of the jail.  As I saw Herod’s story unfold, my steps slowed and the distance between myself and Herod deliberately increased.  You could feel the arrogance as he stepped out in that silver lined robe.  My liver quivered as I heard the crowd shout and worship him as god.  One brought glory to God. However, the second attempted to take the glory for himself.  Disrespectful little toad sitting on the Roman stool in Jerusalem representing Caesar.  A big frog in a little pond.  The little toad met the One who made him and owns the pond as well.  It is so easy to forget Who is and who is not God.  The constant voice of the enemy weaves his web well…

I realized I was reading about two men in prison – one loved by a group of Christians gathered in prayer for him as he was in an external jail chained between two guards eventually to be released by the power of God.  The other loathed by many –  a leader in a prison chained by the guards of pride and arrogance believing in the jacket copy the puppet writers.   Peter is walking around in fellowship with his believing friends.  Herod is dying alone.  Beloved Peter experiences the power of God who is able to deliver.  Herod meets Holy God and discovered that He alone is God.  The Apostle is released.  The arrogant is writhing in pain for five days prior to his death as the worms bask in a belly’s buffet.  Peter is now in the presence of God…and Herod, if not saved, is in a place where the “…worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched…”  Hell’s fury!

God, I guess I’ll keep my robe in the closet today.  I’ll need your help.  I’ll need Your help.  It’s always easier to read about Herod than to take responsibility for my day.  I really do want to represent you well.

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It is all about God!

4 For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.

This past week at church David Murphy was very skilled at taking three songs and making them a seamless one-song set of worship toward God.  As a matter of fact he did that twice.  David takes the 57th psalm (or however they were recorded at the time to David) and attached the heart of Psalm 60 to it as a praise and prayer to God for deliverance.

He did what my heart should do when I enter into private worship or in the midst of corporate worship and that is Praise God for His Mercy and His Faithfulness – to exalt and declare  that His glory should shine over all the earth.

Your unfailing love. Chris Tomlin God is so different than I.  He is teaching me to love.  He love is unfailing.  Whether it is with Abraham as he prepares to sacrifice Issac….walking around in the fire with three Hebrew children that would not bow to another God…With Daniel as he waits in a lions den…with Mary as she waits for 9 months bearing the Son of God…with Paul in prison…with the men who are fishing after the Lord’s resurrection…In the garden or on the cross…His love is unfailing.  Oh that my love would be unfailing.

Your Faithfulness.  Faithful God God is faithful to His plan and His ways and His purposes as they are worked out in our lives.  The sun rises right on time and there is plenty of oxygen to breath…I have coffee to drink and food to eat and clothes to wear.  He guides.  He provides.  He is faithful.  I don’t have to understand His ways.  I have lots of questions about how He does His work.  He is, however, always faithful.

Be Exalted.  Be Unto Your Name That is the issue today in my life that God would be exalted.  How sinister the enemy is in making me believe it is about my name being exalted and my ways being done.  The only cure for the disease of “self” is Him.

Your Glory.  They will see your works and glorify your Father in heaven…oh that the spotlight will be on you today.

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