I watched the beginning of a video a few weeks ago that is haunting. I couldn’t watch it all. I didn’t want to see the end. It was the video of a young lady committing suicide. Someone had filmed it. The beginning of the video was heartbreaking as she just stood there…on the edge of this tall building looking down. I stopped the video before she moved a muscle. The title told me all I needed to know. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone as they make this kind of life ending decision. It’s a tragic event in the life of someone God has made. It’s a horrible end of the life of someone dear to God. I just couldn’t watch the point of decision…the point where she leans forward and moves beyond her ability to make any other decision. The rest is inevitable.
As I work my way through life, through marriage, through parenting, and through God’s word I am keenly aware of one thing….
ALL of life is about relationship.
Relationship with my wife.
Relationship with kids, and grandkids.
Relationship with PEOPLE! People are everywhere and if I’m going to survive well I have to deal with them, get along with them and care about them,
But there is a problem. You know the problem well, don’t you? People are selfish, mean, frustrating, prideful, hard to get along with and just messy! People make life hard!!! Isn’t that funny? People around us are our main source of joy, frustration and struggle. And it’s just plain messy!
Today I’m working on a passage of scripture I will be teaching this week and it’s all about relationships….how to get along with PEOPLE. You would think we would have this figured out by now, but we don’t tolerate each other very well. We can’t seem to get along with others well at all. The ongoing wars on our little planet tell the tale of our inability to exist together. We seem better able to kill than to care.
Anyway, the passage I’m working through is all about relationships and the key word for these relationship to work is the word “submit.” It’s this idea: “put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.” Now you see why we don’t do this well, don’t you? We are in a ME world with instructions from God’s word to make this an OTHERS world. It’s something that we can only do as we imitate the only one who ever did it perfectly- Jesus.
Submit to one another, in other words put others ahead of you…put them first…care about them more than you do about you. That’s the solution to our world’s problems, but it can only happen as I allow God to live it out in me. He did it perfectly and he can do it now through me….if I will let him. It would be really easy if it weren’t for all the people I have to deal with…..
Previously posted 5/10/11. Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
Romans 11:36 ~ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
This amazing verse comes at the end of a difficult treatise by Paul about his people, the Jews.
The question unasked in Romans, that Paul now answers in chapters 9-11, is this- what about the Jews? What is God’s plan for them. Many are still trying to understand all that Paul wrote in these three chapters, but this verse we are looking at today is his conclusion.
From him– God is the source of all things. They all come from him. He made everything. That’s a clear declaration of scripture from beginning to end. Why? He will explain that at the end of the verse, but core to understanding all that exists is this source question- where did all of this come from? God declares clearly, “It all came from me. I made everything that is.” Even science agrees with God on this. The word science uses to describe this “from Him” idea is a term science calls biogenesis. It means that living things come only from other living things. This is a scientific principle that agrees with the declaration of scripture. Life made life. The life that is the source of all life is God himself.
Through him– Not only is God the source of all things he is also the sustainer of everything. One of the things science cannot explain is life itself. Where did it come from? How did life start? What is life? What the bible declares is that God not only gave life to all things, but even holds them all together and sustains everything that is. He keeps it all going, every cell, every life, every breath. (Col. 1:15-18)
To him– And, finally, he is the one all things return to. Life came from him and returns to him. Source, sustainer and finally culmination of all things.
Why? Why has he set it up this way? I love the last part of this short verse, so that “To Himbe the glory forever.” Why did he do it this way? So he would be glorified, worshiped and praised. All that is comes from him, is held together by him and will return to him so that he will be glorified and praised. That’s the right response to all he is and all he has done.
It is, in fact, all about him. Man’s response? In our world today, as Paul describes in Romans 1, is to deny the creator and credit the creation with its own inception, but there is no question in scripture that at the heart of everything is God himself. It is, in fact, all about him! Amen!
Visit Mike at FinishingWell.
Did you know that more than one in six people worldwide – 894 million – don’t have access necessary amount of safe freshwater needed to meet their basic daily needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning?
With World Water Day coming up on March 22, 2012, here are 10 Water Scarcity Facts everyone good steward should be aware of from the World Heath Organization:
- Water scarcity occurs even in areas where there is plenty of rainfall or freshwater.
- Water scarcity affects one in three people on every continent of the globe.
- Almost 1/5 of the world’s population (about 1.2 billion people) live in areas where the water is physically scarce.
- Water scarcity forces people to rely on unsafe sources of drinking water.
- Poor water quality can increase the risk of such diarrhoeal diseases and other water-borne infections.
- Water scarcity encourages people to store water in their homes providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Water scarcity underscores the need for better water management.
- A lack of water has driven up the use of wastewater for agricultural production in poor urban and rural communities.
- Millennium Development Goal #7, target 10 aims to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Water scarcity could threaten progress to reach this target.
- Water is an essential resource to sustain life.
Watch their video below and visit their website for more information and to get involved. Help lead those in need to the water they need.
“For the Lamb at the center before the throne will be their shepherd; “he will lead them to springs of living water.’ “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
In April of 2008 I wrote the following post in two parts. It’s been a great blessing to me and to many others over the years. I thought I would share it with you once more….
There is a passage of scripture that I often go to for comfort and reminder. It’s a very strange place to go for such things, but it has proven to provide them to me. It is part of the story of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. They have left Egypt, crossed the sea on dry land, and are being led by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the middle of this odyssey we come to this passage, Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD….. . Day by day, led by the cloud and the pillar, they are following God’s leading…following him and trusting him. Then, in this short verse we find these words, and they camped at Rephidim… . They camped here by God’s leading! But you must see the end of the verse to understand how important this passage is,and there was no water for the people to drink. When this passage first became clear to me this last phrase stopped me, and my response was, “WHAT?!?! You took them to a place where there was no water? And you took them there ON PURPOSE!?” Yes he did. And he will lead us to places like this….places in the desert where there is no water. Dry places, places where we ask, “why did you bring me here?” That will become clear in a moment, but you need to know that dry places are in God’s plan for our lives. When you find yourself at your Rephidim know that it didn’t happen by accident, God has led you there. He’s working in your life….he has a plan.
Let me make this one thing clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim on purpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water. Did I make that part clear yet? Why? That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason, Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God. Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse, Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him! But here is what they saw, Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem, Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. This Horeb is the rock that was split in the middle and from it came water to quench the thirst of millions for months. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”
So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response, “Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”
When you find yourself out of work, hurting, wounded, left alone, discouraged, depressed, unhappy or simply thirsty for God and find that he has brought you to a dry place don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your need. Look around, God is there waiting for you….he has brought you to this place on purpose!
Yesterday I left you in the middle of the desert with the nation of Israel in a place where there was no water. They were led there on purpose by God. Let me make this clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim onpurpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water.
Did I make that part clear yet?
That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason,
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God.
Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse,
Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him!
But here is what they saw,
Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”
Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem,
Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
This Horeb is the rock I posted in part 1, the rock that was split in the middle. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”
So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response,
“Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
Many of us, over the years, have memorized scripture. We memorize it because these are God’s words to us. They inspire us, help us, teach us. Paul wrote that all of scripture is inspired and so it’s all valuable to teach, to guide, to help us. Here’s a verse for you to memorize,
Bunni, Azgad, Bebal, -Nehemiah 10:15
You’re smiling, aren’t you? You are thinking how can this verse help me? As I read this verse, among a list of other names, it struck me that in a world where we seem to disappear into the crowd of billions God sees us. God sees me. He sees you. He knows my name.
I picked this verse from the many in this passage because here are three men you will never hear about in literature, never know more about than their names and these simple facts- They lived during the difficult days of Nehemiah as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. They were leaders of the people. And, most important, they signed their names to the list of those who promised to follow and obey God. Now, for more than 3,000 years, their names are read and remembered by millions who have no idea who they were, but God knows.
Paul wrote that all of scripture is profitable, so as I read a verse like this I wonder how this verse helps me, guides me, teaches me. Here’s what I get from it….God sees. He notices those who follow him. He sees us. Psalms says God is intimate with the righteous and here, among a list of 44 names, are three who decided to follow and obey God in difficult days. And for their faith we know their names. They promised to follow and obey God. We will know nothing more about them until we see the Lord, but we know this one thing- God sees.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
There are two things I see in scripture that cause us problems- hard hearts and stiff necks.
Hard hearts describe people who are insensitive to God’s voice and untouched by his work in their lives. They simply don’t see or sense him, his voice, or his conviction.
Stiff necks describe people who are, even knowing what God wants from them, unwilling to change directions, unwilling to repent. They have set their course and will not “turn their necks,” change their minds or direction.
I’m thinking about this because I’m reading a passage, studying a portion of scripture where I see the disciples witnessing some of the most amazing miracles of all history and seems untouched, unaffected by them. They had hardened their hearts. They had become insensitive to God’s amazing work in their midst.
I wonder….I wonder how hard my heart is. I wonder what God is doing in my life, around me, speaking to me and I simply don’t hear it, sense it, feel his presence. This is a dangerous place to be because we don’t realize that a hardness has developed in our lives and our relationship with God. I wonder if my stiff neck, my unwillingness to change my course is made worse by my hard heart?
These are my challenges. These are your challenges. I pray that my heart will be soft to God, sensitive to his touch, responsive to his voice. I pray that I will not be so stubborn that I can’t change, can’t turn my neck to God’s directions in my life. I’m thinking about this because 12 men who lived for three years in the very presence of God on earth struggled with it. I know I do to.
Lord, soften my heart, massage my stiff neck. Help me to respond quickly, to hear well your voice and respond to your leading in my life.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
My friend, James, wrote this wonderful post in June. I simply hadn’t read it until we talked about it this morning over coffee and so I had to go back and read his thoughts after our visit. These are great insights from a good friend and shine a bright light on our need for maturity. Thanks, James.
Several times recently I have heard the comment, usually made to justify changing churches, “I just wasn’t being fed.” Considering the fact that I have said this in the past myself, my reaction to hearing it lately is interesting to me.“I just wasn’t being fed.” By that do you mean that there was no [spiritual] food made available? Or was the portion set before you too meager to satisfy? Was it there, and you merely did not “eat?”When I was an infant, I of course depended on my mother to feed me. As I grew, increasingly I fed myself but my mother still specified and provided the food that I ate. As time went on, I could choose more and more what I ate, but largely it was still provided by someone else. Finally, in maturity, I’m largely responsible for feeding myself, even though there is almost always someone else involved in the provision of food.
One might initially be drawn to a local church because of a hunger to know the Lord; by feeding on the Word, one can learn who God is, who man
really is, what God has accomplished to reconcile man to Himself, etc. As a [spiritual] infant, a person does not know what or how to eat, and the church, through the preached word, Bible classes, etc. can feed such a person until that person begins to learn to feed directly on the Word. From passages of Scripture such as Hebrews 5:12-14, we see that there is an expectation for the Christian to grow to maturity, but not every one does, and as Theodore Epp said,
It is a shame for a person to have been a Christian for years but not to have advanced beyond the knowledge of his salvation.
That aside, is occupying a seat and listening to sermons the reason ultimately for church attendance? The passage in Hebrews, as well as many others, points at our maturing to love one another as Christ commanded and to serve one another as Christ demonstrated. This is not at all to diminish the value or importance of the preached word, but the church is a family where we each have a responsibility to one another, and “eating” once a week will obviously not sustain us in our love and service to each other, much less to a needy world. We must daily see to our spiritual sustenance by making our mind available to God’s Word. Viewed in this way, “I just wasn’t being fed” seems a pretty selfish cop-out.
Last weekend, my wife and I were visiting the town where I grew up. As we drove by the church where I went as a child, we noticed the sign out front which carried this stinging rebuke:
Christians often expect the world to respect the book which they neglect.
I have to admit that I’m a very simple person. I don’t think about grand thoughts of glory or have amazing insights into life and eternity. I am just a very simple guy who is trying to follow God and walk with him. I honestly find that most people are just like me, trying to find their way.
This morning, as I read Micah 6, I once more come to these simple instructions,
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
In my simple language I would instruct someone else with these directions, do what’s right, be nice and respond rightly to God. It’s not all that hard. Life comes down to some very simple instructions. That helps a guy like me.
Jesus repeated these instructions and framed it in an even clearer way. He said “Love God and love each other.” That’s Micah 6 in its simplest form. Basically scripture tells us to focus on eternal things- God and people. Those are the things, the relationships that will be eternal. Everything else will burn up, rust, rot or be thrown away.
So today, I hope to focus on the eternal things- God and people. I hope to respond to them as Micah describes, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God. I’m so glad this is simple. It helps to know how easy this really is. The secret is this- it’s not about me, it’s about God first and others second. It’s a life focused outward, focused not on the frantic scramble for security and stuff, but on people and God.
Simple instructions…..for a simple race, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.
In those two small words tragedy turns to triumph, problems are explained, sadness has hope, and we are not left without answers. God is involved in our world, in our lives. God is the great problem solver, course changer, sorrow solution. When an answer is needed, when grief seems beyond bearing, when questions overwhelm us then comes these words from scripture, “but God” and suddenly everything changes. Here are a few of those moments from the bible, Continue reading But God…
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”As I thought about this verse and my own life I realized I’m the fool! It’s not the denial of God that’s the problem, it’s thinking and living like there is no God! I’m the greatest fool of all in this.
Yes, I am a Christian. I’m a pastor. I do love the Lord, BUT I often think, act and live like there is no God. The bible calls me a fool and it’s right to do so. If God is really there then my thoughts and life should be different because of that.
If there really is a God who is there then that will affect what I look at on the internet and on television. For any man or woman to get involved in sin, whatever the flavor, is to say in your heart, “there is no God…no one is watching…no one will ever know.” If you’ve ever done that, and I have, then you’re a fool. I speak from first hand experience. When you make a decision to sin, in any way, you’re saying in your heart “there is no God…no one will know.” But he does. He sees. You’re being a fool when you do that and so am I. Continue reading On being a fool
Marie is @spreadingJOY on twitter and through her Non Profit Spreading Joy, she is encouraging everyone to do what they can, where they are – with what they have. Making a difference has never been easier. May the JOY of the Lord be your strength and your heart be encouraged as you consider this passage of scripture today.
And the LORD said unto satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth…. Job 2:3
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what financial status you achieve – YOU are going to have problems. I realize I’m not being little Miss Sunshine with that statement nor am I spreading joy, but let’s face it, it is the truth.
The question then becomes, what are you going to do with your troubles?
When we are looking at our troubles, our hearts are tired, weak and weary. We aren’t thinking straight because we are desperately searching for a way to escape, a way to fix what is broken or a new path because the old one is nothing more than a huge sink hole, waiting to swallow us into the belly of the earth. Desperation is not fun. Then the horror really sets in when you think your friends will be there to help you and they decide to tell you why you are deserving of what you are receiving. You were simply looking for some comfort, some support or even just some company and that just never happened as your friends decided to explore the possibilities of how you brought your trials upon yourself.
Troubles come at us for so many reasons. Here are just a few.
- To grow our faith. When we have endured the night of horrors, our faith is strengthened for the next time. Each trial, each tribulation and every victory over them increases our faith. Have you ever really thought about what you are praying when you pray “Lord, increase my faith?”
- To allow us to help others. I do not know the pain and grief of sending a child on to heaven before me. I have several friends who do know this. In the year 2000, both of my children’s best friends died. Megan was 5 and Todd was 9. I encouraged, prayed and helped where I could but I still had my children. When a friend is grieving over the loss of their Dad and she happens to be a daddys girl – THAT kind of pain…I know. There are so many ways we can encourage each other. I’ve prayed for many people who needed jobs, but until recently, I did NOT know their frustrations in looking for one. Filling out the endless ocean of boxes and questions that take an hour to apply for one job is nothing short of a nightmare. When I pray for those who need jobs now, I pray with more of an understanding of what they are going through in even looking for a job.
- For God’s glory. Sometimes we have troubles just so that when God has brought us through and we sing “how great is our God” because His mercy and grace were enough, our Lord is glorified and all those around us see.
- We reap what we sow. Then there are times that we have troubles because we have brought them upon ourselves. Sure we may have asked for forgiveness, sure we may have stopped sowing that which would produce trouble, but the fact remains that sometimes we bring it on ourselves. The bad part about this is that we don’t simply hurt ourselves when we do this, we hurt everyone around us. You never just hurt your own self. Ever.
What I really want to get through to you is, maybe JUST MAYBE the reason your troubles are mounting up one right after the other, the mountain is getting bigger by the minute and you’ve been beat down time and time again very well could be because God said…. “have you considered my servant………………?” and you may as well insert YOUR name there.
Out of everyone on the earth at that time, God PERSONALLY picked out Job and asks satan if he had considered him. I know Job probably didn’t realize what an honor this was nor did he consider it an honor at the time, but have you ever really thought about that statement? I don’t know how many people were on the earth at that time, but God named JOB. Can you imagine with me the kind of love Job had to have for the Lord for him to be singled out by God in that fashion? Do you wonder what Job must have done day in and day out to grab the heartstrings of the Lord so that he would call him by name, saying there is none like him on the earth?
If you feel like you are enduring the worst times of your life and you know you’ve been faithfully serving the Lord. Stay faithful, keep trusting in the One that holds your soul in His hands. Allow him to carry you through. Just as His grace was enough for Job, it will be enough for you. Look around and see what you can learn, see what you can carry with you and rest safe in your Father’s arms. I Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that He will not give us more than we can handle. Please do consider that the trials you are going through could be because God said to satan “have you considered……..?”
If things are going good for you right now and you are faithfully serving your redeemer, consider this – is it enough to grab His attention the way Job did? Would you be willing to endure the trials if the Lord said your name instead of Job’s?
I don’t know about you, but I want the Lord elbowing the angels….pointing down at me and saying…hey – there she is – THERE’S my girl!!! Essentially, that is EXACTLY what he did in Job’s case.
Have you considered……..?