Monday, September 28, 2015

Can You Name the Sons of Samuel? I Didn't Think So...

I have been reading through this morning the story of Samuel. Do you remember his sons Joel and Abijah? Probably not. They are only mentioned in a few short verses. Joel was the eldest and Abijah the second born. They were judges in Beer-sheba but they did not walk in the ways of their father. The turned toward dishonest gain, they took bribes and, worst of all, they perverted justice. They were so unlike their father that they basically disappeared from the scene and were relegated to Israeli historical irrelevancy. (1 Samuel 8:1-3)

Dad (Samuel) was a great guy. One of the greatest prophets/judges that ever lived. He was a man after God’s heart. When the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel due to the sins of Eli and his two inept and corrupt sons, God still visited and spoke to Israel through Samuel. 

Joel and Abijah, Samuel's sons, were raised in a good home. They were trained and appointed as judges by their father, the prophet. But they were just bad. 

What went wrong?

Here is a truth. Our successes today in no way guarantee success for tomorrow. Our successes as individuals in no way guarantees success for our families. And the scary part is that our faithfulness today doesn’t guarantee faithfulness tomorrow as well. Our walk with God through Christ empowered by His Spirit is at best a day to day proposition of denying our self, taking up our cross and choosing to follow Him.

Jesus never said, “Don’t count the cost to follow”. Conversely, He always reminded those listening that it is extremely and always costly to follow Him. 

I pray that we, as followers of Christ, be ones who always daily looks to Jesus for our marching orders and willingly count the cost, take up the cross and follow Him daily.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Do Not Remove Ancient Boundary Markers...

Don't you just love the seemingly quirky laws of the Old Testament? I won't go into detail here, but there are a ton of them that don't really make sense to us today because of the specifics of the time that they were given (see Deuteronomy 23:13 and the command to have a digging closed).

Anyway, I ran across a favorite law. It is regarding ancient boundary markers. In Deuteronomy 19:14 it is explicit that the Israelites were not to in any way move or adjust them. These were the boundaries of the tribes established by the Lord when Israel reached the promised land. They were God appointed and any attempt to move or adjust the boundary between you and your neighbor was a direct offense to God.

It causes me to reflect on ancient boundary markers that God has placed in my life. Things like a commitment and promise I made to my sweetheart so many years ago that I would love her like Christ loves the church, until death parts us. Or like the promise I made to God that I would always honor Him with my tithe and offerings as an act of obedience. And the promise I made to Him to raise and guide my children and family in His way and never waver from His path no matter what comes.

I then think about the ancient boundary marker of the call that He placed in Regina's and my life of a lifetime commitment of service in His Kingdom. Of the call that led us to say "yes Lord" to wherever and however He chose to lead us. And that commitment that we made so long ago to join Him in His global task of making His Name known to the nations.

These are ancient boundary markers that should never be moved. And I once again submit and commit to His calling. For my life is not mine, it has been bought and paid for with a dear price; one I could never repay.

I choose to remember His boundary marker in my life and choose to follow it from here to eternity.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Cost of Discipleship...

In my recent trip to Nepal, we visited with several communities and leaders of local churches. One pastor received us into his home, prepared us a meal and spent the best part of a day taking around his community to look at earthquake damage and potential projects.

As we were relaxing in his home, he told us his life story. He said it wasn't easy to be a follower of Christ in a place where there was so much persecution. There is constant verbal and emotional abuse from neighbors who don't like the church. There is actual physical abuse to persons and properties. And there is the constant secret threats that come to the believers day and night.

When we asked about the persecution and was it worth it all, he told a story of how he knew the value of being a follower of Christ.

He said that when he was a young boy, about 5 years old, local village leaders came into their home, tied his mother and father to some chairs, and then, in front of him and his sibling, began to beat them with wires. They beat them and demanded that they recant their faith in Jesus. But his parents refused to do so, no matter how hard they beat them or how much they threatened them.

He said that he knew that very day that their faith was something real and different. And he knew and committed that he would be a life long follower of Jesus no matter what might come.

Today, he is an overseer of hundreds of churches. And he is constantly singing and sharing about God's love and goodness...even in the midst of on-going persecution.

Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)

What a great testimony. Oh that you and I would be so faithful...