Tuesday, December 18, 2007

None Compare

And he said, this will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you. I Samuel 8.11

No Comparison -
Israel has demanded a king so they would be “like all the other nations”. They had decided that rather than be subject to the loving God; Creator of all of heaven and earth, they would take their chances with a mere mortal. Not a wise choice.

Samuel then warns them, telling them that this decision will come at a cost… the king will take; then he will take some more.

It is a sobering warning that fell on deaf ears but maybe we can glean something for our own lives.

Paul tells us in Romans 6.16-18

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Now that is pretty heady stuff! What he is saying in a nutshell was summed up pretty well by Bob Dylan when he sang, “you’re gonna serve someone… it might be the devil, or it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna serve someone.”

But we do have a choice who we serve. Paul is saying don’t go back to the taskmaster of sin; you have been freed, be instead a “slave” to righteousness.

Now, back to Samuel. He gives them a list of things that this king of theirs will take:

Vs 11-13 He is going to take your children and make them slaves
It’s going to impact your family
Vs 14 He is going to take the best of your fields –this years harvest
It will affect your work
Vs 15 He is going to take your seed – next years harvest
Your financial security will be affected
Vs 16 He is going to take your servants and beasts of burden
Your ability to serve will be impacted
Vs 17 He will take your flocks and you will be his servants
You will be brought into bondage as a result

No comparison -
Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said,

“No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Vs 19-20

They were willing to trade the miraculous, victory winning, miracle working "Lord of Hosts" for a flawed human general. Not a wise choice.

Well there is plenty to apply to our lives in considering this but let me just drop one devotional reality in your lap.

No comparison -
The “kings” of this world take and take and take; it is the way of the world, the way of the flesh, the way of our enemy. But our King of Kings came to give and give and give.

He gave us His life, it always begins there; but hardly ends there.
He has also given us “Everything that pertains to life and godliness…”
He has also given us “Every good and perfect Gift…”
He has also given us “All the promises of God are in Him”
He has also given us "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ"

No wonder we serve Him, have made Him our King – now that is a wise choice!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jehovah Jireh - The Lord Our Provider

Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord Will Provide", as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the Lord it will be provided"

After covering this passage at our study on Friday, and in light of the message a week ago in Habakkuk, I wanted to bring it back to the front of my mind and heart again; what is referred to as "meditating on the Word", so important.

Habakkuk had a need, a request he had brought before the Lord. In his case it was a question about what God was doing, I don't know what your request before the Lord might be...

He begins by being frustrated, he ends rejoicing. Even though his situation had not changed He says,
"Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet will I exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

The "God of my salvation", "The Lord My Provider"; how does He provide?

Sometimes He provides by making the waste places fruitful
(As He promised in Joel)
Sometimes He provides in ways you could never have dreamed of
(As He did with the manna)
Sometimes He provides by multiplying our meager supply
(As He did with the loaves and fishes)
Sometimes He Provides by causing us to survive on nearly nothing
(As He did with Moses and Elijah)
Sometimes it doesn't come at all in the way we normally think of as "provision"
( As with the saints mentioned in Hebrews 11.35-38)

Habakkuk got it, so did Abraham... so did Job!

It was Job who said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

Do I realize, as Abraham did, that it is in the Mount of the Lord... that is to say, Calvary; it is on that Mount that I will find my ultimate provision? Do I see that the Lord already has provided. It has all already been given, He gave it all on that cross... for me.

In the mount of the Lord His provision is seen. That is the provision that I must keep in focus, all the rest is secondary to the work of the cross on my behalf.

Is the Lord enough? Am I satisfied with Him and Him alone. Can I be content and say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my Portion"?

Where will my heart travel if the thing I have asked for never comes as in Habakkuk's story?Will I be able to rejoice still; or is my joy, my contentment, even, dare I say, my relationship, based on what the Lord gives me or doesn't give me day to day. In other words, is it conditional?
How great and marvelous are Your works oh Lord. They are beyond finding out. How abundant your grace, how magnificent is your mercy, how pleasant are Your thoughts toward me, how beyond measure Your love.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Who Will Be king?

Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations. I Samuel 8.5

As great a man, as wonderful a judge and prophet Samuel was personally, his sons were quite a different story. The Israelites were not about to have them serve in the office of Judge over them. One could hardly blame them, I suppose. Verse three says,

“His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.”
These are not admirable qualities for a judge to say the least.

But the “judge” was more than what we might think of in the judicial sense; they were God’s instrument of leadership for the nation. They were men, and one woman, raised up by the Lord when Israel had “done what was right in their own sight” to deliver Israel from their oppressors and lead the people back to the Lord.

Samuel, as it turns out, is the last judge in Israel, his sons would not operate in that office… the people rejected them.

What Israel demanded was “a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” They wanted to have a king like all their neighbors, a flesh and blood monarch to govern them.

Again though their request/demand might seem to be reasonable, the commentary concerning it is given to us in verse seven where God says to Samuel,
“Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”

This is the real issue at the heart of their demand; they wanted a monarchy rather than to continue as a theocracy. They wanted a man to stand in rather than God as their king. They didn’t want to continue in that very unique and special relationship with the Living God that Israel alone could claim; that is, that God himself was leading them. The God of all of heaven and earth was taking a personal and very direct role in governing Israel.

They were rejecting that, they wanted to go it on their own; they wanted to be like the world, have a man at the helm and trust him to lead them and protect them and to govern well the affairs of the nation.

In the generations that would follow Israel had some wonderful kings, godly men who were used by God, but they had even more that were godless, selfish reprobates that led the nation into ruin and defeat.

If we could pause for a minute and just reason this out I think that we would conclude that even the very best of human kings, at their very best, at the pinnacle of their achievements would pale terribly to the perfection, omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God Almighty.

It was a very bad trade; they chose the short straw, gambled on independence and lost.

So do we precious saint, anytime… every time we choose any king or any thing that is not God to have a place of authority in our lives. Even if, maybe especially if, it is ourselves that we are entrusting the authority to.

It is a bad deal, a bad trade. In the kingdom, gambling on independence from God is a losing proposition.

We have also been given the opportunity to enjoy that special relationship with the God of heaven and earth. God so desires to govern us, to lead us an guide us, provide and protect us, lets allow Him to do just that… even today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Someone Took Our Sign!

Its true! Someone apparently really needed a vinyl sign that said "Lawrence Street Chapel" so they got a ladder and unhooked our sign from the front of the building and have it hanging in their bedroom now I suppose.

Hey, we are reaching the world one sign at a time...ha!

It reminds me of a classic conversation I overheard with one of my very good friends from Applegate. His name is Garry and regularly blew me away with down-home, good 'ol boy wisdom and this was one of those times.

A congregant came up to us one afternoon: he was concerned that, "you could hardly see the sign out on Hwy 238" which runs in front of the church.

And he was saying, "How are folks supposed to find the church?" (Now, that was kind of funny on several levels since there were 6-7,000 people attending the Fellowship then, maybe more. Apparently somehow they had managed.)

But Garry took the conversation in a different direction. He said to this good brother,
"How is it that you started attending Applegate?"
He said, "A friend invited me".
"Well" Garry said, "He's one of our signs."
"What do you mean?" Our good brother asked.
"We have 6-700o signs running around the Rogue Valley all week long, I don't think the one in front of the church is the one that bring people here" Garry said.

He said to this brother, "You are the sign for the Fellowship man!"

I love that guy. There is some real wisdom there.

How are people going to find out about Lawrence Street Chapel? They will hear about it from you. It is your excitement, your encouragement, it is your invitation that will get that neighbor of yours to come and check it out.

How about the Lord Jesus Christ; how will people come to Him? It will not be by putting up a billboard or by slick marketing; they will come to know Jesus when we share Him with them. When we invite them to "come and see" the One that we are so passionately in love with.

We are the sign; the light, the salt, the fragrance of Christ in the world. It is our assignment to show folks the way to Jesus.

As for the sign, I guess when we can we will need to replace it at some point. My prayer and determination however is to place no trust in such things... it's just a sign.

Signing OFF for now.