When You Think God is Silent

thOU9YWHRX   In 1997 a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She had two young boys, and she wanted to live. The cancer was already very advanced when it was discovered. The doctors offered very little hope.

I remember taking food to her family, and sitting by her bedside just days before she died. My friend was a Christian. She looked at me. Her eyes locked with mine. I read not only sadness in them but I also saw the questions in her eyes and in her expression. She asked me why God was not saving her from death. My friend cried telling me that her sons needed their mother. She had questions. Prayers had been lifted to God for months. Why was God not healing her? Why was her life not being spared? Why was God silent?

My friend had questions. I felt helpless in the face of her pain and her desire to live so she could be a mother to her sons. What could I say?  Could I tell her that death is a wonderful friend when the Bible clearly teaches that death is an enemy — a defeated enemy but one that still operates until the return of The Conqueror (I Cor. 15:22-58). Yes, death’s days are numbered — Christ proved He can resurrect us by His own resurrection!  Death is conquered! There is full assurance in Him! There is the coming reality held in promise right now — a promise so sure it can be spoken about as if it were already here.

But my friend believed she would be resurrected one day. She wanted to make sense of today. What could I say to her?

I remember looking into her eyes and saying, “I don’t know all the answers to our whys. I know sin brought all the heartaches and death that we know here…and I know that time and chance happen to all men according to Solomon. I know God loves you,” and brokenly I said, “I don’t know the answer to all your whys.”

I thought she was looking for some deep theological answer to her question and I didn’t feel equipped to provide it. After more tears, hugs and reassurance of my love for her, I left her.  I may have failed her. I do not know. All I know is that night I had trouble sleeping. I kept thinking of my own five-year-old son, and my little girl who was just a few months old. I felt guilty. I had no cancer. I was not facing death at the moment — with the prospect of leaving my children.  Why her and not me?

It is now 2016 — almost two decades have passed. There have been others that I have prayed for, prayed that their lives would be spared but death claimed. I have a friend in my life right now who trusts God but doesn’t fully understand what appears to be His silence.  Some still ask me the “why” question. ” I know God has the power…why doesn’t He?”

My reply today? Even though I might could phrase my answer in more “theological” sounding words than in 1997, my reply is simply: I still know that sin is the reason for all the heartaches, sorrows, and death being in our world — all the bad in this world is here because of sin. I still know that time and chance happen to all of us (Ecc. 9:11).  I still know that being a faithful Christian does not mean that we do not face the same problems as the rest of humanity. But it does mean that we never face them alone. Never.  Never alone. And today I am even more convinced that all of our whys are silenced by the cross. The cross shouts above all the pain of our world — I love you!  The light of the cross shines into our darkest night — I love you!  In the cross all of our whys are met in the love of the God Who gave His all. In the cross, we see that God is not silent!

On the cross Christ cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” Here was the One Who had lived a perfect life. Was He truly forsaken by God? I submit that Christ was not forsaken by God the Father. God in the flesh quoted Read Psalm 22 for the benefit of those who were near the cross, for those who looked upon Him and mocked His holy name — for those who said that God had forsaken Him. Pay close attention to verse 24:

“For he has not been unmoved by the pain of him who is troubled; or kept his face covered from him; but he has given an answer to his cry.” (BBE)

The Father did not turn away from Christ, the Righteous One, but was moved by His pain and answered His cry. Christ quoted Psalm 22 not only as a witness to the fact He was/is the Messiah but also for you and me who might at times wonder if God has forsaken us or is silent in our time of need. The cry from the cross points us to Psalm 22 which is a beautiful reminder that God is not unmoved by our pain, nor has He turned His face away but He gives help when we cry. He is not silent.The help might be the strength to endure our hour. He is not far from us. He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)

When you think God is silent, look to the cross. The answer to all our whys is the Christ of the cross. He came to reverse the curse. All our enemies are defeated, and He will crush them under His feet at His return. And I am convinced that when we gaze upon the beauty of our LORD, all our whys will vanish in the light of His glorious face. Our eyes will behold the greatest treasure.

Never, never let go of the Christ of the cross. He is the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN YOUR WORLD FALLS APART

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He sees every tear!

 

 

What do you do when your world falls apart? Where do you turn? Who do you run to?

There are times when the person you are used to running to isn’t there — either emotionally or physically. Sometimes the one person you depend upon is taken from this life by our greatest enemy — death. Sometimes it is the distance in miles or the other person is too busy to even notice your pain. Then what do you do?

The tears flow but for whatever reason there is no one there with a kind and loving hand to wipe your tears, to place their arms around you, and gently say “I am here.”  The silence is deafening. The pain unbearable. And the ache for the touch that isn’t forthcoming hurts way down inside.

But there is ONE who is always there. There is ONE who is never too busy. There is ONE whom death has no power over — no claim to. In fact, this ONE defeated death for all of us.  There is ONE who knows of every tear you have ever shed — who puts them in a bottle and keeps a record of them in His book.

You have kept count of my wanderings.
Put my tears in your bottle-
have not you recorded them in your book? (Psalm 56:8)

What a vivid picture of His care for us! He takes note of every tear — others may not even know of the tears you shed when you are alone — but HE sees and HE cares!  The word translated “wanderings” can be translated as “tossings.”   Do you ever feel like you are wandering in the dark or tossed by the storms of life? God sees. He knows how many times you have felt tossed by life — wandering in a sea of uncertainty. But He wants us to remember that though life itself may be uncertain; He is not! He can always be counted upon to be GOD — His nature is unchanging. There is surety in Him.

The Psalmist continually reminds us that we have a refuge in the God who created all things — the God who is not silent but gives us assurance over and over through His word of His continual presence with His people.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ( Psalm 18:2)

He is our helper in times of trouble, in the times when our world falls apart we need to look to the holy place of the Most High. We need to be reminded that God is in the midst of His people, and His kingdom cannot be shaken.  God will always help His people. Our world will not fall apart forever — even if momentarily it feels that way. Remember who you belong to and rejoice in Him and the help He provides.

God is our refuge and strength,
a great help in times of distress.
Therefore we will not be frightened
when the earth roars,
when the mountains shake in the depths of the seas,
when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains tremble despite their pride. Interlude
Look! There is a river
whose streams make the city of God rejoice,
even the holy place of the Most High.
Since God is in her midst,
she will not be shaken.
God will help her
at the break of dawn. (Psalm 46:1-5)

As the psalmist reminds us, we need to be still and remember that God is on the throne and He will uphold us through all trials, all sorrows, and all storms of life. But we must seek Him as our refuge. We must mediate on Him and go to Him in prayer. We must stop tossing and be in awe of Him. Be in awe of the ONE who is GOD. Be in awe of Him —  GOD is with us.

Be in awe and know that I am God (some translations read “be still”…”stop striving”)
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted throughout the earth.
The LORD of the heavenly armies is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge  (Psalm 46:10-11)

No matter what has caused your world to fall apart — whether something unexpected has crossed your path or there is a trial that you are struggling with on a daily basis — you are not alone if you belong to GOD. Drink deeply from His fountain and be refreshed. His love is the most valuable. His care is the most tender. His help is more than sufficient. He is ALL — all that your heart needs to find peace and rest. So, cease striving. Be in awe. Take refuge in Him. Be refreshed. One day — one glorious day you will stand in His refreshing presence in the fullest.

How precious is your gracious love, God!
The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They are refreshed from the abundance of your house;
You cause them to drink from the river of your pleasures.
For with you is a fountain of life,
and in your light we will see light. (Psalm 36:7-9)

Run to God, the refuge that never fails you!

Invited!

imagesHTKLEW5NImagine receiving an invitation to dine with a king! How would you feel?  Honored? Excited? Would you be checking to make sure the invitation was really addressed to you? What would you be thinking? Would you be wondering what you  would say to a king? Would you be wondering what to wear for such an important occasion?

Open a Bible. You have a greater invitation. It is real. You have been invited by the King of kings, the Creator and Sustainer of all, to become a citizen of His kingdom. You have been invited to sit at the table of the King of kings–not as a guest but as His child!  Talk about an honor!

The Bible teaches that this invitation is given freely to all men. It is not offered to a select few. It is not offered to the rich and important only.  It is for all. “…Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). One must have a desire to come. One must be thirsty.  We are all thirsty. However, not all have come to realize the source of satisfaction for their thirst. Just as one may dine on only junk food and lose the taste for nutritional food, one may imbibe the world’s water and have no desire for the water that provides the greater and ultimate satisfaction, the water that truly quenches the thirst. If you become satisfied with the lesser things of life, you will have no thirst for God and you will ignore the invitation. Don’t settle for the glitter when you can have God.  Are you thirsty for God? Accept the gracious invitation.

How does one accept the invitation the King has offered? If you listen to the religious world, you will hear all kinds of confusing responses to that question. “Just believe” or “God must choose you–you can’t come of your own free will”, and “you can do nothing” — these are just some of the responses you will hear. The truly important question is: “What does God say I must do to accept His invitation?”

There is a set standard of measurements–no one can arbitrarily decide the size or length of an item. There is also a standard to measure religious statements and practices with–and that is the truth of God’s Word.

The author of Hebrews declares, “without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that would come (or draw near) to Him must believe that He is (that He exists) and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Is faith simply giving mental assent? No. Seeking implies more than mental assent. If you continue to read this chapter, you will understand the Biblical definition of faith, of trusting God and seeking Him in faith. Every person that is mentioned in this chapter acted upon their belief. They trusted God which led them to act. Noah believed and built an ark to the saving of his family. When Abraham was called to leave his homeland, he obeyed and went. By faith Abraham offered up Isaac. Throughout the Bible when someone had faith in God, they acted upon His commands. Faith is taking God at His Word, and acting upon that faith.

What does the King say one must do to be saved? “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16) But someone replies, ” my preacher said that if we believe, we are saved right then”.  That statement is equivalent to saying that “whoever believes and is not baptized will be saved”.  Who will you believe?  The King who  is over the kingdom or man? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Another man quotes Ephesians 2:8 in protest against “whoever believes and is immersed (baptized) will be saved”.  This man declares that we are saved by grace and not by works. He asserts that baptism is a work of man and an attempt to earn salvation. Let’s look at what the Bible says about this matter.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

These words were written to the church at Ephesus. Notice the past tense…they had been saved at some point in the past. Read Acts 19:1-5. The disciples at Ephesus had been baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. They had been saved by the grace of God. Everything is by God’s grace. The air you breathe, the food on your table, the clothes you are wearing, family, friends, –and most importantly spiritual blessings–all come from God. Take a piece of paper and write down all the good things you have that have not come from God’s gracious hand. Your paper is blank. Yes, (glory to God) salvation is by His grace. It is His grace that grants us the opportunity to repent, to turn to Him in faith and love. It is His grace that allows us to be clothed with Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27). It is His grace that provided a way for us to be created new in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Praise Him for His mercy and His goodness toward us! Give Him all glory! But do not use that glorious truth to negate the rest of this passage. It is by grace through faith–faith takes God at His Word and submits in love.

How is faith in God and surrendering to Him in baptism an attempt to earn salvation? Does your child earn your love when he obeys you? No. He demonstrates his love and trust in you when he obeys you. If you truly have faith in God, you will not hesitate to accept His invitation by believing in Him and being immersed into Him (Romans 6:3-5).

The passage continues that salvation is not a result of works. It is not of ourselves. Amen. God, out of His great mercy and kindness, provided for our salvation. We were helpless. There was no way we could do anything to undo the curse of sin and death. Christ did it for us. So, why would we refuse to submit to such a wondrous Savior and King? When one submits to immersion into Christ and His death (Romans 6:3-5), one has nothing to boast about. His boasting is in Christ.

The Bible says that we demonstrate faith in God when we are buried with Christ in baptism. The Bible declares baptism (immersion) is a work of God, not of a work of man. Listen to God’s Word:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)

Do you have faith in God? Do you trust the Word of the King: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”? Do you want to be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light–the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13)?  Do you possess the kind of faith that takes God at His Word? Do you believe in the working of God? Accept His invitation to be buried with Christ in baptism to obtain salvation in Him.  Die to sin and live for Him.

The King of kings has sent you an invitation. You don’t have to wonder what to say to this King. He has told us to come confessing our faith in Him by being buried with Him in baptism. He has provided for our clothing. Put on Christ in baptism through your faith in Him and His Word (Galatians 3:26-27).

Oh, the joy of belonging to Him. Oh, the joy of casting all your care upon Him, knowing the King of all cares for you. With what joy we anticipate the King’s return when all things will be put right and death will be no more. God will fill all in all and He will be our delight– world without end.

Don’t settle for fool’s gold. Seek the ultimate treasure– Deity.

Are you thirsty? Come! Drink!*

*This post was inspired by a sermon by Gantt Carter that was preached to the Northside church of Christ in Cordell, Oklahoma on February 7, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King in His Beauty

pic   The prophet Isaiah wrote “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold a land that reaches afar” (Isaiah 33:17). The immediate application in context would appear to be the king of Judah, King Hezekiah, who had worn sackcloth because the Assyrians had besieged the beloved city of Jerusalem. But Jehovah had come to their rescue. He had delivered His people from the cruel hands of the Assyrians. The people would once again see their king clothed in his beautiful royal garments.

However, there is a greater application than the immediate one, and that is the Messiah, the true King of Judah–the true King of the world. The promised Messiah would come from the Jews and they would see the King in His beauty.

And indeed King Jesus did come! John records His coming in these words, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

And, oh, the beautiful things He did when He came and dwelt among His creation.

We see the King in His beauty in the way He reached out and touched the leper who came and worshipped Him, seeking to be healed. (Mark 1:40-41) Mark records that Jesus was moved with compassion for this man with leprosy. His compassion moved Him to place a loving hand upon him. How long had it been since this man had known the touch of a human hand? It was not necessary for King Jesus to touch the leper in order to heal him– it was necessary due to the nature of God.  Can you imagine the joy the man felt when Jesus touched him? And then to realize he had been healed! The presence of King Jesus brings joy to those who seek Him.

His beauty is seen in His conversation with a Samaritan woman (John 4:5-29). The woman is truly surprised when Jesus speaks to her. Not only was there animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans, but it was also against society rules for a Jewish man to speak to a woman in public (see John 4:27 for the reaction of his disciples).  Many Jewish men started their day with a prayer of thanksgiving that they had not been born a Gentile or a woman. No wonder she was so surprised that this Jewish man would speak to Her. To her wonder and amazement He continued the conversation with her, and she soon discovered that this was no ordinary Jewish man but the longed for Messiah! (vs. 25-29) Do you see it? Do you see how King Jesus breaks down racial barriers? Do you see how King Jesus lifted woman to the honor He had created her with in the beginning? He had created woman with great honor but the Hebrew nation had been influenced by the pagans around them.  The King came and lifted woman. He returned her to a place of honor. The King in His beauty shines forth in a conversation with this woman of Samaria! It is certain that she never forgot this day–the day when the Messiah lifted her–the day she saw the King in His beauty.

We see the beauty of the King in His compassion on the blind (Matt. 20:34), on the sick (Matt. 14:14), and on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34). We see His beauty in His reassurance to His disciples when they were in a ship that was being tossed by the waves because the winds were contrary (John 6:16-20). The disciples were already anxious due to the waves  tossing their ship. Now they see someone coming toward them walking on the water. Their fear increases to the point that they cry out. The beauty of the King is seen in the wondrous words He spoke to them:.. “It is I; do not be afraid.”  

The wonder of His remark is that He literally said “I AM; do not be afraid.”  I AM –the Name by which God revealed Himself to Moses. I AM– the Self-Existent One.  The beauty of the King–He offers peace to His disciples in the midst of a troubled sea.  The beauty of the King– God is in their midst and He says to not be afraid– I am here.

His whole life as He walked upon this earth revealed the beauty of Deity. He offered forgiveness, peace, and rest to those who would follow Him. His life shone in the darkness. With every step the Light cast out the shadows of darkness.

The beauty of the King shines the brightest in the most unlikely place–a Roman cross. The Creator–the King of the Universe– gave His life for His creation. The cross was cruel and ugly. The King upon it was filled with goodness, love, and beauty. An ugly crown of thorns was placed upon His gracious brow. Darkness was over all the earth for three hours. But the true Light of the world was shining from the cross! Not one word of ugliness passed His gracious lips. In pain, He spoke words of forgiveness to the penitent thief who exhibited great faith in Him. As always, the thoughts of the King were for others and for the glory of God!

The King was buried but the chains of death could not hold Him. Praise God! He burst those chains and reigns forever! The King in His beauty is on the throne. Exalt Him! He is worthy of all praise and all honor and all glory.

He no longer physically walks among us but He is still among His people.  We behold His beauty in the revealed Word of God. One day our eyes will see the King in His beauty. To gaze and gaze upon him…to serve and to worship Him. Wonderful Savior! Glorious King!

One thing I ask … to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord… (Psalm 27:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King of Glory!

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Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in. (Psalm 24:7)

The Psalmist exclaims that the gates to the city should lift their heads, and the everlasting doors should open so the King of Glory may enter. Can you hear that shout?

Then the question is asked from within the city  “Who is this King of Glory?”.  The thrilling answer comes ringing back that this King is: “Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.” (vs 8)

A second time the Psalmist exclaims that the gates should lift their heads, and the everlasting doors should open for the King of Glory to enter. (vs. 9) And a second time the question is asked, “Who is this King of glory?” The reply comes back that this King is “Jehovah of hosts; He is the King of glory.” (vs.10) The second reply is worded slightly different but both answers are military in nature.

The illusion is to a general or king returning to His city in glorious triumph. The Psalmist addresses the gates instead of the people who tend the gates. This King is so mighty and so strong, and so remarkable in battle that the gates cannot wait for the keepers to open them. The anticipation for the King to enter is high– hearts beating wildly with desire to see this glorious King returning in triumph from battle.

It is most likely that these gates did not open and shut as we might picture from our modern idea of gates, but were actually lifted by weights and pulleys. The Psalmists employed the use of Hebrew parallelism in many places, and we see it used here…lift up your heads, ye gates, and be lifted up ye everlasting doors. The Psalmist wants to emphasize this great and tremendous moment.  The King of glory is here! There is to be no obstacle blocking the entrance of this victorious and magnificent King of Glory.

The gates are told to lift their heads as if they are too low for this glorious and mighty King of kings!

Some commentators think that this is a reference to King David returning in battle with the procession of the ark going before which represented the presence and the dwelling of the LORD with them, thus, giving the credit to Jehovah for the victory, and a secondary, if not primary, meaning of a triumphant Messiah entering Heaven, returning after He conquered sin and death, thereby defeating the enemy.

I want you to consider with me a third possible meaning from this stirring illusion by the Psalmist. Think with me of the day when this victorious King will return for His loyal subjects. What a day that will truly be!  Will our hearts not thrill at the sound of His coming? Are we not even now watching for Him with eager eyes and longing hearts?  Instead of heads of doors being lifted up in anticipation–let us lift our own heads and hearts in anticipation of that great moment. One day. He is coming.

Burdens in life may cause us grief today, but there is joy today because He reigns and He is coming. Today will give way to that great tomorrow! We all struggle from time to time. Our hearts break. Death claims someone we deeply love. Sin entices someone we love. Sickness. Heartbreaks and sorrows. But lift up your heads, you loyal ones to this King of glory. He won the victory already. Yes, we still fight battles for our King but we never fight alone and the victory is sure because the King came and won The Battle. We can rest in that knowledge, continue on in the battle, finding joy in Him today, while joyously waiting with eyes fixed on Him for His return. Keep focused on the King and His kingdom. There you will find your lasting joy.

Do not fear. All will come out right in the end. Joy will conquer sorrow. Pleasure will conquer pain. Health will conquer sickness. Life will conquer death. No more sickness. No more sorrow or pain or death when He returns because He won the victory for us! A new day is here and will be here in its fullness at His glorious return!

Are you loyal to this King of glory? Is He truly your everything in life? Do you find your greatest treasure and your greatest pleasure in this King of glory?

Are you looking for Him? Lift up your heads! Be ready to greet your victorious King!

O’ lift your heads,  His loyal subjects,

And downtrodden do not be.

Cast all your cares upon this King

Who truly cares for thee!

So unlike all earthly kings–

He came to serve–

He wore no royal robe or ring.

He Who made it all,

Gave His life that we might live.

He freely died to redeem us all.

So, raise your heads, you subjects of the King

Heed His call–Go and tell all

Our triumphant King now reigns,

And is coming back one day.

Then peace in His kingdom will reign–and God will be all in all!

Praise the King of glory!

Let every heart give way.

How can our lips remain silent while we have this day!

Praise the King of glory!

Praise His wonderful Name!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformation!

 

candle_light_evening_237086 God has commanded us not to conform to this world but to be transformed. (Romans 12:2) Do you ever think that change is impossible? That it is too hard? God assures us we can be transformed into the image of His dear Son. But how does this happen? Where does it begin?

The first step is to ask yourself if you truly desire to change?  At times we only think we desire something because we know we are supposed to desire it. So, look inside your own heart and see if you truly desire to change. If you realize that you have been lacking in desire, ask God to forgive you, and renew your desire in Him.

What is your motivation for change? Our motivation for change should be that we want to bring glory to God. It is not to earn our salvation or have other Christians admire us. We seek to be transformed into the image of Christ so that we may reflect Him in our lives so that He will be glorified. We were created to be His image bearers in this world. Since sin entered into this world, the world has become a dark place. Christ came into the world as the Light of men (John 1), and as we are transformed into His image, we reflect His light to others. We are not the LIGHT but reflections of His light, and oh, how this dark world needs to see our light which points them to The Light.

The Scriptures reveal that this transformation begins with the renewal of our minds.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

How are our minds renewed or made new? By the Word of God. There is no way to discern the will of God, to know what is good and acceptable apart from the Word of God. This world teaches us to be worldly, to seek worldly success and fortune, and to put ourselves on the throne of our hearts. The Word of God teaches us how to be transformed to the image of Christ, to reflect Him, to seek after eternal things rather than the temporal glitter of this world. The Word of God reveals the true treasure–God Himself. Seek the highest treasure-seek God.

Second Corinthians 3:18 reveals more insight into how this transformation takes place.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

The only action attributed to the believer in this passage is the beholding of the glory of the LORD with unveiled face. The act of transforming us is attributed to Christ and His Spirit. The Holy Spirit directed Paul to use the passive form of the verb which indicates “we are being changed”. Changed into what? Changed into His image. How are we changed? By beholding the glory of the LORD. How does beholding the glory of the LORD change us? It is quite simple. We become like what we admire and focus our minds upon. We become like what we love. What we love, admire, and worship is what we will become like. Thus, if we love, admire, and worship The LORD, we will become like Him.

How can we behold His glory if we spend most of our time admiring the things of the world and only a few minutes thinking about Him and spending time with Him? We can’t. It is not possible to spend most of our time and to focus most of our attention on the world and become like Christ.  We must spend time with Him. We must mediate upon His Word (Psalm 1), and mediate upon His works. (Psalm 19;Isaiah 5:12) He must fill our thoughts throughout the day. We should make Him our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night.

Let us desire to be transformed into His image. Let us behold His glory so that we can become like Him. Let us reflect His light to others. We have been given the tremendous blessing of becoming like Him, and the serious task of leading others to Him.  If you are anything like me, reflecting His light to the world can sometimes be easier than reflecting His light within the walls of your own home. Let us never fail to remember that we should first reflect His light to those nearest to us…it always begins at home. May God bless you in your desire to reflect His light at home and then out into this dark world of sin. May God be glorified by the way we live!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

tears   Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted said our gracious LORD. ( Matt. 5:4)  The character of God revealed in this verse is absolutely astounding.

We serve a God of all comfort (1 Cor. 1:3). Our God comforts us in all our trials and troubles through His exceeding and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4) Paul was inspired to write that our “light afflictions” are but for a moment. You and I may feel burdened and weighted down with problems, and we may not think of them as “light.” But compared to the eternal weight of glory-eternity with Deity-all afflictions here are indeed light and temporary. We should do our best to remember how brief this life truly is…therefore, how brief the present trial truly is. Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

But the context of Matthew 5:4 is not truly about God comforting us in our troubles, trials, and earthly griefs. Jesus issues this promise immediately after His remark about those who are poor in spirit  inheriting the kingdom of heaven, those who see themselves as they are–spiritually bankrupt. Those who realize they are in spiritual poverty (utterly bankrupt) will mourn over their sins. They will be heartbroken that they have sinned against the loving Creator. They will mourn and God will comfort them.

Do you see how astounding those words are? We sin against an All Powerful Holy God, and He comforts us…Isn’t that utterly amazing? Jesus doesn’t say “after berating you and reminding you how bad you really are, then you will be forgiven and comforted.”  No, that is not our God.

Be sure you truly see the amazing picture Jesus paints of Deity. Picture a  person bowed low, weeping in sorrow over their sins because they know they have sinned against their Creator. Where is God the Creator in this picture? He has His arms around the person, assuring them of His love and forgiveness. Jesus vividly illustrates this truth  about Deity in the parable of the prodigal son, or as a one preacher refers to it, the parable of the Father’s love (Luke 15:11-24). What an amazing God!

We are told to imitate the character of God when a fellow Christian sins and repents with godly sorrow. In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote the church to  “forgive and comfort” the one who had sinned but repented. (see 2 Cor. 2:7-8 )

We as parents would also do well to imitate this character with our children even when they are quite young. When even a young child who commits a wrong (not a sin for young children are NOT sinners) comes to you with downcast eyes, confessing that wrong to you: imitate the Father. Take them in your arms and show them love and forgiveness. It is a teaching moment–but not with words of reproach but of love. Your actions and loving words will give them a picture of their heavenly father.

The next time you find that your feet have slipped from the path of light and you have sinned: do not think it is not a big deal. Face up to the seriousness of it… grieve over your sin and confess the sin to the Father. Then accept the truth that God has forgiven you through the blood of Christ and know the truth that in Christ you are loved by the Father. As this truth sinks into your heart, you will surely cry out that there is no one like our God who is merciful and forgiving….NO ONE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Worship Today?

05_02_21_thumb  Today is the first day of the week. Today I came together with other Christians to worship the King of kings and LORD of lords. The following thoughts came to me tonight as I was thinking about worship.I am searching my own heart in the words I write.

Worship comes naturally to man. Man will worship something or someone. People worship money, pleasure, power and others–but ultimately it is self that they have placed on the throne of their hearts.  But the One True Living God is the only true object of worship and the only One who deserves to be worshiped.

Worship is the response to the holiness and glory of God revealed in His creation and in His Holy Word. We cannot properly worship Him if we do not know Him. We cannot truly know Him apart from His revealed Word. Knowing Him will cause us to seek Him more and more. Truly seeing Him as He is will cause worship to flow forth from our heart. To see Him in His majestic holiness and glory is to cease from speaking of Him in a joking casual way. There is no way we can ever refer to Him as “the Man upstairs.” His Name can only cross our lips in praise and adoration.

How do you view worship of this glorious King of kings? Is worship scheduled on your list of things to do on Sunday? Is that all it is–a scheduled activity or a wonderful opportunity and blessing to come together and worship the King of glory?

When you came together to worship, did you truly sing with the heart or did the words simply come from your lips? Did your mind see the Christ of the cross lifted up as a sacrifice for sins as you partook of His supper? Did your mind engage with the Word of God as it was proclaimed or were you wondering when the preacher would quit speaking so you could get on with other things? Did you worship today or go through the motions only? Did you leave praising God for Who He Is and for the opportunity to worship Him or did you leave complaining the preacher was long winded? Where was your heart?

Do you take some time to worship daily because you just can’t imagine not worshiping Him each day?

Have we allowed the world to claim more of our heart than the King who became poor for our sakes and gave His life for us? Has the world more of a hold on us than the One Who overcame sin and death?

Did you worship today?

 

To See Ourselves

05_02_21_thumb To see ourselves, if we are truly honest, is to see someone who needs Jesus Christ as Savior.

A sentence from a book by Haddon W. Robinson caught me by surprise today. He wrote admiringly of his father who came to live with him and his family when he got older. His father became senile and began to lose track of time.  He wrote “He was a child, and I became a parent to him.” Mr. Robinson tells of a day when his father wanted to go outside. He got his father ready; but it was a cold day, and his father quickly came back inside. Then he went out and in several times. Mr. Robinson writes that he became very frustrated with his father. At one point, his father stood in the door and would not go in or out. After several attempts to get his father to either go in or out, Mr. Robinson became so furious he hauled off and swatted his father. He admitted that he could have punched him in the mouth. He was that frustrated and angry.

I was quite surprised by his openness but that was not what really caught my attention. What did was this: “It is a horrible memory because of the ugliness inside me that day. I wish he were still here, but I couldn’t honestly tell him that I didn’t mean it. I meant it that day. We can excuse my behavior and say, “Old people get that way; they can be irritating.”

The words “I meant it that day” caught me completely off guard. I realized that when I am forced to see the ugliness in my own heart, I want to think that somehow deeper down I didn’t really mean it…that I can somehow make an excuse for my thought or behavior by kidding myself that I didn’t really mean it.  But at the moment I meant the unkind thought or the unkind word that I allowed to pass my lips. Yes, I really did. I might have been reacting from anger, lack of sleep, or any number of things…but at that moment I really did mean it.  Ah, to see oneself -to truly see oneself- is to see someone who needs Jesus Christ as Savior.

Do you recall the tax collector (Luke 18:13)  who could not bring himself to raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner”?  Here was a man who truly saw himself as he was and realized his deep need for God’s forgiveness.

As Christians, we have been forgiven of our sins, and made right before God in Christ. But there are moments when we need to see ourselves….and see our great need for Christ. We need the grace of Christ–the grace of our wonderful forgiving God. We need the poverty of spirit that will cause us to throw ourselves at his feet and cry out for mercy.

“Bow low, man, bow low, the door into the kingdom is low”….Samuel Rutherford.

To See Jesus

05_02_21_thumb  For those in Christ, to see Jesus is to hope in a future. We have hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. In fact, the only God the New Testament knows is a God of resurrection. Our enemy death is a defeated enemy-defeated by our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. Death will not be able to hold us. Christ will call and we will come forth from the grave. For those in Christ immortality will become a reality. Christ is the only way to immortality.

To see Jesus is to have hope for today. All people, Christians and non-Christians, face troubles from time to time in life. Even when we are not actually going through a major problem, we often experience fears and uncertainties. We fear diseases, old age, loneliness, a sense of usefulness, and uncertainties about the future among other things.

What does a Christian have to say to this that makes a difference? God. God is added to the picture and the whole picture changes. Ahead of the Christian is God. He is our future no matter what else that future may hold. Beside the Christian is God. God has promised to never ever leave those who belong to Him.

Hebrews 13:5 :  Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.

Philosophy books, insurance companies, and health clinics can’t offer this assurance. Only God. The  Psalms tell us of David and others who found themselves facing trials and troubles in life. But the LORD was there and they knew it. And even if there were times when “for a while” He “turned His face from them” by permitting them to be tested by the troubles and trials, they were certain-absolutely certain-that things would turn out right in the end.  (see Psalm 3; Psalm 22; Psalm 27; Psalm 33; Psalm 42 and others)

Are we sure? Do we have a peace and a comfort knowing that God will walk with us each step of each day if we are diligently seeking Him with our whole heart. No half-hearted seeking will suffice. He must be the One we treasure above all else.

To see Jesus is to see One Who is faithful…He is a faithful High Priest to those who draw near to Him for help and mercy. (Hebrews 4:14-16) He is faithful. He cannot be otherwise.  (I Thess. 5:24; 2 Timothy 2:13)

He has given us the promise of peace, the assurance of His love, and the assurance of His presence through all times. He is faithful and He cannot lie. The promises are ours in Him if we but seek Him and trust Him. But He cannot give us these promises if we trust in things or circumstances to make us happy.

He offers assurance in trials and troubles not immunity from trials and troubles.

We must decide. Who or what are we going to place our trust in?  As Christians we are going to face troubles. We can count on that…but we can also count on our God to see us through and never forsake us. We need to decide now that we will follow Him no matter what knowing He will never abandon us in our darkest trials, but will provide the strength and help we need if we ask Him. Do we truly trust Him to see us through? We can!

To see Jesus is to see the One of infinite worth.