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.

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.

Keep Seeking and Keep Listening

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. – John 16:12

A finite mind cannot fully comprehend the infinite. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize what I do not know. The Bible is the Word of God and as such reveals God’s Will, it reveals His plans and purposes to us. At least it reveals those plans and purposes He would have us know. I don’t think anywhere in the Bible God states that He has told us everything He knows. I am convinced we cannot possibly know all He does, nor necessarily fully grasp or comprehend everything He has told us. As the above verse notes, there were things that Jesus did not reveal to the apostles in The Upper Room Discourse because they were not ready to hear them. We can only know God’s mind and will when He chooses it to be the time that we can bear to hear. I am convinced there are things we are not able to bear while upon this earth.

Look at what the Apostle Paul experienced:

And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. – 2 Corinthians 12:3-4

Look at what the Apostle John experienced:

Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” – Revelation 10:4

It is clear to see that both men heard things that the Lord determined were not to be revealed to anyone else, they were the only ones to hear these divinely inspired utterances. There are thoughts within the mind of God that are not for all of us to know as these two previous verses show, is it hard to believe that there may be thoughts in the mind of God that are not for any of us to know?

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8

We are not God, or even god-like in most of what we do. We cannot by our nature compared to His, understand all of God. We have never lived in an existence that is outside of time, so can we really comprehend timelessness? Yet God is timeless; He is outside of time, He created time. If we cannot fully comprehend one of His characteristics, can we really grasp all the meaning of His thought?

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? – Numbers 23:19

Lying, not doing it is one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20). But we all do it at some point, saying something we do not mean, or something that just is not true. God never does. He is Truth, He keeps His promises, and He does not make excuses. God’s attributes are never resident in us as fully as He possesses them, we cannot therefore grasp the nature and fullness of His attributes as He exhibits them.

No one can argue that we are like God, certainly no one can argue that God is like us. So as we read the Bible and study it, as we meditate upon the Word, as we seek the Lord we need to keep that in mind. As a result, we also need remember that if we cannot fully comprehend God, we may not fully comprehend the meaning of His Word. Theology is man’s attempt to understand the infinitely divine. It is possible that we get parts of it wrong some of the time and some of it wrong all the time. It is incumbent upon us to constantly test our knowledge of the Word and listen and learn with open ears, minds and hearts. We cannot afford to get dogmatic on an issue and get it wrong. Yet many will fall into the trap of thinking they have God’s Word locked and loaded, that they understand it better than anyone else. The danger lies within thinking you know all the Word has to teach. Maybe you do, but maybe you can spend a lifetime studying His Word, finding nuggets of truth in the ground you may have raked over for decades. I would be wary of anyone who thinks it is not possible for them to learn anything fresh from the study of the Bible.

As we learn, as we teach others and share Christ, let us be diligent in reading other teachers and absorbing the truth about the Truth. But let us be aware that we are all fallible beings that need the guidance and direction of the Lord to ensure we get it right. Let us seek Him humbly and in obedience, so that we get it right most of the time.

And let’s just hope we do not get all of it wrong all the time.

Why Study Prophecy?

The first great result of the study of prophecy is that the prophetic Scriptures prove to us the authority of the entire Word of God. The Bible is different from every other religious book. There is no other book upon which a religion has been founded which includes prophecy within it. These books upon which false religions or false cults are founded seek to interpret the past or the present, but they are entirely silent upon the future. And yet the Word of God, from the opening chapters of Genesis right through the closing chapters of the Book of Revelation, contain countless prophecies. These revelations of coming events are authentications of the fact that the Bible is of divine origin and therefore both trustworthy and true. The test of the truth of prophecy is always its fulfillment and if that which was prophesied came to pass, we would know that the prophecy was divinely inspired. There is no greater test for proof of the inspiration, validity, authority and trustworthiness of the Bible than the proof of fulfilled prophecy. This could be illustrated briefly by some of the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ. Hundreds of years before He was born, the Old Testament told us the time of His birth in Daniel 9; the fact od of the virgin birth in Isaiah 7; the place of His birth in Micah 5, the intimate details of His life and death in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53; the fact of His resurrection in Psalm 16. One mathematician has figured out, considering only the prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ, that there is only one chance in 87 plus 93 zeros that the Bible could be right on the basis of guess alone.

God has revealed prophecy and then fulfilled some of the prophecies to prove that Scripture is of divine origin, is trustworthy, and is to be studied with confidence. After all, all that we know of God is that which is recorded for us in this Word. If it is not trustworthy, we have no revelation at all. But fulfilled prophecy proves to us that a God who can tell us what is yet in the future is a God who is to be trusted.

Excerpted from “Prophecy for Today” – J. Dwight Pentecost (1961)

Words of Grace for Strength

Dr. Pentecost goes on to talk about the study of scripture revealing the power, wisdom and purposes of God. There is much to commend itself to the study of prophecy within the Bible. The fact that prophecy makes up such a significant part of the Bible is a clear indicator that it has much God would have us know about Him and therefore God would have us study and meditate. However, the Bible is a book of which it is easy to pull verses, passages and even whole chapters out of context and use them to support a position that is in effect, not biblically grounded; to use them to teach in ways that are not biblically accurate. Dr. Pentecost warns of the dangers of studying prophecy, of thinking too much of your station, status or knowledge to judge others faith walk or ministry in the context of their prophetic knowledge in comparison to yours. Always remember that it was the Holy Spirit that opened your eyes that gave you the wisdom and discernment to understand the Word of God. You are no better than others, although you may be more obedient to the Lord’s desires that we study the Word of God.

I sat in enough lectures under the teaching of Dr. Pentecost to know he would never think it wise to study prophecy to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible. The Lord gave us His Word complete in the Bible, it is all the Word that He chose for us to have. As all we know of God is what is revealed in Scripture, the bible is all God chose to show of Himself. That makes every section of the Bible too important not to read, not study and meditate over. In commenting in his mid-90’s on a passage of Scripture which he said he had taught for 70 years, Dr. Pentecost revealed in class an insight he said had never occurred to him before. He didn’t feel that made him wrong in the past but that “The wealth of Scripture is inexhaustible”. That quote, burned in my memory, represents a most concise argument for reading and studying the Bible every day, reading and studying the entire Bible over and over again.

Those who ignore prophetic Scripture as foolish imaginings, who view those studying it as mentally unstable or living in a fantasy world, are ignoring the fact that prophecy was given to us by God that we may know Him better, know His character better. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word, and a large part of it is prophetic. To ignore it is to be ignorant of the wisdom and revelation of God. Conversely, those who study prophecy alone and candle all they view against prophetic Scripture are equally guilty of ignoring large swathes of Scripture. Their ignorance manifests itself in a different way, but has the same cause; the Bible is a book containing God’s complete Word as He chose to give it to us through the inspired writing of His chosen human instruments.

Why study prophecy? Because it is in the Bible. The better question to ask is why not study prophecy.