Monthly Archives: June 2014

Planting the Wind

They plant the wind and reap a whirlwind. Sound the alarm! The enemy is coming! (Hosea 8)

We get so caught up in treating the symptoms of our disease we are going to die of that very disease. We rally against abortion. We lobby for gun control. We write letters to our representatives, boycott businesses, change churches. We give to charities and build houses for the poor. We jail child-molesters and animal-abusers. But those are symptoms of the real problem.

Our world isn’t in trouble because the likes of Obama and Puten are in power, or terrorists are gaining strength, or because women are mistreated, or homosexuality is being normalized. Our nation is not in trouble because of dishonest business practices, or guns, or television. Those are all symptoms of the greater problem.

Sin.

We are reaping a whirlwind because we have planted wind. We’ve preached a watered-down, politically correct version of the Bible, or worse, denied it all together. We don’t talk about Jesus to our neighbors, we don’t read God’s Word, we don’t pray. We don’t call sin sin and we don’t proclaim Jesus as the only way to the Father. And we are getting payback.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be treating the symptoms. It’s important for Christians to use our voices in protest to ungodly legislation, to speak up against injustice, to use our resources to help those in need. But if we do so without addressing the hearts’ condition we might as well plant the wind.

I heard a preacher once say, “You can’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians”. The issue is not so much what a person does but what he believes.

Father, I pray for a mighty pouring out of your Spirit in the hearts of men and women today around the world. I pray for the US, for those who were raised in a nation under God. We’ve gotten so far away from that we don’t even recognize ourselves any more. I pray for pastors of churches where the Truth of Scripture is proclaimed. I pray for Christians in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces. May we nurture our relationship with you, then boldly proclaim your Truth by our words and our lifestyles. I pray for the salvation of our President, our representatives, pastors, teachers, neighbors, friends, loved-ones. Let there be a mass turning to you in this country. And may we reach out to a world who needs you so desperately. May we plant Seed that will grow and produce fruit for your kingdom.

Advertisements

Ninevah’s Story

Jonah’s story excited me this morning. Usually I look at the man Jonah, and the lessons he learned through his experience recorded in this book. But today I saw the city of Ninevah. It was a city full of sinful people. 120,000 idol worshipers living in spiritual darkness. But God had been working behind the scenes in the hearts and lives of the residents of Ninevah. They were ready to hear the Truth. As soon as Jonah preached God’s words, they repented. They repented! They realized their sin and called on God – and they were saved.

Many of us believe the US is too far gone, that destruction is inevitable, that this is the end. Is it? Or is God preparing hearts to break in the face of sin? Is he waiting for a Jonah (or Jonahs) to speak his words, then step back and watch God at work? Can there be a mass turning to the Savior in the US? There was in Ninevah.

May we pray believing. May we obey God’s call and not waste any time in the belly of a fish. May Satan be defeated in this land in such a miraculous way that all the nations will recognize God is who he says he is. May God pour his Spirit out on the people living in spiritual darkness right here in the United States of America. And may we turn to him like the people of Ninevah turned to God thousands of years ago.

Pray, dear one. Pray!

The Real You

I am so disappointed in King Joash. He became king at the age of seven and did so much good. He even saw to it that the temple was repaired. The nation thrived under his leadership and the people were happy. I guess they should thank Jehoiada the priest for that. From the start, Jehoiada advised King Joash, and the king did what this trusted priest suggested. 

But Joash’s true character was revealed when Jehoiada died. (2 Chronicles 24) He allowed nearly all of Jehoiada’s reforms to be reversed. Idol worship was once again seen in Israel. Then, when Zecharia, the son of Jehoiada, spoke up against what was going on, Joash had him killed. That’s how he paid back Jehoiada for years of honest service and good counsel. The king killed his son.

I wonder how many of us lead double lives. We are one person at church and around our church friends. But our true character is revealed when we step away from them. Would the person who sits next to us in church recognize us in our homes by the way we treat the members of our family, in our workplace, on the softball field or playing golf? Would our neighbors describe us the same way our church family does?

It’s one thing to do good, to talk sweetly, to appear righteous when we are in the presence of godly people. But our true character, like Joash’s, is revealed when we are on our own.

So who is the real you?

Father, I pray for your children today. May we walk with you whether we are walking down the aisle of our churches, or down the aisle of a grocery store. May our tone of voice be the same whether we are talking to the Sunday School teacher, or our teenage son. May our commitment to you be more than a Sunday thing, and may the “real” person inside of each us be pleasing in your sight whether we are with church friends or coworkers, whether inside the walls of our churches or out. I pray that people will recognize Jesus in each of us in all circumstances and in all walks of life.

A Modern-Day Jezebel

Ahab and Jezebel’s story as recorded in I Kings 20 reminds me of what is happening in the US these days. Evil people want our land, they want control over what was a nation under God. So they’ve invited us to a “feast”. They lie about Christians, villainize us so that the Truth we stand for looks like evil. They say we blaspheme a loving god when we tell them Jesus is the only Truth. They hate us but convince themselves it is we who hate them. And we, like Naboth, don’t recognize the danger we’re in. We’ve joined their party and it’s going to cost us everything.

That’s been Satan’s strategy since the Garden. He’s had a lot of practice and he’s good at getting into our heads. He’s a master at distorting the truth. And he makes sin look normal, pleasing, harmless, our right.

Naboth was killed in the end. Our civilization is dying, too. And we, like Naboth, are just sitting here dining with the enemy and not defending ourselves. Remember, our enemy is not flesh and blood, but Satan, anti-christ philosophy. And if we don’t stand up to the people who are robbing us of our land, we will lose it all.

Father, I pray you will raise up men and women who not only know you and the Truth of Scripture, but who will stand up in Jesus’ name to defend it. I pray that you will lay on the hearts of godly people the desire to get involved in our political system and reclaim the US for a nation built upon you. Help us to recognize Satan’s lies, to be discerning hearers of the news, to speak up in love, and draw all men and women to you. I pray for this once-great nation. May we repent of the sins of ourselves and our leaders and call on you to heal our land.

Called

I’m not sure I ever paid attention to Elisha’s calling before. I was reading in I Kings 19 this morning where he was out plowing in the field. The prophet Elijah simply walked up to him, threw his cloak over Elisha’s shoulders and walked away. Elisha followed.

I believe all Christians have a calling, a cloak put on our shoulders by Jesus. When we accept his grace, his work on the cross on our behalf, he calls us into service. Pastors are said to be involved in full-time service, but I think that should describe all of us. Serving our Lord shouldn’t be a 39 1/2 hour a week job. 

My calling looks just like yours, just like Billy Graham’s: Go into all the world and preach the good news. Show who Jesus is by every word you speak, every action you take, every moment you live. Let everyone who comes in contact with you recognize our holy, forgiving God.

It doesn’t matter how. From a pulpit, in front of a classroom, on the bus, pounding nails, pouring coffee, cleaning teeth… I could go on. Your calling isn’t to be a missionary in China or delivering mail in Ohio. It’s telling people about the Savior.

That’s the cloak Jesus has placed on each of us. How does it look on you?

Like Chasing the Wind

I had the privilege of holding my newest great-nephew yesterday only a couple hours after he was born. Tiny fingers and toes, perfect little ears, when he opened his eyes and looked at me my heart melted.

Ok. I know he didn’t recognize me, maybe didn’t even see me other than a fuzzy blob staring down at him. But I’m pretty sure I recognized love there. Right?

Then today in my devotions, I read Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. You know the one, the one that laments over life itself. All is meaningless, like chasing the wind. Solomon tells us he’s tried everything to find meaning to life. He’s tried wealth, education, entertainment, sex, power. And all of it fell short of what he was looking for. His conclusion was: we all live, we all die. Life is hard and often unfair. It would be better if we’d never been born.

So I look at my nephew’s son. Is it better if he’d never been born?

You’ll never convince me of that. Because, you see, little Carson is a gift from God. He was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator. Will his life be easy? Probably not. Will he be treated unfairly some time in his life time? Undoubtedly. Will he sin and face consequences for poor choices? He’s human so I’d say, yes. 

But I pray that he will come to know Jesus as his Savior at an early age. I pray that he will love God his whole life and serve him. I pray that he will grow to be a man who touches the lives of people for Jesus’ sake. And I pray with confidence that no matter what paths he takes, no matter in what circumstances he finds himself, God will be with him.

You see, Solomon was looking at the wrong things to find meaning to life. In fact, looking at “things” will never result in the kind of joy knowing God can bring. Looking at “self” will only bring disappointment. Jesus, however, never fails. That void in our lives can only be filled by the One who put it there in the first place.

I pray baby Carson will allow God to fill that void in him, that Carson will live his life with the joy of the Lord, that people will recognize God in Carson and be drawn to Jesus because of him. And I pray that when his life is over, Carson will spend eternity with his Savior.

Life doesn’t have to be like chasing the wind. It can have meaning and purpose. There can be peace in storms, strength in weakness, joy in sorrow because of Jesus. I hope you know him.

Dear God, thank you for Carson. Thank you for his Mommy and Daddy who love you and who are intentional about encouraging their children to love you, too. I pray that Carson will accept Jesus as his Savior as soon as he understands what sin is and his need for forgiveness. May he be a child who has you on his heart. May he grow into an adult who loves and serves you unashamedly. May he find the true meaning of life, which is Christ in him, the hope of glory. Use him, dear Lord, to draw people to you. Bless him and make him a blessing to others for Jesus’ sake.

Living Hell

Sometimes it’s hard to look at the success of ungodly people and not be a little jealous. You struggle to pay your bills but your neighbor who cheats on his wife gets a promotion and buys the boat you’ve been dreaming about. You see public figures in million dollar homes who openly defy God’s laws and speak against Christians. You find yourself wondering how that can be fair when many of God’s people are hurting.

Years ago I was sitting in the living room of a man who was sharing his long list of woes with our EE team. He was fighting a couple of serious diseases, had been abandoned by his family, lost his job and insurance, and said that he figured he was living as close to hell as he’d ever be. Our EE leader reached over, touched his arm, and gently replied that without Christ his life, as awful as it is, would be the closest thing to heaven he would ever experience.

This life is not all there is. Eternity follows. And we are reminded in Proverbs 24:19-20 that evil people have no future. People who reject the Lord have no hope. Their eternity will consist of unimaginable anguish, regret, loneliness, sorrow. They will realize what their choice to exclude God from their lives truly means – for ever.

So don’t fall for Satan’s trick to get your eyes off the prize. If you are jealous of the success of ungodly people you are looking in the wrong direction.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in his wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.