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Devotionals    H3'ed 7/8/16

Hazy Shades of Grey -- From Dallas to Minnesota to New Orleans

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The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. -- 2Peter 3: 9-10 (ESV)

Another handful of police shootings caught on video. Another round of hate fired from the rooftops in Dallas, killing five officers and wounding others. Screams of black lives matter and blue lives matter are drowned out by the red seeping into the earth from the blood spilled yesterday. The blood we all share as a commonality. The ensuing rhetoric is repetitive in nature and resolves nothing. Often it only serves to confirm our biased worldview and further inflame the tensions that exist. We no longer care about the truth in this world. We just want enough plausible deniability to pretend that we are right. That we are right about our hatred. That we are right about our racism. That we are right about our sense of entitlement. That the people we look at to blame for our lot in life deserve everything they get. The devil has done a masterful job of blurring the absoluteness of truth into these hazy shades of grey where everyone can find their own special truth to justify the darkest parts of their soul. The truth is the devil didn't even need to work that hard because deep down our flesh wants to hate. Our flesh loves to sin. Our heart cannot wait to lie to us about it:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? - Jeremiah 17: 9 (ESV)

Wickedly deceptive about everything else beloved. That is what we are dealing with. The world may believe that the people who pulled all of the triggers yesterday were just outliers from an otherwise benign human race. Maybe we can convince ourselves this through our wickedly deceptive hearts if it were not for the information age we live in. If we did not have to then read 100 Facebook posts per hour spewing the ugliest forms of hate and vitriol imaginable. To see Christians as well revel in the evils of this world. To see pastors take sides and continue to divide one side against the other. Beloved this is not going to get better. The Bible assures us of this. Calling for revival in a pagan nation is like thinking the Titanic just has a little leak. If you want a firm understanding of what our human nature is, read Romans Three. All have turned from God! The poison of asps are upon our lips! I am not saying it! God is!

I know, I know, you think this is not very encouraging. That is where you are wrong. The truth is always encouraging if we are willing to face it. Would you rather I tell you that gun control will solve this problem? Or that the candidate you think is less crazy will resolve all of these issues? Shall I start singing "All We Need is Love?" Or maybe just call for prayer. Do not get me wrong. Prayer is vitally important at times like this but from what I have seen in response, we do not know what to pray for. Praying that God is going to end the sinful nature of man is misguided. Praying for peace when human nature is naturally opposed to it is folly. Sure we might get a reprieve but then we will be right back here in a week when the next bombing occurs. Or the next cop killing. Or the next traffic stop goes bad. Or the next elementary school shooting. The love of most is growing cold, as the Bible warns us. While this is certainly problematic it is not the problem. The world behaving like the world is what should be expected. The problem is the church beloved.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. -- Matthew 5: 14-15 (ESV)

We are supposed to be that shining city on a hill. We are supposed to stand out. We are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners through this world. We are supposed to be salt and light. Beloved we are supposed to be different. Different, not indifferent. We of course mourn with those who mourn but then we turn our light on. That means we do not show partiality with which carnal side of hatred resonates better with our flesh. We do not prop up any man or woman as any form of solution for what ails this world. Yes the individual people who pulled the triggers bear carnal responsibility but it is Satan that bears the spiritual responsibility. It is Satan that is the lord over this world the Bible tells us. He has created this chaos that masquerades as society. Sure the world plays right into it because they do not know God and consider the things of God to be utter foolishness. Problematic? Absolutely. The problem? Nope. Once again, where is the church?

I will tell you where the church is beloved. We are snatching up $350 tickets for the Hillsong Australia Conference. Or maybe we are staying local and waiting for later this summer and the NY Hillsong Conference so we can hear Steven Furtick tell us why the story of Jericho is really God telling us to shout out to Him to tear down our own Jericho walls. Perhaps we can't wait for later this summer and we are going to the "Prophecology" conference at the LaGuardia Airport Hotel. For only $600 we can hear from all sorts of wolves including "Master Prophet" Bernard Jordan and the absurd "Prophetess" Juanita Bynum. Or maybe we were tuned into Joel Osteen tell us why it is important to have the right people in our lives. Maybe we prefer to hear that our sin doesn't matter to God and we were watching Joseph Prince. Perhaps we just went to our neighborhood worship center where we play church every week. You know, great band, tight choir, maybe a little club lighting or smoke machines. Listen to our hip and relevant pastor talk about God in a way that doesn't change anyone's life. But hey, we are building that playground in Guatemala next month so we can all sit back and feel like we are fulfilling our God ordained purpose. After all, we serve in the Usher Ministry or mime for the Lord. Sure we support wildly false teachers like Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn or Jentzen Franklin but what harm is a little TBN? After all, it has to be better than what's on regular television right? So what if Meyer takes a combined $950,000 a year in salary from her suckers; I mean sheep. So what if she has five homes. So what if Kenneth Copeland is worth 650 million dollars. So what if Creflo Dollar asked for 70 million so he could have the top of the line Lear Jet. So what?

What? There was a bombing in France? Let me change my Facebook picture so the French Flag is in the background. What? Someone shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando? Well, when you dance with the devil. What? Cops killed a man during a traffic stop for busted tail light? Well, God places those in authority and we should just obey. What? Someone shot three cops in Dallas? Let me tweet out how much blue lives matter. Oh wait, I'll get to it later; TD Jakes talk show is on and I think he has Oprah as his guest. Then later my "Cell Group" is coming over so we can gossip under the guise of fellowship and prayer"

Sorry if this seems harsh but again, the truth isn't always pretty. As Jack Nicholson once said, you can't handle the truth! The church today cannot handle the truth. How could she when she so mishandles the absolute truth of God to begin with? When the Gospel becomes negotiable how can we expect truth in any other area? Because here is the truth we cannot seem to handle today -- no lives in this temporal existence matter. Only the eternal life matters. Blue, black, brown or green. Does not matter to God. Let us reason together through the key verses today from the Apostle Peter. Let us find comfort and refuge within these words penned directly from God Himself to us:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. -- 2Peter 3: 9-10 (ESV)

The overall context is Peter speaking about the second coming of the Lord. This should be of enormous comfort for believers. Not so much for unbelievers but for the church; this is a place of sanctuary. We know that no matter how vicious, hateful, and unloving the world may become -- God is coming back to set things right again. Where there is strife there will be peace. Where there is hate there will be love. Where there is outrage there will be calm. But here is the thing beloved. As believers we ought to already possess these things through the indwelt Holy Spirit. Where the world sees the strife in Dallas, the hate in Minnesota and the outrage in New Orleans they are only supposed to see peace, love and calm in the body of Christ. A shining city leading them out of this present darkness. Is this done through fancy marketing schemes and carnal church growth tricks? Is this done by declaring we know absolute truth in situations that occurred ten states away from us? No. It is only accomplished through the preaching of the Gospel:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1: 16 (ESV)

Only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of men and only the eternal life matters. So let the world argue over whose temporal life matters most and get back to the Gospel to show that only their eternal life truly matters. Secondly from the key verses we see that God is not slow in keeping His promise of coming back; at least how we define slowness. In fact what we see from the Lord now is tremendous patience. God does not delight in the death of the wicked, no matter how much we might. His patience is rooted in one fundamental truth we all must embrace today. That is that God does not wish any to perish but all to come to repentance. Some have misinterpreted this as to mean God does not wish anyone to die but that misses the point as much as we continue to miss the point when dealing with these national tragedies. The point is not that black lives matters or blue lives matter. It is that temporal lives do not matter without Jesus Christ. It is not that God does not want anyone to die. It is that He does not want anyone to die apart from Him. That none should perish before coming to repentance.

This is a crucial point for us to understand beloved. There is only one way that we come to repentance and that is through the preached Gospel. Man cannot save himself. He does not need this bloodless Christ being sold across America. This wingman buddy who is just a temporal blessing dispenser for our whims and a cosmic busboy to clean up after our messes. The false god the majority of us play church with on Sunday cannot save anyone. You can line them up after service and make them repeat after you until the cows come home. Without the Gospel there can be no repentance and without repentance there can be no salvation. Who we voted for or spoke against in politics will mean nothing to God on the last day. Whether we screamed black or blue lives matter while singing Kumbaya will not matter one bit. The only thing that will matter is if the Gospel was preached and the lost came to repentance. Period.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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