Saturday, July 28, 2012

God Heal America

The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, 
and behold, they are an obstinate people."
Exodus 32:9

Thousands of years ago God made this statement to Moses about the Israelites. Thousands of years later Abraham Lincoln made a similar statement about Americans: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” One hundred and forty-seven years later we are still obstinate, still too proud to pray to our Creator. In Ezekiel 22 God looked for one who would "stand in the gap before me for the land" (v. 30). We who are called by His name are told to humble ourselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, will forgive our sin and will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Our land lies wounded and bleeding. Let's stand in the gap and call upon the name of the Lord to heal her. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forgiveness that Knows No Limit

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22

Perhaps Peter  was feeling righteous when he suggested to the Lord that forgiving an offending brother seven times would be acceptable to God. There was a rabbinic view that one need forgive only three times, so in effect Peter was actually doubling the quota for forgiveness.  But the Lord responded with a number much greater than Peter's. In fact, the Lord's idea of forgiveness knows no boundaries, and His followers are to forgive as He forgives. Today I read that Pierce O'Farrill, a 28-year-old who was shot three times in the Aurora theatre, says he has forgiven James Holmes the suspected shooter. O'Farrill, who serves at the  Denver Rescue Mission -- a Christian organization -- was quoted as saying: "Of course, I forgive him with all my heart. . . when I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him -- he's just a lost soul right now. I want to see him sometime. The first thing I want to say to him is 'I forgive you,' and the next is, 'Can I pray for you?'"  Pierce is a living testimony to what Christ taught. And it is by the power of Christ that this young man is able to forgive so great an offense. Praise God for his example. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When We Are Exiled

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’"
Jeremeiah 29:4-7

When we lose a loved one we can come to feel we have been exiled to a land of grief, never to return to the place where we once experienced joy. We long for what we once had and wonder how we will step through the days ahead of us. Where will we go? What will we do? We can wander in confusion or look to the God of Love who answers us with a simple directive: "Go on living. Embrace each day and walk with me. There is much healing to be done and it can only happen by continuing to walk through the shadowed valley hand-in-hand with me. I understand your grief. I have been there. I will rescue you and bring you back to a land of joy (Jeremiah 29:10-14). That time is coming. Trust me and wait for me to bring it about."

"Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as 'in all points tempted like as we are,' bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us." (Alexander MacLaren)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are You Small Enough?

"What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?"
Psalm 8:4

Years ago, there was a famous explorer named William Beebe, a good friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. Often when he visited the President at Sagamore Hill, the two men would go outdoors at night to see who could first locate the Andromeda galaxy. Then, as they gazed at the tiny smudge of distant starlight, one of them would recite, “That is the spiral galaxy of Andromeda. It s as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galax- ies. It is 750,000 light years away. It consists of 100 billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.” With this ritual, Beebe and Roosevelt restored their sense of wonder. David had that sense of wonder, too. As he looked at creation he marveled that such a magnificent God could love and care for frail, weak humans. So often we think we have all the answers and can do everything needed without God's help. But the truth is we are completely dependent upon Him. Without His grace we would have nothing. Go out today and renew your wonder of God. Then lift up praises to Him for all that He is. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Radically Transformed

"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 
trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10

Christians don't need to dwell on what they were before they came to Christ. We are no longer the embodiment of darkness, now we are bright shining lights, just as the Lord is a Shining Light. However, remembering the darkness from which we came does help us to live in thankfulness, with a desire to please the One who gave His life so that we could become "children of Light". "Paul’s argument is based upon a fundamental premise: Christians have undergone a dramatic transformation which is here described as having been transformed from darkness to light. In the Bible, salvation is never spoken of as a trivial matter. Those who are saved by faith in Christ are not merely improved, they are radically transformed. They have been delivered from death and given eternal life and have been saved from a life of sin to a new life which is characterized by good works (Ephesians 2:1-10." (Bob Deffinbaugh)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Will We Share the Good News?

“Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane."
Isaiah 51:6

Isaiah prophesied of the events that will occur in the Second Coming of Jesus (Matthew 24:4-9, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 6:12-17), when the Lord's justice will be displayed to Israel and all the nations of the earth. Thousands of years have passed since Isaiah's prophecy, the warnings of Jesus, the words of Peter and John's revelation. Why is God waiting so long? Peter tells us why: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." It is God's mercy that stays His hand of judgment. He's holding back so that more and more people can enter His kingdom before it's too late. And we who know Him have the responsibility to share the good news of God's salvation with those who don't know and don't understand so that they may know His mercy and live. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What He has said He will do, He will do. What He says will happen, will happen. If our neighbors lived in the path of a raging fire, wouldn't we warn them and show them the way to safety? Why, then, are we so afraid to warn them of the judgment that is coming and show them the way to mercy? (Friends, I ask this very question of myself as I write it.) May God give me -- and you -- the courage to share His salvation with everyone He places in our path.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Lord of Peace

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. 
The Lord be with you all!"
2 Thessalonians 3:16

What a beautiful description of Jesus: The Lord of Peace. He is the Author of Peace. The Peacemaker and the Peacekeeper. He is the reason we can make peace with God. For He is the One who gave His very life for peace. If we want to know the peace that passes all understanding, we need only to give ourselves to the Lord of Peace Himself. He will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is fixed on Him and who continues to trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Living for Jesus, oh, what peace!
Rivers of pleasure never cease;
Trials may come, yet I'll not fear,
Living for Jesus, He is near.

(From the hymn Living for Jesus, Oh What Peace by Charles Frederick Weigle)
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