Monday, January 19, 2015

Peace begins in our hearts. Micah 6:6-8

"With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
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 olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.   And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God."  Micah 6:6-8

What a perfect text to come up for us on Martin Luther King Day because we can affirm that this was the heart of his actions and his desires.  Martin Luther King Jr. sought to act justly and to promote justice.  He sought to act out of a heart of love and to promote love and peace for all people.  Truly, love, mercy and humility inspired his actions and were reflected in his unselfish leadership.  

Truly this day is not just a celebration for black Americans.  It's a celebration for all people.  Because of his example and his desire to seek justice and walk humbly with his God, all of us are better! Our nation is better!  Our world is better!

His work however must continue because we are still a divided nation and the divisions often run even deeper than the color of a person's skin.  What is the solution for today?  Its not found in our good intentions or our show of selfish sacrifices which only exalts our own personal agenda's.  Our hope is to follow the way of Micah 6:8.   

When it says.... "He has shown you....." we can't help but to think about our Lord Jesus Christ.   He is our example.  He was the inspiration and the power behind Martin Luther King Jr and if we will have true peace in our world we need more people who will follow our Lord's example.

To ponder:  As we consider the problems of our day let us remember that first and foremost before we do anything we must become something.  We must become people who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.  If we all do that, then God will lead us in the direction of peace and love.

Prayer:  Dear God we humbly come before you.  We are aware of our own sins.  We are aware of our own selfish desires that have harmed others and caused division.   As it says in Psalm 139:23,24 we invite you today to "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gods light in your darkness! Daniel 2:20-23

This weeks text is a wonderful psalm of praise from the lips of Daniel.  When we think about psalms we usually think about looking to the book of psalms but perhaps there is no more beautiful words offered in Scripture then the ones that follow.

Daniel 2:20-23

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Daniel was a powerful man of God who served the Lord faithfully from his youth.  While others might have given up their faith and the principles, Daniel remained strong.  His story starts when he was a young man in his late teens as he and his friends are exiled along with thousands of others when King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem.    Daniel was one of the "lucky ones" for he was chosen among others from the Jewish nobles to be groomed to serve in the kings palace.   Daniel 1:4 speaks of the qualities that Nebuchadnezzar was looking for.  He was seeking "...young men in whom there was no blemish, but good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand."   Indeed, Daniel was that and even more.   John Maxwell in his leadership study Bible says that the secret of Daniel is found in his, Character, Competence, Convictions, Courage, Charisma, Commitment, and Compassion.   Those are some awesome qualities indeed!

Daniel offers this psalm of praise in response to the revelation that was given to him by God.  You see the king was disturbed by a troublesome dream and none of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, or the Chaldeans could interpret his dream.  But God inabled David to understand the meaning of the dream.  Its interesting to note that Daniel praised God even before he talked with the king regarding this matter but Daniel was a young man of great faith and courage.  And faith praises even before the blessings are revealed.

His psalm offers to us a great truth, that God is in control of all things even in the face of the greatest evils and the greatest and most evil of kings.   Indeed there is nothing hidden or dark to the Lord and there is no power that God cannot overcome.   Daniel understood this and his life is an evidence of that fact.

No one would have been surprised if Daniel and his friends would have compromised and left their faith behind.  He was a young man.  there were no Synagogues and no one to keep them accountable.  Besides the leaders of this new land were treating him like royalty.  He could be a servant to the king.  But the only king Daniel was eager to serve was the Lord God.   Daniel held to his faith and became a blessing and a powerful influence for good throughout his life.  In the end God would prove himself faithful time and time again.

To Ponder:  What are the changes of your life that tempt you to throw up your hands?  Are there sources of darkness which you feel cannot be overcome?   Please read the book of Daniel.  Pray hard and trust the Lord.  God is faithful and eager to shine His light into your life.   God may even use your greatest challenges as the window to your greatest blessings to others.   Remember God is in control over everything.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bringing life to dry bones Ezekiel 37:1-14

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”                  Ezekiel 37:1-6

There is nothing as lifeless as bones that have been dried by the hot sun.   But this is the image that God gives to Ezekiel about the Spiritual condition of Israel.  Not a pretty picture is it.  This was not a good time in the life of the people of God.  But they weren't lifeless because their hearts didn't beat and brains did not think.  "Well the thinking part might have been questionable"   No, They were lifeless because the Spirit of God had departed from them.  They had turned from the Lord and turned to sin and they had turned so thoroughly that Spiritually they were dead.

At such a sight I wonder what Ezekiel was thinking?  But I'm sure it wasn't a surprise for he had witnessed their Spiritual condition first hand.   And today, if God were to take us to the valley we wouldn't be overly surprised to see the same comparison to the Spiritual condition of our nation either.  No we are not shocked by the lifeless bones.  Saddened, yes but not shocked.

However, what might shock us is what God intends to do with those lifeless bones.   You would think that barring the bones and leaving them would be the only thing you can do.  Just think if we were God. How many times would we have been tempted to leave us behind considering everything we've done.  

No the real blessing of this passage is two fold.  First, God is able to breath life into dry bones and second, God desires to breath life even when we abandon him.

But the choice is up to us.  God doesn't force himself on us.  We have to invite him in but the good news is Gods not far.  Just remember what Jesus said in Revelations 3:20.  "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

To ponder:  If you're feeling a little dry Spiritually why don't you ask Jesus to come inside and quench your thirst.  Remember he is the living water and everyone who drinks of him will not thirst.   Make that your New Years resolution to drink in the water and breath in the Spirit.  God wants to renew your dry bones, and the promise of the Gospel is that he can!

Let us also pray that the dry bones of our nation would feel the breath of God's Spirit in 2015.