Tag Archives: human

How Long Will We Forget His Might? (Reflection for 9/16)

“He has cut down in fierce anger
all the might of Israel,
He has withdrawn from them his right hand
in the face of the enemy; 
He has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, 
consuming all around”

-Lamentations 2:3

ROTD: We must not forget to fear the Lord.

Why?

Another prevailing attitude of the day, among Christians and non alike, is a lack of the fear of the Lord. Going along with our lack of forethought of the consequence of our sin, it appears as though we have set out to deny that God is a God to be feared. We overemphasize His love, mercy, grace, tenderness, forgiveness (ALL of which are good things) but we forget that God is equally a God of wrath, of justice, of righteousness, of holiness, of perfection. This deserves and demands our respect, reverence, and fear.
But what does it mean to fear the Lord?
The best way I have heard it explained is in Eshon Burgundy’s song, “The Fear of The Lord“. He says, pretty simply, that

“To fear the Lord is to stand in awe of the reality of God”

So this means that we don’t necessarily go around quaking, wondering if our next wrong step will earn us a lightning bolt from the Man Upstairs. It means that we recognize and are humbled by the sheer magnitude of who God is.
Have you ever just taken a moment to consider God? Who He is? What He is capable of?
That’s why it is a good thing to fear the Lord. If we make God into someone who is not to be feared, what reason at all have we to listen? If I am more powerful than the God I serve, who does that serve better-God, or me?

When we begin to look at just who God is, what He can do, and compare that to who we are, and what we have done, it should send a little shiver down our spine. It should humble us, as we look at the reality of God and His majesty. Reading these verses in Lamentations, and throughout the Old Testament, God isn’t just some mean old God who kills people, as some would seem to believe. God is perfect, and holy, and sin is simply unacceptable.  This is what the response is to disobedience, and He told them it would be so. Does not a father discipline His child? How much more so, the perfect God of the universe?

Every other religion in the world is man reaching out-either to God, or just self-enlightenment, or to just living-everything else is us trying to do it on our own. God says, “This is what Christianity looks like as a religion”. It’s an impossible task, and we would inevitably fall to our own destruction trying to reach out to God.  So He made a way for us. Thanks be to God that His power is on display in His pursuit of us, and that when we recognize just how mighty our God is, we see that in all of His omnipotence He DESIRES to be with us. He wants us to be with Him, and He has made a way for us to do so through the death of His Son on the cross.

Prayer:

Lord, we recognize that You are holy. You are perfect, and deserving of all the praise and honor and glory. Help me to recognize the reality that is You. Help me to stand in awe of you, help me to fear you properly. Lord, we thank you that we don’t have to strive to try and reach you, but instead while we were yet sinners and rebellious You sent Your Son to make a way for us to join You. Help us to have a reverence and fear of you all of our days, and give us the joy and peace that come in knowing Christ and being known by Him.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

P.S. to find more works by Eshon Burgundy, here is the album in full: http://www.humblebeast.com/the-fear-of-god/. Eshon and other hip-hop artists write God-inspired, deep works through the label HumbleBeast. God bless!

Where Did I Go Wrong? (Reflection for 9/14)

“Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future. Therefore her fall is terrible; she has no comforter. ‘O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!”
-Lamentations 1:9
ROTD (reflection of the day):
Don’t let your arrogance lead to your consequence.
WHY?
If we go through life thinking we can follow God AND continue in our same patterns of sin. There is an inevitable spiral that will occur. You can’t serve God and yourself. Because of our sinful nature, allowing ourselves to continue to dwell in a place of sin only strengthens those desires and ways, and we fall into them more and more. The bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee, but we often forget that first we must “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). We must have an attitude of continually trying to draw closer to God, to fixate our eyes on Him, to do all that is within us to serve Him wholeheartedly. If you keep living in sin, don’t blame God for why life has suddenly gotten harder to live-examine the way you are living, first. Oftentimes, when we try to blame God for why some things in life have taken a turn, He points us back to our own actions. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that your actions never have consequences anymore. So think of your future-think about whether what you want to do is aligned with the way God would have you act and conduct yourself. Be conscious of the fact that Satan is ALWAYS around, waiting for that moment when he can trip you up. So be alert! Be in the Word, in prayer, in communication, in fellowship, and always looking up. Then you won’t have to ask, “where did I go wrong?”
Prayer:
Lord, keep my mind focused on the long run. There is more to life than just this life, but what I do here does affect what I’ll be doing for eternity. Help me to not worry about tomorrow, but to continually be aware of Your presence with me. Help me to pray, to read, to seek, and to be aware that the things I do, do have consequences. I love You, God, and I want to serve you with all that I have. Keep me awake to the workings of Satan, and help me to be aware of my actions.

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I’m Not That Strong..But He Is (Devo, February 16)

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
-Philippians 4:13

“The Lord our God/is mighty in battle/ we are not afraid/ His hand upholds us/ through our trials/ our God is strong to save!”

These are the lines of the chorus to “Strong to Save” by the Vertical Church Band (find the song and more by them here). I think it rings so true with where I am at in life today. This past Saturday, I was in a car accident. On a grand scale, it was quite minor-but for me, it was traumatic. I flipped my car after hitting a patch of black ice and skidded on my roof into a field. By the grace of God, I barely missed ramming a telephone pole, or the other car that was coming towards me, or anybody. I walked away with barely a scratch. It was terrifying, but because of my faith in God I knew I would get through it. I was supernaturally alert, I was calm and knew how I needed to respond to the situation. Yes, later on I broke down a bit, but I know that God was working through me to keep that situation under control. I was scared and confused, but not afraid. I knew God had me in His hand.

Most people look at this verse and think, “Yea! With God on my side I can do anything! Nothing can stop me!” and this is true. With God for us, there is none that can ultimately stand against us. But I want to talk against the thought that, because we have God, NOTHING will stand against us. This simply isn’t true. Jesus proclaimed again and again that if we were to follow Him, our lives would actually become increasingly difficult. Paul quoted in Romans that “As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Rom. 8:36). This life is going to bring suffering. God is with us, sure, but we are going to suffer. Life is going to suck sometimes. That is the truth.

So when I look at this verse, I see a God that is so great that He can overcome all the obstacles of our lives. We humans, marred by sin as we are, live in a world where bad things are just bound to happen. It’s the curse of sin. But again, our Savior is bigger than our sorrows. We have a God who doesn’t give us a free pass in life but helps us to pass into the freedom that His life brings. We have a God who, through ordinary people can do extraordinary things. We have a God that can take a young kid from a mediocre school and transform him into a speaker who sees lives changed. He can take a car accident and turn it into a testimony, a financial crisis and turn it into humble dependency, a broken family and turn it into a proclamation of His love, a prostitute and turn it into the message of the Gospel. When I see that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, it doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to conquer every obstacle or climb every mountain. Rather, it lets me know that no matter what the circumstances of my life, I have a God who is alive and active inside of me-a God that can give me strength to endure, hope that is eternal, and joy that is unexplainable. I know that He is there to guide and to lead and to comfort and to exhort me on to greater measure. He may not always change the situations (although He clearly can and does) but He does change my response to them. God uses situations and people and all sorts of means to work His strength through us. Because of Him we have the ability to change the world.

The bottom line is this:

My strength doesn’t come from
the change in the reality
of my situation,
but in the change in the response
to my Savior.

http://bible.com/59/php.4.13.esv

Do I Scatter or Surrender? (Devo, January 27)

” For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
-John 3:20-21

     We have always used the light to expose. Whether it’s looking for a lost ring under the couch, or flipping one on to reveal a raccoon in the garage, or to see what’s wrong with a car engine, we always use light to reveal the hidden things in our lives. You never heard of scaring an intruder away by turning off the lights.
It’s the same way with God-but in this case, all of us would much rather that He keep the lights off. We are like cockroaches, that scatter as soon as the light is shone on us and our dark deeds. And nobody is exempt from this. It’s a part of the human condition, part of the sin nature that we carry with us.

But when we allow the Light of the world to shine into our lives, we are allowing for a complete transformation of who we are from a child of darkness to a child of light. We were made to shine; to be a beacon to all the world that reflects the light and love of Jesus Christ. So let Him shine that light! It may be a bit painful. It may be uncomfortable. But when we allow ourselves to be disciplined and molded by our Creator, we are slowly arriving at a place where we long for the light to shine on us, because our lives are becoming a clearer reflector for Him and His glory.

     So what will you do when the light shines? Will you give in and scatter? Or will you allow your soul to surrender?

http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.20-21.esv

Confessions (Devo, January 16)

” My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness”
-Isa. 26:9

     It’s been a long week, to be honest. It’s been a very long week. There is so much that has gone on, and I feel like I have been caught up in the things of the world. Life gets busy!  But deep within me, I just feel this…longing. An unsettled-ness in my soul for something to fulfill. As an oft-quoted C.S. Lewis says,

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This is what having Jesus in your life does to you. He is a radical, life changing force-He makes us recognize the things that we yearn for cannot possibly be found here. Because we were created by God, in His image, there is a piece of that which is lost because of our separation from Him. We are literally missing a piece of ourselves without God. And it is for this reason that humanity has been searching for explanations, for answers, for the truth, since the beginning. We all have questions. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What will fulfill me? And we look, and we search, and we find all these things that are temporary. Sex, drugs, money, fame, acceptance, popularity, love in the wrong places..we are constantly looking for SOMETHING to try and fill us up.

Jesus fills us up. David says that He meditates upon the law of the Lord day and night. When we set our focus upon God, and His decrees and His laws, we find that things begin to fall into place. When I put God first in my life. When I put my focus into these devotionals, His word, prayer time…my soul comes to a place where it finds rest. I know that despite all I have done, that Jesus came down and died on the cross for my sins. It is in Him, and only Him, where I will ever feel whole and complete.

Right now I have been struggling. I will admit it. I’m not perfect. There is a lot going on and its been quite distracting. But when God’s Law is present in my life and in my world, then I, too, begin to learn the meaning of righteousness. Let that be all of our cries today. Even when we get caught up and beat down, God is always there-ready to teach, to discipline, and to love.

Thank you Jesus, for having such mercy on a sinner. Thank you for your laws, for your judgements. I am not worthy of you. But my soul cries out for you, daily, and I need you desperately. I love you, Lord.

.http://bible.com/59/isa.26.9.esv

Mirror, Mirror Part One: Look at Yourself! (Devo, January 15)

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen”
-1 John 4:20

     Our attitudes towards others reflect way more than we think about how we have responded to God. If you say you trust God, but are always grumbling and complaining to everyone, then maybe you need to reevaluate. If you say you have God’s peace but are constantly worried and anxious about every situation, then you might not be so secure. If you say that you love God but are always having strife with your neighbors or your family, then maybe there are some deeper issues.

     This is because we were created as relational beings-to be in relationship with each other, and with God. If your relationship with the latter isn’t solid, it is going to affect your relationship with the former. How can I love men if I don’t love God, the source of love? How can I open up to others about my problems when I can’t talk to the One who knows them already? How can I be at peace with my neighbors when I don’t even have peace within myself?

     Today’s task is simple. Throughout the day, just take a moment and step back, and see how you are interacting with those around you. Do your relationships on this earth reflect a positive, healthy relationship you have in heaven? Or are there some things going on down here that you need to work out with the Lord?

.http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.20.esv

The Romans Roadmap: Day 2-Of Bears and Lambs

“For God shows no partiality”
-Romans 2:11
Have any of you heard this phrase?
“I don’t have to outrun the bear-just outrun you”.
It’s a funny saying, but yet it means much more than we realize.
We don’t have to outrun the ultimate means of our demise-sin-we just have to be faster than the person next to us. I propose that this is how many people view morality today.
We don’t have to outrun evil. We just have to be better, faster, more good, more pious, than the next person. We all can sigh with relief because we aren’t Dahmers or bin Ladens or the like, even if we do dabble around in sin a bit.
We are decent people just trying to good for ourselves.
If I am being as good as I can be, that’s enough-right?

The road map that is Romans takes us down the path we wander as humans in chapters 2 and 3. He brings to light an issue that nobody gives much voice to; the fact that humanity is just concerned (if at all concerned) with simply staying ahead of our neighbor.
We just want to be “good people”, whatever that may look like. And one way we naturally measure our progress is by how far ahead we are of other people. When confronted with our own sin, we usually argue by pointing out other people’s flaws; as if by bringing them to as low or lower of a place than we are, we can justify our own actions. We are effectively trying to push other people closer to the bear than we are, to make ourselves feel better. Unfortunately, as we see in Chapter 3, nobody is righteous in their own merit. “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” says Romans 3:20. Trying to “do good” and do our best means nothing. We are all under sin.

To put it simply-God doesn’t want us just outrunning the bear. He does, however, want us running-toward the Lamb. This is what we are going to examine today.

Running from the bear:

Romans chapter two deals a lot with the hypocrisy of the people. Paul points out this with a few simple statements:

“You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?….You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” -Romans 2:21-24

This kind of action is still true today. We do have laws in place, this is true. But while we condemn certain actions as humanity and as society, others are accepted and even praised. For example: There is a big conflict in America about the legislation passing that would legalize same-sex marriage. This is a bad thing that is beginning to happen, that is true. But what about heterosexual sin? The same people who claim that such laws would destroy America fail to acknowledge that the adultery and lust that permeates same-sex couples is just as bad of a problem. We pick and choose the soapboxes we want to stand on, while ignoring our own sin.

What Paul does here is show us that we ALL sin. We ALL have issues that we deal with where we do not practice what we preach.

In Luke, there is the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee. Basically, they are both praying to God. The Pharisee (proud and standing, mind you) proclaims thanks to God that he is not as bad of a person as the tax collector. The tax collector, on his knees, doesn’t try to justify anything. He just asks God for mercy, because he is a sinner. (Luke 18:9-14, if you want to read more). Jesus then asked: Who do you think God had mercy on?

The problem with running from the bear is this: God doesn’t care how far you are from the bear. We have a Pharisaical mindset that God is happy with us if we aren’t as bad as the people around us, and this just isn’t true! If just running from the bear is your aim, then you have missed the point. God wants us to be broken like the tax collector, and admit our sin. We need to admit that we are hopeless, that we can’t do anything on our own, that we can’t meet God’s standards no matter how much we try. Our relationship with God is a one-on-one, intimate relationship. He doesn’t care if we aren’t as holy as John, or if we don’t tithe as much as Susan. What God cares about is where WE are in our OWN heart with Him. This isn’t to say that we can’t have role models and mentors and such. It just means that our ultimate standard for how we should live should be God Himself, shown to us through Jesus Christ.

And THAT is the hope given to us by God, written down by Paul. We can still run! There is still another path to choose. We don’t need to run from this bear, trying to hold ourselves up under our own effort, to no avail. We can instead fall to our knees and run to the Lamb of God.

Running to the Lamb

Now this is  a topic that will come up in future posts, as Paul gets into MUCH detail about the saving grace that is Christ. In Romans 2 and 3, though, we do see him allude to what God does for us. Romans states that we are all under the righteous judgement of God (Romans 2:3, 5, 12, 16….). God is the ultimate Judge, His Word is law. And the law that He gave is one that we cannot possibly keep on our own. But look at what Paul says in verse 4:
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”.
We take advantage of this love and mercy, but in fact those very attributes of God are meant to bring us into a place where we recognize our need for Him. This is the wonderful thing about God! While His judgement shows no partiality or favoritism, neither does His kindness and forbearance and patience. He is willing and wants to shower those gifts upon anyone and everyone that will receive them. How much more will the Father give good gifts to His children, Jesus asks in the Gospels. God knows full well that we are entangled in the jaws of the bear. Yet, He gives us this hope anyways, due to His nature as a loving Father.
We all know that ever famous verse that lies in Romans 3-that “all have fallen short of the glory of God”.
Take a look, though, at the continuation:

“…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins” (Romans 3:23-25)

Have we all sinned? Yes. How then, can we be justified?
Not through our own righteousness compared to our neighbors. Not through how far we have managed to come from the bear. But by the righteousness of God alone, displayed in the sacrifice His Son made on the cross.

Next time we gather, we are going to start to look at the road upward.
How exactly can we be made right in the eyes of God if we all sin? How can there be a reconciliation of God and man if we are all sinners, all fallen short?
The answer, of course, is found in Jesus-
but that is for another day.

God bless!