The Greatest of All Time

Muhammed Ali used to say he was the “greatest of all time!” and in terms of boxing, maybe. But there’s another “greatest” that comes to mind at Easter, and it’s the greatest verse in the Bible, John 3:16, because it has five “greatests” in it. Here they are:

1. The Greatest Being: For God…

All of science believes to some extent the opening section of the Bible…In the beginning was nothing, then BANG…something.

Christianity: In the beginning there was an ultimate being. Who created everything.
Atheism: In the beginning there was nothing. Nothing exploded. And became something. Makes perfect sense.

The Hubble Space Telescope is that giant Nasa telescope that beams back incredible pictures of the universe. George Will writes, “Soon the ACLU or the People for the American Way, or some similar faction of litigious secularism will file suit against NASA, charging that the Hubble Space Telescope unconstitutionally gives comfort to the religiously inclined. Science is augmenting, not subverting, the sense of awe that undergirds religious yearnings.”

Isaiah looked into the heavens some 2700 years ago and recognized the stars were made by (Isaiah 40:26), “His great incomparable power.”

Everything begins and ends with the Greatest Being, who used:

2. The Greatest Power: God so loved…

If you say “of course God loved David!” that just shows you’ve grown up in a Christian culture. For most of history and even now in most of the world, a loving God was NOT a common belief:

  • The Greek and Roman gods didn’t love mankind.
  • 33 million Hindu deities and none of their descriptions speak of the Christian God’s love that is innate, unique, grace-based and self-sacrificial.
  • What about Allah? The Muslim God? Well – one of his 99 names “el-Waddud” – means “loving.” He is called that twice in the Quran. But…Allah’s love is qualified – he loves the pure, those who do good deeds, he does not love sinners, he does not love the unjust, and the Quran clearly states…he does not love the non-Muslim.

The Christian God – loves sinners. Romans 5:8 says God loves us and died for us…WHILE we were sinners, unbelievers, and enemies of Him.

Love is the greatest power. It is God’s power, through Christ, to make the dead – alive, the lost – found, the sinner – holy, the filthy – pure, the guilty – innocent.

The Greatest Being, God, exhibited the Greatest Power, Love:

3. To the Greatest Degree: …the World….

“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight – Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

God loves the Charismatics, but also Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics. God loves the conservatives – but also the liberals and the communists. God loves preachers – and the murderers, gamblers, bartenders, prostitutes and the addicts and on and on and on.

God loves ALL – ALL colors, ALL individuals, ALL social groups, ALL…God so loved…the world.

Which includes you. Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

The greatest being with the greatest power to the greatest degree, gave:

4. The Greatest Gift: …that He gave His only Son…

I would be happy to risk everything to save someone from death. But if two were at risk and one was my daughter, I’m going for my daughter first.

Every. Single. Time.

God looks at the same equation and makes a different choice. He gave His Son…for you. And it’s not some crazy forced killing against the Son’s will. The Son willingly gave of Himself for you. He lived out John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” He gave the greatest gift. His life. He took the penalty for our sin.

Why? To deliver:

5. The Greatest Promise: … that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 

What do you do when your life is completely shot? Like the guy who has shattered his family? The woman who has killed every relationship? The job down the tubes? The financial crisis that makes life look like the bottom of a pit? What then?

What about the regrets. The “what ifs?” What if I hadn’t done that? What if I hadn’t hurt the ones I loved? What if I’d been a decent parent? What if I hadn’t been so selfish? What if I hadn’t failed in so many ways?

God gives you five “greats.” Here they are: 

  1. The Greatest Being God with
  2. the greatest power – loved,
  3. to the greatest degree – the entire world,
  4. so He gave the greatest gift – His Son,
  5. The greatest promise you can ever get on this earth:

That if you put your faith in Jesus, who died and then rose on the third day, that in spite of all the epic fails in your life, His death washed all of that way so that you can be part of His family, and live with Him forever and ever and ever in the greatest place prepared for you: heaven.

That’s the greatest promise of all time.

Amen amen.

 

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Where Do I Go To Get God’s Favor?

 

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This gives me nightmares. Brrrrrrrrrr!!

 

Mark Twain said, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”   Notice he said “dog,” not “cat!” Cats are evil and would only get into heaven through God’s favor like you and me (and even then it’s an iffy proposition.)

God’s Favor: His promise to lead, feed, and protect me, for His special purpose in my life.

God’s favor is all over the Bible, and especially prominent in the Exodus. Someone once said, “You can do more in one second of God’s favor than you can in a lifetime of your labor.”

If you don’t understand God’s favor, it’s demonstrated in this remarkably absurd verse:

Now the LORD had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel. And Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike.  Exodus 11:3 (NLT)

“The Egyptians look favorably…”

Seriously?? Simply insane. The Egyptians just lived through plagues of locusts and gnats and all that other rot. I can just hear the Egyptians now:

“Moses, thank you for the boils and gnats and flies and bloody Nile and frogs! But especially the BOILS! The glorious boils! It’s like puberty times a thousand! How could we NOT favor you and your awesomeness?”

That kind of attitude adjustment is only explained through the miraculous favor of God. And it continues! In Exodus 12:36 the Hebrews ask for the gold and silver and the Egyptians just turn their pockets inside out loading them up!  How is that? It defies logic! Unless God’s favor brings it about.

God’s favor is a powerful thing. You don’t need anything else in the world if you have God’s favor.

Easter is proof of His favor.

If you are in Christ, you have found favor with God. Not a prosperity Gospel kind of favor that says that God wants you rich and healthy all the time. That’s pure rubbish. Sell that to a man or woman sitting in Mozambique dying of AIDS. ”You just have enough faith brother, have enough faith sister –you’ll be healed AND rich!”  Rubbish.

But His favor He will work in you for your purpose and His glory. 

Psalm 23 is my favorite “found favor” chapter in the Bible. I love the last verse that our extravagant God pours out to us: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul said of God’s favor:

 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace (unmerited favor.) 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)

God’s favor can find you anywhere.

God’s favor found the Hebrews in four centuries of slavery. God’s favor can be on you:

in the unemployment line,

in a painful marriage,

in a hospital bed,

in a gulag,

in the middle of your greatest depression.

God’s favor is not bound by circumstances. Because God is outside of time. Our circumstances may look like an awful now, God knows the end of the story. God’s favor found Joseph in the dungeon (Genesis 40) long before Joseph was found in Pharaoh’s palace.

So what?

So wake up every single morning, knowing that in everything you face – those things that worry you and stress you and keep you up all night and wear you out; He’s going to lead you through all that stuff, and He’s going to provide  the way, and He’s even going to protect you in the midst of it all.

Here’s the truth: Just like God’s favor found Moses and the Hebrews and Joseph in the dungeon and God’s favor finds every single person who is in Christ. That’s why the Bible says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

God’s rescue brings His favor. His rescue brought favor on Moses and the Israelites as they fled 400 years of slavery. His rescue at the cross brought His favor to you. In Christ, you can have this confidence:

“The Creator of All? He loves me, He is good to me. And He FAVORS me.”

Amen amen.

 

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How Can I Fight ISIS If I’m Not Military, Police or Katy Perry?

The world is a horribly dark place as evidenced by the Islamic terrorist blowing himself up along with 22 kids and parents in Manchester.

And what can I do about horrific darkness like Islamic terrorism?unnamed
If you are in the military, you have a specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. We’re for you.
Praise God for you!

If you’re in law enforcement, you also have a very specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. I’m for you.
Praise God for you!

But if you are not in the military or law enforcement, and following Christ, what can you do? I mean really – what can we do beyond virtue signaling on social media – “I stand with Manchester! At home! I changed my profile pic on Facebook!” Beyond declaring group hugs and no borders and no walls like Katy Perry (who coincidentally lives in a bullet proof bubble with armed security and a wall around her house).

If I’m serious about following Jesus, and I sincerely want to make a difference, isn’t there something I can do?

God actually has a word for you.

In the very beginning, it was dark. In fact, there was nothing. And out of nothing, God created everything. And He said, “Let there be light.” And instantly, there was light.

The darkness was driven back by God’s light.

Fast forward many years, Jesus walked the earth, and He famously said,”I AM the light.” John 8:12IMG_0850

You could accurately proclaim, “That Jesus is lit!”

And about 60 years after Jesus was born there was a very dark city called Ephesus. Half a million people and none of them knew God. Instead, they worshiped the Roman god Diana or the Greek god Artemis. The worship included a lot of dark stuff including temple prostitution and horrific rituals.

Jesus (The Light) showed up in this town, in the form of a little church full of His followers.

And God told says to them in Ephesians 5:8, “For once YOU were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
And they, “Lit it up.”

So with that all in mind, His word for you?unnamed (1)

Be the light.

Not everyone can get in a jet and drop a MOAB on a hornets’ nest of dark hearts plotting murder and mayhem. Not everyone can go undercover and find people plotting the death of young girls leaving a concert.

But everyone who has Christ can be His light.

So do it. Be the light of Christ to change hearts and minds wherever God has called you to live and work. Ask God every day to use you to shine a light into the souls of people all around you.

Can that really make a difference?

Christ’s light is so powerful that when it shined into the soul of a seething murderous monster named Saul, it changed him into the greatest Christian to ever live – a man named Paul who God used to write half the New Testament.

And here’s the payoff:

The light you shine today might just fight back the darkness in a heart that could do tremendous evil tomorrow.

 

So in this dark and evil world, get lit! And light it up everywhere and every way you possibly can. unnamed (3)

“You are the light of the world—let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14, 16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Amen amen.

 

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The Shack is Messed Up

 

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  Last line of this tweet kind of says it all. 

I hate to be a frumpy, grumpy old man, but if the new movie, The Shack, is true to the book of the same name, it is really whacked.

 

If you’re not familiar with it – the runaway bestseller was released in 2007 and was simultaneously praised AND criticized across the theological spectrum.

And it is royally messed up. Which is hard to say from watching the previews! Because the previews are heart-wrenching, heart-warming, with good actors, and it looks like it would be a good Christian movie.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Interesting that the star of The Shack is the same guy from Avatar. I like him! And both movies have a religious aspect, neither of which is Christian. Obviously, Avatar has an otherworldly, science fiction religion that the author “made up” for the story.

In the book The Shack ( the movie isn’t out yet), the author also, “made up” the religion for the story. 

How can you say that David?!? It’s a Christian book! It’s been endorsed by some famous Christians! The author says it’s Christian! The MARKETING CAMPAIGN SAYS IT’S CHRISTIAN. NOBODY WOULD LIE IN A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Really? I get so weary of folks accepting that everything called Christian just must be. Jesus Himself said people would come in His name – not to save you but to deceive you! Jesus the Son of God said don’t just accept something because someone stamps His name it! You can read it yourself here: Matthew 24:5.

Here’s the bottom line on The Shack: If anyone truly believes God’s Word to be, well…God speaking, then “anyone” should realize that the author of The Shack doesn’t believe what God Himself has already said and he (the author) has made up his own version of a god.

I lost count after about six heresies (beliefs contrary to Christian doctrine) in the book, so I’ll bullet point four major ones.

Here’s a little bit of what I mean:

1. In the book, God the Father presents Himself as Goddess the Mother.  Apparently, the god of the Shack was suffering from the same gender confusion our culture is experiencing!

Think I’m overstating?

God the father/mother speaking, “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Woman? Papa? Which is it??? The author made God transgendered way back in 2007! Way before Target let men in the women’s bathroom!

This in spite of the fact that God has chosen to verbally and specifically call Himself, “God the Father” from the time of Adam and Eve all the way through His Word to Revelation.

For at least 5000 years God has deliberately chosen to represent Himself as God the Father.

That alone should be enough to trash the book. According to the Shack – Jesus blew it when He prayed “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus should’ve prayed, “Our Mother in the Shack.” 

When we start making God in whatever form WE choose, we might as well make Him into anything – a piece of wood, Chewbacca, Kanye “Yeezus” West, whatever. It doesn’t matter – because we’re making it up as we go along and that’s ALL idol worship.

And personally? I don’t ever want to stand before God and explain why I decided His description of Himself was SOOOO inadequate that I, in my finite ignorance, chose to change it. That’s the definition of arrogance and foolishness.

Note: Later in the book the god the mother turns into a ponytailed old man hippy. I’m really not sure which is more annoying…

2. The Jesus of the Shack is a counterfeit Jesus (kind of a karmic/universalist Jesus).

Referring to Buddhists, Mormons, and Muslims, Jesus of the Shack declares “I have no desire to make them Christian,” (wait, wut?) and paints Christians as religious fanatics and part of a sinful world system. That may be a lot of things, but that’s not the Jesus of history OR the Bible.

Jesus also tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa (god the father/mother) or Sarayu (The Shack holy spirit).”

Best way?

Best way of what? Many ways? Lots of ways? “Best” implies there are options for relating to God.

No way.

Jesus said He is the only way:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

One way. Not “best” way. Only way.

3. The goddess of The Shack doesn’t punish sin. “She,” says, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

The author is making it up as he goes along….

The real God does take joy in saving people. That’s what John 3:16 is all about. But:

God NEEDS to punish sin because He is a just and good God. 

Crooked evil judges let the guilty go free. Crooked judges must themselves be brought to justice.

God is NOT a crooked judge. He’s a good judge. He’s love and justice. So He must punish sin.

She (the goddess of the Shack) says, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” If all humans are forgiven, then all go to heaven, even Hitler. Lest you think I’m making too much of this, the author of The Shack has refused to affirm that only the sins of those who repent are forgiven (read more by clicking here-last paragraph).

God has not forgiven all sins. In Acts 3:19 Peter says, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” 

God’s punishment: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 (NLT)

God really punishes sin. Every. Single. Bit.

But Jesus willingly took my place, so that if I repent of my sin, and follow Him, His sacrifice will wipe all my sins away.

4. It’s irreverent. I’m not quite sure how to communicate this in a way that sounds “right” when I write it, but the Jesus of the Shack is just a little bit of a ridiculous goof. He’s dropping stuff on the floor and chasing fish that He can’t catch and talks like a child at times (according to the author).

66 books in the Bible, lots and lots of words – so wordy! But God never presents Jesus like that. Ever.

 


So those are my top four reasons The Shack is wrong, whacked, wretched and the worst. 

Now you might say:

a. “But David, it’s fiction!”

So if it’s fiction, anything goes? Like I could write a book about how Jesus didn’t die, didn’t rise from the grave but married and had little Jesuses, and the church covered it up for 2,000 years? That would be ok?

Then how come Christians got all worked up about the DaVinci Code? It was just fiction.

b. “But David come on! It has caused some people to hunger for God!”

Ok! All aboard the money train! I’m publishing a picture book that presents Jesus as Ariana Grande! I’m sure lots of the 12 to 30 male crowd will have an increased hunger for my Jesus, and I’ll get rich!

Is that what we’ve come to? As long as the “Jesus” you present makes people hungry, it’s good? I’m hungry for the bacon god!

Here’s the issue that’s critical for our souls:

Run from anyone that tries to sell you a different God than THE One revealed in His Word. Worship God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. God the Son, who died for our sins and rose to give us eternal life, and God the Holy Spirit, our counselor, and comforter.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11 (NLT)

Amen and amen.

 

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#BestChristmasEver

best-christmas-ever_title

Q: How do you get the best Christmas? 

A: With an excellent Christmas list.

“Like this David?

  • A list of food to be bought.
  • A list of parties to go to.
  • A list of presents you want.
  • A list of presents your kids want.
  • A list of Hallmark Channel movies to watch.
  • A list of Christmas shows to watch.

Is that the kind of list required for the #BestChristmasEver?”

No. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. go-to-jail

Those things are fine and fun and nothing wrong with any of them. But not one of them is essential for the Best Christmas Ever. In fact, for most of the last 2000 years, Christians all over the world have worshiped without any of those things!

I think there’s a better Christmas list. It’s found at the beginning of Matthew. It’s the genealogy of Jesus. “Yawn,” right? The word “genealogy” does not excite me at all.

What if I told you that:

  1. It’s the “family of Jesus list,” and
  2. It has the grandpa and great grandpa and great great grandpa of Jesus, and
  3. A bunch of the folks in His family are reprobates?

Would that make it more interesting? Because that’s the real deal. In the list of Jesus’ family (Jesus who is perfect, sinless, wholly God and wholly man), there is:

  • Ruth – a descendent of incest – the Moabites are descendants of Lot and HIS DAUGHTER- (all caps because I am yelling in horror) “having relations” (Gen. 19:33).
  • Tamar – who dressed up as a prostitute so that her father-in-law would GET HER PREGNANT (all caps-yelling again) because her husband died before they could have children.
  • Judah – who unknowingly had sex with his daughter-in-law because HE WAS HAVING SEX WITH A PROSTITUTE (all caps again-so much to yell about)!
  • Rahab – who WAS a prostitute.
  • Jechoniah – was so horrible that God actually cursed him.

Not exactly what you’d expect if you’re thinking, “family of Jesus.”

Imagine Tamar’s kid – first day of first grade:

Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Who’s your mom?
Tamar’s son: Tamar.
Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Tamar??? REALLY?? The one who had sex WITH YOUR GRANDPA??????

Horrifying.

But there they are. Right in the family of Jesus. Complete moral disasters. He’s got major league outcasts in His earthly family.

Matthew is the writer. Also an outcast. And rightly so. He was a Jew and a crooked tax collector who took money from his fellow Jews, for their enemy the Romans. Matthew was a traitor before he started following Jesus. Everybody hated the tax collector.

And I have to wonder, (pure speculation on my part) maybe Matthew’s thinking about being an outcast as he’s carried along by the Holy Spirit writing this…

Matthew: “I’m going to air some of my people’s dirty laundry right here at the beginning – to set the stage for the rest of the story.

Because when folks hear about the woman caught in adultery being saved and Zacchaeus the crooked being saved, and the thief on the cross being saved, that’s going to cause some self-righteous heads to spin.

So let’s be clear dear reader – Jesus has outcasts in His earthly family and they are right here in this geneology!”

Praise God He has outcasts in His family. Because we are all outcasts. All Every one of us.

Jesus died to wash the outcast clean, and bring her or him into His family.

Maybe you’ve felt like an outcast before. Left out. Left over. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Maybe you have some secrets in your past, or in your family history and you think, “If people only knew the real story – they wouldn’t want anything to do with me!”

No no no. Jesus is Lord of the outcast.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NLT)

In Christ, you’re no longer on the outside. In Christ, you’re on the inside.

Christmas means no matter what your situation, background, secrets, or history – Christmas means through Jesus, you are included in God’s great family. Not as a black sheep, not as an unwanted child. But as a man or woman deeply loved by Jesus.

You. Are. Included.

Amen and amen. And Merry Christmas!

 

 

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A Powerful Secret for Radical Change

Everyone has a secret to change your life. You’ve seen some of them. Here are some great ones:

  • Dollar Shave Club.
  • Hair Club for Men.
  • Viagra – from the commercials on my TV, this strange blue magic pill called Viagra turns you into a strong cowboy who knows how to pull a truck out of the mud with horses or fisherman on the wild and angry sea. Call me a cynic, but I question that.
  • Sea Monkeys!

Of the above, I think Sea Monkeys have the highest probability of life change.sea-monkeys

Best Life-Change Story I’ve Heard

Frank Laubach was a missionary in the Philippines in the 1930’s.Today missionaries all over the world send emails, Skype, even have websites.

An American missionary stationdfgfgded in the Philippines in the 1930’s would be completely removed from the world he knew. Contact with home could only be made via boat or plane. So he was:

  • Isolated.
  • Alone.
  • On his own.
  • With only Jesus to trust to fulfill his (and His) mission.

How did he do it? He tried an experiment. He determined to take ONE second of every minute to turn his mind to Christ. A moment here, a moment there, connecting with His Creator.

How did it go? It changed the trajectory of his life.

In his own words:

“I feel simply carried along each hour, doing my part in a plan which is far beyond myself. This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt it this way before. I need something and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.

God raised Frank Laubach from being a lonely missionary in the Philippines to a Christian world statesman, the founder of World Literacy Crusade, and a great influence on the United States foreign policy in the post-WWII years. And he attributed all of his brilliant ideas and incredible energy and effectiveness from this practice: practicing the presence of God.

You can have moment by moment guidance from the One who makes the universe safe, for your marriage, your work, your ministry, your life.

The Bible refers to this. It says right there in, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray all the time.

How in the world do you do that?

It’s easier than you think.

It’s called, “breath prayers.” “LORD – PLEASE GIVE ME GOOD BREATH WHILE I GO TALK TO THIS CUTE GIRL,” says I, as I walk across the business school to ask my future wife out.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. Stupid me.

Christians have practiced breath prayers for a long time. It’s picking a simple phrase or Scripture that you can say in one breath and praying it all day long, over and over, Frank Laubauch style, keeping the conversation going with the Father. Like  this:

  • I love you, Lord.
  • For me to live is Christ.
  • Use me today Lord.
  • I am Yours.
  • Make me pure.
  • Make me holy.
  • You are my God.

Pray it all day long to honor God and keep in constant contact with Him. My experience is that it keeps my mind sent on Him, and my heart (affections) directed toward Him.

hike

HINT: Set a reminder on your phone for 5 minutes from now with the breath prayer you want to pray. When it pops up on your screen, pray it, snooze it for 5 minutes, or just leave it and look at it every few minutes. Mine has said, “For me to live is Christ!” all day today.

Here’s what I can promise you: If you begin to constantly practice the presence of God while standing, sitting, waking, sleeping, working and playing, you’ll never lack the Father’s presence – pouring out His peace, direction, purpose, kindness, goodness, making Christ known,  and divinely leading you through the morass of life on this earth.

His promise to you:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
Isaiah 26:3

Now get on with it. He is waiting for you.

Amen, amen.
Transformation

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Best Bible Story Ever-When God Comes to Dinner

Hyperbole alert – I may have overstated that title – all the Bible stories are excellent! But for at least two reasons this one is great. I love Genesis 18, which Ray Stedman called “When God Comes to Dinner.” I just love the picture of God coming to dinner as a man.

First Reason this is a Great Story: Angels show up. And so does God. 

Abraham is hanging out one day, and three men walk up and have dinner with him. They start talking, and as the conversation unfolds, it becomes apparent that one of the men is actually God in disguise (some would argue the pre-incarnate Christ, but that’s a subject for another time). The language changes from “they said” to “the Lord said.”

Boggles the mind.

 
This story is not in Genesis 18. But I am Laughing Out Loud at it right now.

Now Hebrews 13:2 says we should show kindness to strangers because you never know – you could be in the presence of an angel. Whoooaaa. You could be buying a Big Mac or a Venti coffee from a guy and he’s actually an angel. A real life angel who FLIES through space and time and has actually been in the presence of God in a way I haven’t (Although he probably covered his eyes and feet (Isa. 6:2)). But that thought is a big hairy audacious deal.

Now to be clear, the other two men who come to see Abraham are, in fact, angels. So Abraham encounters not one, but two angels. And you gotta admit, any Bible story with angels is a great story.

But wait! It’s a lot more than that. The third person is God Himself! How amazing to be talking to someone and realize all of a sudden, “hey, this is not just some regular guy, this is like, THEE guy, the ONE, that like, MADE me!”  Remarkable.

Abraham had an awesome day that day (except for the fact that God told him He’s going to destroy cousin Lot’s town of Sodom).

Second Reason this is a Great Story: God says –
Nothing is too hard for Him.

God tells Abraham that next year Abraham and Sarah will have a boy. Sarah overhears from inside the tent and laughs to herself (she’s 90). Silently. And God hears the silent laugh (that is sooo like God…hearing even silent things).

And the Lord asks Abraham (and somehow Sarah gets in on the conversation) why Sarah laughed. And here’s where I laugh:

Genesis 18:15  But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He (the Lord) said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Hilarious. “No, but you did laugh.” So matter of fact. So straight up. And I read it as said completely emotionless and deadpan.

 
Actually, average person would have to wear flame retardant pants 11 times a week.

Sarah lies because she’s afraid. 
Before we think too poorly of Sarah, according to one Notre Dame study, the average person lies 11 times a week, even though it’s not God calling them out. But God hears it every time, just like He heard Sarah’s silent laughter.

In the face of Sarah’s disbelief, God asks a rhetorical question. In verse 14 He asks “Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Great question. Yay God!

If God spoke our entire world into existence, then making a barren woman pregnant is pretty much a cakewalk*.

And apparently, Sarah considered this, because somewhere between her lying and cynical disbelief and childbirth, Sarah believes. But you only know this by reading ahead.  How far ahead? Like 58 whole books ahead to Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:11 says: By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

Somewhere between Genesis 18:15 and Hebrews 11:11 Sarah must have considered that question “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” And she came to a most excellent conclusion: no. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. And He keeps His promises. Even the seemingly impossible ones.

Nothing is too hard for the Lord.  So you believe.

Believe and ask the question: What in your life is too hard for the Lord?

  • Your marriage?
  • Your attitude?
  • Your heart?
  • Your friend who is far, far from God?
  • Your kids?
  • A sin that you cannot overcome?
  • Your circumstances?
  • Your grief?
  • Your pain?
  • Your home?
  • Your job?
  • Your country?

What if? What if when God said, “is anything too hard for the Lord?” He was speaking a truth that applies not just to Sarah, not just to Abraham, but a universal truth that applies to you too? What if you woke up tomorrow, or next week or even next year, to discover that nothing is too hard AND He keeps His promises?

 For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus). That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

God shows up. And nothing in your life, nothing, is too hard for Him.

Amen.

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