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Showing posts from December 13, 2015

Judgment and Mercy

David was late into his reign as King over Israel when he decided to number the fighting men in his army. This was met with push back from Joab, his commander, because he felt this was a prideful act by the King. However, he was overruled and in the next nine months the order completed and reported to David that the number was eight hundred thousand. At the moment of this seemingly good news, "David was conscience-stricken…and said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done.'" The next morning, the prophet Gad appeared before David and gave him three choices from God as punishment for his sin. Three years of famine, three months of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of plague on the people. David's choice was, "Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men." (2 Samuel 24:14) David felt that even in judgment God would be more merciful than any man would be. Habakkuk served …

Doing What He Pleases

In your understand, how great is your God, and to what extent does His greatness impact His sovereignty? "Wow! Are we getting deep right at the beginning? This is pretty heavy stuff!" Let me share what I have recently read in the psalms. Psalm 135 begins with much praise toward God. Then the psalmist under inspiration says this, "I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods." Okay, the writer maintains this as a personal conviction, "I know." Then he connects others with that knowledge by saying, "our Lord," and ends by an inclusive statement about God's greatness, "greater than all gods." (135:5) Conviction, connection, and comparison. He's just getting started. Next, he makes clear the impact of God's greatness on His sovereignty. "The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths." (135:6) God does whatever pleases Him. He is not hin…

Punishment

How does God "rein in" man? I'm asking, when people or national leaders become arrogant, idolatrous, flippant in their recognition of God, how does God deal with them? In asking this question, I am not saying that God is "dealing with them" because He is arrogant but because He is seeking to draw all men unto Himself for salvation. When the seals are broken by Jesus Christ in Revelation 6, several of them are identified as horses. There was a "fiery red one," "a black horse," and "a pale horse." These revealed three destructive forces which drop people to their knees. They break wills, reveal all that is trusted as chaff, and cause people to turn toward God. They are the sword, famine, and plague. In the heart of the book of Jeremiah (16:4; 21:6-7; 27:8, 13; 32:24, 36; 34:17; 42:17) these three destroyers are spoken of many times. As Creator, God knows our weaknesses and in order to bring us to a point of turning toward Him He deplo…

Compassion

Jonah, I just have to say the name and you think you know the story. He was swallowed by a whale, right? Yes, this was his transportation mode back to where he ran from God, but it is only a small piece of the story. God did command Jonah, a Hebrew, to go to Nineveh, a pagan capital whose people were the enemies of the Hebrew nation. Jonah didn't want to go because he knew that God was "a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2) So Jonah ran, and in doing so actually enlarged the impact of his message. God worked with a disobedient Jonah to bring His message to more people. God was not going to let disobedience get in the way of His will for sailors and for Nineveh, and for that matter  all who have heard this story from that time forward. Here are some benefits of the greater story. One, God is able to take disobedience and turn it toward His purposes. Two, if Jonah had not run to Tarshish an…

Fear or Trust

There is a conundrum, a puzzling problem that we see on a regular basis. It is a fear which creeps into our souls and intimidates us not to speak out about God. We may be a powerful "warrior" physically but we shy away from expressing our faith. Why? Solomon said this which might help us understand, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare…" (Proverbs 29:25a) Fear of hurt to our own person can be created by blackmail, outright oppression, vengeance, or a dark heart wielding evil deeds. This causes us to alter our course, adjust our words, shrink back from support of others that are doing so, and therefore aligns us with the feared. The king loses his integrity. The judge provides an unrighteous sentence. The believer compromises the gospel. All act to afford themselves protection but all end up in bondage. The question rolling around in the back of each one's mind is "what will others think of me?" This false premise, the need to be liked or to protect se…