Saturday, November 20, 2010
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I make decisions alone with sorrow in my heart day after day?" Psalm 13:1-2 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
This Psalm is hitting me a little too close to home. Ever since I was laid off from my full-time ministry staff position I have been waiting for the Lord to show me the next steps in my ministry service. Over the past two years I have taken on several part-time positions in the community that would not be considered to be church work or "ministry" in the eyes of most people. I have had to work at entry-level positions and at jobs that have a high rate of turnover for very little pay. During this time I completed my Masters of Arts in Christian Outreach degree and expected to receive a "call" to serve God in a fulltime ministry in a community, but it has not happened.
I often find myself crying out to God with David, "Look at me! Answer me, O Lord my God!" (v3). On my own I continue, "Speak to me, show me your will, give me direction, open a door for me to serve you in ministry," and I hear silence....
nothing... nothing... nothing...
then these words come to me...
"Shhh, be still and know that I am God."
Outreach ministry takes time. We cannot by our own reason or strength bring someone to believe in God or come to faith in Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God that calls, gathers and enlightens God's own to come to Him in faith. Our role in that activity is to proclaim God's good news to those with whom we work and play or otherwise engage in activities as we go about life and living.
We can count on God's mercy and salvation. That is what David did! When everything else is stripped away – every material possession, everything that might give us security, meaning, or identity (all those false idols in our life), nothing is left but God's promise to be merciful and grant us salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God rescues the broken hearted. The humble He does not despise. Those who call out to Him for mercy are saved! We can BOLDly count on this outreach promise as we share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
"But I trust your mercy. My heart finds joy in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has been good to me." Psalm 13:5-6 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
####Check out other related Bible resources at http://www.godsword.org/ for user-friendly outreach materials.
Have you ever worked with someone who "knows it all"? This person is a self-proclaimed expert in every field and on every subject, regardless of the topic of conversations. Their personal experiences trump the experiences of everyone else in the conversation. They are loud, proud, and boastful. They shout down anyone who remotely challenges them or doubts their story. They are considered by others to be arrogant. The truth isn't enough for them. They have a desperate inner need to pad their stories and to build themselves up in the presence of others.
David must have met his share of these people. He was sick of being lied to. He was tired of having to sift through the lies of those looking out for their own interests and trampling on everyone else, especially those who took advantage of the poor. He called out for God to cut off the tongues of such people. I detect a little righteous anger in this Psalm. He wrote, "Help, O Lord, No godly person is left. Faithful people have vanished from among Adam's descendants! All people speak foolishly. They speak with flattering lips. They say one thing but mean another. May the Lord cut of every flatting lip and every bragging tongue that has said, 'We will overcome with our tongues. With lips such as ours, who can be our master?'" Psalm 12:1-4 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
As with most of the Psalms this one has a second side. David's anger is turned toward his reliance on and faith in the promises of God. David states, "The promises of the Lord are pure," not only pure, but comparable to silver that has been refined multiple times in a furnace, "like silver refined in a furnace and purified seven times."(6). This is the ultimate in purity of silver, the number seven reflecting the essence of holiness.
This blog is about God's outreach promises found in the Psalms. It is easy to see the reference to God's promises, but a little more difficult to see the connection to outreach promises. That is, God's promise to open doors of faith in the hearts and minds of people (by the power of the Holy Spirit) as they hear the good news of Jesus Christ and message of salvation. But, it is there.
In verse 5, David states God's response to those who are oppressed and needy. "'Because oppressed people are robbed and needy people groan, I will now arise,' says the Lord. 'I will provide safety for those who long for it' ... O Lord, you will protect them. You will keep each one safe from those people forever."(5,7). When people are convicted of their sin and helplessly call out to God – He responds. In Christ, he has provided safety and forgiveness – forever.
This Psalm is a good example of a passage that speaks of both God's Law and God's Grace. God's Law – destroys the proud. God's Grace – lifts up the humble. The braggart receives condemnation. The broken receives forgiveness. Those who look to God for salvation will receive it – "forever"(7). This is a BOLD Outreach promise from God.
Check out God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society and other related Bible resources at http://www.godsword.org/ for easy to use outreach materials.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
"I have taken refuge in the Lord.
How can you say to me: 'Flee to your mountain like a bird? ...
When the foundations [of life] are undermined, what can a righteous person do?'
The LORD is in his holy temple.
The LORD's throne is in heaven.
His eyes see.
They examine Adam's descendants.
The LORD tests righteous people, but he hates wicked people and the ones who love violence. ...
The LORD is righteous.
He loves a righteous way of life.
Decent people will see his face." Psalm 11: 1, 3-5, 7
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
As I am writing this we are in the depth of the fall football season. High school playoffs are underway. College teams are playing for bowl game appearances and pro teams are making a push for playoffs and the Super Bowl. Several years ago, I also played on a football team. My position was on the offensive line. When I was a senior in high school I was the starting left guard (first person to the left of the center) and also played center (the guy who hikes the ball to the quarterback). I weighed 155lbs fully dressed in my game gear and pads. Most of our opponent's linemen had 25 to 50lbs on me. On pass plays the offensive linemen had one job to do – that was to HOLD THE LINE and protect the quarterback until he was able to throw the ball downfield to an open receiver. The defensive linemen also had one primary job and that was to run over, around or through us (the offensive line) to get to the quarterback before he could throw the ball. It may have been easy for the fans or the coaches and other teammates to scream "HOLD THE LINE" at us, but it was not so easy for us to do it when our opposition was bouncing us around. There were a few games where our team so beaten up and demoralized by our opponents that we could hardly wait for the game to end. We were not only defeated but also totally humiliated by our opponents.
Sometimes my life is like a football game and I feel like I am getting bounced around. The opposition is screaming at me. Common sense is telling me to run away. I hear voices telling me to "flee to the mountains like a bird" or "save yourself, run for cover" or "look for an easier way out." I think you are getting the picture; it is difficult to stand firm in our beliefs when everyone and everything seems to be standing in opposition to us. When David faced these trials he turned to his people and stated with confidence, "I have taken refuge in the LORD. ... His eyes see. ... The LORD is righteous. ... Decent people will see his face."
Let me take the liberty to paraphrase his thoughts, "Don't tell me to run when God is watching out for me. I will trust in Him to protect me. I will HOLD THE LINE. I will not run because God is fighting with me. He is testing me. He is righteous and will do what is right for me. I will stand in his presence and wait on Him to deliver me from those who are oppressing me."
God spoke to us His words of promise through the words of David's pen. David's courage and faith become instrumental in giving us courage and faith to stand firm in the promises of God. God's promises have already been fulfilled for us in Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has destroyed our enemies – sin, death, and the devil. In Christ, God looks out for us and provides us with the gift of eternal life. In Christ, we are given God's righteousness and the certainty that we will see Him face to face.
We are no longer on the losing team waiting for the clock to run out, but rather we are on the winning team anxiously waiting for the end of the game. Satan, defeated and humiliated, is throwing cheap shots and punches at us. He is a sore loser. But he cannot destroy us because we are living in Christ by God's grace through faith. David's words in this Psalm remind us to set our focus on Jesus Christ, the righteous Son of God. In Christ, we can take refuge and stand firm against our opponent, Satan. With BOLDness we can "hold the line" and BOLDly proclaim this good news to others.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Less than one week ago, thirty-three miners in Chile were rescued from a room where they had taken refuge after an explosion trapped them in a mine over one-half mile below the surface of the earth. They had spent weeks waiting for their rescuers to drill a hole down to them that would be big enough for them to be lifted out.
Many of the miners stated that they had hope in their rescue because of their faith in God (and His promise to hear the cries of the oppressed). Their faith in God sustained them and gave them hope. One miner stated that there were thirty-four people present in the hole because God was also present with them throughout their ordeal.
This verse could be seen as merely addressing the merciful side of our God from a humanitarian perspective. He takes note of trouble and grief and places them under His control. ... He hears the desires of oppressed people... He encourages them... And then He provides justice for orphans and oppressed people. But God's mercy goes beyond providing physical care. In Jesus Christ, God not only shows His power over our physical needs, such as when He healed the sick and calmed the storms, but He also took on the punishment for our sins and conquered sin, death and the devil.
Jesus is the king whose reign is forever and ever. He provides justice for the oppressed and calls them to Himself to live with Him for eternity. This is our outreach promise. Those who call on the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, will be saved. Our mission as His children is to be witnesses to the mercy of God through our words and our deeds that others may come to know Him as their Lord.
The Chilean miners gave us their witness to the presence of God throughout their ordeal. May we be BOLD enough to follow their example – trusting in the outreach promises of God.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
David wrote, “I will give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart. I will tell about all the miracles you have done. I will find joy and be glad about you. I will make music to praise your name, O Most High. … The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help. … You take me away from the gates of death so that I may recite your praises one by one in the gates of Zion and find joy in your salvation.” (Psalm 9:1-2, 9-10, 13-14, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
When trouble forces us to turn our thoughts inward and re-evaluate our position and purpose in life, we would be in a pretty sorrowful state if we didn’t have a place to go to find peace and rest. At times we all need a stronghold, a bunker that is safe, or a fortress that can withstand the attacks of our enemies in the world.
The loss of our self-esteem, depression, despair, the loss of income, the death of a loved one, or a constant reminder in the daily news of Satan’s presence in our world, could lead us to doubt the presence of God.
God is aware of this and so He gave us this message through His servant David to give us a reason to have hope. David’s suffering and times of trial were turned into times of prayerful music and reflection on all of the blessings God had given to him.
Our sorrow may also be turned to joy as we remember all the ways God has been our resting place in the midst of our earthly battles. Like a well-built bunker, God has provided shelter and protection while wars are being raged all around us.
A Question For Reflection
When troubles come, do we whine and complain about our circumstances, or do we praise God for all of the blessings He has given to us?
David states that he has been saved from death – “so that [he might] recite [God’s] praises ONE BY ONE… and find joy in [God’s] salvation.” (Psalm 9:14, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
Recently people of Wadena, Minnesota gathered in the church sanctuary to give thanks to God following the trauma and destruction of a storm that damaged many of their homes. They were assured that the TRUE sanctuary is found in Jesus Christ. They, like David, had been saved from death to declare the praises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Did you catch the outreach promise in this verse? We are saved from death to declare the praises of God and will find joy in His salvation.
Friday, May 7, 2010
“From the mouths of little children and infants, you have built a fortress against your opponents to silence the enemy and the avenger (Satan)” (Psalm 8:2, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
I have a granddaughter (my first). She is nine months old. She has been exercising her lungs since the day she was born. Her speech and language are being developed a little more everyday. Her parents (my son and daughter-in-law) have had the privilege of observing this development almost daily for the past nine months, while my wife and I have only had that opportunity a couple of times because of the distance that we live from them. I don’t think I have ever thought about her sounds as being used to silence Satan.
In what way does God use the squeals and squawks, coos and cries, giggles and burps of an infant to silence His enemies and Satan? Hmmm! What was David thinking about when he wrote those words? Was he watching his children playing or in total awe of the beauty of a newborn son or daughter?
It seems he was reflecting on the beauty of the creation of God. He may have looked at the miracle of the birth of the child and compared it to the beauty of all of God’s creation. The heavens, “the creation of [God’s] fingers, the moon and stars that [God has] set in place” (vs. 3), and the humble beginnings of a child; so totally different, and yet, so intricately designed with care and precision.
Can anyone honestly look into the eyes of a child and deny the existence of a divine creator? Can anyone really believe that we are products of evolutionary mutations? Can anyone really believe God does not care about His creation? A two-year old child has more intelligence than any animal on earth. We have a purpose and place in the order of God’s creation. God has placed us here to care for the rest of His creation and use the resources of the world to bring glory to Him.
But there is more in this Psalm. It is a prophetic statement concerning the role of God’s own Son. He would be the offspring of man, crowned with glory and honor, and placed as the ruler over all of God’s creation (vs. 4-8). This promise was fulfilled many years later when God’s own Son Jesus Christ is born of a woman, and through His death and resurrection defeated Satan and conquered death.
David understood and believed in this outreach promise. Therefore, he could look at a child, hear their infant sounds, and compare them to the beauty of singing in heaven. The song he heard was a refrain of praise glorifying the name of the Lord: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8:9, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
What is David’s view of the LORD in this Psalm?
It is not what we might typically expect from someone who is on the run again. We have David, the king of Israel, and his closest allies running for their lives as David’s own son attempts to take over the kingdom. To make a seeming helpless situation worse, a descendant of Saul (the first king of Israel; whose family was removed from the throne by the hand of the LORD) is screaming obscenities and throwing stones at David from the top of a hill, as David passes through a valley below him.
If it were Rodney Dangerfield, you might expect to hear, “I can’t get any respect! What’s the matter with people nowadays? Don’t they have any respect for their authorities? Blah, blah, blah…I get no respect, I tell yah, NO RESPECT!!!”
- The LORD is my refuge.
- The LORD saves and rescues.
- The LORD judges thoughts, motives, and integrity.
- The LORD is a fair judge.
- The LORD’s judgment is above all others.
- The LORD is a righteous judge.
- The LORD is a shield who protects those who place their trust in Him.
- The LORD’s judgment is merciful.
When Jesus stood before His accusers, they devised and carried out their evil plot against Him. They were partners with Satan, but they unknowingly served as God’s agents. The pit they dug to catch and destroy Jesus Christ became the very pit that Satan fell into (vs. 15). The cross was intended to become the undoing of Jesus Christ, but it became Satan’s undoing. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross destroyed the power Satan that would have kept us from having a relationship with our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.
With David we can give thanks to the LORD for His righteousness (vs. 17). When we are feeling down in the dumps, we can sing the blues with David, and reflect on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who has shown us great love and mercy, by setting us free from our adversary, Satan.
Sing, sing, sing… and shout praises in the name of Jesus!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Or, as one who resisted crying until he could no longer hold his pain within?
David wrote, “I am worn out from my groaning. My eyes flood my bed every night. I soak my couch with tears. My eyes blur from grief. They fail because of my enemies” (Psalm 6:6-7, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
Here is God’s promise. He hears us when we cry out to Him. David had cried his heart out before the Lord and then (in the very next verse) states, “Get away from me, all you troublemakers, because the LORD has heard the sound of my crying. The LORD has heard my plea for mercy. The LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:8-9, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
Today I heard someone say that God brings healing to us – not by bringing us out of adversity like a pampering parent would do to a sick child, but by bringing us through adversity by giving us the strength to endure the suffering and pain or by allowing others to serve us who can empathize with our suffering. His solution for freeing us from the punishment of sin, death, and our adversary, the Devil, is the death of His own Son, Jesus Christ. We are delivered from death by the death of another. We are giving Christ, who can empathize with our suffering. We can take comfort from the tears and groaning of the great King David. We can be sure that God hears our crying, just as David was sure that God heard his crying, and even more so, because we have the testimony of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, which led to God’s victory over Satan.
With David, we can tell our troublemakers (Satan, doubt, despair, grief, bitterness, etc.) to go away. Jesus Christ has won the victory! God has heard our collective cry for help and has had mercy on us through Jesus Christ, our Lord. May you be comforted by this outreach promise fulfilled in Christ and have the courage to share this good news with others, TODAY.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
How often have you prayed to God and asked Him to hear you, to really hear? In the opening verses of Psalm 5, David asked God to consider his innermost thoughts. That’s a dangerous thought! Would I really want God to examine every last thought I have had today? Including those thoughts of frustration and contempt when I didn’t get my way? Hmmm, my innermost thoughts aren’t always so good. I would prefer to keep them hidden.
To invite God to consider my innermost thoughts is to place myself at His mercy. This is risky considering how much God detests disobedience and wickedness. He certainly knows that I have not been obedient or free from lustful and selfish thoughts. I am certainly not worthy to stand in His presence. He is holy and I am not!
David recognized this paradox, but he trusted in the mercy of God. He states, “I will enter your house because of your great mercy” (Psalm 5:7, God’s Word). David was able to stand in the presence of God without fear because he knew that the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness were poured out on all those who looked to the Lord for help. David recognized that God hates sin and those who despise the Lord’s name and commandments. He also recognized that God’s desire is for His people to place their trust in His provision and mercy.
David provides us with this outreach promise in Psalm 5,
We can share Jesus with confidence and certainty, knowing that those who call out to God for mercy will receive forgiveness of sins, and will be placed under the protection of God forever.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
So just what brought Jesus to this point? Jesus was motivated by an overwhelming response of obedience to his Father, the almighty God, and by His love for us, all the people of the world whom He had created. Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God incarnate – that is God himself. He had willingly surrendered his position of authority in the heavens and took on the form and being of a man for the sole purpose of restoring the perfect relationship between God and His created world. Jesus knew that this relationship could only be restored by one sinless human being who would have to take upon himself the punishment of God, which should have been poured out on God’s rebellious, corrupt and disobedient creation. Jesus knew that no other human being could withstand God’s wrath and punishment, because they all had become corrupted. The only hope for restoring the relationship was for God himself to come into our world as a man and live a sin free life. But there is more, this sin-free man would have to take all of the wrath and punishment of God upon himself – even though he did not deserve it – and die for sins which he did not commit, so that the curse of death would be destroyed and eternal life with God would once again be restored.
Jesus knew this was his calling. He also knew that he had to bear this burden for the sake of all people. As a man he suffered pain in every way that we do. He felt emotions – love, joy, peace, as well as the pain of rejection. He was misunderstood. He was followed for many of the wrong reasons. But he knew his calling – and that calling was to take upon himself the punishment that we deserved. That’s right, we deserved to die because of our inability to live with out breaking God’s commandments. Death was and still is the punishment God required of all people who break His commandments. Jesus willingly took our place (yours and mine) by allowing himself to be put to death for our sin. He did this because He loves us, you and me. He died for you and me to spare us from the punishment of God. His death in our place is His gift to us. Specifically, His death paid in full the punishment you deserved for your sin and rebellion against God. Because He paid this price in full with His death – you are now free from God’s punishment – you are free to receive from Jesus the forgiveness of your sins – you are free to live a new life with Him.
This is the way God chose to destroy death and restore his relationship with his creation. Jesus, God’s son, the only one who had never sinned, died the death of a criminal; after he was brutally beaten by His own creation, and rejected by those who claimed to be the spiritual leaders of the day. It was a horrible end to his life! It was a gut wrenching tragedy in the eyes of his closest followers! It was a sad day in the life of the world, but it was necessary! It was planned; it was not the end, but only the beginning. The very moment Jesus died the power of death was destroyed.
Death is still our enemy, but it is a defeated enemy. What had been started in the Garden of Eden by the deception of Adam and Eve was now brought full circle. Satan with all of his cunning and lies, played into the hand of God; as he was instrumental in turning the people into a mob that called for Jesus to be crucified. Satan’s rejoicing over Jesus’ death was short lived, for Jesus Christ’s death was the very event that defeated Satan. In that defining moment, Satan who had tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God was stripped of his power.
This was the day we now celebrate as Good Friday. Like our celebrations of historical battles, this day was the day Satan was defeated by the death of Jesus Christ. It was also the day in which God, through Jesus Christ, paid the price for the sins of the world and made it possible for all to come into his presence through faith in Jesus Christ. This is a day that I cherish, because God through Jesus Christ revealed His love for me. Jesus died in my place. He took the punishment I deserved and paid the price for my sin. Jesus not only died for me, but He died for you also. He died so you would have your sins forgiven. He died so you would be able to have the freedom to live in His love and forgiveness. He died to give you a new life. This was a day that God had planned and it was delivered and fulfilled by the obedience of Jesus Christ, God’s very own Son, the Savior of the world.
On Sunday we will once again celebrate Easter. Christians celebrate Easter, because death could not hold our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him and the forgiveness of sins, which we have received through Jesus death on the cross, we all have that promise of eternal life – death will not be able to hold us. We celebrate our resurrection on Easter, because we know that a day is coming when we too will rise from the grave to spend eternity with God in His heavenly home. We look forward to that day with great anticipation and for this reason, we sing praises and rejoice with the sounds of trumpets and clashing symbols in many of our worship services on Easter Sunday morning.
So today is Good Friday, a day to celebrate Jesus Christ’s passionate death upon the cross in payment for our sins and on Sunday will we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the grave. However, these celebrations pale in comparison to the celebration we will have on that final Easter Sunday, when we will be with Christ in all of His glory. That hope gives us the courage and strength to face each new day, while still here on this side of eternity.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
“Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of Your presence shine on us, O LORD. You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase. I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone, O LORD, enable me to live securely” (Psalm 4:6-8, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
As I read Psalm 4 looking for words of encouragement and motivation for Christian outreach, verses 6 through 8 reminded me of a praise and worship song that is commonly sung in many churches. The refrain from this song always rings in my ears long after the music stops.
“Shine, Jesus, Shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow; flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light” (Graham Kendrick, 1987).
This song is a prayer, calling for God to ignite a fire within us, that would lead us to have a burning passion to bring glory to God by telling others of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 4, David states that many are questioning and doubting that anything in life is good. David’s reply indicates that he will find his joy, peace, and security in the LORD. He states that these come from the presence of the LORD in his life. In the beginning of verse 6, David calls on God to shine the light of His presence on His people.
When we are asked similar questions about anything in life being good, we can follow David’s lead and point people to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that through His death and resurrection, Jesus has freed us from sin, death, and the Devil. In two different accounts in the Gospel of John, Jesus stated that He was the Light of the world. In John 8:12 – “Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark” (God’s Word, 1995, http://www.godsword.org/). In John 12:46, Jesus said, “I am the light that has come into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not live in the dark” (God’s Word, 1995, http://www.godsword.org/).
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of what most Christian’s call Holy Week. Throughout the week we will be reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for our sins, and eagerly waiting for the celebration of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday morning. This celebration is just too good to keep to ourselves! Christ burst from the tomb in radiant glory on that first Easter morning. He has conquered death. We no longer need to be afraid of dying, because we will live forever in Jesus Christ. That is certainly good news to share with those who only see doom and gloom in their lives. May the light of the presence of Christ shine on you today and may you reflect that light onto your doubting neighbors and friends.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It’s that time of the year again when the NCAA basketball tournament playoffs are the focus of the American sport’s world. Last week Thursday the playoffs began. Unfortunately my favorite team (the Minnesota Gophers) lost in the first round of play. The surprise upset in the tournament so far has to be Northern Iowa, who knocked off Kansas (a number one seated team) in the second round of play. So what does this have to do with Christian outreach and God’s promises? Just this – we may be just hopefully guessing when we pick our playoff brackets, but when it comes to picking the real winning team in life, we don’t have to guess! We know who it is and who is leading the team.
King David wrote that his enemies would say he was on a losing team. “Many are saying about me, “Even with God on his side he won’t be victorious” (Psalm 3:2, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, http://www.godsword.org/).
But he had faith that God would prevail against his enemies even if everyone else considered him to be out numbered and destined to lose. Listen to David’s words written as he was fleeing for his life from his rebellious son, who had won over the hearts of almost all of David’s people; the nation of Israel.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield that surrounds me. You are my glory. You hold my head high. I call aloud to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep. I wake up again because the LORD continues to support me. I am not afraid of the tens of thousands who have taken positions against me on all sides” (Psalm 3:3-6, God’s Word, http://www.godsword.org/).
Are you afraid to share your faith with others? Do feel at times as if you have been placed on a losing team? You see the need and the number of those who are opposed to Jesus Christ, and then just feel overwhelmed? It happens to the best of God’s servants. But the good news is that we have the inside scoop. We know the outcome of this battle. We can fill out our bracket card with certainty. God is with us. Jesus Christ has won the victory for us by His death and resurrection. Therefore we can go out and boldly proclaim with King David, “Victory belongs to the LORD!” (Psalm 3:8, God’s Word, http://www.godsword.org/).
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Are you afraid to speak about Jesus Christ or give witness to Him as our Lord and Savior? It is natural to have such fear. The message of Jesus Christ is not politically correct. There are many people who believe that God is a loving God, and yet reject the message of Jesus Christ as being far too radical. They see Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, yet they believe that he went too far when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me” (John 14:6,7, God’s Word, 1995). * (Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, www.godsword.org).
These people are offended when we proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. But that should not surprise us, because Jesus has already warned us that we will hated by the world because of Him.
In Psalm 2 we are told that the kings of the nations plot against God and His Son. They gather and conceive of all sorts of plans to do away with the commandments of God. They legalize sinful behavior and impose punishments upon those who get in their way. They persecute people who stand up for Jesus Christ. People are imprisoned for sharing their faith with their neighbors or leading someone to faith in Jesus Christ. The leaders of the nations gather for world peace, global warming, and other summits, but ignore the rights of children used as slaves, pollution, and other inhumanities, that get in the way of their profiteering.
Where is the comfort in this Psalm? What are the promises that we can hang on to that will give us encouragement? They are found in two sections. First, God states:“I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me: “You are my Son. Today I have become you Father. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter. You will smash them to pieces like pottery.” (vs. 6-9).
Jesus has already smashed the power of Satan through His death and resurrection. The power of Satan and his rulers are a folly before God. God laughs at their feeble attempts to alter His commandments or when they ignore His judgments against them (v. 3-4). Jesus has been given the world as His inheritance. He reigns as the king of Zion. But that is not all that is promised.
Psalm 2 ends with this promise. “Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him” (v. 12). Jesus, God’s Son, is our refuge. In Him we will receive an inheritance with Him in His kingdom. For everyone who believes in Christ as his or her Lord and Savior will also reign with Christ in His glory (John 14). This is good news! Rejoice, and tell this good news to others.DCO Peter