Thursday, February 28, 2013

He Cannot Break His Promises

Have you ever had someone promise you something and then not come through?  Whether it is something little or something big, a promise made by a co-worker or your is never a pleasant experience when a promise is broken.  I'm sure we've all had it happen at least once in our leaves and, unfortunately, I'm sure we've all broken a promise or two of our own.  Life just happens sometimes - we forget what we've said, we get stuck in traffic, we lose track of time, we just don't feel like it...the list goes on and on.  

Nehemiah 9:8 - You found [Abraham's] heart faithful before You, 
                      And made a covenant with him
                      To give him the land of the Canaanite,
                      Of the Hittite and the Amorite,
                      Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite - 
                      To give it to his descendants. 
                      And You have fulfilled Your promise,
                      For You are righteous.

Life doesn't happen to God.  He doesn't forget what He said, He doesn't get stuck in traffic or lose track of time, and He always feels like it.  Why?  Because He is righteous.  The Hebrew word for 'righteous' is tsaddiyq meaning "just, lawful, righteous" (Strong's H6662).  God is just!  The dictionary defines 'just' as "guided by truth...based on right...done or made according to principle" (  He is the measure of righteousness, of justice, of goodness...  Do you know what that means?  He cannot break His promises.

But here is the catch - His promises are not for everyone.  His promises are only for those who are in relationship with Him, whose hearts He finds faithful.  We enter into His covenant, into His promises when we give Him our hearts and our faithful to Him.

Would God find your heart faithful today?  

  • If so, I challenge you to trust that His promises are unbreakable.  What promise of God's word are your struggling with today?  Write it down and stick it somewhere you will see it throughout the day.  If He said it, He meant it.  His promises may not be fulfilled in our timing, but He knows best.
  • If not, I challenge you to take a step towards faithfulness today.  What is it that is holding you back?  What stands between you and 100% faithfulness to God?  Write it down.  Rip it up.  And make it a part of your past.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Being the Doorman

I've always thought it would be neat to live somewhere where I had a doorman (though I truly want to live in the country so I'm not sure how this would work...).  The idea of a doorman, interesting isn't it?  Open the door for all to enter (or some anyhow).  But just because they open the door doesn't mean I have to walk through it.  The doorman could open the door and wave his hand toward the inside....but I don't have to go in.  He could ask me to go in.  But I still don't have to.  He could hope and wish and want me to go in.  ...But I still don't have to.  In the end, it is my choice - my heart has to decide whether I want to go through the door or not.

2 Chronicles 30:18-19 - 18 For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.  For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying "May the good Lord pardon 19 everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary."

All of these people had previously been worshiping idols (something God strictly prohibits...if you don't believe me, check out the 10 commandments).  ;)  They should have been properly purified or cleansed through a ritualistic process.  However, due to a reform that Hezekiah had implemented, a great amount of people were very zealous, or passionate, about worshiping the God of their fathers, the only true God.  To go through the ritual of purification would have taken a grand amount of time and may have squashed the zealousness of the people.  Who wants to squash a zealousness for God??  So Hezekiah prayed that the people who's hearts were truly seeking God would be pardoned.

The first thing that jumps out at me here is this: following ritual was NOT of the utmost importance.  Had they followed ritual the reform may not have been as grand or lasted as long - "they were loth to forbid them...lest they should discourage new converts, and send those away complaining whom they desired to send away rejoicing" (Henry).  There are different rituals in each denomination today, some more serious than others.  The important thing to remember is this: "ritual institutions must give way, not only to public necessity, but to a public benefit and advantage" (Henry).  Is it really beneficial to exclude people from communion (or any other 'ritual' for that matter)?  Is it even remotely our job to judge those who participate?

I also notice that it was Hezekiah who said the prayer.  He took notice of his people - he saw their passion and he prayed for them - "It is the duty of those that have the charge of others, not only to look to themselves, but to those also that are under their charge, to see wherein they are wanting, and to pray for them, as Hezekiah here" (Henry).  The Hebrew word for 'prayed' here is palal, meaning "to intervene, interpose, pray" (Strong's H6419).  Hezekiah saw a need and he intervened on the people's behalf.  We should always be observing those under our charge, noticing what they need, and intervening for them!  Prayer is a powerful thing and it is here for our taking.  Who knows what would happen if I prayed for everyone in my care once a week!  Or what about once a day?!? 

Here's the thing though: It wouldn't have made a difference that these people, despite their uncleanliness, were allowed to participate or that Hezekiah prayed over them IF their hearts had not been in the right place.  Over and over again we see just how important the condition of the heart is - "the inward man [must] be engaged," we must "make heart work of it.  All is nothing without this" (Wesley, emphasis added).  I love Wesley's phrase there: "heart work."  Everything we do for the Lord should be "heart work."  

Bringing this all together, it is important to remember that we cannot know the condition of someone's heart, that is only for God.  This means that, like the doorman, it is our responsibility to open the door for each and every person that comes by (openness and prayer).  It is their responsibility (and choice) to walk through. 

I challenge you today to open the door.  

  • Ritual and rules are good - but don't let them be the reason someone is not included...especially when it comes to spiritual matters.  
  • And pray!  Keep intervening for those under your charge, whether you are sure about the condition of their heart or not...every individual could always use a little prayer throughout the day - everyone is struggling with something.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Doing the "Right" Thing

At one point in high school I had a summer fling.  A boy who I had had a crush on for a very long time finally gave me notice and we dated until he left for college (a mere 3 months)...leaving me at home broken-hearted.  

Well...I wasn't broken for very long and that isn't the point of the story... 

Anywho, what I'm getting at is a conversation we once had.  While we both claimed Christianity and attended church regularly, we still had some varying view points.  I remember walking one day at our town's local dam and him asking me this: if there is a woman who is "good" in every sense of the word - she has never done anything wrong in her life, you mean to tell me that just because she doesn't "accept Christ" that she won't get into heaven?  I didn't know how to answer that at the time except with a "no, she won't."  But that doesn't really feel good does it?  To just leave it at no?  There has to be a reason.  And there is.

2 Chronicles 25:2 - He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.

Amaziah is this man's name.  Yes, he did right in the sight of the Lord but, again, the issue lies in his heart.

If you remember from before, 'whole' in the Hebrew is shalem meaning "complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace" (Strong's H8003).  In fact, a number of versions of the Bible, including the King James, translate shalem as 'perfect' (Online Parallel Bible).  What Amaziah needed was to have a whole heart, a perfect heart, a safe heart in the Lord.  He had to give His heart to God 100%.  

It didn't matter that Amaziah did all the right things.  Works aren't what get us into heaven!  It is by grace through faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8).  And faith originates in our hearts.  God has opened His hands to us...all we have to do is give Him our hearts!

I could live my entire life doing the "right" thing but if I haven't given God my whole heart, it won't mean a thing - "Such is the character of too many...they do that which is good, but not with the heart, not with a perfect heart" (Henry).  

I challenge you today to examine your actions, your "works."  Are you giving God your whole heart or are you just going through the motions?  It is so easy to fall into that trap...we go through the motions, do what is good...and forget to give God our heart in the process.  Make it a point right now to give Him your heart and do every little thing for His glory.