Too beautiful to be merely an accident

starry_night_skyListening to Psalm 19:1-4 this morning:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (NLT’96)

This past weekend, we stared in amazement at the night sky as we stood in the parking lot of Lakepoint State Park near Eufaula, Alabama. Away from Atlanta’s lights, we were mesmerized by the beauty and vastness of the starry firmament. The words of Psalm 19 cannot help but rise to your lips.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:19-20 that God eternal power and divine nature are plain to everyone, because God has made it plain through his creation. When it comes to giving God the respect he deserves, we are without excuse. Yet many who position themselves as scientists today go to great lengths to deny what is obvious to even the simplest soul: What we see around us is too beautiful to be merely an accident.

Hugh Ross, in The Creator and the Cosmos, lists 26 scientific evidences that the universe is too finely tuned to be an accident, and 33 evidences our solar system was designed specifically to support life. Even the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show, the scientific hypothesis) sounds awfully like the work of a Creator who took a formless void and created an entire universe.

If you’re inclined toward such things and haven’t read the book, it’s essential reading. If not, get out away from the lights on a starry night, and quote Psalm 19:1-4 as you gaze in wonder at the astronomical testimony to our amazing Creator!

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God will protect his treasure

This morning I’m listening to Zechariah 2.

The prophet reminds me that God punished his people for tolerating injustice and oppression. He exiled them to Babylon, until his glory was re-established among them. But now the time of exile was over and God was ready once again to defend his precious people.

“After a period of glory, the LORD Almighty sent me against the nations who oppressed you. For he said, ‘Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.’ Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.” (Zechariah 2:8-9 NLT’96)

You can understand this passage in terms of the fall of Babylon. You can hear the promise of Messiah, the one sent by the Almighty to “proclaim justice to the nations.” (Matthew 12:17-21)

But listen also for God’s heart about those who desire harm against the people of his First Covenant — and his New Testament people. Do you hear a warning for those who make themselves enemies of God’s people? Do you sense God’s judgment being meted out against our country today? Any people who tolerate injustice and oppression will find themselves crushed by God’s might.

The prophet delivers a word of warning from the LORD, but he also brings encouragement and hope:

“The LORD says, ‘Shout and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. Many nations will join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the LORD Almighty sent me to you. The land of Judah will be the LORD’s inheritance in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.'” (Zechariah 2:10-13 NLT’96)

The LORD springs into action to execute judgment, but he also rushes to live among his people and draw the nations to himself. God’s people are precious to him, his own inheritance in the world. If you are among them, you are his treasure.

Be silent before him, and watch in awe as he brings powerful oppressors to their knees. The Day of the Lord is not far away, nor is the coming of his New Jerusalem.

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Though the fields lie empty and barren …

When you have lost everything, you still have the God of your salvation, who gives you strength and fills your heart with joy. The only one who is truly destitute is the one who does not have him.

“I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy. … Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” (Habakkuk 3:2,17-19a NLT’96)

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Faith: ‘Use it or lose it’

Faith is not just something you have; it is what you do, or it is not faith at all. Faith is going about your day, doing what Jesus would do in your circumstances. Faith takes the focus off of living my life and puts it on living Jesus’ life in my world — loving my neighbor as myself and helping people in need. Living your faith is what makes it saving faith.

Exercise your faith. Coach says, “Use it or lose it.”

Read James 2:12-22 http://vref.me/nlt/jas2.12-22

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‘The truth will set you free’ … ‘if you keep obeying’

Another verse we often quote out of context is John 8:32 – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The hitch is that knowing the truth is contingent on what comes before the “and.”

That would be verse 31: “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.'”

They will be set free by the truth as they keep obeying his teachings, and so prove they truly are his disciples. In verse 51, Jesus adds, “I assure you, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

Locked in prison, a lifelong criminal knows the truth, but he is not free. The truth is what landed in him in prison. However, let that inmate be transformed by the grace of Jesus and begin walking in obedience to God’s way, and he is free — in spite of the bars that cage him in.

Some people believe in Jesus (that’s who Jesus is addressing in verse 31) but do not keep walking in God’s ways. They are not free, even though they know the truth about Jesus. The full, free, and forever life belongs to those who keep obeying Jesus’ teachings. They are new creatures, truly his disciples, and they will never die!

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‘And they were not afraid to die’

isis-killing-iraq-crisisMy mind focused in prayer this morning on the Christians in Iraq and Syria who have been suffering at the hands of infidels — evil, ruthless men who blaspheme the name of Abraham’s God by brutalitizing innocents. My heart breaks for every woman and girl kidnapped to serve as slaves to these wicked men. My anger burns for men and boys executed simply because their home is Christian. I am devastated for families who have had to abandon all their worldly possessions and flee for their lives to places where they will have no way to provide for themselves. I grieve for Christians who live under this fascist perversion of Islam, afraid to publicly acknowledge their Lord. I am filled with pride for Christians who have refused to deny Jesus and bravely met death with his peace in their hearts.

You can make a difference
Rep. Frank Wolf is speaking up in the halls of power for these powerless one. Encourage him.
Learn more about the persecution of Christians at the ERLC website and Multiply Justice.
Help Baptist Global Response provide survival supplies for refugees driven out by the Middle East crisis.

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Two responses to the truth about who God is

Two responses to the truth about who God is: denial or trust.

Through his creation, God reveals to everyone the truth about who he is. Some broken people would rather stay broken than admit the truth. They suppress the truth about God because they prefer living their way rather than God’s way. He is right to be angry with them.

The other response to the truth about God is to honor him for who he is and live in humility and gratitude before him. Choose God’s way, and you will discover life the way God intended it to be! This good news has the power to rescue you from your brokenness and completely transform you. But the only way to get there is by trusting God enough to choose his way over your own.

Trust God, and you will live! Reject him, and all you will have is brokenness.

Read Romans 1:16-22

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