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Showing posts from February, 2007

Good News Bad News

It is amazing how often in the scriptures that good news accompanies bad. In Isaiah 61 we have this great prophecy. Jesus will come and preach, and heal. He will set the sinner free and proclaim the year of the Lord. He will comfort all who mourn. This is all great news.
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, But notice verse 2. He will also proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. The DAY of the Lord is good and bad. It is great news for those who have the righteousness of Christ. But it will be a day of terror for those who do not know the Christ.
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,People need to hear both sides of the story. God's kindness leads some to rep…

Everlasting Light

This is an awesome thought. One day one of the most violent cities of the world - Jerusalem - will truly be a city of Peace. It will be governed with peace and ruled with rightouesness says the prophet. CNN won't be reporting about more violence, or destruction because the walls of this city will be called Salvation. And the gates of this city will be called Praise.

We will no longer need the sun or the moon, because the Glory of the Lord will be our Everlasting Light. Days of sorrow will be ended. Oh to be in the light of God's eternal glory. I cannot wait to see this day! Read it for yourself from Isaiah 60...
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.

19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

20 Y…

Why Fasting?

Whenever I read Psalm 58 I'm almost tempted to tell people not to fast. Fasting is not so much about not eating, as it is about bringing about justice. God's not looking for one day of humility, but a lifetime of service. Jesus says - go and see what this means - I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I think we should use fasting to remind us about what is really important. God's Kingdom.
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear gua…

Where is the Wrath?

The wrath of God. Jonathon Edwards spoke about it. He made it sound like many people in his day were terrified of facing God without forgiveness. People would wail and cling to the pews in front of them, feeling that at any moment God might come for their life.

Why don't we fear God anymore? As Andrew Peterson would put it - we're like Mohawks on the Scaffold. We've been too close for too long. We don't even realize how high up we are when we walk with the Almighty. How long will it be before God exposes his wrath again?

Here's how Isaiah said it in Chapter 57...
11 "Whom have you so dreaded and feared
that you have been false to me,
and have neither remembered me
nor pondered this in your hearts?
Is it not because I have long been silent
that you do not fear me?Who are you so scared of that you've lied to the God of the Universe. What could exist that would bring more terror and awe than the Almighty? God says, it's…

God's Big House

God's house is a house of prayer. A house of prayer for ALL nations. Here it is again. God's testimony of his love for the foreigner. Sometimes I really question if we should be somewhere else. When we see other countries that have such a small evangelistic witness and then you read passages like this that constantly remind you of God's love and compassion for ALL nations.

Why do you think God allows so many Christians to bunch up together?

Anyway, here is Isaiah 56
6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
to serve him,
to love the name of the LORD,
and to worship him,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant- 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations."

The Low Ways and Low Thoughts...

Today I was dealing with a very important issue to the church. And I was (and still am to some extent) looking for answers. When I read my devotions this evening, Isaiah 55 was the passage and this is what stood out:
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.Sometimes I think God just laughs at me. I think I have things all figured out, and he throws in the monkey wrench. I'm really good at the low ways and the low thoughts. But this passage reminds me to humble myself and seek the Lord while he may be found. By the way, that verse is in this chapter too!
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.

Failing Love

Unfailing Love. It's a great idea, yet around us all we often see is failinglove. Parents who love our kids, but are unable to discipline them faithfully and consistently. Husbands and wives with great love, but who fail day after day in serving each other, and the only thing that seems consistent is our desire to please ourselves. Friendships where we love, but disappointment abounds. We are all about failing love. Fortunately, God is not about failing love. Look at what Isaiah says about God's love in Isaiah 54.
7 "For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,"
says the LORD your Redeemer. 9 "To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never t…

Trading My Sorrows

One of the most wonderful things happened today at church. Our worship leader asked for some kids to come up on stage and sing "Trading My Sorrows". Unfortunately, no one came so he told them to sing loud from their seats. Then as we began the song, a little boy stepped out of his pew and without any prompting came up on stage and stood. He didn't know the words, and didn't know the motions, but he answered the call.

Our guitar player then decided she didn't want him to be alone on the stage so she left her guitar and went over to sing with him and to help him with the motions to the song. And then it happened. Another little girl came up to the stage to join in. Then another. Then a bunch of kids were on the stage singing and doing the motions to the song and the whole crowd was singing and some were even clapping, which is highly unusual for us. It was totally spontaneous and totally refreshing at the same time. The courage of one little boy, inspired …

My Peace

Maybe the most significant words about peace in the entire word of God.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.Christ's punishment bought my peace.
His wounds bring my healing.
I don't understand it.
But I'm so thankful for it.
I cannot pay it back.
But I will accept it.

Jesus brought peace between us and God through his death. Isaiah foretells this 700 years ahead of time. Amazing.

This Ain't It!

Our God is a God of Hope. Though troubling times come, in the end He always prevails. Even as we studied the scriptures tonight (Psalm 37), we were reminded not to focus on the temporary, but the eternal.

In reading some emerging blogs and writers recently, I have found they emphasize making an impact now. They are worried that the church is too heavenly minded, and not doing enough earthly good. I think we need to be about earthly good, and I hope to make an impact myself, but a few events and scriptures have pushed me back to a heavenly mind in recent days.

First a boy from our local high school died in a car crash this past week. The pastor who would be presiding over the funeral was broken, and yet he knew that this life is not the end. He knew that we must look past the now, to what God has in store for those who are fully committed to him. If all we have is the here and now, we are in big trouble. Or to quote the Apostle Paul...
1 Corinthians 15:19 If only for this life we have hop…

Clear Prophecy

I guess I shouldn't be amazed , but it still impresses me every time I see prophecies of Christ in the book of Isaiah.

Notice Isaiah 50:6
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

I am so thankful for the submissive spirit of my Lord.

Something to Small for God?

I love the idea of this passage.

Isaiah 49:6
"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

Should we just save Israel? Nah, that's too small. Let's go big! Let's bring salvation to the ends of the earth! Let's save the world! Why are we so satisfied with small thinking, when God has big plans? God loves the Gentiles, he has sent his light to light the way for all who would believe in Him.

Show Me The....Mercy?

We looked at lessons from Jonah's life yesterday. The theme that came again and again was to show mercy. How many times have I judged someone by my standards, when they haven't even encountered the risen Christ?

Jesus faces a similar situation in Matthew 9...
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners'?"
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."I would pray that this would become our quest - to show…

There is None Like You

This past Sunday we sang In the Garden and There is None Like You Medly. I read from Isaiah 46:9 "I am God, and there is none like me." Little did I realize that this is one of the major themes in chapters 43-47 of Isaiah. Take a look...

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from methere is no savior.

Isaiah 44:6 [ The LORD, Not Idols ] "This is what the LORD says— Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

Isaiah 44:8Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Isaiah 45:5I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,

Isaiah 45:6so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Isaiah…

Read Your Bible, Then Pray

In chapter 5 of Desiring God, Piper relates the testimony of that great saint George Mueller. And he closes that chapter with a lengthy quotation from Mueller. Basically Mueller says that he used to pray first thing in the morning, but it took him quite a while before his mind would stop wondering and then he really began to pray. He found that when he actually started his day with meditation on the Word, it would lead him into prayer and he found his way into prayer much easier.

He decided that first he must feed himself, before he goes about doing his "Christian Duty". This is so true. Here's a quote from Mueller...
The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be …

Anger in Preaching

Do you ever find yourself angry when teaching or preaching. I'm not really talking about a righteous indignation, but rather a great frustation with the participation of your hearers. You feel like they should be "getting it", but instead they act unphased. It appears that nothing seeps from their ears down to their hearts. This is a great temptation that hits all too close to home for me.

Out of Ur lists the Ten Deadly Sins of Preaching in one of their blog articles. It was excellent. My favorite quote was from Henri Nouwen...
Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant…

The First and the Last

In chapter 43 we saw "Apart from me there is no Savior" In chapter 44 we see "Apart from me there is no God". What I really enjoy seeing in this passage is a phrase about the only God that is also applied to Christ.
Isaiah 44:6 "This is what the LORD says—Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

Rev 1: 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.Jesus stands at the beginning and the end. He is the First and the Last.

Be the Sheep

I had one of those aha! moments tonight during Bible study. We were studying Psalm 32 and these verses stood out to me...
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him. God speaks to us through David and tells us not to be like the horse or the mule. You've seen images of people attempting to drag the mule trying to get it to budge. Sometimes God has to push and shove us to get our attention and we miss out on blessings (v.1)
Here is my little light bulb - God doesn't want us to fight, he just wants us to follow. We aren't supposed to be horses and mules, but sheep. It really isn't supposed to be that hard. God has great things for …

Apart From Me There Is No Savior

Most of the time when I think of the word Savior, I think about Jesus. But in this passage Isaiah shares with us that the LORD is in control of the saving. This is another passage that demonstrates to us that Jesus truly is Divine.
Is 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.One of these nights I'll try to do a better job and put some of my thoughts together on the idea of rescue as it relates to salvation. Let me at least say tonight that I am so thankful that I have been rescued and redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus.

Standing Near the Precipice, Secure...

This blog title is taken from more of the great writings of John Piper. Sometimes I think maybe he is the Jonathan Edwards of our day. This last paragraph was wonderful, you can read the rest of the article over here.
"When I finished reading and pondering these things, I prayed, "O God, grant that I would feel the magnitude of my sin. Grant that I would feel unworthy of your grace. Grant that I would tremble at the truth of hell. Strip me of all cavalier thoughts, all self-exalting cleverness, all banal preoccupations, all bent toward amusing people from your sacred pulpit. Open my eyes and my heart to see and feel the wonder of saving grace, and the infinite preciousness of Christ and his love-driven obedience, even to death on the cross. Thank you, Father. Thank you. At any cost make me an instrument of your great salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen."Standing near the precipice, secure,John Piper"

Wishing for Warmer Weather?

I must say that I enjoy the cold weather, at least for a time. I'd usually rather be cold than hot. We may even get a little snow tomorrow and that always brightens my day. But for those of you who are eager for warmer weather, let me share my scripture passage for the day...
Is 42:10Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them. 11 Let the desert and its towns raise their voices;
let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.
Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
let them shout from the mountaintops. 12 Let them give glory to the LORD
and proclaim his praise in the islands.I feel as though this passage would bring even greater pleasure in the Caribbean. ;)

Sunday Ramblings...

I really enjoyed my day with the Church today. It was the start of our series on Passion. This past week I was practicing I Exalt Thee and was moved by the music and the words and Psalm 97. When we sang it at church today, I was moved again. I love to praise the Lord with people who love the Lord.

Congratulations to Tony Dungy and the Colts. I know quite a few Bear fans who are having a long night tonight. But to borrow some "Cub" language - there's always next year. :) I can't wait to talk to some of our church folks about this one.

God is with Us!

This verse says it all...
Is 41:10 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.

Kill Superpastor

Man, did this part of the book resonate with me. And what is so funny is that Mr. Bell had these worries and concerns pastoring around 10,000 people, and I have them and I pastor less than 100.

Here's a quote from Chapter 4...
"I meet so many people who have Superwhatever rattling around in their head. They have this person that they are convinced they are supposed to be, and their Superwhatever is killing them. They have this image they picked up over the years of how they are supposed to look and act and work and play and talk, and it's like a voice that never stops shouting in their ear. And the only way to not be killed by it is to shoot first.Yes, that is what I meant to write. You have to kill your Superwhatever.And you have to do it right now. Because your Superwhatever will rob you of today and tomorrow and the next day until you take it out back and end its life. Go do it. The book will be here when you get back."
We get these ideas in our head that we hav…

"Church" and "Marketing" in the Same Sentence?

Some quotes here from Rob Bell in VelvetElvis that really got my attention.
"The thought of the word church and the word marketing in the same sentence makes me sick""I remember being told that a sign had been rented with the church name on it to go in front of the building where we were meeting. I was mortified and had them get rid of it. You can't put a sign out front, I argued; people have to want to find us. And so there were no advertisements, no flyers, no promotions, and no signs...There were well over 1,000 people there the first Sunday." Now, all of you purpose-driven folks out there, what do you think about them apples?

Let me say that I am not against advertising. I think it is good to let people know what you have to offer them. And in one way that is what the preacher does every Sunday, he speaks to people to tell them what God has for them, and how what they have can be used for God. I just found it very interesting that this "Mega-Church"…

My Heart Is Full

Today has been such a great day in the Lord. And tonight has just topped it off. I sat around playing my guitar and singing "I Exalt Thee". And then I went to the scripture passage where these words are found...
Psalm 97:9 For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
And these words rang so true tonight...
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.

4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.

10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright…