Monday, December 31, 2012

I Have to Work New Year's Eve

Broken promises, they sit and fester in your gully like cheap Chinese take-out with a “C” restaurant rating.  It doesn’t matter if you stand up, lay down, go for a walk, your churning stomach stands as a reminder of the broken promises.

I have to work tonight, New Year’s Eve, because “people changed their mind”.  Not that I had big plans, it was more the thought of working on New Year’s Eve.  A night when most of the civilized world takes a break from their job to celebrate the year past and embraces the hopes for the year to come. 

Working tonight has been a bit of a sore spot because of a broken promise.  I was reminded of a few great verses in a sermon,  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside ever weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1-2 

Those are fantastic verses, especially to start the new year, but what does that have to do with working tonight?  It’s the first word of the verse, “therefore”, what’s it there for?  In order to find out, you have to look back into Hebrews 11.  The last two verses of chapter 11 say, “And all these [the heroes of faith], though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” [emphasis mine].

The heroes of faith were given a promise but did not see it fulfilled.  Not a broken promise, but a promise that had a future fulfillment date, past their life span.  A promise that you don’t see fulfilled can be a tough as a broken promise.  Yet we have role models of faith like Abel, Enoch and Abraham that “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted the from afar . . . but as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” 11:13, 16

Ahhhh, there it is, their faith kept them focused on the end result, not the years of waiting for fulfillment.  They believed something greater, something grandeur waited for them after death. We have a promise of a perfect home, an eternal home where broken promises will not exist and all God-given promises will be fulfilled.  It is so easy to forget the eternal perspective in the midst of weekly bills, difficult relationships, our jobs (or lack of one), helping kids with homework, fixing the car and broken promises.  But God says, walk by faith, trust in Me, remember that I am preparing a great place for you where working on New Year’s Eve will not matter.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Incredible Faith, Incredible Doubt

(Part of the Faith to Move Mountain series, examples.  Taken from Luke 1:5-25)

There was a priest named Zechariah...he had a wife named Elizabeth.  "They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord." Luke 1:6

Zechariah and Elizabeth walked blamelessly before God.  And then the Scripture says, "But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren." (1:7)  They served God faithfully but the one thing a Jewish man wanted was a son.  The one thing a Jewish woman needed to remove the reproach of her people was a son.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were "advanced in years", in other words, they were way past the age at which women give birth.

Zechariah, while performing his duties, is visited by an angel that tells him he and Elizabeth will have a son.  The crux of the whole story and the "faith learning moment" is this, Zechariah had not ceased to pray for a son for him and Elizabeth, though it was physically impossible because of their age.  Look at verses 13, "But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." 

Zechariah had never stopped praying for the very thing that was dearest to his heart and for his wife's reproach.  Even though it was physically impossible, he didn't stop praying.  LESSON 1.  (Technically lesson 2 as lesson 1 is walking blamelessly before God.)

Ok, lesson 3 then.  Don't Doubt.  Zechariah had the faith to pray for the impossible but he didn't believe it even when an angel was dispatched to tell him his prayers had been answered.  Verse 18 "How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."  The angel Gabriel says to him in verse 20, "because you did not believe my words...".

1. Walk blamelessly before God.  (We have seen this pattern with the men and women of faith).

2.  Pray the impossible...pray to move mountains!

3.  Don't Doubt.

Lesson learned?  Meditate on these things.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Faith to Move Mountains (part 2 - Examples: Noah)

Have you moved your mountain yet?  You are not alone if you said "no".  God was gracious to us to give us examples of imperfect people, who rose above the lure of the culture, to please God.  They (as we do now) lived in rebellious times when every intention of the thoughts of mankind’s heart was continually evil.  Righteous men and women found a way to live by faith. 

Consider these truths:

By faith, Noah... Heb 11:7

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord Gen 6:8

Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation Gen 6:9

Noah walked with God Ge 6:9
Noah worshiped the Lord Ge 8:20

Noah was obedient Ge 6:22
Noah was reverent Ge 8:20; Heb 11:7

Noah was an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith Heb 11:7

Noah was a herald of righteousness 2 Peter 2:5

Noah, like Enoch, walked with God.  They walked by faith and they lived their lives to please God.  Noah found a way to live a righteous life in the midst of a generation who’s only thought was evil.  Are you seeing a pattern emerge?

Meditate on walking with God.  What will that look like in your life and in these days?  What will you need to accomplish to make that a reality?  What is the next hurdle that you need to jump?  Focus on the one main thing for now.  If you are not sure what that is, ask God to reveal it to you today.  Ask Him to reveal any areas that you need to surrender to him, and walk by faith.  Name one or two key elements that stand out to you about Noah and Enoch.  Now begin to think about how you can make these a reality in your life.

A prayer for today
Lord, my Lord, may my ways be found pleasing in your sight today. Help my mind to stay focused on you in the midst of the myriad of distractions and battles for my mind.  Keep my eyes pure, let my tongue sing only praises, worship and exclamation of your goodness, mercy and love.  Let me witness of your saving grace to someone today.  Allow me to speak boldly about what you are doing in my life.  Please oh Lord, help me to know you more so that I may please you and walk with you to the last day of my life.  I love you Lord, please increase my faith; I want to move mountains for your glory.  In the precious name of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus, Amen.

Worship and Obey.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faith to Move Mountains (part 2 - Examples:Enoch)

Have you noticed the “great ones” were all about pleasing God?  Noah walked with God.  David had a heart for God.  Moses was already pleasing to God and his desire was to know God more so that he could please God more.  Abraham blindly obeyed God which gave him a unique relationship with the Creator, one that pleased God. 

“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Gen. 5:24

Enoch is a man that we don’t know much about, but what we do know exudes a walk and relationship with God that was greatly pleasing to God.  So pleasing in fact that God took him home early.  Why?  Did God need the company?  Was he sparing him from some evil turn later in life?  God took him off this earth and into the presence of God to experience the greatest joy that any child of God will experience, an eternity with God.

How can I live like Enoch?  What lifestyle should I imitate to be found pleasing to God? 

    “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” Heb. 11:5

Enoch was commended as having pleased God.  Then if I can find out how Enoch pleased God, then I can imitate his lifestyle and consequently please God.  Read on...

    “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. “ Heb. 11:6

Faith is the key to pleasing God.  Without it, it is impossible.  Anyone desiring to draw near to God must believe two things: 1) That God exists, 2) That God rewards those who seek Him.

What does that mean?  Believe that God exists.  The demons believe, but do they please him?  God rewards those who seek him.  How?  What reward?  Rewards can be defined a thousand different ways depending on who you are asking.  And then there is that part about “anyone desiring to draw near to God”.  That refers to desire, desire for God, desire to become closer to God.  Of course, only God can give you this desire.  The desire for God comes from him because left to ourselves we run from God.  So, if God gives us the desire, it must be perfect but we taint it, spoil it, diffuse it, minimize it, hide it, squash it, exchange it, ignore it and do anything but foster it, nuture it, and seek it.  The idolatry of self, exchanges the glory of God for the glory of self thereby effectively muting the desire to draw near to the Most High and Holy God.

Does your heart yearn to be “one of those people”?  To be a Noah, Abraham or Enoch.  My heart does.  It simply starts by believing that God exists, without doubt and having faith that God will not ignore you if you are seeking Him. 

Meditate on this concept today.  Be reminded that God exists, always has, always will.  He is exists in the good parts of the your day as well as the difficult parts of your day.  He is always present and He knows everything.  Then think about Moses who was already greatly pleasing to God and he desired more.  Imagine getting to that place...and remember, God will reward those who diligently and earnestly seek Him.  It’s kind of ironic isn’t it?  Why would anyone need to be rewarded for doing the very thing that we were created to do?  Worship and Obey.