Saturday, April 21, 2018

Prayer for Ministry

Holy Father,

I pray that my preaching may communicate sound teaching,
And I pray that my teaching may have the passion of preaching.
For if my preaching does not contain sound Biblical teaching,
And if my teaching has not Gospel passion and conviction;
Then I do not deserve to be heard,
And I have dishonored my calling in Jesus Christ.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Isaiah (8)

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:16 - 20).

While our actions cannot cleanse us from our sins (Titus 3:5), our actions can certainly demonstrate our repentance and obedience to the true and living God. Confession means nothing if not accompanied by repentance, and repentance means a change of direction, a turning from our ways to God’s ways, to His Way, the Lord Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist exhorted, we are to demonstrate the fruits of our repentance. Confession is cheap without repentance, and there can be no Biblical confession without Biblical repentance.

God wants to bring us to repentance, He does not desire that anyone perish (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4) - however, the door to the Ark will not remain open indefinitely. In the midst of God’s word of judgment on Judah and Jerusalem, He pleas for repentance, He pleas for a change of heart and ways, and He promises that blessing will follow repentance and obedience - but He also makes clear that if Judah refuses to repent and persists in its rebellion that it will be devoured by the sword.

Judah is to “remove the evil” of its deeds from God’s sight and it was to “cease” from doing evil and learn to do good. In a later chapter God will say that Judah has come to call good evil and evil good - is not that where we are today? We applaud and laugh at evil, at filth, at images and language and actions that not long ago we, as a society, would have been appalled at. Instead of being appalled we applaud. But it is not enough that society engages in evil without boundaries, for now much of the professing church has been captured by evil and no longer distinguishes between what is holy and what is profane.

Not only are we not learning to do good (we need to “learn it” because we have forgotten how to do it), but we often deride those who choose good over evil, we accuse them of being impractical, of being judgmental, of being narrow-minded - and at times we are ashamed to be associated with them.

God says that Judah is to seek justice, as are we. A people who do good and practice justice are a people who are good and just to the weakest and least powerful in its society - in Isaiah’s day that meant the orphan and the widow, it also meant that the ruthless were to be reproved. What are we to say about our own nation?

Money rules. Power is typically used for personal advancement. Lobbyists own the government. Drug companies often own the health-care system. This is not a question of political party, it is not a question of liberal or conservative - as much as some would have us think that - it is a question of righteousness and justice and equity and mercy and doing good and defending the defenseless and rebuking the ruthless.

How can a nation that has a Food Network television channel, and other similar entertainment productions, have children, the elderly, and families living in hunger? How can a nation that has entertainment television productions centered around finding a dream home have significant homeless people and a substantial portion of the population living in substandard and often dangerous housing - people who can only dream of a safe and secure home? How can a portion of the population profess to be “pro-life” when they do not speak out for the lives of those already born - willing to let our neighbors live without health care, live in danger of violence, live in dangerous housing, live without nutritional food, live without the benefit of sound and decent education?

If the “bottom-line” is all that matters, if that can be used to justify our narcissistic way of life, then let us not complain when God declares that we have failed to meet His “bottom-line” of righteousness and justice and equity and speaking out for the disenfranchised and failing to rebuke the ruthless.

We worship the powerful, God says we ought to identify with the poor. We worship the beautiful, God says that we ought to touch the untouchable. We idolize the talented, God says true talent is serving others with the gifts He has given us. Much of the church worships success, God calls us to the Cross.

God in Christ pleads with us to come to Him, to be washed and made pure in His Son Jesus - He loves us beyond words, He loves us so much that the Father gave His Son for us, and the Son freely gave Himself for us - He calls us to come home to Him, as His sons and daughters, to follow Him, to come into a relationship with Him by His grace and mercy - we are sick and we are dying of sin and rebellion….

But we are not coming...and then we wonder...why the sword is devouring our land...