Are you a real man?

““…Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1 Ki 2:2b–3)

King David gives final instruction to his son, Solomon, before he passes. What David says in these verses is applicable for all men everywhere, not just David’s son.

He tells Solomon a real man follows the Lord. He keeps his ways and statutes, his commandments and rules, his testimonies. Real men don’t blaze their own path. They don’t intimidate others so as to get their own way. They aren’t closed off to the things of God. They don’t stay home while their family attends church. They don’t let mom act as the spiritual leader of the family. Real men follow the Lord.

Culture, even recent modern culture with its focus on changing the way men act, portrays men in a wholly unbiblical way. Either you are a macho masculine man who blazes a path based on strength or you are emasculated so much so that you don’t speak out of turn and celebrate everything the culture says is right and good. But these two paths are not the biblical path.

The biblical path of manhood is meekness (controlled strength) not weakness. It is humility not pride. It is submission to the Lord not ruling in His place. It is love for family not domination. It is justice, equity, mercy and grace. It is care for others. It is self-sacrifice rather than selfishness.

Men, it is no wonder we craft and live by our own rules. Following the Lord is not easy, it is difficult. Nay, it is impossible without Him working in your heart, drawing you to Himself, and constantly changing you through the work of the Spirit.

Men, we show ourselves to be thus by following the Lord. Be a man this week!

Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

In this morning’s reading, Moses has an encounter with God. He finds a bush burning in the wilderness but is not being burned up. Like many of us, he turns aside to see how a bush on fire could remain whole, unburned by the fire that should consume it. Upon approaching the bush, a voice, the voice of God, emanates from the bush warning Moses that he has entered a holy space.

Afterwards, God proceeds to tell Moses He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt who are being brutally afflicted by the Egyptians. Not only has He heard their cries but He has seen their affliction. He has come to provide them with relief. But God is not going to smite the Egyptians right away. Instead, His plan is to send Moses to bring the people out of Egypt. Moses is tasked with approaching Pharaoh and asking him to let God’s people go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God (Exodus 3:18).

What is interesting about God’s plan for Moses is that He already knows the outcome. He tells Moses that He knows the King of Egypt will not let them go unless compelled by a mighty hand. He doesn’t tell Moses the mighty wonders He will do just that He will do them. Not only will He do mighty wonders that will result in the Israelites escape, but He will also provide the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. Favor that will result in them plundering the Egyptians of their silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing. The Israelites will not leave Egypt empty handed.

Again, we see the providential nature of God. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It is a part of God’s plan. We see the Lord provides, He protects His people. Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present. He is present. He has not abandoned you. He remains faithful. Watch and see what the Lord will do in your life!

The Lord is just in all He does

And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” 

(Rev 16:7)

Judgement is coming. It is unavoidable. God has providentially purposed to judge all those who do not submit to His reign and rule. In this section of Revelation, we see God pouring out judgment on those who have taken the mark of the beast — those who have chosen to follow the satanic world order, rejecting the Lord and His right to rule over them. Judgment is poured out in a number of ways in this section. 

What is interesting is that as judgment is poured out the people do not repent and turn to the Lord, pleading for Him to exercise grace and mercy on them. No, they curse the name of the Lord (Rev 16:9). They gnaw at their tongues for the pain and curse the God of heaven (Rev 16:10-11). Even as hailstones a hundred pounds each fell on them, they continued to curse God for the plague (Rev 16:21). 

Man, apart from God’s intervention will continue to run from the Lord even as great and powerful plagues are being poured out on them. Man hates the Lord because He is a threat to their reign and rule. Ever since the garden we have desired to reign and rule in God’s place. Instead of submit to God, we rage against Him (Ps 2). We desire to call the shots, to be the big “K” king. 

While these plagues are horrendous, the Lord is just in His judgment. He does not act unfairly. He is absolutely justified in pouring out His wrath on mankind for their continue and unceasing rebellion against Him. 

We must recognize our proper place in this world. It is not to reign and rule. Rather it is to bring the Lord glory as we submit to His reign and rule, recognizing His wisdom is greater than our own. 

Christian, you can, must, and will endure!

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” 

(Rev 13:10)

No one is promised an easy life. Especially those who live contrary to the world system. 

In the middle section of the book of the Revelation John sees a vision of two beasts. The first beast was allowed by God to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev 13:7). Not only is the beast able to conquer the saints but all who dwell on the earth end up worshipping the beast. Everyone except the saints “whose names [have] been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Reve 13:8). 

True Christians cannot and will not be conquered. 

Their allegiance to King Jesus cannot be changed. They have and will continue to follow Him, even as two beast are terrorizing the world. 

A Christians assurance of eternal life with King Jesus is guaranteed but a comfortable life and escaping death in Jesus’ name is not. Those who have been destined for captivity and death will face captivity and death (Rev. 13:10)

Where is the comfort? 

The comfort comes in knowing our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. The comfort comes in knowing God is not only a sovereign God but a providential God. In other words, His sovereignty is purposeful and His purposes are not and cannot be hindered. Though we might be taken captive or slain, we continue to trust in the providence of God. In His purposes and will along with His ability to bring His purpose to pass. 

Knowing who our God is, what He capable of doing, and what we could possibly face, we are called to endure (Rev 13:10b). To remain steadfast in the face of whatever may come our way in the future. That is not an easy proposition because the future is unknown to us. But it is what we are called to do by the Lord God. 

We can endure! We must endure! We will endure!

Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

You might be thinking: “Why shouldn’t I seek to be a people pleaser, especially in this day and age? I could lose my job, my livelihood, my status. I could get canceled and everything I worked so hard for is gone.” So why?

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

(1) Seeking the approval of man is a never-ending cycle.

You all know that trends, opinions, and ideas change, and they change often. What pleases someone one day isn’t necessarily what’s going to please them the next. Seeking the approval of man traps you in a never-ending cycle of always having to figure out what’s going to please someone and then convince them that you are worthy of their attention, praise, and affection. That never-ending cycle is a grind that will eventually beat you down, leaving you broken and depressed. I believe this is why so many celebrities end up abusing drugs or alcohol, or even committing suicide. The constant pressure of having to maintain a certain status is just too much.

(2) Seeking the approval of man means we’re going to have to continually change our message.

As you all know, times change, culture changes, and along with those things, what man approves of changes. If our only goal is to win man’s approval, our message is going to end up changing along with the times and culture. The liberal church is a good example. If you look back at their history, you would see that as the culture changed, their message has changed along with it. So much so that they are a mirror of the world instead of being a light to it.

God doesn’t call us to be a church with an ever-changing message. He doesn’t want us to be progressive. Instead, He wants us to remain faithful. In order to do that, our desire has to be to please Him instead of our fellow man.

(3) Seeking the approval of man means we will often be forced to act in ways that are contrary to God’s commands and the gospel.

Peter is a prime example. As soon as the circumcision party showed up in Antioch he withdrew from the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t think any less of him. Obviously, that doesn’t coincide with the gospel’s message that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Or with God’s command to love others as ourselves. But Peter wasn’t concerned with that. He wasn’t concerned with following God’s commands or promoting gospel unity. Instead, he was concerned with pleasing the circumcision party.

If our only goal is to please man, then we are going to find ourselves acting like Peter. We are going to have to choose between following God and upholding gospel unity, and doing what will win us favor with others. That’s a problem. A big problem. Because God, His commands, and His gospel should be the only thing we care about promoting. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Pleasing Him and doing what brings Him glory should be our only concern. But the only way we are going to do that is if we are Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers.

(4) Seeking the approval of man means we aren’t living in the freedom Jesus provides.

In Christ, we are freed from having to continually seek man’s approval. That’s because in Christ we have the only approval that matters — God’s approval. That approval will never change because it’s not dependent on our work. Instead, it’s dependent on Jesus’ work on our behalf.

When we realize that we are free in Christ, we will be free from the grind of having to please others. We won’t have to deal with the anxiety that’s caused by wondering if we have done enough. Nor will have to deal with the inner turmoil of whether or not we sold out to the culture. Instead, we will be able to live joyful lives, knowing that we have the only acceptance that matters — God’s.

God’s approval is the only approval that should matter. Instead of seeking the ever-changing approval of man, we need to rest in God’s unchanging approval that’s found in Christ alone.