Are You Quick to Worship?


Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8 And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.   Ex 34:6-8

 This December, Janine and I will celebrate 25 years of wonderful marriage bliss. Yes we have had our moments of being down and moments of being up. But to Janine’s credit, 25 years of living with me is proof that God still works miracles.  Twenty five years of waking up next to me has to take a toll. Twenty five years of being by my side, walking with me in my ignorance and foolishness, as well as encouraging me in my moments of triumph and occasional wisdom has been a tremendous blessing to me.  Twenty five years of having her presence with me has simply been remarkable and quite frankly is really an act of God. As a flawed man and even more flawed husband, I know that I have not always cherished her the way I ought to… yet she still loves me anyway.

But what I find even more amazing than Janine sticking with me for 25 years is the ongoing, eternal presence of God in my life. To be honest, I haven’t always cherished God’s presence in my life either. I do try to live for God and make decisions that will honor Him, but I don’t always stop to consider how others view God through what they see in me. What I mean is that many times my reactions to things which don’t fit within my scheme often show at that moment I am not treasuring the presence of God in my life.  Instead of being quick to fall on my knees in worship, I react selfishly. My reactions can often depict how badly I thought I was being inconvenienced, instead of acknowledging the impact God should have on that moment. This really is an area where I need more consistent growth. Whether it is a trial or a triumph, I know I need to be quicker to worship instead of reacting.

Tracing the reasons for my own reactions, I discovered that I often take God’s presence with me too lightly.  I can’t help but think I am not alone in viewing the presence of God too flippantly. We often fail to consider how the very personal presence of God in our lives is one of the ways we can have an impact on others. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, that when what we do testifies to God’s presence in our life and the intimacy we share with Him as our Heavenly Father, then we are letting our light shine. When you read verses like 1 Peter 5:7 or Psalm 61:1&2 you find great comfort in knowing that no matter where you are, you can cry out to God in your time of need. God is with us everywhere in every situation. Are we quick to worship God in our tragedies or do we blame Him for them? Are we quick to worship in our triumphs or do we get the praise?

Moses’ response is instructive to us. After hearing what God says, Moses was moved to worship quickly.  He didn’t stand around and wait to see God do something before he appreciated God. He knew God was with him, right there at that very moment.  Hearing that generations to come would experience the fall out of the sinful choices of the previous generation moved Moses to fall down face first and truly worship. To hear God proclaim Himself as one of mercy and forgiveness moved Moses to intercede on their behalf. Moses was quick to worship.

Does God’s mercy and forgiveness make you quick to worship? Does knowing that if we reject God’s mercy and forgiveness today, and that the impact of that choice will last for generations to come make you quick to worship?  The context of the verses above is from the time Israel received the Law from God describing what God would do and how His people were to live. Instead of walking in obedience, the people of Israel turned to idol worship. They doubted God was with them or wanted to continue to be with them. They failed to get God’s point that to enjoy His presence they had to worship Him on His terms, not theirs. They weren’t appreciative of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  They did not want to walk by faith.  Instead they wanted to construct a god they could touch and see, a god made with their hands, an impersonal god.  But God is very personal. God wanted and still wants a relationship with them and us.  God, the I AM, the self-existent one, the God no one could fashion with their hands, would have nothing to do with that. God was so angry with them that He was ready to wipe them all out and start over with Moses.  But Moses interceded on their behalf and God showed mercy.

That is what Jesus did for us.  He interceded on our behalf.  He died for us. To provide the only way possible for sinful humanity to have a relationship with a holy God, God had to step in and act.  That is mercy and grace! As a result of all Christ accomplished on the cross, the Holy Spirit now indwells every believer and He promised to never leave us or forsake us. God’s presence is with us always in all places.Does that make you quick to worship?

Do you treasure the presence of God in your life?  Are you celebrating the fact that God in His mercy saved you and chose to dwell with you?  What evidence points to that fact? Is there a faithfulness to sacrifice your time, your energy, your finances, etc. to minister for God’s glory? Are you interceding for others who don’t appreciate the mercy and presence of God? Have you replaced the joy and satisfaction of the presence of God in your life with the pursuit of other treasures that won’t satisfy? Are you quick to worship, both in times of trial and triumph?

Being quick to worship is directly proportionate to the degree we treasure God’s presence in our life.

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It Is Time For the Church To Do Her Job!


Ex 19:5-6  NASB  “5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

If you are familiar with English literature you probably know that what you just read is from Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities.  Although it was his own commentary on the culture of the 18th century, one could read it today and easily conclude he was writing about the culture of 2016.

These are definitely turbulent times in our culture. A once populous and thriving city went bankrupt. Law enforcement officers are targets of the people they protect. Violent perpetrators, driven by hatred for any who don’t believe what they believe, commit brazen acts of terror almost daily. The rule of law is eroding quickly and seems to be non-existent for certain elites. Even those who call themselves ministers of the gospel perpetuate the divisions between neighbors. Add to that the ongoing slaughter of innocent babies and the open attacks on Christians and Christian institutions, the absence of morality and much more leaves us wondering what is next. Yet there are some who believe our culture is better than it was before and are excited to take the next steps in that direction. So depending on your viewpoint these could be “the best of times” or “the worst of times.”

What is the role of the church in America’s culture? When you look at where we are as a country, as a culture, I ask you:  does the church have any role in our culture and have we positioned ourselves well to fulfill that role? I propose to you, before we start criticizing our culture and bemoaning the situations we see arise every day, that the realization of what God did at the foot of the mountain in Exodus is often lacking in the  “antinomian American church.” The word antinomian is from the Greek word nomos (law);  antinomian means “without law” (no place for law), or obedience. Sadly far too many believers fail to understand and appreciate this point from a biblical perspective. It is for this reason I believe the church so frequently misses opportunities to fulfill our role in culture.

God called and built the nation of Israel for the specific purpose of representing Him to the world.  They were to be different from other nations in the fact they were to be a kingdom of priests and examples of holiness.  God wants the church to be like that as well. Although Israel and the church are two separate entities, our purposes are the same.  I wonder how many of us truly get that? We are told in 1 Peter 2:9 that “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” That means we are to be a blessing to the world by representing Him well with lives that are growing in holiness. We are to have lives that prove we actually want to obey His commands because we love Him. See, what our country really lacks is holiness.  It lacks holiness because the church has not been holy. The church has not been nearly as powerful and influential as we could have been. That is reflected in part by the spiritual temperature of our culture. Had the American church done a better job of functioning as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation by joyfully obeying the commands of God, we would be in a much better position to impact a world that is more open to worldview changes than has been true in a long, long time. Personal righteousness is a far more effective witnessing tool than self-righteousness will ever be. If we want our culture to be different, then our churches have to be different.

God gave Israel (and us) the Ten Commandments, along with the rest of the Law, to set them apart as that holy nation. God knew His people would never be able to keep these laws on their own. Complete obedience was never the criteria for a personal relationship with Him.  However, living according to the desires of the only King made them distinct.  No other nation was ever given the Law of God. So for us, that means that living in obedience to the Word of God makes us distinct from everyone else.  Being obedient to the Scripture, makes it possible for us to live in a way that is entirely different than any other people. Doing so will make us a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We can be an incredibly bright light to those the Lord places around us by simply being obedient.

It all boils down to love.  Jesus was asked his thoughts on the greatest commandment.  His words are very instructive.  The whole law depended on loving God with everything we have and loving others more than we love ourselves.  Obeying the first four commands displays our love for God.  Obeying the last six show our love for others. Loving God and others is not to be done just to fulfill the letter of the law but also the spirit of it.  It’s not just that we don’t murder, but we even try to avoid the murderous heart of sinful anger. It’s not just that we don’t commit adultery, but that we try to avoid the heart sin of lust.

How and who we love is a result of the viewpoint we take concerning being God’s possession.  What does it mean to you be owned by God? Far too many believers act as though we own God instead of Him owning us.  We often act as we want, think as we want, and speak as we want, without ever giving God and His Word any consideration. Then, when we expect God to do what we think He ought to do, we pray and ask Him as though He is obligated to us.  We make God our servant instead of us being His slave. Never forget HE OWNS US. Stop thinking God is somehow obligated to do what you want when you have no desire to what He asks. Instead be devoted completely to Him—submitting wholly to His will and seeking to please Him above all else.  That demands dying to self and following the Master, no matter the cost.  In other words, to be a Christian is to become Christ’s slave.

If we want our culture to change, then the church has to change.  It is time for revival to begin in our own hearts and for us to start acting like God’s people ought to act.  No more excuses.  We don’t have any time to waste.

If we want to impact our culture, we have to show we are truly God’s possession by walking in obedience to Him as our Master.

 

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Steak and Potatoes or Bologna and Cheese Puffs?


Ex 16:8 “…Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.” NASB

What’s your favorite meal? If you could eat anything you wanted, what would it be? For me it is probably a nice juicy steak and plump baked potato. But I also like anything you can cover in barbecue sauce. Throw in some corn on the cob, steamed veggies or a crisp cool salad and I’m good. Top it off with some homemade bread and I’m your friend for life. Finish it with some blackberry pie or cobbler and I’ll probably never leave the table.

Now let’s say the meal plan for today involved making my favorite meal and as the finishing touches are applied, I decide I want to eat a bologna sandwich with a side of cheese puffs. Would you say there is something extremely wrong with me? Most of you would probably say that I was a few fries short of a happy meal to prefer bologna and cheese puffs over steak and potatoes. Why would I want to eat something that doesn’t satisfy my hunger when such a wonderful meal would truly satisfy?

Now before you finish your thoughts about how ludicrous my decision would be, think about your (and my) tendency to do that same thing to God.  Instead of feasting at the table God so wonderfully provided for us, our tendency is to seek satisfaction in something or someone else.  We need to stand in awe in the wonderful provision of Jesus Christ, but far too often we are left unsatisfied because we search for fulfillment elsewhere.

Think about how much we are like the Israelites during the time of the Exodus. God provided manna for them to eat every day. We are not sure what manna was exactly (the name itself means “what is it?”), but if God made it wouldn’t you think it was pretty tasty and satisfying?  (I wonder if it tasted like chicken.) But instead of being thankful for what God provided, they grumbled. We must beware of our tendency to grumble.  Even after they witnessed an incredible deliverance, they were quick to grumble about their present circumstances.  They even went so far as to think the situation they had in Egypt was better.  We do the same thing.  Sometimes we think how good life would be if we went back to the “good ole days.”  Just because you remember something in a certain way, and you use that memory as a basis for what you experience now, that doesn’t mean your assessment is right. Just a little fact checking reveals how horrible their time was in Egypt.  Yet they became so fickle, their thoughts about the present and future were skewed because they had an incorrect assessment of their past. If you find yourself grumbling, is it because your assessment of the past is wrong and it has skewed your expectations of your present or future circumstances?

What we often fail to remember when we grumble is WHO we are really directing that grumble towards:  God Himself.  Moses told them (Exodus 16:8) that in all their grumblings, they are really speaking against God’s love for them and His willingness to provide for them. Where we fall into this trap today is when our churches become gossip factories.  Or when people start complaining about things that are really preference issues and not doctrine.  Rarely do you find people getting upset in church because they heard something that raised a doctrinal red flag. We tend to grumble and complain about things that make no eternal difference when we should be rejoicing in the proclamation of the truth without compromise.  It is at that moment when you have pushed yourself away from the feast God has provided in Christ and you are seeking satisfaction in empty preferences. You want the “bologna and cheese puffs” instead of the “meat and potatoes.”

During their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, God provided sustenance for the Israelites daily. They simply had to trust Him and partake of it.  The same is true for us.  God not only provides for our eternal satisfaction, He provides for our daily satisfaction.  Everything we need for a right and sustaining relationship with God is found in Christ and His Word (2 Peter 1:3-4).  It requires a spiritual diet.  What are you feasting on spiritually? If you don’t eat physically, you will find yourself lacking energy and motivation to accomplish what needs to be done.  If you don’t eat spiritually, you will find yourself lacking power and wisdom to fight the spiritual battles.  You need a steady diet of God’s Word, regular fellowship and instruction with God’s people, opportunities to exercise your spiritual muscles through involvement with your local church, and constant prayer that relies on the Holy Spirit to empower you.

If you are finding yourself spiritually empty, then check your diet.  Grumbling is a result of feasting on “bologna and cheese puffs” when you could be eating “steak and potatoes.” So stop grumbling and complaining about what you don’t have and think you need.  Instead, start trusting God knows what He is doing with you.  He wants you to be satisfied with Him. He has provided all you need in Christ so you can and will be satisfied in Him.

If your heart is full of Him, then when tempted to grumble you can say, “No thanks, I’m full!”

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Terrorism Is Not The Problem!


16 The Lord is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. 17 O Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt strengthen their heart, Thou wilt incline Thine ear 18 To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, That man who is of the earth may cause terror no more.   Ps 10:16-18    

 This Monday is July 4th. It is the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of our nation.  It has been 240 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed.  That date marked a significant point in history that would alter the course of not only this nation, but the world as a whole. This nation’s founding fathers embarked upon a course of events meant to secure our freedom to sovereignly govern our own affairs. The battle for freedom began that day setting the stage for the Revolutionary War and it would cost us dearly, not just financially, but with the very lives of people dedicated to that cause.

Freedom is a tricky word by definition. It is defined as a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions; release or rescue from being physically bound, or from being confined, enslaved, captured, or imprisoned; a country’s right to rule itself, without interference from, or domination by, another country or power; the state of being unaffected by, or not subject to, something unpleasant or unwanted. So based on the definition of freedom, are we really free? The answer is yes and no. We are free in the sense that we are not dominated by another country. We are free in the sense that no one is holding us captive or imprisoned. But that is where our freedom stops. We are not free to live as we choose without restraint. There are laws that govern our safety, etc. that to be without them the results would be sheer chaos. We are not free from the state of being unaffected by or subject to something unpleasant or unwanted. There is this plague of unpleasantness, an unwanted and putrid state of being that affects every human being.  No matter how hard we fight it, we cannot free ourselves from it. Without Divine intervention there is no escaping it. The Bible calls it sin. From nation to nation, from ethnic group to ethnic group, from every faith system, from all walks of life, from all generations, ALL humanity has been infected with sin.

Look around our country and the world and you see it every day. Acts of terrorism, senseless murders, the political firestorms of blame shifting and character assassination, adults acting like spoiled children staging sit ins or looting cities when they don’t get their way, the violence perpetrated towards others for simply supporting a particular candidate, movements that declare the lives of certain groups are more important than others are just a few of the events that are beyond belief.  I watch the videos, I read the written accounts, I listen to the pundits and celebrities spewing forth their opinions and I want to reach through the device and slap a few of them into reality. In every event, the news reporters along with our nation’s leaders from all parties and others from around the world, all spin the information regarding the facts around the suspects and why they commit such atrocities. As you listen you are bound to hear them push some agenda and all we are left with is often greater confusion and intensified angst. Trying to make sense of the wickedness, evil, and cowardice often leaves us with greater questions. One of the many questions people have today attacks the very existence of God. If God is real and loves the way everyone thinks He does, why is there such evil in the world?

 Another question that arises in all of this is how is a Christian supposed to respond to all these things? Should we be afraid? Should we be complacent? Should we look at everyone with suspicion? In a world filled with terrorism, what are we supposed to think and do?

Let me just say a little about this topic that I have come to grips with in my own reading of Psalm 10 and other passages.  My thoughts are really summed up in the title.  Terrorism is not the problem.  Terrorism is not new to the modern age. Terrorism is defined as violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, carried out for political (and/or religious (added for emphasis)) purposes. If you trace Israel’s history in the Old Testament you find terrorism. Sometimes terrorism came from within her own ranks. Some of the kings of Israel assassinated their own family members to seize the throne, or out of fear of it being taken from them. If you trace the church’s history in the New Testament you find terrorism. The apostle Paul was a terrorist. The Roman Emperor Nero was a terrorist. I understand what people mean when they say that we are facing a different kind of enemy today, but the truth is that the same kind of behavior that we witness today is as old as humanity itself. It can all be traced back to this this place called the Garden of Eden and what happened there. By the way do we remember what happened after the Garden of Eden?

 I believe our response to terrorism should be one that is consistent to walking in faith always trusting in our Sovereign God. There should be no fear because we serve the only one who can truly end terrorism.  Terrorism is a natural outflow of the heart that sets itself up against God…PRIDE.  Satan himself could be considered the first terrorist.

Reading Psalm 10 will give you insight into terrorism from God’s perspective. Terrorists prey on innocent and unsuspecting people. Just look at all the descriptive phrases. This all points to the total depravity of man.  Total depravity of man does not mean that man is unredeemable.  It means that every aspect of humanity has been affected by sin.  The thought processes, the behaviors, the intentions, the desires, etc. have all been impacted by sin.  The only way to be free from sin’s impact, is in trusting in Jesus Christ alone. Being made new in Him means we die to sin and are made alive to God.  We no longer are under sin’s dominion.  We are under grace.  So when we see terrorist activity, God is allowing us to see the depth of man’s depravity. All humanity has struggled with this and will continue to struggle with this until God decides enough is enough. This text also reveals that the terrorist’s heart is characterized by pride and filled with unbelief.

Now this is a very hard thing to hear, but it needs to be said there is a bit of terrorism in all of us. If the characteristics of terrorism are pride, and unbelief, and misuse of people, who among us would say that we are completely without sin? If we say it’s all about those wicked terrorists, us and God, we’re not thinking correctly. If we’re any different than others who have grossly sinned, it’s only by the grace of God. If we have chosen anyone or anything as our king other than God, terrorism is on our horizon.

This Psalm goes on to tell us that God is the only King worthy of our trust.  It is He who will end terrorism. So be sure your hope is secured in the right place.  If your hope is in God, then terrorism need not frighten you.  If your hope is in someone else, then be afraid, be very afraid.

God WILL respond to terrorism.  God will END terrorism.  So until He decides to do that, walk by faith instead of fear and trust Him.

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Trusting God in Impossible Circumstances


Ex 14:13-14 13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” NASB

Have you ever had those situations when, no matter where you turned, it seemed hopeless? Perhaps you are in one of those right now!  You looked and looked for a solution to the problem, but none could be found. You’ve tried everything and nothing happened. You examined all the choices and none of them lead to a positive result. You are at your wits end, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel, you see no end in sight, you are at the end of your rope.

That is exactly where God wants you to be!  See, when we get to the end of OUR rope, that is when God asks, “Will you grab onto mine?”  When we are hopeless God says, “Hope in me.”  When we search for solutions God says, “Follow me.” When we’ve tried everything and failed, God says, “In me you will find success.” No matter the circumstances, as difficult as they may be, there is nothing too difficult for God.  The story of the Exodus tells us that.

The book of Exodus is the story of how God drew His people together at that point in biblical history.  God displayed His power in an incredibly awesome fashion through the plagues and the Passover.  Those events take our breath away for a variety of reasons, but perhaps one of the most amazing is that the Exodus was prophesied by God over 500 years before it occurred. God told Abraham in the very initial days of the establishment of the nation of Israel that all of this would unfold. Here’s what God told Abraham in Genesis 15:12-14 – “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.'” Just think about that for a minute. This is Genesis 15.  Abraham and Sarah were old and they did not have one child at this point in the story, yet God promises to make them a mighty nation. Then he tells him about his descendants beings strangers in a land that is not theirs. He even states the exact number of years the oppression will last and then He says that He will judge that nation at the appointed time, and (oh by the way) your descendants will leave with many possessions. The call of Abraham was roughly around 2100 B.C.  The Exodus was roughly around 1450 B. C.  Do the math and you begin to see how marvelously this story reveals the power of God to handle the impossible.  The Egyptians urge the Israelites to leave after the last plague but the story doesn’t end there.

This story continues by becoming a situation that seemed impossible for Israel.  The Red Sea was in front of them. Pharaoh and all his chariots and armies were behind them.  There literally was no place to turn.  Death was certain.  They felt hopeless.  They would have rather stayed slaves in Egypt than to die in the wilderness.  That is when Moses told them to not be afraid.  He told them to stand and see God deliver them. The covenant-making and covenant-keeping God will fight for you when you keep silent. And God did just that.  The story goes on to reveal the great power of God in delivering His people by opening the Red Sea and allowing them to cross on dry ground.  When Pharaoh and his men tried to follow, God swallowed them up in the Red Sea by allowing their chariots to get stuck in… MUD! The path God made to rescue His people, was the path God used to judge those who were not his people.

Just like God delivered Israel, God delivers us.  God delivers us from the bondage to sin and sets us on a path that leads to glory!  The problem is we often wander off that path trying to live by our terms instead of His.  We often find ourselves at the end of our rope because we were trusting our rope was long enough to provide what we thought we needed.  Things look hopeless to us because we put our trust in things or people that can’t provide the hope we need.  We are at our wits end because they are our wits and not God’s wisdom.

The story of the Exodus proves that if God is able to deliver over 2 million people from bondage in Egypt, He can deliver. Plain and simple.  There is no problem or struggle that is impossible for God to handle. Trust Him. God knows what He is doing even if you can’t fully comprehend it.  Remember what God told Paul after Paul requested three times that his “thorn in the flesh” be removed. 2 Corinthians 12:9a – “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'” When we are weak is when God shows Himself strong.

Perhaps it is time for you to stop being afraid to do what you know God wants you to do. If you don’t know what God wants you to do, seek counsel from someone who can help you find it in His Word.  There is always hope! God is full of hope and wants you to experience that hope.  The LORD will fight for you when you keep silent.  Perhaps it is time to stop whining and complaining about how impossible your circumstances are for you.  You are right. They are impossible for you.  However, no circumstances are impossible for God.

Hang on to grace.  Choose God’s way and trust Him.

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Dads Who Make A Difference


Deut 6:5 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We live in an age when “Father’s Day” conjures up a plethora of thoughts and emotions. I recognize that some who are not fathers and mothers struggle every year with these special days dedicated to parents. I also recognize that there may be some who carry this heavy backpack of the past and do not have a good memory of your father for some reason or another. There are also some who have wonderful memories of their father. Yet others  may even have a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions.

Regardless of your experience with your father, the impact a father has on his family is enormous. Fatherlessness is an epidemic that is flooding our culture. But here’s something else to think about:  it is possible for the dad to still be in the home and the children will grow up fatherless.  What do I mean by that? Dads have been given the responsibility to impact their children for eternity. The dads that choose to minimize that responsibility or – worse yet – ignore it, have left their children fatherless. I know that sounds harsh, but we need to do a reality check. If you were to survey 100 dads and ask them “What is your goal as a father in raising your children?” would you get the same answer from every dad? Some would say their goal in raising their children is “for them to be successful adults,” or to be “good people,” “hard working,” “have strong character,” “be a professional athlete…”  the list goes on and on. How many of those 100 fathers would say their goal as a dad was to raise their children to love God with all their heart, mind and soul?  There is nothing inherently wrong with dads having those other goals for their children, but are those the ultimate goal we should want for our children?

What happens to your children if they enter eternity never discussing with you, or seeing it modeled in you, the importance of a genuine relationship with God? How much time do you think you have left to make a difference in their lives that really matters? You and your children are just one heartbeat away from eternity. What happens then? Will all those other goals make a difference when they have to stand before a Holy God? If we are not going to take this responsibility seriously, then we are leaving our children Fatherless!

It is never too late to begin making an eternal difference in the lives of your children. Even if you think you have blown it (and there is not a dad in this world who hasn’t blown it) you can still make a difference with whatever time God allows you.

The Biblical text above was written to children whose dads had blown it. Their dads were “epic” failures when it came to doing what God wanted them to do. Their dads knew exactly what God wanted them to do and they chose not to do it. Fifteen centuries before Christ, God rescued two million Hebrew slaves from bondage in Egypt and led them towards the Promised Land.  Sad to say, most of them never made it because they refused to trust and obey God.  Consequently they incurred God’s judgment and perished.  They left their children fatherless! Every person in the nation over twenty years of age fell dead in that wilderness as the nation wandered around for the next forty years. And then God delivered this message. He sent it through Moses to that second generation of Israelites, to the kids who survived the wilderness and grew up. Right before they entered the Promised Land Moses gave them the message we call Deuteronomy.

If you need a place of worship this Sunday, let me encourage you to attend Maranatha Bible Church in Van Buren.  We will be examining this text to listen to what God requires of those dads who want to make a difference in the lives of their children, an eternal difference. Dads who want to make an eternal difference make God their priority.

Our children don’t need us to be their pals. Our children need us to parent them and show them the difference a relationship with God can make in their lives. None of us will ever be the perfect dad.  But will we be the passionate dad?  Will we be the dad who passionately pursues God and seeks to instill in his children that same passion? That is how we can make a difference that really matters.

Dads who make an eternal difference are the ones who are not ashamed to passionately pursue their Heavenly Father.

 

 

 

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No Excuses


Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Over the course of my twenty-plus years of ministry, I have spent countless hours with various people trying to help them see life from God’s perspective and enjoy serving Him and being part of His plan.  I have also talked with many people who struggle to see how they fit in God’s plan or who simply make excuses as to why they can’t serve God more faithfully.

People often say they can’t serve God more faithfully because they are too busy. What if God took that same mentality with us? “I am too busy trying to keep the world from imploding with moral decay so I don’t have time to listen to your petty requests for making you feel better or giving you some material possessions that you will squander away anyway.” People often also make the excuse that they have nothing to offer that others will listen to.  Well yeah, if what you are offering is more of you.  See if we tell them (and show them) the difference God makes in the way we think, the way we talk, the way we work, the way we play, the way we parent, the way we live with our spouses, etc., then all God has to offer them results in a changed life.   You and I can’t offer anything worth listening to regardless of what we have to say.  It is only when they recognize your God is real will they take notice that your God does change lives.  Who wouldn’t want a changed life? Another excuse I hear is, “The church is full of hypocrites and I don’t want to be associated with that.”  I don’t deny that hypocrites exist and exist in practically every church.  The problem is that most people who use that excuse equate being hypocritical with sinless perfection.  Once a believer sins, they are now a hypocrite. So in their pride they reject every church as being filled with people who think they are sinless and in reality are not.  They would rather walk in blatant disobedience than confess their own imperfections and unite with those who truly do want to change. The excuses are endless.  All of them share a common denominator:  PRIDE.  In reality, the excuses come because the heart says, “I don’t want to.”

Making excuses for not serving God is nothing new.  One of the greatest leaders of Israel also made excuses for not serving:  Moses.  In Exodus 3 and 4, Moses lodges five objections to serving God that are still in use today.  I invite you to Maranatha Bible Church this Sunday as we explore this marvelous text and discover ourselves in it.  The bottom line is, that regardless of our excuses, God wants to and will use us to accomplish His purposes.  So we can either happily take a step of faith and enjoy serving God – regardless of our circumstances or perceived lack of abilities – or we can make God angry with us and be a servant anyway. See, even after Moses raised his objections, God refuted them all and still placed Moses in a position to lead and serve.

No excuse is ever good enough to exempt you from serving the one true God… so stop making them and step forward in faith!

 

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