Monday, March 22, 2010

Humility Before Honor

Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
In each proverb thoughts are intentionally linked together. Isn’t it interesting that the fear of the Lord, instruction and wisdom are linked together with humility? Many times instruction puffs us up. Not so with the wisdom that comes from knowing and loving God. When we learn of God’s justice, love, mercy, strength and His countless other attributes we should be humbled.

Humility is more than just an attitude though. It is an action. Humility displays itself in the way we treat others. It’s not that we think we ought to serve others, but we actually serve others. Meekness is thinking of others as better than you. This doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It means your find your greatest joy in looking for ways to serve others and then acting on your investigative work. Meekness is the attitude that brings about humility, but humility is more than an attitude – it is an action.

Many of us believe we are humble. Yet, is there evidence to prove this in your life? When was the last time you put your own interest aside and spent time serving your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your church family? When was the last time you put down the remote and gave your family your undivided attention? When was the last time you gave a gift or sent a card without any desire to be thanked? When was the last time you heard of a need in someone’s life and you secretly met that need without anyone else knowing about it? We all like to think of ourselves as humble, but would there be enough evidence to support your claim?

This type of thinking flies in the face of our nature. Our nature tells us to eat or be eaten. Our nature moves us to be greedy, to hoard, and to think only of ourselves. There must be a change within us for our desire to move away from our self-centered interest and focus on serving others. According to this proverb, this shift only happens in light of the instruction of the Lord. It is there that we learn humility is better than honor. It is there that we learn it is more blessed to give than to receive. It is in this instruction that we learn that the last shall be first. Even if these truths aren’t recognized in this life, they will be in the one to come.

Humility is indeed greater than honor and can only be attained through the instruction of the Lord.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Find It Here - Easter Radio Commercials

Here are the three Easter commercials we have airing on local radio. Tell a friend about them and use them to invite folks to join us on Easter Sunday!

Immanuel Easter Commercial 2010 01
Immanuel Easter Commercial 2010 02
Immanuel Easter Commercial 2010 03

Monday, March 15, 2010

Knowing God

What can be known about God by observing nature? In Barren County we live in a beautiful area that is filled with mysterious caves, beautiful lakes and rivers and intriguing wildlife. Perhaps there are many people that would consider nature to be their sanctuary as its beauty brings hope and encouragement when we admire it.

On the other hand, we’ve experienced the shock of nature’s destruction. We’ve watched in awe as thousands have lost their lives and homes due to terrible earthquakes and resulting floods. It has been overwhelming to see the hopelessness and powerlessness of humanity over this destructive force that leaves us fearing aftershocks and recalculating the rotational axis of the Earth.

Quickly we learn about the creativity and the power of the Designer. We learn that He has a brush with a multitude colors and an imagination more vivid than any of us. We also learn that we are in need of a Protector who can shield us when nature shakes out of control. But does any of this truly help us to know Him?

Indeed, we can know about Him, but He desires more. And, deep down we all desire more. Maybe you’ve found yourself wandering the forest or fishing the shore as you claimed you were connecting with God. While those things are relaxing, they don’t allow us to truly know God. In those places we learn about God, but we don’t come to know Him.

Passages such as Matthew 11:25-30 tell us that ultimately God wants us to know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible does not say that God reveals Himself to us most clearly in nature, but in the life of Jesus Christ. Passages such as John 3:16 help us realize that if we want to see God’s love fully demonstrated to us we must look to Jesus. We can see God’s love in the world that He has provided for us and in the protection He offers to us in the face of destruction, but we only truly receive His love when we turn to Jesus Christ. Keep nature in its proper place this spring. Enjoy its beauty. Celebrate the new life it represents. But be reminded that nature is only a reflection of its Creator.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Inheritance to Come

The Apostle Peter delivered God's Words powerfully when he wrote,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

This is what I read to my grandfather on Friday morning when we had some quiet moments together. I clued into the passage because of the phrase 'living hope', but was stunned when I began to read through the promises of the Christian's inheritance. By the power of the resurrection, the Christian's inheritance is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. And, it is being kept for them by the power of God.

Often we think of the inheritance as what we leave behind, not what is to come. But God sees things differently. What a revolutionary idea! The inheritance left behind perishes, is never perfect and always fades away. So, of these two inheritances, which do you want? Who is the true benefactor?

As I read this passage I couldn't help but be excited for him. I couldn't help but be excited for me. There is a mystery that surrounds death and this mystery causes fear and anxiety, but the hope of what occurs in the very next breath showing bring joy that overshadows this fear for the Christian. This wonderful inheritance, secured by God Himself, is one breath away for the follower of Jesus.

Oh the joy that will be known by the Christian when they fully receive the salvation bought by Christ's great love. May this coming joy fill us with hope even now. I hope it encouraged Pop as he now lives in the reality of cancer. I know this truth (and Pop's longing for it) encouraged me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Family Update

It is cancer. The words no one wants to hear. So, Pop's tumor is malignant and now we wait to see what the treatment and options will be. For those of you who have emailed, called and talked to us in person - thank you. Your prayers and encouraging words are wonderful gifts.

Now, Pop has been moved to a rehabilitation center where he will have the opportunity to work on the mobility of his hip. After that we'll see what the Doctors want to do to treat the cancer.

Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about how I can think through this and be an encouragement to my family. An article comes to mind that was written some years ago. It is by John Piper and was written while he dealt with his own cancer. If you've never read it I would encourage you to read this and use it as a tool in dealing with your own cancer or that of someone you love.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hope That Will Not Fail

I have a prayer request for you all. My 83 year old grandfather in GA is not doing well. He fell about three weeks ago and broke his hip. That is now repaired, but there have been many complications to the point that they inserted a feeding tube yesterday. The valve/flap that helps food flow to his stomach and air to his lungs is not functioning. It is stuck and everything is flowing to his lungs. Therefore, any food, liquid or medication would cause very dangerous pneumonia immediately. Hence, the feeding tube. As they inserted the feeding tube yesterday, the Dr found a tumor. It is at the base of his esophagus and just above all of his major organs. They took a biopsy of it and we are now waiting to see if it is cancerous. The Dr seemed to think it will be. If so, they will not be able to operate on it and it will probably be a very fast spreading type that gets into his vital organs quickly. We are all very anxious to hear the test results and there is also much sadness mixed in.

God has been very gracious to me. All of my grandparents, parents and siblings, all of which are Christians, are still living. God has given them as a gift to me for a long time. They have all had a great impact on my life. Now, it looks as if that could begin to change. I suppose I have known this day was coming, but it is hard to prepare for it when it is not reality. Please pray that God would give my parents (who are in GA now) the wisdom to know what to do in caring for Pop and for my Grandmother as well. Pray that we will be focused on the hope of Christ despite the news that comes to us. Pray that God will be honored in the way our family acts and deals with the days ahead. Pray that God would give us joy through our sorrow.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

How God Speaks

God has spoken to humanity. He still speaks to humanity. Do you know how? Are you listening?

God has spoken through Jesus Christ.
John 1:1 says that the Word became flesh and lived among us. John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

God has spoken through His decrees.
These are found in Genesis in the creation accounts in the early chapters of Genesis. We hear more about this in Psalm 33:6, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."

God has spoken through direct address.
We hear in Exodus 20:1-3, "And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me."

God has spoken through human lips.
This comes through the prophets. Hear Deuteronomy 18:18-20, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." We also see this in the New Testament through the Gospel writers and the writers of the Apostles. Listen to 1 Corinthians 14:37, "If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord." Here Paul is calling all of those that believe they are called to speak on behalf of God should be certain they are speaking consistently with the Word of God.

This leads to the final way God speaks.

God has spoken through the written Word which is the Bible.

Hear God's command to Isaiah which helps us understand God's desire for His Word to be recorded. Isaiah 30:8, "And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever."

God loves us. He desires to communicate with us. Will you listen?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Are You Afraid?

What intimidates you? I’m sure something quickly pops into your mind. It’s uncontrollable. You can’t stop the thoughts. That’s because we’re all afraid of something. Did you know that God does not desire for us to live this way. He desires that we live with peace and confidence in Christ. He does not want us to live a live of fear and insecurity.

Where does your strength originate? Carefully consider this question. Don’t give a knee jerk reaction here. Think about it. If you have any strength at all, there must be a source. One of the great differences between the Christian faith and many other modern philosophies is the originating source of inner strength. Many other religions teach that strength comes from within. We are in need of locating that strength inside our own minds or hearts and tapping into it. While the Bible does speak about the human spirit, Ephesians 4:23 being one example, it is not the human spirit that produces the ultimate, ongoing, life-sustaining strength we need in our lives.

Three times in the first nine verses of the book of Joshua God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous. If you read Joshua 1:1-9 and think it sounds like a pep talk you are right on track. God is leading Joshua to carry the nation of Israel forward into the Promised Land of Canaan. Yet, in this pep talk God is careful to point out to Joshua that He will be the source of His strength. Not the military or the leadership’s wise decision-making, but God Himself will deliver confidence and victory.

What is Joshua’s responsibility? It is to meditate daily upon the Word of God. To meditate on God’s Word is to read, think about and apply God’s word to one’s life and decisions. Again, we are talking about our source of strength and we see that it is to come from God. When Joshua is tempted to be afraid, he should remember the strong promises of God. He should look back at God’s proven track record. He should reflect on the character and nature of God revealed in Scripture. This will prove to be a faithful source of strength for Joshua and for you.

Fears – we all have them. Ever since Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, people have been hiding from all kinds of things. The good news is that you can come on out now and stop your hiding. You can be strong and courageous. But your strength and courage will only be true and lasting if your life is anchored by God and His Word.