Brothers and sisters, we live in a changing world. As a pastor I am concerned and sick to my stomach. As a husband and father, I am burdened about the world my children and grandchildren are inheriting. As an American, I’m angry and feel like quoting a Toby Keith song but I will refrain. What trumps all of that is that I am a disciple of Jesus.
Although what is happening to our brothers and sisters all over the world in the name of ISIS and Islamic terrorism is shocking, heart breaking, inhumane, and evil, our personal responsibility as disciples must be to point everyone to Christ. Some try to reign with terror. Jesus simply reigns eternally. What is happening in our day does not surprise the King of Glory. Do not fear but instead share the gospel, live the gospel, serve the world with the gospel. A brutal end…
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September 9, 2014
I surrender all my desire for vengeance to You. I remember that I was once Your enemy; yet You died for me! I pray for my enemies. Please give me love for my enemies. Even while I was still a sinner, You died for me. Just as light overcomes darkness, love overcomes hate. I pray that our love, i.e., Your perfect love, and the love You have placed in my heart, would soften our enemy’s hearts and cause them to surrender their hearts to You. Help all of us to see and feel our sin as You do. Just as our hearts are broken, even to the point of tears when those we love sin against us; in the same way the sins of Your creation breaks Your heart also to the point of tears. Please do not regret Your creating us! We, as sinners, deserve to be mistreated O Lord, but Thou art holy and do not deserve the way we treat You. Please forgive us and teach us Your ways, O God. Righteousness belongs to You; please teach us Your righteous ways. Reveal to us Your perspective for ours is so very small and limited, and short-sighted. Lord Jesus, I just want to surrender all judgment to You for only You are worthy to judge because only You can see and know all things from You omniscient perspective.
This is My Prayer for Today. I Pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sometimes we ask,”Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” The truth is, bad things happen to everyone because we live in a fallen world. The difference is, God is able to make good out of the bad for those who cry out to Him and faithfully trust and serve Him. There is ample biblical history to prove this is true. And most of us have a personal history proving this as well.
During my life as a Christian I have read through the bible several times. God has always drawn me to His word and I’ve read it cover to cover on average of every 18 months ever since I became a believer during the summer of 1976.
As I recently read through the book of Job I made four general observations that are important life lessons for the believer:
1) When we are tested, we shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)
2) Have compassion on fools and those that wrongfully accuse you and pray for them. (Job 42:8)
3) If we are not absolutely sure how to respond to another’s adversity, it is best to wait for the Lord’s direction and to pray prayers of intercession. It is best to keep silent until we have been given an answer by God and only speaking on God’s behalf if and only if God directs us to be his messenger. Elihu waited to speak until Job’s three other friends had finished speaking. He spoke to the best of his knowledge about God’s righteousness, justice, and goodness. Elihu’s mistake was that although he was not nearly the fool Job’s other three friends were, he still did not fully get it right either. Although he was patient enough to let his elders speak first, he did not get God’s permission to speak for Him. However Elihu did not judge Job and therefore was not rebuked by God as his other three friends were. We need to learn to be patient and wait for the Lord’s timing. (Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.) Job’s situation was dire, to say the least, however, we must remember that God always has things in His control.
4) Some of our suffering is a direct result of persecution and has nothing to do with whether we have sinned or not sinned. However, God allows us to be tested by persecution in order to further His kingdom and fulfill His purposes. (Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.)
I’m just going to speak from the heart here and I hope to convey an important message to all who serve in ministry to our Lord Jesus Christ. I used to serve on staff at New Life Evangelical Free Church in Aurora, Colorado as the building maintenance supervisor for 6-1/2 years. However I left the ministry that Jesus had called me to. My excuse was to love my wife as Christ loved the church. You see, my wife of twenty years, after seeing some of the devastation of the aftermath of married women whose husbands had passed on due to an unexpected illness or tragedy, decided to go to college and get a degree in nursing. After our kids were old enough to not need a full-time mother, she decided it was time to start her own career and have an income that would support herself and all those still under her care if something were to happen to me. When she graduated in 2010, the economy was in such a place that she could not secure permanent full-time employment in Colorado, as the competition was too fierce and most hospitals were reluctant to hire new grads.
As the months passed by with her just getting menial work and broken promises, we discussed moving out of state if she could get a good offer. As part of the consideration, we included our youngest son in our decision that we would only move somewhere near the ocean since he has Cystic Fibrosis and somewhere at sea level with salty sea air and humidity would be beneficial to his condition.
I thought what I was about to do would impress my hero, my Jesus, because I was going to sacrifice all, my best job ever, my ministry, in order that my wife could now work outside the home and follow her dream of becoming a nurse. I left not only my job for which I was employed, but the praise and worship ministry of which I played saxophone and flute, and helped to grow a ministry of prayer that had previously had seen only very limited success.
It wasn’t long after the move to Lafayette, Louisiana, that I figured out that the Lord was not impressed with my sacrifice. In fact I’ve been, for the most part, miserable ever since. I kept questioning God, “What is wrong with our relationship?”, “Why does it seem you are not happy with me?”, and “Why does our fellowship seem broken?”. I wasn’t getting an answer for over 2 years. After those first two I decided to change churches, because I felt I wasn’t getting fed by the church we were attending. The first service at the new church I received my answer. That Sunday the worship pastor preached because the lead pastor was away on a mission trip. He preached about the way God expects us to love Him. Our love for our family, our parents, our spouses, our kids, and all others, should be like hate compared to the love we should have for Christ.
A light bulb clicked on in my brain and the years of wondering were gone. I then remembered my pastor in Aurora once preached the same thing! I had thrown away the ministry Jesus had given me and instead of loving Him for it, I sacrificed it for others. You see, Jesus wants us to sacrifice all for him. He would never ask, expect, or even desire for us to sacrifice His calling for our spouses or anyone else.
So, a word of advice to all of you who are called to serve our Lord in ministry. Make sure your priorities are set with Jesus’ best interests in mind. Sacrificing for others is commendable, but not at the expense of the ministry God has called you to. Do not move unless God calls you to, and even then, make sure the decision to move is immersed in fervent prayer and is done in His timing. Avoid a life of misery and regret, because you won’t be the only one who will regret it, but possibly the very ones you sacrificed for will regret it too. But most of all, let it be known, your Lord will most definitely regret it.
In Christ’s Love,
Dear Lord, please forgive me for trying to impress You with the decision to sacrifice the ministry You called me to in order to show my love to my wife. My love belongs to You first! The marriage to her is but a short while we are here on earth, but the marriage to You is eternal. Please give me another chance to serve You in the way I should. In Your name I pray, amen.
What do the Old Testament histories teach us? They teach us that amidst our sin, we can find hope and comfort in the fact that God is generous to give. God is faithful to keep His promises. God is just to judge. God is merciful and glorious to restore. And God has a purpose for the nations.