Headed Toward Home

September 10, 2019

Titus 2:11-14  The Christian life has been compared to being strangers in a land no longer our home as we live heading for home (heaven). Sometimes, it is good to think about how to live in our “now” but toward our “not yet.”

 

  • The Blessed and Anticipated “Not Yet” – Born-again Christians are to live with a confident expectation of Jesus’ return and all that means – living with a sense of looking forward to heaven and desire for God’s “not yet” blessings. There is to be an awareness that flavors our lives and calls us upward.

 

  • The Crucially Important “Now” – In the now, it is vitally important that we renounce sin and un-Godliness and embrace sanctification and Godly living, choosing loyalty to the Lord over the word and its ways.

 

  • There is More to the Package Than Heaven – In addition to heaven someday, there is in Scripture the idea of living now in a way that brings glory to Jesus and avoids shame when He returns, as well as judgment and accountability for how we have lived here as His people.

 

  • God’s Gracious Work Setting Us in the Right Direction – God has been so gracious to us in the coming of Jesus to show us God and God-intended humanity, to die for us and rise again, and to work in our lives for sanctification through His Word and Spirit.

 

If you are in Christ, because of God’s honor and your new identity, as well as what is coming, right now is vitally important and should be lived in Godliness. While you are heading toward home, live like someone for whom this is not home, and stay mindful of home as a source of joy, perspective, and motivation.

 



Responding to God’s Glory in Creation and Scripture

September 10, 2019

Psalm 19:1-14  In the busyness of life and the chaos of this world, where is God? Do you ever just see His glory and goodness revealed in nature and / or the Word? Psalm 19 helps us consider the idea of seeing God’s glory and goodness and responding accordingly.

 

  • God’s Glory in Creation (vv. 1-6) – These verses invite us to join with the Psalmist in seeing God’s wisdom, glory, and power in the heavens and, I believe, in all of nature. I am reminded of the songs “This is my Father’s World” and “All Creatures of Our God and King.” Have you ever had moments of worship brought on by experiencing nature?

 

  • God’s Glory in His Word (vv. 7-11) – These verses speak about the Law, but I believe they may extend out to the whole of Scripture. Join the Psalmist in appreciating the value of the Scripture and its truths, seeing the goodness of God therein.

 

  • Inviting God’s Glory Into our Lives vv. 12-14) – It is as if the Psalmist says here (and we might join in), “Lord, I want my life to answer well to your glory and goodness, but sometimes it tends not to. That tendency is more or less subtle, but keep me from straying Lord, guarding my thoughts and words.”

 

God has shown His glory in creation and in the Bible, but we can get so cluttered and busy in our lives and minds that we do not see it. We need to create space to see His glory and goodness. As we do, we are called to participate in that glory and to respond to that goodness in surrender and praise.

 



Lead Me in Your Paths

August 27, 2019

Psalm 25:1-22  We face difficulties and pressures that can derail us and lead to shameful choices. As we seek to walk in the Lord’s paths, Psalm 25 is a great passage to reflect on and pray, so let me suggest some prayers based on it.

 

  • vv. 1-2a – Lord, I intentionally direct my soul to you in reverent, dependent, trusting way. I chose you over any other thing I might worship, rely on, or devote myself to.
  • vv. 2b-3 – Lord, there are enemies, things that would destroy me if I let them. Keep me from being defeated by these things.
  • vv. 4-5 – Lord, I trust you and your way enough I want to know your way of doing things, so teach me and lead me.
  • vv. 6-7 – I have not always walked uprightly in your path Lord, but I want to, so please restore me to rightness with you.
  • vv. 8-11 – Lord, you correct and teach those who will receive it, and I receive it. If I let you lead and follow your way, keeping covenant, that is the path of faithfulness and the best way to live. But Lord, I have missed the mark, so I humbly ask you to make me right with you.
  • vv. 12-15 – When I am walking with you Lord, you are free to bless me as you see fit and provide into my life that which will bless me and honor you. So, I am keeping my eyes on you Lord, for you will keep me from the detouring traps.
  • vv. 16-18 – Lord, you know where I am and what I face – the condition of my heart, the difficulties of my life, and my failings. Please be my salvation in this.
  • vv. 19-22 – Lord, there are things that want to destroy my walk with you, my home, my church, and your work in and through me and others. So, let integrity and uprightness guard me; you guard me; and redeem all who follow you.

 



The King of Glory

August 27, 2019

Psalm 24:1-10   Sometimes, we might ask where God is and what the point is of the “all this” of our world and life.
I would suggest our purpose and “all this” has something to do with recognizing and responding to God in certain ways and inviting His involvement.

 

  • vv. 1-2 – We are called to respond to God’s rightful place as King, Owner, and Creator with humility, valuing others, stewardship, obedience, and worship. God brings order out of chaos in original creation, forming Israel, birthing the church, regenerating the believer, and ultimately in the New Creation.
  • vv. 3-6 – Holiness is a key concept in the Bible, so the question becomes, “Who may come to worship?” We find the requirements of clean hands and a pure heart, not lifting our souls to an idol or to vein things, and truthfulness. When we go to the New Testament, we discover a coming to God not through our own efforts at truth, purity, and cleanness, but through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. For the Christian, see James 4:8 and 2 Cor. 6:16b-7:1.
  • vv. 7-10 – The mightiness of God is displayed in creation, Israel’s battles, Jesus’ incarnation and ministry and resurrection, Christian life, and ultimate judgment, redemption, and renewal. For God’s purpose to be achieved, the human heart and the local church have doors or gates that need to be opened that the King of Glory may come in.

 

God who created us and our world deserves loyalty and worship, but only those in covenant with Him can enjoy His fellowship. Also, Scripture makes clear those in covenant with God are a part of God’s new creation in Jesus, and this new identity calls us to Godliness. Ask God to invade your space, coming in and achieving His purpose.

 



God, Refresh Me

July 13, 2019
 

Psalms 42-43  Have you ever been really thirsty? Has your soul ever been thirsty for God?  Sometimes, we get downcast, and that is when it is time to thirst for the Lord and call out to Him.

 

My Soul Thirsts for God (42:1-5) – Have you ever been in a place where the spiritual need of your soul was deep and desperate? Who questions your loyalty to God or God’s faithfulness to you? Where do you find consolation?

 

My Soul is Downcast (42:6-11) – What leads or has led your soul to be downcast? Sometimes, we are not where we feel we can connect with God, and other times we are where we think we should be able to connect with God, but we cannot seem to. Sometimes, we can get to where there is not emotion of comfort or evidence of God’s work, just the foundation of our faith. It can feel like God has abandoned or forgotten us.

 

Send Forth Your Light and Truth (43:1-5) – When God does not seem to be working in our lives, we can get in a dark place and may need Him to guard us against negative influences and thoughts. We might pray, “Lord, of all I might need, I need your light and truth and of all the places I might get to, it needs to be a place of refreshing in  connection with you – you are my joy and delight.”

 

Repeatedly, the Psalmist grounds his response to trouble in the person and work of God, and we are called to do the same, desiring the Lord and calling out for Him and His light and truth.

 



Lord, Hear Me and Shelter Us

August 13, 2019

Psalm 5:1-12  Do you connect the practice of prayer with those stirrings of heart and mind that come as you think about how to live as a follower of Jesus in a troubling world?

 

  • Verses 1-3 – Here we find an invitation and example seek the Lord in orderly, intentional, and regular prayer that centers our life in Him as our God and King.
  • Verses 4-6 – When we contemplate God, we realize God’s holiness and that not everyone can come before Him or expect to be heard by Him. Looking elsewhere in Scripture, we understand God’s heart is not that He hates these people intrinsically but as a consequence of sin.
  • Verses 7-8 – Here, we see that heart that says, Lord, I want my life to line up with your righteous way, and there are plenty of influences that come against my efforts to live for you, and there are those people who want me to fall. So, lead me in your straight way.
  • Verses 9-10 – Do you realize the destruction and spiritual deadness in the lying influences and people around us who are malicious and opposed to God? How do you pray regarding them, and how do we balance this with Jesus’ call to love enemies and persecutors?
  • Verses 11-12 – Pray with the Psalmist, “Lord, let those who come into your covenant love for refuge continually be glad and sing out about it. Be a shield for these people that love you and who you are and what you are about so they can rejoice in you.”

 

Do we realize the need for God to allow us into His presence by His mercy and love, and realize there are enemies, so we need God to lead us in righteousness, shield us, and make the way straight before us?

 



God, Help Me in Obvious Ways

July 23, 2019

Psalm 86  Sometimes, people come against us, but other times other sources of difficulty and distress challenge us. How might we seek God when we do not have the resources to deal well with it? Psalm 86 voices a call to Lord in trying times, and we can join in.

 

  • Verses 1-4 – We can join with the Psalm basically praying, “Lord I don’t have the resources to handle this, but I am devoted to you, so please hear me and bring me joy through your saving work.”

 

  • Verses 5-6 – As we lift our souls to Him, we may realize our need for His compassion.

 

  • Verse 7 – What is your place of distress, and do you turn to God in it?

 

  • Verses 8-10 – We might pray, “Lord, regardless of who or what others may worship, you are the only true God and I am bringing this to you.”

 

  • Verse 11 – As we call to the Lord, we may realize the need for growth in our life and pray within the larger prayer, asking God to teach us and lead us in the right way with an undivided heart.

 

  • Verses 12-13 – In what ways has God helped you walk faithfully and honor Him, and in what way do you need His help in that now?

 

  • Verse 14 – We might say, “Lord, I strive to honor you, but those who don’t are coming against me.”

 

  • Verse 15 – Here we are called again to remind ourselves of God’s goodness and turn to Him.

 

  • Verses 16-17 – We may pray, “Lord, I started by asking for mercy, guarding, and saving out in my context of relationship with you. Now, more specifically, I ask for merciful strengthening and saving. Lord, move in a way that is obvious to me and others that you have moved.

 



My God and My Country

July 09, 2019 Matthew 22:15-21  Last Thursday, we celebrated our nation’s independence. So Sunday, I wanted to address our dual citizenship as Christians (Kingdom and country) and how we to relate to God and country. Rendering to God and to Country as Appropriate – When I think about relating properly to God, I think about worship, devotion, single-minded allegiance, dependence, obedience, adoration, gratitude, and praise. Look at the first three commandments. When we look at the country through the lens of Scripture, we discover civil structures are instruments of God for His purpose but can become instruments of   Satan. We find the Christian called to be a good citizen so long as that does not require disobedience to or denial of God in Christ. We find Christians called to demonstrate a sanctified life so people see God’s glory and the Gospel.

Watching out for Civil Religion – Civil religion is a nation-wide way of speaking of God that is generic enough to include most people and serves a unifying purpose. Examples include “In God we trust” on money; “one nation under God” in our pledge; saying “God bless America” with no genuineness of devotion to God or surrender to God that would allow Him to bless. Examples include Psalm 23 and Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at police and firefighter funerals regardless of the faith and lifestyle of the fallen and wanting prayer before athletic events when half-time shows, conduct in the stands, and actions after the game do not honor the Lord. What happens is that God becomes meaningless in our lives and society.
 
The best service can give our country is to make sure we keep God in His exclusive place of worship and keep our country in its place under that. The best service we can give in our country is to be genuine followers of Jesus who confess His name and seek His Kingdom.


Guarding Our Faithfulness

 
July 02, 2019

Psalm 141   What are your appetites, desires, and tastes? What are your influences and who are your influencers? Through this Psalm, we join in prayer with a God-follower asking for help guarding his faithfulness to God.

 

Fervent Prayer as Worship (vv. 1-2) – Hear in these words the desire to honor God, the humble call to God, and the honest need for God’s involvement in life. Do you yearn for God’s presence and help, and if so, to what end?

 

Guarding Desires and Actions (vv. 3-4) – The Psalmist may be asking for help with words, actions, and desires, but he certainly is asking for help not partaking of wickedness. Would you join with the Psalmist in asking the Lord to guard not only your actions but your associations and desires?

 

Receiving Correction (v. 5a) – How open are you to correction from a righteous person? Do you realize God can use that to help you honor Him and grow in Christ? The idea here is to refuse the influence of the wicked but receive that of the righteous.

 

Praying for God’s Truth and Against Wicked Deeds (vv. 5b-7) – These verses were enlightening for me as I found myself encouraged to actively pray against the deeds of wicked people. Would you join in praying this way, as well as praying for God’s truth to be vindicated?

 

Praying for Deliverance From Traps (vv. 8-10) – Between our own desires and the traps or temptations laid out by others, there are dangers to our faithfulness. Notice the focus on the Lord and the payer for deliverance from traps that would hurt our faithfulness to God.

 

Christians are called to a holy life that answers to our new identity in Jesus. What are your desires and influences? Would you pray for the Lord’s help guard your faithfulness to Him?

 



In Spite of What we See

June 25, 2019

Psalm 73  Have you ever had a time where you were discouraged, almost detoured in your Christian walk (or maybe detoured), or confused because those without God seemed better off than those walking with Him? Psalm 73 explores this problem.

 

Declaring God’s Goodness – (v. 1) You may believe in God’s goodness and may have experienced it, but have you ever had to claim that theology despite your feelings?

 

Slippery Ground in our Walk – (vv. 2-3) – Have you ever looked at others who walk far from God and begun to envy the ease of life they seem to have by doing things the world’s way?

 

Describing the Ungodly – (vv. 4-12) – Sometimes, it seems those in ungodly lifestyles are making more headway in life, and envy, confusion, and discouragement can creep in.

 

Needing a Godly Perspective – (vv. 13-16) – We may get tempted to conclude that God-honoring lives are a waste of effort, but think about those who are watching you and the damage unfaithfulness would do. Also, you may need a time of powerful worship and seeking the Lord to have Him address your confusion.

 

Something About Meeting With God – (v. 17-20) – Drawing aside with the Lord can reshape our perspective on God’s place and the ultimate end of the wicked. Their apparent success is temporary, and recall Jesus asking what good it would do someone to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul.

 

God as our Strength, Portion, Priority, and Refuge – (vv. 21-28) – Have you ever been so grieved and embittered that you were like a brute beast in God’s presence? Listen to the Psalmist describe the amazing grace of God’s presence and strengthening as the Psalmist realizes God’s ultimate place in his life and presence with him in his struggle. Maybe you need this type of presence and strength and perspective today or maybe God has given it in the past and you can thank Him for it.