Ancient Words

Reading the Bible is paramount for the believer who wants to live and walk as Jesus did – after all, that is the purpose for our salvation – “to be conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:27).  I’ll bet you have started trying to read through the whole Bible and found it to be more challenging than you thought.  Especially in the Old Testament – especially in Leviticus! What do all those old rules and sacrifices and rituals have to do with us as New Testament believers?  EVERYTHING!
The entire Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus Christ.  He fulfills every promise and completes every command.
In Genesis He is the Seed of the woman who will one day crush the head of Satan.
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb and the one who leads His people out of bondage.
In Leviticus, He is the great high priest and the perfect sacrifice.
In Deuteronomy he is the Great Prophet to come.
In Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord’s host.
In Judges, He is the one who faithfully delivers His people from the cost of the sin.
In Ruth, He is our Kinsman Redeemer.
He is the anointed King in the line of David in the books of Samuel.
In the books of the Kings, He is the Spirit filling the Temple.
He is the great Teacher in Ezra and the Rebuilder of broken walls in Nehemiah.
He is the Interceder for His people in Esther and the coming Redeemer in Job.
He is the Shepherd in Psalms and the Source of all wisdom in Proverbs.
He is the Beloved Bridegroom in the Song of Solomon.
In Isaiah He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah and Lamentations He is the Man acquainted with sorrows.
In Ezekiel He brings life to dry bones.
In Daniel He is the Ancient of Days.
He is the faithful Husband in Hosea, the Hope of His people in Joel, the Judge of the nations in Amos, and in Obadiah the One who warns of coming judgment.
In Jonah He is the preacher of the Good News, in Micah He is the Ruler from Bethlehem.
In Nahum, He is the judge of His people’s enemy,  the Sovereign Lord in Habakkuk and in Zephaniah He is the God who is mighty to save.
In Haggai He is the Glory of the House of God, in Zechariah He is the Royal Priest and in Malachi Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.
When you read the Old Testament, always look for Jesus, He is on every page, in every verse.  Then read the New Testament with a fresh understanding of Jesus who was and is and is to come.
I love the power and truth in Michael W. Smith’s hymn, Ancient Words – (written by Lynn DeShazo)
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When All Is Lost

Hagar and Ishmael had been banished to the desert with just a skin of water and no direction. When the water ran out so did Hagar’s hope. She couldn’t bear to watch her son die, so she set him under a bush and walked away. As her tears fell, God sent an angel to comfort her and give her hope. And water. The Scripture says “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19). A well. In a desert. Just at the moment she needed it. Right where she stopped in her hopelessness.

There are volumes here we can learn from this account, and a good preacher could get a month’s worth of 3-point sermons out of this story. But here is my take-away: God brings hope into hopeless situations. He gives water in the desert, peace in the storm, direction in the wilderness, and light in the darkness. He is watching with tender care to meet you wherever your struggles take you. Whether you are in the desert or on a stormy sea – if your life is a train wreck or you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, God knows right where you are Beloved. He knows exactly what you need. He will meet you in the middle of your hopeless situation. Just when you think all is lost, God says you are found.

Okay God, Here’s Our Plan

Reading in Genesis this morning where God had declared His promise and covenant with Abraham to make him the father of a great nation. You know the story: Sarai grew impatient and nagged Abram into fathering a child by her maid Hagar. Several years passed and God came to Abraham and confirmed His promise – Sarah would still bear him a son. Abraham laughed to himself and questioned God’s promise: “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old bear a child? (Genesis 17:17). Then Abraham said, “Oh, that Ismael [his son with Hagar] might live before you!”
God had made His promise known to Abraham, but in the waiting Abraham and Sarah decided God could not be trusted and they would go to “plan B.” Even in the presence of God with the promise still ringing in his ears, Abraham pitched another idea out – as if God’s plan was not sufficient. “You know Lord, that’s quite a stretch – that two old people would have a baby. We’ve got Ishmael already – why don’t you just your thing with him instead.”‘
I am so much like them. “God I’ve got this situation, I need Your help. I need You to work on my behalf. You are the only one who can fix this.” Then – “Oh, and here’s my plan for what you can do.” Sound familiar? Why do we think we need to give God our advice? I’m speaking this to me as loudly as I am to you – God doesn’t need our input. He doesn’t need my solutions. He can take care of things without your human wisdom. What He wants is our trust. He wants us to give the thing to Him and let Him decide the best course of action. He wants us to believe that what He promised He will also accomplish – without our “help.”
Beloved, let’s make a commitment right now to stop trying to tell God what to do. Let’s give Him free reign with our lives and how to work in them. You know, I bet He will come up with a solution that will be “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

What’s Your Plan?

Murphy’s Law says, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Robert Frost wrote: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In the south we often say, “If the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise!” You get it, we make plans – big and small – and life happens. In high school I planned to go to college, get married, be a journalist and live happily ever after. Five years later I never made it to college, was working at a dead-end job, and going through a divorce. Not exactly what I had in mind. Perhaps you intended to get a big project finished at work yesterday, but a minor hitch derailed your plan. Flat tires, sick kids, an unexpected phone call, or the boss’ priorities can turn our day upside down. Divorce, cancer, lay-offs, rebellious kids, and death can turn our lives upside down.
Aren’t you glad God is not subject to the winds of change and the whims of other people? Job testified, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1). God is the perfect planner because He is sovereign; that is He has absolute authority to determine what will happen and He has absolute power to pull it off. He also has the advantage of seeing “the bigger picture.” Like putting together a puzzle, He sees each piece as it fits into its place and becomes part of the whole. In fact, He is the one who designed the picture in the first place. In hard seasons I find comfort in knowing that God is never taken by surprise when life takes a left turn. He has already determined how this thing that has rocked my world will fit into the completed picture of my life.
God never sits on His throne and wrings His hands over the unexpected. Because nothing is unexpected to the One who rules over it all.

Hiding from God

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'” (Genesis 3:9)
Did God really not know where Adam and Eve were?  Is it possible that the omniscient, omnipresent God who called the universe into existence was clueless to His beloved creation’s whereabouts and actions?  Not a chance.  I believe God was asking Adam, “Do YOU know where you are?”  “Do you realize what you have done?”  They had walked with God every day in the goodness of His creation, but now thought they needed to avoid their Creator.  They hid their bodies from one another and tried to hide themselves from God.  Sound familiar?
When you and I fall to the temptation of the enemy, when we surrender to sin, our first inclination is to hide, to cover ourselves so God can’t see our shame and to avoid Him at all costs.  Do I really think that He is unaware of my actions?  Do you think God doesn’t see you cowering in the bushes?   We can’t hide from Him.  We can’t cover it up.  But that is a gift, not a source of fear.  When David sinned, he tried to dismiss it, but it was futile.   “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3).  You know that too.  We can try to dodge it and hide it and pretend it didn’t happen, but it’s always there. When he finally came clean with God, confessed his sin with brokenness and sorrow, he found sweet forgiveness.  His spirit was renewed, joy was restored and he now had a testimony of redemption. (See Psalm 51)
Where are you?  What are you trying to hide?  God knows. It’s time to bring your sin out of hiding. God will forgive you.  God will restore your joy and turn your failure into a beautiful testimony.  Come out of the bushes Beloved, your God stands ready with arms open wide.

Help is on the Way

I need God’s help.  I have a difficult situation – one that is bigger than I can handle on my own.  I need God to rescue me.  Again.  I expected Him to be frustrated with me by now and I asked if He was tired of rescuing me.   You know, deep sigh, then – “Child, when will you stop getting into trouble?”  But that’s not what He told me. 
He sent me searching for the word “rescue,” and highlighted one Scripture in particular, “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delights in me” (Psalm 18:19). And then His Spirit impressed this thought on my heart – He doesn’t rescue me because I am in trouble, He rescues me because it delights Him to do so.
The enemy would have us imagine God as an exasperated parent, weary of our foolishness.  That is not the God who sent His Son to die on the cross.  Ours is a God who delights in rescuing His children.  He knows that we will stumble, He knows that troubles will come our way.  He knows we will get in over our heads. And He is always ready and willing to come to our aid.  Hear this Beloved – God doesn’t rescue you and me out of sense of duty, but out of His extraordinary love.
Do you need to be rescued today?  Cry out to the One who delights in flexing His muscles on your behalf.  Your hero is on the way.