Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sleep Well, Christian

It says in Psalm 121:3 & 4: “He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” If you are wondering who He is, He is the Triune God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He never sleeps, He never slumbers, no, He is not an insomniac, He is always alert, alive and watching, ruling, and loving His people. God knows all things (Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.), sees all things, controls all things (Matt. 10:29-31: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.), and sustains all things (Acts 17:25-27: And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.)

Nothing slips by, nothing surprises or perplexes the Godhead. There is never any need for an Emergency Meeting or Emergency Session of the Godhead to figure out what is going on, the Godhead never ponders what they should do. The Godhead was, is and always will be.

Jesus told us that we shouldn’t lose our heads. In Matt. 24:6 He said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Today I find some Christians losing sleep trying to figure out what’s going on. What’s going on is this—the end of all things is drawing near. Don’t be alarmed “little flock” God is still on the throne. Luke 12: 32: "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

Be encouraged. Look at Romans 8:31. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (No one can be successful against us) 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (God will supply even when all seems lost) 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (No one can make a charge stick against us in the court of heaven—no one.) 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (No one can condemn us) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Not one thing, no one can separate us from the love of Christ).

It is good to be a son or daughter of the Most High God. Sleep well, Christian, sleep well.

Prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why not worship the angel maker?

Mark Lougheridge is a pastor in Ireland. A few years ago I found his blog on the internet when I was researching a sermon on the book of Zephaniah. Lougheridge writes very infrequently, three or four times a year. I checked recently and he recounted an experience he had concerning angels.

Lougheridge was waiting in a shop when he heard a talk radio program in the background. The topic was angels. People told of their experiences with angels; how they talk to them and pray to them. Lougheridge wondered why do people talk and pray to angels when they can pray and talk to the angel maker. Yes, the angel maker--God Himself.

The first chapter of Hebrews shows the superiority of Jesus Christ. God’s one and only son, who went to the cross for your sin and mine, rose victorious from the dead and sits at the right hand of God the Father, waiting to come again. Because of what Christ has done, we can bring our requests directly to the angel maker, God Himself.

Angels are created beings meant for two purposes; the first, to worship God. Hebrews 1:5-6: “For to which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father'? Or again, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son'? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.'”

Philippians 2:5-11: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The second purpose is to be a ministering spirit to us. Hebrews 1:14 says: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Do we appreciate angels? Yes, God created them to minister to us and to worship Him. Their purpose is to help bring believers home to heaven; they are to do the King’s bidding. This is good news. Remember, they are angels not God.

As John Piper would say, “Remember, Jesus is sitting as the KING; angels are sent as servants.”

There is only one King; there are many servant angels. Angels are servants of God serving Christians, those who by faith are inheriting salvation. In Hebrews 6:12 it says: “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

Remember this—worship the King—worship the angel maker, not His angels.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hiding out in the fishbowl

I’m reading a book by Alan Hirsch, an Australian, entitled “The Forgotten Ways.” It’s a book looking at the first and second century church. The church in this period grew at a rapid rate even in the face of tremendous persecution. The early church so influenced their culture that a Roman historian wrote “who are these people (speaking of the early church) who have turned the world upside down?” Before the advent of the moveable press, radio and the internet, they “turned their world upside down.”

In his book, Hirsch speaks of an obscure law entitled the Law of Requisite Variety. “This law states that ‘the survival of any organism depends on its capacity to cultivate (not just tolerate) variety in its internal structure. Failure to do so results in an inability to cope successfully with ‘variety’ when it is introduced from an external source.’ The authors give us a great example as to how this law works in reality. They note that

Fish in a bowl can swim, breed, get food with minimal effort, and remain safe from predators. But as aquarium owners know, such fish are excruciatingly sensitive to even the slightest disturbances in the fishbowl. On the other hand, fish in the sea have to work much harder to sustain themselves and they are subjected to many threats. But because they cope with more variation, they are more robust when faced with a challenge.”

In my opinion, the American church is a comfortable fishbowl and the Lord is tapping on the outside of the bowl to get our attention. We are swimming around inside the fish bowl, banging into one another and becoming more and more irritable with each other. The Lord is moving but He is not moving inside the church (AKA the fishbowl). Revival is taking place in other parts of the world. One place it is not happening is the North American Church.

When Jesus left, He told us to “Go and make.” We have sat on our butts and said “come”. To "go and make" takes courage and hard work. We would rather stay in the fishbowl and “be safe”; be predictable. We may be safe and we may be predictable but as Jeremiah said Jeremiah 8:20 "The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved." We may look good but we are lost. We must leave the fishbowl and move to the ocean and be led by Christ to grab hold of life which is truly life. Which kind of fish are you, an ocean fish or a fishbowl fish?

Lord, give us the courage to obey. Give us the courage to "go and make." Take us to the back roads, to the alleys, the gutters, to the cornfields, the bars, and the schools and offices. And you Lord alone will call them unto you. May we be your humble and willing, obedient servants. Come Lord Jesus. Amen

Thursday, July 10, 2008

When the bear rumbles…

Note: Names, places and relationships have been changed.

“The Bear” is a friend of mine in another state. He is in his 40’s, a former college football line backer and heavyweight wrestler. He carries 310+ pounds on a 6’3” frame. His name is a given.

Bear has a 13 year old daughter by his first marriage. The “cub” lives in a town 40 miles away from the Bear’s permanent den.

The family rule is no one dates until they are 16 years old. Through a series of events, the “cub” decides to test the system. After babysitting one night, she is picked up by a 16 year old boy. Her Mom finds out and calls the Bear to find out what to do. Even though he lives 40 miles away and it was 11:00 p.m., the Bear rumbles into action.

He gets out of bed, dresses and moves toward his 4-wheel drive Dodge pickup with a singleness of purpose. The “cub” and boyfriend need to be taught a lesson. What is the lesson? There is a price to pay for disobedience.

The moon is full as he races toward this small prairie town; the roads are quiet, the radio is off and the Bear plots his strategy. The only thing he hears is the whine of the engine and air flowing through his hair.

The Bear arrives and parks one block from his daughter’s home and waits. About twenty minutes later the 16 year old “boyfriend’s” jacked up, slightly beat up 4-wheel drive pickup pulls up in front of “the cub’s” house and parks. Now the Bear begins to rumble. He walks purposely down the street, pounding his size 12 feet into the pavement.

You’d think they would hear but they don’t. The first sound was the driver’s side door being ripped open by the faithful bear-sized dad on a mission. To say the least, the surprise in his “cub’s” eyes is astonishment. (The Bear said her eyes were the size of a saucer!) Bear looks at her and says in a booming voice “GET IN THE HOUSE!” Talk about moving like a rifle shot—she is gone! Bear’s 6’3” frame and the jacked up nature of the boyfriend’s pick up put Bear’s mouth at ear and face level of the vehicle’s occupant (AKA “the boyfriend”). Bear leans in, puts his face ½ inch from Bubba’s face. In no uncertain terms, he makes Bubba aware of the gravity of the situation and clearly states his purpose and intention. Bear states if he even sees this pickup within 10 blocks of this house, there will be problems. Bubba is shaking after the unexpected midnight encounter with the rumbling bear.

Bear’s “cub” (13 year old daughter) sees her dad as meddling in her life; he should be meddling. I praise God that Bear meddles in his cub’s life. You see, Bear understands God will hold him accountable for the type of dad he has been or will be. He takes his role seriously. More of us need to follow his example, taking seriously our role as parents. Rumble on, Bear; rumble on!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Completely Exposed

Isaiah 6:1-8: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty: the whole earth is full of his glory.' At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
"Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I lie among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen he King, the Lord Almighty.'
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips: your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!"

When the prophet Isaiah comes before the one and only Holy God, he is exposed; exposed as a sinful man. In verse 5 he says: "Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips." He is exposed for who He really is, a man of unclean lips. Encounters with a Holy God will flatten us, expose us for what we really are--sinners. Encounters with the Holy God strip us of any "spin doctored" image we have; it's a true picture and it humbles us.

Secondly, his culture is exposed. He lives in a nation of people with unclean lips. Lying in America is a way of life; let's be honest, we all do it in some form. As a culture, we lie and in many ways we could care less.

The third thing that happens in this encounter, he is transformed. This sinner exposed liar, slanderer or maybe even cursing prophet is transformed by the Holy Spirit. His guilt is taken away and his sin is atoned for. (Atoned is the process of how God and man can once again become "at one".) When we beat ourselves up with our guilt and sin, we feel we are not worthy to take Christ's message to a hurting world.

But...the Lord has other plans for us. He uses sin-forgiven, former liars, slanderers, and God cursers for His glory. And all the initiative comes from the Lord. We don't accept His guilt freeing, sin forgiving grace. He calls us. He transforms s to do what? Sit and slap each other on he back marveling at our good fortune? No, we are sent by God to share the Good News with a hurting world. The Lord asked and Isaiah answered--"send me."

Are you an "exposed" man or woman with unclean lips, living in an unclean culture who has been atoned for? If you're a believer, get ready--God is going to use you!