Archive for September, 2010

Honor God, and God will honor you.

September 30, 2010

According to dictionary.com, honor is defined as to hold on in high respect.  According to my mom, honor is respect and respect is when you think well of one not doing anything to demean them or yourself.  She also said, “it’s a hard word to define.  We all know what it means, but we can put it into words.”  God just told me that honor is not words but action.  It is to act in ways that demonstrate the utmost value of the one whom the honor is being bestowed.  This means doing what God wants over what we want.

This is exactly what Zerubbabel is being lauded about in Haggai 2:20-23.  Before his leadership, the Israelites were not committed to rebuilding the temple, the house of  God and the image that God was with His people.  Now, the people were going on vigorously with the building of the temple, and in hopes shortly to have it ready for their use and to be employed in the services of it; and now God sends them a message by his prophet, which would be of use to them. Listen to what Matthew Henry says, “…as a reward of his pious zeal and activity herein, he (Zerubbabel) should be a favourite of Heaven, and one of the ancestors of Messiah the Prince, whose kingdom should be set up on the ruins of all opposing powers.  In the apocalyptic visions earthquakes bode no ill to the church. Here the heavens and the earth are shaken, that proud oppressors may be broken and brought down: I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms.  The past kingdoms, and the powers that are, and are yet to come, shall in like manner be overthrown; their day will come to fall. 1. Though they be ever so powerful, yet the strength of their kingdoms shall be destroyed, so that they shall not be able to attack the people of God, whom they persecute, not to escape the judgments of God, which persecute them. This reads the doom of all the enemies of God’s church, that will not repent to give him glory; it seems likewise designed as a promise of Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness, his overthrow of Satan’s throne, that throne of kingdoms, the throne of the god of this world, the taking from him all the armour wherein he trusted and dividing the spoil. And all opposing rule, principality, and power, shall be put down, that the kingdom may be delivered up to God, even the Father.”

In essence, God is assuring Zerubbabel that he would be honored by God.  Like Christ, Zerubbabel was told he was God’s signet ring meaning that God had chosen him.  That he would be close to the heart of God, the apple of his eye if you will.  This was a foreshadowing of God’s selection of the elect.  Likewise, for those of you who have surrendered your lives to follow Christ, this demonstrates your willingness to honor God.  In turn, God honors us by including us in His Kingdom as our hearts and minds represent the temple in which God resides in us. 

Really, God honors us by offering us life in him.  Think about that.  The Almighty God offers to be our life, source and strength.  What God wants in exchange is the devotion of our hearts and minds.  Will you honor God by giving him your heart and mind in service to Him? John 12:25-27 says, “25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” 

 Honor God, and God will honor you.

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Do You Want A Blessing?

September 29, 2010

I do not know anyone who does not want fortunate things to happen to them.  Since that is the case, the question of today’s post is rhetorical in nature, and we already know the answer to that.  The question that really should be pondered is to whom or to what are we seeking to receive blessings.  You can only answer that question for yourself.  I could speculate about the response but with excessive inaccuracy. 

God has answered this question for us many times over in His Word, and His answer is correct and complete.  In today’s text, Haggai 3:15-19, God answers that question for the Israelites who had recently returned from being exiled because of their apostacy.  Listen to what God says

 ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.  ” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “

It was not until the people returned from exile, at God’s allowance, that they began to give attention to rebuilding the temple of the Almighty and only true God. It was not until the people placed God’s priority as their priority that God fully blessed them.  The fact that they had been allowed to live, provided for, protected, and loved demonstrates blessing in and of itself.  There is no man who can claim that he is not blessed.  What God was speaking of was His unrestrained blessing. God spoke of taking off the limits of His blessing(verses 16 and 19).

The key for them as well as for us is in what God says in verse 15 “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple.”  Today, the temple is our hearts and mind.  Until we build on the foundation of Christ, God will not unleash the flood gates to allow His full blessings to flow into our lives.  If you want a blessing, God says give careful thought from this day on to how you will build on what God has laid in your life.  Will you submit to Christ and follow Him by obeying the entire Word of God?  Will you forfeit following your own vices which lead to misery and death (spiritually too).  Proverbs 14:12 says,”There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  However, Proverbs 12:18 says,”In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” 

If you want a blessing, submit and surrender to God, and He says “From this day on I will bless you”.

Listen to this song: He Wants It All

An Immeasurable Deposit: Do you want it?

September 28, 2010

I must admit that as I drive I-20 West the big lottery signs with the millions of dollars shown captures my attention.  The sign is an intentional ploy by the Georgia Lottery Department to encourage people to play.  The lure of what I thing millions of dollars in my bank account would afford me challenges my beliefs and convictions.  Assuming that there are no negative ramifications, who would not want a huge deposit in their account.  It would give you access to many things.   In investing terms, the word deposit means money given in advance to show intention to complete the purchase of a property. 

This is not a new idea (see arrabōn-Strong’s G728).  Long ago, God revealed his plan to make a deposit on behalf of man.  Man, like many of our bank accounts, is in a deficit position.  Again, like many of our unsecured debt positions, man owes a debt that he can’t pay.  In spiritual terms, the debt is accumulated through our disobedience to the Word of God.  Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death”.  The debt that we owe God for our sin is spiritual death.  That is our payment.  If we pay that debt with our lives, we will spend time and eternity separated from God.  That means that we will live this life separated from the full love of God, the peace of God, the grace of God, the… of God.  The second part of Romans 6:23 says,” but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

How does one get an immeasurable deposit that will pay his debt?  Ephesians 1:13-14 answers that question. “13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  This verse tells us in order for us to get the immeasurable deposit that will pay our eternal debt is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  After that, God will deposit His Holy Spirit in us a seal guaranteeing our inheritance of the Spiritual Lottery.   

God advertises too.  He advertises through nature, His Word, His people and your conscience. Each day he calls us to Himself.  The question is do we answer.  See the following two verses about deposits. 

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (New International Version)

21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 

2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (New International Version) 

4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 

Now, for those who refuse to accept God’s offer to make a spiritual deposit in your account, see what Matthew 25:26-28 says about the result of your bankruptcy. 

 26“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  28” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  

That verse tells us of a time when God will require a payment.  If our spiritual account is bankrupt, we will be held accountable for our failure to respond to His call to accept His deposit.  God has offered an Immeasurable Deposit. Do you want it?

I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.

September 27, 2010

In our text today, Haggai 2:6-9  , God through the prophet Haggai makes a proclamation about His coming into the world.  Verse 6  tells us that “I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.”  This phrase refers to God setting up Christ’s kingdom in the world where He, God through Christ, will judge among the nations of people who chose not to believe and follow Him, Ps. 110:6.   Once more, the LORD God will do for his church as He did when He brought them out of Egypt – God shook the heavens and earth at Mount Sinai, with thunder, and lightnings, and earthquakes.  God shook the sea and the dry land when lanes were made through the sea and streams fetched out of the rock. This is a reference when this shall be done again when Christ suffers for the sins of man.  At that time, the sun shall be darkened; the earth will shake and the rocks will break open by His power. rend—when, at the birth of Christ, Herod and all Jerusalem are troubled (Mt. 2:3), and he is set for the fall and rising again of many. When his kingdom was set up it was with a shock to the nations; the oracles were silenced, idols were destroyed, and the powers of the kingdoms were moved and removed, Heb. 12:27. It denotes the removing of the things that are shaken.  The shaking of the nations is often in order to the settling of the church and the establishing of the things that cannot be shaken.

Only those included in Christ will not be shaken and judged for their eternal destination.  Remember when Christ died?  The earth shook again.  A great deal of disturbance took place, but for those who had revered the Lord, they were at peace and resurrected when all else was being disturbed.  This is the life God offers us.  We can be at peace and raised to life when all else is being over turned.  Surrender your life, so you can be included in the number who will be raised as witnesses and worshipers of the Living God.

Release and Rebuild

September 24, 2010

Have you ever been so consumed with something that it kept you from moving on and repairing what you know was broken?  This is what is going on in the book of Haggai.  He is the prophet after the retun of the Israelites from their Babylonian exile.   The temple had been destroyed.  As you know, in that time and now, the house of worship is where God wanted the people to come to commune corporately with Him.   The rebuilding of the temple would have been a sign to all people that Israel had turned from their apostasy.  As I last asked, what are you holding onto?  Watch this.

from TODAY IN THE WORD

A credit company based in Riga, Latvia, last year asked borrowers for their immortal souls as collateral. The company, which offers short-term loans of up to $1,000 at high interest rates, did not worry about credit rating or actual collateral. Instead, said their Web site: “There is just one condition, a borrower should pledge their soul.” According to the terms of the loan, the soul remained the property of the company until the loan had been completely repaid. Was this a joke? A marketing ploy? Latvians weren’t sure, but several Christian denominations there complained and asked the government to investigate.

Some people are willing to sign away their souls for a bit of money, and we are reminded how human priorities contrast with God’s. In today’s reading, the Israelites were invited and commanded to “give careful thought” to their ways and priorities (v. 7). Initially, Haggai addressed Zerubbabel and Joshua directly (v. 2). As the main political and religious leaders of the nation, they could not allow the people to continue making sinful excuses about why the temple project was being neglected.

Haggai then spoke to all the people, condemning their spiritual indifference and self-centeredness. “Paneled houses” suggests luxuriousness, meaning that they were putting their personal, materialistic desires ahead of the priority of worshiping the Lord (v. 4). How could they be claiming, “the time has not yet come” when the ruins of the temple were compared to their own beautiful homes? Did it make sense to pursue earthly priorities first? Their present circumstances revealed that God was not blessing such actions (v. 6): Harvests were small. There were shortages of food and clothing. They were unable to save money and inflation was a problem. They were living hand-to-mouth—it was as though their purses had holes in the bottom! They needed to put God first and gather building supplies for the new temple (v. 8). Once they straightened out their priorities, He would bless the work of their hands (vv. 9-11).


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
We should give careful thought to our spiritual priorities in the stewardship of our physical and material resources. Do we take care of ourselves first and give God the leftovers? Perhaps it’s difficult to offer God the “firstfruits” of our paychecks when it seems there’s barely enough to cover the bills. When we have our priorities in order, though, God has a way of blessing us. And what are we worried about? He’s already promised to meet all your needs (Phil. 4:19)!

How can a loving God judge and destroy?

September 22, 2010

The post today is from Today in the Word.  It answers the question listed above.  Nahum 3:14-19 is our text for today.  It follows the proclamation that since you did not trust in me but your own devices your doom is imminent. 

Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall. – Nahum 3:19
 
TODAY IN THE WORD
How can a loving God judge and destroy? This question applies not only to the city of Nineveh in today’s passage but also to the doctrine of hell. Writer and apologist C. S. Lewis explored this issue in his books The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. He argues that those condemned to hell get not only what they deserve but also what they have chosen. In The Great Divorce he wrote: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”One of the challenges of faith is to come to terms with truths that at first glance seem appalling. Judgment and hell are among these. Today’s final reading in the book of Nahum again describes the defeat of Nineveh (vv. 14-15). Though Assyria was a commercial empire and center of world trade, it would be devoured by locusts, as it were. Merchants would take what they could and run (v. 16). Political leaders would disappear during the crisis (vv. 17-18). While a king named Ashur-uballit would try for several years to keep the empire going from another city, Nineveh’s defeat would essentially be the death blow (v. 19). No one would grieve, for “who has not felt your endless cruelty?” The book ends with one of the many rhetorical questions, an effective literary technique in this prophecy.

How are we to respond to the fact that Nineveh was completely wiped out? It was never rebuilt, though archaeologists discovered its ruins in 1842. Was this overkill on God’s part? Not at all. The wonder is that He waits so patiently and offers so much mercy in the face of human wickedness! If we had a true sense of His holiness and our own sin, we would, like Isaiah, fall to the ground in reverence for Him and in horror with ourselves: “Woe to me!” (Isa. 6:5).


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
God’s love cannot ignore or overlook sin. We should rejoice in divine justice and judgment because it represents the triumph of holiness. If these truths or the doctrine of hell are troubling you, consider doing additional Bible study on these topics. You might also read one of the books by C. S. Lewis mentioned above. The Screwtape Letters offer “advice” from a senior devil to a junior one, while The Great Divorce narrates a “bus tour” from hell to the edges of heaven.

Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more

September 21, 2010

People all around the world and throughout history have sought various refuges to escape their circumstances and eventual fates.  We see it every day.  People rely on people, money, things, power, drugs, and alcohol. The Ninevites had great reasons to think that their city was too great to fall.  After all, it took three days to walk from one end of it to another.  It was a huge city. In our passage today, Nahum 3:8-13, God expresses to Nineveh that they are flawed in their prideful thinking that they are too great, too important to fall. 

God gives them a history lesson about an important city and its fate.  In verse 8, God poses a question to the Ninevites: “Are you better than Thebes?”  In verses 8b, 9 and 10, God goes on to list the reasons, albeit key defenses against man, why Thebes (No Amon: amon is a false god) thought it would not fall.  God is essentially saying to the Ninevites look at the example I have provided before you.  There is no city or no man that lies beyond my judgement.  If Thebes or populous No fell, what makes you think you are too great to fall too.   Likewise, God is saying to us are you better than anyone else that you should escape my wrath.

11 You too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge from the enemy. Verse 11 is our hinge verse.  It is akin to what God said in Jeremiah 25:27, “27 “Then tell them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.’  Because you continue to rely on gods which makes you my enemy, I will allow you to experience the consequence of your misguided faith. Remember, God is a jealous God: Don’t get it twisted!.  God had already warned them.

God is warning us too.  To whom or in what are we seeking refuge?  God wants to be the sole object of our faith or trust.  He has given us to many examples of His faithfulness and power for us to trust in someone or something else.  God told the Ninevites that they too would get drunk (impaired perspective), hide and seek refuge in the enemy.  Don’t get it twisted, God wants your faith in Him.

Earlier I referenced God giving a history lesson, we should really look at all the powerful regimes of the past especially the ones mentioned in the bible i.e. Roman, Babylonian, Egyptian, etc.  I believe that God allowed the to rise and fall to show His great power.   They all show what happens when the people of those nations fail to put their trust in the Jehovah: the Almighty God.

I will lift your skirts over your face

September 20, 2010

I just can’t imagine anyone walking up to a woman to lift her skirt over her face only to reveal that she has no undergarments on.  The shame and embarrassment that the woman would feel would fuel her fury against that person. 

Well, this is exactly what God decrees to Nineveh in verse five of chapter three.  Listen to what God says,
             “I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty.
             “I will lift your skirts over your face.
              I will show the nations your nakedness
              and the kingdoms your shame.

I can’t imagine the Almighty God say to me that “I am against you.”  This is exactly what God says to Nineveh.  Why is God against Nineveh?  Matthew Henry tells us “Nineveh arraigned and indicted. It is a high charge that is here drawn up against that great city, and neither her numbers nor her grandeur shall secure her from prosecution. 1. It is a city of blood, It is all full of lies; truth is banished from among them; there is no such thing as honesty; one knows not whom to believe nor whom to trust. 3. It is all full of robbery and rapine; no man cares what mischief he does, nor to whom he does it:  4. There is a multitude of whoredoms in it, that is, idolatries, spiritual whoredoms, by which she defiled herself, and to which she seduced the neighbouring nations, as a well-favoured harlot, and sold and ruined nations through her whoredoms. 5. She is a mistress of witchcrafts, and by them she sells families,…”

Simply, the people of Nineveh continued to act in a manner contrary to what God had warned them about earlier through Jonah.  God had provided them a time and opportunity to repent of their ways; yet, they persisted.  Now, it was judgement time and there was anything that was going to stop God as he decreed He was against the city.

STOP!  THINK! LISTEN!  What sin in your life have you been warned about that you refuse to give up?  Do you want your skirt lifted over your head?  Do you want to be shamed before those whom you esteem?  Do you those whom you have attempted to influence and lead with your wrong to be lost? If not, repent.  Please turn away from those things that have carried you away from God, those things that you have replaced God with if that were truly possible.  No one can set himself up as if he can make it in this life his way and without God.  You will come to ruin just like Nineveh. 

Watch out now.

God is good.

September 17, 2010

In our last two books, Jonah and Nahum, we have seen various attributes of the character of God.  In Jonah, we saw God’s compassion, forgiveness, grace, patience, power over circumstances, man and nature. Those are a few that surfaced.  Now in Nahum, we have seen God’s great power,jealousy, justice, vengeance and wrath, but arguably the most important attribute of God is His goodness.

A very popular statement among those who are spiritual is “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”  People use this to encourage one another; however, that statement is theologically flawed.  In the English language, there are two types of verbs: action and state of being.  “Is” is a state of being verb meaning it captures the essence of something.  God is good.  Since God is good, time has no relevance on the matter of His character.  God was good before time began, and He will be good after it ends. 

Today’s verses 7-11, we see the writer make sure that he hinges God’s wrathful actions proclaimed against Nineveh on Gods goodness.  Right in the middle of the proclamation of God’s act of judgement, God makes sure that His goodness is attached to the actions that many may see as evil.  This is why God’s goodness may be the most important attribute of His character.  We must presuppose in faith that when God decrees that He is good it is true; otherwise, nothing that occurs will be right, true, pure, or holy.  Not because it will disturb our lives faltering our abilities to have a firm foundation on which to stand, but it is because God has decreed that He is good.  It is the essence of our faith in God – do we believe what God has said about himself.  We can’t try to fit our faith around circumstances or other supposed facts.  We must, if at all, must fit circumstance or other supposed facts around our faith.  That is true faith. 

Now, back to Nahum’s point. God is good.  The problem is that man does not believe that declaration.  This is not an interrogative matter but a declarative one that has imperative and exclamatory significance.  I used the word hinge earlier.  This is what verse 7 states.  Amid the prophets announcement of judgement where no one can hide, Nahum says “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,”  This is the bottom line.  The Ninevites would not have been wiped out had they trusted in God.  We saw in Jonah that when they repented God was gracious. 

If you know God’s goodness, mentally squeeze it as if it was the only rope you had a hold of that kept you from falling into a deep cavern.  If you don’t, ask God to give you the faith to trust that He is good.  Afterall, those who don’t see God is good have no refuge in times of trouble and no one (who has power to help) to care for them in that trouble.

Be blessed.

All Power

September 16, 2010

Several weeks ago, there was a storm.  Lighting struck and sent a surge of electrical power through my house.  Fortunately for us, there was not a fire or anything, but there were a number of electrical components that were affected.  Many of the component are connected to a surge protector which is most commonly called a power strip.  I have an external hard drive with all of my important data on it.  It serves as a back up to the computer’s hard drive.  After the storm, it appeared that it was fried by the electrical surge from the storm. I was hurt because of the vital information that I had apparently lost.  Every picture of my children, pictures of me from childhood, financial information an other things. 

After week hoping and lamenting, the Lord said take your hard drive to work.  There is a similar product there.  Use the chord from that one to see if it’s just the chord.  Well, just like Christ told Peter to recast his net after fishing all night to no avail, I did it because God told me.  I plugged it in and hooked it in to a computer.  Lo and behold, the light on the hard drive came on.  WOW.  I had power, but that was short-lived because that plug belong to the school. The media specialist asked if I wanted to use the plug, but I explained to her that this was my personal drive.  I couldn’t take the plug home with me.  I had power with that plug but non because my plug did not work.  I called the company and requested one.  Yesterday, the plug came.  Today, I have power for my drive.  Now, I can access that data and store more.

I am writing off script today because as I was sitting her preparing to follow-up from yesterday’s post I heard one word in a song that my wife was listen to – power.  It was clear that the Lord wanted me to write about His power.  We are just like that hard drive.  There is information that is stored in us, but it is inaccessible if we are not plugged into the power source.  What is our power source?  God.  I thought I was off script, but God reminded me of verse 3 from Nahum 1 where He further expounded on His character.  
       The LORD is slow to anger and great in power;
       the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
       His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
       and clouds are the dust of his feet

God goes on to say in the following verses that He rebukes the seas.  Remember when Jesus calmed the sea for the disciples?  He says that dries up seas and rivers.  He named some in the passage.  He says that the mountain quake at him and the hills melt away.  Have you heard of volcanoes? He says that the earth trembles at him. Even now people are dealing with hurricanes in fear.  His wrath is poured out like a fire.  Remember the fires that consumed so much land and property in San Diego last year or so?  He says rocks shatter before Him. 

Simply God is powerful and has all power.  If you are not working like my drive and me some times, I submit it is because you are unplugged.  You are not connected to God, the power source.  If you want to work, get plugged in.  Ask God to save you from your sins if you have never surrendered to Christ as Lord and Savior.  If you have surrendered, ask God to forgive you for trusting in something other than Him.  Thank Him for his grace that you were not destroyed like the Assyrians who failed to honor God’s grace to them.  Then, recommit yourself to trust in the power of God.

Look at these verses that talk about the power of God: click the link to peruse them.  POWER