© 1998, 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
CCLI License No. 810055
“The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24, NIV)
Oh all Your promises
CCLI License No. 810055
CCLI License No. 810055
Nostalgia tempts me. During my 54 years on this earth I have enjoyed many blessings of the Lord. Bev and I visited Lancaster, PA over the weekend, staying at a resort we visited a few times when our kids were little. Walking through the area with the swimming pool that they loved to play in, I could almost hear echoes of their voices: “Daddy, look at me.” It was bittersweet to walk through a place that held so many good memories, but they are just that, memories; life has moved on. I am not suggesting that we should forget the past all together. It is the fertile soil from which the present grows, after all! However, the people who live most productive and emotionally healthy lives do not spend a lot of time looking back!
Like every living person I have my share of regrets that reside in yesterday. There are more than a few choices I made then with all sincerity that are now clearly wrong. But like Paul, my focus is not what was, but what is and what will be! My prayer is that God will show me how to live today as I advance toward tomorrow- be it here on earth or in His heaven! Remember Saul who became Paul?
In his early years as a Pharisee, he hated Believers in Christ and worked to destroy the Gospel message and those who followed Jesus. But God, in amazing grace, met him on the road to Damascus. Saul believed that day and was changed. The transformation was so profound, he even took a new name! Had he lived in perpetual regret, he might have faded into obscurity, making tents in some Roman town, sorrowful ’til death for his persecution of those who loved the Lord. Or, he might have settled down to pastor the church in Ephesus, where his message met with great success and tried to hold onto a moment of triumph. But, he didn’t do either of those things. Why? He tells us. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV) He knew what he was called to do and kept at it – faithfully. He left the sins in the grace of God, celebrated the triumphs, and anticipated the glorious future.
That’s the road God wants us to travel! We cannot, we must not, try to erase the past or to rewrite history. We cannot let nostalgia take us hostage. When we awaken each morning, our declaration is “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, NIV) We grow deeper in the things of the Lord as He shows us new challenges, new places for service, and presents us with new opportunities.
Disciple, in our youth we tend to live too much in the future. As we age, we are tempted more and more to live in the past. God works in the present! He is the Lord of this day. I leave you with this word from the Word, Jesus’ appeal to his friends to see what God was doing right now. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:34-35, NIV)
What is ripe for harvest right now in your life? Are your eyes open to what the Spirit is doing today?
Father, I confess that change is difficult.
In the familiar there is a certain comfort.
I slide easily back into the habits and patterns of my past.
Don’t let me spend too much time gazing back
with fondness or regret!
Make me aware of this day,
the day You have made just for me.
Keep my vision clear and help me to
engage myself in the process of ‘becoming…’ –
to invite an ongoing transformation
into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
I pray this in His holy Name. Amen.
Remember the great reward it brings you!
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”” (Hebrews 10:35-38, NLT)
© 2004 Curb Songs | Cerdo Verde Music | John Andrew Schreiner Music (Admin. by Curb Records) | (Admin. by Curb Records) | (Admin. by Lori Kelly Rights & Licenses)
CCLI License No. 810055
“Why do some go to church all the time and show no change of heart or behavior?” was the question raised at our Bible class last night. It’s a fair one, for sure, and has many possible answers. The primary one is that we (Christians) allow our majestic message of total conversion, of new birth, to be reduced to what Willard calls, ‘the gospel of sin management.’ (The Divine Conspiracy) Instead of boldly proclaiming that the Spirit will make a man new, using techniques of behavior modification we try to make him marginally better. Then, too, we are guilty of implying that the Gospel exists to make us happier, more well-adjusted people rather than godly servant of the Most High! Jesus Christ did not come to live among us, to die for us, and to rise again to make us nice people and good citizens. He came to buy us back from the Devil, to give us eternal life, and to call us into the service of the King!
The Lord has promised those who serve Him amazing, transformative power through the Spirit! He tells us to ‘go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything I command.’ His commission is an impossible challenge to those who attempt to fulfill it with gimmicks, church growth techniques, or clever oratory. It is spiritual work which can only be done by the Spirit working deeply in and through us.
Moses met the Lord at the burning bush and was told to go back to Egypt and lead the people of Israel out to freedom and the Promised Land. He knew immediately what he was up against and protested by pointing to his inability. “Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12, NIV) “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:12, NIV) The whole account is a fascinating and revealing interaction that is a primer of how not to respond to God’s call! Moses looks at his own weakness, God refocuses him, time and again, on His power!
Disciple, our work is not to help people live more successful lives, while adapting to the slavery of Egypt! We are deliverers who are called to lead them out. It’s a simpler task to explain how to be a better slave in Egypt than it is to tell people that there a Promised Land waiting, which they can possess. Seems to me that the Church has developed great skill at explaining sinful urges and helping us to co-exist with the Devil, in the best possible way. All this is not to imply that we should discard education, understanding of leadership, or psychology. These things are tools that can help us to accomplish our task, but the true Power for deliverance is not our cleverness, but His Power which is found only when we come, like Moses to the end of Self and get desperate for intimacy with Him.
Ponder this word from the Word, dear friend. Don’t turn them into a simplistic jingle, another religious cliché. Instead, make them your challenge. Let them drive you to quiet, contemplation of the Lord’s power. May they create faith in you to expect great things as He works deeply in you, making you a true deliverer of those He loves from slavery to sin to glorious freedom in Christ!
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.” (Zechariah 3:7, NLT) “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Zechariah 4:6, NLT)
Quiet my mind
And draw me near You.
Silence my thoughts
I just want to be with You!
Open my heart,
To hear and listen!
Not my way God,
But your Vision!
And all my fears fall away
In Your presence,
Waiting on You;
Waiting on You.
And as you come to me,
Send your Spirit to minister
Because I am truly desperate
For the promises that you keep.
Waiting On You
Hubris or humility? What will it be? Take the wisdom of Jesus with you today as you meditate on this word from the Word.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4, NIV)
While I was leading prayer in our Sunday AM worship, I broke into a strange lament; “Lord, how long? How long until Your kingdom comes?” The images from the broken nation of Haiti, my counseling with people wrestling with sin and temptation, and the unexplained physical suffering of acquaintances converged to press heavily on me. My prayer in that moment was less a formation of my intellect and more a groan from my soul!
My life would be simpler were I to assume that all things are a matter of the “good being blessed and the bad being cursed.” I could distance myself from the pain of those in misery if I allowed myself to see them as getting what they deserved; but He does not offer that option. He sends us into the misery!
Moses saw the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt, responded in self-directed rage and killed a man, then ran off into the desert where he lived in isolation, away from the daily sufferings of his people for many years. He would have died out there tending some sheep except that God showed up and reminded him of his true calling. One day he saw a bush burst into flame, without being consumed. “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:4-8, NIV) And the LORD sent Moses back to Egypt, to live with the suffering slaves and to lead them out of their misery. It was no easy calling!
Some would say that if we come before the Lord and stand in His holy Presence, the things of earth will recede and we will be caught up into the heavenlies, living in holy bliss. The Scripture argues a different point. Those who enjoy the deepest intimacy with the Father, feel the beat of His heart for the world He created and the people He loves. We are, like Moses and even Jesus Christ, sent to the misery!
The Light in which we live cannot be held only for ourselves, it must be shared. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, The Message)
As inviting as the cloister of the holy huddle might be, we must not stay there! A retreat, from time to time, to regroup and renew may be in order. But we cannot choose to live in a place of isolation where the leper, the sinner, the broken are not invited because they are judged to be enduring the fruit of their own choices. We are sent into the misery! We share the call of the first Twelve, so let’s go!
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2, NIV)
I’m calling out to You,
There must be something more,
Some deeper place to find,
Some secret place to hide,
Where I’ve not gone before.
Where my soul is satisfied,
And my sin is put to death.
And I can hear Your voice,
Your purpose is my choice,
As natural as a breath.
Oh place in my heart
A passion for Jesus!
A hunger that seizes
My passion for You!
My one desire,
My greatest possession,
My only confession,
My passion for You!
The love I knew before,
When You first touched my life;
I need You to restore,
I want You to revive!
Passion For Jesus
© 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
CCLI License No. 810055
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?