God loves you everlastingly

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

What part of ‘everlasting’ do we not get?

These days, we are learning through science a little of what unending and infinite look like. Space seems to be continuous, going on and on.  The lineup of galaxies across the heavens staggers our imaginations, considering their size, makeup, and number.

The Psalmist who said “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord” had no clue just how much they say about the majesty and might of our Creator. That’s not to imply we do, only that we have far more information on the complexities and delights of the universe which the Father has wrought with His own hands than biblical writers ever imagined.

“From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)

From everlasting in the past to everlasting in the future, God is God.  There never was a time when God did not exist; there will never be a time when God does not reign.

I cannot get my mind around that. To my puny intellect, infinity of any kind is fearful.  To think of being snuffed out upon death, that after our last breath, we are extinguished forever, is frightening and painful beyond belief.  I think of loved ones whose passing took with them a huge hunk of my heart and soul. The thought that I would never see them again strikes me with a sadness that is incalculable.

But infinity of the other kind–living forever and ever, world without end–is just as mind-boggling. How could that work? How could we exist knowing that nothing would ever end?

Continue reading

Don’t lie to me about God

Sometimes someone says something to you that jumps out and grabs you by the throat. You have to do something and do it soon, otherwise it chokes the life out of you.  Here’s what happened….

A friend of years past sent a message concerning a difficult situation she was facing. Toward the end of the letter, as she made her case for straight-shooting from my direction, she said….

Pray for me if you like. Send me scripture if you like. Put me on a prayer chain if you want. But please don’t lie to me about God.

She was not trying to be dramatic, only to convey how strongly she wanted to know the right answer. Even if it hurt, even if it went contrary to everything she was doing and believed, she wanted to know.

You have to respect that.

My impression is that so many of the inquiries we preachers get want us to confirm what they are already doing or endorse what they already believe.

Continue reading

The single reason we will not fear. Not now, not ever.

A program on a science channel dealt with “Venus: Earth’s Evil Twin.”  The two planets are similar in size, and according to the experts, have the same origin. But Venus is hellish, with acidic atmosphere and temperatures in the monstrous range.

Early in the program, the scientists began telling how Earth’s future is to become as Venus is now.  Not next week. But in the distant future.

Now, personally, I have no trouble with anything that occurs on this planet a billion years down the road, which is the time period the experts dealt with.  For one thing, I won’t be here, and neither will you.  For another, scripture says “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:12).

Wonder why the scientists feel the need to tell us such?

Watch enough such science shows, and you come away feeling that their purpose was to unnerve the viewer, to frighten the audience with the awful fate awaiting the planet and possibly to eradicate any primitive thoughts of a God who could be expected to rescue us from such a future.

I suspect their ploy works.  If one watches enough of this stuff, it would.

But there is one thing–one word actually–which keeps people of faith grounded, one word which is our answer to those who would frighten us about the future of this universe.

Continue reading

Now, take Christmas. That’s certainly not how I would have done it.

(With tongue firmly planted in cheek, let us rethink this greatest of all stories.)

What was the Lord thinking, doing Christmas the way He did?

A Baby is born to an unwed couple after a long, arduous journey.  The cradle is a feeding trough in a stable in Bethlehem.  Welcoming committees of shepherds and foreigners show up. A murderous king sends his soldiers to slaughter babies. The young family flees to Egypt.

And thus the Son of God arrives on the scene.

Admit it.  You would not have done Christmas that way.  It’s not just us.

As the God of the universe, the infinite and omnipotent Heavenly Father, you could do anything you please, right?  In the beginning, You created the Heavens and the earth, right?  The opening statement of Scripture certainly establishes who is in charge.  So everything is on the table.  Nothing off limits.

“Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” It says that right there in Psalm 115:3.

Now, all I’m saying is that had I been God and in charge, with no one to tell me ‘no’ and no supervisory authority to question my actions, I think I might have done things differently.

Take that stable.

Continue reading

“Lord, that’s not how we do things!”

“‘…your ways are not my ways,’ saith the Lord.”  (Isaiah 55:8)

Keep an eye on how the Lord works in your life. You might learn something useful for the next time He wants to use you.

This little couplet seems to sum up 90 percent of what Scripture and life teach us concerning the operation of God in this world….

When God gets ready to do a thing,

He loves to start small

Using ordinary people

With whatever methods He chooses,

And take HIs own good time about it.

Only people of faith will still be standing there at the end

To see what He has done

And to behold His glory.

That’s how He does things.  You can see it all through Scripture and by looking back over your lifetime.

But here is the problem.  His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are different from ours.  He is in fact light years above and beyond us and our techniques. (He said that very thing in Isaiah 55:8-9.)

Continue reading

Humanity: A special creation of God for His own purposes

I don’t know what you think about in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eludes you, but this was on my mind this morning.

People are different from all other animals God made.

We sit in front of the television watching nature shows and swoon at the images of baby tigers, baby baboons, baby anythings.

We are wired that way, to love the creation around us.

I walk the path in our little neighborhood and breathe in the Autumn air and delight in all the hues of the leaves in a hundred trees.  They carpet the ground where I walk our dog, and they are enchanting.

The dog, however, never noticed.

Continue reading

The clue that gives you away every time

“Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who is made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12)

Reading through the gospels, watching the interaction between the religious bigshots as they bully the Lord Jesus Christ–imagine that!–and suddenly, we are brought up short by noticing the prominent role fear played in the lives of these people. Consider…

–“Herod feared the multitude” (Matthew 14:5).  Ah, a good reminder that tyrants always fear their subjects. Always.

–“The Pharisees feared the multitude” (Matthew 21:46). And so do religious bigshots fear their people.

–King Herod feared John the Baptist (Mark 6:20).  Wickedness fears righteousness because it cannot understand it, cannot control it, can’t intimidate it, and cannot silence it.  God’s faithful people must never lose sight of this for one minute.

Continue reading

Perfectionism: The cruelest burden

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect….” (Matthew 5:48)

First, let’s get the theological argument out of the way.

Let’s make this perfectly clear: God knows you are not perfect and will never be this side of Glory.

And even clearer: “God does not expect sinlessness out of you and me. He is under no illusion about us.”  See Psalm 103:14 “He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” And Romans 3:10 “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  Or how about, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).

Got that?  The illusion of sinless perfection is all ours, my friend.

However.

Continue reading

There are several good reasons not to believe

“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen…. By faith we understand….” (Hebrews 11:1ff)

There are good reasons not to believe in God, not to believe in Jesus, and not to believe in Holy Scripture.

A wise servant of the Lord will want to learn what they are and why people hold on to them. In doing so, he will better understand his own belief and will be able to respond to the questions/attacks of unbelievers.

This is far more important than the typical Christian realizes.

We cannot effectively counter the resistance of the unbeliever–whether he/she is a seeker, an agnostic, skeptic, atheist, or full blown antagonist–until we learn why they reject the heart of the message of the Christian faith.

Faith.  It starts with this and perhaps ends there also.

Continue reading

Things that cause God to laugh

“But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them; Thou dost scoff at all the nations” (Psalm 59:8).

I think it was Erma Bombeck who said, “Know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

Or maybe it was Joan Rivers.

Anyway.  It’s right on the mark.

The writer for Our Daily Bread said this:  I was washing my car one evening as the sun was preparing to kiss the earth goodnight.  Glancing up, I impulsively pointed the hose at it as if to extinguish its flames.  The absurdity of my action hit me, and I laughed.

I get a kick out of seeing how prophecy experts bend over backward trying to locate the United States–as well as whatever country happens to be giving us headaches at the moment–in Scripture.  As though our moment in history is so huge and our place in God’s plan so essential, how dare anyone suggest He could have planned the grand sweep of history without our being given a starring role.

As if.

Isaiah 40 has a good word on this.

Continue reading