Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"And We Honor Them Because..."

  I want to revisit something I wrote recently about honoring your mother and father (Ephesians 6:1-3). This teaching from God has direct promises tied to it. These promises were not tied to any other teaching. That alone should make us pause and rethink how we view or deal with our parents.
  Over the years I have met many a Christian brother and sister that wants to serve the Lord. They love Him, but their hearts seem amiss and troubled. In speaking with them, it seems to eventually come up: family problems and some are deep seated. As they speak about how they were treated growing up it is painstaking for some and rightfully so, but then there is this hesitancy. "I haven't spoken to my mom or dad for some time now." Pushed away because of hurts in the lives of those who were under the guidance of parents. Yes, some parents failed miserably. What are we to do?
  God calls us to honor because of the promises He tied to His teaching. We look at the  misery caused and decide not to honor. There is too much pain and hurt so some simply dismiss it from their lives. As time flows along their heart continues to be troubled and they don't know why. After all, they are wanting to love and serve their Lord, but when anyone sets aside God and His teachings, with little thought. A darkness begins to set in. Things become unsettling in their lives. The promise begins to take an opposite effect and it's not going well. No matter what, the heavenly Father, is your Father and His grace and mercy are in place in your life. Calling you to live for Him. Part of that involves your parents, even if they are dishonorable. God calls us to honor. That is so difficult for many, but think for just a moment about your own sins before the Lord and rethink our attitudes toward our parents. Just simply step forward and honor them because they are your parents, which God calls us to. His mercy and grace gives us the strength to do what we can't and faith allows us to act righteously toward God's word.
  I know parents who are everything they aren't suppose to be. They hurt, tempt, and oppress their children and God will hold them accountable. We need to believe that. Those who had parents that molded them and helping them have their best shot in life, to live on this earth with honor and dignity, for them the word from God comes with such clarity and power: Honor your father and mother. We need to look beyond and see the very foundation of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our salvation is based on His love for us and our submission to Him. Those who do not take their place under His honorable authority in the home will find life difficult. Both in their work and in the Church. Submission is not a word they are in love with. Some come from those warm, fulfilling homes, while others want to escape their past because of the horrible memories.  Yet God's word still speaks to His children, "Honor your father and mother." Sometimes parents try to shame their children into a response as adults by telling them that as parents, they have a right to expect certain things from their children. That too is backward. That's guilt control, not God loving. That makes life for their children more difficult and pushes them into moving away. Sin upon sin. We belong to Jesus and  God is our Father. The need to rise above comes from His power, not ours. 
  One of the greatest fundamental ways in which we honor our father and mother because God calls us to is honor and not worship them. Parents are not God and should never be allowed to take place of God. And God is greater than our parents and should have the highest place both in our lives and love. That means we honor our parents because...

Friday, April 22, 2016

"What Is Worship?"

  Who is worship for? Us? God? I've heard many try to answer that question with great writings of the pen and search of Scripture. I too have written many things about worship. People have their own ideas but one thing for certain, why aren't people more interested in worship? Preachers rake people over the coals for not coming together and worship which is a little backward to me because in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and condemnation is used to get people to show up. What are we to do? Why don't people seem to enjoy, desire and want to worship?
  I walked into my office after our worship some time back and there was a note scribbled on my desk: "I love you grandpa!" Right there. I know my granddaughter loves me. She didn't have to pen that note but there was something compelling her to put this note on my desk just as a statement of how she felt. 
  A while back I got two pictures from two of my other granddaughters they had drawn. They laid down on a table and had their mother outline their bodies. Afterward they drew in their eyes, fingers and hair stating how much they loved us. They didn't have to send that but it sure was nice to hear. I know they too love me (us). 
  This is not a profound writing today but just a quick point about our worship of God. Our worship with the body of Christ is not something we should be doing out of guilt or 'because the Lord commands it' but it is simply wanting to express our love and affection to the One we love because...we love Him! We are because He is! I'm far from holy but yet He makes me holy because of who He is. I don't do things correct and fall short in many areas yet here He is standing before the Father calling me brother! He intercedes for us. His blood continues to flow every moment. So what can I do? I love Him for what He has done and continues to do and our worship is simply saying what we already know and we want Him to know even though He already knows every thought in my heart. Worship is expressing how we feel and wanting our Father to know. We get hung up on too many "directions" and forget the pure. Just as that note and pictures came to me, with all the flaws in the drawings and handwriting that wasn't pretty, it expressed a great desire from their heart and resulted in a heart-felt honor. That's worship, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"The Voice In the Political Fire"

  I want to say something about our political fire that is going on at the present. I can understand how an unbelieving society has so much fear and anxiety over what is happening in our nation. Lines are drawn, political writings are thrown around, and people are calling on others to step in and do something.
  "For thus the Lord has spoken to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people." (Isaiah 8:11) Assyria was the world power and headed for Judah. The people were in a frenzied state and what could they do? Syria and Israel had plotted also against Judah because Judah refused to join forces to fight the Assyrians. On every side Judah was in trouble and the people were in fear as to what would happen to their nation. 
  God grabs Isaiah by the arm, so to speak, and tells him not to walk in the way these people were walking. Stop the panic, the fear, and the hysteria. "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people  call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it." (Isaiah 8:12) What do you do when everyone is running around with their ideas and theories speaking as if it is all a fact? Where do you turn to find help when a nation seems headed into hysteria? "It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread." (Isaiah 8:13) The ones going crazy and driven by all this panic were the people of God. They were running to one another passing fear upon fear and God told Isaiah don't walk with them.
  Standing in the midst of this situation, there was no assurances coming from the people, nothing visible. All Isaiah had was a word from the Lord God and his faith. FAITH! Isaiah had to believe, respond, and trust His God and be in fear of Him. Don't let the people control your thoughts.
  We fast forward today. Look at our nation under all these politics. People running here to there, putting out information from one source to counter the information from the other. Panic, division ,and even hate is being stirred. It's hard not to get carried away when people around us are calling upon our fears to do something. People are polarized by it and news outlets feed information to us at alarming rates. Maybe that's why the true people of God should step back and see that following in the steps of everyone around is not the correct move. Maybe it's time like these that we can glorify God and let Him shine in the midst of all this darkness and despair. We need to make it clear in our nation that our God can be trusted and He will bring everything about us under His control. This is a great time of outreach when there is so much panic and despair. Have you every thought about that?
  God knows how things look. God knows what nations are doing and will do. God's counsel will stand and will always do the best for His children. The unbelievers can't see it. Are we siding with them and listening to them? Maybe that's why the church is failing? The door is open before us to reach out with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and stop fearing what everyone else fears. Listen closely and you can still hear His words: "Don't walk in the way of this people!"
  "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings." (Daniel 2:20-21)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Guard Yourselves From Idols"

  John ends his letter with this: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21) That is such a foreign concept to us simply because we have difficulty identifying 'idols' in our day and time. 
  God called Israel to have no other God but Me! God had earned that place in the lives of His people because He alone was their Rescuer and Redeemer. This Almighty God had acted on their behalf. He stood alone in delivering them. The people were a mess and a handful to deal with. Constantly over and over they rebelled always seeking other gods for their means of protection and assurance. But God had it all under His control. He had arranged for His people a place of refuge, down in Egypt during a great famine that hit the world. He blessed them over and over. This Egyptian nation had been their refuge and their refuge turned against them. God came to their rescue to lead them to a place of their own, (a land flowing with milk and honey), which He prepared for them for centuries. The people panicked upon leaving Egypt with no army and God provided protection with fire and water as their salvation (Exodus 14). There were no other gods. What God could they put in the place of Jehovah? They did nothing to deliver themselves. There was no question or doubting God was their God and He wasn't going to allow any other god, no idol, to be before Him in the eyes of His people.
  Today the temptation of "other gods" is more real than ever. Look around. Have you seen a greater time where people felt alone in striving against nations, diseases, evil, and simple existence? Where is assurance going to come from? Who is going to feed and clothe humanity? Man does this on his own to some extent thinking this is the answer. We have become the idols. People put their trust in government, man's abilities, schooling, and smarts. The church turns to these kind of idols and you see it in worship and daily living. We praise man. We make our assemblies about man. We honor man and God gets shifted to the background. He's alluded to, but has a limited space in our thinking and life. It sometimes seems that many believe they rescued themselves. They are enlightened by their own knowledge and secure in their own beliefs from man's source. Little is seen in Jehovah God any longer. We do things from our own brain and brawn while worshiping...US!
  Israel had seen the working of God and His rescue. They trembled with helplessness watching some of the greatest war machines come up against them, only to be protected by the power of God. They felt desperation and despair only to see God and stand in assurance. He had it all under control. And what do we say? Why are we drawn into so many fears and trying to find assurance from man? We glance from time to time at Jesus but many times with little thought. Jesus Christ the Lord was God's answer for man. Jesus Christ is the rescue from our sins. The Christ is God's wisdom and God's power and found nowhere else. The Lord Jesus Christ is the assurance of a heavenly home and that all things will end at His side. Why are all these other idols coming into play?