When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.
Here we are again in a time of social discord and tension. If you are reading this post you know what I am talking about, although this could be any given day in the twenty first century. The whole world is ill at ease. Tension is everywhere. Many Years ago Pastor Jack Hayford wrote a marvelous hymn entitled “Sing Hallelujah”. One of the verses goes something like this; “Children of light, the darkness fast is gathering, Storms of confusion blast and buffet all mankind…” How true this is. The question that is on everyone’s lips is; “What are we going to do about this?”
As in all things we must not be “swept away” by anger, fear, or murderous rage. There’s quite enough of that to go around. Rather, renew your determination to do three things; 1, Pray-pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17)for God’s peace to settle over our cities, our nation, and this world. 2’ Trust- “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) for “we see though a glass darkly” I Cor. 13:12) and 3- Stand- and when you have done everything you can do to stand, STAND (Eph. 6:13-14)
I pray for the anguish of the people in the cities who feel harassed and helpless. I grieve with the families of those who have lost their lives in this time of chaos. I beseech God to change the hearts of those who would continue to foment crime and destruction on our cities.
Zechariah 8:4 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares.
This “telling forth” from the prophet Zechariah occurred during the time after the “captivity” This post exilic statement in full spoke of God’s returning to Jerusalem and the temple. (See Vs. 3)
I was rather captivated by the peaceful imagery here. Certainly it stands out in stark contrast to what’s going on in our cities today. It would behoove us all, no matter what we feel about Racism, the Police, the state of the economy in the wake of this “pandemic” sweeping the world to be on our faces in prayer. We must always remember the words of Paul to the Corinthian church 3 Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards;[4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human] but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5 and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:35)
As the elders of the Church we need to become once again the example for the younger folk. We do not only need to pray, we need to testify to the effectiveness of prayer, and the constant call in all of scripture to be a praying people. When people have no place to take their anger and frustration we can certainly know that somewhere along the line we have failed to love, teach, admonish, and hold accountable those entrusted to our care. Worse, we have failed to expose younger people in every way possible to the true Word of God.
As they say, “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.” We can, however resolve to “return to the Lord with all our hearts”, and to take up the mantle of true servants of the Lord.
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
On this day after Pentecost Sunday I’d like to share with you some ideas that Pastor Gary Daud shared yesterday in our “online” church service. He spoke on the apostle Peter and his ups and downs not so much from the standpoint of his weakness, but from the perspective that he demonstrated by his life the truth of following Christ in this world. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost did not transform Peter into a “perfected” picture of perfect performance. By his life following that great day he showed us some things from which we may take encouragement. Pastor Gary vocalized something which if we were completely honest we would have to acknowledge as true. 1.) “Even sanctified Christians can be wrong.” 2.) “Even sanctified Christians can have conflict.” 3.) Even sanctified Christians can grow.”
Simple statements but if we delve deeply into the writers of the New Testament letters we can see how much emphasis was placed on understanding where we stand in relationship to where others on the same journey are. The next time you find yourself at odds with a brother or sister in Christ pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you the gracious and biblical response to that person in all humility. That is the true empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
Perhaps we really need to ask ourselves this question: Is this really the road we want to travel? Do we even know what that “old Godly way is? A recent study from George Barna found that “…although seven out of 10 (Americans) consider themselves to be Christian, only 6% actually possess a biblical worldview.” (Cultural research center at Arizona Christian University, George Barna research, Biblegateway)
If indeed we understand the results of this research, we must then conclude that overall, somewhere along the line we have missed something of enormous importance to the kingdom of our Lord Jesus, our Christ. Paul write to young pastor Timothy “AllScripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16) What scripture is he referring to; certainly not the New Testament. He was referring to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) the annals of the kingdom and the captivity, the psalms, proverbs, and the prophets. Our tendency to “cherry pick” the Old Testament for inspiration and comfort notwithstanding we have lost the ability or willingness to discern the harder truths found there. The values Paul espoused are as radical as Jesus was in His capacity to love. Here I would commend to you the song “My Jesus” by Christian artist Todd Agnew. He writes in one place; “My Jesus bled and died for my sins, He spent his time with thieves and sluts and liars” Hard words to hear, yet these are the very lambs Jesus cradled in his arms.
Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Abandoned, forsaken, alone; Frightening words at the very least. I hear many folks today longing for the kind of “community” they eschewed for most of their adult lives. I know that I have been one of those people. In this day, I believe that we are in a rapidly changing environment. With many forms of “communication” available people seem to be lonelier than ever. In all the years I pastored I recall one common thread that ran though people’s desires for their ministers. The ideas of presence, simple availability were paramount virtues held by nearly everyone. It wasn’t just pastors whose presence was desired. Oftentimes those who were considered wise, who were known for their Biblical insights were frequently called upon to be present in people’s lives.
As we age, it may seem that we are being abandoned, we are forsaken and alone. But here’s the thing. WE ARE NOT ALONE! Our Savior has promised He “would never leave (us) or forsake (us).(Hebrews 13:5 Deuteronomy 31:6) Let me ask you this; What can you do right where you are to begin to alleviate the anguish of someone you may know? You may well be a significant part of helping God to fulfill the promise in this verse from Isaiah 46.
Start children off [train up a child in/ KJV] on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
The difference between the two translations here is significant. One, the NIV seems almost to imply the release of a child to find their own way after starting off. The other seems to imply an ongoing relationship in which there is room for teaching and correction. It seems that those two elements are significant in that what we see today is the almost complete lack of the “training up” dynamic of child rearing. When building a strong moral foundation is not considered to be the very essence of parental responsibility in favor of “let the child develop ‘naturally’ and make up their own minds” we live with the very disasters we face today. Two or three generations on we are all paying the price for failing to “train up” our children.
As grandparents and senior church members we are given a second chance to help both parent and child to understand how imperative it is to build that foundation with Jesus our Christ as the very “cornerstone” of that foundation. Do you have grandchildren? When they visit do they see things like bible verses posted, or the Ten Commandments, or prayers of thanksgiving at meal times? Do you ever share bible stories or verses with them? Have you ever thought of volunteering for a toddler’s class, or middle schoolers in your Sunday school? The “grandparent revolution” could begin to do amazing things in the church and community. We should pray about these things. God called Elijah to come out of hiding. (1 Kings 19: 1-15) God understood Elijah’s emotional exhaustion and fear, yet he was not done with him yet. Is it time for you to come out of your “cave”?
Ezra 3:12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
“Rah. Rah rumble seats and running boards…”
Many of you may have grown up in an old country church like the one pictured above. The singing, the preaching, the social events, may be all a part of our fondest memories. Some in my generation began to question the direction and purpose of the church and many left to strike out on their own. Finding perhaps that the world had little to offer many made their way back, but everything was different. The old familiar songs were frequently absent, the social gatherings were more like lawn parties, and the preaching had devolved into what theologians call “therapeutic deism”. Vacuous and empty “pie in the sky” self -determinism had replaced God’s clear call to become “living sacrifice (s)” (Roman 12:1)
Many were left wandering in a quagmire of internal and external conflict wrestling with the simple question; “What’s a Christian to do?” So, we “did” things. We performed with all of our might and eventually we found ourselves exhausted and bereft of any sense of the presence of God.
In the midst of all of this despair God raised up an idea. It is the idea of discovering God’s purpose for you. Too many leaders want to make little clones of themselves among those who will follow them. Following them, however, we end up on the same treadmill of “good works” that alienated us in the first place. Finding God’s purpose is a matter of heart transformation. Here I would refer you to 1st Corinthians 13 and the great preamble to the famous “love passage”. The essence of serving God is; loving others as God loves them. You’ll not be left wondering what to do.
Deuteronomy 28:49-5049 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand,50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.
As Moses was giving his farewell speech he warned the Israelites about disobedience to the Lord God. We have seen a culture grow up around us which fits rather well the description in these verses. As we look and note that the elderly are disrespected and devalued, as the culture makes little demi-gods of some children while at the same time continuing the wholesale slaughter of the unborn it is with no small wonder that many of us realize the loss, the fading of what was at best perhaps an illusion. I believe that the Christian value system that should have been the hallmark of a truly American culture has been all but obscured in our headlong rush to an wholly untenable kind of diversity which is not values free, rather it has become value-less in that truth has become a relative concept, and righteousness is whatever the individual might say it should be,
Truth and righteousness are, and always have been what God says they are. Jesus, the very son of God proclaimed himself the embodiment of truth. Imagine, the “Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6) living, breathing, walking among us. I am swept away by joy when I contemplate the idea. How wonderful to not have to “search” for truth. The babbling of a million philosophers down through the ages cannot even come close to any other possible conclusion than that Jesus, is the very truth they have been seeking. (See 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Regardless of what culture says I come down on the side of Job and I agree with him when he says; “Though he slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)
Exodus 7:7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Sometimes it seems to me that God is out of his mind in the choices he makes for people to call. At eighty years old Moses embarked on one of the most amazing journeys of leadership in recorded history. Every time I read something like this I ask myself: “How on earth could I possibly sit here and whine about my age, and my desire to rest in the face of some of the mightiest acts of God man has ever seen? Think about a displaced exile returning to the place he grew up and becoming the representative of God before the millions of the Israelites, and the entire nation of Egypt.
As I mention in the brief bio on my home page I am a retired pastor. I am not, however retired from serving the Lord. After moping around as I became bored with the ease retirement affords I asked God if He was truly finished with me. It was as if he shouted in my Spirit; “Boy, stop looking for the off ramp we’ve got a long way to go.” I realize now, that the Church has a great shepherd, consequently He calls whom he will to serve him. I do not believe that the church’s obsession with professional pastors is a healthy thing. There is a tendency to drop everything and leave the ministry to the professionals. Did you ever ask yourself: “How much more could we do if we really developed the spiritual gifts God has given?” No matter what age you are if you truly offer yourself to the Lord to serve and obey him your “retirement” will be busier and more fulfilled than you could imagine.
Genesis 27:15 –Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob.
I don’t know why it is that there, exists even within my own spirit, a kind of favoritism toward some family members and not others. Here in this story of Jacob and Esau we see that this favoritism was used by God to bring about his purposes. He was building a people to be set apart from the whole world. From the time of Noah onward God’s plan has been moving forward and is unstoppable. However, to be on the wrong side of someone’s favoritism, or, to be possessed of a jealous or possessive spirit is not what God wants for his children. Colossians 3:5 begins “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…”. This harsh sounding command is a call, an invitation to enter into a deeper, more fulfilled, inner peace with God our father. The striving for place and preference will never be satisfied as long as you consider yourself second best. If you examine yourself and find that you are guilty of “playing favorites” perhaps with children and grandchildren it may just be time to come before the Lord and ask for his forgiveness, and then do what you can to restore right relations with everyone in your family and circle of friends.