Living with the God who is now

Clock

Imagine for a moment that we had a time machine. We all jump in and go back to the range of 1580-1620. Try to think about what life would be like. The United States wouldn’t be born as a nation for about 150-200 years. William Shakespeare is writing all of his famous plays. There were no cars, indoor plumbing, telegraph machine and the list could go on and on. It almost seems like a whole other world.

Why is that significant? Because it would be about the same amount of time between now and then as when Jacob and his family entered Egypt and Moses comes to deliver the people from slavery. It would have seemed like just a distant past that would almost be hard to connect with in the present.

I am sure the Israelites as they were slaves in Egypt told each other the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But in the pain of their current circumstances this may have felt so far away. They may have believed it but the founding of the United States seems like a long time ago and this is almost double that time.

So when God shows up to Moses to call him to lead them out of captivity they have an interesting conversation. Moses asks how he should introduce God. God tells him to introduce Him as, “I am.” God is the same now in the present as He was in history. They were no longer going to be just talking about the God who did great things for Abraham, but they would be talking about a God who brought them up out of Egypt. He was a God of the living.

This is powerful news for us as well. He is still a God who would introduce Himself as, “I am.” He is not just a God who moved in the history books; He is a God of today. He is a God for your today. Even if your circumstances don’t change your God is with you each step of the way.

Pick your favorite revival from history: Azusa Street, the Welsh Revival, the Reformation or something else. Jesus is the same today. You don’t have to jump into a time machine to experience God. You can meet with the God who is, “I am” today. 

Grabbing ahold of some of God’s most powerful promises

Jeremiah 29

The other day I saw a sign that quoted the famous verse: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) It reminded me how so many people pull this out of context and miss the true power of this verse to their lives.

Probably rule number one of studying the Bible is understand a verse in its context. This verse is in the midst of an interesting story. It is in a letter that the prophet Jeremiah sends to the early group of people who went into captivity. False prophets had apparently been telling them that this captivity would not be a long time.

Jeremiah actually writes the letter to tell them the opposite. They are going to be there for a long time. Seventy years to be exact. He encourages them to settle in for the long hall and build houses and plant gardens. At the end of seventy years there will be a return from captivity. Then he says the verse that we know so well, “plans to give you a future and a hope.”

This is not a “your problems will quickly go away” verse like is often used. That sounds more like the promise that the false prophets were giving. So what is the encouragement of this verse anyways? Why is this verse actually good news?

First, let me say that sometimes God turns things around quickly. He can bring a healing in an instant. The salvation of a friend or loved one can happen as quickly as the turning of a heart. God can do in a moment what would take us a lifetime.

That being said, sometimes things take time. Abraham had to learn to wait for a promise that took years. Joseph’s promise seemed to be going in the opposite direction before being fulfilled. It is in moments when nothing seems to be happening that God’s promises become the most powerful.

In Chris Guillebeau’s book, The Happiness of Pursuit, he talks about the idea that sometimes we would rather have something to die for than have to live for every day. The everyday pursuit of important things can be boring and tedious. To use an analogy that Jesus used it is the taking up of our cross daily. Some days it may feel like we are just carrying our cross to some ultimate destination that we are not sure we will ever get.

It is in those moments when the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 becomes most helpful. We take the advice of Jeremiah to settle down and do the work. If they did the daily faithful work and invested in their kids and grandkids the next generation would get to experience an amazing deliverance.

Abraham would become a great nation. Joseph would rise to power in Egypt. And the Israelites would return to Jerusalem. And you, or your children, may experience amazing things if you hold on to the promise of God’s future and hope for you.

5 Things To Pray For This Easter Weekend

Easter

Easter weekend is a big weekend for the church. It is not so much that we don’t have the opportunity to celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive all year long. When I was in high school I was at a church summer camp where God was at work. I walked around and randomly said, “Jesus is alive.” I wanted to remind people that no matter the miracle they were experiencing it doesn’t compare to the miracle that Jesus is alive. But one of the great things about Easter weekend is that, not only are we extra focused on that fact, but the world at large is more focused. In the church in the USA, Easter is often referred to by pastors as, “the Super Bowl” of the church calendar. Given the opportunities that are there here are some great things to pray for this weekend

An openness to the Gospel– Some people will be open to hearing the message of Jesus now more than any other time of the year. Pray that their mind would be open to the truth.

Harvesters to bring people in– I have heard that 8 out of 10 people would come to church if they were invited by a friend. Pray for opportunities and boldness during this time.

Pastors as they prepare to present the message– Most churches will have a presentation of the story of Jesus on Easter. With a ministry committed to engaging 100,000 people to pray for pastors you know I need to bring that up.

Friendliness in churches– Again this is often times when people who normally wouldn’t go to church decide to show up. Pray that when they get there they would be drawn into the love of Christians.

– The same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. Pray that this realization sinks deeper into who we are. May that truth create a thirst in all of our hearts to live in the Spirit’s power more the rest of the year.

As you enter the Easter weekend I pray that you experience the hope His death and resurrection brings and your heart would be drawn to pray for all of those who still have yet to experience that hope.