Monday, November 12, 2012

God's Secret Family Recipes

"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord..." Isaiah 1:18

When Jesus commands us in Matthew 18 to go to our brother if he has sinned against us and tell him his fault that he might listen and you may gain a brother, that isn't some new way of dealing with people...its been God's way since the beginning.

God is the first example to us this. He has just listed off all the people's wrong yet he does not pour judgement first. No, first he says let's get together and talk reasonably about it and not continue in ignorance of where we stand with each other. He then promises forgiveness and blessing if the repent and turn back to Him. He comes to us and says, "Hey, here is what you have done, lets see it as it is and move forward in grace and forgiveness." Which is exactly what we are to do with each other. To come together and see ourselves and our actions for what they are (not what we want them to be or how we want to see them) in relation to each other so that we can acknowledge, repent, forgive, and move forward together in love and grace. 

When God asks us to do the same in Matthew, remember that he exampled it first. He is not asking us to do something cause he decided its what is best for us (which in theory would be a good enough reason), but actually he lets us in to his world, into his secret family recipes, and says "Hey, let me tell you my secret to works every time."

Saturday, November 3, 2012 such a lonely word.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

God, knowing all that we need even better than we do, still has us ask him. You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2) Clearly, we do not ask because God needs to know what what we need but because it is how he designed us to be honest. Asking is honesty, its admitting to ourselves and to someone else what we need. This is the way God wants us to be...

So if God asks us to ask in order to receive, how much more do we need to ask each other when we need something? We so often expect that people should just know what we need and expect them to answer our needs, even God who knows all and can do all says thats not how it works, yet we expect it of each other who are so far less knowing and able than God almighty. We need to learn to ask each other, to be honest with each other and with ourselves when we have needs.

God can promise that when we ask anything in his name we can receive it because he can do all things, and though we cannot promise that of each other, I think we would find if we asked more, we would have a lot more...and judge a lot less.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Forget lies, Remember.

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5

 "Who does not go astray after a lie" - everything in this world that promises something better than God is a lie. Happy is the man who makes the Lord his trust...who ONLY trusts in the Lord. There is no certainty in anything else in this world, everything here is fleeting and will come and go, but not the Lord. Verse 5 is a reminder of why the psalmist trusts in the Lord, because he has been faithful more times than he can even remember or say!

 We must remember his faithfulness, speak it to ourselves everyday, remind ourselves of all that he has done as often as possible. God knows our minds forget easily which is why he instructed the Israelite people to write his words everywhere and remember what he did in Egypt from generation to generation. We must tell people of the great works that He has done in our lives not only for their sake, that they might trust in Him, but for OURS...that we might remember the truth of who he is. If we can remember the truth, we will be able to pick out the lies.

 There are lies all around us trying to get us to follow them and forget about God. But we must see them as they are....lies. They are nothing but lies. Lies. Everything that is not of God is a lie. Satan is the father of lies. We must be adamant about seeing them that way and not let them convince us that they might be ok. "You won't surely die...." Lies.

 Remember who is the truth...Jesus. Forget lies, remember.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dare to worship?

Do you dare to worship?

Most of the time we show up Sunday mornings not ready to sing praises to God. We probably don't feel like clapping our hands and jumping around in praise to our King. Why? Because life is hard. More often than not our weeks have been hard, our months have been difficult, our years have just been one broken family, friendship, attempt, after another. The enemy works overtime to make this world a terrible place to be and then gets us to believe that the only way to find some happiness in it is to look after yourself alone. Yet we continue to show up to church with a mask on that tries to say "I got it all together." But you don't, I don't, you don't, no one does. Just take off the mask because true worship is even greater with the mask off...

Many people living in this reality think that those who worship God do so only as an escape. To pretend for a moment that things are ok, an effect similar to drugs, and the truth is that many probably do worship in this way. But that's not what true worship is. Worship is defiance. It is daring to proclaim a truer reality than this world offers, that Jesus Christ is Lord and in him is found life. That in him is found refuge, strength, peace, because greater is He who is in me than who is in the world! Do you dare to worship the almighty God amidst a world trying to erase him? Do you dare to look into the eyes of the enemy amidst your struggling family, finances, and friendships and declare "Jesus has saved me and you have no hold on me!"

Let us no longer dream to worship, let's dare to worship.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall...

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

Great verse. I've quoted it many times to people and myself, its even in my signature for one of my email accounts! Its one of those great one liners thats always encouraging. But what does it really mean? How do you just delight yourself in the Lord? I realized that this verse is not as stand alone as I thought...

 "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." - Psalm 37:3-6

Trust, Delight, Commit. Delighting in the Lord is just part of a greater process!

 Trust. First before you can delight in the Lord you must trust him. And as you trust him, you can dwell in peace and befriend faithfulness (also translated "find safe pasture"). It is this first step that begins the rest of the process, the mental action to trust God with whatever is in your life will allow you give it away and take away the burden so that you may live in peace and "graze" on faithfulness. Only then are you ready to delight in the Lord.

 Delight. Once you have trusted him and find his peace, then you are free of the burdens of the world and are able to delight in the Lord. And as you are empty, he will fill you with his desires and then fulfill them which will cause you delight in him more and more! As you find your delight in him it will lead you to greater intimacy and commitment to him.

 Commit. Again, the psalmist reminds us to trust in the Lord as we commit to him, but this true commitment is only found after we have delighted in the Lord. Anyone who commits to something out of obligation is never very committed but those who commit out of a place of desires and delight will always be committed followers. The more and more we trust God, the more and more we will commit our way to him and in that he promises that he will act. We commit to him and he will deliver. What will he deliver? Righteousness and justice. What about blessings God? What about a bonus, a new car? a better place...maybe a vacation? If I commit to you will you act on those?? God tells us what he acts on. And only after we go through the process of trusting, delighting, and committing will we discover that His righteousness and justice are exactly what we desire.

 I realize that to delight myself in the Lord is not just something I can pursue on its own but I must pursue God with all my trust and give him everything and in the process I will discover all the yearnings of my heart satisfied.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why Doesn't Anyone Name Their Kids "Obed-Edom"??

End of 1 Chronicles 13. A guy named Obed-Edom the Gittite (Goliath was also a Gittite) gets dropped with the task of taking in the Ark of the Covenant into his city and taking care of it. That new king guy wants me to do what? I'm just trying to mind my own business here, I don't want to mess with those Israelites and their issues. And I heard that Ark thing killed a guy! Why do they have to send it here. Ugh. Yet while David and the rest of Israel are dealing with other things, Obed-Edom gets his first encounter with the presence of God. He spends just 3 months near to His presence and sees the blessings from it, gets to feel the power of it, he gets to experience the living God at work in his city and all around him. 3 months go by. 1 Chronicles 15. David says they are gonna take the Ark to Jerusalem again and this time, they are gonna do it right. Who is part of the processional? Obed-Edom. There taking it where? I gotta be with it! I can't get enough! When it arrives in Jerusalem and David starts assigning tasks. Pick me! Pick me! Yea I will be on the praise team, whatever keeps me near to that box! Sure, I don't care if its the back-up team! Wait, what you need a harp player too? Sure. I mean, no I don't know how to play but I'll learn! And when it comes time to choose the gate keepers (one of the most important roles), who gets picked? Yep, Obed-Edom. A guy going about his normal business has an encounter with God and it changes him forever. Spends 3 months in the presence of God and when it moves on, he drops everything and follows. This is the power of God. We need not forget it, or ever cease to follow it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Write Your own Psalm

(From Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven by Rory Noland)

Ever wanted to write your own Psalm? You can! Your original psalm doesn’t have to be wordy or eloquent; or even have to rhyme! You just have to be honest with your feelings toward God. You may want to set your psalm to music, or to a dance, or paint a picture to go with it; whatever will enrich your private worship experience.
Biblical Psalms can be roughly divided into three basic categories: songs of lament, hymns of thanksgiving, and hymns of praise. Should you choose to compose your own Psalm keep in mind these simply guidelines.

Hymns of Thanksgiving

Hymns of thanksgiving express gratitude for who God is and/or something God has done in the life of the writer. A thanksgiving psalm refers to a specific experience and gives witness to how God intervened. So the overall tone is joyful, with a deep awareness of God’s unmerited favor and blessing. Psalms 9 and 30 are good examples of thanksgiving hymns, as are salvation testimonies and stories about answered prayer. Characteristically, hymns of thanksgiving include these three factors:

They describe a past problem.
They recount how God intervened.
They express thanksgiving for God’s grace.

Hymns of Praise

Hymns of praise call God’s people to respect, admire, and revere God’s attributes and mighty deeds. They may not refer to a specific experience because hymns of praise begin with the premise that God is worthy of praise simply because he is God. As a result, such psalms highlight various names or attributes of God. Psalms 8, 93, and 145 are perfect examples. Thus, hymns of praise follow three principles:

Generally start by calling God’s people to worship.
State specific reasons to worship God.
Cite specific names or attributes of God.

Songs of Lament

Songs of lament are expressions of deep grief, anger, or sorrow related to personal hardship and crisis. They reflect an honest struggle to make sense of the pain of this world. Amid great adversity, the writer turns to God, knowing that God is the only one who can rescue, vindicate, and make things right. Songs of lament typically move from desperation to hope. Examples include Psalms 12 and 13. In writing a song of lament, keep in mind the following guidelines. Generally, songs of lament include three statements:

They are addressed to God.
They state a personal problem or crisis.
The eventually affirm hope and trust in God.

As you write your psalm, remember, you don’t have to write a literary masterpiece for God in order for it to be worship. Unless you decide to share it with others it can always remain between you and God.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wide Road

Psalm 119:44-45 "I will keep your law continually forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts."

We often see God's road, or way for our life, as narrow and restricted. This isn't wrong for Christ himself tells us to "enter by the narrow gate for...the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14) So why does the Psalmist in Psalm 119 say that by keeping God's law continually he walks "in a wide place"? Because he has discovered the truth that when we follow God's way for our life we find freedom. It is "for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) God's plan was never to restrict our lives, but to free them from sin to live in the abundant "wide road" that he originally intended for us! Once we secure ourselves on God's road we find that it is wide and flat and free. God is ruler over all the world and, in Him, we find that all the world is ours as well, through what Jesus Christ did on the cross, which brought us in the family of God. The life God has for us is intended to be a life of freedom, you can walk, you can run freely, not worrying for as Proverbs 4:12 tells us "your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble" because we have kept the way of righteousness, the way of God.

Let us not forget that the gate is narrow that leads to life, but once we have found it, once we are walking in His way, let us not keep looking back at the narrow opening but look forward into the wide lush road of freedom that lies ahead. God is a good, and his goodness never ends!