Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

1 Peter 4

In 1 Peter 4, he challenges us to love each other.  “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins”.  Love does cover a multitude of sins, both the sins of the one loving and the sins of the one who is being loved.  Grudem wrote “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts about – to Satan’s perverse delight.”  Love should define us as Christ Followers.

God has equipped us to function together in the body of Christ.  “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ”.  There are several principles of spiritual gifts that Peter points out here:

  1. Gifts are given to all of us as Christ Followers
  2. Gifts are given to serve others, not for our own benefit
  3. Gifts are given to glorify God, not ourselves

This chapter speaks about the end times, and it won’t be rosy as we approach that time.  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed….if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God  in that name.”.  Guzik wrote “We should never deny the place of suffering in building godliness in the Christian life. Though there is much needless pain we bear through lack of knowledge or faith, there is also necessary suffering. If suffering was a suitable tool to teach Jesus (Hebrews 5:8), it is a suitable tool to teach His servants”.

He reminds us that we will all stand before God someday and give account for our lives.  “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God….Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good”.  Christians can rejoice that the sufferings they face in this life are the worst they will ever face throughout all eternity. We have seen the worst; those who reject Jesus Christ have seen the best of life their eternal existence will ever see.  What lies ahead for them will be much worse.

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 addresses the truth around the role of High Priest and in particular how Jesus fits into that holy role and order.  The job of a high priest was to deal with sin.  “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins”.  They have a very important job – to be the mediator between God and sinful man.  God appointed many to this role, but Jesus was called by God to be the complete fulfillment of High Priest.  “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God”.

So even though Jesus was the Son of God, He didn’t just waltz in and declare Himself High Priest.  “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, You are my Son, today I have begotten you….You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek”.  God had a plan for Christ, and He appointed Him to be the final High Priest that would deal with sin once and for all.  But it wasn’t easy and without sacrifice.  Jesus paid the price.  “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered”.  Jesus came to earth as a baby, grew to be a young man, and lived through the trials and temptations of life before suffering an agonizing death on the Cross.

But then things changed.  He overcame death and became the fulfillment of God’s plan for grace and mercy for all mankind.  On our own, not one of us is good enough to make it into heaven.  God’s standards are far too high.  But through the shed blood of Jesus, we can receive God’s gift of grace and have His perfection imputed to us through faith, so we can stand before God perfect just as Christ was.  “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest “.  Jesus is the answer to our sin problem.  He is the only answer.  But we have to make the choice to receive Him and the grace God offers through Him.

God’s expectation is that we grow in our faith and become mature Christ Followers.  Maturity should happen as we walk with Jesus.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen via osmosis, we have to work for it.  The writer here expresses a lack of growth on the part of the Hebrews.  “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles….You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”.  Are you growing in your walk with Jesus?  That’s what should happen to each of us as Christ Followers.  It isn’t automatic.  We have to do the work of spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in relationship with Him.  Are you making that investment?

Zechariah 10

Zechariah 10 has the prophet reminding the people that God cares about the details of life.  “Ask rain from the Lord….and he will give them showers of rain”.  Ancient Israel had no irrigation system, and relied on rain to water their crops. In a time of drought, nothing grew – so Israel relied on rain falling from the skies to keep their crops alive and growing.  It might have seemed a bit insignificant, but Zechariah reminds them that God is responsible for all things and we need to seek His hand to provide.  He reminds us to be bold enough to ask, and God will answer your prayer. God will provide what only He can provide.

There is a leadership problem among the people.  The people have listened to false and deceptive leaders, and part of the reason is because there is a lack of godly leadership.  God expects His leaders to step up and lead the people well.  Where there is no leadership, the people fall. “The people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock”.  Leadership is serious business and God expects leaders to lead well.

Part of leading well is to realize that God, not the leader, has the answers.  God has a plan for all eternity and reminds us through Zechariah that Jesus was that plan.  “From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler— all of them together”.  Guzik points out:

  • Jesus is the cornerstone: the foundation, measure, and standard
  • Jesus is the tent peg: holding all things securely
  • Jesus is the battle bow: a strong fighter for good
  • Jesus is the leader over every ruler of His people

Jesus is God’s plan for His people, not merely for salvation, but also as Lord!

Finally, Zechariah reminds us again that God is in the restoration business. “I will whistle for them and  gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before….I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name”.  The promise to gather Israel is repeated often.  God has been doing it for generations and centuries.  He has a plan to restore His people and that plan is underway and well on its way to completion.  We need to keep in mind that when God gathers Israel and defeats their enemies they shall walk in freedom and liberty again, just as He has promised.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 lists the generations of Noah after the flood.  They were assigned the task of repopulating the earth, and they did a pretty good job of doing that.  Japeth had 7 sons.  They became the coastland peoples and “spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations”.  Ham had four sons and one in particular is listed as special.  Scripture tells us Cush, who was one of Ham’s sons, fathered Nimrod who “was the first on earth to be a mighty man”, at least in this second go round for mankind.  There were giants in the world before back in Genesis 6, but in the repopulation, Nimrod was unique.

Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord”.  He not only hunted the animals and kept them in check, but he also began to rule over those around him.  His kingdom was Babel and he went into Assyria and build Ninevah which will become famous later in a story of Jonah.  Cush’s sons spread over the land and built great cities.  Many people arose from the sons of Cush and his decendents.  Shem fathered five sons and they had a host of their own sons.

The three sons of Noah fathered many sons, and they each in turn carried that assignment forward and fathered many more.  This chapter lists “the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood”.  It may be a boring read, but it gives us perspective.  Remember that when Noah and his boys left the ark, there were four families on the entire earth.  That is a pretty daunting situation when you think about it.

God blessed them though, and they are able to grow their families, build cities and spread out across the land.  They created their own languages and customs and began to form the shape of the new world.  Consider how God created things back in the beginning, and now how He is restarting things after wiping out most of His creation.  He puts a lot of faith and trust in a very few to not only create, but shape all of mankind.  The opportunity to do much is obvious in His design.  The question is what we do with the opportunity He gives each one of us!

Isaiah 62

Isaiah 62 has the prophet pressing on about God’s restoration and encouraging those in God’s camp to push toward that day.  Isaiah makes clear his mission: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch”.  He has a job to do and is going to make it clear.  How well are you sharing the message God has given to you?  Are you staying quiet?  Do people even know you are a Christ Follower?  Or do you keep it to yourself and live quietly in your faith?

Isaiah makes it clear that in his case, “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give”.  He wasn’t going to live in a way that people did not see God’s glory.  He was going to proclaim it and make it known. That is what we are charged to do – to make His name known to the nations.  We are to live in such a way that people can’t miss the truth that God is alive and well.

We should be prepared for the attack of the enemy though.  “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent”.  The enemy is prowling about and ready to attack us.  We cannot just put God on the side and forget about Him.  “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest”.  We tend to go on autopilot if things are going well, and even forget about God at times.  We must be alert and be ready for the attack.

We also need to make a way for others to follow.  “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples”.  We need to build up the way and make sure we remove those things around us that can cause others to stumble.  God has us here on a mission – to proclaim His truth and to call others to know His name.  We need to be focused on His coming Kingdom and living life in a way that points to His glory and honor and praise!

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58 has Isaiah talking about getting right with God and the power of fasting and honoring the Sabbath.  God’s desire is that we are in relationship with Him.  Deep, abiding relationship.  “They seek me daily and delight to know my ways….delight to draw near to God”.  Does that describe you?  Do you seek Him and delight in His ways?  Are you spending time daily drawing near to Him?  That is what walking with the Lord looks like.  Time, spent at His feet and in His presence learning from the Master.

Isaiah challenges what the people are doing because they are just going through the motions.  They are not truly drawing near to God, although they are putting on an external face of such.  They were fasting, but using it for their own gain, not for drawing near to the Father.  “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself”?  True fasting is not about the ‘faster’, but the Father.  It is choosing to withhold food in order to focus on God.  When we do it right it is powerful.  “Is not this the fast that I choose:

–        to loose the bonds of wickedness

–       to undo the straps of the yoke

–       to let the oppressed go free

–       to break every yoke

–       to share your bread with the hungry

–       bring the homeless poor into your house

–       when you see the naked, to cover him

–       not to hide yourself from your own flesh

Fasting is not about me – it is about God.  And it is powerful.

Isaiah goes on to explain even more benefits:

–       “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn

–       your healing shall spring up speedily

–       your righteousness shall go before you

–       the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard

–       Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer

–       you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am’

Wow – what powerful results from humbly spending time with God.  Isaiah gives us one more big benefit from humbly spending time with God; “the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire”.

But wait, there is more.  Isaiah turns his attention to the Sabbath and the outcome of making it what God intended – a day of rest and worship for Him.  He gives us a couple “if” statements and then gives the outcome if we get it right.

  1. If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,      from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight      and the holy day of the Lord honorable
  2. if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking      your own pleasure, or talking idly

Then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob”.  Have you evaluated how you spend the Sabbath lately?  We get sucked into the world’s ways and allow it to become almost just another day.  That wasn’t God’s design or intent.  We can argue about what it really means to keep it holy, but I am pretty sure it isn’t to treat it like the other six days of the week.  How do you deal with the Sabbath?  Is it a day you focus on God and delight in Him?

Isaiah 39

Isaiah 39 is a short chapter that is a bit curious in some ways.  The king of Babylon sent his son – Merodach-baladan – to visit Hezekiah.  He had heard about the miraculous recovery.  “Hezekiah welcomes them gladly”.  He showed them great hospitality and gave them a tour of pretty much everything he had.  Scripture says “he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses”.  All access pass to the kingdom more or less.

Isaiah shows up and starts to ask questions.  “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you….What have they seen in your house”?  Does his questioning set off any alarms in your mind?  The reality is that Hezekiah opened the komono and showed off everything he had.  It doesn’t indicate if he did that in a prideful way, or was just naïve in his hospitality, but Isaiah smells a rat and has insight into what was going on.  In a word – they were there casing the joint.

Isaiah breaks the news this way.  “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord”.  You know those guys from Babylon you showed around and gave access to every part of your kingdom – well it wasn’t just a friendly visit.  They had ulterior motives and were checking things out.  And the day will come when what you have will be taken away, even “some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father”.

Seemingly bad news, eh?  It is interesting Hezekiah’s response.  “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days”.  He basically says it won’t be his problem.  He will experience peace while he is around, and those he leaves behind will have to deal with the Babylonians.  Seems quite a bit out of character for a guy who has just been granted 15 years to extend his life.  I see this often around legacy – where people don’t want to address the inevitable and want to leave the mess for the next generation to deal with.  That seems to be Hezekiah’s approach here – not wise – not God’s way.

Hosea 10

Hosea 10 really describes the state of much of humanity.  “The more his fruit increase, the more altars he built”.  When things are going well, we believe that it is because of us and we become prideful.  We take our eyes off God and become idolators – we often make self the center of that and we push God off the throne and make ourselves king of our little universe.  Bottom line is that “we do not fear the Lord”.  We fall prey to the enemy and let pride rule in our lives.

Here is what God will do with our pride and idolatry: “The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars….judgement springs up”.  We may think we are going to sit on the throne forever, but it won’t last.  God will bring us back to reality.  We will fall off, or more appropriately, be pushed off and our pride will become shame and pain.  “When I please, I will discipline them”.  God is not going to just sit back and watch us live in that puffed up state.  He will bring us back to reality in His time.

Why do we have to go there?  It is so predictable, yet almost all of us fall into this.  “Because you have trusted in your own way….the tumult of war shall arise among your people”.  It is this basic – we put trust in ourselves rather than God.  And the reality is that we are not trustworthy.  We don’t have the answers, even though we may convince ourselves that we do.  But our pride and lies of the enemy cause us to believe in ourselves and we walk away from God.  And the result is not good – we put our lives and those in our patch literally into war.  Are you living there?  In your marriage, your family, your workplace, your church, your personal life?  So many of us are because we put our trust in me, myself and I rather than God.

What should we do?  Scripture is pretty clear.  “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you”.  If we boil it down it is simple: let God be God. We need to realize that we were created to be in relationship with God, but never to take that role, even in our own life.  We were created to worship and bring glory to the One True God and that is not us.  We forget that, and we treat ourselves as the center of our universe. That is when the wheels fall off the bus.  We need to seek His face and walk in His love.  We have to break up our hard hearts and be open to His leading.  We need to trust and obey, and allow Him to have control of our lives so He can bless us and rain righteousness on us.  Are you walking with God as Lord in your life?  If you aren’t, get ready for the war.  It isn’t far off……

Psalm 48

Psalm 48 reminds us “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised”.  We miss that sometimes.  We take God for granted.  We get up and go through the routine of life and walk past His beautiful creation.  We forget that He created all of it, and that it is because He Is that we are.  God’s beauty is not just there for us to ignore, but is there to remind us of the greatness and majesty of our Lord.  It is to point us to His goodness and blessing.  And we need to be alert and pay attention to all that He has done.

The writer reminds us that “the kings….were astounded….were in panic….they took flight”.  They recognized that God was in control.  They knew He was Someone to be feared and to have reverence for.  Why do we struggle to do that?  We treat God like a non-event most of the time, don’t we?  We just go about our own life and do our own thing however we want.  “We have thought on your steadfast love, O God”.  That’s what we want to focus on – that God is love.  And He is.  But that isn’t the whole story.

The balance to God’s love is His righteousness.  “Your right hand is filled with righteousness”.  God is holy and just, and that is the requirement He has for you and me too.  He certainly loves us.  He loved us enough to send His only Son to the cross to bear the burden of our sin.  But He also is a just and righteous God who requires the same from us.  And that very sin that Jesus went to the cross for will separate us eternally from God if we don’t deal with it and get it forgiven.  And the only way for that to happen is a relationship with Jesus – a personal and saving relationship based on the grace of a loving God.  Otherwise that righteousness will kick in and we’ll have to pay for our sin.  And that won’t be pretty.

We are told to walk around and understand God so “that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever”.  We have a responsibility to not only deal with our own understanding of who God is – a loving and righteous God – but also to tell those behind us about Him.  We’re charged with telling the story, and educating the generations to come about God.  That means we need to know Him and be able to share the stories of His touch in our lives.  Are you writing those things down?  Are you recording what God is doing in your patch?  How else can we tell others?  How else will we share God’s goodness and love?

Amos 9

Amos 9 paints a pretty clear picture of how God will deal with sin.  He’s going to wipe it out, as well as those guilty of it.  Amos makes it clear that God’s cleansing will be complete.  “Not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape”.  Often people believe that God isn’t all that interested in what is happening here on earth.  That somehow He’ll forget about their little part of evil, or that they’ll slip under the radar some how.  It is very clear that isn’t happening.  “I will fix my eyes upon them”.  God is not only watching, He will pursue evil and clean it up.

Ah but can He really do it.  This is a pretty big planet and there is a lot going on.  Maybe God will just miss some of what I do?  Maybe I’ll slip past His notice?  Check out how Amos describes God’s ability:

–       “touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn

–       all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again

–       builds his upper chambers in the heavens

–       founds his vault upon the earth

–       calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth

Let’s be clear.  God is more than able to see all, do all, and be all.  He is not limited in any way.  Evil will not flee and escape, or fail to be noticed.  And as Amos describes the amazing God of the universe he caps it by saying “The Lord is his name” just so none of us forget who we are dealing with here.

Still wondering what lies ahead.  “The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground’.  This is pretty clear and plain.  God isn’t going to issue a pass just because of who we are or where we live.  His standards are set and judgment is coming.  “For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve”.  We’re going to be measured.  We’re going to have to give account for what we have done.  And the outcome is clear: “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword”.  The idea that a loving God would never hurt anyone – well you just need to read scripture to know that is not how it works.  Evil will be removed.

There is good news as Amos wraps up his part of scripture.  “I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit”.  God is in the restoration business.  He is all about redeeming people and bringing them back to Himself.  He pursues us and we will face Him one day, so the question is what that will look like.  Will we stand there clothed in righteousness?  That happens if we have a saving relationship with Christ and have His blood over us to cover our sin.  Or will we stand before Him on our own merits and fall short, way short, of what is required?  It is our choice.  It is our decision.  There won’t be any discussion about how unfair it is for God to have a standard so high we can’t meet it on our own.  Holiness is the standard.  Are you ready for that conversation?  Without Jesus, you aren’t.  It is very much time to get this right in your life!

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