Remember this, O Lord

When young people die, we all mourn. We mourn for their innocence and their short lives. Nineteen year old Brendan Tevlin was killed by a self-proclaimed jihadist. The confessed killer, Ali Muhammed Brown, shot ten rounds into Tevlin’s family jeep at a red light. Brendan did not receive the media attention of Florida’s Travyon Martin or Ferguson’s Michael Brown so you may or may not recognize his name. I have seen his pictures and read his parents want him remembered for who he was, not a victim of the jihadist, but a winsome young man who played bagpipes and lacrosse. When I read the following from Psalms and the reference to God’s turtledove I thought of Tevlin.

Psalm 74

18 Remember this, O Lord, that the enemy has reviled,

And a foolish people has spurned Your name.

19 Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast;

Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.

20 Consider the covenant;

For the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.

21 Let not the oppressed return dishonored;

Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name.

22 Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause;

Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long.

23 Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries,

The uproar of those who rise against You which ascends continually.

Not a dove falls to the ground that He doesn’t notice and neither does a turtledove. God has an account of all the bloodshed in defamation of His Lordship. We need not despair that one day, the righteous One will judge the earth. (1 Peter 2:23, 1 Peter 4:17) So for the victims of what the media is calling “Lone Wolf” killings and those suffering for their faith in other countries and regimes. God knows and will call all into account. What a perfect God, He is a righteous judge and a merciful Savior.

Burning within me,

JOY!

I am heartsick

I replace the word sickened with heart-sick. I am upset. I am grieved. I am indignant. As I first wrote to the tweet I saw, I couldn’t separate my emotions to effectively write because in all honesty I was angry! So I saved the post for an edit today.

We are told sex sells. So we see it used with everything from hamburgers to automobiles, but this evening I saw one ad that has put them all to God-fearing shame. As I scrolled through my twitter account, I found a picture of a group of older teens in a mob that looked much like a concert crowd. One of the good-looking guys was facing the camera with his finger pointing toward it. The caption read, “I WANT YOU TO COME TO YOUTH GROUP”. So now we use seduction to draw our young people to church?

It is obvious the church has greatly lost the battle for the next generation. I don’t have to repeat the disparaging numbers of young adults raised in Christian homes leaving the faith. What does that tell us? I believe it states clearly the church is failing. We are not passing the truth to our coming generation. How are we failing? There are many opinions, but it is apparent we are not grounding them in the Word of God. When we look and act like the world, how are they to separate?

I plead with all the body of Christ to ask God to show us where we have gotten off His path and help us to turn back to His ways. Oh that we would have a burdened heart that cares what becomes of our youth. I can’t help think of Jesus saying the words, “But woe to the one who makes one of these little ones stumble. It would be better if a millstone were tied around his neck and he was thrown into the sea.”

It’s time, church, to see how we have let the world’s culture invade God’s people. John Piper warns us, “The more the church sounds and feels like the cutlure the less people will feel the need to go.”  Think of your children.

Burning within me,

JOY!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9

Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? Psalm 77:13

Remember your brother

“Even if our own troubles are great, we should still serve. Jesus washed His disciples’ feet on the way to the cross.” — tweeted by Tim Keller Wisdom

Today, in your time of prayer, would you remember your brethren around the world giving life and livelihood for the gospel? We all know stories of those giving their all instead of denouncing their faith. Would you wrestle in prayer for them?

Hebrews 13:3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

On behalf of the body, I thank you.

Burning within me,

JOY!

To not remembering

What if you ceased to remember your greatest mistake? What if the person you most deeply hurt failed to remember the transgression? What if your account could be settled such there was no record of a debt ever existing? Those lofty thoughts are scarce to come true. We relive our mistakes in our minds. Others recall the pain we have caused them. Account statements reveal past balances as well as current. In God’s economy, the opposite is true. He says, “I will remember their sins no more.” How? Hebrews explains this incredible phenomena. Priests entered the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people as well as themselves. This act was a constant reminder of the people’s sin. (Hebrews 10:3) Christ suffered once to do away with the stain of sin, so that there was not a constant memory recall of the failures of mankind. Hebrews (10:10) Therefore, God can say, “”And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” The first verse of chapter 10 sums up the blessing by sharing the law was only a shadow of the good things to come. What were the good things to come? Christ and the relationship we gain to God through Him. What a reason to rejoice in our High Priest, King Jesus! Read Hebrews 10 and rejoice. Burning within me, JOY! Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Psalm 32:1 NLT

My only hope

Remember your promise to me;

It is my only hope.

Your promise revives me;

It comforts me in all my troubles…

Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in the heaven.

Your faithfulness extends to every generation,

As enduring as the earth you created.

Psalm 119:49-50, 89-90 NLT

Before anything else

Before we do anything in our love gatherings as a body of believers, we need to be filled with the Word. Before you teach, before you sing, before you encourage a brother or sister in Christ, you need to have been in the Word. We can’t base our lives, our service or our interactions on anything else.    

Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Make sure you prepare throughout this week to meet with the brethren on Sunday by feasting on the Word of God.

Burning within me,

JOY!

I see dead people

“I see dead people.” The quote was odd coming from my music director friend. I wouldn’t have expected him to see the movie Sixth Sense. People are fascinated with death. There is the series “The Walking Dead” and also”The Living Dead” and then multiple zombie related shows and games.

The following lines are applicable to all Christians if you think about it.

     Cole Sear: I see dead people.

Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?

[Cole shakes his head no]

Malcolm Crowe: While you’re awake?

[Cole nods]

Malcolm Crowe: Dead people like, in graves? In coffins?

Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.

Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?

Cole Sear: All the time. They’re everywhere.

Today, you will encounter dead people, everywhere, who do not know they are dead. They are dead in their sin. The only way they can live is to know Christ in His resurrection, and they have not accepted the truth. So, “They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.” When this relation came to me, it was disturbing. I don’t watch shows such as these. They make me apprehensive. As I believe Christ return is near, I need to pay closer attention to the “dead people”. As in many of these series, movies and games, they make life for the living difficult and dangerous. They only see and believe what they want to see. They don’t know sin destroys. They don’t know sin. To their own demise, they don’t know how to enter God’s rest. (Hebrews 4)

Today, as Hebrews repeats, I must make the most of my opportunities to share Christ with the “dead people”. (Ephesians 5:16) As Ravi Zacharias stated, “Christ didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive.”

Burning within me,

JOY!

Ephesians 2

And you [a]were dead [b]in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the [c]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, [d]indulging the desires of the flesh and of the [e]mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead [f]in our transgressions, made us alive together [g]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


The altars of life

“There is not one inch in the entire area of our human life about which Christ, who is Sovereign of all, does not cry, “Mine!”  – Anthony Hoekema

I surrender all is fairly easy to sing. The words have been set to more contemporary melodies and make for emotion filled expression. However, surrendering is anything but easy. The things that are most dear to us are most hard to release. The Christian life is a process of giving ourselves over to Christ. When we accept Him as Savior and proclaim Him as Lord we agree to that arrangement. Ah, but actually handing over possession is a progression for most.

Abraham’s life caught me in regard to handing over possession. Abram appears in Genesis 11. God calls him to leave his home and go to a land He will show him. When Abram arrives in Canaan, he builds an altar to the Lord. He’s given up his home and people. From there a famine occurs, and he heads down to Egypt. He lies about Sarai, and she is taken by Pharaoh for a wife. God intervenes for Sarai, and Abram is escorted away. When he arrives safely back to the place where he built the first altar, he again calls upon the Lord. I don’t know if God intended for Abram to seek help in Egypt, but in His faithfulness He brought Abram back to the land He showed him. When the possessions of Abram and Lot are too much for one parcel of land to support, Abram moves on to Hebron. He again builds an altar. He has separated from his nephew, his remnant of the homeland.

Lot is captured and carried away by the kings of Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim. Abram goes after him. He gives a tenth of his spoil to the priest Melchizedek. He refuses goods from the King of Sodom for the sake of his God’s fame. He says, I don’t want you to be able to say, “I made Abram rich.” He gives from what God has blessed him with, and he refuses to be indebted to another. Then God makes a covenant with Abram. It is obvious that Abram is devoted to the Lord. God promises to give Abram’s descendants “this” land. One problem at this point, Abram has no descendants. Abram and Sarai try to rectify the problem. Abram has a son by Sarai’s handmaid. God changes Abram’s name to “father of a multitude”, Abraham. God changes Sarai to Sarah and declares she will bear the son of the promise.

Time and experiences pass, and Sarah conceives. Hebrews states beyond the proper time of life. It’s a miracle. Abraham has a miracle baby! As Isaac is weaned, Sarah has Abraham send away his slave born son, Ishmael, who mocks the child of the covenant. Abraham is grieved. And another altar comes. Genesis 22 reads “God tested Abraham.” God asks Abraham to sacrifice that miracle baby. And in the place Abraham later names “The Lord will provide”, he builds another altar.

Abraham left home, gave up material riches, separated from Lot, and sent away his first-born son Ishmael. Finally Abraham is willing to sacrifice his miracle child. His surrender was a progression. In his life he continued to build altars of sacrifice and yielding. The value of the sacrifices increased as he went. Such is the experience of those who choose to walk with God. Yet, Hebrews gives us a key to Abraham’s ability to yield to the One who called him. Hebrews 11:10 reveals “for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God”.

God will not stop asking any of us to give up the things more dear to us than He. However, none of us can surrender anything to compare to “the city whose architect and builder is God”, the land where righteousness dwells, which has been called “the Lord is there”. The Lord is the very great reward, nothing we sacrifice is greater than He.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Entering His rest

There is a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9) That sounds so appealing. It invokes in me a similar feeling to knowing I am going to the beach, rest, except magnified on an eternal scale. However, in the chapters surrounding this verse, the writer warns us to be diligent to enter that rest. Three times he states, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” The people of Israel did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief (chapter 3 verse 19). In the next chapter (4:11), we are cautioned we too can miss out on His rest by our disobedience. The two words used for not being allowed entrance into his rest are unbelief and disobedience. And again there is the key word, today. In the fourth chapter, verse 7, we are told, “He again fixes a certain day, today”. The essence of time is vital in choosing to believe in Christ and obey Him. We are not promised tomorrow. We live in tumultuous times. There is war and rumor of war. There are earthquakes occurring seemingly weekly. Long dormant volcanoes are active. Children are dying and being paralyzed from enterovirus. We don’t know what a day may bring.

Today, if you hear His voice, obey. Put your trust in the One Who has not failed to predict any of the calamities that surround us. Share with those who do not know how to enter His rest. Time is of the essence. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the wondrous Sabbath rest of God, including ourselves.

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.” Hebrews 4:1

Burning within me,

JOY!

He expects us

“God’s thoughts are indeed higher than our thoughts, but when He reduces His thoughts into words and reveals them in Scripture, He expects us to study them, meditate on them, and understand them – not exhaustively, but accurately!” — Randy Alcorn

God recorded His words for us and preserved them. We err to our own detriment if we neglect them. Reminding us all to keep His Word ever before us.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Deuteronomy 6

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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