Reflections – November 30, 2009

In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me! He is there when I encounter complexities and uncertainties of life. He is there when situations frustrate and stress me. He is there when people disappoint me.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 120; Job 3; Isaiah 24; John 20

The second reading begins Job’s lament to the circumstances brought on him by Satan. It is significant that Job “cursed the day of his birth” but that he “did not sin with his lips.” The dialogue in the central section of the book, “focuses on the question of what Job’s suffering reveals both about him and about God’s governing of the world” and contains “two sequences of ‘why?’ questions … ‘Why did I not die at birth?’ (v.11) and ‘Why is light given a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?’ (v.23)” (ESV Study Bible, p. 876). When I encounter situations that cause me to ask “Why?,” I pray thai I face them in a way that allows me to “hold to my integrity.” That is a great statement God makes about his servant in Job 2:3.

The third reading begins Isaiah’s third series of oracles. These rather than against particular nations, are judgements are on the whole earth. The judgement of the whole earth will bring all, small and great to bow their knee before God. Oh that we would all know and respect Him before that great day of the coming of the Lord.

The final reading tells the story of Who Moved The Stone (This was the title of a book written by Frank Morison and published in 1930. Originally undertaken to prove that the story of the resurrection of Jesus was only a myth, Morison’s research led him to a strong belief in the biblical record. I highly recommend it as a resource for Christian Evidences!). Jesus’ appearance to reassure Mary Magdalene and his touching conversation with her and with Thomas endears me further to Him as my loving Saviour!

For me, a day spent in pursuit of career and family concerns, draws to a close with reading and meditating Scripture. I trust that you had a blessed day, dear reader! May the Lord protect and guide you on your way.

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – October 31, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 91; 1st Kings 22:41-53; Zechariah 4; James 4:1-10

Today’s first reading is a beautiful expression of confidence in God as our shelter, our refuge, our fortress, our shield and buckler (“a small rounded shield usually worn on the arm” -ISBE). The ESV study bible says of this psalm, “The psalm closes out by laying out what the ideal of trust looks like … and repeating God’s pledge to care for his faithful ones….”

As you read this psalm replace the third party pronouns with first person one and take the message to heart! God says to me, as I begin this day, “Randy, because you hold fast to me in love, I will deliver you; I will protect you, because you know my name. When you call me, I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble; I will rescue you and honor you. With long life I will satisfy you and show you my salvation.”

Our second reading tells of the last day’s of the reign of Jehoshaphat. History records him as a king who did right in the sight of God, following in the steps of his father Asa. One of the positives of his reign was that he removed the remnant of the male cult prostitutes. But history also records that he did not remove “the high places.” This is a term that in scripture refers to something that was substituted in place of the altar to make sacrifices. As I reflect, upon this passage it reminds me that, even when I do what is right, I sometimes fall short of giving my BEST. Help me Lord to always give you the best that I have!

Our third reading describes the fifth vision of Zechariah; the lampstand and two olive trees. The message to Zerubbabel and Joshua, who are given the task of rebuilding the temple, is that it will be accomplished by the power of God. How often this same message is repeated over and over again to different individuals in various circumstances throughout scripture! I have read and studied those examples and yet I still fall into the trap of thinking that a successful career, or a good academic record or a happy family life, depend upon my skills and my wisdom. Lord, help me to remember that you are the source of it all. Awesome is your name and mighty is your power to save me from all my troubles!

Our final reading reminds me that I cannot be both a friend of the world and a friend of God. I must make the choice. That choice requires me to be humble, to cleanse my hands and to purify my heart. I must resist the devil so that he will flee from me. James also remind me that even with the purified heart I must watch continually for passions that war within me. Constant attention to prayer and bible study is the answer to winning that battle.

Thanks for reading with me friends. May your walk with Him make your days brighter, your nights restful and your future secure! If you have comments about these reflections, feel free to leave them below or e-mail them to me personally at randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. — Randy Sexton

Reflections – October 30, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 90; 1st Kings 22:1-40; Zechariah 3; James 3:13-18

Today’s first reading contains some memorable thoughts, ascribed to Moses, about God’s eternal nature and man’s fleeting years. As I begin my day, I pray, O Lord, teach me to number my days that I may have a heart of wisdom. May I be satisfied with your love, that I will rejoice and be glad all my days. Help me to seize the opportunities to influence others to seek you.

The second reading opens by describing the brief period of peace between Syria and Israel but then describes the desires of Jehoshaphat to fight against them for the return of Ramoth-gilead. We are also introduced to the prophet Micaiah and their love/hate relationship. This passage has always been a little difficult for me to understand; keeping track of who said what, who is a true prophet of God, who is a “lying prophet,” and what the message is for me today. Feel free to comment below to help my understanding of this historical record (Old Testament history is not one of my strengths.) One thing that has impressed me over the years, as I have studied the prophets, is how devastating it is when their is a failure of leadership. When those who are to be the spiritual leaders, the deliverers of the message of God, fail to lead, it is a great offense to God. I am reminded of Jesus’ words condemning the “scribes/lawyers” (experts in the law) of his day for “taking away the key of knowledge) (Luke 11: 52). As the ESV study bible says, “their distorted interpretations keep others from truly knowing God.” May I never be guilty of such hurtful actions and attitudes!

The third reading today focuses on the fourth vision of Zechariah in which he sees Joshua, the high priest, re-clothed. What a message of hope it must have been to hear these words of hope and restoration from the Lord. “Right of access” is something I value and the biographer John tells me that Jesus came to bring “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). I am so grateful that I had godly parents that introduced me to Him and showed me that access.

The last reading causes me to ask myself, “What type of wisdom am I seeking?” I should be seeking that wisdom that is from God and is characterized by good conduct. The other attributes of that wisdom is described in this passage. My daddy was a very wise man and he taught me much by his life of service. He was a self-taught man, who said quite often, “I hope to learn something everyday that I am alive.” But his true focus was on the things of God. I am a witness to the fact that he never let a day pass that he did not reflect upon how he observed God’s power and God’s wisdom being worked out inHis creation and in the lives of His people.

Continue your daily bible reading and have a blessed day, my friend! — Randy Sexton

Reflections – October 29, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 89; 1st Kings 21; Zechariah 1:18-2:13; James 3:1-12

Today’s first reading celebrates the Davidic kingship and contrasts the promises of God to what this psalm’s author feels is His current treatment of David. As I reflect on what my life has become compared to what God has promised, I find that I am prone to complain that he is not living up to His promises. But as I pray about it, I hear God saying, “I was with you through those trials! The reason you only saw one set of footprints? I was carrying you through!”

In today’s second reading we find the account of Naboth’s misfortunes, at the hands of the evil Ahab and Jezebel, regarding his vineyard in Jezreel. As I read I reflect on how Naboth must have felt. It is only natural for a man to want to protect the inheritance of his fathers and yet Jezebel took it from him in an abuse of power. Religious freedom is part of the inheritance of my fathers that I protect for my sons. Should I be called upon to protect it to the death, may the Lord ever help me to stand firm to do so!

Zechariah’s vision of the man with a measuring line reminds me today that I am among the people of God who are the apple of His eye and that he will take retribution on those who abuse them and blaspheme His holy name.

James reminds me today of my obligation to mind what I say. How very tough it is to control our tongues! In fact James says it is impossible for us to “tame” it. How did I use my tongue yesterday and how will I use it tomorrow? Will I use it to build up, to encourage, or will I use it to tear down and riducule? Lord help me be a wise master of the tongue that you have put in my head! May my heart communicate to my brain, and my brain engage, before my tongue sends forth words that can never be recovered!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – October 28, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 88; 1st Kings 20; Zechariah 1:1-17; James 2:12-26

The first of today’s readings is a type of psalm known as a lament. I can empathize because there are times that I feel like crying out to God day and night, when I feel overwhelmed with troubles, and when I feel the subject of God’s wrath. God is ok with me expressing these emotions to him, petitioning him for relief and for a ray of sunshine in my life.

The second reading continues the history of Ahab’s wars with Syria and how he defeats Ben-hadad and all his army. Ahab was one of Israel’s evil kings. In fact he “did more than all who were before him” (1st Kings 16:30). In spite of this fact, God demonstrates the superiority of his divine battle plan, that defies human wisdom. God is the God of the hills and of the plain, contrary to what the over-confident king of Syria believed about Him! It does not matter where my battle is, God is there! If my battle is in the valley of pornography, God is there! If my battle is on the hill of materialism, God is there! Thank you, O God, and create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10)!

The third reading begins the words of another prophet who spoke during the reign of Darius, King of Persia. Continuing the work that Haggai began two months earlier in exhorting the people as they began to rebuild the temple, Zechariah begins to tell them of his vision and God’s plan to use natural powers to carry out his divine plan of restoration. As I reflect on how God dealt through the prophets of old and of how his message was delivered, I marvel at the completeness of the picture I have of God’s plan fillfilled through Jesus. Though at times I wish he would speak more directly with me, I am satisfied that my God knows what is best for me. I will spend time with him today in His word and in prayer and allow him to speak to my heart.

The fourth reading continues James thoughts about one doing more than just believing the word but being a “doer of the word.” My faith must move me to action. Help me today, O Lord, to reach out to provide food to those “lacking in daily food,” to provide comfort to the downcast (2nd Corinthians 7:6) and to strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees of your servants (Isaiah 35:3; Hebrews 12:12)!

Have a blessed day dear friend.–Randy Sexon

Reflections – October 27, 2009

Today’s Readings: Psalm 87; 1st Kings 19; Haggai 2; and James 2:1-13

I am sad this morning because I have lost a dear friend. I am reassured however, as I relfect upon the hope that he has as a child of God. The 87th Psalm reminds me, “…the Lord loves the gates of Zion … Glorious things of you are spoken, o city of God.” As the song (“Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” words by John Newton, 1779) that is based upon this psalm reminds me, “See, the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love, well supply thy sons and daughters, and all fear of want remove. Who can faint while such a river ever flows their thirst t’assuage(to satisfy)? Grace, which like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age.” I look with hope to the day that I stand in that city of God with my dear broher Larry Vaughn!

The second reading, of Elijah’s fleeing and cowering in fear from Jezebel’s threat after so valiantly standing against the false prophets of Baal, reminds me how difficult it can be to continually stand firm in the faith without wavering. I can certainly expect to encounter priods when it will be more difficult than at other times. But the key is to continue to listen to the voice of God and to respond appropriately when he asks, “What are you doing here, Randy?”

Haggai has a probing question for me to consider, “Is the seed still in the barn?” His obvious conclusion was that in his day the vine, fig tree, pomegranate and olive tree yielded nothing, because of where the seed was. The seed was still in the barn. By his previous analogy, God had explained that mere ritual and service will not please Him. Their hearts had to be right before he will bless them. Now that they understand this principle he promises, “…from this day on I will bless you.” As I start my day today, where is my seed?

And finally, James reminds me how easy it is to fall into sin by judging others by their outward appearance. I have been guilty of this and need to pray for help see others through God’s eyes . God’s expectation is that I will love everyone (even my enemies) and share withthem what I have. The most important thing that I can share with everyone is the message of the hope of the gospel and to share it with a spirit of meekness. Have a blessed day dear friend.–Randy Sexon