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Showing posts from August, 2012

Independent? Dependent? Codependent?

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For the most part we are a society of independent people. In some ways that statement is an oxymoron—how can we be a society if we are independent of each other? Certainly independence damages community even if it can  maintain a tenuous hold on the claim to still be "society."

But the Scriptures remind us Who we need to always be dependent upon. Deep down in our heart of hearts we all want someone to lean on. We have a built-in need that won't be denied no matter how hard we try to stamp it out.

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet God?" (Psalm 42:1, 2). The psalmist knows the loneliness and desperation of being independent and yearns for that connection to the only One who can meet his need.

"Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God…

God: In Perfect Harmony

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"Your LOVE, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
Your FAITHFULNESS to the skies.
Your RIGHTEOUSNESS is like the highest mountains,
Your JUSTICE like the great deep.
" —Psalm 36:6

This psalm begins with a terse statement about the wicked and then, unexpectedly, comes this marvelous declaration on the character of God.

Whatever the wicked are, however deluded, however devious and destructive, God is greater.

The psalmist continues the declaration of his faith in the One in whom he can find refuge (vs. 7), the One who provides in abundance (vs. 8, 9), and the One who vanquishes any evildoer who plots against those who belong to God.

The pairing of these four characteristics intrigues me. True love must be faithful. True righteousness demands that justice be served. The love of God, as profound as it is, will never let us down. God cannot, and will not, prove faithless.

God is righteous, perfect and holy. That righteousness cannot turn a blind eye to sin, but must demand an accounting and a p…

A Promise for Today

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A picture is worth a thousand words. Couple the picture with the promise and we have a winning combination. Great picture, fantastic promise! God is good.



One Too Many

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The first murder of 2012 was committed last Saturday morning here in my hometown. Considering that 20 or 30 murders occurred on any given weekend in Caracas while I lived there, one in eight months doesn't seem like much. But it is still one too many.

It's not that there is an absence of law. No, we are not a lawless nation. But we are a godless nation. Oh, we have churches and freedom of religion is guaranteed. All those niceties exist. Our country was founded on Christian principles and those principles form the basis for the rule of law. But chaos doesn't begin with the breaking of the law, it begins in the heart. And the heart of the nation is godless.

David writes in Psalm 33:12a, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

It doesn't say that a nation is blessed if it gives lip service to a religion, or holds to a set of moral and ethical norms. It says that blessing comes to a nation that acknowledges THE God and where that God is LORD over every asp…

Broken Heart

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What do you do when the cross no longer moves you?

You keep going back to it until it does.

When we are no longer impacted by the remembrance of the cost of our salvation we have, as Paul writes to the Colossians, "lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow" (Colossians 2:19).

The cross is the pumping of the heart that moves the blood that supplies life to the body.

Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm, describing the work of Christ on the cross. Over David's story is superimposed HIS-tory.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me…
Many bulls surround me;
stong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my m…

A Little More in the Tank

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Somewhere along the way I remember hearing that if a person runs on their reserves of energy for too long, he can use them up. Those reserves are not renewable resources. Once they are gone, they are gone for good, and there is nothing extra left to call on when the need arises.

As I was reading Psalm 18 this morning i remembered that tidbit of information. I don't know where I am in the scenario I just described (could be I'm simply still trying to convince an older body to maintain a younger pace!) but I was encouraged by David's thoughts.

"You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall...It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights" (Psalm 18:28, 29, 32, 33, NIV).

It's true. When I come to what seems to be the end, and feel as though I can't go any further, ther…

Lighting a Match in the Dark

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I think it was V. Raymond Edman who coined the phrase, “Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light.”

As I read Psalm 13 this morning I could hear David echoing that message. He begins with a lament: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (13:1, 2, NIV).

It’s a sentiment that many of us are familiar with. Sometimes we go through spiritual dry spells. We aren’t told what David was going through at this moment that made him feel as though God had turned His back on him. His thoughts plagued him, he was sad and felt defeated. Perhaps he was going through one of those states of depression that from time to time dog all our steps.

Whatever it was, David felt that he was in danger of giving in to whatever was troubling his thoughts, to whoever was threatening his life. He writes: “Look on me and answer, Lord…

Is It Night Yet?

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I read somewhere that cats only sleep with their tummies exposed when they are feeling totally safe.

David had plenty of times in his life when he was never safe, when a deep, carefree sleep seemed out of the question.

In Psalm 4, the psalmist expresses his confidence in the God who will guard his sleep as well as He guards his servant's waking hours.

"Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him...In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety" (4:3, 8, NIV).

Some of us have a hard time letting go of the day. Sleep eludes us as we struggle with what has been, what is, and what is yet to come. David had as much reason as anyone to suffer insomnia. He had "issues," enemies who wanted to kill him, questions of food and shelter to deal with, people to rule, children who were rebellious.

He released all these things into the Lord's hands and went to sleep with the perfect as…

Golden

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Sometimes it's hard to sense God's presence. Job struggled with that. He had lost everything, apparently without any logical explanation behind all the terrible events in his life. Job 23 describes his frustration at not being able to "find" God and explain things. He desperately wanted to defend himself and prove to the Almighty that God had made a mistake in allowing all this disaster to come into Job's life.

We know the beginning of Job's story so we understand what he didn't. We know that there was a battle going on in heaven that was behind all that Job was going through. But he didn't, although in this chapter Job got as close to the explanation as it is possible to get without knowing the backstory.

Job couldn't "find" God but nevertheless he said: "But he knows the way that I take; and when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (23:10, NIV). There might have been a touch of arrogance in Job's words, but there…

Every Part Committed

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There is no doubt that we are always tested at our weakest point.

A wonderful celebration followed the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. That celebration included a revival and a renewing of the vows that the Jews had made to follow God. Three areas of weakness were identified: intermarriage, the commercialization of the Lord's Day, and the neglect of the house of the the Lord.

As the book of Nehemiah comes to an end, Nehemiah gives us some insights into the forms that these three weaknesses took.

The intermarriage problem is describes in Nehemiah 13:1-3, 23-28. It is interesting to note that Nehemiah uses Solomon as an example of the consequences of marrying an nonbeliever. He writes: "Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women" (13:26, NIV).

The commerce of the Lord's …

Revival—Nehemiah Style

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The walls are up and people are settled in. Nehemiah calls a general assembly "…made up of men and women and all who were able to understand" (Nehemiah 8:2, NIV) and Ezra, the teacher of the law, enters the picture once again.

Ezra begins to read the Law of Moses. From daybreak until noon he reads. And everyone listens. They worship. "They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read" (8:8, NIV).

Here, in just a few statements, is the essence of the ministry: Assemble, worship, read and understand the Scriptures.

This moment in history kicked off days of celebration in Jerusalem. But it is interesting to note that Nehemiah had to order the people to celebrate because when they heard the Word of the Lord read the reaction was not one of joy. "…all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law" (8:9, NIV). No explanation is given except to say that they we…