Friday, August 26, 2011

The Privileges of being a Servant of God – Scripture Speaks

The following is with the help of one Thomas Watson, a Puritan preacher from the 1600’s who made grace so attractive.
A man as a servant of God:
  • Ezra 5:11 - This is the answer they gave us: "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.
  • Colossians 4:12 - Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
  • Psalm 116:16 - O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.
The privileges of being God’s servant:
1. Freedom:
    • Psalm 116:16 - O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.
    • Psalm 51:12 -- Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
2. Honor:
  • Psalm 143:11-12 -- For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
  • Isaiah 53:11 -- After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
  • Psalm 18:35 -- You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
Jesus is not ashamed to be called a servant.
3. Safety:
  • Isaiah 41:9-10 -- I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Psalm 27:5-6 -- For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
  • Acts 18:9-10 -- One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
4. Gain:
  • John 12:26 -- Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
  • Hebrews 12:28-29 -- Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
5. Assistance:
  • Psalm 138:3 -- When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
  • Ezekiel 36:26-27 -- I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
6. He is our supply:
  • Psalm 37:3-4 -- Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Genesis 48:15-16 -- Then he blessed Joseph and said, "May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm --may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth."
In these days, remember who God is, and the grace and goodness He bestows on us to be His servant son and servant daughter. May we dwell forever in His house.

Hang this on the wall, read it when discouraged.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God's Word Concerning the Poor Among Us

The streets of Minneapolis have changed dramatically in the last six months—people are in deep financial trouble.  In the last two weeks, I have had four people walk into my office and ask for a job. Some ask to the point of begging. I know their stories since all were past tenants or employees.

In my preaching and visiting with people about this, I found most unresponsive towards the poor. We’re unconcerned and damn glad it isn’t us. As “rich” people, we better be concerned for our lot could change quickly. We must be thankful for every little freedom, grace, provision, and protection we have. We need to be humbly grateful for “life, breath, and everything else.” Acts 17:25: “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else."

Here are some scriptures of hope for the poor, the soon to be poor and the rich. In these days be encouraged and challenged by God’s promises.

Psalm 9:10“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”  Note promise and condition

Psalm 9:18: “But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”

Deuteronomy 15:7-11: "If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land."

Deuteronomy 28:47-48: "Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you."

Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 14:12-14: "Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

1 Corinthians 13:3: "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

2 Corinthians 8:9: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."

Enough said...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why is God so good to us ol’ country boys?

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:6-7

It was a hot droopy late July Sunday evening; the end of a two service Sunday. I was standing in the church parking lot watching the sun go down—sweating. I was visiting with a friend, a Western Minnesota farmer. We marveled at how good God has been to us even though we do not deserve this goodness; undeserved merit—grace and mercy.

In Ephesians 2, Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, “God raised us up with Christ” a thought I cannot fully grasp, “and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Wow! Why did He do that? He doesn’t need our company or companionship. He is totally self-sufficient. He doesn’t need us in any way.

But He raised us up with Christ, seats us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (by Christ alone, no one or nothing else). He does it; I quote, “In order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches in His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

God is and has been good to us to show the ages that two ol’ undeserving country boys are seated with Jesus to show the ages His grace and kindness to us.

Why is God good to us? It is because we are His sons. We deserve nothing but His wrath but He demonstrates to us and the ages His “incomparable riches of His grace expressed in His kindness.”

In light of all of this, we should be face first in the dirt shouting “praise God; halleluiah.” Praise God from all blessings flow.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Reaping what we have sown

Dennis Prager is a radio host and college professor of the Old Testament. He is a continual breathe of fresh air concerning the influence or lack of influence concerning Judeo-Christian values. With his wisdom, he can put his finger on an issue and lay it open for all to see and understand.

While I am having a lunch break at work, I listen to him on a Twin Cities radio station and enjoy his program. This week he addressed the lack of manners, common sense and the excess of arrogance in many people.

Mr. Prager’s take is this, in the past people were taught by Mom and Dad, grandpa and grandma and the church or synagogue, to deal with our personal issues first. Lying, cheating and lack of self-control was taught by the parents and the churches. The school then backed up the parents by teaching the same, addressing personal flaws, working hard to develop positive traits. And the parents supported the school’s rules. Everyone was pretty much on the same page.

The schools started to change; rather than address personal issues, the school started to teach us how to be good citizens, to address issues rather than character flaws. They taught our children to combat racism, be good environmentalists, or whatever the issue was, but seldom addressed our own personal “shortcomings”, “flaws”, or “sin” (a very old fashioned tongue-in-check concept). Yes, we are flawed; we need to deal with ourselves before we can be taught to be a “good” whatever.

On top of this program, we started the “positive self-esteem” movement. Coupled with the lack of addressing our personal faults, we now have people who see nothing wrong with themselves but see the world through “issues” which need to be dealt with and addressed. And I’m ok just as I am. If there is a problem, it’s not me; it’s someone else or other groups of people who do not have as high an opinion of me as I do.

Why harp on this? I see and deal with the results of this every day. This week we had a woman who came to the building to perform some environmental testing for the proposed renovation of the building. The common practice is for these people to park on the street. There is room to park on the street but you must feed quarters in the parking meter. She decided she wasn’t going to park on the street. She pulled in unannounced, parked in someone else’s reserved spot, left her GPS on her dash (a sure reason to have her car broken into) and pranced in like a spoiled six year old at a beauty pageant. When I addressed the situation, it was somehow my fault. She didn’t have quarters to feed the meter. Concerning her GPS, I was not going to tell her what to do…well… Totally self-absorbed, arrogant and condescending; obviously, the rules (reserved parking) are not meant for her. I can’t condemn her; she’s just a product of her teaching and environment—she hasn’t been taught. We complain; I complain, but what did I do to head this off? Nothing; I did nothing. The little princesses (and princes) have grown into adults and it is not pretty.

As Christians, once again we shirked our duty. We did not train the next generation to leave a legacy of being a good, honest and upright people. We are self-absorbed and we won’t discuss or think about it much less address issues of self-discipline and self-control. The pulpits have been and remain quiet on this subject.

Ephesians 6:4 says,  "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

God forgive us. Amen.