Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Future is not what it used to be or…

Mickey Newberry wrote the song entitled “The Future is Not What it Used to Be” which was recorded by Ronny Milsap. It is a story of a man and a woman; a story of sin and dejection all overcome with love only to have the relationship slip out of their hands. The relationship was good; at times it held so much promise; in the end the hope of a future together was lost.

In some ways the future seems to be deteriorating, if not already lost. This week I saw a pro-life organization buy an ad for the Super Bowl to celebrate the life of Tim Tebow, Heisman winner, Florida Gators quarterback, and strong Christian witness.

When Mrs. Tebow was pregnant with Tim, she encountered a disease that forced the doctors to recommend that she abort Tim. The family, devout Christians chose not to abort Tim. What a blessing of God today to have a fine young man as Tim Tebow.

But, the future is not what it used to be. I thought I lived in a country that would celebrate such an inspiring story but the future is not what it used to be. No, the release of the information about the ad caused shrieks and shrills of horror from pro-choice groups, politicians, commentators of the same ilk. This doesn’t need to be turned into a trumped up political hand wringing issue. Why can’t we just celebrate a God-inspired story? What people cannot celebrate such a story? I guess America can’t. The future is not what it used to be.

In the same week, the President, during the State of the Union speech, directly insulted the Supreme Court on a decision they made last week. A basic principle of our Constitution is the Separation of Powers; it is one of the pillars of our Constitution. But I guess it’s ok to insult another branch of the government. Numbskull Senators and Representatives rose to their feet to clap in agreement with the President’s crass comments, doing so directly in the face of the Supreme Court, seated in their presence. I guess in America, the future is not what is used to be.

Yet some things are and will be the same now and in the future; especially for believers. Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He hasn’t; he won’t, and the future is what it used to be.

In John 17:15-17 Jesus said: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”Jesus still protects us and He will make us mature and bring us home to the Father. The future is what it is supposed to be.

God said in Colossians 1:13-14, “For he (being Jesus) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

We are still redeemed and forgiven. The future is what it is supposed to be.

Revelation 22:12-13 it says: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

The future is in the hands of God only; He is the First and the Last. The future is what is is supposed to be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It is not My Agenda

"I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice-- not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing." Jeremiah 10:23-24

It was late Friday afternoon; I was catching up on paper work when Judi called to tell me the highway department had pulled the snow plows off the road due to the high winds, drifting snow and extreme cold. Temperatures were forecasted to go down to 23 below zero; a cold, windy, dangerous night on the Western Minnesota prairie. Reluctantly, I decided to stay the night at our daughter’s place. I washed clothes and visited with her; it was a good evening but inside of me I just wanted to be home. I was internally grousing. I didn’t get my way.

I left early on Saturday morning heading home. The drive was very quiet. It was 23 degrees below and very little, if any, traffic. I listened to classical music and prayed as I drove.

I needed gas, a couple of parts for our cars and, if schedules permitted, I also needed a haircut. At 7:15 as I pulled in to a very quiet gas station, my lights landed on the sign for an auto parts store that I had never noticed before. I sat in my car, gathering the fortitude to get out and fill up the gas tank, when I noticed a pickup pull up next to the auto parts store. A man got out and walked to the store with hunched shoulders and steam rising out of his mouth, crystallizing on the cold air.

I went to the store, bought my parts and then he started to talk. No other customers showed up as he told me about his life. He questioned if his children would have as good a future as he had growing up. We discussed spiritual issues. I wanted to get home but God had another agenda.

I went to get my hair cut; I was the second person through the door. My barber was a military wife who grew up in California. Here she is living in 23 below temps of Minnesota, possibly pregnant after four miscarriages, contemplating all this while her husband receives his notice for his fourth overseas tour of duty in the war zones. She was afraid, cold, tired and lonely. We talked. I suggested we pray; she said “We better not do it here.” I told her I would go to the car and pray for her and I left with tears in my eyes. She managed a smile from a face covered with tears. I wanted to get home, but God had another agenda.

I am old enough to know better. Yes, it’s not about me and my agenda, it’s about what God wants me to do. No, I am not the center of my world; it’s not my agenda. Yes, I wanted to be home but God had something more beautiful, rewarding and humbling.

Yes, we grouse rather than get on our face and thank God for His sovereign hand. John Piper once said in part…
“Our life is on loan from God (Luke 12:20 - "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”) and our life belongs to Him. God created our life, gives it to us, and takes our life according to His own will and owes us nothing. It is a gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud Him until it is too late.”

Acts 17:24-25 says "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 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."

Our God is good; it’s His agenda, not ours. We would all do well to remember that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When the earth quakes

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 - There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Psalm 31:15 - My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

Matthew 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.

Lamentations 3:37-38 - Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

Isaiah 45:7 - I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

Acts 17:24-28 - "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 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. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'

Exodus 4:11 - The Lord said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

John 9:1-3 - As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Romans 8:26-28 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Where is your Brother?

Genesis 4:9 - Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

1John 4:19-21 - We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Matthew 18:15-17 - "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Matthew 5:23-25 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.

Luke 17:3-4 - So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

1 John 3:10 - This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:13-14 - Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

James 2:14-17 - What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

1 John 2:9-11 - Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Romans 14:13 - Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

Psalms 133:1 – How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

1 John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Now is the time for you and me to be concerned about our brother and whomsoever God has entrusted to us, so that it will not be necessary for God to ask that question on the Day of Judgment.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Vision 2010 – Called from Darkness to Light

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:27-19

Hebrews 13:15-16 - Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Philemon 6: I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Titus 2:11-15 - For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Galatians 6:2 - Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

John 17:15 -- My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Jude 24-25: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.