Read 2 Kings 16
Don’t panic! Don’t worry. Fear not! The world we live in will try your strength, your patience and your endurance at every turn. You WILL be hard-pressed! At the present you ARE being pushed to your limit. But, fear not! You will be tempted to look to your left and to your right for aid and support. You will be tempted to give your worries and your desperation to someone or something other than the living God. You will be tempted away from looking up, heavenward toward your Father God. The heart of man is forgetful, impatient and unfaithful. This is our nature. In our greatest time of need it is not natural for us to put our security and well being in the hands of a God we cannot touch with our hands or see with our eyes. Sin is actively fighting a battle within all of us to reject the reality of the living God. Every day we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the weapon of the enemy is to try at every turn to steal your desperate gaze away from God and onto something else. Something temporary, something finite, something completely unlike our Father God. It is in God you will ultimately find the strength you need. It is in Jesus you will ultimately find the hope you need to press on. It is in Jesus that you will find life in a time when death seems imminent. The enemy is active in this world and in your daily life to rob you of this eternal life. You MUST fight! You must have faith that your God is with you and is coming. You must have faith that God is Immanuel and that Jesus will never leave your side. If you find that you cannot believe these truths and that your battle is a battle of faith, ask for faith. Humble yourself in your desperation and cry out to the living God for faith to believe. He WILL speak. He WILL come to you. Help is not on the way, IT IS HERE! It is with you now. In your time of need and in your great desperation, choose life! Choose to cry out to him. Choose to look for him. Choose to plead for mercy. He is with you and in the name of Jesus nothing can separate you from him. Don’t fear! Don’t panic! Don’t worry! He is with you.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read 1 Kings 9:1-9
God’s desire for us is that we thrive. God’s desire for us is that we thrive. He wants us to maximize our potential. He has designed us for a purpose and his desire is that we fulfill that purpose. We were not created merely to exist. We were created to be used within the patchwork of God’s holy creation to reveal the glory of our Father in Heaven. God created us out of love and there is no greater joy for our Father in Heaven than when he sees us thriving in his name and building his kingdom here on Earth. God knows your passions. He knows your talents. He knows your interests. You have them because he planted the seeds for all of them in the beginning. His desire is that we submit our lives to King Jesus allowing him to anoint these passions, talents and interests by the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal his glory in this world. We were created to create. We were created to achieve. We were created to succeed. But all for the glory of the living God. All for the glory of the name above all names. The name that will reign forever and ever, Jesus. Upon meeting Jesus Christ our lives should be renewed by the desire to serve our Father in Heaven and obey his commands and precepts. However, the colors and details that bring life to the mosaic of obedience and service are bound in the act of creation. We were given hands and feet to achieve. We were given a mind to create. But all for the glory of that holiest of names, Jesus. His name is stamped on the work of our hands and mind. It is his beauty and majesty revealed in all of our creations. We are his finest creation and all of our creations merely reflect the Creator. It is all about him. So Christian, Go! Create! Achieve! Succeed! In the name of Jesus, Move! This is your purpose. This is why you’re here. You were created to engage in the act of creation alongside our Father in Heaven and his joy will be yours because the Spirit of his son Jesus is with us to the very end of the age.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Read 2 Samuel 21:1-9
There will be justice. Praise Jesus, there will be justice. Praise Jesus that it is not left for us to avenge only feeding and perpetuating the cycle of death and destruction in this already broken world. The justice of man is flawed. The justice of man is often anything but just. We cannot trust man. We cannot rely on man’s discernment or goodness. Our ability to judge and to execute justice is not nearly good enough. It is not life giving. It is a bandage to a life-threatening condition that requires immediate and invasive surgery. It sustains momentarily only returning us back where we started. Back where we needed justice. Back where we needed healing. Back where we needed hope. The justice of man is not what we ultimately need most. What then? What of all of the injustice and suffering that exists in this world? The only answer and our only hope is, Jesus. He came and he WILL come again. And his return will usher in an era of justice. Heavenly justice. Just as the New Heaven and New Earth will be a return to the shalom of Eden, so will it be so with justice. Justice will once again be as it was intended at its creation. Just. Good. Holy. The return of the King will be mighty in righteousness and justice and it will be just. We will all be measured. We will all be assessed. We will all be held accountable to our actions. Our choices have ramifications and consequences exist. There is nothing that escapes the eye of the Lord and we will all be called to account for the life we led. None will be left any grounds for excuse, debate or argument. The living God will not attempt to prove his case of judgment against you. The living God will show you your life. Not his interpretation, but the truth. He will not explain your sin and unrighteousness to you. You will see it.
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
He will not grade you according to the 10 commandments, he will use your own.
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Praise Jesus there will be justice. The evil in this world will be acknowledged and dealt with accordingly. There is no free pass. There is no free ride. Our lives are precious and God will not waste a moment of them. Every word matters. Every decision has eternal implications and ramifications. Praise Jesus there will be justice and his justice will be holy as he is holy.
1 Samuel 11:1-11
“…the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.”
Every generation has been sharpened and refined by scripture in different ways. There are things that force us out of our comfort zone that perhaps others before us were less affected by. We must never fall for the all too tempting trap of restructuring and redefining scripture, the holy and eternal word of God, to fit our current worldview. Worldviews change; we must not cling to worldview as a means to understanding God and his word. We must look at that which is eternal and enduring through every generation, past, present and future. The fall of man is an eternal truth. The promise of a Messiah that will pay the debt of our collective sin with his own blood is an eternal truth. The word becoming flesh in the man of Jesus Christ who fulfilled the messianic prophecies is an eternal truth. The hope of new life in his name and image and confidence to reign victorious over sin and death with him is an eternal truth. These truths must be our lens for reading and understanding scripture. Therefore, we cannot judge God’s righteous anger coming upon Saul to execute justice unless we have been broken to the point of tears over the injustice that fell upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Jesus is not a secondary issue. Jesus is not the conclusion of scripture. He IS scripture. And in him, it is finished. Do you understand God’s anger? Do you understand his wrath? God’s anger toward sin and evil did not cause him to abandon his creation and start anew. God’s anger led him to preserve the line that would lead to the savior that would make a way where there was no way. God did not cause the Fall. God did not create sin. Sin leads to death. It did then and continues to do so now. However, because of God’s sovereignty and grace, the line of the Messiah was preserved and many more will come to know the presence of the living God as a result. I type this because God made a way and his name is Jesus. You read this because God made a way and his name is Jesus. God was not forced into grace and mercy. He was determined to save us by grace and mercy through Jesus because he loves and his love for us is beyond our comprehension. There is no injustice like that which Jesus suffered. There is no punishment like that which Jesus endured. There is no scripture without Jesus. And in him, it is finished. God’s anger toward sin and the wrath of his judgment fell upon Jesus and it is finished. Our war now is not against flesh and blood but against sin. We flee from the enemy and the cravings of the flesh. We are called to a new covenant of good news for all mankind, that because of Jesus, death has been swallowed up in victory. It is finished.
Read Ruth 1
There is an unmistakable and often inexplicable attraction to the presence of the Lord. His presence is not manufactured or conjured. His presence is revealed, unparalleled and unrivaled. There is nothing quite like it and there never will be. We are created to know him and he is there to be known. His presence shakes you to the core. His power and authority terrifies you yet his mercy and love breaks your heart and brings you to tears. The presence of the Lord is not something experienced because of us but in spite of and through us. We don’t deserve to know him but by his grace and love for us, he continues to say, “I am here at the door. I continue to knock.” When people are drawn to the Lord, they are drawn to HIM. We are broken vessels that reveal his glory and power but always through our weakness and need for him. His greatness is not revealed to the world through our greatness. Rather, the presence of the Lord draws people because nothing is as sovereign, as merciful, as powerful or as real as Him. The presence of the Lord has the power to draw you away from anything and anyone causing you to lose all things to have him and him alone. The decision to respond to his calling is not grounded in a rationality that the world can understand, and so the world will often view your decision to lose everything to know Him alone as foolish, childish and even pathetic. However, when our eyes are opened to the experience of his presence and the promises of his word revealed in Jesus Christ there is no option to weigh the opposing side of the scale. There is only Him. There is not other name but the name above all names. Jesus. People will ask, “Why would you choose to give everything up to follow God?” The answer to this question is not one that aims to explain or prove the existence of God. The answer to this question is a testimony coupled with an invitation. The answer to this question is, “Because He is the Lord Almighty. He has been calling me and I have finally heard. I am known by Him and He knows my name. He is my Lord and my God. There is no one like him. Do you know him?”
Read Judges 6
The God of the Bible is a God that speaks. He engages with his creation and desires to do so. He does not hide nor is he passive. The God of the Bible is eternally connected to his creation because he loved it into creation and love is never lost in silence. Love demands expression. Love demands to be heard. In the same way that the deepest and most fulfilling human relationships are based off of positive and consistent communication, the relationship between God and his creation is no different. In our time of need and in times of desperation God is waiting for us to engage with him so he can engage with us. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Some might ask, “How can I hear him?” The Biblical response to this questions is, “What are you willing to give up in order to hear him?” One might say that the ability to hear the voice of the living God is free for all but it is not in its essence free. In order to hear the voice of God speaking truth and authority into our lives we must be willing to listen and therefore we must be willing to give him our undivided attention. Hearing costs. Hearing his voice does not come naturally to us. We must be facing him to see him speak. We must be listening intently in order to hear what he has to say. How can we hear God speak into your life if he is daily being drowned out by your voice or the voices of others instead? He is your God. He is your creator. He is your father. He knows. Why would a person be willing to sell his/her soul to have the world? Why would you be willing to walk nervously along the road of self-doubt/self-discovery when the God of creation is eagerly waiting to speak unshakable truth and life into his/her life? This rationale is not rational but it is natural for sinners like us. The living God is waiting at the door to speak to you! Sell everything to hear his voice. He is reaching out his hand to usher you into his presence where he will speak eternal truths into your life. Take his hand and hear his voice.
How can we know the word of God if we ourselves have not heard it? How can we know the word of God if we ourselves have not seen it? The word is not meant to echo gently over the generations. The word of God must be repeated. It must be reread. It must be passed on and proclaimed. There is a perpetual need for teachers, proclaimers and messengers of the word of God in this world. The sin within us naturally prefers that the word of God fade into the background. Sin desires a compromise with God’s word. Comforting words. Sentimental words. Advice. Interesting stories. But not truth, life, a sword. The sinful soil of our human hearts must be moved by the Holy Spirit to not only accept the seed of God’s word but then to continue to nurture and cultivate its growth. Our survival depends on this! We must continue to pray that God create in us new hearts that desire the word of God as David did. Who among us can say that we crave the word of God as we crave honey to the tongue? This disposition is not an achievement of an ideal but the return to normality. It is when we begin to look upon the word of God in this way that we realize that we are finally home. From this place we will not seek out comforting and powerful passages in the scriptures but we will be hard-pressed to find any passage in the Bible that does not leave us satisfied and well equipped. The word of God can be understood as a God’s promises working through different people at different times in history but it cannot be dissected and compartmentalized according to value and importance. The entire word of God is either valuable or it is not. The entire word of God is either important to our living and survival or it is not. The entire word of God is either pointing to Jesus and the salvation of the entire world by his blood on the cross or it is not. It is not left to only the most fanatical Bible students to find worth and value in the entire text. This is not a matter of taste. This is a matter of truth and life. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh and it is in that flesh and the sacrifice of it that we receive answers, contentment and eternal life. The word of God is our collective daily bread and light to our path. The enemy knows the scriptures well but we must strive to know it better. As God spoke from the heavens to Peter, James and John on the mountain, “This is my Son whom I love. Listen to him!” Christian, listen to him!
Read Deuteronomy 23:1-8
1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
The message of Jesus is clear. Repent! Sin no more! Carry your cross! Lose the whole world to gain your soul! These are not the words of a great compromiser. These are the words of the Lord. These are the words of the Messiah King. These are the words of Christ Jesus. In Jesus we are forgiven, accepted, loved and called beloved children. However, the gifts of Jesus follow submission to Jesus. He declares to be the only way, truth and life and he is. Therefore, to follow him and become swept up alongside him in righteousness and glory we must submit to his words and his truth. This truth demands change. It demands the sacrifice of the self in alignment with submission to the Son. As the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the Lordship of Jesus we are also made aware of the depravity of our sinful nature without him. We are dead without him. We need a savior and he has a name. As we see Jesus as Lord and God we begin to see nothing else. He becomes everything, we become nothing. He becomes life, we become death. “Father, save me from myself!” He becomes our prize and possession. It is in this new vision that we can boldly proclaim to the world that we will gladly choose to lose all things to know Christ Jesus. In the light of Jesus the issue is not what we want, it is always and forever what he says and what he commands. We cannot seek to please the flesh while seeking to please the Son. These are opposing sides. These are enemies. Choose a side! Is your fleeting and temporary comfort in this world more valuable to you than eternity? Do you believe in eternity? If not, why not? Have you sought out the words of Jesus? Do you know what is being offered to you in his life, death and resurrection? If so, why corrupt the promises of Jesus with a false gospel of cheap grace and self-worship. To enter into the grace of Jesus we must repent. We must change. In order to change we must encounter the risen Lord and bow our knees to his Lordship over our lives. He is good, but he is also the King. We are forgiven but we have to change. If we have seen him, we love him and we seek to become like him.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” -Stuart Townend
Offerings to the Lord made by fire. When something is consume by flames it is completely destroyed. It is completely lost. When we make an offering to the Lord there is nothing left for us to keep for ourselves. It is all gone. We are not mutual recipients of the offering. The offering is made to the Lord at our cost and loss and for his gain and pleasure. This kind of giving is painful but it is not hurtful. God is not taking pleasure in watching you lose the things that you love. God does not demand this kind of offering simply to impose his authority over our lives and possessions.
The design of a Holy offering pleasing to the Lord contradicts the thinking of the world which asks, “What do I get out of this?” A Holy offering to the Lord is made by and through transformation. It is only when we have been personally and intimately confronted by the presence of the living God that we are able to understand giving in this way. Upon this encounter with the living God we begin to redefine words such as loss, gain, thanksgiving and sacrifice. Willingly offering up a valued possession to never see it again is a painful loss if we measure our value in this world by the possession of that object. However, in Jesus, wouldn’t we rather lose all we own to know him and be known by him? Acquiring things, objects, property, money is only meaningful if the acquisition of such things adds to our life as we know it. However, in Jesus, we know that all things in this world will pass away except for the eternal promises we have in Jesus. What does it mean to be thankful? What moves us to make thanks-giving? Does our thanks possess a short-term memory or an eternity mindset? Temporary gains will produce shallow and fleeting thanksgiving. Eternal gains will produce comprehensive and ongoing thanksgiving. Do you know what you have in Jesus? Your eternal debt was paid in full and the limits placed upon your life by death were destroyed. You have life now. You can live! To live forever eternally loved and accepted is yours in Jesus, because of Jesus. The revelation of the Gospel creates in a person a limitless and never-ending spring of living water and joyful thanksgiving. What does it mean to sacrifice something you hold dear? Why does it hurt so much to let something go? It hurts because we view the things we love in this world as puzzle pieces that complete us. When we lose a puzzle piece, part of us disappears and we feel incomplete. But what if what we needed was an entirely new puzzle, a new creation. And what if this new puzzle only worked to add pieces to the image with the promise that none will ever be taken away. Piece by piece we are becoming more whole and more who we were designed to be. This is our promise. This is the Gospel. This is ours because of Jesus. This is because of the cross. Seeing Jesus crucified frames our “loss” and “sacrifice” revealing it to be nothing in comparison to hiss. To offer anything in the name of Jesus is not to lose but always to win. To give back what was never ours is to rightfully honor the Father who has given us eternally more than we could ever give back.
Read Leviticus 25:1-7
Rest is not an option. Rest is not a luxury. Rest is not a suggestion. Rest is a commandment, a rule, a mandatory requirement in fulfilling and participating in God’s creation. God created and designed a world that functioned off of the premise that abundance and prosperity follows rest. The world around us was not designed to overwork and overproduce. Neither were we. In the same way we observe the planet deteriorating as a result of overuse, we also fall victim to deterioration as a result of overuse and overwork. The demands of our world today lead us into concluding that we must overwork in order to merely get by and survive. The world around us bullies us into a corner where we submit to the cruel and unjust reality that in order to keep up we must never stop. Since when do we live according to the promises and commandments of this world? If we are commanded to rest by the living God we are also promised by the same living God that our needs will be met in all circumstances. Therein lies the crux of the issue of rest in our modern world. It boils down to an issue of trust. Do you trust God enough to provide for and meet your needs when you rest from your work? Do you trust God enough to yield to his assessment of your physical, emotional and physical health and not your own? According to God rest is a requirement for life. In order to live we MUST rest. If we dismiss this instruction, we will die. The appetite of sin and the delusion of sin will strive to convince us that if we cease to work, we will die. The lie of Satan from the beginning was that it is utter foolishness to trust God and take him at his word. The lie from Satan establishes that we must be our own God, our own creator, our own healer, our own savior. However, in Jesus we see the promises of God fulfilled and the lies of the enemy defeated once and for all on the cross.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The sin within us resists rest. We resist it either out of fear of falling behind or fear of being too intimately attune to who we really are and what we really think when the busyness and work around us ceases. However, the spirit of the Lord casts out fear! There is no fear in Jesus. Your needs will be met and you will not be handed a stone when in need of bread. Your needs are known by our father in heaven long before we need them. Our father in heaven is a good father and he merely asks that we trust him and listen to his son, Jesus. Do this and rest. Do this and live.