Swift Horses or Quiet Trust

June 26, 2008 at 9:42 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, False teaching, It's All About God | 2 Comments

Isaiah 30.  Isaiah nails the popular religion of our day with the words of this chapter, which I pondered in my devotions this morning.  The popular religion of our time is a me-centered, prosperity gospel.  As humans, we want that kind of message; we don’t want to hear about human sin and divine holiness.  We want to hear pleasantries for ourselves and our success.  The same was true of the people in Isaiah’s day: “They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right!  Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.  Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’” (Isaiah 30:10-11)  Isaiah goes on to say that such a gospel will perish, collapsing suddenly and mercilessly.

However there is a way out of the false gospel.  It is through trusting the Sovereign and Holy One.  False gospels teach a trust in self, that’s why I call them “me-centered,” but the true gospel is all about the sovereign, holy God.  “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (30:15)  That kind of trust is hard for us, because we are so busy running to the next thing, pursuing our own prosperity.  This is why the prosperity gospel is so attractive to a culture of busyness.  It says you don’t have to slow down and know a holy God; you don’t have to submit to a sovereign Ruler; you can keep going and see human success with a weak god’s help along the way; you can rule your own destiny.  That was exactly the attitude Isaiah addressed.  The very next words are, “but you would have none of it.”  Isaiah says that strength and salvation come from trust and rest in God, but the people of his day didn’t want it.  Instead, “You said, ‘We will ride on swift horses.’” (30:16)  Don’t those words describe us well!  Like the people of Isaiah’s day, we want to rush off on swift horses.

I wonder if I have bought into the self-centered gospel.  So much of my schedule, even as a teaching pastor, is running from one thing to another – riding off on swift horses – hoping for God’s help along the way.  I believe Isaiah would say that to the extent I don’t practice repentance and rest, quietness and trust, I have bought into a false, me-centered gospel.  That is a convicting thought.

God of the Nations

June 19, 2008 at 11:02 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, It's All About God | Leave a comment

Isaiah 13-19.  In this section we see that God overrules the nations.  In our world we often view nations as the real powers and people groups as the ultimate good or evil.  We sometimes view nations or people groups as powerful enemies to be feared.  The Taliban and Al-Qaida are viewed by some that way.  But powerful nations and powerful people are still under God’s control.  Isaiah spoke these prophesies against some powerful nations and cities of his day, and in them we see that God rules over those powers.  He allows nations to exist for a time to carry out his purposes, but he is still in control.  He prophesied against Assyria, Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Cush, and Egypt.  They would all eventually fall from power, but God’s Kingdom remains forever.  His purposes will not be thwarted.  “The LORD has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’  . . .  For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 15:24, 27)

            We need not fret when nations, people groups, political parties and ideologies come to power.  They have only the authority God allows them, for he is in control.  We must keep the eternal perspective of God’s Kingdom, and our trust must be in him alone.  “Surely the nations are like a drop in the bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales.  . . .  Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.  . . .  He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”  (Isaiah 40)

Ecclesiastes

June 13, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Wisdom | Leave a comment

I love the book of Ecclesiastes.  When I read through the Bible, I have a hard time with Proverbs.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the book for the great snippets of wisdom and truth it gives, but reading straight through it is hard for me (after the first nine chapters).  So when I come to Ecclesiastes, I find great refreshment in its pages.  I think Ecclesiastes is one of the most relevant Old Testament books for our society today.

In this gem, Solomon discusses what life without God would be like.  He describes such life as “under the sun” or “on earth,” and his discovery is that such a life is totally empty, vain, meaningless, like “chasing after the wind.”  Solomon pursued most all the things people today pursue to find meaning under the sun, and found all of it to be empty.

Solomon concludes that to find true meaning in life, one must look beyond the sun.  True meaning is found only in God.  if you are interested in reading more details of my thoughts on this matter, click on the following link:

https://pastorglenn.wordpress.com/life-can-be-emptylife-can-be-empty/

 

Prince Caspian revisited

June 10, 2008 at 11:35 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Wisdom | Leave a comment

My daughter received some theater passes, so we returned to Prince Caspian a second time.  I’m such a huge Narnia fan I just couldn’t resist.  This time through I wasn’t trying to evaluate everything according to the book, so I was more into the story and actually enjoyed the experience far more.  I heard some funny lines and saw many details I’d missed the first time.  I think those who don’t know the books would also benefit from seeing it a second time, because one can gather so much more of the story.  I won’t change my earlier evaluation in terms of negatives.  I still think sending Lucy out for Aslan, rather than Aslan finding the children, is an awful mistake, and I’m still disappointed the old nurse isn’t in the story.

But one other positive thing stood out this time that we all saw as a major theme of the Caspian movie, though it isn’t in the book at all.  Two scenes invented by the movie writers help bring this theme to the front.  I wondered why Douglas Gresham would allow so much deviation from the book in this movie that didn’t happen in the first, and I have concluded that this theme is the reason.  (Gresham is C.S. Lewis’ step son and heir, who was the co-producer of both films.  I understand that his presence was the reason Disney was allowed to make them)  The theme is Peter’s struggle with pride and faith. The first glimpse of him in the movie is a fight he gets into because he’s tired of being treated like a kid, when he was once a great king; he struggles with Caspian because he thinks of himself as the one in charge; he makes decisions that are selfish and proud; when he is reminded by Lucy to wait for Aslan, he responds he’s tired of waiting and makes a decision that turns into a huge disaster; when asked by Susan “just who are you doing this for,” he continues on in his foolish pride.  He is slow to recognize that Aslan is in charge and his plan is best.

At our family devotions last night we read Proverbs 3 and the famous words of verse 5-6 made for a great discussion about Peter’s attitude in the movie.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Peter was slow to trust and quick to lean on his own understanding.

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