Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lust: idolatry of the heart and adultery of the heart

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a women with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28

                I want to preface this post by saying that the desire for sex is a gift from God. It is gift to single men to drive them to mature, get a job, grow in Christ and pursue marriage with a godly woman, in a godly way. It is a gift to married men to encourage them to pursue intimacy with their wife; by intimacy I do not mean sex, I do mean an exclusively, close, personal relationship.[1] The desire for sex is as natural and good as the drive to eat and sleep. However, unlike other natural desires, the desire for sex is to be filled only within the bounds of a lifelong, love-filled covenant—dedicated to sacrificially serving one’s spouse for the glory of God—otherwise known as marriage.  
                In these verses and the surrounding passage Jesus takes the liberty as the Word of God to interpret the word of God.[2] Herein Jesus reveals to us that God is not merely concerned with outward (visible and vocal) conformity to a standard but inwardly (heart worship) conforming to the ultimate standard: to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.[3] To illustrate this Jesus takes a long standing command: not committing adultery, and reveals its intended purpose: not committing idolatry. Lust is adultery of the heart, because it takes the desire for sex (which is good) and 'aims' or focuses it on a woman to whom the man is not solely dedicated to through covenant. Ultimately lust is against God, because it exalts its intentions above the command of God that a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.[4]

[1] Within this exclusively, close, personal relationship spouses are to pursue each other intellectually, emotionally and physically. This relationship should be a deepening friendship, with each spouse repenting and forgiving sin, while honoring and loving the other.
[2] John 1:1-3
[3] Matthew 5:48
[4] Genesis 2:24

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I am the way: some snippets from the I am sayings

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
                    While the other I am sayings address Jesus divine nature, oneness with the Father or His life-giving salvation. This particular saying addresses Jesus as the exclusive way of salvation, which is closely linked to His substitutionary, atoning death on the Cross. For it is through His death that God and sinners are reconciled. D. A. Carson in his book The Gospel According to John notes that:
Jesus is the way to God, precisely because he is the truth of God and the life of God. Jesus is the truth, because he embodies the supreme revelation of god – he himself ‘narrates’ God (1.18), says and does exclusively what the Father gives him to say and do (5.19ff; 8.29), indeed he is properly called ‘God’ (1.1, 18; 20.28). Jesus is the life (1.4), the one who has ‘life in himself’ (5.26), ‘the resurrection and the life’ (11.25), ‘the true God and eternal life’ (1 Jn 5.20). Only because he is the truth and life can Jesus be the way for others to come to God.[1]

Jesus did not merely blaze a trail, commanding others to follow his lead, nor is Jesus ‘the way’ in the sense of setting an example and calling others to perform and meet a standard. These both assign Jesus a far too passive role. Jesus is the ‘Savior of the world’ (4.42), the ‘Lamb of God’ (1.29), and the one who has power and authority to speak to the dead and call them to life (5.28-29). “He so mediates God’s truth and God’s life that he is the very way to God…, the one who alone can say, No-one comes to the Father except through me.”[2]

[1] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 491
[2] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 491 (emphasis original)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Annihilation of the CanaanNation

**Note: This was a short essay I wrote for school, seeking to answer the question 'How should Christians view God's command to annihilate the Canaanites?'**

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. – Deuteronomy 7:9-10

God’s command to Israelites to annihilate the Canaanites is often misrepresented and as a result misunderstood. However, the Bible is clear on the motivation for the declaration of war. It has nothing to do with racism, nationalism, or prejudice. Rather, the annihilation of the Canaanites was “Yahweh’s judgment against [their] sustained wickedness, and rebellion,” (DeRouchie, pg 108). I will draw heavily upon Scripture throughout this essay, as understanding the text, as a whole, is our best hope for understanding the command to annihilate the Canaanites.

Judgment not prejudice
Israel’s war to annihilate the Canaanites was a war of judgment. Based not upon Israel’s righteousness, but “because of the wickedness of these nations, Yahweh [drove] them out,” (Deut 9:5). God further instructs the Israelites “that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people,” (Deut 9:6). Clearly God’s commands to Israel were not elitism, but judgment on God’s enemies, for God repays those who hate Him, by destroying them. Furthermore, in Moses’ farewell sermon he warned the Israelites that if they ceased from following God, that God would judge them using other nations.

Removing the snare of false gods
A constant theme with Israel throughout the Old Testament is their turning aside to serve the false gods of the surrounding nations. God in His infinite wisdom warned the Israelites of this danger years before they would actually take the land. In Exodus 23:31-33 God informs the Israelites “I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

New Testament Insights
God is still in the business of rooting out wickedness. God’s hate of sin is not culturally bound, but rather transcends all peoples and time, no clearer do we see this than the New Testament. Consider 1 John 3:8 which reveals that “[the] reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was to undo all that Satan had done. However, not until we first believe that we are sinners and deserving of the wrath of God, will the cross be glorious to us. Furthermore, if we do not see sin—of all kinds, particularly obstinate rebellion—as God views it, than we will wrongly interpret Israel’s duty to annihilate the Canaanites and Jesus’ death on the cross.

            God’s command to the Israelites to annihilate the Canaanites was an act of judgment upon the Canaanites for their wickedness. This command was also a preventative measure, to keep the Israelites from forsaking God and serving the false gods of the lands. As Christians regardless if we completely understand the reasoning—judgment and prevention—for God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites, we need to trust His supreme wisdom and sovereign plan.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday 08/11/11

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. - Psalm 63:1

By my calculations I've traveled well over 3,500 miles in just under a month. Passed by who knows how many hundreds or perhaps thousands of billboards during those miles. Yet I only remember three of those countless billboards. I had just passed the Texas/Oklahoma border and was just a few miles into Oklahoma when the first billboard caught my eye. It was for McDonald's and was advertising some of their drinks. It had the pictures of the drinks in the background with this bold headline: $1 Buys Happiness! I remember kind of chuckling under my breath at that thought. But my laughter quickly turned to sorrow as I passed by two other billboards, one advertising a casino and the other an adult video store.

You see those other billboards where also offering happiness, joy and contentment. And while they were offering those things they have no more ability to fill them than a McDonald's sweet tea does to keep you from ever being thirsty again. While it's easy to see that a sugary drink won't satisfy for the rest of your life other things are much more deceptive. One such deception that is new to me (as in the past week or so) is the idea of being in a 'relationship'. The deception is that somehow if this relationship would come to fruition (in my timing) than I would be filled with joy and could than be content. It is a lie.

What my soul needs is to find satisfaction in God. That I would be able to say in agreement with King David that "Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips." (Psalm 63:3-5) When I realize God's steadfast love towards me, that even though I was an enemy of God Christ still died for me. I will have great reason to have joy. When I learn that money and relationships are temporary, than I can begin to marvel at the fact that Christ redeemed me and I get to enjoy Him for all eternity.

Of all people on planet earth, I am realizing how much I need to progress in falling out of love with this world and continually falling deeper in love with Christ. I am constantly made aware of my weaknesses and inability to even find my joy in Christ. So I find what a good friend of mine wrote to me recently a great encouragement:

Psalm 86:4 "Gladden the soul of your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul." The thing about this verse that I just love is that this is a humble cry to the Lord from the Psalmist to gladden the soul of His servant. His servant knows that he cannot gladden his own heart by his own doing; he needs the help of the Father. And I know that I need the help of our Heavenly Father right now as well, which turns this verse into my own humble cry.
My heart cries out Amen to that! Father, while I know I ought to find complete joy in you I lack even the ability to do so. So Father gladden my heart in you. Let me find your lovingkindness better than life. Oh, let my mouth offer praises with joyful lips to you alone. For you alone are worthy of my praise and adoration... let me not seek out joy in any other.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday 06-19-11

A wise son makes a father glad - Proverbs 15:20

He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy. - Proverbs 17:21

I read those verses recently while reading through Proverbs. It got me thinking about what it means to honor our parents. When we think about honoring our parents, most likely the first thing through our mind is: Ephesians 6:1-3 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),  that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." But is obeying our parents all there is to honoring them? I don't believe so. Please, do not misunderstand me, obeying our parents is of utmost importance. If we want to honor our parents than the first step is going to be obedience. However honoring our parents is much greater than simply obeying the commands they give us. Honoring our parents has to do with a life change. It has to do with being wise and fearing God.

By nature we are fools. I probably didn't just gain any friends by that statement, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Take a look at Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." I want to take a look at the characteristics of a fool and a wise man. Than sum up why growing in wisdom is honoring to our parents.

The foolish man (or woman):

- delights in speaking his mind, not in receiving instruction. (Prov 18:2)
- despises wisdom and instruction. (Prov 1:7)
- takes delight in committing wickedness. (Prov 10:23)
- deceives others into following him in wickedness. (Prov 1:10-14)
- ambushes his own life. (Prov 1:18)
- is lazy and does not prepare for the future. (Prov 24:30-34)
- returns to his folly time and again. (Prov 26:11)
- is not easily separated from his foolishness. (Prov 27:22)
- trusts his own heart. (Prov 28:26)

The wise man (or woman):

- see's the evil and hides himself (Prov 22:3)
- will hear instruction and receives knowledge. (Prov 21:11)
- considers his steps and turns away from evil. (Prov :14:15-16)
- hears instruction and increases wise counsel. (Prov 1:7)
- takes joy in wisdom. (Prov 10:23)
- lives securely and free from the dread of evil. (Prov 1:33)
- listens to reproof. (Prov 15:32)
- fears the Lord and turns away from evil. (Prov 3:7)
- trusts the Lord with his whole heart. (Prov 3:1-5)

The Proverbs are chocked full of a father's plea for his son to walk in wisdom (Prv 1:8; Prv 4:1; Prv 6:20; Prv 22:17; Prv 7:1). We read in Proverbs 10:1 that "A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother." A wise son is a joy, is a honor to his father... for he makes his father glad. But a foolish son? Well he is a sorrow and a burden. What better way to honor our parent's than walk in wisdom? The Apostle John said this in 3rd John verse 4: "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." It is one thing to simply obey when your parents are watching, but when their disciplinary hand is no longer there to correct. Our obeying God by pursuing righteousness becomes a testament of His grace and work in our lives. Which in return honor's our parents and their sacrifice.

Often times I am tempted to give up hope, because I see myself fail to walk in wisdom. I am often reminded of James 1:5 which states "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." I constantly pray this verse and recite it to myself, because I need the reminder... that it is God who grants wisdom. It is not a overnight transition from foolishness to wisdom. Proverbs 4 says to "acquire wisdom," to acquire something such as wisdom it takes time. Let us not grow weary in doing good but strive to acquire wisdom and understanding!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday 06-13-11

**Warning - This post will be very different from others. It is not an exposition on scripture but rather a collection of thoughts. Thought’s that have been brewing for the past year. And after reading through Song of Solomon I felt compelled to write those thoughts down.**

I just finished reading through Song of Solomon. And while there are some things I don't understand (like how in the world telling a woman that her hair resembles a flock of goats is actually a compliment... and there is plenty more I don't claim to get either), one thing was very clear. Solomon and his 'beloved' truly loved each other and built each other up with their words.

Some may argue that it was simply young love or that they didn't have a grip on reality. That may have an element of truth to it, however I don't believe it completely. You see I was/am blessed with the opportunity to grow up underneath two (sinners saved by grace alone) godly parents who love and have continued to love each other. I can honestly say that I have not once in my lifetime heard my father speak a negative word about my mother, not to her, not to us nor to anyone else. The same could be said for mom in regards to dad.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. I have worked with men would continually complain about their wives (and weren’t afraid to do it even to their wives). I've heard the names they called them, I heard the insults they would hurl about their appearance, character and more. So what is the difference between those men and Solomon or those men and my father? While there are many differences no doubt, I believe the primary difference is simply this. Love.

You see love is not physical attraction or emotional fuzzies. Love, true love (or "Wuv, twue wuv" if you prefer The Princess Bride) is the sacrifice of one’s wants and desires in order to serve another. Biblical love is radically different, it calls us the denial of self and to the service of another. That is what my father has emulated so well, that is what I desire to live out as well.

Having a hard time coming to terms with the above definition of love? Look no further than the cross. John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Christ loved his bride (the elect or church) so much that he laid down His life for her. I cannot read John 3:16 without coming to the conclusion that real, biblical, God-honoring love is anything short of self-denial and the sacrificial serving of others.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday 05-14-11

The wicked earns deceptive wages, But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward. - Proverbs 11:18

I've got to thinking about this verse over the past couple days. How true it is, sin is a deceptive wage. It promises great reward and unmatched pleasure. Yet, it cannot deliver what it seems to promise. Sin is deceptive.

The deception can take many forms. It can lie to us, tell us that it is our right to snap at our siblings to make snide comments and tear them down. After all, it's not like our siblings are showing love to us. Or perhaps it comes in the form of sexual lust. Can that 2nd look really be all that bad? I mean after all she's the one who chose to wear that immodest blouse. Maybe the deception comes in the form of pride, believing that we are responsible (and worthy of praise or respect) for accomplishing the things that we have. Disregarding the sovereignty and provision of God and the sacrifice of others.

The lie is that God the Father, creator of heaven and earth is withholding from us that which would ultimately satisfy us and bring us joy. The lie is that relationships, respect, sex, posessions, health, marriage, children, a better job (the list goes on) will somehow bring us joy. And so we defraud our sisters in Christ in order to fit in with the world and have a "relationship". We will cheapen God's gift of marital intimacy with pornography just so we can have the pleasure of sex. We will demand of others the respect we think we deserve and be angry if we do not receive it. If we are not careful we will take any blessing or gift from God, strip it of it's value (of pointing back to God as being more important) and attempt to find satisfaction and joy from it. We will come up short every time.

Why? Because sin is a deceptive wage. God designed us to enjoy health, children, sex, posessions, and many other things. He did not design those things to be ultimate in and of themselves. He designed and gave us so many gifts that we would use them in a manner which makes more of the giver than of the gift. So the deceptive wage is this: that the gift and our determination of how to use it is better than God himself. And so sin appears to be satisfying in the moment, however because we stripped the gift of it's eternal satisfaction (of glorifying God) we are left unsatisfied and guilty.

Praise be to God that there is hope for us. Jesus Christ. Although we've lied, lusted, cheated, been prideful and committed adultery in our hearts'. Jesus came bore all of our sin if we will repent (turn from our sins) and trust (believe that He accomplished for us, what we could not do ourselves) Him. And if we trust Him and pursue righteousness than verse eighteen holds a great promise for us. It says that "He who sows righteousness (or obey's God in repenting and trusting) get's a true reward." If we are living a lifestyle of repentance and trust alone in Jesus for salvation, than we get an ultimately satisfying reward. . . . God! On top of that, we get to now obey Him, use the gifts and blessings rightly and glorify God. In doing so we will find eternal joy, not in health or marriage but in God himself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday 04-26-11

Psalms 73

I found a new favorite Psalm today. While reading this chapter I felt as if the Psalmist was somehow spying on my innermost thoughts and feelings. However Asaph's been dead thousands of years, so I sincerely doubt he's been stalking me. That said, I want to walk through the Psalm just briefly. 

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. - Psalms 73:2-3

I can relate, so much so. Who does not have those around them that don't love God, yet seem to have their fill of things of this world. I have been fooled by the prosperity of the ungodly. It seems so alluring, so quick to fulfill all my desires. And so, I come close to stumbling and have launched myself recklessly into the pursuit of quenching my every desire; sinful or not.

Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence. - Psalms 73:12-13

Perhaps you've been there as well. The thoughts overwhelm your mind "if only I have this I can be happy" "God I will be content in you if you give me this" "this is what I want.. no this is what I need.. to be satisfied." Perhaps we demand of God a good thing like marriage, when instead we ought to cry out to Him that His will be done and not ours. Or perhaps the very thing we want is completely wrong, such as pornography. In either case our object of worship is no longer the Creator but rather the created. And suddenly we feel justified in our desire because the wicked have such things and they seem happy enough. So quick are we, rather I should say so quick am I to forget God's goodness towards me.. but let's keep going.

When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! - Psalms 73:16-19

Here Asaph is thinking about how the wicked pursue their every desire and seem happy enough. Until, until he gets his spiritual eyes refocused. Refocused upon God's word, then he realizes that the wicked will perish, that they do not have a future.. only destruction. In that moment where we would abandon uprightness for folly it is very crucial to stop, and think about what our actions/thoughts/attitudes are conveying about Jesus and His satisfying our soul. We ought to cry out to God to bring conviction and godly sorrow leading to repentance and new life.

Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. - Psalms 73:22-24

I believe here we have a right view of repentance. A realization and brokenness that we where wrong and openly rebelled against God. Such a god-given realization should then lead us to the cross not to self-pity. Here we see that the conviction which Asaph underwent brought Him right back to God. Asaph proclaims that God has not deserted him but rather is guiding him in uprightness. We also see a hope for eternity "afterward [you will] receive me to glory". 

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. - Psalms 73:26-28

Asaph realizes that he is feeble and that he may fall prey to deception again. He does not boast himself as having overcome all sin and temptation. Rather he delights himself in God. He recognizes that those who pursue what is sin will perish. He proclaims that having God as his 'nearness' or God being his prized treasure is his good. And the last thing we see is that He has made God his refuge or rock that He might also tell others about the goodness of God.

Father, I confess that I have been jealous of the wicked in many ways. I have seen their 'happiness' and desired what they have pursued. But Father by your grace, I realize now that those pursuit's are vain and fruitless. Not only are they vain but they are destructive. Lord, by the power of Jesus Christ I turn from pursuing death to pursuing life in you. Father although my flesh and heart are weak and may fail me. I thank you that I cannot lose the greatest treasure of all... Jesus Christ. Help me Father to trust in you and not believe the many deceptions of this world. Let me proclaim your works to the nations, that they might also rejoice and find joy in you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday 04-20-11

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4 (NASB)

I recently memorized these verses with some friends. When we recite them we normally discuss our thoughts on the verses, how they encouraged and convicted us. Per usual I drag on and on, trying to get across simple things that take me a long time. All that to say, these verses are very straight forward and I would encourage anyone to memorize them.

These verses have become a great encouragement to me over the past couple weeks. Sort of my new "fighter verses". Here's what I've been thinking regarding these verses. God brings trials and temptations so that I would not draw my joy, fulfillment or satisfaction from this world. Because God is sovereign I can trust that any 'testing of my faith' is for my ultimate good.

The testing of my faith according to verse three produces endurance. Endurance in self-control when tempted to sin. Endurance in kindness when others are mocking or belittling me for my faith in Christ. Endurance in pursuing Christ as my joy when I under go depressing times. Endurance in serving when it is most difficult to humble myself and serve others. Endurance in trusting God that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Enduring such difficult situations by the grace of God will in return produce a life change. A life change so that in the end we will be perfect and complete, finding complete satisfaction in God Himself, not buying into the deception of the world.

I believe if we are honest we each desire the last part of being "perfect and complete, lacking nothing." If one is in Christ there ought to be a great desire to be like Him, to not be molded by this world. That said, how well am I doing at enduring the testing of my faith? Is it producing endurance which produces a life change? How about you? Can we honestly say that we are taking joy in the current testing of our faith, knowing that God is wanting to use it to produce an eternal work in each of our hearts? Before I close, I want to make it clear it is not by my work that I am able to endure and make these changes. I get to "act the miracle" of God's grace towards me (Cor 15:10 and Phil 2:12-13).

Father, test my faith that I would become more like you. Not because I have such a great faith, but rather because the object of my faith.. Jesus Christ is great. It is by His grace that I can endure to the end. Keep the deceptions of this world far from me Father, give me contentment in you. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday 03-22-11

Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, That they may be ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I have taught you today, even you. - Proverbs 22:17-19

Just a short thought here that God was impressing upon me today as I reflected upon these verses. I see my lack of trust in the Lord in so many ways. When I don't trust God it leads to me worrying, to me trusting my own understanding, to sin of all kinds. But this is true of everyone is it not? Think with me, the first sin of Adam came because he doubted what God had said. He began to trust his own reasoning and the result: the complete and total ruin of all mankind.

So back to theses verses, I was reading/thinking/meditating/praying over them. And it struck me that verse seventeen, eighteen and verse nineteen where intricately woven. The command is given to "incline your ear [to wisdom] and apply your mind to my knowledge." In doing so it will not be a burden, rather verse 18 makes it clear that it will be pleasant (for those who are in Christ Jesus at least). Furthermore we see the reason for doing so is that we might be ready for an answer.

The result is beautiful and very helpful I think. "So that your trust may be in the LORD, I have taught you today, even you." The result of reading his word, meditating upon it and praying it into my life is a trust in the Lord. This isn't something which happens over night, but rather it is change of life. Because Romans 1 makes it clear that all people are born with sin nature and do not honor or trust God. This is process of reading His word, taking delight in His word and in Him and furthermore to trust Him is what we call sanctification. Simply put, it's becoming more like Jesus.

Father, I believe... help thou my unbelief.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday 03-11-11

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. - Psalms 23:1

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4

-The Lord is trustworthy and good. In Him I find all that I need. If He brings trials or temptations I can stand firm in knowing that He is perfecting in me a dependence upon Him. So that I shall say: In Him is everything I am and need, my soul desires nothing else.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. - Psalms 23:2

-God the Father has my best interest at heart. He is faithful and abounding in loving kindness. He provides for me, above and beyond my basic needs, His blessings are truly abounding always towards me!

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. - Psalms 23:3

-He is my redeemer! My soul was ruined completely by sin, and there was no hope but in His Son. And He did not disappoint, because Jesus came and bought me back! God is sanctifying me (or making me more like Jesus) for His name's sake, so that His glory might be known among the nations.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  - Psalms 23:4-5

-Even though difficult times come and will come, I have no reason to fear. If God is for me, who can be against me? In the midst of trials, I need to look to my Father, that is why He allowed me to face them. That I would more fully trust and depend upon Him, that I would forsake this world and what it has to offer. Let me instead base my joy upon what Christ has done, and who I am in Him. In that I will find eternal pleasures that I shall never be ought to exhaust!

Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - Psalms 23:6

-Surely, God the Father has shown me eternal goodness and loving kindness in the gruesome murdering of His son, Jesus Christ. Let my heart not doubt His love and favor towards me!

Father, as I read this Psalm again I am humbled. How many times have I read this without meditating upon it? Lord, my heart has become hardened to some scripture because I have read it so often, that, I do not stop to reflect upon the words I just read. Lord what a crucial mistake, one which I am often guilty of but wish no longer to involve myself in. Lord give me a tender heart, allow your words to sink in and change me. Keep not the Holy Spirit from me, but grant Him full reign in my heart. Holy Spirit come, teach my feeble heart to trust the Father and to look no further for joy and pleasures untold than in my Redeemer... Jesus.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday 01-28-11

"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth." Job 19:25

What a glorious truth expressed in/through this verse! To better understand the verse let me give a little bit of context and refresh your memory if I may. Job is replying to his "friends" who are basically condemning him. He says in reply to one of their attacks that God had "kindled His anger against [him] And considered [him] as His enemy," that his "intimate friends have forgotten [him]" and even that his "breath is offensive to [his] wife."

Let's step back a little further, remember that Job's life was completely turned upside down. He lost all of his children to a tragic accident, thieves stole livestock, others stole his other possessions and servants. By the end of it all his wife had told him to curse God and die. One can only imagine the great weight from his children's deaths, anxiety over the loss of his lively hood and property.. furthermore the betrayal of trust from his wife. I believe his situation was something we would categorize as a 'train wreck.'

That said, the beauty of this statement shines through all the more! Here Job's life is upside down, there is not much he can rely on... definitely not his friends or even wife. But Job remains hopeful of his redeemer. No his life wasn't easy, no doubt he couldn't see his way out (short of death). However his trust was not in family, possessions, status or position.. truly his trust was in God. Because of this he was able to say "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives."

Father, my feeble heart trusts and rests in other things besides you. I do not look to you alone as I should, I do not treasure you as the treasure you are. Father I often times exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. Lord I need your work in my heart, I don't have the strength or power to change my own heart. Even my desire to change is tainted by selfish and foolish ambitions. Lord you have redeemed me, you have literally bought me Father God and I am yours. Conquer my heart Abba Father, and reign as the supreme and sovereign King.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday 11-29-10

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

I stand before God the Father as if I had never sinned. As if the sinful nature had not been passed down from me by Adam. As if I had never lied, stolen, lusted, been prideful or deceptive. As if I had never dishonored my parents or blasphemed His name. This does not mean that God simply does not remember my sin anymore, how can a omniscient God simply forget the horrific abominations I have committed against Him? That is impossible! But rather God the Father chooses in His perfect sovereignty to look rather upon Jesus' blood poured out at Calvary rather than my insufficiency to be holy as He is holy. It is there that God the Father can pardon me, it is because of Christ's death that I have eternal life. Let me not think that my sin is "a little thing" for it took the blood of an infinitely holy, pure and righteous God to justify or redeem me. 

Now I do not think I've reached some spiritual state of holiness where I cease to sin (oh wouldn't that be nice!). Rather I am attempting to combat sin in my own life with right thinking. If I know who I am in Jesus than I have clearly drawn the battle lines with sin, because sin is in direct opposition to who I am in Christ. I cannot serve to masters, that is impossible. While I do not claim to be sinless or perfect (far from it!) I cling to the promise in 1 John 3:2 that "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday 10-19-10

"Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD'S house." 2 Chronicles 7:1-2

What an awesome verse number two is. The glory of God was so heavy, so thick, so... glorious! That, the priests the men who were to minister to the Lord in His house could not even come close to His house. I honestly got excited as I read that. I serve a living God, the only living God. A God so glorious that men cannot stand before His glory. A God so passionate for His own glory that He would become a man and die to redeem mankind back to Himself. My God is so loving and slow to anger that while I was still dead in my trespasses and sins Christ died for me.

And this awesome God who's glory is so great that men could not stand near it. Has redeemed me unto Himself that for all of eternity I will explore and find joy in the glory of God. May my response be to the glory of God as the Israelites was in verse three: "All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting." May my heart bow before the Lord, and may my tongue sing forth His grace, love and goodness.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday 9-29-10

"He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death." 2 Kings 15:3-5

As I read this it struck me that Azariah could be so blind to his sin. In chapter 12 and 14 we see two other Kings of Judah do the same thing. They lived right before God, only they did not remove the high places. And as I pondered how either blinded he must have been, or he didn't truly care. I was convicted, how many times has and does God show me my sin and yet I continue in it. It seems to very well coincide with what I was reading in Proverbs 29 today, it says: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." God is so merciful, it honestly boggles my mind that time and time again I sin against Him, and I right now the wrath of God is not bearing down upon me. Even more than that, Christ took the wrath of God for me, I sinned I deserved God's wrath, Jesus died and took that wrath and punishment for me! But let me not "presume" upon grace, for Romans 6:2 says that we who are dead to sin are not to continue therein any longer.

I will be the first to admit, I've been deceived by sin, by my own lusts. In fact the natural man is nothing but deceived, because his mind is set on the flesh and not God. Satan is called the deceiver of the world in Revelation 12. We are not called to complacency or conformity with this world but rather to the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), that we might have that mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). We are also called to encourage, exhort and even reprove other brothers (and sisters as the case may be) in Christ, that we would become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13). However if we attempt to not be deceived in our own strength and have the mind of Christ by our own doing, it will fail. We see in Jude 1:24 that it is only Jesus who can keep us from stumbling and present us spotless and without blame before the Father. And ultimately it will be worth it all because one day we "we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2)