Thursday, July 28, 2016

When God is All You Have 7/28/2016

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction." Exo 16:4

There are times in each of our lives that we feel we have reached the end of our rope.  Our own ideas, knowledge, skills and abilities have taken us as far as we can go.  The people of Israel, having just been liberated from 430 years of slavery and having benefited by the miracle of crossing a parted Red Sea on dry land while their enemies perished, found themselves in such a position.  They were in the wilderness and all the food they brought with them had been consumed.  They had neither the time or the ability to plant crops in an infertile desert that could feed them.  They had most certainly exhausted all that they could do for themselves.

Beloved, what do we do in such situations?  To whom do we turn?  When our health fails and the doctors have no answers, when relationships deteriorate and the counselor throws up his hands, when a loved one passes and the grief is insurmountable and when sin has overcome us and we can no longer see the Light, what do we do?  Reach out to the Master of the universe.  Reach out to the Creator of all things.  Reach out to the One who does all things well.  Go to the Father.

God knew the plight of the Hebrews, not just because He knows all things but because He had been with them the whole time.  There would have been no need to free them from bondage only to allow them to perish in the wilderness.  Hundreds of years earlier, He made known to Abraham that He had a plan for His people.  Though they experienced trials and tribulations along their journey, they were never without the saving grace and provision of the Almighty.  He literally fed them from His own hand when they could do nothing for themselves.  Further, He not only fed the estimated 2 million men, women and children plus livestock day and night, but He did so for 40 years until such time they entered the Promised Land, a place described as being filled with milk and honey, a place that He prepared for them.

As God cared for our progenitors in the faith, He most surely does for us.  Know that even when we are at our lowest, we are never alone and that God has a plan for us.  Sometimes, we have to be in a position where God is all we have in order to fully know, understand and believe that God is all we need.  That same God has a place prepared for you and me.

Practically speaking,


Friday, July 22, 2016

Seeking Forgiveness for Self 7/22/2016

"Then they kept crossing the ford to bring over the king’s household, and to do what was good in his sight. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king as he was about to cross the Jordan.  So he said to the king, 'Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did wrong on the day when my lord the king came out from Jerusalem, so that the king would take it to heart.  For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore behold, I have come today, the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.'  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah said, 'Should not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?'”  2 Samuel 19:18-21

David once famously packed up his household and many of his followers and left his home base of Jerusalem in an effort to avoid a war with his son who sought to supplant him by force as the new king.  During one of the lowest times of his life, a man by the name of Shimei came along and began to verbally abuse the king with words that were shocking for a commoner to use against his monarch.  He accused him of being a murderer and a wicked person and said that he deserved all he was suffering.  To add insult to injury, he threw rocks and dirt at the king and all of his company.

As it would happen, the fortunes of David would reverse.  Having put down the insurrection, the king and his cohort began to make his way back into Jerusalem to retake the throne and restore order.  As this was occurring, Shimei appeared and was contrite, humble and repentant as he confessed and asked for forgiveness.

Beloved, how often have we played the role of Shimei in our sinful behaviors?  We can all look back on times when we have done wrong to relatives, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and even members of the church.  In so doing, we shake the fist of rebellion at God by not obeying his command to love him with all we've got and to love others as we love ourselves.  Our behavior can be abhorrent when we are angry and hurt.  Fortunately for us, God is as patient with us as David was with Shimei.  Though well within his right, David did not take Shimei's life when he sinned against him, but let him go.  This gave him an opportunity to come to his senses and he eventually did.

The lesson here is that we must all come to our senses, recognize the wrong we have committed against God and beg for forgiveness with more vigor than that with which we sinned against him.  And we must not be afraid to approach him and ask.  1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  So often we are immobilized by our guilt and shame and decide that we are unforgiveable.  This in and of itself is sinful in that we are not to put ourselves in the place of God.  It is he who has directed us to seek him and his righteousness.  It is up to us to obey.

We do not have a license to sin but we do have a remedy.  If you are overtaken in a fault, go to the only one who can fix it, then accept what he provides, or as Jesus said, "Go and sin no more," John 8:11.

Practically speaking,


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Listen For the Cross-examination 7/7/2016

"In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines." Proverbs 18:17 (NIV)

Imagine the conversation between Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. He was clearly very skilled in making the argument that the things God told her could be otherwise interpreted. In fact, he told her that she would "not surely die" if she partook of the forbidden fruit. One of the things that made his words so effective at introducing doubt was her own desire. We are told that the fruit appealed to Eve's eye, looked delicious for eating and according to the Serpent, had the additional benefit of giving her at least one attribute of God. She therefore ate and introduced disastrous consequences that all of humanity still experiences today. It is submitted for your consideration that we are predisposed to entertain assertions such as those offered by the Serpent because of our own desires. It is written that, "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust" James 1:17.

Beloved, we ought to praise God for the advocate He has given us in Jesus (1 John 2:1). We can think of him not just as a lawyer who argues our case before God against the accusations of Satan, but one who has also already served our sentence and paid our debt, thereby releasing us from condemnation. You see Satan tried the same thing with Jesus that he did with Eve, however, he completely and utterly failed when the Lord refused him and answered him with the Word of God. He was unwilling to turn rocks into bread after a 40 day fast because it is the Word that sustains. He refused to throw himself toward the ground from dizzying heights to prove God would save him because he was unwilling to put God to the test. And he refused to accept the keys to the world from Satan for the "small" price of bowing down to him because he was only willing to worship God. Jesus knew better and did better because he sought the will of God and not his own.

Today there are many alternative views of what is good, bad, right and wrong. There are many who will tell you of different ways to achieve enlightenment, receive salvation, gain "heaven" and even reincarnate. To some these things are convincing as evidenced by the tremendous number of adherents to these different philosophies. Let us, however, wait for the cross examination. There is more to know than what they say. May the Lord help us to overcome our own desires and seek His.

Practically speaking,