Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I hate waiting

I hate waiting.

One of my indelible memories of the Army was the push to hurry up and get someplace and then having to wait a long time for something to happen. Waiting extended periods of time in long lines became an ever present frustration. “Hurry up and wait” became a well known mantra of frustrated soldiers. There were lines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My memories after the haze of years from that time coalesce with thoughts that involved waiting in a line.

I am not the only one here who dislikes waiting. Waiting for an elevator to stop at every floors drives us to tapping our toes. Not in rhythm but in impatience. All of here have stopped at red lights, impatiently whispering ‘hurry up and change to green.’ We get impatient with microwave ovens. Slow internet. I remember dial up modems and then dsl and faster dsl.  I like a fast drive through. Many times we are in a rush to get someplace. But waiting is a normal part of life.  Commission sales people don’t want you to take time and consider a decision. They want you to buy now. When we take the time to consider and evaluate options regarding what we need, we don’t tend to buy as often or as much.

Waiting on the Lord to do something is an act of faith. If God answered things too quickly, we wouldn’t grow in trusting him as much. We pray and wait. Sometime we need to pray and act. Some of the best answers to prayer are no’s and wait.

We live in a world to tensions. We live between the first and second comings of the Lord Jesus. We read of the marvelous things in the Bible that He did and will do.  We live in the present reality of the Kingdom of God waiting for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when the Lord Jesus returns in glory.   We live in a world marred by the effects of sin. 

Waiting is part of the last two verses of the Bible. We are waiting for Christ's return.
Revelation 22:20-21 (ESV)
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
And we need to remember that God’s perspective of time is not ours.
2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Sometimes a long silence is careful loving no answer from the Lord.  Don’t misread the lack of getting the answer to a prayer that you want. God is God and we are not.

God uses the struggles of life to form Christian character if we seek him through it. Consider Paul's evaluation of the benefit of his struggles in the following verse.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV)
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

As Oswald Chambers explained, "Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. It will be a wonderful moment for some of us when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamored for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God's silence has been the sign of the answer."

The apparent silence of God helps us to recognize our dependence upon him. We have nothing when we don’t have him. All the money in the world means nothing if we don’t have him. Waiting on God timing allows time for our prayers to become more polished, more mature, as we seek what is truly important.

We don’t know the time that God has given us. We don’t know when the Lord will return. But we can faithfully seek and serve him till he returns.  Part of that is faithfully and fervently praying for His kingdom come, His will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, most of us don’t care to wait. I mess around with my phone when I am waiting. Sometimes we become tied to our electronics. Cell phones can be a blessing and a pain.

You can read the news on your Iphone or Android, Ipad, Kindle, Nexus, etc... You can use your smart phone to pay at Starbucks, or you can use your phone as your boarding pass.  Classmates was overtaken by Myspace which in turn was replaced by Facebook. Now we have Instagram, snapchat, twitter, etc...

All of these application can be useful or they can be distracting.  Most technology is morally neutral. It can be used for positive and negative things.  Facebook is now mentioned in more than a third of divorce proceedings. People express things negative and positive and connect with some people they probably shouldn’t.

Technology should never replace relationships with other people. It should assist, not replace.

The next time you are waiting in line, run through your contact list, pray for someone. Text a word of encouragement to someone the Lord puts on your heart. We are all together waiting for the Lord to Return. May we use that time well as we wait.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The value of the Word of God

If you were to find an original 550 year old Guttenberg Bible in a flea market and pay ten dollars for it, you would have an impressive treasure. A few years ago Bill Gates bought a Guttenberg Bible. What he paid was not made public. But guesses range from $23 to $35 million dollars. 

But the value of the Word of God is not from the paper it is printed on or the ink that is used.

A Five dollar paper back edition of the Bible is worth more to you than a Guttenberg Bible if you read it and do what it says.
Then it is more precious and valuable than gold.
Then you as God’s servant you are warned and encouraged to obey it

God speaking in the storm

Elijah after his victory over the prophets of Baal had to run for his life. He was very depressed and wanted to die. The Lord sent an angel to minister to him. And he wanted to teach Elijah a lesson.

1 Ki 19:11)  The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Sometimes we may want the Loud, but the Lord generally doesn’t use the Loud. He uses the quiet.

As we contemplate God’s Word and His creation we will be better able to hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice.

“God Speaks: Are you listening?” outline Psalm 19

“God Speaks: Are you listening?” outline Psalm 19

I. God speaks through the Glory of Creation (1-6)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and
     the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

II. God speaks through the Truth of His Word 7-11

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
 the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8  the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;         
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
10)  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward

III.  God Speaks: Are you Listening?            (12-14)

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

The Voice of God

The Next Voice You Hear

[I don't remember where I originally got this description of the movie]

Was a film made in 1950, the movie tells the story of the Joe Smith family, which has a typical amount of trials and tensions.

Then, one night, the voice of God speaks on the radio. But not just their radio—God’s voice is heard throughout the world on every radio, saying the same thing at the same time.

At first people react with disbelief, then fear.
After several days of hearing “The Voice,” however, people’s attitudes, actions, and priorities begin to change. As more messages come; come people respond positively and other people respond negatively.
The impact of what God is saying directly affects how they live their lives.

Sometimes people say, “If only God would talk to me in my life.
Then I would know what I should do and I would do it.

The problem however, is NOT, God speaking.
Why?  because God has spoken to us in His Word, The Bible, the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

The problem is our listening.
The psalmist desired to obey God’s Word “continually, forever and ever” (119:44). And James warned about ignoring it when he said, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

How would you respond if God began to speak to you on your radio? We can be thankful that God does speak to us—not on the radio but in the Scriptures.
The purpose of today’s message from Psalm 19 is to encourage us to alert enough to listen and wise enough to obey.