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Posts Tagged ‘God’

“The flowers appear on the earth; 

the time of the singing of birds is come, 

and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” 

Song of Solomon 2:12

 

The other day I mowed my yard for the first time this Spring, which has been a long time in coming.

 

Spring is a great blessing for those of us who live in northern habitats.  

 

Yesterday I commented to my wife, “I do not understand why everyone says Minneapolis is such a great place to live.  They just had another blizzard.”

 

Today a friend told me, “You will love Minneapolis in their Spring, which runs from their last snow to their first.”

 

Spring is the season which lifts our spirits, as we see tangible evidence of resurrection and restoration.  Life can and does come from that which is dreary and appears dead.  

 

The farmer’s seeds are dead in the air, but become life when planted in warming damp soil.  Flowers hide their colorful petals until a warm sun coaxes them out from winter’s cover.

 

What about your soul, your faith, and your spirits.  Has your heart been wandering through a long winter’s night, lost in a maze of darkness and shadows?

 

If so, bring life to your heart by exposing yourself to the warmth and sunshine of God’s grace and Word.

 

Charles Spurgeon offers this prayer to coax a wintering heart into jubilant faith:

O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray Lord make it so, for I am weary of living at a distance from You.  Bring an end to the long and dreary winter of my heart and soul.  Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul, live in my heart, restore my faith, and have mercy on me! Amen. (1)

 

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(1) Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

 

 

 

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Always keep a part of your heart reserved for God. (1)

 

I have known people with hard hearts or, as Ezekiel writes, hearts of stone.

 

People with hard hearts are generally unforgiving, self-centered, and cold.  They are not drawn towards others nor are others drawn to them.

 

A hard heart is the ugliest attribute a person can possess.  

 

Hard hearts do not make room for God.  They are devoid of love and are unmoved by the beauty and mystery of life.  

 

Hard hearts are never broken, but neither do they live.

 

Not only does God want us to have hearts that have a spot reserved for Him, but he promises to give us one:

“I will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.” (2)

 

A heart of flesh is a goldmine for love and life.  

 

A hard heart is nothing more than a gravel pit.

 

Your heart is your treasure chest. (3) 

 

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 290). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26.
  3. Matthew 6:21

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Loneliness

I have found that the best cure for loneliness is to be alone with God.

When you are still in God’s presence, peace will fill your inmost soul!

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

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Don’t calculate without God (1)

I have always been a whiz with numbers.  In school I could add, subtract, multiple, and divide with the best.  Word problems and algebraic equations were my soul mates.  

Arithmetic was home base.  I consistently made A’s in math until I hit trigonometry and calculus.  My guaranteed A’s turned into hard won B’s.  After completing my second semester calculus class at Chapel Hill, I had enough.

Life is like calculus, it’s hard to figure out.  I was never able to look at a calculus problem and know the correct answer immediately.  Life is the same.  Just when I think I have life figured out, reality steps up to the plate and throws me a sinking curve ball.

When I became a Christian and began to include God in the equation, life did not necessarily become easier, but the answer became clearer.  With God in the mix, I know how the story ends, thus I know where I am going and can more easily find my way.

Because God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts (2) my greatest error in life is to make plans, do my life calculus, without considering God.  

I am a list maker.  My favorite is a list of pros and cons.  I will consider every obstacle and possibility while completing this list.  Once my list is complete, I weigh my options and make a decision.  Once a decision is made, I move forward.

Periodically I will show my list to a group of leaders in the church or to the men in my Covenant Group, to help them understand that I made a wise and careful decision.

One day, a friend who was reviewing my list asked me, “Where’s God?”  

I stumbled and stammered, I was struck dumb, silenced with nothing to say.  God was not considered.  I had not calculated for God.  I had planned for opposition, deficiencies, sin, evil, rainy days, surprises, and a host of other potential problems the world might throw down in my path.  But I had not planned on God.

My friend said,”Without God, your plans will fail.”

I hate it when my friends are right and I am wrong. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (3)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. Isaiah 55:8.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jeremiah 29:11.

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Fear God and honor the king! (1)

Fearing God is the easier of the two parts of this command.  

Honor the king!  I am having a problem with this one, especially as the narcissistic stalemate in Washington DC, continues to rule on the basis of self-interest, money, and power.

Our leaders have abandoned the form of government advocated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people!”

Paul’s statement that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (2) is hard to dispute when examining the current political culture of the United States.

Christians have historically struggled with Jesus’ teaching “Give to Caesar what is his and give to God what is His.” (3)

Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, has provided the best explanation of what Jesus meant:

The secular government doesn’t extend any further than external and physical matters. God can tolerate secular government because it doesn’t concern itself with sin, good works, or spiritual matters. Instead, it handles other matters, such as guarding cities, building bridges, collecting tolls and taxes, providing protection, defending the land and the people, and punishing criminals. 

So Christians should obey government officials as long as these officials don’t command them to do something against their consciences.

If an emperor or prince were to ask me about my faith, I surely would tell him, not because of his governmental authority, but because I should confess my faith publicly. 

If, however, he ordered me to believe this or that, I would say, “Sir, take care of the secular government. You have no authority intruding on God’s kingdom. I will not obey you. You cannot tolerate anyone intruding on your domain. If someone oversteps their boundary without your permission, you shoot them. Do you think that God should tolerate your desire to push him off his throne and seat yourself in his place?” (4)

As the people of God we need to pray and work to keep the civil government from meddling in the affairs of God.

As you celebrate our nation’s independence today, established primarily to protect religious liberties, pray for our leaders, more and more of them believe everything belongs to Caesar.

As fear of God is replaced by expanding honor for the king our great nation grows weaker.

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  1. 1 Peter 2:17 .
  2. Romans 3:23.
  3. Matthew 22:21.
  4. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 185). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Mercy is a gift. It is undeserved. (1)

With common compassion we redefine words and concepts, using them to please the longings of our hearts.  Mercy, along with grace and justice, are three words which we commonly misuse.

Justice is giving people what they deserve.

Mercy is not giving people what they deserve.

Grace is giving people what they do not deserve.

Consider this scenario:

If a young boy steals a pound of hamburger meat and 5 pounds of potatoes from the grocer, justice is served if the boy is fined and required to pay the grocer for the food.

However, if the grocer learns the boy stole the food to feed his penniless family, then mercy is served if the grocer refuses to press charges against the boy.

If the grocer goes a step further and provides the penniless family with $500 of free groceries, then grace has been served.

Justice is always deserved, mercy and grace are always undeserved.  Mercy and grace are gifts, justice is a consequence.

With this being so, how can we say that God is a God of justice, mercy, and grace?

God is just because all sin is justly punished.

God is merciful because He chose not to inflict the punishment upon the sinner, but upon Jesus.

God is gracious because He forgives us and offers us eternal life, even when we sin.

Christians worship a God who serves justice, mercy, and grace this way:

God is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He does not forsake the sinner.  God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins.  (2)

This is the Good News of the Gospel.

This is news we do not deserve!

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 3084-3085). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Nehemiah 9:17 and Romans 5:8.

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God can take your faithfulness and begin a spiritual legacy. (1) 

The list of saints who have impacted my life is long.

    • Earl remained joyous despite being bed ridden for 15 years.
    • Kitty encouraged others despite a 20 year battle with cancer.
    • David never used his war injuries as an excuse.
    • Pat never wanted others to know who gave the money to help those in need.
    • Cullen understood that God’s Call did not necessitate proficiency in Hebrew.
    • Art understood high school boys did dumb things and that grace was often the best discipline.
    • Hope taught me to hold my counsel until God gave me a Word.
    • Ben taught me to help others rather than worry about being repaid.
    • Jason’s music lifted my soul when it could go no lower.

These are but a few of the saints who have been Abraham to me.  God has used them to be a blessing to the nations and to me.

I have been in ministry 30+ years.  Rarely have I ever thought about my spiritual legacy.  To do so would destroy it.

Do not worry about your legacy.  Instead focus on your faithfulness.  God will do the rest.  God in His grace will use you and me to make a difference in the lives of others.  

The Lord said to Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing to the nations.” (2)

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 2543-2544). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Genesis 12:2.

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