Monthly Archives: September 2017

Build Up Instead of Tear Down

Another great post. I hope you’ll take time to read it. Let’s all determine to be the Church God can intends us to be as a light in this dark world.

Faith and Footsteps

The World Trade Center compound in New York City was just another engineering marvel.  Finished in 1972 and built over the course of 3 years, the two main towers contained thousands of offices and was the center of finance and commerce in the New York metropolitan area for many years.

And then came the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, when our nation came under attack by militant terrorists.  Two planes, hijacked with reckless intent, were flown into the World Trade Center towers at 8:46 and 9:03 that morning.  The south tower crumbled into ruin only 56 minutes after being hit, and the north tower collapsed 102 minutes after impact.  What took years to design and construct took mere minutes to be destroyed.  It’s very hard and time-consuming to build up, but very easy to tear down.

With that in mind, have you ever noticed how often the Bible mentions encouraging one…

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2 Kings 3-5; Taking A Knee

Got your attention, didn’t I? This whole protest drama against our flag, our National Anthem, and our country is on the news 24/7. And social media is having a hay day. We Americans just love living with a reality TV show mentality.

I, like everyone else in the world, have an opinion on the matter. But I’m not going to spout my opinion about that here. I’d much rather talk about Naaman and Elisha, and what Naaman had to say about taking a knee.

You know the story. Little Jewish servant girl tells her mistress how the master, Naaman, could be healed of leprosy if he’d ago see God’s prophet, Elisha. Naaman goes. Elisha refuses to meet with him but sends word to Naaman how he could be healed. Naaman is insulted, and turns to go away. One of his men talks sense into Naaman, who then goes to the Jordan River, dips under the water seven times, and is healed.

Now here is what I want us to consider today. Naaman, probably dripping wet, goes back to Elisha. The prophet seems to be waiting for him. Naaman tells Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (5:15) He promises to never again worship any other god but the Lord. Naaman is not only clean on the outside, he’s a new man from within.

Then Naaman says this:

But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also – when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this. (5:18)

Naaman worked for the king of Aram, a man who worshiped the false god Rimmon. The king sounds like he might have been feeble, because he leans on Naaman to get around. And that would include going into the temple of Rimmon, taking a knee so his master could bow in worship.

Now some of you will say Naaman should have just quit his job, maybe refused to go into that sinful place, or just stayed with Elisha where he wouldn’t have to take a stand at all.

“Judge not,” dear one.

I believe this is the true interpretation of the most misquoted verse in the Bible. Please read Matthew 7:1-5. There is much more to Jesus’ message than verse 1.

Naaman had taken care of the plank in his own eye, the sin in his own life. Then, according to what I read in 2 Kings, he is going back to minister to the king of Aram.

Paul, in I Corinthians 9:19-23 talks about becoming all things to all men. Why? So everyone would like him? So he could get ahead in life? No. He identified with everyone in order to introduce them to their Savior.

In a sense, Naaman is asking Elisha not to judge him if, in his association with the king, he goes into the pagan temple and actually takes a knee. In fact, Naaman is asking Elisha, and God, to forgive him for what will appear to be sin.

“I’m going to be doing my job, Lord, not worshiping that idol.”

And just maybe, the king will notice a change in Naaman and ask him to explain the hope he has, may ask him about Naaman’s God, and may even come to faith in God because of Naaman’s willingness to address the speck in the king’s eye, now that the plank is out of his own.

If God is leading Naaman back to the king of Aram, don’t judge Naaman for not doing what you think a believer should do.

HOWEVER… if you’re using I Corinthians 9 as an excuse to hang out at bars, or associate with dishonest people, or any number of sinful activities stop right there. Because Scripture also tells us to resist evil, live separate lives, not to be linked with unbelievers. It certainly doesn’t give us permission to sin, thinking that is a way to represent God to people who need Him.

Here’s where the “don’t judge” thing comes into play. The only ones who know your heart are you and God. If He hasn’t called you to serve Him by representing Him among the partiers, or the ungodly, or… whoever… then you need to go where He IS calling you. Really calling you.

Can a person associate with sinners and not sin? I believe Scripture is saying exactly that in the verses we’ve looked at today. But I also believe there is a dangerously thin line between associating with sinners for the right reasons, and participating in the sin. Just beware.

I won’t judge your heart. But I will call you out if you are sinning, if that speck in your eye needs addressing. And I want you to do the same for me.

Repost of “Now It’s Personal.”

I would like to encourage you to read the following re-post from the Christian Gazette, in light of the insanity our country is demonstrating lately. And may God find you faithful.

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Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the NFL or any other sports organization. In my view, many athletes are way overpaid for playing a game. When it gets down to it that is all athletes do is play games. Moreover, I don’t care about the personal views of any of the players. I have more […]

via Now It’s Personal — Armor of God

2 Kings 2; The Road To Faith

Elisha saw God’s chariot accompany Elijah into heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah skipped the dying and went straight to God’s Presence in a dramatic display. Everyone knew that God was coming to get Elijah. Elijah told Elisha if he was privileged to witness the getting, God would bless him. Elisha saw. And he was blessed.

But not everyone saw what Elisha saw. The men waiting for Elisha to return hadn’t seen the chariot or the whirlwind, and they found it hard to believe. So because of their persistent pleas, Elisha let them search for Elijah, knowing full well they were not going to find him. Elisha let them search because he realized they needed to know for themselves that Elijah was gone.

Reminds me of Jesus’ “doubting” disciple. The other disciples had seen the risen Lord. Thomas hadn’t been there when Jesus appeared to them. So, even though I’m sure he remembered Jesus saying He would rise again, Thomas had trouble believing He’d really risen in the flesh. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Later, Jesus did appear to Thomas. The disciple saw for himself Jesus was alive. And he believed.

I love the way God allows us all to be individuals. He meets each of us where we are. I had a pastor once who became a Christian after reading the book of Revelation in the Bible. It scared the faith into him.

I know others who came to the Lord after a tragedy, some after hearing a sermon, some were drawn to Jesus by love. Some people need to see God’s hand, witness a miracle before they’ll believe. Others believe as soon as they hear what Jesus did two thousand years ago.

After Thomas saw Jesus and believed, Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

I don’t think Jesus was scolding Thomas with these words. And I don’t think Elisha was upset with the men who felt they needed to go looking for Elijah before they’d believe God took him.

Not everyone takes the same road toward faith. It’s personal. It’s intimate. And it’s God-lead. I guess I’m saying if you’re the type of person who needs to see before you believe, God knows you are. Ask Him to show you. Beware that He might show you through hardship, but if you need tangible proof, He can do that. Then believe, and be blessed.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to be shown anything, but can believe in Jesus by trusting in His Word, God knows that, too. Believe, and be blessed.

Because God wants you to know Him. He is personally, intimately interested in your eternal soul, and He longs to fellowship with you. Seek Him. You’ll find Him on the road you are traveling.

2 Kings 1; Who’s To Blame?

I’ve heard it said a lot lately, that this world is corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse, that evil people will continue to gain momentum. I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Did you read about how Elijah spoke to the men King Ahaziah sent to get him? A captain and fifty armed soldiers told Elijah, “The king says, come.” Seems harmless enough. But remember who Ahaziah’s parents were. Ahaziah knew exactly who this man of God was: the prophet responsible for the death of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. I doubt their offspring wanted to invite Elijah to tea.

Elijah would have nothing to do with Ahaziah or his men. In fact, to demonstrate that Elijah was a man of God, he said fire would come down from heaven and consume them. Fire from heaven came down and consumed them.

Ahaziah sent another fifty soldiers to go get Elijah. They died, too. It wasn’t until the third captain humbled himself before Elijah, and in turn before God, that God told Elijah to go with them. Then, standing before the king, Elijah did not back down. He stayed true to God’s Word. No compromise here!

Thirty or so years ago, there was a trend for churches to hire outsiders to come into their fellowship, survey members, talk to people in the neighborhoods, learn the “demographics,” then recommend changes the churches needed to make to grow their attendance. As a result we’ve got “contemporary” worship styles, the removal of pulpits, altars, hymns, and organs. We’ve come up with clever little names for our fellowships because being identified with a denomination “turned people off.” We’ve adopted a casual approach to worship so everyone feels comfortable, a laid back atmosphere so people don’t feel threatened, entertaining worship services so people go away feeling good, and Starbucks in the foyer.

We’ve also seen the word, “sin” replaced with “lifestyle” or “tolerance,” “acceptance,” and of course, “God’s love.”

Many churches did see a marked growth, more bodies in the chairs each Sunday, or Saturday night if that’s more “convenient.” The mega-church was born. We may have compromised a bit. But numbers don’t lie.

Or do they?

Let me ask you this: Is our world better than it was thirty years ago? Is there less crime, less evil, a mega turning to God since the church implemented these changes? I’m not asking if there are people coming to your church. I’m asking what impact your church has had on our world. Are drug dealers, thieves, child molesters, drunks, soccer moms, and CEO’s coming to the Savior because your church is out there actively winning souls?

I would say, after reading the news, I doubt it. Now, if you are involved in a church that IS making a difference and seeing people repent of sin and come to the Lord, understand I know I’m preaching to the choir. But, from what I see in our country and the world, the Church is failing in our mission to go and make disciples.

Here’s why my thoughts went here today. Read what J Vernon McGee had to say about 2 Kings 1, and Elijah’s firm stand:

There is much talk today about the fact that we should learn to communicate and learn to get along with everybody. May I say to you that this is not God’s method. The compromise of the church and its leaders has not caused the world to listen to the church. As a matter of fact, the world is not listening at all. They pass the church right by. Why? The world will not listen until the church declares the Word of God. If the church preached God’s Word, there would be communication. (p 157, Through the Bible commentary, I & II Kings)

Dr. McGee wrote those words in the middle of the trend I spoke about earlier. His words were prophetic. If the world didn’t listen to the Church back then, it laughs at the Church today.

Do you know why I believe what Dr. McGee said is true? God has said that His Word would not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) Our world is not in the shape it’s in because Satan is so strong. It’s because the church is so weak. We refashioned ourselves to look like the world, to the point they don’t see their need to change. We have neglected God’s Word, and in turn, have harnessed His power to save souls. And we read about the result of this in the news every day.

And don’t even tell me it’s God’s will. Jesus didn’t tell us to go into the world and preach the gospel until things got tough, then sit back and let evil take over because He’ll rapture the church before things get really bad. We’ll dodge that bullet, too bad for everybody else. If that theology makes me mad, I can imagine God’s opinion of it.

Our world is in bad shape. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. I pray that the Holy Spirit will revive the Church, that Christians will see sinners through Jesus’ eyes, that we will stand firm on the Truth of Scripture, and proclaim it from the mountaintops, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods. I also pray that Christians will live lives that attract people to their Savior.

Oh, dear Christian. Don’t sit back and blame Satan, or the media, or a president for the state of things in our world. We have the God of the Universe ready and eager to step in. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

 

I Kings 20-22; What We Deserve

Israel’s King Ahab was evil. His wife, Jezebel wasn’t much better. “There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife.” (21:25) That’s quite the legacy.

They put a hit out on a guy so they could steal his vineyard. They blatantly worshiped idols. They were evil, and they encouraged evil in Israel. Doesn’t it seem fitting that these two receive their just desserts? Like leprosy or something?

However, God sent a prophet to Israel’s king and told him God was going to help Israel defeat their enemy. Wait. What? God was going to make this evil king successful?

Like it or not, that’s exactly what happened. Israel went to war with the Arameans and soundly beat them. Twice! Why would God give this rotten guy these victories? That’s just not how it’s supposed to happen. It’s just not right when evil people succeed.

Later on, after Naboth is murdered by order of Jezebel, God prompted Elijah to go to King Ahab and tell him he was going to die. His whole family was going to die for Ahab’s sin. From what I know of Elijah, that is probably one message he was more than happy to pass on to King Ahab. And it’s probably a message all of us think was long over due.

How did Ahab receive this message? He tore his clothes, he fasted, he put on sackcloth. And God noticed. 21:28 tells us God saw that Ahab humbled himself before Him. And for the next three years, Israel was free from war with the Arameans. Neither Ahab nor Jezebel died. Once again, this evil king seems to have gotten away with something. Ugh.

Well, old Ahab seemed to have gotten pretty comfortable in those three years of peace. Eventually he defied God again, and this time it cost him, and Jezebel, their lives.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure God out, isn’t it? It just seems obvious that good people should have good things happen to them and bad people should suffer. But if you’ve lived more than ten minutes on this planet, you know that just isn’t how things go.

In 20:13, before Ahab fought any battle with the Arameans, God explained Himself. It’s something I think all of us need to take notice of.

I will give it (the battle)  into your hand today, and then you will know I AM the Lord.

I am reminded that God is not willing that anyone die without him. That includes the terrorist, the child molester, or the neighbor who dumps their yard waste into your yard. (Ok. That last one was a personal note to self)

Your idea of justice isn’t the same as God’s. Your idea of justice is immediate, sometimes emotional, and certainly limited to this lifetime. God’s idea of justice is patient, loving, and eternal. Everything good that happens to a bad person happens to reveal God to them, just like the good things Ahab experienced revealed God to him.

And here’s something we don’t like to think about. Anything good that happens to you… anything good… is God’s grace. I don’t care how good you think you are, you don’t deserve one moment of the blessings that are yours every day. You are a sinner. You deserve God’s wrath as much as that drug dealer or rapist you read about on the news. If you got what you deserved, well, let’s just say I’m glad none of us get what we deserve in this lifetime.

God is full of grace. Every moment of every day He is working in my life and yours to reveal Himself. Sometimes He does it with victories in battle. Sometimes He does it with hardship and pain. But in and through everything that happens, there is one underlying reason: God.

God wants us to know Him. God wants us to love Him, to worship Him, to rest in Him.

The next time you secretly hope someone gets what you think they deserve, pray instead that they receive what Jesus died to give them. Not because they deserve it. But because God does.

Righteous Judge, I have to confess that sometimes I am frustrated that sinners seem to prosper and Christians don’t. I seem to have my own sense of fairness, and wonder why You don’t share my insight. I’m sorry about that. When you told us not to judge, lest we be judged, I think you were talking along these lines. I don’t want to judge You for working in ways I don’t understand. Help me to deal with the sin of my own life, as you reveal it to me, and allow You deal with the sin in others’ lives as You see fit. And, Lord, let me never forget how blessed I am that You don’t give me what I deserve.

 

I Kings 18-19; Where Is God?

Sometimes I can read God’s Word and almost believe it was written to describe the USA in 2017. Did the writer of I Kings watch Fox News before he wrote this?

God instructed Elijah to stand on the mountain and get ready to be amazed “… for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then, a great and mighty wind tore the mountain apart, shattering rocks. But God wasn’t in the wind.

An earthquake hit, shaking the ground beneath Elijah’s feet. God wasn’t in the earthquake, either.

A fire broke out. Was the Lord in the fire? Not even the fire.

Verse 12 tells us: “And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” When Elijah heard that still, small voice, he covered his face. That’s where Elijah met the Lord.

In the last few weeks we have been devastated by a great and mighty wind called, Harvey, another called Irma, and now Maria is knocking at the door. Just a few days ago, Mexico was hit with a powerful earthquake, destroying buildings and taking lives. California has been dealing with an uncontrolled wild fire recently. And some people will tell us God is in it, punishing the US for ungodliness.

I don’t want to debate “why” things are happening. If God wants to punish us in this way, we deserve it. But I am not going to read this Scripture, wipe my hands, and say “The end is near,” and leave it at that. I’m just not.

We can, of course, see the Almighty in the fury of a storm, in the shaking of the earth, or the heat of a fire. In fact, I hope we do. Don’t miss the fact that God is very powerful. But I think the Bible teaches us if you want to meet God, if you really want to see Him, just shut up for a minute.

Get alone and open His love letter to you. Let Him whisper how much He loves you, that He gave His life to save you. Quit telling Him what you think you need, or bombarding Him with questions, and thinking you have a right to the answers. Just be still and know that He is God. He wants you to know Him.

HE wants you to know Him.

He WANTS you to know Him.

He wants YOU to know Him.

He wants you to KNOW Him.

He wants you to know HIM.

Shhhhh. God is speaking.