Monday, April 24, 2023

The Bridge is Out


We thought we were headed for the airport, but God had other ideas.  On the way to the airport to fly back home from the beach, there is a narrow, one-way bridge.  While it was a little cloudy and rainy, it certainly wasn’t a tropical storm or anything to cause any real concern.  Except for the fact that the ocean was especially turbulent on one side of the bridge and sea surge was making it unpassable.  We thought we were going home that day but apparently God had other ideas.


Proverbs 16:9

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.


Things to think about:

·       God’s ways are not our ways.  We think we have a plan, only to see it thwarted or delayed for unforeseeable reasons. 

·       While this is probably a very incomplete list, here are some of the reasons God may be directing us in a different direction:

o   To protect us

§  We see this in the story of Balaam in Numbers 22:33 -  The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”

o   To prove our love for Him

§  Job 1:8-12 - And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason?  Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”  And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

o   Our enemy is active

§  1 Thessalonians 2:18 -  Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.

o   To learn to trust Him more

§  Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

o   To wait for His perfect timing

§  Genesis 17:17,19 - Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 

·       When have you seen God put up a stop sign or roadblock to your plans?

o   If it is a time in the past, how did it ultimately work out?

o   If you are going through one of those times now, what is God teaching you?

·       Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Monday, April 3, 2023

It's Not Fair!


Is this not the most classic kid argument ever – “It’s not fair!” (turns out, a lot of us grown-ups invoke it too). Whenever there is something happening that we don’t like, that isn’t convenient, or otherwise conflicts with what we want, our blanket defense is, “it’s not fair.” As is so often the case, this argument has been around for a long, long time.


Ezekiel 18:25 - “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?”


Things to think about:

·       I used to think the word fair wasn’t in the Bible until I ran into this passage.

o   Is there anything going in in your life right now that doesn’t feel fair?

·       In this case, the Israelites thought that God’s judgement was passed on from father to child, or in some cases, the sin of a child reflected back on judgement to the father.

o   Some folks believe that being part of a good family or being a member of the right denomination / organization qualifies them for God’s approval (or the converse, “I’m part of a cursed family/culture, etc.”)

o   Sometimes, we might carry a guilt burden that mistakes we have made are irrevocably passed on to our children. 

§  Does this resonate with you?

o   If you happen to be struggling with this, let’s just say that God makes it abundantly clear in chapter 18 of Ezekiel, this is not true.

§  Ezekiel 18:30 – “Therefore, I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways.”

§  Personal responsibility is a key to God’s justice system.

·       So, what is that God requires of each person?

o   Ezekiel 18:30-31 – “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”

o   How do we get this new heart and spirit?

§  Repent – acknowledge that God is right and that we have made mistakes.

§  Then act on your conviction by “turning from all your transgressions” and “casting away from you all the transgressions which you have committed”. There is a very active sense to this by “casting away” – throw them off like you would a venomous spider crawling on you!  Oh, and “all” means ALL.

·       Ezekiel 11:19-20 –  “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”

o   John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

§  If you have been born again, in what ways do you see how God has given you a new heart and a new spirit?

·       Ezekiel 18:31-32 – “For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore, turn and live!”

o   2 Peter 3:9 – God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

·       You know what’s not fair?

o   That in Jesus, God has spared no expense to ensure your eternal salvation

·       Philippians 2:6-8 - Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, He made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    He humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!