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.

The Silence May Be Golden

Believers often struggle with not hearing God’s voice in their lives. In some recent reading, several reasons were put forth about why someone doesn’t hear the God speaking to them that I found myself thinking about:

Disobedience: I think this is the one most people turn to first as a reason for God’s silence. If someone isn’t hearing God, there must be disobedience in their life. Sin. Defiance. This could well be, why would God speak to someone who is not in obedience to His will? A good question, but remember two things -1) we all struggle with our sin nature and will until the day the Lord calls us home and 2) God is loving, compassionate, merciful and gracious. Given that we all sin, it might be a long time before someone is at a point that there is no disobedience to God. Couple that with God’s attributes as mentioned above, and I don’t think that some level of disobedience or sin is always the reason someone doesn’t hear God speaking to them. If God only spoke to the sinless, the only person who would have heard Him speak was Jesus. That doesn’t sound right. Some would have you go through a sort of sin checklist to see if your sin is keeping God silent in your life. We are all sinners, and there is sin in our lives just about all the time. If sin is sin, and a holy God will not have it in His presence, I am not sure what good a checklist will do. How do you decide if a sin is a silencing inducing sin? I would prefer that we seek out the Lord and try to confess the sins in our life, looking to struggle with our nature and try to cut the sin in our lives. I will hold the checklists for NASA to use on spaceflights. Don’t get me wrong, silence from God may be indicative of a sinful, disobedience life that God has chosen not to speak into as a means for drawing one of His children back to Him. But we need remember that every sin does not mean silence.

Preparation: Silence from God might be because you are in a period of preparation for some revelation from God that the person has never known before. In reading Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King, this is stated as a reason for God’s silence, if the answer isn’t sin in a life. According to the authors if there is not unconfessed sin then there is a period of preparation of deeper understanding of God. The advice is to keep doing the last thing God told you to do until a fresh encounter with God comes along. That is certainly a possibility, God moving in a life often requires preparation for what He has for that person to do. Think of Moses in the desert for 40 years. Psalm 46:10 tells us to be still and know He is God. Great advice from the Divine. A period of silence requires faith, and that can be used by God to mold one for His plans. Again, I get a little caught up with unconfessed sin and ruling it out and then saying it must be God is getting ready to reveal some new, deep understanding. I am not sure I agree with the Blackaby approach of rule out sin first and then ready oneself for deeper revelation from God.

Approval: In some respects this third reason builds on the second: it requires faith, showing a life molded, shaped and grown by God. But it offers an interesting counterpoint to the reason of disobedience. In the book entitled A First Century Message to Twentieth Century Christians: Address based upon the Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (Yes that is the title), G. Campbell Morgan speaks to the seven letters included in Revelation 2 and 3. In the letter to the church in Smyrna, he offers up this nugget:

Some child of God, whelmed with great and crushing sorrows is longing for the sound of His voice, and there is nothing but silence. It may be that that silence is a sign, not of disapproval but of approval. Do not be cast down. If in the midst of tribulation and suffering there is no voice, it may be that the silence of the Lord is His highest commendation.

Morgan goes on to explain that the silence may be an indication that one is living at the highest level of faith and love of the Lord, requiring no word of encouragement from God. Think of that, a faith so strong that God shows His approval by silence, knowing the faith residing in the person is enough for the trial and tribulation the person finds themselves in. God knows the person enough and is confident in the faith inherent in that person so as not to need to speak to them.

I think that is a message today’s culture has caused the church to lay aside. We are conditioned by the world to expect feedback, to seek and receive praise, or encouragement or correction. But God’s ways are not ours. I know God is ever present in the lives of believers, but I haven’t found a Bible verse that states that He will be talking to us all the time. What is the will of God is to allow a believer to keep living and doing what he or she is doing because He approves, and He feels nothing else need be said. Imagine the faith of one who can find silence from God in their life and be joyous in the Lord because of it!

You are seeking His will and His way, searching out the purposes He has for your life. You are deep into study of and meditation on the Word of God. You are ministering to others around you, or are facing trial and tribulation but are turning to and leaning on Him alone. But there is nothing but silence from God. Keep doing what you know in your heart is in alignment with what the Lord has revealed in the pages of Scripture. I noted earlier that not every sin means silence; not every obedient act need be commented on by the Lord either.

Silence from God. Maybe you are not doing anything wrong. Maybe at this time in your life you are doing everything right.

The Cross, Always the Cross

Excerpted from: The Work of Christ: Past, Present and Future – A.C. Gaebelein (1913)

And now let us consider His work on the cross and what has been accomplished by it. But who is able to speak worthily of this theme of all themes? Who can fathom the solemn yet blessed fact, the death of the Son of God on the cross? What tongue or pen can describe the sad, yet glorious truth, that the Just One died for the unjust, that Christ died for the ungodly! He who knew no sin was made sin for us! And what human mind can estimate the wonderful results of His work on the cross!

Some Christians speak as if the death on the cross, the work accomplished there, is so fully known to them, that they do not need any more instruction on it. They tell us that they search for deeper things. There can be nothing deeper than the death of God’s Son on the cross. Depths are here which are unfathomable. We must ever turn back to the cross. Always we shall learn something new. With unspeakable Glory upon us and greater glory before us in eternal ages to come, the cross of Christ and the Lamb of God which has taken away the sin of the world can never be forgotten. But we shall never know what that death on the cross meant for Him and what it meant to God.

Words of Grace for Strength

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  – Hebrews 11:1

Our faith, our hope must be in the person of Jesus Christ and centered on the Cross. And as such, it truly is faith that carries us, faith and trust in Christ alone by the grace of God. Why do I call it faith? Because the Cross is something we cannot ever fully understand. Gaebelein notes that we can never know what the Cross meant to the Father and the Son. Thus, how can we ever fully understand it? We cannot know the depths of the thoughts of God, never fully understand His plans and purposes. We can embrace the will of God, but we cannot grasp it completely with our mind and understand it as He does.  Gaebelein speaks 100 years ago of Christians that do not think the Cross deep enough for the primary consideration. Not deep enough to meditate upon, to reflect upon, and to show gratitude for by living a life He would have lived by all who follow after Him. How many more think this way today?

Can we fully understand the death of a sinless man? Death came into the world as a result of sin, and a sinless man had to die in propitiation for our sins. The most necessary death (in terms of our salvation) was the most unnatural (in terms of cause and effect) the world has ever experienced. We cannot fully comprehend all the nuances of that in God’s eternal plans and sovereign purposes. So we must turn on faith and center on the Cross.

We must rely on, we must constantly turn back to something that we can never know what it meant to Him that gave it to us. Our faith is a gift which has a cost we cannot fully understand. Our faith is by grace, that is something we can spend a life learning about, a lifetime plumbing the depths of, and never reach the bottom of its’ life giving waters. In our faith we accept all He has given us, in our faith we accept that we cannot repay nor merit what is freely given.

In faith we accept what the Cross has made possible. And in all things we should turn to our Savior, and center on the Cross. Always the Cross. For without it, nothing else would be possible for us in the presence of God. For with it, all is possible before Him. And the Cross, always the Cross, is freely given to all who trust in Christ. Freely given, yet it cost more than we can imagine to Him who died upon it on our behalf.

The world will always hate it, because it will always need it. And we will always love Him who did so much for us upon it.

Let us focus on the Cross, always the Cross.

Loving the Mockers

But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:  how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. – Jude 17-18

Scriptures tell us that that in the last days those of us of the Christian faith will face mocking and worse. And we will face it in increasing amounts as the time grows even shorter toward His Soon Return. We should not be surprised when it happens, for Scripture is Truth and the Scriptures tell us it will be so. So, we need turn to the Bible for our strength and comfort when it does occur.

For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. – Romans 16:19

We may be subject to mocking, but to God it shows our obedience to Him, to the call He has placed on our lives. What better than to be seen by all as being obedient to the Will of God even if most choose to mock us openly? While the world’s response will not be ideal, what more could we want to give but total obedience to our Lord and Savior? Frankly and simply facing evil for what it is and being obedient to the Lord because of who He is.      

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. – Proverbs 8:22

A sovereign deity controls all which He created. He has called us from before the foundations of the world and we have answered, and are answering today in how we go about our Father’s business. Hopefully we are answering every day until He comes for us each as individuals or for the church as a whole. We are His while we are on this earth until He brings us home, and then we are His for eternity. An eternity in the physical presence of our Savior. He has always possessed us and He waited for each of us to respond to His call and trust in Him as Savior.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord knows our hearts and how we will respond to His call. Those He has chosen for His work have the heart to do it, and being Spirit filled, have the strength and stamina to see it through in faith and obedience. God looked into our hearts and knew we were wanting. But He sent His Son and now the Father sees not us but Christ in us. And being filled with the Spirit we have the strength within to resist the evil around us.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. – John 15:3

We were ready to do His work even before we knew it. We have a new heart for Christ, we are Spirit filled and clean in God’s eyes because of Jesus even if our old flesh still struggles with our old sin nature. Because of Jesus are perfectly acceptable in God’s view to do the work appointed to us to do. We are ready to do His will because we are already clean in His eyes.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? – 2 Samuel 7:18

David recognized the extraordinary lengths God would go through to preserve David’s line to fulfill the promises made to Abraham and to David. We will endure to the end because of what Jesus endured on our behalf and in spite of ourselves. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We have been carried this far along, and so will be carried into the eternal state in the same way, on the wings of the Lord. No burden too great for Him to bear, His yoke is light and easy to bear, and with it we shed the heavy weight of sin in our hearts by the freedom we have in Christ.

Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. – Acts 17:25

We cannot provide anything He needs by our own hands, we cannot be delivered out of the evil we soaked in before Him other than by His hands. Our worship by the new hearts of flesh He has placed in us, not by our hands as if we could fashion anything to give to Him which He does not already possess, like the cattle on a thousand hills.

I entitled this article loving the mockers and I have not talked about them at all to this point. Because the love we should show to those inevitable mockers is that they hear of and come to have what we have, a personal relationship with Jesus, with a saving faith in Him alone.  The only way we get to that love is through the work He did in the Cross and the Spirit that enabled us to be filled with. It ain’t about us, but all about Him. So we need to understand who we are in Him before we can love the unlovable as He did. The unlovable club of whom we were once charter members of.

We can only love the mockers if we make a mockery of any attempt to keep us from being obedient to our Lord and Savior.

 

The Suffering of a People

Excerpted from “Israel in Prophecy” by John F. Walvoord (1962):

The trials of Israel stem from the basic conflict between divine purpose and satanic opposition. The very fact that God selected Israel as a special means of divine revelation makes the nation the object of special satanic attack. Satanic hatred of the seed of Abraham is manifested from the beginning of God’s dealings with Abraham and continues through the entire course of human history culminating in the rebellion at the end of the millennium.

Spiritual warfare in relation to Israel is in evidence from the beginning. The fulfillment of God’s purpose of bringing Abraham from Ur of Chaldees to the Promised Land was delayed and thwarted by Abraham’s incomplete obedience in bringing his father and nephew Lot with him. Entrance to the land was delayed until his father died, and Lot continued to be a hindrance to him until he and Abraham separated. Satanic opposition to fulfillment of God’s purpose in Abraham is also revealed in the delayed birth of Isaac, and only the miraculous intervention of God made it possible for Him to fulfill His prophecy of a seed to Abraham through whom He would bless the nations. In the case of Isaac, a similar situation is evident in the fact that only after years of supplication was a seed granted to Isaac and Rebekah. When Jacob and Esau were born, it was expressly an answer to prayer. The corrupting influence of Satan is manifest in both the lives of Esau and Jacob, and only by the grace of God was Jacob rescued from his compromising position. Jacob’s life ended in Egypt, to which he had fled to avoid the famine, with none of his family remaining in the Promised Land. The subsequent experience of Israel in Egypt, where for a time they enjoyed prosperity but eventually were threatened with extermination, is well known to every student of the Bible. Only by divine intervention was Israel brought from Egypt to the Promised Land, and then only after years of failure and wandering in the wilderness.

The incomplete possession of the land, the spiritual degeneracy which characterized the time of the judges, and the apostasy that followed the days of Solomon are given large place in the Old Testament. In every particular Satan sought to spoil, to hinder, and to mar the purpose of God in the elect nation. The scattering of Israel in the captivities, the attempt recorded in the book of Esther to exterminate the Jew, and the ultimate capstone of satanic opposition to Israel’s place of spiritual leadership was recorded in the gospels. In the New Testament, Israel’s rejection of her Messiah is related, with Israel’s resulting dispersion following the Roman persecution A.D. 70 – 135. Undoubtedly one of the principal causes for Israel’s suffering has been the unending opposition of Satan to the fulfillment of God’s purpose in the nation.

Coupled with Israel’s failures as recorded in the Scriptures is the fact of divine discipline exercised on the nation. Israel was not only to be the channel of divine revelation of God, but also the example of God’s faithfulness to a sinning people who are the objects of His love and grace. Accordingly, many pages of the Old Testament are dedicated to giving the sacred records of God’s dealings with His wandering people. The studies of Israel’s sufferings will illustrate this basic reason for the sufferings inflicted on the nation.

The sufferings of Israel, while revealing God’s discipline and righteousness, are also demonstrations of His love. Joined to every righteous judgment upon Israel are many manifestations of divine grace in preserving a godly remnant, in giving them that which is far greater than they deserved and fulfilling His divine purpose in and through them in spite of their own failure and Satan’s efforts to hinder the purpose of God. There is a majestic drama in the whole sequence of events that relate to Israel’s history, and they epitomize to some extent the conflict between good and evil which is basic Christian philosophy of history. The sufferings of Israel, therefore, should be seen in the context of satanic persecution, of divine discipline for sin, and of divine faithfulness to His chosen people.

Words of Grace for Strength

That God chose Israel for His special purposes cannot be doubted if one reads the Bible. That Satan has attempted to thwart God’s purposes can equally be seen in the Bible and to a student of history, can be seen played out on the stage of world events over century upon century. As Dr. Walvoord notes, Israel has suffered satanic persecution and divine discipline. It is most likely Israel in the moment of suffering did not find one type of suffering more enjoyable than the other. But overarching that suffering is divine faithfulness which has seen and will continue to see Israel through any amount of suffering, at least it will see a faithful remnant though.

Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Israel. Separate and distinct, each has a different relationship with the Lord, and the Lord will fulfill His purposes for each independently. Yet both have faced and will continue to face suffering, either as a result of satanic persecution trying to thwart the purposes of God or as a result of divine discipline due to disobedience. We the Church can take comfort that the faithfulness of God is an immutable attribute of the Lord, we can take the same assurances from the promises He made to the Church as Israel can from the promises made to them.

And there lies our strength, reliance on the faithfulness of God. Although the times are hard and growing harder, we must know the Church has endured persecution more than it has enjoyed peace. The Church today should expect no different from the Church has always faced, a lesson often lost in today’s world, to the American church in particular. We are no better than any other sinner who has come to a saving faith in Christ, we should expect no better from a world driven by satanic persecution, we should expect no less from a loving God who will discipline us to obedience and to build character.

Yet through it all we have the divine faithfulness of God, which will prevail in our lives if we let it, and will enable us to prevail over the most troubled of times we may yet face.