Friday, February 14, 2020

Delight

Do you “delight” in anything very often? You might be a tough-guy man who would never use this word. Perhaps you are a woman who finds delightful things to be parties or beautiful experiences. You are a little closer to the truth about God’s view.

In Psalm 37 we can read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like noonday sun”  (Psalm 37:4-6). Here is the warrior King David telling us of God’s perspective on “delight.”  God wants us to delight and trust in Him. But note that if you thought about what would delight your heart before verse 6 you might have said something different. Perhaps you would have said that your delight would be a $1,000,000 or a better job or wife or life. But that is not what comes next. God wants our delight to be in Him so that He can make our righteousness shine brightly. Righteousness and holiness is His desire: For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy(Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. You can read in The Pursuit of Holiness, a book by Jerry Bridges that the will of God for us is, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness(Ephesians 4:22-24). God wants us more like Him and one of His key attributes is holiness.

This study of Scripture may cause a new twist to your faith journey. We always knew that it was not about us and our desires or delights on this plane. We are to make our desires the same as the Lord’s. Psalm 37:23 goes on to tell us, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  I love that God will take delight in anything I do or am. The Psalmist also tells us about the blessed man, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted in streams of water”  (Psalm 1:2-3).  In Deuteronomy we read, “You will again obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands…The Lord delights in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 29:8-9).  God clearly wants us in step with His way as I write about in my book, This is the Way; Walk in it.

It is wonderful and delightful that the Lord delights in us, as we trust in Him.  But He also disciplines those in whom He delights Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6 tell us. This is our journey as Christians. Paul even said in 2 Corinthians 12, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is being made perfect in our weakness. And we can be sure that all these tough times will be increasing as we come closer to the return of Christ.  So stand firm because we have a God who delights in us.
‘”The Lord your God is with you,
    The Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”’  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)



Complaining

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you as you hold out the word of life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Philippians 2:14-16).

What a sentence and proclamation to each of us. So how are you doing?  I personally struggle with complaining and arguing or grumbling, another favorite warning word in Scripture.  So how bad is it? Well, in Exodus, God exterminated all of a generation for grumbling. The next generation had to carry on through the desert to the Promised Land.  Sounds a lot like the Genesis story of Noah as God’s wrath poured out on all except one family and the animals on the ark. You see back then and in Moses time and now it seems no one takes God seriously about our propensity to complain about everything. Being discontent with God’s will is an expression of unbelief that prevents one from doing what pleases God. 

I don’t know about you, but I had forgotten how seriously God takes this attitude of grumbling and complaining. In James 5:9, Jesus’s brother reminds us again that if we grumble about each other God will judge us. He says to be patient and persevere, standing firm in the faith. I should not need any more warnings even though I might have reason to complain. Just look at the rest of the Philippians verse. God wants us to be blameless in a “crooked” generation. I just can’t help but laugh at how relevant Scripture is as we look at this vapid election cycle.  Presidential candidates are referring to “crooked” politicians constantly, even as they lie about themselves and others. It is a very sad commentary on our times, a condition that has existed since time immemorial.  So what does God want us to do?

God wants us to “shine like stars in the universe” as we proclaim the truth in God’s word of life from the Bible. What a personification of contrast. As I road my bike this morning in the predawn darkness I gazed at the stars shining above me. They extend for billions of miles across God’s creation and are held together by Jesus Christ Himself as Colossians 1 tells us. They stand out. That’s what God wants us to do. Be different, a contrast to the generation around us. That’s simple but difficult because it takes courage. People will complain and grumble about you being “holier than thou.” It has been said that St. Augustine once proclaimed, “preach the gospel at all times and if you must use words.”  However, if we review Paul’s admonition above, we are reminded to use God’s word of life so that we may become blameless and faultless in this depraved world. We are commanded by Jesus Christ’s last words before leaving earth to “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”  (Matthew 28:20). This is the “Great Commission.”  Get it, we must use words from Scripture for they “will not return void but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).  We must be prepared to speak or “preach” the word in and out of season as 2 Timothy 4:2 teaches. We are to teach and encourage and correct with careful and great patience because people just don’t want to hear the truth. You see for a generation our society has said, “there is no truth.” But as Christians, we know better. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

So, how do we keep from complaining?
·      Proclaim the truth
·      Don’t dwell on negative or dark things, but stay in the light
·      Practice being at peace with everyone as much as it depends upon you.
·      Don’t argue
·      Encourage one another
·      Read and memorize Scripture
·      Stay away from negative or complaining people
·      Pray continually, praise God and give thanks in all things
·      Confess your complaining and grumbling to God
·      Love one another

OK, there are 1000s of Scriptures that tell us how to live. So, keep reading and speaking the Word of God.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Light

God said, “Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light, day and the darkness, night.”  (Genesis:1:3-4). 
“God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5-7).
“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live in the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us of all sin.”

2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my path and a light to my feet” (Psalm 119:105).

“The path of the righteousness is like the first gleam of the dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18).

Isaiah 2:5 said, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
“Then you light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”(Isaiah 58:8)
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”

John 3:19 says,”Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil…But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done by God.”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
 “Peter said, “you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into the wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

Psalm 104:2 tells us that “He envelopes Himself in light.”
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by the light” (Revelation 21:23).

Do you walk by the light of the world and are you the light of the world?

Or do you fear? “The Lord is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear” (Psalm 27:1).  Let your light shine!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Light

God said, “Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light, day and the darkness, night.”  (Genesis:1:3-4). 
“God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5-7).
“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live in the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us of all sin.”

2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my path and a light to my feet” (Psalm 119:105).

“The path of the righteousness is like the first gleam of the dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18).

Isaiah 2:5 said, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
“Then you light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”(Isaiah 58:8)
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”

John 3:19 says,”Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil…But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done by God.”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
 “Peter said, “you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into the wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

Psalm 104:2 tells us that “He envelopes Himself in light.”
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by the light” (Revelation 21:23).

Do you walk by the light of the world and are you the light of the world?

Or do you fear? “The Lord is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear” (Psalm 27:1).  Let your light shine!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Today

Do you feel worried and anxious about today? Maybe you are worried because of the future that you fear? Maybe you are worried because of something in the past that haunts your mind?  You know you cannot live in the past or the future? You can only live now in the present. So how do we stay here in the present?  God has a few good things to say about our plight.

The past is gone and nothing can bring it back. You can’t play it over even if you are playing it over in your mind. Instant replay seldom is useful, except perhaps in football, so you can figure out how to play next time. Did you miss a tackle or get blocked out of something? Perhaps you fumbled and the team lost the game. It is painful and embarrassing. What do we do with the past?  Paul says, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 3:13-14).  Move on!  But you say that is easy for you to say. No not really easy for any of us. The solution of “forgetting” and pressing on is good, but Paul leaves out what usually goes with forgetting and that is forgiving. We must forgive the past, people, circumstances, tragedies or triumphs. They can’t be changed unless we forgive the people involved, including ourselves. Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 7:14-15).  It is God who “Forgives all of our sins; who heals all of our diseases” (Psalm 103:2).  Yes, “As far as the east is from the west has He  removed our transgressions from us”  He has compassion for us and remembers our sins no more. If we don’t forgive we will never forget. The past will haunt us until we confess and forgive. Until we do this we are imprisoned in it, chains of regret wrapped around us. That is a personification of our un-forgiveness that should give us pause.  Do it, and do it now. If someone has abused you, perhaps you need to forgive from afar or take a safe person with you for protection. But do it. Failing means that perhaps you have not received God’s gift of salvation as yet.

So what about the future? It is in God’s hands and we cannot get there from hear except by living or being mindful of the present. My Bible titles a passage in James 4, Boasting About Tomorrow saying. Now listen, you who say, ‘“Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).  Live for now and tomorrow will take care of itself. Jesus taught on this in His Sermon on The Mount. “’Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own”’ (Matthew 6:25; 27; 33-34).

The solution for regretting the past and fearing the future is “seeking first the kingdom of God.” Mary got that right as she sat at Jesus’s feet and heard the words of God instead of worrying about everything as her sister Martha did.  Two friends at the YMCA this morning said, “don’t miss it” and “live in it.” God is the Alpha and Omega, but He is the more so present now in our lives if we will seek Him. We can “Enjoy Peace In His Presence.” That is the subtitle for the best selling devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that has sold several million copies. However, remember that the Bible, the historically bestselling book, has sold more than 7 billion copies.

Psalm 16:11 says, “In His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand pleasures forevermore.”  That takes Young’s writing to another level. Chuck Swindoll, through whose voice I submitted my life to the Lord some 28 years ago, writes in his book, Intimacy with The Almighty, that the key to living in the presence is finding “simplicity, silence, solitude and surrender” in His presence. We are so busy in this hectic and morally bankrupt society that we don’t pause or as Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Now is the time to seek Him. We need to “pray continuously” as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. James says, “Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). It is the Holy Spirit who lives within you if you trust in Christ as Lord who will draw you near for He is near to all those who call upon His name. This is a discipline that requires self-control in this crazy world. Oh, yes the world as created is beautiful, but people have made it ugly. So seek purity and perfection in His presence now while it is still day as Jesus said in John 9:4. Do what He tells you to do. God’s will is provided through prayer, His word the Bible, other godly people and circumstances.
“This is The Day The Lord Has Made, Let us rejoice and Be Glad it” (Psalm 118:24).