Friday, March 23, 2018

in a little or a lot

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
Luke 16:10

You will do as you are in your heart. If your heart craves personal attention and selfish desire at any cost, if you have no limits, if you seek yourself first in all the small details, this will all burst out inevitably into all the bigger issues of your life. If you lie easily in a small detail, you will be dishonest and lie in the clutch moments that matter most.

And the converse is also true. If you are faithful, obedient, trusting Christ, honest, quick to repent and believe Jesus in the small things, this character will find faithfulness in you in the big situations. If you allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to renew your thinking, You will approach life with God’s faithfulness bringing You peace, confidence, and the satisfaction of God’s pleasure in relationship with you.

This is Jesus speaking out this principle... He knows our hearts! It is rewarding to be honest and faithful to the Lord. Our lives are better when we trust God with the small stuff. Faithfulness is rewarded in big ways. The heart of a good steward of the kingdom starts with the simplest desire to be faithful in EACH level of trust so that faithfulness will be known in EVERY level of trust given to us by God. Faithful with a dime means faithful with a dollar. And that is a kingdom-building generous lifestyle worth enjoying!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

shine on us

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:19

Shine on us, dear Lord
that we may be saved
that Your glory might be shown
in our rescue today

Restore us, O God
as Your people again
draw us back to You
by the power of Your name

Be known, O Savior
in what Your people say
and in who You have redeemed
be shown in us, we pray

Be seen in Your church
Jesus, be known
so that others may be saved
as Your life is shown

Your power, Your glory
are our heart’s cry
so that the world may see
Your salvation on high

Let Your face shine
that salvation is here
and we will worship God
as our Savior draws us near

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

stone of help

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12

The prophet and judge, Samuel, set up this stone to commemorate a great victory and help heal painful memories. God led His people from a humiliating defeat and national tragedy (30,000 troops killed in battle) back to a place of victory over the enemy. Israel had been morally and militarily defeated by the Philistines. The ark of the covenant was captured and cities were occupied by the enemy.

After suffering through this, Israel turned again to God. The nation repented at Mizpah and Samuel led a revival prayer meeting there. And at that point things began to turn around. God fought for Israel (1 Samuel 7:10) and the army was strengthened to drive the Philistines out of Israel’s territory again (1 Samuel 7:11). God turned around the situation in one day, once Israel repented and worshiped. And that is what led “Ebenezer” to be erected as a monument to God’s deliverance of His people. All who saw this stone of help would know the story and rejoice in God’s salvation.

I am nothing outside of God’s help. I have no life outside what Jesus has saved me to live. And I sing:
“Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by They help I’ve come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

the kingdom: expansive and subversive

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
Luke 13:18-19

With two quite average word pictures, Jesus describes how God’s kingdom works in the world. First in Luke 13:18-19 we have a picture of a gardener planting a small mustard seed that becomes a sheltering tree. Secondly there is a picture in Luke 13:20-21 of a woman hiding leaven in flour until it was all leavened for breadmaking. The first picture emphasizes the sheltering expanse of God’s kingdom and the extent to which it grows. It is large and proves a safe place for lives to be lived. The second picture describes the secretive way the kingdom of God subverts the sinful world system until all is changed by the pervasive nature of the kingdom.

I wish today to celebrate both the expansive shelter and the subtle change of God’s kingdom. Christians are scattered all over this world. Churches are light and salt. The gospel is a global phenomenon, reaching people even when persecution is the cost of its proclamation. Resisting the gospel seems to just propel the message forward. The mustard seed gospel spans the globe and believers are thriving in the shelter of the branches of the kingdom as the Word of God sustains, and the Spirit of God leads.

That kingdom change is happening just one life at a time as the yeast slowly works its way through the flour, leavening this world with the righteousness of Christ. This is the way God is growing His kingdom, not with takeovers or military displays, but with singular life change occurring on a significant global scale. The gospel of the kingdom is being preached the world over. And this is why Christians continue to bring the gospel message, making disciples one by one, to as many individuals as we can. This is the task of the church. It is how God’s kingdom expands and subverts.

Monday, March 19, 2018

I am too stressed to feel blessed.

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
Psalm 77:10

This is a deliberate move to willfully choose to appeal to the work of God despite a season of doubt and pain. I love that the psalms do this so much, and Psalm 77 is a favorite because it perfectly captures what to do when my soul hits a troubling season where it seems I can’t see God at work. It encourages me to remember what God has done.

This appeal to “the years of the right hand of the Most High” in verse 10 comes right after the psalmist has endured a sleepless night filled with troubling questions. Five painful questions that haunt the soul are fired at God in Psalm 77:7-9. They describe feelings more than facts, but they are painful nonetheless. The psalmist feels like God will never favor His people again. He feels like God’s love has ceased. He feels like God has no more promises to bless. It feels like grace is gone and anger from God is all that is left.

Despite this spiritual depression, God moves through the deliberate act of faith that remembers God’s work in the past. God has blessed. And this psalm pushes us to remember God at the times where we feel more stressed than blessed. The psalm goes on to list five words that counteract those previous five questions as it remembers specifically God’s deeds, wonders, works, ways, and might. This ultimately leads to praise for God’s redemptive work, all laid out beautifully in Psalm 77:11-15. And this is why I discipline myself to write in a journal. It is the way that I can appeal to God’s work when I feel seasons of doubt. The value of journaling comes in the recording of God’s work, but most importantly, in the remembering of His work that comes in my reading of them. Stressful, difficult, doubting seasons all begin to fade when compared to what I know God has done for me in the past, and right now, still is doing for my future.

Friday, March 16, 2018

weakest man alive

His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.
Judges 14:4

The story of Samson is a story of the sovereignty of God over sinful human choices. It is about God’s strength and man’s failing weakness. Samson has little regard for the Law or for his Nazirite vows. This is seen from very beginning of his story when he insists on arranging a marriage to a gentile woman in violation of God’s Law. His parents have tried so hard to raise Samson to be devout, but he already as a young man will have none of it. He wants a Philistine woman. And God will use even this wrong in Samson to deliver the nation.

Later in this same chapter Samson violates his vows by touching the dead body of a lion in order to scrape honey from the carcass. He kills 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a dead donkey. He is selfish and careless with the covenant. In Samson’s world it was all about what he wanted, and his emotions ran unchecked.

He would go on disobeying God with relationships with Philistine women. He would eventually break every one of his vows until God finally allowed his humiliating capture by enraged and afraid Philistine oppressors. By that time Samson had racked up an impressive body count of dead Philistines in his wake. Yet Samson would die an angry, blind sacrifice, dying not for the nation, but with a desire for his own vengeance driving him, as clear an example as how not to live as anyone could ever be. His story is not heroic. It is tragic. Samson is not any kind of hero. God is the deliverer in the Samson story. God shows Himself strong as His Spirit does the work in a very pathetic weak man.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

believing Jesus and seeing the Father

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Luke 10:22

You can only know God through Jesus Christ. And that is why all Christian worship and experience must center upon Jesus. It is Jesus that reveals the Father. There is no other way to know God. Jesus reveals Him.

Just as God the Father sent His Son into the world to save us, so Jesus reveals the Father and His love to us. We cannot know that apart from Jesus. So for me to be content and clear in my knowledge of God, I must not ever stray from following Jesus. And that means the gospel has to be at my center.

Because Jesus came, by the love of the Father, to die for sinners and to be raised so that we might know life, I can be forgiven and can truly be found in Him so that the Father accepts me through the work of the Son. To know God, I must know Jesus. To know Jesus I must believe the gospel.

Lord Jesus,
I thank You for showing me the Father. I worship You for Your obedience to the Father’s will. You arrived on earth with one mission: to end sin’s hold on us by dying once for all and to be raised from the dead so we might believe and have eternal life. You are my only hope, and Jesus, I believe You. I trust only the gospel and I find my life and my hope in You!