Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Is it worth it?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6

Do you ever feel like you're doing everything right and nobody notices? You do all the work and someone else gets the credit? You make all the sacrifices, try to do all the right things, but you never seem to get ahead. Is it even worth it? Should you keep doing what's right even if it never seems to work out for you?

Yes!!! Let me tell you why. Believers can persevere in doing what's right because we know God promises that we will receive our reward in the end and because He Himself holds our future in His hands. 

The verses above say that God is our cup. The Bible uses this term to describe a person's deserved lot in life, or their due reward for their actions. A person's cup could be bad as in Psalm 11:6, "Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup." Or a person's cup could be good as in Psalm 23:5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." For believers, God Himself is our cup. He is your reward! No matter how much this world cheats you out of what you deserve, know that God is watching and He has promised to give you not only crowns and a rich inheritance but also the greatest treasure of all: direct access to Himself (Revelation 22:4).

Believers also take comfort in the knowledge that it isn't the alignment of the stars, dumb luck, or the whimsy of the Fates, but God who holds our future. He has determined our destiny. He holds it up and supports us in it that we may not fall. Whatever you hope the future holds for you, relax and trust God. Whether He chooses to make your dreams come true or not, He has already promised to work it all out for your good.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose... What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:28, 31-32)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unveiled Faces (W.o.W. rewind)

Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out...the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face was shining.
Exodus 34:34-35

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Christians have a unique privilege in this world. Once we were blinded by sin like everyone else, but now, by the power of God's Spirit, our eyes have been opened to see who God really is. We are ushered into God's very presence by the power of the blood of Christ. We not only contemplate God through the Scriptures, but we have His very Spirit dwelling in us. This Spirit helps us to understand the Bible and it gives us an unprecedented closeness and relationship with God. 

We behold the glory of the Lord like few, if any, did prior to Christ's coming. And as we gaze intently at God's glory and contemplate His goodness, miracle of miracles, we are changed! God's Spirit works within us to transform us into the image of the very God that it reveals to us. 

Christians are meant to reflect who God is. The longer we walk with Him the more like Him we ought to be. We shouldn't hide this transformation. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
This leads all Christians to several pertinent questions:
  • Am I being transformed into the image of God from one degree of glory to another?
  • Am I taking time to behold God's glory, to enter His presence and gaze at Him?
  • Am I letting the light of God's transforming work in me shine for all to see so that He may receive the glory?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Aksah Asks a Favor

And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.

One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
Joshua 15:16-19

This is an obscure little story hidden in a portion of the Old Testament that details the boundaries of the tracts of land given to each of the twelve tribes of Israel in the Promised Land. It isn’t likely to garner much attention today, yet God saw fit to include this short story not once but twice in Scripture. It is recorded again, almost word for word in Judges 1:12-15. Why? Because it has a tremendous little lesson to teach God’s children.

Aksah’s father, Caleb, was a faithful, God-fearing man. You may remember that he was one of only two of the twelve men who spied out the land of Canaan to bring back a good report. Caleb stands out in Scripture as an example of faith, courage and wisdom. In this passage we find Caleb carefully crafting a situation to provide a strong, brave man for his daughter to marry. It worked. Aksah’s husband, Othniel, later becomes the first judge whom God raises up to deliver His people (see Judges 3:7-11). From this (and many other examples I am sure) Aksah knows that her father loves her. She can see that he wants to provide for her, and she begins taking an interest in her own provision as well.

Aksah is a shrewd young woman who knows where she stands with her father and is not afraid to take initiative. Knowing that the land her father has given her would do well to have a source of water, she musters some of the courage her father was famous for and makes a request. She knows her father wants to be a blessing to her, so she asks him for something specific, springs of water. Caleb gives her a double blessing, two springs of water! Imagine how fruitful this land must have been for her family.

In the New Testament Jesus says,
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

What are you asking God for right now? He has shown that He wants to bless you with good things. So what are you asking Him for? Pause and ask God for something specific. But ask wisely, not selfishly. Consider these words of James:
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

God is My Portion

Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26)

Too many Christians aren't satisfied in God alone. We are like the psalmist in the first half of Psalm 73 when he says,  "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (73:3). We look at the world around us and we want the same money, fame, power, success, and easy life that they appear to have. We covet the things of the world and in these moments (I shudder to type it out) but in these moments we think God isn't enough for us. We want more. 

But our wicked desires only reveal our folly, for no treasure is more secure than nearness to God. How marvelous it is to consider that the believer actually has God as her portion. What a sure inheritance you have! Money can be lost or stolen. Lands can be destroyed. Stock prices can drop. But God is forever. God can't be taken from you! Jesus cried out on the cross "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) He said this so you would never have to. He was cast off and forsaken on the cross so that you might be brought near by His blood. 

But your portion is not only secure, it is also precious beyond measure. God is a priceless treasure and He ought to be your greatest desire. Nothing in Heaven or on Earth or in any of the galaxies can come close to comparing to Him. Why would you desire anything this world has to offer above God? Since He created it all, He far exceeds it in value. So what could be better than nearness to Him? Nothing! 

So take great joy, believer, in the knowledge that you have Him for your very own. God has given every believer a down payment on her inheritance by placing His Spirit in her heart now. Don't take this gift for granted. Be satisfied in God's presence. And take heart! In this world you will have many troubles, but God is your portion and Heaven awaits. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Imperfect but available

The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Judges 15:14b-15

Samson wasn't particularly righteous. He was sexually immoral, flippant towards God's law, fairly deceitful, and foolish in his dealings with women. No, Samson wasn't righteous, but he was available. He was ticked off at the same people God was ticked off at, and he was willing to fight. When his greatest military victory came he had been bound with ropes by his own people and handed over to the Philistines. He had no weapons at his disposal and was surrounded by his enemies. But when God's Spirit rushed on him Samson was given supernatural strength. He broke free of his bonds as though they were nothing and looked around for any weapon he could lay a hand on. What he found was the jawbone of a donkey and with it he killed one thousand men.

One of the many lessons we learn from Samson's life is that God can do impossible things through imperfect people. This is what God has done all throughout human history. He used Martin Luther to stand alone against a Catholic Church that had become so corrupt that it actually sold salvation. He used William Tyndale to translate the Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew texts even as the Catholic Church in his country said common Christians didn't need to read the Bible and persecuted and hunted him. And were it not for God's work in William Carey's life the modern missions movement might have never started and millions of souls might be lost to Hell. In his lifetime, Carey was a lone voice arguing that Christians still have a responsibility to take the good news of Jesus to the nations. God used him to start a movement. 

None of these men were perfect, but they were all aligned with God's will for their lives. Each of them stepped out in faith and acted. If you and I will do the same, then God will accomplish all He pleases through us. Who knows what the great author has written for you in His book? Will you preach the gospel, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, fight for the oppressed, start a movement, or raise up the next generation of Christians? Only God knows and only you can find out, if you'll step out in faith and see.