Like Yesterday

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; in the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; toward evening it fades and withers away (Psalms 90:4-6).

For all our days have declined in Your fury; we have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom (Psalms 90:9-12).

Like yesterday

Time, space and matter are all things God created. He created them all at the same time. “In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)” (Genesis 1:1). In order for God to create them He must be outside and independent of space, time and matter. That whole concept simply blows my mind, I just cannot fathom a Being like that. I believe it, but I just don’t comprehend it.

Since God is outside of time and independent of time, He has a completely different perspective of time. Moses said that 1,000 years are “like yesterday” to God. It is just a blip on the radar, it is the same as one day to God. Peter also repeated this concept in his second letter (2 Peter 3:9). A millennium to God is like grass that springs up and is cut down and withers.

In contrast to God, we humans are all about time. Have you stopped recently to ponder how obsessed we are with time? Sometimes we are just so impatient and in a hurry because of our mixed up earthly perception of time. It affects our decision making at work and school, we get in a hurry and make mistakes. Our lack of perspective on time gets in the way when it comes to how we deal with others. Instead of giving them time to grow and develop, we want instant change…this minute! We also at times lose sight of how brief our time is on this earth.

This Psalm of Moses is there to help sober us up a little bit. Moses’ prayer to God in this Psalm was for God to help him and all of us to have a wiser perspective on the brevity of life and to see time how God sees it. Hopefully we will become more patient because of this renewed perspective. With God’s help we can see how precious each moment is and to “number our days.” Make the most of the very brief time God has given us.

According to this Psalm, we generally live 70-80 years. Think about that for a moment. If 1,000 years is like a day to God, then 70-80 years is like the blink of an eye.

“Making the most of your time…” (Ephesians 5:16).

 

The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit In A Sitcom

On a personal note: Thank you to all for your encouragement, prayers, and overwhelming support of my family as we walk through the recovery and healing process after our barn fire. God is good, all the time.

The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit In A Sitcom by Jason Hardin

I want to share with you a sermon that I watched this morning that I really needed. This sermon is by Jason Hardin, and it is called “The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit in a Sitcom.”

At the end of Jason’s sermon, he spoke of 4 conclusions that we can build our lives upon, and they were a blessing to me for sure.

  1. At pivotal moments in life, the people of God had no idea WHAT God was doing; some times neither will we.
  2. At many points in life, we won’t understand WHY God is allowing certain things to happen.
  3. And yet, the clear testimony of Scripture is that He knows perfectly what He is doing.
  4. Therefore, rather than being anxious about things we cannot change…let’s make sure to seek Him while He may be found.

I would add, I don’t know the what nor the why, but I know the WHO. Like the old song sings, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know Who holds my hand.”

Overcoming Evil

What About Justice?

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.  Romans 12:17-19

What do you think about justice?  Is it important?  Let’s ask that a different way; how do you feel when someone cuts in line?  How about when your car gets broken into or your home is burglarized?  What if your wife or kids are disrespected and treated rudely?  How about when a known criminal gets off on a “technicality”, how does that sit with you?

Justice is essential and is one of the key attributes of God.  In fact, Psalm 89:14 tells us that, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You.”  Psalm 89:14  But Paul challenges us in Romans 12 to set justice aside.  He says “Never PAY BACK evil for evil”, implying that the wages earned for evil is evil.  As Christians, we are to pursue peace and leave room for God to administer justice.

How easy is this command?  The last time someone rudely cut you off in traffic how did you respond?  How did you want to respond?  What about when your co-worker lied about you or took advantage of your kindness or made that derogatory remark about your faith?  Most of the time it is a victory when we just ignore it or keep our mouths shut.  Sometimes I wish the text would end there but Paul’s challenge goes even further.

 The Higher Calling 

“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:20-21

The call of Christ is not to simply ignore evil.  The call is not to hold in our desired response and keep our mouths shut.  The call of Christ is to do the unexpected…to actually do good to those who do evil.  I believe this command is one of the most challenging in the entire bible.  This concept goes against our inherent sense of right and wrong.  It turns our concept of justice upside down.

What’s the purpose?  Why would God ask us to do something so difficult?  In short, because He did it for us.  How did Jesus overcome evil?  In the book of Revelation, Satan and evil is personified as a great dragon and how is Jesus pictured?  He is a bloody and battered lamb…a sacrifice.  The entire story of the bible depicts how Jesus overcame evil with good.  As a result, when He was lifted up, He drew all men to Himself (John 12:32).  God has called us for the same purpose.

We are to be lights to the world and we’ve tried to accomplish that our own way.  We’ve tried to batter people with the truth.  We’ve tried to be louder than the opposition.  We’ve tried to stand up for ourselves and defend our rights.  We’ve even tried to take the “high road” and keep our mouths shut, but maybe, just maybe, we should try it God’s way.  When we do the unexpected and we love those who hate us and we show that love in action by doing good it will impact the world.  People will feel the God given shame of sin and be drawn to the sacrifice of Jesus.

The fact is that Paul starts his discussion in Romans 12 with urging us “by the mercies of God”.  Think of the life of rebellion you lived before Christ.  Think of the wages that you deserved.  Now consider how God looked at you and the price He paid for your redemption.  Let us meditate on that daily and strive to be a living sacrifice.

Such Were Some of You

Here is an article called Such Were Some of You by Andy Harrison. Our theme for Tuesdays is normally the marriage relationship, but I wanted to go ahead and share this today. Great articles yesterday and today, Andy!


“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of god.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” I Corinthians 5:9-11

If you have come to Christ, if you’ve been washed in His blood and cleansed from your sins then I’m guessing you’ve done some things in your past which are now a source of shame.  We all have them.  Dark things, embarrassing things that we find hard to even speak about, things we may have never confessed to anyone except God alone.   On occasion I’ll be in a situation that triggers the memory of some long forgotten event and the disgrace and humiliation will come flooding back as if no time has passed at all.  When that happens there is not a shower hot enough to make me feel clean and the only remedy is to fill my mind with the mercy, grace and forgiveness of Jesus.

In Romans 6, Paul is dealing with the idea of continuing in sin after having been baptized into Christ and he says in verses 20-22, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the outcome of those things is death.  But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”  I look back at my life of filth and sin and I try to determine what benefit I thought I was deriving from those things.  The pursuit of pleasure in its many forms almost always ended in pain and suffering for me and those I care about the most.  But having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, I can now see that there is benefit I can derive from my former life…if I have the courage.  Let me explain.

I was recently asked to help a young Christian man who is struggling with alcoholism.  He comes from a good Christian home; he has been active in the church and, after college, began a very successful and profitable career in the pharmaceutical industry.  From the outside, he appeared to have the world by its tail.  However, internally he was battling his “demons” and they have gotten the best of him.  So the question is; why was I asked to help?

The answer; “such were some of you”.  Based on my past, I am fairly well equipped to help in this situation.  Those very things I am ashamed of are the experiences that help me relate to this young man.  I can relate to his powerful desires and yearnings.  I have experienced that hollow and empty feeling inside that, at least for an instance, can be filled with emotion-numbing substances like drugs and alcohol.  I have felt the hopelessness of trying and trying and trying to get myself “clean” only to end up in a more desperate and dark situation.  I know what it is like to be filled with so much self-hatred and loathing that I just want to give up.   I have experienced the power of God’s mercy and grace as He pulled me from the pit and washed me clean.  And most importantly, I know what it is like to live one day at a time seeking to please my Father.

Such Were Some of You

My encouragement to you is to share your experiences with others.  Be courageous and let others know what you have been through, not in boastful longing for the past, but as a testimony to the love and power of our amazing Father.  And if you are in a dark place, struggling with sin, realize that God has placed His people all around you to help lift you up.  We were not designed to walk this world alone.

God is amazing!  He can take the most broken life, mend it, and put it into service to help others.

It is the coward that hides their past and pretends that it never happened.  It is the coward that tries to “man up” and deal with their problems on their own.  True courage is revealing the real you to others so that we can experience the true strength that comes from God and His people.

And please pray for me as I endeavor to help a young man find his way out of darkness and into the Light.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health (Proverbs 12:18).

The focus for this week has been complaining. Words as we all know, have incredible weight and influence. The above proverb provides a great contrast. A stab wound doesn’t promote health, does it? My words can be a sword thrust through someone or I can promote health. Our words at work and school today can promote health: healthy attitudes, healthy dialogue, healthy teamwork, etc. Or, our complaining and criticizing words will just bring everyone down in the dumps.

Here are a couple of examples:

10 of the 12 spies sent by Moses to look over the land of Canaan brought back a bad report. They were faithless and their words discouraged the hearts of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:28). Caleb, one of the 2 faithful spies, said decades later that the discouraging words of those 10 spies “made the heart of the people melt” (Joshua 14:8).

In contrast, consider King Hezekiah. When surrounded by the powerful army of Assyria, Hezekiah took his stand in faith with God. Not only did he prepare the people militarily, he spoke words of faith and encouragement to the people and directed their hearts to God’s power. “And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:6-8).

See the contrast? I think we all, that means me too, sometimes lose sight of how powerful and influential our speech can be. That’s probably why there is so much in Scripture about our words and their power. Hezekiah strengthened his people while the 10 spies made the hearts of Israel melt into discouragement.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

I found an interesting passage in Isaiah where the Messiah (Jesus) is speaking in the 1st person about what He is coming to do. In that section there is this statement:

The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4).

Jesus, the Messiah, has the tongue of the learned (educated, trained, wise). He knows how to speak a word in season (at the right time) to him who is weary (considering the audience and what is appropriate).

May the Lord give us this same tongue today! Let us train and educate our tongues and hearts. Consider what would be the right thing to say, not what would be the easy thing, or sarcastic thing or funny thing to say.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Past articles that might be helpful to you in connection to this topic:

 

Not A Hoof Shall Be Left Behind

“…not a hoof shall be left behind…” (Exodus 10:26)

I’m sure a lot of you reading this are involved in or have been involved in negotiations at work. It might have been for your own salary and contract or a labor dispute. Maybe it was with a parts supplier. Regardless, negotiations are part of our everyday life. Give and take. Compromise. “Meet in the Middle” as the Diamond Rio song says.

We are used to seeing this around us, even on television shows like American Pickers. Frank and Mike go around the country and the world haggling to get some valuable piece of history they can resell later for a higher price.

Even the Proverbs talks about it. “It is good for nothing,” cries the buyer; but when he has gone his way, then he boasts (Proverbs 20:14).

There are even men who successfully negotiated with the Lord. Abraham was one of those examples who pleaded for God’s mercy upon Sodom and Gomorrah because of his nephew Lot (Gen. 18:22-33; 19:29).

But there are other times, like the one we will consider today with Pharaoh and Moses, that negotiating is out of the question. Pharaoh kept trying to negotiate the terms of release for the children of Israel, but God wasn’t going to bargain.

When Pharaoh was first approached, he arrogantly declared, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). As the plagues progressed however, Pharaoh began his attempts to negotiate. After the plague of the flies, Pharaoh said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.” Moses replied, we are not going to do that. The response of Pharaoh was, “I will let you go…only you shall not go very far away” (Exodus 8:24-28). Of course, Pharaoh changed his mind after the plague was removed.

When Moses warned Pharaoh of the coming locust plague, the servants of Pharaoh reasoned with him to let Israel go. At least someone had some sense! Once again, Pharaoh attempted to cut a deal by saying, “only the men can go” (Exodus 10:8-11). No deal…the terms are the same, everybody leaves together (Exodus 10:9)!

Eight devastating plagues were followed by the ninth plague of darkness which debilitated Egypt for three days. Pharaoh still tried to set terms with God and Moses. Ok you can go, “only your flocks and your herds shall be kept back” (Exodus 10:24).

Pharaoh just didn’t learn, did he? There was not going to be a meet in the middle compromise. God wasn’t going to give a little. Pharaoh was given the terms of release, and with great pain and sacrifice he had to submit to the conditions. Everybody in Israel goes, “not a hoof shall be left behind” (Exodus 10:26).

Not a hoof shall be left behind

In order to apply this to our lives today men, let’s do some comparing. Consider Pharaoh to be like Satan, and Moses to be like Jesus. We are like the children of Israel, and the slavery in Egypt is like our slavery and bondage to sin (John 8:32-36; Hebrews 2:14-16).

Here are a few observations:
  1. God didn’t negotiate terms with the Devil. He crushed Satan through the cross of Jesus Christ. Our Lord doesn’t want any part of His people in “Egypt” (sin) under Pharaoh (the Devil).
  2. Satan will hold on to any part of you that he can, even a hoof. Remember the rich young ruler? He kept “all” of God’s commandments, at least so he thought. But Jesus knew part of him was still not out of Egypt yet, and the “hoof left behind” was the young man’s attachment to money and things.
  3. You and I are not to leave a “hoof behind” in that old world of sin. God wants to deliver us completely from sin. If there is still a part of us that we have not completely given over to God, then we need to stop trying to negotiate terms. Stop flirting with Egypt, and get out of there, not a hoof shall be left behind. Don’t be like Israel and leave your heart in Egypt (Acts 7:39). “Resist the devil,” James says, don’t try to negotiate with him.

Not a hoof shall be left behind…

Attitude Reflects Leadership

One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans. There is a scene when the two leaders of the defense, Julias Campbell and Gerry Bertier, are arguing in training camp. Julias is being accused by Gerry of playing selfish football, and Julias responded by saying, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.”

What a true statement, right? Attitude reflects leadership. The tone of a team, family, church, country or organization is set by the leadership. What notes are we playing as leaders, men?

Please take a minute to read this section of Scripture about David. He is preparing all the resources for the building of the temple that will commence when his son Solomon takes the throne. I want you to notice David’s attitude and generosity in giving and how that influenced the other leaders in Israel.

Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver: three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses; the gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and for all kinds of work to be done by the hands of craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?” Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly. They gave for the work of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, into the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly (1 Chronicles 29:3-9).

Attitude Reflects Leadership

David set his affection on the house of God (the temple), and that reflected in how he gave. His commitment to this great work was evident to all; he had skin in the game. The king led the group in sacrifice, everyone could see what he offered and how he felt about it.

When he asked the question, “Who is willing?”, he first showed that he was willing. The rest followed. See how the other leadership responded? “Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses…offered willingly.”

Take this into consideration today. How is your attitude? Do others see the kind of heart that we just saw in David? What influence is your attitude having upon others?

“Attitude reflects leadership, captain!”

Three Clever Stories

In the book Crucial Conversations, the authors write about “three clever stories” that we tell ourselves and others when we are in the midst of conflict and misunderstanding. These clever stories are used to help justify our negative behaviors and attitudes. When we fail to properly resolve a situation, these stories can be used to make us feel better and someone else to look worse.

Three Clever Stories

Victim stories“It’s not my fault.” We exaggerate our innocence, and cleverly leave out details of how our behavior, attitude and words contributed to the problem.

Villain stories“It’s all your fault.” We overemphasize the other person’s guilt. He is incompetent, I’m a genius. That guy is a bonehead, I’m a saint. This sets up our justification for why we did not get the job done, or why we behaved badly.

Helpless stories“There’s nothing else I can do.” We convince ourselves that there are no healthy alternatives for dealing with our predicament, which justifies the action we are about to take. An example given by the authors is when someone might say, “If I told the boss this, he would just be defensive-so of course I say nothing!”

Consider these three stories and think of the following proverb:

The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).

We can really be convincing when we tell our stories, and present our “side” of things, but is it the whole truth? Have you made yourself into a victim and a martyr? Did I make my co-worker into a villain, assuming the worst possible motives? Are we telling ourselves lies that we are helpless to change this situation?

When we are telling our “stories,” let’s keep this in mind. Take some time to pray and reflect upon whether we are honestly assessing the situation. Ask yourself today if you are telling clever stories to rationalize your behavior. Pray for God’s help to assign the best motives to others. Let’s be honest that we have flaws, too.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him (Genesis 40:23).

Joseph had quite a list of reasons to be angry at God and life. He certainly could have walked around bitterly with a chip on his shoulder.

Think of what happened in 13 years for Joseph. At 17 years old, he was sold to merchants and slave traders by his own brothers. After things in Egypt were starting to look up for him, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and unjustly imprisoned. Again, things were going well for Joseph, even while in prison. After some time in prison, he interpreted dreams for Pharaoh’s butler and baker. He asked the butler to remember him when the butler was restored to his position. Now to add insult to injury, he is forgotten…for two years (Genesis 41:1,9). Hated, betrayed, abandoned, sold, enslaved, framed, imprisoned, forgotten…sure sounds like a raw deal for over a decade, right?

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him

Personally, I find it simply amazing that Joseph carried himself the way he did in spite of all the adversity. We don’t see Joseph being bitter. Joseph didn’t shake his fist at God and walk away from Him. He didn’t turn inward and self-centered, only concerned with taking care of number one. There is no indication that he lived his life in hatred and bitterness toward those who did him wrong. He wasn’t plotting his revenge.

What we do see in Joseph is a continual understanding and acknowledgement of the Lord’s presence in his life. When tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, he knew this sin would be against God (Gen. 39:9). While interpreting dreams, he gave glory to God as the one who gave him the ability (Gen. 40:8; 41:16,25,28,32). As he was working, whether in Potiphar’s house, or in prison or second in command to Pharoah, the “Lord was with him” (Gen. 39:2,21). Joseph worked for God, not for man.

Because of the way Joseph lived and talked, those around him noticed that God was with him. Potiphar knew that the Lord had blessed his house because of Joseph (Gen. 39:3-6). Even the keeper of the prison saw this in Joseph (Gen. 39:21). Pharoah himself witnessed the presence of God in Joseph’s life (Gen. 41:38-39).

Am I in God’s place?

Finally, look at Joseph’s attitude toward God and how that affected his attitude toward his brothers.

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19-21).

How do you and I respond when facing life’s difficulties? We are all dealt a rough hand at times, so let us consider the wonderful example of Joseph. Let us remember that God’s presence is with us. Work for Him, not for man. May we have forgiveness, not bitterness, in our hearts. Remember, like Joseph, that we are not in God’s place. Let’s give glory to Him, and be thankful in all things.

What do you want Me to do for you?

And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36)

So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)

Twice in Mark chapter 10, Jesus asked this question, “What do you want Me to do for you?” It will be good for us to look at each situation briefly and learn a lesson for today.

The first time Jesus asked this question, it was of James and John.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:35-37).

What did James and John want? Power, position and glory. Jesus had to follow up with a lesson on humility and servanthood (Mark 10:41-45).

The second time Jesus asked this question, it was of a blind man named Bartimaeus. This man sat by the roadside begging.

Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight” (Mark 10:46-51).

Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was. He understood by faith that Jesus was the Messiah and had power to heal. This man didn’t want power, position or glory, he just wanted to see. I find it amazing that others around him “warned him to be quiet.” He was not deterred nor would he be silenced.

Jesus knew the faith of this man and the condition of his heart. He “commanded” that Bartimaeus be called up to Him.

Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road (Mark 10:52).

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road. Blind Bartimaeus “saw” something that even the 12 did not see: simple trusting faith combined with pure humility.

Be a Bartimaeus today. Don’t be a glory and position seeker, think of the basic, foundational needs you have that only Jesus can provide. Cry out and beg for the Son of David to provide those for you. Your faith will make you well, just as it did for Bartimaeus.