Dungeon Songs

Acts 16:24
Acts 16:25

Ever get a song stuck in your head? Of course you have! The Belle Stars’, “Iko Iko” from the movie, “Rain Man” used to get it’s catchy claws on my brain and not let go.

Well, how about after you’ve been arrested… in a dungeon… at midnight? Still got a song rattling around up there? Kind of different, huh? Well, that’s exactly what Paul and Silas were doing when they were in prison in Philippi:

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” (Acts 16:25)

Nowadays, songs that get stuck in my head are Christian worship songs. That may sound weird to you, but to me it isn’t. A couple of years ago I took the K-Love “30-Day Challenge” of listening to only Christian music for a month… and I never looked back. That’s not my point, my point is this: we lay up things in our heart. They can either be things of God or things not of God. When you wake up with a Christian song or a Scripture verse in your head, then this is the “song in the night” that God has given you!

“The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalms 42:8)

Prison at midnight might not seem like a great place for singing. But in fact, it was ideal. Note that “the prisoners were listening to them.” What a witness! How many of Paul and Silas’s fellow inmates were converted that night? It’s hard to tell.

It’s also hard to tell who’s listening to you. And make no mistake, nonbelievers are listening. What are you singing? What songs are stuck in your head? God can give you songs in the night and it will be a prayer to the God of your life!

May God’s Love be with you

Re: Daily Devotion with Greg Laurie, “Songs in the Night”

Why Are We Here?

Isa. 43:7
Isa. 43:7

Why are we here? What’s the meaning of life? What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?

Well, it’s not 42.

You know, philosophers have spent their entire lives trying to answer life’s big question. Poets have driven themselves insane looking to crack it. Artists have painted and sculpted interpretation after interpretation attempting to reveal it.

I don’t know what all the hubbub is about. Life’s biggest question has life’s simplest answer.

What is the purpose of life? Ok, here it is. Got something to write it down? Are you ready?

The reason we are here is: To glorify God. That’s it. Boom.

God created us for His own Glory, Isa.43:7.

There. Everyone can now rest their pounding heads. You’re welcome.

May God’s Love be with you

How Do You Envision God?

Acts 17:25
Acts 17:25

How do you envision God?

In D.A. Carson’s book, “The God Who Is There,” He says there are three main ways that people envision God.

• Model 1. The Soft Grandfather: “God is a benevolent gentleman with a long, flowing beard whose primary job is to be nice and to forgive us.“*

• Model 2. The Distant Deity: “God is incalculably huge and transcendently glorious. So of course you cannot expect him to concern himself with your two-bit existence down here.”*

• Model 3. The You-Scratch-My-Back-I’ll-Scratch-Yours God: “Provided you are good enough, you will get married. Provided you read your devotions every day, you will live a long life. And one day you will go to heaven.”*

None of these models align properly with the Bible.

Model 1 falls short because: Although God is Love, He is also Holy and Just. So when confronted with evil or sin, He is actually angry (Psalms 5:4-6). As Carson puts it, “The grandfather model puts us at the center of the universe and God’s role is to coddle us.”*

Model 2 falls short because: Although God IS huge, He is also intensely personal. If God is so distant and unconcerned, then why are the very hairs of my head numbered (Luke 12:7)?

Model 3 falls short because: It’s a barter system. You trade with someone who needs something you can offer. God doesn’t need anything. You cannot bribe Him. What we consider to be righteous acts are like filthy rags anyways (Isa. 64:6)!

(There is also the Model of God as a Watch-Maker. He made the watch, wound it up, and now leaves it to run on its own. Unfortunately, I think many hold this false view as well.)

So, how should we envision God then?

Turn with me to Acts 17:25. “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

God doesn’t need us, we need Him. We are here living and breathing and everything else – because God gives it. It is by His Sovereign Grace that anything and everything happens, including a relationship with Him.

This is a tricky subject and believe me, I don’t have all the answers. However, just because I can’t comprehend all of God, doesn’t mean I don’t trust Him fully or rely on Him completely.

• He is loving, yet just.
• He is incalculably huge, yet intensely personal.
• He doesn’t have any needs, yet He desires a relationship with us.

He is faithful. And I am thankful.

I’ll leave you to meditate on Numbers 6:24-26. This is a Biblical “picture” of who God is:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

He longs to bless us, keep us, and give us peace.

May God’s Love be with you

*”The God Who Is There” D.A. Carson

The Nerve

Jeremiah 3:4,6
Jeremiah 3:4,6

Just the other day, I came home from work and discovered that my dog, Annie, decided she would turn her nice bed into tiny little pieces and then spread it all over the room. She also thought it would be fun to chew up a laundry basket and then shred some paper while she was at it. Hey, once you start, why not go all in.

Needless to say, this was not the homecoming I was looking forward to.

I had gone out of my way, to make a nice, comfortable space for Annie. She had the entire garage actually. It was equipped with a super-nice dog bed, multiple chew-toys, and treats. In her mind, however, the chew-toys and treats did not look as appetizing as her bed, a laundry basket, and a bunch of paper. I can only surmise that in her mind, I had left her alone, abandoned her without revisions, and couldn’t care less how she was doing.

Here’s the kicker: just moments later, she was begging for some pizza that I was eating. I looked at her and actually said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me. After how bad you’ve been today, you expect a treat from me? Are you out of your dog-mind?!” (What? You talk to your dog like a human too, right?)

Lately I’ve been studying Jeremiah. This situation made me think of Jeremiah 3:4 & 5. This is Jeremiah speaking for God to the Israelites: “Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”

Are we constantly complaining to God? Why did this happen? Why did that happen? Yet, we do all the mischief that we can. We try to get away with as much as we can! Then we have the nerve to ask God for His favor. God has got to be saying, “You’re kidding, right? Look at the mess you’re making! Can you not just love Me and follow My Son’s example? I have not abandoned you. The rules I gave you are for your benefit. They are meant to free you, not to enslave you. Don’t you realize that I love you? Don’t you realize that I am coming back soon!”

Truth be told, I did share my pizza with Annie.

Even after she went against my commands. Even after she did whatever she wanted. Even after she created a big mess. I couldn’t resist her.

I love her, even when she’s very bad… which is a lot.

May God’s Love be with you

Short Distance Relationship

James 4:8
James 4:8

Long distance relationships stink. Anyone who’s ever gone through one will tell you: They are hard and most of them don’t work. Hey, relationships are tough no matter what. Add distance to the equation, and you are almost doomed.

You wouldn’t make a relationship with someone you loved long distance on purpose, would you? Why make a relationship harder if it doesn’t have to be? You want the person you love as close as possible. If it was in your power to close that gap, you would. Right?

Jesus wants a close, SHORT DISTANCE relationship with you. He wants to be the first person you turn to in need. He wants to be there to comfort and guide you. He doesn’t want to be a world away. He doesn’t want to be the fourth or fifth or sixth person you go to. He knows what’s best for you, He knows God’s plan for you, and He wants nothing more than for you to succeed… so He can spend even more time with you.

It is you and I that create the distance. I say, “create,” because, it isn’t there until we put it there. We disconnect. We disengage. We cut the lines of communication. Jesus is always there. Always waiting. Always hoping. He is there waiting and hoping that we reach out to Him.

Skype is cool. Facetime is really neat. But there’s nothing quite like spending time with someone in person.

Take out your daily planner and set aside 10 mins every morning. 10 mins to just catch up with the Lord. Now, once it’s on the schedule, it’s on the schedule. There’s something about actually writing it down that makes it… more official. Know what I mean? You can’t break it… unless, of course, something more important than Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God comes up… then, by all means, take it instead. (Thanks to my Pastor, Dr. Rev. David Cyphers for this practical application.)

Long distance relationships stink. Jesus doesn’t want that. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It’s in your power to close the gap. All it takes is that first step.

May God’s Love be with you

The LORD Sits

Psalms 29:10
Psalms 29:10

For our honeymoon my wife and I were blessed with a trip to Paris. While we were there, we visited the Palace of Versailles. Once the center of political power, Versailles is now France’s foremost tourist attraction. Besides it’s sheer grandeur, one thing stuck with me about that palace: the thrones.

It is there that I learned what a throne represents. I mean, of course I knew that a throne represented power. It is obvious that to have people come to you is a demonstration of power. But, it is absolute power to have people come to you as you remain seated.

Ever thought of that before?

The Throne of God is mentioned several times throughout scripture. I won’t bombard you with all of them. Most famously it is described by Ezekiel (chapter 1). I’d like to mention also that the angel Gabriel refers to the Throne of God in Luke 1:32-33 because… he should know, he’s been there. He’s actually seen it!

God is mentioned as “sitting” multiple times as well.

• “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.” – Psalms 29:10

• “He that sits in the heavens laughs” (at the futile efforts of man’s rebellion) – Psalms 2:4

• “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high?” – Psalms 113:5

Sitting on His Throne, God is The Absolute Power. He is the Power of the Power. There is none above and all below. Yet, He makes Himself low to guide and love His fragile creation.

In your quiet time with the LORD today, reflect on our God’s astounding ability to speak stars into being and also whisper encouragement to His children all in the same all-powerful breath. He does so with perfect love from His magnificent Throne.

God Bless!

Read Something Else

Read Something Else TodayBy the time you’re done reading this sentence, you may feel convicted. Leave this page and go to the real page. Read something worth reading today.

All the rest of this stuff is just filler.

Get into The Word today!

You can read 1 John in three minutes. I’ll time you. Go!

God Bless!

Gehazi

20131210-200615.jpg

One of my favorite accounts in the Old Testament pertains to Gehazi. Who in the world is Gehazi?!

Let me set the scene: 2 Kings 6, The Syrians had put a hit out on Elisha. Their army ambushed him and his servant, Gehazi. Understandably Gehazi was freaking out. Elisha prayed for Gehazi’s eyes to be opened. He immediately saw the mountain full of angels on fiery chariots ready to do battle on Elisha’s behalf.

I truly believe that is how it is today. We feel we are alone in a battle against a whole army. When in actuality, we have a heavenly host at our ready. Make no mistake, there is a spiritual battle constantly raging all around us. The only question is: Do you have the spirit of Gehazi or Elisha?

I pray that your eyes are open today!

God bless!
#openyoureyes #angelarmies

Even Now

Joel 2:12
Joel 2:12

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.”

Time will be out. The End. For real.

Do not hesitate, return today!

God Bless!

Be Uzziah and Do Not Be Uzziah

Be Uzziah and Do Not Be Uzziah • 2 Chronicles 26
Be Uzziah and Do Not Be Uzziah • 2 Chronicles 26

Anyone remember Uzziah?

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

God bless!