Friday, July 30, 2010

Where is the Honor? Where is the Fear?

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you.. Malachi 1:6
This was to the Israelites thousands of years ago, but could easily be directed at the American church of today. Where is the honor that God deserves and demands, especially during our worship services? We dress more casually to meet with God than we do to have dinner with our corporate clients. We stroll in a few minutes late for service totally unprepared to worship. Would that happen in your work world? We accept the words of the preacher without ever opening our Bibles to verify what he says, yet every word out of the mouth of a politician is scrutinized, discussed, and mulled over for weeks. If we think that this is giving God honor, we are sadly mistaken.
Where is the fear? When is the last time you heard the preacher tell you that you are a depraved sinner? Did he tell you that you are destined for the eternal fires of hell if you don't repent and trust in Christ? Does he paint for you a picture of a thrice holy, jealous God who will share his glory with no one. Do you tremble at the thought of standing before your maker? Are you in awe of his power? If that is not the message that you are hearing at your church, maybe you should consider finding a new place to worship. God is awesomely divine and we are totally wretched. Christ is the ONLY thing that can bridge that gap, and bridging that gap is our greatest need, not godly character, good morals, grace based parenting or mutual submission. Reconciliation with the Most High God is what you need. That is the message you need to hear. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.
Malachi also says,"I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand." Don't let it come to that, friends. Seek to please the Lord by offering Him the worship that He desires and demands. Stop looking to please man and make the unbeliever comfortable. Seek God's glory first and He will be pleased and will bless you abundantly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is It the Method or the Message?

I've been considering the lives of Jeremiah and Jonah. These two men were chosen by God to proclaim the message "repent or suffer the consequences"(my paraphrase). Although both men were called by God to spread the same message, that is about the only thing they seem to have had in common.

Consider Jonah. He was called to preach and knew that the result would be God granting forgiveness. God called him to preach to the Ninevites. These were not friends, family or even dearly loved neighbors, but rather, the enemy. To say that Jonah was not excited about the job would be an understatement. Jonah did not want to preach to the people of Nineveh because he didn't want God to forgive them and save their city. If he had thought the people would not respond positively to the message, I think he would have been happy to head over there to tell them that they were vile sinners and God was going to destroy the city. Not Jonah, he actually pouted when his preaching was used by God to change the hearts of a multitude of people. Do you know many preachers that would react that way to such an overwhelmingly positive response? Jonah went to a people he hated with a message of salvation that he didn't want to give and they were saved from destruction.

Now, think about Jeremiah. Here is a man who was humble enough to doubt his abilities in preaching God's word, yet he obeyed. Jeremiah went to his own countrymen, people he knew and loved with a message from God to repent or be destroyed. Jeremiah longed for his hearers to react positively to his message. He wept over the people who turned a deaf ear to his proclamations. For all of his desire to see repentance, how many did Jeremiah get to see change? None. Jeremiah went to the people he loved with a message from their God, and he wanted more than anything for them to be saved.

Jonah saw a whole city repent and be saved. Jeremiah saw none repent, and they were destroyed. The American church of today would declare Jonah effective and want to copy his methods. Does that mean we should hate those to whom we preach and be angry when they repent? Success in evangelism is not measured by the number of people who join the church. Success is measured in our obedience to God. Do you really think that God found Jeremiah ineffective because no one repented? God used both Jonah and Jeremiah to accomplish his purpose.

These days the church seems to be very caught up in the methods of evangelism and preaching. The methods don't matter. The message does. Like these prophets we are called to preach the gospel to all we meet. The Holy Spirit will move as God has willed to save his elect. We have nothing to do with it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lessons from David

I've been reading in my Bible lately about David and have learned some things that I need to apply to my life. There is a lot to learn from a man after God's heart,so I am just touching on a few. Maybe it will encourage you to get out your Bible and study about him a little yourself.

Lesson 1: SHUT YOUR EYES. I make snap judgements all of the time because of the way a person looks or dresses. If you are dressed all in black with dyed black hair and thick eyeliner, I assume certain things about you. If you are in a suit and tie with polished shoes, I assume different things. It is so unfair, wrong, and against the will of God. I know I shouldn't do it, but I do, and I am not sure how to stop. I do know this, though. God sees right through that outside covering into the heart. God chose the least likely of Jesse's sons to become the king of Israel. Why? Not because of anything that anyone could see on the outside, but because his heart was right with God. I pray that I will one day stop judging the book by the cover, until then, I promise to continue to work on it.

Lesson 2: WAIT YOUR TURN. When David was anointed as the new king, he didn't run off to the palace and kick Saul off the throne. He went back to the pasture to take care of his father's flock. David treated Saul with the respect that was due to the king. He even went to court to play music for the king and fought in the army for him. Did it run through his mind that these things were below him? Did he think he might die in battle and never get to be king? Did he ever want to shout out to God, "Hey, I'm not getting any younger here"? I would have. David spent the time learning and growing so he would be a better king. God's timing is perfect. I've seen it in David's life, and I've seen it in mine. Now, I just need to remember that when I get impatient with Him.

Lesson3: REPENT AND MOVE ON. David sure wasn't perfect. In fact, if we compare sins (as we Americans so often do) his were pretty big. Adultery and murder rank right up there. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We know that. What we need to do is acknowledge our sins, repent and move on. When David was confronted with his sin and realized what he had done, he was sorry. Boy was he sorry. His passion is evident in the Psalms. He begged God for forgiveness and trusted that God would forgive as He promised. Then David moved on with his life. He doesn't constantly refer back to how he messed up his life, how things would have been better if he had obeyed, or how he should just give up obeying God because he'd already screwed up so badly. David understood that God forgives the truly repentant and their sins are no more. We need to trust God more and move on with our lives. We are forgiven. Praise Him.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's Good for the Goose...

Like the good Christian homeschooling mom that I am, I make sure that my kids spend time each day memorizing Scripture. When they were young, I scoured stores for Bible verses set to music so we could learn while we were driving around town. I made sure that we went over the memory verses sent home from Sunday School, Junior Church and Wednesday night programs. I was determined that my kids would have God's Word hidden in their hearts. The problem was that I forgot about me.

Why was I so sure that this was an important, actually mandatory, task for my kids, but not for me? Where did I get off thinking that I was immune to needing to memorize scripture? Don't get me wrong. I have actually memorized quite a bit. It is amazing how much you can learn from listening to those songs as you drive your five kids from place to place. But, I have not been purposeful in my scripture memory. I was lazy and not convicted of the importance in my life (after all, you know, I am awfully busy and I do stop to read the Bible and pray each morning so that should be good enough, right? WRONG!)

I am placing myself in your hands by sharing my desire to get serious about memorizing God's Word. I want you to hold me accountable. When you see me, ask me to recite the latest verses I've learned. I need you because, even though I know how important it is, I am still that same lazy sinner. So,just why should we make the effort to add scripture memory to our already hectic schedules?

1. Our whole life is about sanctification. We are to be constantly moving toward being more Christlike. Jesus certainly had his scriptures down. We should work at it too.
2. The Bible tells us that we have the power to triumph over sin. Where to we get that power? The Word. Psalm 119 asks "How can a young man keep his way pure?" and answers the question with "I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." If we know God's Word, we will win in the sin battle.
3. Jesus shows us that memorizing scripture will allow us to defeat Satan. When Christ was tempted in the wilderness, he did not beat Satan, didn't yell, didn't run. He battled Satan with the Word of God. Satan often tries to use bits of scripture out of context or to twist things. If we really know what the Bible says, we are able to see his lies more clearly and thwart his purposes.
4. Knowing scripture allows us to offer godly comfort and counsel when friends or loved ones are hurting. It is awkward to have to stop to look up a verse when someone is hurting. What a blessing to them to have you speak truth from your heart.
5. I Peter 3:15 reminds us to "always be prepared to five an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." They will ask. Your life is different and people will want to know why. Memorizing scripture will help to to share the good news of the gospel with them.
6. Knowing scripture and meditating on it allows us to know our Lord and Creator in an intimate way. I love my husband very much and after spending 28 years living with him, I know much about him. The more I know about him, the more I love and appreciate who he is. If this is the case with my husband, how much more so it should be with my God. I desperately need to spend time with and know who God is to grow my love for him and learn to appreciate who He is and what He has done.

These are reasons that I am convicted to get serious about this scripture memory thing. There are more, many more. How about the fact that it helps you to recognize falsehoods being spouted by some very popular figures or that learning new things helps to keep your brain active and lessen the effects of Alzheimer's? Come on. Join me. I promise that you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


My dictionary says respect is a regard for or appreciation of the fundamental worth or value of someone or something. I'd say that our society is missing this important value. Maybe it is because we don't have to work hard for things anymore. We just plop down the plastic and it is ours (as long as we can keep up the minimum monthly payments). Maybe it is our freedom of speech gone awry. We denigrate political figures, religious leaders, and entertainment stars holding them to a standard that we would not be able to keep in their position. Maybe it is because we teach students in our schools that we are all an accident of cosmic proportions instead of a special creation made by a loving God. I don't know what it is that has caused us to lose respect, but we need to regain it.

Why shouldn't our children learn to say,"Yes, ma'am." and, "No, sir."? Shouldn't we honor the office of President of the United States even if we don't agree with or didn't vote for the man who holds the office currently? Isn't it better for society if we hold our tongues about private family matters instead of airing them on national television inviting the scorn of thousands. Can't we say to our neighbor, "I understand what you are saying, but I don't agree with you." without it being grounds for a neighborhood battle?

Respect doesn't mean I have to agree with everything that you say or do. It means that I am considerate and treat you with courtesy. I regard you as at least as important as I am. Maybe that is really why respect is missing these days. We have all become too selfish to consider anyone else. I know I'll be working on that. How about you?