I don’t know how many tributes have been written, published, posted or tweeted this week about Billy Graham. I am not writing because I think there needs to be another one; sometimes the writing process is how we work through things. But in the process of thinking about it, maybe I can share with you some things to think about as well. Continue reading
Saul was personally chosen by God himself to rule as king over Israel. He later rejected Saul and chose David. But we all know the story of David and Bathsheba; though once described as a man after God’s own heart, David committed adultery, engaged in a government orchestrated cover-up, and eventually resorted to murder. So why was Saul rejected but David restored? I suggest it all has to do with repentance. Continue reading
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That’s actually a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. I guess the bear thing is funny, but… the statement is unnecessary. The original quote creates two categories, things that kill you and things that don’t. Since bears will kill you there is no exception. There are plenty of things that will kill you but the encouragement for survivors is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Continue reading
“God is on my side.” Consider for a moment the arrogance of that statement. We’ve all said it, and probably didn’t mean to infer anything by it. But the implication is that we have a position, a plan for victory, and that God chooses to support our position. The truth is, we don’t even have a side.
Of all the children in a large family, Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob. (As in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel.) Joseph was also favored by God. When his brothers plotted to kill him, a band of merchants just happened by and one suggested there was no profit in killing him but he could be sold as a slave. That would get rid of him and they could make a little something on the side. Joseph was carried down to Egypt, which was of course all part of God’s plan. Perhaps that traveling merchant caravan didn’t just “happen by” after all. Continue reading
Psalm 115:3 says “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” I actually read an argument from an unbeliever last week who quoted that verse and 2 Peter 3:9 about “God’s will that no one should perish.” His argument was that one or the other must be true, or else this is a case of the Bible contradicting itself.
This is a perfect example of what happens when a verse is snagged from its context. Read all of Psalm 115. Verse 3 says that God is in heaven and does all that he pleases. Verse 16 says “The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” God has given us the liberty to do his will or choose our own. Most reject God. Look at the example Jesus gave his followers when he taught them to pray: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He later himself prayed “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” Jesus prayed for God’s will and taught his followers to do the same. We seek God’s will, and ask for his will to be done. But on this world, affected by sin and the curse, his will is most often not done.
Why pray for God’s will to be done on earth it it’s not going to be anyway? God has given the earth to the children of men for now. Jesus also prayed “your kingdom come.” When the Kingdom of God has fully come, and death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, God’s will will be done.
There is old saying about quality over quantity. The old testament book of Jonah is only 4 chapters long, but it has much to teach us.
Lesson #1: Listen to God
Many people spend a lifetime “searching” for God. Even those who know God still spend much time seeking his will. God plainly speaks to Jonah, telling him exactly what he wants done. God has ordained the events of history. Paul says we see through a glass darkly, so it makes sense to listen to the one who sees all things clearly. Consider Genesis 50 and Acts 2 when pondering free will. Man does what he wants, God always gets what he wants. God had plans for Nineveh, and Jonah was to be the instrument God used. We could save ourselves a lot of pain (and wasted time, energy and effort) if we would just listen to God in the first place, especially when he makes it that clear. Continue reading
When God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, he knows that Pharaoh will not let the Hebrews go “unless compelled by a mighty hand.” God has a series of signs and wonders in store for Egypt. There comes a point when Pharaoh would have been willing to let them go and we’re told that God hardened his heart, because he was not done demonstrating his power. It was all part of God’s plan.
I did not intend to preach a sermon featuring 9/11 on the 10th anniversary. I decided to use text from Genesis 15, when God met with Abram (not yet Abraham) and renewed his covenant to make of him a great nation. God explains that it will not happen right away; as a matter of fact it will not happen for another 400 years.
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Gen. 15:13-14