Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are: “Even now.” The prophet Joel (2:12) uses this phrase when addressing the Old Testament Israelites. He’s starts describing the impending judgement coming to all mankind. You know the drill: The earth shakes. The sun and moon darken. The stars dim. It is a great and terrible day and who can endure it? It is “The day of The Lord.” The End of the whole sha-bang.
And what is God’s personal message to mankind at that moment? It’s still not too late! Return to me!
He will take you up until the last possible nanosecond! Even as the chapter closes, even as the last letter is typed: He will take you!
Every day is another chance to return to God. Every hour is another gift. Every second is another opportunity.
Of course this also means that:
Every day is another day closer. Every hour is another hour closer. Every second is another second closer to “The day of The Lord.” After that, there will be no more calling and pleading to return. After that, it will be over and done. After that, there will not be a “even now.”
Britt and I had to go to Lowe’s to get some things to work on the house. While we were out, I stopped at the pet store to get Annie (our troublesome labrador retriever) a new Kong (a tough red rubber toy that you can put peanut butter into) because she had all but eaten her old one. At this particular pet store, they have these gourmet dog treats that actually look like donuts. I can never pass them up.
I get back to the car and Britt looks through the bag.
“Couldn’t resist, could you?”
“Of course not. She loves these!”
Britt laughs and says, “God is like that. Even though Annie doesn’t deserve that treat, you still think to get her something. In fact, she’s been pretty extra bad lately and you still want to give her a gift. God is like that with us.”
Even though man disappoints God more than he pleases Him, God blesses. Man drops the ball time and time again and God continues to bless.
I can just see God saying with a big grin, “Pat’s doesn’t really deserve this, but I can’t resist. I love him too much. I’m going to bless him anyways. He’ll love this.”
Thank God I have such a brilliant wife. Her servant’s heart is contagious. God knew what He was doing when He planned us. There’s another blessing I didn’t deserve. But God blessed me with it anyways.
2 Chronilces 26. Wow, what an astonishing chapter!
Uzziah was only 16 years old when he was made king of Judah. Imagine following a 16 year old king into battle! Yet, under his 52-year rule the kingdom saw a rebirth that hadn’t happened since Solomon. His fame grew. They knew his name in Egypt. His power grew. All because he “did that which was right in the sight of The Lord” and because he “was greatly helped.”
“Greatly helped.” I love that phrase. Aren’t we all? Without the help of The Lord, what could any of us accomplish?
Let me give you the Uzziah highlight reel:
He went out and “made war with the Philistines.” He didn’t just react to a people that hated God, he picked a fight with them! He build tower after tower after tower. He designed sheilds, helmets and body armor. It says “he made engines of war.” Terminators? Robocops? I don’t know, but whatever it was, it crushed his enemies. He was a skilled farmer and “loved the soil.” This was an incredible man!
It says Uzziah was “marvelously helped…”
It would be great if the story ended there, unfortunatley, it does not.
It says Uzziah was “marvelously helped… until he was strong. For when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly and was unfaithful to The Lord, his God.”
Uzziah entered the temple and tried to burn the incense only the priests were supposed to burn. You see, you cannot do everything yourself. Some things are meant to be done by others. The priest (shockingly) stood up to Uzziah (of course he did have 80 other priests back him up). Azariah the priest said, “It is not for you to do this.” Uzziah could’ve have said, “You are right. I am sorry. Forgive me, Lord!” and oh, what a king that would’ve been. But instead scripture says Uzziah “was enraged.” Immediatley, he was struck with leprosy. He was therefore forced to live the rest of his days seperated from everyone and his rule went to his son, Jotham.
Pride. Anger. My mom would say he “got too big for his britches.” Uzziah is the king of If Only. If only he would have done this. If only he would have done that. Try your hardest to not be an If Only kind of person!
When we think things are going great and it’s because of all OUR hard work, then we need to step back and say: Forgive me Lord, all the glory goes to You for without You, I can do nothing. What was I thinking Lord? You are everything!
Be Uzziah in the sense that through a humble servant God can accomplish marvelous works. Do not be Uzziah in the sense that remember who it is that’s really in charge.
Never forget that we are all “greatly helped.” And thank God for that!
Sorry this got a little long in the tooth. This message was gleaned from Matt Chandler’s message @ theresurgence.com
I don’t have any money. But what I do have, I’ll give to you.*
Peter said this to the lame beggar at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The man had been handicap since birth. Every morning he was carried and set down at the gate where he would beg. This was his life.
One morning, He saw Peter and John pass by and asked to recieve alms. Peter stared him down, “Look at us!” The beggar got excited. He thought he was going to get some money! “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – WALK!” In an instant his legs were strengthened and with a LEAP, the lame man walked. I imagine he probably did more than walk too. I don’t have any scripture to back this up, but I figure he most likely moonwalked.
Sometimes we ask God for something and He gives us something else. If God gives you something else, you can bank on that something else being much much better.
Sure, some extra money would’ve helped this man. No doubt about it. But God, through Peter, gave the lame man something far greater than he could have ever imagined: a new life! God is in the business of making things new and better.
One last thought: Could any other name have healed that man? In the name of Moses! No. In the name of Abraham! Nothing. In the name of Caesar! Give me a break. Only the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God has power. Just the name, folks! No other name EVER could done one little thing to help that man.
Be on the look out. If you ask God for something. He may surprise you with something… else. Something Beautiful.
My wife and I had an interesting conversation yesterday morning about the 11th hour. I believe we will be surprised with who’s in Heaven when we get there.
“Wait, what? Am I in the wrong place…How did YOU get here?!”
Right? I mean, we all think: this person is holy and that person obviously is not or this person is saved and that person obviously is not. But scripture tells us another story.
Let’s look at the cross. There were two thieves on each side of Our Lord that day. Now, you didn’t find yourself at the business end of a crucifixtion for nothing! Suffice it to say, these two were probably what we would consider “not holy” and definitely “not saved.” However, at the last possible moment one of them accepted Jesus into his heart and Jesus saved him! Talk about saved at the last moment! Thank God for that kind of Mercy and Grace, right? I don’t know about you, but I need it everyday!
Quickly let’s also look at Jesus’s teaching about the 11th hour and “Idle-all-day” people (Matt. 20:2-16). Some workers work all day long and some only work for one hour, yet all were are paid the same amount. My favorite part of this parable is that the lord of the vineyard KEPT going out every hour to look for labourers! He looked for people who were idle… all day! Jesus will never stop! Even until the last hour of the day, He will search for you! His love is relentless!
In Ecclesiatetes 7:8, Solomon tells us better is the end of a thing than the beginning. I’ve ran marathons, that statement is very true! Sometimes it’s how you finish that makes the difference. Goal-setting resolutions can never match the unbelievable blessing of God’s divine intervention to have Mercy on us!
So you see, it’s never too late. God is waiting on you, not the other way around!
When I was little, I was scared of quicksand. I was absolutely certain I was going to fall into some quicksand and never get out. I don’t have facts on this, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t even any quicksand in West Virginia. Anyways, try telling that to a 10 year old.
Anyone who has ever seen a Western or Indiana Jones, can tell you – don’t struggle! It will only make you sink faster! If you just remain calm, you may have more of a chance… to find a rope, or branch, or call out for help, or something.
2 Cor. 12:9-10 tells us that God’s Grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Boast happily in your weaknesses and then the Power of God may rest upon you. If that doesn’t make your heart burst in praise, I don’t know what will. The weaker you are, the easier it is for God to jump in and blow that hardship out of the water? Sign me up!
Tenth Avenue North has a song called, “The Struggle.” It has a line that really resonates with my wife and I. “We are free to struggle, We’re not struggling to be free.”
Every night at around 10 o’clock, I let my dog out for one last time. The first thing I do is look up to the sky and see if “the stars are out.” I’ll tell my wife, “Man, the stars are really out tonight!” or “No stars out tonight!” Now, I know full well that the stars are not precarious things that are sometimes there and sometimes hiding. It’s just that on certain nights, I cannot see them. I can thank Miss Grewe at East Dale Elementary for that.
There are times when you feel like God is not there. Saint John of the Cross called it “The Dark Night of The Soul.” You walk out into that night and there are no stars. The sky is black. Your gut sinks as you peer into the cold vast nothing. You are unprotected, alone and forgotten.
God has gone out of His way to let you know how ridiculous that is: Deut 31:8, Heb. 13:5, Joshua 1:9, Phil. 4:6-7, and Psa. 55:22 just to name a few. Over and over He tells us we are not alone, He will never forsake us and He protects His children. So when your flesh is weak and when your heart fails, remember – God is there, He has not left you and He alone can get you where He needs you to be.
The stars are ALWAYS out there, it’s just sometimes you can’t see them.
I read somewhere that your brain can always see your nose, but it chooses to ignore it. There is a section in your field of vision that gets continously… deleted.
Sin can be like that. It’s gets so constant, that we just sort of ignore it. We knows its there, we can see it… but we continously delete it from our sight.
Conversely, Good can be like that also. Far too often we ignore what’s so plainly in front of us: good health, amazing riches, and unbelievable blessings. The fact that you are reading this right now means a coulple of things: 1. You can see. 2. You can read (14% of US Adults are illiterate). 3. You have access to the internet (119 million lack broadband internet). How about thanking God for any of those?
Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. If it’s something bad – address it. Proverbs 3:6 says in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. If it’s something good – give thanks for it. Psalms 95:2 says let us come before Him with thanksgiving. Either way, let’s stop deleting things from our sight and acknowledge our Lord and Saviour!
“This will not hurt your dog. Using these steps, you can keep her safe.” said Joe as he described his dog obedience techniques. He also said something curious: “I can tell she loves you, but she doesn’t respect you. Respect is how you’re going to keep her safe.”
Anyone who’s met my labrador retriever, Annie can attest to her… energy. I say we misnamed her: Godzilla would’ve been more appropriate. Anyways, what Joe said made sense. She didn’t respect me and that could lead to her getting hurt or worse, killed.
It’s the same with God: the only way He can keep us safe is if we respect Him. If we do not listen to his commands, we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. Just as much as I would never want anything bad to happen to my dog, God only wants to take care of us. If only we would settle down and listen for once!
He’s not trying to limit us, He’s trying to set us free!
Twice Jesus said that He desired mercy over sacrifice (Matt. 9:13 & 12:7). Telling us something once is enough, but twice? He really must’ve wanted us to get it! So what does it mean to desire mercy over sacrifice?
Jesus was quoting from Hosea 6:6. The Israelites were offering sacrifices to God because it was their duty not because they desired to please Him. Their hearts were not close to God. There was no relationship.
Jesus is saying He desires that we genuinely love him. He desires that we follow His will because we truly want to. He doesn’t want us coldly following rules like the Pharisees.
God sees the heart and no amount of rule following can replace a heart that isn’t true. Mercy wins over sacrifice, everytime. God bless!