Archive for May 2008

“… spread it out before the Lord …”

May 31, 2008

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: 16 “O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.  (Isaiah 37:14-17; NIV. Please read Isaiah 36-39.)

I have said it before … even written before in this blog … that this example of Hezekiah’s prayer has become my approach to prayer. Whatever it is … however it is said … “spread it out before the Lord”.

This is not a discussion of whether Hezekiah or his people deserved such threats from their enemies or warnings from the Lord … it is simply a demonstration that whenever you get a look, a word, a call, a letter, or a decree that causes you distress, you should “spread it out before the Lord“.  

Someone gives you a “dirty look” – tell God on them! I mean it! Do not worry about them. God was watching. Tell Him. He will take care of it … He will take care of them!

Someone says something “tacky” that hurts your feelings – tell God on them! Tell Him exactly what they said and why you think they said it. (Of course, He already knows – but tell Him anyway.) Tell Him how it made you feel. He will take care of it … He will take care of them!

Someone calls you and says mean things to you or about you – tell God on them! Tell Him who it was and what they said. You can even tell Him what you were going to say back to them, but you stopped; because you knew that He would  take care of it … that He would take care of them.

Someone sends you a “renewal contract” – tell God on them! Spread it out before the Lord! Tell Him how ashamed you are that these “brothers” would cloak their self-importance and duplicity in psuedo-psychological reasoning and worldly wisdom, ignoring both the spirit and letter of the Word. He will take care of it … He will take care of them.

Someone sends you a divorce decree – tell God on them! Spread it out before the Lord! If you deserve it – confess it, but for every unkind word or unreasonable demand or untruthful assertion – tell God exactly what you think – how you feel! He will take care of it … He will take care of them.

Someone sends you a questionaire to ascertain your doctrinal purity (or your agreement with them on “brotherhood issues”) – spread it out before God! Questions that can be answered from God’s Word cite book, chapter and verse, but the questions that reflect the legalism and/or ignorance of those in charge of the questionaire – ignore. Seek God’s wisdom, but do not let the spiritual “witch hunt” keep you from teaching the truth and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He will take care of it …  He will take care of them.

Someone sends you a letter “informing” you that they are going to “drop your support”, due to some personality conflict, due to some “build us a parking lot or gymnasium” self-indulgence, or due to some “they don’t do things like we do them here” kind of cultural misunderstanding or “scriptural” demagoguery … spread it out before the Lord! Express your concerns … your fear … even your anger! He will take care of it … He will take care of them.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: If this blog upsets your sensibilities or you think that you are the object of my bloggery … “spread it before the Lord”. Tell God on me! Tell God exactly what you think. He will take care of it … He will take care of me! (You can also give me a call – 806.543.4253 or email me at rex@lubbockchurch.org – if you think we have something to discuss or resolve.)

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“… a refuge from the storm …”

May 30, 2008

See, a king will reign in righteousness
and rulers will rule with justice.
2 Each man will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

(Isaiah 32:1-2; NIV. Please read Isaiah 28-35.)

The Lord has spoken …  tough days are ahead … for them and for us.

But when the wind blows … when the storm rages … when the sun burns hot and dry … someone (including me) will need a shelter … a place to rest in the shadow of a great rock.

Our King is such a rock, but He intends for each of us to be a safe place for our brothers or sisters.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I have found such resting places with my parents … my son, David … my daughter, Cheri … my friends, Doug, Dennis, Sherry, Kelly, and Paige … and my favorite church, the OPEN. Of course, there are others – too many to name here, but they are secure in my heart and in my praise to God – forever.

“… you are my God …”

May 29, 2008

O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.
(Isaiah 25:1; NIV. Please read Isaiah 24-27.)

The great and terrible day of the Lord has come upon His enemies. His people have seen His wrath and heard His warning. It is time now to praise to the Lord.

Regardless of what has come into my life today be it punishment or protection – rebuke or rescue – trial or truimph – there is reason to praise the Lord.

Whatever He does … He does with “perfect faithfulness”. He is trustworthy … dependable … reliable. Because the Lord put the sun in its place and ordered its purpose, we can count on it – plan our days around it – live our lives with confidence in it. Such are His ways.

Whatever He does … He does “marvelous things”. Want a list? The sun shining … the flowers blooming … the birds singing … the bees buzzing … the oceans waving … the fish swimming … the stars shining … the world turning … the peoples of the earth praising Him.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Looking over the list of “marvelous things” that I started (and would never be able to complete), it dawned on me that far too often I fret over what I want God to do … rather than thanking Him for all of the marvelous things He has already done. (If He has done such “marvelous things” in the past, it is more than likely that He will continue to do “marvelous things”.)

“In that day …” (2)

May 28, 2008

In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. 20 It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. 21 So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. 22 The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them. (Isaiah 19:19-22, NIV. Please read Isaiah 19-23.)

The Lord God had a word of warning for the people of Egypt, Dumah, Arabia, and Tyre. His oracle toward these people – who were not included in that blessed group, called the “chosen people” – bespeaks of the Lord’s reign as King of all the earth.

But in the midst of His oracle against the nation the Lord gives reason for hope. (He does the same in the oracles we discussed yesterday.)

As it was with the Egyptians – when Moses introduced them to the God of heaven and earth – the people will come to know the Lord, when they see the great and terrible day of the Lord.

For us, that may be the best lesson of all. Whether the day – any day – brings with it good or bad … we should seek to know God … to understand His ways … to submit to His will.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Our greatest comfort will come on that day … that we are prepared to meet the Lord. Rather than waiting until that day to submit – as all men will – we have chosen to seek His favor today.

“In that day …”

May 27, 2008

In that day men will look to their Maker
and turn their eyes to the Holy one of Israel.
8 They will not look to the altars,
the work of their hands,
(Isaiah 17:7-8; NIV. Please read Isaiah 13-18 )

The Lord God had a word of warning for the people of Babylon, Moab, and Damascus. (We would be more familiar with the names Iraq, Jordan, and Syria.) His oracle toward these people – who were not included in that blessed group, called the “chosen people” – bespeaks of the Lord’s reign as King of all the earth.

But if God had a word of warning for those who were not among His chosen, would it not be wise for those who claim to be His chosen to listen and heed those warnings?

When the “day of the Lord” comes, it will come with “wrath and fierce anger”. It will be a “cruel day” that will be “destruction from the Almighty”.

When the “day of the Lord” comes, it will come because of “… overweening pride and conceit … pride and insolence …” (16:6).

When the “day of the Lord” comes, it will overwhelm all men and women. They will no longer trust in the power or works of their own hands, but they will turn their eyes and hearts back to the Lord. (Remember the old saying: “There are no atheists in foxholes.”) On that day “… every knee will bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord …”.

So … wouldn’t it be wise to prepare for such a day?

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Rather than waiting for “that day” to turn toward our Maker … let’s start today. First thing this morning … acknowledge His good gifts and seek His favor.

“And He will be called …”

May 26, 2008

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
(Isaiah 9:6-7; NIV. Please read Isaiah 6-12.)

Has any god ever been so gracious as our God … to give us His Son?

Has any people ever been so blessed as these people … to receive His Son?

He is our “Wonderful Counselor”. Whether these two words are separated to describe or combined to identify those of us, who have been deluded and damaged by sin, thank God for His comfort and counsel.

He is our “Mighty God”. By calming storms … by casting out demons … by curing diseases … by conquering death – doing what no man can do – He confirms that He is both “mighty” and “God”.

He is “Everlasting Father”. He is the source of all things, for all things were created by Him and for Him; and unto Him all things exist in heaven and on earth … so that in everything He might have the supremacy.

He is our “Prince of Peace”. The angels declared that He had come to bring peace – not the peace of compromise or consensus – but the peace of His victory over all enemies … with His garments stained with their blood, as we follow robed in white – stainless and pure.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Please take note of and pray for Isaiah 11:9, “… for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” I long for the day …

“… let us reason together …”

May 25, 2008

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
 For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
(Isaiah 1:18-20; NIV. Please read Isaiah 1-5.)

To a people who were willful and rebellious … who were heartless and hypocritical … the Lord spoke. Through His prophet Isaiah, God invites them to “reason together” with Him.

They are unreasonable … but He is willing to reason with them.

They are sinful … but He is willing to forgive them.

They are rebellious … but He is willing to discipline them.

Are we so different now? Are we not unreasonable, when it comes to accepting His Word and His way? Are we not sinful, when it comes to our lives and influences on others? Are we not rebellious, when it comes to submitting to His will?

Some things never seem to change. Thank God that He doesn’t … for He is still willing to reason, forgive, and train us.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: The prophet Isaiah spoke for God to a people who were experiencing political and religious upheaval. If by some “coincidence” we were living in a nation undergoing similar stressors might we be able to find some comfort or correction in the message they received from God?