The Iceberg

Iceberg

Icebergs are large chunks of ice that float freely in the open water. Some are small, measuring only a few feet across. And some are gigantic, being the size of a small country. They are formed when chunks of ice break off from glaciers, ice shelves, or even a larger iceberg.

The common feature of all icebergs is that only a tenth of the volume of an iceberg is above the water. This is because of the relative densities of ice and seawater.

The iceberg is a picture of many facets of life. The books we read have been through an untold number of edits that we have never seen. We simply see the final product. The cars we drive have unknown hours of research behind them. We simply enjoy the opportunity to use them for transport. Marriage problems that come to the attention of others will have a depth of other issues below the surface. We only see a little of what is wrong. The people we know and love have untold backgrounds and experiences that have shaped who they are. We only enjoy their presence today.

When it comes to living life before God, there are many things going on all around us that we have little knowledge of or little control over. But for those of us who love God, we can rest in the assurance that God is working in the unseen details of our lives. This is true of our present circumstances. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB). This is true of our future circumstance. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, ESV).

So live life trusting God with the unseen details in your life.

Bailout

Bailout

In 2008 the world faced a financial crisis. Stocks all over the world took a downturn not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. In the United States financial institutions and the automotive industry were in crisis. For right or wrong, the United States government bailed out these industries with billions of dollars.

Were the truth to be known, our sin has brought our lives into real crisis. We need help. We need a bailout. Unfortunately, no government can help us. We owe a spiritual debt that we can never pay. But God can. He can bail us out.

Jesus Christ died upon the cross to bail us out of our sin debt, if we but believe. Jesus “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

Our Public Prayer

PublicPrayer

Perhaps the most famous prayer in all of the Bible is called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is better named, “The Disciple’s Prayer” as it is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Here is the prayer, …

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but delivers us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

If you know this prayer, you have probably prayed it hundreds of times. Have you ever noticed the pronouns in the prayer? Jesus taught us to pray in the first person plural (i.e. “our,” “us,” and “we”).

Certainly, it is very appropriate to pray this prayer alone in your closet. It’s helpful to focus your attention upon the character and kingdom of God before asking for your needs. But Jesus didn’t give this prayer for us to use alone. He gave it to us to use in public. It is a prayer to be prayed with others. This is our public prayer.

Ladder or Mirror?

LadderMirror

When people look at the law of God, they can view it in one of two ways. They can either see it as a ladder or a mirror.

When People view the law of God as a ladder, they think that they can climb the ladder to God. In other words, they think that by obeying the commands of God they will come close to God. These are those who think that their good works are enough to please God.

When people view the law of God as a mirror, they look to the law and use it to reflect upon their own lives. What they see is not good. They see how they have failed to live in the ways that God prescribes. The law causes them to see their sin.

The teaching of the Bible is clear. The law is not a ladder, but a mirror. Paul wrote, “By the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Paul’s experience bore this out. He said, “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Romans 7:7). Seeing his sin, Paul was drawn to the Savior.

You won’t be justified before God by climbing the ladder of works. The only way to God is to see your sin and trust in Jesus. We are “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1) not by works. 

 

 

 

Old Faithful

OldFaithful

In Yellowstone national park, there is a geyser named Old Faithful. On the average it erupts every 90 minutes or so. When it erupts, it sends some 4,000-8,000 gallons of water squirting to the sky some 100-200 feet in the air. The outburst of this geyser lasts several for several minutes. This has carried on for over 150 years at least.

If you have seen Old Faithful erupt, you have also seen the many spectators who have gathered with their cameras engaged to catch this special event. There is something about this regular event that pulls in hundreds of spectators several times a day to watch.

The faithfulness of God is every bit as spectacular to watch. Jeremiah wrote,

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

When God makes a promise, he keeps it until the end. He made a covenant with Abraham to bless him and his offspring (Genesis 12:1-3). He repeated it to Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:4; 28:13). He remembered it 400 years later when he saw the persecution of the people of Israel (Exodus 2:24).

His promise was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, who brought the blessing of God to the Gentiles. Paul told us that “it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). This promise has remained true for thousands of years. It is worthy of watching.

Heart Transplant

Heart

In 1967 a South African grocer named Lewis Washkansky was dying from chronic heart disease. When a 25 year-old woman died in a car accident, he became the first human being to receive a heart transplant. He died 18 days later from pneumonia as the anti-rejection drugs left him susceptible to sickness.

After a decade of anti-rejection drug research, heart transplants were more successful, with many patients living for up to five years with their new hearts. Today, the prognosis for a heart transplant is for an average of fifteen years of extended life. As successful as this operation has become (3,500 annually worldwide), the greatest difficulty is the availability of donors. There are far more people who need hearts than there are hearts to give.

Would the truth be known, each of have a heart disease—not our physical hearts, but our spiritual hearts. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said that the heart is the source of sin, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

We all need a spiritual heart transformation. The good news is that God is a spiritual heart surgeon. He promised the people of Israel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Rather than taking a spiritual heart from another, God creates anew. Jesus likened this to a “new birth” (John 3:3). Paul called it “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He will give a new heart to those who seek it.

Counsel or Confirmation?

Counsel

As a pastor of a church, I do a fair bit of counseling. Not a lot, but enough. I have observed a bit of a pattern. Some who seek counsel from me are not are really seeking counsel. They are seeking something else. They are seeking confirmation.

In other words, people come to me with their plans all set. If I agree with them, then all is well. However, if I tell them something that they don’t want to hear, they easily ignore my counsel and go on with their own plans anyway. They may even seek out someone else who will tell them what they want to hear.

Now, it could be that I give bad counsel in these cases. Or, it could be that they have itching ears, wanting to hear what will “suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3). The Lord knows.

Against this backdrop, it is very encouraging when those who are teachable come to me for counsel. When I can help them on their journey, it is very satisfying. I’m glad to help.