What Does God Hate?

It is fair game to say that God loves me. He does. He loves his own. We want to believe God will accept us. And it is true that he does on one level; however, the problem is we want God to accept us on our terms not His. We want to make the rules of our relationship. We want to say, “God loves everyone so much he would not let anyone go to hell.” Or, “I just can’t give up ______________, God will just have to accept it.”

Well, there are some things God hates. We cannot lie to ourselves and say, “God loves everything.” Not true.

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19

Unfortunately none of us are without flaw and imperfection. I can pick a few things of the list to claim my own. Can you? Think about it.

God bless.

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The Power of Weakness

The weak will be strong.

Sound foolish? You bet it does. No one wants to be weak. I mean intentionally. We try very hard to apeer strong, stoic, and unyielding. After all that is true power. I do not want you to see me cry, to blush in shame, to admit my failures and defeats. I refuse to let the secrets of my life leak out of the walls I have built to protect my honor and pride.

No, I will not be weak! And I lie too.

The only real problem with my strength is I know it is false and everything I am doing to perpetuate the illusion of strength is a lie. Lies all lies.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot fully explain what Paul is completely saying here. I do not know what his thorn was. Don’t think it important or he would have told us what it is.

Consider this. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Power, what power? His forgiveness, his love, his mercy. His capacity to shape and mold us into the men and women he calls us to be. When God’s strength rests on me, what do I care about my weaknesses? When God has forgiven my sin, what do I care about my past? When God has set me free from my past, how much higher can I soar in the future?

It is only when I step aside and let God take control can I then look back and see how powerful and wonderfully God has worked in my life.

Isn’t it great to be weak? God bless.

The Power of Submission

Ever wondered if there were any power in submission? I think the two words are antonyms. Power and submission.

Power defined by Merriam-Webster is possession of control, authority, or influence over others; one having such power; specifically : a sovereign state; physical might or political control or influence.

Submission defined by Merriam-Webster is the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant; an act of submitting to the authority or control of another.

By definition, submission is the act of putting another in power. The one in submission has given their power to someone else. Where is the power in that?

Think about these words from Jesus.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27,28)

Jesus submitted himself to God. For what purpose. Why alow himself to be hung on the cross to die?

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

The ultimate power in submission is Christ’s willingness to die in order to fulfill his Fathers will. It is the power to change you and me. To save you and me.

God bless.

Been Getting to Know God

It seems strange to be writing again. I am not sure why I have struggled to get back into the habit of posting. I need to. I have been studying and preaching so I have material. Just not been able to get myself to write.

To say I have been busy would be an understatement. Work is exactly that, work. Church has been a trial. Friends have gone. At times even my sanity seems to leave me.

But, one thing remains. God. He has been so good to me. I cannot describe the comfort I receive from the Spirit. A sense of his presence. Peace in the storm. There is nothing on earth like it.

To know God. The essence of reality. The purpose of Christ’s visit. You are right, his main purpose was to save mankind; however, ultimately, his purpose was help us know God.

1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:1-4

Christianity is not about what you do, how you act, what you believe, it is all about who you know. I know I am oversimplifying the whole thing. BUT. A real big but. You can have all the religion you want, obey all the rules in the book, give everything you have away, buffet your body and bring it under your complete control, say you believe….and not know God. And not have eternal life. God is everything. Knowing God is the ultimate goal. Being in his presence for eternity, the ultimate gift.

God bless.

A Heart of Flesh for a Heart of Stone

“They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 11:18-21

Heart conditions are so important. The heart is the most important thing.  God tried so hard to teach the Israelites that what was most important is the heart.

Do you have a heart of stone? It was a heart like the idols the Israelites were following. Stone for stone. A heart far from God and unyielding, cold, callous, and hard. They did not follow God’s decrees. Their hearts were devoted to things, worldly things.

God longed to bring the Israelites home. To give them a heart of flesh. Soft, yielding, alive, and warm. A heart after God. One that would keep God’s laws and remove the things in their lives that distracted them from God.

Today?

God has paid the highest price for our heart. His own Son. Jesus came to teach us how to obey God. To show us what love means. To be the first born of many. He came to touch our hearts and turn them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.

God bless.

Come, Let us Return to the Lord

When things are in the crapper who do you blame? Life hands me a bunch of sour grapes and I will be the first to tell you it is not my fault. When God deals out discipline, how should we react? The Israelites did one of two things, they grumbled or they returned to God.

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

 2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.

5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth;
my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant—
they were unfaithful to me there. Hosea 6:1-7

This is a good example of God’s grace in the Old Testament. God clearly states his desire, “mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants the heart not your stuff. He want our whole self not lip-service. God wants us to be faithful to the covenant.

The Israelites fell into a very real and very modern trap. It is the same trap the nations around them had already fallen into. They  had forgotten what God wanted from their worship. (By the way, it is the same thing God wants from us today.) In their worship, over time, they began to focus on the wrong things. They focused on things just like the nations around them did. The nations around them focused on the actions associated with conjuring a god. They fell into the trap that if they did XYZ they would get anything they wanted. (Not to mention that the nations around them used sex, drugs, and power in their worship, these things still turn heads today.)

Stay with me here. When we really mess up at work or with our spouse. Lets say you cheated on your girlfriend. What do you do when you feel the guilt afterwards? You go by flowers, you get a card, maybe you take them out to eat at a special place. You increase the good things you do to try to win back or at least salve your conscience. If we got caught we might really grovel and straiten up. So what do you do when you sin against the God of Heaven? We buy indulgences. We might give more to the Church, read the bible more, go on a weekend mission trip, pray for hours on end, fast, or whip ourselves.

ARE WE SUCH FOOLS? Is God so simple, shallow, blind that we can control him somehow by buying His grace? Can we conjure him up and use some tool (sacrifice) to get things from Him? Can we commit adultery with the world and then come home to Church on Sunday and expect Him to not be angry?

God is trying to wake us up. He will use whatever is at his disposal in our lives to turn our hearts and minds to Him. What does he wand from us, love, mercy, and acknowledgment of God in our lives. To live differently. To walk with God.

There are two sides to God. One is love, grace, and mercy. This is the side those in a relationship with God see. The side those who return to God see. AND there is the other side of God one of justice, anger, and punishment. This is the side you see when you try to control God. When your love is like dew (very temporary) and you do not keep the covenant, there is only punishment.

God bless. Keep the faith. Return.

Do You Need a Doctor?

I want to know why we are so quick to judge one another yet so incapable of honest personal assessment? Do you? I am always wondering how I can do better, looking for sin in me and struggling with it. I am far from perfect. My desire is to know God and be like his Son. I hope you do too. However, let me warn you, if you do not think you need a good deep look at yourself then you are a good as dead. If you think you are sinless, a light to the lost, and the keeper of truth then watch out. You are in for a hard fall.

Jesus ran into this blindness often. When he went to teach and heal, he kept running into the “religious”. Don’t get me wrong, these “religious” people meant well, they were decent folk.  They were trying to do what was right. The problem was they had missed the point. I think we have missed the point as well.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

As a side note I find it interesting that on one occasion after talking to the Pharisees like this, Jesus’ apostles took him aside and asked him if he realized he offended them. NO! Not Jesus.

Are you offended? Have you asked yourself lately, “Do I need a doctor? Am I sick?” Let me give this warning…

Jesus is coming back to this world. Will he find anyone faithful? Will he find be faithful to death? I know I am a crazy fundamentalist bible thumpin’ red neck. I know I am not talking about anything real popular. This is not as fun as American Idol or 24. BUT, GOD IS REAL. And he has a very simple message for us.

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Go and learn what this means. It should scare you to death. And at the same time thrill you. God loves you so much he was willing to give up the thing he valued the most, His Son. Jesus loves you so much he was willing to give up his position and come to earth to be a sacrifice for sin. To heal our relationship with God.

So now what.

Be a different kind of people. Be Jesus kinds of people. Want deeply to love and obey this God who loves you so.

God bless.