Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Big Lie - Forgetting our Creator

Romans 1:20-25 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 
As we look around us, there is a lot we can see.  Today, the sun reflects off of the beautiful snow.  But there are other things to behold: we can turn on our TV and see violence, hear profanity, and observe all sorts of things unseemly to God.  We can go out on the road, to the restaurant or store, and notice that most of us live like there is no God.  We can live oblivious to our Creator, or overwhelmed by how obvious He is.  Look for the evidence in your own life. How do you come across to God? Thankful?  Foolish? Oblivious? Self-assured? Self-absorbed? Have we fallen for the Big Lie?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Making more than man and wife...

Genesis 2:18, 22, 24 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 
When God created the earth, every living thing on, in, and around it, and capped His creation with Mankind, He did not stop there.  He created relational institutions within which Mankind could thrive and live.  First, He created Marriage.  Like everything God says and creates, these relational institutions bear the mark of the Creator; they reflect His character.  So, when we decide we do not like the way He made them, we are messing with God Himself; we are rejecting Him.  God knew what He was doing; He knows us better than we know ourselves; His rules are righteous and good.  Let us enjoy the life He has given us, and the love He offers to us, in marriage and family, His way.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why do we resist creation?

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
(Psalm 33:6-9 ESV)
The Psalmist calls on us to praise and worship God, to stand in awe of Him as Creator.  But what if I do not like the implications of that fact? What if I do not appreciate the logical conclusion that if God made the world, including me, then I belong to Him and should play by His rules? Our only out is to decide we do not believe in creation or The Creator.  If we can convince ourselves of that, then we can at least try to live the insane life of ignoring Him and everything around us that He has made, and be our own god.  Insanity runs rampant.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Worship begins at The Beginning

Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. 
During the revival in Nehemiah's day, the people gathered together in worship and said: "Blessed be Your glorious name", after which they began to list all sorts of reasons to praise God - in short, their "history with God".  It begins here: creation.  For the people of Israel, for the Church, and for every believer, our history with God begins at creation - reaffirming the truth that God made everything, including me, and my very life comes from Him.  We join with the angels - also created by God, in worshipping our awesome Creator and Giver of Life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Creation has implications...

Colossians 1:15-18 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 
The great debate over creation is not at all surprising.  If God has created the world, He was, and is, first.  And He owns the world, and me.  If Christ created the world, and the church, (and as the Son He was just as instrumental as the Father at both...) He also has the place of priority.  That means we, and I cannot be in charge. He is Head. He is King. He is Lord.  If I don't like that, my only plan is to decide He is not Creator.  It does not change the fact that He is; it just twists my thinking enough to justify thinking I am god.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Good work, or great? Yes!

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 
This concluding statement after the creation of man summarizes it well: It was all very Good.  That is from God's perspective, looking down and around on his creation.  He has that objective perspective to look down and see if things are good or not, including you and me.  Our perspective is different.  When we look around and see the wonders of what He has made, we must admit it is great, much greater than anything we can ever do.  Even in its fallen state, the world He has made is awesome.  And we can also say it is good - not because we have the right or ability on our own to say so, but because we know the One who has made it, and we can see in it a reflection of His goodness.  God is Good; what He does is good, and he gives us a standard and example for what is good in it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Trinity... More than a tag line - The Tag Team...

2 Corinthians 13:11-12, 14 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 
This last verse of blessing is much more than a polite way to close his letter.  It is a fervent prayer and  blessing for the church - a blessing we need.  We need the Triune God at work in the Church. And this blessing is given to the church - not individual believers.  We receive and experience these blessings when we abide by the "one-another" instructions given above them.  When we show grace to one another, helping and forgiving one another; when we demonstrate sacrificial love to each other; when we hold high the need to share with one another, we will have these blessings, and we will see the Triune God at work in a powerful way, each one carrying out His part of His perfect plan.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Ephesians 4:30-32 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
I believe the Holy Spirit is often hurt, offended by the way we treat Him - as if He is not a person, as if He is not even "in the room".  The way we talk and the way we act must surely make Him feel that way.  As followers of Christ, He is within, and He has a reason to be in our lives; He is here to help us in the transformation process to become more like Christ.  But we often go through our daily lives like He isn't even here, and like we could care less what He thinks.  He is real. He is a Person. He is Holy God.  He is offended and grieved by our ignoring Him and not asking for his opinion or help.  Forgive us, Holy Spirit.  Let us listen; let us learn; let us live by your power.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Holy Conversation....

Hebrews 1:5-6, 8, 10-12 For to which of the angels did God ever say,“You are my Son,today I have begotten you”?Or again,“I will be to him a father,and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,“Let all God's angels worship him.” But of the Son he says,“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. And,“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain;they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up,like a garment they will be changed.But you are the same,and your years will have no end.”
To me, this is one of the most fascinating passages in thinking about the Triune God.  Jesus Christ is being set apart from the created angels: He is much more than SuperAngel.  Yes, He did appear in the Old Testament at times to bring a message, and yes, He was sent by the Father to bring the message of salvation to the earth in the flesh. But He is so much more. He is God the Son.  In this recorded conversation the Father refers to Him as God.  God (the Father) is talking to God (the Son), talking to Him about their creation activity together, and the Son's eternality.  Like the Father, He was always there and always will be.  Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God - just as much God as the Father.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where He is...

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
When we put the big picture all together, it is overwhelming.  Christ has come and accomplished the work He came to do: living sinlessly, dying sacrificially, rising triumphantly.  But He is not just sitting back in His easy chair in heaven collecting spiritual social security.  He is at the right hand of the prayer-hearing Father, interceding on our behalf.  Meanwhile the Holy Spirit is here with us, helping us figure out how to use the phone, moving to make our side of the conversation meaningful. How God cares for us!  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Too Comfortable with God?

“Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:5,6
When Moses approached the burning bush, he was very curious - so curious in fact, that he was unaware of any danger.  God did want Him there - He was doing everything He could to get Moses' attention. But He wanted Him to have a sense of how HOLY God is.  It is an awesome thing to be in the presence of God, but it is something which must maintain that realization of His great power and holiness, His pure wisdom, and His infinite, but often taken-for-granted love.  The fear of God, rightly understood, is not what keeps us away, but draws us back over and over again.  When we don't fear Him, we don't bother coming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Unlimited GOD

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
Our view of God is often far too small.  When Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, she was fixed on a god that was worshiped on the mountain behind her.  Like many people, to her God is limited to certain times, places and situations.  Not at all. God is infinite in so many ways. He is always there, always cares, and always able to handle what our real needs are. He is overwhelming in His perfect character, too great to be ignored.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Triune made...

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 
Each member of the Triune God was actively involved in all of creation - the Father designing, the Son speaking it into existence, and the Spirit surrounding it with life.  Then the Three-in-One focusing in on the final creation, mankind, discussing it in detail: Let's do this.  We are Triune made. Ever since then the Godhead has been very interested in us - sustaining, providing, and offering us what we need, each One very involved in our lives.  It's an awesome thing to be fearfully and wonderfully Made.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Scary Side of Scripture...

 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV)
We know that the Bible is what we need: God's Word, His Instruction Manual, His "Book for Life." But we don't always just gravitate to it and faithfully continue studying, meditating on, and memorizing it.  Why not? It's scary - like going into surgery.  We know it's what we need - without it spiritual disease will spread in our lives, but we are scared by anything out of our control. Especially anything so powerful as the Word of God.  It digs deeper than any scalpel, reveals more than any scan; it shows our souls and touches on the core of our being.  We want to hold that off as long as we possibly can, just like surgery.  But the judgment of God, which the Word of God brings just as much as the Salvation of God, compels us to have surgery NOW, before it's too late. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

seeing the Word at work...

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 
How do we know that the Word of God is the Word of God, and not just the word of men?  His Word has the power to transform lives.  That is what Paul observes here. From what he had seen and heard, these people responded with changed lives.   The question becomes: Have I seen His Word work in me?"

Friday, January 16, 2015

He's got it covered...

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
Talk about an over-memorized and under-applied scripture passage...
God has given us His Word to tell us about what is really important: our relationships, with others, and with life itself.  He tells us what we need to know, what we're doing wrong, how to do it right, and how to make relationships right.  Often we find ourselves thinking: "I'm not ready for this; I can't handle this," when life's biggest challenges come.  When we are with Him, in His word, we are much more ready, equipped.  Being in His Word is never a waste of time; we need more of His Word in us.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wisdom Literature...

2 Timothy 3:14-15 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 
In theological circles we often talk about the Old Testament "Widsom Literature", like Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.  But Paul is talking about much more here. He is talking about all of Scripture, where we find the story of God, and the salvation he offers.  We need to revisit what we think we know so well, too well, for our own good.  The "stories" of our youth are a part of "The Story" God is telling, and in them we have His Wisdom shared - a wisdom we desperately need.  Those basic lessons of faith, trust, obedience and worship form the foundation for living wisely.  Don't forget them and leave them behind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hanging on His Words...

John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 
Following Jesus the way His disciples did.  How do we do that?  Part of it is paying close attention to what He says.  They were hanging on every word.  Why should we be any different?   Since He is the Word revealed, part of our discipleship, our following after Him must be daily looking at His words, and all of God's words for instruction, challenge, and a commitment to change accordingly.   When Peter made this statement, many had made a conscious choice to NOT follow Jesus any more - to stop listening to Him.  Might we even say that the choice to stop listening to Jesus is a decision to not follow Him, to not be His disciple?  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Righteous Rules

Psalm 119:159-160 Consider how I love your precepts!Give me life according to your steadfast love. The sum of your word is truth,and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. 
What a passion for the Word of God!  The psalmist rightly realizes the connection between life and the Word of God; in it we find life and how to live it.  How clear and concise his conclusion: "Your Word is Truth."  This makes the last statement possible - the recognition that God's rules are not a burden; they are not given to make us miserable.  They are righteous, just the way they should be, for the relationship involved here - a creation to his/her Almightly Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe.  God has it right.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Confidence in the Bible

2 Peter 1:19-21 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 
Peter, sharing about the things God had revealed to him, knew that many would doubt what he said.  Yet he was unshaken, because he knew the God who had revealed these things, and he knew His Word was reliable, trustworthy, and not just some human ideas.  God has been at work, tell us what we need to know.  We can make decisions and take action with confidence, if we trust what He says.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Is this what church looks like to you?

 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13 ESV)
This is from one of Paul's "body" passages - what the church should look like - a real, living, loving body.  May we be healthy body parts today.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Living life with a heart for others

Ephesians 6:4-9 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. 
As Paul is wrapping up his charge on what it means to be the church, He once again calls on us to consider the effect our words and actions have on those around us, beginning with those closest to home and those we interact with on a daily basis.  Our goal needs to be to live life in such a way that we draw them closer to Him, not drive them away.  They need to see our love for Him and for them, and a life that is characterized by Christ-like service.  Our families need to see our devotional life as something that benefits them, that they want to be a part of, and those we work with need to see it as something that makes us better bosses and workers, not an isolated distraction that separates us from them.  Let us wake up and look around to see how our lives affect others.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Greedy or Generous?

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 
Paul was concerned about this church for a number of reasons: their immaturity, their continued sensuality, their infighting, and their greed.  These are many characteristics of the American church as well.  I don't know you much people give, but looking at what goes on, it is obvious that people in churches dod not give as Paul instructs here.  Often, I really don't need to know, I can tell by their conversation, their involvement, and their service where their time, money and hearts are invested, and it is NOT the ministry of the church, the helping of the poor, or the spread of the Gospel.  Our Greed is a symptom of something deeper - a lack of thanksgiving and trust in God's provision not only of what we need, but what will make us content.  Let's take a good hard look at ourselves.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Self-Aware People

Ephesians 4:26-32 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
Paul gives us a long series of "Let it Be"s... There are things we need to Let God do in our lives, and things we ought to Be - not just for ourselves, but for the sake of those around us.  We are often unaware of the influence we have on a watching world - for evil or for good.  We can demonstrate the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, or the lack thereof.  People are watching, and listening, to what we do an say.  These things have the power to build up, or drive away. Be aware.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Body Functions...

Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 
The older we get, the more we realize how often we take our body functions for granted: the way our joints move, the abilities of our senses, and especially our internal organs.  When they begin to fail to function properly, life can be difficult.  It can seem like we are falling apart.  All the more reason for us to do everything we can to keep our body healthy.  In the body of Christ, we all have a function, even if we cannot do it the way we used to.  We never outgrow the ability or need to love, which does, indeed, cover a multitude of sins, gray hairs, limps, creaks and groans.  Christ holds us together.  May we be His body today.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our most fragile heirloom...

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 
When Christ died, rose again, and ascended, He entrusted the Mission to His Church.  In the upper room he had promised a number of resources to help us in that task: His Spirit, His peace, His abiding love...  But the most delicate thing He entrusted to us is oneness - that is one thing He and the Father share in perfection which we have an uncanny way of disrupting.  We are called to live in oneness under Christ's headship.  That allows for so many breaches of contract - if, okay, when any one of us violates this oneness, it affects us all, and we all do it way to often.  Our goal, the longer we are His, and the longer we are together, is to grow in that oneness more and more, not less and less.  May we be recommitted to that task today.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

More than a Memory verse...

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 ESV)
This is a verse many of us will recognize as a generic "memory verse" for camp, Sunday School, or some kids Bible group.  Actually, it is a summary of all that has gone before, summarizing the whole of the Christian life: transformation of every thought and action to live to please God, thankful for each and every change He makes to bring us to where He wants us to be.  May this be more than just a memory verse for us; may it be the passion of our lives.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Speak up and Sing out! Do not remain silent!

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 
God has given YOU something to share.  He has given each of us something to share with other members of the body of Christ.  Don't be greedy and keep it to yourself.  We can receive instruction, correction, and unification when we do.  Don't mess up God's design for His church!  Sing out! Speak up! Give thanks and share what you've got!

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Peace of Christ

 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 ESV)
Most years, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the most peaceful times of the year for me.  I am able to sit back and relax and enjoy all the blessings God has given me: family, their gifts to one another, and His Greatest Gift of All.  I bask in thanksgiving.  That's the way He wants it to be every day in our homes and in our churches.  He wants us to constantly thank Him for Christ who joins us together; we wants us to let Him be the peace that calms any calamity or conflict.  He wants it to be Christmas every day in our hearts, homes and fellowship.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Outfit for the New Year...

 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)
Every day we look in the mirror to try to dress and look our best, so we feel good about ourselves. Every year we often pause and look at ourselves, what we have become, and do some re-examination. This year, let's look at how we affect others - how what we "wear" impacts them.  The list Paul has for us here comes from the inside out, but is obvious externally.   Kindness, meekness, patience and forgiveness will very much be seen and felt by those around us.  May we be even half as concerned about what we are "wearing" spiritually as we are about what we are wearing physically.