Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27, 2013
The Lord Will Hear

 “Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself.” (Psalm 4:3a)

             Let’s drill down into this.  The concept of being “set apart” is described by another word we use often:  “holy.”  To be holy is to be set apart to God for God’s special’s use.  Our minds conjure up numerous images when hear the word “holy,” many of them off target from the real concept, but someone who is holy is simply set apart for God’s use.

            When we hear the word “faithful” we generally see a different slide show.  We see someone working steadily on a task, working systematically to achieve a goal:  a missionary taking the gospel to village after village to plant churches, an accountant painstakingly dealing with numerical details until an audit is done, a football player returning to the field even after an injury, a judge hearing all the evidence in a trial, and so on.

            We tend NOT to connect the words “holy” and “faithful,” but when we consider that the concept of holy is to be “set apart” for God’s special use, the connection makes sense.  Someone set apart for God’s use is called to be faithful, and when someone lives out faithfulness, he or she is acting out holiness.  God’s holy ones exhibit faithfulness, and through their faithfulness they demonstrate holiness.  The two concepts are thus fused.

            The advantage such a person has is then found in the last half of verse 4:  “The Lord will hear when I call to Him.”  God hears those who demonstrate holiness through faithfulness and faithfulness through holiness.

 Lord, We thank You that You hear us when we call to You.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


“You live in a world of deception.” (Jeremiah 9:6)

            The days of Jeremiah were low times for Judah.  Pervasive idolatry and gross immorality rampaged through society.  The Lord said of them, “They proceed from one evil to another, and they do not take Me into account.” (Jeremiah 9:3)  One of these evils was that they had become experts at lying.  The practice of deception was as common as desert sand. Their world was characterized by deception.  While deceiving one another continually unraveled their social and spiritual fabric, the greatest deception of all in their repertoire was their self-deception.  They believed their own lies.
            A world that practices a lifestyle built on a foundation of humanism and self-centeredness, so that its values are the fruit of humanism, is a world of deception and especially of self-deception.  God gets sent to a corner as irrelevant in such an environment.  For these folks, the only thing that matters is having fun and enjoying life.  Work is important when it takes place, but otherwise work is simply a means to the fun life.
            In their self deception, these folks miss the meaning of life altogether.  They are deceiving themselves into believing they are living a great life, while in reality they are squandering their opportunity to experience truth and real life, one that comes when we acknowledge, recognize, and embrace the sovereignty of God.
            The superficiality of self-deception will cost them everything.  And that is sad.
            It’s not as though there are no options, however.  The good news is that anyone who has followed a lifestyle of deception or self-deception can turn around and join those who walk the path of peace, significance, and truth.  Jesus provided us with this option through His death on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead.  Going this direction takes only a decision.

Lord, Please help anyone who has not yet made that decision to decide today that he or she will follow You in faith.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Idiocy of Idolatry

“The idols of the nations are of silver and gold, made by human hands.  They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear; indeed, there is no breath in their mouths.  Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18)

            What a great description of idols and of the idiocy of idolatry!  And how prophetic.  The psalmist obviously witnessed the resurgence of idolatry in his day, and, by the time of Jeremiah the prophet, the last prophet of the Lord before His destruction judgment on Judah and Jerusalem, idolatry was full blown.  Idols were even placed in the Temple.  Listen to Jeremiah: “Hear this you foolish and senseless people.  They have eyes, but they don’t see.  They have ears, but they don’t hear.” (Jeremiah 5:21)  Jeremiah was NOT, however, talking about the idols.  Instead, he was talking about the people!  They had, in fact, become like what they had worshiped.  They had eyes but couldn’t see and ears but couldn’t hear.
            Fast-forward past the exile, the return, and the intertestamental period and see Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum.  Standing before Him was a man with a paralyzed hand.  In Jesus’ eyes, this was a need.  In the eyes of the Pharisees and other religious rulers, it was a test.  Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath.  Need met.  Test failed, in the eyes of the Pharisees, so they committed to destroy Jesus.  How interesting that the Pharisees and others like them had eyes but could not see, and ears but could not hear.
            Idolatry is not just the worship of metal or wood images.  It is the worship of anything that is lifeless, anything other than God.  And the worship of anything or anyone other than God is sheer futility and foolishness.  We become like what we worship.

Lord, We worship You, and we trust You to shape us according to Your will.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Help That Has Substance

“Men are only a vapor; exalted men an illusion. Weighed in the scales, they go up; together they are less than a vapor.” (Psalm 62:9)

            David’s question in Psalm 62 is:  Who can be trusted when you need real help (salvation)?  Who has sufficient strength and power to provide salvation?  To whom or to what should we direct our trust?
            He mentions how some place their trust in those who have high position, others in deception, oppression, robbery, or wealth.  Then, there are those who believe they can find their salvation or help through alliances with people.  To them, David suggests a piece of news: men are only a vapor, and exalted men an illusion.  If you take both and place them on a scale, the side of the scale they are on will go upward, because they and their help have no substance.
            So, David repeatedly hammers away at the truth he has discovered through experience when he needed help: “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken… Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him.  God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:1,8)
            Whatever help you may be in need of today, you may see before you a myriad of options, but the only “option” is the one that isn’t.  The only help or salvation before you that has any substance, that has the power to help you is Jesus Christ.  If you need help, the kind that has eternal results, then there is no other option.  Only in Him will you find the rest you need.

Lord, You and You alone are worthy of our trust.  We thus commit our trust to You for the help we need each day, and for our eternal salvation as well.  Amen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Spirit’s Blessing

“Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

            How do we “follow” the Spirit?  How can we follow Someone we cannot see?  We follow Him the same way we follow anyone.
            Following begins with commitment.  There must first be a commitment to follow, a decision of the heart that says, “No turning back.”  We keep nothing in reserve.
            Along with commitment comes alertness.  One who is committed to following another must keep alert, so that when the one we follow moves or changes direction, we know it, so we can make our adjustment.
            Alertness then produces observance.  When we follow someone, we observe their actions and movements, so that when they move out, so do we.  Their action prompts action on our part.
            God sent Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor.  Elisha was to follow until Elijah was gone.  Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s “spirit,” and Elijah told him this would happen only if he witnessed his departure.  For Elisha to follow Elijah, there had to first be a commitment to follow.  He had to remain alert, and he had to stay observant, so that anytime Elijah moved out, Elisha went with him.  This was the only way he could receive the blessing he sought.
            The blessing of the Spirit of God is received when we follow Him in the same way:  commitment, alertness, observance, and action.

Lord, May each of these qualities be at the forefront of our lives this day.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me.” (Psalm 43:3)

            Darkness and uncertainty are the twin enemies of the wholeness God wants us to have.  Darkness can lead to uncertainty, and uncertainty can feed the darkness.  These two enemies are like a spiritual cancer that eats away at peace, wholeness, and wellness.  The darkness of depression and the uncertainty produced by sorrow can devastate the human spirit and cause us to feel abandoned and alone, wondering where God is and why He does not seem to respond.  They create an inner turmoil that deprives us of peace.
            Twin antidotes are needed to combat these.  One is light, but not just light in general, and not light that is human in origin.  God’s light is what we need.  In his darker moments, David realized this and asked God not to send light but to send HIS light.  The only antidote for the spiritual darkness of depression (not to be confused with clinical depression, which is physical in nature) is God’s light, and God sends us His light through His word, which is one of the reasons we must stay in His word.  We pray and ask God to send us His light.
            The twin antidote of God’s light is God’s truth.  Again, the truth we are interested in and desperately need is not human in origin, but truth that comes from God.  The truth, like His light, comes through God’s word, and it is what sets us free.  This is the truth that He loves us, and that in Him there is hope.  His hope comes to us smiling and unlocks the door, so we may enter His light and His truth.
            Put your hope in God.  Praise Him as Your Savior and Lord.  Let His light dispel the darkness.  Let His truth settle your sorrow.  Then the turmoil will subside, so that peace may return and again reside within.

Father, On those days when darkness and uncertainty are strong in attendance, help us to remember that our hope is in You, and help us to turn especially to Your word where we will find the light and the truth we need.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All or Not

“The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

            One of the most fruitful discussions you can have with yourself occurs when you answer the question: What does it mean to be a Christian?  How is a Christian defined?  That question, by necessity, leads to a lateral question: How did Jesus define a Christian since He is the Author and Finisher of our faith?  After all, it’s His definition that counts.
            Jesus defined a Christian essentially in the verse above along with its preceding paragraph.  A Christian is a believer, follower, and disciple of Jesus, one who loves Him and follows Him regardless of anything or anyone else, one who does not seek his or her own life, but seeks the Lord.  A Christian is one who is committed to a faith relationship with Jesus that impacts every aspect of his or her life.
            This concept may challenge some of the thinking in our society.  For example, one popular idea today suggests that people “make Jesus a part of your life.”  The idea behind this is that we each have a life segmented into various facets – family, work, social activity, education, religion, and so on – and thus we are to invite Jesus into our hearts to make Him “a part” of our lives.  We give Him a room in the house, so to speak.  When you hold this idea up to the light in one hand, and then hold the previous idea up to the light and compare the two, you discover that they do not, in fact, match.
            This being the case, maybe we need to consider what we can do to help others see the reality of the true teaching of Jesus so they can make some adjustments in their message.  Jesus does not want to be “part” of your life; He wants to be “central” to your life.  

Lord, You are our life.  Apart from You we have no life. Our desire is that You be central in our lives, and that every aspect of our lives revolve around our relationship with You.  Amen.