Monday, September 29, 2008

The Peace of God

Psalm 4:1-8 (ESV)
1 To the Choirmaster: with Stringed instruments. A Psalm
of David. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me
relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2 O
men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain
words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the
godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, and do not
sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer
right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say,
"Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!"
7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

For the first time in my lifetime "survival" has come into question for many people. Given everything that is going on in the United States economy today, there are some who are struggling to find peace. They have major concerns regarding their personal ability to survive financially. Many watch as their retirement accounts shrink, and they fear they will not be able to survive.

Brother Sid stood yesterday and shared these words of wisdom regarding the present crisis:

"Lay up treasure in heaven. Not on earth. The treasure you lay up in heaven will
be safe."

David understood the peace that comes from relying upon God. He knew the faithfulness and the character of God and he knew he could depend on God.

"You have given me relief when I was in distress. Know that the Lord has set
apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. There are many
who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O
Lord!" You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and
wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety. "

David had laid up treasure in heaven. As we walk through the uncertainty that lies ahead, put your trust completely in the Lord. Honor Him in your life and in everything you do. Call out to Him in your fear or time of trouble. Trust Him to keep His Word.

Psalm 37:25-29 (ESV)
25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not
seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever
lending generously, and his children become a blessing.
27 Turn away from
evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of
the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land and
dwell upon it forever.

May the peace of God rest with you today!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Does Your Life Stink?

Do you ever feel like your life stinks? Sometimes spiritually we get in periods of stagnation that get really difficult and uncomfortable to deal with. A few years ago, while on a float trip, God revealed a truth to me. If you find yourself in "stinky water" spiritually, this one's for you!

As I continued down the river I came to, what used to be, one of the most beautiful pools of water on that stretch of river. It is filled with huge boulders. Typically, the water is very deep, but it is so clear the bottom looks like you could count every pebble. Because of the low water levels, lack of current, and perhaps the addition of bacteria from all the new development along the river, this pool was no longer beautiful. In fact, it looked and smelled like a lagoon. The odor was awful, so I paddled as fast as I could to get through that section of the river. Then God spoke:

You know, you just passed through a lesson. Even the most beautiful pools can
become cesspools if the water level is low, the current is too slow, or too much
bacteria is introduced into the system. Your natural tendency, when you came
into these bad waters, was to get through them as quickly as possible. So why do
you linger in the stagnation of the spiritual pool of your life? Paddle through
the rancid waters that are no longer flowing, and get to the spring of

There are rivers of refreshing waiting for you and I if we will simply "go to the river". The bible describes a scene in the book of revelation. It is from the very throne of God and out from under it proceeds a clear river of water, the river of life.

Jesus said to the woman at the well:
John 4:10 (ESV)
10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is
saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have
given you living water."
Jesus invites you to come to the river today and drink deeply. Don't stay in the stagnant pool filled with all kinds of junk. Go to the source of refreshing and drink deeply!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He Knows Your Name

He Knows Your Name

Psalm 139:1 (ESV) 1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

Today was "See You At The Pole". A small group of students met at the flagpole at school to pray for the school and our nation. While they were outside praying, another small group of us were going through the school praying over the lockers and classrooms. As I was wandering the halls praying at each locker, I was overcome as I was reminded that God knows the name of every one of these students. I began to sing in my spirit the song "He Knows My Name" by the McRae's. I remembered the "How Great Is Our God" message by Lou Giglio and the part where he talks about our genetic code.

He says something like this.
"If you could write out the genetic code for a single cell in the human body, that code would stretch to six feet long. If you read one character per second it would take over 100 years to read your DNA! And yet God not only knows it, He wrote the code!"

David didn't know anything about "DNA" or "Genetic Codes", but he did understand that before he was born, God knew him. And before you were born, God knew you. He not only knows your name, He knows your strengths, your weaknesses, your victories and your struggles. He is always at work in your life. He never takes a day off! He is leading and guiding the direction of your life if you and I will only take the time to listen and follow.

We run at such a feverish pace in today's culture that solitude and quiet time are almost a relic of the past. As we were praying and walking through the school, students and teachers started to file in and things got really hectic and distracting. It was a vignette from the scene of life as we know it. We wanted to spend time with God in prayer but instead found ourselves feeling pressured to hurry. God wants us to hit the pause button and just spend some time with Him. He wants us to know Him in a more intimate way. That intimacy only comes in quiet retreat, not in trying to pray while I’m driving to work, answering the phone and listening to the radio. Jesus even told His disciples to "come apart and rest awhile". He was teaching them that they needed to take a quiet retreat with the master in order to refuel and recharge so they could appropriately face the challenges of life.

Be encouraged today. God not only knows your name. He knows YOU! He knows everything about you and what you will face. He knows what you are going to need before you even ask and has already prepared an answer if you and I will just learn to stop and ask. He longs to visit with you today. Try to unplug from the craziness we call "our schedule" and let God speak to your spirit. I'm pretty sure He has some awesome words to share with you!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Uselessly Kindling Fire on the Altar

Uselessly Kindling Fire on The Altar

Malachi 1:10 (ESV) 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.

Sometimes, in order to understand something more clearly, we must define what is its opposite. In other words, to understand what something is, we must first understand what it is not. I want to please God in my life as his child, as a husband and father and as a pastor and friend. I have made it my purpose in life to do so, and to live my life in such a way that it makes Him smile. It is amazing, however, how mindlessly I sometimes operate in pursuit of that goal. There are times when I am 'tuned in' to what God is doing and I am able to join Him. There are other times, or even periods of time, LONG PERIODS OF TIME, when I seem to uselessly kindle fire on the altar. If I want to undertand what it means to PLEASE GOD it is helpful to know what does not please him. That answer is found in Malachi 1.

God is holding me accountable to present the best that I and his people have to offer. That's what you give in sacrifices. God's words in Malachi 1 to the priests who were responsible for offering up the sacrifices of themselves and the people was that they were giving, and accepting at the hand of the people, offerings that were less than their best. In response to these offerings, God says to the priests, "I am not pleased with you, nor will I accept an offering from you."

What DOESN'T PLEASE GOD? When I don't love him enough to give my best. In that case, God says I am uselessly kindling fire on the altar. God's blazing condemnation of the priests also contained a plea from the very heart of God: "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain!". In other words, God would rather someone 'lock the door of the church' than have us give less than our best in church. He would rather we 'not preach' than to preach a polluted gospel! What it seems God is saying is, "Stop wasting your time and mine! I will not accept any more 'leftovers'! Maybe if I stop listening you will start!"

Every Monday night we meet for prayer at the church. Thus far, there have been a few very faithful folks who have experienced just how awesome it is to simply come to God in a time of prayer and to draw more closely to Him. I suppose it could be considered "a sacrifice", since they are giving up time from something else. It is a very small sacrifice and the benefits far, far, far outweigh any "sacrifice" that may be involved. I invite you to join us. We pray, sing and I share a short devotion. Mostly, we pray. Come and experience it for yourself.

I desire, more than anything else, to please Him. In order to do so, I must give my best. I must also require 'the best' from the hand of the people. To that end, let me challenge you: GIVE GOD YOUR BEST, NOT "THE REST"! Saturday, we have an opportunity to learn from Jeremy Horn. Give God your best. Sunday we will meet at God's house to worship. Give God your best. We will have the opportunity to serve others through ministry, and thereby serve God. Give your best. Every day, I have the opportunity to live life God's way. That means if I'm mad at another Christian, I need to forgive. God isn't going to accept an offering at the hand of an angry servant.

I confess that I have settled for second place. I have let my attitude become one of 'That's good enough'. Please forgive me! And please forgive the sins of the people for offering less than the best. Please be patient with us. Please let us see how awesome you really are, and how deserving you really are of our best. And please give me the courage to accept nothing less.