Lulled and Dulled

In the book of Amos, God speaks (as he does in many of the minor prophets) about how the nation has gone astray by the way they treat the poor.

Jesus speaks of feeding hungry people, clothing naked people, and visiting imprisoned people.  Why?  Because to do for the “least” is to do for the Lord.
God is very serious about the use of financial and material blessings for common good.  In Acts we see believers selling what they have to give to those in need.  
Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both material and Him.  It is one or the other, never both.
The real life problem is that we know this, yet somehow we still struggle to live out the difference.  In our culture it is impossible to not struggle with the pressures of prosperity.

Here is how prosperity pressures us…
1.  The more you have the more you must do.
If you have a house, you have to clean it or you are a poor steward.  The bigger the house…the longer the time or more expensive the pay to keep it clean.  Same is true with cars and yards and boats and fields, etc. 
2.  The more you do the less you realize what you do not do.
The busier you are doing what you “have” to do the less you realize that you are not doing what  you “have” to do.  We get so busy doing what we have to do because of what we have we fail to realize what we are not doing.
3.  The more you do with what you have the more you desire to have more to do with.
The more you focus on what you have, even in the simple realities of the care of it, the more you see what is not there.  A nice house, but it needs a new porch…or new carpet…or new paint.  There is always greater and better which robs us of the joy of contentment.

That is the pressure of prosperity.  The problem is that it is a subtle and silent life killer.  Prosperity lulls us away from God’s purpose for us and dulls us to God’s calling for our lives and we never knew it happened.
So beware the pressure of your own prosperity.  Be grateful for, not given to, what you have been blessed with.  Be given to the One who blessed you with it.

Monday Insight 6.17.13

Amos declares that he is not a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  Amos is a shepherd that God calls from the Northern hills of the Promised Land to speak into the rebellious nation of Israel.

Amos speaks of the great prosperity that the People of God had received from Yahweh (the Lord God).   He then begins to speak in chapter 4 of all the calamities that have been brought up on the people.  At the end of mentioning a calamity that God had brought against them he states, “Yet you have not returned to me, declares the Yahweh God.”
God had blessed his people with prosperity and had brought calamity and loss upon them yet they did not recognize or acknowledge him.  God desire is that you return to himHe desires a return to the person of God. 
A person that returns to the person of God experiences right relationship and restored purpose, but that purpose is God’s.  For us to return to the person of God we must return to the purposes of God.  If we love Christ, we obey him.
So before we venture further into why we wander, confess to the Lord how you have wandered…and repent.
In this book we find 4 heart issues that lead us astray.
1.  Religion void of compassion.
If you do not love your brother, you do not love God.
2.  Prosperity lulls and dulls.
The more you have the more you do to upkeep and maintain what you have.  The more you do with what you have the less you realize what you never do.  Before you know it, your prosperity has lulled you and dulled you about God’s purposes.
3.  Insincere worship insults God.
False worship is found in special occasion centric faith, public gatherings as the pinnacle of faith, insincere gifts to God, and singing without meaning.
4.  Privilege involves and invokes responsibility
He who is faithful with little will be given much.
I challenge you to be about God’s purposes because you are passionate about the very person of God.
The grace He has given you is given freely, received faithfully, and lived obediently.

Poured Not Measured

In Joel, God says,  “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
The powerful imagery here is that God is going to pour out His Spirit upon all people freely and willingly.  In the Old Testament God measured out his Spirit.  The Spirit came upon particular people at particular times for particular purposes.
On the Day of Pentecost (and ever since), God has poured out His Spirit upon us.  The Spirit literally dwells within us.  The power to do all that God desires and demands is dwelling in us and empowering us.  The problem is that too many of us live powerless lives as if the Spirit of the Living God was not real.
I challenge you to seek the power of the Holy Spirit, but that means seek the Person of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit “convicts of sin and righteousness.”  If you do not desire to hear the Lord speak of what is wrong and what needs to be right in your life, you do not desire the presence of the Spirit.  You will never experience the power of the Holy Spirit without living in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Many believers simply want to avoid all conviction because then life is easier and happier.  I challenge you to embrace the touch convictions of the spirit because with such convictions comes the power to walk through them.

Unjust Justice

Justice is an easy concept to have an opinion on but a rather difficult reality to establish.  The problem with justice is that we all have an opinion.  Justice does not exist unless a standard exists first.
The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.  Proverbs 11:1
God detests skewed scales.  Modern culture is in love with relativity and a misconception of the concept of tolerance.  Tolerance is no longer tolerating.  It has been turned into forces approval. 
The root cause is that we have skewed scales.  We judge people, not by a standard, but by the situation.  Honestly, not even by the situation, but by the emotion that situation causes within us.  The loss of absolute truth is one of the most damaging cultural realities of the last 50 years.
We, as Bible-believers, have an issue demanded us about justice.  We are to love justice.  We are to do justice.  We are to establish justice.  Yet, often, we fail too.  Often our problem is not a lack of a standard but a lackadaisical approach to the application of it.
Here is what I think is the root cause of injustice.  Injustice, for the average person, is not intentional, it is emotional.  I believe we have this emotional struggle.
1.     We believe we deserve credit for all our good.  And no penalty or consequence for all our bad.
2.     We believe that bad people (according to us) should receive all punishment for their bad, but no credit for their good.

This is not justice.  Justice rewards each accordingly and accurately.  So the root problem we have with justice is that without a standard it is all up to us.  We are not nearly absolute enough for such a job…none of us.
But there is ONE who is Righteous.

Monday Insight 6.10.13 (A Not so Minor Day)

Minor confessions lead to major change.
It is in the confession of the little things that allow us to deal with the big things in life.  We have to become people willing to see beyond the religious façade we can all create and truly embrace the Word of the Lord for our lives.
The book of Joel is a book of prophecy centered around the “Day of the Lord.”  This day is most often called “the great and terrible Day of the Lord.”  This day is great for those who are ready for it and is dreadful for those who are not. 
This week’s confession declares that too often we are comfortable and complacent in our salvation, but we live oblivious to the desperate need for salvation of those around us. 
Joel speaks of some major realities about this Day of the Lord and why it is coming. 
On that day the Lord will be fully revealed in the full view of the full world.   On that day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”  That day, therefore, will be both vicious and victorious.  It will be victorious for those who are ready for that day and vicious for those who are not.
Here are three realities from Joel that help us interpret the events prophesied.
1.  The Lord God will justly judge sin.
2.  The Lord God will richly reward righteousness.
3.  The Lord God will pour, not measure out, His Spirit.
Judgment and reward is an interesting concept in our culture.  I will blog this week about that at  We must remember that you cannot justly reward the positive side without punishing the negative side of the matter.  You can reward without punishment but that is not justice.
The pouring of the Holy Spirit will be my third blog entry for the week, so check that out too.  The basic idea is that in the OT God sent his spirit upon particular people at particular times to accomplish particular tasks.  On the Day of Pentecost, after the resurrection of Christ, God freely poured out His Spirit on his people.
So this week I want you to be challenged by what you truly believe.  There is a day coming…and it is both vicious and victorious.  Are you ready?  If you think you are, are you living complacent or passionate about the Gospel?

Feed the Naked

This is the worst line in my preaching…ever.  Also, the funniest.

Two Sundays ago, while teaching on parenting, I asked if your children obey you how does that cause them to obey Jesus?  Then I said If your children obey you this week will they feed the naked?
Obviously, I meant feed the hungry to be followed by clothe the naked.  But that is not what I said.  I encourage you to NOT allow your kids to feed the naked.  That is a terrible idea.
But I do encourage you to take seriously the challenges of what it takes to build Christ-following into your parenting and family life.  Literally obedience and honor to you should require obedience and honor to Jesus.
There are things that you are leading your children to do that because they obey you they obey Jesus.  Your lifestyle should cause your children to honor Jesus because they honor you.
Here are some practical ideas on how to do that.
1.  Feed the…hungry.  
Literally be a part of feeding hungry people.
2.  Clothe the naked.
Literally give your clothes to those who cannot afford them.  Build a relationship with a single mom raising kids that needs the help and give them clothes…used and new.
3.  Hide the Word of God in your heart as a family.  
This means memorize Scripture together.
4.  Do not forsake the assembly of the saints.
Participate in the life of your church faithfully and regularly.
5.  Give thanks in all things.
Every day be thankful together.  Thank God for your blessings.
Just 5 ideas.

Today I told my son what to do in a relationship.  I said what you need to do is…  So today he is showing love to someone that is not that easy to love.  Obeying me should mean loving others…even those difficult to love.

Leave a comment with some more ideas on how to do this practically.

Relentless Love

Hosea is an intriguing book.  God commands this prophet to marry a prostitute.  Little is known of Gomer, his wife, other than she continues to be unfaithful to him.  We do not know her background or her past pain that led her into such a lifestyle.  Eventually Gomer ends up enslaved as a prostitute again and Hosea purchases her freedom again.  Hosea went after her time and time again.
God’s love is relentless.
This story between Hosea and Gomer is the backdrop for the prophecies of Hosea concerning the Nation of Israel.  God’s people had been unfaithful to him by committing idolatry (worshiping false gods) over and over again. 
Our rebellion, in the face of God’s love, is ridiculous.
In Hosea God declares, “I desire mercy not sacrifice and acknowledgment of God more than burnt offerings.”  The problem was that Yahweh’s people were living as if they were being faithful to him by doing the religious acts he had commanded of them, yet their lives were full of unfaithfulness.
Repentance and restoration to Himself was God’s desire.  Yahweh wanted his people to live in right relationship with him again.  Repentance requires returning to God with the right words for the right reasons.  Often we give the religious pretense that we are returning to God, but we actually only regret the circumstancesour sin has caused.  God desires to change our character more than our circumstances. 
Regret is circumstantial.  Repentance is relational.
We must desire to return to the Lord.  Our repentance is an outgrowth of love for Christ.  Our desire should be to know God not to simply experience the benefits of God.
I encourage you to be relentless in your response and return to God…and in your restorationby God.  Be relentless in your commitment to know him deeply and personally.  Be relentless in walking in righteousness.  Do not allow one failure to cause many.  Be relentless in experiencing his restoration by making yourself fully and completely available to God.