“… helped me to remember that God is sovereign no matter what appears to be going on around me.”
I was up really early this morning with Kathe. After breakfast, I sat down and continued my reading through Exodus. This morning I find myself at Exodus 15. Thinking about the previous events that God orchestrated, I decided to write my own poem based on Moses’ poem. It was fun doing and helped me to remember that God is sovereign no matter what appears to be going on around me. I thought I would share it with you. I am not a poet … never tried this before. But maybe God will speak to you as you reflect on His work in your life … Enjoy.
I will sing to the LORD,
For he has triumphed;
As in the days of Moses,
The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea.
The Jesus is my strength and my song,
And He has become my salvation;
You have not left me as an orphan.
This is my God, and I will praise Him,
Jesus is a man of war; the LORD is his name.
Remember the fate of Pharaoh’s chariots and his army drowned in the sea,
And his chosen officers were lost in the Red Sea.
They went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of Your majesty you overthrow Your adversaries;
You send out Your fury; it consumes them like dry hay.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
The floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
Fear not, stand firm, and see the work of the LORD,
For the ‘Egyptians’ whom you see today, you shall never see again.
The enemy says, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
But by Your hand they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
Who is like You, inviting us personally
To live with You and You will be living in us.
You lead today by Your steadfast love
The people whom You have redeemed;
You guide us by Your strength to Your holy abode.
You are bringing us in to Your mountain
We tremble at the daily news
Pangs of fear and unrest grip our hearts
Until we stop and be still
Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house.
Not always will it be so …
Terror and dread will fall on Your enemies
They will become still as a stone
As the people You have purchased pass by.
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you, certainly not as the world gives
Let not your hearts be troubled or be afraid.
The LORD will reign forever and ever.
Sing to the LORD,
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more,
But you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
I need to wake up. It is not all about how warm and fuzzy I feel during worship in a place of safety and aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree – Mark 11:23-24
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
I would not have expected this statement. Is it true? I must say that it is inspiring. Where is the “But”? Jesus made this statement as a carpenter. Everything that Jesus did on earth he did as a man fashioned just like me. When he was building stuff in his father’s shop and hit his thumb with a hammer, it hurt him as much as it would hurt me. When consider this startling statement, maybe Jesus is moving me out of low-grade praying. Maybe He is moving me toward elevated prayers. Is this sort of prayer possible coming from my level of confidence?
As with all things originating with God, there is a certain way that things work. And there is a way that things will not work. Too often I just assume that God will just do things outside of the way that He designed things to work; including prayer. If I am going to be able to move a mountain, then I need to shift my mindset in a different direction. I need to wake up to the reality of the way that God does things.
Consider this insight that the Spirit of Jesus gave to John in exile: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rev 12:7-11 Based on human event thought out time and on the opposition toward Jesus while He was on earth and the opposition thrown against those who follow Jesus, it is hard to argue that there is not some sort of holy war going thought human history. And it is a brutal war. Paul wrote to the house churches in Ephesus: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
I need to wake up. It is not all about how warm and fuzzy I feel during worship in a place of safety and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. The Apostle Peter writes to warn us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Pe 5:8 In some sense, that adversary is not something in a red suit with horns. It can be seen in our culture where to stand up for biblical principles is to invite an onslaught of hate-filled opposition. There is no room for ‘agreeing to disagree’ but if you do not agree you are labeled with ugly names and having no value to society.
Part of the mind-set of growing up is that I need to change how I interact with God. Instead of asking Jesus to do stuff for me, maybe I need to ask Jesus what I can do for Him? Sound familiar? Growing up means understanding things from a different perspective. When I was a child I had no clue why my parents would tell me certain things other than to deprive me of what I wanted. But then when I became a parent it became clearer what they were doing. God wants me to grow up. Again the Apostle Paul puts it succinctly regarding God’s agenda for me: “… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” But do not look for some magic wand, formula or way of worship to accomplish this. It takes an act of commitment and just like moving from childhood to adulthood, it takes work and learning ‘how stuff works.’
I think the problem is simple and yet difficult. We are invited by Jesus to grow up. We are invited to related to God not as children but as son and daughters. Ask yourself, do you pray as a son or daughter. Do you talk to God the Father as a son or daughter who know their position in the family of God? That is what Jesus was trying to tell His twelve close followers that gave up everything to be like Him. The Apostle relates that one time Jesus told the group that He alone has overcome the opposition in the world: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. … In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:24 & 27 In living out life here on earth, we move from childhood to adult. Somewhere in that journey we need to understand and make sure that we are really children of God, related to Jesus by blood and not just by some ecclesiastical name. King David recorded this insight: “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.”
Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things.
|Good words from John Eldridge …
|You probably know what you have been afraid to entrust to God. When we surrender our fear, we are offering it to Jesus. We are saying, “This fear is too much fear for me to bear. I give it to you because I believe you are good and worthy of my trust.” When we actively, by faith, lay down our fears at the feet of Jesus, we pick up his love in return. It is an uneven trade, a heavenly exchange…
Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things. It is surrendering them. It is opening up our clenched hand around them and allowing God access to them and to us. It is actually saying yes to God for them. Yes to his plan. Yes to his way. It is believing that just as his ways are higher than the heavens are above the earth, so his way for the things we fear for is higher. This God of ours is a God of life, of goodness. He is the God of the Resurrection. We lay down our fear. We pick up Jesus. He is the only way we can live beyond fear. He is the Way.
We Pick Up Jesus
This saying is missing three key words from what Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy. The missing words “love” and “all kinds.” Now read what Paul actually wrote: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” [1 Timothy 6:10] Note the importance difference. Paul is not saying that money is evil. He implies that money is neutral. God, in all of the Bible, never tells us that money is evil in of itself. We can choose to use it for good or evil. What is evil is when money becomes an idol for us. When we love money more than God, that is when we open the door for evil of all sorts.
“Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”
We see cute little whimsical says all of the time; on bumper sticker, in holiday and birthday cards, on billboards and lots of other places to catch our attention. They are the “sound bites” of wisdom no matter what era in which we happen to live.
Unfortunately, these sayings are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Even though they are easy to remember and sound wise, they are unbiblical. If one takes the time to read the Bible and compare what it says against the saying, mostly what they teach is opposite to what the Bible really teaches. Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs this: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” [Proverbs 3:7 NLT] Dallas Willard translates this verse as: “I don’t know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out.”
Here is the 1st of twenty:
“God helps those who help themselves.”
As with so many misstatements from the Bible, this statement is actually about self-reliance and self-righteousness. It’s point is simple: if we have an attitude of trying harder and doing better, then God will step in and help us and not before. However, this attitude actually gets in the way of the work of God.
It is hard to nail down where this saying originated but most historians say that it seems to first appear in the Aesopian fable Hercules and the Wagoneer. Aesop lived from about 620–564 BC. Like most fable of its genre it is brief so here it is in its entirety:
A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress.” But Hercules appeared to him, and said: “Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The GODS help them that help themselves.”
Benjamin Franklin, known for being a deist and author of Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1736 wrote: “God helps them that help themselves.” Franklin did not believe that God was playing any active role in the affairs of men. He of the Yankee mindset common to the New England states at that time that if a man was not willing and able to help himself, then that man was without hope and not to be pitied. Ben’s attitude was if men were without hope and felt helpless were just out of luck. The Bible teaches something very unique. Ben Franklin was very much aware of this difference from hearing and commenting on great preachers such as George Whitfield and D.L. Moody, both who preached in Boston. God’s message to us is this: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are not left without help. We just need to look in the right direction to find the solution that God has provided: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts.
Something worth reposting from OM World Bytes by Lawrence Tong, O.M. International Director:
I recently read a study that estimated that today’s total Bible-believing missionary force is approximately 400,000 men and women among over 6.4 billion people who have yet to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour (including nominal Christians and sects)—one missionary for 16,000 unreached people! Frankly, that is depressing and unacceptable. McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts. The great need, anywhere in the world, is for ‘ordinary people’ to share the good news among neighbours.
When Jesus said that the harvest is great but the workers are few, He did so at the pinnacle of His ministry and popularity (Matt. 9:37). Today millions are turning to Christ, often from least-expected areas. A pastor told me that 5,000 Muslims were coming to faith in Christ every week in Indonesia. It took 2,000 years to grow the Christian population to four per cent; in the last 60 years, we have leapt to twelve per cent. If that doesn’t amaze us and spark a reflex, we need to ponder why. You might say that the harvest is plentiful, but our response is pitiful.
Highlighting the harvest and need for workers, Jesus’ command was clear: Pray. My first introduction to the classic OM prayer meeting was in 1977. A group returning from serving with OM invited me to a small room, where I joined 30 others. The leader gave out a set of 52 simple prayer cards, saying that everyone should take a few and then pray aloud for the needs of those nations. Never had I dreamt of doing such a thing and I can’t remember the countries I prayed for. But the attitude of the group was life-changing for me: They prayed fervently in expectation that God would change the world through prayer. We need to bring that kind of prayer meeting back.
In a past era, teams would only advance through prayer and sacrifice. In place after place, there would be strong resistance, and so we waited on God. Of course it was not easy. Of course we had to be willing to encourage one another to keep praying, keep thinking about lost and suffering people. Of course we understood that our own needs paled in comparison and that God was in charge anyway. Is it time to capture that again? Of course it is.
O.M. International Director.
There is good news and bad news available in the world in which we live. One would have to be a hermit living in a cave without any connection to media not know that our world is in trouble. I am not just talking about the incessant news about the agressive mud-slinging presidential canidates boasting about how they alone are the only ones capable of saving America. I am talking on a global scale about the degrading state of affires here in the USA and around the world. Murder, terrorism, hate mongering, lying, alcoholism, bolimeia, cheating, boasting, aggression, racism, religious fanatism, greed and God-hating, just to name a few. There is no security in the world that can be provided by humans. The lack of security creates a craving for long-lasting ability to live peaceful lives. No matter how much we try to fill our lives with things, we are still left in an unsatisfied state. We can never quite fill the glass of our hearts to the brim to quench that thirst. That is the bad news.
Isn’t is sad that governments around the world pour billions upon billions of dollars into solutions involving military saber rattling, mental illness initiatives, evolutionary science; in reality doing everything humanly possible to keep God out of the equation. Maybe that is where we should turn as a last resort? We have tried everything else. God is the one who made us and not we ourselves. The craving for peace can only be fulfilled when we as a people know that God is sovereign. We can ignore and deny that fact. Turning our backs will not make the fact go away. Since He alone is the Creator of all things infinite and finite, we are marked with His image. We are meant to be doing life in His pastures.
Therefore, in order to quench this craving for elusive peace, we need to conscouiously make a choice to serve the Lord and do it not grudgingly as religous duty. We must do it with gladness. But that will noly happen untill we decide to come into His presence and willingly acknowledge that He is God and not we ourselves. Only then will deep seated craving we all have for peace be satisfied. Try it; you just might be caught by surprise!
Progress in our journey of faith is made public in the testing.
Sometimes things stare at us in the face and we are too busy to take notice. Listen to the following quote: “[Jesus is] my rock and my fortress and for Your name’s sake You lead and guide me. … My times are in Your hand.” [Psalm 31:3,15] These are not questions of faith. These are statements considered fact from those who knew firsthand what life-threatening trouble was like. David was not hopeful that what he prayed was true. He knew from first-hand experience the truth. Jesus prayed this prayer often not because he was hopeful but because he demonstrated trust that God was his only rock and fortress during the times of profound duress.
Resolute trust. That is what it takes to turn head knowledge into experiential faith. It is the essence of wisdom. It is a process revealing progress as we learn through each new trial that Jesus has in fact redeemed and restored us and therefore we can commit ourselves into His hands. Progress in our journey of faith is made public in the testing. When trouble comes do we first blame God? Do we question ‘why’ and turn away from God? Christ followers the world over will testify to the fact that when ‘life goes south’ it is here that they have the opportunity to discover with each new faith-challenging circumstance that God has not delivered them into the hand of their enemies. But we have to be willing to look at the rock and not at the waves. We have to be willing to step out of the boat and follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Most of the time profound truth lies in the areas where we do not want to relinquish control. We see life from an finite, not an infinite position. Knowing this we still resist wanting to surrender control of our lives. We have trouble seeing the “image of God” in others. Just listen to the rhetoric being slung around from leaders who claim to be Christian this year.
“My times are in Your hand.” [David]
“What God does in time, He planned from eternity. All that He planned from eternity, Jesus carried out in time.” [J.I.Packer]
No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap.
One summer afternoon years ago, an older business friend and I were at a cafe having coffee. We liked the place because it had a great view of a tree filled park across the street with a spectular view of the snow-topped Colorado Rockies behind it. This particular afternoon, I was complaining about a office situation that I was up-in-arms about. After I finished my ‘rant, he asked if he might give me a word of advice. I respected his insights so I said sure. He told me to put my coffee down, turn in my seat and take a good look out the window.
I looked and then turned back to him. “Turn around and look again,” he said. “You know why those magnificient oak trees live to be hundreds of years old?” I shook my head ‘no.’ “Because they are flexible. When the winds come roaring in gale force down from the mountains or howling off of the plains, they bend. No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap. That’s why they live to be hundreds of years old.” By the time I had turned around he had picked up the tab and left.
We are becoming more and more an inflexible society. Bending does not mean changing. Bending means absorbing the ebb and flow of ideaological currents. Inflexiblilty results in chaos and cruelty.