Lord, Do It Again!

Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV)

All my Christian life I have read and heard of what God did “back then.”  The Spirit of God changed thousands of lives, ushered multitudes into the kingdom, and did miracles beyond human comprehension.  At times, on a smaller scale, I have witnessed some of these things.  Now I find myself praying over and over, “Lord, do it again!”

The darkness of this sinful world feels often like it will crush my spirit.  The coldness of sin-hardened hearts threatens to chill my soul and steal the passion I have had for Jesus.  I understand the emotion behind Habakkuk’s words here.  Though he was going to see God’s judgment on His people, he still longed for God to work in power and display His glory again.

And so Habakkuk prayed fervently, “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear.”  Yes, God’s power and work had been made known to the prophet.  He had heard all about it.  Now he wanted to see it firsthand.  The things that he had heard of God caused him to have a holy fear of God.  Now he wanted to see and experience more.  More of God, and less of himself.

He continued his prayer, “In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known.”  O Lord, revive Your work!  Show the world Your power and might once again!  Judgment may be coming, but mercy must be displayed for sinners if they are to humble themselves before You.  Crush the pride of man.  Obliterate the idols we have made with our own hands and imaginations.  Show Yourself to be strong once again.  Revive Your work, O Lord!

Habakkuk realized that for God to do these things would mean terrible destruction in judgment and discipline.  And so he finishes his prayer to God with the words, “in wrath remember mercy.”  God’s wrath must be poured out on sin, but His mercy is greater.  We see this at the Cross of Christ.  God’s wrath against sin was poured out abundantly on His Own Son, yet mercy triumphed and purchased redemption for all who come to Him by faith.  God has remembered mercy in the midst of wrath.

He can, and will, do it again!  I believe with all my heart that a great day of revival is coming before that terrible day of the Lord’s wrath.  He will usher millions into the kingdom so that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14).  O that I might live to see it!  O that God would use you and me to bring it about!  Lord, do it again!

What Interests You?

Philippians 2:19-21 (ESV)

We all have many and varied interests.  Some are consumed with hobbies or sports.  Others are enveloped in their work and making more money.  These are not necessarily bad or sinful endeavors, but are they really worth all the effort, time, and money?  Will they have any lasting value beyond your life?

From time to time I enjoy watching the program American Pickers.  If you’re not familiar with the show, it broadcasts the lives of two men who travel around the country looking for people who have collected old, unusual things.  When they find them, they offer the collectors large sums of money to purchase what most people would think is junk.  These people have spent the majority of their lives focused on specific interests, and have amassed large collections of these things to fulfill some inner desire.  But will any of these collections amount to anything in eternity?  No.  Not at all.

The apostle Paul was concerned with interests too.  His interests revolved around the churches and the things of Christ.  Writing from a Roman prison cell, Paul told the Philippian church, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.”  Though Paul was languishing in a dank dungeon, his only concern was the church.  He found a similar desire in Timothy, so he sent him to get news of the church’s welfare.

Why did Paul choose Timothy?  “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”  Timothy was the only man Paul could find who was genuinely concerned for the church at Philippi.  All the others were too wrapped up in their own interests.  The things of Christ meant little to them.

Does this not describe most people today?  We are consumed with so many interests that have nothing to do with those of Christ.  We know He has said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” but we want “all these things” first instead (Matt. 6:33).  We keep putting off seeking the kingdom, hoping there is still time later in life to do those things the Lord finds important.  The reality is that Jesus commanded us to seek the kingdom now.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed to us.

With what do you interest yourself?  Is it the things of Christ or a false pleasure in the things of the world?  Do you spend more money on your own happiness than advancing the kingdom of God?  Where do your interests lie?  Are you being found faithful as Timothy with the interests of Jesus Christ?  Or has something else stolen your heart away from a sincere faith and walk with the Lord?  It’s time to throw the toys away!  It’s time to get real with God.  It’s time we all got our interests straight.  Nothing but Christ will last beyond this life.  Everything else is just a pile of junk that will rot over time.

O the Benefits!

Psalm 103:2-14 (ESV)

Great and manifold are the benefits that come with worshiping and serving the one true God.  Never should we forget all that He has given, will give, and is currently giving to us.  When we ponder all His benefits to us, it causes us to be overwhelmed with gratitude and fills us with a renewed desire to worship and serve Him.

The psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  It is so easy for us to forget.  When things are going well with us, we start to look at the blessings instead of the Bless-er.  We need to be ever watchful of this tendency.  When things are going badly for us, we may forget how good God has been to us.  This tendency must also be avoided at all cost.

Take a look at all the Lord’s benefits to us.  He “forgives all your iniquity.”  This is probably the greatest benefit.  Through the forgiveness of sin we are made in right relationship with Him and are in a place where we can receive His other blessings.  And this forgiveness is made possible only through His grace and mercy.

He “heals all your diseases.”  This of course speaks of health and wholeness.  We may not be completely healed now, but in death He heals all our diseases forever.  To be in His presence in eternity is to be free of all sickness forever.  This is a great benefit for us, especially when disease and sickness are ravaging our bodies.

Our God “redeems your life from the pit” and “crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.”  How many of us know this to be true?  We were as those already dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).  Then the Lord rushed into our lifeless bodies, regenerating us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our redemption was purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we are crowned with His “steadfast love and mercy.”

He “satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  No matter where we are in our relationship with God, He provides for our temporal needs.  The food we eat, the water we drink, and the clothes we wear have all come from Him.  With these, He renews our bodies and strengthens our spirits so that we can “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.”  There are times when the world seems out to get us.  In those times, the Lord steps in to work “righteousness and justice” for us.  He reveals our innocence and disciplines those who oppress us.  This is why we are to leave vengeance to Him alone (Rom. 12:19).

Our God has “made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.”  When He is about to do something, He lets us and our leaders know so we can respond faithfully.  He doesn’t constantly leave us in the dark, but lets us know His ways through His Word.  Why does He do this?  Simply because “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

One of His most amazing benefits to us is how He deals with us and our sins.  “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  If we look closely here, we will see the image of the Cross, the sign of God’s never-ending love for us, painted across the sky.  It is through the Cross of Christ that God deals with our sins.

One final benefit remains: His compassion.  “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”  Because He knows our weakness and frailty, He shows us great compassion.  His heart is constantly open to us.  In our most desperate moments, He is there offering comfort and strength.

These and many more are the benefits of knowing God through Jesus Christ.  Do you know these benefits?  Even more, do you know the Lord?  To know Him is to receive His benefits.  That is why the psalmist could boldly say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (v. 1).

The Foundation Stands Firm

2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)

Every building starts with a foundation.  Without it, the walls would not stand very long and the roof would collapse.  The foundation may seem to be a simple thing, but its value is of utmost importance.  All that follows the foundation is supported by it.

God’s foundation is a firm one, ensuring that there will never be a sudden collapse.  Whoever builds their life on God’s foundation has a sure structure on which to build.  “God’s firm foundation stands,” and it will continue to stand no matter how many storms it must face.  It is built upon the chief cornerstone, the Lord Jesus Christ, and is extended by the teaching of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20).

God’s foundation has a seal upon it to prevent anyone from tampering with it.  It bears this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his.”  Others may try to change this simple structure, but the Lord knows those who are truly His.  He will not allow His foundation to be marred by man’s opinion or to crumble over the passing of time.  He will oppose anyone who is not His in order to preserve His firm foundation in Christ Jesus.

It is for this reason that He declares, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”  It is the destructive power of iniquity that causes man to try to destroy God’s firm foundation.  He warns us to “depart from iniquity” so that we will stay firmly fixed and built up on the foundation He has already laid for us in Christ.

What are you building your life upon?  Are you being wise enough to build upon the rock, Jesus Christ, or on the shifting sands of the world and popular opinion (Matt. 7:24-27)?  Only those built upon God’s firm foundation will be preserved against the storms of life.  Only those built upon Jesus are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 14), proving to all that they are His.  Are you building on God’s foundation?

Let the Children Come

Mark 10:13-16 (ESV)

Children always seemed to be drawn to Jesus without reservation.  Wherever He went, children always seemed to want to get close to Him.  With simple faith, they saw in Him what many others did not see.  They saw warmth and acceptance, hope and love.  If only we were more like children!

On one occasion, “they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.”  Far too often we are like the disciples.  Children flock to Jesus, and we try to chase them away.  How wrong we are for doing so!  As the old song says, “Jesus loves the little children.”  We should be encouraging them to come to Him, not rebuking them.

Jesus immediately corrected the problem: “But when he saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'”  This is one of the few times in scripture where we see Jesus being angry.  Why was He “indignant”?  Because the disciples were rebuking the children who were coming to Him.  We are causing the anger of Christ to arise when we try to keep children away from Him.  He wants them to come because “the kingdom of God” belongs to such as them.

You must come to Jesus as a little child if you are to receive Him.  This requires openness, honesty, and simple faith.  That is the way of children, and we must be the same when we approach the Lord.  “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

What a beautiful conclusion we see to this scene!  “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”  Isn’t that where we all long to be, in His arms?  As we humble ourselves and approach our living Lord, we find no reason to be afraid.  He receives us and blesses us.  His hands, placed upon us,  bring healing and wholeness to our broken spirits.  We walk away knowing that we were in the presence of God.

Let the children come.  Don’t hinder them from coming to Jesus.  And then come to Him as a child yourself.  You are a child of God after all.  Enter into His presence knowing you are accepted and loved.  Don’t be afraid to call Him “Abba” (“Daddy”), for He is your heavenly Father, and He loves all His children.  Climb up into His arms and know the blessing of forgiveness and healing.

Man of Sorrows

Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)

Isaiah said of Jesus of Nazareth that “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  Why was He “a man of sorrows?” Because “as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  The Creator was rejected by His creation.  The world takes one look at Jesus dying on the Cross and despises Him.  They do not know or understand the great thing that God has done.

Jesus knew.  He knew the Father’s will perfectly.  He knew the pain He would endure long before it came.  He knew the heartache and loss His disciples would feel.  He knew that His Own Father would turn His back on Him as He bore the sins of the world.  All these and much more made Jesus “a man of sorrows.”

We do not ever need to be people of sorrow.  The problem of sin has been forever resolved in what Jesus has done.  There is no fear of condemnation (Rom. 8:1), and no reason to carry around the guilt of the past.  All sorrows flee before the excellency of Jesus Christ. Joy rushes in and takes sorrow’s place.  When once we know the forgiveness and cleansing of this “man of sorrows,” we are filled “with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).

Jesus may have had many reasons to be “a man of sorrows.”  The rejection of man, the overwhelming suffering He faced, the unbelievable price of sin He paid, and the weight of the world’s sin upon His shoulders are just a few.  But for all these, He knew the joy of fulfilling the Father’s will.  And because of this, He has been given the greatest name of all (Phil. 2:9).

We now wait for the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  Do you earnestly desire for that day to come?  I know I do!  But until then, we can take solace in the “man of sorrows,” the Lord Jesus Christ, and all He has done for us.  Is there anything greater?

Bearing the Load

Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Many people say that God will never give you more than you can bear.  This, I have found, is just not true.  God will sometimes deliberately load us down with burdens to make us realize that we can’t do it alone.  He then encourages us to roll it all on Him (Psa. 37:5; 55:22).  There are some burdens we are to carry (Gal. 6:5), but never without the Lord’s help.

This has been a very burdensome week for me.  My church closed last Sunday.  The place and people I had served for most of the years of my ministry is no more.  On top of this, yesterday I found out that my sister has serious medical issues, and her son, who serves in the military, is being deployed.  These are all burdens that I know I cannot carry alone.  And so I find myself asking God for relief.

Which brings me to this passage: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  I want to give you, my reader, a chance to “fulfill the law of Christ” by helping me bear the load.  I know that I do not have the strength to carry it.  I am broken, empty, and weak.  Prayer is the greatest need I have right now.  Not sympathy.  Not tears and sorrow.  Just prayer.  The last thing we usually do in bad times is pray, but it should be the first at all times.

I have been completely broken.  God is crushing these “grapes” to make new wine.  For that to happen, the “flesh” of the grapes must be tossed aside.  He wants pure wine that can bring joy to others.  So for now, I’m being crushed.  It is painful, but will yield an amazing blessing in His time.

Should I complain like so many others do when in pain?  No.  This is from the hand of Providence.  I must accept it just as I accept blessings.  In time, this too shall pass.  Life will get better.  I have learned from experience that after every great time of humbling, crushing, and testing, God does His greatest work in and through me.  So I will patiently wait until the wine comes forth.

Until then, I ask for your help.  Help me bear my burdens.  Call upon the Lord to strengthen and uphold me.  Remember my family and loved ones in prayer.  “Fulfill the law of Christ” by bearing my burdens alongside me.  I will be forever grateful, and you will receive the blessing of God.  Thank you for reading my ramblings each day!  Thank you for being a blessing to me!  And thank you so much for joining with me in this process!