Monthly Archives: February 2013

God, Not Feelings…

The last few days have been rough.  I can’t point to one thing in particular as the culprit; it’s really more like a convergence of issues conspiring against my joy and my peace.  It is times like these that I have learned and am still learning to NOT trust my “feelings.”  At any given time, my feelings are being affected by all sorts of factors like a lack of sleep, concern for my wife and children, the stress of my job, school requirements, life’s demands, etc.  The alternative to relying on such fickle emotions (that seem to fluctuate by the minute at times) is the Truth – i.e. God’s Word.  God has spoken to us so that we will know where to put our hope and confidence, and here’s a hint – it’s not in ourselves.

I read Lamentations chapter 3 this morning.  (For some reason, I tend to end up in Lamentations when I feel like pitying myself.)  In this chapter the prophet Jeremiah is bemoaning the suffering of the nation, but it is clear that he is experiencing the associated pain and bewilderment within himself as well.  Listen to his words:

1 I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; 2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; 3 surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. 4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; 5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; 6 he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.

Jeremiah is in some serious misery.  But watch what happens as he is going through his list of troubles, (as we tend to do).  He comes to the end of his pity party and says in verse 18,  “so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.’”  He thought he was going to get away with that little zinger at God, but it had the exact opposite effect.  It was as if the very mention of God’s name turned his thoughts upward.  After inviting (telling) God to join in his pity party, reality hits him in the face.

God hasn’t left him to his emotions.  God hasn’t left him to his suffering.

21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Jeremiah’s plight really was severe.  He had suffered greatly and probably was in the middle of a devastating situation the likes of which would make anything I am facing look like a walk in the park.  But in the midst of that great suffering, God called forth his mind from the pits of self-despair and turned his heart into one that burst forth with the words, “Great is your faithfulness!”

That’s a turn-around.  That’s what we all need at times.

When all around my soul looks like it is giving way, I need to remember Truth.  Appearances and feelings are unreliable.  God isn’t.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

 -Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960)

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Our Faith is One Founded in Blood

Seven important verses about blood.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  Hebrews 9:22

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  Romans 3:23-25

And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.  Exodus 12:13

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.  Leviticus 17:11

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:27-8

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  Romans 5:9

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.  Revelation 1:5

———————————————————————————————————————-
There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Are saved, to sin no more

For since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
and shall be till I die

When this poor lisping,
stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I’ll sing thy power to save

William Cowper – April 25,1800

16 Reasons…

A reason I love her for each year she’s been my wife.

1)   …because my eyes still drink deeply every time I look at her.

2)   …because she is the strongest woman I have ever met.

3)   …because she still makes me feel like a teenage shlub who gets to hang out with the prom queen.

4)   …because she is my most favorite person in the world.

5)   …because she loves to be treated like a Princess.

6)   …because I never get tired of asking myself “How did I get this lucky?”

7)   …because she has given me three incredible children.

8)   …because her eyes dance like sparkling water when she laughs.

9)   …because she has sacrificed so much for me.

10) …because she loves digging into God’s Word.

11) …because I can share my soul with her without judgment.

12) …because even when she annoys me, I cannot for the life of me, stay mad at her.

13) …because for some reason, she thinks I’m funny.

14) …because when God made a Dani, he turned and made an Andy.

15) …because there is no one else I would rather spend my entire life with.

16) …because she loves Jesus.

Happy Anniversary my love.

There is No Procrastination in War

I wrote this over a year ago and had it posted on another site, but I thought I would share it again with a few minor changes.

I have been thinking lately about tomorrow – the “tomorrow” we all seem to assume will come.  I guess it is partly because over the past year or so I have become painfully aware that the sin of procrastination has slipped into my life.  Now before you think I am going overboard by calling procrastination a sin, understand that I am not saying anything that God’s Word does not say.  James 4:17 states “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  Also, Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”  Thankfully, God has made me aware of the devastation my procrastination could lead to and through his strength, I have begun to fight it.

But as I have been thinking about my tendency to put things off and the ease with which I do so, I cannot help but put it in the context of how I treat my time with my children.  A few verses before the one just mentioned, James says this:  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

The idea that I will have a “tomorrow” to accomplish the things which I know I need to do today is so easy, it is boastful, it is proud.  Satan wants it to be easy.  But the truth is that this is critical when we are talking about the discipleship of our children.  I love how the apostle Paul references Biblical fatherhood as being so foundational to Christians that he could use it as an analogy in other instances.  Look what he says in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica (2:11-12) “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (emphasis mine)

We only get one (roughly) 18 year period for true impact of our discipleship.  Do not get me wrong here, there are other and important opportunities after children are grown and leave home, but their time spent under our roof is the most precious and life-forming.

Walk with me through a quick scenario…

WHAT IF you were told that TOMORROW you will send your sons and daughters into the battlefield?  TOMORROW, they will suit up with whatever armor and weapons you have equipped them with and walk alone into the midst of chaos to wage war.  TOMORROW, your son will for the last time, ask your permission to leave the safety of your home before he confronts the enemy on his own.  TOMORROW your daughter will encounter deception at every turn; the fog of war will be heavy.  The potential for confusion is going to be extreme… TOMORROW.  The enemy is prepared to and will attack at the first opportunity… and the target is your precious son or daughter.  Visualize your children as they suit up with ONLY what you have given them as of this very moment to survive!

The problem is that most of us cannot really relate to this scenario.  The idea of our children growing up and leaving home is so far removed from the above images that these questions ring hollow to many of us.  Simply put, we do not have a wartime mentality.  We do not think we are at war.  My response to that is… we ARE at war!  Satan and his minions have plans for your children.  Plans which if you heard would make you cry, plans that would make you vomit, plans that will lead your children straight to destruction – IF, they aren’t prepared to fight in the strength of the Lord.  Read the following scriptures.  Read them slowly and listen for the language of war.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6   For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Ephesians 6:10-12   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If we can allow God to transform our thinking into a true spiritual wartime mindset, then every hour, every minute, every second we have with our children becomes an opportunity for discipleship.  I assure you, even if you have never thought in these terms before, you have been training your children.  What you treasure – whether it is your hobbies, time at work, stuff, etc. – shows them what to treasure.

I know we all have busy schedules.  I know our days go by so, so fast.  But if you think you are going to have tomorrow to disciple your children, Satan’s snipers already have you and your children in their crosshairs!  Their fingers have begun to apply tension to the trigger!  What are you going to do about it?

The Biblical solution is to LEAD… TODAY!  First and foremost, lead them to the cross of Christ, daily!  Lead them in Bible study.  Lead them in prayer.  Lead them in worship.  Lead them by your example.  Lead them by loving your wife the way God calls you to.  Lead them through loving your husband the way God calls you to.  Lead them through God’s strength.  Don’t focus on your failures!  Focus on Christ and allow them to see your focus on Him!

We are in enemy occupied territory… tomorrow your children will walk out of your door to face the battle head-on.  TODAY, you have the opportunity to prepare them.

Men behave themselves as those who depend on another day, when they neglect anything today which must be done before they die. – Jonathan Edwards

Pointing Through the Psalms to the Cross

As part of my Bible reading plan for the year, I have spent the last few weeks reading through and meditating over the Psalms; and what a joy it has been.  It almost never fails that whenever I spend any amount of time in this book, I come away with a bigger view of God than before; and this time was no different.

What is so amazing to me is that everywhere I look in these chapters, I see arrow after arrow pointing toward the cross.  It is a wonder to me why we don’t hear more preaching from the Psalms than we do.  There are deep theological truths to be gained from lingering long over this book.  But let me go back, what exactly do I mean by arrows “pointing to the cross?”

Read this passage:  Psalm 103:8-13

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Did you see it?  There’s an arrow there, and it points straight to the cross.  But I’ll come back to it.

Keep the verses above in mind for a moment and read the next few (emphasis mine):

  • 9:7  But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,

  • 7:11  God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

  • 9:4  For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

  • 89:14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

  • 111:7  The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;

A scenario:  You hear on the news that today is finally the day for the sentencing of the worst mass murderer in the history of the U.S.  The case went on for months before the jury found the killer guilty, but the day has come for the judge to issue the punishment.  You tune in just in time to hear the sentence being read by the judge and your mouth drops.  You ask your spouse did you hear that right.  Yes, you heard it right.  “There will be no punishment for these crimes.  You are free to go.”

Would justice have been served?  Would that judge be a just judge?  Is there any chance that judge would last on the bench?  “No,” to all three.

Now read verse 10 of chapter 103 again:  “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”  Alright, if you won’t say it, I will.  That cannot be just.  There is no way God is a righteous judge if this is his policy!  How in the world can justice include looking the other way?  Doesn’t sin deserve punishment?

Read verse 10 once more with the bold words being stressed:  “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

Now Romans and the cross:

Romans 3:23-26  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood {the cross}, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

God is a just and righteous judge.  He will not look the other way.  All sin will be paid for – either on the cross in the body of Jesus Christ or by the person who committed it through an eternity in hell.  It matters greatly to you where the penalty of your sin rests.

The Gospel in Five Sentences

The phrase “the gospel” is one I use often.  I have come to realize that many people, including some Christians, don’t have the same idea about that phrase.  So I thought I would come up with a very short description, five sentences to be exact, to summarize what I mean when I say “the gospel.”  At its foundation, the gospel is literally “good news.”  As Christians, our main goal in interacting with the world should be to share that good news.  The five sentences I came up with are certainly not all there is to say about the gospel, but I believe if a Christian can understand these basics, they will be able to more easily share with others.

(The references listed are not the only verses establishing these truths, but I included a few on each sentence to show I’m not making this up.)

1. Human beings were created by God, in the image of God, in order to glorify God and enjoy Him for all eternity through a perfect love relationship. (Gen 1) (Rev 4:11) (1 Cor 10:31) (Rom 11:36)

2. However, due to the sweeping effects of one man’s sin, every human being that has ever lived has fallen short of His glory and are, because of our sin and our sin nature, under His completely just condemnation. (Rom 3:23) (Rom 5:12-19) (Rom 6:23) (Eph 2:1-4) (2 Thes 1:9)

3. Instead of leaving sinners without hope and because of His great love, God sent His perfect and only Son, Jesus, to fully and effectively bear all of His wrath through death on the cross as a substitute for the penalty sinners should receive. (Eph 2:5) (John 3:16) (1 John 4:10) (2 Cor 5:21)

4. Having fully satisfied God’s requirement for perfect righteousness through His sinless life, Jesus rose from the grave defeating death and sin, thereby establishing a pathway of reconciliation to God for sinners. (Matt 3:15) (John 8:46) (Heb 7:26) (Heb 4:15) (2 Cor 5:21) (Rom 5:19)

5. Thus, whosoever will, by the grace of God, believe in Jesus Christ as their only hope for salvation and repent in complete obedient faith to Him as Lord, will be counted as righteous and forgiven, and will be saved for all eternity to enjoy a perfectly restored relationship with their Creator. (Mark 1:5) (Rom 8:1) (Eph 1:7) (Ps 16:11)

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