This podcast is the message archives of the Lake Merced Church of Christ in San Francisco.
What Mothers Reveal About God
Last week’s message was about hope, about growth from the ashes. Sunday’s message was about the next step, about comfort, such as the comfort a mother would give to her suffering child. We are God’s beloved lambs, and In Isaiah 40:11 we read, “He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…”
Sometimes it seems like we have to suffer to appreciate the grace and comfort that comes after. But we know that God’s mercy is unwavering and pure. He will not say “I told you so” and then give you comfort. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “...do not dwell on the past… I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” And in Isaiah 65:17-19, “I will create new heavens and a new earth...the sounds of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”
When we are suffering, God turns to comfort us and give us good news. God’s promise, and God’s desire for us, is to shower us with the kind of merciful love that a devoted mother would give. His love is boundless! He only wants to open His arms to us so that we can live with Him forever.
So many of us are suffering; are we ready to surrender now to the comfort that only our loving Father can give?
New Growth from the Ashes
In the book of Isaiah, the people had become those who “call evil good and good evil” and “acquit the guilty but deny justice to the innocent”. So Isaiah was tasked with speaking some difficult truths in Isaiah 6:13 -- that the land “will again be laid waste, but as the oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” The holy seed would be their hope.
Sometimes we get stuck in our pain. When we can’t see beyond this current pain, when we can’t imagine happiness, that’s when we’re stuck looking in the rear view mirror. How often does the Bible tell us to fear not and wait for the Lord? As long as we draw breath, there is hope. Hope is the balm to help soothe our pain.
When we feel like we’re cut down to our stump, remember that the stump is what holds up the rest of the tree; it’s the foundation that feeds the branches and the leaves. All God needs is a stump to create a shoot of new growth, new life, new joys for us. He is the Master of creation, after all. He can bring life out of the ashes.
“When all I can see is doom and gloom, God makes a future where ashes can bloom.”
The Risk of a False Sense of Security
When things are going smoothly, it can be easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. That’s exactly what happened to the people of Israel (2 Kings 17) when they continued to worship false gods. Things were going so well for them that they could see no possible bad consequences. But as Josh said, “Nothing is so secure that God cannot destroy it.”
This is similar to the “Too big to fail” concept. They didn’t think that God would tear down all He had given to them, that He would see it through regardless of what they did. They were wrong - and He did tear it down. We have to know that anything we create that is NOT of God - and for God, and to glorify God - will eventually be destroyed.
Our path is to become the kind of people that God intends us to be, but our weak flesh resists it. We need to surrender when we fail God, to give ourselves completely to Jesus so he can lead us back to our loving Father. Therein lies our hope for salvation.
The full quote from Josh is “There is nothing so secure that God cannot destroy it. There is nothing so sinful that God cannot remove it.” Amen!
Can We Multitask Our Faith?
In this story from 1 Kings, pagan worship had started to spread among the people of Israel. Elijah asked them (1 Kings 18:21) “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
Limping is a good word. We become the walking wounded when we try to follow two gods. For example, our “lower case god” might be our schooling, our family, or maybe our career - our need for success. This turns into a spiritual tug-o-war where we are the rope being pulled in opposite directions.
As Josh said, “The enemy hunts when we live in two places at once.” It is literally impossible to multitask. When we concentrate on our career (or whatever our “little god” is), we’re not concentrating on God and that’s when Satan hunts us down.
God doesn’t want us to be lukewarm. He wants us to give ourselves 100% to Him. It’s time to give up multitasking and make that full commitment to God.
When Leaders Experience Moral Failure
For much of the past ten years, we have been inundated with a steady stream of moral failings from leaders of all walks of life, and particularly in American churches. These failings have left many disillusioned and discouraged. This week, Josh will be teaching from the book of 2 Samuel with a look at the life of King David. What can we learn from being honest about his moral failures? What truths emerge that might impact how we process the failures that we see and experience often in the headlines today? How are we compelled to look also at our own hearts? Let’s talk about that and more as we continue our journey to Read Scripture in 2021.
Finding Hope in a New King
We won’t get any lasting hope from our earthly kings, our politicians, and certainly not from our own all-too-human selves. You can’t have Jesus AND your old king. If we accept Christ as our King then we don’t need to pin our hope on any other authority.
Is it easy? Of course not. As the Bible says in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” It’s simple, but not easy. We are human, we get weak, we have doubts, maybe we find we’re going through the motions, but not living a truly Christian life. Regardless of our flaws, Jesus invites us to freedom. If we give up our control and give all to him, we will be saved.
1 Corinthians 15:52 “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” Rejoice with us today! He is risen!