Sunday, May 31, 2009

Climbing Out

Isaiah 25:10-11
(10) For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
(11) And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.

Like us, the Moabites tried their best to fix what was wrong. They thought that they could get out of the muck and mire that they found themselves in. However, God already had plans to keep them down there.

This would be depressing were it not for the promises made throughout the New Testament for believers. Yes, there are times when we find ourselves in the mire. There are times when we try to pull ourselves out, but God keeps us in there. The good news for us that there is a sanctifying aspect to that. 1 Peter and James are two places that tell us that God does not waste trials in our lives. Of course, there is also Romans 8:28.

God will knock down the pride of our striving. He will keep us in the mire when we need to be brought low. I can't say that it is easy to embrace, but it's something to think about.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

All Part of the Plan

Isaiah 25:1
(1) O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

There was an episode of Cheers where Sam and Woody conspired to throw off Gary's Olde Towne Tavern's annual bid to win the bloody mary contest. Woody and Sam had a fight and Woody ended up working for Gary. They got a fake judge who declared Gary's to be the winner. After the judge left Sam and Woody started answering questions for the regular patrons about the elaborate ruse. Woody kept saying, "All part of the plan," until Gary came back for the real contest and Woody said, "Not part of the plan."

Nothing can happen to make God say, "Not part of the plan." Of course, this begs the question about the Garden of Eden. I don't think God wanted for Adam and Eve to sin, but He knew it would happen. Therefore, Jesus has always been part of the plan.

The things God does are part of a plan that was formed before the universe existed. He has it all under control. Only God could do this as we cannot possibly comprehend the myriad of variables that goes into even a single life, let alone the billions on the planet. The point of all this is that we have a God who is worthy of our praise and worship. He is in control and we can rest easy in that knowledge.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting Busy

Isaiah 22:8-11
(8) He has taken away the covering of Judah. In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest,
(9) and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You collected the waters of the lower pool,
(10) and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.
(11) You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago.

Jerusalem was under siege. The people had to get busy defending it, but they forgot one important fact. The Lord withdrew His covering over Judah. That meant that ultimately all their work would be in vain and they would still suffer defeat.

I spend a lot of time listening to stuff about church planting. There is a great emphasis on the characteristics of good church planters. This is all right and good. However, there also is an emphasis on how the Lord works the life of a church plant. That isn't something that we can control, but it's something we need to acknowledge.

It's easy to get too high or too low as we seek to accomplish mighty things for God. However, ultimately He is the one who does or does not provide the increase in the ministry. He is the one who builds up local churches. I believe it is vital to properly assess potential church planters, particularly in terms of their personal holiness. I have a hard time imagining how God would bless a church plant led by someone who struggles with habitual pornography use, for example.

The point of all this is that God is the one who builds the church. God is the one who builds nations. God is in control. The sooner we realize this the sooner we can direct our efforts appropriately and with the appropriate focus.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crazy Unity

Isaiah 19:24-25
(24) In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,
(25) whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance."

It's amazing to consider the unity that this passage predicts. These are countries that didn't get along very well. And yet here is the promise that they would all worship together.

I am reminded of a passage that I have recently memorized in my walk through Galatians:

Galatians 3:27-28
(27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
(28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Christ unites all of us together in Him. All of our distinctions evaporate as we enjoy our unity in Him. The problem I have with this is that I don't always live like I really believe it. I realize that I'm not always pursuing the unity that we are to have with each other in Christ.

I still maintain that doctrine is important. Truth will unite us and divide us to some extent. However, ultimately there must be unity in the body of Christ.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More on Less Babylon

Isaiah 14:22
(22) "I will rise up against them," declares the LORD of hosts, "and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity," declares the LORD.

I noticed something as I read the notes for this and a similar prediction about Moab in chapter 15. There will be no remnant left. God planned to utterly wipe them out. And, as I noted yesterday, He did.

I contrast this with the promises to Israel. God always promises that a faithful remnant would survive, though a tiny one at times. I'm still not quite sure how that relates to the church, but the point is that the seed of Abraham would always be represented.

It seems amazing to me that so many people get bent out of shape about election in the New Testament when the same principles were clearly at work in the Old Testament. God chose a people. Even when they broke the covenant He remained faithful. We know that God doesn't change, so it must be that the same principles are at work today.

I know that I rejoice in being a wild plant grafted onto the olive tree!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Woe to Babylon

Isaiah 13:20-22
(20) It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
(21) But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance.
(22) Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

Have you ever visited Tyre or Sidon? How about Sodom or Gomorrah? Ever been to Babylon?

I didn't think so. Scripture gives prophecy to the destruction of these cities and promises that they would never come back. And, as far as I know, they haven't. I do know that Saddam Hussein had an idea of rebuilding the original Babylon since it is in modern-day Iraq. However, he was deposed before that could happen.

Reading prophecy like this firms up my faith in Scripture. If the Bible says it's going to happen then it's going to happen. It also means that we'd better take Scripture pretty seriously.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Being a Tool

Isaiah 10:15-16
(15) Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
(16) Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.

This was in the context of the Assyrian army. God used them to judge Israel, but that didn't exempt them from judgment for their own sins. They didn't give God the glory for how He used them to judge Israel. Therefore, they had to deal with His wrath as well.

I can't help but wonder if there is an application for us as New Covenant saints as well. The chief end of man is to enjoy God and glorify God forever, right? We are simply tools in His hand. Anything we do for Him is ultimately for His glory.

I'm not saying that wasting sickness is the inevitable conclusion for messing this up. However, I also know that God takes His glory very seriously, so let's remember this, amen?

Friday, May 22, 2009

What Will You Do?

Isaiah 10:3-4
(3) What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?
(4) Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

This comes at the end of a section bewailing the people's impotent self-sufficiency. They didn't see the need to repent. God kept giving them reasons to repent. He let evil creep in that they would see the need to turn. Yet they just kept ignoring Him.

There will come a day when everyone will see the Lord and everyone will repent. The problem is that for most it will be too late. This begs two questions:

- If you've not repented in humble submission to the Lord, what stops you?
- If you have repented, what are you doing to spread the message to those who haven't?

Number 2 hits me deeply. I think of some of the family strife I've caused with my sharing of the gospel. It's particularly hard with those who don't think they already have it. In the end God is going to judge. Are you ready?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting Intelligence

Isaiah 8:18-22
(18) Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
(19) And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
(20) To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
(21) They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward.
(22) And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

This could have been written today, couldn't it? It seems like so many are looking for some kind of word of wisdom, but they refuse to go to the one clear source of knowledge. While I grant that the Holy Spirit may indeed speak directly in some kind of audible way to some people, I would maintain that verse 20 is universally applicable.

God gave us His Word. It does not contain all that there is to know about God. Nothing can cover all of His wisdom and knowledge. He is infinite and our perceptions will always be finite, even when we're living with Him in glory. However, He has given us His Word and we would do well to spend time in it frequently.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stay Firm

Isaiah 7:9
(9) And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'"

By the time of Jesus the spiritual landscape of Samaria had completely changed. Why? They were overrun and did not remain firm in the faith. Judah wasn't a whole lot better, but at least they kept the embers going.

I think this is a timely lesson for us today. Our nation was founded on the idea that religious pluralism is a good thing. I agree that everyone has the right to worship whoever or however they please, provided that they aren't endangering anyone. Yet if we do not remain firm in our faith we are going to become indistinguishable from the culture. We are going to be just as materialistic as the rest of the culture. Or perhaps we will become so universalist in our thinking that we stop evangelizing.

Either way, I think that this is a timely reminder for the 21st century Christian. Let's stand firm.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Importance of Rest

Isaiah 5:8-9
(8) Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.
(9) The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing: "Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.

What does this passage have to do with the title of this post? It refers to the command to give the land periodic rest. In their greed the people worked the land too hard and they eventually paid the price for it. The Sabbath was serious business. God forced the people into a rest with their exile.

My pastor preached this weekend on the need to let go and take a rest. That's a hard lesson for me. My life is so tightly-packed that I have little room for rest. This is one of the reasons why I like my daily exercise so much. It is a way for me to unplug for a little while. The problem is that it is still not 1/7 of my week.

I am not legalistic about taking a full Sabbath, but I also think that I need to do a better job of unplugging and resting. To that end I actually did not review flashcards yesterday. I got a few other things done, but very little in the way of schoolwork. I think that was OK, though we'll see how the flashcards go today.

At any rate, it is clear that I need to find a way to rest more. This will be difficult during the semester, but I think it can be done. I just have to decide what can go from my life.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Isaiah 2:17-21
(17) And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
(18) And the idols shall utterly pass away.
(19) And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
(20) In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,
(21) to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.

There is going to be a day when there are no more atheists on earth. In fact, there won't even be any moderate deists. Everyone will know that Jesus is Lord, but it will be too late.

It's easy to focus on all the "God is love" concepts in Scripture without considering what His wrath will look like someday. Personally, this gives me great hope. I know that God will exact justice in all the places where it looks like there is none right now. He is going to clean up the world.

I just want to make sure I have a head start by living like I believe that this is going to happen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Isaiah 1:24-26
(24) Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.
(25) I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.
(26) And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."

This passage ultimately has hope for Israel, but not without a little pain first. I can't speak for you, but the thought of the Lord turning His hand against me is not a happy prospect. This is the same God who spoke all of creation into being. He is the one who overcame death. He is the transcendent God of the universe.

Yet isn't this something we must welcome? Today is Saturday which means Peter review day. I review 1 and 2 Peter while I stretch for my run. 1 Peter dovetails nicely with this passage. Chapter 1 speaks specifically about how our faith needs to have a tested genuineness that is compared to the process of refining gold in the fire.

I wish Osteen would preach on passages like this. There is pain associated with following Christ and it is not always some form of martyrdom. It is God refining us through His fire to make us more like Jesus. While it's not a lot of fun to endure it is something we should embrace if we truly want to be more like Jesus.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting Cleaned Up

Isaiah 1:18-20
(18) "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
(19) If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
(20) but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

I've been a big fan of verse 18 for a long time. What Christian isn't? However, as I read through this time I see the need for more context. Isaiah just finished talking about the need to live out God's commands. Now we see immediately after this verse that there is a command to be "willing and obedient."

I still maintain that the ability to be "willing and obedient" is a work of grace. However, I also know that faith is a component. We cannot expect for the promise of verse 18 to be true in our lives if we don't take verses 18 and 19 into account.

I tend to bristle at some churches calling themselves "full gospel." What that typically means is that they are charismatic and that the "full gospel" includes some second experience of baptism by the Holy Spirit so that you can speak in tongues, etc. I like the term "full gospel," but I would take it to mean that there has to be an element of repentance if someone's faith. Faith without works is dead, amen?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Want Proof?

Note: I finished my read through the NLT, so I plan to go slowly through the prophets in the ESV Study Bible.

Isaiah 1:2
(2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.

Skeptics are famous for demanding proof. How can we say that there is a God when we can produce no proof? I would submit that this verse points to the proof. The fact that there is a created order indicates some kind of driving force. At least that works for me.

However, that does not convince everyone. For example, here is an email I got from the owner of a skeptic website when I asked about what I consider the need for first causes:

The problem of trying to explain first causes with a god is that it doesn't explain first causes. Even in your own logic, if there has to something "eternal" to the reality then the same goes for god. It's the same problem! If god is real, then what is that something external to "Him"? Moreover, you can't explain the origin of a complex entity by introducing even more complexity. Humans (and all life forms) are complex entities and if a god created them, then that god would have to be even more complex. It doesn't work.

Moreover, the idea of something existing outside time and space doesn't make sense. Reality is *composed* of matter-energy and time-space. The only thing outside of reality is unreality! Things outside of reality don't exist! So if you want your god outside of reality then you have to concede that he doesn't exist. Your own logic proves that god doesn't exist! It also agrees with observation (or more accurately non-observation). No one has ever detected a god.

Quantum mechanics has the best chance to explain existence and the origins of complexity. If there was a Big Bang, it had to have started out in a quantum state. Physicists know that quantum particles come into existence and and out of existence by pure chance. Quantum particles leads to atoms and molecules. Molecules lead to suns and planets, etc. Order and complexity comes out of chaos (galaxies, solar systems, planets, stars, etc.), and out of order comes evolution and natural selection. This explains first causes out of less complexity rather than more complexity. Less complex entities evolve into more complex entities. It is self consistent and doesn't require an infinite regress as does the god hypothesis. Lastly, (and more importantly) this agrees 100% with observation.

I'm not sure how this jives with the laws of thermodynamics. Nor does it explain to me how this first quantum particle came into being. I thought that matter and energy were sort of two sides of the same coin, but could be neither created nor destroyed.

Does this make sense to you? Which is the more satisfying explanation?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to be Saved

Zephaniah 1:18-2:3
(18) Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(1) Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation,
(2) before the decree takes effect --before the day passes away like chaff-- before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD.
(3) Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.

Reading the Twelve can be a pretty heavy business. It is not a happy story. Israel was wallowing in sin and the prophets had to tell of the coming judgment. However, through it all there is some hope intermingled with the decrees of woe.

When I read this passage I think of how we tend to live our lives here in America. We have certainly made an idol of money. We plan on money to save us. We may not think it will save us spiritually, but we do count on it to save us materially. At least I tend to. It is easy for me to get concerned about my 401(k) and the rollover IRA I have. They aren't doing so well these days, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Yet ultimately it will not matter. Ultimately the Lord is going to come in judgment. Am I ready for that? I hope to be more prepared for that than I am for any kind of financial hardship. Which is more important?

Of course, we need to be good stewards. I don't think God wants for us to be irresponsible. Yet we must remember that money is simply a tool for living and it is not life. Nor does it secure life. Only God can do that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great is His Faithfulness

Micah 7:18-20
(18) Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.
(19) He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(20) You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

It's pretty easy for me to read the Old Testament with an eye toward God's justice and wrath. I think that the Old Testament partly exists to show us that God takes things very seriously and that He is indeed just. However, there are moments of great hope in here.

Think about all the promises of wrath in the Prophets as well as the times when that wrath was poured out. Israel blew it. Yet here God promises mercy to His remant. Personally, I haven't quite decided how this relates to national Israel compared to us Gentiles. But what I do know is that either way it shows that God is indeed abounding in lovingkindness.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Context is Key

Galatians 2:7
(7) On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised

I don't have any profound truths to share today other than a little hermeneutical note. This may seem obvious, but as I worked on memorizing this verse I thought of a little truth that we all would do well to remember. It's so easy to proof-text and ignore context.

If you just look at this verse in isolation you may think that there is a different gospel for the Jews than for the Gentiles. However, if you look at it in the context of the whole passage, book, and Bible you will see that everyone needs the cross. This passage is merely saying that Paul's mission was to preach Christ to the Gentiles while Peter's was for the Jews.

Don't fall prey to proof-texting. That's how cults form.

Friday, May 08, 2009

His Great Mercy

Joel 2:18-19
(18) Then the LORD became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.
(19) The LORD answered and said to his people, "Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.

The book of Joel is pretty harsh. It describes the army of swarming locusts that the Lord plans to send upon the people in the day of the Lord. Perhaps the most vivid description of the desolation is that the land ahead of them would be like the garden of Eden, but behind them would be utter desolation. The plan is for total destruction.

The Lord still has mercy despite the justice due to the people. All they need to do is repent. I realize that this seems like a Catch-22 since repentance is a gift from the Lord. Yet the Lord grants it to whom He wills. he does this because of the jealousy He has for His land and for His people.

It's easy for me sometimes to focus too much on God's wrath and justice because I think that helps to support my theology. I guess I focus on those because I sense a need to balance the common idea that God is so loving that He gives folks a free pass without any justice. Yet I know that I need to focus on His mercy as well. I certainly wouldn't be writing this apart from His mercy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

He Has a Plan

Job 23:10-14
(10) But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
(11) My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
(12) I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
(13) But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does.
(14) For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.

Job was going through more than most of us will ever face. Yet through it all he trusted God. The thing that strikes me is how Job saw the value of his suffering. He realized that it would refine him to be more pure. Job had a right view of it.

There are some who might say that Job lacked faith and that is why he was suffering. In fact, he had three friends telling him how his suffering was a result of sin. I'm not sure how Joel Osteen handles the book of Job or if he has even read it. I wonder why Job didn't exercise his "comeback power?"

Verses 13 and 14 give me both fear and comfort. God has a plan and it will not change. God will do what He wills. Job's response shows me that our job is to remain faithful.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A View of Prayer

Daniel 9:18-19
(18) O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
(19) O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."

One of my classmates made a great point about how we tend to view prayer. We are often quick to point out the errors of Open Theism, but we often pray like we really are Open Theists. We have this idea that God doesn't really have a set idea for how He is going to act, but if we just pray enough and get enough people praying then we will move His heart.

Certainly Scripture commands us to pray. Jesus makes it clear that prayer changes things. However, I would maintain that prayer is more about us getting our focus realigned with God's than it is convincing God that what we want is best. If He truly is sovereign then He has made up His mind in how things are going to be. Yet He does use means to accomplish His will and I believe that our prayers are part of that.

Daniel's prayers were radically God-centered. While he may have prayed for his aunt's sore hip at some point we don't have those prayers recorded. What we do have is this example of a prayer that is focused on God's glory with an appeal to God's name. Moses did the same thing when interceding for the disobedient people in the wilderness.

God is zealous for the glory of His name. Let's focus our prayers accordingly, amen?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Receiving Favor

Daniel 1:8-10
(8) But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
(9) And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,
(10) and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king."

I have heard this passage used in regards to how we approach our work. The idea is that we can take a chance in telling management that we are not going to work like everyone else does in terms of sacrificing family on the altar of success. God will then bless our boldness.

I don't think that is what this text is saying, but perhaps that is an application for us today. I do think it shows us that God does indeed work in men's hearts. Where was the free will of the chief of the eunuchs?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Revealing His Greatness

Ezekiel 38:21-23
(21) I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man's sword will be against his brother.
(22) With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.
(23) So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

It's one thing to read a lot of John Piper and say that God is zealous for His glory. However, it's quite another to read a lot of Scripture and see the same thing over and over and over again. If you are a regular reader of this blog I hope that you are not getting tired of this. I'm not and I'm going to keep banging this drum.

I know that I desperately need to get my focus off of myself and on to God's glory. We're not having the best day here. There isn't anything terrible happening, but there are some things happening around us that are affecting us emotionally. It's not been the best day and it's easy for me to mope. However, if I remember passages like this I can get the focus off of myself and on to the Lord where it belongs.

Where is your focus? Are you concerned about how God is working for you or are you zealous for His glory above all else?

For Whose Name?

Ezekiel 36:32
(32) It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

This comes right after the great passage about how God will remove their hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. That tells us that it is God who transforms lives. It is not a matter of partnering with God and then improving ourselves. God is the one who transforms us. To be sure, we are responsible for the disciplines that will help us to grow in godliness, but God has to start the process.

I quoted this verse because I think it does such a great job of taking the focus off of man. When I hear the gospel it is often with a man-centered focus. What can a relationship with God do for me? How can knowing God help me? See how much God loves me? God did all of this for me.

While it is true that our lives are changed from knowing God, the focus cannot be on ourselves. God set His people free for the sake of His name. He did it so that He might be glorified. Let us never forget this as we think about our relationship with Him. It has to be God-centered, not man-centered.