Psalm 16.2 - Winners and Worms

Psalm 16.2 - Winners and Worms

Studying the historical narratives of Scripture can veer toward two extremes. Sunday school lore is filled with pep-talks of how we can be “winners” like Joseph. Yet, when we read the fine-print, we’ll see the clay feet of our giants. Some then conclude, only God is a hero! These “winners” are “worms” (citing Bildad, Job 25.6)! But like much of Biblical Theology, there is truth in the balance. Joseph and his brothers are fallen sinners, like us. Their/our good can only come from God! But, Hallelujah! The blood of Jesus cleanses us and the Spirit of Jesus changes us! And God will keep on changing us until we “win” in Him – to be co-heirs with Christ! So, God puts some of these “works in progress” in His Book (Hebrews 11, for example), to give us hope in our journey. All by grace, so He gets all glory!

Psalm 29.2,9 - Glory Vision

Psalm 29.2,9 - Glory Vision

In John a true Christ-follower ‘sees’ Jesus ‘glory’ (2.11). The glory that Moses could only see from ‘behind’ is revealed in the face of Jesus. John declares “Glory!” in His introduction (1.14) and the weight of glory swells with each chapter (17.24). Glory is most fully revealed in Grace – the cross was a most paradoxical glory (12.28,33; 13.31,32). Salvation is all of grace, so God gets all the glory. But “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4.4). Most of the wedding guests in Cana had no idea that Jesus mixed a ‘miracle brew’ in the kitchen. Today, we declare His glory as we show that Jesus is great!  “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name…and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (Psalm 29.2,9).

Psalm 100.4 - I Serve an ON-TIME God

Psalm 100.4 - “I Serve an ON-TIME God!..."

…but I show up to church late!” If that poke applies to you, understand two things. First, you are warmly welcome to BICF ZGC any time! If life gets the best of you as you’re trying to get here on Sunday, keep coming! Even if you just show up in time for lunch with your church family.  As your pastor, I will say that you’re most likely to fully profit from worship when you’re here early, catching your breath and calming your heart before we enter into God’s praise. Interestingly, the Jews began their Sabbath on Friday night getting ready for God’s Day. Your Saturday night will shape your Sunday morning. Beijing is a hectic city. Second, and most importantly, you will not be welcomed into His Kingdom late! Jesus in Matthew makes clear, only those who are ready on-time will joyfully serve God forever.

Psalm 119.47 - The B Word

Psalm 119.47 - The B Word

Reading through the Bible is challenging. I’m now reading Leviticus…dare I use the word…boring!? As we see Jesus in the wilderness, know that He did not have those verses from Deuteronomy memorized simply because He is God. No, he learned them the hard way like we do. Bible reading does not always evoke the same instant gratification of “likes” for your clever postings, or the excitement of watching Star Wars - neither does learning Mandarin, running a Marathon, or earning a Ph.D. Yet we willingly put in the time and endure the pain for these passing laurels. But the work of learning Scripture bears eternal fruit - it builds your faith, revives your spirit, and restores your soul. Consider this, God breathed into Adam and also into the Scriptures (Genesis 2.7, 2 Timothy 3.16) – the Word was made for us, and we’ve been made for the Word.

Psalm 119.105 - Is your Nose in the Book?

Psalm 119.105 - Is your Nose in the Book?

When Paul was squeezed Hebrew Scriptures he had memorized and studied poured out. And as he spoke God’s Truth his opponents were silenced. The most essential preparation for serving Jesus is knowing His Word. I heard Stuart Briscoe say, “Before you put your head on the pillow, make sure you have put your nose in the Book.” When I was a new believer someone challenged me, ‘Read your Bible at least five minutes a day.’ That seemed wimpy then! I was ready for an hour every day! But almost forty years later there have been too many days I wimped out! Five minutes?! Well, God won’t complain if it is more! But often the hardest part is carving time out of our busyness – turning off our toys and finding a quiet space. Keep reading book by book day by day. Five minutes with eternal benefits.

Psalm 127.2 - R.I.P.

Psalm 127.2 - R.I.P.

We moderns, especially us old geezers, are ever in search of rest. Our cupboards are filled with labor-saving-devices and our phones are loaded with “smart” apps. Still we have a voracious appetites to go farther and do more. Our boundaries have turned to rubber and our margins are razor-thin. Just how little sleep can we get by on?  So we go vacation. But we can’t help but check our email…for the important stuff, hey, it all is…right? Maybe a massage, or an extra Starbucks will help? So we rush through our “three score and ten” and some well-intentioned family member sticks an R.I.P. slab above our grave. But, not to disrespect the dead, the only sure way to “rest in peace” tomorrow is to find true rest today. Indeed, to miss God’s rest now, is to spend eternity in horrible restlessness! Listen well to our text, find true rest!

Psalm 137.4 - I Didn’t Sign Up for This!

Psalm 137.4 - I Didn’t Sign Up for This!

Sometimes we’re blindsided by the unforeseen. Daniel and the boys expected to grow old in the shade of God’s Temple in their Hebrew homeland. Babylon demolished their world. The only thing unchanged was their God – yet their familiar ways of finding Him - Temple, traditions, rituals, leaders – lie buried! “How can we sing the Lord’s song in this strange land?” His ‘still small voice’ seemed silent amidst the Babel. Now the new boss threatens, the new food tests, the new languages taxes, and the new religion tries. These brothers found their footing in the promises of the Word – hidden in their hearts, not their phone; and in one another. The Bible and the brethren will still buoy us in the sea of change we’ve fallen into here in China. They could trace the faithfulness of God from Eden onward. How much more now we.