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Archive for January, 2010

What Happened?

Ok, so you just got back from summer camp, a retreat, revival, Bible study, or just had a really awesome quiet time this morning.  God is more real to you than ever before, and you’re going to serve Him wholeheartedly for the rest of your life.  You get home, back into the daily routine, and before you know it, God’s back on the list of people to call when you need help, instead of the One you’re living for. 

Sound familiar?  It does to me!  It’s happened to me more times than I’d like to admit.  You know what I was thinking about today?  We sound a lot like the children of Israel through the entire Old Testament.  Remember?   They’d be doing pretty good – praising God and everything – then after a while, they would begin to look around at the other people living nearby and before you know it, they start intermarrying and worshipping the neighbor’s gods instead of the God Who had created, delivered, and sustained them.  Sometimes God would let this go on for several years, but eventually, He would bring punishment upon them, usually in the form of assaults from some of the same neighbors that pulled them away from God in the first place. Then the Israelites would repent and turn back to God, vow to serve Him forever, and have peace for a while before they turned to idols again. 

On the cycle would go, and on it goes with us sometimes.  We get really into the Word and on fire for God, then gradually start to slip back into our “normal” lives, until something happens to shake us up and send us crying back to Him again.

Why does this happen? I’m hoping to share some of the reasons I have experienced over the next few days.

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Be Alert

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)

One of my favorite Bible study teachers used the following analogy on a girls’ retreat I went on last spring.  (I guess this is mostly for girls – sorry guys.)  It really made me think.

Think about this, girls – you found your true love/Prince Charming/the one you’ve been waiting your whole life for!  You are engaged, and he has gone off somewhere to build you a house and get everything in order for you to get married.  He is going to come back for you any day, so you’ve got to be getting your things ready.  Don’t you think you would be excited and looking for him every day?  Well, I would be! 

That’s how we’re supposed to be with Jesus!  We are engaged to Him (the Holy Spirit is like our engagement ring – Ephesians 1:13-14), He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3), and He’s coming back any day (Mark 13:32-37, 1 Thess. 5:2)!  Am I as excited about that as I would be about getting married?  Something to think about.

I’m sure there is a lot more theology involved in the story of the Ten Virgins that Jesus told, but here is what I got out of it today.  Five of the virgins were prepared – they had extra oil for their lamps so that they were ready when the bridegroom was coming.  The other five virgins are called foolish – they used up the oil that they had for their lamps and they were too lazy to get more before they absolutely had to.  To me, this shows a lack of adoration for the bridegroom – they really weren’t excited and waiting for him to come back.  And they ended up missing his return and not being allowed to attend the marriage feast. 

Is this how we act toward Christ?  Are we so lazy doing whatever we want to do that we won’t be ready when he returns?  It’s a challenging question.  I have asked Him to remind me of it more often.

So be alert!  We don’t know when He’s coming back.  It may not be for 20, 50 or 100 years, but it may be this year.  Would you be ready if it was tomorrow?

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40 (ESV)

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)

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God Forgives

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. -Job 42:7-9 (ESV)

Job’s friends had sined against the Lord. They had essentially put words in God’s mouth and offered false council. Yet God forgave them. This is perhaps one of the most amazing attributes of God. He forgives.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34 (ESV)

“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” -Mark 2:7

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 (ESV)

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” -Luke 7:47-50 (ESV)

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
-Psalm 130:3-4 (ESV)

To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” -Acts 10:43 (ESV)

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Where Were You Job?

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
-Job 38:1-11 (ESV)

By the end of the book of Job, Job wants to know why all these things have happened to him. He has four friends who for the entirety of the book have been telling him that God must be punishing him for some great sin. But Job continually denies this and is at loss for a reason. In Job chapters 38 and 39, God comes and speaks to Job. (Actually the conversation continues through the end of the book in chapter 42.) In these chapters God is asking Job, “where were you Job?” Basically what God is saying is, “look, I have a plan that you’re only seeing part of. Don’t question what I’m doing.” Just like Job, we often see only a tiny piece of the puzzle. This particular piece may not be very pretty. We want to question God about what’s happening instead of putting our trust in Him and His name. We can’t now what God has planned. Romans 11:34-35 (ESV) says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. We do not know the Father’s mind. We do not need to try  to. We need only to trust in Him and His promises and in His divine plan.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

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Job’s Hope

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
This will be my salvation,
that the godless shall not come before him.
-Job 13:15-16 (ESV)

Already we have learned from from Job that when trouble comes we should praise God. Job also teaches us something else to do when trouble comes. Hope. But not hope in tomorrow, or hop in the government, or hope in a paycheck. Job teaches us to hope in God. Yesterday I discussed the promise God gives us in Romans 8:28 (ESV), And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Today though, I want us to look at a different promise. This one is found in Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV): 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So then, let’s recap shall we? Everything is part of God’s plan. God will provide all that we need. Why then do so often insist on putting our hope some where other than God? Job said, Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. (Job 13:15a, ESV) If Job could put his hope in God after everything he had been through, can’t we who are still abundantly blessed do the same? Matthew 6:19-20 (ESV) says, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. So put your hope in God, and not the things of this world.

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Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. -Job 1:6-12 (ESV)

This is often a hard concept to grasp. If everythiny is done with God’s permission, then why do bad things happen? Some people will try and get around this by saying that God just can’t stop the bad things from happening. Yet, this makes it sound as if satan is more powerful than God. Thankfully God is in control of ALL things, the good and the bad. calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:11, ESV) Now I would like to briefly point out that some people say God “let” something happen. Now, no matter what you mean by that, I would shy away from such terminology because it still comes off sounding like God isn’t in control. Instead one could say that God allowed something to happen because this indicates that he gave his permission. Now then, why do bad things happen to good people? Well first of all, are there really “good” people? Are there really some of us who don’t deserve the most severe punishment ever? Romeans 3:10 (ESV) says, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one. Now, that’s not to say that everything that has happened is a ounishment for sin. In fact, in the chapters of job following his loss of health, Job’s friends try continuosly to convince Job that he has sinned and brought the current calamity upon himself. Like I said, the bad things that happento us aren’t automatically a punishment for some sin. God often uses the bad things that happen to us to teach us, to strengthen our faith, to bring unbelievers to Him. We can’t always see the whole picture. In fact, very often we are looking at only a small peice of a much larger puzzle. So when the bad timescome, trust God, praise Him and rest assured in this promise, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,  for those who are called according to his purpose.-Romans 8:28 (ESV)

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Blessed be Your Name

Have you ever felt like life just wasn’t fair? Have you ever felt like you are all alone? I know I have. i fact, I struggle with this a lot. I would like to share with you what helps me when I feel like this.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” -Job 1:20-21 (ESV)

Now, I’m pretty sure we have all heard of Job, but for those who haven’t or that need a refresher, the story basically goes like this:

Job was a devote man of God, and because of this God had greatly blessed him. satan wanted to make Job curse the name of God, so God gave him permission to test Job. satan took away all of Job’s children and wealth and finally Job’s health.

The verse I shared with you at the beginning show great faith on Job’s part. When job lost everything, he praised God instead of cursing Him. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.-Job 2:9-10 (ESV) Job actually wrote the words to one of my favorite songs, Blessed be Your Name, by Matt Redman, Blessed Be Your Name/In the land that is plentiful/Where Your streams of abundance flow/Blessed be Your name/Blessed Be Your name/When I’m found in the desert place/Though I walk through the wilderness/Blessed Be Your name. How often we are tempted to be “fair-weather” Christians. But noboay ever said that it would be easy. John 15:18-20 (ESV) says,  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. When trials come let us praise God’s name and trust Him for our salvation. God bless you all.

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Would you be rich or poor?

I read this on a facebook status the other day and I loved it! It simply said, “If you were given a $1.00 for each kind and uplifting thing you said and a $1.00 was taken away for every mean, rude, or degrading thing you said. Would you be rich or poor?”. I had to think about it! I challenge you to think about it… Would you be rich or poor?

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)

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Shout unto God!

What’s today?! Championship game day! So… I thought that I would do something pertaining to it! If anyone knows me well at all they know that I love football with a passion! Whether it is High School football or college… I adore it! I was thinking this morning about how all over the country tonight there will be people yelling at their TV sets and no matter who wins someone will be kidding the other teams fans. That’s just the way it is. We wear our game day shirts, know all of the stats, and would never dream of doing something besides watch the game! If you are not a football fan.. I’m sorry! I am truly making fun of myself, but if you live in Alabama you know that I’m not exaggerating at all!

Then I began to brainstorm (Hold on, this may be a bumpy ride!)…. We get so excited about football yet, why are we just mediocre about God? Just to be honest the thought then popped in my head…. “B/c God isn’t as exciting!”. Can I tell you how wrong I was?! Those guys who play football are only so good… they can only make so many touchdowns and win so many awards. Can i tell you though…. Not one of them could save you or I from Hell.  I wouldn’t want my life depending on them! Then my thought went even a little further… how is it that people who are souled out to one team will often not give up on them. A couple of years back when Bama was doing terrible I still would wear the Bama shirts without giving it a second thought. Even when they were not the popular team! So, I thought …do I wear the name of God as proudly when it is not the popular thing to do? I had to think about it for a while. What about you though? Do you wear the name of God even when it isnt the popular team to go for? Finally, at the end of my rabbit trail of a thought I remembered a song and it is called, “Shout unto God”. Seeing that I do not know how to post it on the actual blog post I will put the link in a comment, but it is an awesome song talking about shouting unto God with a voice of triumph and how the enemy has been defeated. For you Alabama fans…. are you going to be shouting tonight if our enemy (Texas) has been defeated? I’m sure you will be! Why not shout for God? We KNOW that His enemy has been defeated!

Enjoy the game tonight, but remember… football is not the only thing that you can get excited about!! 🙂

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Where does your joy come from?

Hi! This post is going to be somewhat like the post earlier this week! I found a new verse the other day that i LOVE! It is Nehemiah 8:10b says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”! Bro. Hal (Our pastor) was talking a couple of weeks about how the Bible says to “Put on” joy, love, kindness, etc (Colossians 3:12-15). He pointed out that it didn’t say “Ask for joy and love”. You can think of it as a coat… How many times do you hear parents asking their children to put their coat on? Often if you have younger bothers and sisters! Now think… would those parents ask that if they had not given the child a coat or if you had never taught them how to put it on? No! That would be crazy! It’s the same way with God. He has provided us with love, joy, and peace. He has already given it to us when He died on the cross! It is our choice as to whether or not we will use it. Just like a child not wearing his coat! In this world there are more things than i even want to think about that could keep us from having peace and joy or loving others, yet nothing is bigger than my God. What about yours?! I love this song as it talks about joy that will not go away and just enough stregnth to live for today! Often it seems as if God doesnt give us enough stregnth… we cant live this life! Yet, God (The same God who made you!) knows what you need… He knows how many hairs are on your head! Trust me… He knows how much stregnth you need! Like we talked about yesterday…. He may want you to just rely on Him!

So, enjoy the song and remember to put your coat on today!! 🙂

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