Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the Eye of the Storm

I suppose the eye of a hurricane is one of the most fascinating aspects of the storm. It is amazing that such a powerful storm would have a place of relative stillness at its center. We probably take for granted that we have the ability to track these storms and know when they are coming and that the eye is not the end of the storm. I imagine throughout history there have many people killed because they ventured out thinking the storm was over. There are those, however, even in the modern world who choose to ignore the warnings and think of the eye as a time to play in the streets.
As I think on this it draws my mind to a theological truth found in 1 Thess. 5:2-5,

2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;

In some respects we too are sitting in the eye of God’s wrath. That is not to say that God is not currently demonstrating His wrath, but that it could be called relative stillness when compared to what is to come. So, we must not live as if the storm of God’s wrath is over and seclude it to the Old Testament. Christ will return and He will come with a vengeance for His glory unlike anything we have ever imagined. So, let us prepare ourselves now and not be caught playing in the street!

Wilma Update

Hurricane Wilma gave South Florida a pretty good pounding, so I have been swamped with relief efforts and taking care of issues with damage to the buildings here at the church. This is far from the kind of entries I normally enter, but I wanted you all to know why I have not posted in a while. I should get back to more frequent regular postings now that things are calming down.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us as we have sought to recover from the storm. Please continue to pray, however, there is still much to be done. At the most recent meeting we were informed that there are 170 people living at a shelter that has a capacity of 120 because they literally have no homes to which they can return. There were over a hundred homes in the Clewiston area deemed unlivable (which is the politically correct term for "condemned") Also, there are still areas on the outskirts of Clewiston without power 2 1/2 weeks after the storm. So, there is still much coordination to be done with city officials and the churches to be sure these people are taken care of. In light of all this, however, we can praise God for His grace and mercy. No one in our county was killed by the storm, even though there were people in trailers that were literally falling apart around them during the storm. Again, thank you for your prayers!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Run to Have Christ

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." The point of this verse is not that there is only one person that will win the Christian race, but that we are to run the race with the zeal of an athlete competing for the one prize. And, though there will be more than one person to win the prize of the Christian race, there is a prize to be had. What is the prize? Is it heaven, a crown of jewels, a mansion in heaven; what might it be? Well, the word for prize in this verse in only used in one other place in Scripture, Philippians 3:14. In context is it clear that the prize is knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8) and gaining Christ (3:8). So, we must run with our eyes set on the glorious prize that is Christ.

I preached on this passage last Sunday and then providentially was given a book that develops this same theme of Christ Himself being the gift of the gospel. Or, to say it another way, the point of the geospel is that we might have Christ and behold His glory for eternity. All other gifts of the gospel serve to ensure that we have the ultimate gift of delighting in Christ and displaying His glory. I would encourage everyone to get a copy of God is the Gospel by John Piper. In this book you will see that unless you live for and long for Christ Himself you are an idol worshiper.

"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And beside Thee , I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Ps. 73:25-26

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

100 Minute Bible: Friend or Foe?

There is now a condensed version of Scripture that claims it can be read in less than 100 minutes. It is known as the 100-minute Bible. While I am sure the motivation for such a work was pure, wanting to get the Bible to a "my way right away" culture, the end result is tragic. There are precious promises connected to the Word of God, such as Psalm 19:7, "The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul, the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple." There are many other verses like this one speaking of the power of God's Word (2 Timothy 3:15-17, Isaiah 55:11). So, when we pare down the Bible we have removed that which God has placed there to "restore the soul." That is why we need accurate translations of God's Word that seek to preserve the original language both in its content and style.
Now, to be fair, summarizing Scripture is not necessarily a bad thing. But, to call that summary "Scripture" or the "Bible" is misleading. So, do not be fooled by the promise of the "100 minute Bible." Reading it will simply fill your head with some knowledge, while God's Word (without deletions) can restore your soul. Let us not forsake such promises for the sake of expediency!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Never to Die Again

Romans 6:9 says, "knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." This verse reveals the unique place of mankind in the eternal plan of God. Christ died for man, never to die again. In other words, 2 million years from now there will not be another creation for which Christ will die and redeem them. He died to redeem mankind, and mankind alone. It is an event that will never be repeated for all eternity. Billions and billions of years into the future, at which point we will probably have very little concept of time, we will still be rejoicing that in 30 A.D. Christ became a man and died for our sins, an event that was never to be repeated in any way, shape, or form. Praise God for His indescribable gift!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sovereign God of the Ends and the Means

2 Kings 19:25-26 says, "Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it, now I have brought it to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore, their inhabitants were short of strength, they were dismayed and put to shame." These words were spoken by God to Sennacherib king of Assyria in relation to his boasting about the nations that he had overthrown. God is quick to humble him, however, by informing him that those nations were overthrown only because He providentially weakened them. The destruction of these nations was something he had planned long before Sennacherib came on the scene. In other words, Sennacherib should not have boasted about his accomplishments because they were not his.

God operates in the same way in the lives of believers. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Our good works are planned by God long beforehand and it is He that providentially brings them to pass in our lives and allows us to participate.

Again, I apologize, this post is more devotional than conversational, but I thought the comparison between 2 Kings 19:25 and Ephesians 2:10 was an interesting one.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Evil Kings Make Good Pawns

In 2 Kings 14:23-27 there is a perfect illustration of Proverbs 21:1 ("The king's heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord, He turns it wherever He wishes"). In verse 24 it says Jeroboam II, "did evil in the sight of the Lord, he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam." Not departing from the sins of Jeroboam was a serious offense because we find out later in 17:21-23 that sinning like Jeroboam was the reason Israel was cast into exile. So, that being said we should be shocked to find that verse 27 says "[God] saved them by the hand of Jeroboam (II) the son of Joash." Though Jeroboam was an evil King the Lord used Him to restore the border of Israel (14:25) in response to the affliction of Israel (14:26). Of course Jeroboam II had no clue he was being used by God to respond to this affliction.
So, God is in control of even the most evil world leaders accomplishing His good purposes (Rom. 8:28). Also, God many times sees fit to answer prayer through those who rebel against Him.
I guess this post doesn't really call for much interaction. I just came across this passage this morning and wanted to jot down some thoughts.