Baby, You’re A Rich Man

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So goes one of my favorite Beatle songs.

I don’t know how it feels to be one of the beautiful people (first line in the song), but I’m a rich man.  Not monetarily, but spiritually.  And if you’re a child of God, you’re rich too.

If there’s one thing the health and wealth guys have right, it’s that God is rich.  And he’s generous.  Combine the fuel of God’s wealth with the fire of his generosity and you’ve got an explosion of blessing for us who realize we have nothing to offer the galaxy-Maker, but that he has the storehouses of heaven to shower on us.

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3.8).

The whole universe can’t hold the wealth of Christ, for his riches are “unsearchable” – immeasurable, unimaginable, unfathomable.  If the whole universe were bursting with treasure, jewels, crowns and coins, we could eventually search them all out, given enough time.  But for all eternity we’ll keep discovering new troves of treasures in Christ, for they are “unsearchable.”  After 10,000 years, we won’t even have made a dent exploring the vastness of God’s glory in Jesus.

And because believers are joined to Christ, all that is Christ’s is ours!

So what do you need today?  Do you need mercy?  Ask for it and don’t expect a mere trickle – Jesus has a tsunami of mercy for you.  Need comfort?  Faith?  Wisdom?  Strength?  Jesus has unlimited supplies.  God’s not like the shopping network.  He never runs out, never has to back order.  There are no hidden shipping charges – his riches are all free!  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is his faithfulness.

Take heart today.  Jesus is a vast storehouse of joy, mercy, and help for you.  As John Bunyan said, God has bags and bags of grace stored up for you.  Baby, you’re a rich man.

photo by borman818

Making Bible Reading Simple

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Have you ever gotten lost while reading your Bible? You’re wandering through Judges, and as you’re reading about bloody sacrifices, bloodier battles, and a long-haired strong man killing hundred of Philistines with a jaw bone, you suddenly realize, I have no idea what this means for me today. What do ram sacrifices, the sun going backwards, and a long line of oddly named judges, have to do with budgets, disciplining your children, and spending eight hours in a cubicle? I’ve been there, and frankly, it can be pretty discouraging.

Let me give you two simple questions to ask when you’re reading Scripture and feeling lost. These questions came directly from a sermon by a man named Mike Bullmore. The questions are:

What Does This Passage Tell Me About God?

At times we forget the obvious: the Bible is all about God. Every passage points to God, revealing something about his character, his desires, or his actions. The OT sacrifices tell me that God is holy and that he takes sin seriously. The Psalms tell me that God is sovereign, and yet he’s also an intensely personal. In every book of the Bible, the glory of God bursts through and the story of salvation is unfolded. So when you feel lost, step back a moment and ask, Where is God in this picture? What work is he doing in this scene? How does this passage point to God’s saving work in Christ? Where’s the glory, and where’s the story?

What Does This Passage Tell Me About Myself?

For each revelation of God there is an appropriate response from us. His majesty calls us to humbly worship him, His goodness compels us to thank him. His commands require obedience, which in turn leads us to ask him for the grace to obey. The Bible isn’t simply information to be digested, it requires a heartfelt response. So as you read, ask yourself, How should I respond to what I just read? Is there a command I must obey, a sin I must repent of, or a blessing for which I should be grateful?

I find these questions to be tremendously helpful, and they have a simplifying effect on my devotional life. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t dive deep into Scripture, or read commentaries, or do word studies. Those are all wonderful tools. But ultimately Scripture is the story of God revealing himself to and redeeming sinners. When we keep that in mind, things get much simpler.

+photo by Sarah Jane

Originally published May, 2008

Just A Little Sin

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May I take my sin more seriously.

So often I don’t view it as being that big a deal.  “Oh, it’s just a little bit of fear of man…I was kind of proud…I was just a little jealous…some slight discontentment…got a little hot under the collar.”

I think that often I don’t take my sin as seriously as I should because I view it in terms of its effect on me.  It hinders me, it makes me unhappy, it hurts me.

God stood David on his ear when he spoke through Nathan the prophet about David’s sin:

Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? … because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah… Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord… (2 SA 12.9, 10, 14).

Despised…despised…scorned…

David’s sin of adultery was horrible because of what it did to Bathsheba and Uriah her husband.  It was horrible because of the consequences it would have for David and his family.  But the worst thing about his sin was that it was despising God, the God who had blessed and prospered David so much.

That “little fear of man” is despising God’s word.

That “slight discontentment” is despising God.

All sin – even “small” sin – is scorning the Lord.

May we see our sin for what it is and vigorously hate it.  May we hate every sin, even those that don’t seem that blatantly foul.  And may we continually appropriate the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and run hard after God.

photo by Prof. Jas. Mundie

Pray Like the Pitbull Widow

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The widow is relentless with her requests. She comes before the judge day after day, singing the same song: “Give me justice against my adversary…” (Lk. 18:3).

The judge is selfish, heartless, and profane. He has no compassion for others and doesn’t give a rip about God.

The widow’s plea falls on the judge’s deaf ears. What did he tell her? Go to someone who cares. Go ask someone else. Sorry you’re out of luck.

But the widow is a pitbull. She won’t let go. She comes before the judge every day with the same request. She won’t stop, can’t stop asking. The judge is being ground into the submission by the pesky widow.

Finally the judge can’t take it anymore. He’s been pulverized, one faithful request at a time:

Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.

Why does Jesus tell this parable?

…that they ought always to pray and not lose heart

The judge doesn’t feel a beat of compassion for the widow or an ounce of reverence for God. Yet because of the widow’s persistence he grants her request. Our God overflows with compassion for his blood-bought children. They are precious in his sight. His ear is inclined to their cries. He shepherds them, walks with them, and INVITES them to bring him their requests.

Every request. All the time. God wants us to be in prayerful dependence on him. He listens, and he responds to faithful, repeated requests.

Always pray, don’t lose heart.

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+photo by lanchongzi

Humble, Yet Sort Of…Humble

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Anybody reading this remember Pepe Le Pew?

If not, Pepe Le Pew is a skunk in Looney Tune’s pantheon of cartoon characters that features Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck.

I only remember one line Pepe ever said, and I regularly quote it to my wife.  In one episode, after doing something successful, Pepe said in his French accent, “Makes me feel humble, yet sort of proud.”  That statement rings so true to my sinful motivations it’s uncanny.  It’s so tempting to be proud of “my” puny accomplishments.  I must seem as comical and absurd to God as Pepe Le Pew.

In 2 SA 7 David thought he would do something great for God – build him a house to dwell in.  But God sent Nathan the prophet to tell David it wasn’t about what he would do for God, but what God would do for him.

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel.  And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth’ (8,9).

God says, “David, don’t forget that I took you from tending sheep in the field and made you King of Israel.  I’ve been the one that’s given you success.”  God then goes on to tell David that rather than David building him a house, God would give David a heritage.

In other words, what did David have to boast about?  He hadn’t done anything for God; God had done everything for him.  I love David’s humble response:

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? … Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears (18, 21-22).

Whenever God enables us to do anything for him, we should pray similarly – “Who am I that you have brought me thus far?  You have saved me from hell and brought about any good I’ve accomplished.  Any success in my school or family or work or ministry is all from you.  Therefore YOU are great, O Lord God.  There is none like YOU.”

Makes me feel humble, yet sort of….humble.

photo by annalise.ellen