Monday, May 29, 2017

SINNING AGAINST GOD


I Sam. 2:25  “If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party.  But if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede?  But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the LORD was already planning to put them to death.

        Our sins not only hurt us, but they cause damage to others.  We may be guilty of leading others into sin or we may hinder other people from worshiping the Lord.  We must weigh carefully how our sins will impact others.  It is a very serious matter when we lead others astray because of our sin.  It is a very serious matter when we damage the faith of others because of our sin.

        It’s bad enough when we sin against each other, but Eli’s sons sinned against God and there was nothing Eli or anyone else could do about it.  They had treated with contempt the things of God.  They had used God for their own advantage.  They had brashly treated in an unholy manner that which was holy before God.  They had continued in their sin to the point that there was no turning back God’s anger.  Their time was up.  They had to now face God and account for their sin.

      The Lord is not going to let us go on forever with our sin.  Once we understand that we have sinned, we are held accountable by God for it.  We may think we are getting away with it, but we’re not.  God is just and all sin will be dealt with in His time.  No one can stand in your place when you sin against God.  No one can help you when you stir up God’s wrath against you.

       The only way we can stave off God’s wrath when we sin against Him is to let Jesus intercede for us.  He alone is qualified to stand between us and God.  He alone has the right and authority to forgive sin.  He alone can take away our sins so that God will not condemn us to spiritual death.  He who refuses to acknowledge, confess and repent of their sins before Christ will surely die.  Do you have sins you need to take to Jesus today? 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BEWARE OF PRETENDERS



I Sam. 2:12-15  Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests.  Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork.  While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons.  All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way.  Sometimes the servants would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar.  He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

       Pretenders are everywhere.  Often they are disguised very cleverly.  They may stand out in the crowd as leaders.  They may have all the appearances of people who have it all together, but in reality they don’t.  They may have winsome personalities and are smooth talkers.  They may have great influence and are successes at what they do.

       Jesus called people like that wolves in sheep clothing.  Just because someone may have a title, position, or has authority does not meant they are speaking the truth.  There are many church leaders who are scoundrels.  They may have a lot of good things to say and may even do a lot of good things, but they are self-serving and not Christ-serving.  Be aware of those who have no respect for their role of leadership and take advantage of others.  Do not cater to their whims.  Do not follow them.

       Be wise and discerning.  Have some guts and reject those who have no respect for the Lord or their position of leadership in the church.  Speak out against them.  Silence is not acceptable; it just gives them a license to continue to do what they are doing.  There will always be those who will take advantage of others, even in the church.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t hold our leaders accountable for the lives they live.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

YOUR LIFE'S LEGACY



I Sam. 2:12-13a Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the LORD or for their duties as priests.

      How would you like history to record your life? Eli was a priest, a respected leader in the Temple. He served the Lord faithfully all his life, and yet, there were his sons. They too were serving the Lord, but not like their father was. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they were taking advantage of people and committing all kinds of sin while in office. These men had no respect for the Lord or his house. They used both for their own advantage. They unlawfully took of the offerings people brought into the Temple for their own purposes. The Scriptures also tell us that they often took advantage of women as they came into the Temple and abused them.

        Scripture doesn’t tell us all the reasons why Eli’s sons turned out the way they did. We can only guess. They should have known better; their father was a priest who taught and lived the Word. Yet, they chose to ignore the Law and live for themselves and their pleasures. Given opportunity to serve the Lord, they abused their opportunity and rejected Him.  Living under the constant presence and influence of God does not guarantee one will live for God.

     We cannot control how our children ultimately will respond to the Lord. They have to decide for themselves whether or not they will live in Him and let Him guide their lives. But, we can influence their decision in a profound way by the way we live.

       The issue before us today is: are you doing all you can to live a godly life so that those who watch you will be drawn to the Lord? How we live out what we teach has a huge impact on whether or not others will want to live the life we live. How about it? Are you doing all you can do to live a godly life, a life that is well-pleasing to the Lord? Your living will not guarantee that others will embrace your faith, but one thing is for sure, if you are not living what you profess and teach, it will give others an excuse to reject your faith. Live faithfully to the Lord and strive to obey His Word and you will be long remembered as an example worthy to be followed.

Friday, May 26, 2017

FUTILE RESISTANCE



I Sam. 2:10 Those who fight against the LORD will be broken. He thunders against them from heaven; the LORD judges throughout the earth. He gives mighty strength to his king; he increases the might of his anointed one.

        Fighting against the Lord is futile, but we do it all the time. There is a price to pay for resisting what God wants to do in your life. Those who refuse to humble themselves before Him for salvation, lose their soul to sin and its consequences. Those who refuse to obey Him and serve Him, live in misery. Those who refuse to follow Him into a deeper walk with Him, miss out on the abundant life He came to give us. Those who refuse to hear His warnings and follow after their own desires, plunge into sin. Those who refuse to sit down and wait on the Lord for renewed strength suffer the effects of burnout.

      It is futile to think that you can fight against the Lord and win. He won’t stop you from trying, but neither will He let you win. Jesus came to make us whole, to right the wrong in our lives. He came to heal and forgive, to lead us into the life God intended us to live when he first created Adam and Eve. Jesus opened up to us life at its best. Most of us don’t ever get to experience the best of the Christian life because we never give up the fight against His will for us.

      If you want to enjoy the abundant life that is ours in Christ, you must submit to His authority over you with your whole heart. Are you willing to stop fighting against the Lord and get on with living in Him? Why waste your energy on a battle you cannot win? It’s your choice, wholeness or brokenness.  You will never find peace in resisting the work that God wants to do in you.  You will never know peace while contending with the Lord. 

       The Lord will drive everyone to their knees before Him.  He breaks the spirit of all.  Either we will bow before Him willingly or we will bow by force.  Make it easy on yourself and humble yourself before Him now while you can.  Let Him have His way with you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

PRAYING WITHOUT WORDS



I Sam. 1:15-16  “Oh no, sir!”  she replied.  “I’m not drunk!  But I am very sad, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD.  Please don’t think I am a wicked woman!  For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

      Hannah was childless.  She and her husband, Elkanah had gone to the Tabernacle to present themselves to the Lord, as was their custom.  Hannah was deep in prayer and her lips were moving but no words came out.  Eli, the priest, had noticed Hannah praying and assumed that she was drunk.

       There are times in which words just don’t cut it.  Our hearts become so heavy that we can’t even express the emotions that we are feeling inside.  During these times of life, no one can really help us, because no one really can understand how our circumstances are affecting our souls.  The load is so heavy that all we can do is pray.  Praying from the deep anguish of the soul is something that only God can hear and understand.

      Praying without words may seem to be not right, but it is so right.  The Lord listens to the heart.  The words we utter do not always tell the true story of what is going on in us.  The Lord reads the heart and is not swayed by what we say.  This is both good and bad news.

       The good news is that the Lord hears the prayers we can’t even pray.  He knows what we need whether we can express it or not.  The bad news is that we can’t fool God with our words.  No matter how eloquent our prayers may be, God is not impressed.  He listens to the heart.  If what we say matches up with what is in our hearts, great things happen.  If they don’t match, then our prayers don’t mean much.

        Pray much, and if it works, use words.  Words spoken are good if they come from the heart.  If words just aren’t adequate, pray without words.  Let your heart cry out to the Lord without words.  He hears and answers the prayers of the anguished heart.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

AGONY OF THE SOUL



I Sam. 1:10  Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD.

      Maybe you understand what Hannah went through.  Either you have, or are now going through, something that defies words.  No words of comfort helps.  No well-meaning words can make it better.  The pain and anguish is so great that you feel like there is no hope, no help.  If so, I would encourage you to do whatever you need to do in order to see the Lord.  Zero in on Him. 

      Consider His love that moved Him to die on a cruel cross for our sins.  Consider how though He was rejected by the world and deserted by His closest friends, He refused to not die for our sins.  Think about our Savior who had to endure utter loneliness as He fought the battle for our souls.  He had never in all eternity past known suffering or what it was like to be all alone, unable to reach out and touch our Father.  The pain and anguish of His soul was so great that He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

      Thinking about our Lord won’t make your pain go away or change your circumstances, but it does help change our perspective.  When we know that the Lord loves us more than life itself, that He willingly endured the physical and spiritual agony of the cross, it gets our minds off of ourselves and onto Him.  No matter what may be agonizing your soul today, Jesus understands what you are going through and can help you.

      He wants you to share your concerns, your burdens with Him.  He wants you to put them on Him so that He can lighten your load.  He wants you to see Him instead of focusing on your circumstances.  He wants you to know today, that things are not as bad as they may seem.  He is faithful to His children and will see you through the worst of what life may bring you.  Your momentary struggles are not eternal.  They will pass.  The provisions and promises of God are sufficient for whatever you may be dealing with.  Trust in the Lord.  He will give you the strength you need and He will show you the way through your trials if you will let Him.

       Tell Him how you are feeling.  Tell Him about all you are going through.  Tell Him everything that agonizes your soul today.  He hears the heart cry of all who cry out to Him and gives peace and comfort.  Jesus will help you if you will let Him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A LOVE STORY



Ruth 4:13  So Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him.  When he slept with her, the LORD enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son.

       The book of Ruth is a love story.  It portrays the account of Ruth’s life as she learned to first love God and then Boaz.  We discover how Ruth showed love and respect for her mother-in-law, Naomi.  We learn how a godly woman acts in a strange land.  We learn how God showed His love for Ruth by protecting her from unwelcome advances and blessed her for her strong work ethic. 

        Ruth reminds us of God’s sovereignty as He brought Ruth and Boaz together in the most unlikely of circumstances.  We see God at work in both of their lives and because God was in control of their lives, great and unexpected things happened.  Boaz and Ruth were married and had a son.  Their son became the grandfather of King David.  God had a plan and worked it out behind the scenes in the lives of two humble, submissive, godly people.

        We don’t know what God is up to in our lives.  We don’t know what difference our lives will make for all of eternity in someone else’s life.  Live humbly and submissively before God and strive to be holy in all you do, and God will bless you and many others because you do.  Great is the reward in heaven for those who let Jesus be lord of their lives.