Purpose Statement

My holy ambition is to bring glory to God through the study of His Word. I am passionate about the observation, interpretation and application of God's Word in our lives.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Loveliness of Christ--Samuel Rutherford

About a month or so ago a friend gave me a book called "The Loveliness of Christ" by Samuel Rutherford. It is a small book written by Rutherford who was a 17th century Scottish Christian. I had read some of the book and then set it aside for a few weeks. Since May 17th I haven't read much of anything except I John.  Many of you that I am suffering a health crisis of sorts and haven't been able to eat well. I have a chronic pain under my right rib cage that radiates to my back.  But the health care professionals haven't been able to find anything wrong.  During the last few days I am realizing by the grace of God a few of the lessons the Lord is teaching me. I don't want to waste this crisis and not come away from it changed. 

I was talking with a friend on the phone this afternoon. I picked up the book and read the marked page. "Whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come Himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome Jesus, what may soever thou come, if we can get a sight of thee; and sure I am it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bedside and draw the curtains, and say, Courage, I am thy salvation, than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong and never need to be visited of God." His comments penetrated my heart.  It's where I am right now or perhaps I should say finally.  I would rather have Jesus than silver or gold even if it means sickness that may or may not improve.

I've struggled hard with this current issue.It feels like in some ways I, like Jacob, am wrestling with God.  My flesh dies hard but die it must.  Samuel Rutherford wrote a second page that was equally compelling.  "I am half content to have boils for my Lord Jesus' plaisters.  Sickness hath this advantage, that it draweth our sweet Physician's hand and his holy and soft fingers to touch our withered and leper skins; it is a blessed feverthat fetcheth Christ to the bedside--I think my Lord's 'How doest thou with it, sick body? is worth all my pained nights."  Another tidbit of Rutherford's is "One year's time of heaven shall swallow up all sorrows, even beyond comparison."

Here's another bit of wisdom from Samuel Rutherford. "I wonder how many times that ever a child of God should have a sad heart, considering what their Lord is preparing for them." There is no truer thought than this!   What a beautiful thought  The Lord has gone to prepare a place for us.  Our eternity will be in heaven with Him.  To live is Christ but to die is gain. It is the very much better thing as Paul says in Philippians 1: 23. May we live this life to glorify Christ but how much better to be in heaven in HIs presence forever.  It truly is a win win situation for all who believe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Names of God Part II

Below are some other names for God that can bring much comfort and peace in any situation.  The past few months I realize just how much I walk in unbelief.  I grieve over my lack of trust in God and His Word.  For those who didn't get a chance to hear Dr. Stuart Scott's sermon as he preached at Calvary Bible Church here's a link: http://cbcfortworth.org/media.php?pageID=22. It's worth the 45 minutes or so for you to hear him.  He challenged us in terms of our faith. So many of us go from event to event and don't learn what the Lord may be teaching us in the trrial.  It helped me immensely.  He called it "Suffering and Going Through Trials." The Lord who calls Himself the names below is worthy of our full trust and wants our faith to grow.  As Dr. Scott said we have all the faith we need it's a matter of exercising it and cause it to grow.  Some of you who do not believe in Jesus Christ, may even want to listen.  It's a good discussion of faith. Here are some more names of the One in whom Christians trust.

Jehovah Jireh:  God will provide all that we need to live our lives for Him. This is the name give by Abraham to the mount on which the angel of the Lord appeared to him and not only arrested the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided a ram in his place. This name of God is a memorial to all future generations, to encourage all who believe God to obey his will and persevere in his ways.

El Shaddai: El-Shaddai means God Almighty. El points to the power of God Himself. Shaddai signifies one who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies. It is God as El who helps, but it is God as Shaddai who abundantly blesses with all manner of blessings. God desires to bless man and provide in abundance all of mans needs. Only an all powerful God can bless all mankind with all manner of blessings.

El Olam: This name has come to mean the unchanging, eternal God.  The word Olam originally meant that which was hidden or concealed as in being unknown. The Jews would speak of the future in terms of Olam or eternity or everlasting. When the word is applied to God it conveys the idea of His immutability or his unchangableness. El Olam never changes.

Jehovah M'Keddesh:
Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios” meaning a separation. First, it is a once for all positional separation unto Christ at our salvation. Second, it is progressive holiness in a believer’s life while awaiting the return of Christ. Third, it is the fact that we will be changed into His perfect likeness—holy, sanctified and completely separated from the presence of evil (Ryrie).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Names of God

During out Thursday Morning Ladies Bible Study at our church we are using some of the names of God to spur our worship of the Lord.  It is an interesting and insightful thing to examine the different ways God refers to Himself.  Some of them include the following:

Jehovah Tsidqenu: Consider the meaning of the word “tsedek.” The name Jehovah-Tsidkenu draws its meaning from this word. Some say the word has within it the meaning of “stiff” or “straight.” It is a word that is used in relation to God’s dealing with men. Though difficult to translate, it has to do with such things as justification, righteousness, and acquittal. When coupled with the name “Jehovah,” it means that all He does is ever and only righteous. He is the sole source of all that is righteous and good.

Jehovah Nissi: This is the name Moses gave to an altar he erected on a hill after the successful battle against the Amalekites. God’s name reflects the gracious help given by Jehovah in His providence in the affairs of men. Christians fail to have victory in life when God is not their banner. Sometimes we want God to follow and bless our plans. God the Banner must always be in the forefront of our lives, leading the way if we are to be victorious believers. He is the source of our overcoming!

El Roi: No one seemed to care about Hagar and her unborn child, Ishmael, or to monitor their well being in the desert. No One cared but El Roi—You Are The God Who Sees (Genesis ).  Sarah had mistreated Hagar and sent her away into the wilderness. There in the desert, feeling the misery of her past and the uncertainty of her future, Hagar met God who saw her, took care of her and met her needs. This same El Roi sees our misery, our painful pasts and current trials and He is the God Who Sees to us.  He is so watchful that He knows the very number of hairs on our heads and watches over the smallest of sparrows. Whatever your life my involve today, be assured that El Roi is watching over you, seeing all your circumstances and caring for you as His precious child.

Jehovah Shalom: This is the name given to the altar erected by Gideon in Ophrah after Jehovah had given him the commission to deliver Israel from the Midianites confirming it by miracles and a message of peace (Judges 6: 24). Our greatest conflict is with our own greedy hearts. We are trying to get all we can, even if it means destroying one another to do so. We have no peace because of the war within our covetous hearts. Jehovah-Shalom alone can bring the peace we crave but only when we are fully content solely in Him.

Jehovah Shamah: This is the name of the Holy City when God restores her to her former glory (Ezekiel 48:35). Not only is it a name for the New Jerusalem, but it also is a name that reveals much about God Himself. God lives among men by indwelling His chosen people. Immanuel means “God with us”! He is our refuge and a very present help in times of trouble. He will never ever leave or forsake us. He promises to be there with us even to the end of the world.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"In My Father's House"

When my Mother died a number of years ago, she wanted the passge in John 14: 1-4 read at her funeral. In the gracious providence of God I read through the same passage in my daily Bible reading on the morning we buried her. John 14: 1- 6: “ Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." What a wonderful promise of comfort to Jesus' disciples then and now.

My pastor has just finished a series on community and the need to be involved in a local church. It has been life changing and frankly caused me to examine how I live my life as a single Christian. Christ stated that in His Father's house are many dwelling places. In heaven the body resides as one in the house of the Heavenly Father. We don't live isolated and lonely lives. Rather God calls us to community. There exist many counterfeits of biblical unity based on false doctrine. But I am increasingly suspicious that the American dream with its independent spirt is unscriptural. We are to be with the Triune God forever and live in community with all other true believers. I may know this truth on an intellectual level I must admit that I have done little to apply it to my life on a practical level.

Christ went to prepare a place for us. We don't live in heaven in isolation. Our journey on earth is preparation for us to live there eternally. We are pilgrims and aliens heading toward our heavenly home. Matthew Henry says: "The happiness of heaven is spoken of as in a father's house. There are many mansions, for there are many sons to be brought to glory. Mansions are lasting dwellings. Christ will be the Finisher of that of which he is the Author or Beginner; if he have prepared the place for us, he will prepare us for it." We are being prepared here to live there.

I'm studying the epistles of John and refer often to the Gospel of John. John 13: 34-35 struck me deeply this week. I've often heard Ephesians 5 quoted frequently that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Certainly that is true and His standard. I was somewhat nonplussed to see that the same standard exists between believers. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." We are called to be hospital, kind, gracious, generous and merciful to one another now. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. We will live in the Father's mansion one day. It's best to learn how to do it in our lives presently.Let us radically love those whom God has given us with the same love He has shown us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

Psalm 27: 13-14: 13: "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.14 Wait for the Lord;Be strong and let your heart take courage;Yes, wait for the Lord."  Frankly I have struggled with God's goodness much more than His sovereignty, holiness or justice.  People with tough childhoods often do.  The legacy has extended even throughout my 33 years.  Yet God's Word couldn't be more clear that God is good. And He is good all the time.  He can't deny Himself or lie about His character. So for many years I walked in unbelief.  How kind of the Lord to walk me through my sin and bondage and effect some freedom in my hurting heart.

I've had some issues with my fourteen year old car lately.  The latest was yesterday when my sweet mechanics at my local oil change place (They treat me like their mother. I like being treated that way, I don't like being old enough to be the mother of 30 to 40 year old men.) told me I had a radiator leak. They don't replace radiators there. That news coupled with an older issue made things a wee bit tricky for me. Gratefully I knew by my reaction to the news that the Lord had done a work in my heart. Nobody died that day!  Nobody was harmed at all. I sat in amazement of the work the Lord had done thus far in the sanctification process. In fact, I sat on the cement floor talking with Chester and Ryan about the goodness of the Lord.  I wasn't sure what He would do and when He would do it.  But I knew God would act.  My words were a bit braver than my heart.  But I said them anyway.

I drove the car to church today and when I drove home the coolant light came back on. I didn't get grouchy, angry or depressed.  No fear, anger or depression--FAD for short either!  I prayed and told God I needed direction. After the engine cooled down I checked the coolant level and it was quite low.   I called a good friend who sells cars and he referred me to a mechanic who had worked on my car a lot before. He treats me like I'm his mother too and yes I am old enough to be such.  Harumph.  Long story short he called me tonight and not tomorrow like he thought might with an estimate of $600 for labor and parts. I told him I needed to prayerfully consider it.  I prayed and asked God to make it clear.

I went to Sunrise my local retirement care center.  I visited a widow I see daily and one who I took care of while her son and daughter in law took a cruise the first part of May. Her son Steve came in the front door about the time I did. We walked to his mother's apartment together. She inquired how my car was because I had told her of the radiator leak the night before. I told her about David's estimate to fix both issues. Steve said "I'll pay half for taking care of my Mom while we were on the cruise.  Jean replied: "I'll pay the other half for all you do for me."  I sat stunned. I had an answer to my car problem in a way I would have never conceived. Only God could have done such a thing.  My car fixed and I didn't pay a dime. Truly the good God manifests His goodness in the here and now along with the sweet bye and bye!  For that I praise Him!

Propitiation of our Advocate Jesus Christ

I John 2: 1-2 states that Jesus is both our Advoctate and the propitiation for our sins. Both of these concepts have interesting meanings.  Strong's concordance defines advocate, the Greek word is parakletos, and means someone who is called to another's aid.  It means helper, comforter or consoler.   The sense is a combination of encouragement with the alleviation of grief.  Both Christ is our Advocate as well as the Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers.  The Holy Spirit not only consoles but strengthens, helps and counsels with such authority as a legal advocate has for his client. When applied to Christ, the meaning is narrowed to that of Him as an advocate with the Father. An advocate is thought of as one designated as a lawyer to present his client's case in court. Christ is our advocate before the Father as the mediator between God and us the sinner.  He pleads our case before a holy God and because of His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, we who believe are allowed to enter into God's throne of mercy and grace.

Jesus cancelled the debt of our sin by dying on the Cross of Calvary.  God poured out His holy wrath at sin on His Son and not us who duly deserved it.  Without Jesus' sacrificial atonement we have no way of being reconciled with our holy Heavenly Father.  Our sin would be a permanent barrier to fellowship with God.  Jesus' blood satisfied God's anger so we can be cleansed and forgiven in Him.  We can come boldly before the throne and not fear condemnation or God's wrath.  We have become children who cry out "Abba Father!" with the full expectation of acceptance and love.  God may discipline and train us but He cannot and will not forsake us.

There are three different words in the Greek for the term propitiation. Hilaskomai is the verb.  The nouns are hilasterion and hilasmos.  The sense is that sin is covered and payment has been made.  The verb form is translated two different ways in the New Testament. In Luke 18:13 the definition is to be merciful.  In Hebrews 2: 17 it means to make reconciliation.  In Luke the sinner cried out "God be merciful to me, the sinner." He was in essence asking to be satisfied before Him. In the Hebrews passage Jesus is said to be the merciful and faithful High Priest. He makes propitiation for the sins of the people.  Christ as the God man fully understands people yet He is also divine which qualifies Him to serve as the intermediary in a High Priestly role.  He lived a perfect live of sinless obedience to the Father and thus qualifies to be the Lamb of God.

In the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant supported the mercy seat. It was the covering or lid to it in fact. The Ark contained the rod of Aaron, the pot of manna and the tablets upon which was written the Law. Kapporeth is the Hebrew word for cover or mercy seat. Without going into a much depth the Greek word hilasterion came to mean cover or propitiation.

The mercy seat in the Old Testament tabernacle is a precursor to the work accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. The mercy seat was the place of sacrifice and the site where God could communicate with the High Priest who represented man. As our Great High Priest through Him and His sacrificial death we can communicate to God the Father.

Jesus was symbolically represented throughout the tabernacle. The mercy seat in particular was the place where God’s wrath against sin could be satisfied. When Christ died on the Cross, he made full payment for the sins of the elect. He totally satisfied the judgment of the Father against sin. We no longer need a human High Priest for Jesus is the Great High Priest whose one and only sacrifice perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fellowship and Abiding In Christ

The women in my church started a Bible Study last week on I, II, II John and Jude.  I was reading through I John this week. One of the key words is fellowship.  The Strong's Concordance says that the Greek term is "koinonia" and means fellowship, contribution, participation or sharing.  It means to partner with or enjoy membership in a shared body or organization.  As believers we partner in the Gospel.  We extend hospitable love to one another. Our hearts are to be filled not only with love for God but also for one another.  Just as there is unity among the members of the Trinity, so should there be unity among the true brothers and sisters in Christ. In John 13: 34 Jesus states: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."  It is piercingly convicting to note that the love we should posses for each other parallels Christ's love for us.

There is perfect unity among the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. One fine day the body of Christ will forever live in full harmony.  In heaven there will be no discord, disharmony, disagreement or disdain.  We will be unified as the Bride of the precious Lord and Savior.  What a blessed time that will be with sin forever banished!  Christ's death dealt with the penalty and the power of sin.  Our future glorification promises that we will forever be banished from sin's presence.  Until that time we practice and live out the command to love one another as Christ loves us.  According to I John such fellowship of believers embraces confession of sin, prayer, assembly, exhortation, communion, bearing each others' burdens and mutual edification.  Fellowship with God is absolutely critical to the fellowship with other believers and is essential to effective fruit.  There is a reason why it is called the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It's not human fruit. It is His fruit manifested among His people surrendered to do His will.

The word "abide" is another key concept in I John. The Greek term is "meno". According to the Strong's Concordance it means to stay, abide, remain, await, continue, endure or stand.  It connotes to continue in, dwell, endure, remain, stand, tarry and to persevere. There are various forms of the word "meno."  "Diameno" means to continue throughout with interruption. "Emmeno" means to remain in.  "Epimeno" means to remain on in addition to upon, to continue long.  "Parameno" means to remain near or by and to continue or persevere in anything.  "Prosmeno" means to remain with, to continue with a person, to cleave and tarry.  "Proskartero" is to be strong toward, to endure in or persevere in and to stay steadfast. We see here the characteristics of Christ. Only Jesus the Lord fulfills all of these forms perfectly.  In our striving to emulate Him we must manifest the same commitment to remain by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. Our flesh isn't sufficient. God never intended such.  Only as we surrender ourselves to the inward working of Christ can we be vessels of abiding with one another. May we persevere in this charge even more as the day of Christ draws near.

Hebrews 10: 19-25:
19 "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Called To Community

My pastor has spent the past month or so preaching on the church of Jesus Christ.  He's emphasized the concept of community.  One of the more piercing truths, and there have been many, is that God Himself is in community and has been eternally so.  The Father, Son and Holy spirit have forever existed, will forever exist and co-exist in relationship with one another.  We as God's image bearers are created to commune not only with Him but with one another as well.  I'm not sure why I've missed that biblical idea for so long but alas it is true. The conviction among our church members has been deep and life changing.

This morning on Facebook someone posted the following quote by R.C. Sproul: "It is both foolish and wicked to suppose that we will make much progress in sanctification if we isolate ourselves from the visible church. Indeed, it is commonplace to hear people declare that they don’t need to unite with a church to be Christian. They claim that their devotion is personal and private, not institutional or corporate. This is not the testimony of the great saints of history; it is the confession of fools." (The Soul’s Quest for God 151). I couldn't agree more with Dr. Sproul's words.  As believers we ARE fools if we isolate ourselves from others. 

The independent spirit of American nationalism works against the biblical mandate to foster community.  We are taught to be self made and self reliant people from birth to death.  We honor and esteem the person who has succeeded in position and possession. The multi-millionaires, rock stars, movie celebrities and sports stars are more often most children's idols than are the saints of ages past or present.  Yet many,  if not most, of these people live lives of "quiet desperation."  Theirs is an empty void which they attempt to fill with money, fame, things, drugs and sex.  They continue in their helpless plight believing that the next thing, the next house, the next spouse, the next brood of children or the next job is going to bring contentment. They strive to belong but believe the lie.  Only in Christ and through His church can we ever satisfy the ceaseless longing that beats within our hearts.

Jesus Christ is returning and frankly I think it's soon.  He promised to come back for His people. All who have ever trusted in Him for salvation are collectively His "bride."  We are not individually married to Jesus as some believe. Rather there is a sweet mystical union of Jesus, the bridegroom and the church, His bride. We will forever live in communion with the triune God and all other saints in the New Jerusalem. Romans 12:5 states that we are members of one body we belong to one another. I Corinthians 12 to 14 develops the analogy of body life and how interdependent we are upon each other. Since our destiny is community and togetherness shouldn't we begin to live like that now? 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

I was talking to a friend earlier this morning who reminded me of God's great mercies. The past few nights I hadn't slept well at all. She mentioned what mercy of God to have slept last night and napped this morning.  The bible tells us that God is merciful. "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. (Psalms 103:8-14 KJV)."   Lamentations 3: 22-23 states: "The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." 

God's mercy is exhibited when He withholds something we deserve. As sinners we deserve His wrath for He is holy.  Yet He is merciful to the sinner and grants us salvation when we repent and believe in Jesus Christ.  His mercies continue after the act of regeneration and salvation. He protects and provides for those who are His own. In fact, loving heavenly Father that He is, He commits to perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus.  He guides and instructs us for we don't know the right way.  In all honesty I seek Him on what foods to eat right now.  I don't mean that in a mystical way but rather to be wise and seek His counsel through trusted sources.  He providentially superintends our lives.  Only heaven will reveal how and what He has done in, through and around us.

Note that His mercies are new every morning.  Day old mercy won't suffice.  We need Him to greet us every morning when we wake up to new mercy.  Do we really thank Him for sleeping safely through the night?  I admit I don't, although I am more likely to do so now.  Some people don't sleep safely through the night.  Do we appreciate that every breath we take we take in Him?  He sustains the universe. If the mixture of elements in the air were to change ever so slightly we'd all be dead.  His mercy is that vast and that necessary.  It has been so very easy for me to trust in my self and not upon the Spirit in days gone by.  It sometimes take an illness or crisis to show just how we are not in control.  A sovereign, omnipotent, supreme and merciful God acts on our behalf.  As the song says He has the whole world in His hands and what merciful hands they are. Praise be to His glory.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Goodness of God

Psalm 27: 13 - 14: "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes wait for the Lord."  Psalm 119: 68: "You are good and do good; teach me Your statues."  Yesterday morning at church I met with some women for the start of a summer Bible Study.  I asked the ladies to share a promise of God, an aspect of His character, a recent answer to prayer or something else that might encourage them or even a burden on their heart.  Much was said about the goodness of the Lord. Some referred to His goodness as recent recipients. Others focused on it as those who awaited and trusted that He would be good in times of trouble.  Regardless it is wonderful to focus on the goodness of the Lord.

Tim Chester in his book "You Can Change" mentions four aspects of God's character that all begin with g: "great, good, glorious and gracious".  He is all of those and more.  He is always good and He does not change. He extends much grace for He can do nothing else.  He is great in that He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is glorious in that He alone is God and there is no other.  Focusing upon Him is the answer to despair and discouragement.  My former BSF Teaching Leader, Esther Farhat, told us often "Don't live on Avenue D." She explained that to mean don't go the the place of doubt, discouragement, despair or depression. Our flesh and the enemy of the souls entices us to move there. However we need to stay firmly at home on what I call Avenue E. Here we find encouragement, edification, excellence and at time even an ecstasy of the Holy Spirit.

This evening I was reading out of Psalm 37 to one of the widows I visit at Sunrise Assisted living. I was struck by the number of references to the Lord delivering His people out of trouble.  Psalm 37: 39 to 40: "But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him."  While the Lord promises to sustain the righteous, the wicked have no such guarantee. Rather the Lord speaks very clearly that their end is destruction with their posterity cut off.  They will not receive the inheritance of the land for that belongs to the godly ones alone.

God is good. Regardless of how difficult, unkind, hard or even cruel seem our circumstances, He is good.  His love endures forever for all those who call Him Father.  He rescues and delivers His own.  He watches over them with His eye on them continually. In Zephaniah 3:17 God says He is a victorious warrior in our midst.  He will quiet His own with His love and rejoice over them with shouts of joy.  In fact He exults over us with joy!  What a blessed reminder during times of hard places. God is indeed good.  He is good all the time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fear Not

Psalm 46:1-3 states: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride."  Fear has plagued me throughout my life. There are a myriad of reasons but anxiety, worry and fear are among my greatest foes.  The Lord has done a great work in me to bring about transformation.  I remember during my NANC training hearing that fear an anxiety can be a result of knowing you are guilty before God.  He is holy and sin separates and breaks fellowship with the Lord. It did for Adam and Eve and it does for us.

The unbeliever should possess such angst.  They have nothing to expect from God but His wrath at their sin.  However for the believer in Jesus Christ our fear has been removed by the fact that Jesus satisfied the righteous wrath of God at the Cross. He is our propitiation. He has appeased God with His sacrificial death at Calvary. He met the demands that sin requires. Romans tells us that the "wages of sin is death." Eternal death and separation from God is the result of man's sin.  All are guilty for all sin.  Jesus' atonement at the Cross made forgiveness available to all who believe.

I John 4: 9 to 21 is the antidote to the fear of the true believer. In essence this passage explains that God so loved that He sent His Son to give eternal life through Him.  It's not that we loved God since unredeemed man does not.  God first loved us that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  He gives us His own Spirit at the time of regeneration.  We come to believe the love that God has for us. 

Here is the rub for me.  I don't truly believe that God loves me.  Intellectually I assent to this truth.  But unbelief resides at some point in my heart.  Thus I still struggle with fear.  Verse 17 tells us that by this love is perfected so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment.  If we truly don't believe that Jesus' death on the Cross and more importantly that He lives to forever intercede for us, we will be fearful people.  There is some part of me that believes that I must still please God, satisfy Him and appease His wrath.  None of this is true. Christ is our all in all. He paid the price fully. His sacrifice was sufficient to fully satisfy the Father. It is finished He said.

I John 4: 18 and 19: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us."  There's the answer: perfect love.  A love that comes from God. A love that can't be denied. A love so powerful as to save millions throughout the ages.  A love that sent an only and beloved Son to live a perfect life and die on the Cross where He shed His blood for sin. Most importantly it is a love that resurrected the Savior to sit at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us.  God is truly for us. He is on our side. We are free in the Son.  Yes free indeed from the fear of punishment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Suffering--A Personal Perspective

The past few weeks I've undergone a series of trials that have been difficult for me.  I've gained a better perspective on suffering than I've had in the past.  I know this seems like a big "duh" but as I was reading through the Scriptures I realized just how much a part of this earthly life is suffering.  Only in heaven will the saints of God in Christ dwell in a sinless and thus painless realm.  Only when we gaze upon the face of the Savior and Lord will all the earthly trappings of this body be gone.  What a glorious day will it be when the resurrection occurs. I Corinthians 15: 54: "But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory."  We will suffer no more.

What are some of the lessons I've learned from the recent suffering? First, God uses pain to refine us.  He sits at the refiner's fire shaving off the dross of our lives until He sees Himself more in His own child.  The Psalmist in Psalm 19 asks the Lord not only to keep him from presumptive sins but also any hidden iniquity. One purpose of suffering is to reveal to us the deeper issues of the heart.  The Lord reveals hidden idols, deception and a myriad of other sins.  Second, God uses pain to draw us closer to Himself.  A former BSF teacher used to say that we need to bend into God at all times.  In the good times and in the bad He draws near to those who draw near to Him.

Third, suffering has made me realize the vast importance of the church. We truly need one another. American culture is so counter to God's revealed Word. I've valued my independence and secretly applauded my self reliance. It wasn't until an emergency room visit a few weeks ago that I realized how desperately dependent we are not only upon the Holy Spirit but also upon whom all He indwells.  Romans 12: 5:  "So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."  Amplified Bible states it thus: " So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another]." We truly are mutually dependent upon one another.

Fourth, suffering enables us to comfort others.  Only through the difficulties and trials does compassion grow.  Pain has a way of humbling us.  It reminds us of our mortality and enables to come alongside those in similar places.  It enlarges our perspective and allows us to learn that our suffering may be abundant in Christ but so is our comfort through Him (II Corinthians 1: 5). It forces us to wrestle with some very hard questions often to come up with no definitive answer except to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the Lord and agree with Job: " Therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes."  Suffering when given into the loving hands of a redemptive Savior brings Him glory and results in our good.  It transforms those who sit under its discipline.

Fifth, this recent suffering has taught me that we can recognize the pain for what it is.  Frankly I am sick and it hurts. That isn't such a good thing and it's not wrong to wish I was healed. Yet we rejoice in knowing that a good, great, glorious and gracious God is going to bring about His sovereign purposes in ways we will not always know this side of heaven.  Psalm 37: 39-40: "But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble.  The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him."  Psalm 46: 1 promises that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Somehow one of the greatest results of these current trials is that the Lord has become even more real and present in my life.  For that I am very grateful. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Accusation of Plagarism

This evening I received an anonymous comment on an older post where I was accused of plagarizing another's writings.  In checking the sources I did indeed fail to properly cite the original author's work and thus allowed it to appear as my own.  It is a sin to steal another's words. As a result I have deleted all the posts on my blog up to this one.  It is not my heart to be a thief before the Lord, to cause another believer to stumble nor dishonor the name of Christ.  That isn't to say that I am shutting the blog down.  It does mean that I will be ever more vigilant to check sources accurately and ensure that plagarism not occurs.  I ask the forgiveness of whomever posted the comment. Obviously I didn't post the comment itself since I deleted all posts for the past four years on the blog.  Hopefully that resolves the issue in the Lord's sight and that of the anonymous person.  To God be the glory.