Thursday, April 18, 2013

2 Samuel 6

I was speaking about this passage today at Northland Christian School and remembered how powerful the example of David was for my own life...

6:9 - After Uzzah dies, David is angry and heartbroken and defeated. This verse tells us that he fears the Lord and he walks away from the ark. I think it is hard for American Christians to read about fearing the Lord and really understand it. We don't want to fear God...that doesn't sound right to us. We want to be filled with God. We want to be blessed by God. We want to have eternal life with God. Fearing God sounds so sounds so medieval. But we really need to understand that fear of God is essential for a true believer. In this chapter, fear of God is what forms the foundation for David's passionate, unashamed worship of God. David finally understands...he finally sees firsthand, that God is OTHER. God is above us. God is power. God is truth. God is righteousness. God IS. When you start to see even small glimpses of the true nature of God...fear is a natural response. It is not the same kind of fear we have for evil is a fear that is centered around ultimate is a fear grounded in your extreme helplessness and meaninglessness in comparison to God's vastness. It is a beautiful fear that demands, from the depths of your soul, that you worship God with every ounce of devotion you can muster.

6:14 - "David danced with all his might." Do you ever love God like this? Have you ever loved God with this kind of passion? I have seen people celebrate at sporting events and concerts like this...but this depth of worship is rarely offered up to God. It is a shameful fact that we rarely see Christians worship God with abandon, isn't it? David gave everything he had to his dance before the Lord...his dance fueled by loving fear...his dance of pure worship. God is the only thing in the universe worthy of our worship...if fact, we were designed specifically for worshipping God. David was able to worship in this pure form because he had finally connected with His creator in such a way that nothing else mattered. Nothing! He was utterly lost in the act of honoring God...and all other thoughts/worries/concerns/fears were swept from his mind. Do you understand that your life everyday is an act of worship? Do you know that you are a worshipper? What are you worshipping with your life? Can you say what David was able to say that you are worshipping God with all your might?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Philippians 2:14-18

Verses 14 and 15 - Christians set a great example for the rest of the world when we live out our faith on a daily basis through trust and joyful living (Regardless of our circumstances). When we allow bitterness, worry, complaints, whining, etc. to creep into our lives, we look more like the corrupt world and less like Christ. Complaining shows a lack of faith...arguing shows a lack of humility...and these things damage the worlds perception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Make his name great and you life better by refusing to bitterly living in the peaceful freedom of God's presence.

Verses 16-18 - Paul (Writing from jail, I might add!), is still absolutely committed to being a light to the world in all that he does and says. Nothing can stop him from living faithfully, because he BELIEVES...he really and truly believes...he is absolutely sold out to the way of Jesus. And he makes it clear that he is even willing to go further...Paul is willing to pour out his life's blood like a drink offering (To die!) for the sake of the Gospel. All that matters to him is the name of Jesus being made great in the world...lives being changes...sinners being redeemed...God's will being done in the world - that is all Paul cares about - how about you? He lived out such a powerful example for us. When I am whining about the little things in my life that are "going wrong," I need to fight for joy...stay committed...humble myself before Him and live as light.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Psalm 1

Verse 1 - I do a pretty good job of ignoring the counsel of the wicked...though sometimes the lies produced by our selfish, consumeristic culture seep into my heart. I do not generally stand in the way of sinners (Which is not talking about "standing in their way" as in stopping them, but really referring to standing in the midst of sinfulness)...though in all honesty, some of the media I consume is definitely not "holy." Yet, I do struggle regularly with the third area is easy for me to be a is easy to be a is easy to is easy for me to find fault in others while offering no help for transformation. I often sit in the seat of the scoffer, and that is not what godly men and women do. Time for me to get to work!

Verse 2 - I love this verse, but I want us to think about what it means to really live this out. What does it look delight in the instruction of the Lord? What does that look like in my life? What does that look like in your life? Do I delight in the Law of the Lord on a regular basis...on a moment by moment basis each day? Do I find true freedom in the way that Jesus Christ has shown me how to live? (I should!) Does it bring me joy? Do I revel in the beautiful simplicity of his way? In the lack of confusion and the surplus of clarity it brings me? Do I dedicate myself to writing the Law of the Lord onto my soul every day? That is what godly men and women do.

Verse 3 - When you drink deep from the presence and Truth of the Lord, your life will be better. That is a biblical guarantee...that is a promise straight from God Himself. Does it mean that you will be rich and beautiful and have no earthly problems? No. What it means is that you will have the strength and wisdom and compassion and love to face anything that this screwed up world has to throw at you! That what it means. You will be a better person, because you will be connected to the source of true life that you were created to be in relationship with. It is just right and you will know it if you surrender yourself to the Lord.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Psalm 30

30:1 - "You have drawn me up and have not let me foes rejoice over me." The first image that came to my mind upon reading this, was the image of a football player standing triumphant over another...taunting after a big hit...reveling in his humiliation of another. Sometimes we feel this way don't we. We feel that life is crushing us...we feel that others are rejoicing in our struggles...we feel that we are on the ground, defeated and the world is laughing at us. I think most of the time we are the ones who keep ourselves down...I think we accept defeat...I think we give up...we wallow in self pity...we get stuck and imagine that everyone is looking down on us. We must remember the reality of what is going on in the world...God is in control. In our weakness He shows His our failure, He shows His victorious strength. If we turn to the Lord, we will be pulled up out of our failure. He picks us up...lends us strength...shows us our worth (Which does not depend on what others think of us). There is no true gloating for the enemies of the Lord, because He is ever victorious. We know how the story ends!

30:5 - Ask yourself - "Do I embody the characteristics of the Lord laid out in this verse?" Do you? As I read this verse this morning, I began to ask myself - does my family feel this way about me? Do they see me as someone who's anger is momentary and his love is always there? What do I need to do to live that out? What needs to change? I need to accept the mercy and healing that comes from God on a moment by moment basis. When we dwell in the forgiveness of the Lord, we will better be able to forgive...better be able to treat others with mercy...better be able to love others as God loves us.

30:11-12 - Another question for us to ask ourselves..."Do I give praise to God in everything?" Do I praise the Lord in the good times and the bad times? Honestly, no. Definitely not always. I allow perso0nal failure to drive a wedge between myself and God. I allow distractions to blind me to God's moving in my life. My thankfulness suffers. I long to trust God so deeply that I can be joyful and praise filled regardless of my circumstances. God give me the eyes to see your will in every situation...and the praises to offer you in any circumstance. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Psalm 43

43:1-2 - After reading through those verses, are there any ways that you are feeling like the psalmist right now? Feeling exposed? Undefended? Separated from God? Confused? Lost?  I personally am not going through a season like that right now, but I have experienced feelings like this in the past...I think we all have. Wondering where God is when things are hard...wondering why it seems like the people who reject God are prospering while you struggle...feeling like everything is spinning out of control. Sometimes our first response to difficult times like these is to blame God and pull away from Him...

43:3-4 - Yet the writer of this psalm shows us how to deal with such feelings, and angrily blaming God is not the answer (Shocking, I know!). What is the answer to dealing with darkness and confusion in this world? God's light and truth...asking God to guide you back into His presence. So many of us run from God when we are mad, but what we need to do is cry out to Him. Even when everything is falling apart, the psalmist knows that if he can just enter into God's presence he will find peace and joy. And don't you know that too? As much as we threaten to leave much as we get much as we ignore Him when we are upset...deep down we know that He is the only place where we are going to find refuge and rest. He has always been the only safe haven fro our souls...we just need to remember that when things are hard.

43:5 - The psalm closes out with a powerful reminder - put your hope in God. God is our hope. God is our salvation. God is the only way out of the darkness and confusion of this life. If you place your trust in Him...He will not let you down.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Philippians 2:12-13

2:12 - What does it mean to work out your salvation? Does that mean that we save ourselves? Does that mean that we earn our way into God's grace through rule following? No! Look at what the passage says, "work out YOUR OWN salvation." You have it already. Salvation that has come through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is your own. You received this salvation not through any actions on your part, but by simply believing in Jesus and what he did for you. Once this salvation has been received there is nothing you can do to earn have it! You own it! And the only possible appreciative response to this free gift of salvation is to live as one who is live as one made righteous. That is what Christians do...we make decisions according to the salvation that we have already been given. Does that make sense? Working out your salvation is simply living to honor God's incredible mercy.

2:13 - Do you ever think about this? God Himself is at work in you! God is guiding you. God is shaping you. God is loving you. The questions is - if He is working in you, what is He leading you towards? He i leading you towards His will. He wants you to be living anchored in His will. When we are operating within the will of God, we are functioning as we were created to function. God's good pleasure is where we want to be. God is good and the things that please God are utterly good. To be living in God's will is to be working for God's pleasure. It is completely right. It is home.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Psalm 65

65:1 - God is worthy of our vows, and that is no small thing. It means that we can trust Him unconditionally. It means that we can and should offer our entire lives to Him. Our existence is fulfilled when we give them to the Lord as living sacrifices...we find out who we are supposed to be when we give ourselves away.

65:2 - ALL flesh will come to God. I love that even in the Old Testament (Writings that are often very Hebrew-centric), we find God's desire that all peoples of the earth would eventually approach Him...He is the God of all and He desires relationship with all. That knowledge should drive us to love unconditionally and welcome those who are different than we are into our community (Where else are the going to interact with the transforming Gospel of Jesus?).

65:3 - This passage says that God atones for our transgressions (our sins), and we know that He poured out the ultimate atoning sacrifice on the cross. Unfortunately, this is such a repeated concept in Christianity that I think it sometimes loses its incredible power. This type of love is revolutionary...this type of love is basically unheard of in humanity...this love is amazing! Our creator God gave His life in our place...died for the sins of His rebellious creation - people who had set themselves as His enemies. That is incredible and awesome!

65:4b - Am I satisfied with the goodness of God's presence? Are you? Are we satisfied with the community found in the Church? I should be, but I constantly find myself chasing after other things - things that I know are not lasting. Why? I allow myself to buy into the lies and the values of this world...I allow myself to ignore the reality of Gods love.

65:7 - Only God can still the waters and the raging storm. Only God can tell a hurricane to "Be quiet" and it responds accordingly. For me, this passage from the OT is yet another picture of Jesus' godliness. He calmed the storm...something only God can do - Jesus is God!

65:12-13 - This reminds of the times I have spent hiking through the continental divided in Colorado. I remember sitting on top of a mountain and just staring in awe at the beauty of God's creation. Those are some of the most powerful times of worship and prayer in my life. The wonder of creation is a testament to God's creativity...His strength...His love!