1 Samuel 2:6-8—The LORD brings death and gives life; He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up. The LORD brings poverty and gives wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. He seats them with noblemen and gives them a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; He has set the world on them.
Not long ago a woman walked up to me and said, “Do you remember me?” Her face looked familiar but I was at a complete loss as to her name or where I had served with her! The Indians have a proverb, “A good memory is fine—but the ability to forget is the true test of greatness.” Obviously the writer was not thinking about forgetting someone’s name unless he knew something we don’t!
I had not been home long before my cell phone rang. Clay called and asked me if I would come down to his place and pray. I could feel the heaviness in his voice—the sound of one trapped before the storm with no place to hide. Driving home I had just taken a call from a man whose wife is penniless and unable to provide food for herself and her two children. Complicating his situation, she is back in the Philippines and is still recovering from a serious surgery. After sharing possible organizations that could help him, I was about to hang up when he asked if he could come in and meet with me. I understood that this was a spiritual request from an unchurched soldier and silently thanked God for the opportunity to be light to a man trapped in the shadows. Two phone calls, plenty of pain and the red sun was not yet down.
Isaiah chapter thirty contains a stern message from God to a nation consistently at odds with His will. Judah was rebellious, deceitful and unwilling to listen to His instruction (vs. 9). The people told the prophets to stop telling them what was right. They asked them to speak pleasant things and to share illusions (vs. 10). I’m reminded of Paul’s word to Timothy when he foretold a time “For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new” (2 Timothy 4:3).
John 6:37,44--Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out . . . No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Tragedy has a way of releasing the inner ideologies of people that normally would go unstated. After terrorists leveled New York’s Twin Towers and struck the Pentagon, we hear many voices emerging. One voice cries: “Revenge!” It acknowledges the pain of being wounded and seethes with anger. “Blow away the enemy! Make sure he never strikes us again.”
Recalescence is the sudden glowing which takes place in metal that is cooling. It is caused by the liberation of the latent heat of transformation. It is a hot word picture that imperfectly depicts what happens to us who are spiritually born in Christ. The truth is, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work in our lives as we determine to worship God. Accordingly, there will be not one sudden glowing, but continuous times when the brilliant light of God bursts from our lives as the dazzling display of divine transformation. This is what we call regeneration!
Russ is an 80-year-old friend who suffers through the agonizing pain of bad knees, a weak back and an assortment of other aches not uncommon for a man of his age. Often his spirit is drenched by the loss of his wife and the solitary struggle of battling ailments.
Russ is a good man and yet he suffers from a disease that has sealed his mortality, a disease we all have called SIN. Sin separates us from God. Left untreated, it hardens a person’s heart towards Him, leads to bitterness and the proliferation of fear which chokes the very life out of joy.
Romans 13:14--But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
Have you ever had a day when you wished to be alone; when your heart felt crushed beyond repair and your dreams were smashed like a wooden boat against the jagged reefs of reality? Like the eye of a hurricane, misery has its own island of calm. Often it is in the center of pain where God reveals His warm will and tender truth.