Monthly Archives: May 2015

Ingratitude

Ingratitude. That’s what Hiram expressed when King Solomon gave him twenty cities. (I Kings 9) Sure, Hiram had worked hard for Solomon for twenty years building the Temple and the Palace. But Solomon also made Hiram a rich man in the process. And gave him twenty cities on top of it. Hiram just wasn’t happy with the particular cities he was given. He thought he was entitled to something else.

Does ingratitude ever express itself in our own lives? God gives us life, we want health. God gives us forgiveness, we want happiness. God gives us eternal life, we want a successful career. God gives us Himself, we want a Ferrari.

Have you grasped exactly what it is that God has given you? What it cost him? What it means? If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have God Himself living in you! You have the promise of eternity in paradise, You have help for today, and hope for tomorrow. You are forgiven, washed clean, pure. You are loved.

Let’s never take any of this for granted or be ungrateful for God’s blessings. We already have more than we deserve.

Dear God, “thank you” just doesn’t seem sufficient to express what I am feeling this morning. I can’t fully comprehend the extent of your blessings to me, a sinner. Forgive me when I seem ungrateful, when I whine to you about insignificant things, when I pout if I don’t get what I think I need. I know you want me to bring my desires to you in prayer, and I thank you for the times you have answered those prayers. But, God, help me to really grasp what it is I have in YOU. May I live my life out of a grateful heart, cherishing every blessing I have because you are my God. You are all I need. You are all I desire.

The Good Shepherd

I was reading in John 10 this morning, and remembered something my pastor shared when he spoke on this text a few weeks ago. Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd as well as the door for the sheep. Maybe you already knew this, but this is what I learned:

Shepherds were with their sheep 24/7. They spoke to the sheep often so that they would recognize the shepherd’s voice. The more time the shepherds spent speaking to the sheep, the more familiar their voices became to their flock. Because there were times even shepherds needed a hot meal and a good night’s sleep.

Occasionally, the shepherds would lead their flocks into town, and put them in a community pen with sheep from other flocks. There was a gate and a guard to keep the sheep secure while the shepherd went home for a few hours. (I like thinking of Jesus as the gate, keeping me safe and secure, too).

In the morning, the shepherd fully rested, would go to the pen and begin talking. His sheep would hear his voice and go to him. The other sheep would simply ignore him. Those sheep did not recognize the shepherd’s voice. The shepherd would gather his flock and be on his way, leaving the others behind.

The question is, have I spent enough time with my Good Shepherd so that I know his voice? Have I devoured Scripture, spent time in prayer, listened to sound teaching so that I can distinguish my Shepherd’s voice from all other voices that are calling to me?

Or do I follow many voices, follow many ideas, believe things to be true that are not Scriptural, following this one, then that like a lost lamb? Jesus said his sheep hear his voice and follow him. Does that describe me? Describe you?

May it be so.

My Dear Good Shepherd, thank you for your voice that calls to me from your Holy Word. Thank you for the promptings that lead me where you want me to go. Thank you for loving me, caring for me, protecting me from the enemy who would destroy me if he could. May I stay close enough to you that I not only recognize your voice, but can ignore Satan’s voice as well. And may I follow you wherever you lead.

Jesus’ Answer For The “Why’s” of Life

A godly man suffers with ALS. A teenager who loves the Lord loses her battle with cancer. A baby is born with his stomach outside his body. A godly woman buries her 22 year old son who died in an auto accident. ISIS murders hundreds of people who name the name of Jesus.

Jesus met a man born blind. His disciples asked him: Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:3 says, “Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.‘”

Sometimes we dig way too deep to find the answer to the “why’s” of life. Is there some special purpose for suffering? There certainly is! And here it is:

So Jesus can be revealed to a lost world.

Everything – E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G – that happens in this life happens for that reason. Your best day reveals God’s blessings. Your struggles reveal his strength. Your mourning reveals his comfort. Your changed life reveals his grace.

Next time you are tempted to ask, Why is this happening to me?, read John 9:3 again. The question you should be asking is, What is it about Jesus that is being revealed through this circumstance I am facing?

Dear God, thank you for being intimately interested in everything that happens to us in this life. You are ever present, all knowing, sovereign. Forgive us when we concentrate so much on the day-to-day that we lose sight of your perfect plan. May your children, in all walks of life, in all circumstances, be faithful to reveal YOU as you would have us do. Help us to remember that this life is about You, and your passion is that every man, woman, and child will come to know you as Savior and Lord. Help us to look at our circumstances as opportunities to share you with those who are lost without you.

Not-So-Common Sense

The Proverbs are rich in common sense (or not-so-common these days). Today I read in chapter 16 where it says a whisper can destroy a friendship.

Why is it some people think they have to tell everything they think they know? Why do some stretch the truth or pass on an opinion as fact? Why is it some people are intent on stirring things up, living in drama every day? And how many friendships, even marriages, could be saved if we would learn to control our tongues? (Read what James has to say on that subject in chapter three of his book).

You might whisper the latest gossip into the ear of your closest friend, but once you do you have no control over where it goes from there. And you have no control over the hurt caused by your little whisper. The damage is already done.

It’s like the internet, social media. A hard lesson many people have had to learn is that anything posted can NEVER be completely erased. That picture will always be in cyber space, accessible to anyone. That email sent in private is not so private there on the server.

A whisper, a text, a post can destroy your relationships, can destroy lives. Are you ok with that? Are you willing to be a part of that?

It should be common sense to know that spreading gossip is destructive. It should be common sense to know that the less said, the better on most subjects, especially if the subject is really none of your business or the business of the person you are telling. But God knew we don’t always use the sense we have, common or not.

So he inspired men to write down some common rules of living. Like what I read today in Proverbs. Like what James had to say.

Next time you are tempted to pass on that juicy bit of information… zip it. Show a little not-so-common sense.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for our tongues. That amazing muscle helps us speak, taste, swallow, chew. It’s a pretty handy invention you have there. But God, may we be reminded the power we have in the use of our tongues. May we control them, whether tempted to whisper that gossip in the ear of a friend, or use our fingers to type out the words before we hit “send”. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of hearts be acceptable to you, Lord. And may we use our words to build up, encourage one another rather than be any part of tearing somebody down.

Stay With Me

Have you ever seen a frightened toddler? Maybe a barking, nipping dog scares the little one, or a spider crawling out of a flower he’s just put his nose into takes him by surprise. The natural reaction is to jump into Daddy’s arms. Then what? That baby climbs frantically higher to get away from that which is scaring him. And if he could, that child would crawl right into his Daddy’s skin for safety. At that moment of fright, the child just can’t get close enough to his father.

I was reading I Samuel 22 this morning and like what David told Abiathar when Saul was trying to kill them both: “Stay with me. Don’t fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.” (vs 23)

I hear Jesus saying the same to me about our mutual enemy, Satan. Jesus, whom John describes as the Word, Creator of all that is made, who came to earth in the flesh and blood body fully God, fully human. Jesus, who willingly went to the cross so that I can be forgiven. Jesus, who died, defeated death and the power of sin, and rose again. Jesus who bodily went to heaven and sits on the throne from where he whispers in my ear:

“Stay with me. Satan is my enemy, too. And if you stay close to me, you shall be safe.”

Jesus. My Protector! My Savior!

Dear Abba Father, Thank you for your protection. You’ve told us to come to you like little children, and I see that in what I read this morning in your written Word. Sometimes it feels like I can’t get close enough to you. I want to crawl right into your skin. So I thank you for reminding me that YOU are my protector. It’s not, how close can I get to you. But how much do I trust your strong arms. So as I jump into those arms through reading your Word and praying, I want to thank you for your promise for my soul’s safety. Keep me close to you where I am safe from Satan’s snarling teeth. I trust you completely.

Black and White

Saul meant well. He didn’t want to go into battle without going to the LORD first, but Samuel wasn’t there at the time. (I Samuel 13). What would be the harm in making the sacrifice himself? After all, he was king, wasn’t he?

Saul’s reign over Israel was blessed by God for only two years before Saul tried to go around God’s rules, rules that Saul knew and understood. After only two years, God announced that he had given the kingdom to someone else as a direct result of Saul’s disobedience.

But wasn’t Saul’s heart in the right place? It’s not like he was sacrificing to an idol. What should it matter who lit the fire on the altar? Wasn’t God a bit harsh?

Here’s what I believe God would have us understand: You’ll never hear him say, “I’ll go ahead and overlook that sin because you meant well,” or “because you were sincere,” or “because you’re a good person.” God’s law is black and white, and he’s very honest about that.

In fact, God’s black and white consideration of sin in the only fair way. His demands aren’t one thing for you and something different for me. Sin is no different today than it was fifty, or a thousand years ago. We never have to guess at what is and isn’t considered sin.

And the wages of sin is death every time. (Romans 6:23). Every sin comes with a death penalty price tag no matter who you are or how sincere you are or how nice you are. Hear God tell us that EVERY sin requires the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22)

And here’s the good news: Jesus shed his own blood to pay that price tag for you. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Don’t try to get around it. There is no other way under heaven that can save a soul. No matter how special you think you are, you need Jesus.

Jesus promises to forgive you, to give you what his blood bought for you IF you ask him. Read his Word. It’s there in black and white.

Dear Jesus, thank you for shedding your blood for the forgiveness of sin. I pray for those reading this blog today who know you as Savior. May we be convinced of your Truth. And may you give us the strength and commitment to stand for what you have inspired men to write in your Holy Word. I pray for any reading this who have not asked you to forgive them. I pray that they will realize their need, and turn to you according to your Word. Thank you for being fair, for requiring the same of all of us. And thank you for being that requirement for us all.