Monday, December 17, 2012
2. Stop all spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible reading and especially fighting sin).
3. Stop hanging out with other believers.
4. Stop putting yourself under the teaching of the Word, stop going to church.
5. Start finding fault in other Christians, focus on things that they do wrong to make yourself feel better.
6. Start hanging out with people who do not love Jesus, who doubt His existence and authority over life.
7. Start practicing gross sins in secret, where nobody knows about them.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Journey with me back to Exodus 13. The children of Israel have just undergone their first "Passover" experience and are being rushed out of town...for the Egyptians now fear that Yahweh will kill them all unless they let His people go. (Exodus 12:33) We know the story - Moses and the children of Israel escape, make it to the Red Sea, walk across dry ground and begin their trek to the Promised Land of milk and honey. But tucked away amidst all those events is Exodus 13:17-18. Have you ever wondered why God led Israel to a dead end at the Red Sea? It may not be for the reason you think.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.
(Exodus 13:17-18 ESV)
Notice that God chooses to take His children the LONG way. No short cuts here. The verses are easily overlooked but they are dripping with God's goodness. Here's a God who isn't just concerned about taking His people to the Promises Land. He's concerned about the journey as well. God, in all His wisdom, has come up with the best route possible - the route that will serve Israel the most! Rather than exposing them to a potential fearful situation, He sovereignly redirects them around the Philistine area. It would be easy for Israel to complain about the longer route (and they do!) but just imagine the alternative. God knows what's best, even when it contradicts our own wisdom. The shortest route was clear. But the best route was needed.
It's verses like this that encourage me during times when I'm unsure of why God is leading me in the direction that He is. While I don't have the advantage of seeing the "big picture" for my story, being able to see the "big picture" of stories like this help me with my own situations. I can rest in the assurance of God's goodness, knowing that God has me on a path that may not always include the shortest route to His goals for me, but it certainly includes the best route for me!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Have you ever taken the time to read through the book of Esther? I don't mean do you know the story of Esther...have you read it? Sometimes we discover that stories we have grown up hearing aren't always exactly in Scripture the way we heard them. Case in point, the story of Esther. Did you know that the book of Esther is the only book of the Bible that makes no direct reference to God? Seriously, there is no mention of God in the entire book! On top of that, there is no mention of prayer either.
But I would argue that the book/story of Esther is about God, not the winner of the beauty pageant. While the book doesn't mention God by name, His presence is evident everywhere you turn in the story. Ultimately, the story is about how God sovereignly directs every detail to ensure the continued existence of his people Israel. Remember, Haman is seeking to destroy the Jews because he hates Mordecai. But if Haman succeeds in destroying the Jews, then the Abrahamic Covenant is violated and there is no Messiah.
Instead, we see God faithfully keep His covenant to His people as he works every detail of the story for His glory. Here are some examples.
It's not coincidence or by accident that...
1. Queen Vashti has her crown removed. God needed a vacancy in the palace and He made sure there was one.
2. Esther was chosen out of possibly hundreds of girls. For whatever reason, the king picked her, whether it was her beauty, personality, etc. All those things would have been given to her by God. He made sure she would be the one picked.
3. The King found favor with Esther when she approached his presence. He hadn't seen her in a month, he could have easily been having a bad day and gotten rid of her just like he did with Vashti. But he didn't.
4. The king can't sleep one night and has his servants read to him the records of the palace, only to find out that Mordecai had recently saved his life. He finds this information out right before Haman wants to ask to hang Mordecai, thus stopping the wicked plans of Haman.
Oh, I'm sure some would chalk these events up to luck, but even Mordecai recognized that Esther had been positioned perfectly for "such a time as this." The book never mentions God. But it is indisputable that God is the one behind this entire story. We may call it the "Story of Esther" but trust me, it's a story about God. It's about His faithfulness to a covenant He established. A covenant that promises a Messiah who comes to save both Jew and Gentile. This story is good news for us. Praise God He keeps His covenant!