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 III

Another look at a day of reflecting on passages from Scripture on the same day over a five-year span:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 (NASB)

My flesh wars against the Spirit that is within, I struggle not to do the things that please my fleshly nature. Lord, I need your help to walk by the Spirit, to do the things that please You, that glorify Your kingdom, that show Your light to others still in darkness.

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote – Isaiah 29:13 (NASB)

Let me draw near to my Lord with my heart, not just my words. Let me serve my Lord from my heart, not pay Him lip service. Let my service be joyful and heartfelt, honoring Him and giving Him all the glory and praise my heart can muster.

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:9 (NASB)

Let my ambition be for the Lord, let me live my life only for the Lord Jesus Christ.Without total focus on Him, and Him alone, letting His love rule my life, it is a life with no purpose or meaning than can sustain me until His return.

“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ – Malachi 3:7 (NASB)

The Lord is ever-present, He will never leave us, it is always we who turn away from Him. If I do not feel His presence near me, He has not withdrawn it, it is I who have turned elsewhere and am looking away instead of seeking His face.

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. – Romans 14:19 (NASB)

By my actions I should look to encourage and build up others in the Body of Christ. By my thoughts I should love them by seeking Him. I should pursue a Christ-like life by always following after Him, seeking Him eagerly, seeking Him urgently.

As I read what I wrote some years ago, I pray today that He always keep me focused on the person of my Savior, on the power of His presence ion my life. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, 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.

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.

 

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.

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.