Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2012

Pride does not come before the fall. 

Pride is The Fall!

It is not my intent to dispute the truth of Proverbs 16:18: “Pride comes before destruction, an arrogant spirit before a fall!”

I simply want to make the case that pride is THE Fall.

Pride assumes that everything we have achieved is the result of our own efforts.  Pride forgets that all we have and all we achieve is a gift from God.

Pride forgets God! 

Pride denies God! 

Pride rejects God!

C. S. Lewis wrote:

As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. (1)

Not only does a proud person reject God, he demeans the value of others.

A proud person does not see others as equals, he sees them as lessers.  

A proud person believes he is better, more significant, and of more value than others.

A proud person loves to lord it over others that he has more stuff, more titles, and more shekels.

The only thing a proud person does not have more of than others is friends!

The proud man might sing, “What a friend I have in Jesus” but he will never see Jesus because he assumes Jesus is below him.

Lift up your eyes and see your Savior whose throne is in the heavens! 

Psalm 123:1

  • + +
  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 90). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In my preaching, teaching, and counseling I tell Christians, “God will provide!”

In my personal life, I ask God to provide more.

There is a disconnect between my teaching and my living.

It makes since that if I trusted God to provide, then I would not busy myself with asking God to provide specific things to me.  Likewise, if I trusted God to provide, then I would graciously accept the bounty of His provisions.

I frequently pray, “Thy will be done!”  Yet, like a used car salesman, I promote my will to God as the better will for Him to embrace.  The implication is that God will not provide well enough for me.

I am always asking for more, because I accept less of what God provides for me.  Do not misunderstand, God provides plenty for me.  He provides more than I deserve and more than I need.  My sin is that I want Him to provide something else.

Jesus taught that anyone who leaves all and follows Him will receive 100 times more from God in this life, than they would receive from the world. (Mark 10:17-30, especially vs 29 and 30)

Jesus also taught that He was going to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and to secure eternal life with God for anyone who believed in Him. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus teaches:

God will provide us with the best of both worlds.

Yet, as Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to die on the cross James and John asked Him for more.  They wanted to sit on Jesus’ left and right as he sat on His throne in heaven. (Mark 10:35-37)

Why do we ask for more from God when he already has given us the best of both worlds?

The closer I get to Holy Week and Good Friday, the more I remind myself, “Ask less and accept more!”

What are you asking God for?

Read Full Post »

We’re living here on the devil’s turf. (1)

Sport teams frequently name their stadium, arena, court, or field, after a local hero.  We have:

  • Lambeau Field for Packers Coach Curly Lambeau;
  • Wrigley Field for Cubs owner William Wrigley, Jr.;
  • The Dean Dome for UNC Coach Dean Smith;
  • Coach K’s Court for Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

When I coached basketball we frequently reminded the boys, “This is our house!”  The reminder was offered as an exhortation during a home game in which the Visitors were walking all over us and our poor defensive play.

Why would Martin Luther refer to earth as The Devil’s Turf when scripture affirms in Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Luther’s comment is not a declaration, rather it is a warning about present reality!

Satan does not rule the earth, but it is his playground.  He is constantly recruiting players who will play for his team and by his rulebook.

His players eventually become his victims!

Martin Luther’s words are a helpful warning, not a denial of God’s sovereignty.  Additionally, his words are one’s of comfort and consolation.

The local news can be depressing.  Daily headlines are about murders, robberies, thefts, and crime, all in our own community.

There are days when it seems as Satan is winning the battle.  Yet Satan is always one Word from defeat.

In his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress, Martin Luther writes:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; 

His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate.

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 

We will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.  

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 

His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

The last line in these lyrics is critical:  One little word shall fell him.

That one little word is Jesus.

This world may be the devil’s playground, but the earth is the Lord’s.

Satan plays, but God wins!

+ + +

  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 80). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Read Full Post »

Whatever I love is my god.

 

This quote by St. Augustine frequently causes me to reflect on what are the things I love.

 

How do you know what you love?  I go by what I grieve losing.  If I am sad to have lost something, then I clearly had an affectionate attachment to it.  The extent of the grief measures the depth of the love.

 

Sunday afternoon I was thrilled that my favorite basketball team won a game to advance in the NCAA tournament.  Minutes after the game, I learned that our star point guard had broken a bone in his wrist.  His availability for the rest of the tournament is questionable.  Our chance of winning the prize is greatly diminished.

 

I was in a funk all night long and did not sleep well.

 

Is basketball my god, or perhaps one in a constellation of gods I adore?  I hope not, but I do orient my life and schedule, hopes and dreams around my team’s games.  

 

Another measure of whether something is your god is how much pride you take in it.  

 

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”  (1)

 

My favorite team has had a great season and has provided me with much enjoyment, but the season will be incomplete if they do not win the NCAA title.  Winning allows me to boast, “My team won!” 

 

When my grief pulls me down and my pride puffs me up, God does me a favor and reminds me of His Word:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (2)

 

Later in 1 Corinthians 13:13, God reminds us that there are three lasting things in life “faith, hope, and love.”  He concludes by teaching “The greatest of these is love!

 

Why do we place greater love in perishables, than in non-perishables?

 

Guard your heart.

 

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul,

all of your mind, and all of your strength. (3)

 

+ + +

  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 88). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Corinthians 9:24–25.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mark 12:30

Read Full Post »

Faith never knows where it is being led. (1)

This may be our biggest problem with faith, not knowing where it will lead us.

While I permit my wife, my administrative assistant, and God to add things to my daily calendar. I covet controlling my own schedule.

Years ago I read David P. Campbell’s book If You Do Not Know Where You are Going, You’ll End up Somewhere Else.  The book scared me because up until then, I went with the flow trusting circumstances and others to clear a path for me.

For years I thought ending up somewhere else was the worst thing that could happen to a person.  Being somewhere else implied that it was not a land of green pastures, flowing with milk and honey.

Since reading that book, I have grown stronger in my faith.  I have learned to trust God.  When my faith was weaker I loved God, but now I love Him and trust Him.

We can love people we do not trust and trust people we do not love, yet have faith in neither.

Faith in all of it’s fulness is the unique mixture of love and trust.

When a Christian loves and trusts God, he does not worry about ending up somewhere else.  He knows that God will keep His promise, best expressed in Psalm 23:1-4

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

He leads me to rest in green pastures. 

He leads me beside still waters where He restores my soul. 

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 

When He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me.

Once I yielded my life to God, He led me to some amazing places.  Each of these would have been on my list of somewhere else places I would have never chosen to go.

I have been blessed by passing through the somewhere else places God has led me, even when some of the roads traveled through fiery pits of hell and valleys of death.

The road best traveled is the road of faith!

With God you never know where you are going, but it will be a good way because you are being led by someone who loves you.

Keep the faith and enjoy God’s trip to somewhere else.

+ + +

  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

Read Full Post »

V.  Today’s post are my preaching notes for my sermon at Kishwaukee Community Church.  If you are at Kishwaukee today, you may follow these notes as I preach.  If you are not at Kishwaukee today, click here to go to our  website on Monday and follow the links to hear the sermon. You can then follow these notes as you listen to the sermon.

.

How We Hear God Speaking to Us, Part 3

.

I.  Listening and Looking for God in Daily Life

A.  God speaking to us regularly

Scripture, Prayer, Worship, Dreams, Visions, Theophany’s

Circumstances

B.  Parents hearing Children

.

II.  Hearing and Seeing God

A. Seeing God’s work to be done vs Seeking God’s will

We obsess if this is God’s will,

rather than if it is His work for me to do.

B.  Determining if God has work for me to do

always comes before

the conviction that this is/was God’s will for me.

C.  I often do not clearly see God’s will

Until after getting to work and

After seeing Him equip me.

D.  This is not to minimize seeking God’s will

But if His will is unclear

Do the work God has placed before you

E.  Have I misread God’s will before

Absolutely, but instead of fretting over misread

Do His work and trust God to work out His purposes

.

III.  The Work God Tells Us To Do

A.  Rely on Holy Spirit to guide you

B.  Remember the 4 boundaries

Consistent with scripture

Word from scripture

Confirmation through the body

Calls you to act

C.  God does not send where I want or where I don’t want

just because that is my wish

Usually when I stake out these claims

God sends me to prove who is in charge

D.  Let God initiate giving direction

You do not need to dream up work to do for God

At worse may need to discern which work to do

E.  Jesus trusted God to reveal work to be done – John 5:19-20

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

F.  Look at Jesus ministry

Healing of sick – they came to Him

Feeding of 5000 – Jesus did not say assemble hungry people

Calming the Storm – Jesus did not pray for storm

Raising Jarius’ daughter from illness

Raising Lazarus from the Tomb

God brought the work to Jesus

Work for Jesus to do while fulfilling God’s Will for salvation

G.  Seek short-term clarity of direction rather than long-term discernment

Ask God what do You want me to do today

Instead of asking God what do you want me to be doing in 10 years

If we tend to the little picture

God will tend to the big picture

.

IV.  Mistakes, Regrets, and Difficulties

A.  You will make mistakes, mis-steps in discernment

Regardless of prayer, discernment

Because of that little problem called sin and living in the flesh

B.  Mistake when pushed ahead

Worship experiment at PC

I knew we made the wrong decision

We pushed for a long-term goal

C.  Regret leaving denomination at the time we did

Lawsuit pending, oral arguments April 17

A ministry at a standstill

What has happened to us since then

has not been kind or fair much less Christian behavior.

It broke me,but I did not think I needed to be broken

My biggest regret is the pain it caused my family.

However God still using me!

Never let past regrets or present difficulties to lead you to question God’s will. There are actions which seemed to be 100% God’s direction which I later regretted, because of the hurt and pain. BUT, I cannot say, that what I did was not God’s will.

God sends us into the frying pan

because He needs someone there

D.  When following God’s will ==> regret, difficulty, hurt

You need God’s perspective

to understand your circumstances …

That perspective may not come

Until God shows how He is using you

Again, this is why I only seek short term clarity

.

V.  Story of Joseph

A.  His life a roller coaster

Vision of greatness

Dad’s favorite

Brother’s sell into slavery

Special in Pharaoh’s house

Falsely accused for spurning advances

Years in prison

Finally opportunity to interpret dreams

High place in Pharaoh’s government

Brothers come hungry

Opportunity to save God’s people from starvation

B.  Where on the roller coaster do we stop

to measure God’s will and blessing

C.  Genesis 50:20-21

What you meant for evil against me, God used for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.”  Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

D.  Joseph did not return the evil

Joseph remembered God’s work, will

E.  Blackaby quote

During his difficulties Joseph needed God’s perspective to understand his circumstances.  … When Joseph’s life was placed in the context of God’s eternal purposes, every major experience in his life—both good and bad—could be seen to have a purpose and to result in good.

F.  We can only see circumstances with clarity

We cannot see God’s will with clarity

This is why work faithfully in the present

If not you will have a misunderstanding of God’s will

and miss His grace in your circumstances

G.  Blackaby, again

What should you do instead? First, ask God to show you His perspective on what’s happening. Look back at your situation from what you already know about God. When you face a troublesome time, the Holy Spirit will take the Word of God and help you understand the event from God’s perspective. He will reveal to you the truth of your circumstances.

H.  Always remember

God’s love for you never changes, has not changed

Never try to understand what God is like in the middle of difficult circumstances

God is sovereign depend on His sustaining grace

I.  Blackaby quote

There are some things that happen in our lives we may never understand until they are revealed in heaven.

.

VI.  Conversion of Saul to Paul

A.  Most dramatic

To everyone’s amazement

==> Questions

Why Him?

Why not earlier?

Answers never forthcoming, except

This was clearly an act of God

B.  Jewish prosecutor became builder of Christian Church

Good reminder

Whether God speaks clearly, dramatically

Or quietly in an everyday pedestrian way

He is speaking to us

Always for His will and purpose

Always for our good and blessing

C.  You do not need long-term vision or understanding

Simply eyes and ears attentive to God

In scripture, prayer, and worship

Perhaps in dreams, visions, and theophanies

Always in circumstances in front of you right now

D.  Remember the boundaries

Consistent with scripture – to serve Jesus

A word of scripture – Great Commission

Confirmed within body – bystanders and  Ananias

Call to go – Saul to city, Ananias to lay on hands

Read Full Post »

The NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament is not a good place for the faint-hearted or over-confidant.

If you dare, ask a Duke or Missouri fan this morning how they are feeling.  Both lost in big upsets to teams everyone was looking past.  No one really expected Norfolk State and Lehigh to win.

Everyone presumed Missouri and Duke would win.  I did!

Presumptuousness is risky business.

The prophet Obadiah wrote:

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you. You think to yourself, ‘No one can bring me down to the ground!’”  (1)

Presumptuousness leads to carelessness born out of arrogance and a sense of invulnerability.  Even in the best of times, we are all vulnerable:  “There is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy!” (2)

The temptation in mercy is to underestimate your culpability, taking God’s grace for granted.    The snare in joy is its fleeting nature, forgetting it too is a gift from God.

Perhaps this is why David prayed:  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.”  (3)

David was experienced with presumptuousness, pride, and arrogance.  He once thought he was above it all.  His sin of adultery and murder were born in his sense of imperiousness.

David was praised for having a heart for God.  It is was his badge of honor, until one warm spring day when he went out onto his balcony.   Bathsheba was the temptation and the cover-up the snare.

Guard your heart!

+ + +

  1. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006), Obadiah 1:3.
  2. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 19:13.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: