Friday, September 23, 2011

Our God Does Not Forget

We all know the story of Ahab and how sinful he was.  Perhaps nothing demonstrates his sin like when he allowed his wife Jezebel to kill Naboth so he could have his vineyard.  In 1 Kings Elijah makes it very clear that God would not let this go unpunished and the punishment in part would be that his dynasty would come to an ignominious end with the violent death of his descendents.

In 2 Kings 9 we see that God has not forgotten Ahab's sin and that now, through Jehu, the time has come for him to avenge his saints.  But what is wonderful to behold is the unmistakable irony and justice in which the Lord brings it to pass.  As Joram, Ahab's then reigning son, goes out to meet Jehu, presumably to see how the battle is going, he has no idea that Jehu has been commissioned to execute justice on Ahab's family.

But it is the matter-of-fact way the Lord tells us about this in his Word that I find so amazing and comforting.  In verse 21 we read that they "just happened" to meet next to Naboth's vineyard, "and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite."  Lest the reader has forgotten of Ahab's despicable sin and God's promise of judgment, he causes the setting of the judgment to be at the very place that sums up the reason for Ahab's judgment.

One little phrase reminds us that nothing happens by chance, there are no coincidences in God's universe, everything has meaning and we are wise to think things through and live in light of the fact that this is our Father's world.  It is our primary duty to honor him in all things and those that will not can know that God knows their names, he has not forgotten their deeds and judgment is coming.

In light of this, this poor sinner is glad to be washed in the blood of Jesus for without the cross no man is prepared to meet this God who will judge all sin either in Christ or in those who remain obstinate.  He is One who will not forget the smallest of infractions against his holy character and yet is gracious to save all who trust in him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Peace Christ Gives

In John 14 Jesus is giving his "last minute" instruction to his disciples.  He begins in the first three verses by saying that he is about to be crucified so that they would have a place secured in Heaven.  Then later in vs. 27 he says that he is leaving them his peace.  Later we learn that this will come through the indwelling Holy Spirit but what is rather amazing is the timing of these words.

If we were visiting an inmate that was about to be executed and his last words to us before being led off to his death was that he would like to give us something before he died and that something is the same kind of peace that was in his heart; what would we think?  Thanks, but no thanks?  We generally assume that one about to die and especially one about to die a slow, excruciating death would be barely able to keep his sanity.  He would be doing well to remain calm in any sense but certainly would be full of the fearful anticipation of what lies ahead.

We see from Jesus's prayer in the Garden that he did not relish the physical pain and especially the bearing of the wrath of God toward sinners that the cross would bring.  Yet his words in John 14:27 mean that he had a peace even on the eve of the crucifixion that was so perfect, so strong, so effective that it was this peace that he would give his people in this present age!

This peace is illustrated by his ability to sleep in a boat while his disciples panicked during the storm on the sea.  How did Jesus have peace in either of these situations that caused him to act completely different than his disciples?   In John 14 he says he didn't get it from anything sort of security that this world offers.  His peace came because he knew and could see what his disciples at that time could not.  It is not unlike the calmness and confidence one has as he walks through a room full of obstacles when the light is on compared to the fear and uncertainty he would have if the room was completely dark.

Simply put the peace that Jesus gives is the peace that the Holy Spirit works in us as the light of the knowledge of God grows brighter and brighter as we learn the Word of God.  And while much peace will come as we learn of what God is doing in his redemptive plan in human history as revealed by his word, I think perhaps the greatest source of peace for a saint comes in the clearest view of the sovereignty of God.

There are a great many passages that give us light of God's control over all things that should calm us in the worst of times.  Let me just point you to Hebrews, to one that we don't mention as often. "Heb 12:26  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." Heb 12:27  This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken--that is, things that have been made--in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Heb 12:28  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe."

The time is coming when God will destroy the physical universe and create them anew.  This means that everything in this world's days are numbered.  But the kingdom that we enter when God saves us cannot be shaken.  We are already in it, nothing can remove us, nothing can destroy us, nothing can defeat God's purposes in us!  If the disciples found themselves in that same boat in the same storm without Jesus but after Pentecost they would have no excuse not to have the same peace that enabled Jesus to sleep.  That does't mean that they should have slept and not rowed but it is the peace and trust in God while they rowed that would honor the Lord in that they put their trust in him more than they feared the storm.

After Pentecost I believe God would have expected the disciples not to cut and run at Jesus' arrest because they would have the same peace and faith that allowed Jesus to calmly and faithfully walk to the cross.  So yes, I want the peace of a dying man, the Man Christ Jesus.  I want the peace of Christ that causes me to trust in the goodness and power of God more than I fear this world

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Annual Bible Conference is Almost Here

The date for our conference is Sept.. 30-Oct. 2.  Each Speaker will speak each night and both on Sunday.  Services begin at 7 PM Friday and Saturday nights.  Attached is a copy of the brochure.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Syrian

As we were studying through 2 Kings 5 and Naaman the Leper I was struck with the way Gehazi referred to Naaman after Naaman clearly became a believer when he was cleansed from his leprosy.  After Elisha had made it clear that he would not accept gifts or payment from Naaman, Gehazi decides to take advantage of Naaman and pad his possessions by taking advantage of Naaman.  

It is the way he refers to Naaman that indicates to me the sinful heart of Gehazi.  You would think he would be amazed at the grace and mercy of God to save this pagan man.  But this is hardly Gehazi's attitude.  Instead of seeing him as a convert, as a brother and in particular a soul that has been snatched out of the flames of Hell, he continues to see him as an enemy as someone to use but not to love and serve.  He refers to him as "this Syrian".    His speech betrays a heart that is not wrapped up in the Lord and in people serving Him but he is only concerned with what affects him personally.

Does our speech betray defective hearts?  Do you find yourself referring to people in ways that are hateful and that clearly show that you see yourself as superior to them?  Even worse is when Christians see each other in this way.  Hopefully when we see or think of each other we see people that we love and want to know what their needs are; we don't just see someone to be used.  

Let it begin in the way we refer to each other.  Use terms of endearment because why should we refer to one another in the same way we address those outside the kingdom of God.  Not that we should address them hatefully or coldly but should not the way we speak to each other reflect a love and closeness that others can see and hear?  

Jesus says in John 13:35  "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."   Surely one way we show this love is by kindness in our speech and an attitude of service, not one of taking advantage.  We should look at each other as people that will spend eternity together and as sharing the most amazing thing in common, the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Oh Lord forgive us for not loving one another in the deepest of loves.