Daily Thoughts in the Lord V

Another week, time for another day of five years of Bible reflection. I pray that it gives you some food for thought as it did me as I reread what I wrote today those few years ago:

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ – Ephesians 4:15 (NASB)

Speak the truth in love. Speak the truth not to hurt someone, but to instruct and correct, to get them back on the narrow path, the strait gate. Likewise, hear the truth in love, listen to and heed the advice, so as not to stray and stumble too much yourself.

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.” – Exodus 15:26 (NASB)

Heed his voice and do what is right in His sight; let me follow this path as a way of life, as a command to be obeyed all my life. Let me listen for His voice, however soft and still, let me discern it among the clamor of a sinful world. Like me ring like a bell, like a clarion call to me.

There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. – Ecclesiastes 5:13 (NASB)

It is sad for a man to hoard his earthly possessions as if they could offer him anything of eternally lasting value. Riches are nothing if they are not used under the Lord’s will, He who provided them, and not under the sinful callings of man’s own heart.

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ – Matthew 22:37 (NASB)

My love for my Lord should know no equal, should know no bounds because He is without equal and boundlessly infinite. He is everything to me, for only He can give me anything of lasting value anything that has true worth in my life and everything that I truly need. Without Him I am less than nothing.

…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. – 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NASB)

There is one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who died for me upon the Cross in the body of the Son. I live through Him because He died for me and as a result, I through Him. All comes from the Lord, there is nothing that is left that is not under His sovereign will.

Let the Word of God be the beacon that keeps you from running the rocks when your mind is like a stormy, windswept night or fog filled day.

Daily Thoughts in the Lord IV

Another week, time for another day of five years of Bible reflection. I pray that it gives you some food for thought as it did me as I reread what I wrote today those few years ago:

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ – Ephesians 4:15 (NASB)

Speak the truth in love. Speak the truth not to hurt someone, but to instruct and correct, to get them back on the narrow path, the strait gate. Likewise, hear the truth in love, listen to and heed the advice, so as not to stray and stumble too much yourself.

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.” – Exodus 15:26 (NASB)

Heed his voice and do what is right in His sight; let me follow this path as a way of life, as a command to be obeyed all my life. Let me listen for His voice, however soft and still, let me discern it among the clamor of a sinful world. Like me ring like a bell, like a clarion call to me.

There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. – Ecclesiastes 5:13 (NASB)

It is sad for a man to hoard his earthly possessions as if they could give him anything of eternally lasting value. Riches are nothing if they are not used under the Lord’s will, He who provided them, and not under the sinful callings of man’s own heart.

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ – Matthew 22:37 (NASB)

My love for my Lord should know no equal, should know no bounds because He is without equal and boundlessly infinite. He is everything to me, for only He can give me anything of lasting value anything that has true worth in my life and everything that I truly need. Without Him I am less than nothing.

…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. – 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NASB)

There is one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who died for me upon the Cross in the body of the Son. I live through Him because He died for me and as a result, I through Him. All comes from the Lord, there is nothing that is left that is not under His sovereign will.

Another week of reflection, any week closer to our Lord and Savior because…Jesus is coming soon!

Daily Thoughts in the Lord II

As with last week, I have looked at a five-year span for today’s date, to see what was on my mind as I read the Bible each day, on this day:

For by You I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. – 2 Samuel 22:30 (NASB)

If the Lord is with me, if my God smiles down upon me, if He wills it, I can do anything. My life is secure in the Lord, I have given it to Him. For I am safe with the Lord’s hand upon my shoulder, He will lift me above all, He will raise me above sin, He will save me forever.

Professing to be wise, they became fools – Romans 1:22 (NASB)

Let me not profess to be wise in my right, for without God I lived a sad life. Let my wisdom come from Him alone, let my praise go to Him only, let all glory and worship be His, and be given to no one else. I am nothing without Him, He is my all in all forever.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)

We may never know the effects, the impact a single act of kindness can have. We may never know who we have helped, encouraged or put right upon the path by God’s grace through our love for others. It may be that we start a great wheel in motion for the glory of God for a time we cannot begin to imagine.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here. – Zechariah 3:7 (NASB)

I need but walk in the ways of the Lord to see Him bless my actions. I need but follow Him to feel Him close to me. His blessings He freely bestows on those who love Him and show themselves to be His children in this world. Let me eagerly be His everyday.

 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21 (NASB)

The reign of Christ is over all; through His grace the reign of Christ is in me. It is grace that is victor over death, for Jesus is the victor over sin. I am in Him, He abides in me. I cannot lose because His grasp on me cannot be loosened forever.

Once again I claim no depth of insight, no exclusivity of the knowledge within the Word of God. You might view these as ramblings, if so, they are mine and given to me by the Spirit as I read my bible on this day years ago.

Daily Thoughts in the Lord

I have for years jotted notes on my morning Bible reading, just a line of two of thoughts that a particular verse I was reading that morning struck me with. I put them in a diary, one that has a page for each day of the year, with spaces to write something for 5 years on that daily page. I find it interesting to look at my thoughts from a year, ago, two years ago, up to four years before that I had jotted in the diary on that particular day. Today I pulled out an old diary and looked at the page with today’s date on it. Here is what I found, the verses and my thoughts thereon:

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 NASB

Seek not the favor of men, but of God. If I am to truly be a servant of Christ, I must reject the ways of a sinful world, not seek the approval of men, but be willing to dedicate myself to Christ, giving all.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. – 1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB

Lord, let us live for that moment when you take us into your eternal presence. We struggle each day to endure to that point, awaiting with barely restrained eagerness. We pray we will lead lives that will have You call us good and faithful servants.

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; – Hebrews 10:11 NASB

Man cannot be his own devices do anything to take away sin.  If he does not come before God and ask forgiveness, he will not receive any. All man can do is appeal to God for the mercy and grace that is His alone.

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity, And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. – Micah 7:18 NASB

That you are a just but also a merciful God I cannot question, indeed, it is a fact which gives me great comfort in my life. For all you have given me to save me from myself you do so that I may love in Your just and holy Presence.

So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; – Acts 26:22 NASB

Even in times of testing and trial, God is with me to sustain me, to see me through. I can be greatly blessed in times of trial by seeking Him out, trusting in His deliverance, by remaining faithful to His sovereign will.

None of this is especially deep or insightful, and the space allotted in the diary does not permit deeper exploration or fuller explanation of the thoughts my mind is minig out of Scripture that day. You may question or challenge the theological underpinnings of my thought, but I view this more of a devotional exercise than exegesis. I am thankful that these daily devotions focus on the person and the power of Jesus Christ. I am thankful the Spirit leads me to make Him the center of my focus.

I pray I have not offended anyone today, or over the five year span I was developing these thoughts.

Uncompromising

In my recent daily Bible reading, I have spent some time in 2 Chronicles 17-20, reading of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.  In a long line of kings of Israel and Judah, a long line of men who failed to follow the Lord, Jehoshaphat did better than most. He sought God, followed His commandments, removed high places and Asherim from Judah. He sought to be like King David, and be a man with a heart for God. He did much good as the king of Judah.

Yet a key passage for me was 2 Chronicles 19:2-3:  And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”

What I see here is that God’s standards are uncompromising, and since He is Holy, those standards are of the highest possible order. Even in the case of a good king like Jehoshaphat, a man sincerely trying to seek and obey the Lord, there is a rebuke at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 19 for his actions in militarily supporting Ahab, a wicked king of Israel. Jehoshaphat’s reign was one of reform and turning to the Lord, especially in times of trouble. The Lord delivered Judah for her enemies, but at the end of 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat again displeases God in his alliance with Ahaziah of Israel. God “broke” the ships they readied to go against Tarshish. When Jehoshaphat died, Jehoram succeeded him and killed all his brothers, I assume to secure his throne against possible contenders. Was this the fruit of Jehoshaphat’s wicked alliance with Ahaziah? I think that is a distinct possibility.

One can see in these chapters in 2 Chronicles a man trying to live for the Lord, trying to lead his nation back to the ways of God. Yet he stumbled at times and incurred the Lord’s displeasure. Given how the kings of Judah before and after Jehoshaphat behaved, you would think the Lord would cut him some slack. But God’s standards are uncompromising because He is Holy. We cannot please Him with half measures or going almost all the way for Him. Close might count in horseshoes, but it doesn’t get the job done with the Lord.

Not surprisingly, I find the story of Jehoshaphat points to Christ and our need for Him. Romans 8:1 talks of there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He meets the standards that we cannot, that men and women have never been able to meet. Even good men like Jehoshaphat or King David, who was a man after God’s own heart. It is humbling to stand before a God who is Holy, who will not compromise His Holiness and requires holiness from all who stand in His presence. Humbling to know that while we cannot meet His standards, He sent His Son who could and did meet them on our behalf so that we can stand in Christ before the Father and He will not see us but Jesus in us.

As we live in this troubled world it would be great if we could lead like Jehoshaphat, seeking to reform things and turn others back to the Lord as well. But we will fall short in our efforts because of who we are, and due to the fact that only Jesus in His Second Coming can truly make things right and keep them that way. In the meantime, let us be strong, bold and uncompromising in the Lord. Let us be strong and bold in knowing that His grace will overcome our failings.

We can do nothing but bring the news of Jesus to the world that desperately needs it. Nothing but let Him use us for His purposes in obedience to His will. The Lord requires nothing but we behave as faithfully as did His Son as He walked to His death on the Cross. As we cannot walk in such a way, He graciously provided the means for us to walk in Christ instead.

But that is enough for us to do in a situation that requires an uncompromising standard of performance and behavior that we are unable to meet.

 

Nothing Supernatural

Excerpted from The Bible and the Cross – G. Campbell Morgan (1909)

All the things of which we speak as supernatural are only supernatural to our finite knowledge and understanding. The things of which we speak as miraculous are only so because we know certain laws, but are not acquainted with the whole economy of God. In the ages to come, and in the light of the Father’s house, we shall not speak of these things as supernatural, we shall discover that they are all in harmony with the nature of God.

Words of Grace for Strength

Isn’t it good to know that we cannot grasp the infinite wisdom of the sovereign Lord and creator of the universe? I take great comfort from knowing our Lord is divinely infinite, that we are finite beings that cannot begin to grasp who He is on our own. I do not want a God I can completely comprehend and understand because I know how messed up I am. We think of God’s intervention into our world as supernatural because God can intervene in His creation in ways outside of the laws He ordered for that creation, and we can recognize them as outside of His naturally ordered plans for how the clock of creation would tick. The Bible is replete with such instances, and those of us who treasure Scripture as Truth cherish each and every instance He has chosen to have set down. There will come a day when we stand in God’s presence and it will be the most natural thing for us, because it is His will that we do so.

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.  – Revelation 21:23

Morgan speaks of what will happen in the light of Father’s house, as we cast aside thoughts of supernatural events and understand the true harmony of God’s creation. The verse from Revelation talks of the light we will see by. How glorious the light there, for the Lamb is the Light. We will know what we know of the nature of God because we will know it with the mind of Christ, as we see clearly all that is now illumed by the light of the Lamb. Not only is there an abundance of joy, of life in the presence of the Eternal God, it is all seen by us by the light of Christ, by the glory of God. Morgan goes on to speak about some things of God are so high above us as to need our imagination just to think of them. But one day they will be known to us as they are to God.

And all that we see will not be supernatural to us, it will be completely and utterly natural, for it is the character of God that we will know through Jesus. Just as the Father looks at us and sees the Son, we will look upon our Sovereign with the eyes of our Lord and Savior. Wonderful and new to us, but not the least bit unusual or strange. It will be a comforting sight, a natural expression of God in His holy character.

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18

The best is yet to come. We can scarcely comprehend it today, but one day we will grasp the full meaning in both hands, for in God’s revelation to us will come the perfect knowledge of what He has for us for all eternity. And there can be nothing more natural for us than to be in the presence of He who created us, to fulfill His purposes for our existence, and to do it for eternity. Nothing supernatural for us awaits, only the true nature of the Lord and seeing, for the first time, the true harmony of His character with His creation.

 

Crisis in the Nations

Excerpted from “The Nations in Prophecy” by John F. Walvoord (1967):

The world today faces an international crisis unparalleled in all the history of man. A tremendous revolution is under way in the international scene, in economics, in morals, in theology, and in the religious structure of the church. The world is aflame with the raw passions of men ambitious for power and desperate to be freed from poverty and frustration. An ominous cloud hangs over the hearts of men and nations. The nations are indeed at the crossroads, and impending events cast their shadow on every aspect of human life. The world is moving faster and faster like a colossal machine out of control whose very power and momentum inevitably will plunge it into ultimate disaster.

Apart from the Bible, the world does not have a ray of hope. Our most brilliant leaders have not found an answer. World leaders, whether in Moscow or Washington, are troubled by the great issues which face the worlds today. President John F. Kennedy before his untimely assassination expressed the viewpoint of western civilization when he said, “I speak today of an hour of national peril, and of national opportunity. Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain. The tide of events has been running out, and time has not been our friend.”

The present world crisis is not a result of any one factor, but a concurrence of causes and effects which combine to set the world stage for a conflict which may quickly bring an end to hundreds of years of progress in western civilization and establish new centers of international power. Whatever the future holds, it is going to be dramatically different than the past. In this dark picture only the Scriptures chart a sure course and give us an intelligent explanation of world-wide confusion as it exists today. Three present world crisis in the light of the Scriptures reveals the existence of remarkable components in almost every area which may lead to a dramatic climax of world history. The present crises in every area of human life all point to the same conclusion, that disaster awaits the nations of the world.

Words of Grace for Strength

If Dr. Walvoord was with us today it is possible he could easily say one of two things: Either “See, I told you so” or “Even so, come Lord Jesus”. The plain fact is that nearly 50 years after he wrote the above excerpt, the world seems to be spiraling even more out of control. Such a fact speaks to both the bottomless depravity and hopelessness of humanity and the inexhaustible patience and mercy of a loving God. Jesus has not yet returned, although many, including John Walvoord, might reasonably have expected Him to do so in the intervening years between when the above was written and the present day. Why hasn’t He returned? It is a question we cannot answer. But we know the Lord’s timing is His own, and we know He is long suffering in wanting all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Many might have been eternally lost if the Lord had returned ten, twenty, thirty or more years ago. The Lord will have none of those who will come to a saving faith perish, and so He patiently and lovingly endures a defiant and disobedient world as He awaits all those who will come to Him in His timing.

The world is hopelessly lost as it seeks to find solutions to its problems, but we who have Christ know the answer, have the truth and need share it with others. There is a crisis among the nations of the world, but we can help solve a small piece of it by sharing Christ with those around us who do not know Him as we do. Yes, the Lord is patiently waiting for those who would come to Him, and is also wanting to bless us for our obedience in sharing the good news of Jesus and the riches of being in Christ with others. The crises in the world can only be solved by Christ. The crisis within the body of Christ, where it seems fewer are following Him obediently as we watch the very foundations of the church continue to crumble, can only be solved by turning back to Christ.

We can study the Word of God, searching the Scriptures like Bereans (Acts 17:11) to seek out and understand the Truth. And so we should. But we can never know the timing that is the Lord’s alone to measure and pour out as He will to fulfill His purposes in the perfection of His plans. We cannot fall into the prideful trap of thinking that we so understand the Lord that we know not only the message He has for us but also the timing of when He would have His prophetical Scripture fulfilled. The more I study His Word, the less certain I am that I fully comprehend all that is in it, let alone knowing when all things He deems will come to pass. I am better off seeking Him and sharing Him with others in the hope that they come to have a relationship with the Lord. I am better off looking to encourage and edify others as I look to be encouraged and edified, and leave the timing of the Lord to the Lord.

We do not know what tomorrow holds for any of us, but those of us in Christ have the surety of God’s Word in knowing where and with Whom we will spend eternity. Those of the world needs to know what we do as well, otherwise they will all stay in crisis after crisis until the Lord returns.