Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blessed Thanksgiving!

Today, I borrow from the Messianic Psalm, 16

Psa 16:6  The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 

The boundary lines you have set for me are the best! As Jabez said in I Chron. 14:9, you have enlarged my territory. 

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. 

I am a small-time preacher smack dab in the middle of fly-over country, pastoring a relatively small flock. Our "denomination" (I don't see Baptists as a denomination) comprises only 1/2 of 1% of our city. If my church dried up and blew away, the community would never even notice. To the world, I am a nobody, doing little and having nothing to show.

And yet, the Lord has granted me favor, blessings and influence beyond imagination. No way would I trade places with any individual on the planet. NOBODY has it better than I! Truly, the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.

I have a goodly heritage. 

Though I sing, I will never be mentioned along side Pavarotti. Though I preach, I will never be thought of as a Graham or Osteen. Though my bank account carries a positive balance, I am no threat to Warren Buffet on the list of "well-to-dos."

Yet, I have royal blood flowing though my veins. I am a child of the King. I am destined for a royal position in millennial government. I am the King's ambassador representing a much better country.

And for these other-worldly blessings, I render gratitude on this Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Long, O LORD? (Pt 2)

Psalm 13: 1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

We continue today with our short series of blogs on the 13th Psalm, How Long, O LORD? Yesterday we discussed, How long will you forget me, O LORD?  All Christians have asked a similar question along with the following questions….

2. Why have you hidden your face Oh Lord?

Here, the psalmist indicates that he knows God is somewhere, just not evident. And which of us haven't been here also? Sometimes, everything is sunshine and roses. God's presence surrounds you like the warm sunshine of a spring day. The blessings are flowing, the windows of heaven are open, and things could not be any better.

But have you noticed, there is no Christian growth during those mountaintop seasons of your life? For you see, It's down in the valleys where we learn our lessons: lessons of faith and trust, doing our duty when we don't feel like it, our character is being built in the valleys when God's presence is not so evident and his face is not readily seen.

3.  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?

And now, the poor psalmist finds that he is talking to himself, reasoning out of a wounded soul, a place that he knows the answers are corrupted, skewed. He is seeking answers from heaven, but heaven is silent. Heaven is withholding wisdom.

Now we know that brother James tells us, If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally and upbraids not. I can tell you that God will always eventually give wisdom. But most often, it is on his schedule and not on ours. His schedule fosters growth, trust, and patience. If we always received wisdom whenever we snapped her fingers, God would appear to be a genie popping out of the bottle and saying,  “your wish is my command.”  Do you really want a God like that? If that were the case, really, you would be the god, and He would be your servant. I am glad it doesn't work that way.

There are those times where God wants us to commune with our own heart, listen to our selves talk, and wisdom will begin to grow out of these conversations with self.

It is when we begin asking ourselves questions like, Why me? What am I going through this for? Am I doing something wrong? What do I need to do? Is there a lesson I need to learn? that God can say, “now you're asking the right questions and the answers will begin to come...eventually.”

Open your eyes, open your heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Trusting God in Seasons of Despair

Ps 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? For ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from  me?

How long, O LORD? Which of us has not asked this very question? We have questioned it in our hearts and have even let the words escape our lips. We went through a time of suffering, anguish, pain, frustration, poverty, loneliness, etc. And, as time went on, we cried to the heavens, how long, O LORD?

“How long will you forget me?”

Here the psalmist feels that God has placed him on a shelf. That God is too busy for him, that God has forgotten where he lives and what he is going through. Like the children of Israel in slavery in Egypt. Like Joseph in prison, Like Noah on the ark. Like Job on the ash heap. And like Jesus on the cross as he cried, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?

Surely you have been here, haven’t you? If not, your day is coming. You feel like the heavens are brass when you pray. You feel as if there is a cloud hanging over you wherever you go. Your shoulders are slumped, your eyes are downcast, your strength is sapped, you have run out of answers, and you just feel as if God has forgotten you.

Oh friend, you have asked, “How long, God?”

Please tune in to the next post.

In the meantime, keep looking up – God will never leave you nor forsake you. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Have the Very Best Thanksgiving

1. Consider the source of all blessings - James 1:17
2. Dwell on the good and positive - Phil 4:8
3. Go about your day smiling, singing and saying "thanks" - Eph 5:18-20
4. Freely enjoy, without guilt, the blessings He has given. I Tim 6:17
5. Even in the seemingly bad stuff, give thanks. There is a good reason even for the bad. I Thess 5:18