Aslan Is On The Move

God is near.
Do you believe that?
In the midst of all that you’re facing today, God is close.
Have you ever been in a situation where life seems hopeless? Have you ever been in circumstances or situations where things seem so dark, so discouraging, so messed up, that you don’t think there’s any light to be found?
If you have been there, or if you are there now, I want to show you something in the book of Samuel that I pray gives you hope, if you look closely.
The book of 1 Samuel begins with hope in the midst of darkness. Hannah, a deeply troubled infertile woman, cries out to the Lord in her pain, asking for a child. She promises to give her child back to the Lord if her prayer is granted. God is faithful to her, blessing her in just that way, and she keeps her promise to Him, bringing Samuel to the temple to serve under the headship of the priest, Eli. You can read all about that in 1 Samuel 1-2.
Eli, the priest, was set apart by God to serve Him in the temple. Yet, we see a pretty bleak picture of what his sons, two men who were supposed to follow in his footsteps, were doing at this time.
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. – 1 Samuel 2:12-14
Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. – 1 Samuel 2:22
Phinehas and Hophni were the names of these two worthless men.
They were not only stealing from the sacrifices that the people of God were bringing to God, they were also having sex with the female workers at the temple. Worthless men is right. Driven by lust and greed.
Talk about a bleak situation.
The religious leaders were driven by lust and greed.
Things get even bleaker, and then hope peeks its head up in one simple verse.
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. – 1 Samuel 3:1-3 
Verse 1 says that the voice of God was rare in those days. At the time of Samuel’s life there was rarely any words from the Lord through a prophet/judge. Instead, the people were doing whatever was right in their own eyes. There was no guidance from God, there was no leadership.
Look at verse three again though.
This is a key part of the story.
So first we read that the voice of God was rare in that day, but now we see that “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.”
In his commentary (1 Samuel for You), Tim Chester notes that he believes this phrase to not simply be a statement about what time of day it is in this moment. Instead, he believes the writer of 1 Samuel intended for this to be symbolic.
Eli’s eyes are literally “dim” in 1 Samuel 3:2. Now we have an image of a lamp almost going out. The light it casts is dim. But it is not yet extinguished. There is still hope. – Tim Chester
I can’t help but think of the moment in the The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe where the Pevensie children are with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. The White Witch had turned Narnia into a winter not so wonderland of bleak and dreary days. Mr. Beaver states “Aslan is on the move”, and the children (all but Edmund) burst into hopeful smiles.
In the bleak moments of life, God is still on the move.
In the hopeless moments of life, the lamp of God is still burning.
God is still near.
If you feel like He’s not moving, not speaking, not at work, you’re failing to understand that God dwells with you.
The God of the universe, if you are a follower of Jesus, is with you at ALL times.
In the midst of divorce.
In the midst of losing friends.
In the midst of not knowing where your next meal is going to come from. 
In every situation, God is near.
The lamp of God had not yet gone out. God was about to remind His people that He was still near. He’s about to speak to Samuel.
In His Name,
Nate Roach

Faithfully Waiting For Justice

I wish more people read the minor prophets. Besides Jonah, the easiest one.

I wish I read the minor prophets more.

Two conversations have happened in my life recently that have made me more desirous of these little nuggets of Scripture.

The first one was with one of my best friends. The two of us have a tradition of venting to each other about things that come up in our lives followed by offering up prayer and support for each other as we walk out our faith. He was bringing up how many churches seem to have made the book of Acts the entirety of the Bible. What he meant was so many churches have an “Acts-model” of church, small groups, etc. There is a borderline obsession on the part of countless churches and people I know to be EXACTLY like the early church in the book of Acts. I wholeheartedly agree that we could and should live out our faith with the trust, courage, and fervor of the early church. BUT, no one book of the Bible is more important than another. They all are canonized for a reason. Some may be easier to understand, may better articulate the gospel, etc, but Paul says that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and useful for the training up of the saints. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The other discussion was with a student who said that he was looking at his table of contents in his Bible and saw one of the minor prophets and wondered how long it had been there. We laughed about it but in reality I can assure you that not many of us grab our coffee in the morning and turn to the minor prophets. I don’t hear much about these in our churches and in our conversations about faith.

However, I have recently read through the book of Habakkuk, underlining, writing in the margins, and being awed by the truths that are found in this book with way too many consonants in the title.

Here are some truths to glean from the book. If this book confuses you like it did me, check out the Read Scripture video summary on it, it was incredibly insightful.

1. SOMETIMES GOD FEELS UNJUST

If you open your eyes to the world around you, nothing seems fair. The wicked and unrighteous appear to thrive in their kingdoms of sand, and the devoted followers of Jesus who reside in countries where persecution is rampant continue to be swallowed up by violence. When we take a look at our own lives, we may feel slighted by God as well (although when we look at this feeling through a gospel lens we are reminded that God has blessed us with much). Habakkuk shares these raw emotions with the Lord in both 1:2 and 1:13. He asks God why He is silent in the midst of violence, why He doesn’t come to the rescue when the wicked thrive.

2. PRIDE IS A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL BROKENNESS

The verse that caught me off guard and convicted me was 2:4. It says this:

Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. – Habakkuk 2:4

Wowza. This made me squirm. I feel prideful often. I look at my own knowledge of the Scriptures (which is really not that impressive) and become proud. I become proud of the abilities and gifts that God has given me. I can start to think that my ministry will be successful or that I will survive the year ahead because of my own abilities and strengths. Yet the prophet Habakkuk compares this level of arrogance to a man whose very soul is not right within him. This goes back to the previous point. We have been blessed by God. All that we have is from him. I wrote in my Bible next to this verse, “Pride is proof of not getting the gospel.” If I am arrogant, I legitimately have missed the message of the gospel.

3. WE LIVE IN THE MIDST OF CORRUPTION

Well, this part of Habakkuk was hard to accept as well. Now let me be clear I am immensely grateful for the USA. I have been afforded so much freedom, freedom that my own father fought for, and I don’t take that for granted.

However, we are not God’s country. We are not the people of God. Americans are not the people of God.

The older I get, the more I come to realize that we live in a country that while better than most, is not aligned with Christian values. At least not currently.

Habakkuk pronounces many woes on the Babylonians (or Chaldeans) who would come and enslave the people of God. He calls them out for their unjust economics, their enslavement of other nations, their irresponsible leaders, and their idolatry. Every single nation ever has struggled with one or more of these indictments, including the very people of God.

I just am reminded through Habakkuk that my hope should not be in America (The American Flag or The Cross). It should be in Christ the King.

4. WHAT GOD HAS PROMISED WILL COME TO PASS

From the very first page of the Bible, this doctrine has exploded off each and every page as I read. God says certain things about the order of creation and the text tells us ‘and it was so’. I was reading in Jeremiah 1 this afternoon and noticed that in verse 12 God says that He is ‘watching over my word to perform it.’ So as He commissions Jeremiah, He promises to be with Jeremiah in order for His words to come to pass.

Now this truth may not be explicitly present in Habakkuk. However, the entire final chapter speaks of what God did in the exodus and what He will one day do in the ‘Day of the Lord’. Everything that God promises, especially when it comes to rescue and justice, will come to pass in fullness.

5. WE CAN LIVE BY FAITH

When you boil it down, the book of Habakkuk is a powerful reminder of what it means to live by faith. Habakkuk was overwhelmed by the presence of violence all around him. He cried out to God. God answers by saying He will bring Babylon down on the people of Israel (God can use wicked nations for His glory and our good). Habakkuk is fearful of this proposition and God promises to bring down the Babylonians one day as well.

Just notice the change in Habakkuk’s outlook.

Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. – Habakkuk 3:18

This was highlighted in my Bible as well.

We live amongst injustice and violence.

Sometimes that is all we can see.

Yet we can be like Habakkuk and faithfully wait on the justice of God, rejoicing in the God who saves.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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Drifting

No one drifts closer to God.

I was eight hours into my egregiously long fifteen hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Wichita Falls, Texas when I heard this phrase in a podcast. I had seven more hours to think through its implications, and later that evening I realized that you can illustrate this reality in Scripture. 21208930_1417528678364805_1062599607_n

No one drifts closer to God. On days that we don’t pursue intimacy with Him we are naturally prone to drift further away from His presence, from the spiritual disciplines, and from His call on our lives. It just happens. Sure there are days where I’m not intentionally pursuing communion with Him and still feel close to Him. But 95% of the time, when I am not pursuing the spiritual disciplines, when I’m not pursuing His glory, I am drifting further and further from Him. If this happens for too long a season, it can lead me into sinful thoughts, behaviors, or lifestyles.

We all naturally drift away from God. This happens. This process is shown to us in the first Psalm. Look with me at Psalm 1:1.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! – Psalm 1:1

We see here in this verse an illustration of the regression that can happen in regards to sin.

Walking with the wicked – – – standing with sinners – – – sitting in the company of mockers.

Man this can happen so fast in our lives if we’re not careful.

It starts with us walking with God in the path of righteousness that is later described in this Psalm. Next thing you know, you’re not actively or intentionally making sure you’re on the path. This leads to a sometimes even subconscious walking on the path of the wicked. The wickedness of the world is thrown at us every waking moment, and so when we’re not communing regularly with God we can begin to walk out our lives on a path of wickedness that is provided to us by this world. It’s our natural inclination towards sin.

After drifting down this path for a while, we can find ourselves standing with sinners. Now, let me be clear, I do not see this verse as an indictment against having relationships and friendships with those who don’t share our faith. Standing with sinners in relationships is not at all what this verse is talking about, nor is it what I’m talking about. When placed in the illustration rather, it should surprise us that this wicked man is now standing. He is not moving towards God. He is not pursuing the Lord. He has set out on the path of wickedness and now he simply stands. Stands unaffected by sin.

In the seasons of my life that I have been drifting away from the Lord, I would find myself standing with sin lifestyles all around me, yet I wasn’t motivated to do anything about said sin. I had become apathetic towards sins that grieve the very heart of God, sins that my Lord and Savior had died for. This is what my heart is prone to do naturally when I do not pursue God. I subconsciously walk down the path of wickedness and soon find myself apathetic to sin.

I wish that was as far as we often get in our lives. Yet this isn’t the case. We can take it one step further – from apathy to mockery.

We can drift so far from the Lord that we go so far as to mock the very things of God.

This isn’t necessarily happening in our lives in pronounced or explicit ways, but it can happen in our hearts and minds. It can happen when we’re at small group or when we’re singing hymns at church. It can happen when we’re listening to a sermon or talking to a friend. We mock the things of God. I confess that this has happened in my life. I will be hearing a friend share about raising money for a mission trip and internally I’m mocking the idea of missions. I would be listening to a sermon and hear about how God is great and good and internally I would think to myself what is good about Him? I would receive godly and wise counsel from parents or other men and women in my life and immediately shrug it off or disregard it. This was extremely present in my high school days, as I sat in my mockery of God.

Now Psalm 1 is not in my opinion a Psalm about this regression, although I do believe David wrote the regression (walk – stand – sit) on purpose. I do pray and hope that as you read this, you are honest with yourself and with God about where you may find yourself today.

Are you walking with God on the path of righteousness, or are you sitting in sin?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-23a, 25

This is the fruit that should be present in our lives, that should be ripe in our lives. I am not myself prone to all of these things naturally, so again it takes active listening and walking with the Spirit of God in our lives.

The first Psalm gives us a clue on how we can make sure that we don’t drift away from the Lord.

Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. – Psalm 1:2

The man who is prosperous (not necessarily in an earthly way) is this man. The man who does not drift is this man.

May we be men and women who treasure the Word of God. May we be men and women who delight in the instructions of the Lord and make it a point to meditate on His Word day and night.

No one drifts closer to God.

It takes delightful discipline.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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