Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 8

    Job suffered grievously at the hands of Satan (as allowed by God).  The Lord Jesus Christ suffered far more at the hands of the same enemy (again, as allowed by God).

    ""The LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD" - "Jesus... was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Job 1:12; Hebrews 4:14; 15).

    We do not know how long Job experienced the devil's challenges.  "Long enough" he would tell us if he could speak to us today.  We do know that the Lord Jesus faced his enemy from holy conception onward as the devil incessantly tempted and attacked Him.  Only a lifetime of such challenge could provide such temptation "in all points."  More than three decades of difficulty day by day by day confronted our Savior.  He overcame every devilish assault, an absolute necessity if He could qualify as our Sinbearer and the Lamb "without spot or blemish" (I Peter 1:19).  Few truths more elicit appreciation and love for the Lord Jesus more than this contemplation of a lifetime wherein He knew our pains and felt the discomfort that always accompanies the facing and overcoming of temptation.  "He is... a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

    Job's trial, terrible as it was, must serve to direct our attention to an even greater Sufferer.  "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).  In no way does this lessen our awareness of what Job endured, nor our respect for his overcoming Satan's temptation to cause him to curse God (Job 1:11; 2:5).  In fact, we honor Job all the more by affirming that he serves as the foreshadowing of our Lord's life of suffering.  Moreover, we serve a similar honored role as "the sufferings of Christ abound in us" (II Corinthians 1:5).  On the other side of the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection, born again believers face challenges purposed and/or allowed by God in order to glorify and reveal the Lord Jesus.  Just as Job's sufferings were not primarily about him, our difficulties serve the holy purpose of declaring the person and work of the Savior to our particular sphere of influence.  Lacking the Scriptures we so blessedly possess, Job didn't know the truth that the Bible so patently declares: "It's not about me!"  We do know, however, or we should as we "search the Scriptures" to discover that God purposes the Lord Jesus to "in all things have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).

    Our Heavenly Father graciously offers us a life and a lifetime of honoring His Son.  Blessing and buffeting will be required.  Long ago, the man Job discovered such truth as he served to presage the coming of the Man of sorrows and the risen Christ.  In this day, our Lord grants to us the same privilege that will not seem like privilege.  But it is, and the more we recognize our honored role of glorifying and revealing the Lord Jesus through the trials we face, the more we will join our brethren of the first century in their awareness of the blessedness as known in buffeting…

"They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
(Acts 5:41)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
(Hebrews 13:15)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"More Than Matter"

    In the past, I've frequently raised the question when speaking at funeral services, "Does the deceased (we'll call him Joe) still exist?"  That is, does Joe still possess consciousness of heart, mind, and awareness of being?  Or did the cessation of physical brain activity and heartbeat put an end to Joe? (other than the old aphorism, "Well, Joe will live on in our memories and hearts" - nice for us, maybe, but it doesn't do much for Joe!).

   Recently, I've added another question to the consideration: "Did Joe ever exist?"  That is, did Joe exist according to the normal understanding and perception of personal reality whereby all human beings define the sensibilities of "I am", "you are", "he is", or "we are".  Was Joe more than merely matter?

   The naturalist must answer, "No, Joe never existed as more than matter.  He was the product of an unconscious evolutionary process that united trillions of 'Joe atoms' during a relatively brief span of life, resulting in a temporary physical structure composed of form and force.  Electrical impulses dancing through the structure of Joe's brain resulted in a facsimile of 'consciousness'.  This awareness of himself, others, and the universe, however, was actually part of the physical system of reality of which Joe was temporarily a part.  No matter how it appeared, that's all there was to Joe."  This, the honest naturalist must confess as his understanding of Joe, who according to this view, existed as a thing rather than a person.

    Conversely, supernaturalists believe that a part of Joe - the very heart of Joe - actually existed (and still exists) as a being who transcended matter.  They maintain that a trans-atomic reality exists and serves as the source and sustenance of material realities.  The Bible refers to such "substance" as spirit, or that which exists apart from the materialistic structure of the universe.  The Lord Jesus Christ declared that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24).  Scripture also defines humanity in terms of the spiritual, adding also that other spiritual beings exist, known as angels (I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 1:14).  Atoms do not compose the spiritual aspect of such beings, who rather find and perceive their existence in context of that which perhaps cannot be explained, but which can be - and is - intuitively realized.  Those who hold to this view of Joe readily affirm his existence in these spiritual terms.  The spirit of Joe was, is, and will always be.

   The supernaturalist comfortably resides with this common understanding of personhood, namely, of a consciousness that includes freedom, thought (consisting of more than mere electrical brain impulses), self awareness, and moral sensibility.  The naturalist, however, finds himself trapped in an unavoidable conundrum.  He lives life as if he and others are more than matter.  He thinks, emotes, relates, decides, and views his existence in an awareness that he innately perceives as transcendently spiritual, moral, and relational.  He views himself and others in personal terms.  He makes choices that seem real and freely determined.  He bears some form of moral compass within his thoughts and emotional sensibilities.  And he feels for all the world like something more than merely the matter of the world in which he finds himself.  He knows he exists, but he believes a mindless universe led to his existence and his knowledge thereof.  The naturalist cannot escape this reality pressed upon him by the nature of both things and the intuitive realities that transcend things.  Intellectually, however, his thoughts and manic devotion to materialism drive him to the conundrum and its discomfort.  Little wonder materialists so often seem distressed and unhappy!

    Joe was more than matter.  He is more than matter.  His spirit lives on, either joyfully in the presence of the Lord Jesus who redeemed him by grace through faith, or unhappily because he rejected this freest of all gifts and most Divinely revealed of all truths.  Does Joe still exist?  Absolutely!  Did he ever exist?  The answer seems so obvious as to require no mention, both to the naturalist and the supernaturalist.  Indeed, despite stated denial of the truth by some, every human being knows that he is something more, much more, than matter.  Moreover, he knows that somebody made him, Somebody much more than matter.  Believers can thus be confident as we declare to all the unavoidable facts of an existence that constantly bears witness to the source and sustenance of our being, of our eternal being.

"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."
(Ecclesiates 3:14)
"In Him, we live and move and have our being."
(Acts 17:28)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
(Hebrews 13:15)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 7

    Would Job have been tried had God not brought his name up to Satan?  "The Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:8).  We cannot say with certainty.  Perhaps because of Job's character and blessedness, the devil would at some point have fixated on Job even without the Lord's mention of His choice servant.  Concerning another such faithful one, however, the very Son of God Himself, we do know that the Lord Jesus Christ would not have faced the wilderness temptation had the Holy Spirit not led Him to the place of challenge.  "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:1).

    Scripture teaches that God does not tempt anyone to evil (James 1:13).  As in the case of the Lord Jesus, however, His purposes may mean that we cannot avoid being led into an arena where temptation awaits.  In Job's circumstance, God seems to have instigated His servant's challenge, knowing full well that which Satan would request at the mention of Job's name and faithfulness.  In such times, the Lord knows that many of His purposes involve not the absence or elimination of evil, but rather the overcoming of it.  God was well aware that Job would pass the test of his challenge, namely, that Satan would fail in motivating Job to curse God to His face (Job 1:11; 2:5).  Our Heavenly Father also knew that His Son would trounce the devil in a wilderness where the devil seemingly had every advantage, save the fact of the faithful One whom he tempted.  A weakened, starved Savior presaged the greater victory to come when He would trample the devil under nail-scarred Feet by death and resurrection.  "He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God" (II Corinthians 13:4).  

   Many of our trials may originate in the same Divinely-appointed furnace where our Father knows that dross will become shining silver through being exposed to fiery heat.  The way is hard, but the holy outcome transcends in glory.  In the fleshly sense, we may presently hope that the Lord does not mention our name to our enemy, or lead us into arenas where challenge awaits (the Lord Jesus even taught us to pray accordingly - Matthew 6:13).  Deep within our hearts, however, the Holy Spirit bears witness that we cannot escape every fire or wilderness.  Thus, we do best to pray for our Lord's continued strengthening and maturing process for the battles to come.  His glory, the benefit of others, and our own blessedness hinge on the outcome.  Knowing that such is the case may well serve as a vital aspect of our preparation, enabling us to faithfully trust and serve God as did Job, and even more, as did the glorious One he foreshadowed…  

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously."
(I Peter 2:21-23)
"Glorify ye the Lord in the fires."
(Isaiah 24:15)    

Weekly Memory Verse
   By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
(Hebrews 13:15)

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 6

    "The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.  But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power" (Job 1:8-12).

    "And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 3:16-4:1).

    Note the fascinating correlation concerning Job and the Lord Jesus Christ regarding God's expressed pleasure and affirmation.  The Lord commends Job as the choicest servant of his generation, prompting Satan to seek liberty to test the man of God with trial and tribulation.  In like manner, God the Father declares the Lord Jesus to be His beloved and pleasing Son.  Immediately thereupon, the Holy Spirit leads our Savior into the wilderness of devilish temptation.  In the case of both men, their challenges resulted from God's pleasure with their faithfulness rather than punitive chastening due to unfaithfulness.

    This suggests a particularly challenging truth of God's Word.  Devotion to God sometimes results in devilish challenge and difficulty because of our Lord's pleasure in our faith and faithfulness.  As with Job, we will not know of our Father's commendation.  Moreover, if God and the devil still converse at times about believers - leading to challenges - we certainly won't be privy to that either.  We will simply know the result - difficulty - leading to even greater opportunity to trust the Lord, along with further growth in our relationship with Him.  "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:7-9).

    Does this make us mere pawns in a cosmic conflict, as it were, between God and Satan?  Not at all.  We are rather participants - if we remember and respond to our role of faith in facing the challenges of life: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith" (I Peter 5:8-9).  Note the nature of our resistance: "in the faith."  That is, in the invisible conflict, wherein we may know very little of either God or Satan's workings, our calling involves trusting and submitting to our Heavenly Father.  We do not need to know what He is doing in order to place our confidence in Him.  Nor do we need to know what the devil is doing.  Indeed, no Biblical record exists that indicates Job ever knew why he experienced his trials and tragedies.  Nor does the Bible record that that Lord Jesus received an answer from Heaven when, in the hour of His agony, He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).  Both God and Satan were involved in both trials - the Former as Lord, the latter as the Lord's means of effecting His purposes.  However, Job and even our Savior were not completely privy to all that went on behind, or we might say, above the scenes.  Their calling was to trust the heart of God although they could not see His hand.  

    We live on a "need to know" basis.  When it comes to knowledge beyond our pay grade, as it were, concerning the spiritual machinations that take place in the heavenlies, we actually need to know very little.  We rather must know Who - our faithful and completely present and involved God - and What - His promises to believe, and His commands to obey in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This leads us into a life wherein the victory of Christ is revealed in ways we sometimes know, and ways we sometimes don't know.  It is enough for us to trust and obey our Father, thereby resisting our spiritual enemies by faith and faithfulness to God.  It is not an easy way, but it is our way whereby we greatly glorify and please our Lord as we trust Him in both blessing and challenge.

"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
(Hebrews 13:15)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Burnt Sugar"

    The greatest flavor in the world is well-prepared caramel.  I will truck no dissent concerning this Divine truth about the most glorious of gustatory realities.  Indeed, for those who agree with me, or who will today repent of contrary opinions, I will gladly send my recipes for "Glen's Candied Butter" (caramel chews, your eyes will roll back in your head), Glen's Caramel Sauce (your head will roll back onto your, well, your back), or of course, my Brown Sugar Cookies (which you may already have since I so graciously offered it in the past).  Prepare for glory, and apologies to those of you who have blood sugar issues and cannot participate (I will make it up to you with the greater truth that follows).

    As you may know, caramel is, for all practical purposes, burnt sugar, with butter and cream thrown (skillfully) into the wondrous mix.  Now the word "burnt" is actually a misnomer (unless you take the melting of the sugar too far).  You actually cook the sugar as far as possible without burning it, and one must be possessed of remarkable culinary skills (ahem!) to pull this off.  If successful, the addition of the aforementioned butter and cream unites with the sucrose to yield, again, the best flavor in the world.  A beautifully tempered sweetness results, enriched and accentuated by a deep background flavor for which I've yet to find words.  Glorious smoothness also characterizes caramel, whether in candied or sauce form (the cookies are another story).  Nothing compares, and yet another reminder - I allow no opposing opinions in Glen's World!

    Seriously, as wonderful as all this is, the aforementioned "greater truth" shines with infinitely greater brightness (and or course, sweetness).

   "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:8-9).

     How can an infinite, eternal, and already perfect Being "learn obedience" and be "made perfect?"  The answer lies in God's eternal purposes concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our Heavenly Father willed that His Son become human for the purpose of redeeming us from our sins.  We could be saved in no other way because only one like unto ourselves could make atonement for the sins of humanity. "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17).  Only a human Lord Jesus could serve such a loving purpose.  He had to live a life such as we live, and thus experience the learning curve the constitutes our earthly existence.  Moreover, He had to die and rise again in order to be perfected as our Savior.  Merely living a human life would not have been enough.  Our Savior had to pass through the fires of Divine wrath for our sakes in order that His personal righteousness might be available to us.  "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us… righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30).

    Do you see the analogy, the beautiful comparison with the first subject of this essay?  Think of it.  How often have you opened your sugar bowl, inserted a spoon, and consumed a big heaping, helping of the crystalized granules?  Yeecchhh!  Pass that sugar through the fire, however, and the cooked product (with a few additions) becomes sublimely appealing and delicious. It becomes caramel, God's gift to our taste buds.  Ponder this for a moment as the realization graces your heart that this is exactly what the Lord Jesus did for us.  Possessed of sweetness beyond all imagining, but in a form spiritually and morally unavailable to us, our Lord bore the fiery wrath of God to make accessible His sweet and wondrous presence in our hearts.  And this, my friends, is the reason God made burnt sugar, or caramel, the most delicious flavor in all the world.

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD."
(Psalm 104:34)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 5

     "His sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5).

    We know nothing of Job's background or religious upbringing.  The Bible introduces God's servant without introduction of the most basic details of his life, leaving us with little more than tradition to conjecture regarding the what, where, and when of this most intriguing Scriptural figure.  We do, however, know this: Job recognized the reality of God, the seriousness of sin, and the need for sacrifice in order to avoid the incurring of Divine wrath.  "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).

    Job's intercessory nature and practice extended beyond his sons.  Much later in the narrative, after his sufferings had long brought untold sorrow and misery, Job made offering for the friends ("miserable comforters" actually) whose false accusations led to their own spiritual jeopardy.  "The LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends" (Job 42:7).  God commanded the men to take bullocks and rams to Job for a burnt offering, promising that Job's intercession would save them from judgment.  This occurred, along with the end of Job's trial: "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as before" (Job 42:10).  

   The typology of this glimmers and gleams so brightly of the Lord Jesus Christ that it hardly seems to require mention.  Before his sufferings, Job's sacrifices did not and could not spare his sons from calamity.  After his trial, conversely, Job's intercession delivers friends who acted like enemies, and also results in his own multiplied wealth and blessing. "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters" (Job 42:12-13).  

    "Christ must needs have suffered, and risen from the dead" (Acts 17:3).

    Until His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus could not redeem us from our sins.  God does not and cannot save by mere Divine fiat, as it were.  As the saying goes, "In order to create, God spoke.  In order to redeem, He bled."  Atonement is required, according to the Lord's holiness and righteousness.  Moreover, sacrifice must involve the most holy of offerings in order to be accepted and efficacious.  "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins… we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:4; 10-12).  The Lord Jesus gave Himself for our sins, an offering so sufficient in His Father's sight that it eternally saves every sinner who avails Himself of Calvary's grace, and so perfect that God raised His Son from the dead and made Him "the Heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2).

    Sorrow and suffering constituted Job as an effectual intercessor.  A far greater sacrifice made Christ "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  We respect and appreciate the former; we fall to our faces in loving and amazed worship before the Latter…

"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."
(Revelation 5:11-14)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bay To Baie Bay Comeau!

Bay To Bay    July 24, 2014  Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada.  1957 miles from Mobile, 0 miles to our destination.

    We arrived yesterday, actually.  Our figurative/literal journey began on October 1, 2013, and was scheduled to end somewhere around September 30, 2014.   As the journey continued, however, my daily mileage increased to the degree that we made it to Bay Comeau several months early.  As I've mentioned, Frances joined me for the last 800 miles or so, making the venture all the more pleasurable.  I have enjoyed the miles, but am disappointed to have written so little the last few months.  As mentioned several weeks ago, I intend to turn around and come home writing!  So we'll see, and thanks for reading the entries that did accompany the journey.

    Let me tell you about Baie Comeau.  Located in the Cote-Nord region of the Canadian province of Quebec, the small city (pop. 22,113) lies near two rivers, the Saint Lawrence and the Manicouagan.  It is named after Comeau Bay, which takes its title from the naturalist Napolean Alexandre-Comeau.  Settlement in the area began in 1889, largely as the result of the timber industry.   Paper and pulp mills have long served as the primary source of revenue, along with hydroelectric plants, an aluminum smelter, and grain warehouses.  In recent times, the population of Baie Comeau has dwindled, largely due to the absence of university and college opportunities in the area, causing many young to seek education and subsequent employment elsewhere.  Nearly all of its residents speak French as a first language.  The climate is quite cold, as might be expected in a venue that lies so far north (49.2167º N, 68.1500º W), with extremely heavy annual snowfall.  

    Other than that, there's not a lot to say about Baie Comeau (I'm sure its residents would disagree!).  I suppose I selected a fairly innocuous destination for my journey, largely because the distance from Mobile fit with how far I expected to walk in a year.  No pomp, circumstance, or fanfare greeted me in the town, but rather a place where people doubtless quietly live their lives, with moments of various kinds of excitement thrown in here and there.  My kind of place, actually, and my kind of life.  I very much prefer equilibrium over exhilaration, particularly in matters of the Spirit.  I would argue that the vast preponderance of the Bible's teaching and historical record reflects far more on the level plain than the lofty summit.  Certainly, life with the Lord Jesus Christ offers many moments of thrilling discovery and experience.  Most of the time, however, we walk with our Lord in quiet confidence and a settled assurance.  This is a good thing because, generally speaking, you really can't get much done when emotions burn at a fever pitch.  You have to come down and calm down before completing the spiritual tasks that largely comprise the Christian life. Baie Comeau makes me think of such vital spiritual truth, and if it took 1957 miles of walking to be reminded, well, I count that a good thing indeed!

   Ok, back to Mobile.  I missed writing about a whole bunch of interesting places in recent months (some probably even exciting!).  I'll try to catch up a bit, and just as I've enjoyed having you along on the way to Canada, I hope you'll travel with me to Sweet Home Alabama, where the skies are so blue

"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."
(Isaiah 30:15)

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 4

   The most godly man of his time may also have been the wealthiest, both in material possessions and in family.

   "There were born unto him seven sons and three daughters (children so precious to Job that he constantly offered burnt sacrifices for them in case they had incurred God's wrath).  His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east" (Job 1:3).

    The more we have to lose, the more difficult our experience of loss.   Thus, wealthy and blessed Job, when attacked by Satan, knew present portions of grief in direct proportion to previous bestowals of grace.  "He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.  He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree" (Job 19:9-10).

    Another man possessed of great means also felt the loss of them.

    "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Corinthians 8:9).

    The Lord Jesus Christ was and is "the possessor of Heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:19).  The Apostle Paul affirmed Christ's riches as "unsearchable" (Ephesians 3:8).  Thus, when He "became poor" for our sakes, He felt that which Job never experienced.  He felt infinite loss.  This occurred when He left Heaven to become human.  It also happened when He had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).  Most of all, the Lord Jesus felt loss when His Father and the Holy Spirit forsook Him to die alone on the cross of Calvary for our sins.  The eternal riches of loving fellowship in the Godhead were stripped away, along with the Lord's crown of glory as replaced by a crown of thorns.  This was loss as known from the basis of a spiritual wealth beyond all imagining.  Again, the more we have to lose, the more we feel our losses.  How much then did the Lord Jesus feel?  We cannot know because our minds do not possess the capacity for measuring infinite things, nor can our hearts know what it would be like to see eternal glories stripped away.  All we can know is that we cannot know.  And we can, in this moment and forevermore, bow our hearts in loving and grateful worship.

   One reason God so blessed Job is that He foreknew that His servant would one day lose all.  The richest and most blessed man of his generation would become the poorest and most cursed.  All would be lost.  This would constitute Job as a vivid type and foreshadowing of the Savior to come, but with a stark exception: the Lord Jesus had infinitely more to lose, and He willingly gave everything away for our sakes.  "Therefore doth my Father love Me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:17-18).  Job never knew the Heavenly machinations between God and Satan that led to his trial (Job 1:6-12).  The Lord Jesus, conversely, well knew of the devil's assaults (John 14:30).  In full knowledge of the enemy's plans and attacks, our Savior willingly faced the hour of His sorrow and suffering.  He valued our eternal gain as being worth the untold loss He experienced on the cross.  Yes, Job's tribulations typified those the Lord Jesus knew.  They did not, however, compare with the agonies experienced by our Lord.  Nor will anyone's trial ever match the measure and degree of the sufferings of Christ because He knew more than any other the truth that the more we have to lose, the more we feel our losses.

"The redemption of their soul is precious (costly)."
(Psalm 49:8) 

 Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 3

    "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed (turned from) evil" (Job 1:1).

    The book of Job begins with the affirmation of a man who had clearly experienced the redeeming and holy effect of God's grace.  Only thereby could the things said about Job be true.

    "The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever: forsake not the works of Thine own hands" (Psalm 138:8).
    "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright" (Psalm 19:13).
    "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).
    "Turn us, O God of our salvation" (Psalm 85:4).

    Note that the qualities of perfection (completion), uprightness, fear of God, and flight from evil result not from the work of man, but of the Lord.  Job, therefore, responded to the light of God (the origin of which in Job's life we do not know), received the grace of God, and experienced the transforming power of God.  He did not make himself into what he was, but rather was redeemed from sin by the grace which alone changes human hearts and lives.  "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

   Another man lived such a life, albeit with substantive differences.  The Lord Jesus needed no redemption from sin, never once succumbing to temptation throughout His entire lifetime (Hebrews 4:15).  Thus, He required no grace in the sense of forgiveness or salvation from the guilt and power of sin.  He did, however, experience His Father's grace as it related to the life He lived.  "The grace of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40).  By this, Luke meant that the Lord Jesus lived His earthly lifetime not by His own power and devices, but rather by the Father's enabling.  The Gospel of John records this truth of God the Son becoming man in order to fully live as man in dependence and submission to His Father.

   "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise… I live by the Father"  (John 5:19; John 6:57).

   Job's God-enabled devotion directs our attention forward in history to the Christ who would live in the same faith and faithfulness, albeit exponentially amplified.  Job was the godliest man of his generation, as empowered by the grace of God (Job 1:8).  The Lord Jesus was the godliest man of all time and of every generation, again, as empowered by the grace of God.  Both men call us to trust our Heavenly Father, and to the expectation that genuine faith results in genuine faithfulness.  This was Job's experience of a life lived by the presence and power of God, and this was the experience of our blessed Lord as well.

"The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works."
(John 14:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The Foreshadowing - Job Part 2

    Before we begin to address the particulars of Job's vivid foreshadowing of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, allow me to set the stage with an anecdote from the past.  I once shared the theme of this series of message with a challenged young man who seemed to agree with my thesis.  "Ok, I see your point," he responded.  "But what about us?  What about me?  Isn't the book of Job really about the difficulties we face and how to deal with them?  What does it say to me about what I'm going through?"

    In his honest inquiry, the young man actually revealed the heart of his difficulty in dealing with the troubles he faced.  Indeed, we all want answers from God that pointedly address our personal issues.  He provides those, of course, but the truth of the matter is that God's help begins with directing our attention away from ourselves and unto the Lord Jesus.  "They looked unto Him, and were lightened" (Psalm 34:5).  Trouble always tempts us to follow the devilish and fleshly path of gazing upon and into ourselves rather than the outward, upward, and away gaze that provides God's deliverance (whether from or in our trial).  Discovering the Lord Jesus in Job illuminates our hearts with the Light that shines in darkness, encouraging us to access the power and enabling that always ensues when we "consider Him, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).  Certainly the young man I reference would find Scriptural truth regarding the particulars of his challenge and experience thereof.  However, only as He determined to see such light in context of the person and work of Christ would such illumination prove truly beneficial.  "I will look unto the Lord" (Micah 7:7).

    Whatever the nature or degree of our challenges, a fresh gaze upon our Savior provides the heart of encouragement, rest, and strength that enables us to endure, and to more than endure - "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).  The Lord Jesus is our Father's help and hope.  He serves as the supply to all need, the comfort in sorrow, the strength in weakness, the Dayspring in our darkness, and the Life of our life.  Having Him, we have all God has to give, and seeing Him, the Light shines upon paths we find our feet enabled to walk.  Long ago, a man named Job typified such Truth in order to direct our attention away from ourselves and unto our Hope…

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
(Hebrews 12:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Monday, July 21, 2014

“Old Scars, Fresh Wounds”

(Friends: I don't usually send out two messages in a day, but I feel compelled to do so with this tonight.  And, thanks to so many of you who through the years have so exemplified to me the truth of this message.  Glen).

"Old Scars, Fresh Wounds"

    Somewhere as you read this, somebody just begins a long and difficult journey with which you are all too familiar.  You bear scars etched upon your heart by the thorns along the path of this particular pain, whatever its nature and degree.  The person new to the path, however, bleeds from the fresh wounds of a just saddened and broken heart.  He or she may not make it to the place where you now reside.  Indeed, no guarantees exist in this present life that ensure we will faithfully walk with our Lord through the valleys of challenge He allows or even determines us to travel.  Thus, the Apostle Peter commands such devotion in the darkness, to which God's children will either respond in obedience, or not: "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (I Peter 4:19).

   In the glory of our Lord's indwelling life as it resides in your heart, you play a role in whether your fellow traveler will "commit the keeping of their souls" to the "faithful Creator."

    "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

    God does not desire that the comfort we receive from Him serve as merely still waters in our own hearts.  He rather purposes that they serve as a wellspring for others.  "He that believeth on Me, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).  Indeed, you may not know that brother or sister who presently weeps as you wept (and as you may still sometimes weep).  You may never know them in this lifetime.  You are well acquainted, however, with the sorrow and sadness that now walks with them as it walked with you.  Thus, you can intelligently and with great empathy and sympathy pray for that one, or those ones (for there are always many who hurt as you have hurt, or as you still hurt).  Moreover, one day in Heaven, that brother or sister may approach you on some shining street of gold so fine as to be transparent.  "Do you remember praying for me?" they will ask.  Perhaps we will not recall.  "Oh yes you did, my brother (sister).  One night you felt yet again that scar upon your heart, still tender after all that time.  Our enemy, the now vanquished one, tempted you in that difficult hour to sink into yourself in pain and self pity.  But you didn't do that, my dear one.  No, you remembered the Lord whose sorrows became our salvation.  You remembered that He lives and walks in you to birth the same kind of life He lived.  So you prayed, 'Father, somebody, somewhere hurts just now like I have hurt, and like I still hurt sometimes.  Help them, Father.  Be for them what you've been for me."  My brother (sister), our Father answered that prayer.  He saw your tears fall even as your prayers ascended to Heaven.  And I knew comfort in that hour, God's comfort for which He surely receives all the glory.  But dear one, I don't know if I would have experienced such holy balm if your scars had not reminded you of the fresh wounds of somebody, somewhere - of me.  No, I do not know what would have happened had you not prayed.  But I do know what happened because you did."

    Old scars.  Fresh wounds.  In the faithful, the Lord works through the former to provide hope, help, and even survival for those just possessed of the latter.  Yes, somewhere as you read this, somebody…

"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."
(II Corinthians 1:5-6)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

The Foreshadowing - Job

   Job serves as one of the most vivid Old Testament types and foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Numerous aspects of Job's character, life, and experience reflect the Savior, while some aspects of Job also serve as contrasts to the person and work of the Lord Jesus.

    "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me" (Job 5:39).

   At the time in which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke, "the Scriptures" comprised only the Old Testament writings of the prophets.  Never is the Lord directly mentioned by name, but He shines on every page of the Old Testament, either in prophecy or aforementioned imagery or type.  Indeed, we never completely or adequately interpret Biblical text until we glean from Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and the other prophets their illumination upon Christ.  Again, "they are they which testify of Me."

    In Job, we see the Lord Jesus foreshadowed in numerous ways that we will consider in messages to come.   Unlike previous series, I may not write on consecutive days about this subject, but over the course of the next few weeks, we will regularly consider the typology of Job and Christ.  As an introduction, the outline that follows will provide a number of ways in which Job serves as a bright light prefiguring the person and work of the Lord Jesus.  We will consider these points more fully in messages to come.

1.  GodlinessThere was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1).  And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).

2.  Wealth - Job's substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east (Job 1:3).  "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor" (II Corinthians 8:9).

3.  Intercession - "His sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5).  "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

4.  Divine approval and affirmation - "The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8).  "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).

5.  God's initiation of devilish challenge - "The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8).  "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:1).

6.  Satanic attack and temptation - "The LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD" (Job 1:12).  "When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread" (Matthew 4:2-3).

7.  The challenge - "Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face" (Job 1:11).  "He is... a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

8.  The overcoming - "Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:22).  "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

9.  Physical suffering - "Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (2:7).  "His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men… They crucified Him" (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:35).

10.  A broken heart - "Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it" (Job 3:2-4).  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).

11.  Friends - a.k.a. Accusers - "Miserable comforters are ye all" (Job 16:2).  "And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands?  Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends… Neither did His brethren believe in Him" (Zechariah 13:6; John 7:5).

12.  Faithfulness - "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15).   "When He was reviled, reviled not again; wheHe suffered, He threatened not; but commit Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23).

13.  Judged as a sinner - "Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said… "Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth" (Job 11:1; 6).  "This man is a sinner" (John 9:24).

14.  Vindication - "The LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job" (Job 42:7-8).  "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (Acts 2:23-24).

15.  Sacrificial prayer - "The Lord turned the captivity of Job when He prayed for His friends" (Job 42:10).  "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

16.  Restoration - "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12).  "being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).

17.  Example to us - "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11).  "Consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).

    These and other facets of Job's person and life exist in the Bible as a stunningly brilliant display of the Christ to come.  Contrasts also present themselves, which we will also consider.  For now, let us simply propose that whether we open Old Testament or New, the Scriptures bear one Theme, one holy Subject, and one declaration of Glory, the glory of the One who declared, "They are they which testify of Me."

"In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:24-25)

Friday, July 18, 2014

“The Infinite and the Infinitesimal"

    In the Old Testament, God humbled Himself to behold the things He so wondrously made.  In the New Testament, He humbled Himself to become a part of His creation.

    "Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!" (Psalm 113:5-6).
    "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself" (Philippians 2:5-8).

     God exists in both infinite majesty and lowly humility.  The universe reflects the Divine nature of its Maker, being both vast in dimension, and infinitesimal in substance.  The telescopes and microscopes of modern times inform that we would venture for seemingly immeasurable eons if we could journey either out there into space, or in there into the atom.  Far more will believers in the Lord Jesus discover both the greatness and humility of God as we eternally make our way into the reality of these ineffable wonders perfectly united in Him.

    The Infinite and the Infinitesimal beckon us to amazed wonder regarding the creation, and even more, concerning the Creator.  Both aspects of our Lord lead us to our knees, His greatness overwhelming our minds, and His humility, our hearts.  How can there be One so glorious and terrible in holiness, power, vastness, and splendor?  How can there be One so meek and lowly, even to the degree of embracing a cross for those who nailed Him to it?  Eternity will not allow full discovery of either reality, but this moment offers opportunity to glory in the greatness of the Infinite, and the goodness of the Infinitesimal.

"His greatness is unsearchable."
(Psalm 145:3)
"He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded."
(John 13:4-5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless Thy name forever and ever
(Psalm 145:1)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

“The Peace Of His People"

    One of the retirement communities where we conduct services includes an interesting population of residents.  Dogs, cats, birds, and even a pot-bellied pig (whom I've never met) live there, so much so that it would seem unusual to visit the place without being greeted by a meow, bird call, canine smile, or maybe even an oink (the premises, by the way, are by far the cleanest in a nursing facility we've ever seen).

    I'm sure that such a circumstance is not for everybody, or every facility.  It fits for Allen Memorial, however.  The animals add something to the environment and atmosphere that makes things seem happier and more normal.  By and large, the residents love their companions of other species, and the animals seem perfectly content.  I daresay the dogs, cats, and birds (again, haven't met the pig) give every indication of recognizing they fulfill a unique and important role in the lives of those with whom they share a home.

    "He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-15).

     Referencing Jew and Gentile, the Apostle Paul declares the blessed truth that salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ not only draws us into loving union with the God so unlike ourselves, but also with people so unlike ourselves.  We find ourselves loving and being loved by those with whom no other bond seems to exist.  Nationality, ethnicity, heritage, race, culture, gender, and upbringing dissolve when two Christ-loving believers find they share the same devotion, having received the same grace.  The peace of the Lord Jesus becomes the peace of His people united in Him when no other influence could form a relationship of loving fellowship and shared purpose.  "We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).

   I love the animals of Allen (even the cats!).  They provide so much to people who have often lost so much.  Moreover, they remind me of greater realities in the Christ who redeems people from earthly enmities unto a heavenly love for each other that can only be explained by the presence of the Prince of peace.  A long eternity awaits us in which we will live joyfully with each other in the bond of Christ.  Such glory begins in the here and now for those who realize that the Lord Jesus died to unite us not only with Himself, but with brothers and sisters spiritually born of the same Father and the same Spirit.

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
(Philippians 2:1-4)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revealed Things, Secret Things

    There are things we must know.  We must know there is one God who exists as three eternal persons, joined in such perfect unity that "the Lord our God is one Lord."  We must know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Bible is the Word of God.  We must that the Holy Spirit is the pervasive influence for good both in the world and in our hearts.   We must know that salvation, in its inception, continuance, and culmination, is a gift of grace to be received by faith in the Lord Jesus.  We must know that God mandates a certain way of life for believers, based upon His promised bestowal of leading and enabling.  We must know that love, as defined and constituted by the God who is love, serves as the heart of His purposes and working in our lives.  We must know these and other truths plainly declared by God in His Word (Deuteronomy 6:4; I John 4:15; II Timothy 3:16; John 16:7-15; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:6; I John 2:6; Philippians 4:13; I Corinthians 13).

   There are also things we cannot know, and that we must not seek to know.  "The secret things belong to the Lord, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

    It may be that as much light shines forth  in "the secret things" as in "the things which are revealed."  Our limitations illuminate the truth that God is God and we are not.  To a race that long ago embraced the lie that "ye shall be as gods," this is a bright and essential light in the night sky of our darkness (Genesis 3:5).  Left to ourselves, we seek our own way, plan our own destiny, boast of our own devices, and seek to live as the divinities we are not.  Thankfully, our Lord does not leave us to ourselves, but rather communicates to us the truths we must know, while remaining silent regarding equally necessary unknowings.  Thus, we seek to heed Solomon - "With all thy getting, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7).  We proceed into such Light, however, in the recognition that realities of God and truth exist far beyond our capacity and need for knowledge.  "God… doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number" (Job 9:2; 10).

    Emphasis on revealed things fosters edification and transformation into the image of Christ - "that we may do all the words of this law."  We live on a need to know basis.  This involves much light, far more than we can begin to assimilate in our present lifetime.  Much, however, will remain necessarily dark as we "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 7:5).  Thus, we "make room for mystery," as A.W. Tozer wrote.  We accommodate ourselves to both revealed and secret things, recognizing the necessity for the illumination that shines from the things we can know and the things we cannot know.

"Let us walk in the light of the Lord."
(Isaiah 2:5)
"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness."
(Psalm 112:4

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless Thy name forever and ever
(Psalm 145:1)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Heralds of Darkness, Heralds of Light"

    Satan tempted Eve not as a questioning of God's truthfulness, but rather of Adam's reliability.

    "Hath God said, "Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1).

    Genesis records that Eve did not exist when God prohibited Adam from partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).  Moreover, no Scriptural record exists of the Lord ever speaking to the woman about the forbidden tree.  We must conclude, therefore, that Adam communicated the restriction to his wife, particularly in light of the question Satan addressed to Eve - "Hath God said?"  Thus, the devil's temptation cast aspersions in the woman's mind upon her husband's reliability.  In essence, the tempter said, "Did God really say that to Adam?  Or is your husband either incorrect or disingenuous?"  As the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament, this deceived Eve, who became Satan's surrogate mouthpiece of temptation to Adam (I Timothy 2:14).  The man then sinned willfully, in full knowledge that he "hearkened to the voice" of Eve rather than God (Genesis 3:17).  Or, in the original Hebrew, he obeyed the word of Eve rather than the word of God.

    The devil's methods have not changed through the ages.  I am often asked, "Can Satan or his demonic influences communicate with us directly in our thoughts?"  In my view, the Bible never directly answers this question.  However, we know with absolute certainty that our enemies speak to us through people.  Moreover, as with our original forebears, devils may challenge us through those near and dear to us.  Little wonder that the Apostle Peter commands sober vigilance regarding our adversary (I Peter 5:8).  Indeed, Satan often confronts us through voices we might never expect would serve (almost always unwittingly) as devilish mouthpieces.

    We must also personally seek to avoid the deceptions that can cause us to become temptations to others.  Our Lord gave us His Word so that we might recognize the darkness and error that misleads us into misleading others.  When offering opinions about Biblical truth, we must always keep the question in mind, "Have I read and pondered the Scriptures enough about this matter to even have an opinion, much less, seek to communicate it with someone else?"  If we cannot affirmatively answer this question, we risk become the herald of darkness rather than light, and thus, a temptation rather than a benefit to our hearer.  

    No less than Peter serves as a prime example of the truth we consider.  "Get thee behind me, Satan" declared the Lord Jesus to His chief disciple when Peter suggested that the Savior should avoid the cross (Matthew 16:21-23).  By no means did the Lord mean to imply that Peter had become the devil, but rather than Peter's succumbing to temptation regarding so vital a matter as Calvary led him to become a devilishly influenced voice of temptation to Christ Himself.  Succumb to temptation … become a tempter - this was Peter's troubling experience and it may be ours as well in those times when our giving in to the devil's lies results in our not only absorbing darkness, but also disseminating it.  

    Our enemies are subtle.  We must be aware and wary of their attempts to mislead us, and then to spread deception through us to others.  No believer is exempt from either possibility.  Consistently and prayerfully exposing ourselves to the Scriptures prepares us to hold the Truth-formed convictions that secure our own hearts, and then enable us to shine as heralds of light rather than darkness.  It is difficult to imagine a more serious matter in our walk with the Lord, or with people.

"I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
(II Corinthians 11:3-4)
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works."
(II Corinthians 11:13-15)

Weekly Memory Verse
    When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
(Psalm 8:3-4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless Thy name forever and ever
(Psalm 145:1)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Still and Small

    "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth… Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Genesis 1:1; Luke 2:12).

    The Bible opens without fanfare, pomp, or circumstance, stating as a simple matter of fact that God created a universe more vast, infinitesimal, beautiful, and complex than our minds can begin to fathom.  In like manner, when the Lord Jesus Christ entered the world He made, a feeding trough for animals rather than a palace purposely served as the abode of His welcome.

    We must accommodate ourselves to this quiet and unassuming way of our Creator and Redeemer.  Certainly He parts a Red Sea and stops the sun in its tracks when necessary.  Most of His working, however, involves monumental activity accomplished in ways that even the most devout among us often miss because He works so unpretentiously.  The Lord Jesus came "without form or comeliness" in His incarnation (Isaiah 53:2).  He continues to meet us most often in the reserved manner that necessitates our walk by faith rather than sight (II Corinthans 7:5).  Hoping for frequent displays of the openly spectacular thus sets us up for disappointment, while also making less likely our recognition of the Lord Jesus in the mangers of our lives.  "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not!" (Genesis 28:16).

    In this life, and far more in the next, we shall sometimes behold dazzling displays of Divine glory, splendor, power, and wonder.  We give thanks for such as we fall to our faces in amazement.  Presently, however, we more often behold the same glory, splendor, power, and wonder in small and shadowed ways easily missed if we look mostly for the dazzle.  I suspect that even in eternity to come, we will find much of God's glory quietly manifested as His humble heart shines forth in humble modes and manners.  In that day, we will possess far better eyes to see and far humbler hearts to appreciate the displays that offer little fanfare, pomp, and circumstance, but much wonder of so great a God, possessed of such meekness and lowliness (Matthew 11:29).

"The LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice.
(I Kings 19:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless Thy name forever and ever
(Psalm 145:1)

Friday, July 11, 2014

"No Sun, Moon, or Stars"

No Sun, Moon, or Stars

    Light existed upon the earth before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars.

    "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light… and the evening and the morning were the first day" (Genesis 1:3; 5).
    "God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; He made the stars also.  And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth… and the evening and the morning were the fourth day" (Genesis 1:16-17; 19).

    Great mystery presents itself to us in this truth of light were it seems, in natural terms, it could not be.  We won't delve into the physical enigma here, but rather glean the obvious spiritual principle, as declared by the Apostle John: "The light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).  Sometimes great illumination awaits us in venues where it seems no light can shine.  No sun, moon, or stars, as it were, seem to exist, but rather the portending of a pitch darkness that while enshroud us with gloom.  "Surely the darkness shall cover me" (Psalm 139:11).

   I wonder if the Apostle Paul faced such temptation when imprisoned in a Roman jail.  His vibrant walk with the Lord Jesus Christ did not preclude the same internal challenges faced by all believers.  Regarding another such episode of difficulty, Paul confessed, "We despaired even of life" (II Corinthians 1:8).  Entering prison, therefore, likely elicited in Paul the same temptations to fear and uncertainty we would experience in such a circumstance.  In that prison, however, the Apostle discovered a particular blessedness of illumination that shines all the more beautifully through the ages because it emanated from a place where it might seem that no sun, moon, or stars existed…

   "All the saints salute thee, chiefly, they that are of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:22).

   I find this statement to be one of the greatest affirmations of Christ's triumph in all the Bible.  God transformed a sad place of incarceration into a holy womb of spiritual incubation by sending His servant Paul into the seeming darkness.  Great light awaited the Apostle, however, as he discovered yet another mission field.  Paul pillaged "Caesar's household" by leading untold numbers to the same grace and faith that shone so brightly in his own heart.  Darkness thus served as the backdrop for a far greater display of illumination by the Christ who declared, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

   Perhaps in this hour you gaze upon a sky devoid of the greater light, the lesser light, and the stars.  A dark prison seems to await, and you face the Psalmist's temptation that "surely the darkness shall cover me."  If so, recall that God does not require the natural light of sun, moon, and stars in order to illuminate.  His supernatural light, in fact, shines far more brilliantly because of the contrasting darkness and because it glimmers where it seems it could not be.  The Lord Jesus is our light.  Having Him, we require no other illumination, and seeing Him, we see everything we need to see…

"They looked unto Him and were lightened."
(Psalm 34:5)
"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
(Revelation 21:23)
"By His light, I walked through darkness."
(Job 29:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
(Psalm 8:3-4)