Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Ark

Genesis 6:8-9 - But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

I returned last Saturday from a church bus trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Two of the highlights of the trip were two plays we saw, The Passion Play and Noah, the Musical. We all know the story behind the Passion of Christ. We all know the story of Noah. I know I've written about the symbolism behind Noah and his ark. Something about seeing this play struck the hearts of nearly everyone on the trip. It was all the talk.

There's so much about this account of Noah that can be said. He was 500 years old when God told him to build the ark. It took 100 years. 

Noah's dedication to God was immense. He did not question God. He just did. The earth had never seen rain or flooding so how could he comprehend these things? The earth then was replenished with moisture like that of a terrarium. The earth had enough moisture beneath the surface and the earth's atmosphere held in just what was needed. No rain. The gentle hand of a loving God provided.

But God was fed up to say the least with the corruption of the earth. "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth," God told Noah in verse 13. He wanted to start over with Noah and his small family of eight, three sons and their wives, and he and his wife. He would destroy all things beneath heaven and since He found Noah righteous, He gave him and his family favor. He would establish a covenant with Noah. A covenant initiated by God is everlasting as opposed to man who tends to break covenant time and again. I wish I could go into more detail about covenants here. The symbolism is amazing.

Noah and his sons built the ark and no doubt as they did the people questioned them as they told them of God's plan. The people couldn't fathom what a flood was having never experienced such a thing so they mocked and scoffed. But Noah stood his ground because He trusted and believed in his LORD. Reminds me of the scripture in 2Corinthians 4:18 - while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. By faith Noah trusted enough. It's what God desires of each of us too in today's world. How many really do? Are we consumed with the things we have and do and do not even consider what happens when we die?? The people of Noah's day did that and look where they ended up.

After 100 years of building and putting up with the scoffing, the ark was finished. By God's hand the animals were lead in two by two, along with Noah and his family. God, not Noah, closed the (only) door to the ark. There's another scripture in Revelation 3:8 that says “... See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name."  This sounds like Noah...he did not deny God nor go against all he was told to do, despite the pressure and mocking of all others. God finalizes this 100 years of ark building. He had given the people plenty of time to reconsider their ways. Now the door closes and the rains begin...and continue...and continue. 

In the play you hear the screams on the other side of the door. Friends, neighbors, even family members. You see the anguish of Noah's family because they cannot open the door. It's too late. They didn't trust in what they couldn't see, only in what they saw before them in their lives. God's wrath on the world will come again, despite the people who scoff today. All life outside the relationship with Jesus, the Ark, will perish.

After the intermission we were told to be sure to be in our seats for the second half. Don't miss a thing. As the lights came on little by little we saw an expansion of the ark, On both sides of the auditorium were three tiers of rooms (make rooms in the ark, Genesis 6:14) that housed animals (most animated, some real) and foodstuffs. It was breathtaking. 

As the play continued we saw how Noah's family cared for the animals and made a life for themselves for over 300 days. And at last, without going into detail, they were on dry ground and were able to exit the ark to a new world.

The end of the play was upon us. We saw the ark slowly coming apart and forming a cross. What we saw next was incredible. The ark door opened once again and a great white light and "smoke" appeared. Out stepped Jesus. He said: I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (John 10:9, 14:6, Acts 4:12) In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

The ark symbolizes the promise of eternal life in Christ. Jesus is the only Door to this life.  If one chooses not to receive Christ (enter into the ark), that door is closed in his last days. Like Noah and his family, they represented the few who received the invitation to enter into the ark. Today there also are few and the way is narrow and few enter by the narrow gate.

Just as Noah was delivered from the flood, we can be delivered through Jesus Christ. Many hear these words but most do not accept them seriously. The covenant God initiated with Noah still stands today. The ark is Jesus Christ. He is the only Door to everlasting life. It is one that must purposely be stepped into. It's not about knowing Jesus, it's about being in relationship with Him. It's trusting in Him despite what the world thinks, how it also has a take God out of all areas of life...the mockers, the scoffers, the unbelievers. If anyone is lax in that belief, that door will close. That Door means life. Like the ark, there are many dwelling places that He has prepared for us. There is one for each who enter into relationship with Jesus.

One last detail about the play itself...only Jesus Christ was seen at the end. No accolades to or bows from actors. All the glory was given to it should be. 

As the trip came to a close, it was noted that word after word, event after event was about oneness. Oneness in each other as we traveled together peacefully. Oneness knowing that God was with us each step of the way and even showing us in incredible ways how He was looking out for us, bringing perfect moments at just the right time, providing for us and blessing not just us but others whose paths crossed with ours. When we come to Christ, these things can be lived out daily. It's well worth the choice of receiving God, being counted as His, having His covenant be for each of us. That covenant is Jesus Christ. Find grace through Him. The greatest oneness is being in Christ.

Another day will come when the door will be closed permanently. People even mock this. The Bible tells us in Revelation about God's wrath on earth. All those outside the will of God and have chosen not to be in Christ, will perish. But until that day Jesus continues to pursue: 

John 6:37 - “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Revelation

John 8:12 - Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." 

I am opening your eyes to new revelation. Come with Me as I take you deeper into the mysteries of Who I am. As you journey let yourself be led only by Me. Open your heart and soul to receive only from Me. Allow yourself to see with your spiritual eyes, like John did.

It is My desire you let My Spirit penetrate deep. You will not be disappointed. For when you do you will find I am the same on your mountain tops as in your valleys. The same God, never changing. It's only your view of Me that has changed because of your circumstances. But I tell you, I never change.

I want to take you deeper than you've ever been. Let go and follow Me. Set aside those things you've hung on to and try Me out in new ways. Go deeper, grow deeper. You will get lost...but you'll be lost in Me...and I know the way you should go. I am the Shepherd, I am the Way, I am the Light. I AM. And where I go you may follow. If you are to follow anyone, follow Me. This following is between you and Me. Don't worry about anyone else's path.

You must be willing to let go. Only goodness resides in My places, in My presence. Seek the revelation of Who I am. When you do you will see the mysteries more clearly.

Who I am far exceeds what you know. You will never know everything in this life, but I will reveal more if you allow Me.

These words came to me in a precious quiet time last night. It is a belief of many that we need to see beyond the surface of the words in the Bible who Jesus is. We need to begin to become undone. We need to realize the awesome power our God has over the things that whittle away the things in this world. If we stay focused on the Lord things can fall apart around us but He will hold us up. Psalm 91:7 - A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. 

We can say we trust Him, but we need to know Him at a deeper level, that we will not falter for a second because we can know in our spirits that He is the Alpha and Omega, First and Last...and all things in between...the Center. His arms are wrapped around us...if we know Him.

He is the Vine, we are the branches. We can be in Him and He in us. In Christ, Christ in us. If we dwell there we are surrounded by the all-encompassing God, the Light of the world, the Truth, the Way, our Comforter, our Guide, our all in all. Let us dig deeper for the understanding of Who He is and what He has to offer.

1John 5:20 - And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Revelation 1:8 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." 

Let Your name be lifted higher, be lifted higher, be lifted higher... Some of you will not be familiar with those words to a popular Christian song, but these words have been the words that I have awakened to time and again at night and all throughout the day. They do not escape me! I can't shove them aside, but have come to let them penetrate. 

As I awoke early this morning more words rolled through my mind, as Pastor Rory Grooters had prayed they would last night. We have started two studies at church. On Tuesday mornings it's the Book of John by the Apostle John. On Wednesday nights it is the Book of Revelation, which was also written by John. The books go hand in hand to show us who this Man, Jesus, is. With the awakening of our personal revelation of Jesus Christ we can't help but lift Him up higher in our lives. It's only natural. 

John knew Jesus intimately when He was alive. He saw firsthand all the miracles Jesus performed. He listened intently to His every word. It has been said in John 20:2 that John was the one whom Jesus loved. This was not some weird relationship as some have tried to imply. It's like the relationship I've brought up time and again...a personal, intimate relationship (whether man, woman or child) with He who was and is and is to come, our Lord and Savior. It comes from a desire to hang onto His every word, to have a revelation of Who He is.

Jesus, the Name above all names. The name that should be lifted higher. The all-encompassing One, as I mentioned the other day.  John was undone when the revelation of who He was to him went beyond who he knew Jesus to be in the flesh. 

John could not hold back his witness of Christ after His death. So he was exiled on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:9). I've heard this island is very small and rocky. John lived in a cave. After Jesus' death and John was quite old, an angel of the Lord came to John to reveal in more detail the end of what will be His story (history)...revealed ahead of time. The revelation. Maybe I sensed on Sunday just a hint of this in my own spirit when I became "undone" as I read that He is the Alpha and Omega, First and Last, who is and who was and who is to come. These words need to be taken to heart by us all.

John was asked to write what would be described to him, what he heard and saw when the revelation of Jesus Christ was further imparted to him.

The first words he heard were the ones above, I am the Alpha and Omega... He went on to describe the words which were spoken...they were loud words, like a trumpet. When you hear a trumpet you take notice. When anything is loud it tends to drown out other things, even to the point of being annoying. I'm certain this voice was not like that. 

John turned to "see" the voice which spoke and described in the only way he could what this voice looked like:

. He saw One like the Son of Man (human)
. Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band
. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow
. His eyes like a flame of fire
. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace
. His voice as the sound of many waters
. Out of His mouth went a sharp double edged sword
. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength

In other words, He was majestic, magnificent, strong, intensely commanding, One that could not be ignored. He could not be drowned out. And when John saw Him, He fell at His feet as dead...he was undone. This description, although I've read it before, only added to the depth, the fullness, of what I felt on Sunday when I believe I sensed just a minute portion of this Alpha and Omega, all-encompassing presence of the Lord and felt undone. The word all is defined by Webster's as completely taken up with, given to, or absorbed by; entirely consumed; as much as possible. I imagine, whether in relationship with Jesus or not, when He returns, we will all will fall at His feet as dead...being undone.

Although I've done studies on Revelation and John, I'm anxious to do them together. This fullness of who Jesus is is vital to our lives. It is life; He is life. I'm hoping to be further undone as these two studies progress. 

He is all in all. Who can understand these mysteries? By the power of His Spirit, John was able to put into words what he saw and heard. Perhaps it is time we all begin to have a better revelation of Who He is. It can happen if we allow it.

Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The God of Jacob

Psalm 46:7 - The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 

It was a beautiful, quiet morning. The cool air and warmth of the earth mixed to produce a haze low to the ground. As I drove to church for a 9/11 commemoration service I thought about this day ten years ago and recalled the horrifying haze produced by the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.

Like the sunlight was burning off the haze and bringing brighter light, so can the light of Christ burn through tragedy's darkness and through the darkness of sin. Darkness fades as the Light of Christ emerges.

We have seen the twin towers come down in this nation. It brought people to their proverbial and literal knees seeking God for answers and comfort. Churches filled up again...for a time...till the dust of the tragedy settled and life once again went on as usual.

Sometimes, like the walls of those towers came down, we need to tear down the walls of our hardened hearts to seek and see God in our lives.

First in prayer and then throughout the morning at church the power of the Lord was evident. Pastor Andy Horn read Psalm 46, a prayer President Obama read at a memorial service that morning in New York City. What was so amazing were the words he read that proclaimed that the God in this Psalm was the God of Jacob. This is a proclamation that for some Christians needs no explanation. It is a proclamation that this is the one true God. It was in the line of Jacob from which our soon coming King came. 

This is the God of the Bible. He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46). It is He who is in control of all things and although the nation, the world or our own lives seem to be shaken, He is the one who is in the midst of it all. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Not only is He in the midst but surrounding.

As this Psalm was read in prayer I was reminded that His word will not return void...and those words of Psalm 46 read Sunday morning were spoken in the hearing not only of the God about whom they were written, but also by this country and probably abroad as well. If they were spoken in God's ear they will not return void. He honors those words.

In Sunday school I was touched by the awesomeness of this same God as we read Revelation 1 to get a glimpse of Who this God really is. I was asked to read a portion of the chapter. I came to these words in verse 8:  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" and was completely undone, so moved by His words of strength and conviction I had to stop for a moment.

Our study for that morning was on perspective. In the very grand scheme of God's plans, we are minuscule. As we discussed this, admitting that we ALL look at our own circumstances as being monumental compared to that of others (Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, crooned Pastor Andy!), it needs to be seen in perspective. Yes, our God is in control; yet we must be in control of our own choices...and one is to choose to just trust God with our circumstances...knowing He's in control. To Him all problems are important and none too great for Him to His way in His time.

While the discussion went on my head was still wrapped around the Alpha and Omega! When the opportunity became available I told the little class what I had envisioned. Here we are in the middle of our little drama of life but putting it into perspective I saw us standing in the midst of the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, His arms surrounding us. He is our Center, too; yet we who know Him intimately are centered in Him. In Christ and He in us (2Corinthians 13:5 and Galatians 2:20). The Alpha and Omega...a huge concept, all encompassing.

He needs to be the Center of our lives today, not just at moments of tragedy. Look again at 9/11. None of these people knew what was about to transpire that day and we don't know how many of them who were lost had the Lord as their Center. How awful to not know the Hope in their death. 

Even with the events of 9/11 God knew what it would bring. It would bring a, sadly, short-lived return to Him, a new perspective of Him in some lives. Some would continue drawing strength from Him. If only we would live each day like this we might see an outpouring of His love, grace and mercy upon not only individuals but nations.

He is the Author (Beginning, Alpha, First) and Finisher (End, Omega, Last) of our faith. Being these He surrounds us, IF we let Him. There's always that choice to be made. He later tells us in verse 17 we need not fear because He is the First and the Last and "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen."

Is He the First and Last in each of our lives? He should be. Our eternal life rides on this. He is our refuge and He is with us if we choose Him as Alpha and Omega, First and Last and Beginning and End.

Psalm 91:1 - He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cup of Trembling

Zechariah 12:2 - [And the LORD said] Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

A cup of trembling. I read this and wondered how this little nation could be that, this nation that is besieged these days by enemies all around her. For some reason this little nation and people has had an unbelievable power behind her preventing her from total annihilation. Yet she will be a cup of trembling upon those that come against her. Where does her power come from? It comes from God. This people is the apple of God's eye. Although it is difficult to briefly explain all the ways Israel and the Jewish people have for so long been disobedient to Him, we know that in the end God will be merciful to her after a time of great tribulation and strife.

What we see happening in Israel today can be substantiated if you dig deep enough in Bible prophecy. I have to admit it can be confusing piecing together a word from here and another from there. I get it to a point but then I need to just trust that I will understand, because I desire to know, in greater detail as the days carry on and we see God's will unfold before our eyes.

Israel is in today's spotlight. There's no doubt it's part of God's plan. Remember, this is the land that was given to them (their Promised Land) thousands of years ago by God Himself. God does not break His promises. Anyone trying to encroach upon it will find themselves being judged one day for their actions when the Lord returns.

There are many who really do not see that the days are creeping in on us. Times change, society changes, it's just the way it is, they say. But I beg to differ. We truly are entering into the last days. The birth pangs are starting (Matthew 24:8). And scoffers will be great. In the past couple years there has been an escalation in turmoil and even natural disasters as spoken of in Luke 21:11 - There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But we are also told as children of God we need not fear. Psalm 91:7 tells us a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

It is as in the days of Noah. Jesus Himself made the statement in  Matthew 24:37-38: in the days of Noah, also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark. This is the thought: Jesus has not returned in all these years, what makes anyone think it will happen? What was that song? Let's just party like it's 1999. And that's what many will do. 

Israel has and still is coming to a time in her life written of in prophecy. The people were dispersed around the world: ...but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:52). ...Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone... (Ezekiel 37:21).

Then God talked of a time when they would begin to return. She would become a nation unto herself once again (1948). Isaiah 66:8 - Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the Earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? Amazing.

And finally, all eyes would become focused upon her again, like that which is happening today. The prophetic word to watch for now is the rising up of many nations against her again. She will be surrounded and seemingly have no ally. Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I (God) will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-2).

She has been a thorn in the sides of many. In order to maintain some sort of future security she will seek peace among these nations but it will only bring destruction. The peace she requires is not earthly but spiritual. She requires the Prince of Peace. But as prophecy states her enemy will kill 2/3 of Israel's population. And it shall come to pass in all the Land (Israel), says the Lord, that two-thirds of it shall be cut off and die (Zechariah 13:8). All on account of her rebelliousness throughout the years.

But God...will show mercy. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications (Zechariah 12:10a). He will reveal Himself to His chosen people and they will know that which they had been told for thousands of years about Jesus as their Messiah. They have been mistaken in their search for an earthly political messiah. They will see Him and then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10b).

However, 1/3 will remain to receive Christ in the very last days. In the world it will appear as though this is the end of Israel, much to the joy of those people across the world who have desired this end for years. ...but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as gold is tested. They will call on my Name, and I will answer them. I will say, "This is My people"; and each one will say, "the LORD is my God" (Zechariah 13:8-9).

I think of all the Old Testament words that so clearly define Christ and know that the Jews will wonder how they could have dismissed them. Even others today. Oh, how interesting the Bible can be when Jesus shows up in every book.

Yes, their true Messiah is on His way. Israel searches today for a great political leader...a man. They have not looked for the simplicity and humility of the Man, with a straightforward message that He chose to share with not only the Jews but with all the peoples of the world.

This Man, Jesus, shares this same great message of salvation at a much more personal level. It mirrors what transpires for Israel. Just as some day He will once again raise up a great nation, He is saying He can raise up even one individual out of the depths of despair and/or evil and into His perfect peace, love and eternal life. The days are upon us. The day of the Lord draws near. It will creep up without warning. When we think we have it altogether, destruction follows. Heed His words today.

1Thessalonians 5:2-3 -  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do You Know God?

Colossians 2:2-3 - that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Barna Group did a study that said that 
everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview - even among devoutly religious people and
 only 9 percent of professing born again Christians have a biblical worldview. In other words, most people who call themselves Christians live as the world lives, not how the Bible says we should. 

The question arises: Who is God? The answer is simple: He is the ultimate source of truth, according to the scripture above. With that truth, why would we search for a worldview answer? Scientists are not generally professing Christians. They need to have a definitive answer to everything without a belief and faith in an Almighty God. Sometimes they stumble for answers and cannot find solace in believing something "just is" because God created it. 

Then there is the question: What is eternal life? John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. There's the answer! Another simple truth. Eternal life comes only through the intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ. Not a general knowledge but a personal knowledge. It's a knowledge that must be sought. It doesn't come from just the idea that if one goes to church they're doing their duty to God.

I've mentioned this before. There is a difference between knowing who God is and knowing God. It's not just the knowledge about someone, but knowing them intimately, like a husband knows a wife. We need to have an intimacy with God; it's a spiritual intimacy...learning about Him and knowing His nature. 

In Philippians 3:10-11, the apostle Paul proclaimed: 
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. This scripture tells us a myriad of things: To know Jesus changes us: we can become like Him...know His sufferings...and receive eternal life. This is an intimate relationship. This is knowing Him. I've asked God to let me see things through His eyes. He has shown me, in the grand scheme of life, just a small glimpse of His suffering. I think it helps us to realize more what He went through for us. 

God also tells us what He would like. He wants us to know Him...intimately. He begins to open our eyes to who He is when we decide to make this decision. That's exciting. Jeremiah 9:23-24 - Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD. It's not all about the things we have and do in our life on earth. It's about knowing and understanding Him. He promises us much when we know Him. He promises us eternal life, above all other things.

What I'm getting to is this: although one might be a good, selfless, humble, person, these things mean nothing without the intimate relationship with Christ. That's a very hard word. The way to eternal life is narrow, as Jesus has pointed out. We can say we know who Jesus is, but it's not the same as knowing Him intimately. I struggle with this and have occasionally let my feelings be known to the Lord (not that He doesn't already know) by saying "there has to be a place in heaven for a person like this." But in all honesty, we just don't know. It's all in God's hands only  God has the answer.  A very hard word, and frankly one I don't like to think about.

God is not middle of the road, suitable to all because of what they believe. With Him it's all or nothing; black or white, not gray. Just being a basically good person doesn't make it. This saddens me because I know a lot of basically good people who don't want to hear this because they want to believe what they want to believe.

Society thinks that tolerance is good and embracing diversity better, that God would not keep a basically good person from entering heaven. But there is only one way to heaven and eternal life. That Way is the Truth, mentioned above. His name is Jesus. Through our knowledge of the mystery of God and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, His ways, His nature, His promises. He gives us the only thing we can truly cling to when all hell breaks loose in this world...hope. Choose to know Him, not just know of Him.

Philippians 4:19 - And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Walking Humbly

Micah 6:8 - He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? 
When these words came in my mailbox the other day I could just hear the voice of Pastor Bob Ona as he spoke them the very day I came to Christ! Nothing magical about those words, but powerful...especially to walk humbly with our God.

He has shown you...Jesus has shown us by His example. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Word, the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. God is not a liar; there is no unrighteousness within Him and He cannot be in the presence of sin. His ways are good and just. He has shown us the standard through His Commandments.

What does the Lord require of us? To be just, to love mercy...and walk humbly with Him. Pastor Rory Grooters spoke one Sunday about humility. He spoke about King Uzziah who walked closely with the LORD during his 52 years as being king of Jerusalem. He walked humbly because he had been raised with this knowledge. He became king at 16. Imagine, 16!

Uzziah was successful throughout the 52 years because he sought God. How things can change. Why it took 52 years I don't know. But somewhere along the way Uzziah stopped walking humbly with his God. His pride got the better of him and this displeased the point of placing leprosy upon him, removing him from his duties and living the rest of his life in shame.

We are to fear God. We are to honor Him. We are to praise Him. We are to walk humbly with Him. Did you notice that...with Him. We can do this if we have a mind to receive Him and allow Him to transform our lives...not that we are puppets only being manipulated by God, but first knowing Him intimately, then knowing what His promises are for those who choose to follow Him and be obedient to what He knows is best for each of us.

He has shown example. What horrible things did Jesus ever do? Nothing. He spoke gently in love and firmly with words that were (and still are) hard. He loved, taught, healed. He remained silent as people chastised Him. He bore our burdens. He also gathered people as a Good Shepherd would and protected them. He walked the long walk to Golgotha for each of us. He did not complain, but rather did it out of love and mercy for us. 

Truly an amazing example. It is what He requires of us who have chosen the path of righteousness with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Imagine the successfulness of our lives if we adhered to a humble path of mercy and justice. Success comes if we set our minds to doing as Micah suggested.

1Peter 5:6 - Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More on Choices

2Corinthians 6:14 - Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

What a day yesterday was. How things "collided" as if confirmation was absolutely necessary. How intertwined the scenarios were. 

First came the idea for yesterday's blog about a certain person not wanting to bring up terrorism as part of the 9/11 disaster. What???

I had also watched a National Geographic interview with former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani regarding 9/11. After a few minutes the emotions poured out of me as he described seeing people leaping to their deaths to avoid the consequences of yet another indescribable death within the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. How could this not be a terrorist plot?

I paused the program and wept and questioned God how there could possibly be a form of evil so capable of doing this. That a man would choose to believe that his own death to kill others, in a terrorist attack such as 9/11, a glorious afterlife would be received. This is beyond my comprehension. This is not an act of love. This is not an act that our God would defend but an act that another god chooses. Oh, Jesus offered His life for us. He did this out of sacrificial love to save us. The men who chose to do the unthinkable on 9/11 did it out of hatred, intent to kill and maybe even selfishness in their belief of the outcome for themselves.

That was not a god of goodness but the hand of satan. An enemy greater than any man on earth because he has the power to speak into ears of anyone willing to listen. He has power to twist truth into even more twisted lies. He has the power to deceive by luring us to believe the world has everything to offer us. It's these subtle deceptions that will bring us down. Another subtle deception that we must be tolerant of evil. 

And then finally, a friend sent an article which I read after I wrote my blog. It was about a group of religious leaders, some highly known, who have formed a group to support a plan to bring Christians and Muslims together. She called me shortly after she sent it. As we talked she made the statement that sums everything up...a series of quotes from the Source, the Bible...I paraphrase...we are to be separated from the world, in it but not of it. The road we must follow is a narrow one. Let me add Revelation 18:4 - Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues."

The whole idea of linking evil with good is like oil and water. The two cannot mix. They did not mix back in Genesis with the births of Ishmael and Isaac. (Another blog...)

In the right hands of a faithful, loving God we are strong and wise. From where did the wisdom and strength of the people of God come when they fought against all odds to win a battle with their enemies? When God whittled down Gideon's army to 300 and then sent him into victorious battle against thousands stronger than he? When David as a young boy slew Goliath, a giant enemy of the land, with one shot of his slingshot? These people knew from where their strength came, knew His hand and wisdom would prevail. When they veered off His track they were defeated. Let us not veer of this track today.

We live in a twisted world. We all fall short of perfection. But the difference is which voice we listen to. Where our wisdom and discernment is...and comes from. Which belief system holds true and which does not. I'm thankful I know what truth is, have been given some amount of discernment, even though there are times I miss the mark. But how is it our spiritual leaders who should know right from wrong are being duped? Who am I to see things they do not? How? Am I missing something? 

Our God came to bring life. He has taught us it is a narrow way, we are not to walk to the left or right...and it is not okay to tolerate those whose beliefs are not of love and peace, according to His Word. Romans 12:9 reminds us of this: Hate that which is evil; cling to that which is good. 

There is only one Almighty God, the name ABOVE all names. As true Christians we cannot allow ourselves to be duped into believing there is another belief system or god to be embraced. Acts 4:12 states: Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. God will not allow tolerance of evil.

Isaiah 43:10-11 - "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Which Side of the Fence?

Psalm 62:4 - They only consult to cast him down from his high position; they delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah 

Selah...think on this!

I was listening or reading about how this administration is planning on downplaying the idea of terrorist activity of 9/11. I had mixed feelings of anger, frustration and sadness, probably in that order! And as usual, I am reminded that this is what is to happen in the last days. The days will grow dimmer and dimmer, depending on which side of the fence one is on.

It's hard to comprehend that anyone would believe 9/11 was something other than a terrorist attack. I don't believe our current leader is that ignorant. Maybe offended by the idea for some reason. I do believe he is part of the movement today that touts the idea of tolerance to the needs of some over others. But where's the sensitivity to the rights of Christians? The world view is taking over...and the truth is limited to those who seek it. Again, this all depends on which side of the fence one is on.

As I read Psalm 62 this morning I saw parallels. It is about those whose trust is in the Lord. King David showed his absolute trust in God over man. He calls Him his salvation, his rock, defense, glory, strength and refuge. He is the One he waits silently for, whose mercy is His only, who renders each according to his work. And so we who know Him wait silently, or not so silently, for honest justice. When Jesus returns justice will be done. So we wait...

David describes more than once that God is his refuge. He declares that the enemy, despite his attack on mankind, will be slain, his high position brought down (Isaiah 5:15). David waits silently as the enemy speaks lies, blessing with his mouth yet inwardly cursing. He declares that man of low degree is but a vapor but those of high degree are a lie, meaning all men are sinners in need of a Savior; and then there are those who think their station in life takes them out of the position of mere man. 

David tells us that we just cannot trust man. Period. Trust only in God. His power will withstand all other power. It is His and His only. 

So, tolerance. Yes, a touchy subject. There is evil in any society, in any religion, in any culture. But when we can pinpoint where the evil has come from, don't we need to acknowledge it rather than be sensitive to it? This is our freedom we're talking about, our safety and security. 

There will be a day of judgment for the people in high places making wrong decisions, promoting evil and telling lies (unless they come to their senses and seek forgiveness). There will be a day of judgment for all people, for that matter. We are all to face it some day. The difference is who our lawyer is! If it's Jesus and we have acknowledged our sin before God and Him, and have received Him, we know we are not guilty.

Little by little the evil of the world is attacking our lives. We are called to be tolerant, to embrace diversity. More and more people are jumping on the bandwagon, even some who appear to be promoting good when they are really promoting themselves. Truly we are seeing a rise in false prophets who speak words to convert to their form of thinking...and duping people into believing that what they speak is truth.

There is only one Truth. That is Jesus Christ. As we are being told we must be sensitive to the needs of terrorists, why is it there is no sensitivity to Christians? Why is there a double standard? Depends on which side of the fence one's on, I guess. And tolerance toward Christianity is waning while tolerance to evil is on the rise.

Thankfully when we know Christ we know the power behind our God. Despite all that happens in this world, we know the final outcome. It will not be good for those who like double standards or seek to tolerate what should not be or who misunderstand the idea that no one is above needing a Savior and prefer to promote evil. 

God is for those who trust in Him. Stand with Him over the beliefs of man. His promises are true. Selah...think on this.

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Psalm 62:2,6,  Isaiah 41:10)