Archive for August, 2011

30
Aug
11

worship

At a very low point in David’s life he wrote: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

David had lost his position, been driven from his home, his wife had been taken from him and the king had put out a contract on his life! I don’t know how it can get a lot worse. How could he be in the mood to worship with such devotion and enthusiasm?

David understood some very important things about the effects of worship.

For instance, David knew that worship gives us a fresh perspective. In verse 4 of that same Psalm he writes: “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Worship changes the angle from which we view our circumstances. We see things from God’s perspective.

Worship causes us to remember what God has already done. Verse 6 says: “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” When we worship we are reminded that there is nothing too hard for God (Genesis 18:14).

Worship is a declaration of truth. When we worship as Jesus said we should, in Spirit and truth (John 4:23), we speak truth to the lies the enemy tries to influence us with. David proclaimed in verse 7: “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”

Lastly, worship helps us to focus on God’s purpose for the difficulties in our life and reminds us that he is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). In verse 19 David reminds us: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

With these things in mind, the Psalmist invites us to join him in worshipping God.

“My soul will make its boast in the LORD; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (Verses 2, 3)

23
Aug
11

spiritual warfare

Recently someone asked me what I thought about spiritual warfare. The first observation I made was this: I find it amazing how many people, even some in the church, scoff at the idea of an active devil resisting the efforts of those trying to know and do the will of God. Paul clearly teaches us in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Peter adds to that in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Now I know a lot of the problems we encounter in life are the product of poor choices on our part (not a guy in a red suit with a pitchfork hiding behind the next bush), so I am in no way proposing a philosophy of blame shifting or denial of responsibility; however, none of us are perfect. We all will continue to make questionable decisions from time to time. Where spiritual warfare comes into this is how we respond, not only to our own shortcomings, but to those of others as well.

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us we should be “aware of (Satan’s) schemes.” So how can we tell if we are dealing with spiritual warfare?

1. Jesus said, “When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Are lies being told? Not just outright lies. What about innuendos, misinformation, half-truths dressed up by Scripture taken in part or out of context?

2. Revelation 12:10 calls Satan “the accuser” of God’s people. In fact, the word “devil” literally means “slanderer”. Are believers being maligned, discredited or discounted? Are ministry ideas and plans being scoffed at and discouraged? Is gossip rampant? This is not to say that healthy dialogue shouldn’t occur but, when all is said and done (and this is huge!), are people encouraged to grow in ministry and do good works or are they discouraged and feeling beat up?

3. Romans 13:12 reminds us we have been rescued from the “deeds of darkness” and 1 Corinthians 4:5 says that God will “bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” Are things being done in secret and behind people’s back?

These things are some pretty good indicators that something sinister is at work around us, or maybe even in our own heart.

What should our response be?

Ephesians 6:10, 11: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

16
Aug
11

temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

The first thing we need to acknowledge is that we all will be tempted. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for sure and, more than likely, on other occasions as well for the Scripture says in Luke 4:13, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

The second thing we know is temptation itself is not sin. Hebrews 4:15 says he was “tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin.”

Thirdly, temptation is the result of what is already in our heart. James, the brother of Jesus, reveals this principle when he writes: “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:14)

Fourthly, temptation becomes sin, according to the 15th verse of James 1, when we allow illicit thoughts to predominate (take hold of) our thinking and effect our behavior.

Finally, Paul informs us that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond our maturity level and that, with the temptation, God will provide a strategy to overcome that specific temptation. That’s great news! I wonder though – when was the last time, in the midst of a trial, you stopped to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the Divine strategy God had prepared for you to deal with that specific spiritual battle you were facing?

The reason I ask is because I know how often the enemy comes at me and, instead of taking a deep breath and asking the Spirit to reveal to me the strategy God has prepared for me to use to win the battle, I rely on my own plan or some past strategy God used in my life or a strategy that I heard worked for someone else when they were facing a similar battle. However, by God’s grace, I am learning to “walk by the Spirit (so that I) will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) and you can too!

09
Aug
11

keep your head

“Welcome To The New World Disorder”

“Why The Next Recession Could Be Worse”

“UK Shaken By Spreading Riots”

In case you missed them, these are just a few of the headlines posted on various websites in the last 24 hours.

What in the world is happening and what should we do? Well, here is what Jesus had to say about it: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 34:6-8) Author and pastor Max Lucado offers this interpretation of Jesus’ predictions: “Nature is a pregnant creation, third-trimester heavy. When a tornado rips through a city in Kansas or an earthquake flattens a region in Pakistan, this is more than barometric changes or shifts of ancient fault lines. The universe is passing through the final hours before delivery. Painful contractions are in the forecast.”

Jesus’ instruction to his followers? “Such things must happen,” so…

“See to it that you are not alarmed.” NIV

“Keep your head and don’t panic.” MSG

“See that you are not troubled.” NKJV

Pastor Lucado adds: “And remember ‘All these (challenging times) are the beginning of birth pains’ (24:8), and birth pangs aren’t all bad. (Easy for me to say.) Birth pangs signal the onset of the final push. The obstetrician assures the mom-to-be, ‘It’s going to hurt for a time, but it’s going to get better.’ Jesus assures us of the same. Global conflicts indicate our date on the maternity calendar. We are in the final hours, just a few pushes from delivery, a few brief ticks of eternity’s clock form the great crowning of creation. A whole new world is coming!”

02
Aug
11

two conclusions

I have come to two conclusions recently. The first is this: Life is really good! God has blessed me in so many ways it would be impossible to list all of them here, but I will mention a few. I will start with all the “spiritual blessings” he has heaped upon me. These would include, but not be limited to, salvation, sanctification, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and grace for every day. I am grateful for a fantastic wife who loves me and is committed to our relationship. I am humbled by my children and the wisdom, integrity and courage that are coming to fruition in their lives. I am overwhelmed by the expressions of friendship I constantly receive from those God has brought into my life. I am very honored by the opportunities God has given me, and continues to give me, to serve him by serving others. I am truly blessed! The words of the Psalmist might express it best for me when he wrote: “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (103:1-5)

The second conclusion I have come to is this: Life is hard. It is filled with disappointments, let downs, betrayals, pain and suffering. There are days when things seem to make very little sense, if any sense at all, and some days when it seems as if our world is coming to an end.

But here’s the interesting thing – The hardness of life is what brings to light the goodness of God’s blessings! Those that would deny, or at least try to ignore, the suffering that accompanies life, are missing out on the sweetest of God’s blessings and provisions of grace he wants to pour out upon them! The writer of Proverbs reminds us that God “gives grace to the humble.” (3:34)

Paul sums it up this way in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”