Wednesday, December 28, 2011

and the angel said

"The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true.  The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.  Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." (Revelation 22:6-7)

These words are written specifically by John the revelator in the last Book of the Bible and are intended to verify the truth of that which has been told in the Revelation, but they could be said of all of the Bible.  Congratulations to each of you who have been steadfast in your reading in 2011 and have journeyed from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.  You have done a mighty work.  If it was your first time through the scriptures, what did you learn?  If it was the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more time through the Bible, what did you see that you hadn't seen before.  The promise of God is that his word is alive and now that you have welcomed it into your heart and mind, it will begin its work in you.  It is sharper than a 2 edged sword and if you let it have its way, you will be a new creation, born of spirit and destined for an even greater work than you could ever have imagined.
From the story of Creation and the fall of man, there was a promise of redemption that would appear in Christ Jesus.  That promise of a deliverer is spoken if of in the prophets and is revealed in the birth at Bethlehem.  Jesus speaks of his return to his prophets and the Epistles speak of it as well and now in the final chapters of God's Revelation we are reminded by Christ himself that he will return....soon!  What better thing can we do than to be found engaged in the glorious work of Christ when he returns to claim his creation the Church!

Thanks for reading with me this year and holding me accountable for my daily devotions.  You have been a great help to me.  What new thing shall we do for the glory of God in this new year.  God bless and keep you.  Remember, his word is trustworthy and true.  Amen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is coming-Philippians 2

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death....even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 5-11)

At Christmas we must remember that God entered into the form of a baby that he might grow into adulthood and pay the full penalty for our sins.  The innocence of the baby came that we might be pronounced innocent on the day that we would stand before the judgment and be proclaimed "not guilty" by the father who would see us through the innocence of the blood of that Christmas Child.  Indeed, we should bow our knee and confess with our tongue the goodness, the perfection of God's love in Jesus Christ.  The virgin birth is a mystery, but the real miracle is the incarnation....God accepting the limitations of time and the frailty of a mortal body to do the thing that we could not do....kick open the gates of heaven in order that sinners like us could ascend to the heavens and dwell with the perfect love of Christmas for all of eternity.  Indeed, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Acts of the Apostles ends with Paul exhorting his Jewish brothers in Rome to come to Faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  When they disagree, Paul concludes his exhortation by saying, "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."  Would that we who have received this same gospel message will not allow the commercialism of American Christmas to keep us from hearing and believing the truth about God's great Christmas gift.  In the hustle and bustle of Christmas it is not the decorations, not the Christmas tree, not the carols or the gifts that gives real meaning to the is that God has come, Emmanuel, and we have this knowledge that we have not been left alone.  All of the adornment will fail, the glitter will loss its sparkle, but the story of God's presence among us as told in the Gospel accounts as the word of God.....those will be eternal.  God has come and because he has come we have this hope of eternity and restoration with the author of life.  This is the good news of Christmas and we who have heard the voices of angels and have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and have invited the Christ to live within us; we have become the bearers of this same news to all the world!  Would that our hearts not be calloused as those who heard Paul's pronouncement.  Would that we would have ears to hear and an acute perception and in this knowledge of Christmas we will have voice to sing.  Indeed, the King has come and because of his coming, we have the power to act on his behalf to change the world.  Will we have the courage to sing this new song to those who have not yet heard its life changing word and wondrous melody?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We are in the season of Advent.....a time when we prepare ourselves and wait for the promised one.  Waiting is a hard thing for most of us.  We are an impatient lot and made so be the society that encourages our impatience.  We want instant gratification (perhaps that is inborn, just watch an infant when it is time to eat).  We want our communication to be instant thus comes e-mail and texting and cell phones and portable computers and tweeting and all of the other forms of instant communication.  We want same day shipping and instant success in our careers.  We see folks who are greatly impatient; they cut in lines and weave in an out of traffic trying to move up a space or two.  We suffer from our impatience with attacks of acid indigestion and high blood pressure and tension headaches.  We are not a patient bunch, but Advent says to us "wait for him who is promised".

Why?  Why must we wait?  Why can't we have our Savior now?  Interesting questions because we know that the Savior has already come.  We know that he surrounds us in the Holy Spirit, that he is ever available to those who call on his name so why the waiting?  Is it for preparation?

My wife prepare meticulously for the honored guest.  Bathrooms are cleaned.  Mirrors are polished.  Rugs are vacuumed.  Bookshelves are dusted.  Fresh towels and linens are brought out.  Everything is in its appointed place before the guest arrives.  All is in readiness.  Are you ready for a most honored guest?

Are there things that need to be repented of?  Are there promises that need to be kept?  How about that vow that you made when you first accepted Christ as your Savior?  How have you been doing with that rejecting of the power of the deceiver?  How have you been doing with making Jesus the center of your life?  Keeping up with your Bible reading?  Daily devotions?  Prayer?

Old and New Testaments alike remind us to "prepare the way for the Lord.  We are to make straight the way for our God.  Every valley is to be raise up, every mountain and hill to made low, the rough ground is be made level."  While we are waiting for the "glory of the Lord" to appear this Christmas season, let's spend a little more time getting ready.  An honored guest is coming.  He desires a special place in your heart.  "Prepare the way for the Lord!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It is Thanksgiving morning.  Patty is busy in the kitchen finishing up her preparations for the day.  She makes a mighty good pie (cherry, pumpkin and pecan).  In a little while we will shower and dress and head to Strasburg where we will gather with brothers and sister, cousins, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, aunts and uncles and my Dad.  I suspect there will be 60 or 65 in all.  They will have come from Texas and Minnesota, Colorado and Kansas; for a single give thanks.  Oh, I don't mean we won't eat.  We will do that.  There will be fried turkey, smoked turkey, baked turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, oyster stuffing and cornbread stuffing.  There will be salads,hot rolls, fresh vegetables, Patty's pies and other good things that will delight the palate.  We will play football in the church yard and spend a few hours at the local schoolhouse playing volleyball.  Sometime during the afternoon there will be a card game.  But sometime before all of the eating and playing and picture taking and story telling there will be some moments when we bow our heads and offer thanks to our God.  The one who made us and sustains us and blesses us beyond our ability to imagine blessing.  We will give thanks for those who have gathered and for those who were unable to be with us.  We will give thanks for those who are no longer with us because they have gone home to the father.  We will give thanks for the generation that birthed us and loved us and taught us the stories of faith.  We will give thanks for the sounds of life among us and the plenty set before us.  We will give thanks for the country of our birth, for the beauty of creation, for the abilities within us.  And finally we will give thanks for our Savior and the promise of eternity.  Some who will gather with us today may not be with us next year at this time.  That will sadden us in the moment, but we take great joy in the knowledge that Jesus Christ has prepared a place for them and that other whom we love wait for them there in that "great crowd of witnesses".  I am blessed to be part of this family.  I take joy in being part of this piece of humanity.  But my greatest joy, my greatest thanksgiving is to know that as much as I have been blessed in this life......I ain't seen nothing yet!  God's goodness is everywhere.  I hope you see it today and give thanks.  It is a great day to be caught up in the love of God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey

The life of Paul as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles is the stuff that movies are made of!  You have the whole Damascus Road experience and the renewal of sight when a sworn enemy prays over Paul, the unknown years that follow as Paul becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ and then off to worlds (almost unknown) to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His travels are filled with peril.  He is imprisoned and beaten and ridden out of some towns on the rail that I have often heard of.  I suppose tar and feathers might have been used if they had thought about it, but through it all Paul remains steadfast in his faith and his resolve to serve the Christ who saved him from his own sinful and prideful depravity.  He is faithful all the way to Rome and to the martyrdom that would await him.  But on the way to Rome he builds the church, actually many churches in places like Philippi, Corinth, Antioch, Iconium, Athens and many, many more.  He opens the door of the church to gentiles; folks like you and me.  Until Paul the church had only been filled by converted Jews.  Every time I read the story I am grateful to Paul because the church and all its blessedness has been made available to me.

I wonder who will discover the marvelously blessed creation of Christ Jesus that we call the church because of our faithfulness?  Will our witness be steadfast and faithful?  Will we be true to the missionary spirit that lives in each of us who call ourselves Christian because we have been inhabited by the Holy Spirit?  We are unlikely to experience jail or beatings or significant harassment because we speak the name of Jesus; so what keeps us from telling the world the good news that God has come to restore us to relationship with the one who can forgive our sins and make a way for us to inherit eternal life?

In this season of Thanksgiving, Advent and the coming Christmas; many will have a new thought about what this story of a virgin birth is really about.  Will you be ready to offer an answer?  Will I?  Reading the Acts of the Apostles reminds me that we are made able, through the power of Jesus, to do wonderfully miraculous things.  My prayer is that we will be faithful to the one who has marked us with his grace and his love and that the gates of hell will be forced to retreat because the power of God's love at Christmas long ago grows stronger in the testimony of our lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

He must become greater

Sorry, it has been more than a week since I last posted.  I don't think it is laziness as much as it is business.  I am ready my Bible regularly, but I am several chapters behind our reading plan as I am only a few chapters into John and I think we should be near chapter 15 or 16 by now.

John is a delightful book to read.  It is so different from the synoptic gospels that preceed it in Matthew Mark, and Luke.  John spends less time on the miracles and more time emphasizing Jesus as God incarnate.  His view may be made different because he is the only one of the disciples that is not martyred.  John lives to a ripe old age and has many years to contemplate what he saw, heard and experienced as the beloved disciple in the company of Jesus the Christ.

Every chapter is filled with stories and reflections upon who this Jesus is.  John's gospel is filled with what John describes as "signs" rather than miracles....signs for those with eyes to see and ears to hear that this one, this Jesus of Nazareth, is the fulfillment of the prophecies.  This carpenter's son is the promised one of old.  He is the Christ, the son of the living God!

In the 3rd chapter of John much is made over a conversation between John the Baptist and some who thought that this upstart itinerant rabbi was horning in on John's territory.  He describes Jesus as the bridegroom who has come to claim his bride.  The baptizer describes himself as a good friend of the groom who delights in his voice and in his arrival and now that he is here, the baptizer must step into the shadow, "become less that he might become more" and rejoice that he has finally arrived.

How much so should we live our lives, praying for God's presence in the Holy Spirit, asking God to act in us and through us as we shepherd and teach and point the way to he who is greater than any of us or all of us combined.  Allegiance to a church or a pastor is misplaced; we serve for a moment in time and if we do it right, the Body of Christ is enriched by our offering of talent and time, but the glory is to God.  Our faith is not predicated by the presence of any mortal, it is placed upon the promises of God in the person of Jesus.  We are encouraged by the Holy Spirit and we should live out our  various places of ministry in the same way as the Baptizer, pointing the way, encouraging the wanderer, offering hope and always becoming less that Jesus might become more in the hearts and lives of those over whom we have some small influence.

Praising God for all of the good works that you do.  Asking him to bless you out of the abundance of his love.  Looking forward to being in fellowship with you on the Sabbath.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Just reading the early chapters of Luke with the beauty of the Christmas story and the Magnificat as Mary declares her blessed position in Christ and then I began the 3rd chapter and came across this, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar....when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Tetrach of Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias Tetrach of Abilene....during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.  He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

What is the purpose of that?  Luke is writing to his friend Theophilus and to the Gentile world of the things that he has learned about this man who Luke has come to believe is the Savior of the World.  It is as though he is saying to anyone who reads his account, "hey, check it out.  If you don't believe me, here is a list of the important folks who were around when all of this happened.  Ask them!"  Luke is providing detail to refute anyone who might say, "prove it!" 

How sure of your testimony are you?  Have you seen or heard evidence of the Christ?  Can you back up your belief?  Can you cross reference what you have seen or know in a way to be convincing to the curious, the one who needs a nudge to come to faith? 

Growing in our understanding, becoming confident of our Faith is to become a witness; one who can speak with authority of the good news that we have heard that God has come and because he has we have a hope for the future.  What are you witness too?  Can you speak as one who is witness to God's power and presence.

Praying that you can have the boldness of an eyewitness this day.  Be a blessing and praise God in what he has done in and through you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I do believe....Mark 9

Mark relates the story of a father begging Jesus to cast an evil spirit from his son.  His son is afflicted by seizures that keep him from productive living.  The father asks Jesus to help him "if he can".   Jesus responds, "If you can?  All things are possible for those who believe."  Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

How like that are we.....we who call ourselves Christian.  We ask in our prayers, but we have no real expectation, no real faith that God will hear and answer our prayer.  Perhaps, we say, that which I ask for is not in God's perfect will.....perhaps.  Perhaps this bad thing is God's way of punishing me or refining me or training me or making me more patience.....perhaps.  And perhaps we receive not because we pray haltingly, faithlessly, unbelieving and untrusting.  God is a God of power, perfect love.  He walks with us through the valley of the shadow, he fills our cup to overflowing, he prepares a table before us in the very presence of our enemies.  God is able to handle all of our problems.  "would you God, could you God?"  That is a prayer without power. 

I do believe, heavenly father, help me to overcome my unbelief.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And all were healed....Mark 6:56b

Even as Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and did extraordinary things they wondered who this man was, but they did not doubt that miracles abounded in his presence and wherever he went they brought their sick knowing that to touch the hem of his cloak was to be healed.  Who was this Jesus?  The church did not know, the government leaders did not know, his family did not know, his neighbors did not know and even his disciples were still trying to figure it out; but everyone seemed to know that he was someone you wanted to be close to. 

The church officials wanted to be close to accuse and denounce.  Government folks wanted to be around to make sure that there was no treasonous activity involved in these growing crowds.  Regular folks wanted to be close because miracles happened when he was around.  Why would you want to be near a fellow like this Jesus?  Is there something that you need from this mysterious personage?  Have you some difficulty that will only be resolved in a supernatural way?  Jesus is much more than a physical healer, he offers contentment, assurances, rest, justice, satisfaction, peace.  There is probably much more, but you get the idea.  What is it that you need to be made whole?  You might look in a lot of places without finding your answer.  Could it be that the promise of Jesus as the way, the truth and the life is true?  Could it be that if you would just draw intimately near.......near enough to touch the hem of his garment, that you would find strength (power) for the living of your days?  When you are tired of looking in all the wrong places, why not try this promise that is made in the scriptures; walk with Jesus for awhile, lean on him and share his yoke.  See if his promises are true.  I'll bet my life that they are.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is thought to be the 1st (chronologically) of the gospels.  Interesting considering that John Mark was a 2nd generation Christian.  John is his Jewish name and Mark is his Roman name.  Both names are used at different times in Paul's writings.  The Gospel of Mark was written about 55 A.D. by the son of Mary who was a prominent Christian women who lived in Jerusalem and who provided her home for church meetings.  This home is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 12) and was the home to which Peter went when the Angels miraculously released him from prison.

Many biblical scholars believe that Mark was a convert of Peter and became his scribe.  As a boy he would have been able to see and hear Jesus because of his mother's support of the Christ.  As an aide to Peter, he would have heard the many stories of the Great fisherman.  He was also cousin to Barnabas which made him available to Paul in one of his early missionary journeys.  Imagine the great wealth of knowledge that John Mark had as he walked and talked and listened to some of the great giants of the early Faith.  He was with Jesus and the disciples, he ministered with Peter and with Paul.  He becomes a leader in the early church and a disciple to the gentiles.  He helped Barnabas to establish the church in Cyprus and became and founded the church in Alexandria.  His account of the life of Christ in his gospel account is quoted extensively by the other gospels.  It is thought to have been written to the Christians in Rome.  It is another great account of God in the flesh, the one that we call Jesus.

For those who are reading through the Bible with me this year.....I am glad to share with you in the reading of this young man's account of the life and ministry of our Savior and our Lord.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The End...Matthew 24

Jesus gathers with his disciples and they ask "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Wouldn't we like to know?  I mean to have such knowledge of the last days would be a powerful.  What would we do with such knowledge?  Would it spur us to more time spent in good works?  Would it increase our efforts to speak the good news?  Or would it be so distant as to cause us to lag in our service to our God and King?  Most of the time I think that I am glad not to know, to simply trust in the Amazing Grace of God.  But still, for those that are disciples of the Christ, Jesus offers some information.

Do not be deceived, he says, many will come disguised as he, but don't be fulled.  When the Christ comes back there will be no mistaking his return.  If you need signs of his imminent return then know that there will be war and rumor of war.....don't be alarmed, it will not yet be time.  There will be famine and earthquake in various places, nation will rise against nation.  These are the birth pains of the new beginning.  The church and all those who confess in Christ will be persecuted, wickedness will be on the increase.  That sounds very much like today's news doesn't it?  But the gospel yet needs to be preached in the whole world before the return of Christ.  And then there is this....the abomination of desolation.  What is that and how will we know it?

I don't know that I am smart enough but many biblical scholars believe that the abomination spoken of in Daniel occurred when Antiochus Epiphanes erected an altar to Zeus in the temple and sacrifice a pig on the altar.  The abomination that Jesus speaks of may be something similar in the church of today.  Guard the church that those who would twist the truth of Jesus Christ do not take over control of the Body of Christ and pollute the testimony of God's word.  Would that be the abomination of desolation?

The day and hour are unknown except to the Father in heaven, but we can hasten the day by speaking the good news, by supporting our pastors and missionaries who carry The Word to many places that we cannot go to ourselves.  Be ready.  If God calls his elect today, let us be found at work in his vineyard, doing those things which bring glory to the one who is the author of life and the Savior of our souls.

If Jesus doesn't come in the next 48 hours or so, I hope to see you on the Sabbath.  God's best to you.

Pastor Dave

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Kingdom of Heaven is like....

Matthew 20 tells the parable of the workers and the vineyard.  The owner of the vineyard goes into town at various times to hire more workers to complete the harvest.  When the work is done all are paid the same wage.  Some of those who worked the longest complained that they should be paid more.   The owner responded that he could do what he wanted with his money and anyway he had paid the early workers exactly what they had agreed.  The kingdom of heaven is like this.

I am glad it is.  I think of those who have not yet heard the good news.  I think of those who have not yet committed themselves to trust in Jesus.  I am grateful every day that these have yet another opportunity to say yes to the owner of the vineyard.  I don't think it bothers me a bit to think that those who say yes in their final moments will be sitting right up there with us at the feet of Jesus.  I think that heaven will be too marvelous to worry about things as petty as earthly equity.  Eternity will be too joy-filled to give any concern to heavenly rewards.  God's grace, mercy and love will be beyond our imagination to spend a single moment on earth worry about who has the most jewels in their crown.

What we should be concerned with is making sure that none are lost, that all have every opportunity to say yes to the Lord of the harvest.  Do you have friends or family who have not yet signed on?  Maybe today is the day to tell them about the marvel, the majesty that awaits those who sign on for the grandest harvest that any can imagine.

Hope you are having the most blessed day imaginable.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh you of little Faith.

How often have we doubted the promises of God.  He has promised to care for those who are his flock, the sheep of his pasture.  Are our doubts related to our failure to return God's love.  Is it that we doubt our faithfulness rather than God's?  But to think that God might disinherit us is still to doubt the constancy of his love, the guarantee of his covenant to us.  How awesome is our God whose faithfulness reaches beyond the generations and even forgives our unfaithfulness.  In our weakness he is made strong and that strength should renew our faith in the power of his promise. 

The story of Peter walking upon the water in Matthew 14 reminds us of the power that God has to do miraculous things in and through us, even to lift us beyond the limits of nature if that is his desire.  Peter walks on the water at Jesus command, but sinks beneath the waves when his faith in Jesus promises wanes.  How like that are we, in a moment we go from complete trust in what God has in store for us to doubting that he will even remember our name.  The doubt is an instrument of the deceiver who would want to think that God is not faithful in every situation

How true are the words of scripture.  How wonderful the words of the hymn: Great is they faithfulness, O God my Father; this is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changes not, they compassion they fail not; as thou has been, thou forever wilt be."  Good times and bad, in the storms of life as in the joy that we share; God is the same, he is faithful.  Can we trust in that?  Can we walk in that knowledge?

Praying that your week will be marked by your faithful walk.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and the stormy waters will fade.  God is good, all the time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

let those with eyes to see

Isn't it interesting to listen and watch the world around us and the people who interact with it?  We look at the changing seasons and see God at work.  I marvel at a thunderstorm as it forms and I can imagine the psalmist proclaiming God in the handiwork of heaven.  A child examines a wooly worm or a butterfly with a sense of wonderment.  It seems to me that all of creation declares the presence of the Creator.  God speaks through the order and symmetry, the design and awesome beauty that surrounds us in the natural world.

The psalmist said, "the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1)

How is it that some see and some do not?  Is that what Jesus is speaking of as he teaches his disciples in chapter 13, "though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."  Let us continue to study God's word and seek him in prayer that he might give us eyes to see and ears to hear and the spirit of discernment that it might be said of us as Jesus said to his disciples, "the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you."  And then, let us be ready to speak the word of truth to all whom God trusts to us.

Praying that you will see the hand of God at work this day.  Blessings to you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Go tell John

The Book of Matthew is filled with miracles.  Jesus heals the lepers.  He raises a young girl from the dead.  He heals the centurions servant.  He calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  He removes the demons from the demon-possessed man and sends them into the herd of pigs.  He cures the bleeding woman he touches the hem of his garment.  He heals the blind and the crippled.  He gives hearing to the deaf and the heals the mute.  The signs and wonders are so abundant that great crowds follow him everywhere.  "Nothing like this has every been seen."

Remember that Matthew writes to the Jews and tries to help them to understand that Jesus is the Messiah, he who was prophesied in the Old Testament.  Isaiah said of the one who was to come in 35:2b-6, "they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.   Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the kness that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.'  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy."

Matthew 11, John the Baptist is imprisoned and will be killed by Herod.  He wants to know and sends his disciples to inquire of Jesus, "are you the one?"  Jesus replies, "Go tell John; the blind can see, the lame can walk, the deaf can hear, the mute can talk, the good news is preached to the poor."  Without directly answering John's question, Jesus says, "yes, I am the one."  Every Jew educated in the synagogue will know the prophecy........the question is, then and now, will you believe that God has come and that he will come again. 

What say Jesus the one who can cause your heart to sing?  Is he the one who can cause you to see beyond the moment and into eternity?  Is he the one to whom you will pledge your allegiance?  Is he the one or are you waiting for another?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Matthew, a testimony to the Jews

Matthew was a tax collector who became a disciple of Jesus.  Most biblical scholars believe that this book was written about 60 a.d.  Each of the gospels have a little different focus.  Matthew is written to the Jews and is filled with references to the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Old Testament.  His writing is intended to point out how Jesus is that fulfillment and is the Messiah promised throughout the writings of the prophets.

Matthew contains several stories that are not found in any of the other gospels including: The story of Joseph's dream regarding his coming son,  the visit by the Magi and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the escape to Egypt to avoid the villainy of the murderous Herod, the slaughter of the innocents.  All of these are part of our Christmas traditions.  There are similar stories about the end of Jesus life on earth that are found in none of the other gospel accounts including: the death of Judas following his betrayal of Jesus, the dream that Pilate's wife has about Jesus, the bribery of the guards by the chief priests to keep them silent about Jesus' resurrection.  Many of these differences can be understood because of Matthew's purpose in writing the gospel; these incidents are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and will have special significance to the Jewish reader.

After 9 months in the Old Testament, it is good to be reading of the life of Jesus and to hear his instructions to his disciple's to love.  The good news that we have because of the life of Jesus is a very winsome story of God's great love for his creation.  All of us who bear the name christian should be ready to speak of this good news and be ready to reveal our personal experiences (testimonies) of God's good news as it has touched our lives. 

I look forward to the next three months of preaching in the New Testament and sharing this great story of God's eternal love.  Hope you have a most blessed week.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Halelujah, the New Testament!!

I finished reading Malachi Tuesday.  I felt blessed!  I hope this doesn't sound bad, but I am glad to have completed my journey through the Old Testament.  There were parts that I really like, but the prophets kind of bummed me out and yet I found hope in every one of the 39 books of the Old Testament.  This is the Bible of Jesus Day.  These are the inspired writings of those that God trusted with his truth for their day and for ours as well.  Those writings include the wonderful promise of Jesus that we so delight in and I am glad to be reading in Matthew today.  I think this Sunday's sermon will be the first New Testament reading that we have had since Easter.

Before I leave Malachi I must remind you of what God said to sinful Israel, "I have loved you!"  Isn't that a great thing to remember in the midst of the world that we live in where sin and evil seems to be enjoying a period of growth?  God loves us and we should always rejoice at the goodness of God that is revealed in his love.  But don't forget the introspective questions that are posed in Malachi, "How have we sown contempt for your name?"  "How have we defiled you?"  Is there sin in our camp, personal and corporate?  Are we accepting of ways that cause a gradual decay of our spirituality and allegiance to the God who loves us?  It is a question that we should ask every day and respond to lest we fail to do the most important work of our lives which is to "love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves."

This is only the 2nd time that I have read the Old Testament in its entirety in a purposeful and disciplined way.  I am grateful for your encouragement and for each of you who has read with me.  I think God has blessed us and made us wiser for our investment in his word.  Now to enjoy the fruit of his love found in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth.  Welcome to the New Testament.

See you Sunday.....have a God blessed day!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zephaniah, The Lord is mighty to save

Zephaniah prophesies during the reign of Josiah.  Josiah was a good king in Judah who was trying to bring revival to Jerusalem, the temple and Judah.  His reforms mark an uptick in the spiritual lives of his people.  Zephaniah is prophesying about a time when the Day of the Lord will come and judgment will be meted out to the nations of the world and the people of those nations. 

He speaks, as do many of the prophets, of a day of destruction, of fire and brimstone, of the death of many.  It is doomsday stuff, the stuff of Revelations, the end times.  He speaks of it in the context of Assyria, Israel, Judah, Moab, Ammon, Cush and the nations of his day, but it would be easy to speak the same stuff about the world that we live in.  He speaks of how leaders are enamored of power and wealth; how doing the right thing plays second fiddle to maintaining power (is that like saying that the ends justify the means?)  He says that there is a day and it is coming soon when God will come as a refiner's fire and all that is not pure will be burnt away.  Do you think that God cares more for the winners than the losers?  do you think he cares more for the powerful than the powerless?  Does he value the haves more than the have nots?  Zephaniah believes that God's measurement will be about righteous living and those who have pursued the unholy things of this world will face the wrath of a righteous God.

What does that mean for us?  What should we be doing?  Let me suggest that throughout the Old Testament prophets with their dire warnings of impending judgment, there is a thread that speaks faithfully about God's preservation of the remnant; that part of humanity that has resisted the call to the flesh and maintained their obedience to the God of Creation, Jehovah.  That remnant of faithful believer's will be protected from that judgment.  I don't know how, but that is the promise found in Zephaniah and in other of the prophets.

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3: 17)  Be faithful, honor God, worship in spirit and in truth, love your neighbor.  In the midst of failed economies and political upheaval with the powerful and wealthy scratching and clawing to maintain their positions; God will not abandon you.  His love for you will prevail.  Even in the valley of the shadow, God will keep you from falling.  He says, "I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered.  I will give them praise and honor."  Could we want more from our God than to be found worthy on the day that judgment comes?  I think not!  May you be faithful this day in your service to the King!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Noah, a story of God's Amazing Grace

I like being a United Methodist.  I think John Wesley was onto something when we emphasized the many facets of God's Grace (love).  The familiar story of Jonah and his time in the whale is a story of that grace. 

Assyria was a rising power in the Middle East.  There army was fierce and they lacked little compassion for those that they conquered.  Israel is being threatened by Assyria.  Jonah is a citizen of Israel.  He has no love for Assyria.  They are enemies.  They are godless.  They are vile and vicious. And then God asks him to go to Assyria, to their capital city of Ninevah and preach to them about their need to repent of their violence.  He is called by God to offer God's forgiveness to them if they will turn from their idols and declare Jehovah, the God of the Israelites to be their God.

Jonah doesn't want to do this.  He is fearful that God will forgive his enemies.  His fearful that God will bless his enemies.  He doesn't want his enemies to be forgiven or blessed.  He wants God to smite them with a mighty blow.  He wants God to curse his enemies.

Doesn't that sound just like us.  Surely God can see the weakness of character in our enemy.  Surely God will want justice for our enemy.  Surely God will blast them with one of his heavenly lasers and give them just what you think they deserve.  Trouble is for Jonah and for us (maybe I should say thankfully for Jonah and for us), God loves his creation.....fallen though it may be.  He desires blessing for us(and for the Assyrians in our lives).  He longs that none would be lost.  All that is required is that they would turn from their sin and ask God to intervene in their hearts.

Jonah knew full well that God was a God of love.  He had received that love and that forgiveness that he did not want to offer to the Ninevites.  Who are you withholding forgiveness from?  Who are you seeking vengeance on rather than grace?  What does the story of Jonah tell us about who God would ask us to offer his grace too?  Pray that we would never be judged in the way that we judge rather that God would shower us with the Grace that will save us from our sin.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Joel, a call to repentance

The prophet Joel lived in a time when Judah was prosperous and influential....sometime in in the 8th century b.c.  The prosperity had caused Judah to believe that they were in control of their own destiny.  they began to wander away from the God of their youth; the God who had blessed them and brought them up out Egypt.  The result of their wandering was that the same sin that was in the camp of the Israelites that kept them in the wilderness those 40 years became pervasive in Jerusalem and all of Judah.  The golden calves became objects of worship, the Asherah appeared again on the hillsides.  The wealthy began to abuse the poor.  The rich bought justice by buying the judges.  The stranger (alien) in their communities was no longer welcome.  Hospitality was reserved for those that they knew and loved.  The tenets that had marked them as the people of God were being forgotten and the covenant that they had with Jehovah was being ignored.  Joel came to call them to repentance and to remind them that one day The Day of the Lord would be upon them and on that day judgment would be served and those found outside of God's will would rue the day of their birth.

The Day of the Lord is often used in the scripture to speak of end times.....the stuff of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation.  Joel speaks of a day when God will grow weary of sin, of a day when God will grow tired of the people ignoring those that he has sent to call them back into right relationship.  The Day of the Lord is to be feared by those who have become enamored of sin and who live their lives in the shadow of the power of money and licentiousness, but the Day of the Lord will be a glorious time for those who have but their trust in the Almighty One, El Shaddai, Emmanuel!

In that day, all things will be restored.  The poor will have much.  The sick will be well.  The outcast will become an insider.  The widow, the orphan will be loved with an extravagant love and those who have served God will have his Spirit poured out upon them. They will dream dreams and prophesy.  They will have visions.  It will be blood and fire and smoke for those caught in their sins; it will be honor and glory for those caught in their service to the KING.

We should consider who it is that we serve.  Who is it that we honor with our lives?  The Day of the Lord will come for us one day; will we see it come and fear for our immortal souls or will we rejoice that our Lord and King has come to redeem us and to take us to our home on high prepared for us by God himself.  Will there be words of condemnation or "enter, though good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hosea, a picture of God's love

The story of Hosea is a love story.....a story that is often played out in life today.....a story of unrequited love.  It is the story of a lover who fails to keep her vows.  It is the story of God's love for us and our betrayal of the greatest love of all.  it is the story of God's faithfulness and of our unfaithfulness.

Hosea is a prophet in Israel in the 7th century before Christ.  Hosea is commanded by God to take a wife and he is told that his wife will be unfaithful to him.  She will bear many children; some of them will be his and some will be fathered by other lovers.  This is certainly grounds for divorce and in the days of the keeping of Mosaic law, it would be grounds for the death of Gomer, his wife.  But Hosea is commanded to love his wife even in the face of her infidelity, just as God loves Israel in the face of her apostasy and refusal to honor the vows that she has made to God.

One of the challenges of reading the minor prophets is to read them in the context of their time and then to relate them to our time.  Israel was falling away from the God who had led them out of bondage, who had enabled them to possess the land of 'milk and honey', who had raised up judges and kings for them, who had miraculously preserved them.  Now as they had grown more prestigous and proud; they began to think more of themselves than they ought.  they began to become possessive of wealth and more desirous of additional wealth.  They began to take advantage of one another.  They began to worship in word but not in deed.  They began to make alliances with nations who did not believe in Jehovah.  They began to come apart morally.  They no longer lived their faith.  They constantly broke the pledge that they had made to God to "be his people".

God asked Hosea to be a human example of what it was to love someone who continuously violated the most intimate promises.  God loved these people with an unending love and in return they violated his love.  What should his response be?  Our human response would be to walk away and never look back, but God is unhuman in his love....he is God and he persists in his love.

How have we denied God's love?  How have we broken covenant?  Have we violated our vow to love God with all our heart, soul and might?  Do we worship false idols?  Do we place our trust in things of this world rather than in eternal things?  Do we worship in the flesh and not in the spirit?  Like Gomer, have we chased after other loves?

There is hope for all those who will turn back to God.  His love is immense and ready to forgive the repentant heart.  No achievement, no honor, no earthly love can compare to the all-encompassing love of an eternal God.  His love knows no end.  Perhaps it is time to renew your covenant, to reaffirm God's rightful place in your heart and in your life.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daniel, a man for the ages

Reading portions of Daniel takes me back to my days in Sunday school at Strasburg Union church.  Those Sunday school ladies made the Bible come alive as they told us the stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to bow to a false god and being cast into a fiery furnace after telling Nebuchadnezzar that their God could save them from the fire, but even if he did not save them, they would never bow to a false god.  God did save them, but who was that 4th person in the fire?  Was it an angel sent from God to protect them or was it Jesus, as some commentators claim.  I don't know but It is marvelous to think that Jesus walks with us in our most difficult times.

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel were some of Judah's finest young men carried off to exile in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar first subdued Judah.  The were taken into Nebuchadnezzar's court because of their good character, intelligent acumen and their trustworthiness.  They were among the remnant that Jeremiah predicted God would use to rebuild Israel and the destroyed city of David, Jerusalem.

They were devout Jews, living in a foreign land and yet the prospered because of the righteous quality of their lives.  They were trusted by foreign kings and protected by a Sovereign God.  Even when Daniel discovers that he will be thrown into a den of lion's because he prays to someone other than the king,  his first response is to pray to Jehovah-Jireh and God does provide a way for him.

This book is filled with prophecy.  Some of the prophecy relates to the rise and fall of Israel.  Some relates to the coming King, Jesus Christ.  Some authorities point to Daniel's revelation as the first prediction of the actual date of his coming.  Other prophecies are about end times and parallel John's Revelation.

The book is a great and adventurous read and it is a window into future times.  But even if the mysteries of the prophecy are difficult to understand, it is sufficient to know that God honoring people will always find comfort in the knowledge that our God can save, both now and for eternity. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ezekiel, last remarks (for now)

Wow, I am glad to be finished with Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  It would have been a lot easier reading if Judah had listened to the prophets and repented.  There is a lot of judgment in those books, but there is hope as well.  I hope that you found it.  God is always extending an olive branch, asking his people to come home and be forgiven.  Chapter 34 of Ezekiel is just such an article of hope, an offer of peace, a prophecy of joy.

There is a word of warning of the shepherds in the early part of the chapter.  Those of us who have responsibility for the church should take warning.  it is a high calling, a holy calling and we should not take advantage of the people of God.  I am reminded of Pastors and revivalists who have grown wealthy by receiving the offerings of the people and failing to use it for God's purposes.  God is no unseeing, there will be a day when the goats and the sheep are separated forever.

But the promise comes in verse 11, "I myself will search for my sheep and look after them."  Remember when Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd."  You heard it first here in the 34th chapter of Ezekiel.  Is this also a promise to the Jews that God will gather all his children from all the places to which they have been scattered?

On that day when God gathers all of the sheep of his pasture, there will be peace....there will be joy....every mouth will be fed, every baby satisfied.  Every mother and father will watch with pleasure as their children play in safety.  Isaiah said it like this, "the lion will lie down with the lamb."  Justice will pour down like rain and the oppressed will be set free from the oppressor. 

God is speaking of the day when Christ will come to reign.  I don't know when that day will be, but we who are believers should work toward that day.  We should pray for that day to come.  On that day every knee will bow and every tongue confess.  We will make war no more and there will be no more need for the sun, moon and stars for the light of God will illuminate the new heaven and the new earth.

Looking forward to Daniel and the miracles of God's presence with his people in exile.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ezekiel, part 2

Heading to Colorado this week to be a part of Hannah Vaughan's wedding.  We will be back in the pulpit on Sunday and preaching from Ezekiel chapter 22.

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah is not an easy book to read with its visions and prophecies.  Do not let the images of the visions dissuade you from the message that Ezekiel brings to Judah, the exiles and to us.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel and giving parallel messages.  Jeremiah in Judah and Ezekiel in exile.  Both tell of the coming Day of the Lord when the Angel of Death will visit Judah and Jerusalem.

The government of Judah was corrupt.  The priesthood was corrupt.  Those with power were corrupt.  Usury was being practiced.  The poor were being violated.  Sexual immorality was rampant.  Widows and orphans were being abused.  the alien was being treated as an outcast.  The voice of God was being ignored.  The laws of God were being forgotten.  Idolatry was everywhere.  When God could find none who would honor his way then came the word of the Lord to Ezekiel.

One of God's complaints was that the Sabbath had been part of the covenant between Israel and God.  The Sabbath was a sign between them.  When Sabbath breaking became the rule of the land it was a further insult to the integrity of God.  Do you think Sabbath breaking is a problem in America?

One of the questions that Ezekiel asks of the generation now exiled is "will you be what your father's have been?"  this is crucial to what will happen in 70 years.  Jeremiah has prophesied the return of a remnant.  Will they have learned the lessons that the exile was intended to teach or will the continue in the vile and sinful ways of their fathers?

God reveals that humanity (Judah) is the impurity in the creation and like a jeweler who is purifying the metal (silver or gold) to be used in his new creation, fire will come to separate the dross (impurities) for the more valuable metal.  Repentance and obedience to God are required if we are to avoid the fate of Israel.  Are we covenant keepers?  Are we Sabbath keepers?  Do we honor God's law?  Do we love God and our neighbor?

Many of the questions that Ezekiel poses are still questions that must be answered by modern society.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The call of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is a contemporary, although younger, to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah spent his life prophesying to a nation in rebellion, namely Judah.  Ezekiel spends his life in exile, having been taken from Jerusalem in 597 by the conquering army of Nebuchadnezzar.  Ezekiel is preparing to become a priest when he is taken and is diverted by God on the banks of the Kebar river perhaps in about 592 b.c. since Ezekiel says that it is the 5th year of the exile for King Jehoiachin.

Ezekiel is living as an exile among the exiles when God sends a vision to him, a vision that many have tried to decipher and I will not.  Suffice it to say, for our purposes, God speaks to Ezekiel out of the vision and Ezekiel, like others before and since, who find themselves in the presence of the most Holy, falls to his face in abject fear.  God is holy and we are not and when sin is confronted by God it will always quake at the prospect of that which could occur.  Righteousness will always win.  ( I am speaking about eternity and not about a specific time in human existence.)

God places his word in the mouth of Ezekiel and Ezekiel experiences the sweetness of that word.  When we are working conversely to the word of God it will not be sweet.  Legions have tried to deny the word of God and they are broken by the effort, but every person who has given themselves over to the wisdom of the Word has found peace that passes all understanding.  Such is a sweetness that cannot fully be explained to someone who has not experienced it.

God tells Ezekiel that he will not serve him as a Priest, rather he will serve as a prophet to the exiled nation of Israel.  Jeremiah prophesies to the failing nation and Ezekiel prophesies to the nation in exile.  There messages are similar in that they both speak of God's anger that has been stirred up by a stiff necked people who had been blessed by God but had refused to love him in return.  Both offer words of hope in the midst of their difficult messages.  Both live extraordinarily difficult lives from a human perspective.

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel might be labeled failures in the modern world in that not many folks responded to their calls for repentance.  It is important to remember that God will measure us by our faithfulness rather than the world's definition of success.  Ezekiel will be very successful in his faithful pursuit of speaking the word that God gives him.  His visions, his miraculous works, him obedient lifestyle continue to speak to those who seek to honor God by their words, deeds and lifestyle.  Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear that we might discern God's message for our lives as we read this wonderful Old Testament Book called Ezekiel.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I will preach from Lamentations next Sunday.  It is a short little book of 5 chapters that was probably written by Jeremiah.  It is, just as the title says, a lament.  Imagine Jeremiah, after 40 years of begging Judah to repent and rely on Jehovah-Jireh, sitting outside of the ancient city of Jerusalem and watching it burn to the ground. The book was probably written after Nebuchadnezzar had returned to lay siege to Jerusalem a 2nd time when the vassal king Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonian rule.  The rebellion was almost as foolish as the years and years of failing to listen to the prophets who called Israel and Judah back to right relationship with God.  Lamentations describes some of the awfulness of that siege.  Famine was everywhere and cannibalism was practiced.  Death was everywhere and, as Jeremiah describes it, the lucky ones were those who died by the sword rather than the lingering death of deprivation.  The remaining artifacts in the temple were either carried off to Babylonia or destroyed.  The walls of the great city were flattened.  The temple and the city were put to the torch.  Most of the remainder of the Judeans were carried off as prisoners of war.  Only the poorest of the poor were left in the city.

Jeremiah sat outside the city and wept at the destruction, wept at the loss of life, wept at the refusal of God's chosen people to repent and be saved by a God who desired for them to be his people.  Jeremiah wept and mourned and yet declares, "It is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."

Life can be difficult and much of the difficulty can easily be traced back to man's failure.  We are trapped by the ramifications of our own sin.  Death and all that causes is the result of the fall.  As we watch humanity repeat the sins of avarice, greed, selfishness and the building of personal idols; can we mourn the loss of innocence and still declare the goodness of God as did Jeremiah?  Can we, too, pronounce to a world that is exiled from its creator that God's mercies are always available, that his compassion is available, that his love is awaiting us, new and fresh every morning?  If you can....then great is your faithfulness and great is the hope that you have and great is the reward that awaits those who trust in him.

Friday, September 2, 2011

some thoughts on Jeremiah

I know that I am way behind on my reading.  Maybe I'll get caught up this weekend and join you next week in Lamentations.  Here are just a few things that jumped out at me in my reading today.

Did you notice in Chapter 25 that Jeremiah prophesies that the exile will last 70 years.  I know that you remember how to tell a real prophet?  If his predictions come true.  In Jeremiah's case, he is the real deal.  After 70 years the first wave of exiles began to return to the devastated Jerusalem.  You can find there story in Ezra and Nehemiah. 

Notice in verse 12, "But when the 70 years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the Lord, "and will make it desolate forever.  I will bring upon that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations." The proof of this prophesy is told in the book of Daniel when Cyrus the Great enters Babylon and kills Belshazzar the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.  I think if interesting to think about the continuing history of this area.  Is the prophecy still in effect?  Modern day Iraq occupies the area that was once known as Babylon.  War and rumor of war have been commonplace for centuries in this area.  Is it still cursed by God?

In chapter 26 Jeremiah is threatened with death because his prophecies are of God's displeasure and the impending judgment that is coming to Judah and her kings.  This simply shows that obedience to God will not necessarily mean blessing in this world.  This world is often ruled by the Prince of Darkness and those who follow in God's way will meet resistance.  Paul was beaten and imprisoned.  Jeremiah was imprisoned, throne in a well and threatened.  Foxe's Book of Martyrs is filled with the stories of Christians who suffered for their faith.  The promise is that God walks with us and sustains us and prepares eternal life for us.  We obey because Love will win and we want to be on the side of the Author and Creator of Love.

Chapter 28 tells the story of Hananiah, a false prophet.  Everyone who says Lord, Lord will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Those are the words of Jesus.  Everyone who claims to have a word from the Lord is not speaking the truth.  There have been many who claimed to have a word from God, but in fact were building their own empire.  Some are alive and well in the world today and are leading others in a way that will not lead to heaven.  Measure the words of the prophet and the priest (and the preacher) against the truths that you find in scripture.  Does it measure up?  Chose wisely who you will follow; eternity may be hanging in the balance.

Chapter 29 is one of the most quoted books in the Bible at graduation time.  It is a letter to those who have already been carried into exile.  Work hard, honor the king, seek God, do not listen to lies.  All good advice then and now.  Here is the really good part:  do these things and in just the right time, "I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise bring you back t this place.  For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you."

Today I spent a few minutes with our good friend Olline Young.  She is near the end of life here in this place where we have been exiled (from the garden).  She has done all those things (work, honor, seek) and she is about to reap the fruit of the promise.  God is about to bring her home.  What a marvelous God we serve.  We need to seek him diligently while he can be found.  We need to honor him with our lives that he will not remember our sins and will one day bring us home as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do no wrong.....Jeremiah 22

I would not have wanted God to call me to do the work that he called Jeremiah to do.  It must have been an extraordinarily difficult life.  God gave Jeremiah a word to say to the rulers of his nation in his day and that word was that God was going to punish them, that their nation would be subjugated, that the people would suffer great defeat, great devastation and that many would be carried away from their homes and exiled to a foreign land.  Imagine what that would be like in America.  You start talking like that in public you are quickly known as a quack, a nutcase, someone who has gone off the deep end.  It is all right to express that you are a spiritual person, that you pray and go to church, but begin to say that God has given you a message and that message is that he is about to rain hard times on you because of your sinful ways and folks move away from you pretty quickly.

Could this happen to us today?  Could God remove his hand from us?  Do we believe God to be omnipotent?  Omnipresent?  Omniscient?  Do we believe that he is active in the affairs of man?  Do we believe that his commandments are true?  Not just on a personal level, but in national affairs as well?  If your answer is yes and it surely is if you consider yourself to be Christian then what are we to make of the current state of the world?  Is God pleased with what we have done?  With how we have responded to the poor and the powerless?  Who will he hold responsible for the genocides that have occurred in our lifetime?  Who will answer for Darfur?

Are the words of Jeremiah true for us in 2011 as they were for the Kings of Judah in his day?  "This is what the Lord says:  Do what is just and right.  Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.  Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place."  I suspect that God is still watching.  I suspect that those things that God condemned in that day are true as well for us.

How can we, as the Body of Christ, make our place of birth a place that cares for the least and the lost?  Or do we wait to see what God thinks about it on the day when we stand assembled with the sheep and the goats to see which way we counts us? 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why me Lord?....Jeremiah 16

Jeremiah continues to rail against Judah and its leadership.  He tells them of unspeakable horror that will be theirs.  Babylonia will descend upon them out of the north and devastate their land.  There will be famine and pestilence such that even those who are living will wish to die.  It is a scenario that sounds like a Stephen King horror novel and this one will come true.  Jeremiah's prophesies come true within just a few years. 

God tells Jeremiah that as these things begin to happen the people will ask, "why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us?"  Have you ever heard someone say something similar?  How could a good God allow such evil to happen?  Sometimes evil sweeps up the good and the bad, but remember that our good is only relative to the good of some other mortal.  When our good is compared to the standard of God's good it is as filthy rags.  And it is true as the Bible as state often, the sins of the father is often visited upon subsequent generations.  A corrupt leader will take a state to a place where even the inhabitants of the state will suffer for the evil of the leader.  Legalizing gambling, juice bars, nude dancing, legalizing the use of drugs may decriminalize, but God will still call sin a sin and the wages of sin, no matter what human society calls it, is still death.

Judah has been on a slippery slope for generations.  the people have allowed corrupt leaders to lead them in false directions.  The church is prophesying falsely and failing to speak against injustice and violence.  The failure of these systems desensitize the populace to to God's calling for righteousness.  The end comes and the cry goes up, "why me?"  The why is found in the corruption of the nation and we suffer societally for the failure.

But even in pronouncing the sentence, God offers grace.  (16:14-15) "However, the days are coming declares the Lord, when men will not longer say, As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt, but they will say, As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.  For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers."

As vile as Judah has become, God will not withhold his grace forever.  He tells Jeremiah that the exile will not be forever and in fact in 60 or so years Judah will return from exile and be lead by Ezra in the restoration of the temple. 

We must be the yeast of righteousness in our culture.  We must overcome evil with our love.  We must be the light that pushes the darkness away.  We must be the church that holds the gates of hell at bay.  We can, with the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  But we cannot know the way without consulting with the one who is the way, the truth and the life.  We must acknowledge our sin, accept God's ways as our ways and work unceasingly to encourage our families, communities and nations to do the right, work against injustice, tear down the idols that keep us from worshipping in Spirit and in Truth.

Have a great Sabbath!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Lord is the true God....Jeremiah 10

There is war and rumor of war.  An earthquake in Colorado, another on the east coast cracking the Washington Monument.  Today another in the middle east.  Hurricane Irene heads toward the Carolinas and points north.  None can stop the destruction that nature can cause. 

We build giant skyscrapers.  We fell the ancient forests.  We mine the oceans floor and remove the minerals from the earth.  We think we are conquerors and perhaps the might of men may inflict damage upon the flora and fauna.  weaker nations may cower before stronger ones.  But history tells us that nations rise and fall and given enough time, nature will heal herself (unless we discover some way to destroy all of humanity).  Only God is eternal.  Only God exists beyond the limits of time.

Jeremiah 10:10-13, "But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.  When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.  Tell them this:  These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.  But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.  When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.  He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Men may conquer for the moment, but God reigns forever.  Jeremiah warns the rulers of his time of the coming judgment that God is bringing to bear on Judah.  He warns us as well that we should not but our trust in the things that mortals make, but lean on the strong arm of God; trust in his mercy and seek his favor.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

as it was so it is....Jeremiah 8

If you don't learn from history, you are likely to repeat it.  So said some of my early instructors in history as they implored their students to learn their lessons well.  Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, speaks to the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem and reminds them that what has befallen there brothers and sisters in the Northern Kingdom of Israel will soon be their fate as well as well.  Death, destruction, exile, humiliation and loss of sovereignty are just around the corner.  God will not allow sin to go unpunished forever.  Though his nature is mercy and love, still justice will be done.  We ignore the lessons of Jeremiah at our own risk and peril.  What are the lessons?

"From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain." (8:15b)  Doesn't that remind you of the world around us?  We worry about the stock market, the Dow Jones averages, what is happening to our 401k.  Have we amassed enough, wouldn't a little more be better?  One multi-millionare was asked by another, "how much is enough?" and the response was "always one dollar more."  there is no satisfying the lust for wealth when we measure our status by wealth.  Greed and avarice are fueled by covetousness and that my friend is sin.  How can we repent of such a sin when we refuse to acknowledge it as sin.  When is enough enough?  If we cannot find the answer, God will.

8:12 "Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?  No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush."  Don't you see that in our own society as we continue to push the boundaries of decency?  Our language grows more coarse, our dress becomes more transparent, our music, movies and other publications grows more adult (?) in its content.  Last night I watched on the 10 o'clock news a story about a group of psychologists who were calling for the destigmatization of sexual relations between adults and children.  Will there be no end to the perversion of humanity???  Jeremiah says to Judah and to us in 2011, there will be an end to perversion.  God will not avert his face forever.  One day judgment will come.  Who will we save from that judgment?  How will you love the fallen back from the precipice that awaits those who cannot or will not acknowledge God as God?

Those who do not learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet

How do we measure success?  Is it measured by personal wealth, the size of your house, the number of automobiles?  Perhaps early retirement or a fat bank account or a big pleasure boat are measures of success.  success might be measured by the accomplishment of life goals or by achieving some measure of fame or fortune.  None of these measure the success of Jeremiah.  He spent 40 years trying to convince the kings of Judah to be obedient to God, but none of them were.  He told them that death, destruction, exile and hardship would come if they failed to hear and obey; but they didn't.  It seemed that no one listened to him and certainly, it seemed that no one changed their behaviors because of his preaching; but he preached on anyway.  He was threatened, bullied, imprisoned, cursed and criticized; but he preached on. 

Jeremiah was successful as a faithful follower of God and is often spoken of by those who understand that faith has rewards that may not be easily recognized by human eyes and ears.  Jeremiah was faithful and courageous in proclaiming God's word.  He was faithful to the call that God had put on his be a prophet.  Jeremiah calls a sinful people to repentance.  When they refuse to hear and obey he tells them that the wages of sin will be high.  He predicts the destruction of Jerusalem.  How do we know if a prophet speaks the truth?  If that which he prophesies comes true.  And Jerusalem falls.

Jeremiah weeps over the coming judgement and so should we.  The knowledge that we have that one day God will separate the sheep from the goats should drive us relentlessly to the same kind of faithful action.  We should speak the truth in love.  Shape in ways that will be an encouragement, but speak it.  Jesus is coming again and our time is limited.  Will you hear?  Will you obey?  Will some be saved because of your faithfulness?

Jeremiah served faithfully when it seemed that all the world was in decay.  Does that remind you a little of the world that we are in today?  I do not pretend to be a prophet.  I do not know the day or hour in which Jesus will return to claim his bride, but I know that he is coming and for some it could be this very hour.  Will we be found speaking the good news when he comes for us?

Jeremiah is a great story of faithfulness in the midst of difficulty.  I hope that you find it to be an encouragement to you to live faithfully.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A new heaven.....Isaiah 65

I know that you are half way through Jeremiah, but I can't leave Isaiah without speaking to one of my very favorite passages ( I know I have said this dozens of times before and will undoubtedly say it dozens more times as we read on).

Our time away was filled with blessing.  The wedding that we were a part of was delightful and filled with the joy that should accompany such an occasion.  It was good to see our old friends Sam and Barb Packham and to share in their joy. 

As you know on our out to Billings Montana, we spent a couple of days in Yellowstone National Park and on our way home we spent a little time in the Badlands of South Dakota.  Both experiences revealed pieces of this great land that were almost other worldly to us.  The geography, topography, geology was so unique and nothing like we had ever seen before.  We read of volcanic eruptions, geothermal plates, ancient oceans and all of the forces that had a hand in creating this unique places.  Patty and I thought how wonderfully marvelous that God had revealed himself in this mysterious places in such a plethora of fantastic views and geologically fascinating ways.

Neither Patty or I could be described as "well-traveled" folks.  We are simple country kids who have been blessed in recent years to have opportunities to see things that we had only dreamed of.  God has been good to us and he has been revealed to us in many wonderful ways.  this trip has revealed new facets of God to us, but they have also reminded us of the wonderful promises that he made to us in Isaiah 65, "behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create." 

Is that a wonderful promise or what!!!  I have only seen a little of the marvel of God's creation, but it has been enough for me to be convinced of God's great love for us.  I have seen enough to know that we are less than a gnat in the great ecological expanse of the creation, a milli-second in the great expanse of time and yet God felt we were so important that he came to earth in the form of a person to give us an example of righteousness and to make a way for us to experience much, much more than this world can reveal to us or provide to us.

As wonderful as Yellowstone is, as beautiful as the Black Hills, as awesome as the Tetons appear; greater is he who created, who spoke this great earth into being.  Not only that, this earth will pale in comparison with the new creation that he has in store for us when he comes again. 

Isaiah is about reminding us of our failings.  But it is even more about reminding us that God will not leave us to our own evil ways.  There will be a time when we are reclaimed to the image of our creator, a time when we will be restored to that which he intended us to be, a time when we will be more than conquerors.  Keep the faith, walk in confidence.  Our God reigns eternally and he cares for you.  Be renewed in his promises.  Love wins!  Give yourself over to the gentle power of the one who will spare not even his own Son to claim you for himself!

"I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weepng and of crying will be heard in it no more."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beauty for Ashes...Isaiah 61

Doing a wedding in Billings Montana today.  Ashley Packham, daughter of good friends Sam and Barbara Packham.  This sacred occasion has given Patty and I a great opportunity to see some of this great land that God has blessed and called us to practice Christian dominion in.  Part of our trip has allowed us to learn more about the Native American Indian and the American West.  Some parts of that story has not been pretty.  That is the story of humanity as well.  We have sinned and fallen short of the Glory that God has intended.  Even when we set out to do and be good our sin nature gets in the way.  We take great blessing and selfishly defile the beauty, the innocence, the gift that God has offered.  As the Apostle Paul said, "the good that I would do, I do not.  The evil that I would not, I do.  Who can save me from myself?"  The answer, of course, is that God has provided a Savior!

I love the book of Isaiah because God reveals that Savior to us in such marvelous and poetic ways.  Part of that revelation is found in the 61st chapter as God reveals what a portion of that blessing of Jesus will be.  He will, "bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."  How cool is that!  Haven't you felt pretty ugly before, pretty unworthy, pretty defiled?  God says that those who are found in Christ will be beautiful!!!  There will be no sadness, no sorrow, no spirit of defeat.  We will be clothed in a spirit of praise and that praise will be aimed at the source of our joy, Jehovah Jireh and Jesus who is the Christ!

Isaiah prophesies that we (God's people) will "recieve a double portion."  How sweet is that!  We will be treated like the first born of God.  We will recieve a double share of the inheritance.  and what is the inheritance?  It is life eternal.  Blessing and goodness, joy and good health, peace and happiness, purposefulness and contentment and much, much more.  All of God's goodness will rain eternally on us, the children of God.  How good is that?  It is very, very good.  Thank you Jesus!

Have a great Sabbath.  See you soon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Darkness will come. Are your ready? Isaiah 59

We left Yellowstone and drove over the most beautiful mountains on our way to Billings Montana.   It was a beautiful drive.  We saw several herds of bison probably numbering more than 1,000 in total number.  The mountain scenery was awesome.  We believed that we would arrive in Billings and make an early evening of it.  What a surprise when we stopped at a Hampton Inn and heard that there wouldn't be a room to be found within 50 miles of Billings!  Seems the Montana State Fair and the clean up of an oil spill on the Yellowstone River had every room filled, perhaps for weeks to come.  Good for innkeepers but bad for us.  We went back up the road about 15 miles and stopped at a Best Western to  check on the veracity of the first message.  We were again greeted with the bad news, but this time we spoke to a "can do" clerk who was determined to find us a "room for the night".  She did, 60 miles down the road, but we were grateful for her very generous help.  Today we discovered that we were within 15 minutes of the Little Big Horn National Park and spent a great morning learning more about the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Wasn't that clever how God used our inconvenience to land us another blessing?  And what a lovely person we meet who went out of her way to help us when we were far from home.  there is a sermon there about caring for the alien, the stranger in a foreign land, but that will  be for another day.

We could have avoided our difficulty if we had spent a little more time planning where we would be on that evening, but we trusted in blind luck.....big mistake.  We were like the sinner that Isaiah speaks of in Chapter 59: "we look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.  Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.  At midday we stumble as if it were twilight."  Many folks are going through life without thinking about where they are going to be at the end of the day and we all should know that the end of the day is coming.  We may not know how many hours, days and years we have before night comes, but night is coming.  Choosing to ignore the reality of the coming night will not save us from the darkness that is on the way.  Where will we lay our heads at that moment?  God says that he has a wonderful place prepared for us.  A place that knows no darkness.  A place where joy is boundless.  All that it takes to enjoy that place is a little pre-planning, a little preparation; all the worry is gone replaced by the knowledge that the great innkeeper has reserved a spectacular 5 star place for us when the time to rest has come.

Hope you have made your reservation.  If not, I'd be glad to help you with the toll free number that will give you a direct connection to the Master scheduler.

We will be away for a few more days.  Hope to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and maybe a little more of God's wonderful creation.  We will be in church Sunday morning enjoying worship and a word from the Lord, hope you will be too.  See you soon!  God bless you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Go Out in Joy.....Isaiah 55

We have had a couple of very great days in Yellowstone.  It is utterly amazing what God did with this part of his creation.  In many ways, it is unlike anything that we have ever seen.  Some parts of it are even other worldly.  And the animals.....elk, moose, deer and buffalo.....100's and 100's of buffalo (maybe they are bison to the purist).  In fact, we were awakened this morning by 6-8 Bison wandering by the window of our cabin....where else could that happen?  God is awesome in power and his creative talents are without equal.

When you stop and consider all that surrounds us, his creation is utterly amazing in all part of the earth and each piece and parcel is unique and without equal and nothing is as other worldly as that which we await when Jesus comes to usher in a new time and a new place and there is a new heaven and a new Jerusalem and time will have no meaning.  Thinking about it reminds me of one of my favorite Isaiah verses (55:12) "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

I have enjoyed everyplace that I have been fortunate to live and to visit.  Yellowstone was fantastic, but I am looking forward to being home and enjoying the work that God has called me to.  It is a one of a kind place filled with God's good people.  Just thinking about the goodness that I have enjoyed in the company of the people of Faith makes my heart sing.  See you soon.  I know that you will enjoy the word that Ken Howard has for you in my absence.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Isaiah 41-43.....a new thing!

I know that reading the prophets can get weary with all of the doom and gloom, but Isaiah is filled also with such joy, such hope, such remarkable promises for Israel and for us.

Chapter 41 speaks again of impending doom with the forces from the north (Assyria) coming to do the work of God as he punishes and corrects his children (Israel) who have refused his love, his mercy and his grace.  The illustrations reveal great pain and anguish that will fill the land until God returns them from their self-chosen exile.  And then comes the wonder, the marvel, the exhilaration of Chapter 42.

"Here is my servant" declares the Lord.  "My spirit is within him."  he is wise and tender-hearted, so tender that he would not break a "bruised reed".  This is the promised one....this is the Savior.....this is Jesus that Isaiah speaks of.  Look at the world around us and how discouraged we can sometimes become because it seems that right is losing and wrong has the upper hand, but look at the promise: "he will not be discouraged, he will not falter."  That is the kind of Savior we need, one who will not hear our discouragement but who will continue the good work that God has begun in us.  He will not falter until Justice is established.   My Lord, come quickly.  If ever we needed to cry out for justice for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the orphan, the starving is that day.

Need encouragement?  Got hard times?  Finances a problem?  Familial difficulties?  Hear the promise of God in Isaiah 32:  "the Lord will take your hand!"  I always felt safer when my little hand was in the big strong hand of my Daddy and here is God promising to hold my hand....and your hand!  Don't your feel safer already?

God promises to make us a covenant people, to open the eyes of the blind and to set the captive free!  There ought to be an Alleluia welling up in your heart about now, but there is more.....Chapter 43 promises that we can walk through fire and not be burned, that we can walk through the water and not be overwhelmed.  God is our protection and there are no other Gods but God.

And then he says, "you are my witness".  Shades of New Testament and Jesus saying to the Disciples, "you are my witnesses from Jerusalem, to Judea, to the ends of the world.  Proclaim God's goodness even in this difficulty.....our Savior has been and is and will be.  We need not be afraid.  Difficulty may come, but we will overcome, by the power of the risen one.....the one that we witness to.....the one we call Jesus!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Isaiah 33, Be Gracious unto us

It is a beautiful August 11 and Patty and I are taking our grand daughters to the zoo.  In the last several years we have celebrated the 1st day of school with the girls with some special activity, but this year we will be away in Montana attending a wedding and will not be able to continue our tradition.  The zoo will have to do.  It is a beautiful day for the zoo.

The world is a crazy, mixed up, broken place.  There are so many things wrong that it would drive you nuts to think about them.  The words of Isaiah 33 are helpful, even encouraging. "O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress."

When things go wrong as they often do, isn't it a wonderful thing to ponder the graciousness, the grace of God?  He is our strength in times of our own personal weakness.  I am so grateful that I do not have to be responsible for fixing all that is wrong around me; I only need to follow God's leading and be available for the little bit that he calls me to.  Even in that, I do not necessarily be smart or strong or super spiritual; God will supply all of that, all I need do is be available.

I don't know what today will bring; stock market crash, spiraling oil prices, unnecessary deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, children starving, weather disruption....O Lord, be gracious unto us.  God is good, he has a plan......can we be obedient to him today and allow his strength to minister to our weakness?  It can make all the difference.

Praying that your day is filled with blessing, so much that it spills into the lives of others.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

blinded eyes, Isaiah 29

I know that I can't catch up on my reading by going a chapter at a time, but there was something in Isaiah 29 that I thought I should point out to you.  Isaiah is warning Israel of impending doom, but at the same time he is saying that the eyes of those who could make a difference have been blinded to the truth.  I thought that might also be said of our modern day society.  In the name of political correctness and pluralism we are choosing to allow many of the same elements in our society that brought the end to Israel and Judah.  Worship at false altars, accepting sin as normal, debating issues with incredible spiritual implications as though there wasn't a right and a wrong.  Do we not suffer a numbing effect when we allow pornography, sexualization, graft, greed, avarice, love of material things to occupy our airwaves and media?  Do our children see these things as natural and normal?  Do we lower the standard for morality and create a mindset where most anything goes?

Isaiah speaks of a people who worship but whose worship is unacceptable.  They go through the motions of religion.  John Wesley worried about a time when this thing that we call Methodism would be all form and no fire.  That was part of the fall of Jerusalem.  Will that be part of the fall of our nation as well?  Eyes to see, but we do not see.  Ears to hear, but we are deaf to the voice of God.

On day, all that is unrepentant will be swept away.  One day only that which has been dedicated to God in Christ will remain.  The sheep and the goats will be separated.  Some will cry out, "when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked?"  "The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down." 

Isaiah calls us to return to the temple.  Examine ourselves in the light of God's instruction.  Repent of our sinful ways and be restored through Christ Jesus to the Father.  Rise in the power of God's spirit and begin to reclaim Israel, Grain Valley, Oak Grove and Blue Springs.  Isaiah's words were true in the days in which he spoke and they are true as well today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Isaiah 28, the cornerstone

I know that I have fallen behind in my reading and my posting again and must confess that I am unlikely to catch up until sometime after our trip to Montana to be a part of the Packham wedding.  In the meantime, thank you to all of you who are continuing in this faithful journey through the scriptures in 2011.  We will spend a couple of month in the prophets, both major and minor.  The serious student needs to be able to overlay the prophets with their historical context linking them to the period of time that the served in the history of Israel and Judah.  We read of each of them momentarily in the reading from the Kings and Chronicles.  They are God's instrument as he tries to keep Israel from splintering into the North and South kingdoms and as they begin a slippery slide into idol worship and walking in ways that will lead to their eventual destruction.  Watch in the reading of the prophets for those rays of hope that they offer for the redemption of Israel and for the coming of the one who will offer salvation to all the world.  Their messages are sometimes cryptic and hard to understand.  There is much symbolic language.  Be patient as you read.  Try to find something each day that adds to your knowledge of God's purpose in the scriptures.  I know that God is blessing your faithfulness.

There are a couple of really interesting points in Chapter 18.  Ephraim represents the northern kingdom that split after the death of Solomon.  They established a new capital city and a new temple at Shechem.  They also set up idols for the people to worship rather than go to Jerusalem.  Isaiah has fortold the fall of Ephraim and is also trying to encourage Judah not to follow in Ephraim's ways and to one day endure the same fate.  The people of Israel (verse 9-14) speak derisively of Isaiah's instruction saying, "who does he think he is?  Who does he think he is talking to?  Aren't we adults capable of making up our own minds?"  Isn't this much like modern day America?  Of course we are capable of choosing our own way, but anyway that does not lead you to God Almighty is still the wrong way.  We are a nation of free thinkers and some of those thoughts will lead to judgment just as it did for Ephraim and later for Judah.  Guard your hearts, dwell upon God's word, plant it deeply in your own heart and teach it diligently to your children and your children's children.  There are many ways in the world, but there is only one way that leads to eternal life and that is in the one who came to save us....Christ Jesus is his name.

Verse 16 tells us that God is going to lay a cornerstone in Judah.  A cornerstone is true, it is stable, it is trustworthy.  You can build your home based upon the cornerstone.  Your can build a family, make a life, base your career on a cornerstone that is true.  Isaiah is speaking of the one who is yet to come, but for us as we look back, we know that the cornerstone has come.  He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, grew to be a man, performed miracles and died to save us from our sin.  He is truth and light and life and we can trust that he is the way, the truth and the life eternal.  He is the way and should be our basis for all decision making.  Any other way can only lead us to untruths, falsehoods and heartache. 

Thanks be to God for the good news of Jesus and for all those who have spoke his good words to us.
Praying that your week is a most blessed time.  Find a way to praise God in your work and your play this week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Isaiah 24-27....the coming apocalypse

These chapters are sometimes called Isaiah's apocalypse.  Isaiah has railed against Israel and Judah and their leaders for failing to be obedient to God and for failing to trust him in times of difficulty.  Instead these nations established by God have resorted to entangling alliances with pagan kings and pagan countries.  God is growing weary of their two faced allegiance.  Isaiah speaks of a day of destruction.

Certainly destruction and devastation came to these countries as God used Assyria and Babylonia to destroy Israel and to carry them off into exile, but these passages also serve as a warning to 21st century Christians and to countries who consider themselves to be Christian.  In an age of pluralism and multi-culturalism and political correctness we run the risk of failing to acknowledge God, his edicts and his commands and in so doing accepting sin as normal in and around us.  God speaks emphatically about caring for the widows, the children, the poor and the sick.  How are we doing with that as millions across the globe are dying in refugee camps.  How are we doing in caring for the weak and disenfranchised when women and children are being sold into slavery in nearly every country in the world including America?  How are we doing in protecting those without voice when multinational companies become wealthier and more powerful while unemployment and the related socio-economic ills grow in epidemic proportions?

Isaiah speaks of a coming day of judgement when not just the sinner will know the power of God and his desire for righteousness, but even the earth will waste because of humanity's sinful nature.  Perhaps some of that wasting is already apparent as we have days when our air is unhealthy to breath, when we pollute our oceans and streams and the earth suffers from erosion as we clear cut our forests.  Where are those great forests of Lebanon that the Bible speaks of? 

There is a price to pay when we fail to have Christian dominion over the earth that the Lord has trusted to us.  There is a price to pay when we ignore God's principles for righteous living.  Will the apocalypse be a time when all of the errors of mankind reach some sort of tipping point and the earth simple implodes because of the gravity of our abuse toward each other and toward this great gift of creation?

Isaiah calls Israel and Judah and us back to the temple.  He asks us to repent of our sin.  He tells us of God's great mercy and grace.  Will we acknowledge him?  Will we receive his gift of love?  Will we become followers of his call to righteousness?  Will we be instruments of redemption as we offer his better way to the world around us?

Today we are receiving showers of rain that are renewing the earth.  I know that the earth and we are blessed by the rainfall.  So, too, would God bless us if we would turn our faces to him, invest ourselves in his plan of redemption and walk in his will and his way.  Come Lord Jesus and show us your better way.