Rescuing Us From Unfaithfulness

August 30, 2020 Rescuing Us from Unfaithfulness – The Book of Hosea With Hosea’s book, we enter the section of the Hebrew Bible called the Minor Prophets. These books are not less in importance, but they tend to be smaller in length.  There are twelve of these prophets with Hosea being the longest at fourteen chapters. When I read about Hosea’s life and ministry, I just have to laugh when I think about his life playing out in the modern-day church.  As we unpack this story, I want you to imagine the gossip that would have surrounded him and his family as details began to emerge. The Old Testament prophets endured the constant pressure, harassment, struggles, and hardships of the ministry, but if their ministries been conducted within a local church, most of them would not have had a job for very long. Suppose the First Church of Samaria called Hosea to be their prophet, except it didn’t work that way.  God did the calling.  Prophets just showed up and started preaching, sort of like a street evangelist. Imagine Hosea showing up with his wife, Gomer at the First Church of Samaria.  Perhaps the people welcomed him into the community at first.  They might even have been given him a nice camel haired tent to live in.  It would have called a “prophetorium.” But don’t you know when the church people found out that the prophet’s wife had a promiscuous history, the gossip mill would begin to turn.   That word would have spread quicker than a sneeze through a screen door. Someone would have said, “I knew those children...
Surrender Control to God (Daniel)

Surrender Control to God (Daniel)

Surrendering Control to God August 23, 2020 One of the greatest prayers ever penned is by Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It’s become known as the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. https://www.prayerfoundation.org/dailyoffice/serenity_prayer_full_version.htm One thing Niebuhr’s prayer teaches is that there are some things we can control and some things we cannot. I cannot control whether it rains or the sun shines but I can control how I dress for the weather. I cannot control whether my life is hit with indiscriminate, unplanned, hardship, or disaster but I can always choose how I respond to it. Everything I do with my life from the time I get up until the time I go to bed, I try to control. But I usually have to pray Niebuhr’s prayer, because before the day is over, something is bound to not go my way. Can anybody relate? Almost from the beginning of their lives, life spiraled out of control for teenagers Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. In the year 604 B.C., they were carried away in the first wave of exiles into Babylon. Every aspect of their lives was controlled: the language they spoke, the literature they studied, the names they answered to, and the food and drink they consumed. They became a part of a group of men overseen by Ashpenaz, the chief of the court officials for the king. They soon came to understand that they were at the mercy of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. How do you...
Coming Alongside Others

Coming Alongside Others

August 16, 2020 Ezekiel – Coming Alongside Others A child about five anxiously watches her father as he takes the training wheels off her bicycle.  She fears skinned knees and the thoughts of failure. “What if I can’t ride it?” she thinks to herself. In her mind, she thinks she is going to have to ride the bicycle all by herself. After all, there is room for only one.   She does not realize that when the training wheels come off, her father will walk alongside her as she peddles.   He will encourage her whenever she gets off balance and be there to catch her if she falls.   It is true, sometimes he will allow her to softly fall, but he then places her back on the bike, and then he walks alongside her again. This process continues until the father is running beside the child as she gains speed and confidence.  Had she been left alone to figure out how to ride the bicycle on her own, she would have given up. She would have lamented that at least with her training wheels she could ride, but with them off, her bicycle was useless. But, then she would never have known the freedom and joy of riding that comes with no training wheels.  All it took was a father who knew that coming alongside his daughter was the key to discovering the potential inside her and the joy she could have with just a little faith and courage.  There have been many people in your life who have come alongside you to provide guidance, mentoring, or direction at crucial...
Moving from Lament to Hope

Moving from Lament to Hope

Moving From Lament to Hope August 9, 2020 In our journey through the Bible, we have come to the book of Lamentations.   In the word “Lamentations,” you can hear the root word, “Lament.”   Some people think a lament is a complaint, and that’s not accurate. If that were the case, this book would have to be one of the favorite books in the Bible for many Baptists.   If complaining were an Olympic sport, every Baptist church would have some gold medal contenders.  They stay in constant training.  Their skills are amazing.   They remind me of the people that Moses rescued from slavery. They were headed to the Promised Land, and going through a wilderness and God was giving them manna from heaven that they collected every morning, but they began to complain because they did not have any meat to eat.  They said to Moses: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:5-6 NIV) The people complained to Moses, and Moses complained to God about the people complaining to him. “What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry...

Before I Formed You, I Knew You (Jeremiah)

August 2, 2020 Jeremiah was a PK, a priest’s kid. He grew up watching his father Hilkiah perform all the priestly duties at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.    As the son of a priest, Jeremiah was used to seeing people bring their sacrificial offerings out of a sense of duty and obligation only to return home with no apparent change in their hearts or lifestyle.   Because he was born into a priestly family, he was expected to become a priest. What Jeremiah did not expect was for God to call him to be a prophet, a much different role.  Jeremiah left the Benjamin territory and directed his message to those in Jerusalem, Judah, and the surrounding areas.   Typically, what Jeremiah had to say as a prophet wasn’t well received. Such is the life of a prophet. For Jeremiah, his words would eventually result in his exile and his death. Jeremiah’s call is unique and select: “The word of the Lord came to (Jeremiah) saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (1:5) Jeremiah understood that God had a purpose for his life even before he was conceived. He believed he had a calling from God to fulfill.   Much like the Apostle Paul 700 years later, Jeremiah believed that his life was not his own and that he must be obedient to God’s calling, even though he felt inadequate for the task. God assured him that he would give him the words to say. Jeremiah said that God...

The Coming of the Suffering Servant

Isaiah 40-66 July 26, 2020 The Coming of the Suffering Servant Last week I introduced you to the prophet Isaiah in our journey through the Bible. Even though Isaiah is only one book in our Protestant Bible, scholars divide Isaiah up into two sections: 1 Isaiah, chapters 1-39 and 2 Isaiah, chapters 40-66. An easy way to remember that is that there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. That’s how the book breaks apart. Today we look at 2 Isaiah, chapters 40-66. As a review, Isaiah was a prophet that lived during the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. All of these were kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, where the capital of Jerusalem was located. During the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam in 922 B.C., Israel split into two separate groups. Only the tribes of Benjamin and Judah stayed together to form the Southern Kingdom. The other ten tribes of Israel rebelled under Jeroboam’s leadership and became the Northern Kingdom of Israel. During the time that Isaiah was prophesying to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom. They carried the best and brightest of their people away into exile. The people lost their culture and their identity. So, the Northern Kingdom’s exile serves as a backdrop and a wake-up call for Judah, which Isaiah used to his advantage. It was like, “O.K., you see what happens when you continue to refuse to follow God and obey His laws.” He told the people of Judah that something similar would happen to them if they...