Seeing God at Work

1 Corinthians 10:13

God provided this Scripture to me recently, and I’m newly fascinated by it. Because it contains a promise.

God will provide a way of escape.

There’s no guesswork in this Scripture. No doubt. When it comes to temptation, there’s something you can ALWAYS expect.

God will provide.

This Scripture brings an extraordinary reassurance. A certainty.

God will.

What a concept. That God the Creator will directly act when we his creation are assailed by temptation and provide a way of escape. It only falls to us to see that escape, and take hold of it.

Is the way of escape the phone call that comes just at the point of your greatest weakness, giving you the choice to answer it or remain in temptation? Is it the premonition that tells you, “Here it is, the fork in the road that leads me to the point of no return”? Is it the hymn or Scripture that drifts uninvited into your thoughts? Is it the sudden compelling urge — “RUN”?

I’m not suggesting we seek out temptation to see God’s hand at work, any more that I would suggest we increase our sin so that Grace will increase (bad idea!). I’m just saying that maybe it’s easiest to see God’s hand when He is reaching out to pull us from the pit of temptation. God grant us His Grace that we may see His hand, and take hold of it.

Psalm 103:2-5

MEN of VALOR in the MANGER

 

Last night I had the opportunity to experience Christmas with my family and friends at the Billy Graham Library. It was awesome to see how God can use one Man of Valor to impact the world with the message of love found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prior to entering the library there was a live nativity and I began to wonder how many Men of Valor were present that Holy Night and in the early childhood of this amazing Messiah. So in the few days prior to Christmas let us consider the MEN of VALOR in the MANGER.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15 NKJV)

God could have chosen different men that night to come to worship. After all there were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and many Rabbi but He chose the meek and lowly, the Shepherds. Men of Valor, who were terrified when the angels arrived with the message but obedient when they left them with a mission to accomplish.

They personified one of the greatest qualities of Men of Valor, humility. Max Lucado writes, “You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get down on your knees. So while the theologians were sleeping and the elite were dreaming and the successful were snorting, the meek were kneeling. They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.” – The Applause of Heaven

What is it going to take for us to slow down this Christmas season and kneel before the One who gave it all for us?

What lessons can you learn from the Shepherds that night?

As I was leaving Billy Graham’s Library last night I was impacted by the fact that this man’s message was simple and yet profound. God Loves You and if you respond to His calling you will never be the same! That was true for Billy Graham as it was for the Shepherds. Will it be the same for you this Christmas Season?

Like a Man

“Brace yourself like a man.”

They sound like the words of a drill sergeant. Pull yourself together. Show some spine. Face the music.

They are words I had read before in passing, and hardly noticed.

But they are a powerful message for men who serve God.

Job 40:7

In this passage God has granted Job’s wish. Job wanted God to show Himself and give explanation. And God in His mercy granted Job’s request. He arrived in a storm with a command for Job.

“Brace yourself like a man. I will question you, and you will answer Me.” (NIV Translation)

The words I ask you to notice are “like a man”. These are words from our Creator, and they set a definition.

God has an expectation for the men of His creation. A stature that he expects from the male. Men brace themselves.

I believe that God wants his men to square off in the face of adversity and challenge, to be honest and direct. Not like Adam, making excuses, or like Cain, making denials. God is clear in His expectations of men. And He was clearly pleased with Job, who essentially said, “You’re right, I was out of my lane, and I apologize.”

Men brace themselves. It’s what He expects us to do.

The Word For Today, “Hero”

One of the greatest hitters in the game, Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns in his career. But in one of his last major league games, the aging star performed badly. In a single inning, his errors were responsible for five Cincinnati runs.

As the Babe walked off the field, boos and catcalls cascaded from the stands. Just then, a young boy jumped over the railing and ran onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Ruth didn’t hesitate. He picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet with a playful pat on the head.

Suddenly the booing stopped. A hush fell over the entire park.  For a brief moment, the crowd saw a different kind of hero: a man who in spite of a dismal day on the field could still care about a little boy.  He was no longer being judged by his accomplishments, but by a completely different standard.  It was a relationship that mattered.

Living in a performance oriented world, it is easy to ignore, even justify the disregard of relationships. Four qualities that mark such disregard are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

The away game is almost over. It is time to go back to the home field advantage. Be careful that none of these qualities go with you. You will hit a lot more homeruns at home. And there is no better place to be a Hero.

The Word For Today, “Family.”

“If you can tell me who your heroes are, I can tell you how you’re going to turn out in life.”

~ Warren Buffet

“He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.”                                                                                                                                                                    ~ Proverbs 11:29

The Word for Today is… Honor

At the Verizon Heritage PGA Tournament in April of  2010, Jim Furyk
and English golfer Brian Davis were tied after the final round. This led to a
sudden-death playoff hole, which Furyk won. Davis lost not because his short
game failed, not because he sent the tee shot sailing way right; but rather
because he called a penalty on himself. While attempting to chip the ball onto
the green, he saw out of the corner of his eye that he had moved a loose reed
in the middle of his backstroke. He immediately called the judges over. After a
brief review, two strokes were added to his card.

Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s tournament director who administrated the penalty, said
Davis’ actions were classy and appropriate for a sport based on honor. White
said Furyk came to Davis after and asked he was sure it was a penalty. “I
know I did it,” White recalled Davis’ response, “and I couldn’t live
with myself if I didn’t.”

It is one thing to play a sport with honor, it is another thing to serve in a
profession of honor, but the greatest thing is to live a life of honor.

The word for the day, “HONOR.” Sir – This concludes my brief.

Slide Content:

“Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong”

President Thomas Jefferson

“Those who honor me I will honor…,”

1 Samuel 2:30

You ain’t seen nothing yet!

“Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

I’m loosly quoting King David.

After tons of work and preparation, David was bringing God’s Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and he was bubbling over with praise and joy. He organized a triumphant parade with a brigade of trumpets, he danced and he leaped with all his might, he offered sacrifices, and he bought dinner for the entire nation of Israel (!).

Now his wife Michal happened to be watching all this. Watching, not participating mind you. She saw that dancing.

And she definitely did not approve.

“What a king you turned out to be! All the slave girls saw you jumping around half dressed like a tasteless fool. How undignified!”, she spat (again, I paraphrased a little).

Michael delivered a withering salvo of words, telling David he’d embarrassed himself in front of an audience of young ladies and consequently in front of the entire nation of Israel. She sounds as withering a critic as Simon Cowell.

But David …

David did not agree.

David told Michal that his true audience — and the only audience that mattered — was the Lord. No other audience counted. Said David, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this!” (2 Samuel 6:17-23). In other words, “Baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Pastor Propst at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina, recently talked about Soren Kierkegaard, the wise theologian. Soren said that in any worship service there are prompters, performers and the audience. Now the audience is NOT the crowd sitting in the pews. The audience is God. And we, like David, are worshiping and celebrating before Him. In fact, God is the real Audience of our lives, the only Audience.

You know that God is your only Audience. I’m certain you do. But it’s good to remind yourself of it. Don’t cave to the Michals of the world. We live to serve our God. Let the world know that, when it comes to praising your Creator, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Word for Today is… Pressure

In the northeastern United States codfish are a big commercial business. They ship them all over the world. Keeping them fresh until arrival is a problem for shippers. At first they froze the cod, but the flavor disappeared. Next they shipped them alive, but the meat became soft and mushy.

Finally, the codfish were placed in a tank of water along with their natural enemy–the catfish. From the time the cod left the East Coast until it arrived at its farthest destination, the catfish chased the cod all over the tank. But when they arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught.

Each one of us is in a tank of particular and inescapable circumstances, where God-appointed “catfish” are bringing pressure on our lives. The purpose is to keep us alive, alert, fresh, growing, and close to God. It’s all part of the Master Shipper’s plan to shape us to be like Him.

The word for the day is “pressure”.  Sir – This concludes my brief.

Slide Content:

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.”
Former Sec. of State, Henry Kissinger,

“It was good for me to be (pressured) afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
Psalm 119:71

Talking to God

You can tell a lot about a couple by how they talk to each other. A troubled couple might sit on opposite ends of a couch, or turn away from each other. A troubled couple might relay messages through you instead of talking to each other. When they do talk to each other, their words might be clipped or sarcastic or dismissive. Part of the healing in a troubled relationship is changing the way people talk to each other.

You can tell a lot about your walk with God by how you talk to Him. Take a look at your prayers over the past week. What do your prayers tell you about your walk with God? Your prayer life can be a barometer of your walk with God. But it’s more than that. If your relationship with God is troubled, maybe part of reconciling is changing how you talk to Him.

Now I didn’t say how you talk to God reflects His love for you. That’s a different matter entirely. God is always your Creator, and you are always His creation. We always need His love, and He in His infinite compassion always extends it. As James writes, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) Praise be to God for His matchless love!