Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Was It about Ezra?

Wow, what was it about Old Testament Ezra? The authorities granted Ezra’s every request, ‟for the hand of the Lord his God was upon him” (Ezra 7:6). Ezra set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach [God’s] statutes and rules” (verses 9-10). 

My prayer is that God’s people - especially Christian leaders - will pursue and spread the statutes and principles outlined in the Bible with the passion of Ezra. I pray Gods people will be given the grace to trust that the good hand of God” will be on them. As Jesus said:



. . . do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ 
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . 
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31, 33

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

DEADLY OBEDIENCE

Obedience to authority can be a deadly cop-out if and when it contradicts God's instructions. I Kings 13:1-24 tells of a young prophet and his reward. Sent by God to deliver a specific message to an evil king and then leave without delay by a different route, the prophet did almost everything God had instructed him to do.

This young prophet stood up to a king, but failed to obey God when he was challenged by a fellow man of God like himself (read verses 11-18). The authority figure who tripped the young prophet was an older prophet who spoke with the voice of experience. The young man surely felt safe deferring to a superior, but paid dearly for blind obedience.

There is no substitute for direct obedience to God's word. No matter how convenient it is to fall in line with authority, whether in Christian ministry, at work, or at home, we must first and always remain accountable to God's principles laid out in the Bible. We must measure human authority against God's specific instructions and guiding principles.

This is my prayer:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
"This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:21

Condensed from "Cop-Out Obedience," published here May 8, 2009. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Read Your Bible


If [God] tears down, none can rebuild; 
if he shuts a man in, none can open. 
If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
    if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
With him are strength and sound wisdom;
    the deceived and the deceiver are his.
Job 12:14-16


Christians ostensibly care what the Bible says; we pride ourselves on living "by the book," and hold it to be our highest and most reliable source of truth in this modern information age. Christian, are you getting the truth in you? You'll miss out if you skim the surface looking for the "good stuff," or sit in church waiting to be spoon-fed. The book of Job is a classic example of unclaimed treasure. Unless you dig in and read through the entire collection of work in this unified anthology we call the Bible, you are going to miss it.

Christian, you say you believe the Bible. Do you also like to say you believe in the power of prayer? I do. The words above, poetry of one whose world was turned topsy turvy, work their way into my prayers on a regular basis, especially when the events of the day leave a heavy question mark hanging over my head (and they often do). When I feel my hands are tied and all I can do is pray, I can be glad! God proves true to the description above, and can be trusted to bring balance, put things in order, and set things straight. 

From Day 6 (see Hard Copy Reading Plan at right). Don't miss out; read your Bible

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Too Much to Ask?

In the aftermath of the Newtown slaughter, it is hard to know what we can offer. Nothing covers up the shame of this open, gaping wound on the national conscience. How could it have happened, and what can we do to help? We can't change what happened, and we'll never restore what has been taken, but we can each have a small part in preventing further tragedies like the evil deed of one sick soul at Sandy Hook.

We're not asked to do the impossible. Historically, all God has asked of his people was to look after our neighbors. We're simply to "render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another . . . not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart" (from Zechariah 7:9-10). Can we do that much? Can we each take good care of the person right next to us, or is it too much to ask?

Among God's people, it has seemed too much to ask, for "they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard" (verses 11-12), and I'm afraid we're tempted to do the same. Please don't withdraw from those around you, and don't close your eyes to the needs of difficult people. How many turned their backs on the unpleasant kid who grew up to be Lanza?

Let's not let it happen again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

KNOWING IS NOT ENOUGH

1 Samuel 4 describes superstitious people who trusted a box instead of God. The troops carried the ornate box containing their written agreement with God onto the battlefield for protection, but it didn't help at all! They were defeated because while they considered themselves to be God's chosen people, protected by an ironclad contract with God, they didn't make a practice of living by that agreement (which included the Ten Commandments). Everyone just did what seemed right to them.

Though we modern believers are under a new agreement, carrying the Book around without cracking it open to see what it says is ignorant and superstitious. Reading or hearing Jesus' teachings without setting our hearts to do accordingly is not enough. Under our grace agreement, we can't just wear our "faith" like a lucky charm - a cross around the neck or a Bible in the car. According to Luke (ch. 12:35-59), we are responsible to learn and know and practice and manage what we've been given.

. . . Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required . . . 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WHO TO FEAR

A friend was telling about a "funny" that showed Jesus on the cross, and three guys lined up next to him making the "M", "C", and "A" from the song we all know and love to hate. It is humorous in a sad way, and illustrates what happens when we view a scene out of context. What means everything to me might be completely irrelevant to someone who knows little to nothing about what happened at that cross. Is the cartoon blasphemy, or mere sacrilege? I don't know, but I'm not laughing! God's grace covers a lot of ignorance and error, but Jesus said it is healthy to have a certain fear:
I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! - Luke 12:4-5

Friday, March 30, 2012

In the Heart, Not the Head

Was Sampson's strength in his hair, really? Or was it perhaps in his heart? The historic account is that when Sampson's hair was cut, his strength left him; his hair was not all that was cut, though. His heartstrings were also snipped. Sampson truly gave away his heart and redirected his emotional alliance when he leveled with Delilah about his calling and lifelong identity as person set apart to God. Was it in giving his true affections, his turning from God to another, that might have caused God to leave him? Surely there was no magic in the hair on his head. Just think about it: where's your heart at?