June 30, 2010
How many times does God say to us through His Word, “Fear not”? How many times must His Spirit say to us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”? (1 John 4:4) –And from the same verse assure us that not only do we have the high privilege of knowing we “are from God”, but also knowing that we “have overcome them”? –“Them” being all who have the “spirit of falsehood.” (v. 6) –? How many times?! When will it finally click inside of us that “everyone born of God has overcome the world”? (5:4) Because if we’re born of God, it is through faith in Jesus. And that faith “is the victory that has overcome the world.” (v. 4 also)
When we have true and strong faith, that manifests in a calmness, a peaceful trust, a confidence. We walk with Jesus, God in bodily form! We fellowship with the Most High God! (John 14:23 & 4:24 & 1 John 1:6) We do this through the Spirit –the Comforter, the Counselor– who He has given us. If we are in constant communion with Him, what reason is there to doubt His help? How can we be restless, fretful, afraid, or aggravated? If we are, it’s not from Him. For He gives us His Word that says such comforting things as these:
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isa. 26:3)
“Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can offend them or make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him… Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret –it leads only to evil.” (Ps. 37:7,8)
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul… Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Ps. 23:1-4)
And what about Ps. 46? –About the mountains crumbling into the sea (v. 2) and desolations the Lord brings upon the earth? –v. 8 “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts.” (v. 6) Okay? But what about “the holy place where the Most High dwells” –“the city of God”? (v. 4) For now, that’s us, the church, as well as our bodies, His temple. (Eph. 2:19-22 & 1 Cor. 6:19) Ps. 46:5 goes on, giving us this assurance: “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
True, “A thousand may fall at your side… but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling… then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” (Ps. 91:7-10) For “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest…” (v. 1)
Friends, the Lord has promised good to His people –joy, rest, provision, and peace. But we must believe it and not doubt His goodness, His protection, and the victory He grants us. For the Lord honors faith and those who have it. Let’s not be as the Israelites were –believing the bad report, the cowards’ words, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” (Num. 13:31) And, “Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?” (14:3)
No, let’s not provoke the Lord by our fear! May He not say of any of us, “How long will these people treat Me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” (v. 11) Has not the Lord done many wonderful things for us in the past? Of course He has –for each one of us. Let’s be careful then. For God looks at unbelief, distrust, and doubt toward His promises, as He looks on disobedience. (Heb. 3:18,19 & 4:6,11) Look at what Num. 14:37 says: “These men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD.”
So, were the doubtful delivered while they quaked before giants? They were not. But how about those who trusted in God’s ability to give them victory? Those who said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” –? (13:30) They went in! They received the inheritance –the blessing!
What was the difference? The difference was not in their strength, their wit, their talent… but it was in their faith! Their confident, firm faith that God had good planned for them, that He could slay any and all giants as they advanced (Dt. 9:3), and that God would give the enemy into their hands. They spread a faith-filled, positive report: “Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Num. 14:9)
The economy, the wicked, the false teachers, the violent, the unjust, the earthquakes, the hurricanes… what is all that compared to our God?! If they come against us, our God is able to deliver us. “If we are thrown into [yes, –right into] the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king [O oppressor]. But even if He does not…” (Daniel 3:17,18) Yes, for even if He does not –even if we must limp through the darkest valley… He will be right beside us. And what more do we need, what more joy can there be, than experiencing His presence?! The presence of the Greatest Being in the universe, the most beautiful, tender-loving God imaginable… —that Presence…?!
Oh, friends…! –WHY should we then fear???!!!
June 29, 2010
The LORD asks, “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land [or the marriage] be completely defiled?” (Jer. 3:1) Would it? Yes, it certainly would. Once a person leaves his or her spouse and joins to another, the marriage covenant has been defiled, ruined, broken. True, there may not be a severing of the contract under the world’s court system, but under God it has been defiled and thus broken. This does not mean that forgiveness cannot reconcile it, for with repentance and forgiveness it can. But if there is no genuine repentance, the covenant is only a sham –a pretense, a farce, and a false claim. Because part of the definition of a covenant, is that both parties are faithful to the terms of that covenant.
So, how does the marriage covenant relate to what God is saying here in Jer. 3:1? Well, the rest of the verse continues, “‘But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers –would you now return to Me?’ declares the LORD.” The people God is addressing here are those who claim Him as their Father and friend. (v. 4) But God considers them prostitutes. Why? It’s because of the evil they do. (v. 5) –Especially of defiling the land, which God equates with the covenant of faithfulness He made between Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the land of their inheritance. (Gen. 15:18-21)
So, what did God do? He waited. He waited to see if “faithless Israel” (His wife) would return (repent), but she did not. So He says in verse 8, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.” Judah too “defiled the land and committed adultery” (v. 9) against the LORD –though she returned, not “with all her heart, but only in pretense.” (v. 10) Yet look at what the LORD says as He compares the two faithless groups: “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.” Is that not another sobering statement against those who follow Jesus with a divided or complacent heart?! Have we not been warned over and over that He’d rather a person be hot or cold and that He will vomit out the lukewarm?! (Rev. 3:15,16) Don’t be deceived, “Christian”, by those false teachers who say that since we are under a new covenant, God will not divorce those who are found faithless. For in that Revelation passage, it is Jesus speaking. (See v. 14 & 21) It is Jesus who will vomit out the lukewarm –those who follow Him half-heartedly or in pretense only.
But even with such an unfaithful people, the Lord is merciful. But His mercy can only be applied to the repentant! “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever.'” (Jer. 3:12) But how do the people acquire relief from God’s anger? He tells them in verse 13: “Only acknowledge your guilt.” And what did He find them guilty of? He continues in the same verse: “‘You have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods… and have not obeyed Me,’ declares the LORD.”
Do masses of “Christians” not do these same things? They do. They rebel against clear commands in God’s Word and they scatter their favors to other gods –such as various types of balls (football, baseball, golf, etc.), consumerism (greedily buying and hoarding possessions they think they need, but don’t need), self (continuously spending time and money decking up their bodies and faces), and reveling in the lust of the eyes with hours devoted to staring at vileness on T.V. and listening to its constant preaching of the world’s philosophy. And obedience to God? Oh, that is an option –in most “Christian’s” opinions.
Is it an option? Sure it is. For God doesn’t want robots. He does give us choice. It’s one of His gifts to mankind. But choices have consequences. One choice is to choose self, Satan, sin, and eternal death. –That’s one choice, for they’re all lumped under “The Dominion of Darkness” as mentioned in Col. 1:13. The other choice is to choose to be rescued from that place and be brought into the Kingdom of Light –the “Kingdom of the Son” of God. (Also mentioned in Col. 1:13)
When He rescues us, does He allow us into the New Covenant? Yes. But we do so through repentance and a promise of faithfulness, as He’s promised to be faithful to us. Our promise is to serve Him as the King He is. To submit our will to His. As Ps. 119:57 says, “You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey Your words.” To make the covenant hold, we must remain faithful to that promise of obedience. As Jesus says in John 15:10, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love…” But “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (v. 6)
This unfaithfulness on the part of most, is what will eventually cause God to devastate the face of the earth. (See Isa. 24:1) Why? Verse 5 says it is because “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.” Wait. Did this verse actually say, “the everlasting covenant”? Good. We’re okay then. We can keep sinning, keep rebelling, keep doing our own thing. Right? What? “Broken”? Uh-oh. It says that the people have “broken the everlasting covenant.” But, but, but… –I thought it was everlasting? How can it then be broken?
That’s my point. God calls it an everlasting covenant, and so it is –just like any marriage covenant. For is not marriage supposed to last the course of a lifetime? It is. But God’s Word shows us that even an “everlasting covenant” can be broken. And God’s people break it by their disobedience to His laws –included in that covenant. –The law of the Spirit of righteousness. (Rom. 8:4)
But, just as the unfaithful, eventually-withered branches got thrown into the fire (John 15:6), so Isa. 24:6 speaks of a fire. “Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”
“But the day of the Lord (His day of salvation / wrath) will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) So, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (v. 11a) The answer: “You ought to live holy and godly lives… [making] every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” (v. 11b, 14) “For He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (v. 9)
So, “This is what the LORD says…: ‘Break up your unplowed ground [your hard, unfaithful heart] and do not sow among thorns. [Get the thorns out of your heart that would choke My seed.] Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts [make your hearts faithful to Me]… or My wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done –burn with no one to quench it.'” (Jer. 4:3,4)
And as Jesus warns us all: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:3) For being faithless to Jesus’ teachings (and God’s way and Word) is a breaking of the New Covenant.
June 28, 2010
One of the signs I wore today while witnessing downtown says, “America, Bless God!”
A few years ago when I wore this sign around this same time when we celebrate and pray, “God bless America”, a guy said, “Don’t you have your sign wrong?” I said, “No, I’m encouraging America to bless God –through lives that please Him.”
Well, for some reason, this guy could not at all understand what I was getting at, and he kept trying to argue that my sign was not based on any command in Scripture. I tried to explain that actually it was a main theme in Scripture, but he was too hung-up on wording he didn’t like.
Here’s one passage of Scripture I should’ve given him: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (Ps. 34:1-3 –in the NKJV since that’s the one I have it memorized from.)
Here’s Ps. 103:1,2 also in the NKJV: “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
True, the NIV doesn’t use here the word “bless” in what we are encouraged to do, but acceptable synonyms are: “extol”, “praise”, “exalt”, “magnify”, “worship”, “glorify”, “please”, and “honor”, as well as “delight in”, “rejoice in”, “give thanks to”, and “esteem”. The point –that we should continuously be blessing the Lord– can be found throughout God’s Word; four more being:
Neh. 9:5 –“Stand up and bless the LORD your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!”
Daniel 2:20 –“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever…”
1 Sam. 2:1 –“My heart rejoices in the LORD…”
Ps. 138:2 –“I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name…”
So, how are we instructed to bless the Lord? It is through our words, our attitudes, our thoughts, our worship, our actions… Summed up, that means through our lives. And we are to do so in front of others –exalting “His name together”, as Ps. 34:3 says, and boasting in Him so that the humble, afflicted, and weary can be uplifted.
If every one of us did our part in obeying this, and doing so continually, then the fulfillment of “America, Bless God!” would become a reality. For America is made up of individuals. And each individual is you, and you, and you, and me. Let’s each focus on whether or not it can be said of us: “She is continuously blessing God every minute of her life.” Or, “His whole life –his words, attitude, and deeds– appears to be that which would please Christ Jesus, our King.”
If others cannot say such things –because they just don’t see good fruit in us– then we need to get the beam out of our own eye. Then we can continue admonishing the country, “America, join me in blessing God… glorifying Him… with our lives. In short, ‘America, Let’s Bless God!'”
June 27, 2010
Sometimes we stand at a crossroads. We do not know which is the better way. One hour it seems one road is preferable, safer, more subjected to sensibility. The next hour the other road seems to be so… appearing to be the path God is pointing toward… What to do? What to do?
Ah, such a spot. Such a dilemma. And both roads seem to have closed gates when we do make a decision and try to venture on. Other times, we hang back and both gates seem wide open. But wait, it can be an illusion… So we distrust, and we barely breathe as we muster the courage and step forward… But alas, once again, the “Red Sea” has not yet parted. And Pharaoh’s army –the clash of their armor– can be heard just opposite the wall –that wall being but a mere cloud (Ex. 14:19,20) if it were not Christ Himself– so that we cannot go back.
…To just wait. To be told to go forward into the Red Sea, and not only that, but be given more than one Red Sea! –Two or more choices! And yet no way to obey the command –but to stand ready.
“Which Sea will part? Which one, Lord? And when? For Lord, You know I am hearing the enemy preparing to slay me!”
But… no Sea parts. None of them do. And time ticks by… precious time…
Exhausted, we fall asleep. When we wake, the enemy’s threats sound weaker, farther away…
After a long time, there’s no sound whatsoever… of an army. –Only the lap of water upon the shore… of the still unopened Red Seas… the still unopened high gates…
But, what is the “place” we eventually come to? –That place that God actually wants us at? Is it a physical place? Maybe. But that is only the means to an end. What is really the “end” He guides us into? The “end” is actually “The Place of Calm” –His Rest. Christ. Total trust. Laying in the bosom of the Savior without a care. All cares thrown to Him, our will fully submitted to His. That’s “The Place”. And if it takes standing confused at the crossroads indefinitely, then so be it. Because the confusion is what must be attended to, eliminated, surrendered…
It’s because our confusion at the crossroads shows we’ve not totally trusted. We need to learn the meaning of “God is mighty… and firm in His purpose.” (Job 36:5) And to rest in that knowledge –like a trusting child would… one who completely and confidently believes in his Father’s goodness, love, and kindness… saying, “I know that You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (42:2) But, as commanded, also working alongside that plan by praying and praising, “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever– do not abandon the works of Your hands.”
These promises are of immense comfort. And there are so many. Two other references being Ps. 33:11 & Isa. 46:10,11. “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” And, “I [God] say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please… What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.”
With such solid declarations from the Mighty Most High, can any of us doubt that He will not have His plan commenced in us –with and through us? –No matter the gates and the Seas? For if He can keep His purposes firm throughout generations, can He not easily do so in the lives of His submitted, humble servants –those who are eager to have His will brought about? Indeed, He is able.
So, let’s not be grieved when the latch has not yet lifted, when the dry path has not yet been shown. Let’s enjoy. –Enjoy the surrendered spot. That place of utter calm –the eye of the storm. That place where our Guide says, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest.” (Isa. 28:12) That place that is really about a Person. –Jesus. (Matt. 11:28-30)
June 26, 2010
Thank you for another good message. Below I’ve pasted your last three paragraphs.
Yes, Christ in us, and we in Him! Without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) With Him, we can do all things. (Phil. 4:13) I agree, and am encouraged, by your admonition to focus on Jesus being all we need, the One who makes us complete, and the One who actually dwells in us. What a blessing! What a high privilege! It gives us cause to keep our eyes steady on Him, our eyes never glancing at the wind and the waves lest we should start to sink.
For to even glance at the storm –the problems and hardships that indeed swirl around us in the home, at the job, or in society or the world in general– is to glance away from Jesus. It is not ever beneficial. For even “a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” (Ec. 10:1) And to partake of folly, can be the destruction of an otherwise good thing.
But, for those of us who gaze steadily at our all-sufficient One, our mighty God, we have much reason to be exceedingly grateful! For as you say, “The key to true happiness and fulfillment is recognizing that all you need –or ever will need– is found in Him.” This includes everything from physical and financial needs, spiritual needs, moral protection, provision for our emotional and mental needs, as well as all the needs of our longing heart. He has created us to need each other, for He does want us to have relationships, but when those are not adequate –due to rebellion, neglect, isolation, or ignorance– God does promise that when we go to Him and abide in Him, He Himself will fill that void.
What a good God He is! –Giving us not only His resources, but Himself –right here at our disposal. –Immediately accessible –because He resides right inside of us!
Thank you again for the reminder!
by John Giordano:
But it gets better when we read Colossians 1:26 – 27 – “…The mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (NKJV)
So we find that not only do we have everything we need in Christ. But now we find that Christ is in us! This makes us totally complete – having all the resources of God Himself inside of us and at our disposal.
Today let’s focus on – not our problems or hardships – but on how complete we are in Jesus and with Him dwelling in us. Let’s measure our worth by what God has done, and is doing for us – not by how society and the world system looks at us. The key to true happiness and fulfillment is recognizing that all you need – or ever will need – is found in Him.
June 25, 2010
There are so many wonderful Scriptures to discuss! I mean, what’s there not to get excited about?! It’s all so beneficial. It’s all so alive!
One passage I really like is 1 Peter 5:5-11, especially beginning with, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…” Not only is this a beautiful attitude, but Scripture is commanding it. And it gives the reason. –“…because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” That is reason in itself, though we also know from other Scriptures that God opposes the proud because they, like the wicked, think they have no need for God or His instructions. As Ps. 36:1b, 2 says, “There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” So why do these types not fear God? Because their own flattery –of themselves– blinds them to their own depravity.
1 Peter 5:6 goes on: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” Yes, He will encourage, comfort, and honor those who humble themselves before Him. For genuine humility toward God is submission to His will.
As we do that, we are then able to obey verse 7: “Cast all your anxiety on Him…” Why? –“…because He cares for you.” That is a huge blessing! The God of the universe, who is mighty in everlasting power (v. 11), cares for us! He not only is able to handle our concerns, but He is compassionate and gracious. (Ps. 86:15)
However, there is danger lurking in the shadows, wanting to catch us. That danger is our own foolishness, pride, and sin. For such things blind us to the other enemy who hates us exceedingly. As 1 Peter 5:8,9 warn, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
To be devoured is not a happy encounter. But we are kept safe by adhering to several precautions:
1. Being self-controlled –Not giving in to self-indulgence or pride.
2. Being alert –Watching for openings in our armor where the devil could get a fiery dart in (Eph. 6:11,13,16) through our sin or another person’s influence upon us.
3. Resist the devil –Turning our backs on all that is of him and of sin, for the two go together. (1 John 3:8)
4. Stand firm in the faith –Knowing what we believe and truly believing it, done by soaking ourselves in God’s Word and using it in confident trust. (Eph. 6:16,17)
One reason it is important to stand firm in the faith is for the benefit of others. (1 Peter 5:9) And when others see that we have withstood hardships valiantly as we ought, then it will give them courage also in the face of their sufferings. Then they too will have faith and hope that they can remain faithful to Jesus; and pull through.
Verse 10 helps add to this hope. For it says that “the God of all grace…” –reminding us of His gracious mercy to us –that grace especially shown to us by calling us “to His eternal glory in Christ”– will after allowing us to suffer for “a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” What a wonderful promise! And verse 11 reminds us that He has the power to do so.
Indeed, all of God’s Word is so marvelous. It is sharp, living, active (Heb. 4:12), and so very encouraging.
Let’s be reading it. Meditating on it. Putting it into practice.
June 24, 2010
We are to have the same attitude as Christ and be done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1) It’s over. –The old way. We have a new Master, and it is no longer Sin. It’s Jesus. And He’s a good Master, a kind Shepherd, a tender God… but also a glorious Lord, a mighty Deliverer, a majestic Ruler, and great King. He is to be obeyed. And He gives us everything we need in order to do so. (2 Peter 1:3)
“As a result, we do not live the rest of our earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (See 1 Peter 4:2) We live for His will because He is our Boss. And to be in His service, His kingdom, His family, is to be finished with earthly evil human desires. We look to Him and stand at attention to do His bidding. We do not care what the world expects of us, neither do we serve it. Nor do we serve ourselves. “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs –he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Tim. 2:4,5)
There are rules. –Rules in the Kingdom of God. But it’s not the rules that religion makes up. The main rule is the law of the Spirit. –That Holy Spirit who is perfectly submitted to God –to His will and His ways. We step into that same attitude when we are born again –born of the Spirit– as Jesus talks about in John 3:3-8. In so doing, we “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Rom. 13:14) which enables us to “not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (same verse)
And how do we clothe ourselves with Christ? Well, He is the Word of God. (John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13) So we saturate ourselves with the Word of God –by reading it and meditating on it. In this way, we enter into “His very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (See 2 Peter 1:4)
It is a good way. The best way. The only way. –To eternal life.