Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fearing God

The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?” (Num 17:12-13)

The Israelites who had grumbled against the Lord have now seen his power repeatedly displayed, and finally they fear him. This is an important step in their spiritual development, but it is not yet the whole story. There is a progression that many follow in coming to know the Lord, and that the Israelites were following. Initially they were ignorant of God altogether. Then they came to understand him as one of many gods. Now at last they have understood that he is the one true, all-powerful God and they fear him. But there is one more step each of us must take – to know that he is our God and he loves us. Perfect love casts out fear. (1 Jn 4:18) God is fearfully strong. But because I know he is good and loving I know that he desires only what is best for me. Saved by his grace I can rest secure in his arms. Our High Priest Jesus has made atonement for us. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,” not fear. (Heb 4:16)

Lord, thank you that you have made a way for us to boldly come before you. Not by our righteousness but by your grace. Thank you that I need not fear your presence! Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rescue the Weak

Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Ps 82:4)

It’s easy to sit in the suburbs and think the urban poor just need to try harder and they can “make something of themselves”. But what if you don’t know how to try because no one ever showed you? Or what if you are convinced it is pointless to try because nothing you can do will change your situation? Some people can make it on their own, but most are too weak – weakened by their upbringing and the evil that surrounds them. They are preyed on by drug dealers, bullies and thieves, exploited by politicians and ignored by most of the rest of us. God commands us to rescue the weak and needy – to bring the light of hope through the gift of love, to lend a hand and to show the way. Truly they need Jesus, but Jesus will only come to them in the person of ordinary Christians like you and me who are willing to be obedient and get involved. God, forgive me for my selfishness and laziness. You have given us your commandments and your example. I want to do my part to rescue the weak and the fatherless and bind up the brokenhearted. Teach me to be “Jesus with skin on”. Use me to show your love and mercy to the world. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Following an Unseen God

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. (Ps 77:19)

How do you follow an unseen God? Here’s a hint: when the waters part and a path opens up through the sea, God has gone before you to lead the way. Most of the time the circumstances of our lives are less dramatic but the principle is still the same. A door opens and the still, small voice of God nudges us forward. Some Christians I know are always looking for a sign from God. Sometimes they interpret seemingly inconsequential events as a sign. I don’t experience the presence of God in my life that way. God’s Word is filled with his wisdom and his commandments, and he has given us a mind to know them and apply them. No doubt my friends are sometimes reading too much into everyday events, but just as surely I believe I have often missed God’s leading. We have to leave some room for the miraculous in our lives. God’s will is not always “reasonable”. His Spirit will never contradict his Word, but his plan far exceeds our comprehension. Sometimes the next step will seem risky or strange. Lord, teach me to hear your voice. I don’t want to miss that open door which leads to the center of your will for me. Thank you, Lord, for your Word and your Spirit. Lead me on your path for my life. Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Promised Redemption

No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough. But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. (Ps 49:7-8,15)

Sin brought death into the world, and no man can do anything to change that. We have sinned and we will die. We do not have the power or the righteousness to defeat death on our own. But God! I love those two words. He is the answer to all our predicaments. I cannot defeat death. But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

This much was known to the psalmist in ancient days. He looked ahead to a redemption he knew was coming but he could not see how or by whom. How blessed we are to be born into these latter days! We know the joy of a daily walk with Jesus, our Blessed Redeemer. He paid the debt I could not pay. The blood of Christ is sufficient for all our sins. Lord, thank you for the great joy of knowing you, of experiencing your presence every day. Thank you that I enjoy now the eternal life of which the psalmist could only dream. Even though my body will one day die, death will never separate me from you, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Serial Stupidity

Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding him like grain with a pestle, you will not remove the folly from him. (Pro 27:22)

In the Bible, being a fool is a moral failing. A fool is one who rejects God’s wisdom and makes evil, self-destructive choices. But, as this verse reveals, the very core of folly is the failure – or refusal – to learn from one’s mistakes. The book of Proverbs teaches us that sin has consequences. When I care so little about myself or others that I will continue to sin regardless of the consequences then I am truly a fool. My first reaction is to say, why would anyone do that? But then I realize I myself do it, over and over again. When I choose the pleasure of the moment I am being the fool. For a moment’s satisfaction I would trade a lifetime of consequences. I am thinking about gluttony here but it is just as true for anger, selfishness, pride or any other sin.  Lord, forgive me for my rampant foolishness. Teach me to walk in wisdom. Amen.