“Could You Be Left Behind?” July 19

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind.  Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-16

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when he heard it. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.

So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.

 

God is Withholding His Judgment Today

 

Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of His faithful people, the Church! But one day …  Continue reading

“What’s Up with God’s Timing?!” June 18

 

God's TimingDo you ever wonder where God is when you’re in a trial, being mistreated, or waiting for an answer to prayer? Though it sometimes doesn’t seem so to us, God is always in control and His timing is always right.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 25
Psalm 75.1-10
Proverbs 19.4-5
Acts 3.1-26

 

What’s Up with God’s Timing?

 

Where Is God?

Psalm 75.1-10:

 

God is always near and always in control! Always! But often we wonder, “Where is God? Doesn’t He know what’s going on here?” Yet He says:

“When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly” (v. 2).

Think about that. He has all the facts. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what each of us needs to help conform us to the image of Christ, and … He chooses the proper time.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Mercy Even in Judgment

2 Kings 25:

 

The book of 2 Kings ends, sadly, with the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the people being carried off captive to Babylon. This was God’s judgment for their continued rebellion as a nation. But the last few verses contain a picture of God’s mercy and faithfulnessContinue reading

“The Christian Two-Step” May 12

 

Christian Two-Step - The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 26 & 27
Psalm 60.6-12
Proverbs 16.4-5
John 2.1-25

 

The Christian Two-Step

 

1 Samuel 26 & 27:

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 

In yesterday’s reading, Saul was repentant and had given up trying to kill David. But now in chapter 26 he’s at it again. David, on the other hand, in spite of God’s continuing faithfulness, started to believe the worse. Instead of being encouraged, he decided that sooner or later Saul will probably kill him. So he resorts to his own foolish solution, going into enemy territory where he knows Saul won’t go. But as the story unfolds we’ll see that this only leads to more problems. One step forward, two steps back.

Have you ever felt like that’s the story of your life? I know I have. We may know intellectually that God’s way is the right way, but when it goes against our feelings, feelings often win out. We could call it the Christian two-step!

We know Matthew 5.23-24 says we aren’t to hypocritically worship God, while we ignore unresolved issues with family and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. But instead of seeking reconciliation, we avoid people, move to a different church, gossip, or pretend things are fine.

We know we’re playing with fire when we flirt with a co-worker or scan the internet for that old “friend,” but we’re so tired of feeling unappreciated and it seems so harmless, and besides, we think, “I can handle it!”

We’re heard our share of teaching about confronting a sinning brother or sister, but it’s just too hard! And besides, “Who am I to judge?”

We hear a good sermon on discipleship or prayer or growing in the Word and we decide, “I’m going to read my Bible more,” or “I’m going to spend more time praying,” or “I’m going to finish that Bible study I started.” Then the alarm goes off and another 30 minutes of sleep wins out.

One-step forward, two steps back.

 

Dancing to a New Beat

 

Like David, when the struggles keep coming or when we think we’ve failed God again, we’re often tempted to give up and think things will never change or we’re never going to get it.

But it doesn’t matter how many times we have fallen or how difficult the circumstances, Continue reading

“The Downward Spiral of Sin” April 2

 

The Downward Spiral - God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today's reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity and where the downward spiral of sin can lead.God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today’s reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity and where the downward spiral of sin can lead, including cannibalism and things that could be taken from today’s headlines.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 27 & 28
Psalm 39.12-13
Proverbs 13.7-8
Luke 6.27-49

 

The Downward Spiral of Sin

 

Deuteronomy 27 & 28:

Memorials and the Ten Commandments

 

Chapter 27.2-3, “… you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you.”

Moses Ten Commandments Stones Isolated on White Background.Some people think it’s foolish to make such a big deal about things like having the “Ten Commandments” posted in schools and other public places. But, apparently, God thinks it’s a pretty good idea to have reminders of the truth! We see God telling His people to set up memorials and reminders over and over in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures themselves are reminders, too, and we should be faithful to read and meditate on them so we can remember His love, remember His promises, and remember His faithfulness.

 

The Downward Spiral of Sin

 

Now to chapter 28. It’s hard to read some of this:

45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.

49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.

“…your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you … You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters … he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat …The tender and delicate woman … will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta … she will eat them secretly …” (Deut. 28.51-57). Continue reading

“Lessons from a Fish’s Belly” December 18

 

Important Lessons from a Fish's BellyYou may think you know the story of Jonah, but there is so much more for us to learn from his book. There is the fact that disobedience and running from God can land us in some pretty nasty circumstances. But there is, also, a great lesson in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive in the rest of the story.

Our New Testament reading is from Revelation 8 with the beginning of the seven trumpet judgments. The first four are horrible enough, but before the fifth one sounds an angel cries, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet …”

 

Today’s Readings:
Jonah 1-4
Psalm 144.1-8
Proverbs 30.6-9
Revelation 8.1-13

 

Lessons from a Fish’s Belly

 

Jonah 1-4:

The Real Lesson from Jonah

 

Most of us grew up hearing the story of Jonah in Sunday school or at least had some vague idea of what it was all about. But there is so much more to be learned from this little book.

Jonah received a call from God to go to the capital of Assyria, the city of Nineveh. The Assyrians were the enemies of Israel and Judah. Instead of obeying God he got on a ship going in the opposite direction only to have God bring a fierce storm against the ship. He ended up being thrown overboard, though reluctantly, by the crew when they realized that it was the only way to save the ship and themselves. Jonah 1:

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

They recognized God’s hand in what was happening, and the text says they feared Him and offered sacrifices to Him. Even God’s judgment can cause people to turn to Him.

Back to Jonah himself. Don’t you wonder what it was like to be inside that fish’s belly for three days and three nights? God knows just how to get our attention. We don’t know everything that went through his mind, but chapter 2 gives us some insight:

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said.
“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

Even though he had been disobedient and was running from God, he turned back to Him in his time of trouble.

He knew God was faithful:

4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

7 “ When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD.”
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Chapter 3:

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

Notice, God did not say, Continue reading