Thursday, August 31, 2017

"It Just Seems" Part 2

"It Just Seems"  

Part 2    

    If in this present hour we seek to find believers most consciously aware of God's peace, we might venture to Texas, where many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have lost everything of material possession, and some have lost loved ones.  There we will find Christians who have shed many tears in the midst of loss.  There they feel the human brokenness of heart common to all in times of severe trial.  And there they look to an uncertain future, not at all knowing what it will hold.  Nevertheless, in many hearts, there we will find peace, as administered by the Prince of peace.

   "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" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

    Nothing can hinder our Heavenly Father's ability to apply balm to the hearts of His hurting children.  We may or may not experience His comfort, depending on whether or not we seek it by faith.  Believers can surrender to the devil's temptation of bitterness, following fleshly and physical impulses to that dark place where we turn away from the Light that shines in darkness.  "Let all bitterness… be put away from you" (Ephesians 4:31).  However, the Spirit of God imitates a powerful work of comfort from the moment trouble comes, and even before as He anticipates the challenges we face.  Note that Paul declares God's comfort as present "in all our tribulation."  The Holy Spirit administers His balm whenever we require it, and as we trust the Lord, we can know His keeping and encouraging presence in the most difficult of circumstances.  

   "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof" (Psalm 46:1-3).

    Again, today in Texas and in other venues of great loss, tear-stained faces accompany peace-filled hearts in those believers who realize that "the God of all comfort" is present, and His peace that "passeth all understanding" cannot be thwarted in those who look to Him in faith (Philippians 4:7).  Perhaps some have thought or even uttered, "It just seems…".  The Spirit of God and the Word of God nevertheless affirm the Truth of that which actually is, or rather, the Lord who is especially present when His children suffer.  Thereby brothers and sisters who will receive God's grace are learning about His peace perhaps more than ever they have known.  Moreover, they will transmit that peace in days to come as the comfort they receive becomes the comfort they administer to others.  A mere mustard seed of faith, as enabled by mountains upon mountains of grace, is all it takes to reveal peace where it seems it could not be, "the peace that passeth all understanding."

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you… These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
(John 14:27; 16:33)

Weekly Memory Verse 
  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)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"It Just Seems"

"It Just Seems"      

    I've had several conversations recently with fellow believers who began a sentence with, "It just seems…".  They went on to express a thought they likely knew to be contrary to the Word of God as appearances and perhaps emotions seemed to belie God's promised Truth.  I fully identified with my brothers and sisters, having said the same thing myself during times of challenge.

    "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

    I responded, "Well, you said it well - It just seems.  Because the Truth remains the truth regardless of how things may appear or feel."  We must overcome our native fleshly tendency to think in carnal terms rather than the Holy Spirit's working in us to remember and affirm the "Thus saith the Lord" of Scripture.  How we experience life in both general and particular terms rests upon the nature of our response to happenings, whether pleasant and painful.

    "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).  

    The default position of our flesh is to be believe that circumstance, condition, and situation determines our experience of "life and peace."  This perspective suggests that if things appear to be as we would like them, or if we feel good about the matters of life, we are alive and tranquil.  In truth, however, the Bible indicts such a notion as being deadly.  Life actually revolves around the condition of our heart rather than the circumstance of happenings.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence.  For out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). "The "righteous judgment" commanded by the Lord Jesus directs our focus to God and truth, and thus, to the blessed promise, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  Indeed, find the believer who in this moment most experiences God's life and peace, and we may well discover a brother or sister whose conditions and circumstance involve great challenge, difficulty, and turmoil.  As with the Apostle Paul and Silas long ago, the most beautiful song of praise may ascend from wounds, bound feet, and a prison.  "At midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God" (Acts 16:25).

   Paul teaches us that life and peace have nothing to do with circumstance, situation, and condition.  Nothing.  Spiritual mindedness rather governs the vitality and calm of our hearts.  But "it just seems…".  Yes it does, and the "seems" can look and feel like the main truth of many matters in our life.  It is not, however, and we must embrace the challenging, but absolutely vital fact that "to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).  Nothing less.  Nothing more.  Nothing else.  This is spiritual mindedness, based on the mind of God as revealed in His Word.  "Seems" or Scripture?  Regarding every matter of life, the choice presents itself, promising life and peace, or warning of death.

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything 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)

Weekly Memory Verse 
  Wherefore in all things it behoved 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)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Mirrors, Reflections”

"Mirrors, Reflections"    
    The best way - the only way - to know ourselves is to know God.  "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9). He originally made us in His image for the purpose of reflecting His person, character, nature, and way (Genesis 1:26-27).  God created human beings to serve as the spiritual and moral mirrors of Himself.  The entrance of sin into the world gravely damaged this primary reason for our being.  Through the Lord Jesus Christ, however, God initiates a redeeming work in all who believe in the Savior that will ultimately result in our conformity to the  image of our Maker.  "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2).

   Mirrors exist to reflect the image of things other than themselves.  We exist to absorb and reflect the light of God.  He made us as conscious beings who must respond to Him in order to serve as reflections of His Person.  This involves the knowledge of who He is, and then, the knowledge of ourselves.  As we increasingly discover His character and way, we discover who we are and more accurately fulfill our God-reflecting reason for being.  We frequently quote the Apostle Paul's teaching to the Corinthians regarding this dynamic process of growth into the image of Christ:
   "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

   We must know this primary reason for our existence, namely, to glorify God by serving as mirror images of Him.  Thus, we must grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus in order to faithfully "walk even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Thereby He engages our "fearfully and wonderfully made" human faculties for their primary purpose of displaying God's fearful and wonderful eternal being (Psalm 139:14).  Our world should behold the Creator's character, nature, and way in us.  Our attitudes, words, deeds, and relating to people serve as the lamps of His Light as the Spirit of God ignites our human faculties, and then sends us forth to illuminate the darkness of a fallen world.  "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27).

   The truth of our existence as mirrors beckons us to first look upward, outward, and away to know the Lord.  Subsequently, we return our gaze to ourselves with a proper self-perception that enables us to serve as the reflections of God.  "Reckon ye also yourself to be… alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  Mirrors concern themselves with absorbing and accurately displaying the image they exist to reflect.  In this light, theology, the knowledge of God, precedes anthropology, the knowledge of humanity.  In fact, the study of God constitutes the only way we can rightly study humanity.  We will never know ourselves while seeking to know ourselves.  We rather discover who we are by knowing the One we exist to reflect.  Blessed relief descends upon those who devote themselves to this reality of who God is, and who we are in relationship to Him.  Only in the light of such Truth can we know both Him and ourselves.

"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
(John 17:3)
"As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly."
(I Corinthians 15:49)

Weekly Memory Verse 
  Wherefore in all things it behoved 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)

Monday, August 28, 2017

“The Order and the Sequence”

"The Order and the Sequence"      

    "Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes, and I have walked in Thy truth" (Psalm 26:3).

    David references the proper and only sequence whereby we can rightly relate to God.  First, we must see His lovingkindness.  Then we are empowered to walk in His truth.

    "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).

    The writer of Hebrews also directs our attention to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to the fruits of knowing our Savior and understanding the truth regarding His person and work on our behalf.  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:2-3).  Christ first affirms the Word of God, and then "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11).  Or as the Apostle Paul taught, we work out that which God works in.  "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).

    Humanity long ago fell from the proper spiritual order and dynamic sequence of life, being, and doing.  Adam and Eve believed the lie that "ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).  By definition, gods must originate, initiate, and begin things.  We possess no such capacity.  Everything we do requires Someone else to first have created us, and then to sustain our being and capacity to act (whether righteously or unrighteously).  "He giveth to all life and breath and all things" declared the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:25).  We must be and we must breathe in order to do.  Thus, in the strictest sense, even the most unbelieving rebel against God nevertheless lives not as an initiator, but as a recipient and responder to God-given existence.  He may use his breath to curse his Maker.  But His Maker nevertheless provides the air and lung function to do so.  The unbeliever fails to see and accept this most basic truth of his being.  He does not and will not see the order and sequence in which he misuses God's good gifts, but nevertheless lives and moves and has his being in the Sustainer of all things (Acts 17:25).

    Believers, of course, realize at least in principle and doctrine that Christ is "before all things" (Colossians 1:17).  We can be tempted, however, to think, speak, act, and relate as if He were not.  Our spiritual enemies, including our own flesh, would have us return to the default position of our unbelieving days when we lived according to the lie that we are originators rather than responders.  We must therefore keep our hearts close to God and His Word, and in proximity to brothers and sisters who encourage and challenge us to remember and affirm the order and the sequence.  First, Divine lovingkindness known, received, and assimilated through faith in the Lord Jesus, and submission to His and Lordship and guidance.  Then, our walk in His Truth, as enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  No other way exists wherein we may successfully walk in faith and faithfulness, even as Paul wrote to the Ephesians…

"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
(Ephesians 2:10)

Weekly Memory Verse 
  Wherefore in all things it behoved 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)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Saturday Series - 29 “His Standard, Our Standard”

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 29

"His Standard, Our Standard"       
    God's standard is Himself.  He thinks, speaks, acts, and relates according to who and what He is.  This involves pristine purity and a perfect way that proceeds from perfect being.

    "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works… As for God, His way is perfect" (Psalm 145:17).

    Our standard is also God.  "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).  As those originally created in God's image, He calls us to think, speak, act, and relate according to who and what He is.  What our Lord does as the expression of His essence, we do by the power of His presence.  We have no innate being, but rather "in Him live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  Nor do we possess independent capacity to live in a manner that reflects the Divine nature we exist to reflect.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).  Thus, our Heavenly Father promises to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).  He writes His law on our hearts by inhabiting us through His Spirit (Hebrews 8:10).  Our role involves responding in a lifetime of growth toward the glorification that will ultimately enable us to perfectly fulfill our standard, which again, is His standard: "Walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  

    The Standard to which we are called first beckons us from outside ourselves - "Be ye holy, for  I am holy" - and then graciously inhabits us to make possible our spiritual and moral response - "God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I Peter 1:15; I John 4:9).  God always equips before He commands.  Thus, we live in expectation of both grace, and of "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11).  No final culmination is possible in this lifetime, but much growth is required and to be anticipated.  Our Father could not give a greater gift than to progressively make us like His Son, enabling our experience of life according to His standard.  Indeed, the writer of Hebrews declares the Lord Jesus Himself to be "anointed with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" because He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity" (Hebrews 1:9).  Righteousness, obedience, and faithfulness to the Standard is joy.  God knows this perfectly, and thus exists as the very essence of joy.  The Lord Jesus knows it in both Divine and human terms, having eternally dwelt in His Father's gladness, and now forevermore knowing joy in its human expression.  His presence in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit now makes possible our own glad hearts, progressively in this life, and perfectly in the next.  The Standard thus becomes more to believers than a benchmark of behavior.  We rather view it in personal terms, or rather, Christ Himself is the freely given Content of our character.  The Lord Jesus is "made unto us… righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30).  

    While salvation blessedly delivers us from "the wrath to come," it also delivers us to the eternal experience of God's sublime quality of being (I Thessalonians 1:10).  We will forevermore discover the glory of His Person, absorb its holy light, and then "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father" (Matthew 13:43).  "We shall be like Him" exulted the Apostle John of our reflecting the holy and joyous Standard of being that constitutes our Lord's innate character (I John 3:2).  Presently, we seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  Thereby we discover God's Standard in His Person and His principle, and then in our hearts and subsequent manner of life...  

"Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
(II Corinthians 3:18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Friday, August 25, 2017

“No Dissonance”

"No Dissonance"      

    Are there ways in which we speak about our Lord and His truth that do not reflect the actual teaching of Scripture?  We do well to seek His guidance and correction regarding words, asking for the Holy Spirit's fine tooth comb that progressively filters out inaccurate jargon and lingo.

    "Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth.  Keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).

   The matters in which we require correction may sometimes seem trivial.  Perhaps just a word or a phrase may be all that requires adjustment.  We may wonder, does it really matter if I deviate slightly from the Biblical path, particularly if I mean well, and if perhaps my alteration helps myself or others to seemingly better grasp God's Truth?   The answer lies in another question: can we or anyone express the Truth in a manner that begins to equal the pristine quality of our Lord's Spirit-led prophets and apostles who wrote the Scriptures?  No, we cannot.  "Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:5).  Thus, we must seek to correlate our confession of Christ as closely as possible to Scriptural revelation.

   Certainly our Heavenly Father leads us to do more than merely read or recite the Scriptures as we seek to communicate Truth.  We use other words, phrases, and conceptual expressions that aid in understanding.  However, every attempt to communicate must correlate as precisely as possible with the literal language of the Bible.  Every communication.  No one can say it or write it as well as did the men led by God to pen the words, verses, chapters, and books of the Scriptures.  Thus, we must seek the watch of our mouth and the keeping of the door of our lips referenced by the Psalmist.  Our harmony notes, as it were, must beautifully complement the melody line of "Thus saith the Lord."  Discordance must not and cannot be tolerated.  Moreover, when we realize that some manner in which we speak or write about God and His Word does not align with Scripture, we must categorically reject the word, phrase, or notion that conflicts.  Few more important disciplines accompany our walk with the Lord as we seek to know and respond to Him rightly, and as we seek to communicate Him to others.

"My lips shall utter knowledge clearly."
(Job 33:30)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Buying Truth"

"Buying Truth"      

    "Buy the truth" (Proverbs 23:23).

   While salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ involves the freest gift ever given, it remains the case that regarding our knowledge and understanding of God and His truth, we must in a very real sense "buy" it.

    By this we simply mean that in order to better know God and His person, character, and way, we make choices to apply ourselves that involve the sacrifice of other things.  When we read the Bible, for example, we may forego sleep, or entertainment, or other literature, or activities, or time with people, or many possibilities regarding how we spend our time.  We pray and thus steer our minds to conscious communion with our Heavenly Father rather than allowing wandering thoughts, or consideration of other matters, or communication with human beings to distract us from fellowship with God.  We meet with believers, whether in regularly scheduled services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings, or in personal get togethers that may take place when we could be doing countless other things.  And we give thanks in times of blessing, seek our Lord in trouble, and walk with Him rather than merely allow life to come and go as if God were not present and involved in revealing Himself and His truth.  All of these devotional determinations require foregoing activities, thoughts, and relationships in order to seek the One who abides as the Life of our lives.  We give or give up in order to receive.  Thereby we "buy the truth."

    Nothing approaches the value of knowing God and His truth.  No amount of time, effort, attention, thought, and action is too great to pay if our "purchase" leads to growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  Thus we do well to seek God's evaluation of how we spend the spiritual capital that leads to either benefit or detriment in our relationship with Him.  Solomon understood such truth as well as an Old Testament saint could comprehend, and we close with his wise counsel…

"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it."
(Proverbs 8:10-11)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"Say So"

"Say So"      

    Within an hour of trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and being born again on September 17, 1975, I felt a great compulsion to find my closest friends and tell them about the miracle that had happened in my heart.  None of them were themselves professing believers, but I felt sure they would be thrilled for me that the Lord had redeemed my eternal soul.  I tracked them down at a friend's house and told them the good news.

    Crickets.  The sound of silence.  A vacuum in which no sound was forthcoming.  This went on for a lingering and decidedly uncomfortable moment, until one of my buddies politely brought the quiet awkwardness to its end.  "That's great, Davis," he said, and then instantly changed the subject to more earthly matters of something else, of anything else.  

    I didn't socialize with those fellows for much longer.  Our paths diverged, my interests became focused on other things, and I desired to be the different person I knew I had become in Christ.  I did find other opportunities to talk to my friends individually, but none responded positively and joined me in relationship with the Lord Jesus.  I often felt sad about this, but the bridge had been crossed and I could not turn back, nor would they accompany me for the journey.

    I sometimes recall those days and wonder what would have happened had I not so soon confessed Christ to the company of friends with whom I had associated.  I have great confidence that I did the Lord's will, and that I had to follow His leading to communicate.  "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2).  I thank God for being willing to hear the crickets, endure the silence, and experience the vacuum.  Moreover, I know that true faith leads to confession, at whatever cost.  As the Lord Jesus plainly stated, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).  Certainly we seek the Lord's leading to speak of Him in a timely, wise, and appropriate manner.  But we will speak, and we will bear verbal witness to the spiritual reality that fills our hearts with abundance, and our lips with the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus.  As one given so many undeserved opportunities to "say so" in life and ministry, I give thanks for the joyous opportunity to speak the blessed Name, magnify the grace of God, and as the old hymn beautifully proclaims, "tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love."  It seems so long ago that it all started with halting words, unfulfilled expectations, and the sound of silence.  Thankfully, however, the opportunity will never end and eternity will not be long enough to be amazed by the grace of the Lord Jesus - and to say so.

"I will speak of the glorious honor of Thy majesty, and of Thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of Thy terrible acts: and I will declare Thy greatness."
(Psalm 145:5-6)
"I will glorify Thy name forevermore."
(Psalm 86:2)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"The Indwelling and the Following"

"The Indwelling and the Following"      

    When Scripture calls us to be "followers of God, as dear children," the meaning involves a very different process of following than we usually consider.

    "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).

    We normally follow someone from a distance.  We may be very near to the one who pilots the path, but still a gap exists between ourselves and our guide.  This is not the case in our relationship with God.  By His indwelling Holy Spirit, our Lord walks with and within us as we follow.  He enables as well as directs our journeys.  During His earthly lifetime, the Lord Jesus Christ lived accordingly: "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me… I live by the Father… the Father which dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (John 5:30; John 6:57; John 14:10).  The Son followed the Father, who dwelt within the Son by the Holy Spirit, guiding and enabling every step of His sublime life of love, truth, and grace.  The same dynamic leading and following now applies to God's trusting sons and daughters in Christ.  By His Spirit and His Word, the Lord guides as we seek to walk in His footsteps.  However, we also realize our utter need for God's strength for the journey - "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).  Every step requires such grace, including the next one.  Thankfully, grace is always present for believers, the grace of our Lord's presence, life, and promise of enabling - "I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me" (Philippians 4:13).

   "My soul followeth hard after thee" declared the Psalmist (Psalm 63:8).  However, David also knew God's grace well enough to affirm, "Thy right hand upholdeth me."  For born again believers in the present dispensation, such grace is even more present and dynamic.  God's Spirit now dwells within us.  Thus, we are not only upheld by the Divine hand, but inhabited by the heart of God.  Through Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension, the great Follower of the Father made possible such a life of following for all who believe.  We do well to consider such a gift that involves the imminent presence of God and our calling to walk the path He lays before us.  Indeed, when the Apostle John calls us to walk as the Lord Jesus walked, he beckons us to a life of following as made possible by His indwelling.  This includes every step of the journey, including the one at hand…

"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.  Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who lived me and gave Himself for me."
(Galatians 2:20)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Monday, August 21, 2017


"Light bearers"      

    The name "Lucifer" means light-bearer.  God originally created our dread enemy in perfection to absorb and reflect Divine light.  Lucifer functioned in this capacity for a season "til iniquity was found in thee," as the Lord said to his anointed, but fallen cherub after he sinned (Ezekiel 28:15).  The light bearer thus became the light blocker in the sense that the devil now embodies character traits in complete opposition to those of God.  He exudes darkness rather than reflecting light as he seeks to hinder the revelation of God and His truth.

    Those in the United States who will today experience the solar eclipse might consider this history of Lucifer as the moon passes between the sun and the earth in our hemisphere.  The celestial body that normally reflects the light of the sun will instead for a short time block its rays.  As Scripture so plainly declares, we will see a vivid representation of spiritual truth in the heavens.

   "And 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 God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth" (Genesis 1:16-17). 
   "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sh0weth His handiwork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4).

   The physical heavenlies tell us much about the God of spiritual Heaven and His truth.  Regarding the eclipse and Lucifer, we do well to also realize that we also exist to absorb and reflect the light of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Ye are the light of the world" declared the Savior to His disciples.  The Apostle Paul stated the same to all believers: "Walk as children of light" (Matthew 5:14; Ephesians 5:8).  We are moons to God's sun, as it were, and actually possess greater capacity to reflect the light of God than did Lucifer.  Indeed, no Biblical evidence exists that the Holy Spirit ever personally indwelt the original angelic light bearer.  He does inhabit born again human beings, even as Solomon affirmed, "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27).  As we walk by faith, we shine forth the light of Christ to our world, accurately revealing the character, nature, and way of God.  Conversely, we eclipse such illumination if we fall into unbelief and disobedience.  As with Lucifer, light bearers  become light blockers, at least temporarily until we return to walking with our Heavenly Father in faith and faithfulness.

   The eclipse today involves much more than physics.  It will rather exemplify the devil's tragic distortion of his intended purpose and function.  Again, the light bearer became the light blocker.  May the same not be said of us as we realize our holy calling to "shine as lights in the world," revealing the glory of God by our attitudes, demeanor, words, and deeds (Philippians 2:15).  Eclipse the Son?  Never?  Express Him by absorbing and reflecting His light?  Forever!

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
(Matthew 5:16)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Saturday Series - 28 - “Much, But Not All”

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 28

"Much, But Not All"       
    God explains much, but not all.

     "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).
     "Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why has Thou made me thus?" (Romans 9:20).

    The Lord who "is light" loves to reveal Himself to the conscious beings He created (I John 1:5).  Throughout Scripture, He declares His propensity to self revelation, as unveiled by creation, His Spirit, His Word, His church, and His personal involvement in the lives of all.  He even identifies His Son the Lord Jesus Christ as "the Word" (John 1:1).  Thus, we look to our Heavenly Father with much expectation that He communicates in general, Scriptural, and personal revelation to all who have eyes to see, and a heart to respond.  As A.W. Tozer once wrote, "We will know God about as well as we want to."  Or, we will know Him as well as we respond to His ongoing expression of light regarding His existence, character, nature, and way.  "His secret is with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32).

    We must also realize that our Lord cannot reveal all of Himself to created beings, including the human race originally made in His image.  The Infinite cannot fully communicate Himself or His truth to the finite.  Nor would He if He could.  God must remain God both in substance and in relationship to us.  We must remain ourselves in terms of being His dependent creatures and children.  Thus, He places limitations on His self revelation and on our capacity to receive and assimilate His truth.  We are all to "think soberly, according as God hath given to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3).  Again, we can know much, and far, far more than we presently comprehend.  But we cannot know all, even in that Day to come when "I shall know even as I am known" (I Corinthians 13:12).  God will be God and possessed of infinite knowledge.  We will remain ourselves and understand that which He desires us to know.  

    This truth especially applies to the present when we "see through a glass darkly."  Sometimes we wish our Heavenly Father would explain Himself and His way.  Sometimes He does.  However, we must also navigate paths with Him whereupon we cannot see the next step, trusting His heart when we cannot see whence He leads us.  "I do not understand, Lord!" we may cry out in perplexity.  "I do!" He would say to us in such times.  Herein we rest our hearts.  By definition, those who have entrusted to God their life, way, and being rely on His knowledge rather than their own.   So long as He knows where we go, all will be well even if we cannot see the next step.  The familiar words of Solomon illuminate our way in the darkness: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).  "The Light shineth in darkness" to those who recognize that we can know much about our Lord and His working in our lives.  But we cannot know all (John 1:5).  

"The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
(Proverbs 4:18)
"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous."
(Psalm 112:4)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
(John 14:27)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hope For the Future, Opportunity In the Present

Hope For the Future, Opportunity In the Present       

    We shall not pass this way again.

    "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

    Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ rejoice that our earthly lives, as presently constituted, will only be lived once.  While our Heavenly Father administers many gifts and blessings in this life, challenges also confront us daily that remind us a fallen world can never serve as our truest home.  God made us for perfection, His perfection realized and received, and then our own Christ-formed reflection of His pristine character, nature, and way.  "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).  We will not attain to this lofty standard in this life, but we will in the next.  "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:53).  Thus, we rejoice in the Bible's frequent affirmation of our present earthly experience: "It came to pass."

    Such blessed hope beckons us to joyous anticipation of the future, and also to steely determination in the present.  There are great days ahead, or rather a great and glorious eternity lived in the fully realized presence of God.  Moreover, "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2).  This provides the purest joy of hope the human heart can imagine.  Again, however, such truth also creates great resolve in our hearts to avail ourselves of opportunities for love, faith, and devotion to God and people that perfection in the next life will not offer.  In that day, we will not be able to honor our Lord by trusting Him in difficulties and sorrows.  Certainly we look forward to such glory when "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Revelation 21:4).  However, we must avail ourselves of opportunities to honor the Lord Jesus amid our current challenges.  How He is honored when we do not understand, but we trust His wisdom.  How His glory shines forth when we lose, but believe that through Christ, loss is gain.  How we please His heart when every appearance, inclination, and indication warns of peril, but we see promise.  And how we delight Him when rather than sink into ourselves as pressured by the challenges of life, we instead come forth to pray, and even to offer praise and thanksgiving.  Such opportunities to bear witness to our Father's goodness will not exist in the perfect life to come, but rather now, in the challenging life that is.

    We shall not pass this way again.  Praise God!  But let us also presently honor God, and "glorify ye the Lord in the fires" (Isaiah 24:15).  One day the flames of this life will all be extinguished and such opportunity will fade away.  Let us not waste these times when the Light of Christ "shineth in darkness" and we heed our Lord's command…

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
(Matthew 5:16)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“Why? How?"

"Why?  How?"

    Faithfully or fearfully?  The paths lie before us as we live our lives, beckoning us to confidence or consternation, peace or perplexity, strength or weakness, life or death.

    The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed the contrast of faith and fear in His challenge to disciples who chose terror over trust.

    "He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?  How is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4:39-40).

     "Why fear?  How unbelief?"  In those times when we, like the disciples of old, determine that wind and the sea are greater than our Master, He might ask us the same.  By the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, our Lord is even nearer to us than He was to Peter, James, John, and the others of the Twelve.  He was with them.  He is within us.  Thus, the questions "Why?" and "How?" present to our hearts even greater challenge.  Why do we disbelieve?  How can we descend into the abyss of fear?  What about our risen and perfectly faithful Lord do we fail to know or understand?  Can any wind or wave transcend His overcoming and involved presence?  Patiently and persistently, the Spirit of God and the Word of God press our hearts to journey upon the path of faith rather than descend into the chasm of fear.

    Why peace?  How faith?  These are the more positive questions that should characterize our walk with the Lord.  The answers?  The Prince of Peace.  The God who "cannot lie" and whose "faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Titus 1:2; Psalm 36:5).  During the storm, the disciples found the Lord Jesus "in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow" (Mark 4:38).  He so trusted His Father that a peaceful heart and a tired body led Him to the pillow of rest.  The disciples should have known that their Master's repose meant they were in no danger.  The same is much more true of us.  The Lord Jesus now rests, as it were, upon the Throne of Heaven.  He overcame death, hell, and the grave to occupy His Heavenly repose.  "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).  Thus, if we can look into the Heavenlies by faith and see no furrow of worry upon His face, no sweat of concern dripping from His brow, and no look of alarm in His eyes, we can rest our hearts with Him.  We can choose the path of faith, the path of peace, as administered by the Prince of peace.  Why peace?  How faith?  Why and how could it be otherwise?

"Thou wilt keep him in peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
(Isaiah 26:3)
"In the world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
(John 16:33)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“The Power of the Tongue"

"The Power of the Tongue"

    As created by one referred to in Scripture as "The Word," we would expect that our speech and utterance would greatly influence the course of our lives (John 1:1).  Over and over in the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us that it does.

   "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright… A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth… Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 15:2; 23; 18:21).

   In the New Testament, James confirms the controlling influence of the tongue.  "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2).  How we speak about life - beginning with relationship to God, and then proceeding to all things - determines the course of our existence.  Our salvation involves utterance - "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus… thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).   We then live the Christian life in the light of our Lord's redeeming grace, which leads to corresponding words - "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2).  Little wonder that the Apostle Paul requested prayer for himself regarding utterance, and the Psalmist besought the Lord to "set a watch before my mouth, keep the door of my lips" (Ephesians 6:19; Psalm 141:3).

    Let us make this personal and pertinent.  Are there matters of life about which we do not speak in terms of God's Truth as revealed in Scripture?  This especially involves challenges, problems, difficulties, and pains.  The default position of our flesh leads us to complaint or expressions of bewilderment and even despair.  If we allow such utterance to characterize our speech, we first betray our inner unbelief.  "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).  We then chart a course of joylessness and lack of peace as "the power of the tongue" leads to death rather than life.  "I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed" (Proverbs 77:3).   Most importantly, we dishonor our Lord and falsely portray His involved presence and working on our behalf in all things.  Certainly we can talk about the challenges of life.  Before we do so, however, we must seek our Lord and His grace in order to ensure that we speak from the foundation of His Truth and our chosen confidence to believe He really does "work all things together for good to them that love Him" (Romans 8:28).

    Throughout Scripture, the recurrent theme of how and what we speak calls us to the realization that words are central to our existence.  What we say both determines and reflects our experience of life.  This is just as we would expect in light of The Word who made us and sustains our being.  No greater challenge confronts us, and no aspect of our walk with the Lord more requires the leading and enabling of His Spirit.  We cannot independently control our own verbal capacity - "the tongue can no man tame" (James 3:8).  We can, however, consistently consider and commune with our Heavenly Father regarding this vital aspect of our existence.  The recurrent Biblical theme regarding words beckons us to the recurrent prayerful theme of often seeking God's grace and control of our tongue.  Nothing in our walk with Him is more important, and nothing will more honor Him as He empowers us to speak in a manner that reflects His reality, presence, and involvement in all things, and in our hearts and lives.

"The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD."
(Proverbs 16:1)
"The tongue of the wise is health."
(Proverbs 12:18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

“Theism Versus Atheism"

"Theism Versus Atheism"

    "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Psalm 14:1a).
    David's resounding indictment of those who profess unbelief causes us - rightly - to think of openly espousing atheists.  However, a thorough reading of Psalm 14 reveals that the Psalmist's words actually apply to the entire human race.  

    "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:1b-3).
   The default position of the human heart apart from Christ is simply and sadly, "There is no God" (or, at the very least, "there is no God as the Bible defines Him").  Of course, some unbelievers have an intellectual belief in the Lord.  However, such belief unaccompanied by conviction of the heart does not approach the Biblical definition of genuine faith.  In fact, head belief without heart faith can actually lead the unsuspecting down a slippery slope into eternal condemnation.  One might be closer to the kingdom of Heaven as an avowed atheist than as a theist who mistakenly perceives his mental assent to suffice for saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In real terms, the blind theist does not really believe in the God who actually exists.  He is "gone aside… become filthy," and dwells among the company of "none that doeth good."

    Again, until we trusted in the Lord Jesus of the Scriptures, we were included in this company of unbelief.  David declares all to be atheists until we become genuine theists.  Only the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts to convince, convict, and convert can save us from our default denial of the living and true God.  Interestingly, however, even after we believe, our flesh can still tempt us to live in a tacit atheism.  What believer would deny that we still sometimes think, speak, act, and relate as if our Lord does not exist?  We must accept this reality about our flesh, namely, that it "lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  At the heart of such diversion lies the rejection of God and His truth in a manner similar to our pre-conversion unbelief.  We still have saving faith, of course, but nevertheless sometimes act according to the old foolishness of "there is no God."

    Christians must recognize the default atheism of heart in unbelievers, and the fleshly remnant of such darkness in our humanity inherited from Adam.  Thereby we can help others, while also fighting our internal battles of spirit and flesh.  We do well to tell the non-Christian who feels or expresses interest in God that it is the Lord seeking him rather than he seeking the Lord.  Left to ourselves before salvation, none of us would have the slightest interest in the Lord Jesus.  Redemption involves the Son of man seeking us rather than our looking for Him (John 6:44; Luke 19:10).  As Christians, we also find strength in recognizing our weakness, namely, the atheistic inclination of our flesh.  This awareness prepares us to do battle with the contrary thoughts, emotions, inclinations, and actions of the earthly humanity we inherited from Adam.  The Apostle Paul called us to "mortify (put to death) your members which are upon the earth" (Colossians 3:5).  As we trust and submit unto God through the Holy Spirit, we kill the fleshly atheistic tendencies that would control us.  The process must be repeated many times during our present lives because that which Paul termed a "law of sin" will reside in our flesh until we go to be with our Lord (Romans 7:22-25; Romans 8:23).  That law, left unchecked, will always - always - lead us to live in some manner as if the true and living God does not exist.  Thus, we "fight the good fight of faith," the good fight of theism versus atheism not only against the unbelief of the world, but against the unbelief of our flesh (I Timothy 6:12).

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
(Hebrews 11:6)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Monday, August 14, 2017

"More Than Near"

"More Than Near"

    The words below are lyrics of a song I wrote last year.  I had forgotten about them until I happened upon the song last night while searching through my files.  I thought about sending the lyrics out as today's message, and proceeded to format them accordingly.  Before sending them, however, the thought occurred to me that I may have already used these in a devotional.  I did a search and discovered to my surprise that I had in fact sent them, exactly a year ago to the day!  Here they are again, and the timing makes me hopeful the words will provide a bit of help and encouragement.

    I can see a light in the darkness, 
I hear a voice in the void. 
I can touch the hem of a garment, 
and most of all I know 
that He is here. 
His heart is more than near,
for He is here. 

I can sense a peace in stormy wind,
I walk upon a path of grace.
I can rest my heart always in Him
as by faith I look into His face.
For He is here.
His heart is more than near.
Yes, He is here.

I can see a day that soon will come,
a sun anon will rise,
when the course of all things will have run
and I look into His eyes.
He will be here, 
His heart much more than near
He will be here.

For He is here,
His heart much more than near.
Yes, He is here.
He is here.

"The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:18)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Saturday Series - Part 27 - "The Song of God"

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 27

"The Song of God"       
    The musical interest, capability, and enjoyment that characterizes our human experience begins with the One in who originally made us in His image.  The Apostle Paul confirms this truth, declaring that the filling of the Holy Spirit in believers will be accompanied by song that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

     "Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:18-20).

    Certainly the existence of music, with all its beauty, technical structure, emotional content, and expression of information in poetry and prose, speaks to something - Someone - beyond humanity.  We did not invent music.  Nor, interestingly, did God.  Music rather exists as a part of His eternal character, nature, and disposition.  The first mention of music in Scripture speaks to this sublime reality in our Creator:
    "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt Him" (Exodus 15:1-2).

    Note that Moses and God's people not only speak of the Lord as their strength and salvation, but as their song.  He acted mightily on their behalf in delivering the Jews from Egypt, revealing Divine power and deliverance.  He also filled Israel with music, even as Moses affirms, "The Lord is my… song."  The redeemed sang not only because they wanted to beautifully express appreciation to God for His redemption.  They also sang in response to His Spirit's moving within their hearts.  To experience God thus leads to song as His presence and working on our behalf makes melody within us.  Again, "the Lord is my song" wrote Moses rather than merely declaring that God gave Israel a song.  Music is being in God, or a part of His being.  Thus, to know and experience Him leads to music in our heart, as proceeding from His heart - "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

    The expression of such grace will be different in each believer.  Some merely sing in the heart, rarely opening their lips to move sound waves in audible resonance.  Others sing often, their activities accompanied (where appropriate) by voiced expressions of "making melody."  Either way, the God whose very nature consists of song works in His children to one degree or another, leading us to obey the many commands of Scripture that call us to "sing unto the Lord."  The gift is so powerful and profound that battered Paul and Silas, their freedom taken and the very skin of their bodies savagely torn, nevertheless "prayed and sang praises to God" in Philippi (Acts 16:25).  Their feet were "placed fast in the stocks," but their hearts nevertheless soared with song into the Heavenlies.  The Holy Spirit birthed and gave such music, the Holy Spirit who expresses to us and within us the song of God, the music that He not only sings, but that He is.

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
(John 14:27)