Finding God in the every day

Week 4 Day 3

We were not given a spirit of fear.(2 Timothy 1:7)

So why then is it that we fear to tell or present the Gospel of our Christ to even our friends and family?

     There are some really valid reasons why we are so tongue-tied.

1.l) We fear rejection of the Gospel as a rejection of ourselves .

2.) We fear the “labeling” of ourselves as “outside of the maistream”.

3.) We fear that we are failing to live up to some idealized image of Christian behavior.

4.) We fear feeling like a failure before God.

So, What is the root of this fear? The first and foremost problem is that we are still focused on ourselves. We may as well be wearing a sign that says, “It’s all about me.” The fear comes when Satan whispers “You’re not good enouh to speak. Be quiet. Say nothing.

Resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7)

Finding God in the every Day

Week 4 Day 2

Psalm 118:5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.

Relief; Not financial, not physical, not even relational- What “spacious place” do you need most to relieve you from the unrelenting spiritual pressure that plagues even sleep and dreams. The kind of relief I’m talking about manifests itself in an inner peace that informs my spirit that no matter what is going on around me, God my heavenly Father knows and is in control of every outcome. In our conscious fears we may not be able to see this. Right now the whole world seems to be rocked with chaos, anarchy, and ineffectual leaders unable or unwilling to do the necessary things to bring peace. As we see symbols destroyed, cities surrendered to terror trained groups we may turn to God and ask him; “Why are you letting this happen?”

            The answer to that question is as it ever has been in times like these. Sin rules in the hearts of men. Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

             So, what then are we to do? How may we come to a “spacious place” where peace is the order of the day? The answer is simple, and it is twofold. 1.) Surrender (crucify/confess) all of the worldliness and self will you understand. 2.) Ask Him. Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Finding God in the every day

Week 4 Day 1

Exodus 32:17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

I paused in my back yard today and listened to the sound of baby robins clamoring all together at one time to be fed. A while later I had the dubious pleasure of refereeing and argument between three of my grandchildren. They all spoke at the same time in ever increasing volume.

            As I read the news headlines this morning from across the political and social spectrum I heard the same kinds of arguments all at ever increasing volumes and all trying to do the other with hyperbole and invective. Everyone seemed to have a complaint or a cure for the current situation of racial and social unrest. Everyone seemed to find someone or some group to blame for the current “crisis”.

            I firmly believe that the problems which plague our nation have taken many years to ferment into the bitter wine we see being poured out today. I also believe that the answer to all of these issues and needs can be found in the life and death, the resurrection and ascension of a Jewish man who has been proven without doubt to be the very son of the God of heaven.

            Many criticize Christian belief because of this crazy cruel world in which so many people are unfulfilled and miserable. They are wrong. I sympathize with them in their misery. I understand their frustration. I also understand that self-willed people of all races have used the name of Jesus to perpetrate the worst kinds of injury and injustices this world has seen. For that I am heartily sorry.

            The true Way of Christ is to love with all of our being every person even those who hate and revile us.  I am first to admit that I am a poor representation of my Lord, but as I confess my sins and seek His forgiveness I hope that I might in some small way point to that greatest of loves that has set me free from the noise and bitterness of these sad days.

Blessings

Larry

Finding God in the every day

Week 3 Day 7

Psalm 5:8

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me.

            So many times in scripture we are advised, or we hear the writers plead for the straight path. A common phrase in usage still today is to “walk the straight and narrow”. This is taken, of course, from Jesus’ own words (Matthew 7:13-14). We are advised that the road to destruction is broad, and many will walk that road. We see this reflected in religious pluralism, this sort of “anything goes” blending of social and spiritual ideas which ultimately fly in the face of the true righteousness of God.

            It would be wonderful if we could each and every hour of the day perceive the straight path laid out for us by our Lord Jesus. Truth be known, however we are constantly assaulted on every side by our own corrupt desires, the enticements of worldliness, and the very essence of evil, the devil himself.

            Holiness, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the commitment to relinquish all of those things of the world, even up to our very lives in favor of the leading, healing, and empowerment of the Lord will and desires for our lives is the key.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:11

            Don’t lose hope. God will make a way.

Finding God in the every day

Week three day 6

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled. But those who obey what they have been taught are happy. (ICB)

            This wonderful rendering of the Hebrew language is from the International Children’s Bible. This was written in a time when God spoke directly through prophets, the king (In this case Solomon) and people were beginning to rely on the priests to expose them to God’s will through the law; that is the book of Moses.

            We do not lack a word from God today. All of the religious mouthpieces who claim to have special insight are stepping outside of Biblical Christianity. Whether for power or profit does not matter it is an unrighteous act to claim any “extra-biblical” authority for you own personal agenda. If we are led by the Spirit, then we are necessarily led into “all truth”  as far as I can understand, that is the Word of God.

            But all of this begs the question: Have we been taught? So many of us were trained up to become what I call institutional Christians. We have a blueprint on how to become good church men and women. John Wesley’s sermon on entitled “Almost a Christian” refers powerfully to this idea. So, I ask you, are you following Christ, the Christ presented throughout scripture, the Christ who is at once gentle and kind, loving and compassionate, and at others fierce, and powerful, commanding and dare I say it demanding?

            Once again I plead with the reader to engage the whole counsel of the Word of God, found only in one place. The Bible.

Finding God in the everyday

Week three Day 5

Isaiah19 A prophecy against Egypt:

See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud
    and is coming to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
    and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

“I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian—
    brother will fight against brother,
    neighbor against neighbor,
    city against city,
    kingdom against kingdom.
The Egyptians will lose heart,
    and I will bring their plans to nothing;
they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead,
    the mediums and the spiritists

Someone posted a quip on social media that most of the world’s problems would disappear if the global media were completely shut down for a brief period of time. While this idea may appeal, all kinds of people with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences are looking to the news media every day to take their cues for how to approach the world they live in. Because of this we have biased or slanted news outlets that pander to the viewpoints of those whom they consider their “target market” The concept of t “rue journalism”, if it ever really existed went out the window long ago. If truth be known we all like to hear a broadcast presentation that we find affirming whether or not it is true or wholly accurate. Such is the chaotic maelstrom in which we live.

            I have no doubt that God’s “permissive” will is at work today. The world has seen this kind of chaos many times before. There is a strong undercurrent of sin which is carrying discontented and angry people to horrific extremes. Isaiah’s prophecies combined to warn Israel to repent, turn away from idolatry and cruel usury, and to engage in proper fasting (Ch 58).

            Truly, we have come to a place where there is little else we can do, except do the first thing which is PRAY.

            “In due time, their foot shall slip.” Rev. Johnathan Edwards intoned on that day in 1741 sparking what has been known by historians as “The First Great Awakening.” Vivid imagery of the hell that awaits the sinner seemed to be the spark that ignited a spiritual revival that swept the colonies. Perhaps we have not spoken clearly enough of the sanctifying fire that burns away the chaff and dross of our sinful lives. Perhaps it is time to ask Jesus to once again enter thet temple and “turn over the tables”. (Matthew 21:12)

Finding God in the every day

Week 3 Day 4

Matthew 5:Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness, one of the beatitudes of the Lord Jesus; But whose righteousness? Even a casual student of the Bible, as if there could really be such, with clouded vision and distracted mind would have to acknowledge that in the context Jesus spoke of the righteousness of His Father.

                        Do we seek to enjoin the “righteousness” of the howling mob as Aaron did (Exodus 32:1-2) Do we seek to participate in the “righteousness” of the acrimonious characters who inhabit so called “social media”? As with anything there are always the extremely vocal “squeaky wheels” demanding attention.

            Perhaps the best approach to all of this is to follow Jesus’ example and seek time to be alone before the Father, to wait upon His Spirit and to find understanding and direction from the whole counsel of His holy Word. Yes, even among the ranks of people who call themselves Christian we see every day those who would distort the whole counsel of God’s Word to their own ends. I sometimes grieve for the Church, that is the collective body of Christ that those who do these things are the only representation of Christians that many people see.

            Jesus also said; “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Finding God in the every day

Week 3 Day 3

Pray Trust Stand

Proverbs 10:25

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.

Finding God in the every day

Week 3 day 1

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 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 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.

Finding God in the every day

Week 2 Day 7

Joel 2:28 The Day 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.