Posted in 2Chronicles, 2Corinthians, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, John, Luke

The Best Wine

“You have saved the best wine for last.” John 2:10

I am convinced that God has saved the best of His Spirit for those who are older. I’m not an expert on wine, but I know that the older it is, the more valuable it becomes.

Paul said we are renewed in our spirits “day by day” and that we are being transformed “from glory to glory.” (See 2Corinthians 3-4) The picture here is of ever increasing glory as we grow older in the Lord.

Think about it: The temptations that were so strong in youth no longer grip us when we age, and the youthful pride we often had in our own strength no longer deceives us. As we age, we become better positioned to lose our life for Jesus so that we can find our life in Jesus.

It’s not that the Holy Spirit (wine is compared to the Holy Spirit in a number of places in the New Testament) gets better over time, but simply that less of His outpouring is wasted because of the wisdom gained by walking with God for many years. But only if we grow older in the right way.

There will always be a temptation of getting stuck in the past. In Luke 6:39 Jesus says, “But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is good enough,’ they say.” This warning is about how our past experiences with the Holy Spirit can prevent us from entering into the fresh thing the Spirit wants to do.

Solomon warns us to not “long for the good old days.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) God says in Isaiah, “Do not dwell on the past; it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19) Dwelling on the past, even the glorious past, will keep us from perceiving the new thing God is doing.

It seems that if we believe our best spiritual days are behind us, then they are. But just think about some of the past giants of faith: Moses was 80 when he led the people of God out of Egypt, Daniel was well into his eighties when he was delivered from the lion’s den, and Anna was 84 when she prophesied about Jesus. (Luke 2:37) God is searching for people to show Himself strong through (2Chronicles 16:9) no matter what their age. So why not you? Why not us?

Posted in 2Chronicles, Ephesians, Isaiah, Proverbs

Standing Firm in Your Faith

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Isaiah 7:9b

News that Ephraim and Aram had joined forces to attack Judah resulted in king Ahaz being gripped with fear. The Bible says his heart was “…shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2) He would either stand firm in his faith, or he would fall – those were the only two options. In easier more peaceful times you can get by without really believing, but when everything is shaking around you, you either believe God, for real, or you become a victim of fear.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) When our situation is confusing and intimidating we must lean on God directly, not on our understanding of the circumstances, or even on our understanding of God. He is able to make us stand in the storm, and after we have passed His test, is equally able to speak “peace, be still,” to our situation. When He does the wind and waves of our circumstances will calm down, and we will see the deliverance of God. But it all starts with us standing in faith while everything still looks bad.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” (Ephesians 6:13-14a) If God tells you to do something, do it, but after doing it, only “stand firm.” Don’t worry, don’t strive, don’t doubt, don’t wrestle… just stand. Evil will take its swing at you and me, and God will allow it, but if we stand in our faith, it will come to nothing. Believe in God’s promises; trust in His character; and then “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” (2Chronicles 20:17)

Posted in 2Chronicles, Jeremiah, Matthew, Psalms

Seeking Prayer

“Seek, and you will find.” Matthew 7:7

Jesus describes three types of prayer that we will look at over the next three days. The first is seeking prayer which is a description of prayer that seeks after God for who He is. Jeremiah 29:13 gives the essence of this kind of prayer: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Singing worship songs is considered part of seeking prayer because it is God focused instead of need centered. Jesus gave us an outline for prayer which starts with who God is: “Our Father who lives in heaven; hallowed by Your Name.” Seeking prayer is when we remember it’s not about us or our name (reputation), but about God and His Name.

The best selling book The Purpose Driven Life, starts with the words, “It’s not about you.” In seeking prayer we remember this truth and long to find our satisfaction and identity in God, instead of in ourselves.

“When you said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’” (Psalm 27:8) God invites us to come after Him and find a deeper faith based more and more on His character and less and less on our momentary feelings about Him.

People often start prayer by asking for God’s hand which is fine, but the real action comes when we prioritize seeking His face. Consider one of the greatest promises in the Bible: “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14) Isn’t it interesting that this verse never mentions anyone asking God to heal the land? If you seek His face, you will see His hand move on your behalf without even having to ask!

I remember when my kids were young. A lot of their interaction with me was because they needed something, but once in a while they would bring a picture that they made “just for me.” It didn’t matter what was on that paper, it was a masterpiece that was going on the refrigerator because of their loving intent. I think that’s how God feels when we seek His face!

Posted in 2Chronicles, John, Romans

Let’s Talk about Politics

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36

“You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” John 19:11

In our texts above we see that there are two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Jesus says that the kingdom of God is from another place and that it does not advance with physical force at the present time. The kingdom of God isn’t here to overthrow governments; it’s here to change hearts. “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) Only the kingdom of God can bring real hope and change to a human being.

But God is also over the kingdom of man, so Pilate is assured that he would have no authority to judge if it wasn’t given to him from above. Paul says: “The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong…For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:2-5) Because of the power and possibility of sin, God has appointed civil government to limit the evil man is able to do while on this earth.

The kingdom of God alone can redeem; the kingdom of man can only restrain. If we don’t believe in redemption, we tend to see government as the solution for all mankind’s problems. For Democrats the answer usually means more government involvement, and for the Republicans, less. When problems continue there is a lot of time spent blaming each other because “if there was only more”, or “if there was only less”, things would get better.

I don’t think God is looking at Democrats or Republicans to turn America around; He’s looking at His people, the church. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14)

Posted in 2Chronicles

Facing Your Fears

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” 2Chronicles 20:17

It appeared to be a disastrous day for Israel. Three armies were attacking it at once. One, they could possibly have handled; two, unlikely; but three? No way. Have you ever had a day like this? So much is happening at once, you feel like you’re going to collapse unless God does something.

Instead of calling the nation to war, the king called them to prayer. The prayer had two basic thoughts:

  1. We’re in big trouble. “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2Chronicles 20:12)
  2. God is our only hope. “Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You…We will stand in Your Presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear and save us.” (2Chronicles 20:6, 9)

God spoke the words quoted above through a prophet in response to this prayer. Please notice God didn’t tell them to hide while He took care of their problems for them. He told them to face what they were afraid of with confidence that He would be with them. He told them to stop fearing and to start trusting, He had a victory planned for His children.

It’s the same today. God wants to give us victory and in the process teach us how to trust Him. What are you afraid of today? Why not bring it before God in real prayer and ask for His help? Then go out and face your problems and impossibilities with courage because God is with you, and there is no difficulty too large for Him.

The Israelites faced this vast army the next day with their eyes on God. The worshipers went out front saying, “give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever,” and as they began to sing and praise, “the Lord set ambushes” against their enemies. (2Chronicles 20:22)

Let’s lift our eyes above what is making us afraid and see the God who loves us, helps us, and gives us strength.

Posted in 2Chronicles, Revelation

Pray For America

“If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

God tells us here that the future of our nation lies in the hands of His people. Sometimes as Christians we think that worldly people are the reason our nation is going down hill. We think God’s eyes are on the sins of the world and that He is planning judgment on America because of it.

The truth is that God’s eyes are on His church. Yes, if the church does nothing then America will receive the judgment of God because of all its sins. But what if the people who are called by God’s own name (Christians) humble themselves before God and repent on behalf of the church and the country? What if we sincerely ask Him for a revival in our country and welcome Him to start with us? Could God give, in this critical hour, undeserved mercy instead of deserved judgment and save this nation? Absolutely.

So let’s purpose to repent:

  1. For the pride in our hearts and the pride of the church that has said in its heart, “I need nothing.” (Revelation 3:17) Let’s humble ourselves and acknowledge our desperate need for God personally and corporately.
  2. For the prayerlessness that has come out of our pride. Let’s start praying more often and for longer times. Let’s ask Jesus like His disciples did, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
  3. For seeking God’s hand (what He can do for us) instead of His face (who He is and what ways bring Him pleasure). We’ve often wanted to use God for our ends instead of submitting to God for His ends. Dear Lord, forgive us.
  4. For our wicked ways. Everything that we do that God has already said is wrong in His word: immorality, lying, stealing, contentiousness, selfish ambition, slandering fellow human beings, etc. Ask for forgiveness for these things and then purpose to stop doing them.

Now as you pray for America, believe that He wants to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

Posted in 2Chronicles, Ezekiel

America: Judgment or Mercy?

The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads declares the Lord God.” Ezekiel 22:29-31

Because of failed leadership and a population that only sought its own interest, Israel was on the brink of judgment. Yet the wrath that eventually came on them was not only because of their sin; it came because God couldn’t find anyone to stand in the gap before Him. Even with Israel fully deserving wrath, God’s heart was still mercy, but He needed someone on earth to confess these sins; to agree with His right to judge; and then to ask for mercy instead. He actually searched for someone to do this for Him but couldn’t find anyone. What a tragedy!

America is in trouble today. We have many signs of present discipline and indications that things are going to get worse if something doesn’t change. Instead of trembling at His word we have often ignored it, and in some cases publicly contradicted it at the highest levels. Instead of caring for the poor, we have often made the rich, richer, and created a system where the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is ever increasing.

When a nation gets in danger of judgment God doesn’t look for the heathen to change things, He looks to His own people. We are the key! “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14) Lord, let there be a revival and let it start with me.