Archive for July 1, 2012
Tags: David, God, Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Lord, Psalm, Salvation Army, Saul, Second Epistle of Peter
“The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials.” 2 Peter 2:9
I recall counseling a woman who had just come to know Christ. She was interested in becoming God’s kind of woman, so we were studying passages of Scripture that had to do with what a biblical wife is like and talking about the whole matter of gracious cooperation with her husband’s leadership. She came to me one day and said, “Pastor, I’ve got a major problem. I have been saving up my money for a dining room set. I love the one my mother-in-law has, and I’m looking for something just like it. After I’ve gone through the used furniture ads in the paper, my husband and I drive around and look at them. But he doesn’t seem to be real interested. He’s so insensitive. We’ve been to a couple of places where I really liked the furniture, but he just says, ‘No, I don’t like those. And besides, it’s my money.’ He couldn’t care less what kind of furniture we have in the house. He doesn’t know if we have French Provincial or Early Salvation Army! He’s basically interested in his newspaper, easy chair, and the TV.”
A couple of weeks later she came back and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but my mother-in-law called me and said that she had bought a brand-new dining room set and wanted to know if I wanted hers.”
God does not always work like that. But it’s clear that when we submit to doing things His way and wait on His timing, we’ll get a chance to see how He works. And while shopping for furniture with an uncooperative spouse doesn’t exactly qualify as a trial, the principle of waiting for God to work in our difficulty remains an important part of dealing with difficulty.
King David understood this. He knew that he was to be the next king of Israel. Rather than staging a dramatic takeover, he faithfully served in the army and played his harp in the palace to soothe King Saul’s stress. Things were going great until Saul developed an insane jealousy that drove him to try to kill David. When David was being hunted by Saul, he found himself in a cold cave crying out to God, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2 NASB).
Like David, when we feel that God has forgotten us we are prone to plan our own escape. We say, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll—no, that won’t work. Here’s what I’ll do—no, I don’t think that will work either.” It’s the total despair of seeming to be locked in with no apparent way out.
Take courage. God already knows how He is going to deliver you. In fact, He is in the business of making ways of escape! Peter assures us, “the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials” (2 Peter 2:9). So you can count on it: When you are faithful and patient through trouble, God will, in His time, exercise options of deliverance that are far beyond what you ever dreamed!
- When was the last time you were in a tight spot with no righteous options at your disposal? What was your response: To take matters into your own hands and cheat God’s will for your life? To sink into despair and self-pity? To shake your fist at God and believe that he has abandoned you? Or, to patiently wait for Him to finish the work and in His time rescue you?
- What promises could you claim to help you to patiently wait?
- Read Psalm 13:1-6. How did David resolve his despair?
Tags: Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesu, Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:26, Sermon, Sermon on the Mount
You will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny —Matthew 5:26
These sermons of Jesus Christ are meant for your will and your conscience, not for your head. If you dispute these verses from the Sermon on the Mount with your head, you will dull the appeal to your heart.
If you find yourself asking, “I wonder why I’m not growing spiritually with God?”— then ask yourself if you are paying your debts from God’s standpoint. Do now what you will have to do someday. Every moral question or call comes with an “ought” behind it— the knowledge of knowing what we ought to do.
Tags: Christianity, Evangelism, God, Judaism, Miracle, Psalm, Religion and Spirituality, Tzadikim Nistarim
Miracles are hard to come by.
Or so we imagine. After all, we usually think when something miraculous happens, it will make the newspaper headlines and be the top story on the evening news: A plane manages to land safely even after an engine went out; a terminally ill patient makes a stunning recovery even after doctors had given that patient up for dead.
In Jewish tradition, a miracle like the miracles described above is known as a nes nigleh (a blatant miracle). Jewish thinkers contrast this with another type of miracle known as a nes nistar (a concealed miracle).
And while many passages in Scripture record an outpouring of praise to God in response to a nes nigleh, this passage from Psalm 79 does not. Instead, the praise that the psalmist promises to offer for generations to come is inspired by the simple observation that we are God’s people, and that He constantly sustains us.
In other words, in this passage, we give thanks to God because of the nisim nistarim (plural) He provides for us on a daily basis, by granting us life and allowing us to serve Him. And it is this gratitude for the small things in life that represents the highest level of spiritual achievement.
This is a lesson that frequently gets lost in the modern world of sensationalist news coverage. We think miracles should be preceded by a bang, or thunder and lightning. And of course, when we do see miracles like this – nisim niglim (plural) – we may even remember to thank God for His incredible graciousness.
But often we lose sight of the fact that small miracles – nisim nistarim – take place constantly. The very fact that our complex human body arises every morning and functions properly is thanks to God. Our ability to think critically and our desire to answer the great questions of existence – the most wonderful qualities that are characteristic of our humanity – are due to God’s wisdom in creating man in His image.
A million or more small miracles occur every day, and the psalmist reminds us that we should always remember that these miracles – just like the big miracles – come straight from God.
What small miracles have taken place in your life today?
Tags: Christianity, God, Jesu, Levi, Pharisee, Simon, Sin, Tax collector
Then Jesus went out again beside the Sea of Galilee; and all the crowd came to him, and he taught them. As he passed along he saw Levi, the son of AlphÊus, sitting at the house where taxes were collected, and he said to him, “Come with me.” So Levi arose and followed him.
Now while Jesus was eating dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-gatherers and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples. The scribes and Pharisees, seeing this, said to his disciples, “Does he eat with tax-gatherers and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “Not those who are well, but those who are sick have need of a physician. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
At another time one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with him. So Jesus entered the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the table. In the town was a wicked woman who, when she heard that Jesus was sitting at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of perfume. She stood behind at his feet, weeping; and as her tears began to wet his feet, she wiped them with her hair. And she tenderly kissed his feet and poured the perfume over them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know about the woman who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have a word to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Master.” “There were two men who owed a certain money-lender some silver: one owed him five hundred silver pieces and the other fifty. Neither of them was able to pay anything; so he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him the more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the man who owed the most.” Jesus said to him, “You have decided rightly.”
Turning to the woman, Jesus said to Simon, “You see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet; but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she, since I came in, has not ceased tenderly to kiss my feet. You did not pour any oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I say to you, her sins, though they be many, are forgiven, for she has loved much. He to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And the other guests began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go and be at peace.”
Tags: Christianity, God, Israel, Lord, Moses, O God, Saviour, Thy (district)
“Blessed is he that waiteth” (Dan. 12:12).
It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God‘s warriors than standing still.
There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption?
No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid. Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him. Believe that if He keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come, and shall not tarry.
Wait in quiet patience. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities; but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.” –Morning by Morning
Wait patiently wait,
God never is late;
Thy budding plans are in Thy Father’s holding,
And only wait His grand divine unfolding.
Then wait, wait,
Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Thy tangled life; and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings.
Then trust, trust,
Rest, peacefully rest
On thy Saviour’s breast;
Breathe in His ear thy sacred high ambition,
And He will bring it forth in blest fruition.
Then rest, rest,
–Mercy A. Gladwin
Tags: Ed Dobson, God, Jesus, Lord, Lord Jesus, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Sermon, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista
Ed Dobson, my former pastor, often said that he disliked preaching about financial giving to the church. He said his previous job required fundraising, so he didn’t like putting any unnecessary pressure on people. But when he was teaching through 2 Corinthians, and he came to chapters 8 and 9, he couldn’t avoid the topic of giving. What I remember most about his sermon was the illustration he used. He placed an offering plate on the floor, stepped into it, and stood there as he talked about the importance of giving our whole selves to the Lord, not just our wallets.
Those two chapters in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians give us a number of attitudes and actions that we are to display in our giving to the Lord:
• Give yourself to the Lord first (8:5).
• Give, remembering the example of the Lord Jesus (8:9).
• Give according to your means (8:11-12).
• Give enthusiastically because of God’s love (9:2).
• Give generously, not grudgingly or because of outside pressure (9:5-7).
Next time the offering plate comes around at church, imagine yourself stepping into it. It will help you to excel in the grace of giving (8:7).
Tags: Christian, glory, God, Jesu, John Wesley, Lord, Methodism, Spirituality
Gasping for the Glory of God
True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires. These are ever-present, deep-settled wants sufficiently powerful to motivate and control the life. For convenience let me number them, though I make no effort to decide the order of their importance. 1. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy. The yearning after happiness found so widely among Christians professing a superior degree of sanctity is sufficient proof that such sanctity is not indeed present. The truly spiritual man knows that God will give abundance of joy after we have become able to receive it without injury to our souls, but he does not demand it at once. John Wesley said of the members of one of the earliest Methodist societies that he doubted that they had been made perfect in love because they came to church to enjoy religion instead of to learn how they could become holy. 2. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss. Such a man prays “Hallowed be Thy name,” and silently adds, “at any cost to me, Lord.” He lives for God’s honor by a kind of spiritual reflex. Every choice involving the glory of God is for him already made before it presents itself. He does not need to debate the matter with his own heart; there is nothing to debate. The glory of God is necessary to him; he gasps for it as a suffocating man gasps for air.
Tags: David, Facebook, God, Hebrew language, Lord, Psalm, Psalm 142, Twitter
I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy.
When I think of the phrase “Lord, have mercy!” I picture somebody’s grandmother remarking on a situation that is both desperate and humorous. Perhaps she has just heard that her grandson got his driver’s license: “Lord, have mercy!” means “Oh, my! Help him! Help me! Help us all!”
Ironically, the phrase “Lord, have mercy!” has now made its entrance into pop culture via the Internet, though in abbreviated form. LHM appears regularly on Facebook, Twitter, and in text messages. For example, a recent Tweet reads, “It’s Superhot today! LHM .” As a resident of south-central Texas, I can retweet that one! Lord, have mercy, indeed!
David begins his prayer in Psalm 142 with a version of LHM: “I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy” (142:1). The Hebrew verb translated here as “I plead” is a form of the root verb that means “to be gracious, to show pity, to have mercy.” David is not just crying out to the Lord. He is seeking mercy, pity, and grace. By implication, David understands that God does not owe him. God is not obligated because of David’s position or exemplary behavior. Rather, David recognizes that he is utterly dependent on God’s goodness, on God’s choice to show kindness.
The good news for David, and for us, is that God does show mercy. In fact, mercy is central to God’s character. When he reveals himself to Moses, God identifies himself as “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy!” (Exod. 34:6). According to Ephesians 2:4, God is “rich in mercy.” Hebrew 4:16 offers the following invitation: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it the most.”
So, when, like David, we are in a desperate situation, we can cry out to God for help, putting confidence in our richly merciful God. In a sense, though, every one of our prayers is a cry for mercy, whether we are in a crisis or not. We do not approach God on the basis of our own worthiness. Rather, we come before him because he is gracious, because he has invited us, because he will give us, not what we deserve, but much, much more and much, much better than we deserve.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of times in your life when you have cried out to God for mercy? What happened? Why do you think we are so often inclined to think that our prayers are based on our own worthiness rather than God’s mercy? If you really believed that God was rich in mercy, how might you pray today?
PRAYER: Gracious and merciful God, how thankful I am that you are indeed merciful…full of mercy. How thankful I am that I can approach you, not on the basis of my worthiness, but in response to your grace. How grateful I am that you invite me to approach your throne with confidence, even boldness, because I can count on your mercy. Amazing!
Help me, dear Lord, to trust in your mercy. Help me to rely on you and your grace. Help me to live today in light of your mercy. And may I therefore be merciful to others. Amen.
Tags: Egyptians, God, Isaiah, Moses, New International Version, New King James Version, Red Sea, Severance package
“Only the things that cannot be shaken will remain.” Heb 12:27 NCV
Writing about a recent conversation, Rick Hamlin says: “Another guy like me said, ‘I dread going to work. All these layoffs are depressing. I keep thinking I’m going to be next. I’ve tons of work, and my clients appreciate what I’m doing, but I start worrying and there’s no stopping.’ Worrying is the worst of it, and the stories are piling up; friends, friends of friends, people from church, neighbors, parents of our kids’ friends. An early retirement here, a downsizing there, a severance payment, a pink slip…all put faces on the statistics and…that gnawing fear can make every day an agony.” The chances are, you may be feeling some shots of discouragement yourself—daily arrows of frustration that wear you down and steal your joy. Satan’s like a terrorist specializing in guerilla warfare. He knows he’d lose big time if he went against the forces of heaven, so he singles out individual believers. The question is, how do you stand firm when “everything that…can be shaken” is shaking? Well for starters, Isaiah says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isa 26:3 NKJV). If Moses had focused on his circumstances, he’d never have had peace standing between the Red Sea and the Egyptians. His peace came from knowing he was where God wanted him to be. Peace in and of itself isn’t the goal; peace is a by-product of knowing: “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear [honor] you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you” (Ps 31:19 NIV).