Remember (a guest post by my wife)

During my wife’s time with the Lord yesterday, she read through Psalm 77 and had an urge to blog about it. So I told her I’d like to post it as a guest blog here. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as I did…

I was on my way to meet a friend at one of my favorite restaurants one day. I already knew exactly what I was going to order. I could taste the amazing Chicken Salad on a freshly baked croissant and the piping hot homemade Tomato Basil Soup. This lunch was going to be absolutely fabulous because I hadn’t been to this place in over a year. As I pulled into the parking lot, something didn’t look right. Normally, there were cars flooding this place, but that day, there were very few cars and they were not parked in front of the restaurant. I went ahead and parked and made my way up to the front doors where I was greeted with a not so nice sign: “Closed for Business”. WHAT?? Of course, I was totally bummed. No chicken salad. No croissant. No tomato basil soup.

Have you ever been in a season where you feel like God has “gone out of business”? It feels as if He’s locked His doors and there’s no more mercy, or grace, or forgiveness for you. He’s no longer listening or responding. Life often leads us through various trials or circumstances where we can feel alone. You may find that you are crying out to the Lord, but you feel as if He doesn’t hear you. Eventually anger and frustration make their way into your heart. Guess what? God sees and knows all of that and still loves you and is listening to you. Take a look at Psalm 77. The Psalmist is going through a tough season and begins to wonder things like “Will the Lord cast me off forever? Will He be favorable no more? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” Right after he asks these questions, the tone of the Psalm completely changes. Verse 10 of Psalm 77 says, “And I said, ‘This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord. Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.’” In his anguish, he chooses to REMEMBER.

Remember that God is all powerful.

Remember all the amazing works of the Lord.

Remember what God had done in the past.

He chose to remember. Verse 12 says, “I will meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.” His remembering led to meditating on the Lord and eventually led to action. He spoke of the Lord and all that He has done.

So, if you are feeling like God has closed you out, choose now to remember all that He has done for you. Meditate on His promises and on His power. And then tell someone about it.

Bible in 90 Days 20: PROVERBS

Today is Day 49 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

If you ever feel like you have A.D.D., Proverbs probably really resonated with you. At times, it seems to be all over the place: from money to parenting, from temptation to wisdom, from marriage to investing sometimes right within the same paragraph.

Although finding a main theme for each chapter or section isn’t always easy, the theme of the book as a whole is wisdom. It would make sense that it was about wisdom, since its author (except for chapters 30 and 31) is King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. According to 1 Kings 3, God made Solomon the wisest man who ever lived.

Not only was Solomon supernaturally gifted with wisdom, but he was also experientially gifted with wisdom. After all, he was King David’s son, he built the Temple, and as king, he experienced many things that contributed to the wisdom he shared in Proverbs.

Much of Proverbs is specifically targeted toward young people (Proverbs 1:8). Parents, you know how it is – your kids think they have it all figured out. Solomon sets a great example of laying it out straight – hitting the hard topics and not backing down.

That’s one thing I love about Proverbs – it’s not scared to say it how it is. Below are a few of my favorite (honest, in-your-face) Proverbs…

Better to dwell in the wilderness, 
Than with a contentious and angry woman. – Proverbs 21:19

He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, 
It will be counted a curse to him. – Proverbs 27:14

As a dog returns to his own vomit, 
So a fool repeats his folly. – Proverbs 26:11

A little sleep, a little slumber, 
A little folding of the hands to rest;

So shall your poverty come like a prowler, 
And your need like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:33-34

I could go on. The bottom line is, Solomon says it how it is…which is how the whole Bible is written (as you’ve probably noticed by now), and it’s how we should be as well. The world needs more honesty. Dads (like Solomon) need to tell their kids how it is, in order to train them up in the way they should go. After all, as Ecclesiastes points out, it’s wise to teach others from your wisdom.

So who are you teaching?

What are you learning?

Both of those should be something that you do for the rest of your life. Always be sharing from your experiences, but don’t talk so much that you can’t listen – you need to learn from others as well. After all, even the wisest man who ever lived made some pretty terrible mistakes and didn’t follow his own advice…so do as he said, not as he did.

Bible in 90 Days 19: PSALMS

Today is Day 46 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

You did it! Psalms is not only the longest book of the Bible, but it also contains the longest chapter in the Bible: Psalm 119.

Not only is it a landmark to make it all the way through Psalms, but yesterday (day 45) marked the half-way point of our journey through the Bible in 90 days! We’ve been at this for a month and a half now – don’t give up.

Real. Raw.

Psalms (for the most part) is a very refreshing read. It’s almost like reading David’s journal that he took with him while he was in the field with the sheep or in a cave hiding from Saul. Or, if it were written in our day and age, it would be like reading his blog. It’s very real, open, and honest. At some points, you can almost hear the tears hitting the paper.

David isn’t the only author though – there are many others: Solomon, Moses, Asaph, and quite a few anonymous authors. They all write from their hearts. They question, they doubt, they worship, they pray, they sing, and they cry. They hit the whole range of human emotions.

The Psalms vary not only in content but also format. There are Messianic Psalms that point ahead to the coming Messiah, historical Psalms that look back at Israel’s history as a nation, didactic Psalms that give practical instruction, and so much more. Back in the day, Psalms was used as the church’s hymnal. Can you imagine if the worship leader at your church started rocking out with Psalm 58?!

Just be me.

I guess what I love about the Psalms the most – on a very practical level – is that they free me up to just be me. The Psalms remind me that even great men of faith went through some very trying times, and yet, in the end, they always saw God’s faithfulness displayed.

I also love being reminded to look for God in everything. You can see God through nature, through His faithfulness in history, through His promises to deliver, through the job that He provides even through some of life’s darkest moments, and in so many other ways. That’s a great reminder for me, because I can easily get accustomed to seeing God only in certain areas. I need to be reminded to look everywhere for Him. He’s displaying His faithfulness everywhere I look.

If you were to pick a favorite Psalm, which one would it be?

I think I’d choose Psalm 136 – “His mercy endures forever.”

 

Bible in 90 Days 10: 2 SAMUEL

Today is Day 25 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

2 Samuel is, of course, the sequel to 1 Samuel. It’s the necessary compliment to its preceding book. Reading 2 Samuel without knowing what happened in 1 Samuel would be like eating spaghetti noodles without marinara and meatballs: you’d be missing so much!

The end of 1 Samuel chronicles the death of Saul and his sons in battle and 2 Samuel picks up right where it left off. In the very first chapter, David learns of the death of Saul & Jonathan, and amazingly breaks into mourning, not partying. Of course he would mourn the death of his best friend, Jonathan, but Saul too? Wouldn’t he be glad Saul was dead? No. David had regard for human life (unlike Saul).

It doesn’t take long for David to be crowned king of Judah (Ch. 2) and by Chapter 5, he’s king of Israel as well! Things are going pretty well for him.

One thing that I’m thankful for in Scripture is that the Bible doesn’t cover up for its heroes. Right in the middle of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, thanksgiving to God, and worship, he lusts over Bathsheba, commits adultery with her, then has her husband killed to cover up her pregnancy. I’ll bet you didn’t expect that from “the man after God’s own heart,” did you?

After his interaction with Bathsheba and Uriah, her husband, in Chapter 11, things seem to take a turn for the worse: their son dies as punishment for David’s sin, one of David’s daughters, Tamar, is raped by one of his sons, another of David’s sons, Absalom, commits treason and tries to take the throne from David, his father. It’s a messy situation, but David is resolved through it all. He witnessed a man (Saul) try so hard to cling to a kingdom that had been stripped from him, and David vows not to be that man. He sits back and trusts in God to turn the kingdom over or keep David on the throne – what a man of faith!

If the book wasn’t action-packed enough for you, by Chapter 21, David ends up killing a giant with 12 toes and 12 fingers! He’s a giant-slayin’ maniac!

The book closes with David confessing more sin, dealing with its consequences, and sacrificing to God.

Here’s the thing: David wasn’t perfect. That’s obvious. Neither are you. That is also obvious. David owned his sin and turned from it. Can the same be said of you? Remember, David is ultimately remembered as a Godly king – one of the greatest who ever ruled Israel. Although he failed big time, he’s not what he did. The same is true for you.

You aren’t what you did.

Live a life defined by repentance and humility and watch God use you to change the world!

Bible in 90 Days 9: 1 SAMUEL

Today is Day 22 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

If you’ve ever heard someone say that the Bible is boring, I’d be willing to bet that they’ve never read 1 Samuel. What an epic book! By the end of it, I felt like I was watching an action movie – I couldn’t stop. I kept waiting for Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington’s names to pop up.

A major theme that flows throughout the book is the theme of God blessing His people’s faithfulness. It begins with Hannah, a broken-hearted woman, who desperately wants to have children, but is unable. She cries out to God and He hears and answers!

She dedicates her son, Samuel, to the Lord, and he is raised at the Temple, by Eli, the High Priest. He will be the guy that God uses to transition Israel into a monarchy. Before that happens, though, he calls the nation of Israel to repent and turn back to the Lord.

As we watch God bless Hannah & Samuel’s faithfulness, we see the contrast of Saul, Israel’s first king. He started off well, but quickly took a nose dive. His selfish ambition got the best of him, and within just a few chapters, he’s already being ousted as king – God has a new guy in mind – a man after His own heart.

But the guy God has in mind isn’t the guy that everyone else would naturally choose. He’s the runt of the litter, out babysitting the sheep by himself. God saw what man didn’t see, though, and David is soon summoned from the fields and anointed king!

No sooner does he receive the anointing than we see him as a pizza delivery boy (well, bread and cheese anyway) rolling in on an epic battle. He defeats a giant, cuts off his head, and calls it a day.

As God blesses David’s faithfulness, David continues to rise to power and fame, but Saul continues in his downward spiral. It’s not pretty. He even has dart practice at David’s expense.

Throughout it all, we see David faithfully following the Lord and trusting His timing. He’s a great reminder to us to stand strong and trust that when God makes a promise, He WILL follow through (even if it’s quite a few chapters away)!

The sequel to 1 Samuel is up next: 2 Samuel!

God doesn’t need your re-gift.

Tonight I’ll be teaching from 2 Samuel 24 about the census of Israel, the resulting consequences, and David’s repentance and obedience. It’s a powerful chapter about the price of disobedience as well as obedience.

I had planned to teach something else tonight (we’re starting a new book next Wednesday), but felt like the Lord was steering me in a different direction for tonight.

100% of the counseling we do at Awaken deals with disobedience in the life of the person we’re counseling or someone close to them. So often we want the effects of obedience (blessing, reward, peace) without the expense of obedience (honesty, repentance, consequences). That’s not how it works though.

In 2 Samuel 24, David was told to build an altar to the Lord, but to do so, he had to purchase a field. He had the opportunity to receive the field for free from its owner, Araunah, but when Araunah proposed the deal, David said something that I pray more of us learn to say…

“…I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” – 2 Samuel 24:24

He recognized that a true offering would cost him something. He wasn’t in to re-gifting.

You know what re-gifting is. You open a package at Christmas with a candle and a picture frame that you’re not into. You smile and thank the person who gave it to you while mentally thinking who you could give it to after you re-wrap it. It’s not much of a gift if it didn’t cost you something. David got that. He understood that his sacrifice to the Lord had to be just that – a sacrifice.

Obedience comes with a price tag, but so does disobedience.

The price for disobedience is far greater, though. The best thing to do when it comes to sin is to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to obey. It will cost you something, but the expense will always be worth the effects of obedience…

…So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and plague was withdrawn from Israel. – 2 Samuel 24:25

Come join us tonight at Awaken or grab the podcast this evening after service!

Sin turns you into an animal

If you’re into hiding your sin, the Bible says you’re either a horse or a mule, and neither one is meant as a compliment…

Psalm 32:9 – “Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

When it comes to sin, are you a horse or a mule? Let me explain…

Let’s start with the horses…

Horses love to run. That’s one thing they do very well. In fact, people bet a lot of money that their horse can outrun your horse in a race.

When it comes to sin, some people are like horses because they just want to run with it. They know it’s wrong, but it’s also fun, so they indulge. They’re the people Paul writes about in Ephesians who have lost all sensitivity and have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (Eph 4:19). They’re having a blast with their sin, and since the consequences haven’t hit yet, there’s no need to stop now…that’s what they believe, anyway.

 

Now on to the mules…

Mules are known for 2 main things: 1) carrying big loads, and 2) being stubborn.

When it comes to sin, if you’re not a horse, you’re probably a mule. You’ve known your sin is wrong all along, and it’s not that you lead a flamboyantly sinful life, but you’re just too stubborn to admit that you were wrong. Plus, just like a mule, not only are you stubborn, but you’re carrying a big load – your guilt.

 

You can be a horse AND a mule.

The Bible talks about a few guys who were both. One guy who comes to mind is a guy who stole another man’s wife, got her pregnant, then had her husband killed to cover it all up. You know him as “the man after God’s own heart” and the author of Psalm 32: DAVID! The Bathsheba thing was his run as a horse, then he turned into a mule. The baby was born, the deed was done, and David moved on with life and his new wife. He was stubborn (and stupid) enough to think that he could get away with it. He was wrong. The prophet Nathan proved him wrong in 2 Samuel 12.

 

What horses and mules have in common.

Both animals, as wild and stubborn as they can be, must be trained and forced into submission. The day comes where the bit and bridle are introduced and the reins are pulled. That day came for David eventually, and it was extremely painful. In fact, he lost his child because of his sin.

However, his pain gave birth to Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 – 2 beautiful penitential Psalms where he weeps over his past lifestyle of unconfessed sin. He regrets those years and implores us not to follow his bad example.

 

Which one are you – horse or mule?

God is ready to forgive, regardless of what you’ve done. Confessing sin is never easy, but it’s ALWAYS worth it!