Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Recently some friends of mine had a baby boy named Reed. I have not met him yet, but I look forward to doing so someday. Reed had many health complications in the womb and it got to a point to where an emergency C-section was performed in order to try to save this little boy's life. Once out of the womb, Reed was poked and tested and tubed. In all of this, many people prayed for him - that God would be glorified in healing him. There were definite times where God intervened and brought about unexpected results; however, God brought Reed to Himself yesterday. We may have been praying for physical healing of Reed, but the Lord didn't answer that way. The Bible is clear that one of the reasons this would happen is because God loves Reed more than we can imagine, and He chose what is best.
When I first heard of Reed's name, I was reminded of a favorite verse of mine: "a bruised reed he will not break. . ." (Is. 42:3). Probably in all the poking and tests for Reed, he was bruised. He experienced some pain in the body. In a much more literal sense, he was a bruised Reed. In God's great love, God fulfilled His promise in Reed's life. He did not break him. Meaning, even though Reed died, God did not allow him to experience condemnation. Instead, He rescued him. He brought Reed to an everlasting rest.
God, the Father, knows the pain of searing loss. Jesus, the Son, knows what it is like to experience pain and death. And, because of Jesus' sacrifice, Reed is worshiping in Heaven today. Can you imagine what that must be like to never really know what life on a sin-cursed earth is like? Can you imagine the joy that Reed is experiencing while our Heavenly Father is teaching him more about Himself? Can you imagine what Reed is thinking? Now, Reed is one of the great cloud of witnesses cheering all of us on. And, while he did not live on this earth for very long, he's saying, "It's worth it! Follow Jesus! Seek Him. He didn't break me - this bruised Reed. He rescued me, and He can rescue you."
Monday, May 09, 2011
I sing the mighty pow'r of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where'er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
There's not a plant or flow'r below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God, art present there.
Monday, May 02, 2011
"Now, there's another kind of bad parenting that I call self-esteemism. That's where you tell your child over and over again that you say, 'You can be anything you want. You can do anything you want.' You say, "Uh huh, I'm 23 years old. I'm 5'3". I'm 125 pounds. But, if you want to be an NFL linebacker, you just have to go for it with all you've got because you have to climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow.' And, when you do that to kids, they do grow up with this incredible sense of entitlement. And, it almost seems impossible to make them feel ashamed or guilty for anything. Yet, I don't believe you can put out what all human beings know - that we should be perfect (that we should love God, that we should love our neighbor)." (paraphrase)
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Last week I was reading in Numbers, and a certain passage stood out to me. This passage is found in the story of Balak and Balaam. King Balak had asked the false prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Through the process, God grabs Balaam’s heart and Balaam refuses to submit to Balak’s request. As a result, we read the following:
And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” (Numbers 24:10-11 ESV)
As I’ve thought about this passage over the past few days, I’m reminded that non-Christians may often say to Christians, “The LORD has held you back from honor.” When Christians have opportunities to sinfully make a quick buck or to indulge in an age-old dream that would draw them away from God, people (even our own flesh) might say, “The LORD has held you back from honor.” These are words that, at the heart, are as old as the first temptation itself. Think back to the serpent’s conversation with Eve in Genesis 3. He tries to get Eve to believe that God is withholding some greater blessing. Eve takes the bait. She sins. She realizes the dire circumstances into which she ran. Balak is assuming and sharing that same lie, but Balaam rejects it when he says, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? (Numbers 24:12b-13 ESV).
Balaam realizes something profound. God’s word and way is worth more than a house filled with silver and gold. To put it another way, “
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36 ESV)
. . . whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35b ESV)
Anyone who surrenders to Christ will find true gain, and the gospel enables us to see this clearly. Ultimately, while Balaam’s example is nice, it’s not his example that will fuel us the rest of our days. (Keep in mind that Balaam's own experience did not maintain himself.) Christ’s sacrificial life, death and intercession will fuel us. Do you remember what the people said to Jesus while he was on the cross?
He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
(Matthew 27:43 ESV)
The accusation towards Jesus is very similar to that of Balak’s statement. In essence they said, “God probably does not care for you.” As Christians, we know otherwise. The Scriptures say, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus despised the shame of the cross yet he looked forward to the greater joy that was ahead of him – sitting at the right hand of the throne of God!
If you find yourself right now feeling weak, look to Christ. The next time your flesh or somebody else says that God is holding you back, remember that he died to set you free. Trust him and look forward to the hope that is set before you. Then, you can say with the other saints through the ages that God is your treasure and you wouldn’t trade him for all the riches of this world!
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (vv. 38-39, ESV)While reading this, I can immediately hear Jesus' rebuke. But, recently I came across this passage and heard mercy in it as well.
I heard the gospel.
The Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus to give them a sign to prove that He really is the Messiah. Many times we are the same way. We ask God for signs. We want proof that He really is the real God. Other people throughout the ages have doubted God and asked for signs. Although indirect, the Israelites in the time of Moses were given many signs because of their complaining. John the Baptist indirectly asked for proof of Jesus being the Messiah. And, here we have the scribes and Pharisees. In all of these responses that I've mentioned, God is gracious and grants a sign. Even with regards to the scribes and Pharisees.
Before Jesus offers any hope, He rebukes these men. He calls them evil and adulterous. After all, what more are they looking for? They've studied the Word. They should simply believe what the Word says - even if experience isn't completely matching their pre-conceived notions. In all honesty, how many times are we the same way? We ask God to give us signs even when we know that God is still by our side and He is leading us as a good Father. Jesus says that there's an arrogance sometimes (not all the time) when we ask for a sign. Yet, Jesus doesn't walk away from these evil and adulterous men. After all, He came to save the evil and adulterous people. Jesus gives them what they ask for. He gives them the greatest sign that has ever been given and ever will be given - the sign of Jonah.
What is that sign? It's Jesus' death and resurrection. Verse 40 says, "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (ESV) What greater sign could there be? The people of Nineveh repented after Jonah's release of the great fish, and there will be myriads of people who will be led to repentance because of Jesus' power of sin and death once he is resurrected.
This story is profound. Jesus rebukes the men as evil for asking for a sign and then He promises to be a sign to them. These men don't get the sign they're asking for, and many of these men reject Jesus. But, that doesn't change the fact that this sign brings the most profound blessing. Jesus was sharing the gospel with these men. He reveals the bad news - they're evil. Then he displays the beautiful good news - He is the Savior!
Remember, just like the scribes and pharisees, we are evil and adulterous - seeking our own ways. But also remember this: many previously evil and adulterous scribes and Pharisees are now in Heaven today. Not only that, thousands upon thousands of other evil and adulterous people (like ourselves) can know real forgiveness and life because of this gracious sign of Jonah that Jesus offered up on behalf of sinners.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
In past generations [God] allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:16-17)
To me, these words are hugely encouraging. What are your thoughts?