Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
"Immediately! And... Never Too Late!"
"A Very Present Help"
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
"The Still and the Small"
Monday, October 25, 2010
"By Our Own Hand"
We've all likely seen it. If so, we've also likely been mortified by it.
My first reaction was the thought of how anyone could be so ill-advised as to attempt navigation while intentionally allowing his attire to create such a hindrance. Then the thought occurred to me. The young man is a pawn not only of his own poor judgment, but of someone else's evil."No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it" (Ephesians 5:29).
The Apostle Paul implies that human beings are not intentionally self-destructive. Our flesh is far too focused on personal satisfaction than to purposefully do harm to itself. Therefore, other entities are always at work when we act in a manner hurtful to ourselves.
"Be sober. Be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8).
Satan and his minions originate self destructive attitudes, words, and behaviors by tempting us to think and believe things that are not true. Certainly they use tangible and earthly realities as the vehicle for their delusion, but the source of humanity's ongoing participation in harming ourselves by our own hand does not originate with ourselves. Tragically, devilish lies and deceptions are spiritually devouring the young man with drooping pants. He bears personal responsibility, of course, because unless we "give place to the devil," he cannot have place in us (Ephesians 4:7). Nevertheless, the young man's behavior clearly indicates the destructive influence of the "roaring lion." Let us pray for him.We also do well to pray for others and for ourselves concerning this vital matter. We all likely bear within our minds deceptive influences of our enemies' darkness. Who among us does not wonder why we think, feel, say, or do things we know will jeopardize our well being? Again, we bear full responsibility for our sins, and no one can absolve themselves by mourning that "the devil made me do it." Nevertheless, we must be sober and vigilant concerning the truth that we live among spiritual entities who seek to harm us by our own hand.
There is a roaring lion. He seeks to devour. His weapons are lies, lies that lead to self destruction in countless ways. Drooping pants, bitter attitudes, sinful habits, dependence on chemicals, haughty self confidence that leads to self delusion, discouragement, doctrinal deception, questioning of God's way and will - all are in some manner the product of our spiritual enemies' continual attempt to cloud and enshroud us in darkness. Failure to understand this truth gives opportunity to the devil as he seeks to do harm to us by our own hand. May our Lord have mercy on us, and awaken us to the truth that "there are many adversaries" (I Corinthians 16:9). Only thereby will we decisively arise by faith to access the finished work of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and overcome the doomed work of devils whose lies will ultimately lead to their own destruction."Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).
Friday, October 22, 2010
"Anticipated Lives" Part 3
Thursday, October 21, 2010
"Anticipated Lives" Part 2
This is completely foreign to our human experience. You would not be reading if you already knew what I had written. There would be no interest in it. Our relationships with other people require mystery, uncertainty, and anticipation of the unknown in order to hold our attention. We communicate in order to unveil the hidden thoughts, emotions, and sensibilities of our inner being to those who cannot know us unless we come forth to reveal ourselves. Human discourse as we know it would be cancelled due to lack of interest if suddenly our hearts and minds became completely transparent to each other.
God perfectly anticipates our lives, but nevertheless enthusiastically involves Himself in them. His foreknowledge does not preclude the joy He finds in relating to His trusting children in Christ. "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4). Few truths about our Lord are more mysterious and intriguing, revealing the difference between His sensibilities and our own. We fall to our faces in awe upon the realization of His anticipation. However, we arise to discover that "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" because He is so lovingly interested in who and what we are (Psalm 34:15). Wonder and joy are the proper responses to such truth, along with the determination to become far more lovingly interested in who and what He is.
"Thou, God, seest me."
"I have loved thee with an everlasting love."
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
"His understanding is infinite... Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of creation" (Psalm 147:5; Acts 15:18).
We cannot know the answer to such a question because we have no frame of reference for how our Creator thinks. The plans of humanity are all made from uncertainty about the future, and from ignorance of what will happen in the next moment. We may think ourselves somewhat sure of things to come, and of our plans. However, deep within our minds, we know that no real certainty exists concerning tomorrow. Conversely, God plans with perfect certainty and assurance concerning every outcome. No exigency or contingency surprises Him, He never has an unexpected moment, and nothing ever catches Him off guard. As David confessed, such things "are too high for me" (Psalm 131:1).
Little more can be said of the Divine reality of omniscience because, again, we have no frame of reference for such a sensibility. We simply cannot think in these terms, and attempts to analyze God's mode and measure of thought quickly crash upon the rocks of our ignorance. Therefore, rather than seeking understanding of God's understanding, we do better to take great assurance from the fact of His infinite knowledge. We live anticipated lives. God has perfectly foreseen every moment of our eternal existence, and is perfectly prepared for every exigency or contingency. The one to whom we have entrusted both time and eternity is ready for the happenings of both realms, and every destination to which we will ever arrive finds Him awaiting us with the provision of the Lord Jesus Christ. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Few truths more confirm the reality that God is God, and we are not. Little wonder that Solomon commanded believers to "lean not upon thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). We lean rather upon the Understanding we cannot understand. We can trust it, however, and we can rejoice that the God who promises to be everything we will ever need is perfectly prepared to do so. All things in our lives are perfectly anticipated because the future that is dark to us shines brightly to the Eyes that span the past, the present, and the future with perfect and infinite clarity.
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor?"
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
"Peace In the Heart"
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
and my portion for ever."
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
"Someone, Somewhere Else" Part 2
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
"Someone, Somewhere Else"
Monday, October 11, 2010
"The Ultimate and the Personal" Part 2
Friday, October 8, 2010
"The Ultimate and the Personal"
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
"The Peace Of Our Hearts"
Other human beings can be the agency by which heartache is brought to our doorstep -- sometimes repeatedly. Our response to God, however, determines whether such pain will control us.
Scripture commands that we "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). This would not be possible if the actions or inactions of other human beings were the determining factor of our inner experience of peace. Our response to the Lord Jesus Christ forms our heart's spiritual atmosphere as we fulfill God's conditions of walking in peace. Trusting and submitting to Him, or failure to do so, always determines the controlling sensibilities of our hearts.
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Apostle Paul's promise is unequivocal. We must decisively choose to believe that rightly relating to God can assure peace within regardless of anything people may do to us. "In God have I put my trust. I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me" (Psalm 56:11). He is the keeper of our hearts, and the peace of our hearts. This is not an easy truth to believe because everything in a fallen world tells us otherwise, and our own flesh reminds us of how often we have been hurt by others. Our initial human response to the wrongs of others will also tempt us to believe that people are the arbiters of our peace. Nevertheless, the truth is that nothing and no one can thwart the tranquility of the Lord Jesus in those who "by prayer and thanksgiving let their requests be made known unto God".
True peace always rests upon the bedrock of what Christ has done and is doing rather than what people have done and are doing. "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). This is the plainly declared Word of our Lord who cannot lie. Let us therefore give thanks and let us believe that peace is always the fruit of trusting and submissive faith in our God rather than what people may or may not do.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."(Isaiah 26:3)
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Through the Keyhole
God is an infinite being. His truth is also immeasurable. Accordingly, whatever knowledge of His person and truth to which we have attained is a mere glimmer of light shining through the keyhole of eternal reality.
Certainly we can know enough to enter into a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus, and to thereafter live a consistent life of increasing godliness. We can also be confident in our convictions. However, "nothing yet as we ought to know" must form and inform our awareness that life with the Lord Jesus ushers us to an ocean without shore, a vista without horizon, and a heart whose goodness is immeasurable. "The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" is how the Apostle Paul termed the glory, and regardless of how far we have journeyed, the infinity of the Divine beckons us to venture ever onward (Ephesians 3:19).
I seek to avoid Christian communicators who do not give strong indication that this sensibility graces their understanding and attitude. Cocksure confidence is not at all the same as humble assurance, and the difference is palpable. Of course, I also avoid those uncertain of the centrality of the Lord Jesus, the Bible, and God's calling to love, trust, obey, and communicate Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. But neither do I want to be influenced by those overly sure of themselves and proud of their own understanding. It's a rare and beautiful thing when we find someone who navigates the narrow path of assurance and humility, and then communicates with both a humble and confident heart. When we hear such a voice, we do well to listen and heed.
"Nothing yet as we ought to know." Genuine knowledge and understanding of God and His truth imprints upon our souls this spiritual axiom. The more we see of Him, the more we realize how little we have actually known of His infinite greatness and goodness. May our Heavenly Father raise up a vast company of preachers, teachers, and writers who give evidence to both a deep and abiding assurance in Christ, and the humble awareness that the Light shining through the keyhole is but a glimmer of the infinitely luminous love of God.
"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
Monday, October 4, 2010
"The Gift of People"
"That's a really sobering thought" remarked a good friend when I raised the subject. It is, isn't it? I think of my wife Frances, whom I met in church not long after I met the Lord. This wouldn't have happened had I not become a Christian, and thus I wouldn't have known her or the children (and now grandchildren) with which God has blessed us. I don't like thinking about this very long, of course, because it is "a really sobering thought."
I also think about you who read this devotional. I wouldn't have known any of you apart from God's grace in the Lord Jesus. Most of you I have not met face to face, but nevertheless your example, encouragement, challenge, and testimony of our Lord's goodness continually bless and strengthen me. I would not have wanted to have lived without the gift of your fellowship and friendship, and without having shared together "the unsearchable riches of Christ" for nearly 12 years now (Ephesians 3:8).
The list could go on and on of the people I would never have met if I had not become a believer. You have your own company of such blessings, and doubtless share with me the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for the gift of people included in the gift of His salvation in the Lord Jesus. The body of Christ, composed of all who by faith have received His grace, expresses the goodness of the Savior to us in countless ways designed to personally reveal God's love for us. Indeed, the truth of the matter is that the goodness we have known in our brothers and sisters in Christ has been our Lord Himself, touching us through those in whom He dwells and walks (II Corinthians 6:16).
Occasionally I ponder what life would have been like if I had not received God's grace in 1975. In simple terms, it wouldn't have been life at all. "To live is Christ" declared the Apostle Paul, and the longer we walk with our Lord, the truer we know this to be (Philippians 1:21). We merely exist until the Savior becomes our Savior, and until we become a part of "the whole family in heaven and earth" (Ephesians 3:15). Our fellow believers reveal and confirm this wonderful truth in a multitude of moments and ways throughout our Christian life. Again, ponder those moments and ways - briefly, I would suggest - in the realization that none would have happened if the Lord Jesus had not made us His own. Much gratitude and thanksgiving will ensue as our hearts are overwhelmed by the gift of people included in the gift of salvation in Christ.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore."
Saturday, October 2, 2010
"This Is Love"
Friday, October 1, 2010
"Luminous With Love"
A writer of old, describing the glories of the new heaven and earth to come, declared that all shall be "luminous with love."
It is hard to imagine a more beautiful phrase, especially when we consider that it is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that will radiate from every atom in the universe.
"Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:9-10).
In our present life we experience beauty with our senses, and then affirm the Lord's presence. "What a beautiful sunset! How great and good is our Lord!" In eternity, however, our response may be reversed. We will see beauty in a particular expression, and perhaps apprehend and acknowledge the glory of God first. "How glorious and beautiful is the Lord! And how He shines forth in that lovely flower!" The Christ in whom the universe is gathered will radiate from all things, presenting the love of God on eternally continual display. Our glorified hearts will continually respond, and all shall indeed be luminous with love.
We have no frame of reference for such glory, other than the firstfruits of Christ we presently "see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12). Our hearts and lives are at times luminous, to the degree that we feel overwhelmed by the dynamic presence and working of God. We do well to give thanks for such experience, but we also do well to realize that the loving luminaries to come will cause every blessing of our present life to pale in comparison. This is our hope and assurance in the Christ who will grace every moment of eternity with realities luminous with a love that will never be exhausted in its glorious expression.
"Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For Thou art the glory of their strength."